Part 9, in which water isn't that necessary and random coughing fits don't have to be plot-relevant.
"Hey, TenTen! Did you get him?" TenTen sat down.
"We've started up the fire and everything," Sakura said, "We were waiting for you to come back before we started eating."
"Okay. What do we need the fire for?"
"Lee caught a big rabbit when he went back into the forest."
"Okay, cool. A nice, big meal tonight!" TenTen said, sitting down with the others.
"Yup." Sakura opened her canteen. "Uh-oh."
"There's barely any water left in my canteen. Has anyone found a stream?"
"No." Sakura pondered for a moment. "Okay," she said, "Let's explore to see if there's a stream anywhere. There should be one, so let's find it."
"But what about the rabbit?"
"Let's just take it with us. I'm sure no one will mess with the campsite."
"Okay." Lee picked up the rabbit and followed the other ninja into the forest.
Sakura sighed. The Leaf Village ninja had been walking for barely less than an hour. "Have we found any yet?" she complained.
"Nope." Sakura groaned.
"Hey, guys? You can go back to camp. I will continue searching for the stream. You might as well relax if you are all feeling tired," Lee said.
"Oh, no, Lee. You must be exhausted, too!" Lee shrugged.
"Not really. You guys go ahead; I will keep going."
"Okay. Thanks, Lee!" The others returned to camp. Lee walked further into the forest.
"So, should we go ahead and eat some of our food?"
"Yeah. We'll save some for Lee. And we can keep his share of the rabbit warm over the fire." In agreement, the three ninja began their meal. It didn't take long for them to finish their share.
"That was pretty good, compared to having fish everyday!" TenTen said with a hint of humor in her voice.
"Yeah, definitely!" Sakura said, swallowing her last mouthful of rabbit. "I'll get some more wood for the fire." Sakura went into the cabin, picked up some logs, and headed back to the weakly burning campfire.
"Hey, guys!" Naruto, Sakura, and TenTen turned to see Lee walking out from the forest.
"Hey, Lee! Did you find any water?"
"Yes, I did! There's a huge stream in the middle of the forest! Does anyone want me to get more water for them?"
"Yeah, go ahead," Naruto said, sticking out his canteen.
"Naruto, you jerk! He's been out in the forest for an hour at least, and you want him to go back just for a little water?!"
"Sorry sorry sorry! Please don't hurt me!" Sakura chuckled softly.
"You don't have to get anything tonight, Lee. Here, we saved you some food."
"Thanks." Lee sat down and started eating.
"I'm tired," Sakura said with a yawn.
"Go ahead in," TenTen said. "We'll be fine." Sakura walked into the cabin. Naruto soon followed.
"Hey, Lee," TenTen said, seeing him finish his rabbit, "you can go ahead and sleep. I'll take first watch."
"Okay, TenTen." Lee walked into the cabin while TenTen put up the cooking utensils.
Soon enough, the night passed. Lee awoke to smell something on the fire. He walked outside.
"Hey, Sakura. What are you making?"
"Squirrel. And we had some ivy left over, so I powdered it and spread it over our breakfast." Suddenly, Sakura started coughing.
"Sakura, are you all right?"
"I'm fi-" She coughed again. "I'm fine."
"Are you sure?"
"Ye-" She started coughing violently.
"What's going on?" Naruto said, walking out of the cabin.
"Something's wrong with Sakura!"
"What?" Naruto said. Sakura started coughing again, and she winced from the pain.
"Sakura, you should probably go back into the cabin and get some more rest. I am sure that TenTen can finish the cooking."
"Okay," she coughed again, "I'll go." She walked into the wooden house as TenTen walked out.
"Sakura's coughing a lot. Bushy Brow told her to go back into the cabin."
"So what'd she cook?"
"She said it is squirrel with some of the ivy on it. She also said that she was not finished, and that you would be able to finish it." TenTen looked a the squirrel.
"Yeah, I can finish this up." She kneeled down and slowly spun the little animal on the skewer stick.
"It's almost done. We'll just have to wait a little bit longer." They heard Sakura cough again.
"I hope she will be okay," Lee said softly. The three ninja waited.
"Okay, guys, I think it's ready," TenTen said, pulling the squirrel off of the skewer. She put it on a plate and got out the utensils.
"I'll get an equal share for all of us. Lee, take Sakura's to her." She sliced off a fourth of the squirrel, put it on a plate, and handed it to Lee, who nodded and walked into the cabin.
