It was a bright and sunny morning. After slapping on watery sunscreen, picking the frozen water bottle from the freezer, putting together a bento box for lunch, and grabbing a handful of money (just in case), Uchiha Sasuke left his house for the meeting spot, his backpack clamped to his back like a vice grip.
A breeze skittered mischievously across a lush green field, thrusting up dry leaves in its wake, dancing through flowers of pink and white and whatever colors. A fresh aroma of pine leaves played across Sasuke's nose. His nose wrinkled, and he sneezed. Spring allergies, he thought resentfully.
Even though his nonchalant face didn't show it, Sasuke was excited about what they were going to do that day. It was an once-in-a-lifetime trip to the United States of America, to Cal for some sort of amusement park called Six Flags Marine World. Nobody else was going-just Naruto, Sakura, Kakashi and himself.
Sasuke strolled down a grassy lane, the bottom of his shoe taking their turn tapping the ground steadily. Rock Lee, Tenten and Hyuga Neji frolicked through the streets behind him, laughing cheerily. Sasuke closed his eyes. When was the last time he, Naruto and Sakura were so happily romping about? Never. He tried to imagine them chasing each other down a vast green hill; Naruto, running full-out, screaming, in front of Sakura, who was screaming insanely, throwing casual glances over her shoulder at Sasuke, who was trailing after the two of them disdainfully. Sasuke reflected the happy memory that had never been there for a while, and then opened his eyes once again.
There was a peaceful quietness as he walked down a street littered with old bits of what-nots. Graying smidgens of paper were planted into the ground from the bottom of peoples' shoes; it was just another typical day for the young Uchiha.
"There you are, you idiot. Have you forgotten where we're supposed to meet?"
Sasuke cringed. That slightly-nasal voice could only belong to fellow Naruto.
And that disgusting, infatuated voice could only belong to the other team member, Sakura.
"Great. It's you guys. I was just about to go and meet you," Sasuke muttered irritably, turning around.
"You're late," Naruto snapped accusingly. "This time, it's you, and not Kakashi-sensei." He paused for a dramatic effect. "Oh, heavens, what has the world come to?"
"Shut up, you," hissed Sakura. "It's not his fault."
"He was strolling around," Naruto challenged, "while we were waiting the crap out of us."
"He was looking for us," Sakura contradicted.
"He was not."
"He was too."
Sasuke rolled his eyes. How come he was the lucky one, being placed with an imbecile and an obsessed fool? An older ninja stepped between the two bickering Naruto and Sakura.
"No time to dawdle," said Kakashi, cocking his head to one side while reading his Ichi Icha Maneuvers. "The bus leaves at 10:00 sharp; we have, hmm, about ten minutes to get there. Any later, we wait for another five hours. Nice, is it not?"
"No!" Naruto spat impatiently. "Let's go!"
"You were the one arguing," muttered Sasuke, barely audible.
Naruto stampeded off, leaving the others in a daze. Bemused, Sasuke followed along with Kakashi and Sakura.
oOo oOo oOo
The bus rumbled along, bouncing over a deep furrow in the ground: Sasuke was airborne for a brief moment; Naruto fell into the aisle; Sakura shifted into Sasuke, bumping him almost off his seat. Kakashi grabbed his edge of his seat with left hand, and clutched his book with the other.
"If it's going to be this painful getting to that place, I ain't goin'," grumbled Naruto, picking himself up for the umpteenth time. "My ass hurts."
For once, Sasuke actually agreed with that idiot.
oOo oOo oOo
If you know the feeling of getting of the car after a long drive, then you'd know how Team Seven felt. Even Sasuke was moaning after they got off the charter bus. Naruto was rubbing his butt in a most unattractive way. Sakura was stretching, yawning widely.
"How the hell are we supposed to enjoy the park while being this tired?" demanded Naruto after Kakashi handed their bus fare to the driver guy, who zipped off into the distance. "I wanna sleep!"
Sasuke snickered. "You sound like a little kid like that," he remarked cruelly.
