Author's Note: Thanks for the alerts/favorites :) THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE REVIEW :D It makes me happy to get reviews :). Just to make things less confusing, from here on out the princess will be referred to as Sango, since that's her alias. Thanks for reading, and enjoy :)
Walking out of the city was like escaping from those annoying relatives who have overstayed their welcome. Everyone in the town was trying to strike up a conversation with the princess, and in a way her body guards became managers, blocking her from her adoring fans. By the time they were out of the main gates, they were all irritated.
"Now the long part starts," Kazue said with a smile as she tossed Akahana the scroll with the map on it. "Which way are we going Commander?"
"That way," Akahana directed as she buried her face in the map and pointed in the proper direction. "We should try and stay on the trail, to make 'Sango's trip easier. Remember, call her Sango guys."
"We won't forget," Miyuki reassured as they started following the dirt trail. Akahana rolled the map back up and put it in her pocket, changing her stride so that she was standing next to the princess.
"Just tell us when you need a break," she said, stealing a glance at the poor girl's bound feet. Akahana guessed they maybe had an hour or two before she'd want to stop. "If they really start hurting, one of us can carry you."
"Okay," she said gratefully, pain already stressing her eyebrows. Akahana changed her pacing again, walking over to Kakashi.
"Sense any chakra out of the ordinary?" she asked quietly, eyes darting around the desert area.
"No," he said, staring down at the sandy dirt they walked on. Akahana had warned him that even though there weren't any trees, most shinobi visiting the land of Wind were well practiced in camouflage and hiding within the sand. Kakashi had decided he would focus on sensing any unhidden chakra until they were out of the Land of Wind. Of course, that wouldn't be for at least another day, if not two.
Miyuki and Kazue moved back as Kakashi and Akahana's quicker stride pushed them ahead of the group. This was ideal for protecting 'Sango' in the sense that there was someone on each of her sides and two in the front. If they had someone guarding from the back, it would be obvious that they were guarding her.
"Hey," Kazue whispered to Miyuki. "Do you think…?" she nodded her head towards Kakashi and Akahana, who were talking about random things like the weather. Miyuki shrugged shyly, not really one to think about that, but 'Sango' spoke up.
"I could see that," she said quietly. "Their strides are the same." It was true, they were completely in sync, and it was obvious that they didn't notice or they would've tried to change it. Before they could speculate anymore, Sango cried out in pain, stopping in her tracks. "I... I need a break now."
Miyuki was at her side first, now noticing how small the girl's feet were. There wasn't any shade nearby and stopping in the desert was too dangerous, not just because of shinobi but because of the possibility of overheating.
"In a few more miles there's a very small town. We could stop in there and get you some water, and you can rest," Akahana said as she knelt down and picked up Sango. She carried her piggy back the rest of the way, constantly assuring her that it was no trouble.
"Certainly I must be a little heavy…" she squeaked, feeling guilty for making this woman who didn't seem to weigh much more than herself carry her.
"No, I've carried heavier," she insisted as they continued. "Kazue, can you reach into my pocket and check my map. A town should be coming up really soon."
"Yeah sure," she said, reaching into Akahana's leg pack and pulling out the scroll. She held it several different ways, trying to read it.
"We're close," Kakashi said as he looked over Kazue's shoulder. She laughed embarrassedly by her inability to read a map, and handed the scroll to Kakashi. He was right and in a few minutes they arrived in a very small village that consisted of about ten houses, two shops and a pub/inn. Akahana led them into the pub, which was fortunately empty minus the owner. Carefully, she sat Sango down on one of the benches near the dead fire pit. Just by looking around, all of the shinobi could tell that this place would be a rough pub at night.
"You should let Miyuki look at your feet," Akahana said, knowing full well that women with bound feet almost never let anyone see them. "I'm sure we could get something from the owner to soak them in, which might help… I don't really know much about this stuff."
Sango stared at Akahana as if she was asking her to undress and dance around the streets. Just the thought of these complete strangers seeing her feet, one of which was a man, made her absolutely embarrassed. Akahana ignored this and walked up to the owner, not giving any explanation but a good supply of money. Fortunately, the Kazekage had given them a good sum of pocket money, with the expectation of them having to pay off a lot of people.
