Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto!
Part One: The Journey
Summary: (AU, OOCness) Part One: Sakura, Hinata, and Chouji have left Konoha in search of their own ninja-ways and to escape the binds of home. Hinata's uncaring family, Chouji's low self-esteem, and Sakura's struggle with the Kyuubi locked inside her.
Pairings: Sakura/Multiple, one-sided Chouji/Sakura, Ino/Chouji/Hinata, Ino/Mystery/Hinata, Lee/TenTen, Mystery/Kakashi/Shizune/Genma, and Mystery/Temari.
Warnings: Out Of Characters, Alternate Universe, mentions of sex, foul language, and crack-pairings.
Dedicated: To my loves AijinMegami and Moonbeam Great Goddess of the Night! You two are my bitches!! I OWN YOU!! WHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
Chapter Four: Training
"Like this Hinata-Chan?" Sakura asked as she placed her arms in the Hyuuga fighting stance. They had settled down after walking threw the night and all day, finally finding a secluded place where they built a small fire and slept. In the morning they ate five chips each and now they were beginning their training.
"Hmmmm…Almost Sakura-Chan. Bend your front elbow a bit more and bring you back one a bit closer to your body—that's it!" Hinata then looked over at Chouji who was having a much more difficult time—while he was decent with fighting; the different stances were hard for him at first because of his bulky body. But with a bit more training he would get it.
Hinata went in front of them so they made an awkward triangle, "Now follow my pattern of movements and breathing—Gentle Fist deals a lot with breathing." Her two pupils nodded, and Hinata got in the fighting stance. "Instead of the normal "KYAA!" we go "HAH!" it expands the lungs but at the same time does not take up as much energy—it is softer and uses less energy. Much like our fighting style…we are more about grace and speed then strength." She shot her palm out with a "HAH!"
The two did the same. "HAH!" They cried out.
"Close…But when you move you move on your toes and your hips make a circular motion. Gentle Fist is about curves, more or less. Now let's try again…HAH!" The two followed her example again. "Chouji-Kun, when you pivot try not to pick up either of your feet. You need to stay on the ground—your feet are your weak-points in our style. You place most all you have to your upper-body." She walked over to him and touched his shoulders. "And you are extremely stiff, you have to be loose."
He sighed, "Because the style is gentle and more curve like…"
She giggled, "Exactly." She walked over to Sakura. "You seem to be placing too much strength and power in your legs. Bend them a bit more…yeah like that and hunch your back forward just a bit more…good. Now pretend that you are moving a giant tree in front of your…I don't want you to pulverize it I want you to move it…that is what our style is based upon. Only when you add the charka is when you are seeking to destroy."
The two nodded, understanding.
"For the next week, we will be doing nothing but Gentle Fist training and then after that we will add our charka into it…while you can't see the points that everyone has I can teach you how to move in that you will place a lot of damage to your opponent." They nodded, urging her to continue. "We will spend a week doing that, and then a week perfecting it."
"And after which we will spend three weeks each teaching each other our styles."
"Right…It will be really long and really tiring, but the outcome will be worth it!"
"My arms and legs hurt…" Sakura whimpered as she slumped down against the tree, watching Hinata and Chouji spar in the Gentle Fist style. It was their fourth day on the taijutsu and it was exhausting—however, all three of them have noticed a great difference in their strength so it was obvious that the training was working.
Sakura had finished her sparring match with Hinata, who beat the shit out of her, and now Chouji was having his turn. After they spar they would pack up their things and continue on to their next location. Traveling was still hard, and Sakura has lost track on how many days they have been away from home—nights blended into days.
Working for food was extremely difficult especially when you smelt and looked as bad as they did. The last place they worked for food for kept them far in the back cleaning the floors, not allowing them to clean the dishes or cook any food, and frankly they couldn't blame them. But it was winter, so all the bodies of water were too cold for them to bathe in and they couldn't afford a bath at the hot-springs. They decided they would not bathe until the waters grew warmer or by some miracle they came across a wild hot-spring.
Sakura brought her hands above her head, stretching, ignoring the ranched smell she was producing. She giggled when she saw Chouji fall to the ground, breathing hard. Sparring was slowly beginning to get easier for them—though it seems impossible for them to catch up to Hinata. The girl looked at her friends and didn't know if she should be proud or concerned. All of them have lost a lot of weight, even Chouji and that seemed almost sickening. But slowly their bodies were beginning to get use to their unusual diet and grow some muscle—but they won't be really healthy or good enough for fighting until they get a balanced diet and they can't get that without money.
Scratching the back of her head, Sakura looked out at her surroundings, "We still have a long ways to go." Her back popped slightly as she stood back up. "I wonder how much though…?"
"RAAAH!!" Chouji screamed as Hinata slammed her palm against his chest sending him flaying into the ground.
