|Leap of Faith. [Asuma & Natsumi]||[May. 29th, 2009|12:53 am]|
[Set March 22nd, a week after One Step/Two Step, and five days after Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.]|
Getting missions in ANBU turned out to be a lot more work than advertised. The pros got everything juicy--hunts, assassinations, pretty girls to rescue and escort--but rookies got the scutt work, like it or lump it.
Fresh back from two days spent in a nowhere town on the western border, mediating a disagreement between two minor fief lords that might have gotten ugly (but had mostly been boring as hell), Asuma was ready for something better. Anything better.
Which was why Saturday's dawn found him up almost-bright and far too early, wandering freshly showered into ANBU's mission room, ready to beg, bribe, or bargain his way into something with a little fire. The young chuunin behind the desk was pretty, brunette, and exhausted-looking, but brightened up a spark at his ready smile.
"Morning, sweetheart," he said, ignoring the empty chair in favour of leaning against the edge of her desk. "I'm wondering if you can help me..."
A little back and forth later, during which he learned her name was Fumiko, Asuma's options ran the gamut of standing guard in the upcoming chuunin exams (boring), escorting a Daimyo's son across to Sunagakure (where were the pretty girls? C'mon!), and making sure a convoy of elderly merchants made it safely down to the coast (just no).
"These are ANBU missions?" he asked, disgusted, and skimmed a final brief back across the desk.
Fumiko sketched a dry smile. "They are when you're brand new, Asuma-san. Especially a brand new chuunin."
"A wh--" He lifted an eyebrow at the folder held between two slim fingers, bearing his name and registration number. The sturdy green file paper screamed Chuunin. "Oh no, beautiful, you've got it all wrong. Check the inside."
She leafed through the folder quickly, then returned his eyebrow lift. "Probationary jounin?"
Asuma grinned. "One and only. And I know you've got something exciting lying around, waiting for just the right guy. C'mon, I promise I'll bring you back something special..."
He expected a blush, maybe a laugh. What he got was a veil falling down behind dark eyes, draining all the warmth from Fumiko's face. She reached sideways to a messy tower of paperwork and extracted another brief. "This one just came in. It's time-sensitive, but if you can find a partner in the next hour it's all yours."
She leaned over the desk and slapped it gently against his chest. He glanced down at the paper slipping out, caught the kanji for thief, ransom, and reward, and felt his grin widen. "Perfect. I owe you--"
"Just come back alive."
Asuma paused, eyes flicking up from the hand still against his chest to the pretty face in front of him, drawn out in tired lines. "Always do, sweetheart," he said, circling his fingers around her wrist to give it a quick squeeze.
She offered a weary smile and pulled back, slipping her hand free. "Let's hope. One hour, agent."
Asuma threw a salute, right fist touching quickly to his heart, signed for the mission, and got out before she could change her mind. He would bring her back something special, he decided, if only to shake the memory of that fading smile.
Armour caught his attention right outside the door. Inky black and crisp white, sheathing the agent perusing the bulletin board.
"Hey, are you bu--" He paused and tilted his head slightly to one side, fighting the urge to wolf whistle. "I hope you're not busy."