Yes this is a repost of chapter 11. More importantly, this is an apology.
This fic has been unofficially discontinued for quite some time now, I wanted to aplogize for making such a decision without at least letting you guys know since you have been faithful in reading. It was imature of me as a writer, period. I would like to state at this point that the status of this fic is on the fence. I don't like where I was planning on taking it so I have to make some alterations in the future plot which I'm not sure how long will take, nor if I'll ever actually iron out a decent next piece.
I got bored of it, and looking at what was to come just didn't make me feel like writing. In all honesty, if I do pick this back up, it'll be because of the readers that have been faithful more so than for myself, even though I have had the itch to write recently. Anyway, please forgive me for being this way, I'm sure that I'll put out something soon, just not sure how long it'll be before then.
It's always eerie how most major storms tend to have a bone-chilling calm afterwards. It always tends to seem like the more destructive the storm, the more peaceful the calm. More often than not, it doesn't seem right to walk out onto a street with fallen trees and shattered windows when there is nothing more than a gentle breeze, a slight chill, and a few sparse droplets of rain. It's unnerving, yet it's also a relief because it's a reminder that every storm could be weathered and that all that is left to do is start rebuilding what was broken.
Room 715 was no different.
It was rare to see Hinata upset, even rarer to see her visibly angry. Kiba had been privileged enough to see Hinata actually come to the point of shaking only once in his life and he wondered if he, Shino, and Kurenai had been the only ones to see the usually docile Hyuuga passionately angry. Even still, Kiba was surprised at how angry she had gotten, but then again, perhaps he had asked too much of her.
He sat there, unmoving on the bed, his legs hanging from the side while Akamaru sat patiently on the floor. He didn't move much, he didn't say anything, and he didn't pay any attention to his surroundings. The room was quiet and peaceful, it didn't even show any signs of the storm that took place. To the common observer, what had happened wouldn't even seem like much of a storm at all.
It started simple, a request that he knew she'd have trouble following. It continued into a lecture on why he would make such a request. It developed into an exchange, emotional yet controlled, not quite a debate yet at the same time opinion was voiced with fact as support. In an instant, it changed into an argument, though it was rather tame not considering the persons involved. It fell into a plea, one to another, guardian to charge, brother to sister. It ended in a quiet departure and an apologetic decline.
All-in-all, it was very civil, very calm, very collected. It seemed like a conversation between friends that was emotional enough to ask for privacy, though not enough to be sufficiently worried. To Kiba and Hinata however, it was so much more. Kiba knew how much Naruto meant to her, the blonde didn't have just her affection, but also her attention and her inspiration. He had never seen the Hyuuga as strong as she was when Naruto was around or even simply brought up. He was the center of her focus, the point around which everything in her life, every goal and dream revolved. He was also dense enough to not notice it.
Kiba had asked her to do more than just drop her affection, he had asked her to drop the center of everything important to her. It was a huge thing to her, and despite the fact that she never screamed nor shouted, that she shed neither tears in sadness nor in anger, and that her decline of his request was quiet yet firm; it hit her in a way that even Kiba wasn't sure he understood. It was a subtle way to step, to hold herself up, the change in breathing, the look in her eyes, the fact that she wouldn't look him in the face. It was a million little things she did to show how she truly felt, a million signs that Kiba examined and interpreted, it was a countless amount of negligible detail that lead Kiba to a conclusion that he wasn't even sure if Hinata had realized.
As she walked out of the door to his hospital room in utter silence, she left behind a teammate that she had not forgiven.
Perhaps that was why the room felt so heavy, and why Kiba felt so guilty. Perhaps that was why he felt like his world just fell into another level of chaos. Perhaps that was why when Naruto came barreling into the room with a noise level and lack of grace unique to the blonde alone, Kiba wasn't sure what exactly to do.
"Oi, Kiba! Where is Hinata?"
For once, Naruto was not in the wrong for being oblivious to the delicacy of what had just transpired. He was breathing a little more labored than normal and turning all about, looking for the girl that had quietly walked out only minutes ago. Just as he entered, the weight of the room disappeared from his disruption, though Kiba didn't say anything.
Feeling annoyed at the lack of response, Naruto turned back to the silent patient and was about to ask again when he noticed that Kiba wasn't looking at him. Naruto was dense enough to completely miss all of Hinata's affection, but he was no where near dense enough to realize that something was wrong with Kiba. In the air of Kiba's uncharacteristic silence, Naruto also found himself with nothing to say, and his gaze hit the ground as well.