"Obviously a lot." Sakura deadpanned, sighing as she made her way over to her two friends. It was her turn, once again, to get plummeted into the ground. "I was thinking, Hinata-Chan." Sakura stated as she got in the Gentle Fist stance.
"You? Thinking? Now that is amazing!" Hinata teased as she got back in the stance, hardly sweating.
"Ha-ha-ha…Really, how about after the three weeks we all teach each other we then fight one another with our own styles and what we have learned mixed into one? A three-way battle?"
Hinata smiled before she nodded, "Ready?...HAH!!" The heiress charged forward, trying to slap the girl.
Sakura cursed slightly, quickly pivoting her heel to dodge the attack. She couldn't dodge the attack fully and her shoulder was hit, gritting her teeth she stepped back keeping her balance before she charged at her opponent, aiming for her face. Hinata gracefully moved her body to the side, Sakura's hand streaming past her, slicing a few strands of hairs that didn't move fast enough.
"You have gotten much faster, Sakura-Chan."
"Heh—thanks. I've been practicing…HAH!" Sakura huffed out as she attacked back, aiming once again at her friend's face. Hinata blocked the arm harshly, leading it flying limply away from her face and then slammed her open left palm harshly against her stomach then used her right hand to hit her side, underneath the armpit of her right arm.
Hissing, Sakura stepped foreword trying to hit Hinata's arm, but missed leaving her front-side wide open, an opportunity Hinata took. She once again slammed her hand up against the pink-hair girl's flat stomach. Sakura gagged, blood spraying over her opponent's face—the blueberry-purple-haired girl winced slightly but ignored the uncomfortable substance dripping down her cheek.
"HAH!" Sakura cried, ignoring the immense pain erupting from her stomach and bruised limbs, trying to hit any part she could. Hinata spun three full 180 degree circles, dodging all the hits before she spun face-front and used both of her hands and slammed them against Sakura's chest, sending her flying a good nine-feet.
Groaning, Sakura propped up on her elbows, her eyes squinting in pain as her body shaking slightly from the hit and impact. Some more blood dribbled down her chin, staining her clothes.
"Yield?" Hinata asked, now beginning to show signs of fatigue.
Spitting the blood on the ground, Sakura glared at her sparring partner, "H-hell no…"
Hinata smiled, "Well then, let us continue."
Hinata cried out slightly when Chouji hit her hard on the shoulder pouring some charka into the hit. She stepped back, placing herself at an angle, her heels digging deep into the earth.
It was the final day of Hinata's training and the three have progressed amazingly—Sakura and Chouji can now land hits on the girl and continue fighting for a good while. Hinata has become stronger and faster—her ability with the Gentle Fist technique had grown, she was faster and stronger than she was before at Konoha.
"HAH!" She screamed as she tried to hit the male.
Chouji grunted as he leaned back, barely dodging the assault. Seeing an opening he made a move to hit her stomach but she brought her hand down and slapped his arm away, before she brought her hand back and slammed it into his chest. Chouji cursed, digging his feet in the ground to prevent himself from flying a good way off.
"Yield?" Hinata asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Ugh…no way—this is our final day of this and I cannot skip over anything. Keep coming at me Hinata!" He got back in fighting position, ignoring the bit of blood oozing from his nose and mouth. "Come on!"
"Don't hog her all day! I need to practice as well!" Sakura called from the sidelines, as she continued to fight her imaginary opponent. Sweat was glistening off her brow as she concentrated on perfecting her technique. "HAH!" She screamed as she attacked foreword. 'It is going to be a bit difficult when we move to my style—it evolves a whole bunch more feet…' "HAH!"
"Even out your charka Sakura-Chan!" Hinata cried, as she dodged Chouji's hit. "It appears to be uneven—you are placing too much in your right and too little in your left! HAH!!" She hit Chouji in the same area again, this time he fell to his knees.
"Ugh…Ok-ok…I yield." He held onto his chest, wincing. He limped over and exchanged a high-five too Sakura who was passing by him. He winced in pain from this action, before he went over and slumped against the tree. "I want some potato-chips…and barbeque…ugh."
"Quit complaining! We all really want some food…but unfortunately we can't get anything like that." Sakura then sighed. "Look, we will talk about food after we finish sparring, deal?" She didn't even bother to hear his answer as she got in the Gentle Fist position, a smirk on her face. "I have really been practicing, Hinata-Chan! You better be prepared for an ass-whooping!"
Hinata giggled, "Let us see…"
The two glared at each other for a moment as a breeze blew by, neither of them spoke or move. Keeping their heart-paces even, the two took a small intake of breath and charged. "HAH!" They both cried. Hinata moved towards where Sakura's kidneys would be placed and Sakura moved towards Hinata's liver. They both winced, charka pumping into their systems leading them to skidding back a few feet, their hands still held up. Neither waited until they were fully stopped before charging once again.
