A Song for Them @nihilistic_bunny
Montage Arc, Moonlight Serenade

Naruto Fan Fiction!

Adventure! SI-OC!

(Title)

"A Song for Them"

DISCLAIMER: I do not own 'Naruto' or any of the canon characters! Otherwise the entire series would've been made into a musical for my personal amusement.

WARNING! RATED M! For blood, language, and also for Mental Illness? For most of Sora's POV's? Is this a serious thing I have to put now? Or is it just for Darth!Sora's POV?

Montage Arc,

Chapter Forty-Seven: "Moonlight Serenade"

"My taste in music ranges from 'You need to listen to this' to 'I know, please don't judge me." -Anon E. Muss

Perspective:

(Sky)

Sora, June 7th: Northern Residential District, The Roof (2:20 AM)

'I just can't catch a break, can I?'

Terra made some unintelligible noises in response.

Yeah, that's what I figured.

I focused my attention back on the red-haired boy with the gourd of sand on his back standing across from me. Gaara had his arms crossed over his chest and looked quite stoic, silently staring at me as I stared right back at him. It was quiet up here, just the two of us. His ANBU guard wasn't here -because of course Gaara would be able to slip away from them- and there weren't even crickets to make any sort of awkward ambiance for us.

It was just... quiet.

What have I gotten myself into this time? Seriously. What did I do to deserve this? I'm fairly certain I didn't kick any puppies in my last life so it was a valid question as to why I end up with a sometimes-homicidal twelve-year-old standing on my roof that has possibly been stalking me for the last few days.

Oh, wow! That makes things so much worse when I describe it like that.

On top of those Very Serious things, I cannot even begin to guess at why he would be here in the first place. Not to mention the fact I don't have an easy way to communicate and find out. I couldn't speak. He wouldn't understand my hand signs and I didn't have my pen and paper on me because I was in a fudging night gown! Charades were not even worth thinking about in this Very Serious situation because I didn't want to try and discover the limits of his patience.

We were at an interesting impasse.

I cautiously raised my hand and gave him a little wave, managing a -hopefully- friendly attempted smile.

He narrowed his eyes at me! Shit!

Below his feet, I could sense Naruto's Bright and Breezy chakra as he slumbered away in his apartment. I had stayed up so late into the night thinking over everything Naruto did for me today and processing my unresolved feelings toward Kaa-chan that no one could reasonably be up and about in the neighborhood. At least no one that'd do me any good. Why the hell did I think coming up here was a good idea again? Because I actually have a secret death wish? Haah, that sounds about right...

He was still staring at me with those dark-ringed eyes of his.

Just... staring—does this guy even blink?

I mean... come on!

Blink!

...hm.

Does he plan on staying up here all night? That didn't sound like an appealing idea to me at all, I was still emotionally exhausted from today. I really didn't need to be dealing with this and given my mental state it probably wasn't in my best interests to try and deal with Gaara right now. I'd more than likely convince him he'd be better off squishing me and going back to brooding or whatever he did instead of sleeping. That makes me wonder what kind of hobbies he has, like maybe he reads books? Ooh, what kind of books does a homicidal insomniac like to—Holyfuckthereissomethingwrappingaroundmywrist!

Deep breaths.

Carefully, so very carefully, I looked down at my hand to see a thin glittering line of... my stomach twisted up into knots as my suspicions were confirmed.

Deeeep breaths.

There was sand sliding around my wrist right now. Thin, floating, barely noticeable to the naked eye but very there. I didn't even sense it come this close! I mean, his chakra signature is everywhere—oh, fuck me.

The air isn't supposed to glitter, is it?

I should've stayed in my room. I'm starting to get a stress headache. Good news is that my skull isn't buzzing so I guess that means I'm not actually afraid for my life? My rational mind is just being melodramatic...? This needs further investigation and why the hell is this scene not nearly as horrific as it should be? It was pretty. The slow-floating sand is catching the moonlight at an angle and it's sorta... sparkling. It's like... like...

Pixie Dust.

Huh.

That was probably a very misleading description. This was a Very Serious situation, but... gah. I'm just not feeling as afraid for my life as I probably should be. Memories of the boy in front of me with watery teal eyes, sniveling with a teddy bear clutched in hand didn't really make things any easier. Oh, no. I could feel my resolve weakening.

He'd probably react badly if I tried to hug him, right?

The world seemed to slow as Zaku struggled uselessly in the sand as Gaara'sno, as Shukaku's chakra began to suffocate the very air.

Gaara closed his fist.

"Sand Coffin!"

The sand compacted.

I felt more than watched as Zaku's chakra extinguish within Gaara's. Bloodied globs of sand exploded out, covering the floor.

...right. Hugging is out of the question. So, what do I do instead? I glanced down briefly. There was more sand around my wrist now, a noticeable amount, but only on the right one. The left one and everywhere else was sand free. Why? I looked down at the wrist again, closely, and figured out what caught the Jinchuuriki's attention.

The sand was slowly covering over my Ocarina?

Please tell me they have music in Suna. Please. Otherwise life there would just be too sad to contemplate and I would understand why Gaara was homicidal. Plus I would never, ever willingly go visit Suna if it were true.

He was now staring very resolutely at my Ocarina. Maybe he thinks it's a weapon? He actually wouldn't be far off, would he? It was Kaa-chan's, she could've used this lovely instrument as a literal instrument of Death. Didn't Scarecrow once refer to it a ninja tool used for channeling chakra?

I bit my lip as I watched the sand slowly cover my very dear instrument inch by inch.

On a hunch, I slowly raised my hand up for him to see it better, valiantly holding in a nervous twitch when I felt something grainy tighten around my wrist. Not quite uncomfortable but it was certainly unsettling to a certain degree—Okay, no. The sand's grip on me was steadily tightening and that was unsettling on so many levels!

