Naruto Fan Fiction!
"A Song for Them"
A/N: THERE! I DID IT! Sorry about the post time but I could not, I repeat, could not allow this Arc to go on any further. So, long write time and long wait time.
I'm happy to let you guys know that I have sorted out the laundry list of issues that is Uchiha Sasuke and figured out how he feels this time. Next time? Who the hell knows. Other news? You guys are incredible but I suppose that's not really news, is it? Enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: I do not own 'Naruto' or any of the cannon characters! I wish I owned a copy of Icha-Icha for myself. For educational purposes, of course.
WARNING! RATED M! For warnings of Language and a side of violence and... hm. Not much except some (read: a lot of) angst because Sora is just having one hell'uva time here.
Dark Forest Arc,
Chapter Thirty-Four: "The Day Icha-Icha Saved My Life"
"You get into the biggest fights with the people you care most about, because those relationships are worth fighting for." -Anon E. Muss
Pain shot through my arm and I moved on instinct, left hand snapping up and seizing a small wrist. My eyes shot open when I heard a small whimper. Vision focusing, I see that girl Sora brought with her was crouched over me, her face was screwed up like she was in pain.
"U-Uchiha-san, please let go!" she squeaked. I glanced at the thin wrist in my grasp and frowned. I was barely adding any pressure to it. I let go of her wrist and she clutched it to her chest, flashing a glare at me before quickly wiping it from her face and lowering her head.
Pushing myself off my stomach, being careful not to put too much weight on my injured arm. Once up I directed an irritated look at her, I could feel my head was still fogged with sleep as I opened my mouth to demand an answer to why I was woken up in the middle of the damned night. There wasn't any attack so why the hell was this girl prodding me awake? Sora was on watch, so why would she even let her-she wouldn't.
I was suddenly awake. Sitting upright and eyes now alert and scanning the area to not find-"Damn it!" I growled under my breath. That stupid, idiotic girl! I turned to the red-haired girl and she flinched away at the look I pinned her with, "Where did she go."
The girl whose name escapes me at this moment looked exceptionally small as she pointed down the riverside and mumbled something about sensing someone approach from the other side of the river before Sora started acting strangely, then stalked off followed by the new presence. So what I understand is that Sora had left to engage with a possible hostile by herself.
I swear, I was going to throttle her once I find her.
Leaving Naruto where he was still snoring cluelessly I stood and began marching down the woods alongside the river, crossing at the first convenient chance, with the intention of beating some damned sense into her thick head if she wasn't already dead. What the hell was Sora even thinking?! Leaving Naruto and I unconscious and in the presence of an foreign ninja to run off-we were ASLEEP! That girl could've slit our throats for-
-I stared and couldn't look away. There was a jagged scar right across her throat. I blink the memory away and just like that, my anger evaporates as my pace slowed.
Right. She was an idiot and she was reckless with herself... but she was usually cautious when it came to other people, especially when it came to Naruto. Seeing as how that girl had the sense to wake me up instead of being quiet or going after Sora herself -or worse, woken Naruto up instead- then I guess I don't have to keep expecting a kunai when my back is turned. Not as much, at least.
She was still an idiot.
Okay, so I was a little pissed with her still.
In the shadows of the trees I followed the direction the girl had pointed in for a quarter of a mile until I finally spotted Sora's hair, standing out in the with that bright color against the natural shades. She was standing about ten meters ahead with her head lowered, body was tense and back was facing me-I stilled, pressing myself to a tree when I saw an unfamiliar figure a few feet away from her. So she did lead someone out here.
After I was sure that I hadn't been spotted I silently approached them, making sure not to make a sound as I stayed to the taller brush, another step closer, making sure to stay out of sight as I tried to see who the figure was more clearly. It was dark where he was standing but I could see the glint of a headband and see pouches strapped to his legs. he was standing a few inches taller than Sora. I was surprised to find that I recognized him. It was that glasses guy from the other day, the one Sora had almost attacked back in the classroom.
What was she doing with him now? Just who was this guy? Her reaction to seeing him was... I'd never seen her act like that. She had drawn a weapon and prepared to attack faster than anyone could react, and the way she didn't seem to hear when we called her name. It's obvious that she already knew it was him beforehand, otherwise she would've woken us up so we could defend ourselves. I was sure. The only reason why she didn't I could think of was that she didn't want us to know. But why?
My mind flashed with images of bloody hands and a grin that was too wide. I swallowed thickly, feeling the air get heavier.
…did she not tell us because she was planning on killing this guy?
If she was then... what was I going to do about it? Why should I do anything? If she wanted to kill him then she had her reasons right? It's not like she'd do it for f-her smile was too wide. A sword that kept coming down again and again-I willed away the memories and focused on the present. Even then, those men were there to kill us. We were outnumbered and they would've not hesitated to kill us instead. She did what she had to. And now with this guy... there's no reason for me to interfere.
She fell apart after she saw the corpse.
That's... she'd be completely useless if that happened again, I know it. We can't open ourselves up like that while we're in here so... I'll stop her before anything happens this time. Even if I have to hurt her to snap her out of that haze or whatever came over her the last time, I'll stop her this time.
I heard the glasses guy begin to speak and my hand went to my kunai pouch as I strained my ears to listen over the sound of the river next to us. "-told you that I'm only here to help... you may not believe me right now but I am looking out for you." he said.
Sora scoffed in response, the sound coming out harsh and angry, also completely unlike her. What did this guy do? Something happened between them because the air had suddenly gotten thick, like killing intent. I could feel it from where I was concealed. Sora signed in Standard, I could see her hands were trembling. She must be exhausted, she hasn't slept still.
