Onwards with the continuation of our story... A/N at the bottom...
Disclaimer: Naruto is Kishimoto's toy, I'm just playing with it. I don't own Naruto Abridged either.
Warning: Language. Honestly.
After our informative boat ride and short trip through the docks, we headed out into the forest. Not long after walking, Naruto practically killed a rabbit.
A white rabbit. And me being a Narutard and praise-whore, decided to comment on it.
"Why does it have white fur?" I asked, staring at it.
Naruto, who was suffocating the poor thing in his hug, glanced up at me. "Huh?"
"It's not winter, but it has white fur. There's no snow around here, what's up with that?" I shook my head. "That goes against the laws of nature."
Kakashi glanced at me. "Good question, Sakura."
I beamed at the praise.
Damn, you really are a praise-whore.
Only for Kakashi, Kisame, and Tobi. But 'cause Kisame and Tobi aren't going to be showing up any time soon, I'll have to settle for Kakashi.
"It was probably raised elsewhere then brought here," I concluded, still eyeing it warily.
"Most likely," Kakashi agreed.
My eyes lifted up from the suffocating animal and scanned the trees. I wonder if I'll be able to spot Zabuza.
Doubtful. He is an elite ninja.
Maybe, on the other hand, though, he's probably relying on the fact that we aren't expecting him and thus might overlook something. People kind of have a tendency to only see what they're expecting to see.
Much to my disappointment though, I didn't spot him.
After another moment of Naruto killing a rabbit via death hug, Kakashi called out for everyone to duck. I wasted no time in dropping to the ground.
Everyone else shortly followed behind me. Zabuza's big-ass butcher sword sliced through the air and landed with a thud in a tree. I lurched up from the ground, pulling out a kunai and spinning it through my fingers—a neat trick Hinata taught me—and assumed a fighting stance.
On top of the sword's handle stood Zabuza in all his missing-nin glory, his back turned to us as he looked down at us.
Kakashi stepped forward casually. Though his stance and voice stated he was calm, the way his eye hardened made it perfectly clear he was tense and ready for battle. "Oh, my, my, you are Momochi Zabuza, the missing-nin of the Hidden Village of Mist."
Naruto, being the adorable idiot he was, charged forward. Most likely thinking that he didn't want Sasuke to one-up him this time. Kakashi stopped him with an outstretched hand and murmured for Naruto to stay back.
Naruto grumbled something back, but didn't attempt to charge again, yet. Kakashi raised his left hand to his other eye and I felt a small smile tug at my lips.
"I'm guessing you are Kakashi of the Sharingan," Zabuza stated from above. Sasuke gave Kakashi an alarmed and slightly curious look. "I'm sorry, but I'll need you to hand over the geezer."
Kakashi scowled slightly. "Formation B, everyone."
Then he lifted up his headband that covered his left eye and there glared the Sharingan.
I think we all knew where this was heading.
Zabuza and Kakashi exchange a few words, the mist appeared and Sasuke, Naruto and I rushed towards Tazuna and form a defensive stance.
Zabuza disappeared after the promise of death for Kakashi and the mist thickens.
Once more, I felt my legs want to wobble and the strong urge to run washed over me. Although, it was a bit different than the last time; more intense, thanks to the mist. I could feel my heart pounding harshly and quickly, blood pulsing through my head.
It was painstakingly quiet.
Without all that dramatic music, I never realized just how eerily quiet it was. It set my nerves on the edge and I had a strong desire to grit my teeth.
I didn't because I knew there wasn't much of a point, but I wanted to.
Just like I wanted to run far, far away from there.
When Zabuza started speaking, his voice echoing all around thanks to the mist, I wanted to scream at him to shut up. His creepy-ass threats of death did not help improve my fear at all.
I swallowed my saliva, scanning the mist hopelessly for any signs of the missing-nin. Through the corner of my eye, I could see Sasuke's hands shake slightly while holding his kunai.
I was tied between letting out a sigh of relief at the sign of the upcoming event, or letting out an annoyed and slightly fearful shriek at what was coming. I knew what was going to happen next.
Just like in episode 7, Kakashi recalled the mist and promised the three of us he'd protect us with his life.
It was just as cool as it was on the show as it was in real life.
