NaruSaku. Naruto grinned and grabbed her wrist, pulling her down to meet him on the bed. After all, it was a cold night in the Hidden Rain Village.
A/N: D: I've really been enjoying writing the slowly maturing love lately so please wait patiently, minna-san? Love doesn't develop that fast all the time! So, I shall continue to try my best with this? A lot of different settings are in this one, so hopefully it's fine...? Warning! A lot of references to latest chapters! Onto chapter 4! :)
Sakura shivered uncontrollably, hunched over in her futon, the cold far more unbearably than she had originally thought it would be and having only one blanket was not pleasant on such a bitterly cold night. She hunched over further, hugging herself in an attempt to keep warm yet could hardly feel her numbe fingers or toes despite her efforts. Looking across the room, she glared at the back of her dark-haired companion who was sleeping soundly. How was he able to handle such a temperature? He's probably had a lot of missions in these kind of conditions, Sakura thought as she gritted her teeth, attempting to wriggled further underneath her blanket in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the cold that constantly attacked her.
Heaving a loud sigh, she pushed her self up and sat, with her blanket wrapped securely around herself. There was no possible way she could sleep in this weather. Dragging herself tiredly to her feet, she supposed that it would warm her up if she drank some warm tea and in any case, she needed something warm to hold in her frozen fingers. Silently, she walked past her sleeping companion, the blanket brushing gently across the wooden floor as she headed to the bedroom door, sliding it open as quietly as she could before slipping out and shutting it softly behind herself. She shivered all the way to the kitchen where she prepared the teapot, filling it with water and placing it on the stove to boil before seating herself on one of the wooden kitchen chairs, rubbing her cold hands together desperately to warm them.
Her head shot up at the sound of soft knocking beneath her feet and she stood, pushing the seat back and crouching, uncovering her arms briefly and exposing it to the cold air as she hurriedly pulled up the tiled trap door, quickly withdrawing her arms back under the cover of the blanket.
A blonde and grinning shinobi greeted her holding a bundle of material in his arms. "Sakura-chan!" he said in a quiet yet excited tone. "I know it's really cold tonight, so I brought you and Sai some blankets, great yeah?" he said, grinning widely as he shifted the material in his arms to indicate that they were the blankets.
A wave of relief and gratitude washed over Sakura and she returned a smile, reaching forward and taking the blankets from her team mate's arms. "Naruto, that's really nice of you, thank you!" she said as she beamed at him, happily hugging the materials to herself.
Naruto laughed, giving her the thumbs up. "No problems! I didn't want you to catch a cold, so I thought I should just bring you the extra blankets Kakashi-sensei and I had!"
A warm smile pulled at Sakura's lips and she pulled the blankets closer to herself. That's just like you, Naruto. Worrying over someone like me... thank you.
"Well then," Sakura began, noticing that the blonde only wore his regular outfit despite the cold, "you should get going too so that you don't catch a cold, we need to be a hundred percent for tomorrow. We're going to be gathering as much information as we can!" she said as she stood, preparing to leave.
Naruto nodded in agreement, reaching up to close the trap door over him but paused, his hand hanging onto the rim of the cut out opening, examining Sakura's confused face.
"What is it?" she asked, tilting her head to the side in wonder.
Making a face, Naruto mumbled, "Sai didn't do anything to you did he?"
"Huh?" Sakura raised an eyebrow, not completely understanding what he meant. "Oh yeah, he did. He pissed me off a lot so I punched him in the jaw," she said, the muscle under her eye twitching as she remembered.
"Hmm," Naruto said, his mouth pulling down into a hard line as he thought. "Is that all?"
"What do you mean by that?"
A stretch of silence followed before Sakura understood, a vein popping out on her forehead, the muscle under her eye twitching convulsively as she clenched the blankets in her arms. "Naruto... don't make me punch you too," she warned murderously, eyes burning.
Naruto's eyes widened and he waved his hands quickly, not wanting to die at such a young age. "AH! I mean, well-! D-don't worry about what I said!"
"Hmph!" Sakura turned her head away moodily.
"W-well then," Naruto said nervously, rubbing the back of his head as he grinned awkwardly. "I'll be going then."
"Then go already and don't you catch a cold, okay?"
Naruto smiled. "Yes, ma'am," he replied, saluting her and provoking Sakura to roll her eyes. His eyes softened. "Keep warm, okay?"
And with that, he shut the trap door over himself.
