Chapter 11 has been fixed.

His hand brushed against mine, and I was sure to thwart any further attempt at contact by putting my hands in my pockets. I had been pulling things like this for the last few days, but my cold nature did nothing to deter him. He would keep reaching for me, trying to talk to me and I would bat him away, feeling sick every time I rejected him, every time I had to hurt him.

I wish that he would be the bigger person and leave me; I am such a coward.

I glanced at him, to gauge his reaction, but his face was devoid of emotion, and he had already pulled out his perverted book to read instead. We continued in silence, back towards my apartment building. It was hard to believe that just over two weeks ago we were holing ourselves up there for days on end, and now, I had to end things. I had two days to do it.

Deep down I knew Kakashi wouldn't be the one to leave me. His patience with me had always been endless, he had never yelled at me, and even when we had 'fought' on the training grounds, it was me that walked away. Sure, he wasn't perfect, and I had received endless sarcasm and torment at his hands over the years, and he was probably endlessly frustrated with me. But he was always there. Whenever I was in trouble, I could count on him. He was always coming back for me.

He didn't deserve what I had to do to him, and it was something I would have to live with.

We were at my building, and he reached forward to open the door. He stood back to let me pass, and was about to follow me in when I stopped him.

"I'm really tired, Kakashi. I think I'll just get some shut-eye." My tone was enough to tell him that he wasn't invited. He looked down at me, and I met his eye for the first time today. He watched me carefully, trying to discern why I was behaving so badly.

"Alright, did you want to train tomorrow?" He was matching my mood; polite and aloof.

"No. I'm busy tomorrow. I'll call you later though." My stomach clenched and I hated myself for doing this. Tsunade had been right, starting all of this had been a bad idea; I had been too rash and emotional with everything. The complete opposite of what a ninja should be - calculating and certain. And now Kakashi was the person that had to suffer the consequences. I allowed myself to drop the façade for a moment; I grabbed him and kissed him hard and fast on his cloth covered lips, before releasing him just as quickly and dashing inside.

"I don't know, there's something wrong and she won't tell me what."

"You sure you didn't piss her off or insult her again?"

Kakashi rubbed his eyes tiredly, thinking back over the last few days. He hadn't done anything more than usual to irritate her. It was something else, and he wasn't sure that it was entirely something to do with him. Gai and Asuma joined him for a drink at one of Konoha's most popular drinking spots; they had also noticed the change in Mai over the last few days.

Asuma shrugged and grinned.

"Told you that you're too old for her."

Kakashi rolled his eyes, half smiling.

"That's never been a problem."

Gai chose this time to impart further words of wisdom.

"Bah, it's just women Kakashi. One minute they're all over you, the next their sobbing in bed eating ice-cream."

"Jesus, what do you do to your girlfriends?' Asuma looked at Gai in mock-alarm, 'besides, Mai doesn't strike me as the type to wallow; she's more likely to blow something up when she's upset."

Kakashi stared up at the ceiling; this was getting him nowhere.

"Hey, hey!' Gai started up again after he finished sulking over Asuma's remark, 'have you actually asked her what's wrong?"

"Stupid; of course he has!" Asuma barked.

Kakashi winced slightly; the others catching his expression immediately.

"You haven't?" Gai asked flatly.

Asuma pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.

"I was trying to give her space."

"No! Wrong! Never give them space!" Gai yelled shaking his head violently. "Give them time to think and they realise how much better off they are without you, and next thing you're at a table for one! Think Kakashi! Use your head!"

Kakashi raised an eyebrow as Asuma, before lazily turning his attention back to Gai.

"You don't have much luck with women, do you?"

Asuma snickered into his drink as Gai turned red and started yelling again. The bartender wandered past and surreptitiously removed Gai's unfinished drink. He had had more than enough.

Kakashi had made it back to his apartment in the early hours of the morning. He and Asuma had had to carry Gai home after a few too many toasts made towards Kakashi and Maia's happiness together.

