A Song for Them @nihilistic_bunny
Formula Arc, New Plan

Naruto Fan Fiction!

Adventure! SI-OC!

(Title)

"A Song for Them"

A/N: EEEEEP! I just cannot get over just how beautiful Sora looks in 'Sky Song' by Queen Mo-Freakin! I'm gushing and I can't stop. I had it in my background as I wrote this chapter whole chapter.

Fun Fact! Did you know that Yamato/Tenzō/Neko wasn't suppose to be in Sora's life after Chapter 2. Crazy, right? He was suppose to be the one who found her but that was it, he'd just go back to the ANBU grind and she would just be some girl he'd picked up in the forest. I'm pretty sure everything changed when he picked up that flower for her in the hospital room.

I still don't know exactly why I wrote that scene, but that is when I decided he was gonna stick around.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own 'Naruto' or any of the cannon characters! This gets boring to read. Does anyone actually have the time to read you, you pointless little notice?

WARNING! RATED M! For things that don't happen in this chapter. Future things. Also for some deep feels and fluffy cats, gotta watch out for those.

Formula Arc,

Chapter Eighteen: "New Plan"

"I dream of a better world where a chicken can cross the road without having his motive questioned." -Anon E. Muss

We were finally home.

I have no idea at what point Konohagakure no Sato became home, but that's just what it was. Even with all of it's faults.

My heart began to pound harder the closer we got. As soon as those familiar walls came into sight my legs starting moving faster, triggering the Hero's competitive spirit beside me. We were racing through the trees now.

Dashing past Kakashi-sensei who was going at a more sedate pace I felt the amusement rise in his chakra. Naruto came up to my side and looked at me with a cheeky grin, he then pulled down on his eyelid.

"Nyaah! Can't catch me, Sora-chan!" The Hero taunted.

I'm not the bittest ashamed to admit that I hooked my finger in my cheek and pulled, crossing my eyes and looking completely ridiculous. We started laughing and there was a scoff behind us.

"Tch... idiots." The gloomy Uchiha said under his breath.

Naruto must've been just as happy to get home as I was because he didn't even slow down to yell at Sasuke. Instead he and I shared a look and at the same time we turned around and stuck our tongues out at the Duckie. His unfairly natural eyebrow began to twitch.

Then the twerp dashed right by us both.

"OH NO YOU DON'T, BASTARD!" Naruto picked up his speed and shouted over his shoulder to me, a grin tugging at his lips. "Last one there buys the ramen 'ttebayo!"

Yeah, that's not going to happen. I know just how much that boy can eat! I applied chakra when I kicked off the next branch to propel me forward, the Hero squawked in surprise when I caught back up with him. Then I heard him shout after me as I passed him.

Go! Go! GO! HAHAHAHAA! Terra was really competitive I've learned. I was catching up to Sasuke now, he wasn't using chakra to enhance his muscles. He'll figure it out soon enough.

Side-by-side, he was very understandably confused when he saw me leaping right alongside him, keeping pace. I circulated some more chakra through my legs, actually cracking the bark under my boots on my latest step and managing to pass my Uchiha teammate.

I grinned so wide as the wind blasted into my face, flattening my bangs against my scalp and whipping at my clothes. I spread my arms back and it felt like I was actually flying through the trees.

It was moments like this that I forgot about everything else in the world.

My blissful moment was broken as Duckie dashed past me again. I guess he figured it out. He glanced back at me and I could see that stupid little smirk on his face again, mocking me. I grit my teeth and pushed forward.

We were still racing after all.

We broke through the tree line. I could finally see all four stone faces on the Hokage mountain, I could see the humongous green doors in the wall and the red writing across them and I could see Kakashi was-wait, what?

Sasuke touched ground first and I stumbled on my landing in front of Kakashi, who was already standing there, leaning casually against a wall and reading his book.

Does that mean he won the race? Terra wondered idly.

"Maa... about time you guys showed up." He said dryly without a hint of irony in his voice. Duckie scowled and I almost face-faulted.

"RAAAAAAAHHH!" I was then hit by a truck.

...or a boy in orange going 25mph. I slammed into an unsuspecting Sasuke as Naruto collided into my back, we all tumbled to the stone pavement. Kakashi sighed, sounding tired as he rubbed the side of his face.

"Alright then... you guys can go ahead and go home. I'll write up the mission report, but Hokage-sama will probably want to hear a verbal report in person bright and early. Rest tonight and be at missions desk around seven tomorrow."

And with that, Scarecrow poofed away. The Hero cheered, I smiled up at the idea of sleeping in my own bed and Duckie was getting more and more annoyed every second he was on the bottom of our people pile.

We untangled ourselves from each other and Duckie was quick to escape our company, not even bothering to say goodbye. That was fine with us, we would just see him again tomorrow.

I turned to my Hero and looped my arm through his, but apparently he had been more homesick than I'd thought because he grabbed my hand and threaded his fingers with mine before he charged off in the direction of our apartment building.

"C'mon, Sora-chan! The faster we drop off our bags, the faster we can get ramen, dattebayo!"

...or he was hungry. Yeah, that was typical Naruto.

We wove through the throngs of people bustling along the Main Road. There were shouts and curses thrown after us as we avoided knocking over a cart filled to the brim with cabbages. The whole while Naruto was giggling with unbridled joy, I could feel the relief and bliss radiating off of his Bright and Breezy chakra. He was happy to be home.

We leapt onto the roofs above and traveled the rest of the way like that. Our apartment building wasn't fancy or anything like that, but it was located a convenient walking distance from the Academy and Market District. Standing in front of my green door, I turned the handle and walked into my crappy little apartment that I love too much.

Then I walked right back out and tried my best not to gag at the pungent smell emanating from my crappy little apartment.

I bent over the railing, trying to hold in my rabbit dinner from yesterday, I could hear the door next to me swing open and a pair of feet come stumbling out.

"UGH! IT REEKS IN THERE, DATTEBAYO!" The Hero cried while holding his nose.

...it would've been extremely appreciated if anyone could have warned us to clean out our perishable foods before we left on an extended out-of-village mission.

地道 Steady

In hindsight, I may have overreacted. But in my defense, Kakashi-senpai had been far too casual when he spoke about Team Seven's debacle of a mission. I mean, they encountered and fought one of the Seven Ninja Swordsman? Really? Genin squads just don't do that and come out unscathed.

I ran across the roofs of the northern residential housing district until I was in front of her door. Going though the window didn't seem like a very appropriate option today, especially considering that she might be in her room changing her clothes or something. I know that the first thing I always want to do after I get back from a long mission is take a hot shower.

