Declaimer: I don't own any of the characters but this plot is rightfully mine!!
Hey guys! Sorry, that was the crappiest ASAP ever! I've been really crammed with exams, soccer, basketball and lots of other things! I use quite a few technical soccer-terms in this chapter, and if you have any questions about their meanings, don't hesitate to ask! Yeah, I've been excited for this one… so why wait? Let's go! (Oh yeah, since it's been awhile, I'd suggest scanning through last chapter to refresh your memory! It might help because this one continued directly from it!)
Chapter 11: Mishap Overflow
The opposing striker made a quick pass to his partner. It was time to get this show on the road, and Kiba took them head-on and won the battle. Kiba now had the ball. "You have support!" Neji called, and then Kiba passed it back to Sasuke, who killed the ball (stopped it) and started running up the field. Gaara took his place. Sakura and Lee made runs up the wings of the field in zig-zag patterns, hoping to shake off the players covering them. Sakura noticed a couple of the defenders give her curious looks (because, after all, hardly any girls played in this league), but she ignored them. This was not the time to be thinking. At all. Naruto and Kiba had already run forwards and were standing on the rim of the goal-box. Lee and Sakura were on the outsides of the box, Sasuke was just behind the two strikers (the three of them forming a triangle), and Gaara was a little ways behind him with the ball. Neji and the other defenders had moved up slightly past the half-line, trying to force some of the other players to be off-side.
Lee was amazingly fast and was running all over the place on the right side, looking for a pass. But unfortunately for him, the other team noticed this and a few extra players went to cover him. Little did they know, this was all part of his initial plan. It opened the left side of the field right up. Sakura didn't seem like much of a threat at the moment, and only one player was standing within a 2 metre radius of her. She smirked when Gaara passed her the ball and she danced around her opponent. She was in the perfect shooting-range at the moment, but the other team had obviously noticed that too and started closing in on her. She made a quick step-over (a quick trick where you step over the ball and spin to face the opposite direction) to see what other options she had. Sasuke, Gaara and Lee were all closely-covered, and Naruto and Kiba were too deep in the swarm of white players for her to risk passing to them. Then she spotted Neji.
He started his swift, speedy and generally unnoticeable run up from mid-field. Seeing as there was no time for hesitation, Sakura kicked the ball a good 5 metres back towards their end of the field. She could feel her team-mates' surprise, and one of the players on her bench had even shouted, "What the heck is she doing?!" Neji reacted to her play beautifully. Taking advantage of the ball already being in motion, he fired it back towards the net with triple the amount power and… TING!... it hit the crossbar.
The crowd "OOOHH!"-ed, Neji gritted his teeth, the players on the field finally realized what had been going on, and Gai shouted, "Nice demonstration of youthful power, Neji! That was the right idea, Sakura!" She smiled and the game continued. With that starting burst of energy, the team was feeling indefectible. They dominated the first 10 minutes of the game, and just before the first shift-change, Naruto had a mad-break towards the net. He wasn't a very technical player, but that guy was incredibly powerful and unstoppable. Sakura, Lee, Kiba and Sasuke were all close behind him. Naruto carried the ball all the way out of their defensive zone and well-into the offensive end. The crowd was going wild. But then some of the defenders started running towards him like a wall, and quickly realizing that there was no way that he'd be able to get through, he shouted, "Help!"
Sakura's mind found the answer. As she ran past Sasuke, she said, "Set up for a give-and-go!" For a half-second, she was almost worried that he wouldn't listen to her. But she had no time to be thinking like that. She sprinted past Naruto, still on the wing, and then she yelled, "Wall pass!" Relieved, Naruto gave her the ball. She one-touched it up-field, where Sasuke was headed. He shot it… right into the top-corner! The goalie had nearly collided with the post trying to make the save, but his efforts had been in vain because he hadn't managed to get it!
The crowd erupted. The team gathered around Sasuke, and he received several encouraging slaps on the back (accept for Naruto, who gave him a hard punch on the arm). Gai called a sub, and Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura were all called off. "Excellent teamwork, you three!" he exclaimed, giving them all a high-five. Naruto was the only person (besides the people playing for or supporting the other team) who was frowning. "Aw Sakura, why didn't you pass it to me so I could score?"
