Am I Missing Something?
Unfortunately, I was not right. Not in the slightest. Apparently, freaky two-toned plant-guy was somewhat of a gossip amongst this criminal organisation, and the first thing their leader had demanded upon arrival was to see, and I quote, 'Sasori's new toys, immediately'.
I'd scowled almost enough to burn a hole through the door I was listening through, and just barely managed to stop myself from bursting into the other room to put this guy in his place. But I didn't. For Mina's sake, and maybe because just a tiny part of me was feeling kind of on edge after what Sasori had said about their leader.
Mina was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed behind me, watching nervously as I threw her an occasional irritated glance in response to what was being said in the adjoining room.
A few moments later, the talking stopped and muffled footsteps began to approach the other side of the door. I leapt back hurriedly, scrambling onto the bed to sit with my legs over the edge, my body angled towards Mina but not enough so that the door was out of my sight.
There was a curt tap on the wood, making me jump slightly. 'Y-yes?' I hadn't expected them to knock…
The handle twisted in response, swinging open agonisingly slowly to reveal a startlingly orange haired man, followed closely by two others I didn't recognise and then at the back, Sasori.
I glanced at the latter anxiously as they piled in, and although he kept his expression neutral, his eyes narrowed ever-so-slightly in a silent warning to behave. They moved to stand in a semi-circle around the bed where I sat as my gaze flickered between them suspiciously, sizing them up.
I bit my tongue as they stood in silence, desperately fighting the urge to tell them to take a photo, they last longer.
After a few awkward moments, one of the strangers huffed and leaned against the bedside table. 'Bloody hell, Pein. I'm getting old here, you gonna speak or what?'
'Watch your tongue, Hidan.' The orange-topped leader threw a glare at him in response.
'Yeah, yeah…' Hidan waved a hand in dismissal before running it through his slicked back silver hair.
Their leader's eyes landed back on mine, and I couldn't stop the slight tilt of my head as I examined his unusual, lilac ringed eyes. 'So, you are Emiko?' His voice was deep but smooth, the kind of voice you'd peg as the immediate bad guy in some cliché teenage horror movie.
I nodded slowly, resisting a glare as his eyes slid to my sister, who I could practically hear trembling beside me. 'And this must be Mina, correct?'
I nodded again, my mouth pressing into a tight, thin line. I momentarily debated asking why he cared, when the third male I didn't know spoke up.
'What you gonna do about them, Leader-sama?' Gravel. His voice was like gravel, hoarse and yet somehow strangely clear. Oh and he was impossibly tall and his skin was blue… How did I not notice this guy before?
Their leader's eyes met mine again and his expression twisted thoughtfully. 'Bring her.'
'Wha–' I barely had time to be surprised as the blue abomination hoisted me up over his shoulders, where I hung limply for a moment.
He started to move towards the door where the guy they called Pein was heading, when the movement snapped me out of my daze and I struggled against his hold, growling 'I can walk for myself, you know!'
Sasori's face appeared in front of mine in a heartbeat, frowning lightly as if to silence me as he trailed after my captor.
'E-Emiko!' Mina's tiny voice rang out from the bed, where Hidan was still standing as though debating on what to do with her. I started to thrash harder and was just about to warn him away, when carrot-top beat me to it.
'Leave the younger one, Hidan. She's clearly terrified, she's of no use to me.'
The silver-haired male rolled his eyes and muttered something incoherent in irritation, though made no further move to disobey. I allowed myself to relax slightly, at least they were leaving Mina alone. For now.
I was definitely not happy about my method of transport, though I soon realised the blue male was far too strong for me to escape from, and settled for digging my elbows into his back as I propped my head up, smirking when I felt him roll his shoulder uncomfortably.
It did not help that while I was being 'escorted' away, the red-heads face remained inches from mine the whole time, rolling his eyes when I fixed him with an unimpressed glare.
To say I was relieved when I was dumped unceremoniously on a hard stone floor minutes later would be an understatement, but unfortunately, my relief was extremely short lived.
'Emiko? I-is that y-you?'
I spun on my heel at the sound of my name, recognition dawning. I know that voice! My eyes snapped to the corner of my new surroundings, which I begrudgingly identified as a prison cell, and not a particularly clean one either.
My eyes widened incredulously, several different expressions twisting in my stomach all at once. Relief, confusion, concern, fear and then anger. Oh, the anger…
'Kichiro…' I breathed, inching forward only to have a firm hand planted on my shoulder and halting my movements. I fired a furious glower at whoever had dared to touch me, slapping the hand away and demanding, 'what the hell is going on?'
Hidan, the one who had stopped me, only grinned, his eyes lighting with amusement as he nodded towards their leader, who gave me one simple order.
I blinked at him, anger dissipating into suspicion. Why was Kichiro here? And since when? Wait, if he said heal him, then that must mean…
My eyes darted back to the boy in the corner, getting a closer look at him. As I had feared, he was badly injured and his breathing was dangerously quiet and shallow.
This place was bad for my brain… I seemed to be missing a lot of vital details these days. I scowled as I knelt in front of him slowly, my eyes scanning his body more thoroughly. He looked to have several broken ribs from the way he was holding his chest and the sound of his breathing. His right arm was bent at an odd angle and there was a thin trickle of blood leading down the side of his face stemming from his hairline. Finally, my eyes locked with his.
They were slightly glazed and clearly exhausted, but he was still fully alert.
'What happened to you?' My voice came out in barely a broken whisper, but he heard me. His lips parted as he tried to reply, but a harsh voice from behind cut him off.
'No talking. Just heal.'
I whirled on Pein, suddenly not caring about Sasori's warning.
