A/N:Follows the same basic idea as my 'Curry of Love' story 'Angel Without Wings', but hopefully better. Inspired by the Billy Talent song "Pins and Needles".
Normally, I don't write this kind of thing. It's too...I don't know, expected, I guess. But I feel sick today and want to see if I can try it. Hopefully, I explained my personal canon decently well to those that are new to it, but if not feel free to ask questions and I'll try and cover it better in Part 2.
Disclaimer: Since Team 7, and not Team Guy, are the focus of this manga, it's pretty safe to assume that I don't own it.
Warnings: Language and some very sensitive themes, that I tried to handle effectively but may have failed.
Summary: Occasionally, we're so focused on the cracks in the mirror, we fail to realize they're actually in ourselves. GuyTen father-daughter two-shot, pre-time skip.
Pushing on Glass
It used to be that nothing would clear her head like a warm shower. Her own personal thunderstorm, the water had washed away all the excess thoughts and worries that would attach themselves to her through the daily struggles of life. After a shower, before, she used to find herself, as Guy-sensei would say, with a renewed energy to face the winter that was currently encasing her spring.
No matter how hot she turned this water, though, the ice would not melt.
Lee had run off and left her, reopening several of his wounds in the process. Now he was going to face several more small surgeries to correct the damage. It was lucky he hadn't reversed everything Tsunade had tried to do. Neji had been moments away from leaving her forever. If Guy-sensei hadn't run out after Lee like he did and stumbled upon him, she'd be visiting his name on the stone instead of the hospital.
Thinking that didn't bother her in the slightest. Neji was her best friend, Lee like her brother, and she could have lost them both, but she wasn't upset about it. In fact, she didn't feel anything at all. No happiness for their safe return, no grief for how close they'd come.
Maybe she was just getting used to it? This was the second time in three months she'd almost lost Lee, but his fight with Gaara hadn't even been the first time. It was the first time Neji had even come close, but maybe everything was just stacking up.
She turned off the water, grabbing one of the green towels off the rack. This was Guy-sensei's apartment, but the water at her house had been shut off and she'd desperately needed this shower. Besides, he never minded when she'd come over, or even spend the night on the futon in the second room he'd set up for her use.
Wrapping one towel around herself, she grabbed a second to dry her long auburn hair as she stood on the horrifically fuzzy bath mat. Someday, she was going to convince him to replace that thing. As the green fuzz filled her vision, TenTen felt her mind drifting back over those last few months, trying to pin point the place where she'd stopped caring. She seemed to be constantly doing that, lately.
First there had been the Chuunin exam, which all three of them had wanted desperately to pass. Lee's fight and injury from the Sound Ninja had only been the first of their troubles, as after than a group of Mist Ninja had taken an interest in not just their scroll, but killing them as well. It had been a struggle to get to the tower, and they'd only made it last minute.
Then that ghastly second round of fighting. If she'd been placed against anybody else in that room, TenTen knew she would have fun. The girl from sand and herself were the only long range fighters there, and it would have been easy to turn them into pin cushions. But it hadn't worked that way, and the damage to her back had kept her bedridden for days.
Only to wake up and find that Lee, her friend since their first day of school, her partner in crime, her little brother, had had every dream of his shattered. It was all Guy-sensei could do to keep his spirits up, and their teacher had asked that she help Neji with his training since he could not. Every day she and Neji had been up before dawn and home well after midnight, trying to perfect the moves he wanted so he could show the main branch just what they had lost.
After the exams, it had been mayhem. No longer was there a Sandaime-sama to ensure that no one questioned why she spent so many nights with her sensei, or even his office if Guy-sensei was out and the situation at home became too much to stand.
And Guy-sensei had been gone a lot.
She'd always been so proud before to have such a strong ninja as her teacher, but now, for the first time, she wished he wasn't quite so amazing. They needed him now—with Lee's spirits no lower than ever thanks to that idiot Uchiha showing him up, and Neji trying to recover from a complete shift in his world view—but, as was the ninja way, the village had to come first. Whenever he was home, Guy-sensei would spend the little time he had with Lee, but she couldn't begrudge him that. Nobody could reach Lee like he could.