He had collapsed onto his bed fully dressed, and it seemed as though he had only shut his eyes for a moment, when the tapping on his window began. Kakashi groaned, and became aware of a slight headache lingering around his temples. He opened his eyes, squinting into the bright morning sun that streamed into his bedroom. There was a small bird sitting at his sill, tapping rhythmically. A piece of paper was wound round its skinny leg.

Kakashi had been expecting this the moment his time off ended; the village was still struggling with the strain the attack had caused, and no ninja was going to waste. He yawned and pulled off his mask before opening the window. The bird flew away the moment he took the message; a B class delivery to the Sand. He frowned slightly. B class, surely he could take on better roles than this... Maybe Tsunade was just starting him out slow after everything that happened on the last mission.

Kakashi glanced at the departure time, and saw that he only had a few hours before he had to set off. That was odd too, normally ninja were given longer to prepare. He sighed, it was no use questioning it now, he would just have to get it over with.

He flopped back onto his bed and stared at the ceiling. He would go and see Mai before he left; hopefully she'd be forthcoming today.

After talking with the others the night before, Kakashi had decided that the best way to fix this was to just talk to Mai, rather than let her obsess over this alone.

Glancing at the clock had Kakashi moving again. If he were to prepare for the mission and see Mai, he would have to act fast.

I had laid everything I would need out on my bed. I wasn't leaving until the following night, but I wanted to be prepared for any delay that may occur. I had sharpened my weapons and replaced all my kunai and shuriken holders. The weapon from Tsunade remained in its box. I had already completed the ritual she had told me about, and poured my blood into the handle the moment I'd gotten home. My headband that I'd so often neglected lay next, followed by a small kit of basic first aid materials. I would have to properly restock my supplies while on the run. I also took my earnings from the last few months, though I doubted that Akatsuki bothered much with fair trading when it came to civilians. There was also a sealed scroll Tsunade had sent over in the morning; it contained the details of Naruto's training and vague indications as to his whereabouts for the next two years. It would be used as leverage with the Akatsuki, proof of my loyalty and legitimacy. I'd peddle off some story about intercepting it before I left the village, it wouldn't take much for them to believe me with such a classified document. They would not try to take Naruto once they learned of the Sannin's involvement.

That was as much as I dared take, I was still aware that the ANBU would be hot on my heels the moment I left the village, and I needed to make the quickest get away possible.

I moved everything to my closet, into the box of blunt useless weapons. It should be safe there.

I sat back on my bed, unsure of what to do with myself. I had already cleaned my apartment top to bottom, and I didn't want to go out, in case I ran into people I knew – it would just make leaving harder than it already was.

I still had to get rid of Kakashi...though maybe the Hokage had already sent him on his mission, and I could leave without having to see him...I flopped back on my bed and shut my eyes. I could do with a few hours sleep; I had a long journey ahead...

The knock at the door stopped me short, and I knew before I answered it that it would be Kakashi. I looked around my bedroom for any evidence of what I was doing. It was too tidy, so I messed up the covers. I grabbed a sweatshirt from my drawers and flung it on the kitchen counter when I walked by. I also pulled out one of the dining room chairs – at least now the place looked somewhat inhabited. I paused outside the door, taking a moment to prepare myself. It was now or never, and I had to be totally convincing if any of this were to work. Maybe I could let him down easy, tell him that he just wasn't "the one" or something like that. I hitched a smile on my face as I opened the door, and let it drop when I saw Kakashi.

"Oh. It's you." I pushed the door fully open and wandered off to the kitchen, not sparing him a second glance. I heard him sigh heavily before following me. His gaze was burning a hole in my back, but I remained cool, opening the fridge and rummaging around for something to eat.

"So, why are you here?" I called over my shoulder, sniffing an open pot of yoghurt. Bad choice; definitely expired.

"I'm going away for a few days-,' he answered flatly. I threw the yoghurt in the bin, noising my disgust.

"Some B-grade mission, I thought we could-,"

"-You want some?" I straightened, holding out a loaf of bread, already chewing a slice. His eye narrowed.

"No. I thought we could talk when I got back; you haven't been yourself lately."

I laughed and rolled my eyes.