"Forget you, you idiot," Naruto said angrily.
"Boys!" Kakashi said sternly. Naruto and Sasuke stared at him, fighting a strong impulse to laugh.
"We're staying here for a night, and then we're going to Six Flags," he explained. "I'm paying," he added.
"Oh great, I'm feeling better already," Naruto griped sarcastically.
"And then we're going home in two days' time?" pressed Sakura anxiously.
"Yup," replied Kakashi casually, ignoring the horrified look on Sasuke's face.
"Just-exactly-you see, how many rooms are you getting for us?" he blustered.
Kakashi's black mask rippled as his lips formed a grin. "Two."
Sasuke was shocked. "Two?" he asked, not believing his ears.
"Two," Kakashi confirmed his stunned question.
Sakura looked both appalled and pleased; she looked meekly from Sasuke to Naruto, then to Kakashi.
"How the hell are we supposed to find out where we are?" demanded Naruto. "I never came here before-never even visited the gift shop!"
"I think I know one just ten minutes away," Kakashi said after a moment of thinking. "Five if we travel by tree."
"Oh, joy," Sasuke said derisively. "Well, then what are we waiting for? Let's go already!"
The other three gawked at the Uchiha. It wasn't like Sasuke to be so sarcastic, he almost heard them thinking. Naruto's piecing blue glare almost made Sasuke grin ruefully. Almost.
Kakashi's quotes had lowered their spirits indefinitely: Naruto stuck his lower lip out a mile; Sakura's eyes were shuddering slightly; Sasuke glared at him forebodingly. Maybe he'll make me sleep outside,' he thought, false hope flickering in his heart.
"Mind, I'm not sending anybody outside," Kakashi replied, reading Sasuke's unenthusiastic thoughts.
Morosely, Sasuke trailed after the team as they bounded over kilometers of tree branches.
oOo oOo oOo
To tell the truth, the night at the hotel wasn't really all that bad (except for the fact that he had to share with that moron, Naruto). Naruto got one part of the room, and Sasuke got the other. In fact, they were sleeping so far away from each other, they never touched the bed, and Sasuke's back pressed to the cold marble lined wall of the bathroom. The two were seething (as well as shuddering) in the morning as they shoved each other out of the way, trying to brush their teeth.
"Get out of the way!" Naruto growled irritably, glowering.
"How about you?" retorted Sasuke indignantly, matching glare for glare.
"I was here first," Naruto snapped back.
"Second," Sasuke corrected heatedly.
"You WISH!" Naruto shouted, launching himself sideways and catching Sasuke off-guard. Water spilled over the side of Sasuke's plastic cup, splashing over their unused hotel shampoo.
"You idriot!" Sasuke yelled, picking up a miniscule tube of toothpaste and pressing down on it-hard-while aiming it at Naruto.
Naruto's eyes bulged, and he lunged for the toothpaste; but it was too late. Colgate toothpaste scrabbled over each other in a long, thin string that splattered onto Naruto's face. He spat a mouthful out, and screamed, "Ew, regular flavored toothpaste!"
The blond boy glared at Sasuke with flashing eyes. Then he grabbed a clear toothbrush and chucked it at his eye.
Sasuke ducked-but the toothbrush whizzed into his thick black hair. Naruto was rolling on the floor, laughing (ROTFL-ing) derisively. Sasuke picked the toothbrush out, and threw it over his shoulder.
"You oarf," Sasuke spat through a mouthful of mint toothpaste. "I arshm goin' to breat you uf."
With that, Naruto laughed harder, pounding the ground madly.
"Oi! Open the door already!"
There were thumps of annoyance at their door. Sasuke and Naruto froze, toothpaste foam leaking from the sides of their mouths. Then they raced for the sink, almost spitting on each other's hands as they sprayed toothpaste, rinsed, and refilled. The thumps became smacks. Sasuke filled his cupped hands with water, and splashed it over his face, relieving the nightly strain sleep caused it. Naruto sprinkled water on his hair, teasing it to make it stand up more.
