Call Me Over-Protective
Emiko was both confusing and annoying. But mostly confusing. In all honesty I didn't know why I had avoided her yesterday, but it pissed me off that, even after I had blatantly admitted that she was a perfectly good medic, she still quite willingly believed the lie that she was incompetent.
There was no training today since the new troops had arrived, which I was less than thrilled about. New troops meant another large addition of testosterone, all fighting to be crowned 'top dog' or whatever it was they were squabbling about.
To say I liked my squad would be an overstatement, but I was content with the way it was. Everyone knew their place, most people knew how to show up on time, and most importantly, no one messed with my stuff.
From my seat in the window of a quaint little café I had found during my search to kill the rest of the afternoon, I chewed boredly on a piece of dry toast as I watched them 'introduce themselves'. They had indeed brought their own squires and medics, and I couldn't help but notice the strange silvery coloured bangles each of them wore on their arms. It appeared to be a running theme throughout the entire group, warriors and medics included, but not the squires for some reason. Odd.
I soon lost interest in their arrival, turning my attention back to my plate in front of me. A perky young waitress came scurrying up to my table as I finished off my glass of water, practically tripping over herself in her haste to top it back up.
'Can I get you anything else, sir?' She beamed at me cheerily and I resisted rolling my eyes.
'Just the bill, thanks.' I muttered, and she nodded and hurried off to the counter.
The bell in the doorway jangled, indicating new customers who, were unfortunately several of the new men on my squad.
Turning back to gaze out the window, I did my best to ignore the bickering rabble as they headed for the counter, infuriating as they were.
'Well hey there gorgeous, how do you like your eggs in the morning?' I glanced in disgust at the male responsible for such a ridiculous pickup line. He was the tallest in the group of four, and was leaning casually against the counter and gazing into the flustered waitress's eyes.
'H-hello, sir. Can I g-get you anything this morning?' She stuttered sheepishly, clearly uncomfortable with the attention.
'Hmm, a whole plate of something like you would be excellent.' He flashed her a sly grin, baring his teeth a little too much.
'Geez, Satoshi, you're scaring the girl. Here, sweetie,' he produced a single red rose from his long sleeve that made me want to gag at the cliché. 'A rose by any other name…'
Simply not caring enough to wait around for her answer, I slapped some money down on the table, probably much more than necessary and strode towards the door.
Outside was just as noisy and I groaned inwardly, sensing a long journey ahead of us. I wandered through the streets back to the hotel, absently wondering if Emiko would be talking to me again, since she had spent most of the morning avoiding me.
As I approached the room, I was mildly intrigued to find Kichiro standing outside the door, fidgeting with his hands. I threw him a questioning glance, and he tugged the hem of his shirt down like a naughty school boy caught standing outside the classroom by the principle.
'Emiko threw me out.'
I blinked at him slowly, taking in his excuse. 'Why?'
'She's getting changed, so she threw me out and told me to stand guard.'
'Why can't she get changed in the bathroom like she normally does?'
'Because… Erm, well I… You see the bathroom is…'
'Spit it out, brat.' I snapped. Damn fumbling fool.
'I may have flooded it… Accidentally.'
I gritted my teeth and closed my eyes, opting to rub my temples rather than whack the imbecile out of my way. 'Of course you did. Well how long will she be?'
As if on cue, the door slid open and said girl appeared in the doorway, grinning. 'Okay you can come in… now.' She faltered as her eyes landed on me. She had set the back of her hair free to fall loosely around her shoulders, her usual braid ribbon replaced for a small white bow pinning the lock of hair to the side.
My eyes trailed over her dress. It was a plain, knee-length halter-neck, and matching the hair bow in colour, it suited her perfectly.
'Sasori?' My eyes snapped back up to hers as she spoke, noticing how her dress somehow made the lighter violet flecks in her eyes stand out more.
'Woah, Emiko you look amazing!' Kichiro beamed, giving her two thumbs up. I made a disapproving noise at his action and brushed past her, not missing the way her face fell as I did. What the hell did I do this time? I thought irritably.
I risked a glance into the bathroom, tutting at the sight and bending down to rummage in my bag for a fresh shirt. Deciding against making much of an effort, since I really couldn't care less, I left my baggy khaki pants on and switched my black T-shirt for a black polo-shirt, earning a sideways glance from Emiko.
'That's what you're wearing?'
'It's pretty much the same as what you had on before.'
'Is that a problem?'
'Guess not.' She muttered, defeated.
Grabbing my pack and clipping it to the side of my belt, I made my way back to the door.
'Come on then. We don't want to miss all the fun…' My sarcasm fell on deaf ears as the medic and the squire exchanged excited glances, although I think Emiko's was more nerves than excitement.
They hurried after me as I exited the room, Kichiro pausing to lock the door behind us and jogging to catch up. I was almost a tiny bit proud that they had actually been ready to leave on time, but squashed the feeling as quickly as it had come.
