Disclaimer: Naruto series and characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto. The plot, though, is mine.
That Face in my Dreams
Chapter Three: Meeting Her Father
I could my heartbeat even if the roar of the rain covered most sounds that night. Sakura's hoodless cloak flapped noisily behind her as I followed her through the maze of Konoha. She hadn't said anything after we had rushed out into the streets. What could be going on with Tenten that Sakura couldn't handle alone?
It didn't help the situation much that the Hyuuga estate is located is in the West of Konohagakure whereas Sakura's appartment is far East. The rain also made it hard to see where we were going.
Hmm, running in the rain. Why does it feel familiar? I joked to myself. But even that wouldn't lighten the fear and worry that had come to creep up in the back of my mind upon seeing Sakura looking so desperate. Sakura was generally known as an independant kunoichi and a highly skilled medic and social-worker.
We cross the final intersection and run up the stairs to her appartment. She bursts through the door and leads me to the bedroom at the far end of the hall. She enters before me and rushes to Tenten's side.
I was completely right to be worried.
Tenten sat staring wide-eyed at the opposite wall. Her eyes were bleak and glazed over, as if her mind wasn't in this universe anymore. She was violently shaking and tears were streaming down her face in a constant line, never seeming to stop. Her voice emitted the faintest squeak as if she was too terrified to scream. Clutching the blankets tightly, her knuckles were white and shaking.
"She woke up just two hours ago and she's been like this ever since. It's like she can't see me or hear anything I say. Her heartbeat's racing at a dangerous speed, her fever's spiked once again and she's sweating like a human sprinkler. I need you to see if you can use your Byakugan to find out what's going on. You can tell alot of things by looking in people's eyes, right?" asked Sakura, sounding exhausted and distressed.
I nodded and activated my bloodline limit. Concentrating on Tenten's blank eyes, I first notice how stress combined with fear is confusing her chakra system. I decipher her pupil movements to be results of painful memories and paranoia.
"She's remembering something painful. Something she's afraid of and is running away from." I state after a few minutes of observing.
Sakura pondered this for a moment. I focus all my chakra into my eyes and study the various feelings expressed in Tenten's eyes and face. Terror and shame and... something else... what could it be?
Dizziness overtakes me and I disactivate my Byakugan. Lack of sleep and excessive chakra use in my eyes make me tired and weak. I don't normally spend so much energy in simply observing emotions. That, and I didn't get any sleep for the past two days.
A lone teardrop falls from Tenten's eyes, unnoticed by the medic-nin beside her on the opposite side. I blink. It's the first time I see Tenten cry, even if it's only a bit.
"I'll make something for Tenten. She hasn't eaten for a couple days." announced Sakura softly, leaving the room.
Another tear overflowed from Tenten's seemingly dry eyes, followed by a thin stream of several more. Her breath came in raspy, choked gasps. I walk closer with a tissue I had grabbed from the bedside table and I start to dry away the salty water on her face. I don't know how many tissues I used, but her eyes were watering so much I wondered if I would run out!
I sat down on the bed, beside her but at a comfortable distance, wiping her unblinking eyes.
All of a sudden, Tenten lets out a loud wail and burries her head into my shirt, clutching to me as hard as she had been clutching the covers a little while ago. Her hushed crying turns into desperate sobs of fear and the need for comfort. Just the sight was enough to make someone want to cry. I tried calming her down, but she just tightens her grip on my shirt.
Sakura came bursting in at the sound of her scream. Taking in the sight, she immediately tried to help me console her. When that failed, she tried prying Tenten off of me, but that proved even more difficult. So tight was her death grip I thought I'd have bruises for weeks.
"I'll have to tranquilize her, I don't think she wants to let go any time soon!" yelled Sakura over the sound of Tenten's wailing. She pulled out a First Aid kit and extracted a seringe containing a clear liquid. With great care, she injected the medicine into Tenten's thigh, making her tense, then collapse onto me. I set her back down on the bed and replaced all of the blankets over her.
Sakura sighed and pressed a hand to her forehead. "Still feverish. You okay there, Neji-kun?" she asked. I rubbed the places on my chest that had begun to hurt. Sakura handed me a cloth to dry up spots of moisture that Tenten had so thoughtfully cried on me.
"I'll live." I said simply.
I spent the rest of the night discussing with Sakura the different situations that could have led to both the injuries and the un-Tenten-like behaviour. We came to the same conclusion:
When she wakes up, we'll force her to tell us.
Just as I was walking through the door, Sakura's phone rang.
"Hello?" she asked in a soft voice. "Oh, Tsunade-shishou... what?! I... I'll be right there." Eyes wide and mouth slightly agape, she dropped the receiver into place.
"We've got to go to Tsunade-shishou's office, pronto." Sakura grabbed her coat and pulled me out the door and into the still-dark streets. The position of the moon suggested that we were around four o'clock in the morning. The heavy rain had died down to a slight drizzle, but Sakura kept pulling me into puddles, hence, I was soaked anyway.