"Open the door already!" Sakura screamed through the door impatiently.
Sasuke and Naruto exchanged looks of disgust, and then yelled in unison, "I'm coming!"
They scrambled over each other, fighting for the first one to open the door, swearing at each other. Sasuke's foot ended up on Naruto's back; Naruto's fist ended up on Sasuke's head.
"Moron," Sasuke hissed.
"Show-off," Naruto ridiculed.
They grabbed the door knob at the same time, and tripped over each other, thus wrenching the door open.
"AAAAAHHHHH!" they roared, tumbling into each other and landing in a heap in front of Sakura.
She gazed down at them ruefully. "Idiots," she sighed.
The morning passed by a bit bumpy, but when they went into the park, they forgot about all fatigue and façade.
"Oh yeah!" Naruto cried, grinning. "C'mon, c'mon', c'mon! Let's go!"
The short kid tugged on Kakashi's sleeve. Kakashi laughed, and addressed Naruto like a five-year old. "We'll get there soon enough."
Sasuke's pulse was racing. Everywhere-there were weird language being spoken; weird people (dude-piercings on their nose?) sporting weird shirts (a bunny with weird symbols underneath); weird food (that funny yellow-ish blob that smells like corn), weird voices, weird stuff. His mind whirled. It was all so weird…but he loved it.
"Dang," he murmured quietly. "This place is awesome."
"Let's go on THAT ONE!" Naruto screeched, stabbing a finger at some huge, spiraling building. "Or THAT ONE!" He brandished a finger at a pirate ship like some little kid. "Oh, please, can we please go, please, please, please, please, PLEASE, Kakashi-sensei?" Naruto swung himself to face grey-haired Jonin. He then flashed his sickening signature puppy-face smile, complete with sparkly eyes and wet bogies that almost made Sasuke throw up.
Kakashi took a deep breath, as if to collect his scattered patience. "But of course," he said, his one eye closing as his mask creased slightly to form a grin.
But as they wove through what seemed to be a million tourists, Sasuke couldn't help noticing Kakashi keeping a firm, gloved hand on Naruto's shoulder. The blond boy looked ridiculously mad with excitement: his blue eyes bulged from their sockets; all five hundred of his teeth were shown; he was dribbling like some sick dog. Luckily enough, it was a Tuesday, so not a lot of people were there. Immediately, they were placed up front with some other people who were jabbering away in funny language.
"Ou est Ze Boom'er-ang'? Nous I'avons perdue-"
"Er…excuse me?" Naruto dared to ask them. "Would you pipe down a bit?"
The French-speaking group stared coolly at Naruto, who shrank into the lean shadow of Sasuke. One of them, the one with the silver goatee and fruity hazel eyes muttered, "'Oo vish too do az vell."
"Eh, wot? What the hell?" Naruto mumbled.
Sakura punched him. "They speak another language! We must sound the same to them, you idiot. Haven't you thought of that?"
The small line shifted forward, and Sasuke moved ahead along with the others. The man at the front smiled, and said something. Kakashi listened with rapt attention, and then nodded. "He says to remove our backpacks and put them here," he reported. "There's a slight chance of…rain?" He looked back at the man. "No…not rain; a slight chance of being splashed?"
Skeptically, Sasuke slipped his backpack off and stuffed it roughly into a cubby. Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi followed suit. Then they clambered onto the ship with the French people, who selected the seats closest the middle. Some American people trailed after them hesitantly.
Sasuke slid into the seat farthest from the middle. Sakura scrambled into the seat next to him, and Naruto sat in the seat next to Sasuke as well. An American sat shyly next to Sakura. She had light blue eyes and long, blond hair that reminded Sasuke apprehensively of Ino.
"Hello," the girl said to Sakura, smiling. Sakura smiled back, and responded, "Ohayo Gozaimus!"
Strangely enough, the girl looked as if she had understood Sakura's lingo. Sasuke looked sideways at the girl. Some booming voice came from the man up front, and he came up to snap some foamy bars down their front. Sasuke grabbed on, feeling the blue foam rise between his fingers. His heart vibrated with thrill and dread.
