It had been about three weeks since Kakashi-sensei had passed us. And let me tell you—what a boring three weeks! Honestly.
Unless you count training with Hinata-chan boring.
Oh wait. There is that.
Honestly, how could you forget to tell the readers something as important as that?
Inner, we're not in some fanfic. There are no readers.
Agh! Just because I can break the fourth wall and you can't, doesn't mean there isn't a fourth wall in the first place!
Wanna just have a flash back?
(Epic Flash Back)
The next day from our test, I got up extra early in the morning and headed off to my destination. The moment I reached there, I stopped outside the gates and waited, knowing the guards would sense my presence.
What are we doing here?
I think it's pretty obvious what we're doing here.
No. Not really.
Hello? We have, like, three weeks or four until the whole Zabuza stuff. In the mean time I really need to get some training in.
Okay, so what does that have to do with being here?
Simple. I need help with chakra control. I get that I—I mean Sakura—has awesome chakra control, but I don't really know how to access it. And these people specialize in chakra control. Not to mention I absolutely adore H—
The impossibly large front gates opened slightly and out poked a head. It was an unimportant man from the Clan. He gave me an indifferent look.
"What are you doing at the Hyūga residence?"
"I would like to speak with Hianta-sama," I chirped, grinning.
He stared at me. "Do you have an appointment?"
"No… But, she's not head of the family, yet, so does it really matter?"
He scowled at me. I continued to grin cheekily.
"I will see if Hinata-hime wishes to see you," he said thinly after a moment. I gave him a nod—but I doubted he needed (or wanted) my acknowledgement—before he was gone and the gates were closed.
Yes, anyway… I also really want to train with her. Who knows, maybe I can help her become at least a bit stronger before the exams. Then maybe she might put up a better fight against Neji.
Ah. And how exactly are you going to explain why you want to train her?
Way ahead of you.
So, I waited outside the gates for a while longer before Hinata herself opened the gates and stepped outside. At that, I was most surprised. I thought for sure they would make me come in and see her.
"Hey, Hinata-chan!" I greeted.
"H-Hello, S-Sakura-s-san," Hinata managed.
"So, do you mind if I steal you for a bit today?" I asked. "Oh, and a bit tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that…"
Hinata gave me an alarmed look. "Wh-What are you talking a-about Sakura -san?
"I want to train with you. One on one," I explained.
"Yep." I nodded my head. "So… what do you say?"
Hinata gave me a curious look. "I… I do not know. Why d-do you want to train w-with me?"
"I remember the sparring matches in the academy," I murmured. Not completely a lie. I had vague flashes of my—of Sakura's—memories pertaining to the academy days. They never lasted long and they were always blurred. I remembered enough to confirm that there were sparring matches—something that had always been speculated by Naruto fans but never really confirmed—coupled with the fact on how Hinata already fought… I could make an assumption to what her fighting style would have been like.
"I think it would be best if we worked together," I said. "I know you can't take a hit—and please don't be offended by this! And I know you can't deal a lot of damage. But… I think I can help you with that."
"Y-You d-do?" Hinata asked, her eyes widening slightly.
I nodded my head. "I kind of specialize in hard hits, I guess you could say. And I also need to work on endurance too, so that's something we can both practice on. And…" I gave her a sheepish grin. "I need help with chakra control."
She stared at me for a moment, confusion coloring her features before they cleared and she gave a slight smile. "I-I see."
"And you're really good at chakra control—don't deny it!—so I was hoping we could train together, every day."
"I..." Hinata hesitated, "would like that. I… I have b-b-been me-meaning to do m-more training, b-but…"
"You can't seem to feel comfortable enough to train at home?" I ventured. She looked alarmed at my guess and I gave her a grin. "I understand, kind of. I'm empathetic, at least."
She nodded her head. "I… thank you. B-But, I will a-also have to t-train w-with my own teammates."
"I understand," I said. "I also have to train with my own, as well. Training usually ends around four for me… how about you?"
"Three," she murmured.
I nodded my head. "So how about you and me find a training spot today—some place quiet and recluse, so we won't be bothered—and we go there every day at around four?"
"That… y-yes. Th-That would be-be nice."
I grinned. "Awesome. So do you want to come help me look now?"
"S-Sure, S-Sakura-san. L-Let me go and t-tell my father where I-I will be."
I nodded my head, but as she turned to leave I called out, "Oh, and just call me Sakura. No need for san when we're training partners now, ne?"
"You're so adorable," I squealed, causing her to blush brightly.
Since then on, every day we trained from four to eight. Sometimes we'd stay as late as midnight if we were really working on it. And I must say… Hinata did so much better than I thought she would.
