Tenketsu: Day 23

"Wake up. Bounty hunters."

Naruto had little time to register the world around her before she was pulled up, thin bedsheet pulled off of her and her belongings pushed into her chest. She blinked; he was pushing aside furniture, grabbing coats and items from under floorboards and pouring the berries into a bag-


The man looked straight at her, urging her to hurry up. "We have to leave," he said, hooking his cloak onto his shoulder and tying it in front of his neck. "The more bounty hunters I kill, the higher my bounty becomes. It's not worth confrontation. Can you stand?"



He hooked his bag over his shoulder and grabbed her wrist, running out of the house in the opposite direction of the nearby village and into the thick underbrush of a forest. He threw her a sidelong glance.

"Can you run?" he asked.

Naruto spluttered indignantly. "Can I run? Do you think I'm crippled or something?! I can do better than this crappy speed! Hmph! Watch this!"

Even with her tenketsu failing, it took Naruto a mere millisecond to become alight with yellow flame, and she scooped up him like a groom and his bride and ran faster than he could ever recall moving.

Running through the trees, Naruto saw a change in him.

His legs hit the branch less like a ninja, and more like someone just strong and graceful. His movement was less textbook, freer; and no Sharingan scanned the passing trees. There was something wilder in every movement, something unrestrained and beautiful. It warmed Naruto in a way she could not put words to.

In that moment, she knew that man not to be an intruder in Sasuke's body, but instead Sasuke; the Sasuke she'd never truly known, free with his movement and self in a way that left Naruto breathless-

"Keep your questions until the morning," Sasuke said, suddenly. "It's best we set up camp, sleep, and set off. Ask whatever you need to ask then. And, make yourself useful by collecting some firewood."

Naruto's eye twitched. 'Hmph. Bastard.'

Naruto could hear him striking the flint and tinder, sparks flickering at the edge of her vision, and in seconds a tiny ember settled itself at the base of the wood. Sasuke knelt beside it, blowing on the flames gently. The image made her giggle quietly to herself.

The grass about the clearing was wild and free, held back only by rocky roots, rocks, and presumably the trampling footsteps of passers by.

"Sasuke," she said, and he turned. "Do you like the grass?"

"The tall grass?"

"Yeah, y'know," she said, smiling slightly with her knees to her chest. The sky peering through the abundance of leaves above was clear and starry. "The big bushy wild type that scrapes at your knees and probably hides rattlesnakes, or something."

Sasuke thought for a moment. Smoke drifted up from the wood, the flickers of orange flame illuminating his dark features, and he smirked a little.

"I suppose."

A/N: All of you are so supportive. I've been doing a lot of accurate planning for this fic. Thanks so much for everything.