Their walk had been uneventful thus far, but everyone's backs were arched, ready for a strike. Komatsu felt the same, and the paranoia that plagued her every step on a regular day had been ramped up to eleven. Kakashi had attempted to calm their fears with ill placed banter and small talk but only Naruto took him up on it, much to his horror.

Naruto was horrible at intelligent banter.

Komatsu walked behind Tazuna now, flanked by Sasuke. He probably saw her as the lesser evil; she didn't speak unless spoken to and her hands would twitch against her kunai pouch occasionally. Kakashi glanced back and grimaced.

She, or the other members of Team Seven, couldn't help their gasps when a small glimpse of the ocean greeted them.

"It's pretty," Komatsu whispered. Naruto went to exclaim in agreement but Kakashi's hand clapped across his mouth.

"There's a reason we're at an abandoned dock and not the local port," he warned and her heart tightened at the serious edge to his voice. It promised danger and blood. Even Sasuke didn't take the chance to sneer at the knucklehead.

The mist enclosed them as they stepped onto their boat and Komatsu suddenly found herself grateful for her usually constricting attire. Sasuke's elbows, however, were victimised severely. Komatu would've offered her gloves, but she was feeling the chill herself.

"…the Suna blood in her veins."

She frowned. She hated giving into stereotypes, but she also knew she would never survive living in a place like this. Give her the humid summers of Konoha anytime. Their driver flinched upon seeing their 'saviours' appear in the form of a couple of brats, but said nothing but a warning to remain silent. The less said, the less that could be held against you; especially in Gato's territory. Just when she began to settle, wedged firmly in between Sasuke and Naruto, Kakashi spoke yet again.

"Tazuna-san, I believe we are owed an explanation."

The bridge builder's case was sympathetic at first, but Komatsu ground her teeth at the crocodile tears. She saw the smirk when Kakashi agreed to continue with the mission and pursed her lips in intense distaste. However, she remained silent for the entirety of the trip, and instead gazed across the channel. Hers and Sasuke's eyes caught once, and she was comforted that he was taking the same precautions as her. The mist worried her; it provided natural cover for them but it obviously would also do so for any pursuers.

"Sensei, are we almost there?" Naruto whined, hands behind head. He's greeted with a harsh 'shush' from their guide and he grumbled. "Just hungry," he mumbled. Komatsu was sure he ate more than anyone for breakfast.

Now firmly in Wave Country, Komatsu shivered; too cold, too cold, too cold. The fog around her had dissipated and yet the chill remained. She wrapped her arms around herself, stepping off the boat lightly. "W-Where next?" She chattered.

"Maa, don't be so impatient, Komatsu-chan. We've a while to go yet." Kakashi chuckled, clearly amused when her face fell dramatically. There would be no stopping to rest in the portside town, much to everyone's dismay.

"Everything looks the same," Naruto complained. "I thought outside the village would be exciting!"

"This isn't exciting enough for you?" Kakashi asked, dread pooling in his stomach. Or maybe that was Komatsu projecting.

Naruto stuck out his tongue and strode out on ahead and Sasuke, on principle, made to match his pace. She lingered behind, hands pressed together and eyes half closed. Kakashi was only a few steps ahead with Tazuna, and the two boys were just a bit further…wait what was—


Komatsu's eyes followed Naruto's kunai with bated breath. When there was no response, Naruto shrugged.

"Ah, just a mouse," he said nonchalantly.

"Naruto, don't play with kunai knives, they're dangerous." Kakashi held his hand to his forehead and massaged his probably throbbing temple.

"Brat! Don't go tricking me for your puny pride!" Tazuna looked like a kettle ready to boil over.

Komatsu shuffled forward to Sasuke and they sighed in unison of both relief and frustration respectively. "Naruto-kun, I'm sure Kakashi-sensei will let us know if someone's coming," she told him softly, so as to not bruise his ego further. He ignores her completely and instead continued to search nearby bushes.

Sasuke scoffed and grabbed his elbow. "You idiot, you're going to give away our position," he hissed. They squabbled for a moment but Naruto gave up first, ripping himself from Sasuke's grip. "Just tell someone if you think we're being tracked. What are we going to do if we don't even know what to attack, dobe."

"Well I'm telling you now! Someone has been targeting us." Naruto's voice swerved from a shout to a hoarse scream as Sasuke pinched his shoulder. "Ya happy now?" He grumbled.