I was totally prepared for her to be so shy and tentative about fighting me, like she was in the academy and like I knew she was with her family. But… it seemed as though she really did give it her all. It might have been because she was only fighting with me. It might have been because there wasn't any pressure during training. Hell, it might even be because she viewed me as a rival. I didn't know, all knew was that she was amazing.
I was right about one thing, though. Her endurance really did need some work.
Every time she pushed her body to the limit, a Hyūga member—mainly her private tutor, or father—would say she should give up and stop. No break and then try again. Just. Stop.
Instead of training for endurance, that tactic only allowed her body to get bruised and sore before recuperating.
So we definitely didn't follow that tactic.
For the first two hours we would spar: taijutsu only. We weren't allowed to dodge any hits—not yet at least—and we had to dish out as much as we could. Hinata's usual endurance was roughly an hour for doing this. Mine was near the two hour mark before we would both collapse.
But, thankfully during the training session, Hinata was able to pop back up on her feet after a few minutes of rest.
The next two hours we would deal in chakra control and offense.
Hinata seriously helped me with chakra control. She was practically an expert on it—at least compared to me. With her help, I was able to finally get a tiny green glow from my hands. That was after two weeks of not only her private training, but training on my own. It took another week—days before the Zabuza arc—before I could actually use it.
Offensively, we just practiced against various trees and rocks (our training spot was a little out of the village in the forest).
Overall, after three weeks of rigorous training, I'd like to say we improved quite a bit.
Although, there was no real way of knowing for sure until we tested it in actual battle. Speaking of which…
(Epic Flashback & Explanation Over)
That was a fail flash back.
…Oh, hush you.
There was a sharp crackle in my right ear before a hushed voice sounded right next to it. "Sasuke, arrived at point B."
I snapped back from my musings and quickly responded with a, "This is Sakura, I've arrived at point C."
There was a pregnant pause before Naruto spoke. "This is Naruto, arrived at point A."
"You're slow Naruto," drawled another voice in my ear—Kakashi. "Alright. Team 7… the target has moved. After it!"
Did I really need to explain what happens next? I think we all knew.
After we delivered the cat to the wife of the Fire Country's Feudal Lord, I winced at her crushing grip on it. Poor thing.
"Now then, Kakashi's 7th unit's next mission is," Hiruzen began, "babysitting Yojuyu-sama's boy; grocery shopping; dog sitting…."
"No!" Naruto exclaimed, crossing his arms together to form a firm x. "No thank you to all of those. I want a more exciting mission. Choose something else."
"Idiot! You're still a novice ninja. Everyone needs to start off doing—" Iruka exclaimed only to be cut off by Naruto.
And I pretty much ignored the rest of the conversation from there. How missions are separated via A, B, C, D, etc, etc. Naruto pouted, Kakashi sighed and Sasuke huffed. Finally, the Hokage relented and allowed the infamous C-Rank mission.
Viola, in came the drunk man otherwise known as Tazuna.
"What? They're call kids," accused Tazuna.
"You'd be surprised what kids can do," I commented before Tazuna could remark about Naruto's height and intelligence.
He gave me a grin. "I am bridge building expert, Tazuna. Once I have returned to my country, I will have of you protect my life while I finish the bridge…"
"All right! Let's go!" Naruto cheered, his bag strapped tightly to his back as he grinned largely.
"Mm? What are you all excited about?" I asked half-heartedly, already knowing the answer.
"Because I've never gone outside the village before," Naruto said, still grinning like mad.
"Oi, is this kid really capable of completing the mission?" Tazuna asked, giving Naruto an incredulous stare.
Kakashi gave his famous one-eyed-crinkled-so-it-looks-like-he's-smiling-but-in-reality-he-might-very-well-be-flipping-you-off-in-his-mind-which-was-kinda-hot and said, "Don't worry. I'm a Jōnin and I'll be accompanying you."
Naruto glowered at Tazuna's remark and looked ready to object—very loudly I might add—before I interrupted him, "So we ready to get going?"
All at once Naruto's anger vanished and he was back to being anxious as a kiddie at Disney World and told he just won the entire park to himself for the whole day.
"I suppose we are," Kakashi murmured.
I almost smirked.
Oh, no… you're not… not yet…
You're enjoying this too much. You're about to go into a life and death situation and you're totally letting your fangirl get the better of you.
I know… but… I think I'm ready. If PTS Sakura can survive it—I'd like to imagine I can, as well.
After walking for a while, I inquired about the five Kazekage-Rangers. Oops. I mean the five great Kazekages…
Naruto Abridged ftw.
We walked for a while longer, crossed the small wooden bridge with the clear stream, walked a bit more before…
The moment it came into view, I tilted my head up at the sky and squinted my eyes. Then I pursed my lips before saying, "Hold up guys."
