.:To Trust Again:.
Kakashi was irritated. Exceedingly irritated. Because Kakashi didn't get pissed. No, Kakashi got irritated. And he had good reason for his irritation.
The three in front of him walked stiffly, hands either clenched or shoved deeply into their pockets because they, unlike their Sensei, were indeed pissed. Sweat and grime, which had long since dried on the livid shinobi, created a sticky sort of goo that seemed to engulf them silence that surrounded them was so far past "palpable" that it was nearly gelatinous and their roiling waves of chakra were enough to frighten shinobi and civilian alike from crossing paths with their dysfunctional little "team," if they really could be called that anymore. Kakashi sighed.
Even after finally, finally getting the clearance to reinstate the infamous Team Seven, they still couldn't work like a team. Their latest mission was a testament to this. A simple recovery mission with a scroll in a distant village they had to nab and return. A B-ranked mission at best. But their inability to work together almost caused them to, not only lose the scroll, but almost their lives because of a general lack of communication and stupid, stupid mistakes. It had been far too long since any of them had worked as a team. Years of solo missions made them edgy, and while edgy was good, their trigger-finger reflexes toward anything that moved, was not. But it wasn't just that. There was hardly any trust between them now.
It was then that Kakashi made one of his snap decision. One that, in all honestly, probably wouldn't work but, by god, he would make it work.
He turned left.
Momentarily distracted from their foul moods, the other three shinobi followed his lead with few confused grumbles.
So he turned left again.
This time he was met with more confusion and more grumbles.
So he turned right, just to mix things up.
The exhausted shinobi behind him groaned as their sensei led them to some unknown destination.
The unknown destination turned out to be their old training grounds. By the time they arrived Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura were simply glowering at all which surrounded them. Kakashi, however, had amused himself with their confusion and was in a significantly better mood, but there was business to be done.
"It has become apparent to me that you three do not trust each other as much as you should." he started and held up a hand to halt the indignant onslaught of rebuts coming from the blonde. "You do not trust each other enough to watch over your backs, leaving you distracted. That distraction could cost you vital seconds in a mission." He glanced at the disgruntled faces of his students as Sakura crossed her arms and Sasuke shoved his hands into his pockets whereas Naruto was simply fuming. They looked filthy, exhausted, and, from what Kakashi could hear of their stomachs, hungry. "So we're going to have a little team activity!"
A delightful chorus of groans met his ears.
"Kaka-sensei, can't we do this tomorrow?" Suggested a forced-hopeful pinkette, teeth grit behind her dry, chapped lips. Her bagged green eyes pleaded the man in front of her to be merciful.
"No," he said simply. Sakura deflated at his cheery smile.
"What's this team activity then?" Sasuke ground out and Kakashi's jovial grin was redirected to him.
"Instead of telling you, lets have a demonstration!" Pretending not to notice the increased slump to their shoulders, he scanned over the three of them. His eyes landed on the two with the highest probably success rate. "Naruto, Sakura, come over here."
Both of their shoulders tensed as they exchanged guarded glances and shuffled towards their sensei. Kakashi grabbed both of their shoulders and pulled them in so that they were only about three feet away from each other and spun Sakura so that she was facing away from Naruto. He stepped away.
"Now, Sakura, you will fall. Naruto, you will catch her."
His students gave him dubious looks.
"You've got to be kidding me!" Sakura nearly screeched, throwing her aching arms into the air. "A trust fall? This is your brilliant plan?"
"Come on, Kaka-sensei! Lets go eat!" Naruto hollered. A few yards away Sasuke turned to leave only to be stopped by the very man who was keeping them captive in that desolate, humiliating, infuriating, nauseating, little piece of hell.
"This is a team building exercise!" Kakashi ground out as he appeared in front of the exaggerative Uchiha. "You three need to rebuild your trust for each other and this is how we're going to do it, understood?"
