Snap Back to Reality 17
~3 weeks later
I closed my eyes and breathed Hanami's scent in. She was the same as ever, the smell of pine, dear, and chestnuts. Her arms wrapped around me in a hug and I awkwardly tried to wrap my arms around her too. It barely could reach past her waist. Something wet hit my shoulders and I froze.
"I thought you died," she said, her voice cracking.
"I'm right here," I said with a chuckle.
"Dammit little leaf, stop being so squeamish and take my love!"
I let out a squeal when she crushed me in her arms.
"Aggh, let go woman! I'm injured!"
"No dammit! This is punishment for making me worry!"
I struggled a bit until she ﬁnally pulled herself away. Her eyes were shining with tears, but her face was drawn into a worried frown. I let out a sigh as I looked at those warm brown eyes of hers. I missed her.
"Now remember don't use any more strenuous moves on your legs for another week or so. Keep yourself on those crutches for about a week. You will also need to go to the West Wing to make sure your hips are working to full effect. If you don't go to physical therapy properly you could injure yourself further and be pulled from active duty for life."
I winced at the thought. All my effort gone down the drain because of one injury. I vowed then and there to take physical therapy very seriously.
Hanami explained the rest of the medication I needed to take for the next few weeks. Mostly tablets to get my blood level back up and to ensure my body was healthy with the vitamins it wasn't getting during the mission. I had pretty much stunted a years' worth of growth... which I cursed the idea of constantly in my head. What was the point of being a ninja if I couldn't even grow up to be a muscle-bound idiot?! Was I destined to remain short forever? As a taijutsu specialist? The thought itself made me want to jump of a cliff.
"Ne, Hanami-sensei, you know I'm not going to keel over and die the moment you let go of me," I pointed out blandly.
She whacked me up the back of my head. I grumbled a 'troublesome' only to smile and be reminded of the days before the war, when I would train every day with Hanami. I looked away, my smile fading. I had become stronger, faster, and deadlier than ever before... and I wasn't happy. Not like I had been before any way.
"Take care Hina. Look out for yourself ok. Take the time to be a child once in a while. Don't push yourself to rise up the ranks just yet," she sighed.
Well, I couldn't possibly stay a Genin for much longer, not when I had taken down a Jounin. On ﬁeld promotions were guaranteed for feats like that, but I just nodded. It's not like I was dying for a promotion until I knew I could hold my own.
"I won't Hanami-sensei," I said softly.
"Good, now get out of here gaki. I don't want to see you in a hospital ever again!"
"Yeesh woman, I'm out!"
I was practically kicked out of the hospital. It had only been a day since I was back and most of it was spent in debriefing and getting my wounds properly treated. I swung back out onto the street on my crutches. Konoha had the same amazing scent to it, of trees and people and home. I smiled as I looked up at the Hokage tower. It was good to be back.
The three weeks I was at the Border Post at the middle of my 5 months had gone terribly wrong. Kumo had overrun the camp and I was too out of it to ﬁght. Sensei grabbed me and made a run for it, protecting Shisui, Hayate and Yugao at my insistence. We ran for a day with no rest to get the message across to the next outpost and we were dismissed. I would have been relieved to get my expedition cut short if it wasn't for the fact that I still remembered the sound of tag explosives blowing Shiro-san next to me. I winced at the memory of my teammate. He didn't deserve that.
I think I still had pieces of him in my hair…
All in all, I felt like crap. My legs were healed by chakra magic, but they still hurt to walk on, and no doubt I looked like absolute crap, but I was ready to go home now. I held the omamori in my hands and smiled down at the amulet. Dad was right, it did protect me. When I was going to succumb to my blood loss, I felt it and remembered who I was coming home for.
I ambled to the store slowly on my crutches and waved at dad who was outside. He dropped the packet of bread in his hands, entirely forgetting the conversation he was having with the other adults and came running to me. He pulled me into a warm embrace, and I wondered just how many people were going to keep crying on me today. I pet his chest in a 'there there' motion and hugged him back.
"Okaire," he whispered, before his sobs turned into relieved laughter.
"Tousan your beards itchy," I complained.
"Oh, you like that gaki?" he asked rubbing his tear stained face against mine as I struggled and then devolved into laughter. This was going to be a thing forever wasn't it?