The ship slowly rocked forward. Sasuke stared down, sweat making his grasp loosen. The wood box in the middle seemed to freakin' far away….His side of the ship swayed upwards, and Sasuke's feet tingled uncomfortably. Then they shot down.
"AHHHHH!" Naruto and Sakura screeched into the air, along with a bunch of people. Sasuke's hands clamped to the foam bar, and his eyes stung from trying to restrain himself from screaming.
The opposing side swung up, then pitched downward, accompanied with screams of delight or horror, as Sasuke's side went up…way up….
There's that feeling,' Sasuke thought reproachfully as his insides writhed up in fright. His side swung down swiftly, some creaking sounds way up there. Sasuke indistinctively opened his mouth to scream with the others, but clamped them shut quickly, pinching the tip of his tongue. NO!' he thought desperately. I will NOT scream like some wuss!'
Wind whipped his bangs into his eyes, and caused his eyes to water even more as he swooped downwards like some bird out of control.
"YAAAAAAHHHHHH! YAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!" Naruto bellowed.
"HELP ME!" Sakura screamed, her eyes swimming.
Some booming laughter came from up front. Squinting his eyes, Sasuke peered ahead. Kakashi was sitting in front of them, and he was laughing with delight, and, Sasuke thought bitterly, from the screwed up look on his face.
Suddenly, the ship swung up…way, up so that Sasuke felt nothing beneath him, and all that was between him and the ground…was some hundred feet, and thin air….
Sasuke's lips flew open, but he clenched it down, into some kind of smirk. His heart was a violent tremble in his chest, but he was still. Tears gathered at the side of his eyes, as his ship was frozen upside down. Some SpongeBob Squarepants music played in the background.
"!" Naruto and Sakura screeched as they swerved downward violently. Now he could see why them French people chose the middle. Regretfully, Sasuke closed his eyes, and uttered a slight squeak.
oOo oOo oOo
"Wow, that was awesome! Can we go again?"
Sasuke and the others, wobbly-legged, had rose from their seats and gotten their backpacks. Kakashi's face was twisted in a mad grin that the others could not see, but could tell from his flashing eyes.
"No," Naruto moaned, and lurched horribly, although nothing came out.
Sasuke thought it was an amazing feat to even say something with a green face like that.
"No, them French people said something about a Boom-er-ang'-can we go take a look?" Naruto asked, suddenly better.
"Fine with me," Sakura muttered, clutching her forehead and groaning softly.
"I don't care," Sasuke gurgled through his blocked windpipe. And immediately regretted his words.
Kakashi and Naruto had already dashed off into the distance, leaving Sasuke and Sakura in a daze. Exchanging bemused glances, they rushed off after the two enthusiastic ones.
oOo oOo oOo
Something whizzed by overhead. Indistinctively, Sasuke ducked, and his hand shifted toward his right leg.
"Chill, idiot, it's only the roller coaster," Naruto snapped brashly.
Roller coaster….The two words echoed endlessly in Sasuke's mind. What the heck are roller coasters?
In almost no time at all, Naruto prodded Sasuke into the seat beside him. He noticed that it was a two-person seat, way in front.
"What's this?" he asked Naruto suspiciously.
"When you screamed on the last ride, I didn't catch it," Naruto replied nastily, and held up a cell phone. "I wanted to record it, and set it as my ring tone, under Uchiha Sasuke screams like a baby'."
Gritting his teeth, Sasuke clambered into the seat, Naruto right behind him. This just gave him one more reason not to scream, he thought bitterly. There were strange devices beside him: a long, leather strap that protruded from somewhere underneath rawhide seats; a small, metal case that jutted from the opposite side. From the corner of his eye, Sasuke saw Naruto inspecting the gadgets, engrossed.
