Sasuke's Cherry Blossom

Part 8

A/N:- Um. Let's get on with the story, and leave the explanations for later, I think.

(Taking a quick read through Ch. 7 wouldn't be a bad idea. Also, forgive any typos or grammar errors. I finished this day before yesterday, and did a slapdash job of editing.)

So, without any ado, the long-awaited 8th instalment of Sasuke's Cherry Blossom, in which all cliff-hangers are solved, we get into the action part of the story, and Kurenai finally says something, damn it. (Did you notice? She's been mute for the last seven chapters.) Enjoy.

Disclaimer:- I own Naruto. is shot by Kishimoto and Co. I mean, do not own it, yeah, yeah, not. Of course I don't own it. What did I say?

One is a squirrel, living a simple, idyllic life; gathering nuts, storing nuts, eating nuts, taking a scamper now and then, and generally staying out of the way of danger. Hence, the first thing one sees when one scurries out of one's hole for a mid-morning romp, should not be a great, green limber beast rushing past. Not good for the heart.

Said squirrel ran back to his hole, so he could peer at the green thing from its safe confines. The beast, spotting him, gave him a thumbs-up sign, a blinding grin that made his teeth go ping! and a cheery wave. Dubious, the squirrel disappeared into his home, resolving to come back out later when the other forest animals weren't acting so strangely.

The beast continued on his way, keeping up the almost frantic pace.

I hope I am not late, he thought.

"…And then the stupid pervert sennin stops. I couldn't believe it! We're being chased by a mob of angry henchmen who're armed to the hilt and he stops to talk to a pretty girl who conveniently happens upon his path. That great stupid perv! So I'm there, yelling my head off, trying to make him get his ass in gear. But he's not budging. He's too busy drooling down the girl's chest. And then, these three gorgeous women – 'course, none of them were as pretty as you, Hinata-chan – appeared out of nowhere, and started putting on all the sleazy charm on me, real thick, as thick as… as thick as…"

Naruto trailed off, looking for the most befitting simile.

"Your skull?" Shikamaru suggested from where he lay prone on the grass, peering up at the sky through the thick foliage of the forest trees' leaves.

"Yeah, thanks," the kitsune replied distractedly. "As thick as my skull. But of course, I, Uzumaki Naruto-sama, genius ninja of Konohagakure was far too smart for… Hey!"

Hinata giggled. It was like the soft trickling of a quiet brook. Naruto took a little while to appreciate the sound, and to be amused by the fact that she brought her fingers to her lips even though that dainty orifice was concealed by the mask, before turning to glare at Shikamaru. The spiky-haired man probably couldn't see the glower – the eyeholes of the masks reduced the eyes to slits, and pretty much nullified peripheral vision – but there was no mistaking the surliness in his posture. Shikamaru merely shrugged, gave a short laugh and turned his gaze back to the sky.

Kurenai, who had been listening to Naruto's tale of a mishap he and Jiraiya had had on one of their travels, chuckled softly at the two shinobi's exchange. She unfolded her arms languidly, and vaulted to a tree branch not too far away, about ten feet off the ground. The gruff, scowling face of the mask she wore contrasted with the smooth, soft timbre of her voice when she said,

"Come on, that's enough. Let's get going."

Naruto was the first to rise, adjusting the stylised fox-mask over his face.

"This is weird," he commented. "Weren't we supposed to come across someone at the six-mile mark? We've got to have travelled at least eight miles by now."

"Yes, it is weird," Hinata agreed, standing up also.

"Think they're running away from us?" her fiancé asked.

"Not necessarily," their platoon leader objected. "It could be that we are now the ones being pursued," she suggested forebodingly. The air in the small clearing became a tad thicker with the weight of that statement.

"But, we still do not know for sure if they are our enemies," Hinata reminded them quietly.

Naruto scoffed, not impolitely.

"What're the chances of these people not being Itachi-hired shinobi? The Forest is supposed to be empty right now; there are no records of any missions taking place here right now. And…"

"In any case," Kurenai interrupted smoothly, "we should go." She turned, giving them her back, signalling that conversation was over.

Naruto grunted, and turned to his cell member on the grass.

"C'mon, Shikamaru, we're reforming the line," he said, flipping his hood over his head.

The brunet made no move, only a small irked sound. Naruto scowled.

"Get your lazy ass up, man. We gotta move."

The shadow manipulator, after an interim of about ten seconds, sat up, very slowly. His eyes trailed all over the small copse indolently, as if searching for something that only he knew was there. His team-mates surveyed him in a mixture of curiosity and impatience.