"Talk about what? Jeez, you make it sound like we're in a relationship or something."

I set about making a sandwich, acting as disinterested as possible.

"Aren't we?" He crossed his arms and leaned against the door way, watching my busy hands.

"Like, you're my boyfriend or something? As if" I laughed.

He was silent for a moment, and I tried to ignore how awkward I felt.

"So what has all this been then?" He said finally.

"I dunno; fun?"

He raised an eyebrow. He clearly didn't believe me, and I reeled to think of another excuse

"It's just sex, Kakashi,' I said exasperatedly, waving my hand in the air. "That's it."

I met his eye; my words were hard and serious. His composure was unbreakable.

"So that's the reason for the sudden attitude change. You got what you wanted, and are looking for the next thing?"

I shrugged and focused back on what I was doing.

"Don't get all, I don't know, pissy at me. It's not my fault that you were more into this than me." I turned away, putting everything back into the fridge. I sat up on the counter and picked up my lunch.

"Oh, wanna bite?" I asked, holding it out to him. He ignored me.

"Do I look mad?'He asked. He really didn't, he was as calm as ever.

"I'm just trying to get my facts straight. You were the one who wanted to go on dates and whatever, and now suddenly you want out? Surely you can come up with a better story than this Maia, because I'm not buying it."

My stomach twisted uncomfortably, and I thought wildly about what to do next.

"Tell me the truth."

I glared at him, clenching my jaw.

"An explanation; I deserve that much."

"No, you don't." I bit out.

"Tell me." His voice was icy; I knew he was getting angry now.

"I have!"

"I don't believe you; what's going on?"



I could feel panic rising. My heart was beating a bruise on my chest. Think of something. Think of something. Think of –

"There is someone else." I said coldly. There was no hint of the inner turmoil in my voice.

Kakashi seemed frozen on the spot. I watched him swallow hard and he finally looked away.

"There is someone else. There has been for a long time. You came to my apartment that night. You initiated this entire thing; you created all of - of this from your own fantasy and got carried away."

He still didn't look at me.

"I want to be on the straight and narrow with this guy. And I can't be happy with him, with you hanging around."

I watched him, ached for him. I would never be able to make this right. But he was still standing there, reeling. I had to sever myself from him, make sure he would stay away. The others would kill him. I repeated to myself over and over that this was for his own good, before I dealt the final blow.

"I don't want you, Kakashi."

There it was. I closed my eyes, letting it sink in. My ears were ringing; I was surely going to be sick. I gripped the edge of the counter so hard that my knuckles turned white. When I opened my eyes again, I saw that he was looking away from me, out the window at the village. The silence stretched out for an age. Then finally, he turned his tired gaze to me, nodded slightly and walked out.

It was two in the afternoon. I watched the minutes tick by blearily. My eyes were positively throbbing and my head felt like it was about to split open, such was the strength of my headache. A night spent crying would do that to a person. A night that I should have taken every advantage of; who knew the next time I would get to sleep, let alone in a bed? Today was the day. Ten more hours as a Konoha citizen and then it'd be over. Or rather, it would begin. There was nothing more to do, no one to see. Kakashi was safe and out of the village, my things were packed. All I had to do now was wait.

As I stared up at the ceiling, I found myself wishing for midnight, so I could start this horrible journey, instead of sitting around dreading it. After all, the sooner I started, the sooner I could finish.

I rubbed my eyes, trying to ease some of the raw pain, but only made it worse. I would try to squeeze in a few more hours of rest; I had to be at top form tonight, and getting stabbed by a black op before I even escaped the village boundary would do nothing to improve my mood.

I kept my head down as I walked through the streets. They were busy, meaning that the chances of someone seeing me were highly unlikely. I had to get to the Uchiha district though, and the crowd would surely thin out around there.

The people passing me had no idea what was going on; what lay in store for the village in just a few years. We would be at war, and if I failed to keep the Akatsuki away from Naruto until he was properly trained by Jiraiya, then we would all suffer.

