I'd like to thank to the reviews who reviewed (lol) during the making of this lil story: (any names with - are from signed reviews)
(sorry if there are any spelling mistakes! -bows- If so, please let me know and I will fix them!)
-Cuito – Thanks for the reviews! I was so happy when I saw I got a review from you! The 'famous' cuito:D
-Demolition Lover – Thanks for the fav! XD
-BlueMarina – LOVE YOU HUN! -Does rain dance- whee!
-Death By Kunai – Hehehehe! Look! FINAL CHAPTER:D
-IAMSOAP – lol! Oh, the randomness!
-born to kill assholes lik – woo! I've seen you everywhere ;)
-Yukari-nikxXx – thanks for the review on Chap. 8! Made my day:D
-Maya Amano – Still don't hate you! Though, I never could figure out if you liked the story or not… Thanks for reviewing anyway!
-Dagorwen of Ithilien
Socks-The-Kitsune – Love your name!
Mango – I LOVE mangos ;) thanks for all the reviews!
Hiei91 – Yeah… this story took a while to think up :) after a certain point, I was just 'going with it'.
-Shadows and Darkness
-SoraKoi The Water Goddess
Krystaltears – thanks for all the reviews!
-Blackcrimson – PSYCHE! Hehe
ELIE 3173 – YAY 100th reviewer!
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! I LOVE YOU ALL!
And without further ado, I give you… the Finale.
Part Five, Chapter Four
In every direction, the same thing was to be seen. White nothingness surrounded any being that was unfortunate to have found the door in their souls to the Other Worlds.
The body had no feeling to it, but the pure whiteness was wet. Misty… and it stung the eyes. Of course, one who ventured this far into themselves couldn't tell that they were hurting, or even if their eyes were open or closed. But they did know that they were trapped, and in a panicked frenzy tried to find a way to escape to darker corners of their consciousness. This was impossible, or course, because there is only one way to go here, and that is forward. Once the door is opened, there is no turning back until you get to the other side… if you make it that far.
This place deep in your mind is tricky place, and often an escape is never found, and you are forever lost inside. Thus the outer being appears to be unconscious, in a coma-like state.
Sasuke, of course, was smarter than to panic straight away, like any normal being would have. He knew that he had been brought to this place of nothingness for a reason, and that reason was to be 'un-changed'. A task thought to be impossible. It was stupid then if that was why he was here… to reverse the irreversible. A sense of panic shot through him. He was going to be trapped here forever! He mentally told himself to calm down and focus on moving forward and finding Sakura. His heart slowed back to a normal, steady pace.
With his blinded eyes, he surveyed the situation he had gotten himself into. He could hear memories of his calling from all directions, replaying their bloody selves over and over. He followed those which called the loudest…
- - -
A third door flew open with a crash, and a pissed looking Sasuke strutted into the circular room.
"Took you long enough," Sakura said plainly, sighing. "I thought I was the only one that made it." Sasuke nodded curtly and looked around for Naruto, who was no where in sight. All that whiteness was getting on his nerves.
The floor beneath his feet (Which he now noticed had regained their feeling, along with the rest of his body) was rough wood. There were no walls, only pillars of stone that disappeared into the whiteness they pierced high above any head. Beyond the pillars was more of the milky white that had surrounded him on the way to his destination. But in four places, each opposite of another, was a wooden door. Hanging in between two pillars; with no walls around them they looked like they were supported by air alone. In the center of all this there stood a stone pedestal, a beam of light cascaded onto a shiny silver bowl on the granite surface from an unseen light-source.
"Where is Naruto?" Sasuke asked, his eyes traveling back to Sakura. His eyes widened when he heard his voice. His high pitched voice. Damn that white cloudy stuff, it must have altered it. Sakura giggled.
"He hasn't made it yet." Sasuke nodded and inspected his hands, which were much smaller than the ones he was used to seeing daily.