The door was left slightly ajar, there weren't any sounds coming from inside. I felt unease wash over me. I know Sora has always had a bad habit of not locking things properly but...

I walked in and scanned the room, Sora wasn't anywhere in sight. There was a distinct lack of book piles lying around but that was-there was a gasp from above my head. I looked up and reacted just in time to catch a teenage girl in my arms.

She was on the ceiling. Why was she on the ceiling? She learned the tree walking exercise while she was away? That's great! But why was she on the ceiling?

"Sora, what are you-" I didn't get to finish my sentence before a grin stretched Sora's face and she wrapped her arms around my neck, pressing her cheek against mine.

I could hear Kakashi-senpai's words ring through my head. "You didn't warn me she was so... touchy."

Yes, yes she was. I had one arm under her knees and one arm around her back so I couldn't exactly... respond to the embrace.

...but I did lean into it.

Sora pulled away and I was able to take in her unusual appearance. She wasn't wearing her favorite blue shirt but a old and torn white one with ink stains dotting it that barely covered her midriff, beige shorts, a green apron and she had that old orange scarf on again to cover her neck. Her hair was being held back with a white bandana, keeping her fringe out of her face.

Her hair has gotten a bit longer since I last saw her.

Other than that she looked just fine. Nothing about her appearance gave away the fact that she just came back from a C-turned-A Rank mission where she encountered one of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist and almost died of chakra exhaustion!

She looked just fine.

She also had a duster in her hand. I glanced around the apartment and finally notice the windows are wide open and there's a faint scent of bleach lingering throughout the air. So she had been cleaning. That's good, she's been gone over a month the dust and dirt probably piled up.

Sora set the duster down in her lap and signed. 'That was quick, Neko. How did you know I was back already?'

Relieved that she was unharmed, I said the first thing that came to my mind. "Ah, Senpai told me."

I then froze because I hadn't meant to say that. Sora doesn't know Kakashi is my Senpai. I've talked about an unnamed Senpai to her once or twice before but I hadn't actually told Sora that Kakashi-senpai and I know each other.

Her violet eyes sparkled and I was filled with dread because I knew what that look meant.

...she was going to tease me, damn it.

'The enigmatic, breathtaking and always awe-inspiring Senpai did, did he? He sure is knowledgeable, we've only been back little over an hour.' She was smiling slyly as she signed.

I straightened my back, "Yes, yes he is." I agreed. Kakashi-senpai is very knowledgeable.

It's not like I was lying to her, it's just never naturally came up before while we spoke and if I told her now it might seem like I was keeping it a secret, and the only reason I would keep it a secret is if I was checking in on her with Senpai because I didn't trust in her ability as a kunoichi. Which isn't true! It doesn't really matter if I am checking up on her because even if I do tell her that I trust in her abilities, the doubt will already be placed in her mind.

Sora raised an eyebrow at me, looking amused as ever. Why was she amused? I haven't said anything funny have I?

'He never manages to fail to impress me, Neko. How does he possibly do it? The man is super-human. Truly.' She went on to praise him. Sounding more and more ridiculous with each compliment.

I frowned when I noticed that she's not showing any hint of genuine thoughtfulness even though she's says tha-I'm such an idiot. She knows, doesn't she? Of course she knows, that's why she's teasing me like this.

My tone and expression were flat as I spoke. "You know that Kakashi is my Senpai, don't you?"

Sora shrugged, still smiling slyly and looking too amused. 'I had made a guess. Sensei matches up with almost every story you've gushed about your super Senpai.'

"I do not 'gush'." I corrected immediately. Then her words registered in my mind. "...and what do you mean by almost?"

'Scarecrow is great and all' -She has a nickname for him too?- 'and we get along fine but I've found him to be less super and more sadistic.' Sora signed, I frowned at that. That wasn't true.

"Kakashi-senpai isn't a sadist! He's very kind." When he isn't teasing or being purposely vague and overly casual to irritate someone and get a reaction.

Her smile that was more of a smirk now, widened. 'Well Neko dear, you believe that because you're very obviously in love with him.'

My arms suddenly lost all strength and I almost dropped her then and there.

"Sora!" I cried indignantly.

Her shoulders began to shake and I frowned disapprovingly. This was far from the first time she's said something ridiculous like this. She's always believed that because I greatly respect and admire a man who was my first friend and basically saved my life, that I'm actually in love with him. She sounds just as silly as Senpai it's really no wonder they get along.

...I made a mental note to never be in the same room as them both at once.

Sora's laughter stopped and now she was looking at me with a serious expression. Her eyes were searching my face.

"Is there something on my face?" I ask. There shouldn't be, I haven't eaten lunch yet.

She shook her head and patted my shoulder, signaling me to set her down. Right. I was still holding her, wasn't I? I complied and Sora took my hand in hers before leading me to the dining table. We sat down and she let go of my hand to fold hers nervously in her lap. That's when I knew something was off.

"Sora, is something wrong?"

'I'm...' She faltered and looked away before getting up to get her notepad. Sora sat back down and clicked open the same pen I'd given her all those years ago.

"I'm ready to tell you." She still wasn't looking at me.

"...tell me about what, Sora?" At my voice she glanced back up. Her expression was hesitant and almost... scared when her eyes met mine again. I haven't seen her scared since... I balled my fist as the memory resurfaced.

It had been October by the time I found a trace of her again. I'd tracked Sora to one of the training facilities used by the Foundation, she'd been unhealthily thin from malnourishment and covered in dark bruises from their harsh training. The look of pure disbelief on her face when she saw me... Sora thought she'd been forgotten.

I still remember how it felt when she recoiled away from my outstretched hand, how she couldn't stop writhing in my arms as I carried her out of that place. I'd taken her to Yūgao at the ANBU wing of the hospital, the only medic I knew and could trust not to be apart of Ne.

My chest had constricted painfully as I watched Sora have a nervous breakdown when my medic squad mate came closer to heal her. It wasn't until a week later that Sora first spoke, she told me that it felt like it burned when she was touched by someone.

I blinked away the memories and was back in the present as Sora finished writing.

"I'm ready to talk about it. And something else." Sora took a steadying breath. "I want to talk about that time... and tell you about Terra."

I frowned.

Who's Terra?

自宅 Home

Neko's face was carefully blank.

His chakra was swirling with so many emotions that neither of us knew how he felt about everything I just told him. My palms were sweaty and I was currently resisting the urge to bounce my foot in a nervous habit.

