I had already decided I hated the warriors of Kazekuni, so I really detested the fact that not only had I put my name down as a medic, but also that there was a mandatory welcome gathering in the town hall tonight.
I hadn't really made much effort with an outfit, pulling on a plain, cream coloured alter neck dress and some light brown strappy, wedge heels. Mina had chosen a dark purple dress that matched her eyes brilliantly, and black ballet pumps, since she was only 12, so I refused to let her wear heels just yet. I was relieved to find that the earlier events of that afternoon had not darkened her spirits when it came to a village party, and as she skipped along beside me toward the designated building I had to smile.
There were four doormen outside to greet people, each with their own endless looking guest list. I gave our names moodily and after a moment, we got the nod to enter. The hall was bustling, filled to the brim with brightly dressed people that almost hurt my eyes. The old bar in the corner of the hall had been polished to within an inch of its life and opened as though it were new.
I had timed our arrival so that it was late enough to miss the Mayors irritatingly and undoubtedly vain speech about how thankful and lucky we were to have such honoured guests choose our 'humble' village.
Mina tugged on my hand and nodded at a few of her friends standing a little way away from us, and I grinned at her in approval. She squeezed my hand lightly in response, before pottering happily over to greet them.
I rolled my eyes after her, amazed at how easily she got over things. Sighing, I figured I may as well make the most of the free bar, and headed towards it eagerly. But as my eyes danced across the groups of people hovering in the corner with freshly poured drinks in their hands, I froze as something caught my attention. Red hair…
Gulping hard, desperately trying to swallow my pride, I forced my feet to move forward until I was standing right behind him. I shuffled to the side so he was on my right where I could see his face better, and opened my mouth reluctantly.
'Erm, excuse me?'
The stranger tilted his head slightly, moving his hazels eye to gaze at me lazily in response.
'Erm…' I struggled to form a sentence, not really knowing how to begin. 'Are you, I mean, earlier this afternoon… Erm, was it you that–'
'You're welcome.' He deadpanned, moving his eyes to stare at his drink in front of him.
My temper bubbled at being dismissed so easily. Now who needs some manners? 'Well thanks I guess…'
I was about to turn and stalk off in a huff, when a voice from my left surprised me.
My head whipped round and I was met by the cool, piercing onyx gaze of Sasuke Uchiha. Bloody wonderful.
'S-Sasuke?' I stuttered, completely shocked by his appearance all of a sudden. I had been at high school with him, and he drove me crazy. Not in the way that he drove most girls crazy, no, I actually hated him with everything in me. Two years ago, at 17, he had mysteriously disappeared from the village without a trace. The mayor had concluded his vanishing as a strange occurrence, but later we found out that he had been spotted in other nearby towns, so he basically just left. 'What are you doing here?'
He threw me his old trademark smirk that I was thrilled to see hadn't changed. Please note the sarcasm. 'That's no way to speak to a guest of Ookiimura!'
My eyes bulged. 'Y-you're one of the warriors?! From Kazekuni?'
The stranger behind me shifted, suddenly interested in our conversation. 'You know each other?' He questioned, eyes boring into me almost accusingly. 'Another ex-girlfriend perhaps?'
I snorted in disgust. 'No.'
'I used to live here.' The Uchiha shrugged casually, turning his attention back to me. 'You haven't changed much.'
'Neither have you.' I scoffed. Then, after a moment, a thought popped into my head. 'When you left, why didn't you tell anyone you were leaving?'
'Aw why, did you miss me?'
'Not even slightly.' Dick. 'Was kind of a selfish move though… Lots of people were really worried.'
He shrugged again, completely unfazed. 'This town was dull. Nothing ever happened.'
'Right.' I supressed the urge to roll my eyes and made a move to leave, but Sasuke caught my arm, ignoring my expression of loathing at his touch.
'Didn't you want a drink?'
I blinked. That had been my initial intention… 'Not really.' I lied awkwardly, trying to struggle out of his grip.
'Oh come on, let me buy you a drink Emmy…'
'It's Emiko.' I ground out, my temper beginning to rise again. 'Let go, Sasuke. This isn't high school.'
He snorted immaturely. 'What, you're not still pissed about that are you?'
We continued to bicker until I finally agreed to let him buy me a drink provided he removed his hand from my arm immediately, which he eventually did, albeit reluctantly. He then managed to force me to sit on one of the stools, earning several of my best death glares and I shifted on the seat. Until then, I hadn't noticed the red head beside me had been watching the entire time, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly in amusement.
'Glad someone's enjoying themselves.' I snapped, unable to hold back on the harsh tone. Oops. I winced at my own voice and waited for him to get angry and make a scene, but he only seemed more amused at my sarcasm.
'So I see you've met my comrade then, Emmy.' The Uchiha commented, retaining the irritating nickname and sneering when my eyebrow twitched.
'Not really.' I muttered, accepting the drink off the bartender who seemed to appear out of nowhere. 'What is this?'
'It's a special concoction they have in KazeKuni.' Sasuke cut in, nodding at the man who then scurried off to serve other waiting customers. 'It's to die for.'
I sniffed the rim suspiciously, deciding against it and placing it back on the counter.
Sasuke frowned and opened his mouth, presumably about to throw me some other witty comment about my attitude, when two girls came charging forward, instantly demanding his attention. I recognised them from high school, but didn't care enough to try to remember their names. I shoved the drink a little further away since he was distracted and slid off the stool to make my escape.
'See you around, Emiko.'
