Wrath of a Woman Scorned
Rated M for: language, violence, adult situations and concepts, lemons, and graphic imagery
[Insert disclaimer here]
Well, you guys have spoken! Literally actually. I got some very good constructive feedback from several of you on all four options. Anyway, Canon!Gaara won so that is how he will appear in WoaWS. That said, I felt bad for those of you that voted for Epic!Gaara and Post-Invasion!Gaara (and there were quite a few of you) so I included an omake featuring an Epic Gaara with his post Therapy no Jutsu attitude as a consolation prize.
Chapter 10: Double Trouble
Streets of Konoha…
It was an altogether unremarkable day in the Village Hidden in the Leaves. The sun was shining, some birds were chirping as various people went around on various errands just generally going about their business as if it were any other day. Frankly, most people would tell you that it was just any other day. As far as they were concerned there was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.
This was far from the case.
Even ignoring the usual cloak and dagger of the village's military, something was brewing in Konoha. Some activity simmering under the surface of the village like quivering electricity running under a person's skin. The signs were everywhere, manifesting as things as simple as a grocer stocking up on common items to things as strange as foreign ninja checking into a hotel as casual as you please.
In one particular case, it was rookie gennin walking morosely down a street with an unassuming piece of paper clutched in her hand.
"The Chunnin Exams…" Sakura mused, staring thoughtfully down at her entrance slip as she wandered aimlessly through the village.
Everyone had always told Sakura that she was talented. But this? Being nominated to compete for the rank of chunnin after a few short months of service? What an honor! At least, normally it would be an honor but for Sakura it felt more like a slap to the face.
"Then again it wasn't really me who was nominated," Sakura muttered bitterly.
She had been so excited at first, giggling as she silently congratulated herself. Sure she was a little nervous but she had forgotten that quickly enough, believing that they had been nominated on their own merits. After all, Kakashi-sensei wouldn't have entered them if he didn't believe they were ready, right? But then Kakashi-sensei had pulled them aside after Aki had left….
Kakashi sighed, staring after Aki for a moment before turning his attention to his two remaining students. "Normally I would give you the option of not entering the exams," he began, seriously. "Unfortunately, due to the political landscape of the shinobi world at the moment… the decision has been made for you."
"What?!" Sakura gasped, her face contorting in horror. They were being forced to enter? But people died in the Chunnin Exams! It wasn't fair! And why them? They had only been gennin for a few months!
"Did you forget that you live in a military dictatorship?"
'Well, no but… what if we're not ready?'
"The way I see it, it doesn't matter whether you're ready or not."
Meanwhile, Sasuke's eyes narrowed as he rolled the situation over in his head. "We've been entered as a ringer," he said, watching Kakashi very closely.
Sakura's eyes snapped into focus, flitting between her teammate and her sensei.
"Yes… yes you have," Kakashi replied, his eyes glancing briefly to the side.
Sakura frowned. A ringer was a team so advanced that they were guaranteed to make a good showing. Usually they were in their late teams and had been held back from promotions for several years for the specific task of inflating their chances of a good showing. Team 7 hadn't even been active for a full six months. 'What the hell is Sasuke getting at?' she wondered as she followed his gaze… toward the trees where their last teammate had disappeared. 'Oh…'
"Oh is right. This has nothing to do with us. We are just the sorry sods along for the ride. It's all about-"
"Aki," Sakura murmured as she finally collected the dots.
"Yes… Aki," Kakashi acknowledged sounding ashamed of what he was saying.
Sasuke frowned. "The second round of the Chunnin Exams is traditionally some form of free-for-all. Isn't that a bit dangerous… for everyone?" he asked meaningfully.
Sakura's eyes went wide. 'She would be able to legally slaughter anyone participating without repercussions… including the Konoha teams,' she thought as a terrified chill ran down her spine.
"The Sensei with older students have been… discouraged, from entering their teams," Kakashi replied sourly.
"So, basically, the village brass are trying to take advantage of Aki's age rule to keep her from decimating the Konoha teams while letting her loose on the other villages. Wipe out a whole generation of competing talent, showcase our child prodigies, and slap them in the face with our nuclear deterrent in one fell swoop… Brutal but brilliant," Inner Sakura deduced.
"That's sick…" Sakura murmured.
"I still don't understand why you were so surprised," Inner Sakura thought, somberly. "We've been training to kill people since we were six years old and deployed to the field before we were old enough to get drunk. Sick doesn't begin to describe it."
'Who would ever want to be a ninja?' Sakura wondered dejectedly, once again questioning her career choice.
