The journey was quite long but Kai couldn't remember much of it honestly. He had slept most of the trip unable. The pain kept getting worse and he felt sicker. Some sort of poison was attempting to overtake his system and it felt to be lingering after effects of his curse mark. That bastard Orochimaru had really done a number on him but with both him and Tayuya's curse make properly sealed by the sanin's powerful jutsu Kai felt a lot better. His ninja dog Buster was quite good with seals but was never good enough to seal it up like Jiraiya had. Tayuya opened the door to to carriage.
"Hey there Kai," Tayuya said. She was smiling and such smiles were rare with her but they looked oh so beautiful on her face.
"Hey Ta... Yuya," Kai managed. He had some trouble breathing occasionally and talking was such a hassle.
"We made it," Tayuya confirmed, "We are at the gates of Konoha now and they want to see the leader of this group of shinobi."
"Got it," Kai said trying to get up. Tayuya immediately assisted him wrapping one of his arms around her shoulders. They both hobbled towards the gate. As they made it to the gate the two gate guards eyed them suspiciously. Neither of them were actually wearing hitai-ates.
"Hello!" Kai called with a raspy voice, "I am the leader of this group. The frost-nin will be returning home immediately after resupplying."
"Who are you?" The gate guard asked. Everyone had credentials but Kai and Tayuya.
"Naruto told me to come here," Kai began, "We are former members of Orochimaru's forces." Both guards drew kunai.
"Stop that!" A feminine voice called. Both guards looked over their shoulders to see a pink haired shinobi approaching. It was Tsunade's apprentice Sakura. "Tsunade-sama says she wants to see these two personally. Let them through please." The gate guards put away their weapons and waved the caravan in. The caravan went on its way while Kai and Tayuya were slowly following Sakura. Tayuya's legs ached, and Kai's hold body was wracked with pain. Kai wasn't even seeing clearly, it was bad. Sakura eyed the two suspiciously before deciding where to ultimately take them.
"We will go straight to the hospital. Naruto and Jiraiya sent word via hawk to us telling us all about you two," Sakura stated putting the two at ease, "Tsunade also agrees with the terms of the agreement. You both will be treated and healed completely in return for information on Orochimaru."
"Just hurry up and gets us there freak," Tayuya hissed angry Sakura was delaying and causing that much more pain to Kai.
"What did you call me?" Sakura roared turning to the two. Kai rolled his eyes. This was gonna be great.
"You heard me freak," Tayuya said again. Sakura's face turned red with anger as she reared her fist back.
"Stop it!" Kai yelled, "Tayuya try not to start shit until we are healed please." Then Kai passed out. Tayuya dropped to his side shaking him. Tears welled up in her eyes and onlookers started watching them. Tayuya cupped Kai's face.
"I am sorry, please help him," Tayuya pleaded. She hated apologizing but anything for Kai. He had done so much for her after all. Sakura dropped to the other side of Kai placing her hands on his chest and sending green chakra into him. Another man watched from nearby. He was shocked.
"You!" A voice came. Tayuya had more tears in her eyes as she looked up. A man in a fishnet shirt with a chunin vest on was standing a few feet away. He had his hair in a top knot. Tayuya rolled her eyes this time.
"Wow, it's the weakling," Tayuya muttered.
"What do you think you are doing here?" Shikamaru asked taking more steps forward.
"Get lost weakling," Tayuya growled, "I don't have time for your shit." Tayuya wiped the tears from her eyes. Sakura was done working her limited magic and glanced over her shoulder confused. She knew not of what had taken place between Shikamaru and this girl but if Shikamaru got even a little worked up over it then it must be something serious.
"Shikamaru," Sakura said standing and picking up Kai, "Now is not the time! You need to get Tsunade-sama, it's urgent."
"Troublesome," Shikamaru whispered turning and dashing off towards the Hokage tower. Sakura dashed off towards the hospital and Tayuya kept up the pace the best she could on her still weak legs. Tayuya's legs ached horribly and suddenly she tripped falling to the ground. Sakura stopped and looked back, but Tayuya was scrambling to her feet.
"Don't worry about me!" Tayuya yelled, "Get him to help please!" There were more tears in Tayuya's eyes and she chased after Sakura who had already began running towards the hospital again. Soon enough they were inside the hospital and Sakura wasted no time locating an empty room and laying Kai down on a hospital bed. Tayuya burst into the room a few seconds later gasping for breath and clutching her legs. The pain was excruciating but she couldn't leave Kai now. Tayuya collapsed in a seat that was placed against the wall.
"Let me tend to your legs," Sakura said kneeling next to Tayuya and placing her hands on her legs. Tayuya slapped Sakura's hands away.