Sasuke, who seemed to be forgetting that he was angry with her, said, "That's because she knows how much better I am. Right Sakura?" he asked with an evil smirk. This earned him a slap on the back of the head.
"I'm not going to pick favourites," she said, rolling her eyes while chugging down some water. She glanced across the field and saw that the people in the stands were still going wild. The line-up's for Ino and Shikamaru's little booth was getting longer and longer. Wow, I really should check it out later, Sakura thought with interest. She also noticed the cheerleaders, who were running around and shaking pom-poms wherever they went. Sakura recognized many of them as Sasuke's fangirls. There was one of them that seemed to be leading the others- she had red hair and glasses of what Sakura could see, and was wearing a belly-top and spandex booty-shorts. She cringed. How could people wear things like that?
Rock Lee, Neji and Gaara were the only players who hadn't been subbed off. Although the score was unchanged by the end of this shift, it hadn't been entirely eventless. Choji had performed a few incredible saves (which was quite surprising; who would have guessed that he'd be able to lift his weight?), and Neji became the official star defender and ball-clearer (kicking the ball all the way into the other end), after he stole the ball, deaked-out 3 others and then sent it out to the other end. Sakura could hear Tenten's screams from the bleachers on the other end. Gaara proved himself to be really skilled as well because he, as the center mid, set up a nearly-perfect play (if only the striker had managed to get his foot on it, it would have been a sure goal). Rock Lee ran the other team into a tizzy, and he started the following shift with a beautiful goal to the bottom corner (Gai was going wild at this point).
The score was unchanged by the end of the half; 2-O for Konoha High.
This was a great lead, but unfortunately, they started to get a little overconfident. They all pulled into a huddle at the half-time break and Gai added a few encouraging contributors to their expanding egos. "You're all displaying power and individual talent! Keep up the good work!" They all clapped and thumped each other on the backs.
Tsunade stepped in. "But there is always room for improvement, right?" she said, and the team muttered in agreement. "For example, we especially need to work on finishing and perfecting our plays, am I right? Especially pulling the shot off! We've had several excellent plays, but just can't seem to finish them!" She paused. "But as Gai said, we are playing very well. Some of you seem like you've been playing together for years! I'd like to see more of that next half!"
Gai seemed a little surprised. "W-why thank you, Tsunade! You're right! Now team, let's get out there! Bring it in guys!"
"We really need a new cheer," Naruto groaned. "It should be like a song or something. And we should have some sort of dance to go with it."
And so, they took their positions and started at the sound of the whistle. The other team was starting with the ball. Naruto and Kiba recklessly charged, but this only gave the other team an opportunity to dance around them, now with two less players in the way. Rock Lee was caught off-momentum, so he didn't have a chance. Sakura gritted her teeth. There wasn't much she could do on the complete opposite side of the field. She shifted over towards the middle to cover open players. Sasuke managed to tackle the player with the ball without being called for a foul (luckily), but he was immediately caught in a swarm of opponents. It was hard to tell what happened at this point, but moments later, the other players had the ball and Sasuke was lying on the ground. He scrambled to his feet—determination and fury in his eyes—but it was too late. Gaara and Neji had been subbed off, and the other defenders didn't stand a chance.
One of the opposing strikers gracefully weaved through the rest of the defence and shot a low ball to the corner, unfortunately passed Choji's arm-span. A small portion of the crowd cheered (the ones who had traveled from the Land of Waves). The players on the other bench started to chant: "HA-KU! HA-KU! HA-KU!" who Sakura assumed was their goal-scorer. Zabuza the Demon was grinning in a manically disturbing way. Sakura cringed. She didn't like this. The other team's confidence was building. And to top it off, some of her own team-mates were starting to get a little edgy.
Neji and Gaara were swearing on the bench, wishing they'd been on the field to stop the goal. Lee was sobbing quietly in the corner, disappointed that he had failed his master, Gai. Kiba was angry with the defenders. "If Shino had been on the team, he never would have let something like this happen! These guys should be kicked off!"
Naturally, Naruto was also looking for others to blame. "Sasuke! What the hell happened to you back there?!"
Sasuke shot him a reproachful glare. "I didn't fall on my own, idiot. And besides, you're one to talk! Why did you charge at them like that?!"
"I was trying to get the ball!"
"That's it! Everyone bring it in!" Tsunade thundered over the bickering. "We need everyone to calm down! We're a team and need to work through this together! Got it?"
