Anyone else notice the chapter names are getting darker and darker? ...Okay, just me then. ~Koi
"Ino, it's not faulty. You have no need to practice."
"Yeah, Asuma-sensei it right. You agree with me, right, Shikamaru?"
"Huh. Ow! Oh, yeah. You got into her head. You don't need to keep practicing. It's too troublesome…"
"You guys don't understand! It's not that I got into her mind! I always get into people's minds. It's just, there was nothing there, sensei. It was like blank canvas, a big expanse of white. Nobody's mind is like that, not even a newborn's. It shouldn't be possible, yet Sakura, she…"
"Okay, Ino, I understand. Just, stop using your chakra. You need to recover from the forest."
"I know, sensei, it's just … there's something wrong with her mind, and I really want to be able to help."
Rabbit … Two sons … purple rings … Hyuga … white … Uchiha … windmill … Senju … river … leaves … Sarutobi … contract … shadow … body … mind … Uzumaki … scarlet hair … seals … chains … nine beasts … Haruno … mist … sand … rock … cloud … three eyes .
Red door… Tears red door… Sweat… red door… Blood… Red door… Blood, blood, red door, blood, red door, red door, red, red, red, red, red
'You're not ready…'
Sakura shot up out of her cot, only for spots to blur her already dancing vision. Pain bloomed near the back of her skull. The pinkette groaned, gripping onto her hair.
"Owwwwwww," she hissed, squeezing her eyes shut in hopes of blocking out the throbbing ache.
"Seriously, Haruno? A headache?" A – somehow graceful and kind of majestic – snort rang through the air, "You're worse than the Usuratonkachi."
"Shut it, Sasuke," Sakura snapped, reacting to the voice before she could even wrap her mind around what she'd heard… what she'd heard… what had she heard? It'd seemed like a jumble of words; she couldn't make anything out…
Was that even what she was thinking of?
"Sasuke!" Sakura screamed, turning at break neck speed to face the said boy.
"Yes?" he asked, arching a raven brow.
Sakura's mouth swung open and closed like a screen door. Her mind scrolls through what seemed like a billion phrases within milliseconds before she finally spouted the most original words in the universe: "You're not dead!"
The look of boredom on Sasuke's face only deepened, though his eyes did spark with what looked to be amusement.
"Obviously…" he drawled.
Sakura sat up further, reaching out towards where he sat near the side of the bed. She lifted her hand to his face – he flinched a bit, shock and horror flying across his face– but ended up dropping her palm to rest over where that snake man had bit him.
"Are you alright?" Sakura asked.
The tips of his ears tinged pink.
"Well…." he trailed off, "I'm not dead."
Sakura smacked his chest, and, for the first time since that start of the chunin exams, Sasuke chuckled.
It hadn't been more than two days, last she checked, she had no idea how long she'd been out, but it'd seemed like forever, especially with what had happened in the forest.
"Really," Sakura huffed out, resting her hand over his heart, "What happened?"
"I…," he sighed, lifting her palm off his and brushing his shift off to the side, revealing both the tip of the scar from his former wound and three tomoe, all surrounded by scripture.
"It's something. Kakashi," Sakura frowned at the lack of honorifics, "never said what it actually was, though."
"It's seal," Sakura said, her eyes still locked onto the black swirl of doom, "I saw it form back in the forest. I thought I'd gone away…" Sasuke's eyes hit the floor, "Naruto had something similar," Sakura continued, "I heard it messed with his chakra."
"Hn," Sasuke grunted out, "sounds like the Usuratonkachi, getting himself in the kind of situation."
"Look who's talking!" Sakura huffed, "You have one too!"
"You just said it's different," Sasuke protested.
"Hn. Did too. You even admitted it."
"No I didn't! I just said did n –"
The door to the room slammed open, leaving behind a droopy-eyed Kakashi-sensei in its wake, "My, my," he smiled, his mask crinkling back into its familiar creases, "The lovebirds are having an argument?"
Sakura sputtered, grasping for words. How could he just waltz in with a line like that? It was so offensive! And annoying! And it gave Sasuke the wrong – or right, depending on her view – idea about her.