Chouji watched the two with a grin—maybe it was because they were both females, he didn't know, but he did know they got heated when they began to spar one another. He's guessing it's because they are females—after all women are very fickle and odd.
"CHA!" Sakura cried out, lashing out at Hinata's head—her hands and arms appeared like blurs. Hinata gritted her teeth as she moved her head and moved backwards to avoid the hits. "D-damn it! Stay still!" Sakura screeched trying her best to hit the girl.
Her white eyes narrowed, before they went wide when she saw the opening. "Got you! HAH!!" She screamed as she dodge one of her friend's hits, her palm struck Sakura right on her breast-bone. The pink-haired girl gagged, blood pouring down her chin as she fell to the ground. Hinata cried out in surprise and hurried over to her side, "Sakura-Chan!"
"Sakura!" Chouji called out as he limped over to the girls. He fell to his knees as he begun to check her vital signs. "I-I think she is ok…she just had the wind knocked out of her."
"O-oh Sakura-Chan! I am so sorry." Hinata whimpered, tears beginning to gather in her eyes. "Please be ok…"
"I-It's f-fine Hi-Hinata-Chan…" Sakura rasped out, her eyes cracking open. "C-Chouji w-was right…I only got the wind knocked out of me." She sat up, wiping her mouth. "Great shot."
"I could've killed you!" Hinata cried out, getting ready to bawl.
"No—you have pretty good control. And besides you weren't using your Byakugan, so you missed anything vital." Sakura groaned, feeling extremely sore and tired. "Ugh…I want to go to bed." She deadpanned as she fell back in the grass, her eyes closed. "I also would very much like a bath and some food…" A wince escaped her bloodied mouth, before she opened her sea-foam green eyes and regarded her best friends. "How long have we been gone?"
"I lost count ages ago…it doesn't really matter, does it?" Hinata asked as she began to play with her fingers.
"Of course it matters! We left in late November and your birthday is in December! You will be twelve! That is a pretty big step!" Sakura chirped.
Chouji nodded, "Besides, we never have not celebrated each other's birthdays!" He crossed his arms over his chest. "The next village we arrive at we will ask for the date…we have to know!"
Hinata blushed, "T-thank-you…you guys are the best." Back at home they didn't celebrate her birthday—for them it was just another day to remind them of their black-sheep. But every year, she would go over to Chouji's and celebrate her birthday with him, his family, and Sakura. She loved December 27 now, they made her feel loved and like a princess—something she has never felt with her cold family.
"We won't have enough money for a present though…" Sakura trailed off looking down.
"Oh! It doesn't matter! I'm so happy you all just still want to celebrate it even though we all are out here." She continued fiddling with her fingers. "I-it makes me very happy…" She wiped her eyes. "It makes me so very happy…"
The two smiled gently at her, knowing she was very sensitive and cried easily—especially when she was happy.
"Don't mention it, Hinata-Chan! Come on! One more sparring match—I know I can beat you this time!" Sakura pleaded.
The two sighed at her eager behavior, "No."
"CHAAAAA!!" Sakura cried out as she kicked straight foreword, cursing when she missed Chouji. Without stopping or putting her foot down she moved her hips back so her heel slammed against his cheek. She smirked when he gagged and fell back a bit. He wiped the corner of his lips, glaring dangerously at the girl in front of him. With a cry of his own he charged for her punching straight at her face in which she dodged easily, reaching up she wrapped her hand around his wrist, pulled him close and kneed him in the gut.
"Tch…" Chouji hissed as he fell to his knees, holding onto his bruised stomach, but picked himself up shaking off the pain.
Sakura's eyes narrowed, 'I'm really fast but not strong…Chouji has amazing strength but is very slow.' She gazed over at Hinata who was practicing the new taijutsu style she was learning—she was use to graceful movements and using her feet only to move not to attack. But Sakura is more of a street-fighter, her movements rough and unpredictable.
"RAH!!" Chouji cried as he attacked, picking up his foot to kick at her knees. Squeaking she jumped, pulling her knees to her chest, narrowly missing his attack. Cursing at being distracted, Sakura jumped down on the ground and flipped back four times, dodging more of her friend's assault—using her hands she spun around and slammed her feet against his chest.
He barely moved an inch.
Flipping back up on her feet she slammed her elbow against his ribs, not taking time for him to get his wind back she punched at his face, pulling her knee to her chest and slammed the ball of her foot in the same place as before.
Another curse escaped her lips when she saw it didn't have the affect she desired. 'Hinata is the strongest of us and that is not good…she is the weakest of the Hyuuga and the third weakest in our class…of course Chouji and myself are number one and number two weakest.' She sighed only to squeal when Chouji made another attack. 'I just can't tell if we are making any progress.'
Flipping back into a bridge position she avoided the punch, flipping back, she kicked the man square in the jaw. 'How can we tell if we are getting stronger?' "CHAA!" Her knee was intercepted by his hand, shoving her away maneuvering as she did; bringing his knee up to his chest and slammed his foot into her gut, sending her flying.