I held my breath as I opened my palm, completely letting go of my Ocarina, anxiously watching as the sand slid over my palm -it tickled- and encircled the instrument. Then it lifted. I tried not to make a face as Gaara's sand spirited away my Ocarina from my reach. It floated leisurely through the air, the pale moonlight reflecting off the polished metal surface as it drifted over to the red-haired boy. I straightened up from my crouch, teal orbs only briefly flickering over to me when I stood before he began to scrutinize the Ocarina curiously.

I shuffled awkwardly, feeling a small breeze blow across my bare legs. He was using the sand to turn it this way and that as he studied it, I saw sand drifting through the holes, including the part where I put my lips. Gross! That sand is dirty! And probably filled with the blood of his previous victims still!

Terra made a choking noise.

A little too blasé, then? Yeah, okay. I looked down, shifting my weight from one foot to the other. Man, I should've put on slippers before I climbed out the window. There was old bird poop up here. Gross.

"What is it's purpose?"

Ooh.

I quickly shake off the chilly feeling from suddenly hearing his quiet voice break the dead silence between us gave me and looked back to him, noting that my Ocarina suspended in the air beside him.

I cupped my hand like I was still holding the instrument, I then I blew air.

He stared.

Great. We were back to that again. I tried whistling next. Still holding up my hand and miming like I had my Ocarina.

He narrowed those blue-green eyes at me.

Crap! Welp, okay then. He's not getting it. He's really bad at this stalking thing if he didn't realize that I can't use my voice by now. I pressed my lips into a firm line, deciding my next course of action. I didn't really feel like trying to go for paper and a pen with him holding my Ocarina hostage and Leaf Standard Hand signs weren't going to do anything, so... I tried not to grimace.

Haa... no other way to do it.

Slowly, I lifted my hands from my sides and swept all of my hair and gathered it into one hand, holding it away. Using my other hand to pull the collar down on my nightdress. I lifted my head towards the star-speckled sky, baring my scar to him to see.

This was immensely uncomfortable for me.

He didn't say anything. His chakra didn't react. Nothing. I met his eyes again when he continued not to say anything, my lips pulling into a small frown. Okaaay... I give up. I don't get this guy, and I can't read his chakra because he isn't feeling anything! It isn't even a neutral feeling with real emotions underneath—he just wasn't having any emotional reactions! Not anything from annoyance or curiosity or homicidal Intent.

I held my hand out expectantly.

He looked at my outstretched hand a moment, then returned to staring at me blankly. I gestured and looked pointedly towards my Ocarina and he still made no move. Oh, c'mon! I just want my—Crash!—There was a startling noise in the street below, causing me to fall back into a crouch and snap my head around towards it, reaching my sensing out to find out what it was.

I narrowed my eyes at the shadows, seeing movement. It was dark, but... ah. Found it. I spotted a stray dog scampering away from a knocked over trashcan, garbage now littering the side of the street. False alarm, then. I let out the breath I'd been holding since... I don't know when. I lifted a hand to my head, rubbing my temples. I really needed to get some sleep, but first I needed my Ocarina back. I turned back towards the Ichibi host with the full intention of getting back my—

Huh?

Wait a second...

I blinked once.

Twice.

I even spun around on my heel for good measure, looking 360 degrees, but no.

Gaara was gone.

Just... gone.

That...

So was his sand.

But—

The same sand that had my Ocarina.

I became very, very annoyed.

He—Shit!

Gaara just stole my fucking Ocarina!

Sora, June 7th: Northern Commercial District, The Golden Oak Inn (6:34 PM, 16 Hours Later)

The color of the setting sun was painting the streets a lovely warm orange that I couldn't appreciate a the moment as people clambered to get out of my way as I stomped down the street, a couple women even pulled their young children back to hide behind their legs. I didn't blame them at the moment. I was sure I didn't look very pleasant at the moment. The only thing that took away attention from the impressive scowl I was sporting was the fresh bandages that marred on side of my face from when Anko chucked me across the training field and I got road burn.

How did this come to be, you might be wondering?

Aw, geez... Terra groaned. She's narrating again.

'Oh, who asked you?' I snapped back, a touch hot.

You don't need'ta describe what you are currently doing! We were THERE! Isn't it enough that we're going in the first place?! We don't need a recap!

'It CALMS me!'

A raspy voice scoffed, darkly amused.

Perfectly Fucking Calm, Alright.

Shut up! 'Shut up!'

That out of the way, back to what I was doing—I, like an idiot, had thought to wait until at least the sun had risen before demanding my property back out of some form of courtesy that I'm sure would be lost on half the people in this damn world! So, guess who decided to show up a half-an-hour before sunrise!? Not Neko! That's for sure!

To say I've had a bad day so far is an under-fucking-statement.

I turned sharply, entering the fancy-looking Inn and breezed right past the Innkeeper not paying much attention to the man's squawk of indignation as I made a beeline towards the stairs in the far corner of the lobby. I glanced fleetingly at the walls and the fancy painting of mountains that adorned them as I continued to follow the feeling of Hushed and Cool to the other end of the hall. He wasn't alone. Accompanying him were two more chakra signatures, similar to his but unique all the same.

Whipping and Blustery, an uncertain feeling. Like being tossed about in a storm, or losing footing on uneven floor.

Temari. Hers was clearer and lighter than the other two, fairly sizable too. Cat-ears on the other hand... his was thinner, a surprisingly good amount finer than his siblings. He had excellent chakra control even though he had the smallest pool. If anything the smaller pool helped a great deal in that department. S'pose it would considering his main form of offense was playing with killer dolls. And yes, I was in a bit of a mean mood to call them 'dolls'. That's just what my day has been.

Smooth and Pliant. Always moving, changing, bending. Yet, unsettled. Like standing on shifting ground, about to fall at any moment.

I sensed confliction. They're both conflicted. Not hard to guess about what considering how they easily become allies with the Leaf in the future, but it's still interesting to know. Clutching my notepad in one hand, I lifted my fist and began to knock on the door insistently. Very insistently. Temari's chakra reacted first and I sensed her move towards me, opening the door after hesitating only a few seconds.

The first thing I saw was her sandy-blonde hair and Temari blinked those pretty eyes at me in surprise. Then they narrowed dangerously in recognition. She opened her mouth to probably demand why I was here, but I came prepared.