I drank in the sight of only home I had ever known. I'd have liked to of gone by the war memorial, but it wasn't on the direct route to Owari, and if Akatsuki were having me followed it would look suspicious, me showing remorse for a place that I was meant to be indifferent to.

The night was still and clear, it would be easy to find my way the full light of the moon. There was a light breeze, again another good omen; my getaway would be easy.

Shop owners were yelling at the passers-by, shouting out their competitive prices. Teenagers crept into the alley ways, sneaking cigarettes or making out with each other. Groups of people laughed as they walked by, chatting about the latest rumour floating around Konoha. A Man and Woman screamed at each other from opposite sides of the street, and I could see ANBU agents milling through the crowd, watching silently.

I turned into a quieter street, lined with cafes and restaurants; most people were inside. I kept my eyes straight ahead and ignored the drunken louts who shouted from the windows.

I continued winding my way through the Konoha streets, closer and closer to my goal. I checked my watch; I had 20 minutes before Itachi arrived, 25 before ANBU.


My blood froze in my veins. I stopped and looked around for the owner of the voice, and found Gai standing in the middle of the road behind me.

"Oh, hey Gai." I remained composed.

The smile that normally occupied Gai's face had disappeared; he was serious, and I felt a slight tinge of fear. When he was like this he was dangerous, there would be no jokes or dramatics tonight.

"It's late, Mai. Where are you heading off to?" His voice remained light, and he walked closer to me.

"I'm meeting some friends.' I uttered casually. 'I'm actually running late, so..."

"Are you okay? You haven't seemed yourself over the past few days."

Ah, so he'd noticed. Asuma would have too then. I hitched a grin on my face.

"Yeah! It's just been a busy few weeks, y'know? I'm just trying to get my head around everything."

He didn't return my smile, instead studying me so intensely it was like being x-rayed.

"You sure?" He asked gravely.

I wanted to shout at him. Tell him I wasn't okay, that I didn't want to leave, that I wanted to run back to my home and hide. I wanted to cry, and take back everything I had said and promised.

"I'll be fine." I said and started walking again. I had wasted too much time.

"Goodbye, Gai." I waved over my shoulder, turned into an alleyway, and when I was sure that he was not following or watching me, I ran down the street.

I had reached the meeting point faster than anticipated and I had ten minutes to kill before I left. I stood on the edge of a cliff overlooking Konoha. The citizens were as ants, milling through the labyrinth of streets below. Behind me sprawled a large clearing, edged with Konoha's dense forest. It was a steep drop from the cliff, and the rocks below looked razor sharp.

I was about to sit down to wait, when a low chuckle put me back on guard. I remained calm and looked over my shoulder. My fingers twitched towards my kunai case, when out of the darkness loomed a man with a blue face. Rows of sharp teeth grinned at me and he came closer, though stopping just out of range.

"Well, well. Tired of village life so quickly, Sumiko?" Kisame sneered.

I glared back at him. I had not known that he would be coming to the meeting point, though now it seemed like a poor oversight to make.

It took me a moment to register that Itachi was standing next to Kisame. He was still and calm, with none of the swagger of his college. However, his eyes were alert and scanning the area carefully.

"Mai, are you ready to leave?" he said finally, resting his gaze on me. The Sharingan washed over my senses momentarily.

How long until the Black Ops arrive?

You're early. We have time.

The genjutsu was released, and I pretended like nothing had happened.

"Yes" I answered shortly, moving away from the cliff and towards the men before me. Itachi moved to walk by my side; Kisame did not.

"Say, this has to be the quietest desertion I've ever been to." He said in mock thought as he peered over the edge of the cliff face, watching the people below. "Don't you agree Itachi?"

Kisame eyed me suspiciously, waiting for one of us to talk.

"It's not exactly my first time, I figured we'd do without the traditional mass slaughter and head on our merry way." I answered tersely, wanting to get as far away from the village as possible and shut off any more questions regarding my loyalties. Kisame still didn't move.

"You didn't kill anyone last time either." He answered moodily. I realised he wasn't going to let this go, and would probably insist of evidence of my allegiance.