For a while, the only sound in the room was Akamaru's whining, quiet and sparing, the dog let it's voice relieve some of the tension bit by bit. Naruto wanted so badly to say something, feeling guilty about being the cause of Kiba's misery. Kiba couldn't figure out what he wanted to say or how he wanted to feel towards the one who ended his career. The silence was suffocating, and if it had not been for Akamaru, it would have been unbearable. Just when Naruto thought he'd lose his mind though, Kiba finally found some words.
"What do you want with Hinata?"
Any surprise at hearing Kiba break the air wasn't shown as Naruto merely stood, shifting uncomfortably. Neither boy looked the other in the eye.
"I just wanted to... you know... ask her something."
There was another pause, another whine, and a heavy sigh from one boy then the other.
"Ask her what?"
Something about the mood kept Naruto from getting mad, from demanding why in the hell Kiba needed to know what wasn't his business. The guilt he felt was overwhelming, so much so that he simply couldn't bring himself to bring any conflict. He stuffed his hands into his jacket pocket and tried to sound as casual as possible.
"I think she might know someone that I need to find."
It went silent again.
The silence became unbearable when Akamaru ceased to whine. The silence of the room brought back the heaviness from the conversation with Hinata as well as the awkwardness of the moment. Kiba remained still though Naruto shifted nervously, his hand reaching up to get lost in the blonde spikes on the back of his head.
Of the two of them, Naruto definitely had it worse. Upon his shoulders was the guilt of having ruined the life of one who didn't deserve it and the foresight to know that it was indeed ruined. Technically Kiba had brought Kyuubi out, though Naruto couldn't help but feel that the fox getting out was a sign of his own weakness. He couldn't help but feel that he failed to protect a person that wasn't as precious as some, but precious nonetheless. That was unacceptable.
Kiba wallowed in the silence, drowning in his own confusion. From the moment of that jutsu he used, Naruto had changed completely. His eyes, his poise, his motions; they all seemed so much more primal and animalistic. The smug look on his face behind crazed, blood-red eyes and the fangs that had grown in almost instantly. The cold laugh and the fascination that lit up his face every time he landed blow after merciless blow. None of it seemed real, and even seeing the blonde before him didn't make it seem any more possible.
Oddly enough, despite the fact that both boys were thinking about it, the air was simply too heavy to speak. Each of them buried up to their necks in their own thoughts, though neither attempting to put the issue out on the table. It was utterly suppressing, and making both of them utterly miserable.
The clicking of the door was the sound that broke the silence, and just as when Naruto entered after Kiba's talk with Hinata, the appearance of the random nurse diffused the tension of the room as if it drained right out the open door. Both looked up as she walked in hesitantly, sensing that there was something a bit off, and she clutched a clipboard over her chest. Neither paid any mind to her or even bothered to note her physical features, though both were able to breathe a sigh of relief at the sudden ease of the room.
Naruto took the opportunity to escape, swiftly stepping past her to get out of the room. It was quick, it was light, but it was desperate. As he passed out the door frame he muttered out an "I'm sorry" as he exited into the hallway, hell-bent on getting out of that suppressing atmosphere.
Kiba only sat there as the blonde left the room, still feeling like none of his questions had been answered. Before he could sink into his thoughts though, the nurse mentioned something about needing to do another post operation check-up. He complied off-handedly and laid back down on the bed.
All the while, Akamaru remained silent.
If she had to point out a particular spot, then she'd have failed because there was no definable spot where the pain began and ended. It touched her mind and face, reaching down into her lungs and chest, stretching out over the muscles in her arms and fingers and trickling down her legs and enwrapping even her toes it seemed. There was no other way to describe it other than to say that she hurt.
She was simply so sore that it was maddening. Spending an hour in the park hunching over to pick up dog droppings did very little to ease the overworked muscles from the training session earlier in the day. She walked, nevertheless, intent on getting home despite the fact that she still had a jutsu to work on. The thought of doing more work alone caused her to grimace, though she wanted to prove that she could learn it... even if it meant that she would be moody as hell the next day.
Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a clock hanging on the inside of a shop. She grimaced as she realized the time, knowing she'd have to make a quick shower. With another grimace she picked up the pace, her goal being more time under that heavenly cascade of watery goodness.
It was 2:14 pm.
When Sakura had left, it had been 2:05 give or take a few minutes as best as Sasuke could remember. Kakashi had started the "training" session roughly 5 minutes later, which should be 2:10. They hadn't left or anything, just had the session right there in the park for all to see. It was not in Sasuke's nature to openly question what confused him, and that particular issue was no different.