Sakura smiled contentedly to herself as she headed back to the bedroom, sliding the door open silently and slipping in, shutting the door in an equally quiet manner. She ambled over to where Sai lay, and dropped one blanket to the floor before lifting the other up and bending and pulling it over the dark-haired shinobi up to his shoulders. She then picked up the dropped blanket and headed back to her own futon and lay back on it, pulling the additional blanket onto herself and wrapping it securely before wriggling deeper into it, sighing in satisfaction at the warm. It didn't rid her of the cold entirely, but it certainly was going to make it easier for her to fall asleep.
And soon, she did exactly that and dreamt of three young genin who laughed together as they walked to their next mission, their silver-haired sensei leading the way...
A single tear slid down her cheek and fell onto her pillow.
The sound of running water awoke her and groggily, Sakura sat up in bed, rubbing the side of her hair before stretching widely as she yawned sleepily. It was light outside, most likely early morning and Sakura kicked off her blankets and stood before stretching once more and bending to make her bed, folding the blankets carefully. Finished, she headed over to the kitchen and found the teapot still sitting on the stove, her mind clicking as she remembered. Her eyes widened and she rushed over to the stove, realising that she had forgotten to turn if off last night. She was surprised however, to find that it had already been turned off and she reached forward cautiously, touching the side of the teapot. It was stone cold and obviously had been turned off long ago. It was not even darkened on the bottom which it should've been seeing as she had left it on for all of last night.
"I turned it off when you went to sleep since you left it on."
Sakura turned to find Sai, drying his hair with a towel as he walked into the kitchen, casually dressed in black.
"You were awake at that time?" she asked, surprised.
Sai nodded coolly. "I've been trained to wake up to the slightest sound and when your blankets brushed against the bedroom floor and you slid the door open, I woke up. I'm used to it though, you can never let your guard down, so it's handy to wake up to the smallest of sounds," he explained, seating himself on one of the kitchen chairs, sitting back into it calmly.
Sakura's brow twitched convulsively as she realised that he must have heard her conversation with Naruto as well. Choosing to ignore him, she turned to the stove and switched it on, watching it silently as she waited for it to be boil, wondering how things were doing in Konoha in their absence and if he had returned yet.
She bit her lip and reminded herself that Hinata had promised her that she would personally inform her and Naruto if he were to make an appearance and she couldn't begin to doubt her comrade. Clenching her fist, she stared determinedly ahead, temporarily forgetting the boiling teapot before her. She had to believe in her comrades.
"Oi! The pot!"
Snapping out of her trance, Sakura cried in alarm at the slowly blackening pot, quickly switching the stove off. She sighed at the sight of the slightly blackened pot and hoped that her Konoha comrades were better off than she felt at the moment.
Hinata Hyuuga quickly placed her teacup down and covered her mouth, sneezing loudly.
"A cold?" her team mate, Kiba, asked in concern as he chewed on a sandwich.
Rubbing the tip of her nose, Hinata smiled awkwardly. "Uh... no... I don't think so at least... The weather's too good," she said, raising her gaze to the bright sky above them. Was someone talking about her? Her brows drew together and she frowned at her reflection in her tea cup.
"So about what you said," began Kiba, leaning back leisurely against the wall behind him and taking another bite out of his sandwich. "Are you sure about that?" he asked, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
Hinata turned to him, her mouth forming a hard and determined line. "Yes. I have already asked Hokage-sama if I'm permitted to and she has agreed on one condition."
She nodded, leaning back as she raised her eyes to the sky above her, an eagle flying overhead. "To ensure that I am accompanied when journeying out to confirm if the sightings of him are true," she said, the blue of the sky and the fluttering of the eagle's wings reflected in her light eyes. "But because we shall be busy maintaining Konoha's defense, I cannot be accompanied by you or Shino. Hokage-sama has also warned me the level of strength that Sasuke Uchiha is at so whoever I am to be accompanied by will be at jounin level," she explained, lowering her gaze back to her teammates face, a gentle smile on her face. "So, there'll be no need to worry over me, I will have back up with me at all times. However, Hokage-sama had also said that I cannot pass the borders of the Fire Country, no matter what."
Kiba nodded in understanding and Shino remained silent, his index finger held out, allowing a small fly to land upon it.
Hinata turned her gaze back to the peaceful scenery before her, a bird landing a few feet in front of her on the ground, cocking its head to the side as it observed her. "So tomorrow..." she continued quietly, watching the bird as it hopped about, "...I'll begin my duties as being in charge of the search for Sasuke Uchiha." She hung her head slightly, her grip tightening briefly on her teacup.