"Because somebody's gotta get dirty so that other people don't have to," her inner self replied as a bunch of children ran past playing ninja. They must have been six or seven, completely carefree… not a worry in the world.
"So that they don't have to," Sakura echoed, a sad smile playing on her lips as she watched them run around the corner. "Even if it's only for a little while…"
"Ow! You little brat!"
Hearing the angry cry from where the children had run, Sakura couldn't help but wince but when she heard one of the children cry out, clearly scared, her eyes hardened and she sprinted to see what was going on.
What she found was a Suna ninja holding one of the boys off the ground by the front of his shirt.
"…That's that Konohamaru kid, right?"
'The Hokage's grandson?' Sakura thought, a cold feeling of dread creeping up her spine because if she remembered right, that kid was named Konohamaru.
"Come on Kankuro, let's just get out of here. We still need to meet up with Gaara and Sensei," a second Suna ninja called, clearly exasperated by the first—Kankuro's, actions.
"Don't sweat it, Temari. We have plenty of time," Kankuro replied dismissively. "Besides, I hate brats like this. No respect. He needs to learn his lesson," he growled turning his attention back to by boy in his hand.
"Let me go! I said I was sorry!" Konohamaru cried as he struggled to break Kankuro's grip.
"I don't think you are… but you're gonna be," Kankuro growled with a sadistic grin.
"Please, he's just a little boy, he didn't mean anything by it," Sakura pleaded, looking to the boy's teammate for help.
"I have no part of it," Temari said, waving a hand resignedly as her brother drew his arm back. "If you get in trouble this is all on you."
"Wait don't!" Sakura cried, drawing chakra to intervene but she was too late as Kankuro brought his fist down.
On empty air…
Taken off guard by the sudden loss of Konohamaru's weight, Kankuro stumbled for a moment before regaining his balance. "What the…" he mumbled staring down at his empty hands in confusion.
"Didn't your grandfather tell you to stay out of trouble?" a voice asked from the area to Sakura's right… a very familiar voice.
Sakura whipped around to face the new comer. "A-Aki!" she gasped, surprised to see her teammate… and terrified of the evil smile on the girl's face as she sat against the fence that bordered the street, gently holding the Hokage's grandson in her lap.
"Sorry Aneki," Konohamaru mumbled nervously as Aki stroked his hair like he was a particularly amusing cat.
Sakura's eyes bulged. 'Sister!?' she wondered as her eyes flicked between the boy and her teammate. The Sandaime's grandson called Aki his older sister? What the hell?
"Who the hell are you!?" Kankuro demanded with an accusing tone as he pointed his finger at the interfering red head.
"Maa maa, you wouldn't have been trying to cause trouble, hm?" Aki asked, her tone so lethally sweet that it made Sakura shiver.
Kankuro's face twisted into a snarl. Either not noticing or not caring about the danger signs as he took a step toward her. "I asked you a question bi-"
"Shut up, Kankuro!" Temari barked, her annoyed but passive attitude replaced with a steely authority as she eyed Aki warily, both her hands hovering over her weapons. This girl gave her the creeps and the way the pink haired girl was looking at her set off a whole mess of warning bells.
Kankuro turned to his sister, confused. "But she-" he started to whine.
"I don't care! Come here. Now!" Temari snarled, never taking her eyes off Aki.
"You should listen to your sister, Sabaku no Kankuro," Aki drawled. "After all… for the second born of the reigning Kazekage to attack the grandson of our Sandaime would be very poor form. An act of war, even. We wouldn't want that, now would we?" she asked, still running her hands through Konohamaru's hair as if she had simply commented on the weather.
Kankuro looked mutinous, his fingers inching toward the wrapped bundle on his back.
Temari's eye's bulged. 'The Hokage's grandson?! Kankuro if you don't cut this shit out I am going to-'
"Kankuro, stop," ordered a new voice in a chilling monotone.
Kankuro's eyes whipped up, terrified as he found his little brother standing upside in the trees above the fence. "But Gaara they-"
With a whirl of sand the now identified Gaara appeared in the street next to Kankuro. "Kankuro, be quiet or I will kill you," he ordered in a tone that, to Sakura at least, reminded her a little too much of Aki.
"No you won't," Aki said, casually interjecting herself back into the conversation.
Kankuro whipped around staring at Aki like she was crazy as he heard the cork sealing his brother's gourd wiggle and strain against the pressure of his sand.
Gaara cocked his head to the side curiously, even as a demented glint appeared in his eye. "What did you say?" he asked dangerously, challengingly. No one told him he couldn't kill. No one.