Her back and head slamming against the hard ground, Sakura whimpered in pain knowing she had been bruised and beaten real well. Weakly pushing her upper body up she hissed in pain as she glared foreword—Chouji was still in a fighting position returning her glare, waiting for her to pick herself up and continue the fight.
"Come on Sakura, this is your fighting style…get up and defeat me."
"S-shut up!" Sakura snarled back to him, feeling upset that she was struggling so much with her own style. Chouji and Hinata seemed to be getting better and better, but no matter what she does she just can't keep up with them. Spitting on the ground, ignoring the sight of her own blood Sakura picked herself back up—cringing at the sound her bones made. 'What the hell is wrong with me?'
She took another glance to Hinata who had stopped and was now watching them, worry etched on her face, her hands clasped in front of her against her chest. 'She's worried about me…damn it! I'm still not strong enough!' With a battle-cry she let out a rapid burst of punches trying to hit her friend in the face.
His eyes snapped open wide, setting his jaw in a strong hold so if it was hit he wouldn't be knocked out or loose some teeth, barely dodging her furious punches. "Crap…!" Chouji hissed threw his clenched teeth, knowing he had somehow snapped her violent temper again.
The girl jumped up and slammed her shin against the side of his face sending him flying. He cried as he fell back, falling on his back—he held his bruised face, looking up at the panting girl with a grin. "Damn Sakura—the only way for you to win is to get pissed off…we really need to work on that."
He picked himself up, dusting off his pants, giving her a gentle smile. "Your attitude now when fighting is not good at all." He shook his head. "After my three weeks were are going to concentrate on our emotions when we fight—a shinobi can not show emotions during a mission, it can be used against them…"
"I know that!" Sakura snapped. "Ugh! I'm a bit violent, don't worry—I will get it under control soon…let's just get back to sparring." She then looked over at Hinata and nodded, "Your turn…"
Hinata stiffened before nodded and made her way over where the two were, "Are you two alright?"
Chouji nodded as he held his jaw, giving the girl a thumbs-up. "We're ok—just a bit bruised, but we will be ok." He sighed and leaned in closer to the girl. "Careful, Sakura is in one of her moods…"
"Yeah…I can tell. Don't worry Chouji-Kun, I will be careful." She then straightened up and spoke in a louder voice so Sakura could hear. "You can get all the things together and we will move on—we can reach another training area by tomorrow night hopefully."
Chouji sighed, "Another all-nighter?"
"Yes…The territory of Konoha is quite large…" Hinata then sighed. "It would be nice if we could get a map. We could at least estimate where we are and what territory we would be entering next."
Sakura huffed, "We'll discuss that later…come on! This is the last day of my second week! We need to get going!" She got in her fighting position. "Come on, let's get it on!"
Hinata sighed; Sakura was in one of her moods. The Hyuuga heiress guessed it was her insecure ways getting to her, especially since she was struggling a bit more than them. 'She just needs a confident boost…or a shock to her system…something that would get her to—I don't know, wake her up from this stupor and rut…'
"Alright, let us begin Sakura-Chan."
The two glared at each other for a moment before they attacked. Sakura faked a left then a right and kicked the girl with her left-leg, Hinata ducked and jumped up her fist aiming at Sakura's jaw. Cursing, Sakura stepped back, arching her back slightly to avoid the hit. Hinata did not let up, much like what Sakura did, and instantly went back on the attack jumping up to kick her in the face—when it was blocked she maneuvered her body so her hands hit the ground and she tried to kick the girl repeatedly in the gut.
Sakura was able to block most of the kicks, her heels digging deep into the ground to keep herself from moving back. Her green eyes went wide when Hinata dropped to the ground, keeping her hands firmly on the ground and moved her legs in front of her and swept Sakura's feet out from under her. "UMPH!" Sakura gasped falling roughly against the ground.
Hinata shot up bringing her leg up poised for an axe-kick—Sakura rolled over a few times just as the heiress brought her foot down to the earth. It cracked slightly under her strength. Pulling her heel out quickly, Hinata tried to kick at Sakura as she was picking herself up—Sakura winced when she tried to avoid the hits, not blocking them as well as she would like.
She turned to her side, giving Hinata a small target and did a back-fist against the girl's face—Hinata grabbed Sakura's hand and reeled her own fist back, making for her face. Sakura blocked, and not giving Hinata a chance to escape brought her knee up and slammed it up against the white-eyed girl's jaw. The jaw bone slammed up against the back of her head and Hinata fell to the ground, out-cold.
Panting, Sakura wiped her face from sweat, trying to get her bearings before she checked over her friend—knowing she would be fine.
"How is she?!" Chouji called out from where all their stuff was.
