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๐‘ช๐‘ถ๐‘ด๐‘ฌ ๐‘ถ๐‘ตโ—

06/08/2021 12:05 PM 

๐™ฒ๐™ฐ๐š‚๐™ด #๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿน๐Ÿบ๐Ÿธ - ๐™ผ๐™พ๐š„๐š๐™ฝ๐™ธ๐™ฝ๐™ถ ๐šƒ๐™พ ๐™ฝ๐™ธ๐™ถ๐™ท๐šƒ [๐Ÿบ]

  It was a small sound, but unmistakably present. It was fragile like the innards of a claymore bomb, demanding the sharpest of ears to listen and, for Sheva, that meant stalking closer in slower, calculated steps. It was a…cry — no, whine! — that caused her steps to become completely silent by comparison.It was like a creaky door begging to be freed from its hinges or was it…? She couldn’t place it; she needed to see for herself. The farther she delved down the hall, the lesser the light become until she was swallowed whole like a starving demon ripe for gorging.The darkness caused a stark contrast to her skin, almost like a star in the far-off waves of space. It was oppressive darkness. Why continue to pay for a facility they would no longer be using? Sheva remained diligent and removed her flashlight, creating a tunnel at anything she happened to shine it on. Had it not been for careful footing, she would’ve sent the clipboard on the table she nearly missed careening into the dark. Since it was left untouched, she couldn’t help but take a glance at it.Statistics and obituaries had become her morning papers since she joined the BSAA; she’d long since abandoned the uneasy feeling that came when her gut started to bubble at the sight of corpses. These, though, were alarmingly close to making history repeat itself. Paper after paper, body after body all shared horrid mugshots and even more daunting narratives. They all shared ages between 3-to-9 days.This was a morgue.These bodies came from a maternity ward.Sheva found herself aghast as if the room’s oxygen had shifted to poisonous gas. She attempted to stifle this moment of weakness by forcing herself to breathe slowly, but it was futile as the odds were far greater stacked against her. Her conscience would not let her rest.Since the Uroboros epidemic over a decade ago, Sheva steeled herself to justify how she carried out her mission. The infected, she debated, were sick — not even human anymore, pain would do little to truly afflict them…but they were still her people. She’d stopped Wesker’s attempt to spread the virus, but so much of the population had been affected in residual ways.The few following years still had the infected to take out, and now those who weren’t directly infected still carried the gene. Her country was set on fire and those who weren’t burned suffered from smoke in their lungs. This included those who were pregnant. An entire generation had their children taken from them.It was disgusting, inhumane to have them suffer — and to be experimented on. Those who were born with the infection would be guinea pigs as their very DNA would be affected. If it could work on them, it would work on everyone else. Sheva nearly spat at the thought. Logic be damned, babies were not test subjects.Evidently, even the scientists knew this. The giveaway was the smell. The odor of dead bodies, unfortunately, was as common as smelling dinner sizzling on a grill. This scent, however, was far worse — it smoldered like a moist collection of organs piled and left to rot. They could’ve only gotten this bad after time. They must’ve left them behind to decompose; what good were failed subjects if they were leaving the site soon thereafter?Sheva burned with an ire that blistered her palms. She now thought back to the moment she gutted Wesker’s heart with her knife, how much blood and pus spewed them in a pool of guts. She still remembered how each stroke felt and her only regret was not doing more. He deserved far worse for what he caused…The only thing to break her trance, however, was that…sound again. The cry. It was here and it was close…

