People asked for it, so I'll deliver. The next chapter to Love Heals. Enjoy.

"Sound's attacking," yelled a Konoha ninja. Shizune was not done healing a slight wound on another of their teammates.

"Damn," she cursed silently. She quickly tied the wounded arm up and gripped a kunai in her right hand, guarding the wounded soldier. "How did they find us?"

"I don't know." She clicked her tongue and started forward, the other ninja, Kazu, moving as silently as possible. Shizune stopped still as she heard a familiar low laugh. Orochimaru, standing with Sasuke, laughed at them from his perch on top of a fallen log.

"Tsunade's sent her little insects, again," the old man chuckled. His pale skin was pulled tight over his features and his yellow eyes were full of wicked mirth. Shizune wanted nothing more than to pluck them out. "Kabuto-"

Her breath stuck in her throat.

"I suppose you can dispose of them?" Kabuto jogged up the log to stand beside Orochimaru. He surveyed the Konoha ninja and nodded. He showed no sign of knowing Shizune or caring about her welfare.

He pushed his glasses up with his middle finger and smiled coolly. "Of course," he stated. "Don't worry about dirtying your hands with these trivial matter, Orochimaru-sama. I'll be happy to take care of them."

"Good." With that Orochimaru and Sasuke disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared, leaving no trail as to where they were going. Kabuto surrounded his hands in chakra and laughed mirthlessly.

"Now where should I begin? With the woman, the gimp, or the novice?"

Kazu hissed and held his arm out to cover Shizune. "Let me handle this, Shizune. You take Michinaga back to the village."

"You'll die," Shizune warned in the strongest voice she could muster. Her stomach was turning backflips in her stomach. She has slept with the man they now faced. He had supposedly wanted a romantic relationship with her. She had been a fool.

Kazu pushed her with his arm and stepped forward at the same time. "What's important is that you get back safely, Shizune, to report this back to the Hokage. Do you understand? I'm making the sacrif- " His sentence ended in a gurgle of blood.

"It's so easy to reverse the flow of blood to someone's brain if you know exactly where to hit," Kabuto explained. His hand was on the man's stomach and the other on his chest. "It's a slow and painful way to die…" Kazu was slowly turning all different shades as he stumbled around, trying fight the inevitable death choking him.

"KABUTO!" Shizune screamed. She launched an attack at him, swinging her chakra laced hands in a controlled fury at the fellow medical nin. He emotions were in a flurry as well. Betrayal, sadness, shame, longing, all of the emotions of the heart wildly flailing against her brain which was trying to concentrate on saving Kazu and staying alive.

She tried to catch his eyes, to find what his true feelings were, but Kabuto was as unreadable as a thousand year old scroll- indecipherable, vague, and mysterious. This only made her more infuriated with herself. Kabuto, she now realized, was deceptive. She felt as though she always knew this but in the moment that he had lain helpless at her feet, saying such sweet words, such deep, meaningful words, she had forgotten.

Why? Why did this make tears sting at her eyes like this? She hit him in the arm and left shoulder before jumping back and unleashing a deadly cloud of poison. Kabuto stumbled and coughed. Kazu collapsed behind her. Her brain scolded her for being emotionally unstable at such a critical time. She had to make a choice: save Kazu or continue to attack Kabuto, who outclassed her in battle by a fair bit? She chose Kazu.

She ran over and immediately began working to undo the damage that had already been done. Organs were shutting down and there was a serious chance that Kazu would never be able to walk or talk again. Still she tried.

"How dare you turn your back on me," Kabuto's voice snarled. She turned around just in time to see his fist hit her squarely in the face. She blacked out from the pain, blood filling her mouth and sinus cavity. She made yet another mistake with Kabuto.

The steady beep of hospital equipment woke her. Tsunade personally fixed her broken nose. Kazu had not survived. Even if Kabuto hadn't knocked her out, the damage to his brain was too extensive and he died shortly after being found. Michinaga was also found in critical condition, Kabuto roughing him up to near death. Shizune refused to talk much after the incident. Genma and Kotetsu chalked it up to stress but Tsunade seemed a little more concerned.

