A joint project between arrana and Sailor Silver Moon
All general disclaimers apply
Everyone knows that people unconsciously pick up the characteristics of their mentors. That's why Naruto has a frog-shaped wallet and a perverted jutsu. That's why Sasuke has homicidal urges and a tendency to scare little boys. And that's why I've suddenly become the Legendary Sucker and could really use a strong drink.
Chapter 1: The dice are rolled. (Sailor Silver Moon)
"I'm going to kill someone." Sakura groaned and lunged for her alarm clock. "It's already six am?"
Sakura flopped backward as soon as her fingers hit the snooze key. She was careful in her anger to not summon any chakra to the blow – replacing yet another alarm clock really wasn't in her budget.
And it wouldn't be in her budget for a long while thanks to the twin terrors that were her teammates. Between Sasuke's still-frozen family assets and Naruto's appetite constantly being larger than his wallet (neither of which were larger than his mouth, of course), Sakura found herself footing more than her share of the bar tab each time they went out.
Maybe she would sleep just a little longer. Sakura figured that if she just rushed through her morning routine, she could snag a whole fifteen minutes more of glorious rest. As much crap as she gave her mentor for being less-than-alert in the morning, Sakura wasn't a fan of any hour before noon. She had just begun to drift back toward her warm slumberland when she suddenly recalled exactly why she had gone to bed only two hours before.
Sakura sat bolt upright in bed, wide-eyed. In her less than sober state the previous night, she may or may not have lost a bet to Ino that involved a certain Hyuuga and a certain Aburame.
Why did Ino's persuasive logic, which always seemed to make so much sense in the dim lighting of the Slaughtered Shinobi, seem so utterly pathetic now? Sakura groaned and tried to bury her head under her pillow. She really needed to stop listening to her blonde friend.
Ino had thought their visits to their favorite bar were becoming a bit routine. Everyone knew everyone in a hidden village, Sakura had pointed out, and in the life of a ninja, having anything routine was a blessing.
But Ino was not to be deterred; she never had been before and certainly wasn't going to start now. She had once even managed to get Kiba to sport close cropped hair instead of his messy mane simply because she had been bored with her own hairstyle. Ino's whims always ended badly for other people, and never for Ino. Perhaps that's why Ino continued to indulge in them.
"Let's play a game." Ino had said last night.
"One where we sit here, sipping our drinks and nobody's hair gets burned off?" Sakura had instantly replied, wary.
"That only happened once and he apologized – why can't you get over it already, Sakura? Anyway, let's play a fun game."
"Oh, sure, because watching me stop, drop and roll after getting caught in the middle of a 'Whose got the biggest katon jutsu fireball' contest was so much fun for me."
"Look, I saw Tenten's team arrive just a little while ago," Ino spoke as if she hadn't heard a thing Sakura had said.
"You and the rest of the bar also heard them arrive. Remember – Lee is a part of that team too. A bit hard to miss him, really. What with the declarations of love and all." Sakura grumbled to her drink. (There was no way Ino was listening, but she had a fighting chance that the drink would hear her woes).
"Let's make a bet. Who can seduce their target first? No, you're far too much of a prude for that to be any fun… Alright: who can get their target the most drunk!" Sakura didn't like the gleam in Ino's eye. To be honest, she didn't like any gleam in Ino's eye, but this one seemed particularly malevolent.
"Hypothetically – not that I'm considering this absurd notion in the slighting bit at all – who did you have in mind for our targets?"
"Hyuuga Neji and Rock Lee, of course."
"Nuh-uh. No way – have you ever seen Lee drunk?"
"Just hope you never do. Lee and alcohol never end well."
"Alright – then you get Neji and you can pick a different target for me. That is, assuming that despite your absolute disinterest in the game, you're still willing to play?"
Damn. Ino drove a hard bargain. How was she supposed to pass up the chance to tell Ino what to do for once? Sakura cast a series of furtive glances around the bar, trying to decide whether to make Ino's life miserable or just to be downright cruel.
"Yo – bartender! Two Liquid Kunai, on Sakura's tab, please." Ino called out the order for the two shots of alcohol breezily.
Downright cruel it was: "Aburame Shino."
Sakura had the distinct pleasure of watching Ino's baby blue eyes widen in horror at her challenge. Quickly picking up one of the Liquid Kunai, Sakura mock toasted Ino.
"Unless you concede defeat. Let's say whoever loses has to dye their hair to match the winner's color?" Sakura paused to let that statement sink in. "I think pink would look lovely with your blue eyes, you know."
Her last comment seemed to shake Ino out of her stupor. With renewed determination, the blonde picked up her own shot and clinked it against Sakura's still raised glass.
"To a new green-eyed blonde in Konoha."
"Hah, you wish, Ino-pig. To a blue-eyed pinkette."
