Chapter Nineteen ~ Arrival

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We barely beat the sandstorm to the Sand Village.

By the time we're at the front gates we're thoroughly exhausted. All I want is something sugary to eat and then to pass out for at least an hour (and the genin look as though they could use at least five hours sleep), but the completion of the mission took precedence.

Someone takes the injured ANBU with promises of a hospital. The remaining ANBU--Monkey--gazes longingly after Squirrel before disappearing. I glance around and find him on a rooftop, shadowing us. Then he dips around a corner and is out of sight.

One of the gatekeepers leads us towards the Kazekage's office. He doesn't speak, and when we enter I break the silence with only one request. "Please tell the Kazekage to drop any bureaucratic shit and just let us in without making us wait for an hour," I request as respectfully as I can manage under the circumstances. The sand ninja is still glaring at me for my impudence, so I search around for something to threaten him with.

"If we have to wait longer than twenty minutes we'll smash the teapot," Michiko speaks up tiredly.

No finesse. No subtlety. Crude.

Absolutely fucking beautiful.

I hit her upside the head for show, but glare at the ninja and I make certain not to contradict her. He pales slightly as my hands tighten around my backpack--which held the stupid teapot. He nods. "No need for that," he replies. "Our Kazekage has never been one for...bureaucracy." He hurries up the stairs at that, and a few moments later we hear him knocking on a door.

Only a minute or two later he returns. "The Kazekage is prepared to see you now, and thanks you for your patience."

A small smirk crosses my face. The messenger didn't pick up on and deliver it, but the sarcasm in the message is there. Despite the circumstances, I find that I'm incredibly amused.

We tramp up the stairs, the genin visibly exhausted while I'm able to pull on a mask of careless unruffledness with little effort. Two guards open the door for us.

I lead the way inside, scanning the room quickly. Books, windows, a desk, scrolls. The only two visible escape routes were the windows and the door. The door is guarded by two ninja. To get through the windows, you would have to get past the Kazekage. The Kazekage is as reading a scroll, hat shielding his face as we walk in.

Speaking of the Kazekage.

I bow, and the genin hurriedly follow suit. "Kazekage, we have comple—oh." As I rise out of the bow I catch my first glimpse of the Kazekage, who's hat had hidden his face—and hair—until this moment. He settles the hat onto the desk and continues to gaze at me expectantly.

"Yes?" he prompts in a familiar monotonous tone.

"Didn't I try to kill you?"

It takes a long moment—which tells me just how many people have tried to kill him—before realization and recognition sets in. "You were the girl with him," he murmurs in that even tone. "With Naruto."

I nod. "And now you're Kazekage. So, um, sorry about that?"

I don't exactly know how I expect him to react, and can only hope that it's not too badly. And he delivers. He lets out a short, scoffing, "Ha" which I suppose constitutes as his laugh. "You are the last person I ever expected to become a sensei," he commented, observing the three slightly confused genin behind me. I step to the side so I'm not blocking them off and they're included,

I wait a long moment for them to introduce themselves before giving an irritated sigh. "Michiko," I gesture, "Aisa, and Kento."

The three genin stand stock still and trembling, paralyzed by the Kazekage's gaze. Finally Michiko lets out a slight "Eep!" that breaks the spell. Then the three of them are hurriedly bowing again and mumbling niceties and I do nothing to cut them off, simply rolling my eyes at the show.

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