Disclaimer: I donut own Naruto or Shugo Chara and blablabla.

Chapter 8: Shirts and Revelations

His footsteps echoed rather loudly through the deserted hallway. It was nearly midnight and, normally, people would be sleeping by now. But there he was, feet trudging on the carpeted floor, bringing him ever closer to his destination with each step he took.

The door seemed to get farther and farther away from him, but he knew he was being delusional. And as he got nearer, he saw a tiny patch of light escaping through the tiny crack at the bottom of the door, indicating that there was someone inside.

He was here to find answers; answers to the questions that had been bugging him for the past few months. How many months had passed since the incident? Two months? Three? Four? He had lost count. He wasn't a very patient person and by now, he would usually have all the information he would need to solve the puzzle that was in his head.

But then again, Haruno Sakura was a very confusing puzzle indeed.

He had tried to ask her, confront her, but he couldn't. She was either out training or she was never alone. And when the perfect opportunity arises, she would suddenly yawn and walk away, claiming that she was tired from a long day's work.

He wasn't stupid. He knew that she was avoiding the topic. What he didn't know was why. Why she would flinch and stay away from it as if it was a plague. And yet, he would still try the day after, thinking that, maybe, just maybe, she would offer him a decent answer.

But she never did.

So now he had no choice but to confront the man that had caused her to have this reaction whenever his name was mentioned; the man that had caused a strain in their relationship.

He wouldn't lie. Ever since the night of the incident, she seemed to withdraw from him; seemed more cautious when he was around. She had put her guard up again and he didn't appreciate that. The minute they had finally grown unnervingly close, they were suddenly pulled apart.

He had tried to ignore it at first, but he couldn't turn a blind eye to something that was right in front of him. It was at that time that he finally realized how much he valued her friendship. How much it tore him apart to see how easily others could talk to her and yet he had difficulty in just getting to see her.

When he did see her, she had this distant look in her eyes. As if she was recalling something that had happened. He liked that much better than seeing the hurt in them; the sadness, the fear. He hated it when she would flinch every time he would reach out to her. When her idiotic teammates would do that, she had no problem whatsoever and seemed to even enjoy it. Heck, even when the Souma-brat would touch her and hug her she wouldn't flinch away. He would feel this rising urge to tear them away from her and just keep her for himself.

He was jealous of them. He wouldn't deny it. He had tried to, but the feeling would come back stronger than before. The day he accepted it, he started to feel numb and a great sadness took over him.

A soft sigh escaped from his lips as he stood in front of the door. He wasn't sure how long he had been standing there, but he was sure that the person who resided inside the room was well aware of his presence by now. He would do this, he decided. He needed to do this. As he strengthened his resolve, his knuckles slowly tapped on the wooden surface.

"Come in."

His hand hesitantly turned the doorknob and pushed it inwards. He took a step forward and, once his whole body was inside, shut the door quietly behind him.

The room was large, with a lone, wooden desk displayed in the middle of the room. The walls were stark white and the floor was carpeted with crimson red rugs. There were numerous shelves surrounding the room, leaving absolutely no wall uncovered. It was a simple room, and he would have loved to bring Sakura in here for her to see all the books that were arranged neatly across the wooden shelves. She would've loved it here, had it been void of its current inhabitant.

"Ahhh… Ikuto-kun, what a pleasant surprise," the man drawled out, feigning innocence to Ikuto as he leaned forward to rest his chin on his laced fingers.

"Orochimaru-sama," Ikuto greeted, his head bowing slightly as a sign of respect. He never felt any to the man in front of him though. He despised this man.

"What brings you here at this peculiar hour?" he asked, mockery and humor dancing in his golden eyes. He motioned for the teenager to sit across from him on a red velvet chair that was placed in front of his desk. Ikuto complied almost immediately, wanting to know the answers to the questions that have swarmed his mind for the past few months.

"I would like to ask a question." He would want to get this over with quickly, seeing as he did not want to be in the presence of the snake-like man more than what was necessary.

