So... Hi?

I feel like a complete failure right now. I know it's been years (literally) since i updated this story, and other than a severe case of writers block i have no excuses what so ever. I have had part of this chapter written since i posted chapter 19 and it's just been sitting in a folder on my computer waiting for me to grow the balls to actually finish it.

See, when i started writing this it was just for fun. It was something that i was doing because i enjoyed doing it. Originally i only intended it to be some small shitty story, maybe a few chapters long, entirely generic and with a boring ending. Then... gradually, it evolved. Obviously my writing style evolved too, which might be part of it, but it went from what we have in chapter one (go back and have a look, seriously), to the later chapters where i was sat really trying to bring this story together into something of worth. I don't know for sure what happened that caused me to go from writing continually to writing nothing at all, but i think it was because i had myself so convinced that i was in above my head that i believed i actually couldn't finish the story.

I've look back over Written in Sand so many times over the years and just thought 'i can't do anymore with that'. Not because the story was done, but because i believed that I was done. I'd convinced myself that there was nothing more i could give to this story because i was not good enough to do it. So that's how it went for the last 2 and a half years. People read it, reviewed it, liked it, asked me to continue. People emailed me and asked over and over when it was going to be updated and i promised over and over again 'next week' 'next month' 'soon'. I lied. I had given up on my ability to write this story.

And then i got another email. It didn't ask about another update. It didn't moan at me. It asked 'what's wrong'.

I, stupidly, replied 'nothing, why?' and was then verbally backhanded over the course of several days of emailing.

In short, i said what i said above here. That i didn't believe that i could finish this. That i wasn't good enough to continue writing it.
It was then questioned to me that if that was the case, why had i not passed it on to someone else and asked if they would would continue writing it.
My answer was that it is mine. This fanfic is my idea, my story - and as such is mine to write, not to pass off to someone else to complete it for me.

'So write it then'.

And you know, for a four word sentence from a stranger - that is probably the best writing advise i've ever been given. Thank you x


Her heart was pounding heavily against the inside of her chest, so strong that she felt it might burst out of it completely. The thumping of her blood being forced quicker and quicker through her body echoed in her ears, deafening her to all sound except for the impact of her shoes on the concrete below her. She wondered absently if there was any other sound to hear, but the thought was gone in a second as she forced her aching legs to keep running. Sweeping around a corner she gasped in pain as her left ankle twisted underneath her and caused her to stumble off balance. She briefly anticipated colliding with the floor but was saved from the fall by a rough tug on her wrist that broke her from thoughts. Refocused, she put both feet back under her and kept running, doing her best to ignore the pain shooting through her as she was pulled through the corridors by the dark haired boy in front of her. She was so deeply focussed on running that she had almost forgotten that Sasuke was with her, gripping her hand tightly as he led her through the never-ending corridors.

It seemed her in mind that it could have been hours since she had taken his hand and ran from her makeshift prison. It could have been hours since she glanced back to the blond and the pool of blood on the floor before being pulled away from the scene. She could have been running for hours and hours and hours, but knew that realistically it had only been minutes. Five, maybe ten minutes of running in circles through corridors that she had no hope of navigating.

She watched Sasuke for a moment, as he ran just in front of her, pulling her along with him. Once again she had chosen to trust him when she had little or no reason to do so. He'd done so many things, played so many games, and yet time and time again, after everything that had happened, she found herself falling back into the same situation. Over and over she found herself wondering if he was genuinely her friend, or if it was all part of some greater plot to screw her over... or just screw her. True, from what she'd gathered, he'd acted the way he had just to get the attention of Deidara, but how could she be sure. Why didn't he clue her into this, and how far would he have gone to get someone to come in the room. What if no one had come? What if no one had come and Sasuke had been left to do as he pleased? She wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer, because right now she was trusting him again and it was her last and only option. She couldn't even think of what she would do if this was just another game he was playing.

Sakura broke from her thoughts to look ahead. They were running towards what looked like a T-junction in the corridor. It was the first they had come to, all other junctions being turns and the occasional crossroad. Did a T-junction mean they were along an edge of the bunker, did it mean they were closer to finding a way out? She still found it odd that none of the doors or corridors had any kind of signs on them. No numbers or names. No real way of finding your way around. Surely even the people working within the walls of the bunker would wind up getting lost with no way to direct themselves. Hell, she hadn't even seen a toilet symbol as they'd ran through the corridors, how did that work?