From what I can see? He's not taking the news so well. Which is bad. I've never actually told anyone about Terra before, everyone else has found out by accident. There was that emotionally scarring camping trip in the Academy when Naruto, Shikamaru, Chōji and Kiba found out. And then the Bell test is when Sasuke and Kakashi met Terra.

I have never told anyone before, only explained myself afterwards.

And the whole Foundation thing... I don't even know where to begin with that! His first reaction had been surprise that I was bringing it up, the immediate second was concern and suspicion as to why I was bringing it up now. I explained to him what had happened with Duckie in Wave and he seemed to understand.

...I think.

'Oh my Kami, did I just make a huge mistake?'

No, love. No you didn't. You were ready to talk about this, you managed to tell everything to Kakashi without having a full-blown panic attack. We both know it's only fair to Tenzō that he hears this straight from you and not from that Scarecrow.

'Okay, I understand telling him about what happened when I was taken but why tell him about the Split? We've never told anyone before! What if he-'

-You trust him, Sky-girl. Now believe in him.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

...she was right, I know she was. I forgot that underneath all the immaturity and selfishness Terra has good intentions, even if she doesn't always say the right things.

I swallowed thickly as I opened my eyes again. Neko was still processing. Still unsure how to feel about everything.

"...Terra." He said almost numbly, the name rolled off his tongue strangely. So he's decided to start with that. "Why didn't you tell me about... her, earlier?"

Her voice was thick as it rang throughout my consciousness. Because we were afraid. Afraid of being locked away, of losing everything we love AGAIN, afraid of losing our mind afraid of...

I looked away before shrugging, my shoulders were heavy and I felt tired. I felt so tired and as old as my soul was.

'I was afraid of losing you.' I signed.

The quiet that followed was heavy and expectant on my side. I'd withdrawn into myself, pulling my sensing away with me. The only emotions I felt were my own and I was a mess. The longer he didn't speak the more I wanted to run right out my door, far away. I was resisting the urge to run so badly right now.

I didn't dare meet his eyes in case he was looking at me like I was some kind of stranger.

Neko sighed and rubbed the side of his face. He sounded tired too. I wonder if he even slept last night? He never does rest as much as he should, always overworking himself.

"Sora... I..."

I held my breath. Preparing myself for him to leave even though Terra and I both knew I couldn't possibly be anywhere prepared for that.

"Hey," He put a hand on my shoulder and turned me towards him, I still didn't meet his eyes. "Sora, you're not going to lose me."

My breath was shaky and my chest felt tight. I should believe him. He's never given me any reason not to. I should believe him... but...

"Look at me." I didn't. He placed his gloved hand on my cheek and lifted my face up. His voice was soft, almost pleading.

"Sora... please."

I lifted my eyes from scrutinizing the floor and I noticed that his face was blurrier than it should be. His brows were pinched together but he was smiling.

"See? I'm right here... you are not going to lose me."

My eyes were hot and I was getting short on breath. I ended up leaning forward and wrapping my arms around his neck. If I was holding on too tight, Neko didn't complain. His arms came around to hold me back.

He's here. He's not going anywhere. He's here and he's mine. My family, my precious person.

Mercy on anyone who tries to change that.

It's almost funny that the first person that came to mind was a certain spy with round glasses and identity issues.

I buried my face into the crook of his neck, relaxing into the feeling of his chakra. Safe and Reliable. I've no doubt that my own emotions have influenced how I see it, how it feels to me. Then there was his scent, that made things easier when I first came to the Leaf. I'd always found it strange that he could smell so much like Christmas. Pinecones with the slightest hint of cinnamon.

His chestnut-brown hair was soft against my cheek and I noticed that unlike when I usually hug Neko, his mask wasn't digging into my shoulder. He still was dressed in his ANBU gear sans the cloak. I wonder where his mask was? And his hitai-ate for that matter, it's rare to see him without either of them.

Even after all these years he's still not entirely comfortable just being... him. I know that sometimes he has trouble remembering who he is without the mask and the codename... I know what it's like to not recognize my name. Kinoe-Tenzō-'Tiger'-Yamato-Doesn't matter what he'll call himself tomorrow.

He's my Neko. Plain and simple.

There was a loud crash on the other side of the wall. The sudden commotion startled Neko, making him detach from my hug and tense in preparation of a retaliatory attack. Terra bemoaned the loss.

Now there was muffled shouting coming from Naruto's apartment.

Neko and I shared a look before standing and heading for the door. Outside, we heard the yelling getting louder and then things began to break. At this point I was fast-walking and yanking on the door handle to the Hero's apartment.

The sight that met me was not one that I'd been expecting.

There were about a dozen Naruto's wrestling around the apartment floor, shouting and flailing. The whole place was a mess and still smelt like something had died.

"WHY DO I HAVE TO CLEAN!? YOU CLEAN!" "BECAUSE I TOLD YOU TO 'TTEBAYO!" "GAAAH!" One just jumped off the kitchen table to preform a corkscrew moonsault on an unsuspecting clone. "OW!" "HEY, DON'T BREAK THINGS YOU IDIOT!" "GUYS! DON'T FIGHT, DATTEBAYO!" "YOU'RE JUST MAKING THINGS MESSIER 'TTEBAYO!" "WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!?"

I placed my hand on my forehand and sighed.

"...Naruto-kun learned how to make Shadow clones?" Oh right, Neko is still right behind me.

'This is so ridiculous.'

Yes, yes it is. But was it really so unexpected?

I lowered my hand and gave the group a very unimpressed look. There was a white 'poof' as one dispersed. None of them have even noticed that they had guests.

'No, it's not.' I agreed.

As another blonde climbed onto the kitchen table I decided that this was going too far. I pressed my fingers together and placed them in my mouth. Then I blew, the whistle was loud and succeeded in grabbing Naruto's attention. All the clones -the original somewhere in there too- stopped what they were doing and grabbed their ears and shouted. I noticed that Neko's brows pinched together but that was it.

When all the blonde heads turned to me I placed my hands on my hips and frowned disapprovingly. There was then a loud chorus of surprised; "Sora-chan!"

I gestured for the leader of the group to come forward and after a moment one of the Naruto's were ejected from the herd. The original stumbled forward, he shot a dark look at the others.

"...traitors." He mumbled. Then the blonde's eyes widened as he looked behind me and raised his voice and his hand to point at Neko. "KITTY-GUY!"

Dear Neko sighed, then shot me an exasperated look, I was smiling unrepentantly. I may or my not have encouraged Naruto whenever he would call Tenzō, 'Kitty'. It was a source of endless amusement to me and annoyance to Neko.

Nevertheless, Neko gave the blonde a warm smile and a nod, "Hello again, Naruto-kun."