Sadly though, that's when Zabuza decided to stick to the script and appear behind us.
And really, let me tell you, it was friggin' creepy! One second nothing was behind me, but my friendly team mates, the next—bam!—missing-nin with every intentions of killing me was there.
I lurched away from him, just as my team mates and Tazuna did while Kakashi rushed forward to meet him.
That Zabuza dispersed into water. Then the real Zabuza appeared behind him, killing Kakashi. That Kakashi dispersed into water. Then the real Kakashi appeared from behind, holding a kunai to Zabuza's throat.
All of this transpired, in reality, in a short few seconds. Had I not watched it already from the episodes, I doubt I would have been able to really process what just happened.
Zabuza knocked Kakashi back after a short exchange of words. Kakashi landed in the water… long story short Kakashi ended up trapped in a water prison. Naruto wanted to rush forward, I stopped him. Kakashi explained about Zabuza's past…
Zabuza rushed forward and in a blink of an eye he had hit Sasuke and pinned him with a leg on his chest. Naruto created clones and while Sakura in this episode did nothing.
I did something.
I twirled the kunai in my fingers while Naruto created a multitude of clones and rushed up on him. I rushed with them, grabbing Sasuke in the process and pulling him out.
All the Naruto's jumped onto Zabuza while I furrowed my eyebrow.
Come on, come on, come on, I chanted, fear and adrenaline pulsing through me and making my head slightly dizzy. I need to focus, a little help!
Focus? Fine. Focus on me, idiot.
At the sound of the voice of my inner, I felt a small wave of calm and surety wash over me. It was brief, just a flash almost, but it was there. It was enough, just barely, to get my hand to glow that familiar green.
"Hold still, Sasuke," I murmured, placing the hand over his chest. My voice was oddly enough calm, though my heartbeat suggested otherwise.
A bruised rib, possibly broken.
I pictured easing the stress on the bone, I could feel his insides twisting and readjusting under my glowing hand.
I couldn't fully heal it, but I damn straight could make it easier for him to breath. At the small relieved sigh that hissed between his lips I could tell it had worked.
An enraged roar snapped my concentration and my chakra halted. Zabuza threw off the dog-pile of Naruto clones.
Naruto skidded away and I jerked up and away from Sasuke, rushing over to him. Naruto threw the folded blades at Sasuke. Sasuke caught them just as I reached 'Naruto'.
"Are you hurt anywhere?" I questioned immediately, trying my best not to pay attention to what Sasuke was doing.
'Naruto' shook his head, but then winced. I gave an annoyed grunt before placing my hand along his collar bone and dragging it down to his stomach. My eyes were closed in concentration, though it was incredibly hard when I could still feel the cold stone of dread and fear wrap around me.
I heard the soft pop as the two shuriken that Sasuke had thrown turned into the real Naruto.
After I determined nothing of major injury was on Naruto-clone I turned my glance towards Zabuza and Kakashi who were once again fighting. Now that Kakashi was freed from the water-prison justu.
The Naruto that I was examining popped and disappeared. I stood up from my spot and brushed off the dirt that clung to my outfit. It was an attempt to look casual and calm, but my hands were shaking.
Why did you actually examine a clone? I could imagine pretending to, but you actually looked for any injuries.
Don't you remember? In the last book we read... That clones hold the same injuries Naruto had the moment he was made. Which was after the dog-pile, by examining that clone I could see if there were any serious injuries on Naruto. While I couldn't see if anything was broken—as it was just a clone—I could tell if he was having trouble breathing or suffering some type of flesh wound.
I think we all knew what happened next. The epic fight between Kakashi and Zabuza.
And I shamelessly admit I did absolutely nothing, but watch (and inwardly fangirl over) the fight.
My life wasn't in any immediate danger any time soon. Kakashi had this. Right now we were in the clear, no one was sustaining any serious injury so I didn't need to rush to their aid. Besides, I didn't think I could perform any medical justu's at the moment; I wouldn't be able to hold my concentration during an epic fight.
Another thing we'll have to work on. Goody.
So I pretty much just sat back and watched the showdown. All the way up until Haku made his appearance and Zabuza slumped against the tree.
Naruto and Sasuke gasped in alarm and Kakashi whirled around to stare at the masked Haku.
