A.N. Thank you for all the great reviews and suggestions. I planned on doing an omake at the end of this chapter but got a little tired. I will do one soon.
Pink Parasite 3
When Sakura told her mother of the C rank mission the woman quietly went to the kitchen and brought out two packets. Each held three soldier pills. "Give one to Naruto," she said. Sakura pocketed them and looked up at her mother, trying to get the words that were stuck in her throat out. She was so frightened of what could happen away from home.
"Mom...what if-" she began but stopped when her mother raised her hand.
"Sakura, this is an opportunity. If you're lucky you will fight enemy ninja. This is the best time to steal techniques. If we are very, very lucky you will find someone with medical knowledge," her mother said with a smile.
Sakura was stunned. Of course, what was she expecting? Her mother to hug her and tell her to stay safe at home? When it came to her new condition her parents were ruthless. They wanted her to become powerful and self-sufficient as fast as possible. Her mother had done everything in her power to make Sakura feed on Naruto. She had gone out of her way to encourage her to spend time with the boy to build bonds. If her parents could use her teammate so easily why would they hesitate about enemy shinobi. "H-hai," Sakura breathed and dropped her gaze.
Her mother kneeled and kissed her masked cheek. Sakura could feel the warmth of her lips through the cloth which sparked a pit of hunger in her stomach. She jerked back, hating herself. Her mother gave her an understanding look. "Sorry, Sakura, I guess the bloodline is getting stronger." She sighed and stood up. "Go on and good hunting."
Sakura simply nodded and ran out of the house with her gear.
Sakura arrived at the village gates with soldier pills secreted in her pocket. A failsafe her mother had purchased so that she didn't lose control. Her mother had also advised her to drain any ninja she ran into. As long as I can do it without Sharingan no Kakashi being any the wiser. Tall order.
A drunk older man was standing by the guardhouse and there was no one else. He gave her a slow onceover and went back to his drinking. Perv, Sakura thought. Soon the familiar presence of Naruto registered on her radar. He continued to surprise her with his growth. He kept increasing his chakra reserves even though she kept feeding on him daily. She herself was comparable to some of the stronger chunnin around the village and it was all thanks to Naruto.
The only downside of her constant feedings was that she had to do chakra control exercises to maintain her precise control. Luckily, she had Naruto's boundlessly enthusiastic company on those boring exercises. Her Inner made sure to assimilate that part of Naruto's psyche whenever she touched him. They were well past water walking and were now focusing on walking up waterfalls. She hoped their increase in skills would be enough.
"Hey, Naruto." She waved when he got close enough.
"Are you excited?" Naruto grinned at her and she smiled back. "Finally, I can leave the village and go on an adventure." Suddenly he lost his smile and sidled up to her to whisper, "I sent clones to the library to look up info on Wave and also begged the old man for intelligence reports from Wave."
Sakura patted him on the shoulder. She was happy that he remembered her mentioning that particular use of his shadow clones. "Nice, did Hokage-jiji give in?"
He nodded. "Only information classified 'B' level and below. He said Wave wasn't a…a…" He scrunched up his face to recall. "Strategic something so he would let me see 'B' level info."
"You've got to do something about your memory, Naruto. What's the point of having shadow clones if you don't remember crap."
"Wah! Don't be mad, Sakura-chan, I'm trying."
"Try harder," she snapped. She couldn't wait to have reserves like his so she could do mass shadow clones. She only knew the version which produced one clone. She was afraid of trying the mass jutsu because of its chakra cost. "Oh, Kakashi-sensei and Sasuke-kun are close," she said noticing them via her hunter sense.
In a couple of minutes Kakashi ambled into view with Sasuke behind him. "Ah, I see you've met Tazuna-san already, our client," Kakashi said as he reached them.
The drunk man Sakura had noticed walked toward them with a scowl. "I asked for ninja, what's up with the brats?"
"Maa, don't worry, I'm a jounin and we're just protecting you from wild animals and bandits," Kakashi said.