How dare he! That… that…
…that ecchi reading bastard! …Kami, she was starting to sound like Naruto.
Sakura let out a growl.
"I'll bake you into a cake," she hissed, her signature line making Kakashi-sensei tick in a mixture of amusement and fear, thought the latter was probably due to the fact that her hands were twitching in an oh-so-ominous way.
"He's just trying to rile you up," Sasuke said, "Don't worry."
"Does this place not have any windows?" Sensei asked, ignoring the kids' words, "It's so uncomfortable to use the door…"
"Is there something you need, sensei?" Sakura asked.
"No, why? Were you in the middle of something?" His cheeks tinged pink, "D-Do I have to give you the talk?"
For the second time that day, Haruno Sakura hurled her pillow at the perverted albino.
To say Sasuke had beat Yoroi within minutes would've been an understatement. The Uchiha was a blur, it was almost as if he'd thrown a bird henge on himself and had sped off towards his opponent. A blast of Katon, a drop kick, and a kunai to the back had sent the poor boy to his knees in what seemed to be mere seconds.
Beside Sakura, the other genin gaped. They'd seen the prodigy fight before, but, in the short time he'd been with team seven, he'd improved by leaps and bounds.
If Uchiha Sasuke, the boy who listened to no one but himself, who relied on nothing besides his own wit and power, had gotten this good under Hatake Kakashi's tutelage, then exactly how much had his teammates grown?
Sakura suppressed a slight giggle. "Care to pick up your jaw, Yamanaka?"
Ino blinked, her mouth slamming shut within a blink.
Sakura prayed the speed chipped one of her pearly whites.
The proctor raised his hand, "Winner, Uchiha Sasuke."
The said boy smirked, heading for the stairs. Sakura stared down at him, taking in the gleam of his irises… and the downward twitch of his lips. The skin near his eyes crinkled down in familiar lines. The pinkette frowned.
The seal was still affecting him.
Naruto grinned, rushing over as soon as his best friend/biggest rival walked off the last step. He threw his arm over Sasuke's shoulder, "Atta boy, 'tteayo. Ya beat him before I could even start to jeer."
Kiba leaned in towards Shino, "Since when did idiot over their use the word 'jeer?'" The bug user shrugged.
Sakura rolled her eyes, waving her teammates over. "Nice fight, Uchiha-san," she beamed.
He frowned a bit, "What's with you and my surname?"
She rolled her eyes, "Fine. Nice fight, Sasuke." He nodded a bit, whether in thanks or in appreciation of his name, Sakura couldn't tell which.
Anyhow, Ino looked like she wanted to gut a puppy.
The sound of the scoreboard whirling brought all the genin's eyes to its screen. Sakura watched as the hiragana flicked into place.
Match one, between Temari's brother, Kankuro-san, and a nameless boy had passed, along with the second, which involved Shino and another random kid. Match three had just finished, with Sasuke and his opponent bringing it to a close quite quickly.
Needless to say, Suna and Konoha were going strong at this point.
The proctor shifted the senbon between his teeth, calling the next match: "Inuzuka Kiba versus Hyuga Hinata."
The said girl yipped.
Kiba's jaw dropped. He gulped, glancing down at his teammate, and started to speak: "I forf -"
"If your forfeit," Hinata stated, voice scarily low, especially when paired with her quiet tone.
Her behavior had done a total one-eighty once she'd realized that her teammate was going to throw the match for her. "Then I will personally tell Kurenai-sensei about you watching over her dates with that other sensei."
Sakura gaped, then giggled.
Kiba's mouth slammed shut. He stared down at Hinata, "I don't wanna hurt you, Shino'd kill me…"
Hinata gave a quite scoff, masking it with a cough. She started for the stairs, hair swishing behind her. Akamaru whined, and, soon, Kiba followed after her.
"This is going to be interesting," Sasuke mused, leaning down on the railing and propping his chin in his palm. A soft smile turned his lips upwards.
Sakura had to force herself from drooling.
Naruto nodded, adding in a quick ''ttebayo' and plopping down on the ground, dangling his legs through the bars and looking content with the match pairings.
Hinata and Kiba, who had Akamaru perched on his shoulder, straightened their backs, faces hard. The proctor almost flinched when Hinata sent Kiba a small smile.