'Leave' He stared at her and I wondered if I would have to step in when he spoke up, "This was interesting. I'll look forward to the next time we speak, Sora-kun."
He disappeared in a swirl of leaves and my eyes widened as I realized that guy is not a genin. There was a sound of something landing on the ground. It was Sora, she had suddenly fell to the ground. Her entire body was shaking as she wrapped her arms around herself.
As her breaths kept getting shorter and shallower I made the decision to step out from where I was hiding. I purposely stepped on a branch and immediately, her head whipped around and her eyes widened as she looked at me, hands fumbling for a kunai. I kept the grimace off my lips and didn't say anything as her unfocused eyes darted over me, searching my face. After a full minute she blinked rapidly as before she shut them firmly, forcing herself to slow her breathing down. When her eyes opened again they were still unfocused, never staying in one spot long enough, but she looked significantly calmer than she was seconds ago.
Her hands were still shaking badly as she raised them to sign, she swallowed, 'How long have you been there?'
"Long enough." I answered shortly, her eyes went wide. "Who was that guy you were speaking with?"
She didn't answer me as her breathing picked up again, faster now. I thought that she might actually pass out so I took another step towards her, calling her name to get her attention. "Sor-"-in the next moment she was on her feet and moving past me-I reached out a hand-she was headed towards the-'SPLASH!'-She just jumped into the river! Her head submerged under the water's surface and I was already heading toward the edge and leaning over -that idiot! Is she trying to drown herself!?- only to get splashed as she sprung back up.
"God damn it!" I cursed, feeling the cold water soak my shirt and the bandages underneath. She sputtered, spitting water from her mouth and I glared angrily at her. "What the hell!? Are you out of your mind!"
She wiped some of the water from her face and combed back her wet hair with a shuddering sigh. When purple eyes glanced back up at me they were focused and she looked almost like usual. Almost. She signed while waist-deep in the water, 'Are you just figuring this out?'
I scowled and continued to glare at her, pulling the front of my now-wet shirt off of my skin. She waded over to the edge and pulled herself back out, standing and beginning to wring out her soaked clothing. I watched her closely as she seemed to have gotten over that panic attack, the shock of the cold water must have snapped her out of it.
When she was mostly finished she straightened out and faced me again, a reflexive smile plastered on yet again as she signed. 'What are you doing out here? You are supposed to be sleeping.'
My frown deepened. "I asked a question first." Sora didn't even blink at my tone, she kept that stupid smile on her face instead of scowling in response or complaining about how rude I sounded. She just kept smiling and it was starting to piss me off for some reason.
She waved her hand dismissively, 'He is nobody.'
Her smile dropped as she looked at me in surprise.
"Try again." She frowned and I considered that a success, she was finally paying attention to me. I continued pushing, "You put everyone at risk when you left suddenly without waking anyone up. I deserve an answer why."
She grimaced, running a hand through her hair before signing, 'I'm sorry for that but I had to deal with something and it couldn't wait. About what it was about...' she sighed, glancing away from my face. 'Please, not tonight. Ask me another time.'
"Why?" I repeat firmly.
I wasn't letting this go. I hadn't pushed it the question last time because I wrote it off as her being high-strung due to the Exams and I still wouldn't usually push it, her past was her own, but now it's interfering with her focus. And whatever just happened between her and that guy left her a shaking mess that couldn't even sense me walk up to her. If I had been an enemy then she'd already be captured.
I need to know if I'll be able to count on her to defend herself.
'You-' she stopped and raised her hand to rub her temple briefly as she glared at me, beginning to look annoyed with me. Lile I was the one being unreasonable. 'I am not in the mood for this. I just-' she flailed for a moment, '-I am tired. Okay. Just give me a break.'
Feeling my frustration build, I was tempted to pinch the bridge of my nose to ward off the headache I could feel forming. "Of course you're tired... you've been refusing to rest! What else you did expect to happen?"
She raised her hands and pretended to strangle me. I was thoroughly unamused.
So she was angry with me. That was obvious, but why? Was this about what I said the other night? I held back a grimace. I... had reacted badly, I was aware of that. In hindsight it was stupidly obvious that she would consider me like that, -she was an idiot, she wants everyone to like her- and I should've handled it better but... it still had taken me off-guard. Still, she's been around me long enough to know better than to say something like that to me, I wasn't like the Idiot. I had a family.
All I want now it to kill the last person who shares my name and finally, finally be done seeing their faces.
"Look, I... if this is about the other night then," I grimaced, trying to force the right words out. I wasn't sorry for what I said, no. But... I did regret the look on her face after I had said it though. I should've had a better hold on my emotions. "It wasn't personal."
Well, that wasn't what I wanted to say.
Sora actually looked at me like I was stupid then. Ugh. Maybe the Idiot was rubbing off on me. The entire problem was how personal this was. I pinched the bridge of my nose and exhaled in annoyance. This was getting us nowhere. She was refusing to give anything, she's completely shut down. I have to try a different approach.
'You should head back now.' she signed, turning her back to me and effectively dismissing me. I scowled and my hand shot out and wrapped around her arm, her entire body stiffened as wide eyes snapped to my hand. Neither of us moved and she just stared at my hand with an almost panicked look in her eyes. It was then I noticed I had wrapped my hand around where that Mark was. I let go and it was only as she quickly stepped away, putting a few feet between us that I noticed she had been holding her breath.
"Look, we're... a team, right?" I tried, "We're supposed to be able rely on each other." That's what Kakashi keeps saying at least.
