A Girl Thing
A Girl Thing
Sakura trudged miserably through the mud, shoulders slumped, and head bowed. This mission rots…she thought sullenly as she felt her shoe get sucked off into the thick black mud. Team 7 had been trekking through miles of muddy forest on their course to the West City. Their job was to return a valuable artifact to the museum owner in West City, and for once in her life, Sakura agreed that she'd rather risk her neck in a B rank mission than swimming through miles and miles of stinking mud.
"Cheer up, guys! We're not far now."
Sakura glanced upwards as Kakashi waved down at the team from a tree, smiling cheerily.
Sakura managed a weak smile in return, as Inner Sakura screamed inside her head. Easy for him to say! He's been swinging through those freaking trees like a damn monkey!
She sighed and looked ahead of her, feeling thoroughly depressed. Even the sight of Sasuke did not cheer her mood, and the sight of Naruto only made it worse. She was smelly, her hair was greasy, her nails were broken, and worst of all, she KNEW she was shy of meeting her monthly deadline, which was never a pretty site because of the pain and violent mood swings she'd suffer.
She sniffed and felt her eyes water at the thought of how disgusting she probably looked right now, and how the only company she had were three members of the opposite sex, none of whom she could really talk to. Sasuke wanted nothing to do with her, Naruto had the attention span of a doorknob, and Kakashi was…just Kakashi. She sniffed again as she pictured the oncoming holiday, and how she'd have to wait and suffer until her next intelligent conversation and decent bath.
It was late afternoon when they decided to set up their tents and retire for the day, and just as Sakura was looking forward to crawling into her tent and falling asleep, Naruto grabbed her hand and yanked her away from her tent.
"Oi! Sakura, look what I found!" Naruto said excitedly.
She reluctantly went over to what he discovered and saw a small greenish pond. Without warning, he threw off his jacket and leapt into the pond, splashing Sakura with the murky water.
She stared at him through wet bangs, barely able to think straight because of the extreme frustration that was building inside of her. But before she could smack Naruto upside his head, he had grabbed her wrist and had pulled her into the pond.
"AAAHHHH! NARUTO YOU IDIOT!" Sakura screamed as she resurfaced, choking on the algae-ridden water. "WHY DID YOU DO THAT!?"
Naruto grinned and splashed her. "Hey, at least we're getting a bath while we can," he said as he swum around in circles.
Sakura narrowed her eyes but said nothing. Now that she thought about it, the water was a nice change from the thick mud. Just as she was about to relax though, she saw that Sasuke and Kakashi were standing at the edge of the pond, staring at her and Naruto with an amused look on their faces.
"What?" She said, annoyed, as Kakashi started to snicker.
"Sakura," Sasuke said seriously, though with a hint of amusement in his voice. "Not that I care, but I wouldn't be sitting in that pond if I were you."
"Why not?!" Naruto demanded, as he swam up beside Sakura. "It's great!"
Sasuke did not reply, and instead pointed a finger at Naruto's head.
Automatically, Naruto's hands went up into his hair, and that's when he felt it. He let out a scream and leapt out of the water, dancing around in a demented fashion as Kakashi started laughing at him.
Sakura paled, and took one arm out of the water, her pupils narrowing to the size of dots when she saw what was clinging to her flesh.
"EEEEEEEEEEEYYYYAAAHHHHHH!" She shrieked, also leaping out of the water.
Terrified beyond belief, she desperately grabbed and flung off each oozing mass of blood-sucking parasites that clung to her body. She let out a cry of disgust as she grabbed the last one, and with a sickening SPLOOCH sound, she ripped it from her skin and flung it across the pond.
Whirling around, she glowered dangerously at Naruto, who cowered back from her as Kakashi and Sasuke looked on in amusement.
"Naruto…" she said between clenched teeth. "You…you…" she never finished, however, because tears of frustration took over and spilled heavily down her cheeks. With her face blazing, she turned her back on them and ran back to her tent, where she sealed herself in and finally let the tears fall.
Sakura's mood did not improve with time, and she grimaced inwardly when she felt a jolt of pain in her lower abdomen. Ah, the curse of being female. Having to suffer every month for every year of your youth. Most girls did not have a problem with this curse, but Sakura, unfortunately, was victim of severe cramps and extreme PMS. Usually on these days, she kept her distance from everyone, and was always on edge. And since she was already in such a miserable state, her cramps and Naruto's voice did not help.
"Eh…Sakura?" Naruto said meekly outside her tent. "Um, are you okay? Listen, I'm sorry about the whole pond thing…"
"Sakura?" Naruto squeaked, gathering enough guts to poke his head into her tent.
It was one of the stupidest things he ever did.
"GET OUT!" Sakura screeched, sounding inhuman as she flung a fist at him, hitting him square in the nose. Naruto stumbled out of her tent, clutching his nose in agony as Sasuke smirked and tended to the fire.
