Please Don't Leave Me

Chapter 2- Kiyoko Takenaka

"Please. I'm not a criminal. Please don't take me back to Takegakure." The look in her eyes pleaded with him to have pity on her.

Raido had about thirty seconds to inspect the talking ball of mud that was begging him for pity before it once again launched itself at him and clung to his arm as if it was terrified he would somehow leave undetected.

"Look. I'm not going to do anything until I figure out what's going on here. But first things first, you need to wash all that mud off. Lets go down to the river. What's you're name?" As he said this he tried to extricate himself from this child that seemed determined to cling to him.

"Kiyoko. I'm Kiyoko Takenaka." She cowered as if he might hit her or toss her to a pack of angry dogs.

Raido thought, that helps, now I know that the bundle of mud in front of me is in fact a young girl. Well, it was a start.

"What are you doing here, Kiyoko?" He knew he probably wouldn't get a straight answer, he was hoping for at least some real information. He had to figure out what to do and quick. He was due back in Konoha in a few hours. "Are you from Takegakure?"

She looked as if she would cry. "No. I'm from Iwagakure. I mean that's where I grew up. But..I..umm..more recently lived in Takegakure."

She was being evasive and she hoped it didn't make him angry, she needed his help.

"Ok. Like I said, lets get you cleaned up." He guided her, still clinging to his arm, down to the river. He surveyed the area, there was no one around for miles. "I'll leave you here to wash, wash your clothes too, you smell as if you had a run in with a skunk. I'll be close, I'm going to find something for you to eat."

She tightened her grip on his arm. "Please don't leave me!"

Raido sighed, it was going to be a long day, and he was never throwing another senbon pin for as long as he lived. "I won't be far. All you have to do is holler and I'll hear you." He tried to sound reassuring but her grip didn't loosen. She looked to be about twelve but she had a grip that would rival Sakura's, he hoped her punches didn't.

"I'm not hungry!" She was lying, she hadn't eaten all day and yesterday she had only eaten what she could find while she had been running which amounted to a few mushrooms she knew to be edible and some berries as she ran by the bushes they grew on. "I just don't want to be alone. I'll go behind those bushes by the river for privacy but please don't leave me."

Raido sighed again. "Ok. I'll be right on the other side. We'll deal with food after you're washed up." He wondered what had happened to make this child so afraid. She didn't look like she had been hurt, but it might not apparent with all that dried on mud.

Kiyoko waded into the water and when she got around the bushes she took off her clothes and started trying to rinse the mud out of them, all the while keeping an eye on him through the bush. He'd been right about one thing, she'd had a run in with a skunk but it had been on purpose not by accident. She knew it would be days before the smell was gone properly.

Once her clothes had most of the mud rinsed out she laid them on a nearby rock and started working on her hair which was completely caked with mud. She didn't have long hair, it ended just below her shoulders but there was a lot of it, and without a brush or comb and shampoo there wasn't much she could do. She was about to give up when she heard a noise. Peering through the bush she tried to see what she'd heard.

The ninja she was currently relying on for safety was still sitting with his back to her but as she watched he rose from his position. She was just about to run out and stop him from leaving when he spoke.

"Who are you and what do you want? You're in the Land of Fire and as such subject to its rules." He sounded so sure of himself.

Her blood ran cold when he set his legs apart in a defensive stance, hand drifting towards his kunai holster, because it gave her an opportunity to see who he was speaking to. Fumio and Kin were approaching him. She slipped down into the water as far as she could and still breathe, hoping he wouldn't give her away.

Raido observed the two men approaching him. They were both about the same height, just a tad shorter than Raido was but they were slovenly and fat, one much more so than the other. They were no threat to him, a trained assassin.

The fatter one said. "Please excuse us. We're just looking for something we lost."

"You still haven't answered my first question." Raido stated this simply, as if he was speaking to a child, his fingers resting quietly on his kunai holster.

They both noticed his hand and the fatter one said. "I'm sorry. My name is Fumio, this is my bother Kin. You're a Leaf shinobi, aren't you?"

