Mina's small voice made me squint in the harsh light that was invading my sleep, and I rubbed my eyes, groaning slightly as I edged myself into a seated position. My back ached, and when I finally blinked myself conscious, I understood why. I guess I must have drifted off last night on the couch. Damn lumpy cushions.
'Morning, Mina, how are you feeling today?' I offered her my best smile, but her expression was clouded with concern. My smile faltered as I questioned her. 'Mimi? Is everything alright?'
'Erm, you're erm… Well…' Her purple eyes flickered to something just behind me, and I followed her gaze nervously, the sinking feeling that I was not going to like what I saw increasing by the millisecond.
An ungracious 'GAH' escaped my lips as I leapt up and away from the offending sight. So, that's why my back hurt…
Of course, Mina just had to walk in on me sleeping practically snuggled up with the red-haired traitor holding us captive. He was still asleep, thankfully, and I mouthed silently for a moment until I swallowed hard, my expression quickly changing to a glare.
My eyes snapped back to Mina, who was watching me curiously, patiently waiting for an explanation.
'I-I fell asleep and… I mean I d-don't know how… Urgh. Any chance you could forget about this?'
She threw me a confused look as I squeezed my eyes shut and rubbed my temples before I risked another glance at the warrior. His chest rose and fell evenly, mouth slightly ajar as he lay curled on his side in an almost vulnerable position. My expression softened involuntarily.
'He looks so different asleep…' Mina commented quietly. I was about to scoff and inform her that he was still the same arrogant jerk when he winced suddenly and rolled onto his back, one arm clamping over his stomach, though he remained asleep.
I frowned slightly. Was his stomach hurting?
I moved toward him instinctively, ignoring Mina's confused stare as I pried his arm away from the area I'd previously healed. Lifting his shirt ever so slightly, I perched on the edge of the couch beside him as I examined him. What I saw was unexpected, but not uncommon.
'Is that…' Mina started, but I nodded and cut her off.
'That's why he brought me here, I healed him on the condition I could see you, but it was already infected pretty badly by the time I did.'
'Infections are hard to get rid of without proper treatment...' She mumbled, moving to sit on the low table beside me to watch as I ignited my healing chakra. She'd always liked watching me work, for as long as I can remember she'd been fascinated by not only my unique technique, but my normal methods as well.
I numbed the area quickly before prodding around with my chakra to find the source of the infection. It wasn't too difficult to locate and I soothed it quickly. Without thinking, I automatically began my bubble jutsu, but paused when Mina piped up.
'You're using your bubble?' She seemed surprised, which, of course she would be. She was watching her older sister willingly heal an enemy with something never used previously outside the family.
'I didn't really think about it…' I muttered, hands hovering hesitantly over his stomach. 'It would prevent the infection coming back again I guess…'
Mina nodded at my reasoning, but her expression remained unsure. I was about to withdraw when Sasori made to wrap his arm back over the exposed area, and I caught his hand automatically.
It was cold, and it made my heart twinge ever-so-slightly as I settled his arm back at his side. Decision made, I signed the relevant seals and pressed my palm to his gut, painfully aware of Mina's eyes on mine. I was a medic, it was only natural for me to want to do the job fully… Right?
I tilted my head slightly, trying to see Emiko's expression better, but she had her head dipped low enough to expertly hide her eyes. I frowned. This was unlike the Emiko I knew, she was stubborn and fiercely loyal to all that's good and moral. And yet here she was, deliberating and unconsciously fussing over someone who had not only betrayed her trust, but was fighting for the side of evil and holding her and myself captive in the process.
Then again, Emiko had never been physically able to be downright cruel. Not even to those she hated, not even to Sasuke. So I guess it was only natural for her to try to help someone in pain.
My eyes flickered up to his face again, and I supressed a gasp as I stared into recently opened honey irises. They were tired and half-lidded as he lazily returned my gaze for a few moments, before turning back to where my sister was obliviously working on her patient. I bit my lip as I debated commenting, but I was curious to see how she'd react.
I watched his expression closely as Emiko worked. He didn't seem at all bothered by my presence or observations, occasionally glancing back to me in an almost familiar fashion. His nose occasionally scrunched slightly as though fighting an itch, but other than that his features remained soft and relaxed.
I flinched lightly in surprise when Emiko spoke up. 'You're an idiot…'
It took a moment to realise she wasn't talking to me.
Sasori's lips quirked upwards in a small smirk but he didn't reply. I guess she just wanted to make sure he knew that she knew he was awake, and I couldn't shake the suspicion that they'd been in a similar situation before.
We remained in silence until she finished her healing, when she finally pulled back and stretched her arms out in front of her as she supressed a yawn. 'You're done.'
He propped himself up on his elbows as he glanced down at his freshly healed stomach, before pushing up to sit with his face inches from Emiko's, who turned bright red and scooted backwards quickly. Interesting…
The redhead's eyes suddenly turned to mine, seemingly unfazed by the situation. 'Are you hungry?'
I blinked at the strange tangent, but nodded quickly before I was quiet for too long. He passed between us and headed for the door in response, to where I assumed he was going to get food. When the door clicked shut, my eyes drifted to Emiko's, unable to hide a slight smirk tugging at my mouth.
