Summary: What if you woke up to a role so completely unfitting and with a future already made? With a contrasting mindset, knowledge in a convoluted mess and ambitions steered a different direction, this only completed the odd assembly that was the new Haruno Sakura. Welcome to her life. OC Self Insert.

Authors note: I wrote basically the whole chapter 30 and most of this one on my phone. My practicum was during that period, and I didn't have time to write except on my half an hour lunch break. It's really not my intention to make updates take so long to get out. Sorry (not sorry, mostly exasperated at myself) that life takes precedence sometimes. Thank you all for your patience! I have such wonderful and patient readers.

In any case, it wasn't my intention to make the former chapter have a horror vibe. But a lot of people thought so? I just wanted to make it realistic... Hm. It's so interesting reading your interpretation of my writing. It's always fun, so keep 'em coming!



Chapter 31

Bits of debris and soil brushed across my skin, stinging as it flew by over my head. Someone had blown up a rock wall that had ascended into the sky in a futile effort to bring more time to the civilians scattered.

Quite cynically where I was crouched, I thought that the Konoha shinobi should focus more on defending the village itself and not its inhabitants. At this rate, with fire raging across the forest and explosions rocking the ground, a few casualties were to be expected. But the sooner they eliminated the threat, the sooner their lives would be saved.

A simple equation, really.

"This way," I murmured over my shoulder, waving for my tagalong to change streets. The one I had planned on taking was a bit occupied it seemed.

That street would have been the fastest way to get to my house though. If it wasn't for my 'companion' then I could have charged in with the intention to help my fellow shinobi, exchange a few blows, and then duck out again to make my leave. Temari severely limited my options in that way. She couldn't be seen by anyone, and especially not in a way that made it seem she was friendly with me.

Maybe it was just easier to shrug her off. Or kill her and be done with it.

But then again, what would Naruto do?

A simple question but it had become almost like a mantra to me. What would Naruto do after having been turned into Kyuubi? Where would he go? And what would he do with Temari? And would he turn those wide disappointed eyes at me if I told him I refused to help someone who specifically asked me?

I resisted the urge to glance back. The teenager was following me, almost staggering if I didn't know she was too stubborn to show that much weakness to an enemy. Her chakra reservoir was nearly full but from what I could see, it was sluggish and entirely preoccupied with the wound in her midsection. A blow to that area hadn't helped matters for her, but neither had the invasion for me, so fair was fair.

Naruto would help her though, I reminded myself. Naruto was... well, he was Naruto. Did more need to be said?

Also, some semblance of friendship between Gaara and Naruto would come a long way in preventing another war the next fortnight. Who knew if another Kazekage would be inclined to treat the Land of Fire with anything but disdain?

My lips twitched. Politics, invasion and social bullshit. Let it not be said that I couldn't multitask when prompted of me.

I paused slightly at a cross section, back pressed against the wall as I closed my eyes. Temari followed suit, but I could feel her impatience while she shifted on her feet. I tried to ignore her and instead searched for familiar chakra. It proved fruitless though. Too much interference, too many people using their chakra, too much dust and debris flinging themselves into the air that distracted me. Another volley of chakra brushing across the ground made me grimace.

It was a small miracle that I had found someone I recognized in the midst of this. I felt Hyuuga, a few Nara and accompanying Yamanaka with Akimichi, some other clansmen I've met peripherally and plenty of ANBU my younger years had kept a paranoid eye on. But no Ino, Naruto, Shikamaru, Sasuke, Chōji or basically anyone else I wanted to meet. Instead, I met Temari.

"Where are we going?" She growled out.

I was sorely tempted to use my kusarigama on her. I wasn't a genocidal person by nature, but I was running on fumes at this point. Some tempting thoughts were bound to slip past Inner Sakura who had enough of a struggle containing my sensory overload. The chains around my waist were a reassurance either way.

I glanced back at her, nonplussed by her narrowed eyes. "Away from maiming." There was, unfortunately, a lot of that going on around here. Temari was proof enough.