"Hey Tousan," I whispered.
"Thanks for the omamori. It protected me."
"I knew it would," he said sadly before he took a look at my state, covered in dried blood, dirt and probably stinking to high heaven.
"Come on then Hi-chan, let's get you inside."
I picked up my crutches again and walked into the store to see Taichi by the front. His eyes widened at me and he came running in for a hug that knocked the breath out of my lungs.
"You're safe!" he said happily. Well at least one person wasn't crying.
I turned to the last member of our family. Yua walked down and stared at me with surprise. I looked down instantly from her face to her stomach. She was seven months in now. I wouldn't have scrambled to her excitedly if it weren't for the baby in her stomach, my future sibling!
"Can, I?" I asked.
Yua nodded, a small smile on her face as she looked down at her stomach. I put my hands on the life there and then closed my eyes and listened to the heartbeat. It was magical how something so small could grow into a baby inside of a woman. I bit back the tears. It was just good to see some life, especially when everything you thought about revolved around death, death, and more death.
"So, what are the names we're thinking off?" I asked
I took my customary 5 hour coming home shower before throwing on the most casual clothes I had, a pair of plain small navy-blue shorts and a baggy mint green shirt with a picture of an onigiri in the middle. After I gave myself another haircut to keep the back of my hair short, I slumped back into my bed. Ah, peace and quiet.
"HINA-CHAN! YOU HAVE COME BACK FROM YOUR YOUTHFUL MISSION!"
Guy blasted open the door and I sighed. So not so peaceful then... I was tackled into a bone crushing hug by the taller boy and spun around a few times as he cried dramatically.
"So excitable," I chuckled. "I'm still healing. Mind going easy on me?"
"Of course! I would not want to hurt you!"
He dropped me and I turned to see Kurenai and Asuma enter from the back. They gave me a warm smile, Kurenai hugging me gently. Asuma pulled out a scroll and handed it to me. It looked a little too fancy to be something he thought about giving me on his own.
"Who's this from?" I asked.
"Shikaku-san told me to give it to you. His wedding's in two days."
Oh I had totally forgotten about his lady problems with his future wife. I hadn't seen the man in about half a year with how busy I'd been, and no doubt he'd been. It was kind of hard to see anyone outside of work during war time. I opened the scroll regardless, feeling incredibly happy to be given this privilege.
Suzuki Hina, you have been invited to Nara Shikaku and Nara Yoshino's wedding on the 17th of November.
Then in chicken scrawl that the bottom Shikaku directly wrote to me. I couldn't help but snort at how unprofessional and lazy it looked.
Just keep it to yourself ok kiddo, only close family and friends are invited. I'm sorry for not being able to come meet you. When I heard you were sent to the front lines, I made a fuss. Sending a Genin in so early? What were they thinking? They're saying it's an error on an administrative part but I'm looking into it to make sure.
Anyway my wife's a real slave driver so don't get her any presents :ooo
I laughed at the end and folded the fancy scroll back up. Kurenai swooned.
"Oh, Shikaku-san is so lucky! Getting married to a beautiful lady because he fell in love. It's so romantic!"
"TRULY THE FLAMES OF YOUTH HAVE BLOSSOMED WELL INTO THEIR HEARTS!" Guy agreed, pumping his ﬁsts up as he cried.
Wow Guy would deﬁnitely have been a theatre kid if he were born in my old world. I just laughed and agreed while Asuma, the ever-chill dude he was, rolled his eyes at our antics.
"So how did you guys get in my house anyway?" I asked putting the scroll on my table.
"Your brother let us in," Kurenai shrugged.
Asuma ﬁnally took the time to look around me room and hummed something to himself. He was pointedly looking at all my pink furniture and then sent me a raised brow in question.
"I assumed your room would look different," he said amiably.
"Greener," I supplied, and he nodded. "Well actually, my kaasan brought me all my furniture so if it's all pastel pink it's because of her."
"You don't seem bothered," Guy pointed.
"Eh, it's just colours," I shrugged. Honestly, the sheer brightness of my room did bother me at the start, but my eyes had adjusted to the ridiculous colours after a while.
"Well on a more important note, we need to get you something to wear to a wedding!" Kurenai said as she opened my closet and scowled at my assortment of kimono.