As of now, he was neck deep in soil with an array of kunai and shuriken lodged in the soft dirt surrounding his head. He could hardly move underneath the ground, which made it frustrating because a few of the cuts he had received were beginning to itch and he wanted to scratch them. Kakashi had left a few minutes ago, not really giving a reason other than some lady crossing some street with some out-of-place animal going to trample her that was in dire need of a rescue.
It didn't take long to realize that this wasn't really a training session since there wasn't any real training going on... just Sasuke trying vainly to avoid jutsu after jutsu that Kakashi unleashed at him. Of course it hadn't lasted all that long and when Sasuke found himself neck deep in soil with many, many sharp projectiles being hurled at him, he found himself panicking just slightly. Kakashi had been courteous enough to set and activate something like 3 kunai traps from different angle so that in the end, all of them just collided with themselves and lodged themselves harmlessly on the ground next to him. A few nicked him here and there, but he remained rather unharmed.
Kakashi didn't have to say anything for Sasuke to understand what the lesson was. He hadno intention of ever taking extreme measures on a teammate again. Or at least not Sakura.
He grimaced to himself as he started trying to dig his way out. Out from behind him he heard some passing seniors having idle chit-chat and one of them mentioned the time.
It was 2:37 pm
Perfect. Kiba scoffed as he paced around the room. The nurse that had done the check up said that everything was perfect. Out of the corner of his eye, he looked up at the clock on the wall.
Perfect... he'd been pacing for an hour now and still didn't feel any better.
He almost growled as he continued to pace angrily through the room, his bare feet smacking against the tile. Akamaru sat patiently on the bed, his head turning back and forth to follow his master and best friend.
It was simply too frustrating to stand still. The day had been far from a calm one and it wasn't close enough to being done. Perfect, all the nurse had said was that everything checked out to be perfect. So perfect in fact that he could leave later in the day most likely.
The "minor discomfort" in his stomach that made him wince with every step was completely normal. The amazingly frustrating feel of being suppressed and fairly drained was also expected. Even the ridiculously low flow of his own chakra, which he was having more difficulty feeling was just fine.
He scoffed again as he made his way to a small closet with wooden, white, double doors. Popping them open with a scowl, he found the replacement clothes his sister had brought for him some time ago. Some of his extra training shorts that he wore most the time, dark blue as always but he only had one jacket which had been sufficiently ruined. In it's place was a plain black t-shirt and an ash-grey fleece vest that still had the tags on it.
As Kiba changed his clothes, all he could think about was that word "Perfect" and as he popped open the window to get out of the God-forsaken hospital with his slightly unsure but reasonably quiet companion with him, he glanced over to the clock again.
He had plenty of time to just walk around and get some fresh air before the nurses came back to check on him... assuming he felt like coming back.
Jumping from the window of the 7th floor and falling the full flights without fear, he realized at that point what having his chakra messed up really meant. He grimaced, feeling his own chakra seem to fight him as he molded it within his body as his form grew closer to the ground. It wasn't particularly hard to get it moving, but it seemed like it took far too much work to get it into his legs, and when he landed on the ground with a soft "thud" he felt like he had just sprinted a quarter mile's worth attached to the ceiling.
Picking himself up off the ground and dressed in a rendition of his old clothes, all he could do was mutter the word "Perfect" under his breath.
Bored, bored, bored. Naruto was bored. Depressingly enough, that was the major reason that he found himself outside of Sakura's house with the setting sun to his back. The golden orange rays caught up in his hair and jacket-pants combination and would have made a beautiful painting against the rich brown of the oak door he was standing in front of. Unfortunately, there was no painter around... so the scenic value was lost to all since Naruto's gaze of his own back was very non-existent.
He had searched for Hinata for all of about 2 hours before finding that she was within the Hyuuga compounds. He had spent another 30 minutes looking over the outside to find an entrance, his prankster's intuition guiding him and leaving him with absolutely no way in.
He'd spent another 40 minutes just walking aimlessly through Konoha. No purpose, no destination in mind but he did end up having a few bowls of pork ramen at the Ichiraku which he was still happy about. Amusingly enough, he had passed Ino's shop by accident to see a sight that had the child in him reeling so hard that his sides were splitting and he had to run into an alley to keep from rolling around in the street.
Behind the glass doors of the flower shop, dressed moderately in a black t-shirt/slacks combination and sporting a white apron with the kanji for "Yamanaka" on the chest, was none other than the chuunin that had attacked him in the street. Looking confused and miserable, she was being led around the store by a very chipper looking woman with blonde hair who was rapidly pointing out flowers and utilities of the store.
He was laughing so hard that he was beginning to cry, knowing full well that her nose was in utter Hell right now by the look on her face alone. Deciding not to tempt fate, he scaled the nearest building and continued on along the roof tops while he continued his stroll.