I knew instantly that was the wrong thing to say as she looked at me like I'm the one who's lost my mind. 'Did you really just say that?' she asked with a gape, 'You, who thinks the rest of us are just a waste of space on the best of days and obstacles to get over all the other time?'
Her reaction caused me to grimace. Not exactly untrue. Kami knows how many times I wished I didn't have to deal with her nagging or Naruto's loud mouth or Kakashi's indifference to everything, but... I've gotten used to them. Still, I hadn't expected Sora to say how she actually felt. She's usually keeps her thoughts to herself and smiles politely. Unless I'm pissing her off on purpose of course.
Her purple eyes widened and a look of guilt flashed over her face as her words registered. But instead of saying anything more she turned her back to me again and started walking off, stumbling while she was at it. My eyes rolled up to the sky, looking for the patience to deal with this.
"Idiot. Look at yourself, you can't even walk straight!" I snapped, she didn't stop, "You're pushing yourself too much, Sora. You need to sleep. Nightmares or not."
She huffed, previous guilt disappearing under annoyance as she turned half-way to glare at me, 'Stop talking like you know what is best for me. Nagging doesn't suit you.'
That throttling idea keeps looking better and better.
"At least I know when I'm going too far!" I retorted, "You aren't helping anyone acting like this. You're only making yourself a liabil-iT-" my jaw snapped shut, clicking my teeth together.
No. Not now of all times.
Sora was staring at me with wide eyes.
No. No, no, please, in front of anyone but her.
Her face twitched, slowly, she raised up her hands, face very blank. 'Did your...'
I cleared my throat and spoke again, carefully controlled. "I-Ee-" I slapped a hand over my mouth on instinct. Her face began twitching uncontrollably. I took away my hand and glared at her as she looked like she was going to explode. "Say anything and I will kick your ah-sS!" I felt my face twist into a snarl as my voice broke high on the last word.
Why is it now that my voice starts breaking again?!
"Pffft!" she blew air through her lips, laughter finally breaking through. God, damn it! I grit my teeth in anger, feeling my face begin to get hot. Sora broke down laughing helplessly after that, occasionally gasping for breath. I glared holes into the side of her head, very tempted at that moment to use a low-grade fire style on that mass of hair if I wasn't trying to conserve my chakra for the next fight.
Then all thoughts flew out of my head as her silent laughter spiraled into crying. She fell to her knees as tears began to slide down her face and I found myself with no idea as to what to do. I felt the urge to leave her alone to collect herself in private or to go get Naruto for her at least. But... something told me neither of those were the right thing to do at the moment. So I just stood there and watched as she gasped for breath and sobbed, feeling very uncomfortable.
I should've stayed asleep, I decided.
I ended up sitting beside her on the rocks lining the river, waiting for her to calm down again. When her sobbing became the occasional sniffle I glanced over. Her face was red and puffy from the crying and her eyes were bloodshot, if it was possible she looked even worse than before. She looked at me from the corner of her eye and our gazes met. Slowly, a small and tired smile pulled on one side on her face as she leaned closer, I looked at her in confusion as she raised a hand, moving it towards my face. I felt the heat coming off of her as her hand-
-I lurched back after she flicked my nose! "The he-Ll?!" I snapped, covering it up with my hand. It stung.
'You are a pain in my ass.' she signed with a shake of her head. I felt my eye twitch, anger rushing through me. She says that after I just sat here and-'He used to teach me.'
I paused, "What?"
She stared forward, not meeting my eye anymore. 'The answer to your question.' a pause to take a breath, 'He used to teach me before I started the Academy. It's been nearly ten years since I last saw him.'
I frowned. That didn't explain the hostility though. Did they leave on bad terms? "So... he wasn't a good teacher?" I ventured.
She snorted derisively.
'No, he actually taught me a lot, but...' she stopped again, taking another breath. Her fingers twitched before she balled them into fists on her lap and shook her head, looking back at me with a pleading expression. 'He's bad news. Keep your distance, please?'
I frowned, still wanting to know the rest of the story. It's obvious that there's a lot more that she isn't saying, like the reason she hates him, but... I let it go. For now.
Now the other thing I need to know: "Is this going to keep happening?"
She made a face, knowing what I was referring to. If she was going to keep having breakdowns like this then I was going to be forced to tell Naruto and he'll be the one to deal with her crying. Once was more than enough for me. Sora was quiet for a moment while she thought about her answer. At least she's thinking again, that was something.
She chewed on her bottom lip before answering, 'I'll be better the sooner we get out of this forest.'
Well that's something I can agree with.
I glanced up at the slowly lightening sky. It was almost dawn now. We should be getting ready to leave for the tower. I cleared my throat again and willed my voice to sound like usual. I was mostly successful. "We should leave soo-on." I grimaced, making a mental note not to speak in front of Naruto until it passes. I'll bite off my own tongue before that happens.
Her lips only quirked slightly before she looked up at the sky and nodded in agreement, standing up and brushing herself off. Sora visibly hesitated a moment before she reached out a hand down towards me. I stared at it a moment, thinking. Then I felt the ache on my back make itself known once more and grabbed it, using her to pull myself to my feet.
She had the stupidest grin on her face as we walked back in silence.
As our camp came into sight I felt her hand brush against my elbow, causing me to glance over. She had an unreadable emotion on her face as she looked at me.
'Thank you for being such a pain in the ass.' she signed. 'Please don't ever change.'
It was over two hours until Sora-san came back, Uchiha-san walking right alongside her. I'm not sure what happened but Sora-san looked more tired than when she had left, I did sense that her emotions weren't quite as heavy as they had been before. I had wanted to ask what was so important that she just left me here alone with two strange boys but as soon as those periwinkle eyes landed on me she gave me that soft, kind smile as her Warm and Soft chakra washed over my senses my mind seemed to forget anything that I'd wanted to say.