"Knocked her out real good!" Sakura replied as she picked up the unconscious girl and placed her on her back. "She is going to be out for a while…Can you slip on her bag onto her? Then carry my bag? I'm going to carry her since I'm the one that knocked her out." Chouji shrugged, they did this many times—when one of them is knocked out by the other, the one who is responsible for knocking them out is left in charge of carrying them.
Poor Hinata once knocked him out and had to carry him almost all night. She was exhausted by the next morning, needless to say.
Adjusting Hinata in a better position, Sakura looked over at Chouji with a grin, "After this next week it will be your turn to teach us some moves…do you have a plan?"
He gave off a thoughtful, "Hmmmm" before answering, "Not really—Akimichi's don't necessarily have a certain style of taijutsu—we mostly just inflate our bodies and attack that way…And I can't teach you guys that, it is something only those in my clan can." He hooked his hand under his chin. "I was thinking we all just cut it short and do what you were planning to do at the end—we constantly fight each other in a three-way battle…"
Sakura frowned, "That won't be good…it will get us another step stronger but after fighting each other for so long…well," she shrugged. "We would just stay the same level…we need a teacher, someone stronger than us who would be willing to teach us new things."
Chouji nodded, "I know, but we won't be able to get one until we at least left the Konoha territory…I guess that would be the safest choice."
Sakura's jaw popped in annoyance, "I wish we could figure out how much stronger we have gotten…I mean we have to had gotten at least a bit better, right?"
"Don't know…Ugh! I am so hungry!"
"When are you not hungry?!"
"When are you two not arguing?" Hinata snapped as she held onto Sakura a bit tighter, feeling a bit woozy.
"Hey there sleeping beauty!" Chouji teased as he looked over at the girl. "You feeling any better after this witch knocked you out?" He laughed when Sakura tried to kick at his shin.
"I'll be fine…Let me down so I can see if we are near-by a village." Sakura did as told and steadied Hinata once her feet were placed on the ground. Leaning against Sakura for support, Hinata clasped her hands together, bringing one finger up to her mouth, her eyes closed. "Byakugan!" She cried as her eyes snapped open; now pulsing with charka. Looking around she sighed a bit, "I can see the road clearly..." Her eyes narrowed before she broke out into a grin. "We're in luck! A man with a cart is passing on the road, going the opposite way of us…he doesn't look tired which means he just came from a village."
"YES!!" Chouji and Sakura cheered. "Food!"
Hinata's Byakugan disappeared and she grinned with them. "It is probably just over a hill in that direction..." She pointed to the direction where she saw the hill. "My Byakugan still isn't as strong as it could be so I couldn't see past it, but my bet it is right there."
"Well let's go!" Chouji cried as he hurried in the direction leaving the two girls giggling—only Chouji would be this hyper after sparring if food was mentioned.
"A bit larger than the one's we've been threw before…" Sakura observed as she entered in, ignoring the disgusted looks many people were giving them. She licked her lips, knowing for a fact that they all smelled terrible.
"That probably means we are getting closer to the border—if villages are placed near the borders they would have more tourists pass by which would lead to them getting larger." Chouji stated out as he walked past all the shops looking back and forth, also ignoring the looks. "But this village is rather small compared to the ones right by the border so my guess it we still have a ways to go."
"I wonder what this place is called…" Hinata spoke out, feeling very uncomfortable, unlike her friends, at the stares.
"Ah! A food stand!" Sakura chirped as she pointed to a small restaurant, much like the one they first worked at. "We'll ask for a job there and ask where we are…ok?" The two were unable to answer as the girl ran over.
"Why does she always get to pick the places?" Chouji whimpered, feeling very abused and pushed around.
Hinata giggled, "Because it's Sakura-Chan, she always has to be in charge and make decisions…she's selfish like that." She then paused as she followed after Sakura who was in front of the store waving them over. "But it also makes her a real good leader—she follows her instincts, is able to take charge and make decisions on a moment's notice." She smiled up at the male. "And besides, every time she picks out a place we have always been able to get a job…"
"I guess…" Chouji pouted as he crossed his arms over his chest, earning another giggle from the shy girl.
Once the three entered they were almost knocked back at how delicious everything smelled. "Wow…so good…" Chouji drooled, his stomach gurgling loudly.
"Hello?" A big man, asked as he regarded the kids with a concern frown. "Is there something I can help you with?" He asked, his wife from behind the counter gasped at the sight of the children.
"We want to work for food…please." Sakura, the one who normally took charge, stated.
"Work for food?" The man asked, looking a bit confused.
"Please? I know we are horrid looking and smell as bad as we look, but we need food." Sakura pleaded, looking up at the chef. "We will do any job—clean toilets, scrub the floors, clean attics…whatever! You name it and we will do it! We desperately need food!"