"What's wrong with these?" I asked.
"They just don't ﬁt you. Why do you have so many pink and yellow kimonos anyway? I didn't think you'd like them."
"Kaasan," I shrugged once again.
"Well this one that looks kind of like a peacock suits you," Kurenai said holding out my favourite kimono.
"Well, clearly you have taste Kurenai-chan," I chuckled.
"Hmm, I could get it altered. You don't seem the type to wear a kimono. Too stiff."
"What are you planning?" I asked curiously.
"Well I'll end the kimono as a shirt, and we'll make the bottom hakama pants cut short to look like a skirt!"
"Didn't know you wanted to be a fashion designer Kurenai-chan," I said curiously.
"Don't get her started or she won't stop," Asuma sighed.
"Oh don't be dramatic!" Kurenai punched Asuma's shoulder. Said boy grumbled as he held his hurt appendage.
"You don't mind if I take this home with me, tonight do you?" she asked.
"Not at all," I said with a nod. I wasn't one to get attached to clothes.
"YOSH, LET'S GO GET SOME CELEBRATORY FOOD!"
I couldn't agree more.
I regaled my war stories to the trio, keeping the more morally bankrupt parts of it to a minimum. It was one thing to tell a bunch of kids that they should expect intense violence, it was something else to explain human cruelty. They didn't need to know about how a Konoha-nin tortured someone out of spite, or how she raped a civilian husband and wife, or how a Sannin went about executing an elder and then destroying a town's only source of income, hence dooming them to starve to death. They just... they didn't need to know that.
"That must have been scary," Kurenai said in worry.
"Well it was, but when you're ﬁghting to the death there's no time to be scared," I replied, before he reached the store. "Wait ramen?"
I hated how my breath hitched and how my voice cracked all at once. Judging from the looks I was receiving everyone released why I had paused.
"You're afraid of... ramen?" Asuma asked in disbelief before he snorted and then burst out into laughter.
I whacked him over the head with my crutches and felt momentary satisfaction at his pain before I let out a grunt and mumbled in embarrassment.
"What is it Hina-chan?!" Guy asked.
"I said... I don't think I can eat ramen," I mumbled, blushing, and looking away.
"Why is that?" Kurenai asked, ever the caring little sweetheart she was.
"I had a bad experience choking on buk-choy ok!"
The trio looked shocked and then their eyes crinkled, and their cheeks puffed out like they were trying not to laugh at me. Suﬃce to say I whacked everyone over the head again.
"Oh come on Hina-chan! You have to overcome your fears to progress in life! Do not let the fear of buk-choy stop you!" Guy said, rubbing the bump on his head.
"Who's afraid of buk-choy?"
Oh fuck. I wished I knew an Earth Release jutsu right about now so I could just drop myself into the ground and never resurface again. Minato, Kakashi and a familiar red headed woman walked up behind us. Kakashi was looking at me like I had just told him I couldn't even tree jump.
"Nothing! No one said ANYTHING ABOUT BUK-CHOY!" I all but shouted.
"Hina-chan is afraid of ramen and buk-choy because she chocked on it before. Help us convince her to get over— hmph"
It was too late! I covered Guy's mouth with my palm, but the damage was done. Minato was looking at me like I had grown a second head. Kakashi was giving me a condescending smirk. And Kushina... well she was turning as red as her hair.
"How can someone be afraid of the most heavenly food?! Given to us by Kami-sama himself!" Kushina practically screamed in rage.
She hoisted me up under her arms and dragged me into the ramen stand seat. I sat down and turned green when I saw the man next to me eat ramen. I let out a sound between a whimper and a moan as I felt my soul leave my mouth.
"Ichiraku-san, 1 miso ramen please!" Kushina ordered.
"Please—no, anything but this!" I begged, but Kushina held me by my shoulders.
"A-ano, I know Hina's normally green… but I don't think her face usually is," Kurenai pointed out worriedly.
"I didn't know you'd become such a coward," Kakashi snorted, barely holding back his betraying amusement as he rolled his eyes.
It felt like my whole world was closing in when the bowl of ramen was placed in front of me by the insulted looking chef. Kushina's grip on my shoulder was like steel. I sent Minato a look, begging to be saved, but he was cowed by his evil girlfriend.
