Chapter 9: Comrades

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"Everyone, we will begin by doing a few basic fitness exercises to increase your physical strength and stamina. This will be a daily routine, and I will gradually give you more advanced exercises. To start, run 20 laps around the school. Last one to arrive will be on cleaning duty."

No way! I hate cleaning! I don't even know how to clean! Well, I should just focus and make sure I'm not last. I also have to make sure that Gaara isn't last, either. And Yukari too... She seems really frail, I hope she'll do well.

"Hey, Yukari, good luck!"

She looks at me with a concerned face and nods.

"You too, Kiu."

I smile at her and give her a pat on the shoulder. Does she count as a new friend now? I feel like we'll be good friends! Gaara doesn't seem to mind her either. I look at Gaara, and encourage him too.

"Make sure you're not last either, Kiu."

Gaara says to me while smiling. Even though it doesn't show, I'm actually really confident in my physical ability! Maybe the family I used to have trained me really well... I'm pretty sure I'll end up being one of the first ones.

"On your marks..."

This is it! I'll show everyone just how strong I really am!

"Get set..."

I should keep a good pace, without wasting too much energy.

"GO!"

All of us start running. After a few laps, a lot fall back. I look around, making sure that Gaara and Yukari are still close. Gaara didn't seem to have any difficulty. In fact, he was starting to get faster than me. Well, he's got a lot of stamina! Now, where's Yukari? I take a peek behind me, and I find her, doing her best to stick close. She's starting to look a little tired, though... Is that Mari behind her? Yukari starts to lose her pace, but Mari isn't. In fact, she's almost past Yukari when...

"Move it, dork!"

She pushes her aside, causing Yukari to fall on the ground. Yukari! What should I do? I should help Yukari! But... I'll definitely be last if I do that... But Yukari's my friend! That's right! I stop running, and go back to where Yukari fell.

"Yukari, are you alright?"

"Kiu! You're going to be last if you don't keep running."

"So what? I'm not going to abandon a friend. Can you stand up?"

"I think..."

I try to help her up, but she lets out a pained scream.

"I think I twisted my ankle..."

Now what... I look around to find sensei.

"Sensei, my friend fell..."

"So?"

"She's hurt..."

"Until the end of this exercise, she will have to manage. A ninja should never abandon a mission, no matter what happens, and that also goes for Academy exercises. Now go back to running."

"Yes sir..."

I should hurry and find a way to help Yukari before Gaara finds out... If he does, then he'll also end up last with us. I know! I'll give her a piggyback! I go back to where Yukari is.

"Hey, Yukari, get on my back!"

"What? No way! I'm too heavy for you!"

"Don't underestimate me..."

"You sure...?"

After some convincing, she finally gets on my back, and I start running again. Strangely enough, she's much lighter than I thought she would be. It's actually not that much harder running with her on my back. How come it's so easy? I start catching up to all the people who passed us. I finally start seeing Mari's back. If I get past her, it'll be as if this incident never held us back. After a few seconds, I finally catch up to Mari. I don't even have time to check her reaction, because I'm so concentrating on getting good results on this exercise. My goal is to catch up with Gaara, even though it's practically impossible, considering he's almost the first one... He's like half a lap ahead. We have about five more laps to go. I probably won't make it to the top three, but I'll be in the top five for sure. I pass a few more people, and it's finally the last lap.

"We're almost there, Kiu! You can do it!"

Yukari's encouragement makes try my hardest to keep my pace up. This is actually getting really tiring. My legs are starting to feel sore. I can't give up now. Finally... Almost there...

"Kiu, you did it!"

I almost collapse after having reached the end of the lap. That was tough... I go to where all those who finished are standing, with Yukari still on my back. I'm sweating like crazy, and my breathing is really heavy. I spot Gaara, and go to where he is. When he sees me, he rushes to me, and looks at me with a worried expression.

"Kiu, what happened?"

"Yukari... twisted... her ankle..."

I say while panting. Gaara uses his sand to slowly take Yukari off my back, and slowly sits her on the ground. Right after I feel Yukari's weight off my back, my legs give in and I fall on my butt, while heavily panting. I go sit next to where Yukari is sitting, and give her a high five.

"Told you not to underestimate me..."

"Thank you so much, Kiu. You're really something."

Gaara comes over and sits next to me.

"You're going to both be okay, right?"

"Don't worry about me, Gaara. It's Yukari's ankle that's more important right now..."

I take a look at her ankle, and I find out how I'm supposed to take care of it, as if all the knowledge was already there in my brain, even though it's the first time I see a twisted ankle. I've only heard of it, and how it's painful. Then again, I remember how I was able to treat both Gaara and my wounds after absorbing Yashamaru's medical knowledge. I wonder if I was also able to absorb that flying kunai technique. I'll probably know when I use some kunai knifes. As for Yukari's ankle, it doesn't seem too serious. It should heal in a few days, if she rests, and it should get bandaged, too, to keep it in place. I'm pretty sure someone more qualified than me will do that for her.

Finally, everyone finishes their laps, and a boy with shoulder length brown hair ends up last. I think his name is Yuto. He seems like the type of guy who just doesn't want to give his all in anything. I guess that's probably why he ended up last. Sensei finally comes to us when everyone finished.

"Well, I see that everyone made it. I was very impressed with some of you, while others really disappointed me. Hurting your comrades is unacceptable as a ninja. If I catch you again, I won't let it slide so easily."

Heh! He's probably talking about Mari. Let's hope she gets it.

"As a ninja, you should always place the mission as your first priority. However, if your comrades are in danger and you are confident that you will be able to help them without it hindering the mission, then you should go to their aid. Then again, if it does hinder the mission, you will have no choice but to leave your comrades behind."

...Leave them behind? Is that really what a ninja should do?

"Now, this ends your first day. As I said, the last one who arrived, Yuto, will be in charge of cleaning up the classroom. You may all go home now."

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