Feeling that the battle that had been going on to my right had moved onto the roofs again, I ran out, ignoring Temari's stifled yelp. I made sure that I moved at a pace she could follow despite her wound, but otherwise I made no other accommodations. She would have to keep up if she wanted any help. I was under no obligation to help her find the brother that would have, under different circumstances, poisoned Shino and happily done the same on anyone in his way.

Besides my own priorities, I was wary of what I might find the sand siblings doing.

Naruto was certainly not Kyuubi at the moment, since that would have been obvious from anywhere in the village, so that begged the question on what had happened. Temari was hurt. She was hurt badly enough that she practically reeked of desperation, and Gaara? Well, he was off rampaging and flinging chakra everywhere.

What happened?

My feet kicked up dust as I sharply turned another corner. I didn't bother glancing over my shoulder. It had been a close call, a group of sound shinobi almost catching sight of us from their vantage point inside a building. Scavenging, most likely.

They weren't who I was cautious of.

I skidded to a halt and slid behind a street vendor's stall, gesturing for Temari to follow suit.

She stopped running, but her expression was anything except convinced when she eyed my hiding place. Her lips pursed and her nose twitched. I gestured again, impatient. Temari cautiously took a step forward, but at that point I was beyond fed up with her. Jumping up and pulling her down with me, I forced her to her knees. "Shut up," I told her. When she opened her mouth, I insisted, "No, really. Shut up."

She made an noise at the small space she was crammed into anyway, and I huffed, angling myself so that her elbow wasn't digging into me. I pushed her lightly so that her shoulders and back were covered by the thigh-high walls and curled myself against her. The less chance of success for those aiming with a kunai, the better. I wasn't overly concerned by the fact that this position made my face press against the coarse wood since visibility didn't matter that much to me. Temari stilled though, perhaps out of sensibility or confusion, which I appreciated nevertheless.

The fight in my periphery had just entered the same street as us, barely distinguishable over all of the other loud fights. A torrent of water exploded out of one shinobi's mouth, countered by jumping and rock spikes being shot at at the attacker. They came steadily closer to us as they jumped on the rooftops.

They hadn't exactly been who I had expected while hiding, so I had a split-second where I doubted my choice before it was too late.

Temari's muscles clenched and her hand made an aborted motion towards her back. She must have glimpsed one of the shinobi that had ducked low to avoid a whip of water.

"Know them?" I whispered.

She snorted, the sound drowned out by an explosion in the distance. Who kept making them anyway? "Hell no. I'm not that versed into the plan." Her mouth shut with a click, and I knew by that reaction that I wasn't the only one spilling more information than planned. But at this point, despite the changes, I was probably the one with more knowledge on the situation at hand. "Why aren't you heading straight for Kankuro anyway?" She hissed at last.

I tilted my head slightly so my cheek was resting against her shoulder. "You wanna lead the way?" When she didn't answer, I closed my eyes wearily. "We need to make a stop first. You don't have any weapons, do you? I'm also not that fond of getting accused of treachery."

Temari was tense against me. She held her breath and I could sense her agitation clearly.

Leaving her to it, I stretched out my senses.

The fight was ongoing, neither side gaining any significant advantage against the other. One side was probably from Konoha. Maybe if they threatened to reveal our hiding spot, or if they stayed more than a couple of minutes, I could jump in and do some of that teamwork we were apparently famous for.

"I won't go down for treason."

I shushed her.

Temari apparently took that as a challenge, because she drew up and made sure to dig her fingers against my kidney. I winced. "I'm going to find my brother and then beat him over the head for splitting us up in the first place. Treason," she hissed quietly, "should be the least of my concerns so just –"

I descended my whole body, pinning her to the ground with my admittedly small weight. "Shut. Up."

The battle of the rock and water type shinobi were loud enough that I could forgive her for not hearing the new contestant, but it didn't lower my alarm in the least. A shinobi that I could identify as a Inuzuka for the sole reason a large dog accompanied them had joined the fray, efficiently combining their attacks with the water spouting shinobi. It might even be Kiba's mother, since I could vaguely recognize the woman that snarled at the other man.