Shikamaru's eyes finally stopped flitting, and trained themselves seemingly on Naruto. The blond glared back at him, wondering what the hell was going on. However, the kitsune did not concern Shikamaru. Rather, it was the shadow that travelled along the branch above the blond's head that interested him quite a lot.

Within a nanosecond, he was moving, rolling into a kneeling position while his hands blurred through the seals. A thin black shape, like a daylight phantom, shot out from his feet and raced along the forest floor. Naruto and Hinata, clueing in quickly, leapt out of the way to land in battle stances a few feet away.

Kurenai swivelled, whipping a kunai out of her holster. As Shikamaru's shadow shot up the tree and fused with the shadow there, she jumped off of the branch to stand behind her subordinate's crouched form, battle-ready. Behind the mask, her mouth thinned into a line. She'd been right. They were being watched. And she doubted that it was just for reconnaissance purposes.

She also doubted that the person that Shikamaru had ensnared was the only one in the vicinity. Kurenai made a discreet hand signal in Naruto's general direction. Without any ado, the Kyuubi vessel leapt up into the trees and sprang away into the surrounding forest. Hinata did not look after him, but ground her feet into the dirt, as if rooting herself there, hands frozen in the Jyuuken.

Shikamaru gave a short, barking laugh, seemingly for no reason in particular, and took a few unhurried, yet purposeful strides backwards, hands still locked in the Kage Mane. The crackling snaps of twigs heralded the sight of the body that came crashing down through the trees.

Unwittingly, the person landed on their feet, only wavering slightly. A shock of bushy brown hair fell into glinting black eyes that were screened by round, thinly-framed glasses. The person was dressed in a standard shinobi suit, hued a blend of tan and green that had undoubtedly afforded him the advantage of camouflage. He had probably also used some sort of technique to further mask his presence, Kurenai surmised shrewdly, or else they'd have surely sensed him before this.

Hinata's eyes followed her platoon leader as the bear-masked woman walked with slow, even steps to stand between the unknown ninja and Shikamaru. Dry brown leaves snapped beneath her feet; her layers of onyx hair shifted and swayed. The Byakugan user swallowed, and did not move. Shikamaru made a sound that suggested that he was thinking, but made no move to speak.

Kurenai narrowed her eyes. The shinobi was staring at her, with a facial expression that lay somewhere in the vicinity of bored, and fell just short of amused. She stared right back, unwaveringly.

A few seconds of contemplation later, she decided to go about this as practically as possible.

"Who are you, and what do you want?" Her voice was flat and tempered against the oddly soundless backdrop of the forest.

Even so, the man appeared not to hear her. In lieu of answering, he forced his pupils southwards, allowing himself to take in his hands that were positioned in an unfamiliar seal. They flitted back upwards to glance at the cat-masked nin with the ponytail. Sable eyes squared, and a slight frown marred the nin's lips.

"Well. This is unfortunate."

Neji was the first to notice the genjutsu. On his heels was Sasuke, eyes narrowing with his realisation. It didn't take Kakashi too long either. Sakura clued in when her team leader made a sharp movement with his hand, signalling for them to stop.

The four shinobi took in their surroundings with calculating slowness. Less than a minute ago, they had bypassed this same copse. Every detail was mirrored to perfection; to the sturdy oak to the left that rained tears of autumn red when it sighed, the patch of pretty lavender flowers near its base, the thrush that thrilled happily, the pastel-coloured butterflies that flitted to and fro.

The Copy Ninja quickly made the observation that though he could sense the illusionary technique for what it was, he could not see through it.

"Can either of you see through it?" he asked steadily, slipping his hands into his pockets. Both Neji and Sasuke vetoed that solemnly. All three men took a short, vague moment in which to be slightly alarmed.

Sasuke's tiger-masked face made a slow arc from left to right.

"I don't sense anyone," he said levelly.

Neji was already undoing the Byakugan.

"I don't see anyone," he reported quietly.

The brow that Sakura had probably arched could be heard in her voice when she said,

"They mean to hinder us with this?"

Kakashi folded arms over an armoured chest.

"That doesn't quite seem very probable to me. This genjutsu is much too simple for that."

The medic-nin considered that. It was true. Over the years, she had studied a bit of genjutsu on and off, and this one seemed to be as simple as they came; confusing their senses so that they travelled in circles, or presenting a reoccurring image of the like. Kakashi was right. This sort of genjutsu was taught at Genin level. Whoever had cast it couldn't be serious about apprehending them.

