The days dragged on, long tiring days of healing and waiting, healing and waiting. The injured warriors came in batches, usually in the mornings until noon and the evenings between six and nine, which we had taken to calling rush hour.
We did not work in shifts, but instead all medics were required on scene at all times with breaks throughout the day. But to be honest, we didn't need them. It was fairly quiet apart from the rushes, with only the occasional warrior stumbling in or being dragged by a teammate. It made the days drag, but I suppose the lack of injuries was a good thing.
My mind frequently wandered the red-haired warrior I had been assigned to heal. I wondered where he was, and if he was still alive out there. I always shuddered at that last thought, pushing it to the back of my mind and focusing intently on whatever I was doing at the time. I took to cleaning in the quiet periods, furiously scrubbing the bed rolls clean and wafting them around to dry. When that was finished, I'd move on to find more tedious jobs to do. Anything to keep my mind busy.
People came and went all the time, updating us on the war's progression and stocking up any medications or equipment we needed.
Kichiro stopped by to catch up every now and again, but other than that, I didn't really recognise anyone. The squires worked in a camp a little way away, sharpening and creating weapons and supplying armour or guarding prisoners when necessary. I had to raise an eyebrow at the thought of Kichiro guarding a prisoner, but there we go.
Then when a familiar face finally did arise from the fray, it was not in the most pleasant of situations.
'So, this is where you've been hiding from me?' He smirked through the pain as I prodded the scorch marks unnecessarily harshly.
'Shut up, Uchiha.' I glowered and continued to heal his shoulder that had definitely seen better days. An angry scarlet rash had begun to form around the edges of the burn he'd received, though several days old, it'd obviously been giving him trouble. 'Just how old is this burn, exactly?'
He pursed his lips thoughtfully. 'I'd say about 2 days… Maybe 3'.
I rolled my eyes and muttered, 'thanks for the accuracy,' as I dabbed it with a damp cloth.
'Someone's touchy…' He grumbled, but grinned when Mina came to stand beside me. 'Hey squirt, I was wondering how you were getting on.'
'I'm fine, you on the other hand…' She smiled at him despite his nasty looking injury, and I couldn't hold back the angry spike in my chakra at their polite greetings for each other.
I finished healing his shoulder as hurriedly as possible, before stalking off to the medical cabinet on the far side of the tent to find some anti-infection gel, Mina at my side.
'So, why do you hate him so much?' She piped up once we were out of earshot.
I winced at her question, not having expected it. She'd never questioned my hatred for that bastard before, odd that it should come up now. I sighed, throwing her a withering glance. 'I just don't get on with him. He was an arrogant jerk back in high school and he's only gotten worse since then. And he has stupid hair.'
'Those reasons don't make you hate someone as strongly as you do!'
I cursed her intelligent little mind as she peered up at me with purposely large eyes. I caved. 'Urgh, fine. It annoyed him in school that I was one of the only girls who wasn't head over heels in love with him… He used to seek me out excessively just to annoy the hell out of me, then one day… he went too far.'
Mina tilted her head, watching me curiously, and I hoped that she was reconsidering pressuring me into answering, but she didn't stop me.
'He made me–'
'Oh Emiko! There you are, I have a patient over here who's been asking for you.'
I could have hugged the woman that interrupted my confession, throwing Mina a 'duty calls' shrug and skipping off in the direction she'd pointed. Her patient had a simple broken foot, nothing life-threatening but it would take time to heal. I numbed the area and excused myself momentarily. I wanted to ask Sasuke something before he disappeared back into the battle, so reluctantly made my way back over to his bedroll.
'Couldn't stay away, huh?' He smirked, eyebrows raising suggestively.
'Actually,' I scowled, making it clear he was the last person I wanted to see. 'I was wondering if you, erm, knew anything about… Erm…'
He cocked his head slightly at my deliberation, waiting for me to spit it out.
'…if you knew a-about how Sasori's doing out there?' I finally managed, failing to hide the slight stutter as I debated even now taking the question back.
His eyes widened a fraction, as he stared, suddenly serious. 'I thought you'd have heard about that…'
'About what?' I probed, my throat clamming up nervously, suddenly regretting my decision to ask.
'…He's been M.I.A pretty much since the start of the fighting. The group he had been with were found slaughtered in a heap about 2 miles from here…'
My stomach lurched, freezing in place as I stared at the Uchiha, searching for any sign of a joke, but his black eyes remained calm and sombre. M.I.A. meant missing in Action, but how could that be? He was so strong during the spars… His team had been found dead, so that meant he wasn't with them, right?
'Oh. I-I hadn't heard…'
But then, missing didn't necessarily mean dead…
One Week Later
It had taken us all by surprise, the ambush. It was swift, unexpected, and completely sudden. They came out of nowhere, and yet from every direction. Enemy warriors darting in and around the medical camp, slicing through the life of any of our troops in healing with ease. It was an unfair advantage, killing a man in a hospital bed. A pathetically low blow that I despised with a passion.
They rounded the medics up after the camp was clear of eligible fighters, Mina and myself included, though I kept her squashed tightly into my side with one arm wrapped possessively around her shoulders. There was no way in hell I was letting her go this time.
One man stood out, his dark shaggy hair spiked scruffily around his scalp while one, cruel eye scanned his prey almost proudly. He had a black sash tied over the other eye, but I could see even at a distance a long ugly scar slanting up and across his eyebrow.
He gave the other men a nod, and they began to shove us forward. I'm not sure how long we walked for, but when we eventually did arrive at our destination, it was obvious we were deep into the land of Chitani. We were fast approaching what looked like a fortress, and I had to supress a shudder as we entered.