"Even so, these are some weird kids. Why is that pink-haired boy wearing a skirt? Why does he have pink hair?" Tazuna demanded.
Sakura felt heat rise to her face and she leapt at the man. "I'm a woman, you perverted drunkard!" Her fist met his face and sent him straight through Konoha's main gate. Naruto howled in laughter at the dust cloud where the man had rolled to a stop.
"Sakura!" Kakashi snapped. "You don't hit a client." He hurried over to check on Tazuna.
Sasuke grinned and put a hand on Sakura shoulder. That effectively brought her out of her rage. Her crush was touching her! "Good job, Sakura," Sasuke said.
"Yeah, Sakura-chan." Naruto laughed, holding his stomach. "That was priceless. I can't wait to tell jiji."
And with that wonderful start they set out on their first C class mission.
Tazuna had a purple bruise forming on his face and was understandably sulking. Sakura didn't mind at all even though she had gotten reprimanded by Kakashi-sensei. It had been a few hours since they had started their painfully slow walk toward wave. At the least Naruto was being entertaining. What with the random blurting out of facts about Wave.
"And sometimes they eat snails. It's a delicacy. Gross," Naruto said. "Also, it's a big shipping port. Some big shot Gato has settled down there."
"That's nice," Sakura said only half listening.
"Oh there has been a noted increase in bandit activity along the cost," Naruto said happily. "How was that, Sakura-chan? I remembered it word for word."
"Good job, Naruto. I guess we might have to fight bandits then," she said.
"Finally," Naruto agreed. "Oi, what're you choking on, old man?"
Sakura cast her eyes away from the road to look at the man's pale face. He did seem to have seen a ghost. She was about to question him too when she felt two chakra signatures ahead. They were too strong to be civilians but nowhere near Kakashi-sensei's level. As they walked around a turn in the road she saw the source of chakra. It was a puddle. Confused now, she wondered if her hunter sense was messing up.
She wanted to point it out to her sensei but that would give away her sensor ability. So she stayed quiet but wary. Naruto was skipping ahead and when he went by the puddle without issue she felt relieved. It must be something I ate, she thought morbidly. As she walked past it the hunter sense for food spiked. Chakra level of the puddle rose. With a gasp she whirled around to see her sensei butchered to pieces by a shuriken chain.
"Kakashi-sensei!" she screamed and her hunter sense roared food, enemy at her. She had never known hunger like she knew it then. There were two Kiri nin running at her. They were saying something but she couldn't hear it over her hunger's keen of 'food, enemy.' In a shunshin she was upon one of the two. She didn't even know when she had taken off a glove. With one hand she shoved a kunai through the joint between the man's rebreather and neck. With her other bare hand she grabbed the shinobi's exposed skin around his eyes. "I'm going to eat you alive!" she growled.
The man gurgled, drowning in his own blood from the kunai she had stabbed in his throat. He was losing his life force to her hand faster than anything she had experienced before. She wanted to drain him and leave him a husk. There was noise behind her but she didn't pay attention. In the back of her mind she could feel Sasuke and Naruto battling the other Kiri nin. Naruto knew shunshin and the grand fireball jutsu, he had used the latter to destroy Team 10's training ground. She was certain he could hold off the scum until she was ready to eat him.
"Sakura, Sakura, you can let go. He's dead," Kakashi-sensei's voice broke through the fog of 'hunger, enemy, food, die' in her head.
"Kaka-sensei," she choked out. "You're ok?" She unclenched her hands holding the kunai and the Kiri-nin's face and hugged her sensei around the middle.
Kakashi-sensei patted her on her head. "Shh, it's alright, Sakura-chan. You did good."
"Why did you do that, Baka-sensei, I thought you'd died," Sakura sniffled in his vest. She wondered why she hadn't been able to sense him through her hunter sense. Usually she was able to.
"I'll kill you, you little bitch. I will hound you to Hell if I have to!" a voice screamed and broke into Sakura's moment with her sensei.
