Will the day come when this battle, born of confusion, Will end?

It is different things to different people.

Can the reality be that which is hidden?

The reason is mere existence.

Still, memories can be believed.

Be not afraid,

Entrust your body to the soothing waves of your memories.

By and by, your fleeting rest will be over…

And everything will begin…

~Kingdom Hearts 2

Team Gai walked into Tsunade's office with five minutes to spare. Tsunade had told Team's Gai and Kakashi to meet in her office at noon that day…but… Team Kakashi had said they'd be early this time, but with what's happened in the past few days since Ara's rescue, there wasn't any possible way.

A day after their return to Konoha, Tobi walked into the clinic room that Kenji had been forced to stay in and revealed himself to be Obito Uchiha. Everybody in the room was in a state of shock, Kakashi almost had a breakdown, and Misaki couldn't believe there were two of them. For the past two days, if she saw Kenji and Obito talking, she'd shudder and say something along the lines of: "There's two of them… Why does there have to be two of them?"

Kenji had been released from the clinic yesterday, but he was completely and totally fine… So, they couldn't use that as an excuse.

"They're late." Tsunade sighed as she looked at the clock. "Why does that not surprise me?"

Neji shook his head. "Kenji said they'd be on time today!"

"Well, you know how that happens. You have to expect them about five minutes after the actual set time." Misaki said, yawning.

Lee just nodded in agreement. He really hadn't been saying much lately, even to Misaki, and that worried everyone.

Team Kakashi poofed into the room at that moment.

Kakashi scratched the back of his head. "Sorry we're late, but—"

"We got lost on the road of life." Kenji said, nodding.

Naruto nodded, resisting the urge to laugh. Sakura just sighed.

"Got lost on the road of life?" Tsunade and Misaki both asked.

Kenji nodded again. "Yep!"

Kakashi shook his head; he was rubbing off too much on his adopted son.

Tsunade sighed, "Whatever. I wouldn't normally call two squads together to take a mission, but even for just your squad, Kakashi, this one would be hard."

This interested the teenagers. "What is it?"

"An S-Ranked mission in the Land of Wind." Tsunade said calmly. "You have to locate and kill a missing ninja from Sunagakure."

"If he's not from here, why are we taking the mission?" Neji asked, confused.

"Because he has a following. They didn't realize he was missing until a few weeks ago."

"He'd have to been gone for a long time to already have a following." Misaki said.

Tsunade nodded. "He's threatening the existence of Sunagakure, and not even Gaara could take this guy on and hope to win. That's where you eight come in."

Gai smiled. "It's time prove the power of youth!!" (I couldn't resist.)

"Yes, Gai-Sensei!" Lee finally said.

Misaki, ignoring her eccentric Sensei and fiancé, looked back over at Tsunade. "If Gaara can't even hope to defeat him, why send us?"

"You eight are the strongest Shinobi in the village. I would also be sending Shinobu with you, but she lives with Gaara in Sunagakure. Plus, she's helping with the defenses there." Tsunade said, still completely calm.

"We're the strongest?"

Tsunade nodded. "I suggest you get going."

"Do we know where we're even looking for this guy?" Kenji asked.

"Stop at Sunagakure as soon as you reach the Land of Wind. Either Gaara or Shinobu tell you all the details."

The eight Shinobi nodded and left Hokage Tower.

"Um, Kenji, Obito doesn't mind baby-sitting does he?" Misaki asked, walking beside Kenji.

"I told you last night, he doesn't mind." Kenji sighed.

"Okay, I just don't want to be a burden."

Kenji sighed again and shook his head. "You're a mother first, I understand that…but you're also a Shinobi, you're duty is to your village and comrades."

Misaki smiled and nodded before smacking him on the back of the head.

"What was that for?!" Kenji yelled.

"Um… Reflex?"

Kenji sighed as Misaki walked with her own team again and the Western gate came into sight.

(Okay, I don't know how to write them walking from Konoha to Suna, so they poofed there.)

Misaki and Kenji looked up as the group "poof smoke" rose into the air.

"They're gonna think something exploded." Misaki said calmly.

"I could make something explode." Kenji said, also calm.

"No, not right now."