He was met with grumbled affirmatives as all of his little students returned to their original positions. There was only a brief moment when Kakashi had to remind himself that, despite how they acted, they were no longer his little students. In fact, Sasuke and Naruto were now near the same height as him and all three of their names were both feared and respected across the map. He sighed. 'I'm really getting old.'
"Now, Sakura, cross you arms over your chest and fall back." he commanded, turning from the dark-haired wonder to his "examples."
With a sigh, Sakura did as instructed and felt only a slight twinge of vertigo before Naruto's warm and sturdy arms grasped her by the elbows and halted her descent. Both turned to their sensei with raised eyebrows as if to say 'And the point of that was…..?'
Kakashi smirked at them under his mask. "Very good, but there was a reason I chose the two of you for the example; you've been working together for years and have developed a strong trust in each other. Sasuke, however, has only returned to the leaf a couple years ago and has only started working with us a few months ago when his parole was lifted. While the trust between the pair of you is strong, as a team your lack of trust in Sasuke makes you weak."
The once-avenger grit his teeth whereas Naruto half exploded with rage.
"Oi, oi oi!" he roared. "I do too trust the teme! I'd trust him with my life!"
"Then prove it," Kakashi challenged, sending the blonde a pointed look. Naruto harrumphed and moved towards his raven-haired teammate, promptly turning his back on him and crossing his arms over his chest.
"Catch me, teme," he growled before falling back. Sasuke's hands deftly captured the loud one and pushed him back into a standing position, looking as if murder was on his mind.
"Ah, but does he trust you?" Kakashi's visible eye crinkled in amusement as Naruto spun around and commanded the homicidally-induced one to do the same. The scowl that crossed his face had even Sakura barely holding back her sniggers. Finally the blonde managed to convince him to commence the trust fall so he closed his eyes, fell back, and waited for it to be over.
Naruto caught him in a rather heroic fashion with one arm around the once-avenger's waist and the other producing a dandelion which had been swiftly uprooted during his teammate's fall. He was then promptly punched in the face.
Kakashi applauded their performance as Sakura collapsed in on herself in hysterics.
"Wonderful, wonderful," he praised before calling together the final pair. "Sasuke, your turn to catch Sakura."
Sasuke's eyebrow ceased its violent twitching which had been the result of the blonde's antics and turned his eyes from his clenched fist to his pink-haired teammate who was still trying to calm herself and wipe the tears of mirth from her face. He approached her as she pulled herself together and stood. They then proceeded to stand in front of each other awkwardly for several seconds.
"Sakura, you have to turn around." Kakashi reminded.
So she did. She turned and crossed her arms over her chest, feeling much more tense than what she had with Naruto. Her heart pounded against her ribs and her palms felt slick and sweaty.
"Ready?" her voice was much quieter than she expected it to be.
She pushed herself back, her fingernails dug painful crescents into her arms and her eyes scrunched shut. She thought she could do it, she really did, but as soon as the wind began to rush past her ears the haunting chirping of a Chidori permeated her memories. Panic burst through her chest and froze her heart as she remembered the look on his face back then, cold and indifferent on a whole new level as his arm glowed and crackled and sizzled and aimed at her.
Sakura put her foot back and stopped herself from falling and sprung away. Her breath came in heavy pants and her arms were held in front of her defensively as her bottle green eyes seemed to be seeing into a different time.
Silence fell like a heavy cloud over the training ground. Sasuke stiffly lowered his arms, which had been raised in order to catch his falling comrade. His shoulders tensed and his face was wiped blank, emotions retreating to the recesses of his mind for protection.
Naruto could only stare at the woman who was like a sister to him as she snapped back into reality, guarded eyes suddenly appearing fragile and vulnerable. "Sakura-chan?"
"I-I'm sorry," she choked, lowering her defensive stance. Her eyes slowly made their way to the impenetrable face of the stoic Uchiha. "Sasuke-kun, I'm so sorry." she whispered.
Kakashi cleared his throat, slicing through the silence like a blade. "This is what I was talking about."
Sakura's head lowered in shame.