The man sighed as he looked over at the three kids. They were horrid looking—practically skin and bones, covered in bruises and cuts, it was possible that they had a few cracked bones, their faces gaunt—to put it simply it looked as if they had gone threw a terrible time. He then gazed at his wife who was looking at the kids with a worried expression—their eyes met and she nodded. "Fine…You clean both of the bathrooms. And in return you each you will get a meal." He raised an eyebrow. "Deal?"
Chouji nodded, "A whole meal for each of us?! You bet we will! Every place we have worked for has only given us one meal for the three of us to share—thank you so much!"
The man frowned, "Well that is not right; you need to eat, especially if you are willing to do any work." He crossed his arm over his chest. "Here is another deal…you clean the bathrooms today for food and a shower. Tomorrow you will work for the night you stayed and for breakfast…is that ok?" He gagged when he saw their teary faces. "U-uh…"
"Thank you so-s-so much!" Hinata sobbed as she brought her hands to her face. "W-we h-haven't—Oh thank you!"
He chuckled as he scratched the back of his head, "Don't mention it, just do your end of the bargain and you will get your reward…Deal?"
He laughed as he led them to the bathrooms, "We have been wanting to clean this us for a while but neither my wife nor myself have been able too…it means a lot that you are willing to do this."
"It means more to us that you are willing to let us do this!" Sakura chirped as he took the cleaning items and hurried inside the girl's bathroom, ready to earn her food.
"Thank you very much again." Hinata stated as she hurried after her friend.
Sighing the owner looked at Chouji with a sympathetic smile, "Sorry that you won't have any help…are you sure you can handle it on your own?"
Chouji laughed and waved him off, "I've done worse by myself. Don't worry; it will be spotless by dinner time. If you need any more help just tell us and we will do it."
"I will…Oh; I'm Kazaki Yusuke, what are your names?"
"Chouji—the girl with the pink-hair is Sakura and the other is Hinata. And again, thanks. We haven't received much kindness so this is very new to us…"
Yusuke smiled thinly at this, "Its ok, just come to me when you are done…and I think I'm going to make you guys take a shower and get cleaned up before eating, ok?" Chouji nodded in agreement, knowing he ranked terribly, with a salute he took his cleaning material and hurried inside, ready to get to work.
"All done!" Chouji chirped as he left from the bathroom, dusting off his hands. He saw Sakura and Hinata placing down their own cleaning supplies giving him a grin. After working so often, doing a lot of difficult jobs they were able to finish the bathroom in less than an hour.
Yusuke blinked, "Already?" He entered the bathroom and was shocked to find it practically spotless. "Amazing!" He grinned down at them. "You did an amazing job!" The three blushed modestly at his compliments, something they hadn't received from anyone other then themselves in a long time. "Usagi!" He cried to his wife who came over, smiling at the children.
"They finished their jobs, and very well I might add…take them to the house and get them cleaned up. By the time their done their dinner should be ready." The three looked ready to faint at the thought of a bath and some food. The woman nodded and led the three to the back where their house was. It was a very nice and simple house, and had a very homely feeling.
"Follow me…" She stated with a gentle smile. Opening a door she showed them a small shower, "There is shampoo and soap right there," she pointed to a shelf next to the shower. "And we have plenty of extra tooth-brushes for you to use if you wish." She gave them a small polite bow, "I will be out front cooking if you need anything…oh."
She looked at their clothes with a frown. Reaching over she picked up three towels, "Please get out of those clothes…I will wash and sew them." The three regarded each other with a blush, feeling a bit awkward. She giggled at this and she opened the door to the bedroom. "The two of you can change in here; the young man may change in there and take his shower."
The three separated and quickly peeled their clothes off their body. Sakura looked down, feeling very awkward, it had been more than a month since she has been completely nude—she hasn't changed clothes or bathed in that long as well—but they all had been brushing, but they were in need of a new toothbrush.
She was surprised at how foreign her body looked to her; before she left it was no big deal. She would bathe and change without a second thought about her body—but after not seeing it for so long…it was really weird. Looking over, she saw Hinata was pretty much feeling the same way—she was observing her body as if it was the first time she had ever seen it.
The two made eye-contact, they honestly didn't know if they should be embarrassed or not. Sakura shrugged, feeling rather good—she grabbed Hinata's clothes and handed them to the woman who was waiting patiently at the door.
"Are you not going to take off those things?" She asked, regarding the weights wrapped around each wrist and each ankle.
"No…we will be leaving them on for the time being…but thanks." Sakura stated as she closed the door, as the woman walked away ready to clean up the clothes. Turning around she glanced at Hinata with another shrug, "I guess we just wait for Chouji to knock…" She slumped to the ground, obviously not knowing what to make out of the situation. She was not use to kindness and she was certainly not use to her naked body.
Hinata followed her example and sat down next to her. "Before all of this…I think I would be blushing at being this exposed to you…" She leaned her head back against the wall. "We really have changed."