Sasuke slowed them down as they neared the T-junction, as he had with all the corners and crossroads before it. She expected him to just carry on like he had done each time before so when he suddenly stopped dead in front of her it took every ounce of stopping power for her not just plough straight into him. She skidded for a second on the solid concrete floor before her shoes gripped and brought her to a stop not an inch from Sasuke's back. She was halfway to asking him what he was doing when he suddenly spun around and began quietly pushing her back towards one of the doors they just had gone past. The first was locked but the second door immediately beside it opened with ease into a dark room. Without turning the light on, Sasuke pushed Sakura inside and quickly but quietly closed her door behind them

Once the door was shut the room was the very definition of pitch black. Not a single strand of light seemed to exist within the room and Sakura found herself dealing with a sudden attack of claustrophobia. Blind, she reached out with a hand and hurriedly felt about to find the Uchiha. There was a few terrifying moments where she couldn't find him and her mind half convinced her she was alone before her fingers met fabric and she clutched on to him. She felt his own hand move around to take hers, running his thumb in soothing circles. Regardless of who she was with, she felt better just knowing there was someone else there.

"Sasuke?" She barely whispered it but in the dark silence of the room she may as well shouted.

"I heard voices up ahead. They sounded close." He answered her question as quietly as he had asked it. It was all the explanation she needed for being stood in the dark and she felt her chest ease as the dark hideaway became more of a friend than an enemy. She focussed of controlling her breathing and getting rid of the stitch that had built up in her side from running. Honestly, she'd barely noticed the stitch while she'd been running, more focussed on keeping going and the pain in her ankle. However, now she was still it felt like her lungs were on fire from the lack of oxygen and the stabbing in her side wasn't something that could be ignored, despite the adrenaline flowing through her.

She'd managed maybe a minute of deep steady breathing and the stitch was lessening when she felt Sasuke tense. At first she wasn't sure why and then she heard the faint sound of footsteps in the corridor. Sometime while she was doing her best to breathe normally, whoever Sasuke had heard talking had moved further along towards them. Knowing full well that there was a possibility they had been heard, running wasn't exactly quiet on concrete, she realised that they may well be searching the area. Scared, she tightened her grip on the raven teens hand and received a gentle squeeze before he left go completely. She swapped her grip back to the fabric of his shirt and part of her wondered if he was a scared as she was.

"Sakura, if they come in here, I want you to keep behind me." He whispered into the dark. She was confused for a moment before she heard the sound of the gun being cocked. She felt sick but responded with a quiet ok, barely louder than the silence that rang in their ears.

The steps stayed slow, agonisingly slow as they moved along the corridor that the two teens had just been in. Sakura held her breath as they steps came to a stop just outside the room they were hiding in. She feared for a moment that they'd left a sign of where they had gone but swallowed it down before it became panic. She knew she was shaking terribly. She was terrified that the door would open, all hell would break loose and that she'd still be trapped in the end. She just wanted to be anywhere else in the world, anywhere but some huge concrete maze with no phone signal, the people who abducted her and her ex-boyfriend. She just wanted to go home.

There were several long moments in which nothing happening. There was just complete silence from all directions, and then suddenly the muffled sound of talking from the other side of the door. As with Deidara, she assumed they were using some kind of walk-talkie because she never heard a reply, just the same voice talking again after a pause. The talking-pause-talking went on for the better part of forever before the footsteps started again, slowly at first but then picking up pace and heading in the direction from where Sakura and Sasuke had come from. After an elongated pause Sakura swallowed hard and finally allowed herself a deep relieved breath.

And then the lights switched on.

"You think this is a good idea?" muttered Genma around a cigarette. Asuma and his two companions had gone to stand outside where they could smoke without being complained at for the smell and health hazards. "They're just kids after all."

"Teenagers, Gen, and if Shika thinks they're good to go, I trust him." He'd half expected it to be Yamato that piped up about the age group of their makeshift troops. When he has told them that they were going to have some assistance, they probably hadn't expected to be leading a school trip. He knew the group was young, but they were no younger than he had been the first time he'd picked up a weapon to defend himself. There was nothing wrong with giving a teenager a gun and asking them to shoot, as long as they knew how to.

"Heh, kids, teenagers, what's the difference? It would just be a real shame if we were to get any of them killed. It would play on my mind, you know?" He took a final drag before dropping the cigarette to the floor and crushing it under a boot. He looked over at Asuma.

"Funny time for you to grow a conscience, but I'm not exactly going to have them wade on into the thick of it." He lit up a second cigarette after finishing his first just before Genma voiced his worry. "We'll take them with us, there's nothing wrong with letting them feel that they're contributing to the rescue effort. In reality they'll be left with the van at least 50 yard from the bunker entrance 'standing guard' while we deal with the issue."