She stepped away from Kakashi-sensei and saw the other Kiri-nin wrapped in ninja wire and burned badly. It looked like Sasuke had gotten to him. The Sakura of only a few weeks ago would have cringed at the hate and killing intent coming from the man. But this Sakura still saw only food and an enemy. As she had learned in the last minute, if her hunter sense classified anyone under both of those categories, they were as good as dead. "You tried to kill my sensei. You're lucky my teammates got to you before I did. I'll be happy to slaughter you too."
"Ne, Sakura-chan, could you ease up on the KI?" Naruto said. She looked at him to find him sweating a little and giving her a nervous look. Sasuke nodded to her in respect.
"Sorry, Naruto, I…sorry," Sakura said and walked away, suddenly losing the edge that came on her with the hunger. She rested her back against a tree and watched dispassionately as Kakashi-sensei went about interrogating the Kiri-nin and Tazuna. Her body was shaking a little from the adrenaline rush. She couldn't believe she had drained a man to death. It was so surreal.
So how's the haul, Inner?
Shut up and let me concentrate. I'm fighting this bastard's psyche. You just had to go and drain a Kiri-nin who are known to be relentless.
Shit, can you handle him? Sakura asked, panicking.
I'm the biggest bitch in this house, Outer. Don't ask stupid questions.
Sakura smiled to herself. Inner could be a pain but she wouldn't know how to live without her.
It seemed that the drunkard had lied to them. Kakashi wanted to turn back but the boys were adamant about continuing. Sakura didn't much care for the liar but she recalled her mother's advice and asked to continue as well. Even though she had lost control for a moment, the chance of eating other enemy nin was too good to ignore.
After all, she had three new skills added to her repertoire. She could now use a chain to fight, use the 'Hiding in Water' technique their enemies had used to hide in a puddle, and also make water clones. She wondered if Naruto would want to learn any of the water jutsu. She giggled at the thought of Naruto trying the hiding in water technique and creating a lake instead of a puddle.
"Shh, there's a reason we aren't using a motor on this boat to take you across," Tazuna's friend whispered angrily. He was the one taking them across the water to Wave.
Kakashi-sensei motioned her over. Sakura left her place at the front of the boat with the boys to move back to her sensei. He rested a hand on his shoulders and spoke quietly, "How are you holding up, Sakura-chan?"
"I'm good, sensei. Why?" she asked.
"You haven't reacted to your first kill. I was like you, you know. I kept my emotions in. Sometimes that's needed but if you need to puke or something…I'll hold your hair," he said with that damnable eye smile of his.
Sakura snorted. "I don't know if you're sweet or just hopeless, Kaka-sensei, but thanks." She sat down next to him and leaned a little on his shoulder. The man angled his orange book just so she couldn't read it. It made her a little suspicious but she had other things on her mind.
Inner, why aren't we freaking out about our first kill?
I absorbed part of the Kiri-nin's psyche. Enough so that we don't lose it over killing enemies. He was pretty used to it, Inner explained.
I don't want us to become used to it, Sakura said worriedly.
Relax, this'll help us survive the mission. Or do you want to worry that you will have to kill again and oh no whatever will we do? Inner said in a squeaky voice sounding helpless.
Fine, I see your point, but…
Look, Outer, let's get through this mission. If we don't like ourselves after it, I'll rip this part out of our mind just like I did with the rest of him.
Sakura sighed and shut her eyes, deciding to nap against her sensei.
The earth under their feet was soggy and infirm, the air was humid and cold. The grey skies seemed to meld with dark green of the trees surrounding them. It was dreary yet familiar to Sakura. Another gift of the shinobi she had drained, she figured. The boys were a little more on edge. Sasuke's shoulders were tensed and Naruto had already made three shadow clones and sent them ahead to scout. Sakura was glad Naruto was putting in practice the possible uses they had discussed for his clones.
"Well, welcome to Wave," Tazuna said. No one said anything as they fell into formation around the man. Naruto's information about bandit activity hadn't panned out so far. But Sakura kept herself focused in case they popped out.
They walked in silence for half an hour when suddenly Naruto leapt back and clutched his throat. "Kaka-sensei, something just killed all of my clones," he reported taking out a kunai. Sasuke and Sakura followed his example.
