For a while, Karin was Akaji's only visitor. Orochimaru would come there occasionally, just to make sure Akaji was still alive. As per Orochimaru's request, Kabuto would come at times to sedate Akaji so that he could obtain a sample of her hair or maybe draw some blood, perhaps inject some vitamin he thought she might need or, in some instances, examine her (which really meant poking and prodding and pressing down on her face, arms, legs, and back, not to mention using a stethoscope to monitor her breathing and heart rate). Karin would begrudgingly move to the side as he did, complaining about the fact that he always had to knock her out. She said that she could get Akaji calmed down enough to let him do these things, but he just offered the clever rebuttal of, "I'm your superior. We do it the way I want it or I'll give you a shot in the ass." Oh how smart.
After a particularly harsh battery of tests and injections, Karin visited Akaji again, to make sure she felt alright. Kabuto only knocked her out because he knew how upset she was by doctors and medical procedures. He'd found that out when he had tried to give her a vaccine against pneumonia and she kicked him in the face before the needle even came in contact with her skin. But once the anesthetic wore off and she woke up, she would be left with the pain or soreness from the process. That was hard on her body, probably due to the fact that she had so little chakra. It was difficult for her to heal herself, so it usually never got done and she ended up getting better gradually, the hard way.
This time, Akaji had been given a shot that tested for tuberculosis, not to mention a whole slew of new vitamins and a syringe full of HPV vaccine administered to her hip. As Kabuto so eloquently put it, "No matter what the disability, girls are sluts and can't control their hormones. And if she gets cervical cancer I'm not healing her, so consider it a precaution."
It had been two days since that, because Karin had been disciplined by Kabuto. She had messed up a diagnosis after one of prisoners came to her sick, so Kabuto decided to punish her by locking her door with a special seal for one night. Apparently he'd figured out that she'd been going to see Akaji during the nights, when she was supposed to be sleeping, and he came to the conclusion that this was why her skills were suffering.
Yeah right. Karin swore that if he did that to her again, he would be the one suffering.
Today Karin brought someone with her. She found that aside from the fact that Akaji was receiving medications that were likely unneccesary, this girl and Kimimaro Kaguya, the boy Orochimaru had once intended for his vessel, had a lot in common. So she had asked him to meet Akaji, and since he wasn't doing anything today he agreed.
Karin had Kimimaro hang back for a moment while she looked into Akaji's cell to check the girl. She peered in and found Akaji lying on the floor in a weak, crumped little heap. Her arms were sprawled out past her head, and her legs were curled up under her backside, and she was lying on her side. She wasn't really sleeping, because her eyes were open, but it looked like she was tired out or in pain. Both, probably, if Karin knew Kabuto.
Karin knelt down in front of the bars and rapped her knuckles gently against one of them. "Akaji-chan? Are you awake?"
Akaji raised her head just slightly, and when she saw Karin her dull eyes brightened up a little. "K-K-Karin-chan!" She pushed herself up off the floor with her hands, grunting a little. She managed to crawl over to where Karin was, sitting in a side-saddle type of position. "M-Morning."
"Morning." Karin reached inside the bars and stroked the top of Akaji's hand, which Akaji had said she liked because it reassured her that even if Karin left she would be coming back. Why she associated it with something like that, Karin wasn't sure. But if it was comforting to Akaji she didn't mind. "Did old Four-Eyes give you breakfast?"
Akaji shook her head, sliding an arm over her stomach. "D-D-Didn't feel g-g-g-good. Not h-hungry."
"I see." With her other hand, which was behind her back, Karin crooked her finger, beckoning Kimimaro to come forward slowly. "Well, I've brought someone who would like to meet you, Akaji. It's a boy and his name is Kimimaro. Would you like to meet him too?"
Absently Akaji's hand drifted to a place near her other elbow, where Karin knew that Kabuto had given her the shot for the TB test. Her fingernails scratched against it lightly for a moment, but she was nodding despite this, not quite seeming to realize that she was doing it. "Yes!"
"Okay. Kimimaro?" Karin turned and saw Kimimaro coming forward, and she smiled. "I'd like to introduce you to Akaji."
Kimimaro got to his knees and reached inside the bars to pull lightly on a lock of Akaji's hair. "It's very nice to meet you, Miss Akaji. My name is Kimimaro Kaguya."
"H-Hi, K-K-K-Kimimaro-kun." She smiled when he touched her hair, and leaned into his touch, as if telling him she wanted him to do it more. "N-Nice to m-m-meet you t-t-t-t-too."
Karin was happy that Akaji was finding a friend in someone so similar to her, but then she noticed something. The more Kimimaro stroked her hair, the more riled up she became and the more her nails raked across the spot where she had been injected with PDD antigen. That was a bad thing, wasn't it... if the injection site started itching? That was bad. "Akaji." She got to her knees and reached inside the bars, taking Akaji's arm. Adjusting her glasses she examined it. Akaji had certainly scratched it, but the redness and swelling definitely wasn't from her scratching it. It had been there before she started digging into her skin.
Karin stood up, terrified for her best - and only - friend. That redness and puffiness was the mark of a positive test for tuberculosis. Was Akaji sick? How had she gotten something like this? Had she had it before she came here, or did she contract it here? But if she'd had it before she came here she would probably be showing symptoms, since the bacteria stayed dormant for a while after someone first caught it and started acting up after a few years.
A million things tumulted through Karin's mind as she looked back and forth from Akaji to Kimimaro. "Kimimaro..." She pointed at Akaji's arm, the red and swollen bump there near the inside of her elbow. "A few days ago, Kabuto injected her with an antigen that would identify whether or not she has tuberculosis. Results start showing within forty-eight hours, and that's a positive reaction."
Kimimaro's eyes visibly widened, and he looked back at Akaji. "Positive...? You mean she..."
"I don't know." Karin looked to Akaji too, and the girl looked completely petrified. She knew exactly what was going on, and she was frightened out of what looked to be several years of her life. Bending down Karin slipped a hand inside the cage and rubbed the top of Akaji's head for a few seconds. "Don't worry, Akaji. I'll get to the bottom of this. If that asshole administered a faulty test..." Karin felt tears pricking at her eyes but she didn't allow them to spill over. If they didn't go over the eyelid, she wasn't crying. "God, I'll kill him if it was his fault!" She straightened up and took a breath. "Kimimaro, stay with her. I'm going to get Kabuto."
She took a few steps down the hallway, and then broke out into a run toward her boss's main office.
Kimimaro reached down into the bars again, and this time he took Akaji's hand. Partially to keep her from scratching again, since that only seemed to be irritating the bump further, and partly because he really felt for her. Being given the news that you had this many years to live wasn't pleasant; and it never would be. He didn't want something like that to happen to someone like Akaji... she was so sweet, so innocent. This couldn't happen. It was too late for him but it couldn't happen to her. "Don't worry, Akaji-chan," he assured her, trying his best to be comforting. "Everything's going to be fine."
But Akaji, childish though she was, wasn't the least bit stupid. She understood what Karin had been talking about, and she comprehended the gravity of the situation before her. She wasn't about to be consoled by words that neither she nor Kimimaro knew were true or not. Her fingers squeezed Kimimaro's tightly as the tears poured down her face and her chest heaved with deep sobs. "I-I-I don't w-w-w-want to d-d-d-d-die, Kimimaro-k-kun! I d-don't w-want to d-d-d-die!"