'Excuse me?' I hissed, preparing a sufficiently hateful speech about not giving a damn about who he thought he was or what he could do to me, but before I could utter another word, I was slammed forcefully against the wall beside Kichiro, who yelped in surprise at the sickeningly loud bang as my head collided with stone. I let out a gasp only to find myself struggling for air as a hand clamped firmly around my throat.
'What don't you understand about no talking?' I tried to focus on his serious, lilac eyes as he kept his voice dangerously low, enough to physically petrify a grown man, but my stubborn glare returned almost as soon as the initial shock wore off.
'Look, I don't give a shit who you are–' My voice cut off with an embarrassing wheeze as the pressure on my oesophagus increased.
'Stand down, Sasori.'
My eyes darted to the side where the red-head was now hovering, a rare display of concern crossing his features. He inclined his head obediently, but he failed to move away. Despite my situation, I had to refrain from smirking at the sight of Sasori in submission, but the orange-haired male's cool, collected voice soon caught my attention again.
'You may not care about what I do to you, but I'm sure you're not so stupid to think I wouldn't be able to hurt you in other ways.' My breath, scarce as it was, hitched in my throat at his unspoken threat. Mina…
'Now heal him.'
He released my neck and I slumped to my knees, unable to stop the uncomfortable spluttering that followed. I glanced up to find the leader had returned to his place in the doorway, his eyes pinned to mine just daring me to disobey him again. And oh how I wanted to, but I had no doubt that he wouldn't hesitate to drag Mina in here and put her in a similar situation to Kichiro.
My heart clenched as I turned back to face him, vaguely aware that Sasori was still standing beside us, almost protectively. Kichiro was watching me with wide eyes, silently begging me not to do that again. I offered him a small, weak smile of reassurance, before my hands began to glow green and I made a start on his ribcage.
There were three that were broken, and two fractures. Whoever had done this was definitely not going easy on him, which only made me wonder why they wanted me to heal him so badly. I tried to think as I numbed the pain as best I could. What did I know? Well, he was their enemy, in a prison cell all bruised and banged up like this. That much was obvious. They apparently wanted him to stay alive for some reason, and from the looks of it, he hadn't been here long as most of his injuries were fresh and the blood stains had only recently dried.
Then it hit me. He'd been in interrogation, which meant the only reason they could want him alive was so they could torture him all over again. My chakra flickered in horror at the realisation, earning a nervous glance from Kichiro. No. I couldn't do this… But if I didn't, they'd get Mina. How could I choose one life over the other? They were both innocent… Kichiro wasn't even a warrior!
The horrific dread that was rising soon changed to unimaginable guilt. It wasn't my choice, but it was happening all over again…
'Something wrong?' I was mildly thankful that it had been the blue male, who I had heard being called Kisame, that had spoken.
I forced my head to shake left and right once each way, a silent gesture of no. My chakra lit up once again as I continued, not missing the wince of pain that escaped the boy's mouth as I hurried to numb the area again.
This was wrong. So wrong. But then again, war wasn't exactly renowned for its provision of good and righteousness, was it? So I healed him. I also made sure to give him an extra boost of my numbing chakra that would hopefully last through the next 'session'.
My hand lingered on his previously broken wrist when I finished, our eyes locking in a silent exchange of concern before I reluctantly stood up.
'Kisame, take her back.' Pein stepped to the side to let us pass, Sasori trailing silently after us until he spoke again. 'Not you, Sasori. I'd like a word.'
I glanced over my shoulder as I was shoved through the door, taking one last look at my captured friend until I finally turned the corner to follow Kisame. At least he wasn't carrying me this time.
After a few minutes of silence, the blue man spoke quietly. 'If you're worried about Sasori, he'll be fine.'
I blinked, wondering if I'd heard him right. 'Why would I care about him?'
Kisame chuckled, surprising me slightly and making me realise I had wondered that out loud. 'Well, never mind then.'
I frowned but didn't push it. He was blue, for God's sake. He probably didn't even know what he was talking about. Then again, I suppose I was maybe, a tiny, little bit worried about Sasori. I guess I owed him that much. I mean, he did warn me that Pein was not to be taken lightly.
Wait, what the hell am I thinking? I don't owe that jerk anything!
I scoffed and crossed my arms across my chest in disgust, earning a sideways glance from Kisame. We arrived at 'my room' moments later, and my escort left me in the doorway. I couldn't get inside there fast enough, practically sprinting towards the bedroom and all but flinging myself against the door in my haste to check on Mina. She was fine, thankfully. Just a little scared, as to be expected.
'Are you alright?' She questioned me as I crushed her to me in a death hug, burying my face in her soft brown hair.
'I'm okay.' I mumbled. Physically, I was fine. But mentally…
'What happened?' She pushed me back gently and stared up with enlarged round eyes. I smiled and shook my head sadly. I didn't want to tell her about Kichiro, she didn't need to know and it would only serve to scare her further. To my surprise, she smiled back. 'I knew you'd be alright.'
My eyebrows raised slightly in confusion. 'What do you mean?'
'When he went with you, I knew you'd be alright.'
I frowned as I realised who she meant. 'Sasori?'
She nodded, smile never once faltering.
'I don't know, something about the way he is with you, just makes me feel like you're safe.'
Safe? With him? Not in the slightest… Where would she get that idea? I continued to frown as she moved to snuggle down under the duvet, tugging my hand and encouraging me to sit with her. But I was lost in thought now. Was what Kisame said earlier related to what Mina was saying? Why would they think that?
It didn't make sense to me, but there was clearly something I was missing here. And I'd be dammed if I didn't find out soon…