This fiction has multiple influences. The books themselves, for one. Warped by NopeJustMe for another, the wonderland episode of Ouran Host Club, and also the newest Alice in Wonderland movie. I take a little bit from each one, along with a lot from Naruto and some of my own genius (I like to think so).
Anyway, without much further ado – here is the first chapter!
Down the Rabbit Hole
.:Chapter One – Above Ground:.
Spring was in the air. The grass was finally beginning to turn that luscious shade of green. Windows all around Konoha were wide open, letting the warm breeze air out what was left of the stale winter. Flowers were beginning to bud and birds were making it loud and clear what season it was.
Yet, Sakura could only watch from the hospital window. She let out a hefty sigh, her arms crossed as she leaned against the glass watching a particularly frisky pair of birds fly around. "It's such a nice day out." She groaned.
"You're not the only one stuck in here, Haruno-san." An older nurse stared hard at Sakura while shoving a file in her face. "Your next patient is waiting in room 107." When the nurse turned, Sakura's eyes narrowed at the elder nurse and she stuck her tongue out. Mature, real mature, Sakura. Pushing herself off the glass, Sakura stretched. I think I'm getting Spring Fever, maybe I should go home before I spread it to someone else. She laughed at her own thoughts before heading off to the next patient.
"So, Alice, how'd you manage this, this time?" Sakura smiled as she watched the ten-year-old girl squirm on the metal bed.
"I just wanted to play with my sister." Alice's small hand moved to play with her messy blond hair.
"And how did that result in this sprained ankle?" Sakura finally bent down to send green chakra into the swollen appendage.
"She was running out to train, so I chased her."
"And?" Alice squirmed a little before Sakura took a firm hold of the girl's leg so she would stop moving. Sakura heard the girl huff a little. When she finally answered, her voice was quieter.
"…And I tripped and fell in a hole." Sakura chuckled and stood up, heading towards one of the cabinets against the wall.
"You really should be more aware of your surroundings." Sakura returned and kneeled before the girl. "I got rid of a lot of the swelling, but I'm going to wrap this around your ankle so you don't move it so much." As she began wrapping, Sakura continued, "Which means you might not be able to play with your sister as much. Do you have anything fun to do?"
"Yeah, I have this really weird book I started reading. It's called Alice and Wonderland."
Sakura nodded absently. "I think I read that when I was a kid. I was a big bookworm."
"The main character's name has my name, which makes it even more awesome and weird."
Sakura stood up and smiled at the girl. "Well, I hope you especially enjoy it, because you're going to be stuck in one place reading that book, got it?" Alice nodded. "I'm going to get the nurse to talk to your sister, but no moving on it for at least three days, got it?"
The girl slumped a little, but nodded. Sakura opened the door and called for a nurse, explaining the situation. Just as she turned to go to her next patient, she found herself turning straight into a very hard chest.
Sakura stepped back and rubbed her nose, glaring at the white-eyed male before her. "Am I?"
"It's important. Remember the meeting Tsunade called?"
"Ah," Sakura chuckled. Oh yeah…. Her hand found the back of her neck. "Oops?"
"So good of you to join us, Sakura."
Sakura followed quickly in behind Neji, nodded her apology, and sat herself beside Sasuke and Naruto. She leaned over and whispered, "Did I miss anything?"
"No." Sasuke answered. He was beside her in a jounin uniform, leaning back in the chair with arms folded. Naruto was beside him with his head on the table. Sakura heard a muffled 'boring' come from the resting head.
There was a slight puff of air behind Sakura. She didn't turn around. The new body quickly sat down beside Sakura. Tsunade stopped talking to glare at the newcomer.
"Oh, Kakashi, good, you're right on time."
"Was I?" Sakura couldn't see it, but she swore he was grinning under the mask.
"No." She spared a few more seconds of glaring at Team 7 (also ignoring Naruto's complaints that he wasn't late, so why was he getting glared at) before returning to the group in ninjas seating around the meeting room.