I remained indifferent.
Kakashi flickered from the tree to kneel beside Zabuza before checking his pulse.
I slowly walked forward towards the body.
"He really is dead," Kakashi muttered, retracting his hand from the body.
I tilted my head as I looked closely at Zabuza. Wow, it really does look like he's dead. His eyes are open and I can't even see the slight—ever so slight—movement for his breathing.
Haku dipped his head. "Thank you very much."
Kakashi glanced back up at him. Haku continued, "I was looking for a chance to kill Zabuza."
Kakashi was silent for a moment before he spoke again. "That mask... if I remember correctly, you must be a hunter-nin from Kirigakure."
"You are very well informed," Haku murmured.
"Hunter-nin?" Naruto asked a little ways from us.
I answered him, "Hunter-nins are those who assassinate missing-nin, like Zabuza."
"Yes, I am a member of the pursuing ninja unit that hunt missing-nin," Haku confirmed.
Naruto then made his point at how young Haku was and how strong Zabuza was, yada, yada yada… Then Kakashi said his bad-ass line of, 'There are people in this world, younger than you, but stronger than me.'
Seriously. I almost died inside from my fangirl squeal.
I settled for grinning like mad when he said that and then quickly looked away when Sasuke noticed my grin.
Haku dropped down from his tree and grabbed hold of Zabuza's body saying he must dispose of his 'corpse'.
When he was gone, Naruto threw his temper tantrum. Kakashi stopped it and off we headed to Tazuna's house.
Not before Kakashi collapsed, of course.
At his collapse, I allowed myself a shriek of despair. I knew he'd be alright, but… come on, cut a girl some slack. Watching a favorite character go down, no matter the outcome, in real life is something no one should have to go through.
After dragging Kakashi back to Tazuna's house and placing him to bed, I set to work on Sasuke and Naruto.
Kakashi would be fine for the moment.
I rummaged through my pack before pulling out a medical training book and flipping through it. I then motioned over to Sasuke first. He seemed slightly hesitant, but in the end he allowed me to finish repairing his rib.
It was only bruised, not broken. If it had been broken, I wouldn't have been able to do shit. Repairing bones was a lot more harder and complicated than easing fatigue and repairing tissue damage. So I did the best I could by sending in waves of that awesome green chakra to reimburse his rib bone and take away the fatigue.
He gave me a slight nod as a thank you.
Next was Naruto. Who only suffered from very, very little fatigue. No doubt thanks to his Kyūbi. He gave me a grin and a thank you when I managed to suck away the rest of his fatigue.
And finally... Kakashi.
His was a lot more complicated since it dealt with fatigue from an overused Sharingan. I know what you're thinking—what's the difference between fatigue from Sharingan and fatigue via taijustu or exhaustion?
A huge one.
The Sharingan fatigue was from an over usage of a certain move requiring chakra. It was a strain on the chakra network.
Something of which I had no clue on how to heal.
Easing away fatigue from the chakra network was way more complicated and dangerous than just giving a boost of energy to the bones or muscles. It's more delicate than the nervous system. As such, there wasn't much I could do for Kakashi.
Because his chakra network was overused, it brought down his entire body. I could try and help ease the pain, but it would require a shit ton of concentration and time. Not to mention it would probably be best if he was awake.
That way if I was doing something wrong, I'd know right away as he would feel it and let me know. He couldn't do that if he was unconscious.
So instead, I sat by his rolled out mat with a book in hand and waited for him to wake up. The book I was reading was—as always—a medical volume dealing specifically for fatigue from the chakra network.
I had figured I had might as well see what I could do for him when he woke up. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long…
A low groan brought my eyes from my book to Kakashi. He slowly stirred in his bed. All at once, my book was down and I placed a hand firmly on his chest. In a flat tone I said, "Don't move. You're suffering from chakra fatigue. Most likely from your overuse on your Sharingan."
"Once more, Sakura, excellent deduction," Kakashi muttered, a sigh escaping his lips.
I beamed at his praise.
AH-HAH! YOU BROKE THE FOURTH WALL!
I have no idea what you're talking about.
Oh, screw you.
I looked up as Naruto walked in, followed closely by Tazuna, Sasuke and Tazuna's daughter.