Komatsu let herself smile but her next breath became hitched. She closed her eyes and redid her headcount; there were Naruto and Sasuke's chakras butting against one another, Kakashi's placid, if weary rhythm and Tazuna's weak, thrumming energy, and—


Robotically, she spun on her heel and approached Kakashi. If she's wrong, then she would surely be scolded. Would Kakashi scold her like her grandmother?

But she was so cold. The shiver became pain and she knew she had realised too late. "Sensei, behind you!" She threw open her scroll and out came her bow and quiver. No sooner had she done so before Kakashi pulled her and Tazuna to the ground, ordering the boys to do the same. A blade whistled over their heads and sunk itself into another nearby tree.

Komatsu shakily got to her feet as she peered up at the strange shinobi. It took approximately two and a half seconds for her to accept her impending doom. Even the man's aura set her on edge and she drew close to her teammates as Kakashi stepped towards him.

"Well, well, if it isn't Momochi Zabuza, Kirigakure's second favourite rogue." Kakashi was surprisingly blasé, but the word 'rogue' only set off further alarm bells in Komatsu's mind. He was not constrained by any rules a village may impose, even if that village was Kirigakure. Naruto clearly did not share the sentiment and was already making to charge Zabuza. Kakashi pushed him back. "You'll be in the way. Get back," he ordered.

"What, why?" Naruto asked indignantly.

"He's nothing like those other shinobi we dealt with. This guy's on another level." Naruto frowned but did edge back. "Maa, it looks like things are serious this time. Guess I've no choice." He edged his hand towards his covered eye but was interrupted by Zabuza's laughter.

"You are Kakashi of the Sharingan then?" And then he bowed his head, almost respectfully, to his opponent. "I am sorry, but I will have you hand over the old man now."

The wind surged around them and Komatsu took the silence as a chance to regain formation. She stood with her back to Tazuna, weapon raised. Naruto and Sasuke joined her, both appearing thoughtful of the latest development regarding their sensei.

"Manji formation. Protect the client and stay out of this," he warned. "Zabuza, your fight is with me." And then the headband moved away and Komatsu is caught by the most brilliant shade of red. She would be transfixed if it weren't for Tazuna's chattering teeth behind her.

Zabuza hummed. "I never thought I would get to see the long-rumoured Sharingan so soon…it is an honour."

The most confusing part for Komatsu was his sincerity, really.

"But what is a Sharingan?" Naruto demanded.

"It's a doujutsu, isn't it?" Komatsu looked to Sasuke, who nodded.

"Power that the light emanates and the pupil generates," he recited. "It gives the user the ability to see through genjutsu, taijutsu and ninjutsu and the power to deflect all three." He paused and his gaze drifted away. "However, it can do much more."

Terrifying, thought Komatsu. And their sensei had this power? But, wasn't the Sharingan just for the Uchiha?

"Well said," praised Zabuza (strangely). "That is not all. It's most frightening characteristic is its ability to assess the opponent's skills and copy them to an art." He faced them now and a mist came rolling in from behind them. "Back in my Anbu days, we spoke of you. Your name and face were printed in our Bingo Book, along with a couple of other entertaining tidbits." Kakashi's expression hardened, but Zabuza continued nonplussed. "They were about a man who had copied over one thousand jutsu; Kakashi the Copy Ninja."

"Sensei is strong," Komatsu murmured. It was a relief to know they could at least put up a fight with him around.

"Woah, Sensei! That's amazing!" Naruto exclaimed.

The tone quickly changed as Zabuza crouched upon his weapon. "We have spoken enough. The old man, Kakashi." Kakashi remained silent. "I must defeat you first then. So be it." He jumped back onto the water then and the mist intensified around them. Komatsu tightened her stance, bow and quiver now on back and kunai in her right hand.

There was no way she was getting a shot on this guy.

"Who is this guy?" Naruto asked, the gravity of the situation finally settling in.

"Momochi Zabuza, former Kiri anbu. Known for his 'silent killing' technique," Kakashi answered evenly.

"Brilliant," Sasuke muttered from beside her.

"I am not a master of my Sharingan, so be on your guard or you will wake up in the afterlife very soon." He continued in the same casual tone. "Don't worry, we'll only die if we fail."

