After our fight we ran. We ran the whole time with the little chakra we had left, to be far away from the Akatsuki. At least we hoped we were. We first stopped when we almost collapsed, near a small town.
Deciding that we should rest a bit before continue running we went into the town and Kazumi stole money from some rich men so that we could buy a little hotel room. It was cheap but luckily not as crappy as the room I had stayed in with full-mouth-idiot and money-geezer.
As soon as we were in the room we lay down, our hearts were racing and our legs felt like pudding.
“What shall we do now?” Kazumi asked finally.
I shrugged. “I still want to visit my parents when that’s okay.”
“Of course, we’re almost at their house. But what shall we do after that? We attacked the Akatsuki. They know that we lied to them. They won’t just shrug it off; they’re going to hunt us down until the edge of the world!”
“We could go to Konoha. I’m sure that Tsunade will protect us, and they’re after Naruto as well, so we can team up and fight against them together” I suggested. I really wanted to see my old friends again. Just now I realized how hard I actually missed them.
“Then we have to run fast, because it’s quite some distance.”
“Can’t you fly on that wind dragon like this Deidara did on his birds?”
“No, it’s not solid enough. Also the chakra would hurt us more than holding us and-“
“Yeah yeah, you don’t need to try explaining it, I won’t get it anyway” I interrupted. I was too tired now to listen properly.
We were silent again, until I felt someone move closer to our room. First I thought that the person had also a room in that floor, but then I recognized him.
“Shit, they’re here” I managed to say before it knocked.
Kazumi cursed and in an instant we stood, facing the door with our weapons in our hands.
“Who is it?” she whispered.
“Stuck-up-ninja” I said and then he called through the door:
“Kazumi, Tora, I know that you’re in there. Please open up. I have to talk to you.”
“Itachi?” Kazumi said, and I felt her kunai falling on the ground while she was walking to the door.
“Damn Kazumi, what are you doing?” I half-screamed half-whispered. “He’s one of them!”
But she didn’t listen and opened the door.
I couldn’t believe that… I thought staring hopefully burning painful daggers at her.
Stuck-up-ninja entered with a polite “Thank you” and closed the door behind him. In a blink of an eye I had surrounded him by rocks. “One movement and I crush you” I threatened, still not trusting him.
“Tora, what the hell are you doing?! Release him!” But I ignored Kazumi and asked the Akatsuki member instead:
“How did you find us and what do you want here?”
Calmly like nothing had happened stuck-up-ninja also known as Itachi Uchiha said: “When Tobi grew suspicious about you I placed a seal on Kazumi so that I’d know where you are in case anything would happen. I’m not here as your enemy, I want to help. But we don’t have much time before Kisame gets suspicious.”
Wow, these were a lot of words from his mouth… Sadly I couldn’t detect a lie and so I had no reason to crush him. I let the stones disappear but still glared at him.
“Pain decided that you shall be treated like Akatsuki’s enemies who can damage the organization. Therefore, if he catches you, he’ll force you two to tell him who you told Akatsuki’s secrets and will kill you afterwards.”
“We already suspected that something like this would happen” Kazumi said.
“Hn. Pain and Tobi aren’t the persons who forgive easily. They’ll hunt you down as determined as they do it with the Jinchuriki. You have to go into hiding, change your looks, your personalities and maybe fake your deaths. That’s the only way.”
I frowned at his words. Bloody hell, that sounded too crazy to be true, but I knew better. Our life turned upside down because of the escape, again. My hope that I could return to Konoha, or to live peacefully with my parents, was shattered within a few seconds. We only would continue running.
“Tora, would you mind leaving us for a few minutes?” Kazumi asked with a soft voice. I narrowed my eyes but sighed and walked out of the door without questioning her. I’d ask her later why.
Standing in the hallway I thought for a moment to overhear them, but my growling stomach decided different and so I went to buy some food.
“You cast a seal on me? Seriously?” Kazumi asked angry.
“Hn. I wanted to know you save.” His voice and expression stayed the same, he was as stoic as ever.
“But why? Why do you care about me and my safety?” she asked confused. The first time they had talked he made it clear that he wouldn’t help her if Pain would find out.
Itachi was silent, but he pulled something out of his cloak. It was a necklace with a silver heart. Her eyes widening in surprise Kazumi stared at it as she recognized it.