"Sensei, you're awake," Naruto commented, grinning broadly.
"Hn. Obviously, Dobe," Sasuke muttered.
Before Naruto could make a remark I scolded both of them, "No fighting while Kakashi-sensei is feeling low. It'll only add more stress."
"Hn," Sasuke grunted. Naruto scowled.
"Anyway… just who was that masked guy?" Naruto asked, almost as an afterthought.
And thus began Kakashi's detailed explanation about the 'ANBU' for the Mist and yada, yada, yada. I kind of zoned out during it. After the explanation, things settled down.
Sasuke and Naruto were seated at the edge of Kakashi's mat, I sat beside him, frowning thoughtfully.
Time for more praise…
You have no shame.
"Kakashi-sensei?" I asked.
"Mmm?" Kakashi asked, sitting up slowly.
I kept my voice down as I talked. Naruto and Sasuke were occupied with another bickering spout. "It's about Zabuza."
"What about him, Sakura?" Kakashi asked, also keeping his voice down.
"It's just…" I gave a helpless gesture. "Something doesn't feel right. The whole situation seems off."
He was quiet for a moment before he spoke again, his voice barely above a whisper. "And why do you think that, Sakura?"
"It's just that… that masked guy… he said he was a hunter-nin and all but… if he was, all he needed to do was bring back the head as proof," I explained. "Also, the weapon that the boy used to kill Zabuza is questionable. It was just a long needle…"
I fell silent again. Kakashi didn't respond so I ventured out, "Am I wrong for questioning it, Kakashi-sensei?"
"No, no Sakura," Kakashi said, his voice coming to be a dry chuckle almost. "It's just that I was thinking something alarmingly close to what you were saying, just now. You really are a bright girl, Sakura."
I couldn't stop the small blush of pride that crossed my cheeks.
Don't ruin this for me.
Naruto glanced over at us. "Oi, Kakashi-sensei, what's wrong?"
Kakashi glanced over at me and I nodded my head before explaining, "We were just discussing about Zabuza's death. Didn't you find it odd?"
"Well yeah, he was just a kid like us—"
"Not like that, Naruto," I interrupted. "Like how if that masked guy was really a hunter-nin, why did he take the whole body? All he needed was a head. Not to mention the weapon he used to kill was certainly suspicious…"
"It was a long needle," Sasuke said quietly before his eyes widened in realization. "You don't think…"
I nodded my head. "Maybe."
"What? What is it?" Naruto asked, glancing between us.
"What are you guys talking about?" Tazuna asked.
Kakashi sighed. "Zabuza is still alive."
"WHAT?" Naruto and Tazuna exclaimed. Naruto's eyes were wide. "But… But you confirmed it and everything, Kakashi-sensei."
"I did. But most likely he was just in a near-death state," Kakashi said, then went into a more detailed explanation for the reasoning. Once more I zoned out.
I tend to do that a lot, don't I?
You only do that because you have a lazy authoress.
Then Kakashi explained how he was putting us through training after I commented lazily on how he was in no condition to fight.
That's when Inari decided to make his appearance. I stared at him indifferently as he insulted Naruto then claimed we were going to die.
I chose instead to read my book while Naruto and Inari got into a small shout fest and Inari left with Naruto right behind him…
"We are now ready to begin training," Kakashi said, leaning on a single crutch.
The four of us were standing in the middle of a small clearing Kakashi had led us out to. Though I did protest with him quite a bit about staying in bed, he seemed adamant in his decision.
"Before that, let me once again talk about chakra, the base for the ability as a ninja," Kakashi said. He then glanced at me. "Go ahead, Sakura."
I quirked an eyebrow, but gave Naruto the explanation of chakra. When I was finished Naruto commented on how they could do that stuff just fine and Sasuke agreed with him.
"No, you guys aren't able to use your chakra completely," Kakashi said. "Just listen up. Like Saukra said, molding the chakra means to extract energies from the body and the spirit then mixing them up. And the amount of each energy will differ in the element and body…"
I zoned out.
You admit that so shamelessly.
"…So you're going to climb a tree."
"Climb a tree?" Sasuke asked skeptically.
"That's right. But, it's not ordinary tree climbing. You're going to climb a tree without using your hands," Kakashi explained.