Somehow, dying was not terribly frightening to Komatsu. But, she did worry for her teammates. If she died it would leave a gap in their defences—best to try and stay alive until completely necessary. Kakashi also disappeared from sight then and her anxiety spiked. Tazuna's back was exposed like this; if they could just get him to a tree…

"Eight spots."

She locked her muscles, coiling in anticipation for further attack.

"The larynx, the spine, the liver…"

After that Komatsu stopped listening to his words, and instead tried to find a clue as to where he may be. It was all intimidation tactics (and she certainly knew a thing or two about those). Perhaps if she had paid attention however, she would not have been surprised by Kakashi charging his own chakra. Their immediate vicinity cleared and Komatsu found her voice in her throat when she saw Kakashi.

Thank god.

Zabuza's murderous intent washed against her and she frowned, her arms and legs spasming against her own volition. However, she counted backwards from ten and reminded herself that Zabuza was not the scariest thing she had ever encountered. Zabuza had not hurt her so logically, he should not be feared like that which had. The only way she could match such a thirst for blood though was to greet it with open apathy. So she hummed, and closed her eyes against the dark limbo. When she opened, her lungs were lighter and the sun a tad brighter.

Sasuke, on the other hand, appeared distraught, an expression she hoped to never see again on her comrade. On instinct, she grabbed his hand and slid her own down to the hilt of his kunai. He jolted but found he could not move more than an inch. "We're fine," she whispered. Which was not true, but they certainly weren't dead either. "Sa-Sasuke-kun, are you o-kay?" She cursed her stammer. Sasuke craned his neck to gaze at her, and she could not even offer a proper smile. Instead, she squeezed his wrist. Iruka had once said that Killing Intent could only be broken by equal Positive Intent. Komatsu thought of how well her plants were growing at home; they would be harvestable by the time she returned. She let that stabilise her chakra flow. Due to the physical contact, it was much easier to convey her intent to Sasuke, who slowed his breathing.

Then, his head snapped upwards entirely and Komatsu followed his eyes to find Kakashi smiling at them.

"I will protect you with my life, so don't worry." Komatsu's heart hammered in her chest—would he? Why? "I will not let my comrades die."

Just for a moment, she believed him.

"I wonder about that…"

Komatsu dove for Tazuna over Zabuza's blade, knocking him to the ground. Kakashi leapt to his genin's defence, pushing the Kiri rogue away from the group, stabbing his abdomen. Water trickled out and Komatsu feared the worst as the water clone dissipated and a new Zabuza took its place behind their sensei.

"Behind you!" Naruto screamed too late as Kakashi's own clone was sliced in two.

"But when did he..?"

"It's over, Zabuza," Kakashi gritted out, pressing the kunai against his neck.

"Is that so?" He replied, cutting off Naruto's jubilant cry. "You used the mist as a cover for your Sharingan. Clever, but I am no fool." The Zabuza before Kakashi dissolved into water and yet again he found himself ambushed by the rogue nin.

"That was a fake too?!" Naruto exclaimed.

Their sensei and Zabuza engaged for a short while, but Kakashi was kicked away. Zabuza smirked before locking eyes with Komatsu, who still stood guard before Tazuna. His Killing Intent intensified but she kept her eyes focused on his form. If she was going to die, she would rather look her killer in the eye.

"Impressive, runt. You're still standing," he chuckled. "I'll make sure it's quick." He rushed forward and Komatsu felt flattered by the panic on her teammates' expressions.

"Kid—you don't have to," Tazuna began, only to trail off as Zabuza skidded only feet away from them. Komatsu followed his gaze and with great relief took in the caltrops in front of her.

"Foolish," the rogue nin grunted, diving into the water and Komatsu released a breath she didn't realise she was holding.

"W-We need to go, now." She hurriedly escorted Tazuna to the edge of the forest and placed him back against the tree where Naruto and Sasuke joined her.

"Are you okay, Komatsu-chan?" Naruto asked worriedly. Sasuke kept one eye on her also.

She simply nodded, eyes trained on the lake. Kakashi was now trapped helpless by Zabuza's jutsu and another water clone surfaced from the lake. She reconsidered whether she was now alright or not.

"You're acting awful big, wearing that headband like you're a real ninja or somethin'." His laugh was harsh and grated against her ears. She wished he would shut up. "But, a ninja is one who has hovered between life and death time and again." Komatsu wondered if her hospital visits counted. "Only those like your sensei deserve the title of 'ninja'."