"You didn't mention that part of the plan before." Yamato inputted from a few feet away, outside of the 'smoking area'. Just because he stood outside with them while they fed their habit, it didn't mean he wanted a lung full of smoke as well. Smoking wasn't his thing, never had been, but he could drink both of the other men under the table if he wanted to.

"I was nigh on decapitated when Shikamaru mentioned them not coming at all and then again for refusing to have any girls in the group. My apologies for liking my head right where it is and choosing to keep quiet about exactly what they'll be doing tonight. I'll just leave it until there's no room for argument and abandon them with the van." He grinned from one man to the other, seemingly happy with his plan, and went back to tarring up his insides.

Yamato and Genma shared a look between them but said nothing. They could only imagine the chaos that would ensue one they reached their destination, considering the state of affairs in the dorm as they left it. Once the 5-minute time slot was thrown in there, it had become a hive of activity. Apparently, according to the group, it was better to run around like headless chickens than to organise themselves in an orderly fashion. It was as if some really messed up version of the A-Team was being created in that dorm, especially after Shikamaru pulled out his 'weapons trunk'. All hell would break loose once they found out they weren't actually going in the bunker.

Genma sighed and decided he may as well have another cigarette. It was going to be a long night.

"We'll let you guys know what happens, ok?" Neji said to the three girls sat on the sofa. While Hinata was more or less resigned to the fact that she was banned from the excursion, Tenten and Ino were not quite so happy about it. Neji could understand why Tenten felt she should be going, considering that she was rather good with her martial arts and throwing knives, but Ino... unless she planned to drown the bad guys in hairspray and nail polish, she had no place at all in the 'going' group. Naruto was perched on the edge of the soft next to the female Hyuga, an arm discretely placed along the back of the sofa behind her. Oddly, he wasn't all that bothered about having to stay with her girls; it gave him something to do and kept his mind quiet. He trusted that those going would get Sakura back in time to cook him breakfast... or punch him in the face for asking. Plus, it meant more time with Hinata, which was always a bonus.

"We will expect prompt updates whenever anything happens, Neji. Don't think for a second that because we're staying behind you can keep us in the dark!" Tenten aimed a glare at the male Hyuga, conveying exactly how annoyed she was with him. While she liked Neji well enough, when he got all manly and commanding she had very limited patience with him.

"I know, don't worry. We'll keep you updated." If he expected her to defrost, he was all out of luck. She glared at him a second longer then preceded to ignore him completely, instead deciding to comment on the colour of Ino's perfectly painted nails. Neji was well aware, from his years of knowing her, that Tenten held no interest in anything girly and held back a noise of exasperation.

"Neji, you ready?" Shikamaru called, leaning through the door from the hallway, a large grey backpack hauled on to one shoulder. The male Hyuga was entirely sure he wanted to know what was in it after witnessing his friends collection of all things deadly. He gave a wave to signal he was coming and realised that everyone except the four in front of him had already left the main room. Hating being waited on, he shot Naruto a look that clearly stated 'watch them' and accepted the blonde sudden grin as an agreement. The last thing he needed was the girls commandeering a car and taking off after them. With one last glance at the girls, he turned, grabbed his jacket, and went to follow the others out of the dorm.

Outside the group stood together around the dorm door, apparently waiting for Asuma to come forward with a plan of action. Neji shut the door behind him and move to stand beside Shika, glancing around the group to see that like him, everyone had opted for a coat or jacket. It wasn't that it was cold out, but there was a persistent breeze which having a few layers compensated for. Everyone in the group was remarkably quiet, waiting for Asuma to finish his quiet conversation with Yamato. After a few moments he nodded and then stepped towards a group, his facial expression saying 'we have a plan' before he say it.

"Ok, it's going to be easier if we all keep together so we're going to take Yamato's van. It's a seven seat 4X4 so we won't have any trou-"

"We need 8 seats." Kankuro interrupted, quickly counting around the group to make sure he wasn't mistaken. "Yeh, we're going to need 8 seats, unless one of us is taking the boot." He grinned at this, secretly imagining then trying to get Gaara in the boot of the van.

Asuma eyed around the group for a moment conducting his own head count and quickly spotted Temari leaning against the wall just behind her two brothers. He shook his head and sighed like a teacher having to repeat themselves for the 5th time. "I said no girls. That included all girls, not just the teenagers. So, as I was saying, it's a 4X4 so we won't have any trou-"

"We'll take my car and follow you, since there's no way I'm sitting in the boot. I need to get my backpack anyway." Temari shifted from the wall and pulled her keys from her coat with a jingle, looking directly at Asuma as she did so. She hadn't let a man tell her what she could and couldn't do since her father went off the rails, and she wasn't about to start now.