"We still have a lead," Sakura piped up. All eyes turned to her. She didn't usually speak up. "We're still the better team and we've got nothing to worry about."
"But what about that Haku-guy?" Kiba asked. "We can't keep up with him!"
"And the other defenders are stacked! We can't beat them either!"
"Listen!" Sakura suddenly snapped. "We've already scored twice! Who says we can't do it again?"
A silence followed.
"Well said," Gaara muttered with a small smile, breaking the silence.
"She's right," Sasuke added. "We shouldn't be getting so worked up over one goal."
Others shouted in agreement and the tension began to loosen. Gai frowned because he had nothing to contribute. The ref blew the whistle twice, and motioned for the team to get back on the field. The next few shifts were strong and solid. They didn't give the other team any other chances to score. They also came close a few times—on one play, Gaara sent Lee a brilliant through-ball, which led to a break-away. The goalie ran out and snatched the ball before he had a chance to get a shot in, but the play itself was ingenious. Gaara was an excellent play-setter.
At the beginning of the last shift, Haku trapped and controlled a goal kick and began his break towards the net. He shot passed Gaara, and surprisingly Neji, who wasn't able to keep up with him in the footrace. Haku had nearly beaten the sweeper, when the sweeper shockingly aimed a kick right for Haku's knee. Haku barely managed to dodge it and lost the ball, but the ref called it as a foul and awarded Zabuza's team with a penalty-kick (because it had been in the goal-box).
"What WAS that?!" Tsunade hollered from the bench. The sweeper shrugged and Tsunade put her head in her hands. Gai was gritting his teeth, and the rest of the Ninja's were very surprised and angry.
"I knew Shino should have been recruited! That guy's going to mess everything up!" Kiba said with a scowl. No one argued.
Unfortunately the other team scored.
And from here, the game came to a sudden end.
Confidence and egos were drained.
Disappointment consumed their previously encouraged hearts and minds.
They crossed the field after they had removed their socks and shins. Most of the crowd was still there, applauding politely, but they were obviously disappointed as well. Sakura shuffled along, not quite sure how much more she could take. After her encounter with Orochimaru, she wanted nothing more than to burry her face into a pillow so she wouldn't have to face any other-
"Sakura Haruno!" called a voice Sakura didn't recognize. She turned and was bewildered to find herself facing the cheerleader with the booty shorts. Sakura took a step forwards.
"You… called me?" she asked.
"Oh yes!" said the cheerleader, with a falsely sweet smile. "I'm Karin. I just wanted to congratulate you on that game!" She stuck her hand out. Sakura hesitantly took it and gave it a shake but Karin wouldn't let go. Her grip tightened until Sakura felt her nails piercing her skin and fingers squeezing her bones together. She emitted a tiny yelp. Karin pulled her closer and whispered, "If I see you within a meter's distance of Sasuke Uchiha, I'll crush more than just your hand. Got it?"
Sakura was taken aback. "What brought this on?"
Karin whipped Sakura's hand back towards her, probably pulling a few muscles. "Playing dumb, are you girl? Or are you just naive?! Figure it out for yourself, and stay away from Sasuke from here on out!" She turned her back and started walking away.
"Wait! What the heck are you talking about?!" Sakura called after her, but Karin ignored her and disappeared into the thinning crowd. Stay away from Sasuke? But…why? It wasn't like they were an actual couple or anything. And who was that girl anyways? How did she know that she and Sasuke were close?
She shrugged it off because, after all, she had enough to worry about. She needed to firstly make sure that the girl's change-room wasn't locked so she could use it, go home and do her homework and then probably spend a few hours sulking over everything Orochimaru had said. She had a pretty busy schedule.
Once she had made it through the crowd, someone called her name.
"What?!" she answered, her mind suddenly flooded with thoughts of Karin, snapping her head around and facing…Sasuke. "Oh, sorry. I thought you were someone else," she answered bluntly and a little coldly.
"Hold on," he said, catching up with her and grabbing her arm—unfortunately he chose the exact spot that Orochimaru had pierced her earlier. She winced and jerked backwards. Sasuke looked confused. "We need to talk," he then said very seriously.
Sakura huffed. "Alright, I'm sorry!" she fumed. "I honestly didn't mean to laugh at you at the party. I was laughing at Neji actually… But I didn't mean to make you feel like an idiot! So how about we just forget about it and move on, ok?"
