Thanking You

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"Fuuuuuuck," you moaned softly, sinking further into the water. The bathhouse was mostly deserted, save for you. That was perhaps the benefit of going so late at night. The hot water relaxed your aching muscles; after a mission like the one you had just had, relaxing had become a necessity. "I guess A-ranks will do that," you murmured to yourself.

The sound of giggling made you perk up a little. Other people coming so late at night? Would they bother you?

It turned out to just be a group of them that you had at least known for a little while, so you scooted over to make room as they waved and washed up before getting in with you.

One of them, the blonde, spoke first. She grinned at you in a friendly manner; at least she recognized you. "You've been gone awhile. Hard mission?"

"Hard, not really. Lengthy, though, yeah," you replied. "Couple of weeks."

"Those always suck," Ino replied, sinking a little bit deeper into the water.

"You've been in the village long enough, haven't you?" Sakura questioned you next. Were they all going to talk to you when you were just trying to relax? It seemed so.

The arrival of a new kunoichi shouldn't have been as big of a deal as it had become, but since you worked closely with the Hokage several times, his direct students would of course have taken notice of someone new to the Leaf. And so word spread rapidly of a capable shinobi, and all of a sudden you had attention that, quite frankly, you didn't want. Keeping quiet was more your style, but that wasn't how things ran, it seemed.

So you shrugged to the pink-haired woman, hoping no one else would try to ask more questions. "It's been long enough, I guess," was your vague answer. "I don't really keep track of stuff like that."

"But you're strong," Ino added, smiling. "There's been a lot of talk about you, you know. You show up one day out of the blue to move here, and all of a sudden you're getting hard missions. People are bound to notice," she murmured. The other three nodded in agreement before her smile turned to something more wicked. "So? Do you have your eye on any of our boys here?"

You sighed, letting your head fall back against the rim of the bath. "Do we really have to talk about that?" you complained promptly.

"Well, you're the new girl, of course we do. It's our duty to stick up for each other and to make sure everyone's happy."

"So what do boys have to do with happiness?" was your retort, making them laugh a little, at least.

"Give Ino some slack, she just got married," Tenten replied. "She's smitten with Sai, so marriage to her is the key to happiness."

Good for her, you thought, rolling your eyes behind your eyelids.

But the blonde would not let the subject go. "Come on. There has to be someone that caught your eye. Hopefully no one taken. Or a real jackass. Just tell us if there's someone and we can steer you in the right direction."

"I don't need help with my fucking love life," you finally snapped. Standing up you grabbed your towel and wrapped it around your body, glaring lightly at her. "I really don't. I came here to escape that hellhole family of mine, and love is the last thing I'm thinking of. All I want is some fucking peace and quiet." Grabbing your belongings you went into the designated area to change into your clothes, combing your wet hair with your fingers as you stormed out of the bathhouse- and right into someone.

"Hey! Watch it, will you?!" he cried.

"Sorry, sorry," you apologized, hands up in a defensive manner.

He sighed and straightened his jacket with the furry collar. "It's all good, just... damn, you're in a hurry to get out. What, did the water run cold?"

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