Neji set out to test Kakashi's hypothesis. His hands fell into the single, simplest seal for the dispelling of genjutsu, and he uttered,


…Nothing happened.

Sakura's shock was manifested in the hand that rose briefly to the mouth of the sturdy white rabbit mask. It soon moved to pass repeatedly over the top of her hood in a thoughtful manner. Why hadn't it worked? Why would it not work?

Before she could comment, however, her husband was already trying a new method. His hands blurred through a more complicated series of hand seals. Sakura eyed him closely, pensively, and tensed visibly when the genjutsu still did not release after his attempt.

"This is not good," Kakashi remarked as he began trying a jutsu of his own. "A genjutsu that seems simple in its effects, but yet while defeating the Sharingan and the Byakugan, and cannot be dispelled by any of the canon, or even more complex cancellation techniques. Hn."

Unease washed over Sakura in a quiet, sudden torrent. Something told her that this should sound familiar to her. She scraped her memory database, and tried to remember what she had learnt about genjutsu.

"Maybe we should just press forward; see if this isn't just a fluke, a joke," Sasuke suggested momentarily. One could see that he was already strung out and keyed up; tired of the inaction. He wanted to move, be on his way; Sakura could see it in the way he shifted on the balls of his feet ever so often, curled his fingers with an almost controlled power around the hilt of a kunai. Sakura could not blame him however. Considering what was at stake…

…Sakura swallowed, and forced herself not to think about Kisho, as she gently shot down her husband's proposal.

"No. Even if that worked, sometimes, genjutsu can confuse the sense of direction. We could be going in a completely different direction, and be none the wiser."

"She's right," Kakashi said, slamming a palm down into the grassy earth. Tiny, inky black kanji flew out from beneath his hand and sped off into the forest in all directions, grazing trees, and leaves and brushes. Chakra sizzled, sloughing off the silver-haired man's arm as he performed yet another technique in hopes of breaking the genjutsu.

The landscape flickered, hazily, and nothing more.

Not a word was said for a few moments. Then, the medic spoke up, hesitantly.

"I… I think I know what this is." She cracked her knuckles uncertainly as her team-mates turned their attention towards her.

"Hmm?" Kakashi said.

"I can't be sure about this… but I think this may be a Pole Genjutsu." She did not wait to be asked to explain. "This type of genjutsu covers a certain range, conventionally taking on a quadrilateral shape. All four points are tied to an object by chakra; a tree, a rock, an incline, a house, or even a person; in other words, the pole. Undoing the jutsu is simple when one is the caster; it only takes the basic 'kai', and one can do it from anywhere. Other than that, you would have to locate each of the poles and perform a dispelling technique at each of them before the jutsu can be released."

Neji cut in smoothly.

"None of this explains why neither Kakashi, nor Sasuke, nor I were able to see through the illusion, even with our Kekkei Genkai."

Sakura mulled briefly over his observation, then shrugged.

"I don't quite understand that either. This must be a very advanced form of the jutsu. Either that, or it has been modified to suit the caster's needs. Anyway, I think that…" The pink-haired ninja pressed a gloved finger to porcelain lips. She seemed to be studying the area. "I think… maybe if I could somehow follow the subtle chakra patterns… I could find the poles, and release the genjutsu."

Sasuke gave his wife a speculative look, tilting his head. Kakashi ran his fingers through his hoary hair, and sighed.

"Well, I can't say I very much like the idea of us splitting up, but we don't have a choice, do we?" Another sigh. "How sure are you that you can pull this off?"

"Ninety-nine percent sure, sir." Only Sasuke was able to detect the smidgen of hesitancy in her inflection. He said nothing.

"Yosh," their platoon leader conceded. "It is the only way, I suppose."

Sakura straightened slightly, and nodded.

"I'm not sure how long this is going to take, since the genjutsu can cover quite a large area, and I'm not sure how many poles there are. So, when and if the illusion is dispelled, don't bother to wait up; just go on. I can find my way okay."

The three men gave grunts of affirmation. Sakura was glad that Sasuke had put up no protest; it made this easier, and showed that he trusted her to get this done with no incident.

The kunoichi cleared her throat, and forced cheerfulness into her register when she said,

"Okay, then. See y'all later."

Falling into a crouch, Sakura gave herself momentum to shoot up into the leaves and off westward, following the faint band of crackling energy that her senses picked up on. The three men in the clearing watched until they could no longer see the forest brown of her cloak through the patchwork of the leaves.