"Yes,' I said finally, 'and because of that I was able to return to Konoha to swiftly obtain information on the Jinchuuriki without raising suspicions."


I pulled out the scroll and pointedly handed it to Itachi rather than Kisame.

"It's what the Akatsuki are after, no?" I started walking again. We were wasting time here. Itachi tucked the scroll into his uniform, ignoring Kisame's request to see it. I was relieved to see that the stubborn ninja had finally started moving. Perhaps the plan really would work. I felt myself start to relax by inches; we were nearly at the cover of the forest. I was going to be okay.

"I can't let you go any further."

The voice was cool, calm and familiar. I turned around slowly, and my heart stopped beating.

Kakashi stood before us, arms folded over his chest, acting as though coming across two members of a murderous gang leaving with his ex girlfriend was a very common thing. I couldn't speak, partially out of dread, but mostly for frantically trying to think of how I was going to save him. Hadn't he been on a mission? Surely he couldn't have finished so fast.

Itachi and Kisame looked equally as relaxed as Kakashi, though of course they would. They had nearly succeeded in killing him once before.

"Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame; I'm surprised you'd show your faces in Konoha so soon." Kakashi's voice was conversational, but his eyes were sharp.

"Well, the Copy-Nin's alive. And here I thought Itachi had scrambled your brains for good,' Kisame sneered back, reaching for the handle of the weapon on his back, 'losing touch, Itachi?"

Itachi said nothing; instead sizing up Kakashi carefully. For a moment I had thought, or rather hoped, that Kakashi would ignore my presence. No such luck.

"So, Mai. This is your 'someone else' then? The Homicidal Prodigy and his pet fish? Nice."

A muscle twitched in Itachi's jaw. If Kisame wanted proof of my loyalty, now was a good time to start.

"What are you doing Mai?" Kakashi cut in before I could answer, his voice no longer light.

"I was leaving, but I suppose you're going to make that difficult."


"You don't want to start a fight. You barely survived the last one." I clenched my teeth; if he stayed around, the others would kill him. Kisame was rearing for a fight as it was.

"What's going on Mai?"

He sounded dangerous, as though his patience was already wearing thin. Itachi finally cut in.

"You are looking at the latest member of the Akatsuki Mercenary Group."

Kakashi's eye narrowed and he uncrossed his arms.

"I don't believe it."

I jutted my chin out and shrugged slightly. I wracked my brain, still thinking of how to get rid of him. Words wouldn't do, but I made another attempt at talking him out of stopping us, just in case.

"Believe what you want. I don't care, but just stop being so pathetic, and get out of our way. We're leaving, so just go home."

Kakashi's hand moved closer to his kunai holder.

"No, you're not; you least of all, Mai. I've already called ANBU; they will be here in a few minutes."

Kisame cackled behind me and I felt him start to move forward.

"A few minutes…That sounds doable."

He started to draw out his sword, and Kakashi had a kunai in his hand in seconds, his other already reaching to pull up his headband.

"No." I thrust out an arm in front of Kisame, halting his advance on Kakashi. All three men looked at me in surprise.

"...What did you say?" He sneered, his hand not moving from his sword. "You had better remove your arm from there unless you want to lose it."

I glared at him, and stepped forwards.

"You want a 'messy desertion'? Okay, he's mine." I said tensely, looking back over to where Kakashi stood. His eye had widened in shock, and he lowered his kunai slightly.

Kisame chuckled, and stepped back.

"Well, well, a lovers' quarrel. This should be good."

I glanced over at Itachi for confirmation. He kept his gaze fixed on Kakashi.

"Perhaps Mai will have more luck killing you than I did,' He said calmly, his tone light. He clearly didn't care one way or the other what happened to Kakashi at this point. His voice hardened when he spoke to me.

"Make it quick."

White Chakra pulsated through me before he had finished his sentence; I charged towards Kakashi, keeping low until the last second. I spun quickly, my body clearing Kakashi, but all my momentum was focused into my elbow, which I slammed into his stomach. He flew backwards, but managed to flip upright in time to stop himself slamming into a nearby tree.