What in the world has gotten into me?
As they packed up their things and double-checked their supplies, they began to discuss their plan after Sora-san informed them about my lack of expertise in traveling by tree. It's not like it's exactly my fault, there are hardly any trees around Kusagakure sturdy enough to support a persons full weight. None that are this size.
Sora-san moved her hands around, gesturing and communicating with her team after tying up her hair in a ponytail. Uchiha-san shook his head in response and spoke in a deep voice. "Wouldn't work. It'd be dusk by the time we got there if we went that way."
I simply stood at Sora-san's side as I waited for these strangers to decide what was going to happen. I was doing my best to stay out of Uchiha-san's way since he came back with Sora-san this morning. I'd already known that he hadn't approved of Sora-san promising to take me to the tower but after this morning I was sure that he disliked me personally. So he pretended that I wasn't actually standing here and I tried not to be drawn to his Shining chakra presence, instead choosing to bask in consistent warmth that Sora-san offered. It went out and wrapped around me in a way only one person's has ever before. I soaked in every moment.
More gesturing, another denial. Then a voice who had been quiet so far spoke up suddenly.
"I can carry her."
All at once all heads were turned towards Naruto-san. He shrugged as he looked away from Sora-san's eyes, stuffing his hands into his pockets. I could feel an quiet ache come from him and then in Sora-san in response. "It'll be faster if we tree jump, right? So I'll just carry her on my back until we get there."
Sora-san glanced down at me. I was at a loss for a moment until I realized that she was waiting for my answer. She was asking about what I wanted. My stomach tied into knots as I averted my eyes to my feet, feeling the ping of actual concern flow through her soft chakra that had me feeling warm inside.
She lightly touched my shoulder and I glanced up to see her holding a writing pad with a small frown, "Is it alright with you if you travel with Naruto?"
No one has asked me what I wanted since... I swallowed, my throat feeling tight suddenly. Not in a long time.
I nodded shortly and she gave me a relieved smile that had my face getting hot and my heart pounding faster and faster that I had to break eye contact-Ahhh! What has gotten into me!?
"Whatever. The sooner we go the better." Uchiha-san said, turning back to packing up his sleeping roll into his storage seal. I'm still feel embarrassed I was so underprepared for this Exam. Sora-san and her team were already prepared to camp overnight with supplies and pre-cooked meals.
"You ready 'ttebayo?" I jumped slightly at how close Naruto-san's voice, swallowing a yelp back down but I still managed to get a flash of worry mixed with amusement from Sora-san. My face flushed pink, I could feel it.
I nodded and he turned his back to me and squatted down, I was hesitant to climb on at first. It's not like Naruto-san had been anything but friendly much unlike his teammate, but... I was still reluctant to fully put myself in his care. He could drop me! O-Or maybe I'd be too heavy and be a burden to him? OR-a reassuring smile from Sora-san and a gentle, encouraging brush of her fingertips, those warm violet eyes on me and my heart was suddenly pounding in my chest and I was mustering up a bravery I didn't know I had.
There was probably something wrong with me. My heart isn't supposed to be beating this fast.
Naruto-san's hands hooked under my knees securely and I grasped his shoulder firmly as he hefted me up with a small grunt, I held my breath, thinking that it might somehow make me seem lighter. Sora-san stepped forward and said something to Naruto-san, sadness, happiness and irritation pulsed through his Bright, bright chakra. It was very confusing to feel. "I know, I know!" he snapped at her, "I'm not a little kid, y'know?"
Sadness and guilt flashed through Sora-san and I found myself strangely annoyed with Naruto-san. Still, she smiled sadly and turned around to where Uchiha-san was waiting for all of us. He jumped, followed by Sora-san then Naruto-san jumped up and-OH, HOLY CRAAAAP!
My heart leapt into my throat as my hair flattened against my scalp with the sudden speed. I swallowed a scream as I wrapped my arms around his neck and squeezed my eyes shut. "Ack! You're... choking me!" he wheezed.
M'gonna fall-M'gonna fall-M'gonna fall-"OPEN YOUR EYES DATTEBAYO!"
Hearing Naruto-san's strangled voice I cracked opened one eye and time seemed to have slowed down in that moment. Streams of sunlight peaking through the branches flashed by my eyes as we flew through the trees, I couldn't believe this was the same forest I was so terrified of just the other day. It was... beautiful from up here. I was still holding on to Naruto-san's neck tightly but I let go enough to allow him to breath normally again. Slowly, I lifted my head and found I enjoyed the feeling of the wind whipping at my cheeks, blowing my hair back from my face.
I was soaring.
Soon I was grinning and laughing, feeling my heart feel lighter than it has in a long, long time. My giggles started a chain reaction as Naruto-san looked over his shoulder at me and grinned with a glint in his eye.
Then we went even faster.
"WAHOOO!" he whooped.
"Idiot! Don't run off!" Uchiha-san's shouts were ignored as Naruto-san showed no sign of stopping. I shouted in utter delight, cheeks aching from how wide I was smiling.
Naruto-san was pouting.
Hesitantly, I patted his shoulder in consolation. He turned his head back towards me and gave me a grin that was so bright I was momentarily blinded as it glared against the lens of my glasses. Was it a trait of Leaf ninja to have such easy smiles? Or was it just these two? Considering I've yet to see Uchiha-san show or feel even a hint of an emotion other than annoyance, I'm thinking it might be the former.