"It's not poisoned you know," Ichiraku pointed out with an unimpressed expression.
"Eat up then! I want you to take back what you said."
Kushina practically had the bowl at my face and the smell made me nauseous. Memories of choking to death flashed through my mind and then the liquid hit my lips and I was forced to gulp down the broth. I shut my eyes tightly, wincing as the fluid went down the back of my throat. Nothing happened. I didn't keel over and die, it just went down, but my heart was beating a thousand miles per second and in a bid of desperation I pulled of an impossible kawarimi with Kakashi. Said boy spluttered as the broth fell all over his face. I jumped up behind Minato, climbing his back like a baby monkey and hiding behind him from the monstrous lady.
"Minato-san, save me!"
"Ah, Kushina—maybe you should lay off—"
"Not until this brat acknowledges kami's food!"
Oh my god, was her hair floating up like tendrils? What was this ungodly chakra? Minato dodged a swipe, trying to placate his angry girlfriend and then we ended up causing a commotion in the fastest game of tag I'd ever been involved in. Considering Minato could literally teleport, Kushina had no chance, but by kami if she wasn't fast.
"Hina-chan please let go of me!" Minato cried.
"No way! Why are you dating such a scary lady?"
"Who're you calling scary, brat?!"
"You! Leave me the heck alone!" I shouted back.
"Now, now Hina-chan you actually don't think ramen tastes bad, do you?" Minato said placatingly.
"And you're just afraid of it because you choked on it once."
"See Kushina, she doesn't think it tastes bad, she's just afraid of it," Minato
Kushina seemed to reluctantly calm down. Thankfully, Guy, the beautiful soul he was, decided to interject and pull me out of my misery!
"Yosh, since it would be very unyouthful of us to distress Hina-chan, since she just came back from the front lines, we should go somewhere she wants!"
Kushina froze and then her expression turned into horror as she looked at me clinging onto her boyfriend's back like a baby koala.
"You were out in the front-lines?" she asked. "Oh my god! I'm so sorry! Come here you little cutie, I'm so sorry for hurting you like that!"
In a complete 180 she grabbed me in a rather emotional hug and started doting on me. I just flailed around in her arms and gestured to the group for their help. Like the traitors they were, the left me to get assaulted by Kushina's apologies and affections. Then when we ended up in an Akimichi Barbecue joint, I sat on the opposite end from Kushina so as to save myself from being attacked by her affections once more.
"Did you just come back from a mission too Minato-san, Kakashi-kun?" Kurenai asked.
"Yeah, we're part of a blitz team against Iwa-nin up the North-East border," Minato replied.
"Blitz?" Asuma asked, turning curiously to look at Minato.
"It means they target enemy camps in a quick hit and run. Lots of explosions and all that fun stuff," I replied taking a bite of the beautiful meat I took from the grill. Oof the Akimichi could cook.
"Yes, we usually attack enemy troops that have been reported to be travelling towards a border post. It makes sure that our more defensive fighters aren't constantly bombarded. There's also a risk of losing a post if too many enemies swarm it," Minato continued explaining, which when he put it that way made the war sound like a deadly game of capture the flag.
"It sounds dangerous. Are you holding up fine Kakashi-kun?" Kurenai asked.
"Hah! Don't underestimate my cool and hip rival! Kakashi must be acing it out there!" Guy said enthusiastically. It was kind of adorable how much he looked up to Kakashi.
"The idiot's right. I'm doing perfectly fine," Kakashi replied as unenthusiastically as ever.
I had no idea why girls fawned over that damper attitude, but judging by the way Kurenai was blushing, even she was having a minor little crush on him.
"Let's not talk about the war right now," Kushina grumbled. "We just got out of that hell. Anyway, we need to plan a present for Shikaku's weeding. You kids got any idea?"
"You're going to?" I asked, perking up. "Do you know who else is going?"
Minato hummed in thought. "All the Clan Heads will be there, the Hokage, Inoichi and Chozo… and I'm pretty sure Jiriya-sensei and Orochimaru-sama will be there. Well that's all the people I know anyway."
"Orochimaru is going to be there," I asked, perking up.
"Oh, you served under him didn't you. What was it like working under such a cool Sannin?" Asuma asked, his fanboy turning on.
