My roommate at summer camp was Super-Christian and her homophobia crushed my slash impulses…so I'm writing no-pairing-Postmodern stuff until I feel better.

To Kuso.Girl, the reviewer I met in July, and anyone reading this who had me on their alert list, because I don't deserve it for not writing anything a whole summer. Do review…makes me happy…
Don't own.

Getting captured was not part of Konan's grandmaster plan.

She hadn't thought she would end up in such trouble, caught and bound and wounded like an animal. She couldn't die, not like this, not in this place of stone and mud and wet. Not here, surrounded by enemies. Not watched like a goldfish in a bubble, eyed up and down by a hungry cat or an uncareful child, and not without a fight. This was not her place to die.

It was raining too. Raining the sort of rain that made mudslides and drenches everything in a thick ocean of grey monotony, a vacuum for hope. Konan stares upwards, blankly, as if to deny this is where she is.

"Don't die yet, the Hokage needs to interrogate you."

She was the weakest. She would be asked a thousand questions they could make her answer, if they got her to Konoha. They wouldn't find the Akatsuki though, no, because they wouldn't get her to Konoha: her life force was draining with each breath and they weren't going anywhere, trapped by rain. If it weren't so wet, if it were Suna, she would be able to fly away, back to headquarters, and they could heal her. She wouldn't make it out of the cave that harbored her from the storm with the two Konoha ninja. Such a shame to die here in this place, but it couldn't be helped.

The two Konoha ninja made a fire and the blonde one shoves Konan closer to it, her twisted shot at mercy. Konan groans a little and rolls over to keep from burning in the flames. She glares up at the blonde ninja, fierce as she can, and spits out the blood pooling in her mouth.

"I'll tell you nothing," she whispers, but she isn't sure she said it aloud. The blonde doesn't reply, so maybe she doesn't care what Konan has to say, or maybe Konan has been silent all along, or maybe they both know she's dying and her secrets will die with her. Eventually the blonde one lies down and shuts her eyes, her breathing evens out, and she is asleep.

The ninja with pink hair is sitting silently in one corner, further from the fire, watching with green eyes. Konan isn't sure what to make of her. Her name teeters on the edge of Konan's slowly fading consciousness and the blue haired ninja debates a moment whether to reach out to remember it.

"Can I ask you a question?" the formerly motionless pink haired enemy asks.

Konan doesn't reply.


Konan doesn't say anything, but she shuts her eyes, looking for the answer anyway, whether she says it aloud or not. Not much comes to mind. "I am not so sure," she says. She had been lost and found and lost and found again, she had found her place beside the one who never lost a fight, found her place, rhythm.

But that crumbled too.

Not all at once. No, this crumbled bit by bit, one at a time, until no one was really left standing, even if they convinced themselves they were. It was better, maybe, that she was dying. It was bound to happen at one time or another.

"Can I ask you another question?"

It is too late to say no now.

"Have you ever been in love?"

Who would ask that of the enemy?

"Yes." Her reply comes before she can curb it. She shuts her eyes a little more, falling into her breath. "A long time ago." Her justification is weak. Everything is a long time ago. The pink haired ninja nods wisely.

"I was…once…" the pink haired ninja whispers into the flames.

And they are not so different.

The silence is spliced with rain.

"Once?" Konan finally asks. She wonders if she seeks redemption in the eyes of the pink haired ninja. She struggles a little against her bonds, to try and get further from the fire threatening to singe her hair.

"Once," the other kunoichi repeats. "Not anymore. I lost him. It was my own fault." Her eyes are distant and lost in sincerity. She doesn't speak for a long while and neither does Konan. Neither wants to keep talking, neither wants to relive what can't exist. There is no trust here, only mutually assured destruction.

"What has your life amounted to?" Konan can't stand the rain and she wants to drown out its sound.

"I'm a shinobi," the pink haired ninja murmurs. "I have completed countless missions to serve my organization." Her eyes turn on Konan. "What has your life amounted too?" Konan swears she catches bitterness in the tone. Not surprising because even civil enemies are still enemies and they will never be anything different.

"I'm also a shinobi. I too have completed countless missions to serve my organization." She looks the kunoichi straight in the eyes. "I don't see how it differs much, the sum of our lives. You might think yourself better but it's simply a matter of who we chose to serve."

"True." Konan nods a little to herself and tries to wriggle out of her bonds again. "Did you want me to help you?" The mockery is apparent. It's only because if she burns, she can't talk. It's not mercy. Shinobi have no mercy.

Not even the threat of burns will convince the blue haired nukenin to ask for help, but she doesn't see the point of wasting an opportunity when the pink haired kunoichi tosses her a knife to cut her bonds, assuming she can reach it and assuming she has the strength. Assuming that, it doesn't take assumption to know she wouldn't make it a hundred meters outside of the cave were she to run.

She can't seem to cut the ties that bind her.

She feels hands pry the knife from her fingers and cool metal and warm palms press carefully against her skin and then the feeling of being freed as the ropes lose their chakra and cut with the knife away from her body.

With a breath, Konan is suddenly aware of how much she hurts and how much blood there is. Mostly, she is aware of the fact that she can take a swipe at the Konoha ninja two feet away from her and she doesn't. It's not mercy that drives her. It's…something else. That they are not so different, that they have been in love and they have both fought all their lives for the same things, just different people, but they are not so different either. Maybe all of that, and that it would hurt more to move suddenly. She doesn't shift. The two shinobi refuse to break eye contact, a silent contest, caught in the sound of the rain and the smell of the wet dirt of the cave.

The blonde shinobi stirs awake.

"Why did you cut the ropes?" The edge of her voice is dulled thick with sleep, but it is there.

The pink haired shinobi breaks her bond with Konan to look to her comrade. "She's not going anywhere." It's not freedom, Konan wants to stay, it's proof of weakness.

"Still…" the blonde one has no comeback.

Konan takes a deep breath and she knows there's only so much time left, and so much is not enough. "If you could say anything to him before you watched him go up in a blaze of agonizing--" she cuts herself off before a rant can spawn, "…what would you say?" She looks straight into the bright green eyes that are still watching her. The only reason she cares is because she wants to be asked the same thing so she has reason to seek answer. It's another contest. She won't die without a fight and this is as close as she can get. Forest-colored orbs grow round with surprise but then fill with thought.

"Why. I would ask him why. You?"

But Konan is gone, taking off into the rain. The blond kunoichi says something, shouts first at Konan and then at her pink haired friend, but Konan can't make out the words over the rain. She falls to her knees and feels the mud everywhere: between her toes, her fingers, her lips as her face connects with the earth.

"I'm sorry," she gurgles into the brown abyss. "I would say I was sorry."

Nukenin don't say they're sorry.

But she is not just a nukenin, she is Konan.

The pink haired girl, Sakura, can't hear her anyway.

'And from here, in this place, there is eternity.'