Then it dawned on him. Not only had the door to the Second World been in his childhood memories, but he himself had been turned into his former self. He looked at Sakura. She looked normal enough…
"I have a change too," she said reading his questioning gaze. "I've taken on the form of my inner-self." She winked and pointed to her forehead where Sasuke just noticed the bold characters that spelled out 'Inner Sakura'. (AN: I couldn't help myself ;P )
"Huh." Sasuke shifted his weight uneasily.
"Hell yeah!" Sakura said smiling brightly.
Sasuke turned his attention to one of the four doors which had begun to rattle, something on the other side scratching at it.
"That's probably Naruto." Sakura said eyeing the door warily, unsure at what might be scratching on the other side. Sasuke strode boldly up to it and opened it. He stepped aside again.
A giant fox, with nine flaming tales slowly crept inside, its ears flat on its head.
Sakura's eyes widened. She said, "Naruto?" and took a step back. The fox raised its head toward her voice, his mouth a foxy grin. A deep rumble emitted from the back of the animal's throat. "Is that you?"
Sasuke closed the door and turned once again to face Sakura.
"Of course it is," he said, "For me the door to this…" he swept his hand around the room, "…Place was in my memories, and I changed to my younger self and you to your 'inner self'. It is only logical that Naruto has taken the form of the nine tales fox demon." He nodded towards the fox. "Assuming the secret to the door was hidden with the demon. But as we can see, it obviously was." Man, he was a no-it-all brat when he was younger. No wonder he never had any friends. Sasuke sighed.
"Well sor-ry. How was I supposed to know?" Sakura harrumphed and crossed her arms. The fox, Naruto, huffed through his nose sending a cloud of dark smoke curling upwards.
"Where is Penelope?" Sakura asked suddenly. "I had thought she was going to come with us." Sasuke tensed. "Well, that was the impression I got anyway. The way she was telling us all about this and she walked away and whatnot. Maybe she wasn't going to come, testing our abilities or something. Or maybe she is coming and just happened to get lost on the way or something. Like –"
"I knew you talked a lot, but whoa. You seem to have a large storage of words all ready to be used. Thank God you restrain yourself regularly."
"Huh?" Sakura glared at him. "You're such a dork."
"Well you are! Thank goodness I didn't know you that well when I was younger."
"Why you! If I'm a dork, you're a—"
"Children, please!" All heads turned to the silky voice. There, in front of the last door stood a tall, slim figure, silhouetted by the glare of whiteness outside of it. The door slowly swung shut and clicked back into place inside the doorframe.
"Who are you?" he asked bluntly.
"I'm offended Sasuke! It's me! …Penelope? Gosh you're an idiot!" she crossed her arms and stuck her nose into the air.
"Oh. Well… How was I supposed to know when you look like… that…!" she looked down her nose at him, then lowered her chin to inspect herself.
"Right." Her black dress hung loosely off her figure, its hem just brushing the floor. Her arms and legs seemed longer and thinner than they had in the 'real' world. Her hair was still glossy-black and hung to her shoulders in a straight line, but grey randomly streaked through it. Her eyes were pale and had an otherworldly glow to them and were thickly outlined in dark colors; curving over her swollen, red lips were two sharp teeth. Her nails were longer, curling slightly at the tips giving them a deadly look. Her ears were much larger and pointed at the tips. Her skin was pale, her face slightly sunken, accenting her cheekbones. Her entire aura screamed death. "I guess I didn't tell you about the appearance alteration. Well, this is the real me!" she smiled, only succeeding in bearing more sharp teeth.
"Please don't smile again." Sakura said shuddering. Penelope frowned.
"Sakura, if you were to stay a vampire, over time you would soon look like this. And I'm not that bad looking! I mean, some of the elders are… oh never mind."
Naruto, who was still standing near his door growled loudly, drawing their attention.
"You are absolutely right, Naruto. We need to get moving along and dive into business." Sasuke gave her a funny look.
"You can understand him?" he asked flatly.
"Of course!" Penelope smirked. Sasuke mumbled something about Doctor Doolittle. "What was that?"
