AC:Due to a lot of requests and messages I will continue this story. The Naruto series and myself have distanced given the years so interest was lost, not liking its current course but that doesn't interfere with the plot of this story. I hope those who looked forward to an update will be pleased with this chapter. 13 is halfway done as I type this. As always comment and review, its a type of life support.
The heavy rain that once pounded upon Tenruto's bloody streets slowed into a fine soft mist that blanketed the once peaceful town. Assorted street lights that remained unbroken glowed and flickered casting shadows haphazardly while illuminating the white mist that blanketed all it touched. Tayuya hated the mist with a silent fury. It reminded her too much of her former home in the Land of Waves before the cold cramped dry caverns of Sound became her sanctuary. She hated the bitter numbness of the hypothermia it caused when she was left over exposed to the harsh elements as a child. She hated how it never seemed to leave her be. Still there were a few small features about the surrounding mist she approved, it was very easy to remain unnoticed as she slowly trudged behind the two Leaf shinobi who both had tried to kill her this day. Judging by their awkward silence Tayuya interest in conversation diminished as they neared the hospital entrance as its yellow lights glared out into the misty distance.
"Your back!" A familiar female voice shouted as she waved to the trio in the distance. Her feet splashed lightly into the murky puddles of the streets as she met the trio half way.
"You are the nurse from before." Shikamaru noted with mild surprised as the nurses tired face came into focus in the mist filled air. "Sorry to make you worry."
"Thank Kami you found both of them sir!" The nurse happily expressed her gratitude as she quickly came to the aid of Ino who only brushed her off with a simple "I'm fine."
"You three are positively drenched!" The nursed announced with shock as she was sluggishly motioned by the male shinobi to the wobbling Tayuya behind him.
"She needs to return to her room nurse, she exhausted her self in the rain digging graves." Before Shikamaru had even finished speaking the nurse was already at the redheads side giving her the support of her shoulder as the nurse trudged Tayuya passed both nins. It was in that brief moment Shikamaru caught a glimpse of Tayuya's face...her expression was empty.
"Miss Ino you need to return to your room as well!" The nurse called back with genuine concern as she stopped leading the redhead and looked back at the two nins.
"That's alright nurse, I already decided to head back to Konoha for treatment." Seeing the dejected look on the nurses face Ino quickly added. "Hokage-sama healing will fix my face up in a jiffy."
"Of course, Tsunade is legendary in the medical field after all. I'm sure everyone here will wish you a swift recovery!" The nurse finished with a courteous bow thanking the leaf nin once more for her bravery in the villages time of need.
Watching his partner walk away with out a word to him Shikamaru hastily gave the nurse and redhead a brief nod and quickly followed after his team mate only to be stopped by the image of Karashi appearing in a veil of soggy leafs before him. It took years of ingrained training and his naturally bored appearance to not seem startled by the mans sudden appearance.
"Much appreciation Nara Shikamaru, the search party will be pleased to hear of your success with their return." Karashi slightly bowed once to Shikamaru and before turning his attention to the wounded blond beside him. "We found an unidentified individuals body in one of the clinics rooms, reports suggest you Miss Yamanaka fought and killed the individual, is that correct?"
Ino blinked in sudden surprise remembering not long after she had regain consciousness that a second body was found in the room where she failed to kill the redhead earlier. Remembering the promise she made to Shikamaru she swallowed the bitter bile that rested in her throat as she lied for him.
"Y-yes sir he attacked me, I'm not sure the reason he did though." Ino could only hope the mist filled air covered any doubt that existed on her facial features.
"I see, and you miss Takahashi Camilla?" His porcelain mask resting perfectly on his shoulder as he turned back to face the limping redhead who only stared at him expressionlessly. "Why did you leave?" His voice grew much sterner given her silence.
Tayuya considered her words carefully before finally responding. "I wanted to die."
"Camilla your not serious are you?!" The nurse shrieked with surprise as she took hold of the redheads shoulders and tried to look her in the eyes. Those stern eyes however stared directly into the eye holes of the masked shinobi before her.
"Why would you want to die?" Karashi stressed as he met her hazle eyes.
"My family is dead, our house is destroyed and everywhere I go someone is trying to kill me!" Tayuya shouted as if to the world and not just the questioning shinobi before her. "I wanted to die by my families home but that's just not good enough for some people?" Her eyes shifted to the black hair chunin catching his gaze.
"I see." Responded Karashi after contemplating her words carefully. "You have my sympathies, Shikamaru it seems you were correct with wanting to watch over your charges mental stability." The chunin said nothing. "I will be over seeing the transport of injured civilians back to Konoha, its good knowing then that I am leaving the village in both your reliable care."