Orochimaru nodded, the corner of his lips tugging upwards to form a malicious grin. He had probably been waiting for Ikuto to confront him for a long time, judging by his actions and body gestures.

Ikuto on the other hand, was starting to feel anxious. He was sure that he wanted to know the reason why Sakura was avoiding this question, so why was he nervous? Why did he have this feeling that the only thing the answer would bring him was dread?

He shook off his doubts and steeled himself. His face took on an impassive look as he stated the question that had been plaguing him ever since the night of the incident.

"What is your affiliation with Haruno Sakura?"


"You heard me. What is your relationship with that snake guy?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about, Souma."

It was a bright, sunny, Saturday afternoon and two members of the Guardians were out in a dango shop.

Haruno Sakura was both shocked and confused when her fellow Guardian, Souma Kukai, asked if she wanted to go get some dango earlier that day. Sakura, for lack of better things to do, said yes. It looked like a beautiful day after all.

But then again, appearances could be deceiving.

"Don't lie to me, Haruno. You were shaking when you saw him. Did you know how worried I was?" he said while leaning forward. He had gone there in hopes of finally getting the truth out of Sakura, but it seems that this was a harder feat than he had first thought.

"Ask me no questions, I tell you no lies, Souma. You should know that by now." Sakura wouldn't play with him. She knew he was serious about this, but she was really running out of patience with this question.

It was already enough that Ikuto would ask her every time he saw her and Kukai would ask her every day during school. And now Kukai was bugging her during the weekend. They were really testing the boundaries of their luck because, soon enough, she was going to punch them so hard in the head that they'd forget who they were. But, sadly, that was still soon to come.

Right now, she still had questions to ward off.

"This isn't a game, Haruno. Stop avoiding the subject and just answer it." It was obvious by the tone of his voice that he was getting rather annoyed. His choice of words just backed up the statement.

That irritated Sakura.

How dare he say that to her? Did he honestly think that if it wasn't that important she wouldn't have told him already? Did he think that she was enjoying this? Enjoying them swarming to her with questions about her past? About the past that she so badly wanted to forget? Did he really think that to her, this was all just some sick game she made up for her own pleasure?

Sakura's blood was boiling. She stood up from her seat and glared full force at the brunette in front of her. An almost inaudible growl tore through her chest as she tried to contain the anger she felt at that moment. She clenched her fists tightly, her nails digging into her skin as the blood flowed steadily from her palm and through her fingers. It dripped to the floor, staining the wooden boards red.

"Who do you think you are saying that to me, huh? Think, Souma. Why do you think I'm avoiding your questions? Maybe it's because they're too personal. I'm only going to say this to you once, Souma, so listen, and listen good. Mind your own business," she bit out, before turning and leaving the store.

She ignored the yells and shouts behind her as she continued to stomp towards her apartment. Sakura did not want deal with him right now. His words really irked her to no end. But underneath all that anger was a small puddle of guilt. The only reason he was asking was because he was worried about her. It wasn't like he'd tell the whole school about it.

Sakura shook her head. Still. He didn't have to ask like that. He could've said it in a nicer way.

A sigh escaped from the Jester's lips as she trudged on. She was sure that once she'd calmed down, the guilt would start to settle. But Sakura, much like Naruto, lived in the moment. Itachi and Sasuke would constantly nag at her about how everything she does would have a consequence, but she wouldn't listen. The Uchiha brothers would always reprimand her when she does something reckless.

Sakura appreciated this gesture because it was their way of showing her that they care.

The rosette turned sharply, fist pulled back to deliver a hard punch to whoever grabbed her shoulder. A smirk formed on her face as she felt it connect with flesh and heard her assailant let out a pained grunt. But her smug expression quickly turned into one of worry as she took a good look at her 'attacker.'

"Souma! Why'd you do that?" She was fussing over him now, because there was blood smeared across the middle of his white shirt. He was clutching it and let out a soft hiss when Sakura touched it.