"Nothing," Sasuke sighed scratching the back of his head nervously.
"Now. The ingredients. Sakura, I hope you brought them along!" Sakura nodded and swung off her backpack. She knelt and rummaged around for the four items. While she was doing this, Naruto began to whimper.
"What do you mean?" Penelope asked turning to him. "You never got a silver bowl! … You can't go back now! If you were to leave, you… Oh… Well… Wait a moment! There is one already here! How convenient!" Penelope smiled, motioning towards the pedestal in the center of the room. "Good thing! Phew! That would have sucked." Naruto huffed which sounded like a sigh of relief, then looked gloomy.
"I have the ingredients!" Sakura chimed standing up.
"Good!" Penelope sauntered over to the silver bowl and glared down at it. "Now, if I could just remember the correct order for the ingredients…"
"You mean there is a specific order to the ingredients!" Sasuke cried throwing his hands into the air. "This is so not good."
"What did you think, young Sasuke? That we could just throw them together and 'TA DA! Here comes the human!'?" she sighed. "That would be too easy. Things like this are meant to be challenging."
"Really? Because it wasn't that hard gathering the items and whatnot." Sakura pointed out clasping her hands together.
"Yeah well, that was just… Oh, shut up and let me think." Penelope screwed her eyes shut, Naruto silently watched her from where he sat. Her tongue appeared at the corner of her mouth and her hands clenched into fists as she thought. "Ooh, I can't remember!" Naruto cocked his head and growled quietly to her. "I just can't remember! I… what was that?" her eyes snapped open and she turned her gaze to the fox. "Alphabetical order?" she put her finger to her chin. "Yeah, that might be right…"
"So, put the ingredients into the bowl in alphabetical order?" Sakura questioned. "Water, wind, earth and an egg… or do we call the egg fire and the earth ground, or dirt? Or…" Sakura stopped talking when Penelope started shaking her head.
"No," she said, "then alphabetical isn't right… there are too many names we could call each item."
"Unless it's alphabetical according to type – or element." Sasuke put in.
"But remember, earth could have two names even then!" Sakura argued. "Ground or earth."
"Is it not correctly said as 'earth'?" he sighed. So first the cursed earth, then phoenix egg – fire – then the water and finally the flowers – wind."
"Yes, that is logical. Unless the one who created this ritual knew that the person who wished to change back and had obtained all ingredients would think that, therefore changed the name of earth to ground. Then it would be fire, ground, water and wind." Penelope said. "And if that is so, and we did it the other way, then game over."
"What do you mean 'game over'?" Sakura asked.
"Bye-bye to the one who drank the created concoction." Penelope said plainly. She watched the horror dawn on Sakura's face. "Oh… I didn't tell you then? If we get this wrong the punishment is death. You are technically not supposed to be able to change back." Penelope had a serious expression set on her face.
"Shit." Sasuke said.
"Hey! Young-ins like you are not supposed to know language like that!" the elder vampire scolded, laughing.
"Ooh…" Sakura groaned looking down at the items she had spread out on the floor. Naruto barked.
"Hmm? …Yeah, that might work too."
"What did he say?" Sasuke asked sitting down on the ground and crossing his legs.
"He said maybe if we put the ingredients together in the order that we found them." Penelope shrugged. "That could possibly be the way. But again, what if you found the ingredients in the wrong order?"
"What if we put the ingredients together all at once?" Sakura suggesting sitting next to Sasuke and curling some of her hair around a finger.
"That wouldn't work," Penelope stated starting to pace the length of the room. "Because if one ingredient were to hit the bottom of the silver bowl even a fraction of a second before the others, the results could be fatal."
"Maybe," Sasuke started slowly, "whoever created this 'ritual' said that there was a certain order when there isn't."
"What do you mean?" Penelope asked stopping and turning her pale gaze to the raven-head.
"To scare away anybody who wants to change back. So they decide to stay a vampire instead of change back because they don't want to die."
"But," Sakura said, "vampires are already dead, hence that wouldn't work. You can't die when you are already dead."
