Chapter Forty ~ Pursuit

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By the time Aiden returned, I'd finished all the sushi. He raised an eyebrow but didn't complain, instead sitting and accepting the bill from a passing waiter. "What was that about?" he asked.

"Mission," I replied briefly.

"The one completed or have you been assigned another?

"New one," I informed him, sipping at my tea. "We're going after a member of the Akatsuki. Itachi Uchiha."

Aiden raised his eyebrows in an expression of surprise. "I've heard that name before. Why are you guys going after him now?"

"Because my old teammate is making his move,"I answered. At his confused expression, I elaborated. "Remember the pale kid with the sullen expression? Black hair? All spiky?"

Aiden just kinda shook his head while shrugging. "I didn't see much of your team. I know your old sensei, and then there's the blonde haired kid I was neighbors with for a bit, but..."

"Eh, doesn't really matter," I waved him off. "Sakura is my other old teammate. Pink hair, trained Aisa's team while I was gone on this last mission." Recognition lit in his eyes. Aisa, no doubt, complained about Sakura to his older brother.

"Sasuke is the dark haired one. He left the village without permission to train with the rogue nin Orochimaru. Now he's killed Orochimaru and is hunting down his older brother, Itachi Uchiha, who killed his clan a couple years ago before joining the Akatsuki."

Aiden blinked. Then, "Your team sounds a little fucked up," he admitted. "And so does this village. Why hasn't Konoha caught this Itachi yet?"

"He joined the Akatsuki," I reminded with a shrug. "I guess we couldn't risk antagonizing them."

"But now you can?" Aiden asked, placing the correct amount of money on the table.

"Two birds, one mission," I reminded. "We can get Sasuke and Itachi. Not to mention the Akatsuki is on the move, now; we don't have to worry about drawing a response."

Aiden shrugged. "That makes sense, I guess."

"Yeah," I agreed slowly, something about my explanation nagging at me. Reviewing the conversation, I dismissed the feeling; there was nothing that drew my attention. "I should go back to my apartment," I said, standing. "It's a big mission: I'll need rest."

"Alright." Aiden nodded, falling in step with me as we exited the restaurant.

I quirked an eyebrow when he turned left with me instead of right toward his apartment. "Your apartment is in the other direction," I reminded him just in case he'd forgotten. I didn't think he was that stupid, but you never knew.

"I know," he replied. "I was just walking you home."

I stopped walking, staring at him in confusion. "But why?"

"Uh," he hesitated, as though searching for a reason.

"It can't be to protect me," I thought out loud. "If anything, I would protect you. Yeah, you can fight, but I'm a ninja and much more capable than you. And we just spent several hours together, so it can't just be for my presence. I don't understand."

There was irritation in Aiden's eyes, and I mentally reviewed the conversation, trying to discover what had happened to irk him. I could find nothing but truth, and so shrugged it off. "I don't know," he responded, sounding annoyed. "I just thought you would appreciate it, oh mighty ninja."

I shook my head, mystified, ignoring his childish barb. At least I knew what had irritated him, now. "But it's unneeded and inconvenient for you."

Something in Aiden softened slightly at the words. "Sometimes people will do things for others despite the inconvenience," Aiden told me. "Maybe it doesn't make sense to you, but that's when you should just accept whatever action someone is doing and maybe even thank them for it."

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