It took a fair bit of arguing and finally a slammed door to convince the Hokage that the medical nin was not in the mood for therapy. Shizune sat beside Michinaga's bedside, silently apologizing for being in love with the enemy. She felt that somewhere inside she held back and that was why one friend was gone and another clinging to life.

Guilty and near tears she stood up and went home. The sun was setting over the village and a quiet pall was hovering over the streets. It was probably her imagination, she reasoned grimly. She unlocked the door to her home and stepped in. A man's pair of sandals was waiting in the alcove. She stared hard at them and ran inside, slipping off her own pair instinctively.

Kabuto was waiting by the window. He smiled, "Welcome home."

Shizune threw the closest thing to her at Kabuto. He dodged the vase of flowers by stepping to the side nonchalantly. Inside of her something hurt, it felt wounded, stupid, naïve. It had to be fixed. She pulled a fist full of needles from a case sitting on the edge of the coffee table. They were waiting for sharpening but they were plenty sharp enough to cause damage.

"I'll kill you, you bastard! How dare you come back here after you attacked us!" The Konoha traitor said nothing nor did he move- he just stared silently. The wounded thing inside of her flinched. "I knew I shouldn't have trusted you. You fooled me once but I won't be fooled again!" The needles cut through the air and one sliced Kabuto's cheek. Still he didn't move. "SAY SOMETHING!" She run up to him and slapped him hard. "You betrayed me!"

"I did my job," he stated simply. "Could you honestly say that if Tsunade ordered for you to attack Sound, that you would resist? Would you have warned me of the danger and thereby betray your village? All I could do… was make sure that you lived." He wiped his cheek, though it continued to bleed. "But I'm happy that our first lover's spat was over something this significant." He smirked. "Usually they're so trite and unimportant."

Shizune backed away and stalked to over to the shattered pieces of glass. "We are not lovers… We are enemies. Soldiers." She felt her eyes sting. "You drew all of those romantic parallels like we were some star-crossed lovers! You behave like you're some kind of genius and decide things so firmly but because of your position in Orochimaru's army… I should have known better." Kabuto knelt down beside her and started wiping up the water. "I'm a woman. I know what love is. It's not something that can be decided upon so suddenly… As long as you are with Orochimaru… we can never be anything more that two people that fight battles with each other."

"Love is not easy, Shizune." He put his hand over hers causing her to look up. The fading sunlight caused an impenetrable glare on his glasses, impeding her ability to read his emotions. "You're probably right. What I'm doing, forcing things so awkwardly like this, may not be love at all. I may never know true love. After all of this… you can move on and make a life but in my game, in Orochimaru's gamble for power, I'm just a chip doomed to fall… So, as a dying man's wish… I just want the moments that we are here together to be unaltered by something so damn annoying as the truth." He turned his head to pick up the rag and Shizune saw the unmistakable eyes of a world she could never understand; one of strife, sacrifice, darkness, and necessity. Was this the truth of a shinobi?


He gathered the trash in the towel and stood up. "I hope I didn't hurt you too badly. I tried to be convincing but still…you are my woman so…" He emptied the broken bits and pieces in the garbage and adjusted his glasses.

"I wondered why you were holding back… So you're serious about this- about this lie?" He settled back down on the ground beside her and kissed her cheek. "Kabuto…"

"You're still stuck in reality. I'll help you escape." He smiled and held out his hand. "After this, if you take my hand, we'll be together again and this apartment will be our world to control, to be as wonderful or as miserable as we make it."

Shizune looked at the hand in front of her. It was a key he was offering; a respite from reality. But was it okay to take it that far? She looked at him; he was smiling. Kabuto had already taken the leap into the world of fantasy. As a healer, she couldn't let him take such an unhealthy journey alone. Shizune put her hand in his.

Kabuto pulled up and pulled her into him. "There. We've rejected the past and reality." He wrapped his arms around her and leaned forward slightly.

"This is a lie," she whispered. She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream. Why did someone so talented, so smart, wise, deep… have to be her enemy? Why was she willing to cling to this lie? She was stupid.

"Shhh…" He pressed his lips to hers. They were warm lips, soft…and full of lies, sweet, wonderful lies. Kabuto pulled back and grinned, his eyes closed. She smiled and brushed his bleeding cheek with her thumb. He opened his eyes and kissed her again more passionately. Shizune relented willingly.