"He's going to get some buckets for you to soak your feet, as well as some tea and something for you to eat," Akahana said gently as she stared at this girl who reminded her very much of her friend who had had bound feet, before she died from them becoming infected. "Miyuki should really look at them though and see if there's something she can do to prevent them from becoming infected, since we will be walking a lot."
"He has to leave then," Sango said harshly, pointing at Kakashi. Akahana nodded understandingly.
"I'll wait outside," he said quickly, walking out of the pub and sitting near the door, pulling out his book. Kazue grabbed the water from the owner and Akahana grabbed the onigiri and tea, hurrying over to Sango. Carefully, Miyuki pulled off Sango's slippers and unwrapped her feet, now completely understanding the situation. Just from the small amount of walking they had done, blisters and sores were beginning to appear on her broken feet, which could cause much more problems later.
"Soak them first," Miyuki said methodically, "Then I can heal the blisters and sores that are present now. I'll send Kakashi to see if the stores here have some ingredients I could use to make a lotion that could soothe the pain, but our best bet would be to carry you as much as we can-"
"I'm not a child!" she yelled, flashing quickly to anger. "I am going to be a married woman soon! I don't need to be babied! Of course, you wouldn't understand the status of marriage, since you're all Sand Village Who-"She caught herself before that unladylike word left her lips. None of them flinched.
"Eat," Akahana commanded, handing her the food she got her. Sango looked up at her, still having a tantrum, but obeyed, eating the onigiri and sipping the tea that was handed to her. She didn't resist when Kazue forced her feet into the buckets, or when Miyuki went outside and told Kakashi what ingredients to look for. She stayed silent, preferring to pout to herself than to yell and misbehave.
"I think I pinned her wrong," Kazue said to Kakashi as she stepped out to escape the princess. "She's a bitch."
"What makes you say that?" he asked, looking up from his book.
"She totally snapped on us while we were trying to help her," Kazue said angrily. "If I was Akahana, I'd make her walk the rest of the way."
"It's our job to protect her, not torture her," Kakashi pointed out. Kazue just rolled her eyes.
"Akahana thinks we should stay here for the night. It's already getting close to evening and there's no way we could make it to another village before nightfall," Kazue grumbled. "At this rate, it's going to take forever to get her to the Fire Capital." Kakashi sighed in agreement.
"Am I still banished from the pub?" he asked, actually getting bored of reading. He'd been sitting outside for several hours in the awful desert heat.
"Yeah," Kazue said sympathetically. "I'll send someone to get you when you are allowed back in."
"Great," he mumbled as the fire haired girl walked back in.
"What do you mean you won't rent us a room? We've been here practically all day without incident," Akahana yelled at the owner as Kazue walked in, her quick anger showing its face.
"Shinobi in a lively pub lead to my walls being destroyed," he said matter-of-factly. Akahana could feel the vein in her forehead pulsing with aggravation. "Now you all need to leave."
Miyuki helped Sango rewrap her feet and Akahana carried her out of the pub with Kazue following behind them. Miyuki made sure to have a good grip on both Akahana and Kazue's sleeves, to make sure they wouldn't lunge at the owner of the pub and try to kill him. She was the level-headed one in most situations, especially ones like this.
"Now what?" Kazue asked in annoyance. Kakashi stood up and shot them a questioning look. "The owner won't let us stay the night because apparently shinobi like to cause bar fights."
"Nice," Kakashi muttered. The sun would probably set in a few hours and they weren't close enough to anywhere else to stop and stay. They could transport somewhere, but that could be so disorienting to someone not use to it that they ruled that out. So, they started walking.
"Are you looking for a place to stay?" a bigger man with scraggly brown hair and a scarred face asked. Miyuki instinctively flinched and moved behind Kazue. Big men frightened her, but Kazue sized him up, puffing her chest out and ready to fight.
"Why?" Akahana asked, holding Sango's legs a little tighter. She wasn't afraid, but just being protective.
"I'm in a business, a fighting business," he started. Akahana already knew where he was going.
"You're one of those 'agents' aren't you?" she asked, staring at him blankly.
"Yeah, and I need a girl for the fight tonight, or I'm out," he said, now sounding more desperate than he had before. "If one of you fought tonight, I would get you a room at the pub, no questions asked."
"I'll do it," Kazue said excitedly. "I've been aching for a fight anyways."
"Judging by looking at you, you're above the height restrictions," he said, his eyes going to Akahana, looking her up and down. "You however…."