I glanced back briefly to meet the amused hazel gaze I was being pinned by. 'Thanks again, umm…'
'Sasori.' He finished for me. I simply nodded and all but ran from the scene. Well, that wasn't awkward at all.
It wasn't long before Sasuke managed to seek me out again, despite my best attempts to avoid him, I'd even resorted to sitting in the toilets for well over ten minutes at one point, so I was pretty pissed off that my efforts had failed. He had clearly had a lot more to drink since the encounter at the bar, and was now swaying slightly as he stood in the doorway, trapping me outside on the small French balcony, which apparently was not a good hiding place.
'Why don't you get the hint, Sasuke? Back off!' I growled, backing up until I was leaning against the railing, though the Uchiha was still only inches from me on the short platform.
'I saw that you signed up to the medics list, E-mi-ko,' he sang the syllables in my name annoyingly, ignoring my warning glares.
'Yeah, so?' I snapped, seriously regretting putting my damn name on that damn list.
'Sooooo…' He grinned at me, an arrogant, cocky grin that made me want to slap it right off his stupid face and into next week. He wobbled forward one step, placing his hands on the balcony railings on either side of my waist.
'Bastard…' I mumbled, my head recoiling into my neck as he leaned closer, sneering down at my burning cheeks, which was actually due to my rage, not embarrassment as he clearly saw it.
'You want me, Emiko…' His breath was hot and smelled with unbearable strength of alcohol, but when he shifted again so that our noses almost touched, that was the final straw.
Unable to hold back, my fist collided with his gut sending him flailing backwards drunkenly, and without a second though, I swung myself over the railing and dropped to the floor, landing on my feet with more grace than I had expected. I raced along the back of the building and darted around the corner in between the town hall and another tall construction, hovering in the dim lamplight to peer back around the wall as I strained my hearing for footsteps.
When I was satisfied he hadn't bothered to follow me, I let out a breath and my shoulders slumped in relief.
'So, do you always treat village guests with such high courtesy or are we just lucky?'
The voice came out of nowhere and I jumped violently in surprise. Spinning around, my eyes landed on that instantly recognisable red hair, and I groaned inwardly. 'Yeah… it's a bad habit I'm trying to break. Can I help you?'
Sasori's lips curled ever so slightly into a smirk, though I had to squint to be sure. 'Not particularly.'
Biting down on my tongue to distract myself from a sarcastic retort, I gave the sweetest smile I could manage in this situation. 'Any specific reason as to why you're lurking outside in the shadows in between buildings?'
He raised an amused eyebrow. 'I could ask you the same thing.'
I opened my mouth to politely inform him that it was none of his business, but he spoke again before I could, his voice taking on a lethargic monotone.
'Does this village have to drag everything out?'
'What do you mean?' I frowned, confused. The warriors had only arrived this morning, and were leaving first thing tomorrow, so they hadn't had a chance to 'drag anything out'.
'Well I figured we'd have selected workers already and left this…' He pursed his lips trying to find the right word, but upon seeing my warning glare he settled with, 'place.'
I blinked slowly, still not fully understanding what he was getting at and deliberately choosing to ignore the fact that he referred to the medics and squires as 'workers'.
He sighed harshly and rolled his hazel irises in exasperation at my blank expression, reaching out to grab my wrist. He tugged it and I stumbled forward in surprise, head almost crashing into his chest. Before I could even begin to form words of protest he was already stalking off in the direction of the main doors, leading me back inside.
As soon as we entered the hall, the arrogant redhead disappeared into a sea of people. Confused, I sighed and went about looking for Mina.
To say I was relieved when the Mayor finally climbed up on stage to announce the departures would be a massive understatement. The room fell into a deathly silence instantly, and the temptation to drop a coin at this moment was overpowering, but I resisted.
Mina scooted closer so that her arm was tucked into my side as our leader opened a folded piece of paper that he had produced from his jacket pocket.
'Okay, so here is the moment you have all been waiting for. I trust everyone is packed and ready to leave in the morning.' He paused and allowed the crowd to nod and mumble in response. 'Excellent. I'll waste no more time then and get right to it.'
'Thank God.' I heard someone breathe out behind me and to the left, a voice I noted as Sasori's, and I rolled my eyes at his impatience.
'First off, the medics. Assigned to Squad 1 shall be as follows.' A string of names were reeled off, none of which even vaguely sounding like mine or Mina's. Next came Squad two. 'So for this one, there will be one medic per warrior, since this is the smallest squad in the platoon with just 23 men.' I cocked a head, only mildly interested in the squad sizes. I had figured it'd be one medic per person in every squad anyway, but apparently not in Squad one. 'So joining squad two will be…'
Again with the list of names, I was just about to give up paying attention when my hearing prickled. 'Rengé Junika, Emiko Kiitana and Mina Kiitana. You will be assigned an individual when you have officially joined the squad.'
Everything else after that was a blur. I tried to think positively that Mina and I were at least on the same squad, but the fact that they were dragging the 12 year old off into a war shocked and appalled me. It was true that I had signed her name myself, but I had never in my wildest dreams thought they'd actually pick her!
Mina's small voice broke me out of my trance and I let out a sharp breath that I hadn't realised I'd been holding. 'Huh?' I glanced down at her.
'I said it'll be alright. We're on the same team.' She gave me a tiny smile that made my heart swell. I nodded quickly, forcing myself to smile back, trying to look reassuring. If my expression displayed any of my inner turmoil, she didn't let it show.
So that's it then, I thought resignedly. We're going to war.