"Good luck to you," she said.
"Keep it," he grinned, "You'll need it more…"
Hinata's Byakugan flashed.
She dropped low to the round, rushing Kiba from under. Her hands drew back and slammed forwards towards his chest. Kiba back flipped away, careful to keep his body far from her palms.
His sandals hit the ground, only for a kunai to land between his feet.
He flipped up again, skidding away from the explosion. He glanced over at her, finishing off his first thought: "You know what, I'll keep it."
Hinata rolled her eyes and sped towards him, zigzagging in and out of his line of sight.
Akamaru dropped to the ground, and poofed into another Kiba.
Hinata didn't so much as blink at the sight, completely immune to the shock everyone else in the room felt.
They barely ever saw Kiba use his clan's techniques, and, to put it simply, a dog – seemingly – turning into a human was astonishing.
Temari sucked in a gasp, while Kankuro completely chocked on his spit. Even Gaara's eyes widened a bit.
Sakura smiled, leaning over towards the siblings. Temari flinched, sending her a weird look, and opened her mouth to retort – until she caught sight of Sakura's hair, recognizing her.
Sakura smiled, "Inuzuka," she said, "Translation…"
"Freakin' 'Dog hill,'" Kankuro finished.
"And 'kiba' means fang…," Temari mused. She glanced over to Sakura, a smirk playing on her lips, "Not really creative, are they?"
"I find it smart," Gaara mumbled, eyes locked on the fight.
Temari flinched, and Kankuro gaped.
Sakura just blinked, confused to as why they were surprised he talked. Sasuke shot her a small glare, almost as to ask why she was speaking with them. She ignored him, sticking out her a tongue a bit.
"Now that you mention it, it is, Gaara-san…" she said, trailing off. The raccoon eyed boy glanced over to her, nodded a bit, then went back to the match.
Sakura shrugged at the incredulous look Temari gave her, turning her eyes to her best friend's fight.
Akamaru had bent down onto all fours, crouching in a slightly familiar position.
And, suddenly, he was off, spinning in an arc of doom. Hinata, the obvious target of the famous Gatsuga, pivoted. Her step-side threw the dog off a bit.
During his confusion, she reared her arms back, preparing for a blow.
Kiba slammed into Hinata from behind, throwing them both to the ground. Akamaru hit the floor a second later, claws marking divots in the concrete.
Kiba drew back his fist and aimed a punch at the Hyuga's face. In the same moment, Hinata's palm sped towards his stomach. Kiba threw himself to the side, rolling off his teammate and onto the floor.
The two opponents distanced themselves, and Akamaru jumped back to Kiba's side. A second passed. Then, Kiba raced for the girl in front of her, nails sharpened and out.
Hinata drew out some senbon.
Kiba got to her too fast, though, and she didn't have time to aim for a vein. His claws swiped at her throat.
She threw the needles up in the air and dropped to the ground, pearl eyes blazing. The genin swiped a foot under his.
Kiba, who wasn't expecting a Hyuga to use their legs, dropped to the ground.
He rolled away just as Hinata snatched her senbon out of the air, flicking them down in his direction. The Inuzuka twisted his body around them and flipped back up into the air.
Akamaru, still with his Kiba henge-thing on, charged from behind.
Hinata whirled on him, arms raised. Just as she was about to strike him in the chest, her eyes narrowed. She jumped into the air – obviously aided by chakra, seeing as she was practically flying – and Kiba's kunai slashed through empty air.
The Hyuga righted herself and threw more senbon towards her teammate as she descended. He dodged them easily.
"Sloppy," Kiba barked up.
"Not really," Hinata called, landing on the ground and backing up.
Kiba's eyes went wide – "Shit!" – and he threw himself forwards, just at the explosion tags, hidden by a simple henge, went off.
Beside Sakura, Naruto stared down at the smoke and fire, evil glinting in his eyes.
"I like this girl," he cackled.
Sakura didn't know if she should be happy for Hinata or scared for her.
The fight continued, both parties aiming for fatal blows, only for each to be dodged.
They seemed to dance out of each other's way, almost evenly matched. Almost.
