Chapter Sixty Six ~ Departure

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I went to leave, but before I could take more than a few steps he called out, "Cashile."

I turned so I could look him in the eye, hiding my annoyance and fear and guilt. "Yes?"

He studied me closely, face pale and eyes exhausted but intelligence unaffected, then finally sighed. "Where are you going?"

I blinked. "To help with repairing the village. Or at least yell at people about how to do it better; the nurse said I wasn't fully healed yet."

He watched me for a long moment before clicking his tongue dismissively, glancing away. "Right," he replied. "Okay."

Once again, I didn't even make it out the door before he called me back again. I spun, let some annoyance show, and snapped, "What."

He paused for another pregnant moment before speaking. "I'll look after them," he reassured. "Your genin. I'll keep an eye on them for you."

I swallowed heavily, he nodded seriously, and I took a steadying breath, a little weight lifted from my chest. "Thank you," I returned. "Goodbye."

***

"I don't know why you couldn't have just stayed in the hospital to keep healing!" Sakura complained, running a hand over my ribs. She winced. "How many ribs did you break?!"

"I don't know," I grimaced. "Three? Four?"

"You should have stayed in the hospital," she scolded again.

"You know me." I smiled thinly. "Always on the move."

She passed her hand over my head, down my arms, over the missing fingers with detached, clinical professionalism. "Really. At least you had the common sense to come to me for more healing."

"Where would we be without you, Sakura?" I asked. She pressed her lips together, turned her head away, and didn't answer, instead frowning at the cut across my torso that was freshly scarred. She didn't mention the scars or the brand and something like gratefulness sparked in my stomach for her. I hesitated for a moment, then said, "I'm sorry about Tsunade."

"No, you're not," Sakura sighed. I opened my mouth to reply, but she kept speaking. "I appreciate the sentiment all the same."

I closed my mouth again, watching her heal the last remnants of a deep bruise on my thigh and wondering if she was right. I didn't care particularly much that Tsunade was in a coma, except for the fact that it made Danzo Hokage. Or did I? Did it matter? There was hope that she would wake up; she wasn't dead.

With a huge exhale, Sakura sat back, wiping sweat from her forehead and giving me a smile. "There you are. All done."

I let my shirt drop, picking up my torn coat. Before, it had been a floor-length trench coat that reminded me too much of Ibiki. Now, it barely reached mid-thigh; I'd been forced to tear off the bottom portion from the damage it had sustained. I picked up my backpack as well. "Thanks, Sakura."

She stood, wiping off her clothes. "No problem. You should probably keep any activity light just in case I missed anything and so you don't damage any newly healed areas, but you should be fine, now."

"Thanks," I repeated. "Goodbye."

"I'll see you later," she waved. "Be careful!"

"Goodbye," I said again, and left.

***

I passed Naruto in the streets while he was carrying rubble. I hadn't thought he'd seen me, but then I heard him shout my name and I turned to watch him hand off the wooden beam to someone else and run toward me.

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