"Vampires are not dead." Penelope said starting to pace again. "They only appear it. Their, our, hearts beat so slowly a normal human being cannot detect it. When they feel for a pulse, they don't feel anything. A vampire's heart only needs to beat once every few days. One beat has enough power to send the blood in a nearly constant circuit through the body. And since a vampire's body is so different, they don't need oxygen as often as a human would – so they don't need to breathe often either. But since you were changed so recently it's still habit for you to do so. But you don't have to. When you are a vampire, breathing comes automatically when your heart beats so you can oxygenate your body."
"Well, that's interesting." Sasuke said darkly.
"Yeah!" Penelope was on a role. "And a vampire can digest human food as well. But it doesn't have the properties that one needs for energy as it does for humans… Some vampires, after eating, feel they need to throw it up again since it hurts too much to digest it. Blood is the ideal food because of the proteins in it, or something. And since blood carries oxygen through the body, when taken in regularly, it can oxygenate the body, therefore a vampire's heart doesn't need to beat as often as it does and breathing becomes unnecessary." Naruto growled. "Right, sorry. Back to our predicament."
"Well," Sakura started, "using the same idea as Sasuke, maybe the creator of this idea knew that we would be thinking about the correct order needed, and the right order is the first one any logical person would think of. But since it was the first one thought of, the ones who wanted to change back thought that was too easy to come up with, therefore it is the incorrect order… Does that make sense?"
"Sure." Penelope sighed. "But what is the first idea? We pretty much ruled out alphabetical since each item has too many names."
"Well, what would everybody think of doing?" Sasuke shrugged.
"Alphabetical." Sakura said miserably.
"Yeah." Penelope agreed silently. "Wait!" she looked at all the items. "Excluding our earth-ground problem, that could be it! We have a solid idea for water and wind – that is if we are going elementally. This was the first thing I thought of. Either dirt or earth that element is in first place. But if it's name is ground, then…"
"But you have to have ground before you can have fire." Sakura said thoughtfully. "If you think about it." she began opening the foil that held the dirt.
"Wait!" Sasuke said putting his hand on hers. "What if we are wrong?" Naruto growled an agreement.
"We'll never know until we try." She said seriously, looking directly into his eyes. He nodded and let her go.
Sakura carefully dumped the earth into the bowl, brushing off the extra that stuck to the wrapper. Next, Sasuke took the Phoenix egg and –
"Are we supposed to crack it, or put it in as is?" he looked to Penelope who had obviously thought of the same thing by the expression on her face.
"Is it even possible to crack one of those?" She asked cocking her head. "Just throw it in as is." Sasuke did.
Sakura then uncorked the vile with the water, and slowly poured it over the rock-like egg. The liquid trickled down the surface and pooled inside the dirt, slowly turning it to mud.
Sasuke took the vile containing the flower, his breath caught in his throat. He took off the cork and tipped it upside down. Sakura placed her hand over his and watched the small flower slide out of the tube.
As soon as it was in the air, it turned into ash, sprinkling over the egg, dirt and water.
"Penelope?" Sasuke questioned taking Sakura's hand in his own small one. The vampire shrugged.
"Try stirring it together some…" she suggested moving her finger in a circular motion. Sasuke nodded and reached with his other hand towards the bowl, then hesitated before it came in contact with the silver.
"I can't touch it." He said looking back at Penelope. "It will burn me."
"Well duh! It's silver!" she sighed. Naruto stepped over and put his nose to the bowl.
Pressing down on the egg, thin lines started spreading around it. He raised his head just before the entire thing cracked in half. There. He had a role in this whole quandary.
"Oh, so you can break them open!" Penelope stated just before the entire room was engulfed in light.
Small flames sprouted up from the silver bowl, swallowing everything. When the flames died down, water shot straight up, disappearing into the white expanse above. In a great burst, it shot millions of droplets through the entire room by a giant gust of wind.