I was on him instantly, a barrage of attacks with kunai and shuriken. He blocked them all, though he was yet to go on the offensive.

Our weapons clashed and locked; I was too close to him. I tried to dart away, but he held me fast.

"I'm not going to fight you Maia." He muttered, ducking the kick I aimed at his head. I let go of my knife and danced backwards to regroup. The Hou-ou's power surged through my veins, and I fought to keep it under control; I was already struggling to keep my strength in check.

"Then you are going to die." I snarled, gathering my chakra to my feet before flying towards him again. I disappeared a few feet from him, reappearing behind. I raised my elbow to sink it into the back of his neck, but he was ready for me this time. He grabbed my wrist as he ducked, flipping me over his shoulder and bringing me crashing to the ground. He hesitated for a split second, and I kicked his legs out from under him. I jumped up to my feet but Kakashi had already recovered from my move. This time he came at me, catching me by surprise.

His kunai slashed towards me, and I barely held him off.


I managed to catch myself in time, almost asking him why he was attacking me suddenly. I frantically tried to figure out what he was playing at; he was aiming to kill, but he still had not revealed the Sharingan. Was he testing my nerve? To see just how far I'd go?

I jarred his arm and his weapon flew from his hand. I had a clear shot at his neck and I raised my knife again. He was slow to guard that vital area, and I realised he was inviting me to cut him. To kill him there and then. He was testing my resolve, trying to find out if I was serious about destroying him.

Of course I couldn't do it. I missed, and cut his cheek. No sooner had my weapon touched him, than his chakra fuelled palm slammed into my chest. I rocketed backwards, crashing through a tree. The fallen trunk made the ground rumble when it hit. The world was spinning slightly, though it only took a moment to get my bearings.

The dust and debris was yet to settle, and I used it as cover to create a shadow clone. It crouched next to me and reached into my weapons pouch. I nodded at it, before it dashed away into the forest.

Things seemed to be moving in slow motion, and I wondered if I had hit my head.

Kakashi stood a few metres away panting, and I could see the realisation in his eye. I didn't take the shot; and he knew, or at least suspected my dedication to Akatsuki. I had to end this before he opened his mouth, before he confirmed what Itachi and Kisame probably already suspected and ruined this entire operation.

I looked over my shoulder at the men behind me; Kisame looked bored, and he was reaching for his Samehada. Itachi's eyes were narrowed and fixed on Kakashi.

If I didn't end this, they would. Kakashi's voice caught my attention once more, though I had made up my mind of my next course of action in a matter of seconds.

"You're coming back to Konoha; if not voluntarily, than under arrest." Kakashi said; I could hear the anger in his voice. He pulled up his headband, and the red Sharingan glared back at me. I would not win with Ninjutsu or Genjutsu now; it was up to the Hou-ou and countless hours of training with Gai and Tsunade to get me through this.

I moved to a crouch, planting my foot against the base of the tree. I felt the raw energy pulse through my veins; building up the chakra in my feet. I heard the tree crack as I pushed off the trunk and I was gone in a flash of light.

Once more I was watching my surroundings as if they were stuck in slow motion. However this time I moved through space freely; just like at the Chunin Exams. I darted around Kakashi, giving myself room to prepare the Sonic Bomb uninterrupted. I stopped at the end of the clearing, my sprint having only lasted little more than a second. White chakra burned my palm, and I felt the bomb tremble violently. I narrowed my focus; I would blow myself up if I didn't think about what I had to do. The bomb rolled and throbbed in my hand, and just as I was thinking that it was ready, I heard a familiar high pitched chirping in the distance.

I looked up and saw blue light crackling in the distance. Kakashi charged towards me; defying the frozen state everything else appeared to be in.

This was it.

I ran at him, hand flung back to strike. We were close, we would hit in a matter of seconds. My vision was almost entirely taken up with white light and Kakashi's Chidori, the screeching was deafening. He thrust his hand forward. My shadow clone surged out of the darkness; weapon glinting in the moonlight. She plunged the senbon into his neck, and I barely caught the expression of surprise before our attacks hit.