Our little sprint through the trees had been cut short when Sora-san had caught up to us and gave us a very disapproving frown that had my stomach dropping through the air. That same frown had just as easily melted away when her eyes landed on our faces, along with a flare of guilt. I was both confused and immensely relieved that she hadn't been upset with us.
Unfortunately, Uchiha-san was.
After spending a entire ten minutes chewing us out about running off in a hostile territory in a reckless fashion -in the wrong direction no less- he ordered that we stay behind him and Sora-san as they led the way to the tower. Naruto-san had protested, loudly, but Sora-san had agreed with Uchiha-san, ending the conversation. So, now he was pouting as the other two jumped ahead of us, one on each side as we went at a decent pace towards the tower.
It was midday now and after a couple of hours of traveling with only one five-minute bathroom break he seemed incredibly bored while I, however, saw this as my chance to get some answers out of Naruto-san about our shared surname. Sora-san and Uchiha-san were far enough ahead that they probably wouldn't be able to hear us speaking. Well, me. I don't think Naruto-san was really capable of a low volume setting.
"So, uh... Uzumaki, huh? That's an interesting name."
Real subtle, Karin.
Thankfully, Naruto-san wasn't as bright as his chakra was. He looked at me with another blinding grin, pleasure washing through his chakra and making it shine even brighter. "Hehehe! 'Ya really think so?"
I nodded eagerly, relieved that he wasn't suspicious. He was kinda… pure is a nice word. "Mm! It is!" I confirmed, "Did you get it from your Father or Mother's side?"
"I dunno. Jiji says that it was my Mom's name but that's all he's told me." He shrugged, Bright chakra dampening a little and added in a whispered tone, "...it's always been just me and Sora-chan."
I bit my lip.
He was kind of like me, except... my eyes looked ahead, landing on an older girl who wen out of her way to help me with colorful hair and smile that kept making my heart act up.
He's had Sora-san when I've been alone.
"What about you, Karin-chan?" he asked, his tone becoming cheerful and bright again. I liked that about Naruto-san, he was nice to be around. "Do you only have the one name like Sora-chan?"
"Uhm, well actually, I-" I froze. My body stiffening as I felt a stranger's chakra brush against mine, clinging to me list a fog. I watched with surprise as Sora-san stopped jumping suddenly causing us all to stop, spine straightening and hand moving towards her pouch. She sensed them too. She signaled something and the other two also straightened, Naruto-san's grip on me tightening.
There were people out there, waiting. Three of them with ugly, watery chakra.
Uchiha-san signaled something and Sora-san responded after a moment. Whatever she said caused him to... smile? It wasn't a very nice smile either as a scary sort of excitement sprung up in his chakra as his eyes-his eyes just turned red! A bright, glowing red! He raised his hands in a Seal and, "Release!" he shouted. His chakra washed over us, sending tingling chills up my spine, and forced away the unknown chakra.
Then dozens of guys wearing dark jumpsuits melted out of the ground and surrounding trees. But... none of them were the real thing, they were all just clones. The real ones were hiding over-Sora-san threw a kunai into the tree where they were hiding. Three jumped out before a flash of light appeared behind them with a 'pop', landing in front of us. They were all dressed similarly with pale jumpsuits and creepy masks over their mouths and a sash tied over their eyes under their headbands. That symbol... I think that it's from Rain!
"A sensor. Unlucky..." the one in front rasped. I scrunched up my nose at his muddy chakra, it made me want to barf.
Naruto-san made a surprised sound as he looked at them, eyes widening. "Eh?! That guy again!? But we already beat him!"
"Focus, Naruto!" Uchiha-san snapped before turning back to the Rain ninja, "Since we've already humiliated you once, I'll be merciful and give you one chance to get out of our way and spare yourself more disappointment."
The Rain ninja scoffed with disgust, anger and resentment shooting up through his nasty chakra. He said something extremely rude to repeat and that unnerving excitement was back as Uchiha-san lowered his hand towards his pouch. I realized then that he had hoped they'd say no. I don't know who attacked first but there was some sort of attack from the other side as their chakra's expended to create dozens of clones on all sides. A smoke bomb was thrown at our feet and clouded our vision. I heard Uchiha-san call out for us to get out of it and Naruto-san quickly did just that, springing out of the cloud and away from it.
Naruto-san coughed and i noticed that we had gotten separated from the others by all the watery and muddy clones. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a volley of kunai were thrown at us and shouted at Naruto-san in warning but before he could even react Uchiha-san was already in front us and had deflected the kunai away with a startling grace. He looked over his shoulder at us with his glowing eyes and a sideways smirk and I swallowed, feeling my pulse quicken though I'm sure it was just from the nearly getting impaled.
So even he could smile too...
"Pay attention idiot. You would've been done for just then." he drawled with a distinctly taunting tone in his voice.
Naruto-san bristled angrily, "I-I didn't need your help! I could've taken care of those by myself! 'Sides, I thought Sora-chan said these were just fakes!"
"The ones before were a Genjutstu, these are clones. And the real ones are still hidden among them so stay on guard!" he ordered.
Naruto-san was about to snap back at Uchiha-san but there was a sharp whistle that rang through the air and I tightened my grip on Naruto-san's shoulders as he suddenly jumped up and began running up the side of a tree! I dug my fingers into his orange jacket as he ran along the underside of a large branch. Naruto-san raised his voice as he looked up -or down- towards the ground, "Sora-chan!" I felt his hands let go of my legs and-a scream ripped through my throat AS HE FUCKING DROPPED ME!
I flailed my arms as I fell through the air, I felt a weightlessness in my stomach as my throat stung from my scream as the wind whipped my hair against my face, covering my eyes. The only thing I could hear was my heart pounding in my ears and the sound of my scream, I squeezed my eyes shut, expecting to hit the ground at any moment and splat against it.