"Did you see anything?" Kakashi asked, his posture straightening to alert.
"Only one clone saw a flash of black and then like all of them his neck was sliced," he said.
"How far ahead?" Kakashi asked.
"Ten minutes, I think," Naruto said.
"Alright, Naruto's clones and I will go ahead and engage the enemy. Sakura, Sasuke, go west of this location as fast as you can with Tazuna. Naruto keep up with them so your clones can report back what's happening. If I'm taken down, get back to Konoha and report. Otherwise, I will make my way to Tazuna's bridge. Get moving," he ordered.
Naruto made thirty clones that followed Kakashi as he disappeared into the trees. Sakura searched with her hunter sense but couldn't find anything. When she saw Sasuke glaring in the direction their sensei disappeared, she called out to him, "Sasuke-kun, we have to go."
"Hmph, guess the dead-last was so pathetic in the last fight he's giving him a chance to make it up," Sasuke grumbled.
"Go to Hell, bastard, you're just pissed my fireball was bigger than yours," Naruto snapped.
Sakura tugged at Tazuna's arm and stepped off the path into the woods. "Tazuna-san, you know this place better than we do. Is there anything we should worry about in this direction?"
The man was pale and breathless from fear. "No, just a mile of forest and then a settlement. Maybe some wild animals."
Sakura nodded and set a brisk pace through the underbrush. She was hampered by roots and the civilian. Soon the boys realized she was leaving them behind. Sasuke ran up to overtake her and take point. Naruto sullenly brought up the rear.
They hadn't gone far when Naruto reported, "Kaka-sensei is fighting another Kiri-nin. He called him Demon of the Mist. Guy is a jounin and is using water clones. I got two with fireballs and one I got with shunshin. He killed twenty of them. The rest are hiding out of sight. Hey!" he shouted. "Kaka-sensei knows water clone jutsu too!"
"Keep quiet, you idiot," Sasuke turned and whisper-shouted at Naruto. He didn't see the senbon coming at him. They struck his neck and he crumpled to the ground.
For a heartbeat Sakura froze. She was forcibly reminded of the genin test Kakashi-sensei had put her through. The memory jolted her to move. She grabbed Tazuna and body-flickered five feet to the side. Senbon struck where she had been standing. The woods erupted in orange as Naruto filled their surroundings with his clones.
"Show yourself, you bastard!" he shouted.
"How did the enemy hide from my sense?" Sakura wondered while keeping her eyes peeled for their attacker. Her hunger told her that Sasuke was alive, even if his life force was only a whisper. It wasn't ebbing so she decided he was fine for the moment. Naruto's clones were jumping from tree to tree, throwing grand fireballs like they were E-rank jutsu. Sakura could tell he was working systematically outwards in a cone from their location to flush out the enemy.
"Girl, shouldn't we be running?" Tazuna asked.
Sakura looked at him in unhidden disgust. She ran through hand seals to make two water clones. "Get him out of here. Keep going in that direction. I'm going to help Naruto." Her clones nodded and disappeared with the old man in a flicker.
"Naruto! Do you have anything yet?" she asked a clone nearest her.
The clone pointed. "Several of us were killed over there. Guy looks our age, he's wearing a white mask. Moves fast but we're using body-flicker to keep him away."
Sakura bared her teeth behind her red mask. "Let's go eat him!"
"Yeah…sure, whatever you say, Sakura-chan," the clone said and ran next to her.
Sakura deliberately let go of her tenuous mental control on her hunger. At once she heard its keen. Her mind flooded with knowledge of food around her. Naruto's clones were everywhere and it was hard to ignore the orange bounty. But she was by now intimately familiar with his life force and could focus on the one that was different.
She bounded from tree bough to tree bough. At times falling to the forest floor so she could flicker ahead quickly. Her hunger guided her to the powerful life force that was attacking Naruto. She dropped her gloves and they were picked up by a considerate Naruto clone. Her mind was focused on her prey.
