Disclaimer: I do not own the series Naruto or any of the characters or concepts within it. I don't own Onimeno-sensei either; he's from another series entirely, and is merely twisted around to fit the premise of this story.
The Eyes Have It
Chapter 30: Destiny
Sakura kicked her legs back and forth idly, sliding her sunglasses back into place. "Look, it isn't that easy. I need more time to think it over."
Onimeno rolled his eyes and threw a pen at her. She was able to dodge it though, so he obviously wasn't as put out with her as it might have seemed. "Brat, this is not some intricate fuinjutsu exercise. Just pick a goddamn name already so I can register your eyes already, dammit!"
"I told you, it's hard!" Sakura, for the record, did not whine anymore. She left that to Kiba, who, as an honorary semi-canine, cornered the market on whining, growling, snarling, biting and puppy-dog eyes on their squad. Sakura protested, at a reasonable and downright lyrical tone. "It's like…like naming a baby, or something. A baby who will need to be enigmatic and awe-inspiring and amazing, okay? I can't just…pick something!"
"Sure you can," he scoffed. "You're being ridiculous."
"What did you name yours, then?" Sakura challenged, crossing her arms.
"The Oninome," he told her, without a hint of shame. "Didn't want to be lumped in with those high and mighty 'gan assholes and the rest."
"…" She gaped at him, before jabbing a finger at him accusingly. "No. No! That's…that's like cheating! I can't believe you actually named it that!"
Onimeno grinned smugly, cracking his neck. "Oh? Check the registry if you really don't believe me."
Sakura shook her head in disgust. "Just for that, I think I'll take another few weeks to settle on a name."
He let out a noise of disgust and tossed his clipboard away. "Ugh. Get out of my examination room then, if you're not going to fix my paperwork problem. Your eyes should be fine for the exam, try not to show them off visibly until the finals, if you die I'll kick your ass, blah, blah, blah…"
Sakura smiled softly as she hopped out of her chair, darting forward to hug the brute of a man. He went stiff for a moment, as though she had wrapped barbed wire around his waist instead of a pair of slender arms he could probably tear through like wet rice paper if he wanted to. "I'll be just fine," she assured him. "We're going to ruin everybody else."
Onimeno relaxed the tiniest bit, only to flick her hard in the forehead. "You better." He scowled. "I don't like investing my time into idiots who get themselves killed, Haruno." With that heartwarming sentiment, he shook her off in a less than rough sort of manner and set off down the corridor.
Sakura stood there for a long moment. Slowly, a smile spread across her face, and she all but skipped the rest of the way out, offering a cheery wave to the receptionist in the lobby as she passed.
"I feel kind of weird," Sakura mused, before biting into her second piece of fruit tart.
Kiba chewed furiously, then swallowed thickly before speaking. He was learning. "Pregnant-weird, sick-weird, or impending-crisis-weird?"
Sakura scowled at him and kicked at him, though not hard enough to dislodge him from the roof. Dawn was creeping its way across the village, as thick and golden and sluggish as honey. "Why are those always your first guesses?"
"Prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Kiba told her sagely.
"You stole that from Kurenai-sensei," Shino said, before he stole the last piece of their tart.
"Doesn't make it any less true," the other boy insisted.
Sakura rolled her eyes behind her sunglasses. "Well, no on all counts. It's…this is going to sound crazy, but have you ever felt like your exactly where you're supposed to be, but you took a totally different route to get there than you planned to?"
"…I'm pretty sure they call that 'life,'" Kiba said, before dodging her second kick with a laugh. "I'm serious! Look, what's more natural: crazy stuff happening, or every single thing going exactly according to plan?"
"Okay," Sakura ceded as she settled back. "You might have a point there."
"Is it a bad sort of weird?" Kiba asked, frowning as he discovered that the tin holding their shared breakfast was empty. "Like, do you have regrets or something?"
"No…" She stood and stretched, glancing back at the two of them as they followed suit. She smiled a little, mostly to herself. "No, I don't think I do. Come on; let's go grab some bandages from the supply place. Nakamura-san should be starting his shift, and he might have some freebies for Exam participants."
"Have we discovered any early targets?" Shino asked amiably as they skipped across the upper levels of the slowly stirring village.
"Oh yeah," Kiba's grin was all teeth. "There was a set of total clowns from Rain my sister had to escort to their quarters yesterday. Said she could practically smell 'genjutsu specialty' on them." Which, considering just who their instructor was, made the Rain team easy pickings if they didn't have something else up their sleeves.