His feet lead him to Sakura's of their own accord and he decided that he'd follow upon the promise to help train with her sooner rather than later. So here he was, hand poised to knock on the oaken door with a huge grin on his face, ready to get his colleague's attention. From inside, he heard the slow chime of a grandfather clock, signaling the time. He counted the chimes, deducing the time before he knocked.
His knuckles rapped the wooden door at 6:00 pm.
Showers were wonderful things, especially after a long day of training, actual training. The kind of training that one puts himself through after being thoroughly trounced by one's sensei. The lesson may have been focused on telling him to pull his punches when teammates were involved, but it also showed him some of his weaknesses in approaching opponents that vastly outclassed him in skill.
He'd spent a good hour merely brooding over what had happened after pulling himself from the ground in the park. Another 20 minutes had been devoted to trying to figure out possible better approaches for a situation when running from a stronger opponent wasn't an option. He'd stood in the middle of the area he had set aside in the abandoned Uchiha complex for another good 10 minutes trying to go over meticulous details of the short "spar" he'd had with Kakashi. From there, he threw himself to something close to an hour and a half of merciless training that left him thoroughly exhausted of stamina and chakra.
The training grounds were marred and blackened from his varying renditions of Katon jutsu. He was rather proud of himself actually, putting more emphasis on making a quick jutsu powerful enough to cause damage, then adding the enhanced evasion abilities that came with the fore-sight of the Sharingan. The combination ideally wore down an opponent assuming they underestimated him long enough for him to get a kill strike. It was flawed, but it was better than running around aimlessly an tossing shuriken and katon jutsu here and there like he had done earlier in the day.
Either way, the shower felt really nice, and even standing in the bathroom with a towel draped over his shoulders and behind his neck to catch the water that dripped from his hair, in the steam from the hot water, it just felt pleasant. He stood nude, looking at the reflection of his face and shoulders in the high mirror as he merely contemplated. Chain of thought lead him eventually to the matter of apologizing to Sakura and within the 6 minutes that it takes a guy to get from stepping out of the shower to fully dressed, he was adorned in some clean white shorts with a fan-toting blue t-shirt. 4 Minutes to make sure he wasn't missing anything, and Uchiha Sasuke was out the house, glancing at the clock out of the corner of his eye as he made his way silently into the abandoned roadways.
He muttered to himself as a breeze caught his damp hair, forming a chill at the top of his head. He wasn't surprised actually, the dropping sun and cooling air a testimony of the time.
5:50 pm, but that clock was slow 5 minutes.
Amazing. Utterly and absolutely amazing. Yet at the same time, it was utterly and absolutely frustration. Naruto's left hand was holding part of the jutsu scroll, letting the paper itself lay across his lap. The basics of the jutsu were laid out there, while the practice tips for mastering were rolled up further within. Despite that, 3 smoke bombs lay in the upturned palm of his right hand where seconds ago, lay only one.
Sakura's jaw dropped as Naruto basically performed the jutsu that she had been taking the long way around for the last 4 hours. All the little recommended exercises and meticulous practices that were meant to lead up to actually mastering the jutsu were completely bypassed.
It had been an hour ago that Naruto showed up at her door offering to help her practice. She let him in, hoping that he'd maybe provide tidbits here and there but remain mostly quiet so she could do each exercise efficiently. Most of them she got quickly, but there were so many, each miniscule practice emphasizing an area of perfection needed for the jutsu, and she has happy to know that she wasn't far from completing it. But Naruto didn't do any of it, he merely did the jutsu...
He sat there, giggling just slightly at Sakura's completely awe-stricken expression.
"What? It's just like the kage bunshin no jutsu. I could teach you if you like..."
Sakura nearly deflated. Naruto was special, special indeed. A look at the family room's grandfather clock told her that he basically did 4 hours worth or her work plus some, in the span of 1 hour. She managed to laugh a bit before conceding.
It was 7:07 pm, she was hoping to get all done and in bed by 10:00 pm.
The sun was just sinking under the horizon, giving that creepy yet dazzling display of purples that mixed with the blues of the night sky and the last remaining dark orange rays of the setting sun. Dusk always confused Kiba, no matter how many times he saw it, he could never figure out why some of the colors were there and no other time of night. Here, standing in the clearing where team 8 had done most of their training when they first assembled, it was nice to have a pleasant distraction by looking at it again.
On his right wrist was the watch his sister had left in the ash colored vest and with a twist of the wrist, he read the time.
Shino would be having dinner right about now. Since, as far as he knew, that family had a thing about eating dinner at exactly the same time every night when in Konoha. His bug-crazed teammate had left 15 minutes ago to make it home in time.
