A/N: So… I suck. I know. I said I wouldn't give up and I didn't! See? You all still hate me for not updating in forever don't you? Yeah. Well you see…there's this thing called marching band. Which is a lot more like a black hole, that just sucks up all your time and energy. So… yeah. Then… I had a whole crap load of computer problems. Now I'm back though! SO never fear! The black hole has passed and I have a brand spanking new computer! So I will be updating much quicker!
Reviewer! I love you all!
Day Dreamer x, salt234, Hanshakou, PhoenixTears95, everything but nothing, Lives-in-2D, Anima189, Titanium-Lioness, just-a-noob, hinataloover566, Kisori AKA savannah rocks, chesca13321, KoreanGal5, Allen Walker the Crowned Clown, Axbel, kontat1keyblade1kunai, 11M11, .fan, itstehchibiness, MyFinalFantasy, Julia Archer, kibahina-narusaku4ever(Just wana let you know your review was the final push I needed to finish my chapter :D).
Onward, El captain!
Let me tell you a story
It's about a Prince who was being forced into marriage by his own family through his stupid birthright. The grand ball held for him to find his true "love" was full of annoying rich princesses who he wished would just fall off the nearest balcony.
Then, he met this "perfect" girl who was so beautiful and so lovely and so caring and so… her. The prince thinks he's in love and is starting to look forward to his impending marriage. He starts to find himself daydreaming and practicing in the mirror and dreaming about her.
And it's all a lie.
That kind of stuff just doesn't happen. There is no such thing as wonderful, there's just if you can stand the person for five minutes.
And love is just made up, so stop looking already. It's not here, not there, it's nowhere, because it doesn't exists.
It's a stupid fairy tale some idiot made up.
Kiba tore page after page out of a book of fairy tales he loved as a child. With each page another part of himself was lost in his all consuming rage.
His room looked as if a tornado had rampaged through it, and in fact, one had. The tornado named Inuzka Kiba. Feathers were everywhere from when he had torn his pillows in half, his wardrobe had been reduced to a pile of splinters.
Kiba was having another one of his fits.
When Kiba had been smaller he had fits similar to this on a regular basis. It wasn't abnormal for him to destroy a whole room every other day then. Every Inuzka was like this, but just like everyone else, they grow up. They learn to control their anger and not destroy rooms. Kiba had not had a fit like this in a very long time. He had learned how to contain his anger.
This time was different though, no amount of breathing techniques or outlets of any sort could help him. This time, he wasn't five, and it wasn't about sweets. This time, it was about big grown up problems.
Problems which included murder.
How could he have been so stupid? She was a murderer! Probably planning on doing him in right after she finished with the poor woman. The rumors that he had heard indicated that she was after her money.
But she hadn't seemed like- Of course she hadn't! She was acting! She seemed- Seemed. That was it, she seemed kind, she seemed good, she seemed innocent. She was nothing of what she seemed. People never are.
She was a back stabbing, evil, vile, murderer! That was it. That's all there was to it.
Kiba was shaken out of his thoughts when he heard a quick knock at the door. He stood up and looked sourly at his surroundings, there was certainly no hope to hide the mess. "Who is it?" He barked.
A knight he had never bothered to learn the name of poked his head into the room. He looked at the mess uncertainly at first, as if wondering if it was safe to speak, and then continued in a quiet voice, "The Queen wishes to speak to you, sire."
The prince groaned and turned around leaning on the windowsill before motioning for her to come in. He heard footsteps behind him and an amused snort at the state of his room. "We'll have to get the maids in here soon, won't we?"
"Mother." He greeted in a flat voice not looking away from the window.
"I see you handle you anger as well as ever." She noted, ignoring his greeting.
Kiba glowered and turned to her, "Is there something you want?" He asked sharply.
She rolled her eyes, "I just wanted to see how you were, you stupid mutt, but just looking around this place gives me my answer." Kiba ignored the hand she had placed on his shoulder while speaking.
When he didn't respond she continued, "Just forget about her. You probably would have ended up like that woman too if you had stuck around longer."