"I would like to volunteer my services to the transport sir, I have been doing extensive study into medical jutsus so I should be of some help." Ino pleaded desperately.
"Your assistance will be much appreciated. I am sure, will you be joining her as well Nara?" Karashi asked as he turned his masked face over to the chunin.
"No, I will stay and aid the relief effort unless ordered other wise." Shikamaru kept his composure as he felt the Anbu's eyes rest upon him.
"...So be it, I will be vacating the area myself shortly. I would leave you in charge under normal circumstances Nara however with your situation with shinobi ranks you are unfit for the task given your ability. That task now falls to my subordinates."
Shikmaru stood taken aback, he had almost forgotten the fifth Hokage revoked his rank of chunin, not that he fought back at all to maintain it. Most shinobi were respectful and considerate about his mark of shame, Karashi obviously was not. Such a statement seemed completely unnecessary to the young genius given the politeness Karashi displayed early. Did the Anbu truly look upon the former chunin with contempt and piece together that he may be the intruder in the attic earlier this day? Or was he being paranoid? Regardless he gave the Anbu captain no response.
Karashi motioned his right arm towards Ino pointing down the street. "Please this way, the medical squad is by the front entrance of town." Neither his former teammate Ino nor the Anbu captain gave him another look.
Begrudgingly Shikamaru allowed Ino to leave in the traitorous Anbu's care, none of his excuses for separating the two would have convinced Ino to stay and would only incriminate himself further if Karashi truly did suspect him as being a spy. Steeling himself as much as he could in the frigid mist Shikamaru placed his faith in the Konoha shinobi that would be escorting Ino as well as the injured civilians. He would soon follow them back to Konoha but he had one last set of inquiries for the redhead before she inevitably disappeared into the darkness leaving this town far behind.
Shikamaru set himself back to the former Sound nins new room ignoring most of his surroundings as almost everyone was either recuperating or tending to someones wounds. He already received the new room number from one of the distraught clerks, on his way he noted the off limit signs near her former residence. As he neared the door to the redheads room he could hear her voice conversing with the same nurse who brought her in earlier. It was surprising to hear the foul mouthed girl talk kindly to another human being.
"Please if there is anything else you may need do not fret to call on me okay Camilla, your grandparents would never forgive me if you died in the rain due to my negligence...kami rest their souls."
"Kami rest their souls." Was the redheads only reply.
"Please Camilla, keep yourself warm tonight. Those are the only blankets the hospital can spare at the moment and we need all the hot water to sterilize our tools but I promise to arrange for you to be high on the list for a hot shower in the morning."
"T-thank you again Fuuka, really." Tayuya waved the nurse off before pulling the blankets up over her self to fend off the cold. "I just need some rest."
"Okay but there was something I wanted to talk to you about." Fuuka waited for some sort of reply then continued when she feared one would not come. "Did you really want to die earlier?"
"Its my life." Tayuya answered evenly not trying to offend the nurse outright.
"Your grandparents wouldn't want that." Fuuka reasoned.
"They also didn't want to die today and I didn't want to be a cripple, things we don't want happen." Tayuya countered calmly letting the nurse soak in the truth before continuing. "You don't have to worry though, I wont do anything reckless."
"That's umm comforting to hear Camilla, I will see you in the morning for your shower as well as fresh bandages for your leg." Feeling the tension in the small hospital room Fuuka gave her patient her space nearly bumping into the eavesdropping Nara out side.
"Ohh heavens forgive me, I should have looked where I was going sir." Fuuka apologized while bowing repeatedly to the chunin.
"Its okay really, you don't have to bow every three seconds to me." Shikamaru responded while scratching the back of his pony tail.
"B-but it was my fault and your a shinobi who saved our lives and, ohh I am just babbling on again while you want to visit Camilla aren't I?" her face flushed a little as she finished speaking.
"First off we were taught that we are equals to everyone else even if we are shinobi despite what some people might say, secondly yeah I wanted to see how that troublesome girl was getting along."
"Ohh well she is doing fine now, she is just very drained after today's dreadful ordeal," Shikamaru noticed the nurses nervousness slowly being replaced with the medical professionalism he had come to know from all practitioners in the field. "You can visit her if she is still awake but I would have to insist against keeping her up." The nurse paused while considering her words carefully before continuing. "Camilla has been through a lot with her grandparents death, she may snap at you."
"I'm used to it." Shikamaru simply said with a knowing laugh.