"Naruto, here's yours," she said, handing him another plate, "this one's Lee's, and this part's mine." They started eating. When the meal was over, Lee gathered all of the canteens and sped into the forest.
"I just have to find that stream," he said, darting through the forest. He slowed, spotting the sparkling water. He knelt down, filled the canteens, strapped them on tight, and ran back to camp.
TenTen cut another notch into the wall by her loft.
"It's been five days now," she said softly as to not arouse Sakura. TenTen fell back on her makeshift bed.
"I wonder how long we'll be here? Who will rescue us? Will we be stranded here forever?" She sighed.
"Oh, well." She closed her eyes and heard Lee arrive outside.
"You got the canteens filled? Good; I'm thirsty." TenTen got her canteen from Lee and took a big drink.
"Is it just me, or is it cold today?" she said, wiping some water from her lips.
"Colder than it has been," Lee replied. TenTen shivered.
"Of all the times to be wearing a no-sleeved shirt..." A gust of icy wind fluttered the trees' leaves.
"I guess summer must be coming to an end."
"Well, I'm going to go inside for a while," TenTen said. She walked into the cabin.
"Is there anything to do around here?" Naruto asked.
"Not much. You could always spar with me." Naruto backed away.
"No thanks!" Lee laughed.
"Wow. We've been here for a while," TenTen said to herself, cutting the thirtieth notch next to her bed.
"Oh, good, you're already awake. It's your shift," Sakura whispered.
"Okay." She climbed down from her loft and headed outside. She took in a deep breath of the frigid night air and sighed. When was this grass ninja going to leave them alone? They'd have to keep doing shifts until they knew he was gone for good. The freezing cold around her made her shiver. She sighed again. At least Sakura's coughing had gone away. Luckily, it wasn't very serious and had faded away. TenTen walked around, trying not to crunch the leaves underfoot. There just isn't much to do here, especially if you're trying to not wake anyone up, she thought. The island was either boring or dangerous. When there's nothing to do, Lee would train the entire day, Sakura would find food for the next meal, Naruto would sit there and complain, and she just waded in the water and thought. Soon the sun rose through the clouds in a burst of vivid colors.
"Guess it's time to make breakfast." TenTen walked over to the pile of snow where extra food was kept. She grabbed a bird and walked over to the firepit to start a fire. She heard a yawn from the cabin and, soon after, Lee walked out.
"Good morning, TenTen. Do you need any help?"
"No, I've got it," she said, using the stick in her hands to spark the fire. She put the bird, which had already been prepared to cook by Sakura, on a skewer and placed it over the fire.
"All right." Lee walked into the forest for some early-morning training. TenTen sighed. It couldn't be healthy to train that much! She wondered if she should stop him when Sakura came out of the cabin.
"Morning, Sakura. Why are you up so early?"
"I couldn't sleep last night at all. You know how loud Lee snores?" TenTen laughed.
"Yeah. I guess we just have to live with it!"
"Yeah. So, any special plans for today?"
"Not that I know of. I might try to get Lee doing something else."
"I don't think it's a good idea to train every second you get. It just can't be healthy! Got any ideas on what we could occupy him with?"
"Well, he did do a good job on the utensils. Maybe he could start carving wood? Or collecting firewood?"
"Those are good ideas. Speaking of firewood, could you fetch me some? This flame's going out."
"Sure." Sakura went inside the cabin. TenTen heard a clatter from inside.
"Sakura? Everything okay?" She walked after Sakura. Logs were spread out all over the floor.
"Yeah, everything's just fine."
"This isn't just fine! Waking me up like that!"
"Sorry, Naruto." Sakura rolled her eyes. "But, yeah, it's okay. I just dropped some of the wood, and everything came tumbling down."
"Okay, I'll help you put it up once the fire's going strong." TenTen picked up a couple of logs.
"I can see why you dropped them! They're pretty heavy." She walked out the door and fed the fire.
Just a while afterwards, the bird was cooked and prepared.
"All right guys, food's ready!" she called. Naruto came rushing in, soon followed by Sakura. They started to eat their shares.
"Isn't Lee coming?"
"I guess he didn't hear me. I'll go get him." TenTen set her food down and headed to the forest.
"Oh, and Sakura?"
"Make sure Naruto doesn't eat my share!"
"Lee? Breakfast is ready!"
"Oh, okay. Let's go." TenTen saw Lee push aside some brush to meet her. They walked to camp for breakfast.