Aki just smiled serenely. "You are a long way from Suna, Sabaku no Gaara. You're in my sandbox now. So, naturally, the rules are a little different here… and one of my rules is that, while in the confines of this village, you aren't allowed to kill anyone," she replied, completely unaffected by the killer intent Gaara had been leaking increased to a critical level.
Gaara was pissed.
Suddenly, with a faint pop, the cork holding Gaara's sand popped out and a rush of sand sped toward the prone girl… only for her to flicker out of existence a moment before the sand crashed over her position.
'Holy shit! That wasn't Kawarimi. She dodged Gaara's sand!' Kankuro thought, his eyes wide and terrified.
'I didn't even see her move,' Temari analyzed, trying to get some kind of grasp on the red head's abilities as she scanned the area for her. Almost instantly she found the boy, the Hokage's grandson, peeking out from behind the pink haired girl. 'But where is-'
Suddenly, all three Suna ninja tensed, feeling more than seeing the girl appear amongst them. Temari whipped around, already reaching for her fan as she took a step back to get some distance when she froze, terrified by what she was seeing.
The girl was casually standing right behind Gaara, draping herself over him, embracing him, touching him… and she finally recognized the girl as someone their sensei had warned them to avoid at all costs.
"None of our sources are entirely sure where she came from or exactly what she is capable of," Baki had explained and when Kankuro had gotten snarky and asked why they should care he had said, "We care because, other than her alias, we know absolutely nothing about her other than that she is capable of killing fully trained ninja and that, apparently, the only person with any semblance of control over her is the Sandaime Hokage."
"Know your place… Ichibi," the girl whispered against his ear, methodically dragging a single clawed finger across his throat as Gaara's sand lay unmoving on the ground.
'So this is Konoha's Crimson Princess,' Temari thought, trembling in absolute terror as tiny beads of blood, Gaara's blood, dribbled down his neck from the line the girl drawn. To Temari's knowledge, no one but her father, the strongest ninja in their village, had ever been able to slow Gaara down. Never mind injuring him so… so casually.
Slowly, disbelievingly, Gaara's hand drifted to his throat, touching the place where the girl had wounded him before he pulled it away to stare bewilderedly at his fingers. Blood. His blood. His sand… hadn't stopped her?
Aki released Gaara without a sound, sparing his terrified siblings only the barest of contemptuous glances before slipping away up the street.
It wasn't until she was almost around the corner that Gaara seemed to come back to himself.
"Wait!" he yelled, finally tearing his eyes away from his hand to call after her.
Aki paused, turning just enough to glance back at him over her shoulder. "Hmm?"
"You, what is your name?" he demanded. Who was this girl that could touch him—could injure him? He had to know. He needed to know.
Turning back toward him Aki cocked her head, curiously, like a cat contemplating a particularly interesting mouse as a predatory smirk split her face. For a long moment she didn't answer. She simply stood at the end of the street, eyeing Gaara like he was her next meal. "You may call me Aki," she finally answered, giving him a dismissive wave. "I'll be seeing you, Gaara."
Gaara's gaze never left her as she turned away from him and lingered as she vanished around the corner, a manic grin slowly working its way across his face.
Aki… a spirit that haunts.
Gaara… a demon that loves only itself.
'Fitting,' he thought, chuckling darkly as he turned away and left without another word, his sand streaming into his gourd as he went as Kankuro trailed behind at a safe distance. 'I look forward to our next meeting, Aki of Konoha. Next time I will enjoy your death above all others.'
Filing the new alias away in the back of her mind, Temari shuddered as she followed her brothers. Whether in relief or terror she didn't know. What she did know, was that Konoha's Bloody Princess was a monster of the highest order and for the first time since they were very small, she honestly feared for her baby brother's life.
'What was that?' Sasuke wondered from his hiding spot in the trees, staring thoughtfully at the corner where Aki had vanished.
It had been incredibly subtle. In fact, Sasuke suspected it would be completely unnoticeable to anyone who had already been emotionally invested in the situation. But Sasuke had only been there for a few seconds, just in time to see the boy from Suna attack Aki and feel the… atmosphere, when Aki had appeared behind him. It had been so…
He had felt completely unthreatened.