"Fine," she said, putting Sango down. "You three watch Sango. Stay near one of the shops and always be near some sort of light. I'll be back with a key to the inn."
"What exactly is going on?" asked a confused Kakashi.
"If you don't know what's happening, then the Fire Country must be much more refined than us Wind folk," Kazue said as they walked over to one of the stores, sitting outside of it near the store window. "Pretty much these 'agents' hire cheap prostitutes, rent out a place, and charge admission to a small fighting match. They dress the girls in these skanky little outfits, completely degrading… 'Course, I wouldn't mind it if I got to kick someone's ass, but…"
Sango stared at the dirt, finally beginning to feel ashamed for what she'd said to her guards. She'd been very rude and now one of them was off degrading herself in order to get them a room.
"We should go watch," Kazue said with a grin. "Yo Sango, ever seen a fighting match before?"
"No, but… Your commander said-"
"She said to stay near a store or near some light. I'm sure there are lights in there," she said, grabbing Sango and throwing her on her back. "Besides, we should be there in case she needs our help…"
Miyuki and Kakashi both nodded in agreement. With a seedy operation like this, who knows what could happen to Akahana.
"Just one fight?" Akahana checked again as she adjusted her very low cut tank top and her very short and tight shorts. He nodded, staring way more at her chest than her eyes.
"Yeah, one fight and I'll give you all a room. I'm friends with the owner of that inn, and he owes me a favor, so…" his voice trailed off as he continued staring at her breasts that were way too exposed for her liking. Holding her head up high to keep some of her dignity, she followed the scraggly man to where this fight was taking place, which was the basement of someone's house. "Remember the rules: No ninjutsu or genjustu, or you're disqualified."
"I know," she answered bitterly as she walked into the small circle that was cleared for this fight. Her bare feet scratched against the cold concrete floor, making her flinch at the thought of anyone having to hit that pavement. Surprisingly (or not) enough, the basement was filled to maximum capacity, mostly because everyone had heard about the hot piece of ass that was coming tonight. Akahana didn't even see her team and the princess in the way back.
Her opponent came out of the crowd and into the circle, making Akahana even more relieved. The girl was scrawny, shorter than her, and not all that attractive, minus her chest of course. The only thing that worried Akahana a little was that the girl looked feisty as she jumped from foot to foot.
"Alright ladies, whenever you're ready," yelled the man who'd picked up Akahana. Akahana looked over to see where he went, so she'd know where to find him to get the room, and got clocked because she wasn't paying attention. The crowd 'oooooohhh'ed as her head flew back in surprise. Kakashi flinched and Miyuki sucked on her teeth at the thought of being punched in the face.
"Take that bitch down!" Kazue yelled with excitement, totally into the fight.
Without breaking a sweat, Akahana nailed the girl in the gut, then kneed her in the face, and ended the fight with a sweep at her legs, all with speed that rivaled the Yellow Flash's himself. She was unconscious in under a minute, and while Akahana wasn't particularly proud of beating on someone who wasn't as well trained as her, she did what she had to do for the mission.
"My room?" she asked the man, who just smiled at her.
"You can share my room Baby!" a guy from the crowd yelled. She shot him the finger as she walked over to the 'agent'. "Aw, don't be that way Honey." She was just going to ignore him, until he grabbed her ass. Then there was no more ignoring.
"I'm not just a piece of meat for you to have your way with!" she yelled in his face, only making him smile.
"You've got some bite," he said with a grin as he wiped the spit from his face. She felt an arm slip around her waist and turned around to beat the shit out of whoever it was; only it was Kakashi.
"You really shouldn't talk to my girlfriend like that," he said protectively, glaring at the man who was at least a head shorter than him. Funny how the guy disappeared into the crowd right afterwards. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, but I can take care of myself," she said quickly, pushing him away. "And girlfriend?"
"I needed some way to get them to leave you alone," he said simply. Akahana glared at him, her arms crossed.
"Are you guys coming or not?" Kazue yelled as they followed the 'agent' out of the crowded basement.
"Yeah! We're coming," Akahana said, looking back to Kakashi and wanting to say something, but then changed her mind. "We'd better catch up."
"Yeah," he agreed, following her to the pub where they'd stay that night. They both silently agreed to not talk about this situation again.