Sapphire09: I'm reposting the original version of Scattered Fragments since I remembered someone requested me to, but I did not edit anything. So, I'm terribly sorry for the grammar.


"Human talks"

'Human thinking'/ flashback/memories/ dreams

'Telepathic conversation between humans'

Letters/ notes

"Demon/other inhuman things talks"

'Demon/another inhuman things thought'

'Telepathic conversation between demons/other inhuman things'


CHAPTER VIII
Changes

After the fight is done, Shino and Sakura came back along with Tazuna, trailed by Inari and the rest of the villagers. They all cheered when they saw Gatou's dead body, but there's also many that puke at the sight of the bloodied ground and the scattered dead bodies. Still, they were happy to know that Nami is free once more.

Kakashi still stares at the spot where Obito and Rin disappeared. He was frozen, unable to neither move nor speak. Naruto glances at him and his glance turned sharp.

"Naruto nii-chan!!" a childish voice yelled. He turned towards the source of that voice, Inari. When he was talking to a cheerful Inari, Kakashi that notice on how Naruto have been staring at him, glance at him questioningly.

"It may be better if we go back to Tazuna's house to have some rest. I don't know about the rest of you, but my chakra is already depleted, also with Kiba and Hinata, I think," Kurenai said to Kakashi suddenly. Kakashi nodded.

"Yeah, it is best to take a rest for now."


(Nighttime)

Deep inside the secluded forest, two figures are jumping through the trees. Both of them wore hooded cloaks, so their faces completely hidden in the shadow of their hood. They then jumped down when they arrive at a tower at the heart of the forest.

From the tower, a figure emerged. It was a man in his twenties. His hair is black in a falcon cut hairstyle (Narumi Shogo's hairstyle from Beauty Pop) with mismatched eyes. His left eye is blue and his right eye is green.

"Welcome, Minami-sama, Hinata-sama. They are waiting for you inside," the man smiled to them. Both figure nodded and led by the man inside the tower.

"So Shinichi, how is he faring?" Minami starts a conversation.

"Good. He is right now sleeping in one of the chambers. He'll be waking up soon, I presume," the man that is called as Shinichi answered. "Good to know, then."

Not long, they then arrive at a room. Inside, they can see four figures sitting on the chairs around the big table at the middle of the room. Shinichi then stands near the door as Minami and Hinata walk toward the table.

"Minami-sama, what is the reason behind of what you told us to do earlier at the bridge? Why are Zabuza and Haku must pretend to be dead?" Rin asked in curiosity. Zabuza and Haku look at Minami and Hinata questioningly, also curious.

She smiled a little before saying her reasons. "I was thinking to clear out Zabuza's name from the Bingo Book. If he was thought as a dead man, no one will ever suspect him to be in Kiri, right?"

"Why did it have to be in front of their eyes?" Obito asked. He knows they need some witness to confirm their deaths, but why them?

"Simple. If it was them; it'll erase any doubts of their death. A genjutsu mistress and a ninja with sharingan can confirm that is was not a genjutsu, not a trick. Kakashi is also famous in the Shinobi world. There's no way their deaths will be doubted that way," Hinata answered.

"What do you-," suddenly, it hit them like tons of bricks. "You wanted something from Kiri-no, Mizu no Kuni, aren't you?" Rin exclaimed. Minami smirked and nodded once.

"Yes. I've been wanting something from Mizu no Kuni. However, to do that, I need to get the Mizukage out from his throne," she explained. Zabuza then straightened from his seat and listen it intently. Haku, seeing Zabuza's interest perked, also starts to listen to it.

"I wanted to send Zabuza, Haku, and Kisame to Kirigakure, if you agree, that is," Minami asked as look at Zabuza. Although it was hidden, Minami can practically feel his grin. "What is your plan, Minami-sama?"

Minami smiled from under her hood.


"You know… I can't believe that they were bad guys," Kiba started a conversation. It was morning and everyone is right now eating their breakfast. None of the genins speak since what happened yesterday shock most of them.

"Who?" Naruto asked while chewing on his breakfast. He knew who he meant, but it's better to stay oblivious.