This, once again, left her to help Neji, and not let him get too lost as he worked to reset his universe. It was difficult to realize that fate could be changed, and to accept the hurt he'd caused with that belief. To try and make up for all that. She couldn't let him face that alone, and spending time with him and doing just enough missions to keep Team Guy active on the ninja files ate up days.
Between that and the little sleep she managed to snag wherever she could, she had been exhausted. Her parents' arguments, the abuse she took when home and had since she was very young, had only gotten worse with the invasion when damage to the house had made her room impossible to live in. It was when Guy-sensei had found her sleeping in the doorway of an abandoned shrine that he'd given her the spare key she'd used to get in his apartment today.
Her hair now dry, she moved down, using the slightly damp towel to dry her extremities. Her fingers brushed her leg, and she recoiled a little at the thin, bristly hair that rubbed against the wrinkled digit. Damn, how could she have forgotten to shave her legs?
The only razor she could see was the one on the counter that Guy-sensei used for his face, and she would sooner die than use that. It wasn't the first time this had happened, and without thought she reached into her pile of clothes on the floor for a kunai. Hopping up on the counter, she started the act of shaving with the blade on autopilot, not even bothering to use the soap. It didn't matter if she got razor burn, nobody would see her legs anyway. She only bothered with this at all because she loved the feel of metal on her skin.
Tsunade thought that was weird, but it seemed her childhood idol didn't understand much at all.
The news of who was going to be the new Hokage was the last time TenTen could remember feeling excited about something. How many hours had she spend in the library, researching Tsunade, hoping to become as strong, beautiful, life-changing was the famous Sannin kunoichi had been? This was her chance to learn directly from the best.
It had taken every ounce of courage she had to ask Tsunade if she would train her, even if it was only for a half hour every day. When Tsunade had had her run a series of tests, TenTen had been hopeful. No, she couldn't walk up trees very well, and she'd yet to really master even walking on top of water. But her sealing and summoning skills were on par with some Jounin, and she had desperately hoped that Tsunade would see the value and potential of the pin point accuracy TenTen had spend years perfecting.
However long she lived, TenTen wouldn't be able to forget what Tsunade had said. Turning away, her long blonde hair streaming behind her. "A kunoichi without chakra control is worthless to her team. Perhaps you should spend your time looking into an occupation your better suited for."
"Damn it." Pain shot up her body as the blade in her hand slipped, slicing a deep cut in her upper thigh. She set down the knife, debating putting soap in her mouth to spare sensei the trouble, and automatically reached to cover the wound.
And, for the first time in months, all was still. The clear, sharp pain of the cut had stopped the whispers in her head. The list of things she needed to do, to fix, to practice to try and prove she was not worthless. The warm blood, pushing passed her fingers, had made a bigger dent in her winter than any amount of warm water seemed capable of.
The euphoria only lasted a moment of two, before the crushing weight was back. How could she be wasting time with all of this? She should be at the hospital, making sure Neji and Lee weren't getting into trouble, or doing a mission so their team wouldn't seem a burden to the village. Training. Anything but sitting her making a mess on Guy-sensei's counter.
It was almost a nearly suffocating weight; her ears nearly ringing as each thing she needed to do clamored to get to the top of her mental list. Desperate for some silence, some way to focus, she picked up her kunai again, this time slicing deliberately from her knee cap to mid thigh. She was too skilled with a blade for it to be deep, but it broke skin, and blood from that cut joined the first. Then more as she sliced a few more times. Still more as she slit a little into her other leg, just so they matched.
Blessed, glorious, silence. She couldn't fix the world that had shattered the last few months and make her team what they had been. There was little, if anything, she could do about her abysmal chakra control. She could do this. She could bring about silence, give herself direction. She could control how deep that knife went, and where. Now, for the first time in months, she knew what to do next.
She needed to bandage these, and clean up. Having a task, a purpose, was a near delirious feeling. She wanted, needed, to hold onto this. Then, maybe, she could make it through this in one piece.