"I will be fine freak!" Tayuya declared, "Help Kai-kun, I beg of you! If he dies..." Tayuya just looked down. Sakura had a short flashback to a long time ago on a bridge, that was not yet built. A battle that took place so long ago against a legendary swordsman of the mist. Sakura understood Tayuya's feelings and that was maybe all that kept her from getting angry. Sakura stood and walked over to Kai placing her hands on his chest. Something vile was wrenching the life out of his body and Sakura could not purge it, but she could hold it back. Sweat dripped from Sakura's forehead as she forced massive amounts of chakra into Kai's body. She had come a long way, but there was still so much to learn.
Tsunade-sama burst into the room nearly ripping the door from it's hinges and eying the kid laying in the hospital bed. Sakura was so focused she didn't even notice her sensei's entrance.
"Sakura, that's enough!" Tsunade ordered, "I will take it from here." Sakura nodded and fell into a seat next to Tayuya exhausted. Whatever that vile presence was exhausted her just trying to hold it back. Tsunade placed her hands on Kai and probed around him a little with her healing chakra gauging the severity of the bile that was in his system. It was worse than she thought it would be. Tsunade placed one hand one Kai's right hip and another on his chest. She forced one massive push of chakra into his system and then shifted her hands repeating the process several times. Soon Kai's heavy breathing stopped, but he did not wake. Tayuya stood and wobbled over to the bed side.
"Is he?" Tayuya asked wiping the tears from her eyes. They were red and puffy. Tayuya had never been scared like this in her life.
"He is fine," Tsunade assured, "I was able to cleanse the posion from his system, but he will take some time to recover." Tayuya let a smile crease her face briefly then collapsed to the floor in pain. Tsunade lifted the girl from the floor with ease and place her next to Kai and put her hands on the girls legs.
"Such severe injuries," Tsunade murmured, "but not the worst I have seen recently." Tsunade worked her magic and Tayuya sighed as the pain receded from her legs. "You both will need a lot of rest," Tsunade cupped her chin like she did when she was thinking.
"Thank you," Tayuya whispered. A short time ago she had helped a ninja flee their village and yet here they were helping them. Konoha was something else, that was for sure.
"When you two are recovered I expect you to fulfill your end of the bargain," Tsunade said turning and leaving the room. Sakura walked over to the bed side and checked over the two one more time before she departed as well. Tayuya satisfied that danger was no longer imminent wrapped her arms around Kai and fell asleep. Nothing was better than just holding him.
Kai was the first to wake the next day. He had slept for quite some time. The bed he lay in was so warm. For some reason he could remember glimpses of Tsunade the legendary sanin working wonders on him, but they were foggy memories at best. His body was still in a little pain, but he could feel it recuperating from the vicious assault on his system. Kai looked down and all he saw was red hair scattered about his torso. A smile crept across Kai's face. She stayed with him. Kai ran his hand through Tayuya's hair and stroked her cheek. Kai absentmindedly knew he had an obligation to fulfill now that Konoha had come through for them. Kai didn't mind at all. The Shimokage said tough times were ahead and that Konoha would have need of him. His friend was rarely wrong, and it disturbed him more that his friend had predicted this event vaguely months before he had even found Tayuya. Though the details were cloudy when he talked of his vision it was still more accurate than Kai cared to admit.
Tayuya stirred in his arms and looked up into his face. Kai still stroked her cheek. Kai no longer wanted to hide the affection that had grown for Tayuya the past couple months. Tayuya didn't mind at all. A big smile spread across both of their faces.
"You woke Kai-kun," Tayuya murmured drowsily. Kai nodded still stroking her cheek.
"It seems we have made it safely to our destination," Kai commented. Tayuya nodded this time. "Now I wonder what will happen from here."
"Now we are going to help the leaves catch the snake," Tayuya replied simply, "He tried to kill you and he left me to die. He is as good as dead to us, so let's make it so. That fucking asshole needs some payback for what he's done to us." Tayuya was furious just thinking about him but Kai's hand calmed her.
"You're right," Kai agreed, "Our next ultimate objective will be ridding ourselves of our former master. We will need to get stronger if that is the case."
"It's going to be very difficult," Tayuya sighed laying her head down on Kai's chest.
"We'll do it together," Kai stated firmly.
"Promise?" Tayuya asked.
"I promise," Kai said hugging Tayuya as tightly as his current strength would permit. Tayuya hugged back smiling.
"That's good," A voice came from the door way. The door was closed but someone opened it revealing the shinobi with the top knot.
"Go away weakling!" Tayuya growled not wanting to get out of bed.