The Hero narrowed his eyes into slits, his hand was still up. "Why're you here? I thought you only visited Sora-chan in the middle of the night 'ttebayo."

When he says it like that, people are bound to get the wrong impression. Judging by the mortification making it's way though Neko's chakra, he'd heard it that way too.

I swallowed a giggle when Neko pressed his lips into a firm line. I knew all to well that meant he was fighting down an embarrassed blush. I waved my hand dismissively at the Hero.

'He heard about our mission from Sensei. But never mind that, what is all this?' I gestured to the gang of Uzumaki. Suspicion was quickly washed away and replaced with a sheepish smile.

"We were, eh... cleaning 'ttebayo? Eheheheh... heh..." I raised an unimpressed brow at him. He frowned and crossed his arms over his chest defensively. "It's not my fault, dammit! These guys won't listen to me!"

I nodded empathically. I knew just how trying it can be to get Naruto to listen. 'Okay then. First things first, strip out of those filthy clothes, they haven't been washed in a month.'

In hindsight, I shouldn't have been so surprised when all the Naruto's began stripping then and there.

As soon as I realized what he was doing I began to wave my hands like mad, signaling him to abort! ABORT! Neko let out a shout of surprise before my vision was obscured by a gloved hand.

"Naruto-kun! I think you should go to your room and change out of your clothes." Neko said sternly, still covering my eyes.

"...oh. Well, okay... if it bothers you that much Kitty-guy."

"It doesn't-that's not!" Neko took a steadying breath and exhaled through his nose. "It's inappropriate to undress in front of a woma-gir-female! It's inappropriate Naruto-kun."

"Why? It's just Sora-chan, 'ttebayo." I snorted a laugh at his matter-of-fact tone. Neko sighed heavily.

I heard zippers being pulled back up as one set of feet headed towards the back room. Neko lowered his hand and I saw when the Hero came back out, -fully clothed- he'd thrown on some civilian clothing and his old sleeveless hoodie while his other clothes were gathered up and put in the hamper.

"So Kitty-guy... you said Kakashi-sensei told you about our mission? Did he tell you about Haku and Brow-less? And about how we all fought but that it's okay 'cause were all friends now?" The Hero asked excitedly. Neko made a small choking noise.

"...you're all... 'friends' now?" The ANBU croaked. His Safe and Reliable chakra began taking on a worrisome amount of dread. If I didn't know that he was overreacting then I might've tried to comfort the man.

Naruto grinned and quickly made himself comfortable at the dining table and began telling a grand story, filled with danger, gutsiness and heart.

I made tea for us while occasionally directing the Naruto workforce and half listening to the Hero recite the same story I've both lived through and heard half a dozen times already. I stopped my shoulders from trembling with repressed giggles as I noticed how swept up Neko became in Naruto's -slightly exaggerated- tale. They were so cute.

It's because of the stories you've read for him. Lord knows that he's got enough examples of good story-telling. Terra said.

I thought about the state of my apartment. I'd placed all the inks and research materials back into my multiple tiered storage seal and cleaned up and placed a good majority of my Before storybook collection back on the bookcase in my room but there was just too many books and not enough shelve space. There were still a couple stacks that were precariously high.

'Maybe I shouldn't have spent so much of my allowances on notebooks?' I wondered idly.

It was about an hour before the clones finished up cleaning the health hazard that was my best friend's apartment, each dispersing when they were done with their assigned task. Then there was a loud and noticeable growling sound. All eyes turned to the Hero's gut, he scratched his blonde head sheepishly.

"Eheheheheh..." Then he turned his baby blues towards me with a sunshine grin. "Sora-chan~ Let's go get some ramen~"

Neko stood. "Right. You've just got back this morning and probably haven't had time for lunch." he glanced at the clock above the sink. It was around five now. Wow, time flies. "...and it's almost time for dinner."

I looked up at my ANBU friend. 'Nothing survived while we were away so we're going to go out to eat. Do you want to join us?'

"Ah, no. I still..." His paled a bit and his eyes widened as he realized something. "...have paperwork to finish. Goodbye, Sora, Naruto-kun. I'm glad you both made it back safely."

And with one last glance, Neko Shunshin'd away. The Hero then bounced onto his feet, eager and starry-eyed with the prospect of ramen.

'Not so fast, Hero. Let's pick up groceries before the stalls close.' Predictably, the Hero's face scrunched up and he groaned, but he also went to grab his little froggie purse. Er, I mean... wallet.

Hands filled with groceries, we were finally headed towards Ichiraku's much to Naruto's joy. As we traveled down the dirt-packed street I someone I hadn't expected yet.

It was Sasuke, he was buying a small sack of rice at a street stall. I felt a smile tug on my lips as I saw he was carrying bags of groceries as well. The Hero stopped singing his ramen song when he noticed our Uchiha teammate. Blue eyes widened and his chakra swirled but he quickly schooled his features into something resembling disinterest.

"Oh... it's Sasuke." He said casually. At the sound of his name, the raven-haired boy looked towards us. His expression fell flat and his chakra spiked with annoyance.

"You guys again."

How cheerful. Terra drawled. I hope he doesn't hurt himself with all that energy.

I smothered a snicker and had a great idea as I eyed the Uchiha's groceries. My hands were full so I nudged Naruto with my elbow and he looked up at me curiously. I nodded towards Duckie and catching my meaning, he gave me a look.

Really? His eyes said. I nodded and he sighed heavily, but his chakra betrayed the flicker of hope he felt inside. Duckie had paid for his rice and was about to leave when Naruto spoke up.

"Hey..." Sasuke halted and turned his head half way to look back. Naruto was looking anywhere other than the other boy. "...you wanna get some ramen with us 'ttebayo?"

Sasuke blinked in surprise but showed no other outward reaction. His Hot and Thunderous chakra churned with curiosity and surprise. And buried underneath it all was...

I smiled. He glanced down at his bags before answering airily, like it didn't matter whatsoever.

"...fine."

Naruto quickly turned back down the road, towards Ichiraku's, to hide the grin pulling his lips. Sasuke kept his expression blank even though his chakra began swirling madly with mixed emotions. I rolled my eyes at the two boys on both sides of me.

The three of us had a nice dinner together, predictably noisy with bickering and there might have been a small competition to see who could eat their ramen the fastest, but... it was nice.

I woke up before dawn again this morning and easily fell back into my routine. I showered, dressed, made lunches and dropped off Sasuke's lunch before the sun rose. I was amused to find that he'd left a note on his door for me, or technically for the nameless woman who makes his lunches.

