Chapter 19- The Note
"Come on, lets go get some tea." Sakura led the frightened girl into a teahouse and they found a seat and ordered some tea.
Kiyoko was trying to settle her nerves and the tea was a welcome addition to that endeavor. She sipped at the warm liquid and let its warmth spread through her. "Why won't they leave me alone?" She looked to the young woman for answers.
"Because they're jerks. Don't worry. You'll be fine. You're safe with us."
Sakura's warm smile was encouraging and Kiyoko relaxed. They chatted a bit about girl things while they finished their tea and then Kiyoko said, "I think I should go home now."
"Ok. Will you be ok?"
"Yeah." They rose to leave together.
When they got outside Kiyoko looked up and down the street, she hoped that Fumio and Kin weren't around looking for her. She was about to ask Sakura to walk her home, just in case when a familiar face came into view.
Raido was walking down the street. He was tired again, not quite tired enough to need sleep, but tired just the same. Which he supposed was a good sign that he was, in fact healing. He had been heading home when he saw Sakura and Kiyoko emerge from the teahouse and he decided to talk to her.
He approached the two girls "Hi Sakura, Hi Kiyoko."
"Oh Hi Raido. Feeling better?" Sakura asked.
"Hello Raido." Kiyoko sounded hurt and cold and he wanted to pull her into his arms and make her feel better but in a crowded marketplace, with no idea of what her reaction would be after the last three days and his abysmal behavior yesterday, he decided it wasn't a good idea.
"Kiyoko.." He began but he was interrupted by Genma.
Genma approached the trio, he could only hope that Raido was improving things with Kiyoko and not making them worse. Well, it didn't matter. She had been summoned to the Hokage's office. "Kiyoko, Sakura, you need to come with me. Lady Tsuande wants to see both of you."
Kiyoko's heart sank. This was it. She'd be ask to leave. They didn't want someone in town that would cause problems for them. Her shoulders sank.
Raido wondered what was going on and thought that his friend couldn't have worse timing. Kiyoko looked like she might fall apart.
"Ok Genma. But can I have a word with Kiyoko for a second?"
Genma gave him a meaningful stare. "One second. You know she doesn't like being kept waiting."
Genma and Sakura stepped away for a moment and Raido pulled Kiyoko to the side.
"Kiyoko, we need to talk. I'll find you after your meeting."
Kiyoko was feeling more confused than ever. "Ok. I understand." She knew this was the end for her. He just wanted to be sure she understood it too.
Sakura interrupted, "Raido, you need more sleep. And we have to go."
Raido looked defeated. "OK." His hands had been stuffed in his pockets, more to keep them from grabbing Kiyoko and running off with her than anything else. He pulled them out, turned and walked away.
Kiyoko watched him go. He looked crushed, like the weight of the world was too much for him. He had said he didn't have time for a girlfriend, hadn't he?
Genma and Sakura were walking away and calling her but as Raido turned she noticed a slip of paper fall from his pocket. She bent down to grab it, intending to give it to him but when she stood up he had slipped into the crowd. Well, she'd return it later. She stuck it in her pocket and turned to follow Genma and Sakura.
The walk to the Hokage tower was the worst walk she'd ever taken, other than the walk to the traveling cage she'd made when her step-mother had sold her. She knew she'd be asked to leave. When they got there her feet dragged up the stairs.
They entered the office and she noted that Kakashi was already there, reading in the corner.
"Hi Kiyoko." Lady Tsunade addressed her. "I heard there was a bit of a problem this morning in the market."
"Yes Ma'am. I'm sorry."
Tsunade leveled her gaze at the young woman. "I want you know that I won't stand for this."
"Of course not, Ma'am. I'll leave today."
Genma almost dropped his senbon pin. Kakashi almost dropped his book and Sakura gasped.
Tsuande merely looked at her. "I think you misunderstood me."
"I don't mean for you to leave. I mean to catch those pigs and teach them a lesson."
Kiyoko felt as if she might fall down, Genma must have noticed because he was at her elbow in a moment steadying her. "I don't understand."
"We are going to set a trap for them but I think we'll need your help. Because you're not an established member of the village yet we need them to make a confession in front of two jonin level ninja. They wouldn't admit anything to Kakashi, and Sakura isn't a jonin yet anyway. So I will need you to lure them somewhere and get them to admit to human trafficking in earshot of Kakashi and Genma. I think outside of town is safest since the marketplace has civilians in it that might get hurt."