It was her that I had worried about in the first place. They shouldn't be able to sense us if we stayed still and their nose should be confused from all the new scents in their village.

Problem was –

I reached out an arm and in the most simple of coding languages, I tapped out 'Enemy' against her thigh, hoping Temari would understand despite our schooling differences. Inuzuka had stopped moving on the roof, head angled to the side. Problem was that they had excellent hearing and I doubted I could fool them with either a genjutsu or by sneaking past.

I found myself urging for a distraction.

As if in answer to my prayers, the rock type shinobi staggered to his feet before fleeing. Or was it retreating since the shinobi seemed to aim for one of his allies? Either way, the water shinobi and Inuzuka with her dog took chase.

Temari shuddered out a breath alongside me. That had been too close.

Climbing off her, I offered her a hand when I stood up. Her eyes were becoming a little glazzy, her skin damp around her neck, so I wasn't surprised when she took my hand without a word.

Proud, proud shinobi. Would that be the downfall of us all?

"Let's go."

I had set a fast pace towards the civilian area with no more interruptions, so it took at most ten minutes to reach my destination. My feet slowed down without my approval the closer I came to my house. The urgency I had that kept pushing me was gone, leaving a heaviness that pulled my shoulders down.

No one was at home.

I hesitated briefly at the door before I pushed it open, noting that it had been unlocked. Was that a good or bad thing? It was hard to tell.

"Are we breaking and entering now?"

"It's my house," I informed her. Temari paused at the threshold, her steps faltering slightly, before she followed without a comment. I glanced back. "Go upstairs, first room to the right. I'll be there shortly with a first aid kit."

I ignored the almost palpable accusing gaze Temari sent me towards the back of my head while she slowly went up the stairs. My room would probably be the safest place to be in the house. It had a few traps along the wall, the window faced out towards a tree that would block anyone's sight up and my room was generally the first and last place I wanted a enemy-nin inside. If she didn't like it, she was free to run along.

I wandered into the living room, lips pursed at the sight of stray papers on the floor. A cup with cooled tea was on the table, a pillow placed beside it and the carpet underneath had been bent at the corner. It looked like my parents had been in a hurry. No signs of a fight though. Considering that my parents were civilians and that my mother was heavily pregnant, that wasn't much of a comfort. It wouldn't have been a fight with them.

I could have just as easily lured them out and killed them as any other random genin.

Searching for any other signs of the living on the bottom floor, I quickly moved upstairs when I found none. They weren't on the street, that much I could sense, so I hoped they had taken shelter underground. Seals at every entrance and tunnel stopped me from reaching out and checking. It had been a small miracle that I had stood inside the tunnel when it almost collapsed on the Academy students.

In this mess, everything that didn't result in pain was a small miracle.

Making a short stop at the bathroom, I went inside my room to find Temari slightly swaying where she sat on my bed. She immediately straightened when she saw me though. Her eyebrow went up. "We having a slumber party now, friend? I admit, I expected more pink."

My room was spartan in its decoration. Bed, wardrobe, desk and a book shelf. All of it in neutral colors. What more was needed?

"You're welcome to find your own brother if you don't find the accommodations up to your standards, esteemed kage daughter."

"How did you –" She bared her teeth. "I'm liking you less and less."

"Pity." I sat the kit down on my desk and began laying out what I would need to treat her wound. No use having her die on my bed, now was it? Not that I could dredge up that much bother if she did. "Does that mean you don't want a slumber party with me?"

And apparently I needed to relearn how to filter my mouth. Inner Sakura wasn't helping with that at the moment.

Temari stared at me, eyes narrowed. They shifted to my hands when I came towards her with a roll of bandages, thread and needle. "What are you doing?"

"I had the sudden urge to make you a doll," I deadpanned. Her eyes narrowed further. "Lie down," I instructed.