"HEY!" The guy up front rushed up to them, and yelled a bunch more. He reached over and yanked the leather strip across Naruto's waist. Mimicking the guy, Sasuke grabbed the band and jerked it over, clicking it into place inside the metal case. The normally calm boy was fascinated; no matter how hard he pulled, the leather strip wouldn't come loose. The guy stared at them skeptically, and pushed a foamy thing, like the pirate ship, down their front. When he left, he muttered something that sounded to Sasuke like "For-eng."
The loudspeaker blasted some more stuff, and there was a click. Naruto and Sasuke were thrown back into their seats as the front of their cart jolted to life, and started to back up.. Like last time, Sasuke's pulse raced, except this time, there was regret spinning in his mind. He had a deep suspicion there was reason why there were numerous people that descended the ride, green in the face and carrying a plastic bag in front of them.
Sasuke slipped a sideways look at Naruto. The blond boy had blazing eyes. Sasuke gulped, feeling a hard lump in his throat, and braced himself.
Their cart rolled backwards, slowing down as its track reached the end. Sasuke relaxed slightly. The view was remarkable. Ferris wheels, roller coasters, water slides littered themselves amongst the park. Sasuke was going to probe further into this fascinating world, but suddenly-
The scream beside his ear nearly drove him mad with agony. Sasuke looked down, and his heart stopped. There was a reason-it needed to recharge so it could pump into a single, shivering molecule inside Sasuke's chest.
There was that hard feeling in Sasuke's throat and chest. The cold, painful feeling grabbed his windpipe with ruthless hands. He felt as if he was free-falling, except there was a line for him to eye as he fell. Wind slapped his face with icy fingers, caressing his mind with a cold calmative. Everything was whirling about; especially his bangs. Sasuke grasped the bar so hard, blood leaked from fingernail marks in his palm.
Everybody behind them echoed Naruto, screaming and tearing a hole in the air, thought they were much quieter than him. Sasuke's mouth was pulled into some teeth baring contest as he forced himself not to scream. His throat seared; his palms bled; his eyes swam-
The cart pulled up sharply into some sort of corkscrew, swerving in every which way. Naruto's screams were deafening, now, tangled roughly with mad laughter. Sasuke's heart flew. His eyes indistinctively widened as their tram whirled in a tight spiral. The sky became ground; the ground became sky. Left was right, right was up, and down was wherever….
The roller coaster tore down a yellow track, screeching and wailing horribly along with the shrieks from the riders in a horrible ensemble. Sparks scattered from the gyrating wheels like fireworks, dancing madly between the wheels.
Behind them, Kakashi and Sakura were whooping loudly, screaming with joy, while Naruto was completely terrified. So was Sasuke.
"WHY DID YOU MAKE US GO ON THIS!" Sasuke roared over the wind at Naruto. "GREAT JOB, YA HUGE-"
Sasuke had to clamp his mouth shut; they were scaling a loop with petrifying speed.
"OH, DAMN!" Naruto bellowed.
Then they plunged into a corkscrew/hill/loop/dart combo, screaming with such ferocity, you could still hear the echoes these days.
oOo oOo oOo
"Oh…. - hic -…."
"You - hic - idiot…."
"I - hic - second that - hic - opinion…."
"Chill, guys. That wasn't so big."
Like always, the younger shinobi ogled the Jonin with disgust. Kakashi was almost always the opposite of how they felt; Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura: Disgusted, ready to throw up; Kakashi: Delighted, ready for a bigger ride.
"Gosh, Kaka - hic - shi-sensei," Naruto complained. "You are so - hic - sorry-WEIRD!"
Reluctantly, Sasuke and Sakura nodded queasily.
Kakashi shrugged, shaking his head slowly and chuckling quietly. "Glad you mentioned," he replied in a low voice, and whipped out the map of the amusement park.
Naruto scratched his nose. Sakura fidgeted slightly. Sasuke scowled darkly at their sensei.
"Hmm…based on your reactions on the last rides, I'd say that…you're definitely ready." Kakashi glanced up, smiling with his single eye.
"Ready for what?" Sasuke blurted out before Naruto could open his mouth. Naruto eyed him skeptically.
