Chapter 13:Mature

      So ….  Kaze thought as he sat in his infirmary bed, I’m supposed to have magic.  Well, not magic.  I guess it’s called ninjutsu or something.  And it’s over air?  He stared at the palms of his hands expectantly as if he gazed at them for long enough, wind would just magically appear. 

      He tried random hand gestures to bring out his wind ninjutsu, knowing very well that he probably looked like some insane fool, but the Anbu that had been monitoring him had left the room.  One still stood outside the room and there had been some sort of chakra wall placed around the window so he couldn’t escape through that way either.  He wouldn’t be able to go anywhere without Konoha officials knowing one way or another.  Even if he were released from the infirmary, there probably always be at least one Anbu trailing him from the shadows.    

      Kaze shook his hand, pointed it in front of him, flipped his hand around, and even wiggled his fingers, but nothing happened. 

      He sighed and then rubbed the back of his head.  Well this is productive, he thought.  Maybe when Youta comes back he’ll have a better idea of what I can do to make it appear.  He said he uses fire so it may be a little different, but we were supposed to be friends before I lost my memory.  Maybe I told him something about it earlier, back when I still remembered who I was.  But if he did know something, wouldn’t he have mentioned it earlier? 

      This is stupid.    

      “Mr. Tomoshibi?” a nurse’s voice from outside the closed door said.  “Are you decent?”

      He looked up from his hands and then to the door.  “One moment,” he said.  He got out of his bed and pulled off his clothes from the chair he’d tossed them onto a few feet from the bed.  Clothes were always so uncomfortable.  Why bother sleeping in them unless you were on the road?  “Okay,” he said as he finished dressing by pulling his shirt over his head. 

      The door opened and a nurse walked through looking at a clipboard.  “It looks like you’re good to go,” she said without looking up from leafing through her papers. 

      “Finally!” he grumbled. 

      She looked at him and raised her eyebrow. 

      “I mean,” he cleared his throat and bowed. “Thank you for your hospitality.”  Even though you were suffocating me by watching my every move.  These Anbu stuck around even while I was sleeping.  What was I going to do?  Sleep walk

      “Your brain is still recovering so take it easy.  We expect you to come back here in a few days for a follow up,” she said, “but it’ll be healthier if you get some fresh air and stretch your legs.  Maybe that activity will stimulate something.” 

      Kaze nodded. 

      “But, you’re still recovering so take it slow.  Definitely no fighting.” 

      “Why would I get into a fight with anyone here?  Unless you’re planning to have someone attack me.” 

      She was silent for a prolonged moment as she etched something on one of the papers.  An afterthought she forgot to put down earlier maybe.  She looked back up to him.  “Hmm?” she asked with raised eyebrows. 

      What’s she distracted by

      “Nothing,” Kaze said and then grabbed his pack and headed for the door.  As he passed the nurse, he stole a glance at her clipboard and read a side note etched in red pen. 

      Subject behavior seems normal.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Nothing suspicious

      Just when he thought he could relax some, the nurse grabbed his forearm so tightly he thought it may fall off.  He flinched when her fingernails pierced the surface of his flesh. 

      He looked up at her, but she refused to look at him. 

      “He’s coming,” she said in a low voice so no one outside could hear her.  “Not now, but soon.  Be ready.” 

      Kaze stared at her blankly.  “What?” 

      She blinked and then released her hand from his arm.  “Have a nice day, Mr. Tomoshibi,” she said as if she hadn’t just grabbed his arm and spouted nonsense.  “Make good choices.”  She glanced at her clipboard again and then left the room to find her next patient. 

      Kaze stood in the room alone. 

      Who was she talking about?  He walked out of the room and accidentally bumped into a male nurse and didn’t notice, deep in thought.  The male nurse scoffed, but then resumed his duties. 

      The female nurse couldn’t possibly be have been talking about the Orochimaru guy Youta and Kosame had discussed, could she? 

      She knew who I was, Kaze thought.  Why would she be telling me about Orochimaru’s plans unless … unless I had run into him earlier?  No, that can’t be right.  I lost my memory, but my gut tells me I’d never help someone like that. 