"Ohh your very kind to her sir." The nurse replied suddenly catching Shikamaru off guard. "How do you mean?"
"Ohh well, how can I explain..." Fuuka said aloud to her self and she fought the red blush that was sure to appear on her face. "Camilla doesn't really socialize well so the attention of a handsome young man saving her life and repeatedly checking up on her will do her some good."
Shikamaru blinked twice to this. "Handsome?
"Ohh my I ahh really must be going now, more patients to tend to." Fuuka's cheeks burned blood red at her own foolish words as she avoided eye contact with the chunin and rushed towards the nearest exit leaving the black haired teen to his bewilderment.
"I will never understand women." He sighed once before open the redheads room and entering.
Tayuya didn't react as he entered, she stayed staring out the window still clenching her blankets close for warmth. She felt her former enemy pull a chair next to her and grumble to himself as if to break the ice and start a conversation. After a full minute of silence she finally turned to him.
"What does the handsome man want now?" Tayuya asked not trying to hide the mock in her tone.
"You've got good ears." Shikamaru simply replied.
"I'm a shinobi at heart." Tayuya replied ruefully remembering her former station. "But your not here to talk about the good old days I take it rat?"
"In a manner of speaking I am, there's something I have been meaning to ask you for awhile now." Shikamaru began calmly while trying to gauge her mood. She glared at him with the same level of contempt he always knew her for.
"I obviously have nothing better I could be doing than answering your pointless questions in the middle of the night now would I?" She let her sarcasm sink into the chunin for a moment. "Speak your peace then get the fuck out."
Shikamaru nodded simply to her request before getting straight to the point. "Is there any hope to save Sasuke?"
To Tayuya's surprise she hadn't expected that question. Secret Sound plans, ways to attack or strategic base locations sure but the Uchiha fagots well being? She erupted in laughter despite her wounds and exhaustion.
Shikamaru didn't know why at first but the redheads amusement of the situation brought him to sudden anger. His friends had died for Sasuke.
"There's no hope for your Sasuke-kun." Tayuya managed to say with a straight face as she forced her laughter to a stop. "He left willingly to Orochimaru's side."
"Just because he might have left willingly doesn't mean there is no hope for him to return." Shikamaru reasoned more to himself than the redhead.
"Its because he left willingly that there is no hope for him." She said in a matter of fact way as if explaining to a child.
"Than an explanation is in order because I'm just not understanding."
"Baka, there are three kinds of people that are under Orochimaru with in Sound. People who seek him out for power or personal gain, people he recruits personally and people with no other options." Tayuya reasoned calmly as she reflected on the tiers of subordinates.
"Which were you?" Shikamaru pressed while slightly intrigued.
"...Orochimaru convinced me to join Sound as a child, I had no grand delusions of power unlike your Sasuke-kun. Survival was all that was important to me at the time."
"Your saying Sasuke sought him out for personal gain?"
"Of course, your Hokage never revealed why he left did she?" The blank stare he gave her was all the proof Tayuya needed to continue. "Patricide, genocide. The Uchiha clan massacre in case you lived in a sheltered hole in the ground all your life. The fucker wants revenge against Uchiha Itachi, something your village wasn't helping him achieve outright, Orochimaru has a vendetta against the elder Uchiha so its in both their ends to aid one another."
Shikamaru vaguely remembered the Uchiha massacre. It wasn't something that was really talked about by teachers. It was more of a cautionary tale about bloodline families and how villages need to play a more active role to keep their abilities in check. He simply couldn't see such a thing happening to his clan.
"Revenge is a strong motivator, it made a pussy like you try to kill me after all. Even if you caught Sasuke that day he would still want revenge and he would have tried to escape again. Orochimaru would have been more than happy to supply the bodies for him to ride over back to base." Tayuya finished bitterly knocking the young Nara from his inward thoughts. He however found he had nothing to say in regards to his and her lost comrades at the moment.
"Do you still want revenge?" Shikamaru changed the subject causing the redheads to blink in surprise.
"Against who?" Tayuya specified carefully as to not reveal her shit list prematurely.
"For this village, your family." Shikamaru paused before adding. "Against me and that troublesome Sand kunoichi?"
"If I wanted you dead, you would be dead understand?" Tayuya answered with a mirthless grin. "As for that Suna bitch and the fuckers who attacked today, I'm no longer in any condition to exact revenge." With that Tayuya broke eye contact and set her hazel eyes to the coming dawn forming on the horizon. "Its late Nara so just leave me the fuck be understand?"
