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[May. 22nd, 2014|04:22 am]

ueno_katsuko
Katsuko put on an extra burst of speed to draw level with him. Proper squad formation—her staying a half-step behind her captain at all times, waiting for a hand signal—could wait until she had her squad back.

She could sense their signatures racing closer, feel the variances unique to each of the three men: Genma’s opaque glow, dimmed with fatigue; Ryouma’s mix of fire and water, chilled in the way she’d come to associate with recent use of his rot jutsu; and Kakashi’s spiky, lightning-flavored energy, drained to a dull murmur.

Raidou’s and Katsuko’s distance-eating sprint lasted only a few minutes, but it felt like hours before they burst through a clearing and spotted a group of lean, dark figures loping down a hill towards them. Ryouma’s bunshin, identifiable as a clone because of its lack of an ANBU tattoo spark, was on point, carrying a blindfolded prisoner. Genma and Ryouma followed behind in a triad formation, Ryouma carrying Kakashi and Genma leaning against one of his own clones. Genma and his bunshin lagged behind; the clone looked only slightly less bedraggled than its creator.

Katsuko’s heart leapt; she surged ahead of Raidou, ignoring the sharp protest of her broken collarbone, and shot past Ryouma’s clone. She stopped in time to avoid bowling Ryouma over, panting like a civilian runner.

You,” she managed, and pointed accusingly.

The painted ram mask hid Ryouma’s expression, but the smile was easy to read in his straightening spine and loosening shoulders. “You came for me,” he said, voice cracking in tiredness and relief.

When she’d offered to be the prince to Ryouma’s damsel-in-distress, she hadn’t expected him to take the distress part seriously. His chestplate was battered, muddy, and bloodstained; the shoulder strap had taken a hit from the sharp end of a sword. Even with the rain, blood still caked his hair and skin. He smelled like a week-old battlefield.

And he was making jokes.

Katsuko inflated like an angry pufferfish, gathering breath to tell Ryouma how worried she’d been and where exactly he could stuff his damsel.
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