I lifted my notepad, lips pulling into a frown even though I knew I should probably smile to avoid and further bad feelings.

"I want to see your brother"

Her brow furrowed as she re-read over my sentence, as if she thought she didn't see it right the first time. Her look of thinly-veiled suspicion devolved into a full-on glare as she opened the door a little further and called into the room, her teal eyes never leaving my form.

"Oi, get in here! It's for you."

There was sounds of shuffling before a brown-haired boy appeared in the doorway. Kankurō also blinked in surprise when he recognized me, I spared an idle thought for how odd he looked without his cat-eared hood on. Then he grinned, the action stretching his face-paint and causing it the smile to look more ghoulish than it ought to be.

"Ponytai—"

I corrected my wording before he could finish that sentence, holding it up with an annoyed look on my face as I placed my other hand on my hip.

"I want to see your OTHER brother"

They both looked at me like I was out of my mind now. Which, they probably weren't wrong, but I was very annoyed at the moment and I could sense HE was in there and I wasn't leaving without my damn property!

Temari didn't even need to get him before a short red-haired boy slowly perused his way over to the door. Feelings of fear welling up in his sibling's chakra as they scrambled to move out of the doorway. Gaara looked at me apathetically, his arms crossed over his chest and looking exactly like the statue that I found on my roof this morning.

"You came." he said dully, and I couldn't tell whether that was a question or a statement. I also couldn't really care less about deciphering his tone of voice because he stole my Ocarina!

I had a frown that was bordering dangerously on a scowl as I looked the Sand boy and I held my hand out expectantly for the second time that day.

Temari and Kankurō had really funny looks on their faces then.

Gaara made no move to reach towards wherever he stashed my Ocarina and I made grabby hands impatiently, wanting my Ocarina back. I want to be friends with the boy, but I wasn't willing to part with one of the last connections I had to Kaa-chan to butter him up.

I think Kankurō's mind broke a bit when I did that. Though that look on his face was really funny now and just a bit worrying. I hope it doesn't get stuck like that.

Sand rose up from Gaara's gourd without any physical prompting from him and it disappeared further into their rooms. Temari and Kankurō were looking a little more worried than they probably should be as their eyes followed the small cloud. I mean, from what I could sense from Gaara's emotions was... still pretty much nothing. That includes any Killing Intent.

I heard movement that was so subtle, I wouldn't have been able to catch it if the atmosphere hadn't already been so deathly silent as it was. I sensed the small cloud of his chakra-infused sand return from the other room, gliding over to my hand before I felt the cool metal of my beloved Ocarina once again.

Quickly, my eyes scanned over it as my fingers ran along its surface, making sure he didn't scuff it or anything. Other than being a bit on the dusty side, it seemed like it was in perfect condition! Yay!

When I was satisfied with my inspection, I looked back up at the red-haired boy and I smiled—no, I grinned at him. Unbelievably happy with the fact I got my Ocarina back and wasn't smushed for my insolence! A good portion of me was expecting to get smushed for showing up like this and demanding something of him, no matter how reasonable my demand was.

Really. Out of the two of us, I'm probably the most mentally unstable one here.

The other two Sand Siblings stared, and continued to stare even as I glanced over them. Geez, don't they know staring is rude? I reached down and flipped open the lid to my holster, sliding my instrument back into it's rightful place. Ah, I didn't realize how much I've missed that weight over the past couple days. The same with the ends of my Red Ribbon tickling the back of my neck, where it was tied up in my hair.

It felt right.

My stomach growled loudly, reminding me that I not only missed breakfast but lunch as well. Because Anko is an inhumane slave-driver and I miss training with Neko already. Even if that means staring at a piece of paper for hours on end. My gut began to clench uncomfortably, bringing my mind back to the problem at hand.

Need food.

I glanced back up at the red-head that had begun to turn back around and dismiss my existence and got a really good idea. Or a really bad one. Depends on the perspective I guess. I whipped out my pen and scribbled on the notepad in my hand quickly, turning it around for him to see before he completely turned around.

"Have you eaten dinner yet?"

Hey, since he's been following me around anyway I might as well have him within eyesight instead of the creepy feeling. I haven't been killed yet so I might as well just roll with it!

I felt Terra wither up somewhere deep inside. I also heard the Other One laugh at her misery.

Gaara looked at the paper and I imagine that he would've arched an eyebrow at me with he had one. I was officially concerned about Temari and Kankurō now because they haven't blinked in quite a while now. The red-head turned back around and regarded me quietly for a moment, arms still crossed over his chest and doing an impression of a mannequin.

Hm. Now that I look at him, he rather does resemble a doll...

"No. We haven't." he answered evenly.

My grin only widened.

Sora, June 7th: Western Residential District, Ramen Ichiraku (6:40 PM)

I was eating ramen with the Sand Siblings.

Kankurō was sitting to my left with his sister on his other side and Gaara at the end of the bar, leaving two seats open to my right. The four of us were all sitting here.

Just... eating some ramen.

I was still smiling stupidly, occasionally glancing down at where Gaara was eating food like any other human being in the world. Granted he had stared at Teuchi for an unnervingly long moment before giving his order, but the man had met the teal-eyed stare with nerves of steel and served us all up without so much as comment or glance on the hitai-ate's that displayed the wrong symbol.

I couldn't believe that I was actually getting away with this. I'd been expecting him to ignore my question and slam the door in my face but... here we were! I felt like cackling with glee. I didn't, of course. That would just be weird to see me wheezing for no obviously apparent reason. This moment was surreal, really. What the fudge. This is the reason why I get foreign stalkers on my roof in the middle of the night. I do this to myself, there's no other excuse about it.

I still couldn't stop smiling, even as I shoved mouthfuls of noodles in my mouth. Ayame was gone, Teuchi sending her out on a couple errands because she kept glancing at the Sand ninja nervously, but Teuchi himself had treated them with nothing less than the upmost professional courtesy. I was very grateful for this, making a mental note to leave him a big tip tonight.

