Chapter 10

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I walked up the tower, exploring and searching. Finally I heard voices. They belonged to Temari and Kankuro; they were complaining about the lack of activity in the tower. I smirked to myself and walked towards the sound of the their voices.


When I got closer I saw Kankuro sitting cross legged on the ground with Temari standing beside him. Gaara was leaning on the wall opposite of them. Upon hearing my purposefully noisy footsteps, they glance over.

"Well well, you made it." Temari said.

"But you're not the first." Kankuro taunted. I shrugged, silently enjoying our rivalry.
"What do placings ever really mean anyway? I'll steal the show  eventually." I replied. I walked in front of them and stopped.

"Besides, I'm willing to bet you have nothing to do with why you're the first group here." Kankuro scowled at me.

"A team is a team and we all made it here first together." he bristled, "We all had our importance." I scoff.

"Funny coming from you." I said shortly, becoming a little more angry and serious with this conversation. Kankuro and Temari were silent.

"Congratulations anyway for now." I said politely, turning round and continuing down the hall, but not before making eye contact with Gaara's intimidating pale green eyes in a long-yet-short glance.

I realized rather quickly that there really wasn't anything to do in the tower. Room after room, hall after hall was empty and considerably dark no matter what the time happened to be. I marked a lonely room at the end of a random hall as my own. It was dark, except for the balcony that flooding in the sky's light. At the moment, it gave a perfect view of the crescent moon hovering in the sky. Next to the balcony was a simple mattress, blanket, and pillow. It isn't that bad, I concluded, once you get over the fact that half the teams outside the window are either unconscious, dead, or dying.

I walked out onto the balcony and the cold breeze greeted me. I leaned against the wall and gently cradled my side as I listened to (mostly) the nature. The balcony and room was closer to the top of the tower, and placed me just at the tips of the trees across the river, giving me a sense of envelopment in the trees. The river around the tower gave a soft sound to my position, and I found myself closing my eyes and breathing deeply; the relaxation overrides the pain of my ribs. My cheek throbs gently from the cut, but I grow used to the sensation. The wind weaves through my hair and whistles lowly through my scissors as I wait.

It is the sensation of small pebbles of sand tickling across my neck that stirs my meditation. I lift my lids and look to the side to see Gaara. I smiled.

"Hey." I said, studying his form. "Not even a scratch." I observed, thinking back to Kabuto's info card on Gaara. "You really are amazing."

"You're injured." Gaara said. I looked at him.

"It's just a cut. No big-"

"No. It's not just that cut. You're breathing is uneven and shallow. Is something wrong with your lungs..?" He said. I smiled smally.

"I'm fine, really. My ribs took a hard hit and it hurts to breathe too deeply, but I'm good. Kisai will heal it later." I assured.

"Have her heal it now." Gaara insisted. I laughed a little, then winced.

"Don't make me laugh." I groaned. "Besides, I have four days, what's the rush?"

"Do you enjoy pain?" Gaara asked in an annoyed voice. I shrugged.

"It's nice from time to time." I admitted. "Let's me know I can get stronger still while reminding me I'm alive."

"…"

"There are just some days where I forget I am alive." I said quietly. "Some days when my past comes to haunt me and claw at me until I'm in darkness." I close my eyes. Some days where I feel like I should have stayed dead that night, and that I don't belong in the world anymore… I open my eyes and wince again at the pain.

"But then again, maybe today isn't one of those days." I laugh a little.

"Why don't you heal it yourself?" Gaara asked. I smiled sheepishly and rubbed the back of my neck.

"I'm not really good at that stuff...at all." I admitted. I chuckled again in embarrassment and looked at Gaara. "Are you any good at healing?"  Gaara stared at my hand against my ribs, then my eyes.

"I've never needed to try." He said. I smiled.

"Well, there's a first time for everything right? Wanna try on me?" I offered. Gaara looked at me thoughtfully. That was an interesting thought. But what if he couldn't do it either? What if he ended up hurting you? The thought of you suffering pain by his hand made Gaara's jaw tighten. He shook his head at me and turned around.

"Have Kisai heal it. Now." He said firmly. I stared at him.

"Meet me back here then?" I asked. Gaara paused and I saw him nod, before he disappeared in sand. I sighed when he was gone.

"Silly boy.." I pushed myself off the wall and walked back down to Kisai and Suji. I walked down the empty halls when suddenly an unpleasant tension pressed down on the air as I walked by a certain team that just arrived. I recognized them by their cloaks. Kisai said we should be careful of them, I remembered.

The leader in the white cloaked looked unscathed and perfectly fine, but his or her two teammates in the black cloaks looked border-line collapsible. Their cloaks looked more brown than black from the dirt smeared on them, and there were random blood spots too. I watched them curiously and they seemed to watch me back under the black veiled shadows under their hoods.

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