She stared at me for a long moment before she grudgingly did as told. Perhaps she remembered that I wasn't above shoving her if my patience ran out.

Sitting down beside her, I placed the equipment I needed on my knees and reached forward to untie the sash. She gave a small whimper that she immediately squashed by biting into her knuckles. The blood had clogged underneath but when I unbuttoned her dress and shifted it to the side, I saw that the wound was sluggishly bleeding again. I unbuttoned the mesh shirt and my hands slipped underneath her to properly tug it all the way up. There was no blood at her back, so whatever that had hit her hadn't gone straight through. Wiping away the worst of the blood at her stomach with a clean part of the red sash, I took out the distilled needle and thread.

"Do you even know what you're doing?"

Temari was watching me warily. I wasn't that bothered by it.

"Don't worry. I would have killed you by now if I was going to."

She jerked back a little, eyes widening before the expression quickly morphed into a crooked smile. "You know what? That does make me more at ease."

Her chakra betrayed her though. I spared a glance to watch how she breathed in deep and prepared for the worst.

Proud, I couldn't help but think. Always so proud.

Spreading out numbing chakra against her stomach, I tried to heal up the worst of it. A few of her organs were bruised, but nothing had been pierced. And somehow, none of her major arteries in that area had been broken. From what I could tell, my punch had done more damage to her general health than the weapon that had sliced up her stomach.

Very precise cuts... They roughly aligned into a midpoint against her stomach. No wonder it had bled so much.

Taking out the needle from its packaging, I sewed up the surface cuts in an easy up and down motion. I had never sewed skin before, never really had a reason to, but I kept that little tidbit of knowledge to myself. Temari had already lost too much blood and didn't have time for any hesitance on my part. Despite the skin's resistance against the needle, it was almost like sewing a pillow shut. A bloody, breathing and glaring pillow. Almost the same.

I leaned back and absently wiped my hands against my shirt. The wound might get an infection, the cuts were deep, scarring was a high possibility and I had left the swelling bruises alone in a need to preserve my own chakra.

Otherwise, she would be fine. Probably.

"Hah," she huffed out, "and now you're a iryo-nin too. Color me surprised."

"Not really," I murmured while taking out the bandages. "Learned a bit because it was useful. I'm mainly a sensor." My fingers left small, red fingerprints against the edges as I spread the bandage out against her stomach. She grimaced when I directed her to either roll or sit up, which she decided on the latter with an accusing stare. With easier access to her stomach and back, it was hardly any trouble at all to navigate around her dress with the bandage. It would have been easier if she had taken her clothes off, but I doubted Temari would have done so if I had asked.

She winced again when I rolled the last bit of bandage around her. "Sure you aren't trying to kill me?"

"Not this time around." Pulling her mesh shirt a little bit higher, I took the moment of distraction my words had caused to tighten her bandages. Temari hissed between her clenched teeth. "I'm honest," I said, shrugging. Why was it that no one seemed to believe me when I had yet to tell a blatant lie? "The moment your hands stopped touching my arm, I could have broken you like you threatened to do to me. Swung my kusarigama out and killed you."

I jumped easily back from her lunge and watched impassively as she stifled a groan, curling over her stomach and slowly sinking back to the bed. The bandages now had red dots spreading out on them.

"I'm honest," I repeated. "So don't worry. You're not getting killed by me."

When Temari looked up at me, her teeth were clenched and her skin was clammy as she smiled tightly. "I'm beginning to believe you. Thank you."

Again, her chakra betrayed her unease.

Again, I didn't care that much. In a way, she was the enabler for this whole invasion. If anything happened to my friends, to my family... she could be blamed without any sort of guilty conscience.

"You're welcome," I returned politely. Turning around to the door, I paused slightly before I left her alone. "I don't take well to threats."

I closed the door firmly behind me.

I startled when I felt familiar chakra streaking across the street at a fast run. He ducked and weaved through any rubble on his way, seemingly ignoring and being ignored by everyone else towards his goal.