Sasuke raised his arm to shield his face, and did his best to cover Sakura as well. Squinting his eyes open, he could see a shadow of Penelope hunched over, and Naruto with his head between his great paws. He squeezed his eyes shut tight when light began exploding from the bowl with a thunderous roar.
When the elemental storm died down, he stood straight. Water dropped from his bangs into his eyes and ran down his neck. Sakura peeked between her fingers.
"Is it over?" she asked timidly. Sasuke nodded and cautiously approached the bowl. A cloudy liquid swirled inside, changing from green, to blue, to red then a murky brown and back again.
"It's nearly done." Penelope whispered. "All you have to do is drink it." Naruto huffed an alert agreement. Sasuke nodded and picked up the bowl.
He cringed when it started burning his hands. He could feel them sizzling.
"Let's hurry and get this over with." Sakura said grasping the other side. She tipped it to his lips, then to her own.
It was agony; hotness seeping to every part of the body. Sakura felt her fall to her knees and her eyes roll back; she tried to scream, but the heat had taken over her throat, and she couldn't make a sound. She fell to her hands and started breathing heavily. Was this the end of her? Was the order of the ingredients incorrect?
She could hear Penelope screaming to her and Sasuke, but it sounded distant. She thought she heard Naruto howling somewhere too.
"Sa-Sakura!" She knew that voice. It was Sasuke.
"Sakura!" he said again. "If… If we live through this… M-marry me-" She heard a thump as he hit the ground next to her. She wanted to respond, but still couldn't find her voice. She fell all the way to the ground and rolled onto her side, curling into a fetal position. Gripping her head pounding with her hands, she could hear somebody screaming unbearably.
It was her.
"YES!" She managed to make her scream say just before she fell completely into darkness.
- - -
Sakura's eyes snapped open. She gasped, gulping the air that her lungs were screaming for. As she did, a horrible pain tore at her chest. Her heart was beating erratically. Her entire body prickled painfully as a foot or hand does when deprived of blood flow. Her head felt numb.
For the next few minutes she concentrated on breathing and calming her frantic heart. She stared up at the canopy of trees above her. She watched a small bird flit about between the branches.
After her body was functioning as best as it was able to in its condition, she forced herself to sit up.
Penelope was a little ways away, sitting on a large rock, looking down her nose at her. She looked normal again.
"Awake are we?" Sakura didn't answer but looked around her. Naruto was a few feet away, still unconscious. Sasuke was beside her, and she just noticed her hand still in his.
His eyes were open, but unfocused. She called his name softly; her voice was raspy. He turned to face her, eyes clearing. He smiled.
"We're alive." He said quietly.
"Just barely." Penelope said sliding off the rock and nudging Naruto with her foot. He bolted into a sitting position.
"THAT'S MY RAMEN!" he shouted looking around. "Oh, oops! He-he! OH MY GOD! YOU'RE ALIVE!" He scrambled to stand up and ran the short distance to Sasuke and Sakura. "My goodness, I though you two were goners for sure when you both started screaming the way you did!"
"They are alive, but something went wrong." Penelope said unhappily. "They appear human, but they still have an aura around them that smells of vampire."
"Of course they do." Said a voice. Penelope turned.
"Christoph!" she cried cheerfully. Sakura paled as the goat came skipping towards them through the trees.
"Good heavens it took me a while to find you, Penelope! I see you have made some Eripmav friends!" He gave the tall vampire a goat-like smile. "It's been a while since I've met one. How do you do, I'm Christoph, founder of the Change-Back! It's nice to see someone who figured out my puzzle! Good thing too, because I forgot how to do it… Would you two mind telling me how it's done?" He cocked his head.
"Wh-WHAT!" Sasuke sat up. "YOU were the one who created the way to change back?"
"Of course! Is your friend all right, she looks a little ill… Hmm… I knew I should have made the ingredients more allergy-friendly."
"Christoph, what do you mean Eripmav?" Penelope inquired.