"You know who, Naruto! Tobi-san and Rhien-san! We may only know them for few days, but they taught us many things!!" Kiba said, annoyed.

"You mean Obito-san and Rin-san," Sasuke corrected flatly. "Argh! Whatever Uchiha! Don't you feel discontented for what they did?! They… use their own comrade like that!! I can't believe that we're actually taught by… them!" Kiba said angrily. "I felt… used…," he added weakly.

"But, they do taught you how to control your chakra better," Kurenai tried to cheer her student.

"But still, Kurenai-sensei…," Sakura added. They may have taught them to be better ninjas, but they still felt as if they were cheated.

Hinata and Naruto can only eat in silent. They're not really wanted to lie right now. 'They'll be pissed if we tell them that this is our plan…" Naruto said to Hinata in telepathy.

"Very pissed…" Hinata added.

After finishing his breakfast, Sasuke stood up and walk to the door. "Where are you going, Sasuke?" Kakashi asked.

"Training. What else?" he said it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Naruto then hurriedly finish his breakfast and said, "Wait! I'll come with you!"

Sasuke however, ignores him and walks out. Naruto hurriedly catch up to him.

"Heey, teme!! I told you to wait up!" Naruto yelled from behind him. "What do you want, dobe?" he asked impatiently while still walking.

"Training?" he answered densely as he already besides him. "Then why are you following me?" Sasuke asked harshly.

"I wanna ask you something," Naruto said seriously. That makes Sasuke stops. He then turns his head to Naruto's direction.

"Is… is there anyone in your family named… Itachi?" Naruto asked carefully. The last thing he needs is for Sasuke to hate him. He only wanted Sasuke to lower his hate to Itachi for a bit.

Sasuke's eyes narrowed in hatred as the name was said. "What about him? How do you know him in the first place anyway?" he spat in hatred.

"He… kinda saved my life a few times," Naruto looks away. It was half lies half truth. But he doesn't want Sasuke to notice the lie. "Saved your life? How?" Sasuke asked in curiosity. Naruto's eyes dimmed for a minute, before it was back in no time.

"It's not important, by the way," he said in a fake cheery smile. His image then suddenly overlapped.

"It's okay, Sasuke. I'm used to it," she said with a cheery smile that he knew it was fake.

He blinked once. "Huh?" he gasped at the flash back. He then turned to Naruto again. That fake smile still plastered on his face. Sasuke unknowingly frowned.

"Huh? Teme? What's wrong?" Naruto asked. "Hn," he grunted. "Argh! Teme! Can't you please give straight answer!?" Sasuke ignores his rant.

"You know what? Forget it! I'll go training on my own!" he said annoyed as he stomping away. He only looks at his retreating figure emotionlessly before continue to the clearing to train.

"Since then, I've learned that promises are meant to be broken…."

"Huh?" He was startled by the sudden image that appeared in his mind. He stops on his track. He then lifts his right hand to his head.

"Promise… is such a big word, Sasuke."

Another picture of her appeared in his mind. 'What the…?' he thinks.

"Why should I believe you? How will I know that you're not the same as them?" she sobs.

"-I promise," little Sasuke said to Minami.

'What… What promise?' he thinks. The images then stop coming. 'What did I promise her?'

His head hurts when he tried to remember mores. Angry, he punched a nearby tree, "DAMMIT!!" he yelled. He doesn't know why he felt angry at himself to forget what promise.

"What did I promise to her…" he muttered. He then clenches his fist again. "I can't even remember her looks!!" he exclaimed madly. His mood to train dispersed and he didn't feel to train anymore. He decided to go back to Tazuna's house.


The rest of the day passes by without any events. Around three days after, the bridge was done and the teams will be going back to Konoha. Plus, most of the genins already feel more than a little homesick.

"Well," Naruto said as cheerfully as possible. "I guess it's time for us to go. Tsunami-san!" he cried out and the woman jumped, startled. "Keep up your good cooking!" she smiled and nodded. Then he turned to Tazuna, "Take good care of your family, jiji. And remember not to lie to shinobi!" Tazuna grinned at Naruto. Naruto then speaks through the link that he had just activated. 'And I hope you can pay your debt after you restore Nami's economy. Don't worry, there's no interest, so you only have to pay the exact amount that you borrow.'