Kiba bristled, "I know, Mother. I just…" He trailed off not knowing the end of the sentence himself. He just what? What was holding him back?
"You liked her, but it was a lie. Just forget her, pup. There's plenty of other girls who will be at the ball tomorrow who would gladly become your bride."
Kiba ripped away from his mother like she had suddenly become burning hot, "You're still having the ball?" He roared outraged.
She didn't blink at his anger, "Of course. Y-"
"Someone died, Mother!" He glared at her in disbelief. "Who in their right mind would even come?"
The queen sighed, "There's extra security, and its not like we don't know who the murderer is. Right as we speak the other knights are closing in on her trail. We should have her head in two days time. The danger has already passed, the murderer won't have long to live."
His throat tightened at this. Die. She was going to die. "Mom, is there any way-?"
"Our laws can't be changed. The penalty for murder is death, you know that."
"How do you even know it's her?" He suddenly blurted out angrily. He was about to cover his mouth with his hands when he stopped himself. This thought, this one thought had been torturing him. He knew the evidence he knew it all pointed to her, but…
The queen seemed very surprised by this, her eyes widened and she took a few steps from her son, "You don't think she's guilty?"
He nodded somberly. He had been avoiding it, but he just couldn't believe she had been a murderer.
"You saw the arrow in her hands, you saw the blood covering her, you saw the dead woman! What more do you need?" Kiba was almost sure she was going to lunge at him and rip him to pieces by the end of her speech. She may be the queen, but she was still an Inuzka at heart, and the Inuzka were not very gentle people. He was just as close himself to attacking her. He was breathing hard and shaking with rage.
The evidence was convincing, but it all seemed… too good to be true. Why would she kill right next to a castle overcrowed with knights? Only a complete idiot would do something like that. The look in her eyes… it wasn't the look of a murderer. There was no guilt. It was pain. He could see it so clearly in her eyes, it was brimming to the surface. Pain and sadness, but not guilt.
"It just can't be her!" He nearly screamed it.
Akamaru, who had previously been motionless on the prince's bed suddenly stood up and growled warningly. He could feel the aggression in the room and would not hesitate to attack, even Kiba's Mother.
The queen took a step closer to him, fists raised. Then, she stopped and looked down. She let out a calming breath and then looked him straight in the eye. "Just forget it, Kiba. Think about tomorrow. You now only have one day left to decide your future bride."
A wave of dread washed over Kiba. He was getting married and now he had only one night to choose, or his mother would choose for him. "Right." He mumbled the anger he had just felt moments ago seemed from him as he looking down.
She started for the door and then stopped suddenly, "Oh, and Kiba?"
"Yes?" He asked lowly turning to face her. She better not be starting anything again.
The corner of her mouth lifted up very minutely, "Happy Birthday."
His eyes widened and he was frozen for a moment. For some reason this surprised him, it was his birthday, right. "Thanks." He mumbled scratching the back of his head.
She nodded and left without another word.
Yeah, happy birthday to me. He turned and scowled out the window. He was seventeen.
His hand unconsciously moved to the object in his pocket. He slipped his hand in and felt the cool smooth object. He experienced a sort of serenity through it. It was the only thing he had to remind himself of her.
The name fit. It was as sweet as she had been.
Kiba wondered where she was now. He had heard reports that she had run into the forest, where there was currently a massive search effort for her. He wanted desperately to join them, but he wasn't aloud out of his room for security reasons. He snarled at the thought of some other knight finding her. There wasn't a kill on site order for her, but some knights didn't know how to hold back.
He suddenly realized how tight his hold had been on the slipper. He quickly and carefully pulled it out of his pocket and examined it. Nothing… whew. The glass had to be pretty strong to be able to withstand his fist clenching. Was this really glass?
The prince brought it closer to his face and scrutinized the slippers. He guessed they had to be pretty tough to carry a person, but it was glass.
"Hm…" He scratched his head before letting out a frustrated growl and hiding the slipper back in his pocket, only to bring it back out after a minute of pacing.
He would figure this out.
Tenten hated her life. Quite honestly, she would gladly take death at this moment. She wished a bolt of lightning would come from the sky and bring about her demise. She wished she would spontaneously explode. She wished an arrow would take her out. Anything but be here.