I slammed the fridge shut and rushed to the door, opening it just in time to catch Naruto barrelling into me.

He immediately scrambled off me and held my arms so I wouldn't fall. "Sakura! You're here!"

I grabbed his arms in turn. "What happened? Are you alright?"

"Are you alright?" Naruto peered at me. "We couldn't find you at the Academy."

"We were ordered to evacuate the Academy. I left to find you." I waved the whole trip away. He wasn't having it though, face scrunched into a heavy frown. I was more interested in what he had done. Who cared about me? "What about –"

A crash was heard from above.

Naruto glanced up and then at me. I heaved a sigh.

Reluctantly, I released my fingers one by one. Naruto seemed just as reluctant as me to release his grip but his hands slipped away after a moment of hesitation. Motioning for him to follow, I led him inside my bedroom. It seemed that Temari had awoken from unconsciousness. Blood loss could do that to people. Having snagged a water bottle on my way, I didn't waste time with words and simply chucked it at her head the second I entered.

I noted her reflexes hadn't deteriorated much.

"Who's this? Wait, is that–? Sakura?" He turned to me. "Why do you have an enemy shinobi in your bedroom?"

Wasn't that the question of the day?

"Naruto, meet Temari. Temari, meet my teammate. And yes, I do need him if we're going to even have a chance of finding your brother." He's also the reason I didn't kill you, I didn't add. Temari was quietly contemplating though, so maybe she understood some of it.

"Um, hi? Nice to meet a non murdery Suna shinobi?"

Her hand twitched. She scowled back at him. "Can't say the same."

He squinted at her. "Um, have I met you before?"

"That's a lame pickup line."

"No no! That's- it wasn't..." After a few seconds longer of staring at a completely unimpressed Temari, Naruto turned back to me. I held up a hand to forestall any words he might say.

"Don't. We can't trust her that much." His mouth clicked shut, and disgruntlement flashed across his face. I shrugged in answer. I could get the whole story out of him later. First of all, we needed to regroup. "We'll talk more in depth later. But first, where's Sasuke?"

"That's just the thing!" Naruto burst out. He winced immediately after, eyes flickering across the room before he leaned forward and lowered his voice. "I'm with Sasuke. Or, the me that's the original me. So yeah, he's fine. We were looking for you, so the original me made a bunch of me and spread out everywhere."

"... You're a clone."

I tilted my head to the side. I hadn't noticed a difference.

Naruto's clone nodded rapidly. "And now that I've found you, we must get you to the real me and Sasuke."

"How?" That had been my problem from the start. I wasn't able to find him even after making a detour across the area I had first sensed the Kyuubi and consequently the border station. Gaara was at the moment rampaging across that place, so I couldn't begin to describe my relief that I was speaking to the evidence he hadn't been crushed underneath giant feet. "Do you know where to find them?"

I could maybe, and it was a big maybe, find him nearby if I was allowed to pause and really concentrate on his signature. But in this chaos where activity was everywhere, I would be more likely to find him by throwing a stone and crossing my fingers. And with Naruto's clones scattered everywhere, that statement was more than true. It was hard enough locating the original Naruto on a calm practice day.

I frowned.

"... I don't know where he is," the clone admitted, dismayed.

Naruto swiveled his head, face scrunched while he tried to think of an alternative solution. We were in a bit of a dilemma then. He would never be able to find the original Naruto in this kind of mess. If I knew him right, they didn't have a meeting point and neither had my teammate bothered with telling his clones where he would begin his search. Nevermind that I couldn't possibly sense him in this den of activity.

That doesn't leave me with much.

"I never did tell you about the kage bunshin, did I?"

He blinked at me, confused. Then he lit up. "Great idea! You make a kage bunshin too and then we can search for Sasuke!"

That would be needless and entirely too much like a guessing game. Besides, I wasn't sure if I could manage that feat again. It would be draining, and at this stage, I think I would need anything I could spare for later.