"I know. It's amazing how awestruck I am at just taking off my clothes…Do you think you would be this calm if Chouji was here?" Hinata squeaked, her face growing bright red. Sakura laughed, "We haven't been gone that long or changed that much it would seem. The thought of the opposite gender naked still makes us shudder." She scratched the side of her chin before looking down at her finger nails. "I can't really remember what it feels like to be clean…is that sad or what?"
"Or what is right…" Hinata giggled as she looked down at the weights. "So they will fall off only when…what again?"
"I guess when we are ready…when we have reached the peak of our training out here. Once they come off it is a sign to tell us to return to Konoha…" She looked at her own as well. "I don't know how Gai-San accomplished this or how exactly it works but we don't need to worry about it…what we need to worry about is our goal of getting stronger…"
Hinata nodded, "Are we planning on finding a teacher?"
"That would probably be the best…we can only teach ourselves so much…" She rubbed her eyes. "Ugh…I just hope we can find one." She then looked up, "I forgot—I was meaning to ask where we are…"
"We can find out during dinner."
"Dinner…Now that is a weird word…one we haven't used to it's fullest in a long time." She crossed her arms over her chest. "We need to get more organized; we are going to have to stay at the villages we pass longer than a day and night. If we are to get our diet balanced and get money we will have to do more than what we are doing."
"Yeah…I guess. But I'm worried that if we stay to long at one place we will be found out." Hinata stated, looking very worried about the whole idea. "I do not want to go back just when we are getting start--"
There were three knocks on the door, signaling that it was their turn to bathe. "Hey, guys you have to get out and try this! It feels amazing to be cleaned!" Chouji chirped on the other side of the door.
The girls shot up, grinning at one another as they wrapped their towels around their bodies. "Coming!" The two hurried outside, looking over at Chouji, practically gasping at him. His skin was no longer caked with dried blood and dirt, instead it was now cleaned and smoother—before leaving his skin was rather pale, now it was beginning to tan. His body was looking a bit sickly after loosing so much weight so fast, but sure enough muscles were beginning to form in replace of fat—Sakura planned to fatten him up again in the near-future.
"Amazing! It's like you are a new person, Chouji-Kun!" Hinata gasped out as she clasped her hands together. "You are becoming very handsome!" She teased as she pinched his tattoo cheeks. She giggled as a small blush went on his cheeks and he slapped her hands away. "Chouji-Kun is embarrassed Sakura-Chan…" Sakura snorted at this, as she eyed her friend who was blushing and fidgeting.
"You are getting handsome…Uchiha Sasuke better watch out because there is going to be a new heartthrob!"
"Come on guys…" Chouji pleaded feeling very uncomfortable at getting teased like this by his female companions. "Don't get my hopes up, we all know I am not handsome—especially like Uchiha or Hyuuga…Even Uzumaki and Nara have looks better than me."
The two frowned at this; he was so insecure at times. But they knew no matter what they said it was not going to change his view on himself—so they instantly dropped the subject. "We're going to take a shower now—we won't be long."
Chouji shook his head, "You two are so attached to each other it's scary."
"How so?" Hinata asked, obviously not seeing what Chouji was seeing.
"You two are about to go take a shower together…" He droned out, raising an eyebrow at the two.
"We are not about to shower together!" Sakura huffed, quite offended. "One will sit on the toilet or something while the other bathes…duh." She stated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Chouji rolled his eyes and held up his hands to show he gave up. With a haughty huff, her nose in the air Sakura grabbed Hinata's arm and began to drag her into the bathroom. "Come Hinata-Chan, we don't need this!!"
"This is amazing, Kazaki-San!" Hinata gasped as she stuffed the food in her mouth, all clean and in a very large t-shirt. "W-we haven't had anything like this in weeks! Maybe months!"
Sakura brought her bowl to her lips and slurped the rest down, using the back of her hand to wipe off any residue on her mouth. "By the way Kazaki-San, what is the name of this village?"
He looked over at her before smiling, "Rikujou."
Chouji licked his lips of any broth, "I haven't heard of that…" He trailed off for a second before he looked back up to the man. "Two more questions."
"Shoot." Yusuke stated, as he gazed at his wife who was humming happily as she fixed up the children's shirt.
"Do you know where I can find a map and what is the date today?"
Yusuke bit his lip, as he leaned against the counter looking over the kids. "I'll answer any questions of yours if you answer some of mine, is that ok?" The three nodded as they continued to eat their meal, something they haven't had in a long time. "How old are all of you?"
Usagi gasped as she looked up from her work, "And you're by yourself!?"
"We have each other…" Sakura chirped, obviously not getting Usagi's horror. "And we are ninjas—we can take care of ourselves. That was amazing!" She stated as she finished her soup.
"Why are you traveling?"
"To get stronger." Chouji stated as he placed his bowl down on the counter, thanking for his meal. "We were the weakest of our class and our village, so we decided to do something about it."
"You left?" Yusuke asked, not getting it.