"I am," affirmed Raido. "Why are you here again?" He was getting annoyed with these two. He had a feeling that they were up to no good.

"As I said," Fumio continued, "my brother and I are looking for something that we lost."

"Where are you from?" Raido was feeling more and more suspicious with each passing moment and he hoped that Kiyoko would stay hidden and quiet, he instinctively did not trust these two. He wasn't worried about his safety, he knew he could take both these guys down with one arm tied behind his back but he didn't want more trouble than was necessary.

The fat one named Fumio spoke up again, apparently the younger one was unable to speak for himself. Well, thought Raido, big and stupid.

"We're from Takegakure."

"OK. I'm a little confused. You're in Fire Country, at least a two day walk from Takegakure, so how exactly did you lose something this far away from home?" Unless that something was a someone thought Raido. Damn those senbon!

"Well you see," Fumio was talking again but slowly this time as if he was choosing his words carefully. "The laws in Takegakure are different, and one of our, umm, servants ran away. We need to get her back, she owes us money for passage and I have a house that needs cleaning."

The younger one chose now to speak up, "Fumio, I didn't think she was meant to clean the house. You said..." He was cut off by a punch and a filthy look from his brother.

Raido was starting to get the picture, at least he thought so. "Sorry, I haven't seen anyone and I've been out here all day. Are you sure she got out this far?"

Fumio looked around. "What's that smell?"

"Oh, that's me. I had a run in with a skunk. Smells good, doesn't it?" He didn't want them to start poking around and decided it was time to encourage them to leave. "So, unless you have further business here you need to leave, or I can place you under arrest for trespassing without a passport and bring you back to the Hokage." He was stretching the truth a bit but he didn't think they knew that.

Fumio and Kin both regarded him with a look that said they didn't believe him but they knew they shouldn't push their luck with him. Fumio, the apparent spokesman of the pair replied, "OK. We need to get home anyway Kin. It's been two days we've been after her. She's probably already skulked back home to beg forgiveness for running away."

Raido thought he might know better but he simply looked at them in an expressionless manner that communicated his distaste and disinterest for them. They made him think of Fujin and Raijin, not quite as fat but almost as stupid. "Watch out for the skunks! They're killer." He secretly hoped they'd run into a angry pack of them on their way.

He watched as they left making sure they continued on and then turned to see what had become of his charge.

Kiyoko also watched as they left and as soon as her rescuer turned back towards her she released the breath she had been holding. She also made her way around the bush to where she could see him, unobstructed. She was still wearing her muddy underwear but the oversized top and cut off pants she'd been wearing were still too wet to put on. She didn't care, she wanted protection more than modesty. She walked out of the water with her arms covering her chest as best as possible, for once thankful that she wasn't well endowed.

Raido had only a moment to collect his thoughts because when he turned around he was greeted by a still dirty although definitely less muddy Kiyoko making a beeline for him. He realized belatedly that she was also naked and that she wasn't the twelve year old he'd thought her to be. When she reached him, dripping wet she moved around to his side and pressed herself to him, she couldn't grab onto his arm this time because she was using her hands to cover herself.

Damn senbon pins. If he hadn't made that bet to Genma. Maybe it was Genma's fault for being so good at spitting them...

"Where are your clothes?" Raido was suddenly more uncomfortable than he'd been in a long time.

"They're too wet to put on. But I don't want to be alone." She shivered next to him, pressing into his side as if she might hide there.

Raido huffed, and shrugged out of his flack jacket, dropped it next to his feet and pulled his black top off. "Here, wear this while yours dry." He handed her his shirt and picked up his flack jacket to put it back on.

"I can't take your clothes!"

Raido noted that, though she was protesting, she was in fact putting it on. That would make things easier, for him anyway. When she'd gotten it on, his shirt engulfed her and hung down well past her hips. Good.

"So do you want to tell me what's going on?"

He looked at her with a level gaze that she couldn't read. But, she reflected, he had not given her presence away to Fumio and Kin so she figured he deserved to know the whole story.

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