I just got back from a month-long mission. I forgot to tell you I wouldn't be needing lunch.

Sorry

He did forget. If I hadn't known where he was, I would've probably worried my head off if he just up and disappeared without notice like that.

I pointedly ignored how my chest constricted when I thought about Sasuke leaving unexpectedly, just up and disappearing.

...Sky-girl.

'Not gonna think about it right now. Put it in The Box.'

Done.

I left the apartment complex and stopped by a bakery, owned by one of the few people that didn't act like I was a plague, and picked up something sweet to eat. I made it back home just in time for Naruto to crawl out of bed. We made a quick breakfast of the things we bought the night before -with only a minor squabble when he tried to make a move for my anpan- and headed straight for the Academy/Hokage building.

Sasuke was already there and waiting when we arrived, Kakashi-sensei only kept us waiting about ten minutes before showing up. Scarecrow had guessed right when he said that the Sandaime would want a verbal report, so we each took a turn explaining what took place during our time in the Land of Waves. Naruto's report had, predictably, taken the longest.

Hiruzen had a proud and warm glow about his chakra by the time we finished. He praised us for our quick-thinking and adaptability to unforeseen circumstances and gave us a couple days leave before we were to return to out genin-ly duties.

As soon as we left the hall Scarecrow made plans for us to meet for some training tomorrow -a.k.a. running/avoiding decapitation via Gai training methods- and leisurely strolled away, nose in his orange book.

Duckie just walked off without saying anything. The Hero turned to me, grinning. "So what'cha wanna do, Sora-chan? You wanna go train 'ttebayo?"

Actually... I already had something in mind. 'I actually wanted drop by and say hello to Mouse. It's been a month since I last saw her.'

Naruto's smile faltered before it split his face again. "Ah! That's right! I need to tell Konohamaru all about how awesome I was during our A-Rank mission! Ehehehehe! He's gonna be SO jealous when I tell him 'ttebayo!"

I smiled at him before reaching over and ruffling his fluffy blonde hair. 'See you at dinner.' I signed. He gave me another grin before we set off in different directions.

The Hyuuga compound was located directly north-east of the Shopping District. I made my way through the side-alleys, trying to avoid being spotted unnecessarily, I stopped by the western most wall that surrounded the compound. It was the second Sunday of the month and that meant the clan guards should be focused on the southern service entrance and the bi-monthly shipment of fabric coming in. I did a quick scan with my chakra sense, finding no one I turned back to the twelve-foot stone wall.

Then I hopped over it.

Why was I sneaking in? Well, due to some unfair circumstances I may or may not be banned from entering the Hyuuga compound for the rest of this mortal life.

...it's a long story.

Long, but funny. And you totally deserve it. Terra chimed in.

I ignored her and instead focused on not getting caught. It wasn't like I was some eight year-old bratling that would only get a slap on the wrist if I was found. I was considered an adult by the Village now, and as such would be punished as one for trespassing on a clan's grounds without permission, especially after being warned on multiple occasions to stay away.

...but Mouse was my only female friend in this whole crazy place! There's only so much masculinity and boyishness I can take before I'll go insane. The risk was definitely worth it.

Sneaking along the wall I made my way towards a familiar little ball of chakra nearby one of the main branch's buildings. Poking my head around the corner, I gave a low whistle to get the girl's attention.

A brown head of hair swiveled around and Hanabi-chan's pale eyes widened as she caught sight of me, she dashed over and hugged my waist. I tried not to wince at the pressure on my still sore ribs.

"Sora-neesan! You're back!" I ruffled her already messy -and sweaty- hair as she pulled back. The seven year-old beamed up at me. "Nee-sama had told me that you left the village on a mission, where did you go? Was it exotic? Were there any epic battles? Did you meet a prince?" She gasped, and then her face took on an all too serious and dare I say? Almost accusing look.

"...did you fall in love?"

This was adorable. I felt like sweatdropping. This was a very sweatdropable moment, I thought. I smiled indulgently at the younger girl and shook my head in the negative. She can be just as cute as her sister sometimes.

Terra made a disapproving sound. You've corrupted her. Before she used to be a solemn, serious and set in her stuffy Hyuuga ways little butt-kicker. But now she's a whimsical daydreamer with fairytales filling her pretty little head.

'Yet still a butt-kicker.' I corrected. 'Jeez Terra, you sound like stuffy Hiashi or that old prig, Hiroto. You know you love this Hanabi just fine.'

Well, yes. I adore the little firecracker but that's not my point.

'Then what is your point?'

I... I've forgotten now, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with butterflies and hurricanes in Mizu.

'...okay, got it.' I didn't really, but it makes her feel better when I say it.

Thankfully, Hanabi-chan didn't look too disappointed with my answer. "Oh well! By the way, Nee-sama has been awfully depressed since you and Naru-baka left, and I've tried everything to cheer her up! Not even for cinnamon rolls!"

Not even for her favorite dessert? Well that's really bad then, I should find her. I pulled out my notepad and clicked my pen,

"I came by to visit her. Do you know where your sister is?" I asked. I didn't sense Mouse on my way in.

"I think Nee-sama is out on a mission, she should be back before dinner but I guess that she could've returned home early-oh! I can check!" She folded her hands into a focusing seal. "I've been working on improving the range of my Byakugan since that last time you visited! I can search the entire compound now!"

Hanabi-chan whispered a soft 'Byakugan' and veins protruded around her eyes as she scanned for her sister. I took a moment to appreciate the day, it was bright and the sun was warm on my cheeks. Spring was on it's last legs and weather was finally getting warm again.

It's strange that my definition of 'warm' has drastically changed after spending half my second life in the Land of Fire. Thankfully, my body adapted to the heat over time. I'd never really known what egg feels like when it's begin fried before I spent my first summer here. Land of Fire natives seem to have some sort of extreme heat tolerance, that's why they can get away with wearing jacket and hoodies when they should be getting heatstroke. I do still notice the odd traveling merchants that visit the Village will just melt during the summer time.

The littlest Hyuuga princess gasped as she turned around and started pushing me into an adjacent room. I had only a moment to wonder 'what was happening!?' before she shoved me into what looked like a dojo, probably where she was just training before I showed up.

"He's coming! Sora-neesan you have to hide!" She whispered harshly.

'Wait, does she mean-'

HIDE! HIDE NOW! Terra cried, panic lacing her voice.

I did as I was told and went towards the wall and flattened myself against one of the building's support beams, withdrawing my chakra into my core, Hanabi-chan quickly and quietly closed the door behind me. I held my breath as I heard the soft padding of footsteps approach from outside. There was three headed our way, all with the same crystal ring that was unique to a Hyuuga's chakra. I'm only familiar with Mouse's, everyone else felt the same to me. Hanabi-chan's chakra was anxious, worried and filled with rebellious excitement all at once.