"But-but, does the teme trust Sakura-chan?" Naruto supplied hopefully.
"Real trust is a two-way thing, Naruto. If she doesn't trust him, then he can't trust her completely."
"Don't worry, Sakura-chan, you just have to learn to trust each other again." Kakashi said soothingly. "We'll meet at the bridge tomorrow morning. I'm going ahead to Hokage tower to give the mission report. You're all dismissed."
With that he poofed out of existence. Naruto immediately rushed in to Sakura, grasping her by the arms as tears began to slide down her face, hidden by a curtain of pink. Sasuke turned away and began walking to his apartment, hands buried deep in his pockets as an overwhelming sense of emptiness blossomed in his chest.
She was late. Even Kakashi had arrived on time but Sakura remained AWOL. An overpowering sense of irritation settled over the three males of team seven. Naruto's foot tapped spastically against the wooden panels at the floor of the bridge whereas Sasuke's growing headache seemed to worsen in time with each of those infuriating taps. Kakashi's arms were crossed in front of his chest and his lone eye remained closed in attempt to put a barrier between himself and his adorable little students.
After almost an hour of waiting the sound of hurried footsteps alerted them to her arrival. She skidded to a halt in front of them and bent over, hands resting on her knees as she attempted to catch her breath.
"You're late!" shouted the blonde, pointing an accusatory finger at her hunched over form.
"Sorry," she panted. "Emergency…at the hospital…surgery…2am… success." She attempted a weary smile at them as her shoulders moved in time with her pants. Her eyes looked bleary and the bags under them had only grew since the previous day.
"Sakura," Kakashi admonished. "We met here to train as a team. We can't do that if one of our members are missing, especially the one who really needed the help."
A look of absolute fury crossed her features as she ceased her panting. When she looked up her eyes were sharp as daggers.
"Kakashi-sensei, there are approximately 11,469 people in Konohagakure. Of those people, approximately 57.8% are shinobi. Every day at the hospital we have around 170 new inpatients, 15.2% of them in critical condition. Now, we have about five medics, including myself, Tsunade, and Shizune, who are capable of handling the critical patients whereas the rest are forced to deal with the various other ailments which shinobi and citizens alike bring through our doors. Every day I perform at least five different life-or-death surgeries and then spend whatever time I have left in our severely understaffed clinic where I diagnose countless illnesses and heal a myriad of superficial cuts and bruises from who knows how many shinobi and citizens who always find some way to hurt themselves. Please, excuse me if I show up a little late to whatever team-building exercise you have planned for us today." she snapped.
Kakashi, Sasuke, and Naruto stood, frozen in place from either shock or terror at their kunoichi's outburst. Her glare could burn holes through their faces and into the bridge, catching it on fire and burning them alive in a powerful inferno which would soon reach the surrounding forestry and cause a disaster of epic proportions.
Sakura's shoulders relaxed as she let out a laugh of relief. "Oh man, I really needed to do that." she smiled sheepishly at her terrorized teammates. "We're really understaffed over there and I ended up getting called in to perform an emergency surgery at, like, 2am this morning, so I was a little on edge. But I feel better now!" She smiled, purposefully leaving out the part about the second surgery. It was a civilian, surprisingly, who was rebuilding his shop and fell off the rood and onto a rotting plank of wood which had been removed earlier along with countless others which were in a pile down below. The plank happened to have been leaning against the pile and had been vertical and the man fell on it just right so that it had impaled him through his abdomen. It didn't help that the wood had been splintering and that several rusting nails had been left inside. She herself had been impaled before in the battle with Sasori and even she had nothing on this guy. The surgery itself took several hours and consisted of re-creating a kidney, spleen, and several sections of the small and large intestines as well as all of the destroyed tissue that the plank had left in its midst. It was a miracle the man hadn't died of shock or blood loss. In fact, it was a miracle the man pulled through at all. Unfortunately for Sakura, though, that particular endeavor left her dangerously low on chakra. Technically, she was supposed to be at home, recovering in case there was another emergency. But they didn't need to know that.
