Trapeze

Chapter 20

Disclaimer: HOW MANY TIMES DO I GOTTA TELL YOU?!

Thanks to Love8Peace, Fernlight, itachiluv18, VKlover13, Freedom its2l8, Sally95, Chichi4mangaHero, Once Upon An April, YukiKitsune95, Animefreak1145, Silent-Himitsu, and Kyoichi Amaya for reviews. Thanks to Silent-Himitsu for favorites.

Sally95: Thank you! Glad you love this story and thanks for the review.

As a reminder: Mitsuko belongs to Fernlight, Ruri belongs to Kyoichi Amaya, Ame belongs to SoraLover987142 and Yuki belongs to Chichi4mangaHero.

YOU STUPID PIECE OF LOUSY JUNK! . I don't even own you a year and already you freaking crash! GAH! I'm busting your circuits with a hammer if you can't be fixed! *sulks in rage corner* (sorry, but my computer got a virus/crashed or something so I'm back to dial up at my house and my 2005 desktop...)

vvv

The next day I was waiting at the Konoha gates early in the morning. Hana had mentioned yesterday as she said good-bye that my team was leaving for a mission, and I wanted to see them off. I had snuck off early to avoid my brother stopping me. My team arrived all withing a few minutes of each other, all shooting a surprised look in my direction. Yuki frowned at me, her hands on her hips, "Shouldn't you be at home resting?" She asked just as Ame, who had arrived at the moment, said, "You're not coming with us." I smiled easily, "I know. I just wanted to wish you luck."

Ruri sighed, "I wish you were coming with us. It won't be as fun without you." Arashi coughed, "You mean you won't have any backup against me." He muttered. I was surprised, as well as the team, when Ruri didn't comment. She just shifted uneasily. I smirked when I realized why and she glared, "What are you smiling at?" Ruri snapped. I shook my head, "Nothing." I responded lightly, still smiling. Our team glanced between us, confused, while Arashi actually blushed. Toppi pounced on my, wrapping his arms around my waist, careful not to bump my injured leg, "I wish you were coming with us! And Mitsuko too!" I ruffled his hair, "You know that's not possible for me. Mitsuko... maybe Ruri can take over her teaching while I'm recovering, that way Mitsuko can go on more missions."

Someone snorted behind me, "Yeah... since her first didn't turn out so great." All of us turned to see a girl Ruri's age walking towards us, a backpack on her shoulders. I knew she was my replacement and tried to squash my jealously, but all I managed was to keep it from my face. I smiled, "Hi, I'm Tora. You are...?" I held out my hand. The girl huffed and ignored my hand, "Your replacement." My team tensed, even Arashi, ready to leap to my defence. I slowly withdrew my hand but kept the smile diligently in place, "Well I hope you do better than I did! Wouldn't want both of us in the hospital!" I laughed, secretly proud that it didn't sound forced. The girl's lip twitched, "Trust me. I won't. I don't make the same mistakes." I let my smile turn a sneer when I saw my team glaring at the girl, "I know you won't... you're already making new ones." I said then turned and limped away, calling over my shoulder, "I want to know how it goes! See you all in a few weeks."

vvv

"Argh!" I seethed a few hours later and limped back and forth. Itachi glanced up from his seat on a park bench and stated, "Something is bothering you." Reiko had left with his team on a dual mission with Team Kakashi and Shisui was somewhere with Hana. It was the first time I had seen Itachi alone since that night a week ago. We had both made the unspoken rule not to talk about it, it would be too awkward. I turned to him, "How would you feel if your team replacement was a stuck up girl who pretty much thinks that she's better than you?!" Itachi shrugged, "Hn. You're overreacting." "I am not!" I shouted back quickly when I realized he was right... as usual. I took a deep breath and tried to rein in my temper.

Itachi raised an eyebrow, "Yes you are. Your team knows that she'll never replace you, no matter what she does." I threw up my hands and began pacing again, "I was only on a few missions. If this damn leg never heals then she will replace me! All that work to become a field medic and it's thrown away by one chance encounter!" When I started to pass Itachi again he reached out and grabbed my wrist, halting me. He stood and I realized how small I was compared to him, I had to tilt my head up just so I could meet his gaze, "It doesn't have to be." He said. I didn't even dare to try to understand what he meant. He continued, "You were the Tiger Demon, you proved people wrong before. Do it again." My eyes widened when I realized what he said, "You want me to go against my brother, the Hokage... everyone's orders and start training again?" I asked bewildered. He only nodded.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was what I wanted. All my life I had proved people wrong. I had proved to my father that I deserved the chance to live, no matter how hard he tried to kill me. I had proved to the entire village that I was a person and not some demon, and I should be treated as such. I proved them all wrong because I wanted to. And I could prove them wrong again, and show the world that I wouldn't let a little scar stop me. After all, I had a face full of them. I turned to Itachi, "Will you help me?" I asked. He allowed a small smile and nodded.

vvv

The next morning I arrived for my shift at the hospital weary and sore. Itachi was careful not to injure me, but my muscles still cramped, especially in my right leg. The only thing he had made me do was stretch for almost an hour, but that was enough to make me feel like I had just ran with Gai and Lee. Mitsuko was waiting for me, shifting awkwardly, hiding something behind her back. I stopped in front of her, hands on hips. I had yet to forgive her entirlly for pushing me into Itachi. She shot me a sheepish grin and nervously pulled out a stuffed white tiger from behind her back. Holding in in front of her she asked, "...Forgive me?" I let her grovel for a moment more before I laughed. Tugging playfully at her bangs I said, "Yes, but only if you promise never to do that again." She nodded figerously. I accepted the tiger from her and went to put it in my locker before starting my rounds.

By lunch time I was sore, exhausted, and irritated with people asking how I felt. When Shisui and Itachi came to take me for lunch I was glowering. Shisui whistled, "I think we're going to have to change your pain meds. These seem to make you bad tempered." I glared at him and Shisui playfully hid behind Itachi, muttering, "I rest my case." Itachi shot an annoyed glace at his older cousin, but didn't say anything.

^o^

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