Shinobu looked over the edge of the Eastern gate when the smoke disappeared. "Hey there!!"

"Hey Shinobu!" Misaki said, waving up at her. "Can you open the gate?"

"Yeah!" Shinobu disappeared for a minute before the eight saw her again in the open gate.

"Shinobu!" Misaki said as Shinobu gave her friend a hug.

Shinobu let go of Misaki and looked around. "Where's Ara?"

"Can't bring her on a mission." Misaki said, shaking her head.

"Oh! You're the eight Lady Tsunade was sending?"

Kakashi and Gai nodded.

Shinobu nodded as well. "Follow me then, Gaara will tell you where to look and what to expect." She said, leading them inside Suna and to Kazekage Mansion.

The eight Shinobi followed Shinobu to Kazekage Mansion and into the meeting room where Gaara was behind a stack of paperwork.

"Gaara…!" Shinobu chimed, running over to Gaara's desk.

Gaara looked up at his girlfriend. "How're the defenses?"

"The ANBU here aren't the best, but they're doing good. The defenses will hold long enough to evacuate the village if he attacks."

Gaara nodded once. "Good job, baby." He said, giving Shinobu a quick kiss.

Shinobu blushed lightly. "Also, the eight Shinobi Lady Tsunade was sending, they're here."

Gaara stood up so he could see on the other side of the paperwork and lightly blushed when he realized who exactly was standing there. "Um…" He cleared his throat. "I suppose you're here right now to know the problem's location."

Kakashi nodded. "We'll take care of the problem as soon as you give us the location."

"Why is this an S-Ranked mission anyway?" Misaki asked, confused. "It's a hit. It shouldn't be S-Ranked."

"This guy has killed five of our strongest ANBU. And one of yours." Gaara said, shaking his head.

The six teenagers nodded. Kenji was the only one not shaking on the inside with fear. No matter how weak the village's collective ANBU were, five shouldn't have been killed, and one of Konoha's ANBU as well.

Gaara walked out from behind his desk. Shinobu pecked Gaara on the cheek before running back out to help the ANBU with the defenses.

"You'll find him on the sea border to the west." Gaara said. "He's taken six lives, be careful… Especially you six; Kenji, Naruto, Sakura, Misaki, Lee, and Neji."

The eight Leaf Shinobi nodded and left Kazekage Mansion.

Shinobu just happened to be at the Western gate at that time and jumped down from the top of the wall to speak with them. "Leaving already?"

"Yeah, sorry we can't stay and talk." Misaki said.

Shinobu shrugged. "I wouldn't be able to talk much anyway, I'm going to be yelling at the ANBU here all day."

Misaki nodded. "Can you have them open the gate?"

Shinobu nodded as well. "Open the gate!!" She shouted to two ANBU.

They opened the Western gate and the eight Shinobi left Sunagakure without another word. They ran for about an hour before poofing to the sea border of the Land of Wind instead.

Waves crashed against the shoreline of the beach. The eight Shinobi understood why Tsunade had sent them after all. The abundance of water would give them the advantage since they had Misaki with them.

"Keep on your guard." Kakashi said to the six teenagers. "This isn't just a trip to the beach."

"Might as well be." Misaki said, laughing. "S-Ranked mission, my ass! This'll be too easy!"

Kenji drew Elah and Ra. "They're here."

Just as Kenji finished his sentence, eight ninja appeared in front of them.

"Easy, you say." The one that faced Misaki laughed. "You only wish."

Misaki smirked and formed her hands into a seal. "Water Control: Water Missile."

A column of water rose from the sea and took out four of the eight enemy ninja standing in front of them.

The other four ninja had dodged the attack with practiced ease. One of them even laughed.

"A water master, err…water mistress… This should be an interesting fight." He said, laughing.

"Did he just call me a water mistress?" Misaki asked, insulted.

"I think so." Kenji said, nodding.

Misaki became pissed off immediately and formed her hands into another seal. "Water Control: Water Dragon!" She jumped onto the top of her water dragon, glaring down at the enemy ninja. "I am no mistress!!! It's my Keke-Genki!"