Asuma sighed again, looking annoyed. "Temari was it? I'm not going to argue over this while there are more important things to be doing. I don't have girls on my team because I can't deal with the additional drama and right now you're proving my point, so why don't you just go back in the dorm and stay put like the others." He pointed towards the dorm door as if that would emphasise his point and she would do as she was told. Clearly, he hadn't been properly introduced to the pigtailed blonde and Kankuro feared that Asuma would be meeting his sister's fist before those introductions could be made.

"Why don't you go fuck yours-"

"What Temari means to say," Kankuro interrupted "is that while she understands your point of view regarding her gender and the added drama usually associated with it, she is probably better trained in firearms that 80% of this group and has a half a weapons shop in the back of her car, which could be useful. Plus, doing it this way gives us a backup vehicle we can park further away just in case something happens to yours." He put of his best mediating face and ignored the look he was getting from his sister for agreeing that she might cause 'drama'. He'd get a kick in the shin later no doubt.

"You've used a gun before?" Asuma's tone held a note of surprise as he looked at Temari, as though unable to imagine the blonde with any kind of weapon. It wasn't that he was sexist and thought women shouldn't and couldnt handle a firearm... he just knew very few that could.

"Several and often. We're wasting time." She folded her arms in front of her and glared at the older man, paying no attention to the appraising look she was getting from Shikamaru.

"Alright, fine. Jeez. Just stay out of the way and try not to shoot anyone on our side. Get your car and wait at the front gates." He ran a hand through his hair and scratched at the back of his head. Asuma hated dealing with women. So damn stubborn and always always got their own way. "The rest of you are coming in the van." He turned then and fell in step with Genma and Yamato, Shikamaru and Neji following behind all heading in the direction of the campus car park to retrieve the van. No one asked where Temari had actually parked her car, but when Shika turned around to see why they weren't heading the same way, he found that the siblings had already disappeared.

"Looks like they've gone." Ino said from the front dorm window. She had been checking every few minutes to see if the group was still there or not, but hadn't actually seen them leave. She sighed and flopped down heavily on to the sofa beside Ten-ten, earning a glare when the blade enthusiast almost spilt the orange juice she had acquired from the fridge. The label of 'Neji's Juice, do not use!' meant nothing to her and she'd had half a mind to pour the rest down the sink. Ino sighed again. "What are we going to do now?"

"What can we do?" Muttered Ten-ten, obviously still annoyed at being made to stay behind.

"I don't suppose any of your know if Neji and Shika keep any board games around here?" Naruto asked, already opening the nearest cupboard to investigate its contents. If he'd hoped for dust and old school textbooks he was in the right place.

"I doubt it, unless you count that old chess set Shika got from his dad. We could always take a pair of scissors to Neji's collection of weapons weekly magazines. We could make paper chains out of them and string them around the house." Ten-ten's suggestion was met by surprised looks from the other three in the room, followed by laughter from Naruto who'd apparently missed the part where she was being serious.

"A-are you really that mad at him?" Hinata pressed her two index fingers together in her usual nervous habit.

"Right now? Yes. It's one thing for him to be like that with you Hina, you're his cousin, but I'm his friend and I've beaten him in a match as many times as he's beaten me. I can't believe he'd just leave me sat on the bench like some... girl." She glared down at her glass of juice for a second before looking at the female Hyuga "I don't know how you put up with it."

"I'm u-used to it, I guess. H-He just... He likes to protect the p-people he cares about." Hinata wasn't entirely sure how to explain Neji's mindset to her friend. She loved her cousin dearly, but his mannerisms were often a little old fashioned for a lot of people. She knew he saw Ten-ten as a friend and an equal... he just couldn't help wanting to protect her.

"I don't care about his logic right now, and I still won't care when I beat him to death later on."

"Seriously Ten-ten?" Naruto asked, taking a seat on the floor in front of the sofa "You don't think you're being a bit harsh?"

"Sounds like a lovers quarrel to me..." Ino grinned suggestively at Ten-Ten and got a surprised look from the girl before it settled into scowl.

"Whatever, I'm going to go write 'I love Sasuke' in hearts all over his journal to make myself feel better." She stood up and downed the glass of juice before setting it down empty on the table.

"Won't he just buy another one?" Asked Ino, with Naruto nodding his agreement.

"Sure, but his face when he first pulls it out of his bag will be priceless!" Ten-ten grinned at them and then disappeared out of the living area, no doubt on route to carry out her evil plan. The others, with eyebrows raised, seemed to silently ask each other if they should stop her. No one did.

Thank you also to those of you still reading.
Those of you who saw this pop up as updated and clicked it.
Those of you, who after i have failed over and over, are still giving me another chance to not completely fuck this up.