“I wanted to give it back to you” Itachi said. She only continued staring at it. Her mind was racing, remembering the day of the ninja-battling-competition in Konoha.
“How…?” She looked up at him and suddenly it all made sense. “It was you?”
“Hn” he simply said, smiling slightly.
It was ca. five years ago; there was a big ninja-battling-competition in Konoha. My father had been near Konoha by chance that time and so he decided to visit it, in hope that he could ally with some of the strong ninja. My brother had to accompany him because my father wanted to show him how to deal with shinobi, and I had to come too so that my father could keep an eye on me.
The competition was placed in the big arena where the chunin exams always took place. We sat near an entrance and watched several ninjas from genis to jounin battling each other – alone or in teams. The mass was cheering and betting on their favourites while my father watched it with sparkling eyes, writing down on a paper the names of those he wanted to make an offer later.
But I, I was bored. The fighting only reminded me that I could never become a ninja. Instead of giving attention to the spectacle I gazed around and saw the Anbus standing everywhere around with their hooded cloaks and masks. They stood completely quiet and unmoving like statues.
Behind us was also one of the Anbus, wearing a black coat and a cat mask.
Smirking I stood up, unnoticed by my father, and walked slowly toward the Anbu.
“Hey” I greeted him, smiling widely.
The cat looked at me. “Can I help you, Miss?” he asked. His voice was muffled because of the mask.
“I don’t know… I’m bored, can you entertain me?”
He still just looked at me but I imagined that behind that mask he’d either look surprised, raised an eyebrow or smiled.
“I’m sorry but I have to work. Please go back to your seat.” At least that guy was polite but I didn’t thought about going back.
“You’re not working. I watched you and your colleagues the whole time. All you do is standing around. I think that you’re as bored as me. Did I wake you up?”
“Hn.” Was that a yes or a no?
“I bet that I could do your job too. Give me the mask and I prove it to you. I’ll stand here for the rest of the competition, gazing around, looking important.”
“No.” I pouted but didn’t give up.
“Why are you wearing that mask anyway? I mean it’s pretty and all, but why?” I looked at him curiously but before he could answer I continued:
“Shall no one see that you’re actually bored as hell and day sleeping the whole time? Or are you all ugly? Can you only become an Anbu when you’re ugly? You should ask my brother then.” I smirked. The Anbu was still unfazed.
The people cheered and howled loudly as probably one of their favourites won another match. From the corner of my eyes I saw my father jumping up and clapping, my brother joined him. I made a face and turned my attention back to the cat.
“You should better go back to your seat so that you won’t miss more of the competitions” the cat said.
“Nah, I don’t like watching ninjas fight.”
“Why?” I looked at him in surprise. I didn’t expect him to be curious and asking back. Actually I thought that he wanted to get rid of me.
“It’s because I can never become a ninja. I trained and all, but they said that I’ve got too little chakra and that it’s useless. Although I’m stealthier than some ninjas and I can fight. But still, I’ll never be that strong like these shinobis. You’re also a ninja, aren’t you?”
I got a slight nod as an answer. “Are you strong? I guess so. Your parents have to be very proud of you… my father is ashamed that I’m his daughter, he wanted to teach me all the business crap he’s doing, but I’m not interested. I hate it! Instead I want to travel around, having adventures. So he concentrated on my brother to put him in my family’s footsteps. I’m only the useless daughter that runs barefoot through the village, spies on other people and gets in trouble.” There I stood, in front of a total stranger, and disburdened my heart. And he listened! He didn’t chase me off, he didn’t get angry. Instead he stayed as calmly as before, looking at me through his mask.
“You shouldn’t stop training” he said softly. “Being the best isn't all it's cracked up to be. When you have power, you become arrogant and isolated from the world. Being a ninja isn’t always an advantage. Train with that what you have and you’ll be strong in your own way.”
I smiled after his words. “You are very kind. May I know your name?”
“I’m sorry but I can’t tell you.” I nodded, understanding it. We stood there for some time, ignoring the cheers, fighting noises, and yells. Until something crossed my mind and I pulled a necklace out of my pocket. It was a silver chain with a silver heart at the end. “It belonged to my mother. I found it in her stuff.” I said quietly, looking up from the necklace to the cat. “I like it but I don’t want to wear it because I’m afraid that it gets lost or breaks in one of my adventures. But you know what, I give it to you. It’s a present because you listened to me and entertained me. You can do whatever you want with it, give it to your mother, or girlfriend…” I hold the necklace toward him but he didn’t make any attempt to take it.