Lifting the rim of the bowl to my lips, I greedily swallowed the flavorful hot broth in one go. Letting out a satisfied sigh as I gently set the emptied bowl back on the bar. Ahhh... yes. I might not be able to eat ramen every night like Naruto, but I still do appreciate Teuchi's cooking.

Teuchi chuckled warmly, "You're eating like you've been starved, Sora-chan! I hope this means you've been training hard then?"

I grinned sheepishly and nodded. Raising two fingers in askance of another bowl and then pressing my palms together in a preemptive 'Thank You', Teuchi gave me a glad smile before turning around to whip up another serving of ramen. Glancing to my side again I realized that Temari and Kankurō were staring at me again, Kankurō even looking me up and down like he was trying to figure out where I was putting it all.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel an embarrassed flush creep up my neck as I pretended not to feel their eyes on me.

What? I was technically a growing girl!

Besides their stares I noticed Gaara was slowly eating his ramen, not giving one care as to what anyone else around him was doing. Unlike the ANBU camped out of the roof across the street, who were really fudging annoyed with me right now.

Multiple times already tonight I nearly burst out laughing because of how pissed the ANBU following the Sand Siblings got at me for doing this. If they don't lodge a formal complaint with someone -probably Kakashi, or maybe Anko since she's technically responsible for me while he's gone- then I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be hearing from a very disapproving Neko. 'Cause these guys recognized me somehow. I could tell the moment they spotted me. Whether it's because they knew me as the 'Demon's sidekick' and our terrorizing ANBU babysitter days or from Neko, because he's been talking about me to the entire T&I department apparently.

I grinned at Teuchi as he slid another bowl of ramen in front of me and dug in, chancing another side-glance at Gaara out of the corner of my eye. I couldn't help it. An irrational little part of me was just so surprised by the stupidly obvious fact that he capable of eating ramen just like everybody else. Doesn't help that my brain just keeps picturing him eating like a wild animal when in reality the boy probably has better table manners than I do.

I felt a smidge of shame as I reminded myself that Gaara wasn't the monster. He was just a boy who didn't want to be hurt by people anymore and was very lonely.

Also, he was probably bored. Like, really, really bored. Why else would he be following me around these last few days unless he literally had nothing better to do? I mean, what the hell is he even supposed to do for the next month while he and his siblings were under orders not to draw any extra attention to themselves as they waited for the Invasion to happen? It makes sense... kinda.

Halfway done with my second bowl, I snuck another glance his way only to find he was already staring at me with those passive teal eyes. Haa... I turned back to my ramen and lifted a mouthful of noodles to my face. Yep, just go back to eating and pretend that didn't happen. Nooope. Gonna pretend for the rest of the night that I don't know that he's been stalking me. Not that I actually know why he was stalking me in the first place. I've honestly no clue why the hell he picked me of all people to stalk, because I can think of a fair few more interesting people than a mute girl, but I can't say that I'm overly broken up by it.

Besides being more than a little unnerved by his attention in the first place, I'll gladly take comfort in the fact he's not obsessing over a bedridden Lee instead.

A smile touched my lips again when I thought of the spandex-clad boy. Just this morning I'd overheard his exuberant shouts of 'Youth' and 'Passion' in the next training field over while Anko had me trying to attack her with the stances she showed me the other day, making sure my every mistake was met with a painful reminder not to allow to happen again. Hearing his voice made me think of what he'd said to me the other day and cheered me up.

...yeah, I'd take Gaara any day.

None of the Sand Siblings saw fit to try and start a conversation, even Kankurō who looked liked he was just dying to ask what the hell was wrong with me but was probably too afraid of saying anything at all that might piss Gaara off and turn our little dinner party into a massacre. By the time Temari was gently suggesting to Gaara that they head back to their room at the Inn before their Jonin rep came back, I had officially survived dinner with the Sand Siblings!

The host of the Ichibi didn't utter a word or even glance my way once before he started to walk back towards the Inn. Kankurō however was still staring at me like I was some kind of magical creature, even as Temari dragged her little brother off by his ear she shot me an odd glance over her shoulder as well.

I laid out the money for the meal -Temari had paid for their meals- and was about to leave when Teuchi called over to me again, I glanced back at the bar to see him placing a paper container with 'Miso/Roasted pork' scribbled on the side of it. I arched a brow in question and the old ramen chef smiled.

"It's for Naruto." he answered. "I'm sure he's been training hard, too, since we haven't seen him around lately even for his favorite! Here, it's on the house for our best customer."

I won't lie. I loved Teuchi just a little bit more for that. I took the gift gratefully and didn't protest -too much- when he refused to let me pay, leaving with the promise of bringing the Hero the next time I visit.

The sun had finally given up the last rays of light as the sky was plunged into a deep maroon color, signaling the beginning of the night. I felt a certain sense of ease as I walked down the populated stone street, the sounds of chatter and life in my ears, my path lit by the soft orange-yellow glow of the oil lantern hanging above the restaurants and houses.

I reviewed the events of the day.

I survived an unscripted encounter with Sabaku no Gaara, survived another day of training with the Snake Woman, gotten my Ocarina back from the Sand nin with surprisingly sticky fingers and didn't die for it, survived the most surreal dinner I've ever had in my life, my belly was now warmed and filled with good food and I was currently heading to my home to give my best friend his favorite food and listen to him talk all about his day that didn't involve any near-death situations.

I'd say that today has been a fairly good day.

Sora, June 10th: Konoha Hospital, Lobby

I was scowling at the tiles of the floor with my head cradled in my hands, not really paying any close attention to the blurry faces that went to and fro across the spacious lobby. My head hurt too much and I was pretty sure that I'd see doubles if I looked. The continuous tapping of a boot heel next to me definitely wasn't making things any better, that's for sure. My entire skull throbbed painfully with what I wouldn't be surprised to find out if it was a concussion.

If only a concussion was the worst thing that has happened to me today.

'It's broken.' I signed, lifting my head briefly to address the woman who responsible for the incessant boot tapping.