Sasuke folded his arms. "Oh, I'd forgotten about that. That's not what I'm here to talk to you about. I want you to tell me why you were crying earlier."
Sakura stopped dead. He really wasn't mad at her any more? "R-right. I was crying because…" She paused. The very memory brought tears to her eyes. She couldn't tell him. She wouldn't repeat the words that Orochimaru had said because firstly, they were true, and secondly, if Sasuke knew, would he see her in a different way?
Instead of finishing her sentence, she bowed her head and turned away, but Sasuke wasn't going to give up so easily. He grabbed both shoulders this time (Sakura wincing again), and stared directly into her eyes. "I want to know what happened. Tell me. Please."
She returned the stare, only her eyes wavered and the tears flooded back into her lower eye-lids. "I-"
"Look everyone! It's true! It's definitely true! Look at them!"
Sasuke and Sakura looked up suddenly to the source of the commotion, and realized that there was a crowd that was beginning to form—around them!
"It wasn't photo-shopped! It was a real one!"
The crowd began pointing, whispering and giggling, with a clueless Sasuke and Sakura in the middle. Sasuke slowly removed his hands from her shoulders, his brow furrowed. Sakura wanted to get to the bottom of this. What was going on here? How did everyone know something about herself and Sasuke that she didn't? She ploughed through the crowd until she spotted Ino and Shikamaru at their little kiosk.
"Wow, this looks really nice!" she said, quickly admiring it before saying, "Do you know why everyone's on my case? They keep saying that… Sasuke… me… Uh… what's that?" she asked, her attention suddenly averted to something more eye-catching. It was a poster. A poster of her and Sasuke… hanging right smack-dab in the middle of the display of trinkets and banners.
This wasn't just any ordinary picture. They were sleeping, Sakura's head on his shoulder, Sasuke's arm around her… For a fleeting moment, Sakura admired the picture. It was really cute. Then Sakura wondered it that girl was actually her. She could hardly remember that happening.
But then reality hit her. This wasn't good.
"Do you see what I mean now, Haruno?" Karin was back. "Keep your dirty hands off of him!" A bunch of other fangirls joined in and contributed to the mood with a bit of jeering and name-calling.
"Ino!" Sakura suddenly yelled. "How could you?!"
"I-I didn't mean f-for… I never thought…," but her voice trailed off.
Sakura turned her back on her and marched right back through the crowd, the fangirls still shouting at her. "Shut up!" she wailed, tears finally falling. She continued at a run , trying to break out of there. She was going to run home, lock herself in her bedroom and never show her face again.
She passed Sasuke.
"Sakura! What is it?!"
"You'll find out soon enough!" she cried over her shoulder, her pace quickening. She passed Naruto and Lee, who asked the same question, but she chose to ignore them.
When she finally got home, she went straight up to her room and closed the door. When her mother called to her, she told her that she was really busy with homework, but in truth, she had her face buried into her pillow, never wanting to show it again.
Sasuke, Naruto, Tenten, Hinata and Ino all called her cell afterwards, but she refused to answer. As Orochimaru had said, she shouldn't be getting herself mixed up with them. They were way out of her league.
Afterwards, she decided that it would be best to finish up her homework to avoid more detentions. And finally, without supper, she drifted off into a quiet, dreamless sleep.
Wah! Did that chapter ever take a dramatic turn, huh? Sniff, sniff!! Well it's all got to happen for the story to flow (unfortunately!)! I'm sorry again about the slow update! I'm not too sure when the next one will be—most likely sometime in August. Please leave a review! It'll be greatly appreciated!
goal is to update "A Twist in Time"! I know you're all very mad
at me about that one too!
I'm also planning to so a special update for "Mission Accomplished" (It'll be like another epilogue)
Another thing I want to tell you all about while I've got the chance is my newest story, "Just a Game"! It WILL be my best one yet (hopefully!)! It's another high school, sasusaku story, but this time, it's focused on their blooming relationship (and trust me: it's really twisted!)! There will be WEEKLY updates! (and this time I can guarantee it; I've only posted 2 chapters, and I've already written up to chapter 7!) I will be updating it every Monday.
Sorry about my rambling… I tend to do that a lot… So anyways, see you all! Thank you so much for reading!!