"What in all the hells was that?" Sasuke wondered again at the alien feeling. He should not have felt so calm. He had never felt comfortable around Aki. Who would, given his experiences with the girl? So, if it hadn't been a natural feeling, it had come from Aki. Genjutsu? That was something to consider, he still suspected the illusion arts of playing some part in the doujutsu that Sakura had witnessed. That said, it didn't strike him as Genjutsu. In fact, it had seemed somehow familiar, tangible, hanging in the air like she was… like she had no intent to…
Sasuke's eyes went wide. In wave he had felt something similar. It had been less alien then because it had felt natural to be afraid of Zabuza but… Had she been projecting some sort of intent? Was that even possible? He had certainly never heard of anything of the sort. But now that he'd thought of it, it had felt like the exact opposite of what Kakashi-sensei and Zabuza had produced during in their skirmish in Nami no Kuni before Aki had stepped in and, theoretically, it should be possible but…
His thoughts derailed as his eyes flicked to the side, catching movement in his peripheral vision.
Sasuke tensed, his posture shifting as he placed his back to the tree's trunk, his fingers instinctively closing around the handle of a kunai as he searched for the source of the movement.
A scrap of paper, floating benignly through the air.
"What in the-" he mumbled before flashing sharingan and scanning the area around him. Nothing. Sasuke frowned cautiously reaching out to snatch the paper out of the air. There was something written…
One should be more aware when attempting to spy, Uchiha-kun.
It wasn't signed but the fact that it seemed to be scratched in blood gave him a pretty good idea of who it was from.
Omake: Another Gaara
Note: for the purpose of this Omake the 4th Kazekage's name is Domasu (Trans: Fool; can you guess my opinion of this guy?). This also happens to be the scenario I would have used with an OOC Gaara.
Hokage's Office, Konohakagure no Sato…
It has been a little over eight years since the Kyuubi's attack on Konoha. The Sandaime Hokage is currently in a meeting with the Yondaime Kazekage. Their meeting is drawing to a close when…
"…And how is your son doing these days, Domasu?" the Sandaime enquired.
The Kazekage frowned at the Hokage's familiar use of his given name. "Kankuro is well. He is progressing quickly with his studies," he replied evasively.
"You know very well that I was referring to your youngest, Kazekage-chan," Sarutobi chided, easily seeing through his counterpart's pathetic attempt to redirect the conversation away from Gaara. Really, the boy was half a century too young to be playing politics with Sarutobi Hiruzen.
The younger Kage frowned deeply. "The affairs of Sunagakure's Jinchuuriki are none of your concern, Hokage-jisama," he fired back.
Hiruzen sighed, turning slightly away from his counterpart to stare out his window at his village. "You should tread carefully where he is concerned Domasu lest the outcome be… regrettable."
Suddenly the Kazekage was on full alert, his senses reaching out to locate every shinobi in the vicinity as his chakra hummed beneath his skin. "Are you threatening me, Hokage-dono?" he demanded through gritted teeth.
For a long moment they Sandaime did not answer, preferring to stare pensively out his window as he took long calming drafts from his pipe. "It is said that fools live to regret their words and actions but that wise men live to regret their silence and their failure to act," he finally said, tuning away from the window to face his counterpart with tired eyes. "I'm sure you've heard the rumors about Konoha no Benihime?"
Domasu blinked, startled at the elderly Hokage's choice of subject and apparent candor. "Those ridiculous ghost stories about a little girl that slaughters grown men for laughs and hunts bounties all over the continent?"
"Ghost stories," the Sandaime repeated with a bitter chuckle. "What an ironic choice of phrase. I believed, once upon a time, that my people would have faith in my judgement and in the abilities of my predecessor," the Sandaime explained. "Their actions in concert with my inaction has lead into a rather precarious position I'm afraid."
Domasu gave a derisive snort.
"Do you find something humorous Kazekage-dono?"
"You expect me to believe this girl is real? Surely you jest!" Domasu laughed.
"I assure you that there is absolutely nothing funny about a child that wiped out two platoons of vetted ANBU before systematically hunting down the rest of their battalion to prove a point," Sarutobi snarled bringing an abrupt halt to the kazekage's laughter.
"You can't be serious!" Domasu cried.
"Shimura Danzo and his unit attempted to recruit her. When she refused they attempted to force the issue… she retaliated," the Hokage explained.
Domasu's eyes went even wider with surprise. Shimura Danzo? That tenacious war hawk? He knew and loathed that name. The man was a thorn in the side of nearly everyone in the shinobi world, a very elusive thorn… and a Kage level ninja. For this Jinchuuriki to kill Shimura and his organization…
"She has mastered her beast," the Kazekage whispered, awed and horrified. The child couldn't be more than eight years old! To accomplish such a thing at such a young age was unheard of. To accomplish it when the beast in question was the Kyuubi no Youko was ludicrous… and terrifying.