"Ah—um… a learning experience, I guess? He's very… smart," I said subduing my voice and sinking back into my seat. No need to go about voicing my concerns over his moral character.
"How's Gaku-san doing by the way?" Minato asked.
"He wasn't injured so he went back home, but Clans are slave drivers you know, and now he's stuck doing more work during his break time," I grumbled.
"Jealous he isn't spending time with you?" Kakashi snorted.
I sent the boy a glare. "It's irritating that he's doing work instead of relaxing," I rephrased.
"I'm sure it is Hina-chan, but Gaku-san is a grown-up man with duties. It's not always like this. During peace times there's mandatory down times for all Shinobi," Minato explained.
"I'm sure there is. Pass me the pork ribs," I grumbled.
Then we started a conversation about some more menial things. The food was distracting enough, and once the topic of war was off the table, it felt a little lighter… a little happier. I could take that. And when I went home that day I hit the bed and blanked out instantly.
"Did you breathe?"
I turned to mom, her burgundy eyes, almost black twinkling in the night. Her breathing was harsh, a painful wheeze to it as she struggled to breathe through the tubes in her nose, ventilating her lungs for her. I looked away from the terrible sight, and up to the moon. It was unusually large and red. I felt the ominous weight of it in the sky, like a cancerous blotch on a once perfect memory.
"I breathed. I felt stronger," I said, digging my fingers into my palm.
"It was never about strength Hina. It was always about finding your soul."
"Hina," I whispered.
Mom hummed in question, tilting her head my way. I winced as I looked away, unwilling to remember her in such a weak state.
"You called me Hina," I said again.
"That's who you are now, isn't it?" she asked.
I turned to look at the porch and then to the building behind me. It wasn't my old brick house with creeping vines and bushy roses that my dad liked to plant, it was a Japanese style house… no, a Konoha style house. I turned to the forest and instead of gum trees, bottle brushes and wide arid land, it was tall trees, a deep green rather than the brownish hue I had come to love in my old life. I closed my eyes and sighed.
"It feels like I only seem to remember you when I sleep. Every waking moment is spent wading through memories like I'm knee deep in thick mud. I can't—I don't know what's wrong with me. I should be fine. Not remembering is best, right? I remember Cat and now I wake up every morning without her next to me and my heart aches, and the next moment it's like she's not there at all. It's frustrating."
I stopped my rant and realised my breath had become shallow; my nails had sharpened into points that were digging into my thighs. My… white thighs, not the caramel colour they were before, but the pinkish peach colour they are now. I felt an inexplicable panic at that. It just wasn't… it was me. This was me now.
"You've buried your soul so far down that you don't breathe," mom said shaking her head in disappointment.
"Why is it always breathing with you?" I scowled.
"Because breathing brings strength to the soul."
"Sounds like a bunch of cryptic mystical crap," I said looking away.
"You've never really believed in the metaphysical have you, always caught up in quantifying things logically. Sometimes logic doesn't explain what you truly need. Once you understand that, you'll overcome any obstacle," mom said, a smile on her sickly face.
"Why are you sick in my dream?"
Mom had been sick with lung cancer as a child, and the horrible tubes and strenuous breathing always gave me an unhealthy dose of panic, but she had overcome it by some stroke of luck. She hadn't relapsed to my memory, but I wouldn't know considering my memories were chopped at best. The sound of screams drew my attention to the forest.
"I'm sick because you are, and because this is how you willed me to be seen," she said with a sad smile, completely ignoring the horrible screams from the forest and continuing. "You've always relied on Cat to be your heart Hina, but she's not here anymore. She was the one who always helped you realise you were doing something bad. Without her what are you going to do?"
What was I going to do? I'd found a new family to protect, hadn't I? I had new friends and new bonds, and they could guide me. I knew there was something wrong with me, but sensei and dad and my friends would tell me… right? Something felt so empty about that hope. It was like I was going every day with nothing but work in my mind, as if throwing myself into a constant state of distraction was the only tangible way to continue on. If I stopped, I was afraid I'd be dragged back into this eternal black void, an endless pit of suffocation, where my confusion and worry would plague me.
The screams in the forest took my attention again, this time it was closer. I jumped out of my seat as the crimson moon bled its colour into the sky, and it overtook the forest in one single swoop.