Imagine my surprise when I didn't.
Instead of a brutal and sudden impact with the ground warm arms wrapped around my back and under my knees, my body pressed against a soft, Warm chest.
After the longest moment in my life, I shakily opened my eyes to see a grim expression on Sora-san's face as she kept her focus on the battle, violet eyes taking in every detail. I couldn't look away from her as my breath caught in my throat. My heart was beating faster than when I was falling. I barely even noticed the mass of chakra that exploded above us as a wave of orange storm down on the Rain's clones.
Sora-san moved us farther away from where the others were fighting and set me down, reaching into the bag on her back and pulling out a thin scroll. I watched as she opened it, spreading it across the ground and placing her hand in the center of a in intricate ink design that swirled and expanded and hummed with chakra. My eyes took in every detail, something about the design was... familiar. Her hands formed the Snake seal, hesitation and doubt flared through her body before determination took hold and she continued. Snake, Horse, Boar, her chakra responded and she slammed her hand down. I heard the others shouting in the distance.
"Damn it, Naruto! Stop throwing clones at them-I can't hit them with you always in the way!"
"Try harder, Bastard! I'm making openings for you so HURRY THE HELL UP, DATTEBAYO!"
Sora-san's chakra flowed out from her palm, mixing with the chakra and the ink came to life, glowing a pale blue. I watched in fascination as the ink left the surface of the scroll and ran across the ground, surrounding us and arching above my head leaving a trail of blue that formed into a solid wall of translucent light, made entirely of her Warm chakra. I was surrounded by her warmth now on every side, I couldn't feel the enemies ugly chakra anymore.
It was beautiful.
All I felt was her.
I felt... safe.
My eyes sought hers and I was startled to find that she was standing on the other side of the wall, her back to me and eyes dancing across the field, focused on the fight still going on. She faced the direction where one of the Rain guys were concealed, -the one with no eyes- kneeling and folding her hands again. Her chakra spun, becoming brighter until she sent it out and it washed over him. Sora-san grimaced as he cried out in fear. When he fell to the ground, groaning as if in pain, Sora-san's body suddenly stiffened and panic shot through her, agony surged through her chakra and her face screwed up in pain.
My heart stopped in my chest as I watched.
The one with one eye snarled from his position next to his downed teammate, pulling out a kunai and sanding, "Bitch!" He threw it and it was flying directly at her and she wasn't moving! Why wouldn't she move!? The kunai flew straight at her and-all my breath left my lungs as Sora-san fell to the ground, a kunai lodged into the center of her chest.
She... wasn't moving.
My mind was blank as I waited for something, anything to happen. I was waiting for someone to help her because she was lying on the ground with a kunai in her chest! How could no one else have noticed yet!? My feet moved on their own as I tried to go to her side but was stopped by the wall of chakra surrounding me. I slammed my fist against it in frustration. "Let me out!" I screeched.
One of Naruto-san's clones head snapped towards my direction and I called out to him, raising my voice over the sounds of the fight, "Naruto-san! Naruto-san you have to let me of here! Now!"
He threw himself through a clone that burst into water, "Can't! Sora-chan said to-"
"She's been hurt you idiot!" his eyes widened and panic shot through him harshly, eyes darting around before they landed on Sora-san's unmoving form. He started to go to her and I raised my voice again. "Let me out of here! NOW!"
He ran over and placed his hands on the barrier, moving them around and screwing up his face in frustration and fear, "ARGH! What was it again? Damn it! What was the damn seal to take it down!?" he turned towards the crowd of himself and shouted into it. "DOES ANYONE REMEMBER HOW TO OPEN SORA-CHAN'S BARRIER!?"
There was a chorus of frustrated and scared 'no's' that came up. I felt my hands grow cold as dread pooled inside my stomach. Then I heard Uchiha-san's brilliant voice call out in answer.
"Dog, Ram, Boar! Get it down already!"
Naruto-san didn't even respond as his hands folded into the appropriate seals and her chakra dispersed. I ran past him and slid to my knees at her side, hands hovering over her body. Her eyes were clamped shut and her teeth were grit together. She really was in a lot a pain. My hands flitted about uselessly as I didn't know what I could do to help. What could I-I can heal her.
My breath caught.
I could... I could have her bite me, that would heal her. My hands trembled. I could still feel the feeling of Shigeri's teeth on my wrist and he was just the last one.
He'd bitten hard.
I... I held my hands against my chest and shuddered. It wouldn't be the same as the other times, Sora-san hasn't done anything to hurt me. She's only been kind, saving me again and again! It isn't like at the Village, I don't have to do it, it'll be my choice. No one was forcing me. It would be because I wanted to. I wanted to help her like she's helped me.
I could be brave too.
I opened my eyes again to see Sora-san peering up at me with that pained expression and my own chest began to ache in response, I became determined then to take that expression away. I pushed my glasses up the bridge of my nose and I lowered myself closer to her, shrugging my jacket off my shoulders and pulling down the mesh around my collarbone, exposing my mostly untouched skin. The closer to my heart means the better it'll heal. There only seemed to be the wound on her chest, that was good. It would be an easy fix then but I was reluctant to pull the kunai out, it might've hit something vital. Sora-san's eyes watched my movements and they widened, her panic increasing ten-fold the closer I got. I hurried to explain myself after I realized how strange this looked.