Where is here? Here is her personal hell. Which was next to a certain stoic Hyuuga, who she despised with every fiber of her being. They may have been on the same side the night before, but nothing had changed, absolutely nothing. Even if she had to pretend to fawn over him and become one of those giggling idiots, inside she still detested him.
It was all part of Hinata's "brilliant" plan. Someone act as Neji's date, throw a rope down the side of the castle during the guard changes, and the other two climb up. They get ten minutes, and then they all high tail it out of there.
Guess who got the honor of being Hyuuga Neji's date?
Oh, they had their reasons. Tenten would look less conspicuous. The Hyuuga's were bound to remember Sakura's hair and given how close they were going to get, it was too much of a risk. And Hinata… well… did it really need to be said?
So far, it had worked out pretty well. She had kept her cool, and no one suspected anything. The worst part was when she had to become Hanabi's dress up doll. It was obvious she had what they lacked, a dress, make up, and all of those other stupid girly things. Neji had mentioned to her that his date was in need of a dress, and in minutes, Tenten was ushered up to the little monster's room.
On the way up, she could see Sakura and Hinata nearly dead from exhaustion working hard as always, and she couldn't help but feel like she should be with them.
Then it was two hours full of poking and prodding, scrubbing and scraping, tearing and ripping. Tenten couldn't stop herself from missing the old woman. She may have been rough, but you could tell she meant well. Hanabi on the other hand…
Tenten felt ridiculous, the skirt was huge and poofy, sparkles and lace lay claim to every inch of the pink dress. That's right, pink. Pink! The girliest of all the colors, pink. Hanabi herself was in a dark blue dress that looked much the same except much more expensive material. It was obvious she had given Tenten one of her rejects. It must have not been sparkly enough, because the small girl was blinding when she moved the wrong way.
Hanabi had to be the stupidest person she ever met. She had spent the majority of the time going on and on about how pretty she was going to look. Then she would start going on about Hinata and how horrible she was and how she hoped they put her and her stupid little friends directly to death. Little did she know, one of her 'stupid little friends' was sitting right in front of her, holding back peals of laughter.
Even all the long tortuous time in the care of such an evil child it was nothing compared to now. Now she sat next to Hyuuga Neji, trying her best to play the part of giggling date. If they were alone she wouldn't even bother to act like he even existed, but no, fate would not smile on her today. Another member of the branch family along with his date was sharing the carriage ride with them.
It was awkward, to say the least. Tenten just kept a smile on her face and giggled every few seconds. She could tell by the poorly concealed grimace on the Hyuuga's face along with how he nearly flung himself and his date out of the carriage, he did not like Tenten very much. And that was just fine with her.
Looking up at Neji's face she could see he too was disgruntled with her behavior. He was frowning and wouldn't look at her. She raised an eyebrow, "Something wrong, Hyuuga?" She asked in a low voice seeing as the branch member was far from earshot.
"No." He answered simply taking her arm and leading her up the large flight of steps.
Tenten's eyes widened and she had to stifle a gasp as a cough from the contact. Small spiders seemed to be spinning a tingling sensation in all the places their bodies touched. She instantly tried to break from him, but his grip was firm. She gulped as he steered her farther up. They walked in silence and Tenten could have sung as he finally permitted her to escape his grip. It didn't last long for he was soon ushering her by her elbow into a small alcove outside the castle.
"What?" She hissed snatching her elbow from him and rubbing it vigorously in an attempt to stop the tingling that had erupted on her arm.
He looked her square in the eyes, "You need to stop."
She blinked, "Stop what?"
"The giggling. The high-pitched voice. The constant disturbing smile on your face."
Tenten appraised him and scoffed, "Why, does it bother you?"
"That's not the point." Neji said in his monotone, "The point i-"
"So it does bother you!" She interrupted triumphantly.
"The point," he continued, ignoring her comment, "Is that you are making it almost painfully obvious that you're faking."
Tenten swallowed her defeat. He was right, the last thing she wanted to do was ruin Hinata's chances, "Ok fine, I'll stop. Can we just go?"
