Chapter 8- Don't Touch Me
"So what can you tell me about being a ninja?"
Raido looked at her and smiled. He knew she was an adult but there was something about her that seemed so innocent. Maybe Tsunade had been right, he'd have to watch his heart with her. He'd never been one to fall in love easily but he could imagine it happening in the midst of her innocent questions and smiles.
"What do you want to know?"
They spent the next hour, her asking questions and him answering them, about rank, skill level and training.
"Who was that girl with the pink hair? You said she was Lady Tsunade's apprentice."
"Oh that's Sakura. She used to be Kakashi's student but then she became an apprentice to Lady Tsunade to learn healing as well."
"She's a ninja too?" Disbelief flooded her voice. "But she's so pretty! I can't imagine her killing someone!"
"Well, I've never seen her fight, outside of training, but rest assured, if she had to, she could. In fact I wouldn't want to take her on myself in a fight. I'm not sure I'd do so well."
"Wow. She just doesn't look like any ninja I've ever seen. What about Kakashi? He's a ninja, right?"
"Everyone you see wearing a headband here with the leaf village symbol on it is a ninja. And yes, he's one of our best."
"How can he fight like that? With most of his face covered up?"
"Trust me, it doesn't handicap him at all. He's a most formidable opponent." Raido reflected that he was sounding a bit like Guy but oh well. "If you want we can check out the training grounds tomorrow and see if you can watch some training."
"That would be fun but I think I'm finally getting tired."
"Of course. Let me grab what I need and show you the bedroom."
"Oh no. I'm not kicking you out of your bed. I'll sleep on the sofa. It'll be fine."
"It's not really a big deal. I've slept in worse places than my couch, Kiyoko."
"I insist. You've already helped me more than I can ever repay."
Raido didn't like the idea of being in his comfortable bed while she slept on the couch but he recognized that she wasn't going to budge in this so he gave in. "OK. Don't hesitate to wake me if you need anything." He got her an extra blanket and pillow and made sure she was settled in.
Kiyoko snuggled down into the couch and then thought about the nightmare she'd had last night when they were out in the forest. "Raido?"
"Can you sit with me for a bit?" She felt so small and naïve. This wasn't who she was but she was frightened.
"Of course I can." He sat on the floor near the couch. "I'm still willing to listen if you want to talk. I doubt you'll embarrass me. When you're ready." He reassured her, holding her hand.
She yawned, "Thank you. I 'm not sure I'm ready yet though." And she was out.
Raido was amazed at how quickly this girl fell asleep, he realized it might just be the stress of the last few weeks. She probably hadn't slept well after her stepmother had sold her and certainly not after Fumio and Kin had gotten their hands on her. In a way he wished he'd just killed them when he'd had the chance, maybe that would have given her some peace but he knew that wasn't his way. He was a trained assassin, not a cold blooded killer, he'd had no reason to kill them when he'd spoken to them. She was snoring softly so he gently let her hand go and got up to go to bed himself.
She was sitting in a dark room thinking about how she had gotten here.
The Slave trader her stepmother had dealt with had shoved her into a closed wagon with some other women who were as afraid as she was. There had been no chat, just the tears of girls who didn't know what was going to happen to them. They had traveled for what seemed like forever, stopping when the light faded. Someone would open the door to their prison, let them out to relieve themselves, feed them some stale bread and water and then force them to return to their prison. She'd lost track of how many nights she'd slept, curled up in the corner of this stinking cage but a few days ago it had changed. They'd come to a stop and the women, girls really, had been let out one at a time. When her turn came the man who retrieved her had been gruff with her. "Get out, and don't try anything 'cause I won't hesitate to kill you." He snarled in her ear, "It will be a very painful death too." She did as she was told. She was brought into a dimly lit room where a few men were standing around.
"Oh, she's a nice one. Young too. How'd you manage that, Yori?"
"I got lucky. And I know just the client for her." Put her in a cell, he won't be by for a few days but take care, he won't want damaged goods either.