"Ah," Kakashi attempted to respond but fell short. Naruto and Sasuke stared at her as if she were an alien, the complete 180 mood-swing weighing heavily on their mind as images of her shattering the earth with a tap of her toe danced through their mind. Sakura was a truly terrifying woman. "Well, I was thinking that today we would spar, but in pairs. Me and Naruto will work together so that you and Sasuke can get more used to working together as a team."
"Hai!" she said cheerily while inside she groaned at the idea of attempting to use up even more of her horrendously depleted supply of chakra. With any luck she would be able to make it through the spar by controlling the exact amount of chakra she used so that absolutely none was wasted. She really wished she had had time to stop somewhere and purchase some soldier pills.
Naruto shook off his frightened stupor and stepped towards their sensei while Sasuke and Sakura walked towards each other, meeting half way. Naruto and Kakashi shared a glance, before Kakashi called out "Begin!"
They disappeared, leaving Sasuke and Sakura on guard. Sakura's hand made its way to her shuriken pouch and Sasuke grasped the hilt of his Kusanagi. Both were completely silent, listening for any faint rustle or crunching leaves. Sakura closed her eyes in concentration, only to have it broken by Sasuke's barely audible "Thirty meters ahead at two o'clock," before he disappeared in that direction. She bolted after him.
They reached the edge of the forest before they were rained on by a barrage of senbon and shuriken, all of which were swiftly dodged by the pair before they started in the direction of which they had been thrown. Almost immediately they were met by an army of Narutos, each shouting one thing or another. Sakura inwardly groaned, this could take a lot of chakra.
Sasuke unsheathed his Kusanagi, setting to work on the surrounding clones as they poofed out of existence one by one. Sakura pulled out a kunai and began slashing away at the approaching clones. One got close enough to attempt a blow to her face which she promptly dodged before hitting it with a non-chakra laden fist. It still poofed, but it wasn't quite as satisfying.
She turned around just in time to see Sasuke slashing away at a Kakashi clone who had been poised behind her, kunai in hand.
"Thanks," she managed before blocking a well-placed kick to her ribs. She delivered a kick of her own to his head and then met her next opponent. This one had a kunai in hand and managed to get a small slice in her arm as she punched him out of existence as well. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a blotch of gray amidst the sea of orange.
"Sasuke-kun, to your left!"
He snapped his wrist so that the blade sliced through the second Kaka-clone who had snuck up on him. Sakura returned to her own work, destroying the entire front line with a round-house kick, effectively causing a smoke screen from the disappearance of several clones at once. Naruto used this to his advantage and managed to land a hit on her gut, ceasing her movements for a moment and allowing him another hit, this time to her face. She growled in frustration and decided that using a little chakra couldn't hurt too much.
She punched the ground, shattering it beautifully and causing a mass explosion of Narutos. Sasuke managed to make quick work of the few remaining before they were alone once more. Sakura took a quick look at him, noting that he had sustained a few shallow cuts to his arm but that was about the extent of it.
"Do you sense them?" he asked in a low voice that made her spine tingle. She shook her head in a negative. He let out a breath and re-sheathed his Kusanagi. "We need a plan."
Sakura tried to remember back to the second bell test, where she and Naruto had discovered Kakashi's weakness. Unfortunately, now Kakashi was privy to that particular trick and Naruto was the key component, being the one who traveled with the pervy Sannin. She sighed, really wishing she had the blonde's creativity at that particular moment. Before she could travel much farther on that train of thought, Sasuke's voice snapped her out of it.
"I could locate them with my Sharingan and leave a clone with you then put them in a Genjutsu and you could destroy the clones like you did before." he suggested, referring to the earth-crumbling-chakra-infused punch. The very punch which drained her chakra to the point of near complete exhaustion. She only had enough to leave her standing, end even now her legs felt wobbly. She supposed the truth had to come out eventually.
"Um, I can't do that," she said, scratching her cheek sheepishly with a gloved finger. He gave her an inquisitive look. "I'm a little low on chakra."