He nodded and took her arm without a sound. The tingling sensation did not fade but she tried with all her might to ignore it. The smirk she could see on his face as he led her into the large crowd of people made her want to slap him. What did he have to smile about?
The crowd was even bigger tonight if you could believe it. Tenten would have guessed less would be coming seeing as someone had been murdered there yesterday.
Suddenly, all the air was knocked out of her at the thought of it. Here. Maggie's last moments of life were, here. It was like someone had stabbed Tenten herself in the gut. She had been getting good at ignoring all of it, just pretending the old bag had left for an extended trip. It was easier like that. Someone had to be strong. How could she go inside, knowing that Maggie never left?
"Are you… alright?" Neji asked uncertainly, watching her with a questioning gaze.
Tenten gulped and pushed back the tears she refused to shed. Not here. "I'm fine." She stated in a low voice before nearly dragging Neji through the front door.
The security was vicious, they were searching everyone, everywhere. Tenten punched one of the knights when he got a little to close for comfort before Neji dragged her off. She knew it would be like this, it's why she didn't have any weapons on herself whatsoever. She felt naked and exposed like this, but soon enough all of this would be over and she would once again be reunited with her metal friends.
Tenten kept her head low as they entered the ballroom, there were a lot of Hyuuga's here and the last thing she needed was to be recognized.
"I wonder which ones the prince?" Tenten joked as they looked around from the top of the staircase.
It was pretty obvious, seeing as he was the one with the small army of knights surrounding him. That added with the numerous amount of females all desperate for his attention. Tenten wondered how they expected him to get any romancing done under these conditions. Will Hinata even get a glimpse of him with all these people surrounding him?
They made their way down the flight of steps in silence. Tenten was getting used to this sort of behavior from him, but just because she was getting used to it doesn't mean she liked it. Normal people showed their emotions. Tenten doubted that he even had any, well any besides, amusement, annoyance, and nothingness. Which really isn't digging very deep now was it?
When they reached the bottom she began to lead him to the balcony where she would lower the rope bridge. Suddenly she felt a tugging on her arm. She looked up and narrowed her eyes, Hyuuga.
"What?" She hissed.
"Don't you think it would be just a little bit suspicious? Going straight for the rendezvous point." His voice was so low she could barely make it out, "Just pretend to have fun or a moment of two."
Tenten looked around distastefully, "Do I have to?"
She could have sworn she heard him chuckle under his breath at her comment, but when she looked up, his face showed no sign of emotion. "Yes, you do."
Neji half dragged her over to join the crowd of couples who had come to the event. The women who were looking to catch the prince's eye were on the other side. No one was dancing yet, Tenten guessed it was because, as always, the prince had to open. Not that she minded, the last thing she needed was Neji to see her horrific dancing. So far she had avoided dancing of any sort, that's just the way she liked it.
"Neji-san! Who is this youthful young girl you have with you?"
The sight was horrifying. A green spandex suite, and that bowl like hair cut. Suddenly, she remembered, it's that guy! The same one who had asked both Sakura and herself to dance. She prayed he wouldn't remember her, keep in mind she did have her mask on at the time, but still, there was still a risk.
Neji twitched, "Lee." He greeted.
A smile crept onto Tenten's face as she saw how easily this guy annoyed Neji. Maybe she should try to keep him around longer.
"This is my date, Ennett." He motioned to Tenten who smiled gingerly at the spandex clad fellow.
"Yosh! What a strange but beautiful name!" He took Tenten's hand and kissed it dramatically.
She withdrew her hand quickly, feeling violated.
Tears were running down his face like a stream, "The power of youth is burning within you!" He nearly screamed. Tenten looked around, seeing that they were attracting a crowd. She smiled awkwardly and tried to laugh it off.
"Oh my goodness!" He gasped, "I have been rude! Allow me to introduce my youthful date," He moved his hand dramatically and stepped sideways to show a small girl looking thoroughly embarrassed. "Hanabi-San!"
Tenten's eyes widened and she had to clamp both of her hands over her mouth in a desperate effort to stop peals of laughter from coming from her mouth. Hanabi was going to the ball with the spandex freak. It was too much.