Totally corrupted. Terra whispered.

'Hush, I'm trying to listen.' The footsteps halted and man's voice spoke.

"Hanabi. Were you speaking with someone just now?" Oh, crap. That was Hiashi.

"Hello Otou-sama, Ojii-sama... Neji-san." Well she doesn't sound happy to see him. Did he spar with Mouse while I was away? "No, Otou-sama. I was just reciting the Shinobi Rules for class."

'That... was actually a pretty good lie.' I thought. Then wondered where exactly she learned to lie?

She's a princess of a prominent Shinobi clan of a Hidden Ninja Village. Where do you think? Terra answered dryly.

"...I see." Hiashi murmured. His chakra didn't spike and no one activated their Byakugan, so I guess they believed the Firecracker.

A leathery voice spoke, I recognized that it belonged to the jackwad Hiroto. The honored Hyuuga elder. "As diligent as always, Hanabi-kun. You would do good to also train your body as well as your mind."

"Of course, Ojii-sama. Nee-sama and I have plans to spar tonight after dinner. She's not here at the moment though." ...and that was her subtle way of letting me know she had finished checking the compound. Hanabi-chan's going to be a great kunoichi one day.

I wonder... is that a good or a bad thing? My other half drawled. I tried not to think too much about the answer.

Hiroto made a disapproving noise in the back of his throat. "Well... even so, I think that you'll find more of a challenge facing an opponent such as Neji-kun instead of your sister."

Hanabi-chan's chakra spiked up protectively at the same time I clenched my fists. It was the Hyuuga prodigy who spoke this time. His voice was cool and dispassionate as he regarded the main branch members.

"I'm afraid I cannot commit myself to anything, Hiroto-sama. My team and Jonin-sensei will be arriv-"

He was cut-off by a boisterous voice booming throughout what seemed like the entire compound. I could feel their chakra from here, they were blazing like bonfires even from this distance.

"NEJI! ARE YOU READY FOR ANOTHER DAY OF HARD WORK AND EXPERIENCING THE SPRINGTIME THAT IS YOUR YOUTH!?"

Oh my Gai. Then there was another voice, one slightly higher in pitch but no less exuberant.

"YOSH! I FEEL AS IF MY YOUTHFUL SPIRIT IS BURNING LIKE A THOUSAND FLAMES! LET US GO NEJI! THE DAY PASSING US BY!"

I bit the inside of my cheek to stop myself from laughing when I felt the mortification seep into Neji's chakra. Gai and Lee are so awesome...!

Neji excused himself quietly and joined his teammates at the main entrance, he was practically simmering. Hiashi then stole his younger daughter away for clan training, chakra exercises in the garden he said. Then it was just Hiroto on the other side of the paper wall.

It was quiet for a tense moment and I thought that maybe, somehow, the old curmudgeon had sensed me there, but his chakra never gave any sign of acknowledgment. He turned and headed back towards the main house.

I was still holding my breath as I snuck back out the way I came in. I hopped back over the wall into the alley and landed in a crouch on the other side. I would have to look elsewhere for my Hyuuga princess. If she wasn't here then she'd probably be with-

-"Oi!" My head snapped up at the exact voice I was just thinking about. I turned around to see Shino and Kiba and... Akamaru! Kiba had a smirk on his face. "What are you doing here, Pomegranate?"

I waved and practically skipped over to the three boys and reached over to scratch the young Inuzuka pup behind his fluffy ears. Akamaru yipped in greeting and Kiba frowned slightly, but he allowed me to pet his furry partner. I may have met up with Hinata on occasion but it's been months since I've seen anyone else from our class.

"Sora-san." Shino greeted in monotone. "Why were you sneaking out of the Hyuuga clan's compound?" I turned to the Aburame heir and began to reach for my notepad but stopped when he raised his hand.

"There's no need to write your answer. That's because I can understand your sign language."

I blinked in surprise. Really? Then I raised my hands, 'You can understand me? How?' I asked.

"I learned from observation. Because, after sharing a classroom for six years, one would only be naturally curious about a secret language spoken between classmates. I only understood the commonly used signs though, the rest was taught to me. That's because, Hinata has been a considerable help."

Wow. I grinned wide at the Aburame boy. 'Then it's nice to finally speak with you.'

He nodded. "And you as well, Sora-san."

"Yeah, yeah." Kiba rolled his eyes. "So why were you sneakin' out Pomegranate?"

'I was looking for Hinata. She's not here though.' I signed. 'How about you guys?'

"We are looking for Hinata as well. That's because..." Shino adjusted his glasses. "We have missions to complete."

Oh... I probably won't get any time to Hinata and myself if that's the case. And as much as I want to see her right now, I probably won't be able to let her go with a quick; 'Hello, I survived! It was nice seein' you, buh-bye!'

...pooh. I suppose I'll just have to find her another time then.

I swatted Kiba's encroaching hand away from my head. I looked up and narrowed my eyes at the shaggy-haired boy. He smiled unrepentantly, showing of his canines.

"'Ya think too much, Pomegranate." I rolled my eyes and waved my hand dismissively at him.

'You need to think more, Dog-boy.' He scowled, obviously insulted. 'I'll leave Hinata to you two then. Tell her I was looking for her.'

I gave the two boys a mock two-fingered salute before turning on my heel and headed off in search of something to do.

調査 Study

Holding on tightly to the card the librarian had given me, I walked through one of the older and less frequented sections of Konoha's public library. I was in the Basement, looking for the texts Nori-sensei had recommended for learning more about Yin release techniques, something more advanced than what's available in the general library upstairs.

I was lucky that Nori-sensei had vouched for me so I could get into this area of the library, she had told me that only chuunin and above were allowed in here. I was in awe of this place. The only light were dim and cheap fluorescent bulbs but area had to be a mile long in every direction, the bookcases had to be fifteen feet tall! And each and every one of them were filled with scrolls and books of all kinds!

...I could probably spend weeks in here and not be able to learn a fraction of the knowledge here. I got goosebumps just thinking about it.

Looking at the signs above the rows and checking the card occasionally I made my way further into the Basement, searching for the section dedicated to the study of chakra. It was about ten minutes after first coming downstairs that I realized I was completely and utterly lost.

I'm such a idiot! This is exactly the reason why... I...

Gritting my teeth, I push the unhelpful thoughts aside I glare at the little card and begin to look around. I see nothing but rows and rows of books under the dim, grey lights.