Sakura stops at the door and knocks. A tired "Come in" gave her permission to enter. She walked in a few steps and I followed. We both bowed and looked up. A moustached man with a twisted, unpleasant face stood infront of Tsunade-sama's desk, scrutinizing us as we made our way to the Hokage's desk. He looked tough with his burly arms crossed over his chest arrogantly. "You called a couple of kids?" he mutters in his scruffy voice.
I don't even know this man's name, but I already hate him.
"You called, Tsunade-shishou?" asks Sakura politely, ignoring the rudeness coming from the stranger
"Yes. Sakura, this is Runoki Sanato-san, a very important figure among the P.I.D." Tsunade explains. Her voice was filled with authority, but there was a hint of exhaustion in her voice.
The P.I.D... Police Investigation Department. Very important indeed. What would he want with us?
"Runoki-san, this is Sakura, a very good assistant of mine." she introduces. The man squints at me.
"Who's the twerp?" he sneered.
I could feel my anger rising to boiling point but kept myself in check out of respect and not wanting to disgrace Tsunade-sama.
"This is Hyuuga Neji, one of our respected Jounin that could wipe out all of your squads in less than five minutes." retorts Tsunade. Obviously, this Runoki Sanato was ticking her off as well. The man in question just twisted his face even more and with an audible "Tch", turns his head in the other direction.
"Back to the point," begins the Fifth, her manacing eyes still lingering on the hateful man. "Runoki-san has come here with a request."
She stared at the man and jerked her head to the door. He reluctantly got the message, leaving the room while muttering insults under his breath. He slammed the door behind him and his footsteps resounded in the empty hallway. Once Tsunade was sure he was gone, she sighed and looked at us with urgent eyes.
"Have you seen Tenten anywhere?" she asks quickly. Sakura and I both cringe. Sakura looks at me, searching for the permission to tell her master about her new patient. I think about it a moment, then speak up.
"Why does he want to know?" I ask, suggesting my dislike of that particular person.
"I don't like him either, Neji, but we have to be on his good side to avoid conflict." she sighs. "Anyhow, apparently Tenten's gone missing."
"That's half true." whispered Sakura. I lowered my eyes. Tenten wasn't exactly Tenten right now.
Tsunade rubbed her temples and looked at us with sad eyes. "You may not know this, but Runoki Sanato is Tenten's father." she explains
Sakura gasps. I stare.
"Well, stepfather more precisely." she corrects.
Sakura and I relax a little bit, but there's still a heavy tension in the room. "She never talks to us about her family. Does she have a mother, then?" asks Sakura hopefully. Tsunade shakes her head and slumps back in her chair.
"Tenten's biological father died three days after she was born. Her mother re-married but mysteriously died a year later. Because her stepfather had too much work to do to look after a young girl, Tenten was living with her grandmother. But she also died recently so Sanato-san had to take her in." she revealed.
Sakura brought her finger to her lip and drifted off into her thoughts. "She's been surrounded by so many deaths... Now she has to live with that... that..." suddenly, her eyes shot open and she turned to me then to Tsunade.
"Do you know if Runoki Sanato has been known to be violent?" asked Sakura, leaning on Tsunade's desk and staring at her intensely. Tsunade scanned through a filing cabinet and pulled out a folder with the inituals R.S. on the tag. She pulled out a sheet and handed it to her.
Tsunade looked confused and I'm positive that I mirrored her expression.
With a loud "Aha!", she smacked the paper down on the desk and pulled me over to read. Tsunade leaned forward to read as well.
I read it once, but didn't quite understand so I read it out loud. "Runoki Sanato. Age, fourty-two. Smoker. Three cases of ravages in public and private establishments under the influence of alcohol as well as three cases of unexplained violence towards innocent villagers."
"What are you trying to get at, Sakura?" I ask.
"Everything falls into place, Neji! The wounds on Tenten's body, they're no mistaking it!" she exclaimed. She pounded her fist into her other hand. "Those pieces of glass we saw, they're most likely from sake glasses and those burn marks could be from cigarettes!"
Things start to connect inside my head. That man... he's doing this to her... he's hurting Tenten. Suddenly a whole new hatred for the towering man hatched in my mind.
"What are you talking about Sakura?" demanded the Hokage.
In a fit of excitement and fear, she explained to her teacher everything about me finding Tenten in the rain, the mysterious injuries, the odd behaviour and our new hypothesis on who the culprit is. Tsunade sat, speechless, pale and horrified. "Where is she now?" she asked in a hushed tone.
"At my apartment, not far from here." she answered. Tsunade nodded.
"I'll have Runoki under serveillance. Bring me to Tenten. I want to examine these scars myself." she said, grabbing her green coat on the back of her chair.
A sudden noise. Heavy footsteps running away from behind the door. I activate my Byakugan to see through the walls and I recognize a certain man running out of the tower and into the streets. He must have heard our conversation. He's headed to Sakura's apartment. He's an investigator so he must have every address in Konoha.
"No..." I breathe.