"Mom, get behind me—"
I turned around and she wasn't there. The house had vanished too. I was standing in the middle of a forest, a deep crimson forest, the trees dripping its burgundy liquid from each leaf as if they were crying blood. I stumbled back in confusion and fear. Something grabbed my leg and I looked down to see the Iwa-nin I had first killed. I had forgotten this man's face, but I remembered now how I had smashed his skull in painfully to kill him. A hand grabbed me from behind. I tried to throw them off, but their grip was too tight.
This made no sense! Why, why was this happening now?! I hadn't thought a single thing about them when I murdered them. So why were they haunting me now. Sad blue eyes looked up at me, from the expression of a haunted enemy nin. Then I felt my body freeze when the last hand dropped to my scalp, holding my hair painfully. Kazuki stared at me, his lifeless pale eyes, reflecting the red moon.
"M-my imouto will miss me," he lamented, no infliction in his voice, just a deep droning sound that didn't sound human.
"I wanted to be an author," an Iwa-nin droned, eyes lolling back.
And almost as if to torture me they all began mumbling random desires. I tried to move, tried to pull them off me.
"It was kill or be killed!" I shouted angrily. "I did it because I had to! You would have done the same!"
I was hoping for understanding, but they continued droning on like they hadn't heard me. I gasped as something hot bubbled underneath my toes. I looked down to see a pool of black tar, a bubble popping only to be replaced by another. My feet were sinking! I was going to drown. No! I clawed and struggled. This is just a dream. A dream! Still, it felt so real! I tried to pry an arm off my shoulder and another of my leg, but my victims just held on, lamenting the future they would never have again as they pulled me down with them. I panicked as my chin reached the burning liquid. I pulled my face up to see my mother kneeling down in front of me, a sad smile on her face.
"You forgot how to breathe," she mourned.
"Mom, no! Hel—"
My mouth was submerged. I felt the liquid take my head and I held my breath. Don't breathe! Don't breathe! You'll die if you do! I couldn't keep it in for long, my lungs gave out and I opened my mouth. The tar filled it, its ashen taste overtaken by the toxic burn I felt it invade my throat and fill down into my air pipes. My lungs were burning once again. I itched my throat, hoping to tear skin so the tar would come out. The glimmer of light above me mocked me as I sunk ever more into the darkness. Until there was no light.
I wheezed awake. My throat burned as I gulped in air greedily. My vision adjusted to the darkness and I took a moment to calm myself. It was just a dream. Just a dream. I repeated that mantra in my head over and over again until my breath wasn't so ragged. I rubbed my aching throat and a liquid brushed against my fingers. I pulled my hand out to see blood smeared in my nails and across my fingers to my palm. I struggled out of my bed, grabbing my crutches before I limped my way to the mirror, using a minor chakra technique to light the candle on my table. My dark green eyes trailed from my reflection to my neck. I had somehow scratched my throat in my sleep.
"Just a dream," I whispered, a small reassurance that did nothing to ease the bundle of nerves in my stomach.
Just a dream
I took in a deep breath, calming myself before I made my way, as silently as I could, to the bathroom. I pulled open the medicine cabinet and began cleaning my wound and disinfecting it. Once that was done, I pulled some gauze around the cuts and wrapped it up. I looked like shit.
I used to look in the mirror and admire these muscles because they represented the effort I put in. No normal six-year-old was as well built as I was, with tight compacted muscles built for speed and strength. Now I realised how unnatural it looked on someone my physical age. I had to stand on a stepper to even reach the sink! What was someone like me doing out there? I began scratching the blood from my hands incessantly with soap until my skin was dry and not a spec of blood remained.
I couldn't look at my eyes. I used to think it looked cool on Itachi in my old life, how the lines on his face framed his pretty eyes. When I looked at those same lines on mine, it didn't feel so cool. I just looked worn out. I shook my head. What had gotten into me?
"Don't ever complain, never wallow in self-pity. It's unsightly and unnecessary. It doesn't matter what you did or will do. You have integrity, you pride yourself on your work, you take care of those who belong to you, and most importantly you never fail at your job. If you continue to feel needlessly guilty, you'll only become a hinderance to yourself and your teammates."