Not another soul around.

It was kinda chilly down here, I notice. I rubbed my hands up and down my bare arms to get some kind of friction and warmth. I should've worn my sleeved qipao dress today.

...maybe I should just turn back?

I'm doing well enough in my studies now that I don't need to do any extra research. It's not like I'm trying to impress anyone. Nori-sensei assures me that I'm doing great in the program, that I'm the best she's seen in years. I don't have to-

-I hear whistling.

Someone was whistling a song. Why is there whistling I thought I was alone down here? The librarian didn't mention anything about someone else being down here... an idea struck me and I chewed on my bottom lip.

...I wonder if they know how to find what I'm looking for?

I looked around again. There was still not a person to be seen, only a gentle song filling the air. I took in a fortifying breath and followed the music.

Turning a corner, into the 'Theory and Application' section -at least that's what the sign had said- I saw a pair of legs stretched out across the floor. I blinked, confused now. The whistling was coming from the person whose those legs belonged to.

The body belonging to the legs was hidden behind a couple stacks of books. I blinked again when I saw a pair of hands holding one of the same books Nori-sensei recommended! I took another few steps to get around the stacks of books and saw a face I hadn't seen in months.

"...Sora-san?"

Lilac eyes snapped up to meet mine as soon as I said her name. I brushed a stray lock of pink hair from my face as I regarded the older girl. Sora quickly looked around, as if she didn't even notice me before. When her eyes landed on me again she gave a friendly smile and a small wave.

Why would she smile at me? Why be friendly? Was she just faking it? Is that what it is? Her being nice and friendly so that I'd lower my guard and she can make me look like a fool, just like Naruto always loved to do. The older girl picked up a notepad from beside her and wrote.

"Hi."

...hi.

I'm probably overthinking things again, aren't I? Nori-sensei complains that I need to listen to my brain less and trust my instincts more. Now I want to smack myself because I realize I still haven't said hello back.

I ducked my head in an old nervous habit. "Hello Sora-san. I didn't think anyone else was down here." My voice seemed so loud in this quiet place.

She nodded and wrote. "Not many people come down to the Archives. I've been doing some studying of Yin and Yang release for my Fuinjutsu research."

She was... researching? Fuinjutsu. That's right, she's a user of seals isn't she? In class she was always doodling or reading strange textbooks. But what does Yin and Yang release have to do with storage seal paper bombs? And another thing, what was she even doing down here, only chuunin and above are allowed and there hasn't been a chuunin exam since before we graduated. Don't tell me that she... I always knew that she was a delinquent but did she really break into here to read!?

...cha! That's so cool! I wish I could do something adventurous like that!

Oooor... maybe she got permission from a jonin like I did. I should probably ask before jumping to conclusions. "Sora-san are you supposed to be here? I was told only chuunin and above were allowed access."

"I have permission." Oh, okay. I stood there awkwardly, shifting my weight back and forth on my feet. She watched me for a moment before going back to what she was doing.

I still need that book. The book she's reading currently. Maybe there's another one? I decide to check the nearby shelves. I end up finding a lot on chakra theory and regular Nature release but... I'm pretty sure that Sora has everything I'm looking for.

Glancing back at the older girl I notice that she has an eyebrow raised and is looking right at me. I must look like a complete idiot wandering around like this!

Sora picked up the pad, not even writing on it. "Do you need help finding something?" When did she write that?

"A-Actually..." I faltered, nervously tugging on a long lock of my hair.

C'mon Sakura! Just ask for the damn book! It's not like she needs it anymore than you do!

Hell yeah! I can do this! I took a fortifying breath and looked directly at the older girl. "I need that book."

Sora's eyes followed where I was pointing and she blinked. Then she closed it and held it out towards me.

Well that was easy.

I frowned slightly. "You don't need this?" I asked.

She shook her head and gave me a soft smile. The same kind of soft smile she gave me all those months ago... I stepped forward and took the book from her hands. She pulled another one down from the stack beside her and went back to reading.

Okay then.

I look down at the textbook in my hands, then I looked around for a table or somewhere to sit and read. My shoulders sagged when I realized that there wasn't any. I guess that's why Sora is just sitting there. Well, Nori-sensei didn't give me the whole day off to screw around, I still had to be back in three hours for my shift at the hospital and I'm pretty sure the librarian with the harsh face upstairs had made a vague threat on my life if I dared to remove any of the books from the Basement.

I sat down and began to read. It was silent except for the occasional sound of a page turning or the scribbling of Sora's pen. We spent about an hour like that, in companionable silence. Neither of us felt the need to make conversation and I was just fine with that.

...that is, until I glanced at her notes. They were wrong. She was reading a medical textbook on chakra discharge through the skin, like when using the Mystical Palm Technique. She was understanding the text wrong, thinking it's similar to how people sweat, through the pores. It's not really her fault though, Nori-sensei had to explain it to me in simple terms before I got it. Usually I wouldn't be so nosy and correct her like the know-it-all the others at the hospital call me and just focus on my own studies except... except for the fact that her notes were wrong. I found I couldn't stop myself from speaking up.

"Uhm, Sora-san..." I paused and worried my bottom lip between my teeth. I wasn't sure how she might react, I didn't actually know her all that well.

Her lilac eyes looked up at me before she tilted her head to the side, causing her fringe to move to the side. I always wondered what kind of color her hair was. Ino-pi... Ino and I talked about it once, in Kunoichi class, -we decided it was pink coral, like the some of the jewelry Ino's mother had- when Sora had her hair much longer than it is now.

...it still hasn't fully grown back.

She gestured for me to continue.

"...you've got the wrong idea about Urata-sensei's theory on the manipulation and discharge of chakra through the epidermis." I spoke quickly and without taking a breath.

Sora looked at me oddly, glancing back down at her notes before writing. "How do you mean?"

"Well..." I faltered, pressing my lips into a firm line.

What if I'm wrong and I make a fool of myself? She's obviously been here awhile and has to have some idea of what she's talking about and who am I to just walk up and tell her that she's wrong?! I mean-

-She's frowning slightly and waving a hand in front of my face. I felt my cheeks warm with embarrassment as she signed in the Standard. 'Status' She was asking if I was okay again.

I tucked my head down slightly, my cheeks were burning now. I can't believe I just spaced off like that! I'm such an airhead!

Sora just smiled softly before she tapped her page again.

Okay Sakura. You opened your big mouth in the first place, time to own up and explain yourself! I nodded firmly to myself and took another deep breath.