Kiyoko wasn't sure she liked being the bait but then she trusted Genma, Kakashi and especially Sakura so she said, "Will Sakura be along too?"
"Yes she will. She's too valuable a ninja to not include her. She'll whisk you away as soon as they've made their admission. Genma and Kakashi will arrest them and bring them to me."
They spent the next twenty minutes making plans. Kiyoko would find them in town and tell them she'd go, but without enthusiasm so they wouldn't be suspicious. Although they all doubted that Fumio and Kin were smart enough to recognize a trap. Then she would follow them to the gates, suggesting that they leave quickly to avoid running into anyone. Once outside the gates she would get them talking and the leaf shinobi in the room would step in. It seemed simple enough.
Kiyoko was wandering through town trying to find them, how come when she wanted to find them she couldn't? Her hands were stuffed into her pockets and she fiddled with the paper Raido had dropped. Then she spotted Fumio. She wanted to look casual so she leaned against the building and pulled the note out as if she was unaware of them, unfolding it as if she was reading a shopping list. When her eyes fell on the words though she started to shake.
Raido, you passed out when we left the ramen stand, you've never been able to eat as much as me anyway. So I told everyone I was bringing you home to take advantage of you. I left you sleeping though, it wasn't a fair fight and I like my partners a bit more responsive than that anyway. You're making the mistake of a lifetime. Walking away from what's in front of you would be the stupidest thing you could do. Here's her address, you have some explaining to do. Yours always, Genma.
She was shaking so hard she didn't think she could fold the note up and put it back in her pocket but she managed just as she heard his voice.
"Well. I've finally found you. This time we're not taking any chances." Fumio grabbed her arm roughly and pulled her into an alley. He had a small bottle of sake in his hand and said to her, "Drink this."
"No. It's ok. I'll go with you. No fights." Her shoulders slumped in defeat. "But we should go now before anyone sees us."
Fumio was surprised but he could see that she'd given up so he held onto her as he turned to leave town. "Come on Kin. It's late but we'll spend the night in the forest where we won't run into anyone who wants to help her."
They walked briskly towards the gate to the village and once they were through it Kiyoko started talking.
"So, am I the first slave you ever bought?"
Fumio looked at her "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Oh come on. I know what you're up to. It's ok. The world isn't a fair place."
It was Kin who spoke up. "You are. I was uncomfortable with it but Fumio said it was the answer we were looking for. Someone to clean the house and, umm, take care of our needs."
Kiyoko looked at Fumio, "Is that true?"
Fumio was going to punch Kin but he figured a scuffle right outside of town wasn't a great idea. "Yeah. It's true. You'll get used to it. We're not terrible you know. You could have been bought by much worse people than us."
That was it, the words had been spoken and like magic Kakashi and Genma appeared in front of them.
"I am arresting you for violating the laws of The Land of Fire." Genma sounded so sure of himself.
Kiyoko looked at him in a new light. She never would have expected him to write the note she had in her pocket. But before she could reflect on it anymore Fumio had grabbed her and pulled her in front of him, holding a knife to her throat he said "If you want her to live I suggest you back off."
Belatedly Kiyoko realized she hadn't moved fast enough. She should have stepped away from him so that he couldn't have grabbed her, instead she had been distracted by her thoughts about Genma and hadn't moved fast enough. And now Fumio was going to kill her.
Kakashi raised his hands in defeat, "Whoa now. Lets not do anything rash."
Fumio tightened his grip on her and pressed the knife in letting it make a dent into her skin, blood trickled down her neck. Kiyoko thought she might pass out. She looked at Kakashi and Genma begging them with her eyes to do something fast.
Instead Kakashi said "Hey man, if you want her that bad then who are we to stop you?" And he turned and walked away.
Tears formed in Kiyoko's eyes and spilled over. They were turning their backs on her! This had probably been the plan all along. Just to get them all out of town. She had never felt so betrayed in all her life, not even by her step-mother. At least that woman hadn't pretended to like her.
Fumio grunted, "I'm glad to see we understand each other" and turned to walk away holding her firmly with the knife still precariously close to her throat. "Come on bitch, it seems your new friends aren't so friendly after all. Maybe their afraid of the fight."