Shrouded in the caliginous cover of an oak, the shark-man watched as one of the four shinobi separated from the group, and started moving west through the forest. He was just barely able to catch sight of a lock of rose petal hair that slipped out of the hood.

The shark grinned. They were making this far too easy for him.

After an appropriately lengthened interim of about fifteen minutes, Hoshigaki Kisame undid the genjutsu, and gave chase.

Yuuhi Kurenai gritted her teeth, and repeated the question, her pillar of patience ever crumbling. To the west, she felt Naruto's chakra flare hotly, and surmised that he had found some other guests to join this party.

Glasses still had not answered, nor had he moved his eyes from Kurenai's midriff, where he had trained them a few minutes hence. The air in the clearing was charged, pulled taut with tension like the wires of a trap waiting for some quarry. Silver eyes flicked from the Konoha-nin to the bushy-haired man. Hinata wondered what her cell-leader planned on doing. She stood her ground, and waited.

Naruto's energy flickered again, alongside an unfamiliar one that burned brightly and savagely. It seemed to be getting closer.

Abruptly, Shikamaru jerked his head up sharply, so that Glasses would be forced to face Kurenai directly. The gesture screamed of mutual impatience and boredom. The unknown nin took the sudden movement all in stride. The glinting black eyes behind the spectacles looked haughty and composed; amused, even.

When Glasses finally spoke, it was not to answer the question.

"Kisame-san was right," he said sardonically in a scratchy, unpleasant voice, eyes level with the genjutsu master's red-eyed gaze. "This is going to be fun." He smirked. "You can come out now, Hiroshi."

"Shikamaru, kill him," Kurenai ordered, even as she drew out a dagger to deflect the volley of shuriken that blurred into being on a path straight towards her. Even as the shadow manipulator murmured the Kage Kubi Shibari beneath his breath, she was jouncing off a tree trunk to confront her attacker head on, arms tucked into her sides, body whipcord straight, giving her the semblance of a living arrow.

Shikamaru was not very surprised when the neck that the nebulous fingers of his jutsu fastened onto turned out to be made of a sticky, stretchy black substance. In no time at all, the rest of the body was oozing to the floor, dissolving around the shinobi's mocking smile. The genius wheeled, and nodded to the Hyuuga heir, who at once flicked on the Byakugan with the ease of a blade slicing through water. Seconds later, she was jumping into a nearby tree to tackle whoever she had seen there.

Almost simultaneously, Naruto crashed into the copse, a wild, thrashing, redheaded thing bearing down on him. The Kyuubi vessel sported several vicious scrapes along the bridge of the fox's hard metal nose, and his hood had given way to reveal his mop of unruly golden locks. The wild thing came at him hard and fast, lunging and pistoning and snarling. It twisted sharply, trying to find a weak spot in Naruto's armour, and in doing so revealed hidden curves that showed it to be female. That was probably the reason, the Nara man speculated, rising to his feet, why Naruto only blocked the assaults, and barely ever attacked himself.

…Or maybe not, Shikamaru reconsidered wryly as Naruto feinted left and spun, delivering a crushing blow to the back of the cat-like woman's head that sent her reeling. He had been merely waiting for an appropriate opening. The woman hissed savagely, and bent brusquely at an unnatural angle to avoid the slew of senbon that Shikamaru barraged her with. As Naruto retreated a few yards to stand level with his team-mate, she herself put some more space between her and her enemies, snarling viciously as she put a birch to her back.

"The Nekowari clan, I believe," Shikamaru murmured lazily to the blond at his side. "From the Hidden Mist. Like a feline counterpart to the Inuzuka clan."

Naruto grunted, and nothing more.

The clanking and clashing of metal in the clearing culminated abruptly with two dull thuds; Hinata falling to the forest floor with a small 'oomph', and an unknown ninja, presumably the Hiroshi that Glasses had mentioned, barrelling into a tree trunk with the force with which Kurenai had flung him. The Hyuuga heir was on her feet in no time, panting slightly. The raven-haired woman descended from the trees to stand flush with her team.

Glasses materialised next to the heaving feline, smirking victoriously.

"Get up, Hiroshi," he said shortly, not even looking in the man's direction.

"Hai, Mibu-san." The tall, stocky man surged to his feet as if he hadn't just been thrown a clear thirty feet into a sturdy tree trunk. Soon, he was flanking Glasses, arms folded across a bulky chest.