"Stop being so damn pessimistic!" Anko snapped at me, not bothering to even interrupt her glaring at the poor nurse manning the desk who told us to wait here until someone found time to check me out.

This was decidedly not a matter of pessimism.

My ankle was broken and she was the one who broke it!

I sighed for the hundredth time that hour and leaned back in the uncomfortable waiting chair, not focusing on the aching in my right ankle and choosing to count the tiles in the roof to occupy my mind. Usually spare time like this would be spent working on Fuinjutsu formulas but I just couldn't find the will to focus at the moment. It was probably the fault of the concussion Anko also said I didn't have.

We waited in the lobby for the next hour or so until I noticed a woman in a Konoha medical uniform with brown hair tucked back into a tight bun walking and talking rapidly to the nurses that were trailing after her fleet steps, stop, only to turn her head and stare at me with a level of intense scrutiny I wasn't entire sure that I'd earned. Crap. I hope this isn't going to be the person who treats me. It'd be just my luck though, wouldn't it?

Anko's brow twitched, the sound of foot tapping finally stilling with the new attention.

The medic said a word of dismissal that had her flock of nurses setting off in every direction and I watched with growing trepidation as the woman took six measured steps to stand in front of me and glower with narrowed brown eyes.

"You're here again already?" she observed, her lips turning down into a pinched frown.

Uh, what?

I glanced on both sides of me, no one there. I even looked up towards Anko and saw her with a surprisingly blank/guarded expression on her face as she looked at the medic. Nope, she was indeed talking to me. I made sure to have a very confused expression on my face when I looked back up at her.

Critical brown eyes didn't stay on me for long before the Medic looked up at Anko, her lips thinning. Her expression was impassive but her chakra read something akin to distaste.

"...you're responsible, then?" she asked, addressing my Demon-sensei. Anko gave a curt nod, an unpleasant look on her face.

Interesting. There was palatable tension in the air between these two now. Usually Anko is all talk but she seems at a loss for words right now. Very interesting.

"I'd heard from the rumor mill that you'd been seen chasing around a genin in the training fields though I had hoped it wasn't true." she glanced back down at me, over my purpling ankle, back to meeting Anko's bored expression. "It only took you a few days before you broke this one. It's a record."

Not the fir—Oh, good to know that there's already a history of Anko treating people like this! Thank you so very much, Scarecrow! That reminds me to start planning how to get back at him for his eternally questionable choice in substitutes.

Anko crossed her arms under her chest and pinned the unnamed medic with an irritated scowl.

"Are you going to continue to give me that condescending bullshit, or are you going to treat the brat?"

The medic actually tilted her head back and looked down her nose at the Crazy Lady, causing my jaw to go slack.

"As eloquent as ever, Mitarashi-san. Come on, then. I don't have all day."

She then motioned me up with the clipboard in her hands before turning on her heel and heading out of the lobby. I grabbed my shoe and scrambled to limp my way after the -as of yet unnamed- medic while trying not to put too much pressure on my bootless foot. Anko slunked in front of me, looking very displeased by the turn of events.

The Medic led us down the hall and into a small room, a basic examination room that this wing of the hospital was filled with. The little card pinned to the door read; Takeyama Nori in a elegant handwriting. So was this woman 'Nori'? The name was vaguely familiar for some reason. Odd. I'm usually good with names.

Anko took up a place near the door and I awkwardly made my way over to the examination table, the paper cover crunching loudly as I sat down on the edge. Medic-who-was-probably-called-Nori was over by a file cabinet and was silently fingering through them until she found whatever she was looking for and pulled the folder out, opening up and closing the cabinet with her hip. She didn't even look up from the file in her hands as she began rattling off questions to me, kicking over a wheeled stool and taking a seat beside the table.

"First things first, are you currently under the influence of a Genjutstu?"

I shook my head. She wrote something down on the clipboard in response. Was she supposed to be doing that?

"Have you had any sort of physical enhancing drug and or food pill in the last seventy-four hours?"

Again, I shook my head. No solider pills for me. Though I could really go for some caffeine right about now. Usually it's nurses that ask these questions, don't they? So why is she doing it?

"Have you been experimenting with any kind of unregulated enhancement drugs, either physical or mental?"

I shook my head in negative. Nope. I was as clean as a whistle. Unless Anko drugged me at some point. Which is entirely possible now that I think about it.

Shit.

I turned to the sulking purple-haired woman.

'Did you poison me again?' I asked with an accusing look.

Anko sneered in annoyance and I noticed that Nori reacted to my signs. Not outwardly, but her chakra reacted with a distinct feeling of recognition. I glanced at the medic but she was paging through that file again. I focused my senses a bit and I could faintly feel the chakra inked onto her upper arm, the same special kind of Ink that both Kakashi and Neko have.

I realized that Medic Nori was/is an ANBU Operative. No wonder she's got the balls to back talk with Anko. Cool. And a little scary.

"No, she's not using anything." Anko replied tartly. "Look, Nori, all that's wrong is her ankle was injured in a Taijustu practice accide—"

Nori snorted. My eyes widened as I glanced to the impressive eye-twitch Anko sported. Wow. Yes, I like this Doctor Scary.

"...it was an accident. She just landed on it wrong." Anko ground out, finishing her sentence.

Yeah, after you threw me!

"Of course it was, Anko." Nori murmured unconvincingly, writing something sharply on the clipboard. She then finally looked up from it and set it on the table beside me, in the next second her hands were glowing a pale green and hovering over the dark-colored skin of my throbbing, swollen ankle.

I suppressed a wince, curling my fingers tightly around the edge of the table when I felt her sterilized chakra penetrate my skin and begin a harmless diagnostic. It wasn't as abrasive as if she was making direct contact but it was still uncomfortable to a degree. This is why I can't stand going to the hospital. Even the smallest amount of this sterilized chakra can make me want to harvey. Reminds me of bad memories. I let out a breath of relief when she finally pulled away.