I slapped my cheeks again. Pep talk done. I was over it right? I was Joanne Linus a successful career woman, and a rich biochemist! I didn't stop for mediocrity, neither did I cave under pressure. I am Suzuki Hina now, a prodigious Genin, who graduated at the age of 5 and successfully completed several B ranks and two A rank war missions in the span of a year. I did what was necessary, what my job entailed me to do, and I carried out my orders to the best of my ability because I took pride in my work and my accomplishments. That is who I am!
There's nothing wrong with not feeling any remorse. There isn't.
"That's right, you're the Suzuki Hina, stamina demon extraordinaire! You got where you are without Clan techniques or some fancy Kekkai Hentai or whatever. One measly dream can't get you down."
I walked myself back to my bed and changed the sheets before getting back into my quilt. I stared at the ceiling for a long time, then shut my eyes for another hour or so. No sleep came. I grimaced as I stayed wide awake for the rest of the night.
I was going to be alright… right?
Honestly, this is definitely my least favourite chapter in hindsight. I've written so far ahead that when I come back to these chapters, I think 'what the hell was past me thinking?' and I never quite like where I was taking it, but it's way too late to change it now :").
Any and all dreams she has, has to be taken with a grain of salt. They are her mind telling her what she wants to hear at that moment or reflecting her feelings/insecurities. Honestly, this is the first and last nightmare I write in, because it's too angsty for my tastes, but I gotta do it for plot reasons so it's incredibly annoying. Anyway here's the extra chapter like I promised!
GGPD- Ah sorry about that. Those were the missions he'd done. For some reason when I saved it, the letters didn't come through. I fixed it now, so thanks for pointing that out.
Immortal Potatoe- For sure, I definitely agree. Characters going on a moral questioning spree every time they kill people is super annoying. Hina's moral code is quite interesting, and it's a heavy part of this story. It evolves throughout as her ideas of what's right and wrong gets questioned. You'll soon find that her judging Suki for being disgusting is kind of hypocritical of her in the future. She does eventually come to a judgement on the Shinobi world, but it will take some time, because this story is a super slow burn. Like really, really slow… which I kind of regret doing now XD
Inheritance1990- I think you will be surprised who dies in the future though, and yes I have written character deaths already :') They were pretty sad to write. Broke my heart. And yeah, you're right about Konoha not being virtuous. I think they overall are better than other nations, but the collective often doesn't speak for the individuals, and people like Suki will exist no matter where they come from. Thanks for the review!
EmmieSauce- You guys are twins too :000 I'm honestly so jealous right now. Wish I had a twin and thanks, I'm glad you liked this chapter!
gogo bananas- Love that enthusiasm XD Thanks for the review!
ita123- Ayye thanks! I don't do double updates often but reaching 500 seemed like a good reason to!
RileyBlue00- Thanks! Suki needs to go to prison and get some therapy too, unfortunately war crimes are often left unpunished. I love those little light-hearted moments too. Can't have too much angst clogging up my arteries XD
Riveria- Suki was pretty interesting to write, and she does come back waaaay later. Not anytime soon though. Thanks for reviewing!
ishan19sati- I do love exploring the effects of war in characters from civilian perspective to ninja, and I can't wait for the next bit because it gets more into village politics.
Frankieu- Thanks for reading!
Redvsbluedays1214- Thanks! Enemy occupation and war crimes will definitely be touched on more later. Hina is not going to get a break any time soon XD Also I love your username because that show is awesome! And thanks for the prayer, I'll be needing it because I'm currently having a writer's block. Fortunately for you, I have an outline and I'm like 17 chapters ahead of the updates. XD
Guest- You don't have to worry about Gaku for a while. I'd probably worry more about other characters, because everyone is equally on the chopping block in this story XD
Hi Exclamation Point- Thanks! I'm so glad for you and the other readers, because of all the amazing reviews every chapter! As for romance, it will probably have to take a back seat for a long time. Her child body does affect her mental state too, despite Hina not wanting to admit it. So she's too young to feel any sexual desires at her age and will probably only end up struggling once she hits puberty and things really get awkward. For now the most she will do is comment on hot older men and women, but nothing much beyond that, and she certainly has no feelings for any of the kids, even Guy. So yup no romance so far and I'm 40 chapters in :') Although I'm pretty close to writing the teen years soon and sexuality will eventually be touched upon by then. Thanks for the review!