"Why'd I do that? Why'd you do that? Geez, Haruno! I knew you could do Martial Arts stuff, but I didn't know you packed that much of a punch!" he said, a small grin playing on his features as he watched her frantic movements.

Sakura ignored his loud statement and started pulling his arm towards her apartment. She had stopped panicking once she realized that the blood on his shirt wasn't his. It was hers. So she had sobered up enough to start pulling him to her place. It was near enough and wouldn't take that long to get there.

Kukai's face contorted in pain with each step he took. Who knew walking would hurt this much? He made a mental note to never anger Sakura directly. Kami knew how long he'd have to stay in the hospital.

Sakura slung his arm around her neck and continued to tug him in the direction of her flat. She didn't mean to hurt him that badly. Now that her anger had subsided, the only thing she felt was guilt. That was bad.

With guilt in her system, it would be a tad easier for her to surrender.

Kami help her.

"Take off your shirt."

Kukai's face turned bright red after having heard the sentence leave her lips. He was sitting on her bed with Sakura's intimidating form looming over him. She had just recently disinfected and bandaged her hands and was now reaching out one of them in order to get his shirt.

He wasn't letting her though. Both of his hands were gripping the hem of his shirt and tugging them down. Sakura was prying his fingers off, but to no avail. The Jack's Chair was just that stubborn.

"Come on, Souma. Stop being such a girl," she whined, standing back and putting her hands on her hips in a frustrated manner. She was getting rather impatient waiting for the soccer player to get over his insecurities.

He's a male soccer player for crying out loud.

"Why do I have to take off my shirt? I'm fine!" he insisted, waving his hands in front of him as a form of defence and reassurance.

Sakura gave him a blank stare and evaded his hands. She pushed both her pointer and middle finger into his torso. Kukai cringed and recoiled at the sudden contact, letting out a yelp of surprise.

"See? You're not. I'm not gonna molest you, if that's what you're thinking. Just take off your shirt so I can treat your bruise, princess," she drawled out, her voice tinged with slight annoyance as she narrowed her viridian eyes at him.

He was acting like such a drama queen. If he just took his shirt off earlier, he would have it back on by now. It's not like she'd ogle at him. She wasn't one of his fangirls.

Kukai hesitated before tugging his shirt over his head and handing it to her. She took it wordlessly and went to the laundry room to put it in the washer. On her way back, she grabbed a few bandages and ointment for his bruise before entering her room.

"That wasn't so hard now was it?" She chuckled at the pout he gave and set herself beside him with her legs in a criss crossed position. She put the bandages and anaesthetics on the bed and motioned for him to lie down.

"Yeah, it was," he grumbled, flinching slightly when he lowered himself into his back.

His cheeks were tinged with pink as her eyes landed on his abdomen. She was staring intensely at his torso with calculating eyes.

Sakura nodded once before taking one of the tubes she brought and uncapped it. The pinkette gently squeezed it, resulting into whitish goo flowing out. She applied some onto her hand and began to spread it across his skin.

"You didn't answer my question," he said suddenly, dark green eyes piercing hers. She froze up momentarily before sighing. He really wouldn't stop badgering her about it. She didn't know why she was going to tell him and not Ikuto.

It would be unfair. Ikuto had been just as persistent as Kukai—if not more – except he had fewer chances to do so since he was in high school and she had been out as late as she could as to avoid his questions.

"Do you really want to know?" Her voice was barely above a whisper, but it was rather loud in the quiet room.

This was it. She was finally going to tell someone. Someone— other than her teammates and friends— would know about that part of her past.

This terrified her.

How would he react when he finds out? Would he pity her? Be disgusted with her? Would he not want to have anything to do with her? Would he use it against her?

There was only one way to find out.

"Yeah, I do." His eyes bore into hers, sparkling with determination. When he saw her nod vaguely, he readied himself for her revelations; face impassive, eyes locked with hers and fists closed.

"Okay, but don't go all pity mode on me, Souma."

