AN: Anyone who is a psychologist or psych major, please ignore my butchering of your profession.
Disclaimer: I disclaim.
V – Depth Perception
"Have you been having nightmares?"
"What about illusions when you're not preoccupied?"
"Do you feel as though the world might be better if you didn't exist?"
Sakura's nostrils flared as her brow furrowed and she gave her master a dirty look. Tsunade's hands flew up in a pacifying manner. "It's just a standard question. I didn't make these things."
"I don't see why I need a psychological assessment anyway, Shishou. My performance was not affected!"
"You had a near-mental breakdown on duty, Sakura. During a mission no less. Just because nothing happened as a result doesn't mean nothing could have happened."
"What exactly did Lee-san tell you? We both know he tends to exaggerate his tales."
"Neji and Tenten both reported the same things, Sakura. I fear you're not ready to back onto the field."
"Shishou!" Sakura exasperated, giving her a very piercing stare. "That isn't fair!"
"Sometimes things aren't fair, Sakura," Tsunade replied sharply.
"Yes, I think I would know, thank you very much!"
The younger medic inhaled sharply, biting off anything else she had to say on that matter. Slowly exhaling, she pursed her lips before trying again, "Time will not solve any problems I may have over the recent events. I have to get out there, get off my ass, and work through it. Now either you give me the OK to do my job or so help me, I'll do it without your permission."
Tsunade sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "I'll think on it."
And Sakura knew that was as good as she was going to get for now.
"You didn't have to report me, you know."
"Aww, Sakura-san," Lee pleaded, hands clasping together as he looked over at her. "Don't be like that. I had to tell her everything!"
Sakura sighed, leaning back on the rock she sat on. She knew he was right. Lee wasn't capable of lying. Something about being a goody two-shoes or such. Lips playing out into a flat line, she muttered, "Yeah I know. Just...next time word it in a more flattering light."
"With all due respect, Sakura-san, I don't think I can word it in a way that would be flattering."
"What wouldn't be flattering?"
Sakura sat straight up, spine going rigid as she recognized the voice of her former teammate. 'Look calm, relax, Sakura, or he'll see right through you.' Running a hand through her hair to smooth it over her eye, she turned to see Sasuke standing there. She wondered how long he had been there. Lee turned as well.
"Ah! Sasuke-san! I haven't seen you lately. Missions keeping you busy?"
Sasuke gave a brief nod. "I have time off so I came here to train." His eyes cut from Sakura to Lee, and Sa. "I would appreciate a sparring partner if you're not too busy."
"By all means," Sakura replied politely, getting up and smiling as she did so. "Lee and I were just talking. I'm sure he'd be glad to train with you."
"I meant you, Sakura."
Neji was a smart man. He was not being prideful or egotistical in thinking this. However, he was a little confused. Well, let's not say confused... because it does not sound smart. How about... perturbed. Yes. Neji was perturbed. Things in his last mission weren't quite adding up in his book, and he was wondering if he had all the right numbers to begin with.
On his desk sat his team's profiles, and his own report of the mission from just the other day. And in his mind he played over the details of the fight prior to finding the missing team. Neji had always considered it his responsibility as a team leader to constantly know where his teammates were and what they were doing. However, in that last mission, he didn't know what Sakura had been doing. It wasn't that he lost track of her, per se, but rather the fact her chakra had moved to areas he didn't expect. Of course, a certain amount would be allotted to the brain to perform genjutsu and certain other techniques, but he was certain it had instead gone to her eye, the one rumored to have been damaged not too long ago. And then there was the fact she'd used the same technique her opponent had thrown at her. It wasn't impossible, of course, Sakura probably had a wide range of standard ninjutsu at her disposal, but to throw back the same technique...
It almost seemed like... well, something Hatake Kakashi would do.
Of course, that was impossible (though Neji would admit to seeing some weird and implausible things in his life), but perhaps instead of what it seemed like, it was something else.
Perhaps Sakura was trying to imitate Kakashi's fighting style for some reason. It wouldn't be too far-fetched, and would have explained a lot of things. She could have channeled chakra to her eye to mimic what she thought would be using the sharingan, and then thrown back the technique that she already knew, acting like she'd copied it.