"I found a team to avoid," Sakura added helpfully. "I passed by a squad from Sand yesterday; they were pretty creepy. Kept walking a bit and I found Hinata-chan trying to unruffled her teammates' feathers. I mean, Naruto can be hotheaded when it comes to pigeons, so that's nothing new, but Sasuke-kun actually looked…" Sakura wracked her brain for the right way to explain. "Tense. Focused. Like, the way he was after his Visit. That tense and focused."
Kiba let out a low, impressed whistle as they touched down in front of the shop. Though Visits were generally kept confidential, everybody in their class, even Naruto, had figured out when Sasuke had his Visit. For weeks afterwards he had been as tightly wound as a spring barely two seconds from snapping and had thrown himself into training like a boy possessed.
"We will proceed with all due caution, then," Shino said, selecting a few rolls of bandages to suit their needs.
"Always good to hear," Nakamura commented cheerfully, ringing up their normal purchases and slipping in a pack of smoke bombs and a sheaf of explosive tags with a discrete wink. They chatted with the kindly man for a time, accepting his last minute advice and well wishes with gratitude and respect. One did not offend the hand that passed a weapon into one's own, after all.
When they finally left the shop, the sun had fully broken past the horizon and people had begun to mill about. They would need to go to the Academy soon, but there was still one last tradition that had to be fulfilled.
They found an out of the way alley in a respectable but still deserted stretch of the village and faced one another in a loose triangle. Sakura took a deep breath, and started.
"No one is allowed to die."
"No one is allowed to get maimed." Kiba followed.
"No one is allowed to play the hero for the sake of the other two." Shino finished.
Now came the truly embarrassing part, and the reason for the need for privacy. The three of them linked their pinkies into a knot and shook on it to seal the deal, before hurriedly dropping their hands and strolling out of the alley, blank-faced and unruffled.
They were ready.
"Okay," Sakura sighed and adjusted her sunglasses. "Let's go wreck the competition."
Two pairs of shades glinted in terrible and resolute agreement. They would be just fine, but as for everybody else…
That was the fun part, wasn't it?
Chapter Word Count: 1,260
Total Word Count: 56,420
Targeted Word Count: 50,000
Well, folks, that's all she wrote.
Yes, this is abut two weeks late, and I'm very sorry if I worried any of you; there are two reasons for the delay, namely the fact that I had to play nursemaid to a series of friends who made poor life decisions or have the misfortune to have very poor immune systems, and then I faced my first ever set of College Finals.
I enforced a self-imposed exile from all forms of fanfiction, YouTube, Tumblr, and so on so I could study up. This chapter has been sitting half-finished for two weeks, since my idiot-friend first texted me her plea for help, and my last final was today. I'm exhausted, and I need to clean my dorm, but I didn't want to leave you all hanging any longer.
I have to say, I'm really blown away by just how much attention this story ended up receiving. As I type this, looking at the stats, TEHI has a gob-smacking total of 652 reviews, 325 Favorites, 371 Followers, 85,304 Views and has been added to 17 different Communities.
I never even dreamed it could be this popular.
So thank you, everybody who has read, reviewed, recommended and supported me for the duration of this story. I can't possibly articulate just how happy you've made me, and I hope I've managed to keep you all entertained in the meantime.
For the last time, I'd like to thank Haze Be It, Netag Silverstar, Anonymous, minniemousemom, Arkeus, anna012, Guest(#1), InARealPickle, MoonShadow396, The Keeper of Worlds, Wandering the Arid Sea, Andelevion, Guest(#2), Vesper, Toreh, romantiscue, Sinister Blossom, Ka, Vulpex, Beloved Daughter, Bondubras of Devoncroix, FlawlessCowboy2552, Higanbana, kakura sagami, Shockinblue, SilverIcy, sarah, LadyDream3512, Alyn the Miracle, Wren Truesong, wintersalad, blacKStreek, deathgeonous, juniperlei, FashionablyHospitable, oddman5, Cheshirette, psuedotothenym, HarmonyRose, mir, Guest(#3), Otakugal, Lunaaklipce143, Guest(#4), Caellach Tiger Eye, Loiosh311, OREI, 555, Guest(#5), Tourmaline82, angrypixels, Wandering Crimson Sage, phoebe turner, BiblioMatsuri, Guile, Copycat, Guest(#6), BakaFireKitsuneSama, Asarin159, Namino Ikumagi, Aista, PsyckoSama, KasonSama, Soraye, vantweet, brjosk, and everybody who has reviewed up until today.
It's been a pleasure, ladies and gentlemen.
Now, since I've gotten this question a lot, let me say this for the record: there WILL be a side story/one-shot collection for this series. And at some point there will be a sequel, but that lies in the far off future. But for now, this is it.
Happy holidays, everybody!