A leap brought her into the thick of fighting. Like Naruto had described a shinobi with a Kiri Hunter-nin mask was on a tree, throwing senbon at his clones. The boy seemed to float from clone to clone, destroying them with taijutsu or senbon. Naruto clones were keeping him corralled within a circle of four trees. Anytime the boy tried to leave he was met by a wall of fireballs from the clones. Naruto himself was using body flicker to strike and run because the enemy's in-close skills outpaced his.
Sakura, blinded by her hunger, rushed the Kiri-nin. The enemy made and single hand seal and then spread his hands apart as if pushing away something to the sides. "Ice needles!" he shouted. A storm of senbon made from ice burst from him like a wave. Sakura wasn't quick enough to use a replacement technique. The senbon ripped into her exposed arms that she raised to protect her face. They struck flesh where ever she wasn't covered by heavy leather and metal guards. She fell to the ground while screaming.
The majority of Naruto's clones were killed in by the ice senbon attack. The few that remained were quickly taken out by the Hunter-nin. Naruto didn't have the benefit of Sakura's armor. He was left kneeling in a pool of his own blood. His body was strewn with ice needles. His eyes were open in disbelief but not a sound escaped him.
"You are truly a powerful shinobi. That attack should have killed you," the Hunter-nin said in a soft voice after appearing between Naruto and Sakura.
"You tried to kill Sakura-chan," Naruto mumbled, hearing Sakura's whimpers.
"I will drain you dry," Sakura gasped as she pulled out needles from her body.
"And you," the Hunter-nin said looking at Sakura. "You were very fast. It's unfortunate you met me, otherwise you would've been able to survive. I'm amazed both of you are still conscious but surely you will die soon, Kunoichi-san."
A red light bubbled out of Naruto skin. It melted the ice needles. It was enough to distract the Hunter-nin. The sensation of rage and hate coming from Naruto frightened the Kiri-nin to his core. He entirely missed the killing intent behind him. Naruto jumped from a kneeling position at the enemy shinobi, his hands covered in red chakra claws. The Kiri-nin leaped back, straight into Sakura's waiting arms. If the nin hadn't dismissed Sakura as a threat in presence of Naruto's demonic killing intent he would never have made such a simple mistake.
Sakura wrapped her arms around the nin from behind. She tore off the mask he was wearing to reach skin. The nin grabbed her arms with incredible strength to throw her off. But his few seconds of attention away from Naruto was his loss. Naruto's claws ripped into his stomach. The Hunter-nin who looked no older than them made a strangled gasp. Between the wound and Sakura's hands digging into his face, his life force started rushing out of him.
Sakura drained the boy without remorse. Satisfying hunger was her only priority. It was an uncomplicated meal. The boy was an enemy nin and she couldn't wait to use that ice needle attack he had almost killed Naruto and her with. If it hadn't been the Uzumaki stubborn life force in her she was sure she would be worse off than Sasuke.
As her hunger began to abate her senses picked up a very different chakra presence. It made her wary, her senses recoiled, as if they had tasted something bitter and poisonous. Naruto was covered in some sort of red chakra. His eyes were distant as if he was seeing something else. "Kakashi-sensei!" he shouted and disappeared in a shunshin faster than she had ever seen him perform. It was like he was a red blur.
His clones must have seen that Kaka-sensei is in trouble, Inner said. Hurry up, Outer. You're the protégé, it's your job to save sensei.
"I'm eating and he's dying fast. Chill," Sakura said out loud, seeing she was by herself. "The absorption rate keeps getting faster and faster. I hope we get everything out of this bastard. Wish Naruto hadn't disemboweled him."
You're lucky that Naruto did, Haku-kun here could've thrown you off easily. His psyche isn't much, I can handle it in my sleep.
Haku's face in her hands became papery white and within seconds his cheeks sank until he looked like he had lost half his weight. Sakura couldn't feel anymore life force. She stood up and felt corded muscles in her arms and legs. Her body felt stronger like nothing before. She thought of going to Sasuke and the words 'Temporary death' appeared in her mind. She made a shadow clone and ordered it to go help Sasuke and find Tazuna. It had only been a minute since Naruto had left but in a ninja battle that was an eternity. She hoped Kakashi-sensei and Naruto were alright as she ran to them.
