Tenten Gaiden: Legacy of the Forgotten Kunoichi
Chapter Four: New Beginnings
a/n: I know I've been gone a while, school was really kicking my ass, but I'm back and here with an update too. Enjoy. ^_^
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. If I did it would be called Tenten. (Lol)
"Get her some water, she's severely dehydrated!"
"Yes Lady Tsunade!" a frantic voice answered and I could feel my mouth being pried open and cold liquid forced down. The coolness startled my dry throat, and I turned my face away, water splattering down my front.
"Drink little one," a warm voice coaxed, and warm fingers tilted my head back, "Don't you want to get well?"
But my mouth was too dry to speak, and my throat hurt tremendously, so I settled with turning away once more. The women released a sigh of frustration.
"Look," she snapped, all but squeezing my jaw. It took me by surprise and my eyes snapped open, taking in long blond hair and a well-endowed chest. "I already lost my card game because Shizune came bumbling in with you half-dead screaming 'emergency!', so you better make this all worthwhile and survive dammit, or I will personally kill you myself!"
I was stunned.
Wasn't this woman nothing short of gentle a mere five seconds ago? And now she was threatening my life?
Was she bipolar?
"Lady Tsunade, you're frightening her!" the other woman exclaimed, rushing to my side. She looked a few years older than Momo, with short dark hair and a nervous face. My heart clenched just looking at her.
She was dead wasn't she?
And I'm still alive.
They were probably having her funeral right now, and I was too much of a coward to even see it. If only these women hadn't found me. If only I'd-
The water bottle was abruptly jammed between my lips and I was given no choice but to swallow. So I did, grimacing as my throat became scratchy.
"Lady Tsunade!" the dark-haired woman scolded, but the blond ignored her, watching me with a calculating expression. I fidgeted under her stare.
"You a ninja girl?"
How had she known?
She scoffed at my display of surprise, reaching for my hand and holding it at eye-level.
"I'm a medic," she informed, "And even if I wasn't, these calluses could be spotted from a mile away."
She dropped the hand and I immediately pulled it to my chest, not entirely comfortable with a complete stranger touching me, even if she had saved my life.
"Shizune, get the girl some food," Tsunade ordered, "She looks like a sack of bones."
Shizune pulled a face at her referring to me as a 'sack of bones' but complied, bowing her head with a quiet, "Yes my lady," then disappearing into another room. It was then that I finally took note of my surroundings. We were in a hotel room, and a very expensive one judging from the pristine furniture. I was lying in the middle of a large bed, clothed in an oversized t-shirt and nothing else, bandages covering me from head to foot.
"You were banged up pretty bad," Tsunade commented and my eyes snapped to hers, "Burns covering your entire body, malnourished and dehydrated…a severe bruise on your shoulder that won't seem to disappear no matter what methods I use…"
I flinched at the word 'bruise' and she noticed, amber eyes narrowing.
"What happened to you?"
What if she sent me back home? I couldn't face my parents after what I had done. I couldn't face Tai.
It was all too much to think about, and I blacked out.
"Rise and shine kiddo, we're leaving in an hour."
I groaned, peeling my eyes open to see a smirking Tsunade. In one arm she held a bundle of clothes, in the other, an empty duffle-bag. I frowned up at her.
"Leaving?" I rasped, trying to sit up, "To where?"
Shizune was instantly at my side, encouraging me to drink the water and eat some bread. I obliged, shoving the food down my throat like a savage. If either woman were repulsed by my actions, they hid it well, not even offering a blink.
"You heard of Konaha, The Leaf Village?" Tsunade asked.
I vaguely recalled hearing that name before, when Momo and I had spied on some of the clan council meetings. They were supposed to be extremely powerful.
"Yes," I answered, bewildered as to why she was asking such a thing. Shizune had begun dressing me, taking extra care as to not irritate my wounds.
"Good," she quipped, "Because that's where you'll be living from now on."
My heart lurched.
"What?" I croaked, then more strongly, "Why?"
Tsunadae eyed me for a moment, face unreadable. I must have been a pitiful sight, covered in bandages and clothed in too-big clothes with my hair a disarray. No wonder they took pity on me.
"You're running from something," she accused and my heart went into overdrive, "You're trying to forget, but it's eating away at you little by little."
I was silent. What could I possibly say? She had read me like an open book.
"But you're not finished yet," she declared, meeting my eyes. I stared back uncertainly. But wasn't I? My life had come crashing down before it even began.
What did I have to live for?
"I don't know you, or your past," she continued, "But what I do know is that you have the potential to be something great, if you'll just let yourself."
Her words surprised me.
I could be great?
Me? But I was just average!
She smiled and my wide-eyed look, and I suddenly realized just how beautiful this woman truly was. She was strong, compassionate, and held a heart of gold, and I found myself gazing at her in awe.
"Will you?" she inquired.
And from that day on, Tsunade held my respect.
The leaf Village is where I could make my new beginning Tsunade had told me. She said I could start over there with a clean slate. She had me live with an elderly blacksmith by the name of Kiro, who let me stay with him if I ran errands for his shop. He was nice, but quiet, and didn't say much. Tsunade treated my wounds daily, and when she was finished there wasn't a scratch on me, except for the mark. She warned me to keep it covered at all times, and I wondered just how much she knew, but gave her my word.
They had left a week later, Tsunade telling me she could not stay here and bid me good luck. Shizune had hugged me close and wished me well. I missed them for a while, but soon grew into the routine of my new life. Before I realized it a month had passed, then four, then a few more until I had been living in Konaha for an entire year.
Everything was more lively here than back home, and there were more bright colors and so many different people. I was content, but my guilt was always lingering at the back of my mind, and there were several nights I cried myself to sleep, consumed with the nightmares of my sister's death, and that man's eerie face. I dreamt that he would come find me, and make me kill my entire village. I suspected Kiro heard my sobs, they weren't exactly quiet, but he never spoke of it, so neither did I.