The group came to a slow stop. Naruto was to first to inquire about the stop. "What's up, Sakura-chan?"
I pointed to the puddle. "It hasn't rained today. Why is there a puddle? Not to mention even if it had rained, wouldn't there be more puddles?"
Kakashi gave me that famous eye-crinkle and said, "And what of it, Sakura?"
I frowned at his question, caught off guard from it. "Well… I… I don't know. It's just something strange. I don't like it."
"You worry too much, Sakura-chan," Naruto said, dismissing it with a wave of his hand.
Before I could protest, Du—I mean, Sasuke, spoke up, "No. She's right Naruto. A puddle shouldn't be there."
He then turned to face the puddle, pulling out a kunai in the process.
Duck-Ass to the rescue. Who would have thought.
He didn't come to the rescue, I retorted. He merely saw the logic in my reasoning and acted upon it.
I moved to stand in front of Tazuna, pulling out a kunai of my own. Naruto kept giving me a curious look and Kakashi merely watched us without making a comment.
There was a pregnant pause before it happened.
Out of the water they sprung, the first one being launched in to the air before throwing a chain at Kakashi. Just barely I could follow it with my eyes.
Too fast. Way too fast, I thought my eyes wide.
The next one followed after the first one, the chain wrapped around Kakashi and the two generic villains pulled on the chain. Kakashi was no more.
"Damn it, Kakashi-sensei!" I exclaimed, oddly enough feeling annoyed it was going sickeningly close along with Episode 6. "Playing dead is no way to test your students."
If Naruto or Sasuke had heard my comment, they didn't acknowledge it. Naruto's eyes were wide with fear, and he froze as the two generic henchmen leapt towards him. Before he could do anything though, Sasuke acted.
He threw his kunai at their chain and disrupted it before it could wrap around Naruto. The momentum from the kunai throw was enough to lodge the chains deeply into a near by tree. He then flipped in the air, smirking, before he kicked both of them in the face.
They separated, both of them narrowing their eyes before launching away and one circling around to hit Naruto from behind. Once more Naruto was frozen, his eyes wide.
The second one began to rush towards me and Tazuna.
That's when it hit me.
My legs felt oddly wobbly, adrenaline and fear pulsing through me. All at once things seemed to drop to a slow crawl almost.
I was afraid.
I had the strongest urge to run, to flee for my pathetic life like some coward.
A heartbeat passed.
I refused to. I would not back down. I chose this life for me—for Sakura—and damn it, I would go through with my choice. I'd already died once, it wasn't so bad.
My fear did not fade. I knew it wouldn't. But, I did feel a small sense of bravery and self-accomplishment for myself as I stood in front of Tazuna, bracing for impact and holding the kunai out, preparing to defend.
Moments before the generic villain could touch me, Sasuke was in front of me, his arms extended as if he could provide some kind of barrier.
And before the missing-nin could touch him, Kakashi's arm jutted out from virtually nowhere, and the generic henchman's neck collided in it.
There Kakashi stood, completely relaxed, holding two unconscious bodies in his arms, like a bad ass.
I glanced over at Naruto. I didn't even notice Kakashi taking out the first one.
Indeed. That's something we're going to have to work on. I could barely keep up with this match. And I didn't even really fight in it.
Yay, more training with Hinata.
Huzzuh, I thought dryly, more coming home coated in sweat and fatigue pushing down.
"Yo," Kakashi greeted. "Naruto, sorry for not helping out right away. I got you hurt. I didn't think you wouldn't be able to move."
He turned towards me and Sasuke. "Anyway, Sasuke, good job. Sakura, you too."
I snorted, despite the fact that I was inwardly preening, and squealing, at his praise. "Playing dead to test us was so not cool."
"I heard you the first time," Kakashi said. "How'd you know I was playing dead?"
I pointed over to the pile of logs. "That, and if you had really died so easily after I had pointed out a warning you'd really suck for a Jōnin. And you, Kakashi-sensei, do not suck."
"So glad for your confidence in my abilities."
I grinned, and winked at him. Sasuke turned to Naruto, smirking. "Are you hurt, Mr. Scaredy Cat?"
Naruto glowered. "Sasuke!"
"Naruto," Kakashi interrupted before a fight could escalate. "There was poison in their nails. We need to take out the poison right away. We'll have to head back to the hospital to open up your wound and leech out the poisoned blood. Don't move too much or the poison will spread more easily."
Then not even turning his head, he spoke to Tazuna. "By the way, Tazuna."
"W-What is it?"
"I need to talk to you," Kakashi said, cocking his slightly. There was definitely an undertone in his words, an obvious expression of distaste and the promise of retribution of the poor man argued.
Tazuna gulped nervously.