"Listen, i-it's fine, okay? I can heal you! You just have to bite my skin and then you'll be alright again!" She shook her head violently and I apologized quietly as I placed my hand under her head that just kept shaking and-I was startled when I suddenly felt her hand on my shoulder, keeping me from moving closer. I tried to look down at her in confusion but my eyes kept going to the kunai and I didn't know whether or not to pull it out first or to leave it-"Please, just let me help you! I'll-"
Sora-san raised her other hand to grab my face and forced me to look in the eye.
'No.' she mouthed.
I don't understand.
"But... But I can heal you!"
She shook her head again, her warm and soft eyes were hard now. She didn't want it.
I didn't understand it.
I didn't understand her.
People have always taken what they wanted from me. Whatever I had, someone would come to take it without fail. It always happened. They took my chakra. They took my home. They took... Okaa-san.
I've always been able to tell what someone wanted from me. Nothing was free after all. Everything had a price. Yet... she didn't want anything from me. Everybody but Sora-san. She hasn't asked me for a thing since she saved me. She's only been kind and helped me and even given me things, warm food and gifts. My vision swam and the strained, sad smile on her face blurred before me. Her hand covered mine and interlaced our fingers, squeezing and giving warmth.
I just didn't understand.
Naruto-san was on the other side of her now, Uchiha-san only a step behind. I could feel the worry and fear coming from the both of them. Her eyes left mine and went to them immediately and she smiled that painful smile and waved her free hand, gesturing to him. Naruto-san hesitated before he slipped a hand under her back and I caught on, we both helped her to sit upright. Her smiled turned into a grimace and she let my hand go, lifting it to the kunai, both of her hands wrapped around the handle and-
"Wait, what are you-"
"Stop, you dumba-"
-she yanked it out of her chest. I slapped my hands over my eyes in horror. I've seen a lot of gruesome injuries but I've never seen someone just pull a kunai out of their chest! I can't believe she just did that! There was a deafening silence that followed and I didn't dare to peek until Naruto-san mumbled quietly.
I slowly lowered my hands to see Sora-chan holding the kunai in her hand with an annoyed look on her face. Naruto-san was gaping with relief an confusion while Uchiha-san was pinching the bridge of his nose with irritation with an underlying relief in his chakra. But I didn't... There... wasn't any blood? She hadn't even been hurt in the first place!?
As I was trying to process how that was even possible, a look of horror crossed her face and I watched as she reached into her shirt and pulled out... an orange book? Oh, it was the one she was reading last night. But only now it had a hole in the middle of it from where the kunai landed. Then... she was okay, right?
Naruto-san broke into loud laughter, he was soon hunched over with a hand on his gut, showing no signs of stopping. I was completely lost now. What was so funny? Sora-san looked upset as she waved her hands around, speaking in her own way. Uchiha-san snorted rudely when she finished, smirking down at her as he spoke,
"No, it's very fair." he shook his head, his own amusement raising despite his attempts to restrain it. "Idiot."
In response she just pouted like a small child, cradling the ruined book n her hands like it was a precious object.
For some strange reason I found a giggle bubble up in my chest at the sight of her childish expression and soon I was laughing right alongside Naruto-san. Water filled my eyes as I laughed harder than I... than I ever think I have before. Sora-san glanced at me and I saw her lips twitch up as well. When I realized that she was acting childish on purpose just to make us laugh at her, my chest tightened painfully in a quickly becoming familiar ache and I was finally able to figure out what was wrong with me.
I... I was envious. I was envious of Sora-san. Of her strength, of her bonds, of her smile-I wanted all of that. More than I realized as I watched her lips curve slightly, violet eyes filled with so much love as she watched on. I wished I could be like that too.
I was envious of Naruto-san and Uchiha-san more, I think.
…because she was smiling for them.
Duckie dropped the Ame-nin none too gently, the poor sod landed on the ground with a heavy thud. "Empty." he informed us. I sighed. That makes all three empty which is unlucky for us. Not only had these guys lost their scroll but they were unsuccessful in getting a new one.
Naruto stepped forward, done tying up the others and getting ready to string all three up in a highly placed net. "So what does that mean for us? We keep going to the tower?"
Duckie nodded in agreement. "Hn."
Despite the loss of a chance to finish, it was still hilarious to me that the moody Uchiha was refusing to speak longer than a monosyllable after our little... talk, this morning. Almost as funny as him speaking so deeply when he actually does.
Puberty can be awesome too, just as long as it's not happening to you. Everyone else is free game though.
With the nin safely removed we began heading towards the tower again, we hadn't been far when we were interrupted and we needed to be cautious the rest of the way there. So we continued on foot because even though he hadn't said anything, I'm fairly sure that Duckie ripped a stitch or two during the fight. He and Naruto lead the way in front while I lagged behind slightly, still recovering form my blunder. Little Karin slipped her hand into my bandaged one and I glanced at her in surprise. She had her head lowered with her hair shading her face from view, she mumbled in explanation.
"...it's only s-so I can keep up with you."
Sigh. Adorable. But I knew that even though she was putting up a brave front, that fight had shaken her a bit. That free fall had terrified the hell out of her and then that scare was impacted by watching me take a kunai to the chest after I failed epically. I really screwed up. I hadn't considered that using Yin chakra would effect the seal more than Yang did, I was doing fine until I cast that Genjutsu. I'd overestimated my limits, expending too much at one time and my Icha-Icha ended up paying the price for my folly.
I'm still depressed about that. Probably will be until I find out what happened to Takeo after chapter thirteen's cliffhanger. It wouldn't surprise me much if Jiraiya had killed him off for dramatic effect only to bring him back at a later point, the plot seems to be headed in that direction at least. Ooh! Maybe he pulled a chapter seven and will reveal that Katsumi's half-sister was pregnant instead of just some harmless and terribly less interesting food poisoning!