Hanabi was glaring at her with her arms crossed from what Tenten could see through her eye's tearing up. She looked very much like an angry overly fluffy kitty. Which of course, only made Tenten laugh more.
She started coughing violently to mask her laughter, which wasn't fooling anyone besides Lee.
"Oh no! Ennett-san! What's wrong? Neji-san! What's wrong with her?"
"Nothing." Neji answered patting Tenten on the back harder than necessary. "She sufferers from disease called "air head" it makes he burst into uncontrollable fits of obnoxious laughter. Pity really, it always happens at the worst possible moments."
Tenten glared at Neji, he was asking for it. "But it's okay, Neji-kun's disease is much worse, he's unable to feel even the slightest of human emotion!" She followed it with a quick girlish giggle to annoy him even further.
Hanabi looked between the two of them who were currently glaring at one another, "You two, are like...perfect for each other." She then turned and left them both dumbfounded.
Perfect for each other. She and Neji. Hanabi had to be crazier than she had ever thought.
"Wait! Uh- Hanabi-san! Where are you going?" Lee quickly followed after her, but not before calling over his shoulder, "See ya around Neji-san! I hope you two have a speedy recovery!"
Tenten rounded on Neji, "Air head disease?"
"Unable to feel even the slightest of any human emotion?"
They both glared at each other for another minute before she broke the tension by laughing, "I thought that was quite clever."
He rolled his eyes, "You know he will believe that. Next week he'll show up at my house with get well flowers and a muffin basket."
Tenten laughed again at the image, and was about to retort when she heard a melody from the orchestra start up. She looked over to find the prince accompanying a young blond woman to the floor. It definitely was not the same one as last night, this one looked younger. It was painful to watch her giggle and fawn over him, it was obvious he wasn't responding well to her flirty manner, but still she kept up her efforts.
"Do you know who she is?" Tenten whispered to Neji. Hinata would probably be interested in knowing, then again maybe she shouldn't tell her.
"Yamanaka Ino. Her father runs a flower shop in town, and she works as a seamstress here at the castle. She's got noble blood somehow. Probably a good match for him." He was looking at the prince and his partner without any real interest.
She nodded and watched as more couples started coming on to the floor. Suddenly the pressure was mounting. Was he going to ask her to dance? She couldn't dance. What was it Maggie had called her, elephant feet? Oh, she couldn't do this.
Wait, was she worrying about looking stupid in front of him? What did she care anyway? It was Hyuuga Neji! She hated him.
She felt eyes on her and turned to find his lavender orbs burning into her face. Heat erupted on her cheeks as she saw him. Frustrated with herself she pushed past him and made her way briskly to the nearest balcony, I need some air.
It wasn't long before he caught up with her.
He grabbed her forearm, "What's wrong?"
She yanked her arm from his grip, "Nothing," She hissed ignoring the tingles that had erupted on her forearm before nearly running outside. She sucked in large gulps of air. She gripped the railing and closed her eyes trying to calm herself.
This wasn't happening, no it wasn't. She was just momentarily confused. Yes, that's it, a momentary lapse in judgment. Maybe the excitement from last night was getting to her, yeah, that was it.
The excitement from last night.
She whipped around and stared open mouthed at the spot in front of her.
"Tenten?" She heard Neji whisper looking at her with a confused expression.
Then, it was as if someone opened the floodgate, she couldn't stop it. Tears came pouring from her eyes and she was over come by grief. Grief which she had been denying and refusing to allow. She crumpled to the ground like a wilting flower.
"It's there. It's right there." She sobbed pointing at a spot in the middle of the balcony.
Tenten heard Neji activate his byakugan in a low voice to check out the spot, when nothing appeared to him she felt him turn to her, "What do you m-"
"Use your eyes, Hyuuga. Isn't that supposed to be your specialty or something?" Her voice had a hint of hysteria.
She looked up at him and wiped her tears enough to see his eyes suddenly click with recognition, "You mean?"
The maid nodded her head and covered her eyes with her hands, trying to stop the tears.