Akamaru merely sat, his side warming against the side of Kiba's bare shin. A chilled breeze cut through the clearing, bringing a fresh collage of scents that were annoyingly dull to the Inuzuka. It reminded him yet again of his sudden mortality.
He felt naked, unarmed, defenseless, and helpless all at once. It never really occurred to him until Akamaru whined out that Shino was hiding in the trees and watching him. He didn't react really, other than growling slightly because he couldn't discern his teammate's position. He had checked his watch absently, it had been 6:13 pm, and he spent the next 47 minutes standing in that exact same spot, listening and looking to discern the Aburame.
At 7:00 pm, Akamaru had whined that Shino had left, leaving Kiba to feel truly miserable with himself.
From that point, he channeled chakra into his nose again in frustration, feeling the immediate strain of it. He could tell the difference immediately though. When he had done it before his fight with Naruto, it was more like expanding the flow of his chakra to incorporate his nose as well as the rest of his body. The chakra looped continuously so that it hardly took any effort and the slight change in his chakra eventually was no longer noticeable. This time, he could feel it flowing out of him when he moved it out of the natural path. Almost like he was simply burning fuel to keep the jutsu going, and the drain rate was incredible fast.
By the time 7:13 pm rolled around, he was breathing hard and released the influence he put on his chakra.
So here he was, at 7:15 pm, watching the mystery of dusk and wondering how much longer he was going to stay. He shivered a bit as a gust of wind cut into the open, fleece vest and he curled his arms around himself to keep a bit warmer.
One last pass. That was all Naruto was asking of Sakura. She was tired, he could see that. Tired and drained with dirt and scratches littering her clothes and skin. He taught her his trick to the jutsu, which lead to her piecing together his Kage Bunshin. Not that it bothered him, but she picked it up quickly and 20 minutes after he completed it, she did as well.
5 minutes later, they were working on application. In Sakura's backyard, having something along the lines of a training/sparring session. The jutsu proved rather interesting as it allowed Sakura to replicate any explosive weapon she drew with absolute precision. She got the technique down to the point were she was capable of making 2 replicas with hardly more than three hand seals and a slight shift of her chakra.
Each replica work as efficiently as the original, which did wonders for her ammo supply.
They had been at this for an hour and a half-ish. Her parents had long since gone to bed for reasons that neither they nor the shinobi in the backyard cared to speak about. The time had been spent with Sakura producing bomb after bomb of various kind and trying to nick Naruto with one. Naruto, having a fresh memory of the paralysis from before didn't want to take chances on the weapons themselves, nor the smoke afterwards.
All in all, Sakura attacked, Naruto dodged. Sakura learned, Naruto watched. Sakura smiled, Naruto smiled.
He promised her this would be the last pass so she could go inside and clean up, she looked like she needed the shower and rest. He recognized the weapons she palmed as simple grenades on color alone and braced himself for impact as she came. In the back of his mind, something bugged him but he didn't pin his finger on it since she was approaching.
She tossed the first and jumped to the side. He dodged, jumping to the other. The explosion was bright and yellow, the sound was loud and it left yet another crater in the ruined grassed area. She tried to catch him with the second as he landed, but he got his foot to the ground just quick enough to turn his body to avoid it narrowly. He darted to the side yet again, using the explosion for momentum as he traveled through the air.
He saw the last one coming for him with well calculated accuracy, intended to reach his destination just after him and nail him in the chest. Neither really expected it to hit him because both knew that Naruto would touch down, then with the necessary momentum, move his body out of the way.
As his foot touched down, that's what he planned. As he began to twist, he saw the grenade moving quickly and still gauged that he had plenty of time. As he was about to pass out of the path of the grenade, Kyuubi made a violent roar of fury within his head that seemed to shake his eardrums from the inside. In the split second that his focus was lost, the grenade connected with his ribcage at the very left of his chest, almost nicking it but having enough force to trigger the explosion.
She may have been surprised to see the explosion indicating that Naruto had been hit. She also may have been surprised to see his body flying across the yard from the force of the explosion and hit the large cherry blossom tree in their backyard. She was most definitely surprised to see him hit the ground flatly after a painful looking impact with the tree.
But none of that compared to how surprised she was when he picked himself off the ground almost immediately, though slowly and rose his eyes to look at her. She caught a glimpse of his eyes only momentarily because he jumped up onto her roof immediately and took off into the night.
She wasn't sure what had happened, but she caught the glimpse the kitchen clock through a window.
Confused, but curious, she set off after Naruto, intent on finding out why he took off so suddenly, but more importantly, why his eyes were such a deep shade of crimson.