The same ninja that had said something before smirked. "Uriyu, take the water girl and the boy with the swords. Reiji, take the bushy brow guy and the blonde. Hane, take the white-eyes boy and the pink haired bitch. I'll take care of the Jonnin."

"Yes sir!" Was the response from the other ninja.

The one named Uriyu stood in front of the water dragon and Kenji with no fear at all. "This can't be a fair fight?" He sounded annoyed at the water dragon.

Misaki sighed and deactivated the water dragon; she had Mizu with her anyway. Misaki drew Mizu off of her back. "Doesn't matter to me."

Kenji nodded. "Me neither."

Uriyu shrugged and did something close to the body flicker to teleport behind Misaki and Kenji. He almost hit them both on their lower backs, but was blocked by Elah, Ra, and Mizu at the same time.

"What the hell's that?" Kenji and Misaki both asked. "A real fight, come on!"

Uriyu shrugged again and actually did the body flicker move, and tried hacking Misaki's right arm off. Kenji had grabbed Misaki's other arm at the last second though and pulled her out of the way.

Misaki was now thanking Kami that she was a fast healer and she could use her right arm. "Thanks Kenji."

Kenji nodded as they both blocked another one of Uriyu's attacks. "Never abandon your comrades."

"Of course." Misaki said as she attacked Uriyu.

Uriyu blocked Misaki's sword and punched her in the chest, sending her flying into the sea. He faced Kenji, who seemed completely fine. "You next."

"No, you next." Kenji said, looking over towards where Misaki had landed.

"What're you talking about?" As soon as those words left Uriyu's lips, Misaki jumped out of the sea.

Mizu had become the water sword Misaki had used against Kenji it seemed a lifetime ago. She brought it down and, since Uriyu dodged as best as he could, chopped off Uriyu's arm. Uriyu dropped the weapon he had in his other hand and held the bleeding stump that was left of his arm.

Unfortunately, the attack had taken more chakra than Misaki remembered and she dropped to her knees. Mizu became the normal Berserker sword it usually was.

Kenji ran over to Misaki. "You gonna be okay?"

Misaki shook her head. "That took almost all of my chakra. I forgot about that slight drawback."

"Shit!" Kenji looked over at Uriyu, who had his wound bandaged at this point.

Suddenly there was an explosion, Kenji protected Misaki from it and thrust both Elah and Ra into the sand to brace himself as everyone else was thrown into the sea. The shock from the blast caused both Misaki and Kenji to pass out.

"Sir, prisoners?" Uriyu asked his boss.

The guy who'd given out orders earlier smirked. "Yeah, just this once. We haven't tortured anyone in a long time."

Misaki opened her eyes and found herself lying in another bed, not sure where she was. She sat up and saw Kenji lying in a bed across the room. Only a moment later, Kenji woke up as well.

"Where are we?" Kenji asked, yawning and stretching.

Misaki shrugged. "Beats me." She realized then that neither had their swords. "Um, Kenji, where's your swords?"

Kenji shrugged. "Don't have to worry about Elah and Ra, no one can pick them up."

"But I can't find Mizu!" Misaki said, standing up. As she stood up, she got a blast of electricity sent right through her body. She was thrown into the wall next to the bed and landed on her knees on the bed. "Itai…!"

"What the hell?" Kenji was confused, but didn't try standing anyway.

The guy from earlier, their captor, walked into the room. "Bout time you woke up. What good are hostages that are knocked out?"

"Are you the missing nin from Sunagakure?" Misaki went ahead and asked.

Kenji shook his head and sighed. That's too subtle…

The man smirked. "Yes, I am. Mizukake Yasei."

"See, Kenji, I knew we'd find him sooner or later." Misaki said, sticking her tongue out at him.

"I didn't even say that we wouldn't!" Kenji argued.

Misaki shrugged and looked at Mizukake. "Where's my sword?"

"Don't worry, your sword's in safe keeping." Mizukake said calmly. "Too bad I can't say the same for you two."

Kenji scoffed and stood up; the electric shock didn't even faze him. "I'd like to see you try!"

"How the hell did you not get thrown back?" Mizukake seemed to be in shock. Apparently nobody else had been able to do that.