The two generic henchmen were now tied up to a tree, the five of us surrounding them.
As Kakashi explained the situation and questioned their intentions, I dropped back in to my thoughts.
We were afraid.
We're always going to be afraid, aren't we?
We'd be idiots if we weren't. But… we still acted, didn't we?
Besides… bravery isn't about being afraid. It's about accepting and overcoming your fear.
Oooh, wise words.
Mm. Anyway… I'm sure that over time it'll get easier. Maybe. I've never really been placed in life and death situations that often.
And you wanted to become a missing-nin.
For Kisame-sama? Hell yes. If I wasn't a major part of the storyline I'd be all over that blue cutie.
You think he's cute?
Abso-friggin-lutely. I just want to glomp him. Him and Kakashi. Oh and Kakuzu. But, Kakuzu would kill me. And Kakashi would probably think I'm insane. Kisame-sama would probably think I was insane, too, now that I thought about it.
Aa. We are indeed. What better way to explain how we're still eager about continuing on a life-threatening mission?
Blood thirsty and sadistic would also work.
I'm not that sadistic.
But you don't deny being blood thirsty.
Maybe just a little.
"…Anyway… This sure is a burden. Let's go back to the village to cure Naruto," Kakashi drawled, pulling me from my thoughts.
Naruto glared at him, his eyes darkening angrily. Then swiftly, he pulled out a kunai and jabbed in his hand.
Fail emo attempt Naruto, I thought inwardly cackle.
Naruto Abridged. Ftw.
Stop making parody references.
I can't help it. That stuff is friggin' funny.
Naturally, I didn't voice my amusement; instead, I stared at Naruto with a raised eyebrow, watching as the blood pooled out from him. "Why am I so different...? Why am I always…? Damn it."
"Naruto," I sighed, "you adorable idiot."
Kakashi sighed. "Naruto, it's nice you took out the poisoned blood. But you're going to die from blood loss now."
Kakashi's eye crinkled into his I'm-smiling-and-or-smirking-hugely-underneath-my-mask-from-your-idiocy eye crinkle. He appeared from behind Naruto. "It's not good if you don't stop it right away. Seriously."
"…NOOO! No, no, no, no,nononononononnononononoooo. I can't die this way!" Naruto shouted, jumping around and moving around like a crazy person.
"Calm down and show me your hand," Kakashi instructed calmly. Naruto rushed over to him.
I saw my chance.
"Actually, Kakashi-sensei," I said quickly, "do you mind if I take a look?"
Kakashi glanced up from examining Naruto's hand. "Hmm?"
I stepped over and carefully took Naruto's hand. "I've been training for as a medic ninja these past three weeks."
"What? Really Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked, his eyes wide.
"Ah, so where'd you receive this training?" Kakashi asked casually.
"Myself and a little from Hinata-chan," I murmured, lifting my right hand and furrowing my eyebrows.
"Hmm?" Kakashi murmured.
"The books are in my bag, I've been studying like crazy after all our missions and training with Hinata. She's helped my chakra control a lot," I answered absently, focusing on my own hand.
I felt the familiar rush of warm chakra flow towards my hand. It glowed a pale blue.
Sasuke moved to stand beside me as he looked at my hand, a single eyebrow raised in slight curiosity. Kakashi watched me, as well.
The blue chakra flickered a pale green a few times before turning fully green and holding. I lowered my hand over Naruto's hand and concentrated. I imagined stitching Naruto's skin and muscle back together; the wound closing.
Naruto's eyes widened as my picture became a reality. Even Sasuke's eyes looked slightly wider. I'd like to imagine I surprised Kakashi, too, but I couldn't see him that clearly through the corner of my eye.
Soon Naruto's hand was fully healed, and I removed my hand, relaxing.
A small wave of fatigue washed over me from the strain of precise chakra control, but I pushed it back, blinking my eyes.
"Impressive," Kakashi said, still staring at Naruto's hand. "Normally it takes months of training under a sensei before acquiring the capability to do what you've just done now, Sakura. And you trained by yourself?"
"With books and Hinata-chan," I corrected.
"That's so cool, Sakura-chan!" Naruto exclaimed, grinning.
"I see," Kakashi said, "Very impressive, Sakura."
I grinned at his praise, and puffed up just a bit. "The books were very clear and Hinata-chan helped me with my chakra control. I couldn't have done it so quickly without her."
"Hn. Alright," Sasuke muttered, looking away.
"Alright?" Naruto shouted. "It's more than alright! It's kick ass!"
"Kick ass, aside," I said, still feeling immensely proud of myself from Kakashi's praise, "don't you think it's time to head off?"
Kakashi nodded his head. "Sakura's right. Alright team, let's go."