Sakura followed the path they had left, abusing the shunshin for all its worth to save time. She came upon a small beach which was torn up from battle. Kakashi-sensei was kneeling next to an unmoving ninja on the ground. Naruto was a little ways away slumped against a tree. The poisonous red chakra was missing to Sakura's relief. She walked up to the body. A slash across the Kiri headband told her that the man had been a missing nin. He had claw marks running across his body. Ten deep trails of burned and torn flesh were evidence of where Naruto had attacked the man.
Kakashi-sensei closed the dead man's eyelids. All Sakura felt was disappointment at having missed out on draining a jounin. The thought disturbed her. She should be worrying about her team! Her hunter sense showed that Kakashi-sensei was dangerously low on chakra. She jogged up to him and fished out a soldier pill.
"Ah, thank you, Sakura-chan," her sensei said after popping the pill in his mouth so fast she missed him taking off his mask.
"Naruto, are you alright?" Sakura called as she walked up to him. Naruto was staring fixedly at the dead nin's body. She realized this was his first kill. At least his first independent kill. A normal person would find this traumatic. She squeezed his shoulders, making sure she only touched places covered by his clothes. "You protected Kakashi-sensei, kicked ass, huh?" she said weakly, hoping it cheered him up.
He gave her a wan smile. "You're right, I did, didn't I?"
"Sakura, Naruto, where are Sasuke and Tazuna?" Kakashi-sensei asked.
"Oh no, Sasuke!" Naruto jumped up, reminded of his injured comrade.
"My clone is going to bring them to the bridge. Sasuke was put in a false death state by a Kiri Hunter-nin," Sakura explained. "Are you feeling alright, Kaka-sensei?"
Kakashi-sensei gave them an eye smile. "I'm doing great, Sakura-chan. That pill saved me from the brink of passing out because of chakra exhaustion. I would've been out of commission for a week at least."
"I'm feeling a little tired, can I get one too, Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked with a greedy grin.
Laughing a little at his antics she chucked him one. She was willing to do anything to take away that worried look from his eyes. "I guess we should go to the bridge."
"Not before you are bandaged, Sakura. You're bleeding from a lot of senbon wounds," Kakashi-sensei said.
When she saw him reach for his first aid kit she hurriedly pulled Naruto's arm. "You do it, Naruto. You need the practice." Seeing Kakashi-sensei shoot her a quizzical look, she hurriedly added, "Kaka-sensei can make sure you're doing it right."
Naruto, never to say no to his one true love, readily agreed. Sakura resigned herself to Naruto's not so tender mercies. It was better than Kakashi-sensei touching her skin and finding out her powers.
"Where are your gloves and arm guards, Sakura?" Kakashi-sensei asked.
"One of my clones has them, he's with Sasuke and Tazuna," Naruto reported.
"And why does he have them when Sakura should be wearing them for protection?" Kakashi-sensei asked affecting his casual slouch.
"Um, just lost them in the fight, sensei," Sakura said, praying internally that he would buy that excuse. Then realized she had mentioned her 'clone' bringing Sasuke. Kakashi-sensei would want to know how she learned. Which would mean telling him Naruto taught her. That could lead to all sorts of other questions.
"Hmm, hmm." Kakashi-sensei nodded. "I once lost my pants in a fight. I understand, Sakura-chan. Just be happy, it could've been worse."
He was rewarded with two looks of disbelief but he simply smiled and took out his book.
A.N. Ok, so Kakashi is obviously catching on to things. I wanted to write his confrontation with Sakura this chapter but I didn't want to force it. I need a whole chapter to set up and do that part.
So you're seeing the affect of a brainiac like Sakura on Naruto's training and tactics. Her guilt about using him is leading her to help in any way she can. Which goes hand in hand with the ulterior motive of her parents to make Naruto strong so he's always available for their daughter to feed on.