Chapter Nineteen ~ Arrival

Start from the beginning

The Kazekage—I search for his name for a moment because, as much as I hated to admit, my memories of that time weren't nearly as organized as they once were (I make a mental note to organize them as soon as possible)—Gaara, returns his gaze to me. "The mission, then?" he questions, and I know that he's picked up on our exhaustion.

"The mission itself was rather simple," I reply, "And despite a slight...hiccup, the actual retrieval wasn't too hard. A C-rank mission, as you said." Gaara nods, but I can tell he can sense that there's more to the mission. "Unfortunately, we happened to run into two extremely powerful enemies—"

"—They were a part of some organization after Cashile-sensei!"

And oh my God Michiko really is an idiot. All three of these genin had showed such promise on separate occasions, only to send it all tumbling down in another situation. Stupid Michiko wanted to prove to the Kazekage how smart she is and how much she knows and how helpful she is and that she can add to the adult conversation and it's all I can do to not lower my head into my hands and groan.

Gaara turns his sharp gaze to me. "Continue," he invites softly, and I know he's asking for more than just the mission now. He wants me to expand on this topic. I glance to the genin. Gaara's eyes show slight surprise at the indicator that I don't wish to share this with my own team, but I simply shake my head slightly. He studies me for a long moment before nodding shortly.

"By my understanding," he intoned. "This mission has been a long and tedious one. Rui!" he raises his voice.

The door opens and a ninja steps in. "Yes, Kazekage?"

"Please lead these leaf genin to somewhere they can rest for at least the night," he glanced at me and I nod my consent shortly.

"Yes, Kazekage," the ninja replies again. "Come, if you would follow me."

The genin glance towards me unsurely and I nod once again, indicating that they follow him. They troop out one by one and the door shuts behind them.

As the door shuts I allow my shoulders to slump a little more in exhaustion-- not only was I quite fatigued but the show of weakness would open the Kazekage up to me more. He notices my exhaustion and gestures to the chair opposite him. I walk towards it, allowing my limp to show through as I make sure not to aggravate my injury.

"You're injured," Gaara stated.

"Sacrifices had to be made in order to win," I reply tiredly.

Gaara calls in a ninja and holds a muted conversation. A minute later and a medic nin enters. We don't talk as she does her work.

"There you are! The area will be tender for a couple of days, but other than that, you're good! Hold back on training and sparring until there's little to no tenderness, kay?"

I nod and she leaves. Gaara and I stare at each other, and he's the first to break the silence. "Please explain the mission," he requests. "And any background information you are able to share."

And my respect for him skyrockets when he doesn't ask for the impossible, doesn't ask me to share everything. He asks for what I am able to share. He didn't ask for anything that could compromise Konoha. Anything that could compromise me. Just what I am able to share.

And with a weirdly relieved feeling in the pit of my stomach, I tell him my story.

"My team and I exited the gates of Konoha 3 days ago. We made our way to a small village where the group who had taken the artifact was located. Our aim was to infiltrate and take an artifact that had been stolen from the Land of Air. This was completed effortlessly. The trouble started on our travels back."

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