"For those of you who didn't know, Sand and Konoha have been working closely together to get an alliance together with Sound. After months of negotiations, I believe we are finally ready to the final negotiations. Tomorrow, the Kazekage and a representative are heading to Sound to work out the final details. As there are still some groups who are resisting, I will send a few others with the two representatives, namely Kakashi's team." Immediately, Naruto perked "Sakura, you will be the representative. You've had enough experience working with me. Sasuke, you are the most familiar with the area. Kakashi will also be along as back up. Naruto, you need practice and a lot of work with diplomacy. If you can promise you will be quiet and watch what Sakura does, then you may go along."
Naruto jumped up and let a loud whoop. "Hey, do I get to wear a fancy hat or anything?"
"Naruto, sit down!" Sakura grabbed his sleeve and yanked him down. From the corner of her vision, Sakura saw Sasuke smirk. She quickly let go of Naruto and faced the front, hiding her blush.
"If all goes well, we will have a new ally by the end of the week. Team Kakashi, you're leaving tomorrow. I suggest you get some rest."
"Man, I haven't been to Sound in a while." Naruto commented noodles hung front his mouth. Sakura smacked the back of his head, causing the noodles to spit back out into his bowl. "Sakura-chan!"
"Chew your food!"
Sasuke grunted, and Sakura thought she could make out his lips curving up slightly. Gaara and Hinata ate in silence, though an ever-present blush had remained on Hinata's cheeks since Naruto had invited her to ramen.
"That's right," Naruto continued. His blue eyes were staring down at the steaming bowl in front of him. His chopsticks swirled the liquid around. "I don't think we've been there since Orochimaru died."
Orochimaru. Sakura felt herself shudder. Dark memories haunted her when she closed her eyes. Yellow eyes showing her own death. Fangs piercing Sasuke's flesh. Stealing Sasuke away-
"-You know, I thought Orochimaru was a chick when I first saw him." Sakura's eyes opened and snapped over to stare and Naruto. There were a few beats of silence before snickers filled the air. Sakura felt her lips curve upward as her nightmares faded. Naruto knew what to say, even when he wasn't trying.
"M-Me too." Hinata chimed in. Sakura's eyes focused on Hinata for a moment. Sakura idly thought that between her timid comments and food nibbling, she seemed like a mouse.
"Ne, Sasuke, don't you think Orochimaru was a little feminine? He did seem to be more interested in guys-"
Through her laughter, Sakura saw Gaara's mouth curve upwards and Hinata sputter while trying to calm a raging Naruto. The smirk was evident on Sasuke's face as he pushed his empty bowl of ramen away and stood up. Beside him, Naruto still raged ("Hey, jerk, you wanna fight? Hey! I'm talking to you!").
"I'm going home to prepare for the mission tomorrow."
"Ah!" Sakura jumped up. "I'll walk with you, I'm supposed to meet Ino soon anyway."
Sasuke said nothing, but the pause in his walk as Sakura fished through her pockets for the right amount of money spoke volumes to her. As she caught up to him, she offered a bright smile and a thank you. It wasn't the first time they had walked together, yet as they were stepping away from the yelling Naruto, Sakura couldn't help but marvel at how happy she was with Sasuke beside her.
It was a beautiful painting. The colors blended in beautifully and the shading was perfectly reflecting the sun showing through the trees of Konoha. Two figures looked like they were made especially for the scenery. One person was laying in the grass, eyes closed, and head resting in folded arms. The other was leaning over the resting person. Her hand was forever placing her platinum blonde hair behind her ear. Her smile was as bright as the baby blue bikini she wore.
Sakura looked up from the painting and smiled at the artist. "It's really good, Sai. I think you captured the moment beautifully."
Sai briefly looked over his shoulder at the leaning girl before turning back to add the finishing touches. "A more realistic portrait would contain a more annoyed pineapple head and a yelling blonde." At Sakura's laugh, he turned again, offering a raised eyebrow. "What brings you here? Would you also like to admire the scenery?"
"I would, but Ino actually wanted me to meet her here. You should show them the picture, Sai, I'm sure Ino and Shikamaru would love it."
Sai frowned. "I do not make it a habit to share my work."
Sakura straightened up, stretching her arms. "You should. I bet you could really make some money off of them."