I shook my head at Naruto. "No. I never told you about a certain feature of the jutsu you're using..." I hesitated slightly. I never told him because of Sasuke, thinking that maybe we could all learn something together or that Kakashi would teach us something new. Unlikely now, but hoping was for the hopeful.

My hand drifted down to my pouch.

Stepping closer to him, I intoned, "Every clone has the capacity to remember transpired events." When that didn't clear his expression, I leaned closer, almost whispering into his ear. "You will remember where I am if you dispel."

"Will I?" He turned his head slightly to me, eyes wide in wonder. His chakra bounced in confusion, though I noted with some discomfort that he trusted me. He would believe me no matter what.

The complication lied in that this would be his first attempt at this and I didn't have time to explain it all to him. Preferably this would have gone down with Sasuke too and original Naruto for the message to sink in. A battle field wasn't ideal. Add to that his age of twelve opposed to the slightly more focused sixteen he had been in the manga, and I felt a recipe for disaster incoming. Being in the middle of an invasion would only make him too focused to sparse through any revelation a clone would send him subconsciously.

If continued use of kage bunshins for the entirety of his shinobi career hadn't made him realize that he could absorb their information, telling a clone so now wouldn't make him any more informed.

Naruto would need a major shock to his system for the message to stick.

Despite telling myself this, I had to flex my hand a few times before it would obey me.

"So how do I–"

"I hate ramen," I said into his ear. Naruto jolted, mouth dropping open but before he could rationalise the statement into the lie it was, my body had already moved. Shifting back, I swiped against his throat. There was no resistance. The kunai sliced effortlessly through the skin and was already on the other side of his head before the clone dispelled with wide shocked eyes.

Naruto would certainly remember this.

"... I was wrong." Temari had an eyebrow raised. She sounded almost impressed. "That was cutthroat."

"Shut up," I told her without looking.

Twirling the kunai, I wondered if I should drop it or something. It felt wrong to use a weapon that I had killed a teammate with. But then again, it was a clone and I didn't actually kill him. There was no blood either. Did that make it alright?

I put it back into my pouch.

Turning around towards Temari, I raised an unimpressed eyebrow to mimic her former expression. "And did you just make a pun. Really?" In this situation?

She raised her hands, wincing slightly from the muscles that pulled at her wound. "Surprised, is all. Didn't think any Konoha-born had it in them."

There was so much I could answer to that. First of all, I wasn't technically born here. Also, I had Haruno family spread out a bit here and there on the map that would probably take offense at being defined by their land and not clan. Third, this village was one of the top five shinobi strongholds and this country in particular was one of the few better off after the war. We were a tropical landscape with a history of clans duking it out against each other in battles that were remembered to this day. Which part of that meant I couldn't dispel a clone when it was needed?

In the end I answered with my silence and motioned for her to lie down again. We weren't going anywhere until my two teammates came. She might as well rest.

The time in the interim was spent searching through my house for the few shinobi stashes I had hid in an emergency. Money, which I left alone, and weapons that I gratefully refilled my pouch with. Taking out two spare pouches, I filled them too with sharpened kunai and shuriken. I debated giving Temari one of them, but in the end I strapped them both to my left leg. If it was needed, I could give her them later. She had dozed off again and could hardly use them at the moment anyway.

Could I trust her though?

Good question, but I didn't really have an answer for it. Her goal to find Kankuro made her desperate enough that I could, if nothing else, trust her to do anything for that goal. Desperate enough to ask me, at least.

I rested my hand at the chains around my waist. Finding him would be the tough part, but if it meant some kind of ally in the future, then it was probably worth it. Temari held a political acumen from her heritage along with her sibling status with Gaara. Keeping her alive was worth the trouble.

Especially since I knew Naruto was alive and coming.

I tapped the weighted end of the kusarigama with my eyes closed, peering out at the street and waiting.

And waiting.

When they finally came, I had given up counting the minutes. I simply opened the door for Naruto who bounded in first, throwing his arms out around my neck and giving me a hug. Sasuke walked sedately forward behind him and closed the door. He didn't say anything, didn't move to hug me, but his stance softened after I nodded at him. It was good to see him again.