My head snapped back with the force. The air with filled with a sickening cracking sound as the nearby forest was ripped from the earth. Something grabbed my wrist, preventing me from being blown away too, over the cliff face and on the jagged rocked below. Everything was white for a moment; before I registered I was falling.

I hit the ground hard, landing on my back. The air rushed from my lungs.

It was silent, but as my vision slowly came back, I realised that my ears were wringing. The smell of burned flesh tainted the air.

My shadow clone had disappeared in the explosion, and her memories flittered into my head. I had a sudden vision Kakashi and I racing towards each other, before taking special aim at the pressure point on his neck with the needle.


I sat up, finding that I was surprisingly uninjured; the white chakra must have healed cuts and scratches as I got them. I felt something still touching my wrist. Kakashi was lying next to me, breathing shallowly. The clones aim had been true, he was completely paralyzed.

Itachi and Kisame were somewhere behind me, and judging by their silence they were waiting for the killer strike. Kakashi looked up at me, his expression unreadable. I gazed back sadly, before reaching into my kunai holder. My hand closed on the handle of the Uragirimono. It was colder to touch than the regular kunai.

I released the white chakra and returned to my normal state; I deserved to feel this. His eyes didn't leave my face as I raised the knife above my head. I grit my teeth, trying as best I could to prepare for the onslaught of pain. I held my breath for a moment. There would be no going back from this point. ANBU would be here soon, along with other ninja; our light show would not go unnoticed.

I exhaled and plunged the knife into Kakashi's chest.

I tried to shut my eyes to the pain.

An invisible blade grated through my insides; severing muscle and sinew. My shirt was immediately wet with my blood. I had missed my heart by millimetres. My hand clutched my chest desperately and I forced healing chakra to the wound. Blackness was edging my vision, and I realised that I had done too good a job. My chakra flow was distorted and uneven. A gasp escaped my lips, and I fought against blacking out. I opened my eyes, and my horror was only added to when I saw Kakashi's face contorted in pain. The knife was buried right to the handle. I pulled the Uragirimono out of his chest, panicking. The moment I did so, his eyes shut and his face went slack. I touched his chest, thinking that Tsunade had given me the wrong weapon, or lied to me. The knife had done its job, Kakashi had still had to experience the pain but he was alive. I could leave now; ANBU would take him home. There was no blood, no wound. Just a slow, steady heartbeat.

Itachi watched as Maia kneeled over the 'dead' Ninja. She had not moved for a full minute. He had suspected that her relationship with the Copy Nin had grown to be more than that of mentor and student, though she was foolish to show such emotion here. If Kisame noticed…

She twitched violently, and then in another jerky movement, wrenched the kunai from the Copy Nin's body. She stood slowly, though she stayed hunched over. Her hands were covered in blood, and when she turned around, her face was deathly pale.

Though her dark clothing concealed it, Itachi's Sharingan found the wound on her chest instantly; her enormous chakra focused on the spot just next to her heart.

"We should move. The Black Ops will be arriving soon." Kisame said, sounding unnaturally serious.

Itachi nodded, watching Maia walk towards them.

"We'll follow you." Itachi muttered. His partner shrugged and flitted into the night. He said nothing as Mai passed him, trying to act as naturally as one could with a hole in their chest. They would need to talk about the best course of action from here on out, but that conversation would have to wait. Black Ops were almost on the scene.

So all Itachi did was nod once more, led her away from the body in the grass and into the cover of the forest.

The Next Day

Kakashi looked out over the village from his ward. The Hokage's voice blared from the speakers placed throughout the village. Below, people stood still in the streets, hanging on her every word.

"In the early hours of Sunday morning, acclaimed Jonin Sumiko Maia fled Konohagature at the cost of many. Sumiko has rejoined one Uchiha Itachi, and it is believed that she will shortly join forces with the Akatsuki in their plight to capture the Jinchurriki."

The streets were silent. Kakashi opened his window, despite the fact that he could hear Tsunade's voice through the glass. He sat on the sill, ignoring the protest of his aching muscles. He could hardly believe what he was hearing, though he had witnessed the betrayal first hand.

