transcendence | by kay wiz | ONE


HER.

She wonders if having a bodyguard is an invasion of her privacy.

He is by no means rude or prying. He does not leer at her, or make uncomfortable comments about her or her friends or her work. He does not go through her things, or stand too close, or turn away anyone who approaches her, or ask questions she does not want to answer. In fact, he is the exact opposite of all these things: he is not present at all.

She has never met her bodyguard before, not really, unless she counts that time two weeks ago when Tsunade convinced her she was in danger in the first place. She remembers grumbling about being able to take care of herself, remembers a kunai flying at her face out of absolutely nowhere, remembers a lithe, uniformed body standing in front of her to block the assault.

"Tsunade-sama," he says, "perhaps it is not wise to attack your own student just to prove a point."

The ANBU officer was and still is like a whisper – so fleeting and soft that she barely even noticed he was there. And even now he hardly exists, the only sign of him lingering within the goosebumps on her skin, because she knows he is there and he is watching and he is invisible.

She wonders if he sleeps while she sleeps, or if that is when he is most awake. She wonders when he has time to eat, if she should leave him a takeout tin the next time her cooking is too unappetizing even for her. She wonders if he has a family who worries about him, thinking he is off in a far land, preparing to be killed in action if he must, while really he is right under their noses, down the street, ghosting around her apartment like a sigh.

But this is about all she wonders. She does not want to know her bodyguard outside of her own curiosities because that would mean she would have to be invested in another person, have to get to know someone who was born and grew up and had a life and a career and a future and who lives a life so similar but so distant from her own. She prefers him to be a shadow because she prefers to pretend as though she is not being watched, is not always entertaining company, is not in any sort of danger. She appreciates his help but does not appreciate his being there. She simply does not have room in her heart for the companionship of a stranger.

So she sits in the darkness and empties him from her mind and lets herself drift away. But she knows that no matter how far she falls into herself, shuts her eyes and escapes the reality of her world, he will still – always – be watching.


HIM.

Of all the ANBU officers in all the squadrons in all the world, he doesn't know why it has to be him.

He doesn't mind, of course, because orders are orders, and working so close to home is a welcome change, even though he is a bit too preoccupied for family dinners and clan meetings and anything homely at all. But he finds it strange that this duty has been given to a captain of high caliber instead of a freshly initiated rookie. After all, Haruno Sakura hardly appears to need protection.

She spends her days at home, mostly. She doesn't often have guests, nor does she visit anyone else. She trains occasionally but does not seem to enjoy the outdoors, which he finds strange considering she is a kunoichi, groomed for traveling and a mission roster – or perhaps she just knows she is in danger and going outside is too risky. She does not cook or draw or go to work at the hospital or do much of anything at all on a regular basis – instead her interests are a kaleidoscope.

On Monday she spends the entirety of her day trying different hairstyles. She sits on the floor in front of a long mirror and sweeps her hair up and down and sideways and through plaits and senbon and ribbons and hats and although he is watching her closely and has hair even longer than hers, he is sure he will never be able to understand quite how she does it.

On Tuesday she wakes up at the crack of dawn and studies. From his hidden post outside her window, he catches glimpses of foreign characters and strange markings – she is teaching herself a new language he doesn't recognize, a language that hops and extends like a ballet, and by the time she goes to bed she has written pages and pages of practice squiggles and detailed notes complete with subpar doodles to help her remember what she's read.

On Wednesday she has forgotten her willingness to learn, and instead decides her apartment is too filthy to survive in, even though his first thought when he started this mission two weeks ago was that she is pleasantly tidy. She scrubs the place down from top to bottom, even steps outside for a moment to rinse out the gutters and sand the roof tiles. He finds her handiness with tools an odd fit with her delicate physique and petal hair. It is still early when she falls asleep on the couch, takeout still in her lap and threatening to dirty the cushions she has spent all day washing.

Today is Thursday and it is a day of relaxation and music. The radio is on and has played a different station every hour: first classical piano, then dance, then angry screaming, showtunes, a brief intermission of talk radio with a program about unusual pets in Kumo, and now she is singing along to slow jazz, crooning softly in a way that is not particularly impressive, but that has a sense of rawness that, at first, shakes him.

He sits on her open windowsill, genjutsu carefully in place as he watches soundlessly and pretends he doesn't exist. He observes this girl he has spent a decade knowing only in passing, this girl on Sasuke's team and under Tsunade's wing, and while he has never cared to know her before, he finds himself quite curious now, and for reasons he can only sort of grasp.

He thinks it is because she makes no sense.

He has heard stories about her, is aware of her reputation and skill and finesse. They have many mutual friends and acquaintances, although they travel in different social and professional circles, and from what he has heard of her personality, she has a sharp tongue and a brutal fist and a gentle smile. But despite all that he knows about Haruno Sakura, he has seen next to none of it during his time as her guard.

Instead she is boring, odd, antisocial. On Monday she does her hair but does not seem to like it any way other than loose against her shoulder blades. On Tuesday she studies but has no passion or fire in her eyes, no thirst in her movements. On Wednesday she bruises her knees and blisters her hands but never steps back and looks at her progress, at the glimmering floorboards and spotless windows.

She has done every task, spent every day, completely and totally indifferent. And this unsettles him.

She is nothing like he expected. She is nothing like Sasuke has implied or Tsunade has praised or countless citizens have loved. He wonders if she is just bored, cooped up at home with danger supposedly lurking around the corner – but he has yet to notice any threat, anyone out to get her, any passerby with bad intentions. He does not know why Tsunade orders her protection, when he sees nothing spectacular about this girl besides her hair color and strange habits.

But as she croons, lying on her back on the hardwood floor of her bare, clean living room, the darkness beginning to envelope her pale form like a wave, he feels a part of him begin to understand. There is something about her lilting tone as she arches and stretches her arms above her head like a cat, and somehow she is suddenly strong but feminine, brusque but gentle, fragile but pretending otherwise. The song's lyrics are obscure and perhaps irrelevant to her entirely, does not work as a song otherwise would, does not give him a glimpse into her inner thoughts or emotional state, but it is the way she sings that convinces him to look underneath the underneath.

He now knows why Tsunade has sent him here, knows just why Haruno Sakura needs protecting.

And just like that, his genjutsu breaks.


A/N: I never meant to start something new, it just sort of happened. Oops. I'm still working on my other shit, I promise, but I'm 24 years old and adulthood is hard! The chapters in this story are about 3% of my usual length though, so expect these updates to be more frequent than the others since I am less intimidated by myself. Enjoy~