"Pinkette? That's not even a real word!"
"Shut up and drink your shot."
Famous last words, really. Sakura buried her head in her hands at the memory. Both girls had downed their shots and finished their drinks before separating towards their targets. Sakura had the easier entrance, what with her familiarity with Lee being a good segue into joining Neji's table.
Perhaps it had been too easy? Their table had fallen into conversation right away and it hadn't taken much on Sakura's part to bring up the idea of a challenge. Predictably, Lee had taken to the idea with a battle cry of "If I am to lose, I will do two hundred laps around the village on my hands!"
Sakura had acted downcast while telling Lee that she had actually meant to propose a drinking challenge, but that she knew that it was unfair to him. A strategic pause and then a "Well, what if I were to stand in for you? Hyuuga-san, Tenten, would you two mind that arrangement? I mean – if that's alright with you, Lee-san?"
Cake. Lee fell over himself trying to express his gratitude for Sakura being ever so thoughtful. Tenten had accepted with a bemused smile. Neji had looked like he wanted to use his gentle fist on her, but couldn't back out of a challenge involving Lee (however contrived Lee's participation really was) without losing clan honor.
The reason behind Tenten's bemused smile became apparently none too quickly.
Four bottles of sake into the "competition" and Sakura was feeling slightly buzzed. The warm feeling brought a smile to her face. Alcohol always loosened her up and made her more friendly. Tenten was laughing at some comment Lee had made and Neji was sitting ramrod straight in his chair.
Sakura had turned away for a just a moment to gauge whether Ino was having better success. Neji's frigid expression meant that she had a ways more to go in order to get him drunk enough to loosen up.
Luck was finally looking up – while Ino looked pretty sloshed herself, Shino was looking as unruffled as Neji. Well, Sakura amended, Shino was looked as unruffled as Neji had looked before Neji had slid sideways and passed out on the floor.
Hyuuga Neji was apparently only slightly better than a one-shot wonder.
And thanks to Sakura, everyone in the village now knew.
Inner Sakura gave a 'cha' of delight, but Outer Sakura looked at the man sprawled at her feet in horror. He might have wanted to use the gentle fist on her earlier, but he was so going to Juuken her into next month the minute he woke up.
Which was probably anytime now, Sakura glumly thought as she dragged her body towards her bathroom. "Maybe he'll have a massive hangover and I'll live until noon?"
Even her reflection looked skeptical. She was probably better off hoping that Neji had forgotten everything. Once the fact that she'd knocked out Neji even without using her chakra-enhanced strength registered with the rest of the bar, there had been quite the commotion. In the end, Sakura had carried Neji out (potato-sack style) of the bar.
Ideally, the task would have fallen to his team, but Tenten had apparently also felt the effects of their little competition and found the task of remaining upright while laughing hysterically at Neji's predicament a little difficult. Lee had been recruited to handle the inebriated kunoichi. He had apologized profusely, citing that it would be easier to find the Hyuuga compound than Tenten's house.
The thought of going to the Hyuuga compound hadn't made Sakura feel any better. A quick glance around the bar showed her Hyuuga Hinata curled up close to her own blond terror of a teammate. As tipsy as Sakura was, she couldn't find it in her to ruin Hinata's evening because of Ino's crazy ideas.
And so, Hyuuga Neji became Hyuuga Bag-of-Potatoes-on-Sakura's-Back.
Well, until the first leap made him gurgle.
Sakura had stopped dead when she'd heard that noise. She gave the Hyuuga their due, but no matter how great their clan was, puke was puke. And thanks to Naruto, she had seen enough to know the danger signs.
She had stopped immediately and set him down on the rooftop, praying that they were atop a civilian complex with a lax alarm system. The paperwork for setting off security alarms was enough of a headache that she was going to henge herself into Sasuke and Neji into Naruto the second that she heard a siren. Not that those two ever completed their requisite paperwork.
"Hyuuga-san? Hyuuga-san, please wake up." No response.
"Hyuuga-san, I left Hinata-chan to fend off Naruto's advances on her own." Still no response.
"Hyuuga-san, the village is under attack." Neji actually had the audacity to give a little snore.
Sighing, Sakura had weighed her options and switched to carrying Neji bridal-style. Haruno Neji - now wasn't that a sight to see? Luckily for the both of them, few people, even ninja, were voluntarily awake at four in the morning.
Although she was ready, at the first signs of him being sick, to drop him like the sack of potatoes she had treated him like only moments before, Sakura arrived at the Hyuuga compound with no other emergencies.
She had no problems getting across the security perimeter around the house – Hinata had long ago given Sakura clearance to enter the compound. Having an unconscious Neji in her arms had given the gate guards a pause, but as she was bringing his inebriated eyes back to the compound instead of vice versa, they gave her the wave to continue onward.
