Disclaimer: Why do you have to keep rubbing it in? :::cries:::

A/N: These are some things that I was thinking of as I watched the episode, and they seemed to fit with Kurenai the most. I really don't see Asuma going all introspective like this, and my favorite shinobi is still unconsious here. At least, I'm going to assume for the sake of the story that he stays unconsious for at least this long. I really don't know, 'cause I haven't gotten this far in the manga yet. :::sweatdrop:::

Also, I seem to be doing quite a few introspective, get-inside-their-heads fanfiction lately. And, I believe I just figured out why. My inner English major is in overdrive because I've had to write several papers and take finals, and it's making its presence felt in all facets of my life, not just my English classes. While it's nice to actually write something after a several month long hiatus, I rather hope this doesn't continue much past finals because frankly...it's rather creepy. And I like writing fun stuff, too. :::pouts::: The ideas just won't leave me alone! I think they've been taking lessons in stealth. They pounce on me, then hang on with all the tenacity that Ino has when she hangs onto Sasuke.

Wow, sorry about the rambling. It's not like anyone's going to read it anyway. My excuse: it's 4:30 in the morning. I need to go to bed. Anyway. On with the story.

To Remember

What the hell had she been thinking? She had seen his eyes. She knew they were Sharingan, and she knew what that meant. But she had used a genjustu anyway, or tried to.

Kurenai sighed, and looked at the unconsious man in the bed, then inched her chair closer, worry plain in her red eyes. She smiled bitterly. Her eyes might have been purple for all the good they had done her. She was a jounin, but her rank, and the skill that it signified meant nothing next to the power of Uchiha Itachi. She shivered, remembering again how easily he had seen through her illusion and turned it against her.

She had needed to be rescued. Normally, this fact would have rankled her, but even her rescuer had needed to be rescued in the end. She tried to block out her memories of the incident. Remembering wouldn't help anything, but she couldn't stop the sounds from reentering her mind.

Swallowing hard, she realized that if she didn't remember now, she would remember in her nightmares. Kurenai closed her eyes surrendered herself to the memory. She heard Kakashi ordering her and Asuma to close their eyes, and telling them that only his Sharingan would work against whatever Itachi was planning to do. They couldn't do anything against the power Itachi wielded. That thought ran through her brain now, as it had then. Then, it had been frustrating, frightening, and at the same time comforting. Kakashi knew what to do, and he could fight back. Even if she couldn't, someone could. Or so she thought.

Now, she knew better. The only feelings left now were frustration and overwhelming fear. She had been a fool to feel any hope in that situation. She could hear Kakashi's voice in her mind, and she realized now what she hadn't at the time. It was probably because she didn't know him all that well, and most of the time he seemed completely laid back. At the time, she had thought that he was merely tense and focused on the situation, but now she realized that Kakashi had also been afraid. He knew what he would be facing, and that the only person who had the ability to fight back against that jutsu was a thirteen year old boy, bearing the curse seal of Orochimaru, who hadn't yet come anywhere near even Kakashi's level of skill with the Sharingan. But then, she hadn't known that.

She opened her eyes and looked over at the bed again. It had been five hours since the confrontation, and Kakashi still showed no signs of coming to. She shifted in her seat, and sighed, realizing that if she didn't sort out her thoughts and finish reliving her memories of the incident, that she would be unable to put it behind her and focus on the difficulties she knew would be ahead for the village.

She again closed her eyes, and remembered hearing Itachi dispassionatly inform Kakashi that he would be helpless against the Mange Sharingan. It was then that her hope had started to disappear, but she had still clung to it. She remembered how her body had remained tense the entire time, straining to hear Itachi close in for his attack, hoping that the sound would be able to help her, and Asuma, form a counterattack. Instead, all she heard was Kakashi's grunt, and his breathing becoming labored, as if he were in great pain. He had begun gasping for breath, and she had almost opened her eyes then to see what had happened. But she realized that Itachi had been telling the truth. If Kakashi had been defeated so quickly, she would fare the exact same, if not worse, without doubt. And she hadn't even heard him move!

Kurenai frowned, and and felt the utter helplessness again. She hadn't even heard Itachi move. Even now, she still had no idea what he had done because the one person who could tell them was unconsious. Had it been genjutsu, like her attacks, Kakashi should have been able to see through it and remain as unaffected mentally as he was physically. But just as Itachi had predicted, Kakashi hadn't been able to protect himself, and something had hurt him so badly that after five hours, he still showed no signs of recovery.

Considering his condition now, Kurenai was surprised that he hadn't passed out immediately after Itachi had attacked him. Instead, he had dropped to one knee, and the splashes the movement made had worried her at first, thinking that he had indeed passed out. Instead, he had continued to stand in Itachi's way, and even question him, although she could tell from his voice and his breathing that he was in pain and struggling to remain concious. She recalled what Itachi had stated as his purpose, and felt an even deeper fear, not just for herself, but for the entire village. If someone who was already as strong as Itachi was managed to get Naruto and find a way to harness the power of the Kyuubi...

Kurenai shook her head and left that thought unfinished. Naruto was well protected, and out of their reach, but the initial search for him had caused a panic. He was missing, and many thought that perhaps Itachi and his partner had captured him after they had disappeared from the river. She smiled slightly as she remembered hearing from one of the councilmembers that Naruto had left with Jiraya-sama to search for the new Hokage. At least something had gone right.

Kurenai opened her eyes again and looked out the window. Now that she had thought through the confrontation with Itachi, she realized the answer to her question. She had been trying to protect the people she cared for, and people she didn't even know. She had been defending Konoha, because it was her home, and she loved all the people in it. She was a proud shinobi of Hidden Leaf Village, and she would do anything in her power to protect it, even if it meant sacrificing herself. She looked back over at Kakashi. He was the same way. He knew before the battle even began what Itachi's move would be, and he stood against him, just as she had. They both knew what it meant to protect their village, and they both knew what it meant to be strong. She hadn't been a fool; she had been fighting the only way she knew. And when Itachi came back--as she felt in her heart that he would--he would face a village full of shinobi who do the exact same thing. And because of that, she knew that Konoha would weather this trial too.

Kurenai closed her eyes again, but this time, it wasn't to remember. She settled back in her chair and slowly surrendered herself to a peaceful sleep.