      So what—who—was that woman talking about?  And why reach out to me?  The boy with no memory

      Kaze wandered the streets aimlessly attempting to remember something—anything—that would make the woman’s action clearer, but ultimately came up with nothing.  When he came out of his thoughts he found that he had walked to one of Konoha’s training grounds.  He walked passed it and continued to ponder for a few more minutes, but then he found himself standing outside the grounds again almost as if his forgotten-self wanted him to enter. 

      The nurse said to take it easy and not to do anything relating to fighting, Kaze thought.  He hesitated for a minute.  But when have I ever done anything I’m told?  Well, I don’t remember that I was that type of person exactly, but I must be because I’m going in anyway. 

      He walked around the training grounds watching and observing other teams and individuals training in hopes it would spark some memory of how he could call upon his own forgotten abilities, but his mind still drew a blank. 

      He glanced over his shoulder just in time to see an Anbu mask hide behind a tree trunk again.  Kaze faced forward again and sighed.  They just can’t leave me alone can they?  I’m not doing anything wrong

      “Yahoo, Akamaru!” A familiar voice exclaimed. 

      Kaze searched the area with his eyes until he found Kiba, Hinata, another boy, and Kurenai walking towards him.  It looked like they hadn’t even been training.  They didn’t have a scratch on them.  Had they even been training? 

      “Come here to train?” Kiba asked when he saw him. 

      “I—”

      Kiba turned to Kurenai.  “Can we at least do one sparring—”

      “No,” Kurenai told Kiba. 

      “Why not?” he complained. 

      “Because I said so.” 

      Kiba grumbled under his breath and then folded his arms over his chest.  He turned his head away, pouting. 

      “What’s the problem with a light one?”  Kaze said.  “Maybe it’ll help me remember something.” 

      “The medic ninjas cleared you already?”  Kurenai asked. 

      “Yes,” Kaze said with a slightly delayed response. 

      She narrowed her eyes. 

      “See!” Kiba said.  “He’s okay with it so—”

      “No,” Kurenai commanded, “final decision.  I don’t want to hear any more of this.” 

      “If you didn’t want them to train, why did you bring them here?”  Kaze asked. 

      She returned her attention to him.  “I only wanted them to watch Gai’s team train so they could see what people with more experience looked like and what they would have to look forward to if they worked hard enough.  They’re the only genin team that’s completed a C ranked mission and that’s the level it would take for them to go on one.  They were curious, so I showed them.”  She glanced to Kiba briefly, who was still pouting.  “I have told Kiba multiple times that we’ve got a mission to head off to bright and early tomorrow morning and I want them fully rested for it.  Him continuing to complain and beg me to change my mind just because he sees someone he thinks is more his level standing in front of him is not going to sway my mind.” 

      “Hmph,” Kiba grumbled under his breath. 

      Kaze resisted the urge to smile.  “So, you’re going on a D-ranked mission then?” 

      Kurenai nodded.  “We’re going to help a town rebuild some of its structures since a tsunami hit it about a month ago.” 

      “Where’s it at?”

      “Little Boulder?  It’s about a day and a half’s travel from the Land of Waves.  Why?” 

      “Can I tag along?”

      “Did the nurses and medics clear you for missions?” 

      Kaze didn’t answer. 

      “That’s what I thought,” Kurenai said. 

      “They said I shouldn’t fight,” he said.  “They never said I couldn’t help people.” 

      She stared at him with an unreadable expression, but she said nothing. 

      “You said it was only a D-ranked mission,” Kaze said, “I can’t just stay cooped up here forever.  I’ll go insane.”  He shifted his glance over his shoulder, wondering if the Anbu ninja was still watching him.  Who was he kidding?  Of course that leech was.  Kaze returned his attention to Kurenai. 

      “Are your friends okay with this?” she asked. 

      “Youta’s off doing his own thing.  He says he’ll stick around, but I have doubts.  I think his need for conclusion will be stronger than staying by my side.”  He dropped his gaze to the ground for a second before continuing to speak.  “And I don’t blame him, considering what it is.” 

      “You’d like him to stay though, wouldn’t you?”  Kurenai said.   