Kakashi watched him hop around in pain before he offered him a handkerchief, which Naruto took gratefully and pressed against his now bloody nose.
"Ow, ow, ow…" Naruto moaned in pain, as he sat near the fire and tended to his injury, examining the damage Sakura had done to his face.
Kakashi stared at Naruto's nose in mild surprise, his uncovered eye widening slightly. "What happened?" He questioned.
"She punched me in the face…" Naruto muttered, as he dabbed at the blood. "I don't know what's wrong. She's never been like this before. I mean, I've done worse things and she's never reacted like this."
Naruto watched curiously as the older Shinobi placed a finger on his masked chin and glanced at Sakura's tent, then suddenly started towards it.
"Master Kakashi!" Naruto exclaimed in shock. "What're you doing?!"
The Jounin turned and stared at Naruto.
"What does it look like? I'm going to see what's bothering her," he replied calmly.
"Are you crazy?" Naruto questioned incredulously. "She's not going to tell you anything! I know her! She's a girl…and who knows, she might go crazy again and punch you in the face."
Sasuke, who had remained silent the whole time, finally spoke up, obviously to go against what Naruto had just said.
"If she tries to punch him in the face, he won't sit there and let himself get hit like you did, you idiot," Sasuke said calmly, as Naruto turned red from embarrassment.
Kakashi sighed as they started to bicker and decided to use the opportunity to go see Sakura. He thought it odd to see Sakura so angry, and even more so to have seen her cry…and cry real tears of anger and frustration.
He paused outside her tent, tuning out the sound of Naruto's arguing to see if she was still awake. Straining his ears, he listened intently, his uncovered eye widening slightly as he managed to detect the sounds of sniffling coming from within, accompanied by a hiccup every now and then.
Deliberately, he stepped on a twig to alert her of his presence. As soon as the twig snapped, the sound of her crying ceased abruptly, and her angry voice called out.
"Leave me alone, Naruto!" She shouted from within the tent, her voice quavering. "If you don't go, I'll use my shuriken on you, and I'm not joking!"
"Would you?" the Shinobi questioned, smiling under his mask. "I thought I made it clear that you were only to use shuriken against your enemies."
There was a sudden silence from within Sakura's tent, but her meek voice soon followed.
"M-Master Kakashi…? I-I…please…leave me alone…I don't feel like talking right now," she whispered, her voice barely reaching his ears. "I…I don't feel well…"
"Why? Are you ill?" He questioned, his brow furrowing at the weak tone of her voice.
"It's nothing, it's just…" Sakura mumbled from within her tent, her face blazing red with embarrassment at the thought of having to explain that she was having cramps, especially to a guy…a guy teacher…a guy teacher who just happened to be Kakashi none the less…
Wincing, she half-crawled and limped to the opening of her tent and slowly opened the flap, coming face to face with her teacher, who blinked at her frightening appearance. Black circles were beneath her now dull green eyes, and her hair hung limp around her face. Dry tear-streaks marked her face, which had gone pale from pain.
Suddenly Sakura let her hand fall from the flap when another jolt of pain forced a gasp of pain from her lips as she slumped, grimacing at the pain. Kakashi, on the other hand, had no idea what was wrong, and immediately reached down to help her, alarm clear in his gaze.
"Erm, don't move Sakura!" He said, somewhat nervously as she clenched her fists and paled even more. "I'll…I'll postpone the mission for now…get you to a doctor…" he mumbled as he stared at her grimacing face.
"No," she managed to say between her teeth, as she crawled back into the tent and retrieved her bag. "It's nothing…it's just…"
Kakashi watched apprehensively, a little confused when she retrieved a bottle of painkillers and swallowed two of them as if she had done this many times before.
Taking deep breaths, her face glowing red with humiliation, she glanced at him from the corner of her eyes and muttered.
"It's a girl thing…"
For a moment, neither of them said anything. Sakura had never felt more awkward in her life, and the vibrant blush on her face did not make her dilemma any easier. She felt ridiculous, sitting there with her teacher, for God's sake, gaping at her as if she had two heads.
"Well," she finally stuttered, refusing to look up. "Now that you know I'm not dying…" She bowed her head, too embarrassed to finish the sentence.
"That's not what's bothering you."
Sakura blinked and glanced up at him in surprise as he ducked his head and entered, sitting himself in front of her. Sakura felt her face grow hot with embarrassment, but he didn't seem to notice.
"Something else is bothering you," he said simply, returning to his usual nonchalant expression.
Sakura twitched, entwining her fingers together tightly in her lap, as she continued to stare at the ground. Damn him…she thought inwardly, gritting her teeth. How did he know?
"There must be something else bothering you, because you would never have broken Naruto's nose just for that incident at the pond," Kakashi said, grinning a little at the guilty look on Sakura's face.
"I…I broke his nose?" She whispered meekly, her eyes widening considerably.
Kakashi shrugged. "I don't know. It was bleeding pretty badly though."