"I was seven when it happened. I was curious, you know? People just kept whispering about him, gossiping about him. Us kids, we only knew him as the 'snake-man.' From what we've heard, he looked just like a snake. I wanted to see if it was true. If there really was a 'snake-man' out there." Sakura let out a dry chuckle as she stared at Kukai. She had finished putting the ointment on him when she started talking and now had her hands resting on his abdomen.

"Did you hear? The snake took another victim yesterday."

"Yes, yes. I heard about that one. Poor old man. He sold the best bread around at a reasonable price too."

"There really was. You saw him that night, along with Ikuto. I saw him when I was seven, all alone in his cabin. I was planning it for a while now, and I trained as fast as I could to get to the forest before dark. And then I saw him. He was working on a dead person. Cutting up its face, pouring chemicals into its mouth. I was frozen. I couldn't move. But then he looked at me. And I just knew I had to run away. He looked so animalistic, so— so evil." Her eyes were glazed over by now, and her hands were curled into fists. Red was seeping through the bandages, indicating that her cuts have been opened again.

Sakura peeked into a dusty window, standing on her toes to get a better look at the rumoured man. She immediately regretted it. The man turned and there was only one thing she saw before she felt her feet running once more;


"So I ran. I ran as fast I could to the gate. I was almost there. I remember seeing the village gate, but I got pulled back. Someone pulled me back and dragged me back into the forest. I kept screaming and shouting, but no one came. No one heard." The rosette's breathing was shallow and strained, and her eyes were wide. It was as if she was reliving the past all over again. Kukai sat up with some difficulty, and held her hands, eyes darting all over her face in concern.

"Let go of me! Let go! Someone help! Sasuke! Naruto! Kaka-sensei! ANYONE!"

"HAHAHA! Foolish little girl! No one will come. Scream all you want!"

"He stuck so many needles into me; put so many chemicals into my system. I felt like a guinea pig; like some lab rat used for experiments. I kept throwing up, screaming, crying. Those were the only things I could do, anyways. He had me strapped to the table. I was so scared. My teammates found me days later. I was afraid they wouldn't come at all." By this time, Kukai had wrapped his arms around her and pulled her onto his lap. Her forehead was resting on the crook of his neck, her hands gripping his arm.

"I'll find the Embryo with this. You shall be my weapon, my tool. I will use you and you will be only mine to control. I will cause you pain and suffering far worse than anything you could ever imagine! And then I will make sure that you do my bidding.

And you cannot refuse."

"I wouldn't leave my room for the next few weeks. I was traumatized. Every night I'd have a nightmare about him. Even now when I see his face, I feel like I'm seven years old again; weak, vulnerable, useless," Sakura stayed silent after that and so did Kukai. None of them uttered a word. The only sound that could be heard was their breathing.

"Sakura-chan! Come out! Come on! We're here for you!"

Sakura waited for him to push her away, scream at her, and call her weak, anything. But it never came. She waited for him to whip out his phone and start calling the Guardians and start telling the school all about her. But it never came.

He wasn't doing anything. Just sitting there, holding her. He wasn't whispering words of reassurance or sending her pitying gazes.

He was just there.

"I sound like a stupid coward," she finally said, a bittersweet smile spreading across her face. Her grip on his arm tightened. She needed something to hold onto; something to tell her that this was real.

"Yes, but no. You were seven years old, Sakura. And even though you were trained, what could've you done?" the brunette said, resting his chin on top of her head and inhaling her scent. She smelled just like her namesake. It was intoxicating.

A blanket of silence fell over them. It wasn't awkward or weird. It was more of comforting than anything else. Both felt content with just staying there; enjoying each other's presence without having to converse. Sakura didn't feel the need to and, for once, the two didn't start arguing over something as trivial as taking a shirt off.

"I'll protect you, Sakura."

Her eyes snapped up to meet his as she scanned his face for traces of a lie. Instead, she found determination and something she couldn't quite figure out.

The Jester broke away from his gaze and suddenly became painfully aware of the close proximity between them. Blood rushed to her cheeks as she noted that he was still shirtless.