"And just how are we supposed to do that?" Naruto asked.
"Just watch," Kakashi said, forming the hand seal. He then walked over to a tree and climbed it vertically with just his legs. When he reached the top he spoke again. "That is how. Gather your chakra at the bottom of your feet and make it attach to the tree trunk. Something like this is possible with chakra control."
"How is that supposed to help us?" Sasuke demanded.
I snorted. "Chakra control is always helpful in every situation. This training is helping us by forcing us to mold our chakra in other places besides our hands, more specifically in the hardest place—the feet. If you two can learn how to do this much, you can learn any technique. In theory, at least."
"Well said, Sakura," Kakashi praised.
"Mn, but just lecturing isn't going to be enough. I need all of you to learn it with your bodies."
He tossed down three kunai that landed at our feet. "Use that knife to mark where you are able to climb up with your current ability. Then try to make a new mark above that mark. You guys aren't good enough to climb by walking so run to give yourself a good head start. Got it?"
Naruto grabbed his kunai and grinned. "This is going to be too easy."
Naruto then rushed forward, Sasuke following closely behind. I decided to ignore them, instead turning to Kakashi.
"Yes, Sakura?" Kakashi asked.
I gave a sheepish smile. "I already know how to do that."
"Oh? Care to show me?"
My smile turned into a grin as I walked over to the tree. I closed my eyes in brief concentration before I felt the small rush of warm chakra flow to my feet. I then put one foot on the tree and began walking. Pretty soon I was standing next to Kakashi, grinning.
"Very nice, Sakura," Kakashi amended. "Where did you learn to do that?"
"It was one of the first chakra control exercises Hinata-chan put me through," I explained.
"Aa, I'm not surprised, I suppose, considering you were already able to produce some medical training," Kakashi said. His eye crinkled in that famous eye-crinkle.
I was proud to say I managed to suppress my fangirl squeal.
He glanced at my two gaping team mates.
"That's amazing, Sakura-chan! I wouldn't expect anything less than the girl I have high hopes for!" Naruto exclaimed.
I quirked an eyebrow. Did they not hear that I already had training prior to this? Why are they gaping?
I doubt they were paying attention to yours and Kakashi's conversation. So most likely to them, you just managed to walk up a tree on your very first try.
I glanced at Kakashi, knowing how he was going to use that assumption to his advantage. I tuned out. I didn't want fake praise.
After being insulted, my two team mates decided to be all pumped up and ready to go. They gave it another go while I turned my attention to Kakashi.
"So," I drawled, "do you mind if I worked on my medical training on you instead?"
"Me?" Kakashi asked, tilting his head slightly.
"Yes, you," I answered, smiling cheerily. "You're the only one hurt at the moment."
"I suppose for now. What do you want to practice on specifically?" Kakashi asked.
I glanced around before pulling myself up on a sturdy branch and patting the spot next to me for Kakashi. He pulled himself up and sat down. "This way I don't have to worry about losing my concentration for the chakra on my feet when I use chakra on my hands."
"That's probably for the best," Kakashi agreed.
I pursed my lips. "Let's see…"
My brow furrowed in concentration as I felt the rush of chakra towards my hand. It flared a pale blue before flickering to a pale green. I then held it over Kakashi's shoulder.
I could feel the weary fatigue settling over his muscles and bones. The chakra network was causing an overload of stress on his joints and tissues. I couldn't directly repair the chakra network, but I could ease the indirect fatigue.
I closed my eyes and concentrated, focused entirely on pushing away the fatigue. It was difficult. It felt completely different from any other injury I've attempted to heal. Instead of having to concentrate and force my chakra into his body, I felt my chakra being sucked away.
The book warned me about this. Because of the chakra network's instability due to overuse, it would most likely to try to drain any direct chakra into it. This was one of the reasons why healing the chakra network was so dangerous. If I allowed my chakra to be sucked in by it, I could end up doing more damage than good.
So I had to forcibly push my chakra around the pull and pour it into his physical body, it was incredibly difficult. Imagine having a vacuum cleaner on, and you're holding out the sucking tube. Now imagine hold a thin, flimsy piece of paper pinched between your pinkie and your thumb. Then imagine holding that paper over the vacuum and not allowing it to be sucked in.
That's what it was like.