No point getting my hopes up, they would both always be hopeless time-keepers.
As soon as the gathering came into view, Kichiro practically skipped off into the bustling gazebo, leaving Emiko trailing silently behind me. My head itched to glance back at her, so quiet that I was actually wondering if she was still there.
Upon entering said tent, my eyes skimmed the area and, selecting an empty picnic bench on the opposite side, made my way towards the back. Emiko sat down quietly on the other side of the table to me, her eyes flickering from person to person in search of her sister.
I was not looking forward to the scene if she did happen to show up, since she would inevitably be with her warrior who, I was positive, Emiko would be disgusted by.
A particularly louder group of men caught my attention momentarily, swaying into my line of vision and heading for our table. I growled under my breath as recognition dawned, it was the men from the little café.
The tallest of the group, I vaguely recalled his name as Satoshi, leered down at Emiko, flashing his teeth again in that almost threatening manner. 'Wow baby, your eyes are amazing.' Great, here we go again.
I scowled at the man as he leaned further over my medic, but to my amusement, she was having none of it.
'Oh really? Seeing your back would be pretty amazing…'
I stifled a rare laugh at his expression of pure shock. He'd clearly never been rejected before.
The gangly one from behind him laughed aloud, shoving him out of the way and congratulating Emiko on shooting him down. She offered him an uninterested but polite smile in response, turning away to continue scanning the crowd, but he didn't give up that easily.
'You know what, if I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd put U and I together.'
'That's weird, I'd put F and U together.' She snapped, crossing her arms and frowning in irritation as he continued to distract her from her task. I raised an eyebrow and waited for his reaction, expecting him to get angry and lunge at her. I wouldn't put it past him.
Unfortunately, he was still undeterred and laughed again, a deep, throaty, sickening laugh. 'Now now, don't be like that, we're just having some fun.'
He scooted himself onto the bench next to her, a little too closely if you ask me, his arm lying flat on the table before him, the strange silver bangle catching her attention as he moved.
Her head titled curiously. 'What's that for?'
Something flashed through his eyes that instantly had me on guard. He was up to something and I didn't think I liked where this was going.
'My bangle? Here, you want to see it?' Tugging it off his arm in one swift move, I shifted uncomfortably as she took it from him, turning it over as though entranced.
'Try it on if you like.'
She regarded him suspiciously before moving to slip it over her hand slowly.
'Emiko.' I barked suddenly, scaring her half to death. She stared up at my warning glare in confusion, dropping the item and flinching as it clanged noisily on the wooden surface.
'S-sorry, here you go.' She apologised to the man for her action as she pressed it back into his hand, but he was no longer paying her any attention.
My eyes locked with his for a split-second, a silent exchange of threats passing between us while Emiko, blissfully oblivious, began to clamber out from the picnic bench.
'I'm going to go have a look around, see if I can find Mina.' She smiled lightly at me and I waved a hand in dismissal, still watching the new comers in the corner of my eye.
When she had gone, Satoshi cracked his knuckles behind me. I half turned, throwing him a bored expression at the pathetic noise.
'I don't know who you are, but there are things you should know about the way our squad works, and the way yours is gonna work now too.' He sneered, using his full height to loom over me.
'Whatever you say.' I droned, not actually giving the slightest damn what he was going to say and hoping he would give up and leave. He didn't.
'First off, you don't want to get in our way, you've heard of the Fire Blade Four, right?'
'Not that I recall.' I let one eye fall shut, watching him lazily with the other. Still, he was not discouraged.
'Heh, well you're looking at them.' He grinned smugly, pausing momentarily as though waiting for me to cower in fear or bow down in admiration. I did neither.
'Satoshi here is the strongest of our squad, hell, probably one of the strongest in the whole platoon!' The gangly one proclaimed confidently.
'Is that so?' I raised an eyebrow, trying a different approach to lose their interest by humouring them.
'That your bird?' Satoshi pointed to Emiko, who was awkwardly squashing herself in between a squabbling pair of squires. Holding back my smirk at the ridiculous girl, I turned back to the men.
'I don't own any poultry, if that's what you mean.'
One of the silent ones from the back suddenly slammed his fist down on the bench, but I barely batted an eye at his supposedly dangerous gesture. 'Don't get cocky with us, worthling!' He snarled.
My lips curled up at the term, finding the irony hilarious. His movements were sluggish from his over-worked body mass, and though I had only heard him speak those six words, it was obvious his IQ was through the floor.
'Either way, we take what we want in this squad. So watch your back.' Satoshi finished. I glowered at the unspoken threat towards the hopelessly defenceless girl, a strange, unidentified feeling bubbling in my stomach.
They sauntered away from the table and into the crowd without another word, and though they appeared to have lost interest in my medic for the time being, I decided pointlessly to keep one wary eye on them for the remainder of the night.