True, she had seen her teammates shirtless most of the time, but Kukai wasn't part of her team. And he was a soccer player. Much likeInuzuka Kiba, he had a very well-built body. Sometimes when they would play, he'd unexpectedly take off his shirt— much to Sakura's dismay— stating that it was bothering him. This, of course, would cause the pinkette to lose her focus and start stuttering.

Which was what was happening right now—minus the stuttering part.

Sakura ignored the fluttering feeling in her stomach and hesitantly wrapped her arms around his torso. She then proceeded to close her eyes and let out a deep breath. She was sure that Kukai's shirt would've been dried by now, but couldn't muster up the energy to stand up and bring it back. The bandages on her hands that were once white were now stained with red splotches. She needed to fix that.

But she'd do them later. She felt too comfortable just sitting there with Kukai's warmth surrounding her.

That was when her bedroom door opened to reveal a certain blue haired teenager.

Ikuto was confused. He didn't know whether or not to believe in the information his boss had just fed him. He sounded as if he was telling the truth.

And that was what unnerved him.

Orochimaru had sounded so honest that he didn't know what to think. Ikuto had gotten so used to his sly, deceiving tone that he was stunned to hear utmost sincerity in his voice. Sure, his creepy slits for eyes were radiating with smugness, but his tone held no malice. So he was left to think.

"Why should I believe you? For all I know, you could be lying."

He really couldn't tell. Before he had confronted the snake-like man about his blossom, he had thought that he knew his patterns and mannerisms. Before he even met his blosso- Since when did he start referring to her as his? Although he must admit, it did have a nice ring to it.

His blossom.

A chuckle escaped from the teenager's lips, his dilemma currently forgotten as his thoughts focused on the pink haired Chara bearer. His joy, however, was short-lived. Thinking about Sakura made him think about the information he had just acquired pertaining bits of her past.

His scowl returned as his feet automatically moved forward.

"Oh? Then by all means ask Sakura-hime. I'm sure she'd agree."

Dark blue eyes narrowed as he thought about their earlier conversation. If what Orochimaru said was true, then he really was a sick bastard. No one in their right mind would do that to a kid. No one. Hell, the bastard even sounded proud when he talked about his 'accomplishments.'

"It was one of the best moments of my existence. Doing that, hearing her screams; it felt euphoric."

He was disgusted. More so than ever.

And so, he did the only thing he think of- Ask Sakura.

So there he was standing at her doorstep, not knowing whether to go inside and ask, no, demand her for answers, or just walk away and think about it for another day or so.

'You're already here. Might as well go for it.' He thought, letting out a deep sigh.

He reached forward, hand gripping onto the doorknob and turning it. 'That's odd...' It wasn't locked. That must've meant that she was, indeed, somewhere inside her apartment. Ikuto looked around for any sign of life around the place, but upon finding none, his feet automatically brought him in front of her bedroom.

Maybe he shouldn't have went here in the first place. Maybe it was too soon to be demanding her for an answer. She might just blow up in his face once she finds out that he asked someone else. But it's not like he could help it. She wasn't answering his questions so he had no choice! Of course, he could've waited, but—

'Quit making excuses and just get in there!'

Without another thought, the Tsukiyomi pushed her door open, poised to shout her name, but was stopped short the second his eyes fell on the two figures on the bed.

'Sakura... And the brat...?'

A/N: OH GOSH. Ikuto walked in on a bed scene! Kidding, he didn't... yet. u Loljk, no. HAHAHHAA.

Hi... First of all, SORRY IT TOOK SO LONG TO UPDATE. TT^TT I had school and it was hell and I had training and extra classes so I really had no time to write and update. ;n; BUT WORRY NOT for it's summer vacation! So yes, I'll be (Hopefully) updating more often. I won't make anymore promises in fear of breaking them, so, I'll just say that I will indeed be updating the story now.

SORRY AGAIN. TT^TT God, I'm such a bad person. OTL


LEAVE A REVIEW! They are very much appreciated and they motivate me quite a lot. :3