As the 'Gaiden' in the title indicates, this is sort of a side story for my long-running Naruto story, 'Suiren.' This little scene has been knocking around in my head for a while, and i'm not sure if i want to actually make it part of official story continuity, but i think the idea's kinda funny…

As it's written now, this scene would take place shortly after the end of 'Distance' in the 'Suiren - Revised' continuity. If you haven't read them, the revised chapters aren't up here yet, but can be found on my blog; there's a link in my author profile.

As always, i don't own the Naruto setting or characters, and C&C/reviews are greatly appreciated!

-Eimii


AFFINITY…

Gliding swift and unnoticed through the twilight gray of early morning, Hyuuga Yoshinari placed a securing hand on the thick sheaf of files he carried under his arm as he leapt down to the street, half a block from his destination. Though most of Konoha was still asleep, the sound of raised voices reached his ears as he approached the facade of ANBU's second Torture and Interrogation facility.

A doujutsu-enhanced scan of the area revealed that his caution was not unwarranted. No signs of conflict revealed themselves, but the makings of one were definitely present. Quickening his stride, Yoshinari turned the final corner in his route and found two of Konoha's most recognizable kunoichi standing side-by-side in front of the nondescript building.

Leaning down to wrap an arm around her student's shoulders, Anko waved to him. "Oi, Yoshi!" she greeted happily, ushering Sakura out of the shadow of the eaves. "You're just in time! You've gotta hear this!"

An angry frown crossed Sakura's face as she glared up at her teacher, but she kept her mouth firmly shut. In contrast to Anko's ever familiar mesh and leather ensemble, Sakura had once again changed her look, replacing the jeans and sweatshirt she'd taken to wearing with a simple, flowing white shift.

Anko's arguably more revealing attire aside, Sakura looked awfully cold wearing so little in the chilly Autumn air. Discreetly reactivating his Byakugan, the ANBU medic gave his most interesting patient of late a brief once-over. His examination revealed a host of minor injuries that Sakura hadn't had the day before, including some first-degree burns on her posterior, just below her tailbone.

From the way Sakura held her hips, those burns were probably painful, but fortunately there didn't seem to be anything more serious. Deactivating his bloodline, the monkey-masked Hyuuga tilted his head and shifted his body language into a pose of inquiry. "Good morning, Anko-sama, Haruno-kun. I did not expect to see either of you today," he noted quizzically.

Anko gave a curt nod, accompanied by a huge, mischievous grin. "Yeah, I don't have a lot of time before I've gotta meet my team, but freak-show here decided to come find me first thing in the morning, demanding that I teach her something 'useful' before I left."

Taking another look at student's scowling face, Anko's smile grew until she was positively leering at the smaller girl. "I guess jealous little Ino-chan challenged her to another 'rematch' and spanked her ass pretty good this time," Anko quipped mockingly, emphasizing her point with a wince-inducing pat on Sakura's rear.

Ignoring the pink-haired girl's growl of irritation, Anko continued. "Anyhow, I figured teaching her some combat ninjutsu might not be a bad idea, so we did the paper test to check her elemental chakra affinity- but you won't believe what happened then!"

"Anko!" Sakura protested, her angry mask cracking as a flush of embarrassment lit her cheeks. "You don't need to-" Sakura stopped talking when the special jounin reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a small, blank piece of paper. Face crumbling in horror, Sakura backed away, holding up her hands defensively. "W-wait!"

Sakura didn't stand a chance as Anko's arm flashed out like a striking viper, affixing the slip of paper to Sakura's forehead like she was a sealing a hungry ghost. The paper seemed to stick for a second before peeling off to flutter down to the ground, where it began to wriggle and writhe like a living thing.

At first Yoshinari guessed that Sakura had a lightning affinity, since the page didn't dampen, shred, burst into flame or disintegrate, but then the chakra-sensitized paper began to twist and warp in ways that he'd never seen before. Normally, a lightning affinity just caused the paper to crumple into a ball, but Sakura's paper almost appeared to be shaping itself into something.

It wasn't long before that 'something' became clear, and Yoshinari had to physically shake himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming. Glancing up at the two silent kunoichi before him, he found both of them similarly riveted to the drama below. Anko's eyes gleamed with mirthful anticipation, like a child staring at a shiny, gift-wrapped present, while Sakura's just seemed to be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Soon the process was complete; where once had been a mere scrap of paper, there now lay a tiny, doll-like replica of Sakura- as white as a sheet, but otherwise picture perfect in every detail, right down to the fibrous strands of 'hair' that fell over its face. Then, as if to give logic and reason one final slap in the face, the minuscule doppelganger hopped to its feet and started looking around.

"That… is not normal," Yoshinari managed, his throat suddenly very dry. Activating the Byakugan once more, the pale man could only stare in confusion at the nearly nonexistent wisps of Sakura's chakra in the paper, now arranged in a simple reproduction of the human chakra coil system.

"Nope!" Anko agreed far too cheerily. "Ain't it just the most freakishly adorable thing you've ever seen, though?" Crouching down for a better view, the dark-haired woman reached out to nudge the back of the copy's head with one finger, causing it to stumble forward and whip around to glare at her with a familiar look of irritation.

Setting its tiny jaw, the paper Sakura formed a string of hand seals. Before this point, Yoshinari had foolishly assumed that nothing could shock him anymore, but he could actually see the chakra flowing in the copy's coils it before it suddenly vanished from view- only to reappear a moment later, staggering and stumbling around drunkenly before flopping onto its back like it was completely exhausted.

"Aaaaw, it tried to do your cloaking genjutsu! That's so cute!"


S U I R E N ° G A I D E N

To be continued?