Girl Talk

Anko, Kurenai, Rin, Shizune and Suzume - it might be a war but girl talk never goes out of fashion y'know...

Shizune could not believe her luck. Just could not believe it. She'd been working with Tsunade-sama (who she was soooo lucky to be apprenticed to and now she'd probably think she was a total moron and...) to cut a long story short she'd wound up over-exerting her chakra when a group of injured ninjas had come in. Mortifyingly, she'd blacked out in the middle of a simple leg healing and woken up in this bed over a day later with a note from the Sannin healer taped to her side-table. Apparently she had been locked in the recovery ward by her sensei herself. It was so she could recover, undistracted, and get her strength back.

If the note hadn't been written by Tsunade-sama (who she'd follow to hell and back) she'd have torn it into a million pieces and set it on fire. She'd been lying here bored out her skull for six hours now, barely able to move and wishing more than anything that she hadn't behaved so stupidly. With nothing to distract her, Shizune's every thought began circling around paranoid worries that she might be considered too weak to be a medic-nin. Sure she had the skill, but did she have the stamina? Would Tsunade-sama send her away after this? Did she have the right to work with someone so amazing if she couldn't keep up?

A million thoughts like that circled in her head, and fourteen year old Shizune scowled angrily at the ceiling, blinking back frustrated tears.

Until twenty minutes later, when the door to the ward she'd been occupying solo swung open and three more patients were wheeled in. Shizune propped herself up in her bed and tried to work out what was going on with each of them.

For a start... they were all girls and all ninjas. How rare. There were hardly any female ninja in the village right now, and the war wasn't exactly supporting an equal gender recruitment drive. Even in the healing arts, where females traditionally had stronger numbers, she'd been the only girl in her class. And Tsunade-sama the only female instructor. If nothing else that meant Shizune knew the other girls by reputation and sight - if not always personally. So few had survived this far into the war those who did got to know each other that much at least.

The youngest (about eleven years old), a purple haired girl she eventually recognized as Tsunade-sama's teammate's apprentice. Mitarashi Anko. She was very young, but very talented - though Shizune thought so in a very frightening way - and was always tagging at Orochimaru-sama's heels. It looked like she'd been poisoned - judging by the tinge of her skin and the chartnotes on the foot of her bed. (Such charts were always written in ninja medic code, but Shizune could read that much better than her mother tongue) It looked like a serious case, but she was making a recovery. Shizune wondered how a Legendary Sannin had allowed his student to be poisoned, and had further questions about the katana sitting at the foot of the young girl's bed. Oh well, given how strange Orochimaru-sama was she supposed it was to be expected.

She recognized the other two dark haired girls immediately. Suzume was a chuunin intellegence analyst, and was sitting up in her bed with a vaguely exasperated expression as she pulled back her wavy brown hair. Her legs were both bound in bandages, and Shizune deduced that she was recovering from some fractures. The bone would have been repaired, but the muscles around the breaks would need time to heal. She smiled and waved to Shizune, who returned the greeting. They'd gone through the Academy together, and Shizune remembered her as a buisiness like person with a quick wit. It would be nice to get to talk with her again.

Next to her was a slightly younger girl, the genjutsu prodigy Yuuhi Kurenai. Shizune would recognize those red eyes and fine features anywhere, especially when they were focussed on her. According to her chart, Kurenai was suffering chakra exertion like her, a common danger of genjutsu users who required extraordinary focus that often rendered them blind to their own body's capacity. Like Suzume she was sitting up and looking rather annoyed at the fact that she had to be in hospital.

Looking at those two pretty girls made Shizune feel suddenly self-conscious of her own short hair and plain looks, but - like Tsunade-sama said, the important thing was how well you did your job not how you looked doing it.

Of course, Tsunade-sama was the most beautiful person in the world, so she could say that couldn't she?

The orderlies left and they all sat looking at each other, unsure who should start. Eventually Suzume did, glancing over to Anko in the bed near hers.