The four faced the three, each side silently assessing the other. The ponytail-wearing man caught sight of a hitai-ate on Hiroshi's forearm, and saw that he had been correct; they were from the Hidden Mist, alright. They weren't just any chumps, either. They all looked formidable and crafty. He put them all at Jounin level for the very least; maybe even ANBU or Hunter class. The Konoha ninjas' advantage of numbers might not necessarily be of help to them.

The red-head stretched, and cracked her knuckles.

"Four Konoha ANBU class?" Her voice was slight, and almost childish; in harsh contrast with her wild, brawling fighting style. A small, pink slip of a tongue darted out to moisten cracked lips; wicked incisors flashed. "I may actually have to rub the sleep out of my eyes for this one."

Glasses scoffed.

"Somehow, I doubt it. I feel… lucky."

Shikamaru felt Naruto stiffen and tense beside him; a small growl escaped the mask. His fellow Leaf nin were able to recognise the sound for what it was; a growl of excitement, rather than anger.

"Hey, Four-eyes," the kitsune called out casually. "I feel like I know you. Did I kick your ass sometime in the past?"

"Humph." Insolence seemed to roll off the man in waves. "I very much doubt that. Few have been granted that pleasure."

The Nekowari woman cut off Naruto's answering remark, hissing in impatience.

"Enough talking." She drew out a katana from the sheath strapped to her back. Its brilliant silver surface toyed with the light, dissecting and reflecting it haphazardly. She licked her lips in tandem with the swipe she made along the forest floor. "Let's kill the raccoon first." Oval yellow pupils studied Hinata slyly. "She and the blond one reek of each other."

Glasses laughed; a fairly unpleasant sound.

"Good idea."

They were trying to raise Naruto's hackles. It worked.

When they attacked, moves melding together in their synchrony, he was ready.

Sakura felt, rather than saw, the genjutsu crumble around her. She descended from the boughs of a thick mahogany to the forest floor, and surveyed her surroundings with narrowed green eyes. That was strange… She'd only managed to find one pole so far. This had to mean that the caster of the jutsu had released it. But why?

Well, in any case, she should try to find the guys now, before whoever had executed the genjutsu found her. By herself, she was pretty damn formidable, but she had no idea of this person's power or skill, and couldn't be sure of whether she'd be able to handle him or not. She scrutinised the place again. She recognised the area faintly, and was sure she would find herself back on track if she took on a north-easterly path.

She was about to propel herself into the trees when cold metal against her back stopped her. Willow eyes widened, and her pulse picked up like a revving engine. There was no way, just no way, that someone could have snuck up on her like that without her sensing them. Impossible…

On a burst of adrenaline, her arm shot back to catch her assailant in the jaw, but the person caught her wrist easily, and twisted it in warning. Sakura swallowed a gasp.

"Hello," a sinister voice grated in her ear.

The three men, as silent as death, eased into the glade, each from different points. The woman who sat in the centre seemed to pay them no mind, and remained sitting in a meditation pose, eyes closed, hands poised in her lap. Her impossibly long, violet tresses pooled in heavy heaps on the ground, their thickness not even disturbed by the antics of the wind. Her face was pointed and delicate; achingly beautiful in an almost picturesque way. The elaborate, pastel-coloured kimono she wore only served to enhance her loveliness.

Beside her, on an ornate sterling silver tray, was a dainty china set, complete with a delicate little pot, and four pairs of cups and saucers. Steam rose from them in curling wisps, emanating the faint scent of bay leaves. Kakashi motioned to Sasuke and Neji to hold their ground, and he himself took a few steps forward.

"Good day." It was said suddenly and solemnly, in a soft, musical voice, and echoed within the clearing. Dark, verdant green eyes flickered open, and fell upon the Copy Nin. The woman tilted her head. "Would you like some tea?" She made the suggestion as if it were the most brilliant idea to ever come to mind.

"No, thanks," Kakashi said pleasantly, easing his hands into his pockets.

"Hmm. Are you sure?" Long fingers rose and gestured to the tray; every movement spoke of grace. "I can tell you your future, if you'd like."

"I'm fine, really," Kakashi assured her.

Sasuke, positioned behind the woman, began to edge forward silently. Kakashi sighed softly, and rolled his eyes shortly, but made no objection.

The woman lifted her shoulders briefly.

"Ah, no worries, dear." She wrapped the endearment around her tongue, caressed it, like a lover. "I already know what will come to pass in your future; you, and the two handsome young men behind me."

Sasuke stopped moving.

"Oh?" Kakashi said, tensing by a fraction.