She felt him slowly sit down next to her and out of instinct she reached out for him. What surprised her the most was that he didn't pull away. She rested her head on his chest and let the sobs rack her body for a minute. He seemed to have no idea what to do. She felt him pat her back a few, awkward times.
Her eyes widened as she realized what had just happened. Hyuuga Neji, just said sorry. It must be the apocalypse.
It took Tenten at least another minute before she calmed down enough to quiet her sobs. She knew she should move off him, she had just embarrassed them both enough, she thought. Something felt right though, just being there with him.
Wait. Hold on.
She ripped herself from him as if discovering he had an infectious disease.
"Oh god." She cursed under her breath and burried her face in her hands, "This can't be happening."
The smirk on Neji's face was enough to make her want to kick him in the face. She jumped to her feet and walked straight up to the Hyuuga and looked at him straight in the eyes. "Stop that!" She ordered.
"Stop what?" He asked getting to his feet so that they were only an inch apart.
She gulped at the proximity, part of her was screaming for her to get away from him, but she was trapped in his eyes, "T-That."
She could feel her cheeks burning but she could care less.
"Stop what?" He asked again not satisfied with her answer.
"Stop having that stupid smirk on your face!" She yelled in his face, the proximity was almost too much for her to bear but she held her ground, "Stop laughing at me all the time! Stop stalking me!" She was breathing heavily now, "Since day one all you've been doing is watching me with that stupid smirk! Am I really that entirely amusing? Am I just a little game to you? Well let me tell you something I am not playing your stupid gam-"
Tenten blinked and was shocked to find she had been silenced by his lips. I should push him away… Why aren't I pushing him away? What am I doing?…. Who cares! Then, Tenten stopped all thought and just let herself feel.
Tenten felt everything and nothing, she felt satisfaction, loathing, affection, sorrow. She felt her hatred of his stupid smirk, his family, his cold and detached demeanor. Then at the same time, she felt the tingles the spiders wove when their skin toughed, she felt the way his gaze made her shiver.
It when then that Tenten realized she had a crush on Hyuuga Neji.
And that scared her.
They broke apart for air and she punched him in the chest, "But I hate you." She complained weakly.
"Apparently not." He laughed before reclaiming her lips.
She was late.
Their window of opportunity was closing, and fast. Sakura growled and punched the wall in frustration. What could have gone wrong?
Her nerves were starting to get to her. All the holes in this plan seemed to be glaring out at her. The only reason Sakura was even still waiting in the pitch-black darkness for the rope to be lowered is because Hinata would have done this with or without their help. Which was even scarier than standing in the heavy darkness with her now silent counterpart.
Hinata looked over at her coolly, "Calm down," She ordered.
She was to say the least... different. Calm, cool and collected. Not Hinata-like at all.
Sakura had watched her carefully all night, hoping to find some type of incriminating evidence. For which she could find none. Hinata had just kept quiet and let Sakura and Tenten figure out everything. This was typical Hinata behavior. Still, something wasn't right and the more time Sakura had to spend with the girl in the dark, the more worried and suspicious she became of her. Sakura now knew that she and Tenten couldn't go anywhere, let alone leave the only place she had ever known, with this new alien Hinata. Not, at least, without testing her, but there would be time for that later. Now she had to deal with the task at hand.
Sakura jumped, startled by the sudden noise. She looked to find it belonging to a large rope that had just been dropped from the balcony above. Sakura looked up to see Tenten's grinning face from high above. Sakura grinned in response,"You're late." She called quietly.
Tenten shushed her, "Just hurry up."
Sakura stuck out her tongue and turned to the rope. She was surprised to find Hinata half way up the rope. Hinata had never shown any type of athletic skills before. Sakura began to pull herself upward but found it a very tough task. Her hands began to burn and she could already feel the blisters bubbling to the surface of her long since calloused hands. Sakura took a breather only to find she wasn't very far from the ground, and still had a very long way to go.
Tears leaked from her eyes as she continued to pull herself up. If there is one thing that she had never counted on, it was this climb being so hard. She stifled a scream as she slid five feet down the rope. Oh God no! She gripped the rope with all of her might trying her best to hold on. She knew by now there must be a rather large dirt patch on her light pink colored dress. Come to think of it. Sakura quickly kicked off her shoes and gripped the rope with her feet, much better.