“I’m sorry but I can’t accept that.”
“Of course you can! And don’t apologize so often. Here, take it!” I said but he still didn’t do it.
Sighing I lay the necklace on the ground. “I leave it here. Take it or let it lay around on the ground until someone else picks it up. I really enjoyed our chatting. Thank you very much, cat Anbu. I wish you a lot of success as a shinobi.” With a warm smile I turned around and walked back to my seat. My father didn’t even look up as I sat down. I still didn’t pay attention to the competition, but know and then I gazed back to where the mysterious ninja was standing, the necklace still at his feet.
When the competition was finally over and we walked toward the entrance with all the other people I saw that the necklace was gone. The Anbu though still stood there like a statue.
Kazumi looked at Itachi surprised. “The Anbu with the cat mask… it was you?” she whispered in disbelief.
Itachi nodded slightly.
“Wow… That’s coincidence. Did you know from the beginning of my capture that it was me?”
He shook his head. “I had a slight feeling that I knew you, but I wasn’t sure. Not till I saw the necklace in my desk’s drawer again.”
“So you did accept my present.” Kazumi smirked. “But why did you keep it? It’s not exactly a male necklace, I had thought you’d give it to your mother or-… oh” I interrupted myself as I noticed what time it had been when we met. “Have you known it then already? That you had to kill your clan?” she whispered.
“More or less. I was just graduated to an Anbu captain. I knew that my clan planned the Coup D’état and that they had to be stopped.”
“Oh Lord, and exactly at such a time a little girl comes to you asking stupid questions. I’m sorry…” Kazumi mumbled ashamed. Itachi must have fought with the question of loyalty at that day and the fear of an upcoming civil war if he wouldn’t stop it. It surprised her that he even had to be there at the event instead of plotting and being put under pressure by his clan and the elder. And then she had come, telling him that his parents must be proud of him and that he should give that necklace to his mother…
“Don’t worry” Itachi said softly and smiled a bit at Kazumi. “I enjoyed our conversation as well. It was a nice change. And I actually wanted to give that necklace back to you because I think that you shouldn’t give away pieces that belonged to your mother.”
She didn’t resist as he took the necklace, pulled her hair away and chained it around her neck.
After I had walked half an hour through the village, eating, I decided that they have had enough time to tell each other whatever they wanted to. Also I became impatient. If the Akatsuki were after us so badly I wanted to visit my parents before they’d catch us. I wanted to meet them, to tell them that I was fine.
Arriving at our room I knocked once as a warning and entered. Stuck-up-ninja leaned against the wall and Kazumi sat on the bed.
“I hope you discussed everything, because we should go now.”
“Where?” The Uchiha asked.
“As if we’d tell you” I mumbled, still suspicious even if Kazumi seemed to trust him completely. “It’s our business. Also I thought that you’d know it anyway because of that stalker seal, so why do you even ask?”
I heard Kazumi sigh before she said: “I think I know where Tora’s parents live. We want to visit them.”
“Yeah but we’ll travel without you. Didn’t you say earlier that you have to go back to your partner before he gets suspicious?” I didn’t want to come at my parents’ house with a stalking rogue ninja.
I could feel his gaze on me and stared (hopefully) back.
“Hn. Tora’s right, I should go.”
Yes! I grinned winningly.
Stuck-up-ninja walked to the door and I stepped with pleasure to the side. He already had opened the door when Kazumi said: “Thanks for the necklace, Itachi.”
“Hn. You shouldn’t keep it in your pocket because it looks nice at you.” Then he was outside, the door closed softly and I felt him walking away. For a moment it was quiet in the room until I turned around to Kazumi, asking confused:
“Did I miss something? What the hell was that?”
But she didn’t answer and just stood up. “I think that we rested long enough, don’t you agree? We should check out and continue travelling.” She quickly passed me and I only stared at her in confusion with my mouth slightly open.
“Kazumi, what is going on between you and stuck-up-ninja?” I yelled, running after her.