'I thank you, Minami-san. Not only you lend us money to build the bridge, you also help us to make it. You also lit up the light of hope that has faded. Thank you,' he said in his mind. Naruto smiled.

Finally Naruto turned to Inari, who looked ready to cry. Since the day where Minami told him about the importance of a memory, the two had gotten closer; Naruto/Minami felt like Inari was his/her annoying kid brother. Smiling, he knelt down and wrapped the younger boy into a hug, whispering a few words in his ear. When he pulled away, tears were streaming down Inari's face and he was sniffling. Naruto chuckled and ruffled the boy's hair before stepping back among his team.

Sakura bowed, "Thank you for your hospitality, Tazuna-san, Tsunami-san."

"I h-hope to s-see you soon, Tsunami-san, Tazuna-san, a-and Inari-kun," Hinata stutter out. "Yea!! Hope to see you soon!" Kiba said. Kurenai and Shino only bow to them in goodbye.

Sasuke shrugged and muttered a quiet, "Hn," under his breath. Naruto rolled his eyes.

Kakashi just waved his hand from behind his orange book, making Naruto wonder if he would always be the one to do most of the talking in their team. The older Jounin turned and started to walk away, followed closely by his ducklings. Kurenai and her team then follow. Tazuna and his family watched them go tearfully; all six of them had gotten attached in the short weeks that they had known each other.

In their heart, the one that will be missed very much is Naruto/Minami and Hinata. Tsunami has found out about Naruto's and Hinata's real status. Tazuna told him, as well as Inari. They said Naruto gave them permission to tell her, but only her. Naruto/Minami is also the one that makes their townspeople got their hopes.

"Do you have a name for the bridge yet Chichi?" Tsunami asked her father suddenly, an idea brightening in her mind. Tazuna smiled at her; he already had a name for the bridge.

"Yes! It will be called 'The Great Maelstrom Sea Wave Bridge'!" (A/n: The word Mi- from Minami is written is the same way as –mi from Umi: Sea and the word –nami from Nami: wave. At least that's the way I wrote the name Minami in Japanese… Tell me if it's wrong)


Their way back to the village is eventless. It can be considered boring in fact. They then arrive at the village. Kurenai and Kakashi then went to the Hokage Tower to give his the report, leaving the genins alone.

Sakura then suggest to them to have lunch together. All of them agree, but Naruto and Hinata.

"Sorry, but I have something to do," Naruto said. He smile the same smile that Sasuke saw that time, the smile that he -don't know why- loathed.

"What something?" Sasuke asked coldly. Naruto narrowed his eyes to Sasuke. "It's none of your business," he said in the same tone as Sasuke. The others were surprised when Naruto said that. Never even once they hear him in that cold emotionless voice.

"I'll see you guys tomorrow. Bye!" he said as he runs away from them. "A-Ano…," Hinata suddenly spoke up.

"I-I need t-to p-pass t-too. S-See y-you tomorrow, Kiba-kun, Shino-kun," she said her goodbye. She then went to the opposite direction of Naruto.

"Geez… Wonder what's their problem is," Kiba exclaimed. "Oh, well. Looks like it's only us then –Oi, Shino!!" he said when he saw that he also walks away, and then Sasuke also walks away.

"Well, damn it. I think I'll pass too, then. Bye, Haruno," Kiba said as he walks away too.

"Oh, well. So much for the team bonding," Sakura muttered in her breath. She then walks towards her house.


(The Hyuuga Compound)

"Back already, Hinata?"

Hinata halted abruptly upon hearing that voice. Taking a deep breath, she turned to her back, "Y-Yes, f-father," she stuttered.

"How's the mission?" he asked nonchalantly. She closed her eyes before she opens them again. "It w-went fine, f-father. P-please, excuse m-me," she said before she turned again and went straight to her room. Hiashi only stands there like a statue. He watches her retreating figure before he turns to the opposite direction of her.

He then arrived in his own room. He then sat on the bed and closes his eyes in thoughtful look. "It seems, my mistakes cannot be undone, then," he muttered sadly. "I cannot take back what I've said years ago…." He opens his eyelids halfway. "But at least she got stronger and stronger everyday, even though she was reluctant to show it…"

He smiled a bitter proud smile.