The rosette looked up, hoping to find some sort of aid or at the very least sympathizing looks from her fellow maids, only to find none. They were gone. All of them, gone. Sakura cursed them out loud and in a sudden flash of furry charged up the rest of the way, spurting curses as she went.
Just as she was about to pull herself over the edge a loud voice stopped her, "Hey! What was that?"
Sakura's eyes widened and she clung to the rope desperately trying to flatten herself to the wall.
"Huh? I don't see anything." Commented another low voice.
The maid tried to silence her erratic breathing as the voices got closer. Just go away, Just go away, Just go away. She clenched her eyes closed and desperately tried to disappear. With the position she was in, it wasn't ludicrous to say that she had been the murderer. Come to think of it, you really couldn't get much more conspicuous than how she looked right now, hanging off a castle.
Her pulse was thudding in her ears, which made it harder to hear the next words, "Really I could have sworn I saw…" The voice trailed off.
"I'll go check!" volunteered a third person.
Sakura had to bite back a squeal of terror. What were her options? One: slide down the rope and hide at the bottom somewhere. That couldn't work they were too close, they would find her in mid slide. Besides she wasn't very eager to injure her throbbing hands any further. Two: stay put and hope they don't see her. Not happening, they would have to be blind not to see her in such a conspicuous spot. Three: give herself up. This one was even more impossible. If she surrendered she would have to give up Hinata too. Which she would rather die than do.
Which left option number four, fight back.
She gulped and with the deafening sound of her own pulse readied herself to punch the next person who leaned their head over.
But when the moment came, when she saw who the face belonged to, she couldn't.
Bright blue eyes and blond hair met her gaze and she lost her concentration in her moment of pure panic and fell halfway down the rope before coming to her senses and stopping herself. It took all of her strength and ended with both the bottom of her feet and her hands becoming bloody messes. She couldn't help but make a low gurgling sound of pain, which she quickly regretting because she could hear the noise of feet thumping against the stones to stand next to Naruto.
"What was that?" A large knight with a large chicken leg still in his hand.
"N-Nothing!" Naruto quickly covered turning around to face his companions.
Sakura could barely make out his words, "Then what was that noise?"
Naruto grabbed the very large knight's arm and said something lowly. The other knight nodded, "Oh, well maybe you should see a Doctor about that, Naruto. That noise scared me so much, I almost dropped my chicken leg!" He said much too loudly while patting his chicken leg affectionately.
Naruto waved the other two on saying he needed a rest. When they were out eye sight Sakura saw Naruto check to see if anyone was watching before leaning over the balcony, "Sakura-chan?" he called wearily.
"It's me!" She whispered in response, groaning from the exertion of keeping herself in place.
He looked at the rope, "Can you make it up?" He asked.
Without even waiting for a response, Sakura felt Naruto begin to pull her upward. He pulled steadily upward with a gentle tug. Sakura quickly scampered on to the balcony, her arms were screaming from the uphill struggle and the bottoms of both her hands and feet were full of blisters which would make holding anything impossible for quite some time. She collapsed on the floor breathing heavy, her back leaning against the posts of the railing. "T-Thanks." She managed to get out between breaths.
Naruto nodded solemnly before dropping down beside her, "Most people use the front door."
Sakura smiled ruefully before hitting his leg slightly, "I had my reasons."
He just nodded again, scrutinizing her face.
Something was wrong. He was much too quite. The Naruto she knew would be asking her a million questions a minute and dragging her out into the middle of the dance floor. The Naruto she knew would have yelled and given her away back on the Naruto she knew wouldn't look so old and serious. The rosette turned and met his gaze full on, "Is something wrong?"
He seemed startled by her question, "What do you mean?"
"You just look…" she looked him up and down searching for words, "lost."
He grinned and tilted his head, "I'm fine, Sakura-chan, really."
Naruto was trying his best, he really was. It wasn't enough to convince Sakura though, "You're not telling me something." It wasn't a question.
