Admittedly, it had been a nice distraction from reality, but I didn’t hope to repeat my slave labor anytime soon. I had almost kissed the ground at Tsunade’s feet when she had returned earlier this afternoon. But, she had been kind enough to offer a few days break. I had almost been tempted to refuse the free time, because I knew I’d just lay around the house and become a victim to my ever-churning mind, but I knew I needed some kind of down-time from sick and bleeding people.
I was currently in the small cafeteria in the hospital, my feet propped on top of the table, my head leaned back, and a cup of steaming coffee cradled in my hands. I wiggled my toes to ease the ache, and moaned at the heavenliness of the chair, even though it was a hard, plastic thing that wasn’t very comfortable. A chair was a chair, and who was I to look a gift-horse in the mouth?
In hindsight, I guess I shouldn’t have let my guard down, but I was tired.
“Sakura….” I should have run when I heard Ino use that tone with me. It was never good. However, I did keep my eyes closed, and pretended not to hear her. “Sakura, I need a favor.”
I sighed. “You and everyone else in the entire village.”
I heard a chair scrape along the linoleum floor. The table jiggled slightly as she sat down and leaned against it.
“Will you just hear me out?”
I cracked an eye open. “Before details are revealed, what benefit do I get from a plan I know I’ll most likely dislike?”
A funny look crossed her features, and I knew she had nothing to offer. Just great. She started to reply, but instead I cut her off with a wave of my hand, and removed my feet from the table.
“Never mind,” I mumbled. I set the coffee on the table. “What do you need?”
She shifted in her chair. Never a good sign. “Well, it’s not actually for me, per se.”
I quirked an eyebrow, and over the rim of my coffee cup, I replied dryly, “I’m shocked.”
“It’s for Lee, actually.”
Now, I hadn’t expected that. “What does he need? And why are you asking me for him? He’s never had a problem talking to me before.”
Ino sighed. “I need to use him for a mission, his taijutsu skills to be specific, and since he’s currently tied down with his team, I can’t peel him away. I was wondering if you’d agree to watch his team for a couple days, so I can get him agree to go on the mission with me.”
Out of the ninjas our age, only Lee currently had taken on a team of three genin level ninjas. The others had joined the ANBU or participated in only jounin-levels missions and ect., and had artfully excused themselves from the unwanted ”babysitting” duty by arguing they didn’t have the time or patience yet to deal with young ninjas. Lee seemed to be genuinely excited about his charges. I hadn’t really heard much about his ninjas, but the thought of watching over three adolescents didn’t seem like something that would be relaxing on my days off.
“Can you talk about this mission?” I asked with a frown.
Ino shook her head. “No. But, I can guarantee it won’t be longer than two days.”
I was torn between the temptation of having something to occupy my thoughts for the next couple days, and the unwanted prospect of dealing with three pre-teens who thought they were gods of the universe. I glanced at Ino’s expectant expression, and cursed myself for being such a sucker.
“Call me after you talk with Lee, and make sure to get the place and time I’m supposed to rendezvous at with his charges.”
A slow smile spread over Ino’s lips as she visibly slumped against the side of the table. I watched as her eyes caught my coffee cup, and then lifted slowly to mine, expectant and greedy at the same time.
I snorted and took a sip. “Get your own, Ino Pig.”