I briefly squeezed Naruto before moving back from him so I could properly see them both. "You got my message?" My eyes strayed unwillingly to Naruto.

He grinned. "You were lying, right? You don't hate ramen."

I nodded slowly. "I don't hate ramen. It's... okay."

"Blasphemy!" He gasped.

Sasuke reached out and slapped Naruto on the back of his head. "Don't use too big words for your small mouth."

"But she said she hated ramen," he whined. Of course that would be what he got hung up about. My lips quirked without my permission, a small huff of laughter following. Naruto beamed. "See, teme? Told you I knew where she was."

"We'd already searched here," he pointed out sensibly. Sasuke raised an eyebrow at me. "Where have you been?"

"At the Academy, was evacuated, went to find you, was waylaid by someone and then went here," I explained shortly. "What about you? I couldn't find you at the border station."

"We must have missed each other."

Naruto tapped his fist into his open palm. "Right. That reminds me." He made a crossed hand sign, closed his eyes briefly to concentrate, before he blinked up at us again. "What? I forgot to dispel my clones."

"Right." Sasuke repeated. He twitched. "And how many chakra intensive kage bunshin did you make now again?" He held up a hand to waylay Naruto when he opened his mouth. "Don't answer. It was rhetorical."

I tilted my head. "What happened to you then? You didn't answer."

Sasuke shook his head. He gave me a small apologetic glance when I narrowed my eyes. "That can wait. We ran into Kakashi-sensei and he gave us a mission. We're going to round up the genin who graduated with us and take over for the current shinobi battling the Ichibi. No matter what, we're going to herd it away from the civilian area."

"What?" I stood straighter. "Why?" That doesn't make sense. While the invasion was hard on our shinobi resources, I think they could spare the jōnin and chūnin currently battling the Ichibi. And besides, Gaara was only asleep. It wasn't the actual Ichibi out despite its heavy chakra spilling. Why should genin battle it?

I shot a brief glance at Naruto.

"I can't come with. Not really." I sighed.

Motioning for them to follow me up, I again showed Naruto into my bedroom and the teenager lying on it. Sasuke didn't say a word, but it was clear to me that he wanted an explanation. So I gave it to them. I explained that I had met Temari, that she was injured and that she desperately wanted to find her brother. I smoothed over the section where I technically assaulted her first and the accompanying info dump.

Sasuke gave Temari a dubious look. "She wants our help? And you're going to help her? Just like that?"

"I think it's admirable. Of course we should help her."

Sasuke brushed Naruto's comment away by staring at me instead. I resisted the urge to shuffle awkwardly. Instead I stared back with my head held high. "I made a promise. Who knows, maybe she can help with the Ichibi problem."

Temari winced where she laid. Served her right for eavesdropping so long.

Sasuke grabbed my arm, frowning at me. "We're not splitting up."

"No, we're not," I agreed. Sasuke's fingers twitched in surprise. "I'm simply making a statement. I can't follow you, and apparently, you can't follow me because sensei gave the mission directly to you." I dragged my gaze across the people collected in my bedroom. Temari had propped herself up on the pillow again, mouth pursed. They were all looking at me like I was the one to direct their movements. As if I would lean forward any moment now and tell them a story of bravery and tragedy. In a way, that was true. The future had been unmade by my presence. We could choose our own way now.

How would the story go?

"What now?"

A/N And the arc of the Invasion continues. At the personal front, I'm battling with a Psychology exam and my next half a year in Uni will be spent in English classes with transfer students. Hopefully, it will go well. So on that note, I wish everyone a great next year. I think that no matter how our situation is at the moment, as a fellow human being, we can only wish for better.

I would love to hear anything and everything you thought about this chapter. Or my story in its entirety, if you prefer. I'm not picky.

All the well wishes to you my readers. Silent or commenting, thank you for sticking through with me. Stay artsome. See you all at the next chapter!