"Well, changing from a vampire back into a human is impossible. Consequently, it is impossible to become full human again. The closest you can get is appearing human and having your body function as one. I call the state 'Eripmav'. Not many exist, since so many vampires who wanted to change back were too scared to try. And most of the ones that did manage are dead. They can't live forever – just an extremely long time. Not as long as a true vampire though." He winked.
"So, we're both still vampires?" Sakura asked quietly, gripping Sasuke's hand at the sight of a goat.
"No," Christoph sighed shaking his head. "You are both Eripmav. The human vampire, if you will." He smiled.
"Oh." Sakura looked to Sasuke. He rose to his feet and helped Sakura to hers.
"Well, we're alive." He said.
"And hungry!" Naruto cried rubbing his belly.
"Yeah." Sakura agreed hugging Sasuke's waist.
"Hm. There isn't much I can do to help you two." Penelope said picking Christoph up off the ground. "Will you be all right?"
"I'm sure we will be." Sasuke nodded. "We've been through a lot over the past while. And, as you said, there isn't anything you can do anymore. So… I think we just need to rest, and then think, I guess."
"Right." Penelope turned to Naruto. "Then this is my goodbye." Naruto's eyes widened.
"Thank you so much for all your help." Sakura said sadly. "You are a good friend."
"What? You're leaving!" Naruto cried, his blue eyes bright.
"What did you think? That I would stay with you three forever? No… I can never stay in one place for a long time. And the Second World is calling." She looked down at Christoph. "And I have to get this guy back. I'm sure he's forgotten where his home is by now." She laughed.
"Well," she looked at Sasuke, then Sakura and finally Naruto. "Good luck you three… You too were good friends, and I hope this isn't the last I see of you." With that, she turned and started walking away.
"Goodbye Eripmav!" Christoph called back.
"Oh, and Naruto," Penelope stopped, but didn't turn around. "You… are a good guy. I'll miss you." She started walking again. "Shame you aren't a vampire…" She said to herself as she kept walking.
"You think they will be all right?" Christoph asked looking up at her. She put him on the ground and he trotted along beside her.
"Yeah. They basically got what they wanted. As good as it's going to get, anyway. I wonder if I will see them in the Second World…"
"Did they have trouble getting to The Place Between?" Christoph asked stopping briefly to scratch his head with his hind leg.
"Then I suspect you will… What happened, by the way?"
"Sakura made it there first; Sasuke kept his cool and came in second. Naruto, however, had a bit of a fright and panicked, but made it all right in the end. The first time does that to some people."
"Heh, kinda like you, isn't it?" Penelope smiled in response. "Yeah. They will be fine." Christoph trotted ahead, following a butterfly.
"Sakura?" Sasuke asked, looking down at the top of her head. "Just after we… You know… I asked you if… Well, I was serious."
"I know, Sasuke." Sakura wrapped her arms around his neck. "My answer is yes." Sasuke smiled and leaned down to kiss her.
"Hey love birds! What are you waiting around for? I'm starving!" Sasuke growled but raised his head anyway. Naruto was running ahead, in the opposite direction Penelope left in.
"Wait up dead-last!" Sasuke called to him, curling his arm around Sakura's waist and starting to slowly follow the blonde.
"He liked her, didn't he?" Sakura said quietly.
"Probably. The idiot. It would never have worked."
"Hmm. Though, I think he knew that." Sakura agreed putting her head on Sasuke's shoulder. She sighed, thinking back to what happened over the last while. She had melted the ice around Sasuke's heart enough for him to admit his feelings. She was turned into a vampire and back again. Well, as close as possible. She and Sasuke were Eripmav. She didn't care much though, as long as she didn't need blood to survive and she and Sasuke were together, it was all right with her. "Sasuke," she said hugging his middle. "Let's go home."
I'm finished. Wow.
Thank you again to all my reviews and readers! I am really glad you stuck with me! And I hoped you liked my little fan fiction. :)
Hopefully there aren't too many questions left unanswered. And if there are, hopefully those will get answered in the sequel ;)
The story continues in the "Second World"… (dun dun dun)