The man who greeted us is one I'll never forget. He was both white as a sheet and black as the night. His skin tone split right down the centre in a perfect division, while his head sported a short mess of unruly green hair, spiking out in all directions. Erupting from his shoulders and enclosing around his head, was a giant, olive coloured cage-like object, resembling something akin to a Venus-fly trap. Not at all intimidating. Oh no, not in the slightest…
'Master Zetsu,' One-eye inclined his head respectfully, gesturing to us behind him. 'Our mission has been completed successfully. Your orders, Sir?'
The two-toned male blinked owlishly, his eyes scanning casually over the crowd behind the man as though choosing something simple like his next meal.
'Take them straight through. Set them up immediately.'
The lead warrior spun around, flicking one hand over his shoulder to signal for us to move along again. In this situation, we would have done so even without the other enemy warriors forcing us forward from behind.
Mina still clung awkwardly to my side as we walked, thought I didn't dare push her away for fear of never seeing her again.
They shoved us forcefully into a tunnel-like structure and down a long narrow corridor, leading after what seemed like hours into a giant arena-type room, with walls surrounding it that went almost to the ceiling. On top of them and all around the arena ring were stone carved seats, and I shivered nervously as I wondered what they used this room for. Prisoner fighting sprung to mind, but I immediately squashed that thought as quickly as it had come.
The one-eyed man paused when he reached the centre of the ring, turning to face us.
'You are in the Land of Chitani now, you will from hereby out, continue your healing work for our warriors.' He stated bluntly, glaring as an eruption of disgusted whispering engulfed him from his prisoners. Well, what did he expect? That we'd just bow down and obey his every command without question? No way. This jerk had another thing coming if that's what he thought…
'Silence!' He snapped, earning several worried glances but not the compliance he was after. So he tried again. 'The next person to open their God-damn, filthy mouth is a dead man.'
Now, he got silence, despite our group being all women.
'Right. You will be situated in this area at all times, unless ordered otherwise from one of our men. If anyone is caught trying to leave without permission by either of the two exits to this room, they will be killed on the spot, no excuses. You will heal here, you will sleep here, and you will more than likely die here. So anyone who tries otherwise, will only be accelerating their death. There will be no conferring with the other members as you work, and you will work quickly, silently and effectively, without question. Do I make myself perfectly clear?'
For a moment, nobody dared to breathe.
'DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?' He screeched suddenly, shocking everyone into submission.
There were several murmurs of agreement from the medics, though I noticed, like myself, Mina said nothing throughout the ordeal.
He looked about to leave, when a light bulb sparked from behind his one cruel eye. 'Oh and one more thing…'
The eye that was now swooping over the crowd, like a lighthouse scanning the ocean for any stray ships, paused and hovered in me and Mina's direction. My hand that had subconsciously gripped my sister's shoulder tightened, and she glanced up at me worriedly.
He started to move towards us, parting the crowd like the red sea and stopping just inches away from us. I shoved Mina behind me as I withheld a gulp, my eyes meeting his in an intense stare-off that lasted mere moments, before he broke my trance by snickering and turning to the other guards.
'This is her alright. Purple eyes that could burn holes through your head and melt the polar ice caps in the process.'
My stare changed abruptly to a glower, snarling when he reached a hand out to grab my wrist, which only made him laugh harder.
'And more stubborn than a sedated mule.'
He didn't give me another second to dodge, before I could blink I was flung over his shoulder kicking and screaming bloody murder as he strolled casually out of the room. I was vaguely aware of Mina calling my name, but I was so busy concentrating on scratching this guy's one remaining eye out, that I couldn't even spare her a glance.
He soon changed positions and, with the assistance of another warrior, carried me the rest of the way by my wrists, with his helper securing my legs. I could only hang there bitterly chewing on my lip as I scowled with all my might, occasionally growling when he'd laughed at my expression.
'Where are you taking me?' I snapped when I finally plucked up the courage to speak.
'You'll see soon enough. Now hush.'
'Fine, but only if you let me walk by myself, I look like you hunted me!'
He chuckled at my choice of words, but glanced at the other male for his opinion.
'It's not like I can escape, where would I even run to?' I cut in before he could get his approval. The other male just shrugged anyway, so reluctantly, they let me drop to the floor.
'Gee thanks…' I grumbled as I got to my feet, dusting myself off.
Suddenly his hands clamped onto my arms, securing me in place while the other male wrapped rough material around my eyes, blocking out the light as he blindfolded me. 'What the–'
'Can't have you trying anything, missy.' Ah well. So much for that plan.
'Now move.' One-eye pushed my shoulder sharply, forcing me forward a few steps as he followed close behind.
And so we walked. Well, they walked, I stumbled, mostly in silence, though I did drop him the occasional string of curses when he got too close for comfort. I was starting to wonder if even they knew where they were taking me, and then I wondered why. Why me? The incredible sense of impending doom was beginning to dawn on me, and I had all but lost hope when the man I was trailing after suddenly stopped outside a door, making my bump into his back unceremoniously. I glanced up at him curiously, squinting through the blindfold and coming up blank.
Three short knocks followed a moment of silence, then old One-eye spoke. 'We have the prisoner you requested, Sir.' I felt the one beside me shift forward and open the door, then the next thing I knew, I was being flung forward and just barely managing to stay on my feet.
'Have fun.' One-eye whispered under his breath, and as the blindfold was whipped away from my eyes, I turned just in time to see them disappear behind the door we'd just entered through.
I could hear someone in the room behind me, and my breath hitched in my throat. Agonisingly slowly, I began to angle my body around to face them. At first, I didn't see him, but when my orchid irises gradually made their way to the windowsill, they widened.
I mouthed silently for several seconds, my bulging eyes meeting his and locking in a rabbit-caught-in-headlights kind of stare. Glimmering topaz versus bright amethyst.