"I'm afraid it's much worse," the Sandaime sighed as he returned to his chair
5 Years Later…
[Baki is prepping his team for the Chunnin Exam]
"None of our sources are entirely sure where she came from or exactly what she is capable of," Baki explained. "Aside from her alias, Benihime, we do know that she is capable of combatting and killing fully trained ninja, confirmed by several friendly fire reports that we were able to… aquire, and answers to no one but their Hokage."
"She sounds like how Gaara used to be," Kankuro observed before hastily backpeddling. "I—uh—what I meant to say was—"
Gaara, dressed in his usual white and cream robes, rolled his eyes at his brothers. "Shut up, Kankuro. Despite your lack of tact I am well aware of what you meant. Please continue Baki."
Kankuro slumped. Sure his brother might not be a unstable, murdering, psychopath like he had been in his turbulent childhood but the silver tongue was almost as bad.
Baki nodded. "At the very least this means that she is extremely dangerous compared to most gennin and that she is likely protected by somebody high up in Konoha's government, likely the Hokage. Both of these facts represent significant dangers to the early portions of your mission."
"There is something you're not telling us," Temari realized, squinting suspiciously.
"Her age bothers me," Baki admitted.
Huh? Her age? Why would that bother her sensei? "Why? How old is she?" she asked, doing her best
"Fourteen," Baki answered, watching his students expectantly to see what they would deduce from the intelligence he had provided them with before he would continue.
After a moment, it was Gaara that made the connection. "It coincides roughly with the incident that resulted in the death of their Yondaime… and, presumably, the resealing of the Kyuubi no Youko," he stated seriously. "You believe that she may be their Jinchuuriki."
Baki did not contradict him.
Chunnin Exam Finals
Aki vanished again.
Gaara tensed, feeling more than seeing the girl appear behind him. "Naiyajinheki," he commanded, instinctively drawing his diamond dust into a protective wall and the intrusive presence as he leaped in the opposite direction.
'So this is Konoha's Crimson Princess,' Gaara thought, his blood singing with fear and anticipation as his opponent casually dispersed his ultimate defense with some kind of concussive ninjutsu. Had he not moved, he would have surely been grievously injured.
Aki simply stood, just beyond the puddle of glimmering dust, hand in her pockets as she stared at him expectantly.
'Sabaku Nui,' Gaara thought, sending spears of sand snaking toward her even as he began the handseals for one of his most destructive Fuuton jutsu.
Dancing through his spears, Aki rushed him.
'Shit!' Gaara cursed, maintaining his cool as he abandoned his handseal and raised his forearm, his sand flowing into a solid sheet of chakra reinforced diamond.
"Gah!" Gaara cried, tumbling backward from the impossible force of the blow.
"Is this the extent of your ability?" Aki asked boredly, sounding far too close for comfort as he rolled to his feet.
'When did she!?' Gaara thought a second too late froze as he felt the girl casually standing right behind him, draping herself over him, embracing him, touching him… methodically dragging a single clawed finger across his throat as his sand lay unmoving on the ground.
Up in the stands, every Suna shinobi present was trembling in absolute terror as tiny beads of blood, Gaara's blood, appeared along the line the girl drawn. To their knowledge, no one but the Kazekage, the strongest ninja in their village, had ever been able to slow Gaara down, never mind injuring him, since he had acquired his Daimond Sand.
"Know your place… Ichibi," she whispered against his ear, her words echoing ominously through the stadium as she disengaged, walking toward the arena as the proctor called the match.
Naiyajinheki: Diamond Encampment Wall
Sabaku Nui: Desert Sewing, based on Shikamaru's Kage Nui
Finally done! Sweet gods of anime I never thought I'd find the right way to play that out… still not sure I like it either. Now then, only… 90% of the story left to go. In all seriousness though, I apologize for the long time between updates but this will likely be the norm for a loooong while. Due to my goals and obligations I'm not going to be able to focus on fanfiction. Still going to chip away at things but… well, more of the same really.
Anyway, you may have noticed I changed the banner for WoaWS. No, I didn't snipe some picture of some random redhead. It is, in fact, the first piece of fanart I have received for WoaWS, courtesy of AnimaFera. Thanks again Anima!
Now, some of you have noticed that there are a few continuity errors between chapters 8 & 9 concerning Sasuke's fight with Haku. This is a symptom of how long it has been since I've read Wrath all the way through. That said, I will be doing exactly that and editing as I go… but may leave that as is since I like both scenes. My plan is to overhaul the entire fic before I post Chapter 11.
Playlist: Wind by Akeboshi, Demons by Imagine Dragons, Abraham's Daughter by Arcade Fire