"W-we had to…none of our teachers had any faith in us—and the only one who did was constantly forced to concentrate only on those with better names or talents." Hinata replied, trying her best to explain the situation to the nice couple.
"What about your family?" Usagi asked, stopping her work to listen to the story.
"Sa-Sakura-Chan doesn't have a family, and the only reason my clan would be looking for me is to make sure I don't tell any secrets…" The heiress looked over at Chouji. "His parents loved all of us and treated us with kindness…you remind me of them." She stated with a smile. "They knew we left and that we had to leave…" She narrowed her eyes and clenched her fist. "We are going to get stronger—reach our goal and make them proud."
"Bu-but…" Usagi did not know what to say to that. "You're only children."
"Ninjas are taught at an early age to be very mature and level-headed!" Sakura sang out, appearing very happy. "Besides, I have practically raised myself. I know I can do this! And these two are strong—they can handle anything!" She slapped her chest only to wince; she knew she had a broken rib or two.
"Where are you headed?" Yusuke continued.
"Wherever the wind takes us baby! Hell yeah!" Sakura sang out, now on a roll.
Chouji sighed and looked at the man, "We have no destination yet, one reason we need a map. But we plan on finding a teacher…I'll add another question; have you heard of any rumors about where we can find someone who can teach us?"
"I'll think about that…Continue with my questions and then we will go on to yours. Usagi-Chan, you think about anything you have heard." The woman nodded in understanding and agreement. He then looked back at the kids, his blue eyes narrowing, "So all of this is about getting stronger?"
"In a way—yes. There are more levels to it, but the basic of it is that we want to get stronger." Hinata looked down at her fingers. "But we can only do so much on our own…"
"Last question; are you serious about this?"
The three looked up at him, their faces grim. "More than anything."
He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply—appearing as if he made a decision within himself. When he opened his eyes he was smiling, "Fine…I'll help you." The kids sighed in relief. "I will get you a map and point you in the right direction on where you should go. I can't do more than that."
"It's more than enough." Hinata whispered, grateful.
"It's December 18th and we have a map for you." He reached under the counter and handed them the folded paper. "We have a lot of travelers, always asking directions—this will help you out." Unfolding the paper he began to show them how to use it. "This is the village Rikujou—that is the large village of Konoha." If he saw them wince he made no remark. "From here to there is around fifty-three miles…"
"We've traveled that far?!" Sakura yelped only to slap her hands over her mouth, cursing slightly.
Yusuke laughed, "I had an idea that's where you were from—but yes you three have traveled a long ways…and you have only twenty more miles and three more large villages like this until you reach the border." His finger trailed from the village to the south west. "If you keep heading straight you will enter the Wave Country, and from there you will enter the Hidden Mist territory—there are plenty of boats to take you to the main-land of the territory."
"It wouldn't take us much longer to get there…" Hinata trailed off.
"Yes, but Mist is extremely dangerous. I've heard that their shinobies are very cruel—their training ruthless. If you run into any rouge ninjas you are as good as dead."
"We can handle it." Sakura deadpanned, glaring down at the map. "Once we leave the fire-territory we will be safe from ANBU who might be looking out for us." Her lips drew back into a thin line. "I think about three more days if we go straight threw the night tomorrow."
Usagi sighed, "I am all done, and you three need to go to bed and rest up."
"Are you guys sure about this?" Chouji asked, looking rather awkward at being allowed to sleep inside a building.
Yusuke nodded, "Positive." He then pointed down the hall, "There are three cots and blankets already set out for you, go on and rest up."
"Thank you…" The three hurried back, entering the room and stared at the cots with uncertainty.
Usagi laughed, "Go on, we want you too. You all look tired—go on." She ushered as she picked herself up and walked over to them. She placed each of them in bed and tucked them in. By the time she got to the door the three were out cold.
Once in the hall she ran into Yusuke who was looking very serious and grim about the situation--something she wasn't use to, despite being new to all of this.
"How are they?" He asked, concern lacing threw his voice.
"Fast asleep." She replied, closing the door softly so on the off chance one of them were able to awaken they couldn't hear a thing.
"Hmmm…" Yusuke leaned against the wall, taking on a look of concentration.
"It would be so easy to take them back to Konoha…"
"Easy-yes, but right?" He shook his head. "No—no Kurenai, these kids have passion and youth that must not be broken."
"Report to the Hokage…we lost them near the Mist border." He then looked over at the door. "No one can see what their future will be like, but I'm sure…that if we let them be…they can reach their goal." He then threw a wink to the woman. "If we let them be and grow with the youth of spring…they could be some of the most powerful shinobi of our time."
Rikujou- word for Land
Only, like two more of these filler chapters before something kind-of big happens! And after that some familiar faces will be appearing along with other twists. And I already know who will be the teacher so no suggestions.
And this might be a bit longer then expected…