Just because the screen has faded to black doesn't mean

it can't light up again, with life began anew.


The young man turned to look at the waitress, a cigarette hanging from his lips. "What?"

"Are you going to order anything?"

His eyes drifted to the watch on his wrist and he gave his arm a shake to clear the drops of rainwater off the face of it. The corner of his mouth pulled down in a frown at the number that stared back at him.

His clients were late—four hours late.

"No," he drawled. The young man took a long drag of his cigarette, letting the smoke mingle with his lungs before releasing it in one prolonged gust. "I'm fine."

She held the same placid smile on her face, nodded, and bent down in a low bow. She displayed the same absurd level of politeness that everybody else in the ass end of Fire Country seemed to favour.

He wasn't a fan. The whole thing was borderline obnoxious, in his opinion.

The waitress bustled off back inside and the chatter of the patrons leaked out the door, mingling with the sound of rain dripping against dirt. As soon as she was gone he plucked the cigarette from his mouth and pressed it against the table. The residual bits of water drowned out the flickering butt.

He hadn't been bothered after waiting for that first hour, he had been mildly annoyed after waiting for a second, and had begun to feel concern blossom inside of him once a third had come and gone. With the fourth past him, though, the young man knew he had to do something other than sit and wait around, steadily getting soaked by the rain that dripped through the patch-work awning.

The young man stood and ran his fingers through his damp, shoulder-length black hair, which had slipped from its usual ponytail.

He didn't know much about his clients; all he had been told was that they were a family of three, whose name held no particular social standing, that wanted to relocate to Konoha.

Still, even that much information was enough to make the young man believe something was awry.

It was unusual for people other than nobles or merchants to commission an escort for such a trek, especially when their starting point was still within the bounds of Fire Country. Ninja escorts were only hired when there was a potential threat. For nobles, escorts were there to ward off assassinations. For merchants, petty thieves.

What could a peasant family be running from?

He didn't know. He did, however, have a sinking suspicion that whatever it was had caught up to them—that became a problem as he needed them alive to escort them. He supposed that he could technically escort their corpses, but he doubted the Hokage would count that as a completed mission.

With that grim thought lingering in his mind, the young man let out a sigh. "This was supposed to be an easy mission."