"Sumiko is a powerful enemy of the leaf nation. She has been working for Uchiha Itachi since her return, and has used her time here to gather information on the village. We urge those who have had close contact with this shinobi to come forth and inform officials of any information she may have obtained, no matter how small.

"We must arm ourselves against this latest threat to our countries well-being."

Kakashi rested his head back against the wall.

Mai, what have you done?

"Make no mistake,' Tsunade's terrible voice continued, 'Everything she told you was a lie. Every, last, thing."

The speakers were silent as the Hokage let that last point sink in.

"Mr Hatake!"

Kakashi jumped, and turned towards the voice; a nurse stood in the doorway, looking at him in shock.

"You shouldn't be out of bed! You'll only injure yourself further – the Hokage has given direct orders-,"

Kakashi sighed and stood. He hadn't wanted to hear any more anyway.

He moved back to his bed without a word. It had happened again. First Obito, then the fourth, and Rin. And now Maia, the girl who had spent the best part of her childhood teasing him, who had tormented his friends. Who many considered nothing less than a sister, was trying to destroy her home, and everyone who cared about her.

Where had they gone wrong?

How could she have made such a decision, to sacrifice so much? Kakashi rested his hand over the bandages on his chest, over the wound she inflicted.

"Are you in pain, Mr Hatake?" Kakashi hadn't realised that the nurse was still there. She made a motion to reach for a morphine needle near the bed. He shut his eyes. He just wanted to escape, to not have to listen to what the Hokage said, to get away from reality, just for a while.

"Yes." He finally answered.

Tsunade's words echoed around the surrounding mountains, and while much was impossible to understand, the gist of it was clear.

Kisame laughed and we stood still, facing in the direction of Konoha.

"They don't like you much, do they?" He cackled.

I said nothing, looking out over the land before us. We were closer to Konoha than even Tsunade knew. I stood the top of another cliff, though here the wind blew sharp and ice threatened every footfall. Rolling green hills lay before me, and snowy mountain ranges waited behind. It would be so easy to slip and hurt myself on these rocks, though Itachi and Kisame navigated them effortlessly. It was time to cut myself off to such useless emotions; it was time to fulfil my role as a Konoha Ninja. Though who would have thought that in doing so, I had to become an enemy of the state?

This would be the last time I looked upon my home, at least for a very long time. Itachi was silent also, and I was careful not to meet his eye. His interrogation could wait.

"Well then,' Kisame continued, seemingly annoyed that neither of us we paying him any attention.

"How about we move on. Can't be bothered dealing with black ops at this time of the day." He trudged away, turning his back on us.

"Maia?" Itachi said, gesturing that indeed, it was time to leave. I shrugged and cast one last look over Konoha while Itachi followed Kisame.

I thought of Kakashi and the other Jonin I had grown to love. Of Tsunade, the Third and the Fourth. I thought about Naruto and the Nine-tails. I thought about the perilous journey before me, and how survival was not guaranteed. I may not live to clear my name, and would die a criminal.

"Enough." I finally murmured to myself.

I climbed down the rocky path, and followed my teammates into the dark forest below.

Ok, so, this is the end of this story, I hope you aren't really, really angry. But don't worry, this isn't the end of Mai and Ka, I have part 2 in the works. You might think that part two would be pointless, but to be honest, I was getting kind of bored with this story, and I want to make things darker and have more action than there is. I think it will be easier to do that in another story, as the relationship with Kakashi has been established, and I have things to work with now.

There seems to be a bit of confusion about how easily Mai got back with Itachi, I assumed people would be up to date with the manga, but for those who aren't, I'll go over it in the next story.

I'm also going to put out a few one shots about things Mai has mentioned in the past, like her Chunin exam fight with Itachi. They don't urgently have to be read, but I just think it will help part two be a better story, and I can further build relationships.

The sequel is called The White Nin, and can be found on my profile.

Anyway, thank you all so much for reading. You feedback has always been helpful, whether it be critique or praise. Have no fear, I will return :D