"Hey, kid, how'd you wind up in here?" she asked.

"My name's Anko, not 'kid' baa-chan and I accidentally-on-purpose cut myself with Orochi-sensei's katana," came the strident reply. Shizune was impressed, in that state she'd have trouble putting a sentence together, never mind taking offense.

"How did that poison you?" she asked curiously, ignoring Suzume's mutter of "who you calling 'baa-chan'!" as the purple haired girl pushed herself up to sit like the others. Her brown eyes blinked across the room to meet Shizune's dark grey ones and she shrugged.

"Orochi-sensei keeps all his weapons poisoned. He says that if you're going to kill someone you should be as thorough as possible." she informed her with a smile, as though sharing laundry tips. Shizune 'hmmed' and decided she was lucky she'd wound up with the Sannin she had for a teacher.

"Anyway," Anko continued, "He got pretty mad at me and brought me to hospital. They had to keep his katana too, to make an antidote. He says now he'll have to create a new poison to go on all his weapons cos once there's an antidote a poison isn't really a poison anymore. Just an inconvenience."

"Uhm, I suppose that's right," said Shizune, thinking about all the new and lethal poisons she dealt with day by day in the hospital.

"Yeah, Orochi-sensei is always right about these things. He's really amazing, he's the best," Anko said proudly.

"Maybe," Shizune conceeded.

"No, definitely," Anko insisted.

"Defintely not defintely, Tsunade-sama is amazing too," Shizune felt like she was slighting Anko's religion - but there was no way Orochimaru-sama was better than Tsunade-sama.

"Not as amazing as Orochi-sensei. He has snakes," Anko said, as if this settled the matter.

It didn't. "Tsunade-sama has slugs,"

Anko rolled her eyes, "Big deal 'Oooh! Look at me! Beware my scary slugs!' pfft!"

"Hey! Slugs can be dangerous!" Shizune shot back.

"So long as you don't run too fast - they're awful slow to catch up but when they do - oh no!" Anko feigned terror from above, "Save me! Slug slime all over my clothes!"

"I've seen Tsunade-sama's slugs spit acid!" Shizune declared, she could get fiery when provoked. And this kid was nothing if not provocative.

Anko grinned wickedly, "And I've seen Orochi-sensei's snakes eat slugs!"

Time to step it up a notch, "Tsunade-sama has amazing healing arts and incredible super-strength, she could punch Orochimaru-sama's lights out and then fix it so he didn't feel it when he woke up," Shizune smiled, knowing every word was true.

Anko was having none of it. "Like hell! Orochi-sensei could easy get away from Tsunade-hime and then when she least expects it - take her apart with his amazing jutsus!"

"As if, Tsunade-sama is too smart!"

"Orochi-sensei is smarter!"

"Is not!"

"Is too!"

"Both of you quit arguing about your precious Sannin you're giving me a headache," griped Suzume, rubbing her head.

"Oi!" Shizune and Anko both yelled. Suzume rolled her eyes and flipped both of them off. There wasn't much of an argument there.

"I agree," said a quiet, edgy voice, "It's nice you both mindlessly adore your senseis but can we not harp on about it?" Kurenai said archily. Shizune suddenly remembered that Kurenai's own sensei had been brought back mortally wounded not long ago and shut her mouth. Heedless of the mood Anko just huffed, but took Shizune's sudden silence for her own victory and grinned to herself.

The quiet lasted all of half an hour before yet another patient, yet another young female kunoichi, was admitted. Unlike the others, her sensei was with her because he'd insisted on helping her to her bed. The girl was instantly recognizeable to Shizune, who knew her face from the photos in the medical school. She was top of her class for the two years she attended, and she'd graduated as a fully qualified field medic at age eight. Even Tsunade-sama had mentioned her fondly.

This had to be the genius medic Rin.

But right now she didn't look like the amazing young healer mentioned by the other medics. She looked quite ill as she rested on her sensei's back with her arms looped around his neck and was carried to the bed next to Shizune's by the window.