I looked back up at the older girl. "Well, Urata-sensei's theory is based-"

選択 Choice

I just spent the last hour discussing the theory and application of Yin and Yang chakra with Haruno Sakura. I'd always known that she was smart, it was obvious to anyone. What I didn't know is that she was a total nerd! I thought that she was a know-it-all because she wanted to noticed by Duckie, but that not true! She really and truly likes knowing all the answers.

I felt a lot more affection for the sweetie.

Terra snorted a laugh. You're so sappy! Last year I'm pretty sure she wanted to set your head on fire.

'Don't be ridiculous.' I asked, knowing that it was fruitless. Terra was always going to be a drama queen.

Anyway, the rosette just left, saying that her shift at the Konoha Hospital was going to begin soon. I felt such an overwhelming amount of relief when I learned that she was still on the path to becoming a medic.

She seemed happy.

She deserves to be happy.

Speaking of happy endings... we were discussing something before, weren't we? I frowned. We were.

I look back down at my lists. The ones hidden underneath my Funinjutsu notes. The lists of people who are going to die that I could potentially save. I look at the name on the top of my list, the closest and most impactful one.

Sarutobi Hiruzen.

He's going to die. Killed by Orochimaru during the Konoha Crush. The Old man has made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he's become one of the people that I care for.

...I don't want him to die yet.

And how exactly are we going to stop THAT? You can't do anything personally to stop Orochi-teme and the people who CAN wouldn't be able to get past the barrier being constantly maintained by the Sound Four.

She's right. At the time I'll probably, most likely be chasing after Naruto and Sasuke, making sure they don't get themselves killed via bloodthirsty Gaara. And thus, far away from the stadium and unable to assist Hiruzen. And I don't even know where to begin with taking down Orochimaru's barrier!

From what I remember it required to constant maintenance of four people simultaneously. That rules out a handful of formulas and gives me some idea of what I'm dealing with. But the problem lies with the fact the barrier can't be dispelled in the traditional way, by taking out the casters. The Sound Four are protected both in and out, so one would have to take out the barrier itself. The very same barrier that's meant to be impenetrable...

I rubbed my temples, feeling the beginnings of a headache coming on.

That's why I was researching Yin and Yang applications for Fuinjutsu. Maybe I could make some kinda seal that can put a person into a suspended state of animation. Maybe stall Hiruzen's demise long enough for Tsunade to show up and save the day. I have no fudging idea how to get it to him and there's the fact that something like this never been done before!

It's totally Sci-fi but the rules get broken in this world on a daily basis. It was beyond slim but, there was a chance.

Y'know... lots of other things are going to happen during the exam. What are you going to do about... all that. I got the impression that she waved her hand vaguely, gesturing to the whole Arc.

'I'll deal with things one at a time.' I deflected. I knew what she was really getting at, I just didn't want to talk about it.

Mm-hmm... and what about Sasuke? She just had to say it, didn't she? As much as I always fret over Naruto I know he'll be fine no matter what happens. Sasuke though... he's the real problem child.

'What about him Terra?'

You can't save him. Well that was blunt. Much like a cricket bat to the sternum. I'm serious, Sky-girl. There's nothing we can do for him.

I frowned thoughtfully. '...we need a Pro's and Con's list.'

No we-Sigh... as per usual, you'll be pro and I'll be con. You first.

'Pro: Sasuke stays sane.'

That's iffy at best. Insanity is the chlorine of the Uchiha gene pool.

'Well that's not very fair.'

Con: WHEN he finds out the truth about the massacre, -when, because it's really only a matter of time- he'll still go nuts and try to kill everyone. Us included.

'We can't know that for certain. Pro: Sasuke stays and we can help him make the right decisions. We can help him, I know we can.'

Ha! You really are a daydreamer. Con: Sasuke doesn't get strong. He doesn't get strong and he can't help stop the end of the world.

'You can't pull that end of the world stuff! Sasuke is capable of getting strong without that snake and if he's here then that means he won't be kidnapping Killer B and starting the Fourth Shinobi War!'

And then Zetsu and Tobi will just find another way to start the War and we'll be underprepared!

Oh, there was that headache now. I blame Duckie for this headache. It's really all his fault, why does he have to be so troublesome?

'We're just going in circles, Terra. Put the Sasuke problem in The Box to deal with later.'

...to be continued then. I felt Terra relent and sink further to the back of my mind.

I turned my focus back to the textbooks in front of me.

Before anything else can actually change, I have a lot of work to do.

Formula Arc,

Chapter Eighteen: "New Plans"

END

A/N: Lots of work indeed.

I know I don't always respond to reviews but I'm not jokin' around when I say I'm reading your guys' reviews each week. Maybe I'm sounding like a broken record here but they really get me through the week and inspire me when I write. So, once again Thank You xenozanaan, Noface, DiabolicalGenius1, Jayla Fire Gal, Yuki Suou, Ciel Blaze, Dark Rose Charm, Ankaa Sage, ToshimiOkami, AmandaPandaOh, Mary D. Black2000, slayst, fanfic addict o.0 and kurolothgarian. Thanks, you guys.

Yes, Sora teases a YamaxKaka and Kakashi teases a YamaxSora. They are mean to their poor, poor Tenzō... Heaven help him if they're all in the same room. By the way, no one is actually IN LOVE with anyone... yet. Just great affection/respect all around.

Hanabi seem different to you guys? There's a perfectly good reason for that, that will be shown eventually. Probably in the Interlude where it gets explained why exactly Sora is banned from the Hyuuga compound.

...what? They attended the Academy for six years. Sora was bound to get into trouble somewhere.

SAKURA! How was that for a surprise POV? -Still not the '&!%$' one- She wasn't supposed to show up until the exams but... there she is! So many people Sakura-bash but they don't really get all the sides of her. The poor baby has self-esteem issues like no one would believe, a good majority of them caused by Sasuke. And there was Inner Sakura speaking, Sora's not the only one with a voice in her head!

So how I understand her character is, when she didn't graduate her self-esteem took a huge blow. Without someone like Ino to help pick up the pieces and build her back up, Sakura has basically reverted into the shy and lonely little girl she once was. You'll be seeing some more of my Sakura from now on.

Well, some Rookie 9 action guys. Team 10 was AWOL this chapter apparently.

Author Question!

"What is the biggest change you would make to the story? Whether it's be someone lives who's not supposed to or someone else dies. What do you think would make a really interesting story?"

Me? Well, you'll find out what changes I'll make soon enough. On an off-hand note though I think it would be interesting to see what kind of world it would be like if Uzushiogakure had not been destroyed. Food for thought.

'Til next time guys! Wuv yew all!

-Nanami

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