She had so many questions that she wanted to ask the Uchiha if she were ever to encounter him. Questions regarding why he left Konoha and hurt Naruto whom she thought the lone clan survivor had been close friends with. It didn't make any sense to the Hyuuga.
Knowing that the only person who could answer those questions at the moment was the raven-haired Uchiha himself, Hinata decided to push those thoughts to the back of her head and stared up at the sky once more. "I wonder... if it's raining where they are right now..." she wondered aloud, watching a white cloud drift lazily across the sky.
Blood spurted from his wound and Sasuke's feet dragged against the dirt as he was pushed back by the force of the attack from the Jinchuuriki, his hand pulling against the dirt as he attempted to steady himself. He had not expected the Jinchuuriki to be this strong. A bead of sweat trickled down his jaw as he caught his breath back after having been injured, his other hand that was not planted into the ground pressing against the slash on his chest, estimating the amount of damage made. Not too deep, but not shallow either and it wasn't wise for Sasuke to receive anymore direct blows from the host of the eight-tails.
"You seem pretty strong," he said in acknowledgement, sharingan rotating slowly as he observed the dark-skinned man before him who wielded several swords.
"Hah, not only strong but also wise in my rhymes!" rapped the Jinchuuriki. "And now that you've acknowledged my strength, it's about time I finished this, right?" he said in a questioning manner but with no intention of waiting for a response as he prepared to launch another attack.
Sharigan rotating, this time, Sasuke was prepared. As the eight-tails' host began to roll towards him, swords poking out precariously, resembling spikes prepared to slash and impale the Uchiha, Sasuke jumped back to avoid it, closing his eyes for a brief moment.
"You should never take your eyes off of your opponent, don't you know anything about fighting, yo?" asked the Jinchuuriki in his rhyming fashion, spinning in the air, his swords about to slice and pierce through the still Uchiha, whose eyes were still closed.
"SASUKE!" Karin screamed in warning as the rest of the Team Hawk watched in tense silence, not understanding why Sasuke was leaving himself open to an attack.
Suddenly, Sasuke's eyes opened as the Jinchuuriki spun towards him, his new sharingan activated and rotating in a threatening manner. "It's over... Jinchuuriki," he spoke quietly. And although the next few words he spoke were in an equally low voice, they seemed to echo in the ears of the Jinchuuriki, who felt similar to a person frozen in time. "Mangekyou Sharingan."
It was the last thing the Jinchuuriki heard before darkness swept over him, yet not the final thing he saw before he was pulled into what would be endless torture. The last thing that gleamed before his eyes was the continuous rotation of the kaleidoscope-like sharingan eye, pulling him deeper into its depths into a genjutsu of which strength he was about to learn of...
Holding her hand out from the safety of the shelter above their heads, Sakura frowned at the dark clouds that loomed above them. "More rain," she said with a sigh before pulling back and closing the door behind herself. "I wanted to head out today to gather more information, but I guess that idea has to be cancelled." Her shoulders drooped in disappointment as she shuffled back to her seat at the kitchen table, across from Sai who had busied himself with reading and plopped herself down into her seat, sighing wearily as she leaned back into it, shivering slightly. "But it sure is cold, even at this time of the day," she commented, zipping her jacket up to trap in what little heat she had, wishing the teapot would heat faster so that she could make a hot cup of tea. Having had no reply from her companion, she sighed in aggravation, placing her chin in her hand and glaring out the kitchen window to her right. There was nothing else to do and to not be able to hold a long conversation with someone she was meant to be stuck with for however long they remained in the Rain village was irritating at the very least for the pink-haired shinobi. And it was frustrating that he did not really care for conversing, an attitude she did not think appropriate for someone who had previously attempted to be on better terms with her and Naruto and improve his social skills.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud rapping on the front door and both her and Sai turned to look at it in surprise. She glanced back at Sai who nodded before she stood and walked towards the door, grabbing the knob and turning it cautiously, opening the door a small way and peering outside.
"Ahh, a good, cautious couple we have here," Kazuma greeted with a grin. He held up his hand in a greeting gesture. "Yo."
Sakura stared at him with wide disbelieving eyes. "S-Soiichiro-san?" she gasped. What was he doing at their house and how did he know where they lived? Her hand on the door knob closed tightly around it. So they're keeping tabs on us... damn it! We need to be even more careful now!
"Oh, it's you old man," Sai said tactlessly, appearing behind Sakura at the door. "What do you want?"
"Sai!" Sakura hissed out of the corner of her mouth, knowing that he was being intentionally rude. Her eyebrow twitched as she forced a smile and she attempted to send him a telepathic message to not aggravate the gate-guard.