"A simple fracture, a small one along the talus. Nothing to be worried about. A fairly common injury actually." she said, glancing up at me her brown eyes and looking incredibly more civil than when she was speaking to Anko. She picked up the clipboard again and wrote on it before placing it back on the table beside me. "I'll secure it with a cast and then you can be on your way—"

"Wait a minute!" Anko loudly interrupted, earning a chilly look from Doctor Nori. "I can't train her if she's got her leg in a cast! She's going to be in the Final Round of the Chuunin Exams and she needs all the training she can get her hands on if she's going stand half a chance in a fight there!"

Ouch. Not much faith in my abilities, huh? Yeah, okay, I can see where she's coming from in regards to facing Gaara, or Neji... or Lee... or Sasuke and Naruto... and maybe if Tenten and Kiba engage me in close-combat. Temari is a long-range fighter so maybe I'd stand a better fight against her?

Be more realistic, eh? Sky-girl? Terra drawled. I kept the frown off my face. Don't care about being realistic. Not in the mood to admit that Devil Woman is right. It's her fault my ankle's injured in the first place!

The look on Doctor Nori's face was best described as: Exasperated. She swiveled in her seat to face Anko, face pinched in a frown and I turned my head towards the door. There was an awfully familiar chakra signature headed down the hall now.

"You know very well that it is against hospital protocol to use the Mystic Palm Technique on injuries as minor as this one when it can be avoided. Never mind the fact that it is a skill that not many Medic's without the proper ninjutsu training can utilize in the first place!" she said, speaking to Anko as if she was an unruly Academy student. "Besides, letting a break heal naturally is always the best plan long-term instead of using chakra to accelerate the process! Chuunin Examinations aside, I cannot in good conscience waste my chakra on such an unimportant injury as this when it could be used in an actual surgery that has life and death consequences."

She's actually right, though. That protocol has saved me lots of discomfort from having sterilized chakra shoved onto my wounds in the past. Also why I try not to get any injuries that are serious enough to need chakra to heal me.

Anko didn't like that answer.

Just as the purple-haired woman stepped away from where she'd been leaning against the wall, looking ready to argue, there was a light knock on the door right before it opened wide and a small-sized nurse stepped in.

Dressed in her feminine uniform dress, the first thing I noticed was the soft pink hair and bright green eyes.

I smiled at Sakura, briefly looking her over. Her long pink hair was a bit in disarray, loosely tied into a messy bun at the base of her head, almost like she hasn't found the time to fix it in a while. And from the faint lines starting to form under her bright green eyes she looked like she hasn't slept in the last twenty-four hours. Yikes. But, still she looked as pretty as ever. Even if a bit worn down. Hm... I wonder if Lee would think she was prettier than me? I know Naruto still thinks she's pretty even though he still doesn't like her as much, but—

I blinked stupidly. Repeating that train of thought back through. Whaaat... the... heeeell...? Where did that line of thought just come from!? Why should I even care if they thought Sakura was prettier than I was? I knew she was! Anybody with eyes could see it!

Pressing a hand to my stupidly warming face for the stupid thoughts running through my stupidly hormonal brain I nearly didn't catch what Sakura began to say as she immediately zoned in on a Doctor Nori who looked like she was about to have it out with Anko.

"Nori-sensei, I brought the patient's medical history like you wanted—" she stopped in her tracks the moment her eyes landed on me, a small gasp escaping her rosy lips as mint-green eyes widened like saucers. "Sora-senpai!"

I waved my fingers in a small wave.

The adults noticed this, Nori even quirked a brow at Sakura's sudden exclamation, briefly glancing back at me before focusing on the pink-haired girl.

"Do you know the patient, Haruno-kun?" she asked and Sakura nearly jumped at being addressed, slapping the files in her hands to her chest as she snapped her gaze from me.

"Y-Yes, Nori-sensei, I do! Sora-senp—" she stopped herself mid-stutter, straightening her spine and recomposing herself. "—I mean... Sora-san and I attended the Academy together! We've known each since we were young."

I bit the inside of my cheek, looking at the twelve-year-old tween. You still are young, little buddy.

Nori looked about ready to ask a full series of questions on this line of topic but Anko interrupted yet again, earning a frosty look from the Doctor.

"Hey, girl, you a medic?" she asked abruptly, completely ignoring how the other woman was trying to erase her with glare power alone.

Sakura actually jumped this time when she realized that there was another person in the room, one who looked fairly intimidating with a scowl. The pink-haired girl blinked a couple times and opened her mouth to answer—

"Haruno-kun is one of my trainees." Nori answered instead, narrowing her eyes in suspicion. "Why is that information relevant, Mitarashi-san?"

"Oh, woooow! 'One of yours'? That's good to know!" Anko said as provokingly as humanly possible. What the hell, woman. She took a few steps forward to loom over the suddenly very small-looking Sakura, she grinned darkly. "My next question is: Is this kid any good at it? Like, good enough to perform the Mystic Palm Technique on a 'fairly common injury'?"

Oh. I see where she's getting at now.

Sakura paled, eyes widening.

Nori's brow furrowed in anger. "Of course no—"

'Yes.' I answered simply.

All three of them looked at me with varying amounts of surprise. Anko and Nori were more guarded about it but Sakura was just staring at me slack-jawed now, no doubt having quite a bit to say but not quite having the confidence to voice it.

The idea of Sakura being to one to heal me didn't seem all too bad. If it was as simple as Nori was thinking it was, then Sakura should be able to fix it up no problem! Plus, I've actually gotten used to the feeling of her chakra so this would be the least uncomfortable option for me to take instead of some stranger's hands being on me. I also couldn't waste the next few weeks in a cast when I have to plan for the Invasion, though the extra time would probably benefit my Fuinjutsu research I actually plan on helping during the fight.

Anko faced Nori expectantly. "Well, Nori? Do you have the same confidence in your trainee?"

Doctor Scary scowled at the obvious bait while Sakura's face did something complicated. I didn't have to read her chakra to know she was annoyed at being totally left out of the conversation even though it was basically about her. Technically about me, but that's just semantics.

