Morning || Konoha
Koharu’s attempt at reassuring Natsuko made her pause, since her teammate’s words, interpreted another way, contained a thinly-veiled insult. However, given Koharu’s temperament, Natsuko quickly realized that Koharu must have misspoken, but Koharu was already bowing and apologizing profusely.
“Oh, Haru-chan, it’s fine,” Natsuko said, attempting to pat her teammates shoulder and reassure Koharu that everything was forgiven. Koharu, though, didn’t look convinced, but then Minoru stepped in and Koharu found an opening to slip away from Natsuko.
“How about Hachi-NO?” Natsuko said, cracking a weak smile despite the fact that her attention was still on Koharu, who seemed more deeply affected than she was. Had she known it’d be like this, she would have just brushed off the young brat’s comment without another glance. Mean comments? As if she hadn’t gotten her fair share of them from adults and peers alike.
“Are you alright?” Kazuhiko asked once the group started moving again. Minoru, clearly picking up on Koharu’s change in mood, had made a beeline for the girl.
“Yep, fine,” Natsuko said, shooting Koharu one final glance and—finding the situation handled, praise Minoru—turned her attention to Kazuhiko with a devious grin. “So, Kazu-chan. What if I were to tell you that Koharu is a bit in the dumps and in need of a white knight in shining… sandals?”
Kazuhiko sighed. “Nice talking to you, Natsuko.”
Dusk || Land of Fire Border
By the time the guards finally decided to call it a night, a heavy weariness had settled into Kazuhiko’s bones, and the same went for his teammates; Natsuko looked drained, blinking blearily as she sank down onto a log, and Koharu was already stripping off her shoes. Though he’d never say he was tired, Kazuhiko had to admit that now was as good a time as any to stop. The guards were clearly more accustomed to the long distances required for the job than the team of genin to which he belonged.
“What are they doing?” Natsuko asked when she spotted a few guards leaving the caravan.
“Finding firewood and water, probably,” Kazuhiko said, glancing over at the guards. That there was a water source nearby likely factored into the guards’ decision to stop.
“A river?” Natsuko said, perking up as she came to the same conclusion he did. Springing to her feet, she grabbed both Kazuhiko and Koharu by a hand and tugged. “C’mon, let’s go soak our feet!”
“Minoru-sensei,” Kazuhiko tried, quickly looking to the jonin for help.
“Minoru-sensei, ple—ease,” Natsuko said, pouting at the jonin as she continued tugging on her teammates.