One evening, I was out delivering packages to one of the usual customers when I spotted a blond haired boy crying in an alleyway. I glanced around, searching for his parents, but didn't see anyone.
Was he alone?
He didn't look old enough to be on his own. But then again, neither did I.
I crept closer and realized there were bruises covering his entire body, some ranging from a faint pink to a deep purple. I winced, remembering what those had felt like, and felt sorry for the boy.
Maybe I should cheer him up?
"Excuse me!" I called.
His head snapped up to reveal the bluest pair of eyes I'd ever seen. They were beautiful.
"Me?" he whispered.
I laughed. This kid sure was funny, who else would I be talking to?
"Yeah you!" I exclaimed, then plopped down next to him, package beside me, "What's your name?"
He seemed surprised, but quickly regained his composure, giving me a toothy grin.
"I'm Naruto Uzamaki, and I'm going to be Hokage!" he answered proudly, "What's yours?"
I cut myself short.
"I mean… Tenten, just Tenten," I replied, then inquired quickly, "What's a Hokage?"
He took the bait, not noticing my little slip-up.
"You don't know what a Hokage is?" he asked incuriously.
I shook my head.
I wouldn't be asking if I did, would I?
Naruto gasped, jabbing an accusing finger in my face. I frowned, shoving it out of the way.
What was the big deal? So what if I didn't know was a Hokage was, it was probably something stupid.
"A Hokage is only the greatest ninja ever!" he declared.
I seriously doubted it. My father was the best ninja I'd ever known and he wasn't a Hokage. And neither were Momo or Tai.
We talked for a while, Naruto telling me all sorts of stuff about how wonderful a Hokage was, until I told him I had to go before I got in trouble. I never did see him again after that, but I heard rumors that he was evil, and even Kiro warned me to stay away from him.
"That kid is bad news," he would say, "You'd be best to avoid him Tenten."
"He didn't seem so bad," I had told him, but Kiro merely scoffed and said roses didn't seem so bad either until they stuck a thorn in you. But Naruto was nothing like a rose. He was more of a sunflower.
And sunflowers didn't have thorns.
It was a few months after the Naruto incident that Kiro caught me playing with the silverware. I had missed being a ninja and tinkering with weapons, so I crept downstairs when I thought he was asleep and reached for the sharpest knives. He had come down for a glass of water and shouted when I tossed them in the air, thinking I was going to hurt myself, and was amazed when I caught them expertly.
"That's it," he had proclaimed, "I'm enrolling you in the ninja academy tommorrow, you're a natural!"
If only he knew.
On the first day of school I wore my hair in two buns. Momo had always used to do it this way, and it was my way of honoring her. Kiro had raised a grey eyebrow when I came downstairs, but made no comment. That's why I liked Kiro, he minded his own business. He never asked me about my life before, just accepted me as I was, and for that I was grateful.
"Knock 'em dead Tenten!" Kiro cheered when I was introduced to my teacher. The red-eyed woman had shot the old man a look of amusement, before ushering me inside. I had waved back at Kiro, who was weeping with pride, before the door shut behind us.
My first morning at the academy was pretty uneventful. I had introduced myself to the class as 'Tenten, just Tenten' to avoid anyone discovering my deep, dark secret. The other students had immediately written me off as unimportant. It was a drastic change, going from the most popular person of my class to a virtual nobody, but I was okay with it. In fact, it was rather nice not having someone jabbering to you every twenty seconds.
At lunch I had sat alone, observing my new peers. Boys were throwing food at each other at the table beside mine, while there were a hoard of giggling girls sneaking peeks at a boy a few tables over who was blatantly ignoring them. He ate with an aristocratic graze I instantly recognized, and I knew he was clearly of nobility of some sorts. His hair was tied away from his face, and bandages donned his forehead as well as one of his arms, face blank as a new sheet of paper.
He had intrigued me. Who was this boy that ate so gracefully? He was interesting, and I found myself watching his every move. But I found a new reason to study him when he finally opened his eyes. They were unusual colored eyes that unsettled me a little, especially when they locked on my own.
My heart thumped.
His stare was unnerving, yet I didn't look away, no matter how much I desperately wanted to. I knew he was testing me, the elders of my clan did it all the time. It was a way of sizing someone up and determining their worth.
And I was determined to prove I was worth something.
The girls from the other table began to notice our stare-down and began whispering amongst themselves, but I ignored them. I was too focused on winning this boy's respect. It would be years later when I finally figured out why.
"Aww, I see you have spotted my rival Neji!"
The voice came from right beside my ear, and I shrieked in surprise, inadvertently taking my gaze from White-eyes. The boy next to me beamed at my startled expression, beady eyes twinkling.
When in the world had he gotten there?
It was then that his words finally caught up with me.
"Neji?" I repeated.
So that was his name. It suited him.
"Ai, Neji!" the boy confirmed. He was strange-looking, with large eyes and a weird haircut, "He and I have been eternal rivals as long as I could remember!"
I seriously doubted that, something about Neji shouted 'Protégé' while everything about this guy practically screamed 'LOSER' but I didn't want t burst the kid's bubble, so I just smiled.
He smiled back.
"I'm Lee, and you are the new student Tenten are you not?"
"I am," I agreed. Why did he talk so funny?
"Then Tenetn," he declared, and quite loudly I might add, "You and I shall have a friendship that extends to the very ends of the earth!"
And what a friendship it was.
a/n: I decided to cut it off there, it was getting pretty long. Remember to R&R!
Reviewing= warm fuzzies= inspiration= faster updates
See? It all makes sense!
Till next time everyone, mwauh!