Even though it was two-to-one, Hinata still seemed to have the upper hand. She could take a hit from her opponents, but they couldn't even allow for a blow to graze them.
Both Akamaru and Kiba rushed Hinata, one from the front, one from the back. Her Byakugan practically sparkled. She flipped up into the air, twisting herself to face her adversary. She gave a shout, aiming a hit at Akamaru.
The dog yelped, jumping away.
Hinata's hand hit the ground and the chakra that was automatically pushed out sent cracks through the floor.
Sakura cocked an eyebrow. She'd have to try something like that, maybe it'd increase her strength further…
Hinata practically growled, sweeping her feet under Akamaru's. He tried to jump, but she hooked her foot on his ankle. She pushed off the ground while yanking him down.
Turning her momentum into force, she continued in an arc, slamming her palm into the dog's shoulder, hard. Her other arm came up, hitting his leg.
She curled a foot under his side, flipping him over, and drove her knee hard into his back, sending him skidding into the wall.
He poofed back into dog form, whimpering.
Kiba looked furious. "Why'd you do that!" he screamed, charging.
Hinata whirled to face him, ramming her leg up straight and connecting her foot with his stomach. She twirled, pushing him off to the side with her.
"To win," she whispered, her words carrying over the silent arena. She yanked out a senbon, burying the needle deep in his arm.
He howled, ripping it out and chucking it back at her. She dodged it easily and stepped back, watching as Kiba's movements turned sluggish. Her eyes softened a bit.
"He's not hurt," she reassured, "I just sealed off his arm and leg."
Kiba hissed through his teeth, his eyes shifting back and forth in attempt to focus on something, anything.
Sakura knew it wouldn't work, though.
Hinata had been studying poisons since she was eight, back when Sakura got her a book on them. The Hyuga was far from a master, but she had enough concoctions to ether knock a person out cold or give them hives for a week.
She hadn't fully transitions into deadly materials yet, and was quite reluctant to do so, but she was getting close.
And, paired with her fighting style and her Juken, everyone knew she'd turn out to be the deadliest of combinations within a few years.
Kiba gulped, as if to try and wet his mouth. It was starting to take effect, Sakura noted.
Hinata stepped forwards, the bulging veins around her eyes receding. "I'm sorry I had to do this. You'll learn why I did, though, once you're faced with decisions."
"What d-d-decisions did you even have to make?" Kiba slurred.
The Hyuga's eyes practically sang with sorrow, but were quickly covered up with a hard, regal look, the same one she had on whenever she had to deal with Neji, or her clan.
Hinata had many expressions of sorrow and kindness, but she only had one look when it came to her position in the world, and this was it.
"Too many to count," she said, her voice a sob with no tears, no rolls, and no sound.
It barely carried through the room, yet it still hit Sakura's ears, as well as her heart.
Hinata reached out a hand, tapping her teammate lightly in the shoulder.
Kiba teetered backwards, slamming into the ground.
"Winner: Hyuga Hinata!"
Why, yes, I did totally screw with the plot line… Oh, wait, that's what this entire stories about… Oops ... not! OH! OH! It's kind of out of the left field but I've been a jerk-ass and haven't thanked some people yet and I totally have to!
They're from non-English based countries (as far as I know) and sometimes even review in their own language, but that makes their reviews so much more special to me because this fic's is in fucking English and idk if English is their second language or not but, if it is, then it's totally awesome that they're reading my fic when they could be reading fanfic's in their own language!
So, here's a BIG, OVERDUE THANKS TO YOU AWESOME PEOPLE:
(Mexico - found it through profile) - this person reviews constantly and I love them for it; almost every chapter I get a notification for a review and send it to Heime in order for her to translate it. I get all antsy waiting for the translation- I love their reviews!
KassfromVenus (I don't know what country, sorry) - they might review in English, but their profile is all in another language so, even if their English is amazing, I still have thank them for dealing with my fic
Lisa [guest] (Germany - said in comment) - they gave such a nice review that I just need to add them because I don't know why but I got an image of a cute little panda when I read their review
I know it's not a big number of people but it's still amazing to me. Again, a big thanks to you three. Can we get a virtual round of applause? If so, give it to these awesome people!