The mist enveloped him then. He reappeared to kick Naruto squarely in the chest, and Sasuke managed to catch him to break his fall. That was when panic finally managed to inject itself into Komatsu's system.

She didn't want Naruto to die.

"Take Tazuna and run! You don't stand a chance!" Kakashi yelled. "As long as he has me trapped here, he can't move and his clone should disappear if it's too far from his body!"

But if they did not stand a chance already, how could they run? Without Kakashi to buy time and with Tazuna unable to move at their speed, Zabuza would catch them in seconds, distance between clone and original notwithstanding.

"Tch, how stupid," Sasuke hissed. "We just have to do it!" He roared. Komatsu flinched and could only watch as he charged Zabuza. She attempted to line her own shot when he grabbed Sasuke but was deflected easily.


He was tossed easily across the field, digging into the dirt below. Zabuza approached Naruto next, still rigid and unmoving through fear. His lips trembled as he gazed up at his would-be killer, and Komatsu was sorely reminded of her encounter with Mizuki. Maybe because of that though, she jumped over the blond boy and lifted her hands to face the swordsman.

"N-Naruto-kun, co-cover the client," she whispered. Sasuke was still down and Kakashi was busy throwing himself down against his water prison. This was it.

"You have a death wish, kid?" He asked.

She smiled, underneath her layers. Maybe.

"You have som-something," she said, and perhaps out of a warrior's respect, he tilted his head to listen. "You have m-my friend's," she heard Naruto's breath quicken, "h-hitaite, Momochi-san." And she gestured to the headband under his foot.

"Komatsu-chan, you—"

"Is that all you have to say?' Zabuza snorted. "I believe I owed you a quick death, runt. I always pay my dues." He hefted up his blade and Komatsu raised her bow. If she could just get one shot in as she went down…

"Hey, don't forget about me!" A blur of orange and blue rushed past her and slammed itself against Zabuza. The latter scoffed and returned the favour with a swift uppercut. Komatsu gasped as the blood floated through the air. Sasuke grabbed her elbow and dragged her back, narrowly missing Naruto's plummet back to earth.

"Naruto-kun!" She stepped forward and then back.

"Don't be an idiot, dobe, get back here!" Sasuke growled.

Naruto laughed, stunning his audience into silence. He staggered to his feet, hitaite now in hand and put his fist out to Zabuza. "Hey, no-brows, put this in your Bingo Book," he snarled. "Uzumaki Naruto, future hero and Hokage of Konohagakure and real ninja, dattebayo!" He jumped back and clasped Sasuke on the shoulder. "Lend me your ear, Sasuke!"

"What is it?" He asked cautiously, arms still spread and ready to attack.

"I have a plan," the blond replied cheekily. Komatsu raised an eyebrow and he glanced back at her. "Ne, sorry Komatsu-chan, can you stick with the old man for a bit?"

Komatsu nodded immediately; whatever Naruto's idea was, things couldn't possibly get worse anyway. Sasuke drew in closer to her other squadmate and it warmed her heart to see their hushed whispers, even in the current circumstances.

Teamwork, huh? At least one of Kakashi's teachings had made an impact. "Tazuna-san, p-please stay behind me," she requested.

"You got it, kid."

"Well then," Naruto clapped his hands together, "let's get wild!" He and Sasuke stepped forward, and Zabuza laughed.

"Sounds like we have a winner," he taunted.

Kakashi threw a fist against the water wall. "Have you forgotten our mission? You need to run and protect Tazuna! Go, now!" His eyes flitted from the two boys to Komatsu. "Komatsu, tell them!"

She refused to meet his gaze and instead peered at their client. "Tazuna-san?" She asked hesitantly.

He held her eyes for a moment before sighing. "Well, this is a seed I planted," he started, "I can't say I want my life to be spared…so, fight as much as you want!"

The boys grinned. "You hear that?"

"Are you ready?!"

"Still haven't learnt, have you?" Zabuza hummed. "This is just play to you. When I was your age, my hands were already stained with blood."

Somehow, Komatsu was not surprised. That did not stop Sasuke and Naruto from halting their advance however.

Kakashi looked down, eyes half closed. "The Demon Zabuza… In Kiri no Sato, Ninja candidates faced their greatest hurdle at their graduation exam…"

"Oh, so you have heard of it?" Zabuza asked pleasantly.