However, Kazuma simply threw back his head and laughed in amusement, alarming Sakura once more with his barking laugh. "As amusing as the last time I saw you! Well, I just simply decided to drop by as I was heading downtown to my workplace since I have a lot of time to spare before I get there," he explained cheerily.
"Oh, I see," Sakura said, brows creased together as she continued to forced her polite smile. "Well then, it's very nice to see you again. W-would you like some tea?" she asked, knowing that it was proper etiquette to invite someone in when they came over and pulling the door open a little more to show that she held no hostile intentions. She didn't want him to be anymore suspicious than he probably already was.
"Don't invite him in, I don't like having to speak to him," Sai put in, talking as if Kazuma were not standing directly in front of him.
Kazuma laughed once more and put up a hand and waved it. "No, no! No need to invite me in. I just told you, I was simply dropping by to see how you were doing before I headed off to work and-"
The sound of knocking cut him off.
All three shinobi froze; two recognising the knocking sound that came from the trap door behind them, underneath the kitchen chair and the other who they knew held suspicions about them.
"What's that knocking?" Kazuma asked lightly, tilting his head as another round of knocking was heard, echoing about the kitchen.
This is bad! Sakura thought, her palm sweaty and trembling on the door knob. She could see that although Kazuma spoke lightly, his tone held some dangerous seriousness behind it, as if he were warning them that the knocking was not only arousing his suspicions but the fact that he may act if his suspicions about them were to be confirmed. Damn it, Naruto! Why now of all moments? Her grip tightened further on the door knob.
"I-I... seem to have left the pot on!" Sakura suddenly cried in alarm, whipping her head around to the stove behind her and racing towards it as the teapot steamed and whined loudly.
Sai sighed. "She's done it again." He turned back to Kazuma and headed towards him, grabbing the door knob. "Well, I believe that may have to end our conversation, I'll have to stop her from setting the house on fire," he explained coolly, preparing to close the door on the older man.
Hand pushing against the door to prevent it from closing on his face, Kazuma grinned at the dark-haired younger shinobi. "I hope you're not attempting to hide something from me, Yamakaze," he said with his wicked grin, his eyes glinting.
Sai's face remained impassive. "Do not worry, I have no intention of attempting such pointless things." The resistance on the door ceased and Sai closed it without another word. He remained in front of the door however and gently pressed his ear against it, silent as he listened.
There was a few tense moments of silence where Sakura switched off the stove, thanking her forgetfulness when it came to boiling water in the teapot (or else she would not have been able to get out of the tricky situation that had been forced into), she spoke quietly, hoping that it was safe to. "Is it time yet, Sai?"
There was a pause before Sai pulled away from the door, turning to her. "Yes, it's safe now, he's gone."
"Good," Sakura said with a grimace before turning and storming over to the kitchen chair she had been previously sitting on before Kazuma had arrived and kicking it aside, crouching and ripping open the trap door below it to find an annoyed Naruto underneath the lid whose expression suddenly changed to one of fear at the mad gleam in Sakura's eyes.
"U-uh... S-Sakura-chan... are you all right?" he asked tentatively, numerous beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead as he observed a large vein pop out on his team mate's forehead.
"NNNNAAARRRUUUTTTTOOOOOO!" she growled, seizing the front of Naruto's shirt and pulling him out roughly from the hole. "You nearly had us killed! What was so important that you needed to come in here and knock when we were being visited by the gate-guard?" she demanded, shaking him violently as she spoke as if attempting the shake the answer out of him.
Naruto's eyes widened in surprise. "You were visited by that old man?"
"Yes," Sai answered. "I'm assuming he's always the guard on duty at the gates then?"
"Well, he was there when Kakashi-sensei and I arrived," Naruto replied as Sakura let go of the front of his shirt.
"Anyway Naruto, what are you doing here?" Sakura asked, brows drawn together as she frowned.
Naruto turned to her, suddenly serious. "Kakashi-sensei and I have gathered some information about the Rain village that may help us find Sasuke."
Sakura's eyes widened. They've already found some information that can lead us to Sasuke-kun? "Wh-what is it?" she asked, suddenly feeling numb. She suddenly wasn't sure that she could support herself on her own two feet and it seemed that Naruto had noticed.
His eyes softened. "Let's secure the area first and take a seat so I can tell you."
End Chapter 4.
A/N: Well, well, plot developing faster than I expected...? And the chapter was slightly longer than the one before... Please leave a review to tell me what you think!