"Forehead!" Sakura looked down from the top of the hill to see Ino standing and waving. "Come on down! The water is great!"
Sakura eyed the water skeptically as she headed towards the couple. "It's spring, Pig. The water shouldn't be great."
Ino grabbed Sakura's arm and began yanking her towards the small lake. "It is! Try it with me! It's one of the first great days of Spring, and you're leaving tomorrow. Please?"
"Why don't you ask Shikamaru? He's been with you the whole time."
Ino rolled her eyes. "Shikamaru? He's like a cat. He doesn't want to get wet and his happy laying in the sun all day. Now," Another pull, "At least put a foot in."
"Ino, you just wanted to break out your bikini, didn't you?" Ino dropped Sakura's elbow and held up her hands.
"You caught me!" A wide grin stretched Ino's cheeks. "Now, come on!" Quick hands grabbed Sakura's arm again and resumed yanking.
"Ino, I didn't bring anything to swim in! I'm wearing pants!" The water was getting closer and closer. "Some good clothes!"
"It's okay! You can sunbath with me to dry!" Only a few feet away now.
"Pig, I said, no!" Sakura dug her feet into the ground, but Ino pulled harder causing the two to stumble.
Shikamaru heard the two talking. One brown eye opened to watch the two girls as they got closer to the lake. He saw it coming before it happened and smirked when the girls stumbled. Shikamaru fought a chuckle when he heard the splash, followed by sputtering and an angry, "INO-PIG!"
The people of Sound really live up to their name. Sakura thought as their team stepped through the gates. Off to the side, two men were playing stringed instruments. A lady danced around the men, her moves attracting the attention of all that passed by. Some would drop a shiny coin to show their appreciation. Others smiled and clapped before moving on. A little ahead of the trio was a old man playing the flute. He leaned against the wall of a hut, entertaining all that passed him. Sakura's favorite was the young boy and girl dancing to their father and mother's string music while another boy made beats with cans, lids, and pots. Music wasn't the only sound; voices and chatter filled the air while people passed on the busy streets. Children ran around, chasing each other. Sakura couldn't help but smile, thinking that while appearances and lands might be look strange, the people inside aren't all that different.
"Thank you all for coming!" A young man stopped in front of the Konoha team and bowed deeply. "You are the Konoha team, are you not?"
"Hell, yeah! – Ow, Sakura-chan, why do you keep hitting me?"
"As the meeting does not start until tomorrow, may I escort you to the rooms that you will be staying in?"
"Please." Kakashi spoke. As the guide turned to walk away, Kakashi whispered loud enough for only the team to hear, "Emergency meeting at the room."
Sakura's green eyes watched her former teacher carefully. As he walked past her, she noted his tense shoulders. Rough hands nearly twitching near his kunai pouch. Sakura looked to Sasuke. His eyes were hard, sometimes looking around. A hand was always close to his sword. Gaara followed silently behind Kakashi, focused on something unseen. Naruto had quieted down. His blue eyes met hers and they both nodded. Now that her teacher had pointed it out. Something felt out of place. There was an underlying menace. Something was coming.
As soon as the door to their room closed, the team went around the room checking every surface, corner, and hideout for any form of weapon, speaker, or microphone. Once the room was cleared, Kakashi finally spoke. "We're being followed."
"I sensed it too." Gaara confirmed. "Sasuke, did you pick up anything?"
"It's Sound." He said. His arms were crossed as he leaned against the window. "But not someone that wants to be seen. I don't think it's someone who is working for the current leader."
"You don't know that." Naruto snorted. He sat on the bed to the right. Despite his attitude, Sakura noted that a kunai was held firmly in his grip.
Kakashi sighed and leaned against the doorframe. "This is why Sasuke, Naruto, and I are here. There is a rebel force that isn't too happy with the new management. They are still loyal to Orochimaru and aren't exactly fond of the new treaty – especially regarding Sasuke."
"So," Sakura said slowly. "We should expect an attack at anytime." She looked at Sasuke, "Why-"
A quiet whizzing sound was the only warning before there was a crash of the window. A kunai buried itself in the wall. There was only enough time for the group to duck for cover when they saw the burning tag attached to the kunai.