"Here you go Rin," the blonde man said, settling her down on the bed. She let go of his neck and managed to smile at him as he knelt down so his face was level with hers and tucked up her covers as best he could manage. He wasn't exactly dextrous, but he made up for it with enthusiasm.

"Thank you Sensei," she said quietly. "I'm sorry to be such a bother,"

"Don't you worry about it Rin, all the times you've looked after me and the boys when we're hurt - what makes you think I mind helping you out?"

She frowned and glanced at the window, "But I won't be able to train today... and today was our only day this month off missions,"

"I'll talk to Sandaime-sama about it, if you're sick we need to take time off, maybe another two days," he said simply.

"But Sensei-"

He held up a hand, "No 'buts' Rin, we need time off," he leaned in conspiratorially, "They work us too hard anyway - even if this is war, we only just got back from a month in Earth Country for cryin' out loud. I can do some other missions to make up for it." He hopped to his feet and grinned, "And just think - here's a chance for Obito and Kakashi to see how well they get on without you,"

"They'll kill each other, Sensei," she said bluntly.

He laughed and rubbed the back of his neck, "Well they'll try. Speaking of which I'd better get to the training ground. Without your civilizing influence they'll be at each other's throats,"

"Don't tell them I'm sick," she said.

"I have to tell them something or they'll assume you're dead," he told her, "Anyway, it's a time for them to worry about you for a change." He smiled brightly, and a little worriedly at her and she squeezed her hands in the covers.

"I don't want them to worry, Kakashi thinks to much already and Obito will just get upset," she said quietly.

The Yellow Flash, her brilliant sensei ruffled her hair gently, "I can't promise they won't worry, but how about I train them so hard they don't have time to?" She nodded. "We'll be waiting for you when you get out, now you just concentrate on getting better. I'll take you for Ichiraku when you escape the hospital, ne?"

She smiled and he gave her head a small pat before hopping out the window and vanishing in a blur on his way down. Rin watched him go and pulled the covers up under her chin. It took a minute, but she realized that the other girls in the room were watching her.

"Er, hello," she said. She would have felt a little uneasy if she wasn't feeling so sick; she was only ever around her team most of the time... with her sensei suddenly gone she realized that she was a little frightened of being in a room with strangers.

How silly, thought Rin, I spend my time being chased by lethal ninjas and completing horrible missions... and I'm scared of being in a room with my fellow kunoichi.

Identifying the feeling as silly did nothing to disprove it though. That happened when one of the others finally spoke.

"You've been in Earth Country!" Kurenai gasped.

Rin nodded. The mission was over, so it was declassified. She could confirm that much. They'd actually been the first team sent over the border in almost a year. Kakashi's tracking skills and Sensei's speed meant they were the perfect choice for a long-range reconnosance mission. Fast and deadly, that was their team's profile, and they had been on that mission too. She and Obito had killed just as many enemies as Kakashi or Sensei, the fighting had been that furious on the way back. Perhaps it was the stress from all of that which had allowed something as stupid as a 24-hour flu to take root in her body.

The other four girls just blinked, amazed. Suddenly Suzume, ever the pragmatic one, smiled and piped up.

"Any cute guys over that way?"

Rin had to confess she hadn't been paying attention ("Awh what kinda spy are you?"), but the conversation got started and inside of twenty minutes the five of them were talking away conpanionably. Introductions were made, identities confirmed, brief life histories revealed, star signs exchanged (Anko had to be told what hers was by Kurenai who was an expert in such matters), rumours floated and within about half an hour of Rin's arrival the talk turned to clothes, boys and the lastest advancements in shuriken techniques.

Even for ninjas, even in hospital, and even in war time - girls will still talk after all.

Part Two on it's way. Wow this is going up faster than I thought it would. Please comment, criticism always welcome and any parts you particularly enjoyed/disliked.

(You all know who Suzume is right? The female Academy teacher with glasses and wavy brown hair.)