Neji frowned, wondering if he should alert the Hokage of this. Already he knew she was under evaluation for her episode while on the job, but he knew the consequences of alerting Tsunade of this information. Most likely, it would pull Sakura from the ranks for an indefinite period of time until they deemed her mentally stable to work again. So there within he had to ask himself...
Was she really a danger to anyone? Was she a danger to herself? And should he risk her career just to be safe?
White eyes stared down at the papers on his desk. He could think of many reasons of why he wouldn't go to the Hokage just yet. For now he'd just have to keep an eye on Sakura and decide for himself if she were really fit to be out on the field.
And no one could keep an eye on people better than Neji could.
Sakura had been struck mute. She stared at Sasuke, trying to figure a way out of this one that would not give herself away. If she wasn't careful, Sasuke would have her cornered.
"I would be glad to, if I didn't have a meeting with Shishou in half an hour. We wouldn't get much done before I would have to leave."
"Funny, I spoke with Tsunade earlier today. She said you had today off."
Damn, he's thorough. "Wait, really? But... that's not what she told me..."
Sasuke crossed his arms and tilted his head, watching Sakura as she struggled for a way out. Unfortunately, she could seem to come up with one, glancing at Lee who offered her a weak smile. Not that she expected him to do any better. What was even worse—her words didn't have as much merit, seeing how Sasuke had caught her lying before. "...Are you sure? I'd hate to get into trouble for skipping out on a meeting."
The Uchiha's expression didn't change. "Positive," he deadpanned, unfolding his arms and beginning to walk past. "Come with me."
Sakura bristled at the order, looking over her shoulder and opening her mouth, searching for words. Finally she decided to say what she should have said to begin with. "...No."
Sasuke stopped and half-turned to her, quirking a brow. "Why not?"
Sakura swallowed. "I don't want to spar right now."
"And your reasoning is...?"
"I don't need one."
Sasuke snorted softly, turning completely to her. "You're scared."
Sakura made a face, standing up and dusting her clothes off. "I'm not. I just don't want to. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to be going."
She turned to leave when she saw movement out of the corner of her "bad" eye. Acting on reflex, she turned and brought her arm up in a block to avoid the hand coming at her when Sasuke suddenly stopped, Lee's fingers firmly clamped down onto his wrist. "I do believe Sakura-san said she was not up for sparring. Sasuke-kun, I ask that you do not provoke her into a fight when she clearly does not want to. It's impolite."
Even as the young man said this, Sasuke nor Sakura looked at him, both staring at each other—one with an unreadable expression and the other looking at him like he was crazy. With nothing better to say, Sakura stepped back from the two men and once again made to walk away. Lee gave Sasuke a firm nod before letting go of his wrist. Much to his approval, the Uchiha did not follow Sakura, though his gaze failed to leave her form until she was well out of view. When he finally looked over to Lee he looked fairly annoyed, and Lee responded the best way he knew how.
Grinning proudly, he gave Sasuke the Good Guy Pose, only to have the prodigy walk off in response.
One day it would work, he just knew it.
Throughout the rest of the day, Sakura's mood remained fairly soured by the earlier incidents with Tsunade and Sasuke. It practically showed on her face, a displeased sort of tone coloring her features. Fortunately, few were around to see it where she was, safe in the confinements of her own apartment.
The cup of tea she had been grasping with both hands had turned cold, but Sakura hadn't noticed largely due to the fact she hadn't even begun to drink it. Too lost in thoughts of things bothering her and what she had to do to fix it. For starters, she had to convince Tsunade-shishou that she was fit to be on the field, and to give her more missions. Maybe something solo. Fat chance on that, but oh wouldn't it be nice? To be away from prying eyes or people who would run and tattle on her behind her back as soon as she made one tiny slip-up. And then that would solve her second problem, Mr. Uchiha Sasuke who couldn't seem to keep his nose out of her business. She made a face that was fairly unattractive, but did well to show her displeasure.