Taking in her sudden sullen mood change Shikamaru removed himself from his chair and soundlessly placed it next to the entrance of the room before stopping at the door frame. "Its a drag but can I sleep here for now?" Shikamaru asked in a lazy tone causing Tayuya's eyes to immediately widen and stare at the chunin with incredulous shock.
"The fuck did you just say?!" Tayuya demanded as she fought back the slight blush from her cheeks at the implication of sharing her bed.
"With all that happened it'd be pretty messed up to look around for a room to sleep in given the attack. I wont take lodging from people who need in more than me so why not save a lot of time and energy and just sleep here...on the floor." Shikamaru added seeing the odd look the young redhead was giving him.
Despite her self Tayuya couldn't find an argument to debunk the chunins reasoning that wasn't childish and full of curse words. She did however remember her threat earlier to the chunin. "You'd sleep here even though I threatened that id kill you when ever I wanted?"
"You said before you would wake me up before you killed me right?" Shikamaru replied in his usual lazy tone causing the redheads cheeks to redden in anger.
"Do what ever the fuck you want, just don't expect a pillow jack ass." With that Tayuya threw the blankets over her face and turned over in heated furry at the idea of him sharing a room with her. Exhaustion however did not leave her much time to dwell on it as she fell asleep with in minutes.
Shikamaru merely sprawled himself out on the wooden floor resting both arms behind his head as he stared up into the ceiling contemplating the days events. He didn't like the idea but he was sure that for both him and the loud redhead to share company a little longer it would prevent both of them from giving into their more self destructive emotions. Uneasy sleep soon took him over as well.
Not too far out side Tenruto's shattered walls the Konoha medical squad were making good time rushing the wounded gracefully through the tree branches. The medic nins pace with each other kept perfect balance to each stretcher as seasoned nins applied healing jutsu to their patents. Ino kept pace with one of the lagging teams. They lagged only due to her inability to keep pace and heal properly at the same time. Karashi led the pact clearing the path through the mist. He raised his left hand and quickly made silent symbols to his teammates that he would be scouting ahead for dangers. He heard their muffled "Hai" in response to the signals and blazed a path further into the mist leaving the medical team far behind.
Once he felt he was a safe distance away from eavesdroppers Karashi activated a hidden mic from beneath his mask. It clicked softly in his ear and washed over with static momentarily before the white noise was replaced by an aged voice full of authority.
"Karashi, I take it something important happened for you to be reaching me in such a risky manner." The voice reminded the Anbu captain clearly of the dangers involved with this open communication.
"Events in Tenruto unfolded differently then we had planned lord Danzo." Karashi stated simply allowing his master to soak in the gravity of the situation.
"My lord the Crimson Skulls completed their assignment as they were instructed to by Tenruto's mayor. However Konoha shinobi Nara Shikamaru and Yamanaka Ino were present and aided the townspeople. No Konoha shinobi were supposed to be assigned to any nearby routes as far as we were informed." Karashi listened intently to the growing silence in his ear piece as Danzo reflected on this information.
"Blasted Tsunade, she isn't doing her duties of recording requests to leave the village." Danzo cursed her aloud to his subordinate. "The result of them being there?" Danzo demanded suddenly fearing the worst.
"They repelled the Crimson Skulls forces, superficial casualties on their side from what information of the events we have gathered. No Konoha casualties, however we confirmed Dokumaru as trying to kill Nara Shikamaru, Karasu stayed his hand from the report my lord." Karashi again listened to the silence and static that followed in Danzo's deep thought.
"...And the negotiations?"
"Negotiations were completed however we were forced to kill the mayor and his bodyguards as I realized our conversation was being overheard by a third party...I believe Nara Shikamaru to be this third party sir." Karashi remained silent upon hearing the disapproving huff of his lords voice.
"...Are you positive of this Karashi?" Danzo demanded loudly over the ever present static. "My standing with the Nara clan is already unstable as it is, I would rather not throw in an assassination against one of their members if there is no need."
"I have not confronted him directly, I awaited your acknowledgment of the situation before acting. Based on reports gathered he likely is the eavesdropper, on top of that I believe he has connections with Sound my lord."
"...Sound?" Replied Danzo with growing interest.
"Yes my lord, we believe a resident of this village Camilla Takahashi to be Tayuya of the Sound Four. Though she was listed as KIA this girl matches the description perfectly from all the reports."
This time Karashi met an extended period of silence over his ear piece. He feared the line had disconnected until he could make out a faint laugh from the weathered strategist. It wasn't like the head of Root to find such news amusing.
"...I believe Karashi that you should explain everything from the beginning."