(Haruno household)

Sakura laid her back on her bed in her bedroom. She looks towards the ceiling. She then closes her eyes before she opens them halfway.

(Flashback)

"Why the hell can't you do something as simple as fighting?!" Rhien yelled in frustration. Shino already done his part of training so she tell him to go to Zabuza for the next training, leaving Sakura alone with the woman.

They were sparring, and it seems the way Sakura fight really pisses Rhien off. All of her attacks were slow and without power. What makes her more ticked off, she was exhausted already!!

"Well, I'm sorry that I don't have as much stamina as you do! What did you expect? I was only recently graduated!" Sakura said in defense. She didn't understand why it was a big deal. She thinks that since Sasuke-kun is in her team, everything will be alright. He'll save her every time she's in trouble. Added to that, her sensei was also strong. He'll handle any enemies.

"I expect more than this, that's for sure," she said coldly to her as she looks down on her. "Why did you even decide to become a ninja anyway?"

"I become a ninja so I can get near to Sasuke-kun!" she said. Rhien then narrowed her eyes.

"Ninja is a serious business. It's not a child's play," she said to her. "You don't have what it takes to become a ninja. Why don't you just resign?" she said coldly.

"WHAT! No way! I have what it takes to be a ninja! I was the Kunoichi of the Year when I graduated!" she yelled. Again, Rhien only look at her coldly.

"Yeah, I've heard. So what?" Sakura then looked surprised by her words.

"In the real world, how you did in your academy days are not important. How can you be a ninja if you can't even survive a simple spar?" she said again. "I-!"

"You what?" she cut her word. Sakura then close her mouth. She then realizes that compared to anyone in her team, including Naruto, she was nothing. The only thing she has is brain. She lacks the strength and also chakra.

"Let me tell you a story, a story about a fault and selfishness. Long ago, in the Konoha-Iwa war, there was a team consists of a prodigy who put the shinobi rules on top of his priority list, a knucklehead who was stupid and never on time, and a fan girl of the prodigy, who the knucklehead had a crush on. Like every team, it was also led by a great jounin.

"One day, they got a mission to infiltrate a camp of Iwa nins. The sensei went ahead to take care of the Iwa ninjas, thus giving the prodigy, who was already a jounin that time, the duty to lead the team. He actually led the team very well. However, something then happened. The girl got kidnapped when they were off guard. The knucklehead wanted to save the girl, but the prodigy wanted to keep going with the mission. It's the rule, he said.

"However, the knucklehead refused and still going to save the girl. He even said something that makes the prodigy changed his mind and join him in the last minute. They managed to save her, but do you know at what cost?" she asked bitterly cold. Sakura that pays her a full attention cannot answer.

"They lose one of their teammate, the knucklehead. A boulder fell on him because he was trying to save his two teammates. He even donates one of his eyes to the prodigy because one of his eyes was blinded in the fight," she continued. Sakura's eye widened. She can't even start to imagine if that'll ever happen to his team, even though she knows how possible it can be.

"And it's all happened only because the girl relied herself so much in the prodigy. She was very weak, no different than you are now. If only she had the strength to fend the kidnapper off, if only she wasn't a weak girl, the mission will be going on smoothly," she said. Sakura then realize, she needs to get stronger so she won't be a burden, a hindrance to her team. She knows now that being a ninja means to survive. If she can't even survive training, how can she survive being a ninja?

"I got your meaning, Rhien-san," Sakura said slowly. "I don't want my team to be like that. I want it to stay as whole," she said with new determination.

"Then, shall we begin?" Rhien said

Sakura then prepares herself. Her eyes no longer show neither fear nor ignorance. But now she shows what is Konoha proud of. Determination.

(Flashback ends)

She closes her eyes as she remembers the reason of why she enters the academy. It was not because of Sasuke. She only knows Sasuke in the beginning of her second year, after the massacre. It was something else, someone else.

'I decided to enter the academy because I hoped I can meet her again. But, I never see her, that blonde girl. The girl who became my friend before Ino came.'