Even Misaki hadn't been expecting that, she had no idea that Kenji would've been immune to that. What's he thinking?

Kenji ran at Mizukake and punched him in the stomach, only to break his hand. He stepped back, trying to figure out what he hit.

Mizukake removed the robe he had on to reveal the chakra armor from the Land of Snow. "It's good to have allies in far off places."

Kenji tried attacking Mizukake again, but senbon, kunai knives, and shuriken flew out of the walls and at him. A senbon hit him in the neck in a vital area. Kenji simply pulled it out, only to have it replaced with a kunai knife. Kenji couldn't move after the kunai knife implanted itself in his neck. Another one implanted itself in his side, five shuriken hit his left arm, three senbon and a kunai knife implanted themselves in his right arm, and the rest of the senbon implanted themselves into his legs.

Mizukake walked up to Kenji and kneed him in the stomach, then threw him against a wall near the door.

"Kenji!" Misaki stood up again, but got shocked once again.

Kenji tried to keep his eyes open, and even tried standing back up, but fell back to the ground and passed out. Mizukake smirked and called in the girl named Hane from before.

"Get the weapons out of the boy and throw them both into a prison cell in the basement." Mizukake said quickly.

"Yes sir." Hane replied quickly and did as she was told.

Misaki and Kenji were thrown into the empty prison cell. When Misaki heard the door lock, she ran over to Kenji. He was bleeding pretty badly from his wounds, and that worried Misaki a lot. She looked for a pulse; she found one, but it wasn't very strong.

Misaki quickly started tearing off parts of her shirt and pants to use for bandages, seeing as she didn't have any actual bandages. By the time she was finished bandaging Kenji's wounds, her shirt had been reduced to a belly shirt and her capris had become short shorts.

She searched for a pulse again, his pulse was getting weaker. She preformed CPR on him and searched for a pulse again; it had helped, but only enough to where he would be on the verge of death for a few hours.

"Why'd you have to resist?" Misaki asked her half dead friend. She noticed his broken hand and took the ribbon she now used to keep her hair out of her eyes and wrapped Kenji's hand with it. "It's not much, I know, but it'll serve as a temporary brace."

Misaki took her headband off of her leg and wrapped his hand with that also. "That might help a little more…" She wanted to cry, she didn't want to see him die. "Dammit, don't you even think about dying on me! I can't… I can't just watch you die!! I don't want you to die…"

Misaki knew that if Kenji could hear what she was saying, he would be confused. He would've had right to be, she was telling the man that she wanted dead only a year ago that she didn't want him to die.

She suddenly felt tears running down her face. "You can't die… I can't live without you here." She covered her mouth when she heard herself say that, she couldn't believe what she had said. Then again, Misaki knew she was speaking the truth; her heart was being crushed with each passing minute that Kenji lay there dying.

Misaki searched for a pulse again, it was getting stronger, but it wasn't strong enough. She started sobbing and shouting that he couldn't die, that she couldn't live without him… Misaki had no idea why she was acting this way, she knew that if Lee were dying she'd be sad, but wouldn't react like this.

Only a minute later, the prison cell door opened up again. Two more of Mizukake's henchmen walked in the room.

"The boss wants him dead." The tall one said, pointing at Kenji.

Misaki stood in front of Kenji, blocking the two ninja from him. "You won't get near him!!"

The smaller one sighed, "Can we just kill her instead? The boy's gonna die anyway."

The taller one shrugged. "What the hell…" He raised the stone club in his hand above his head and brought it down on Misaki's shoulder.

Misaki felt her shoulder break, the smaller one punched Misaki in the stomach as hard as he could. He punched almost as hard as Kenji did, so it caused her to cough up blood. She raised her head once she was past the pain of the punch and got hit by the stone club in the chest. Misaki was thrown back into the far wall, and she couldn't breathe because of where he'd hit her. The smaller one kicked Misaki in the back as hard as he could and almost broke her back.

She landed next to Kenji, barely breathing. The two ninja left laughing, they shut and locked the door behind them.

Misaki looked at Kenji's face with tears running down her face. Kenji… She closed her eyes as the darkness consumed her.

To be continued…

Strength Takes Time:

People say that love takes strength, then strength must take time.