She nodded, and smiled. If the Copy Nin was capable of manifesting shock, he would have done so then. It was by far the most sinister thing that Kakashi had ever witnessed, to see her bowed lips draw back against her serrated teeth, and stretch far beyond the limits of the normal smile. In a breath, just with the movement of those facial muscles, the alluring creature became primal, and ugly. Her forest green eyes cut into slits.

"I am Mulan, and you are all going to die."

From the vantage point of a lofty branch, Sakura watched her clone struggle with the shark-like man, and thanked the gods that she'd had the sense to have a bunshin following her. So far it looked like her enemy hadn't yet realised that what he was grasping was a mould of mud and earth, rather than a living breathing kunoichi.

Sakura tried to discern the features that were half-hidden by the high collar of the cloak. In the information scroll that Ino, Kiba and Chouji had prepared, there hadn't been a picture, but by his stature, dress, and gruffness, she could only guess that this was…

"Hoshigaki Kisame." The same gruff voice was at her ear, a blue hand had pulled back her hood to clasp her throat. "Pleased to meet your acquaintance, Uchiha-san."

Curses flew in Sakura's mind. Looking down into the clearing, she saw that where her Tsuchi Bunshin was oozing to the ground in sloughs of mud-brown, the man behind it had already dissolved into a puddle of water. Mizu Bunshin no Jutsu…? Widened eyes told her shock. To her recollection, the nearest stream was at least two miles away. And yet still he was able to use Suiton no Jutsu…?

The hand around her neck tightened. At that moment, the kunoichi, quite incongruously, recalled that she had not kissed her husband goodbye.

A/N:- Whoa. That's got to be one of the biggest cliff-hangers I've ever done. Wow. I know, I'm horrible.

Just in case anyone doesn't know: Kage Kubi Shibari no Jutsu Shadow Strangulation technique; Tsuchi Bunshin Earth Clone; Suiton no Jutsu Water Techniques.

Right. So, um…. Sorry? It's been three months to the day since I said I was going to update. I'm really sorry that it took me so long to get this done; truly I am. But around that time, Life took the opportunity to jump up and smack me square in the face. There was school, and tests, and studying, and projects, and RL friends that I'd been neglecting, family… I really didn't have time to write. And not to mention the dastardly bout of writer's block that assaulted me. I honestly had no idea of what to write; where to take this damn thing. I'd get myself stuck in the queerest of places; for instance, for two months, I was stuck on the line: A shock of bushy brown hair fell into glinting black eyes that were screened by round, thinly-framed glasses. Didn't know what in the hell to write after that.

Chapter Nine has been mapped out in my head, and I basically know what I want to happen. I'll try not to give any cliff-hangers at the end of that one. However, before I begin to write it, I know that I'll have to see Episodes 21 and 81, which I missed out on, because I believe that they contain crucial info that I'll need (Sakura's knowledge of genjutsu, and Kisame's fighting style). My sister should bring 'em both home by the end of the year. I'm hoping to get Ch. 9 to y'all by no later than the start of February. No guarantees though. What I can tell you all for sure is that I'm not going to drop this story. I will finish it, and that's a promise.

We're into the action part of the story now. There's a high probability of blood and gore. Just mentioning that on the off-chance that any of you are iffy about that stuff.

Cookies for anyone who can recognise my OCs. I gacked a few of their personality traits, skills and appearances from various characters who've appeared in filler episodes of the anime.

Interesting, Ironical Fact:- Do you know, that during that whole three months, I had Internet at home? And like, two weeks ago, something went wrong with it again? bangs head against wall I'm cursed.

Random, Pointless Fact:- Do you know that Itachi's name can be translated as weasel? snickers

You all can check me out on my spiffy new LJ (link in my profile). There, I sometimes whine quite pitifully about my progress (or rather, my pathetic lack thereof), so you can see how the chapter's coming along.

So! Please tell me what you think. I need to know how much my fight scenes suck/don't suck, what makes sense, and what doesn't, anything you're confused about. All comments, criticism and encouragement welcomed, needed and loved. And now that has this lovely new reply system, I can get back to you all on your comments instantly (more or less).

(Please, though, try to avoid spoilers in the reviews. I'm up to Episode 153 of the anime. I know that this story has become way AU, what with all the stuff that's going on in the manga, but I don't want to know. Not even a little. Thanks.)

In a few weeks, I'll be doing a major fic dump, (during those three months, SCB8 was just about the only thing I wasn't writing) so see y'all then.