'What?' She snapped, but I didn't flinch at her defensive tone.
'Nothing.' I smiled innocently, changing the subject before she could break me. 'So what do we do now?'
'Huh? About what?'
'What do we do for the rest of the day here…' I trailed off as her expression changed to one of understanding.
'Oh. I don't know, yesterday I spent most of my time sulking on the windowsill…' Yep, that sounded like my sister. She shuffled awkwardly further into the couch as she leaned her head back, her eyes sliding shut as she released a long, drawn out sigh. I moved to sit beside her and snuggled my head onto her shoulder, suddenly feeling a lot calmer about our situation.
I was just starting to relax when the door swung open with a loud thud as it hit the wall, and the blonde male from yesterday sauntered in.
'Deidara?' I questioned him, and he turned at the sound of his name.
'Oh hey, Emiko!' His eyes travelled to my sister, who was scrunching further into the couch nervously at the intruder. 'And smaller Emiko… This must be your sister, yeah.'
I nodded and threw Mina a reassuring smile. 'It's alright, this is Deidara. He's erm…' I glanced at the ceiling momentarily as I searched for the right word. 'An acquaintance of Sasori's.'
'Ouch, harsh words, yeah.' The blonde screwed up his face in obvious distaste, but his eyes were laughing along. 'Speaking of Sasori, where is he?'
'He went to get breakfast a few minutes ago…' I trailed off when the devil himself appeared behind Deidara in the doorway.
Deidara pouted as the redhead shot him down, but he wasn't undeterred for long. 'I just got news from Leader-sama, yeah. He and two of the others will be here any minute and they'll want a status report as soon as possible.'
Sasori groaned and ran a hand through his hair in exasperation. 'Has no one ever heard of forward planning in this organisation…?'
'Oh and he's sending two more squads to this base after the last attack, yeah.'
The puppet-master threw a glare at Deidara, who was grinning like a fool. 'Anything else I should know about that you want to casually drop onto me at the last minute?'
The blonde positioned one finger against his chin and tapped it lightly, pretending to think. 'Actually, now that you mention it, Zetsu is transferring to the Western base.'
Sasori blinked. 'Why?'
'I dunno why, yeah. But Pein says we're swapping him for that damn Uchiha.'
I had been listening intently to their conversation, but I sucked in a sharp, audible breath at that last part. Uchiha?! What did they mean? Surely not Sasuke Uchiha? Was he one of them too? My mind reeled with questions to the point where I had to force myself to tensely sit straight and clench my jaw to stop myself for blurting them all out at once. My gasp did not go unnoticed by Sasori, who threw me an unreadable glance.
'Anyway, I gotta go check on the defence lines, yeah, catch you later!' The blonde grinned in our direction before disappearing back the way he'd come.
Almost as soon as the door had closed behind him I rounded on Sasori, firing questions before he had a chance to open his mouth. 'Uchiha? What Uchiha? And who is this Pein guy? Why is he coming here? What last attack?'
'Emiko!' Sasori barked, closing the distance between us and slapping a hand over my mouth, silencing me long enough to begin to reply. 'Not the Uchiha you're thinking of.'
I visibly relaxed. Well that's one thing at least.
'Pein is the leader of Aka–' He stopped mid-sentence, shaking his head lightly as though scolding himself before restarting his response. 'Pein is the leader of the organisation I work for. He does routine checks on each base every now and then, it's nothing new. Though it would be nice to get a little warning once in a while…' He grumbled, removing his hand from my mouth and heading for his desk.
'Who is this Uchiha then? Why is he coming here?' I called after him. I moved to follow his retreat, but Mina's small hand in mine pulled me back. I glanced down at her worried expression as she nervously chewed her lower lip, sighing when I realised I was getting carried away again.
'You heard the brat, we don't know the details yet.' He bent over the desk with his palms flat on the surface as his eyes scanned an open scroll laid out before him. Then, more to himself, he muttered, 'this will have to do for now…'
Turning back to us, he motioned with a quick jerk of his head to follow him into the bedroom.
I hesitated, but tugged gently on Mina's hand when he made no move to leave until he was sure we would follow. 'Come on, Mimi.'
He closed the door softly when we entered, and I subconsciously pushed Mina slightly behind me as I regarded him cautiously. His hazel eyes flickered to meet mine, a rare and brief flash of emotion crossing them, possibly something close to concern.
'You need to listen to me. Pein is not someone you can talk back to, he commands the utmost respect and obedience from everyone he deems beneath him, a category in which you two will certainly fall.' His eyes narrowed on mine, daring me to object, but for once, I held my tongue. Something about his sudden serious demeanour had my full attention.
'I mean it, Emiko. He is nothing like the people you are used to. Do not test him. You'll be wise to remain in here for the duration of his visit.'
He threw me one final glare, before turning on his heel and leaving. I supressed a shudder at the unspoken threat, my orchid irises softening when they landed on Mina's enlarged, frightened ones.
'Don't worry, I'll keep my mouth shut.' I promised, chuckling when she raised a disbelieving eyebrow. 'Besides, if we stay in here like Sasori said, he probably won't even know we exist.'
'I hope you're right…' She mumbled.