The fear she felt overwhelmed her and she wondered what was going to become of her. The cell they put her in consisted of a small space, not large enough for a foal, there was hay on the floor which she was thankful for. It offered some warmth from the cool nights and a bucket in the corner for her use. The cell had no windows but light crept in through the boards that made up the outer wall of her prison so she had some idea of day and night. She carefully thought about her options.
Kiyoko had been raised on a farm and she was no stranger to adversity. She had spent a lot of time in the barn. She recognized the building she was in as a barn style structure, and she smelled the animals that lived in it. She also knew that a barn did not make a very good prison. She'd find a way out, at least that was what she'd thought. Twice a day one of her captors would come and slide some food under the door to her cell, it was disgusting but she ate it, she had to keep up her strength if she was going to escape. Meanwhile she worked on loosening the boards in the corner on the outside wall.
She jumped when the door to her cell was thrown open. "Just what in the hell do you think you're doing?" Her captor, the one they'd called Yori was standing in the doorway. "Do you think you can escape you stupid little farmgirl? I'll show you!" The beating he'd given her had been intense. She was surprised she'd survived. In the end he had dragged her outside into the sunshine, her eyes squinting at the bright light after being the dark for so long.
"Clean her up and heal her. I'm going to find a buyer now. She's too difficult for the client I had in mind. He's one of my best customers and he'd never forgive me for selling her to him."
He had stormed off and the men left had argued over who got to wash her up. Finally one of them had stepped forward, "I'll do it. He wants her cleaned up not abused, perverts." He'd taken her down to the river and although he hadn't been gentle with her he hadn't hurt her anymore. Then he'd healed her and returned her to her cell.
The next morning she'd met Fumio and Kin, her buyers. Her heart sank when she saw them, she didn't think they'd be gentle with her. They'd looked her over, examining her like a piece of meat they might be interested in and then haggled a price with Yori. When they'd paid him they collected her, tied a rope around her waist and set off.
"Well you're ours now. You'll do as you're told if you know what's good for you." Fumio had said this.
She noted that Kin didn't talk a lot. "Is it far? To your house, Fumio-sama?" She tried to be as respectful as she could be, if she gained a little trust with them she might get a chance for escape.
He'd grunted, "it's a two day walk, if we hurry. We'll be there tomorrow night."
Tomorrow night didn't give her a lot of time to gain their trust and escape. She had to think fast. Her chance had come that night. Fumio had started drinking after they'd eaten. He'd looked at her, "Get over here woman!" She had approached him, dreading what was coming. He'd pulled her down by the rope that connected her to Kin so that she had to sit very close to him and leaned over to her. His smelly breath nearly knocked her out as he tried to kiss her. She had fought back but he'd overpowered her, when she scratched his face he'd sworn and kicked her. Then Kin had come at her but after a few minutes Fumio had said, "Give it up Kin. We're too close to the Fire Country border and she is making too much noise. Save it for home."
She'd gotten as far away from both of them as she could and watched them down whatever it was they were drinking. Fumio had fallen asleep a little later, drunk she figured and he'd left Kin in charge of her. Kin had fallen asleep as soon as Fumio started snoring. She had quietly untied her rope and slipped away from the camp. With any luck they wouldn't discover she was missing until morning and by then she'd be far away. Once she was sure she was out of earshot she took off running, thankful that she at least still had sandals on her feet.
Raido was awakened by her screams "Stop! Don't touch me you filthy bastard! Leave me alone!" He was out of bed in an instant, glad he had decided to sleep in his clothes. He was in the living room in seconds and at her side. "Kiyoko, wake up. Kiyoko."
She lashed out at the man that was grabbing her shoulders and hit him, scratching where ever her nails could get purchase. "Leave me alone!"
Raido was doing his best to avoid her arms but a few of them made contact and he wondered briefly who he was going to have to explain this tomorrow. "Kiyoko! Wake up!" He had raised his voice and this seemed to get through to her. Her eyes opened and her movements stilled.
She threw herself into his arms and started sobbing. "Why? Why did they have to be like that?"