"I merely came to gauge your intentions," Shikamaru replied studying the two, "It seems you are both sincere about this new objective of yours."
"Yes," Kai assured. He could feel Tayuya heating up with anger, "Calm yourself Tayuya, we need to try to make friends."
"Fuck that! This guy is a pussy!" Tayuya growled.
"Troublesome," Shikamaru sighed.
"If that bitch with the fan hadn't showed up when I was already tired from kicking your ass I would have killed you both," Tayuya huffed sending a death glare at Shikamaru. Shikamaru seemed not to mind at all.
"If you two are up to it the information you have is best disseminated at the earliest convenience," Shikamaru spoke wisely. Orochimaru's whereabouts were constantly changing.
"I understand," Kai said. He struggled to sit up wincing in pain as he did so. His body would still need at least a day to recover, but he had an obligation to a new village. Kai finally sat up wincing in pain and Tayuya had her arms around him supporting him.
"Don't be stubborn now. I said at your earliest convenience. It's clear you still need rest and there is always tomorrow," Shikamaru said turning to the door.
"No," Kai said flatly, "You need this information as quickly as possible in order to track his whereabouts. Or he'll just move again."
"That is appreciated, but don't overdo it," Shikamaru warned walking over to the bed side. Kai swung his legs over the side of the bed and slowly stood up. His legs were firm but pain coursed through his veins. Tayuya slowly rose to her feet next to him, but just couldn't do it falling back onto the bed. Kai turned and picked her up. It was just pain after all and this was far more important than simple pain.
"Kai, don't," Tayuya pleaded but Kai shook his head.
"Don't ask me to put you down. I love holding you to much," Kai chuckled causing Tayuya to smile a little as well as blush a little.
"Well, then, let's go," Shikamaru said turning and walking out of the door. Kai followed behind pain wracking his body with every step. Kai pushed it from his mind and just stared down at Tayuya. She seemed more than content, and it took his pain away somehow. In short order they were out of the hospital and walking down the streets of Konoha. Kai walked steadily behind Shikamaru having all but forgotten his pain and concentrated on arriving at whatever destination they were headed to. Shikamaru remained quiet staring up into the sky for a long time.
"So you both must be powerful," Shikamaru commented, "After serving under Orochimaru..."
"Yes," Kai responded, "I guess you could say for our age we are formidable, but by no means are we more powerful than say a jonin." Shikamaru seemed to consider it or maybe he wasn't even interested. Tayuya was doing all she could to keep her mouth shut. No more conversation took place and they were soon at the Hokage's tower. Shikamaru walked up to a door and knocked on it.
"Come in," Tsunade called, and Shikamaru pushed open the door walking in. Kai followed. Tsunade rose when she saw the two of them.
"You both should be resting still," Tsunade growled.
"Shut up old lady," Tayuya snapped. Tsunade slowly rose from her desk, then dashed forward power surging to her fist. She threw her fist and struck hard. She did not hit Tayuya. With blazing speed Kai had pushed her out of the way and took the brunt of the punch sending him flying into a wall.
"Oh?" Tsunade gasped surprised, "that was quick for being so injured." Kai was laying in the crater twitching.
"Kai!" Tayuya yelled. Kai snapped out of his daze and slowly rose from the crater in the wall.
"I am... Okay," Kai managed struggling to his feet, "to be honest I was hoping we wouldn't get beat as much here..."
"Let's get to business then," Tsunade said returning to her desk sitting down. Tayuya managed to scramble to a seat as well as Kai and they both sat finally relaxing. There was a huge lump on Kai's head which he rubbed absentmindedly.
"Yes," Kai replied, "but I have something to request from you."
"Oh?" Tsunade asked eying him with interest.
"I will point out every single last location I have known that Orochimaru stayed at for more than a day in the past eight years in exchange for a place in this village, and a chance to free this world of the snake," Kai demanded. Tsuande leaned back in her chair thinking.
"What do you think Shikamaru," Tsuande asked.
"I can vouch that we should trust them," Shikamaru assured.
"Since Shikamaru agrees... It's done. Tell me every last detail you know about him and you will be honorary leaf shinobi. Jiraiya spoke highly of the individual who referred you both to us, and Naruto also spoke highly of you," Tsunade was in some thought, "I trust their judgment, but if you betray this village you will answer to Naruto."
"Let's begin then," Kai stated, "We will need a map of the entire land." Tsunade glanced to the doorway and nodded. Shizune who had been standing there nodded and ran off. She returned a short time later with a large map and pinned it up on the wall. Kai slowly stood and began sticking pins all over the map. He had one hundred of them.
"We will need more pins," Kai said as he was working. More pins were brought in and soon the map had almost two hundred pins in it.