It was only then did she notice her white-knuckle grip on her cup, and the anger that had rolled in at some point. Her face relaxed a little, moving from such strong emotions into others—mainly befuddlement. Since when did she become so angry about everything going on? Until recently, she was annoyed at best, and filled with other emotions. It'd seemed her worry and grief had started to channel into anger. If she weren't careful, she'd slip up, and then the cat would be out of the bag and she'd be out of a job. She didn't need people thinking she was crazy, and she didn't need Sasuke wanting to kill her.
On that note, she didn't need to be wanting to kill Sasuke, either.
Grumbling under her breath, she stood up and moved to her sink, pouring out her tea and washing the cup. A relaxing bath should help, she thought, and made her way into her bathroom.
Several yards away from her apartment, Neji shut off his byakugan to allow Sakura the privacy he didn't want to invade. So far nothing was too out of the ordinary, but he certainly wasn't finished yet.
"All right, Sakura, the decision has been made regarding whether or not you'll remain on active duty."
Sakura stood before Tsunade's desk with bated breath. She'd waited over two days for the decision and had done her best to demonstrate she was in perfect condition to be working again. Unfortunately, Tsunade usually wasn't around to see it, but Sakura wouldn't doubt the woman might have other people watching.
"It has been decided that you will remain on active duty--" Yes! "but with a temporary probation--" Crap. "during which your performance will be evaluated."
Sakura narrowed her eyes. "Evaluated by who, you?"
"No, it will be an objective third party assigned to evaluate you."
"Right. While I'd like to think that would be in my favor, let's be realistic. I'll get stuck with someone who is out to get me."
"Don't be ridiculous. Who would be out to get you?" Tsunade exasperated. Sometimes, I swear...
"Well, there is Naoko..."
"...The medic apprentice at the hospital?"
Sakura shrugged. "Yeah. Rumor has it that she thinks I'm sleeping with Itoh."
"...She thinks you're sleeping with my new surgeon."
"Sorry, sorry. Anyway, I promise you won't get anyone like that. It will be someone who I can trust to do the job right."
"So that means Lee-san is out of the question, doesn't it?"
"...Uh, yes. That is correct."
Tsunade looked up from her paperwork, clasping her hands together as she peered at the ninja standing before her. She'd reviewed many profiles, but he was probably one of the best for the job, if she had to be honest with herself. And it wasn't that she disliked this set-up so much as she knew Sakura would have an exceptionally hard time keeping her secrets from him. After all, he was a genius.
"You've been chosen for this task because I feel you have the ability to evaluate the subject efficiently and correctly. In addition to that, I expect that you will be fair and objective, putting aside any preconceived notions you may have, as well as any personal feelings based on past interactions. Having said that, I'm confident you are capable of these requirements. Please report to me if you have any questions."
She held out the folder to the young man standing before her. He glanced down at it and reached forward, taking it between his fingers. "I will let you decide how to best approach this task. Good luck."
Holding the folder in his hands, the young man resisted the urge to sigh softly, instead turning around and walking to the door, tucking the folder under his arm. Of all the things he could be doing right now, he had to be evaluating Sakura.
He'd much rather be watching the clouds.
AN: Betcha didn't expect that, did you? ...Betcha didn't expect an update ever again, either. Guess what? Neither did I! I can't promise I'll continue, since I absolutely hate the Naruto series now. Quite honestly this piece came about from a very small random urge I had to write today that I acted on as quickly as I can. I wrote this in a few hours. I imagine it may not fit with the rest of the style of the story, but hopefully it's not too mismatched (lol, pun). ...And hopefully I've not forgotten the story so much that I somehow created some black hole of a plot hole. If so, someone let me know and I'll try to fix it.
On a final note: I've had a handful of people complain to me about how Sakura shouldn't be able to use the sharingan like she can. I gave a reason as to why she can, and until someone explains to me why she can't, and why my idea does not, in fact, work, and cites sources so I can read back through the series and see myself, I'm going to ignore what you have to say. Seriously... concrit, people. It's more than just saying "you're wrong." That doesn't help me at all.
Anyway, thanks for being a loyal reader and I apologize sincerely for not updating my stuff. But for those who are interested, I still have my writing LJ that I hope to keep going with other stuff. Feel free to check it out on my profile.