"While Haruno-kun does have the training necessary, she lacks experience. However..." Nori sighed with a great amount of reluctance and turned to me. She looked tired and exasperated and I was sure the she just wanted Anko and I out of her sight by now. I really don't blame her. "The decision is up to you, Sora-san. Though it is against my professional recommendation... if you are steadfast in continuing your training as soon as possible then having Haruno-kun perform the Mystic Palm is the best you are going to get besides a cast for the ankle."

All right then. I gave a thumbs-up while Sakura looked like she was two seconds from hurling.

Uhhh...

She's got this, right?

Perspective:

(Bud)

I don't know how exactly things happened this way.

One minute I was delivering the medical history to Nori-sensei's office for one; Mr. Shikugawa, as per Surume-san's request and the next, a strange woman in a trench coat was asking questions about me and now I was supposed to treat Sora-senpai for a fracture in her ankle.

I... I...

I've never even performed the Mystic Palm Technique on a human being before!

What was Sora-senpai even thinking to vouch for me like that!? She has no idea whether or not I could even perform the Mystic Palm in the first place! Of course, I can—but she shouldn't have known that! And now everyone else has decided the treatment without asking my opinion, and now Nori-sensei was watching my every move critically, expecting only success after spending so many hours of her time teaching me the proper way to coax chakra into muscle tissue and that strange woman was looking like she wanted me to hurry up and get this over with and Sora-senpai was just sitting there looking completely relaxed! How on earth could she look so relaxed right now?! I don't even know if I can do it on an living human being and—and—

"Are you sure you're qualified to be a medic?"

I felt an uncomfortable weight settle heavily in my gut at the memory of Sasuke-kun's words.

Ever since that incident with the Seal happened, I've been thinking about his words more and more often, and the indifferent look he had given me. He hadn't been wrong to question me, of course! Sora-senpai had been in need of immediate medical attention -after having electrocuted HERSELF, like a reckless idiot- and she had relied on me to fulfil that role, and I just...

I froze.

How is anyone supposed to be able to place their wellbeing in my care if I just freeze up at a critical moment? After making such a fool of myself in front of him, I know that Sasuke-kun wouldn't. My heart tightened in my chest at the thought, a sick feeling stirring in my gut. I don't know... Maybe I'm just not suited to become a—

"Haruno-kun," Nori-sensei called suddenly, causing me to glance over at her in surprise. She was looking at me with narrowed eyes and that pinch in her brow she gets whenever I mess up. "You are overthinking again. Clear your mind of all nonessential information and focus!"

That sick feeling in my gut doubled as my ears burned with shame. She was completely right, as always. I was overthinking things again. Briefly, I closed my eyes and I focused my scattered thoughts, aligning them. I inhaled a deep breath and held it in for a moment as I cleared my mind of any thoughts that weren't helpful.

I have technically performed the Mystic Palm dozens of times over these last few months. Successfully, too! Sora-senpai might be a little different than a red-gilled trout—BUT I have also spent hundreds of hours pouring over every medical textbook I could find and learning about every inch of the human body and how it works! I know what has to be done and the steps that need to be taken.

Besides, realistically it was only a matter of time before I had to perform the Mystic Palm on my own anyway! And Nori-sensei wouldn't ever condone this approach if she had any doubt that I couldn't do it! That's right! Otherwise she would've said hell no!

Alright.

I opened my eyes again, hopefully looking more confident than I was a minute ago. I pressed my lips into a firm line and moved to sit on the stool in front of Sora-senpai, picking up the medical clipboard sitting beside her. My eyes quickly scanned over Nori-sensei's nearly illegible handwriting, seeing the diagnosis for Sora-senpai as a simple fracture along the talus. Oh, thank goodness! Well, I mean—not good for her of course, but 'good' as in it should be a straightforward mend! Basic, really!

I took another deep breath, failing to calm my racing heart.

Start by making sure that there aren't any other injuries.

Of course Nori-sensei would've caught them if there were, but I was the one doing the diagnoses now. There could be no room for an oversight on my part and risk harming Sora-senpai for my mistake.

Gently reaching down, I took her swollen ankle in my hands. I begun to palpate her fibula, to check for any associated fracture before moving to the sole of her foot. She didn't show any signs of pain, but just to be sure I asked. She shook her head negative, her lilac eyes seemed curious but almost unconcerned as she watched me. I was envious of her composure right now. Even so, after making sure there were no other fractures along the surrounding bones it was time to move onto the next step.

Applying the Mystic Palm.

I swallowed down my nerves and gathered my chakra with the Ox Seal, cleansing it and pulling the Yin chakra from it. Once my hands were coated in the appropriate amount chakra I tentatively placed a hand on each side of Sora-senpai's ankle and closed my eyes, letting my training take over. I started slow by repairing hemorrhaged blood vessels, alleviating the inflammation and swelling on the joint. Careful not to disrupt the nerves and cause unnecessary pain.

I moved my chakra further in, touching upon the talus. I held my breath as I began to mend the bone, my chakra filling the fracture and accelerating the healing process. Not too much chakra or I risk overwhelming her chakra network with the sudden influx and causing damage... Just enough to repair the fracture, mending the bone.

Done.

Finally letting out my breath, I removed my hands from her ankle and inspected it. The skin still was marked with a purple bruise from the broken blood vessels but the swelling has already gone down significantly. Good. That was very good.

I swallowed, my mouth suddenly feeling very dry as I wiped a bead of sweat that gathered on my forehead.

Moment of truth.

"How is your range of motion?" I asked, glancing up at her face. "Does it hurt at all? Any pinching feeling or tingling?"

Sora-senpai tilted her head, experimentally rotating her ankle and I watched as her eyebrows shot up. Wait, was that a good sign or a bad sign? She motioned me back and I quickly stood up as she slid off of the table and cautiously leaned her weight on her foot.

She bounced on it.

Once. Twice.

A grin split across Sora-senpai's face and I felt a surge of pride and relief flood through me. I did it! I really, really did it! I—I pumped my fist in the air.

"HELL YEAH!"

Sora-senpai's jaw dropped.