Now, if this had been Sakura at a normal day in her life, she would have been sorry and a little ashamed, but since she was floating in a sea of mood swings, her reaction was completely different, and she finally cracked.
Kakashi narrowed his eyes in confusion as Sakura's chin began to tremble, and before he could react, tears suddenly sprang from her eyes and she let out a wail that nearly shattered his ear drums.
Alarmed, he moved a few inches back as Sakura grabbed her pillow and began beating it with her fists, sobbing hysterically all the while.
"Eh…Sakura?" He said gently, as she buried her face into the pillow and continued to sob. "Maybe…it would be best…if I just"-
"No!" She cried, raising her splotchy face from the pillow and clamping her hand down on his arm. "Don't go! I'll tell you…I have to tell someone…or I'm going to go crazy!"
Before he could reply, she was spilling out all that had been bothering her. Things like the fact that she had split ends, to things like the fact that she missed her family and surprisingly, Ino.
Kakashi, amidst all her sobbing, had managed to keep a pitying expression on his face, instead of breaking into an amused smile when she cried about how hard it had been to get the mud stains out of her clothes.
His amusement turned to shock though, when she sidled up next to him, and leaned her head against the inside of his shoulder, her sobs reduced to whimpering and sniffling. Feeling slightly uncomfortable, the older Shinobi occupied himself by counting the number of square patterns on her mangled pillow, as she continued her sniffling.
It seemed a while until Sakura finally got a hold of herself, and was reduced to a temporary shell of herself. She blinked slowly, feeling completely worn out, and it was then she noticed that she was still practically sitting in her teacher's lap.
She also noticed something else…for the whole time she had cried, he had sat stock still and had not said a single word of comfort, instead, he seemed to be murmuring something under his breath.
If she had listened closely, she would have heard him say "Seventy-eight…seventy-nine, no wait, I counted that one…seventy-ten, seventy-eleven…seventy-…wait a minute…seventy-eleven…?"
Unfortunately, for poor Kakashi, Sakura underwent another one of her mood swings right then and suddenly became aggravated.
"Master Kakashi!" She said, sounding hurt, as she moved back to her own spot. "How come you never said anything? You just sat there!"
The Jounin stared at her blankly for a moment, and then suddenly seemed to remember where he was.
"Oh…" he said slowly, reaching forward and patting her head. "There, there."
Sakura gave him an incredulous look. "There, there!? What are you, somebody's grandma? You call that comforting!?"
Kakashi could only shrug helplessly in response.
Sakura frowned at him, but her expression softened as she realized how long he had been there, risking his sense of hearing as she bawled at the top of her lungs.
"Sorry…" she said sheepishly. "What I meant to say was thanks…for listening, I mean," she said shyly, tucking a lock of pink hair behind her ear. The Jounin smiled at her in return, his visible eye crinkling.
"But…" Sakura said suddenly, twiddling her thumbs as a small, slightly mischievous smile overtook her face. "Can I ask you a favor?"
"What is it?"
"Since I told you…I mean, since you know what's been bothering me lately…I mean, with me being the only girl with slobs for team mates, could you let me…uh…" she mumbled, her face blazing pink.
"Could we talk sometimes?" She blurted, and she lowered her eyes as her teacher grinned at her from beneath his mask.
"You know…stuff. I need to vent sometimes, and talking to Ino was one way I used to do it. We used to do each other's hair, and talked about everything. It would be fun."
"You…want to do my hair?"
"No! I mean, it's what Ino and I…I mean, Naruto and Sasuke wouldn't want…uh, if you didn't mind?"
"What?" Sakura exclaimed, pleasant surprise causing a smile to appear on her pale face.
"I said okay," Kakashi answered, running a hand through his hair. "If it makes you happy."
"Oh, it would!" Sakura said earnestly, beaming at her teacher.
"All right then. As long as it doesn't interfere with the mission," he said, stretching his stiff arms as he moved to stand.
Sakura scrambled to her feet and followed him outside, where he tilted his neck to the side and worked out a kink. Sakura suddenly seemed to realize how tall her teacher was, and wondered how uncomfortable he had been sitting inside her tent.
"All right Sakura. Goodnight. I'm going to go see if Naruto's all right," he said lazily, scratching his hair.
Sakura's face fell, and winced when she realized how hard she must have hit Naruto.
"Um, Master Kakashi? Can you tell Naruto…?" She trailed off, but smiled hopefully when he nodded.
"Don't worry. I'll tell him that you meant to break his teeth, not his nose…it was a joke!" He said bracingly at the look on Sakura's face. "I'll tell him you were sorry."
He turned to leave, but was suddenly held there when Sakura came forward and gave him a quick hug, muttering thanks before she pulled back and disappeared back into her tent.
Kakashi stood there for a moment, until a tender and yet confused smile graced his hidden face. Shaking his head, he turned and walked back to the other tents.
"Must be a girl thing…"