And after a while, my 'pinkie' was getting sore. I knew better than to push it. You don't want to take unnecessary risks when dealing with medical issues. So, I recalled my chakra and leaned back, my brow covered in sweat.
I lifted my right forearm and wiped it away.
I didn't realize I was panting.
Kakashi let out a small relieved sigh. "That feels much better, Sakura. Thank you."
"No problem," I muttered, slumping slightly. "I didn't realize easing fatigue from chakra overuse was so difficult."
Kakashi inclined his head slightly. "I would imagine so. The chakra network is the most delicate thing in the human body."
"True," I muttered, glancing down at my team mates. Both looked a little worse for wear. I didn't realize I had been healing Kakashi for so long.
"They certainly have high stamina," I commented. "I better give them a boost before they push themselves too far."
"Good idea, Sakura," Kakashi murmured.
"Oh!" I exclaimed, rummaging through my back pocket. "I had a feeling you'd be stuck here doing nothing for a while so…"
I pulled out my favorite sensei's perverted book and handed it to him. "I thought you had forgotten it on the way out—probably too distracted with the whole Zabuza thing—so I grabbed it for you."
His eye crinkled. I had a feeling he was smiling at me. "Thank you, Sakura-chan."
I beamed at the honorific before hopping down from the tree.
Just as I landed, Naruto glanced up from his latest defeat and headed over to me. "Ne, ne, Sakura-chan. Can you give me some tips? Don't tell Sasuke, though, ne, ne?"
I grinned. "Sure. While I'm at it, do you mind if I heal your bruises? I need more training too."
"'Course, Sakura-chan," Naruto said happily.
"Sit, please," I said.
Naruto plopped on the ground, crossing his legs. I placed my hand over his head and closed my eyes in concentration. As I healed away his physical fatigue and bruises, I absently gave him the requested tips. When I was finished with him, Naruto set back to work on attempting to climb the tree and I headed over to Sasuke.
Sasuke paused in his own training when I motioned him over.
"Sit," I commanded. He shrugged before sitting down on the grass, his legs crossed.
I rested my hand on his back and forced the warmth of my chakra to seep into him. He let out a small breath of relief when the tension in his muscles faded away. For a flash I felt a twinge of my own chakra falter before I pushed past it and continued the healing.
When I was finished with him, my breath came out in short shallow gasps. Between healing Kakashi, Naruto and him, I was pretty well spent.
"Hn," Sasuke muttered, his head dipping down in his own way of saying thanks.
I weakly lifted a hand and waved it off before he turned and went back to training. I stumbled over to a tree and plopped down, clenching and relaxing my fist.
Stamina for precise chakra control. Another thing we need to work on. Whoopee.
Goody. More training. I can't wait.
Idiot, I'm supposed to be the sarcastic one in this relationship. So go be optimistic—this is a good thing.
I mean it's good that we found the areas we need help in now, rather than later during the exams. Can you imagine going in the Forest of Death—only being able to heal roughly three times before your SOL?
I suppose that's true. But, how the hell can I improve endurance for holding chakra control? More specifically, holding endurance for medical chakra control?
There has to be more to it than that.
Well how the hell am I supposed to know? Look it up when we get back.
I suppose… still...
My breathing slowed back to its normal pace. I flexed my fingers as I watched my team mates work through half-lidded eyes. Naruto landed on his head once again.
I felt a sigh pass my lips.
At least I'll get plenty of practice while I'm here.
When will this story go AU? (Alternate Universe)
I want to do both parts of Naruto. Part I as well as Shippuden. I have to keep in mind that if I change anything too large so suddenly, I will lose track of major components of Shippuden. The changes I make will start subtle, but I guarentee you will see the major differences in Shippuden. Technically it will go AU around chapter 17, as that is when the changes will be more prominent but not so obvious-as I will not deter too drastically from the plotline. It will be entirely AU after the third or fourth chapter into Shippuden.
I tried (and trying) my hardest to keep this canon as possible. Please bear with me on this.
Also, thank you, everyone, who has been kind enough to leave reviews. And thank you, everyone, who has alerted and favorite'd this story so far.
I might update on Friday instead of next Tuesday. But even if I do or don't, another chapter will be posted next Tuesday.
Reviews are love.