I gasped, slapping my hands over my mouth in mortification as I realized that just came from ME! Oh, God. Did I really just shout that aloud?! How embarrassing! My face began to burn hotly and I was sure it was a dark red color by now. It got even worse when I heard a snort from the woman in the trench coat and I noticed that even the corner of Nori-sensei's lips were twitching up!

I ducked my head and wanted nothing more than for the floor to open up and swallow me whole.

A hand landed on my head and I looked up to see Sora-senpai's violet eyes looking down at me. Her grin was back, and it was wider than before. She used her hand to gesture to her heart and then away from her lips, mouthing: 'Thank you.'

I ended up smiling too, happy to have helped.

Perspective:

(Sky)

Sora, June 11th: Northern Residential District, Roof (11:32 PM)

I laid back on the spare blanket and gave a silent thanks that the weather was finally getting warm enough at night to allow for wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and a baggy shirt. Really, summer nights in Fire Country had to be a highlight. Warm air, clear skies and a view of the stars that stretched on beyond the walls of the Village.

I stretched out my arms, bemoaning the current state of my muscles. After healing my ankle the other day, Doctor Nori had warned Anko about injuring it again so soon after a Mystic Palm treatment, saying that I wasn't going to get another if something else happened. So in response to that, the Devil Woman had come up with the brilliant idea of wearing down my upper body into nothing. She literally had me doing pull-ups until it was physically impossible for my body to go on. Then she ran me through more forms of her Taijutsu style, when I couldn't actually hold my arms up anymore. At least I could still walk home after training without wanting to collapse.

Bright sides, yeah?

I ran my fingers over the smooth metal of my ocarina as my eyes picked out the starry constellations, remembering the gently spoken words of a silly man with blonde hair and green eyes that loved the stars a little less than he loved me. My heart fluttered a bit, a little happy, a little sad. Gosh, why don't I spend more nights out on the roof? This was beautiful.

A chakra signature manifested above my head.

Hushed and Cool.

I'll admit to being a wee bit surprised that he's shown up again, especially after what happened last time, but at least I'm prepared for it this time. I tilted my head back and looked at Gaara, who was standing on the ridge of the roof a little ways above me. Still reclined against the sloped tiles, I lifted my hand in a tiiiiiny wave.

His teal-eyed gaze immediately went to the Ocarina on my chest. He was still focused on that, huh? An idea came to me. He did ask what it did, didn't he? I sat up and reached over for the small notepad and pen I'd brought up with me and wrote, turning the page up towards him and hoping that light of the half moon would be enough for him to read it.

"Would you like to hear a song?"

The Ichibi host didn't verbally respond but I noticed his eyes did flicker over the page. Ah well, I'll just take that as a 'yes'. I thought over my song selection briefly and nearly laughed at the fact the only song coming to mind right now was 'Mr. Sandman.'

Mr. Sandman~ bring me a dream, make him the cutest that I've ever seen. Bum-bum-bum-bum! Give him two lips, like roses and clovers—Terra made a sound remarkably like a steaming kettle, almost like she was going to explode. I stopped myself from trying to finish the chorus. Alright another song then... how about...?

I smiled then, knowing the perfect song. I kept my eyes on his as I slowly lifted my ocarina up, feeling the cold metal press against my lips.

I played Naruto's favorite song: Zelda's Lullaby.

The familiar notes came as easily to me as breathing. My ocarina filling the silence with it's lovely sounds. I closed my eyes and got lost in the music. God, it felt like it's been years since I last played. I'd forgotten just how amazing it felt to stop thinking so damned much and just play.

Too soon I stopped, the song finishing even though I had played it longer than usual. When I looked back, Gaara was sitting on the ridge above me. Still looking as apathetic as ever. Considering he didn't poof away when I wasn't looking, I'll take that to mean he didn't hate it.

It was good enough for me.

I played another song, and another and another while Gaara sat there listening to me play without speaking a word. I played song after song on my ocarina, but not for him. I played because of how it calmed my mind and eased that ache I still had in my chest. When I played I didn't have to thing about my bleeding eyes or the Brand on my arm. I didn't have to worry about planning or invasion or even what I was going to do the next morning!

At that moment, there was nothing but the music and the stars.

Montage Arc,

Chapter Forty-Seven: "Moonlight Serenade"

END

A/N: Ah, wow. I cannot express how sorry I am for such a long delay. I ended up writing most of this chapter in the wee hours of the day when I was teetering on passing out, so that's why the long delay and overall insanity Sora showed this time around. I've also been bogged down with ideas of THREE other story ideas that do not take place in the Narutoverse and have just been taking up all my time and leaving none of it to Sora. Damn Pirates anyway. Plus I'm still rewriting/editing the beginning chapters of 'ASfT' to update the POV changes and just overall clean it up. I'm starting from the prologue and have gotten the first three chapters done.

I spent a good amount of time planning out the rest of this Arc and even the next one, so the next few chapters are going to have dates so that we all can keep track of the days until the Exams. And the VERY next chapter will be the 'Interlude' of Ikari's where we will be FINALLY getting some answers to our questions and even some answers you probably weren't looking for!

Special Thanks to ClosetCase who was my soundboard and helped me to write this chapter! She's amazing. It's thanks to her that Sakura didn't flop this chapter and actually seems to know what she's doing! Seriously, before she mentioned it Sakura didn't even have a POV and now she has this one and I love it so much more than before!

In other news, I drew up a picture of Sora's Kekkei Genkai in use and posted it on my Deviantart Page by the name of MissNanamiChan in case you didn't know it. Also! There's another cute little picture of fanart from loveangel16 on her Deviantart page! It's of a Mermaid!Sora with a Mermaid!Naruto and Hinata with a baby Boruto! It's cute!

Author Question!

"What is your favorite game/movie/anime song?"

Well, I've obviously have a soft spot for Zelda's Lullaby but my FAVORITE would probably be 'Sadness and Sorrow' from Naruto. It's just so iconic and brings on so many emotions for me. It's special.

I love, love, LOVE yew all! I'll see you next time!

-Nanami

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