His look turned to confusion and she felt his chakra probe around though hers, realizing that, yes, she was out.
"It really took that much chakra?"
She gave an awkward cough and explained the second surgery to which he responded with a look of incredulity. Slowly, the look slipped off his face as he began to realize where this left them.
"Annoying," He sighed, palm meeting face. "Is there anything you can do?"
Rage ate its way out of her gut and her leather gloves creaked against themselves as her hands automatically shot out and grasped the Uchiha by the collar and pulled his face close to hers. Sure, she could take the 'Annoying' comment but calling her useless? No, she had come way too far for that again.
"Listen, Uchiha," she ground out in a low tone, her warm breath fanned against his face and he detected the clinging scent of antiseptics. "I am not some helpless little girl anymore. I can easily hold my own against just about anyone and I refuse to be treated like some sort of damsel by someone like you."
"Someone like me?" he asked indignantly.
"Yes, someone like you."
"And what do you mean by that?"
At that, her glare intensified ten-fold, her sea-foam eyes darkened to daggers of emerald.
"I mean someone who abandoned their friends, their country, a country which your brother gave up everything to protect, and then returned only to attempt to destroy everything and everyone. You tried to kill Naruto. You tried to kill me."
"Oh, and you're completely innocent." he mocked. "You are such a hypocritical bitch! You went there with all intents and purposes to kill me, only you didn't want to taint your spotless medic reputation and, low and behold, you were rescued by Kakashi." Her face was now flushed and she was entirely furious. Somewhere in the back of her mind, though, she registered this as the longest conversation she had ever held with the Uchiha. Her mouth opened to retort but Sasuke cut her off before she could and grabbed her by the collar as well. "And you have no right to go around on your high horse, acting like you're so much better than I am. If I remember correctly, you were more that willing to follow me to Oto and betray your friends and your village."
"And then you left me on a stone bench in the middle of the night." she spat.
"If I didn't you would have followed me or gone off and blabbed to the Hokage because I wasn't stopped by your pathetic love confess-"
The resounding slap of skin against skin echoed through the trees. His face was turned away from the force of the slap and his grip on her shirt fell limp. Shakily, she stepped away as he slowly turned his head back to face her, an angry red welt smeared across his face. She turned and began to leave.
"Are you going to run away?" his voice cut through the silence. She stopped, shoulders tensed and head bowed. Her trembling hands clenched her medic skirt, crumpling the pink fabric. Never before had Sasuke seen someone look so furious and fragile. He speculated that behind that short curtain of pink hair she hid tears.
Both of them tensed up. The crunching of dried leaves and twigs alerted them to the approaching presence of another, far too loud and clumsy to be that of a trained shinobi.
"Sakura-sempai, there's an emergency at the hospital!" a breathless nurse emerged from the trees, breathing heavily. Her chestnut hair was pulled back into a bun and she looked to be around the same age as the pinkette. "An entire team came in! The others are already at work but the last patient is being prepped. We really need you!"
For a moment Sakura didn't turn. Her gloved palms brushed against her eyes for only a moment before she finally turned. There was no sign at all that she had been crying, or angry, or in any form of emotional turmoil for that matter. Her eyes were clear and determined as her hands made their way to the back of her head, restraining her pink tresses with the rubber band on her wrist.
"Megumi-chan," she began walking to the nurse, breezing past Sasuke. It wasn't done in a self-important manner. Sakura was in medic mode now, not in a fight. "Please fill me in on the details, I need to pick up some soldier pills before I can do anything."
And with that they were gone.
Sasuke stuffed his hands into his pockets and stalked off in search of Naruto and Kakashi.
Woo! Where there's the first thing, now onto annother thing which may or may not turn out to be the second thing! Yay. But sorry if this is a little shaky, my computer decided to die the other day and deleted half of this so I had to re-write it and I need YOUR OPINION on wether or not its any good, so please, by all means, review!
Thanks for reading!