He looked down at his hands his face turning slightly pink and opened his mouth to speak.
"Naruto you idiot, where are you?"
Sakura jumped to her feet, the voice was close. Maybe if she slid down the rope she could be at the bottom of the castle in the shadows when the voice found them. She lifted her leg over the railing only to be stopped by Naruto's tan hand. "What are y-"
"I'm over here Shikamaru!" He yelled loudly.
"ARE YOU CRAZY?" Sakura punched Naruto in the shoulder making him take a few steps back, "If they see me-"
Naruto sighed exasperatedly, "It's Shikamaru."
She opened her mouth to retort when the lazy knight in question came into view with a tall blond in tow. Sakura had heard about this Shikamaru before. He supposedly had a genius IQ but was too lazy to ever use it for any good. Needless to say he was the biggest disappointment the kingdom had ever seen. She remembered hearing Neji telling these things to the family one evening when she had served them dinner one night.
As the knight came closer his small eyes scrutinized Sakura. She quickly got off the railing and trying without success to disguise her disheveled appearance and bloodied hands and feet.
"Who's the girl?" He asked Naruto motioning to Sakura with his chin.
Naruto folded his arms, "I could ask you the same thing."
Shikamaru rolled his head, "Far too troublesome."
The blond smacked his shoulder roughly and pushed ahead of the lazy knight, "Idiot," she mumbled loudly under her breath. She turned to Sakura."My name's Temari."
Sakura nodded to her in greeting, I like this girl, "I'm S-"
Sakura was thrown to the ground by the force of the explosion. Her head smacked painfully against the pavement. She reached up numbly out of reflex and found that her hand was covered in a warm, sticky liquid. Blood, she thought absentmindedly.
Sakura raised her head only to see that chaos had erupted. Screams could be heard reverberating off of the walls of the ball room. Thick black smoke was quickly escaping from the ballroom though any openings it could find. Panic had set in and Sakura watched as people were trampled in others' haste to escape.
"Sakura-chan." A voice croaked from her other side.
"Naruto?" She asked weakly. She tried uselessly to sit up and collapsed to the ground, her head spinning.
"No," Naruto's voice said behind her, "D-Don't get-" He gasped and she soon saw his face before her. His face was covered in blood.
"Y-your face!" She exclaimed.
"You okay, Naruto?" Sakura looked over to see that both Shikamaru and Temari were standing. Both of them were looking determinedly into the castle.
"I'm fine." He answered.
"Take the girl and go." Temari advised looking over her shoulder. "It's an attack, were going in."
"But-" Naruto began to protest only to be cut off by Shikamaru.
"She needs you."
Sakura began to shake her head, "No, no, don't-"
Sakura opened her eyes and saw the blurry figure of Naruto nodding in their direction, "Be careful."
He scooped her up careful not to hurt her head, "No!" She protested lamely, "I'm fine. Let me go!" Sakura found that she could no longer keep her eyes open, and overwhelming sleepiness was consuming her. She fought desperately for consciousness.
"Whas goin' on?" She said her words slurring together.
Naruto didn't answer her, "You're going to be fine Sakura-chan."
That was the last thing she remembered before slipping into unconsciousness.
A/N: There Done! To avoid confusion. The ending was meant to be confusing! There was an attack! Sakura passed out! So of course her POV is confusing, she is very confused! Can you guys guess who it is attacking? Send me reviews with your guesses! All reviewers will get a full batch of virtual sugar cookies (I just whipped up a batch)!
Oh, and if I have any other marching band nerds out there, PLEASE REVIEW! I want to hear from you! I'm in pit by the way, (For those of you losers no in band, that means xylophones.)
Again, I know I suck. I know it takes me forever to update. Don't give up on me! As soon as I am done writing this I'm working on number eighteen! So don't go anywhere kiddies, it's just getting good!
Edit: I almost forgot! I have a deviantART page, which has a deleted scene and and alternative ending on it! You should really go check it out if you would like to explore the What if's. And message me if you like! I will definitely respond! Just search ScribblingKunoichi, or wait untill i post the link in my profile in a few minutes :D