Chapter Forty Five ~ Breathe

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I took the remaining few minutes before my team showed up to control my breathing. It wouldn't do to snap at them just because I was angry at Kakashi for always being so concerned and at myself for giving him reason to be. I stiffened and let out a final breath as I sensed my students appear.

"Sensei!" Michiko exclaimed from behind me. "I chose a weapon!"

I turned to face Michiko, who was accompanied by Aisa and a still sleepy looking Kento. I raised an eyebrow. "Oh?" I questioned mildly.

With a grin she nodded, pulling her hands from behind her back and revealing triple bladed claws. I blinked at the weapons before giving her a nod of approval. They were vicious weapons that would give her added reach, and once she mastered them she could transition to a version that would allow her to run her chakra down it.

"Good," I nodded. "Kento, you were planning on using a sword, correct? What type did you end up choosing?"

He held out a sword that was the same style as most samurai used up north. I stared at it for a long moment, and Kento immediately looked worried. "I can choose a different style, if this isn't good, or if you think it's not right for me, I can choose a different weapon—"

"No, it's fine," I interrupt. "I've fought against opponents who used this type of sword, before. It's a good weapon, and a good choice for you, if you learn how to use it properly."

Kento positively glowed under my barebones praise, and I held back a sigh. He needed to stop relying on others for his self esteem and confidence.

I turned my attention towards Aisa , who was clearly -- and very awkwardly -- trying to avoid eye contact with me.

"Why don't you two try out your weapons," I suggested. "Get a good feel, make a connection. See how they fit into the fighting styles you've already developed. I'll come check on you in a bit, and give you more specific exercises."

"Hai!" Michiko exclaimed, scrambling off with Kento on her heels. They were both incredibly eager to try out their new weapons.

As soon as I saw them begin testing out different movements , I turned back to Aisa, hands on my hips and eyebrow raised. "Is there any particular reason you haven't chosen a weapon, yet?" I asked.

Aisa refused to look up, instead opting to mumble at the ground. I sighed, exasperated.

"Speak up," I ordered sharply.

"I said," Aisa repeated, defiant eyes meeting mine, "why do I need a weapon? Can't I just focus on taijutsu or ninjutsu?"

I blinked. "Of course you can," I began. Aisa relaxed. "If you want to have absolutely no surprises up your sleeve, no tricks that can save your life, and wind up dead, that is."

Asia's head was once again hanging as he muttered petulantly. "Gai-sensei doesn't use weapons."

I sighed again. "Number one: Gai is a master of taijutsu that surpasses even mine when he opens the gates. Number two: you're wrong. He uses nunchaku, and is proficient enough in other weapons to have taught his student Ten Ten, a weapons specialist, the basics. Now, give me your real reason for not wanting to carry a weapon."

Aisa hesitated. Then, "I still remember."

"Remember what, exactly?" I asked, even though I suspected I knew. Aisa was silent for another moment, and then the words just bubbled out, unstoppable, like my question had been the explosive tag to break the dam on his reservoir of words.

"They grabbed me, when I was playing outside and I shouldn't have been playing outside, I know, Aiden told me to stay inside unless I was with him, but it was actually a nice day out for once and it's almost never nice in the land of waves and they found me and they took me and they didn't even knock me out, he just said he would hurt me if shouted or did anything so I just went with him I didn't even fight and they were talking like I wasn't even there about how they were going to take down the g-gang that Aiden was a part of by using me and they said they were going to kill me if they had to and one guy, he didn't like that, because I was so little or something but then the other guy just glared at him and said something and then the guy stopped defending me and then Aiden came and they were holding the knife against my th-throat and-and-and I still remember and it was cold against my throat and it was sharp and he was going to kill me and and and and—"

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