      “Kosame went off,” Kaze said, probably a little too fast, “with some guy uh … Kakabaloo or something.” 

      “Kakabaloo?” Kurenai grinned and then laughed.  “Did you mean Kakashi?” 

      “That sounds much more likely,” Kaze said. 

      Her eyes softened.  “I will talk with the Hokage and some of the other head ninjas and see if they will clear it,” she said, “but I can’t make any promises.  You understand?” 

      Kaze nodded. 

      “Have you tried the new fish cake restaurant in town?”  Kiba asked him. 

      “He’s new,” the boy with sunglasses said, “and the restaurant opened this morning, so no.” 

      Kiba gave him a flat stare.  “Nobody knows that for sure, Shino!” 

      “He’s right though,” Kaze said.  “I haven’t left the hospital until today.” 

      Kiba swung his arm around Kaze’s shoulders.  “Well it sounds like you need someone to show you the layout of things.” 

      “I’m pretty sure I could figure it out for myself, but thanks for the offer,” Kaze said, inching away from Kiba’s overly friendly personality. 

      Kurenai crossed her arms over her chest and raised one of her eyebrows as if she expected Kaze to get along with her team if she was going to try and talk to the Hokage and get him cleared.  It was almost as if she suspected Kaze was trying to get rid of the Anbu monitoring him. 

      “But,” Kaze said, returning his attention to Kiba, “I guess I can make an exception in this case.” 

      “Excellent!”  Kiba said. 

      Akamaru yipped in excitement and then licked Kaze’s face.  Kaze froze at first, but then petted the puppy. 

      “Kaze! Hinata! Shino!  And me!”  Kiba said.  “Team Kurenai, out!”

      “I’m not actually a part of your team—” Kaze started to say until Akamaru licked his face again.  “Will you stop that?!” He wiped dog drool off his face. 

      Akamaru barked and licked his face again and then hopped off Kiba and landed on the ground in front of him. 

      Kaze blinked and smiled, irritated.  Akamaru barked and then ran away.  “Get back here, you annoying mutt!” Kaze said and then chased after him, running and feeling the wind against his face.

      “Don’t hurt Akamaru!”  Kiba said. 

      “He started it!” Kaze grumbled, still running after the pup who was much faster than he. 

      Kurenai sighed and placed her fingertips on her temples. 

      “S-should we stop them?”  Hinata asked her. 

      She shook her head.  “No, it’s fine.”  She straightened again and then rolled her eyes.  “Boys.” 

***

      Tsuchi stood behind the front desk of the Konoha infirmary, flipping through pages and trying to find their records. 

      “Excuse me, sir, can I help you?” A medical ninja asked. 

      Tsuchi turned around and then smiled warmly. 

      The woman’s cheeks flushed a bright pink color.  She smiled at him. 

      “Yes,” Tsuchi said, “as a matter of fact, you can.  I’m looking for Kaze Tomoshibi.  I was told that he was at the infirmary by a nice, cooperative ninja on the street.  It’s urgent.  I was trying to find what room he was in.” 

      She opened a hidden drawer and pulled out a stack of papers bound together by leather string.  “It looks like he was released this morning,” she said.  “Haven’t seen him since.” 

      “Any idea of where he might have gone?” 

      She shook her head.  “I’m sorry, sir,” she said. 

      “Do you know who might?” 

      She shook her head again. 

      Tsuchi frowned. 

      “May I ask why you’re looking for him?” 

      “He’s an old friend I was hoping to reunite with.” 

      “Oh,” she said softly, lowering her gaze for a second, “then I’m sorry to inform you of his current condition.” 

      “And that is?” 

      “His memory is gone.  I suppose he’s out and about now trying to make new memories, but he doesn’t remember anything of his life before he came here.  I’m sorry.” 

      “Oh?”  Tsuchi said.  “Oh!  Oh no.  That can’t be!” 

      “It is; I’m terribly sorry.” 

      Tsuchi turned his back to her.  “I’m going to go find him.  If he stops back by here let him know a friend is looking for him.” 

      She nodded.  “I will.” 

      He headed for the door and smiled.  This just made my job a hundred times easier

***

The End

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