"Wh-What is it? We did a graduation exam too!" Naruto scoffed underneath layers of nerves.

"Did you have to kill your fellow students for that hitaite?"

Komatsu imagined Shikamaru and Hinata, dead at her feet and covered her mouth; she did not like to think she had a weak stomach, but the thought of murdering her classmates…

"Yet some years ago, Kiri was forced to reconsider their methods," Kakashi said slowly. "A demon appeared, not even a student, and," he bit his tongue, "and eliminated over one hundred of the examinees."

The group stood at a standstill, Zabuza's face clouded. He glanced up and sighed, rolling his shoulders. "Ma, that sure was…fun." Then he sunk his fist into Sasuke's stomach and pummelled him to the ground below once more.

Komatsu swallowed her cry for him and drew her bow once more. If she'd just prepared her arrows properly, maybe they would have done more damage. Stupid girl… Naruto caught her eye after a few shots, all of which had been deflected, and held the sign for her to cease behind his back. She tentatively lowered her weapon, fingers trembling. She had to place her faith in Naruto now. If she left Tazuna exposed, the mission would be as good as over. While the boys kept his attention, at least Zabuza would be content to play for a while.

Naruto unleashed a multitude of clones against Zabuza, all of which were quickly eliminated. But the fallback gave him the time to pass along Sasuke's giant shuriken. Komatsu shuddered looking at it, reminded of the way Mizuki's had sunk into Iruka's back. Could Sasuke hope to do the same sort of damage against a jounin? Clearly, he could not.


When did he have time to do that?

Naruto slung the kunai at Zabuza's now occupied arms and Komatsu watched in amazement as the water prison surrounding Kakashi fell away.

"A-Amazing!" She breathed. Not a moment later, Kakashi rose once more and for the first time, Komatsu thought that they might all make it out of this alive. She had been preparing herself to simply use the Substitution Jutsu at the most opportune moment, and drew her hands apart to cancel the final sign.

"Outstanding strategy Naruto…You've both grown up," Kakashi praised through laboured breaths.

Naruto chortled self-righteously. "Well the point of the shuriken wasn't to do any damage but to hide me!" He rubbed the back of his neck. "But I guess teme did his part too."

"Stop explaining and get back over here," Sasuke called. "And it was a fluke anyway," he mumbled.

"E-Eh? A fluke?" Komatsu repeated, dumbfounded. "Th-That was gen-genius," she protested. Both Sasuke and Naruto had worked together so flawlessly, neither could miss out on credit.

Especially Naruto; Komatsu felt guilt for doubting him where fear had previously lay. Now free, Kakashi took complete control of the battle. His Sharingan was terrifying—could he read her thoughts?

"Can the Sharingan r-really do that?" She inquired of Sasuke in a small voice.

He stared at her, and she thought it was because he considered it a dumb question, but really he was horrified because he didn't know the answer. A tidal wave flooded them then and Komatsu was distracted from her question in favour of keeping them dry.

"Wind Style: Vapor Stream Jutsu!" She dragged down her scarf and blew out in a single motion, directing the gust above and over them, following the blast rather than fighting against it. It took a lot more out of her than she thought it would, and she sighed when the onslaught finally ended. Sasuke stepped towards her and she realised her scarf was still down. Panicked, she pulled it up and turned away from him to check on Naruto, who still clung to his branch as the tide receded. "Are you alright, Naruto-kun?" She asked gingerly.

He groaned but nodded. "I think Kaka-sensei is trying to kill us too," he complained. He perked up when he craned his neck to look past her. "But look! We got him!"

Indeed, Zabuza laid limply against a nearby tree, Kakashi gazing down at him with thinly veiled contempt. Komatsu placed a hand against her heart; the battle was finally over.

Then three senbon implanted themselves in his neck and Komatsu could only stare as their opponent fell to his side. Komatsu didn't see that much blood too often (she disliked the mirror those nights). A graceful masked figure gazed down at them as Kakashi confirmed his vitals (or rather, lackthereof).

"Thank you," they said, landing before him. "I had been waiting for a chance to kill Momochi Zabuza." They bowed lowly to Kakashi.

"A tracker from Kiri?" He inquired, and they nodded shortly.

"Impressive, you are very knowledgeable."

"Eh? Tracker Ninja?" Naruto frowned deeply, still on the defensive.