Hyuuga Neji was not as light as he looked and as Sakura found herself in the branch half of the compound with no idea as to where his quarters were, she vaguely wondered how much Cloud would pay her for her trouble. But alas, Team Seven had enough black marks on its record without her selling Neji's head to another village, no matter how many alarm clocks she could have bought with the windfall.
Sakura sent some chakra towards her eyes and willed herself to evolve the Byakuugan. She was certain that it was invented to combat situations like these, and that its utility on the battlefield was just a happy side-effect of a tool designed to avoid the awkwardness of opening a hallway full of strangers' doors.
She was, unsurprisingly, unsuccessful. Who knew how many traps she would set off by blindly walking into occupied rooms? So she settled for prodding Neji awake so that he could give her some direction in the ghostly quiet house.
"Hyuuga-san. Hyuuuuga-san." Sakura said in a singsong manner that bespoke the fact that whatever her tolerance, she was far from sober. "Wakey wakey, Hyuuga-san. Time for another day filled with scary eye-puffing, fierce poking and general stick-up-your-butt-ness."
"Mff upn mfn buntf." Sakura froze as Neji slurred a response.
"Sorry, what did you just say?"
"Said, I don' haf a schtik up my butt."
"Of course you don't. I don't know who would ever say that you did." Sakura's sense of self-preservation swam to the top of all the alcohol in her system.
"Yesh, you," Neji paused to open one eye. "You both did."
"Right. Okay, well, then, can you tell the both of us where your room is?" Sakura's sense of self-preservation was now doing the backstroke. He was going to stick around until she stopped giving Hyuuga Neji more reasons to disembowel Sakura.
"Ish right here. G'nigh'." Neji closed his open eye.
Sakura paused in the middle of her shower at the memory. She had been so frustrated with him that she had been tempted to leave him in the hallway for the Hyuuga elders to find him in the morning.
Fortunately for Neji, she had made enough noise to wake one of the maids, who had been kind enough to point Sakura to the almighty Neji-sama's room. Sakura half-carried and half-dragged Neji to the end of the hallway, secretly hoping that he got floor burn in revenge for his lack of cooperation.
She had hefted him into bed, careful to leave his head near the edge, where she placed the trashcan from his bathroom. She briefly contemplated getting him into pajamas, but decided that her good deed for the day would instead consist of leaving him a tall glass of water next to the trash can.
Sakura felt that she had been more than kind to him at the end of the night. (She was studiously ignoring the fact that she had been in the one who had gotten him into that state to begin with). She finished dressing herself and walked out of her apartment, carefully resetting all of her traps as she finally left for her hospital shift, already five minutes late and dreading the ire she was sure to be greeted with.
She was not disappointed – Tsunade (nursing her own hangover) was in a surly mood. Sakura smirked a little when she was sure her mentor wasn't looking. Although her mentor could repair a severed limb, there was still no cure for something as mundane as a hangover.
Sakura wondered that Tsunade hadn't ever tried to come up with a solution, but figured that when she was with a hangover, her mentor was too preoccupied with the pounding in her head. And whenever her mentor wasn't hungover, she was too preoccupied with drinking.
Sakura was just thankful that her metabolism left her with little to no hangover most mornings. She was as chipper as she was going to be in the morning, regardless of any drinking the previous evening. Perhaps this was what made Tsunade-shishou so grumpy whenever she had a hangover near Sakura?
Regardless of the reason, as soon as grand rounds were over, Tsunade chose to assign Sakura several cases in the hospital, a double shift two days in a row and office duty each afternoon that week. Sakura was still backlogged with work from the previous week – there were several of the annual physicals to perform, a report to cobble together for this month's council meeting and she was behind on her research into sealing techniques and doujutsu.
She began to walk toward her office, having finally fled Tsunade's morning wrath. The only thing worse than a long week that won't end, Sakura mused, is a long week looming in the near future, stubbornly refusing to start.
Oh, and perhaps seeing the Hyuuga that she had emasculated the night before standing in front of her.
"Haruno-san. Perhaps you can inform me as to why I woke up this morning only to trip over a glass of water, causing it to spill all over my floor and causing me to land elbow-deep in a trashcan?"
Yes. This was indeed worse.
A word of explanation: This story is being written as an exercise in versatility. Each chapter is being written by one of the two authors involved. The other author has no idea what will happen in that chapter, but must continue the story where it is left off. Only the roughest of guidelines were established before the start of the project. (arrana: Silver, these are the guidelines- Naruto fanfic, Sakura as main character; Silver: Ok, cool, let's do it.) –that was honestly our conversation.
Yes, it is different. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did while writing each part of it.
Chapter 1 was written by Sailor Silver Moon. Chapter 2 will be written by arrana. Chapter 3 by Sailor Silver Moon again, Chapter 4 by arrana, etc.