Kakashi said nothing for a while, and then said in a low, menacing voice. "We're going onto…MEDUSA!" he roared the last world, and then crowed evilly.
Sasuke and Sakura attempted to hold Kakashi down before he flew off.
"We just got off!" Naruto protested animatedly. "D'you really expect us to be all better after all that?"
Kakashi gazed at Naruto sympathetically. "Oh, yes," he said calmly. "D'you know that you've stopped hiccupping?"
Naruto gaped at the Jounin. He stomped the ground angrily, and muttered, "Damn it! This sucks!"
Kakashi laughed quietly, and gently nudged the three forward. Sasuke stumbled slightly, ducked under Kakashi's arm, and moseyed after the tall figure sullenly.
oOo oOo oOo
The dudes up front wouldn't let them preview the roller coaster, so Sasuke had absolutely no idea what the ride was like. But judging by the purple faces (and the damned ride's name) Sasuke came to a conclusion that this ride was no carousel. Sakura kept fidgeting, and her fingers slid along bars, which Sasuke thought wryly that they should repaint it, as he gazed at the descending victims.
The line moved forward, and Sasuke felt a horrible lurch in his stomach as they clambered onto their small section up front. Sakura attempted to slip into the seat beside Sasuke, but Naruto poked her away and sat down where she was trying into. She glowered at him, and then sank into the seat beside Kakashi.
"Why are you stalking me?" Sasuke groused at Naruto.
"I didn't get your ringtone last ride," Naruto replied spitefully. "I hit cancel' at the last second."
"Good." Sasuke turned back to face the front. The tracks were all screaming green and purple. Disgusting color coordination, Sasuke thought to himself.
The funny metal box thingies were embedded in the leather seats of the ride. Sasuke eased the leather strap into the case, securing it with a comical click. Naruto slid the top of his cell open, and pointed it at Sasuke, cackling. Sasuke rolled his eyes.
"Secure your seat belts," Kakashi murmured from behind them. "It's going to be a rough ride…."
Sasuke gulped. Now he really regretted agreeing to come onto this ride!
Kakashi stared at the speaker box intently, until it exploded with some gurgled speech. Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura jumped in their seats.
"Keep hands and feet inside of ride at all times. Secure loose articles and don't wet your pants'," Kakashi translated, a mischievous twitch in his black mask.
"Don't wet your pants'!" Naruto repeated skeptically.
Kakashi chuckled. "Well, I'd say so, anyways."
Sasuke relaxed slightly. One of the dudes up strolled over to them, reached over, and shoved their foam bar thing down in front of them, and locked it with a loudclick. The dude then strolled all the way to the back, securing foam bars, whether there were people or not. Sasuke gulped, and noted that Naruto looked more fearful than ever.
Naruto was usually really reckless and bold…what could cause him to be like this?
Sasuke swallowed hard; there was some sort of shapeless lump in his throat that was blocking his airway. Kakashi peered over Naruto and Sasuke's shoulders.
"Scared, boys?" he said with a slight sneer.
"You wish," Sasuke snapped.
"In your dreams," Naruto retorted.
Kakashi slunk back into his seat, still smirking with his one visible eye. Sakura's face was pale, and she looked to be on the verge of bursting into tears. Naruto's lips were compressed tightly, so that there was a funny design scribbled on his chin. Sasuke took a long, shaky breath that trembled with dread.
"Oh, man," he muttered. "Naruto, close your cell phone; it's probably fly out if you leave it like that."
Naruto rolled his eyes at Sasuke. "I'd hate for that to happen," he responded irritably. "How about you scream right now? I'll record it."
"Um," Sasuke said. "No."
The click of Naruto's cell phone snapped close never reached Sasuke's ears. The coaster was sliding forward, screeching menacingly….
It was when their cart began their descent Sasuke shuddered back to reality. It was even higher than the last ride, so that Sasuke was able to see to the parking lots….
Then their ride swerved down violently, and everybody screamed.