A flash and a searing hot sensation. It took Sakura a moment to gather her bearings. There were sounds of metal hitting against metal. Something was on top of her, crushing her leg and back.
"SAKURA-CHAN! Where are you?"
"Sakura! Kakashi needs medical assistance!"
Right. Sakura gathered her chakra into her hands and pushed. Daylight appeared and Sakura had to blink to adjust. She didn't have much time, as a sound ninja immediately saw her and flew at her, fist pulled back to try and catch her off-guard. Sakura dodged, her leg kicked out and catching him in the stomach. With a quick glance, Sakura saw Kakashi on the ground, a wooden plank protruding from his side. Gaara stood over him, sand forming a barrier to the injured nin. Sakura rushed over. "Cover me." She ordered the Kazekage. In the back of her mind, Sakura wondered if she was going to get in trouble for that later.
No time. Sakura examined Kakashi's body. Aside from the expected burns and cuts from the explosion, the wood was the worst injury. "Kakashi." She looked at his glazed over eye. "I'm going to pull this out and try to heal you. There will probably be some splinters, but I'll have to get that later. Understand?" She watched Kakashi nod and grit his death. A muttered apology and a pull. She cringe das Kakashi's body went up with the plank then flopped down with a sickening plop. Immediately, Sakura's healing hands moved over the wound to stop the blood-flow.
Precious minutes passed before she allowed herself to check out her other teammates. Gaara still guarded her and the injured Kakashi (she's have to thank him for that later). Naruto was holding on his own. He was sporting a few questionable injuries, but otherwise seemed okay. Sasuke was out of sight. "Where's Sasuke?" She shouted at Gaara.
Sakura looked down at her patient. The wound wasn't perfectly healed, but the bleeding at stopped, and the hole wasn't nearly as large. "Don't move." She ordered the unconscious ninja. "Gaara!" She stood and helped kick an oncoming ninja. "Kakashi is unconscious and shouldn't move. Keep guarding him, I'm going to help Sasuke."
She didn't wait for a response. Sakura jumped through the hole in the wall to the outside. She didn't have much time to analyze her teammate. He was injured and tired, that much was clear. Sakura was surprised to see at least six relatively decent ninja ganging up on Sasuke at once.
"Sasuke, jump!" Sakura called. He obeyed and Sakura pounded her chakra-filed fist into the ground. Two ninja were caught, the others hand jumped with Sasuke. The two ninja stood, wobbling slightly on the destroyed ground. "I'll be your opponent." She lifted her fist and tightened the glove, and smirk residing on her lips.
The second ninja finally fell. Sakura huffed as she wiped the blood from the corner of her lips. The second one had put up a fight – her shoulder and stomach had gotten hit with some especially strong sound waves – but it was his pride and underestimating the efforts of a girl that got him in the end. Green eyes searched for Sasuke. There he was. He had narrowed it down to one. He was formidable – enough for Sasuke to really put in effort – but Sakura knew he had the overall skill.
No - something flashed to the left in the trees. Her eyes narrowed. There was something – another ninja! She watched the finger movements. A complicated genjutsu – and it was aimed at Sasuke. Sakura reached into her pouch – nothing. They had been used up on the last ninja she fought. Sakura ran.
Rat, monkey, tiger. Almost there! His hands were moving fast, but Sakura could read the movements. It was complicated and took time to set up the genjutsu. She had a few more to go.
Horse – Sakura jumped up to the first branch.
Dragon – She jumped onto his branch.
Rabbit – A chakra-loaded fist was pulled back.
Whispered words and a connecting fist. The ninja turned as her fist connected with his cheek, and the last word fell from his lips. Their eyes met and Sakura felt herself fall. The last thing she heard was her name being called as the blackness took over.
(A/N) Aaand… now time for the excitement to begin! I don't want to give too much away, only that it will start silly and get darker.
So, as a side note, I've discovered that I'm terrible with transitions. I think this is why I don't write more.
See that button in the middle there? Yeah, that one. It's tempting you. You know you want to press it. Go on, do it. Press the review button.