Komatsu wasn't quite sure of the masked shinobi's occupation herself, but if Zabuza was a rogue then they were likely wanting him gone to protect the village. Sasuke confirmed as much, hitting Naruto upside the head all the while and making Komatsu very glad she had not broached the subject herself. If Sasuke hit her like that…

Naruto stared at his hands for a long moment before running to the figure, and Komatsu felt Kakashi's back arch. "What are you? We-We almost died—Zabuza was so strong and you-you just killed him like it was nothing!"

"Naruto, leave it, he isn't an enemy," Kakashi warned, one careful eye on the Kiri nin all the same.

"But we're pathetic!" He bit back and Komatsu couldn't help but feel stung. He was right, and if anyone could claim such a thing, Naruto could.

But still.

"This is just reality," Kakashi told him bluntly. "In a world like this, there are kids younger than you yet stronger than me." He rapped the boy's head, moving to ruffle his hair. Naruto appeared displeased but did not protest further until after the strange ninja had disappeared with Zabuza's corpse. His meltdown resumed with renewed vigour then as he beat his fist to the ground, cursing.

"What was this for then, huh?" He asked the earth.

Kakashi grabbed his shoulders, pulling him up. "We are shinobi—this is what happens." His tone was almost sad. "If you are frustrated, learn for next time." He left Naruto to his wallowing to face the remaining trio. "Our mission isn't over with yet, Tazuna-san is yet to reach his home."

When Tazuna laughed, Komatsu felt the distinct urge to stab a senbon in his neck.

"Well, come on then! Let's perk up and continue." Kakashi was the shining example of a leader for all of three seconds before he collapsed in his face.

"K-Kakashi-sensei?" They all ran to his side immediately.

"What's wrong with him?" Naruto demanded. Sasuke rolled the jounin over and checked his heartbeat.

"Still alive," he confirmed, and the group took a collective breath.

"I-It's just ch-chakra exhaust-ion." The adrenaline from battle weaning, Komatsu felt all insecurity and self consciousness crash against her chest all over again. "At least, I h-hope so…"

"How can you tell?" Sasuke asked, scrutinising the figure.

Komatsu blinked. Wasn't it obvious? "I can't feel a—there's, uh—his chakra, that is," she fumbled, unable to find the words she so desperately needed, "it's very quiet." Not to say Kakashi's chakra was ever loud but his steady rhythm had kept Komatsu grounded on days where she would have otherwise crept into her shell and refused to exit. "We should g-get him to Tazuna-san's house," she said, and both boys nodded. Without another word they hefted him onto their shoulders and began the long walk to safety.

On one of their breaks, when Sasuke was out of sight, Naruto sidled up next to Komatsu.

"H-Hey," he greeted, uncharacteristically nervous, spiking Komatsu's anxiety ten fold. "I just wanted to say, uh," he scratched his cheek, "thanks."

"For what?" She couldn't remember doing anything noteworthy recently. In fact she had spent most of this walk brooding at her own uselessness. The most Komatsu could say she had done was apply a few salves and bandages to Kakashi's visible wounds—which the boys could have easily done if they had ever taken an interest in herbology classes. So when Uzumaki Naruto wanted to thank her? She drew a complete blank.

"Back there, with Zabuza, you know…" He trailed off but quickly realised that no she did not know. "You coulda died, Komatsu-chan," he mumbled, scuffing his sandals against the path. "I was pretty scared and you just—" he spread his arms wide, "You didn't even hesitate to front up a jounin and I thought that was pretty cool andyoucalledmeyourfriend and now," he pointed an accusatory finger at her, "you're acting like it's no big deal!" He boomed, only to hold his hands up when Komatsu shrunk. "Just, thanks, okay? I didn't say it last time and I felt really bad about it because you got hurt…and I didn't think you'd still be so nice when you know about me."

Komatsu pressed her palms together, brow furrowed. Naruto's gratitude was not unwanted but she could hardly allow herself to bask in it. She did not deserve it in the slightest.

"Ano, I, er, really, really didn't do anything," she murmured, cheeks flushed.

Naruto shrugged and rolled his eyes, spotting Sasuke returning. "It wasn't nothing to me," he promised her as he resumed position under their unconscious sensei's shoulder.

They began their march again, and Komatsu wrung her wrists as they walked, unsure what to make of the fluttering feeling floating across her chest.