Sigh. I may never know now.
I kept the kunai. The one that had impaled me? Yeah, I was gonna have that thing smelted and repurposed into a goddamned keychain. It took my Icha-Icha away! Ugh!
Karin's hand squeezed a bit tighter and I felt my affection for the younger girl rise once more today. If I had still had doubts about bringing her along, they were demolished the second she began to ply Naruto with positive attention. Even trying to form a sort of bond with him through her discreet prodding about their possible blood ties. It had made him really happy to have someone pay attention to him, unlike what I've been doing.
Guilt swelled up in my chest, making it tight.
…I'll make it up to him when we finally get out of this forest.
"WOAH! Is that it!?" I heard my blonde shout. My eyes snapped up from trailing the ground to take in the sight of a rickety old tower that had definitely seen it's better days. But what got me was how it was burning with chakra. And not just some random chakra either, or even the bits filled to the brim with security seals. It was an old chakra that burned so bright I felt like i was figuratively blinded. It was strange... the chakra comforted me immensely for some inexplicable reason.
And just the tiniest bit familiar, too.
Duckie cleared his throat impatiently and I was brought back to the present, the boys were waiting on us. I turned to Karin, releasing her hand to go for the pad and wrote. "We've finally made it. All you need to do is explain your situation to the guards over there and they'll help you."
I was confident of that. I could see Kamizuki-san eyeing us with extreme curiosity from where he was stationed now. He was one of the good ones, he'd take care of Karin. I gave him a little wave and he gave a small, discreet one back with a bundle of amusement springing from his chakra. I then gently set my hand on the top of Karin's head and mussed up her hair. The look of dumbfoundment was almost as funny as how her face went cherry red once more.
She bowed at the waist, "T-Thank you for taking care of me!"
Naruto folded his arms behind his head, "It was no problem for us!" he said confidently, pleased with her gratitude. Then he gasped like he just remembered something. "Hey! When we get done here we have to go and get some ramen together!"
Ah, she's been invited to ramen. She's practically family already. The poor girl began stuttering incoherently as Naruto just grinned brightly, completely oblivious to how it sounded like he was asking her on a date. That wasn't his intention of course, that was just his way of breaking bread, so to speak. Nothing cements a bond like a hot bowl of char siu after all.
Duckie actually began tapping his foot and I knew he was at his wits end. With a a jerk of my head, I nodded towards the forest and Naruto understood instantly. Giving one last goodbye and eliciting a -maybe forced/coerced- promise of ramen for later he turned from the red-haired girl and I followed him. A sadness rose in her chakra and did my best not to turn right back around and begin to coo at her.
We had an exam to pass right now. I felt a tinge of worry in the back of my mind that we might not find the right scroll in time. Then it was quickly dismissed as I would not allow that to happen. I would search the whole damn forest for one no matter how improbable and so no happening that sounds.
I'll do it because I need to.
Reaching him, Sasuke turned around and started walking away, laying out a plan while he was at it. "We don't have long until the sun begins to set. We should prioritize a search around the areas closest to the tower first and spread out from there. It'll-"
"W-Wait a minute!" Karin's voice called out after us.
We all turned back around to see the Uzumaki girl walking back to us with he hands fumbling through her tools bag. She was soon standing in front of me and was looking at anything else before thrusting something into my chest. I fumbled to catch the scroll, nearly dropping it from her abruptness.
My eyes snapped down to look at the Earth scroll in my hands. Naruto made a sound of surprise at seeing the scroll and Sasuke narrowed his eyes at the girl.
I just stared.
"You had one all along." Duckie stated coldly, voice low, threatening, dark orbs glaring into the side of her head. She pretended not to notice him.
I just stared.
Nope. It wasn't changing. It was still in my hands.
Karin looked off to the side, lens glinting in the light so I couldn't see her eyes. "Well, it's not like I can use it anyway so... you all might as well have it. I don't care." she mumbled, her cheeks flushed pink.
I stared. I stared uncomprehendingly at the red-haired girl because I couldn't quite wrap my head around the silly little fact that Karin lied and I couldn't tell.
I really need to get some sleep. I'm having a hard time processing... anything, How could she even-Naruto pulled out the Heaven scroll from his jacket and took the Earth from my hands, an ecstatic grin on his face. Not giving one damn about where it came from.
"Well what are we waiting for!?" he demanded, already dashing towards the door, "LET'S GO, DATTEBAYO!"
Dark Forest Arc,
Chapter Thirty-Four: "The Day Icha-Icha Saved My Life"
A/N: Sasuke's confrontation was like pulling teeth, I swear. I think I mentioned that I'm not good at writing confrontations before? It's just so... ugh! All the angst just felt so awkward to write! They had like, three different fights before I decided which one I liked the best. Sasuke just doesn't do comforting.
Tch, such a pain.
What else did'ja think of the chapter? We got to see things from Karin's POV which I oddly enjoyed seeing her version of Team Seven from the outside. Plus she's sweet. Did you guys like her? And BAM! She can lie to Sora. Sora can be lied to. Next we get to see what happens inside the tower!
…you guys are amazing, sharing all your thoughts on this silly little story and what cabbage means to you. It's really great. It continues to make me bubbly and happy every time you tell me that you think I know what I'm doing when I'm pretty sure I have no clue half the time. I'm on cloud nine. Thank you.
"Okay, if you could pluck any character and stick them into the story, who would you choose? And I mean anyone. Go wild."
Bakugo Katskuki meets Deidara. One word: 'Bang.' Straight epicness.
I wuv yew all! I'll see you next time!