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Shield of Faith [Asuma and Natsumi][May. 31st, 2009|07:45 pm]
[[Immediately follows Leap of Faith.]]

Air became water with punishing force. Asuma's grip tightened, crushing Natsumi to his chest; she choked off her involuntary cry just in time not to choke on the river.

Asuma didn't. Thrashing legs kicking for the surface slowed; the painful band of muscle around her ribcage loosened. Natsumi broke her hand-seal, grabbed the back of his neck in one hand, and pulled his head down to hers. He didn't resist. In the dark water, his face was deathly pale, and his open eyes stared down at her, terrifying sightless.

She didn't know any words bad enough, and couldn't use them anyway. Her chest was beginning to burn; the single breath she'd caught as her jutsu had flung them free of the waterfall wouldn't be enough for long. He was an impossible weight, limp and boneless, dragging them both down...

What were muscles for, anyway?

Natsumi gritted her teeth, unlocked her legs from around his hips and seized his shoulder-strap in her hand, and struck out at a blind angle for the surface and the shore.

The river seemed to have grown tired of its game; or maybe Asuma's weight, dragging cruelly at her shoulders, was enough to keep the water from buffeting her at its whim. She clawed her way to fading sunlight and soggy air, and found the river twisting like a serpent in its bed, baring a narrow strip of debris-strewn gravel barely three meters to the left and ten meters downstream. The gods of the shrine had heard her prayers, after all.

But when she scrabbled up onto the rocky bank, dragging Asuma like a broken doll behind her, he was horribly still. Natsumi ripped her mask off, fumbled to tip his head back and pinch his nose with fingers too cold to feel, sealed her lips to his, and breathed.
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