๐•ณ๐–Š๐–‘๐–‘ ๐•ฒ๐–Ž๐–—๐–‘

06/08/2021 07:53 AM 

Family- Drabble

Ai stood in the crowd, unnoticed by the living, watching a young girl pass by. She was their client, and Ai often took to watching those who summon her while waiting for the contract to be finished. With her was Kikuri, who was acting calmer than she was normally. A family walked in front of them, obscuring her vision for a bit as they passed.Family was an unfamiliar concept to Ai. She had a family once, but she was not particularly close. Her parents cared for her, but she had never interacted with them. The only family she'd ever been close to was Sentaro, the one who ultimately betrayed her. Having given up her emotions when she took this position, she'd forgotten what it was like spending time with family. She could no longer describe the last time she felt happy. She had toys, things to entertain her, but they did not entertain her in that sense. She watched them out of curiosity, or when she was thinking. They did not bring her joy.Which brought her thoughts to the others of the Correspondence: Hone, Wanyuudo, Kikuri, and Ren. Had Ren not once described them as a family of sorts? Undoubtedly they got along well enough to work together, although Hone and Ren had a lot of banter back and forth, but she supposed in a weird way she would describe them as family. Certainly, she was closer to them than she had ever been with her real family.ย Looking at them from an outside perspective, one could see the family dynamics. Ai and Ren fell more into the young siblings' stereotype. They were young, sometimes immature, but they got along the best. Hone was more of the motherly one, usually most sympathetic to clients, and often the one to scold the others for their immaturity. Wanyuudo was of course the grandfather figure in the group, old and wise, but still playful on occasion. And of course, Kikuri was the toddler, always playing jokes and seeing the world through a lens of innocence. In a bizarre way, they were a family, if the souls of former living and objects could have a family. Surely they'd do a lot for each other, the others had reacted so strongly when she tried to fight the Shibata's, or when she fought Gilles. Had they not been concerned for her safety as a family member might?Her thoughts were interrupted by her name being called and turned towards the sound, Ren and the others running towards her. They quickly reached her, Ai having not moved from her spot at all. Kikuri waved at them, as if not understanding why they were panicking."There you are! We couldn't find you for a while. What caused you to split up?" Hone asked exasperatedly, clearly concerned. Ai turned back to the street, pointing at their client, who was attempting to get a drink out of a vending machine. They all sighed."Normally we don't worry that much, but we thought something was up cause Kikuri wasn't there either. Don't go running off, you scared the sh*t out of us." Ren explained, and like the others, he was visibly worried. If he expected a reply, he did not press for one, and Ai remained silent."Don't worry Mr. Ren, we won't get lost!" Kikuri chipped in, smiling. Ai stared for a few more seconds at their client, but turned away, content to continue their journey to visit their victim. They could very easily teleport there, but the others rather enjoyed the walk and observing the human world. Ai thought more about the idea of family in regards to the others. Sure, they were an odd bunch, but maybe they were a family of sorts. At the very least, she was closer to them than she'd ever been to someone before.Perhaps the concept of family wasn't so meaningless to her after all.

เงฒ frosch.

06/07/2021 03:55 PM 

Please help Fro! ( Searching for active Fairy Tail role players. )

Please help Fro find an active Fairy Tail verse. I am currently scouting for members of Sabertooth, Team Natsu, Crime Sorciere, Spriggan Twelve, Mermaid Heel, etc. Please help the Fairy Tail verse grow into its former glory. I wish to have an active verse with many different faces. Fro will appreciate the help! An active Lector will be lovely as well.I prefer literate and descriptive people into the verse. A friendly community with no drama. Ocs are also welcomed here. If you wish to help an exceed out, please request me.-- Love, Frosch. 

Ookami

06/07/2021 01:10 PM 

RP rules

GENERAL RULES1: When you are talking out of RP text, use " " to indicate such2: When you are talking with only one character in the same area, you should not skip any lines; if you are talking with more than one character area, then you must separate them by skipping a line after the action and text of the first character, then starting the same thing for the next character [Note: this only applies if both characters are interacting with the same character(s); if they are in the same topic, but different areas of the topic, they must be posted in different comments.]3: Any speech MUST be indicated with quotation marks and actions should be indicated by "* *", but that is optionalGLOBAL RULES1: You cannot skip between different RP storylines2: You cannot skip between different time frames3: You cannot declare your character(s) to know someone without permission from the other person(s)4: You cannot declare your character(s) to share history or a background with another character(s) without permission from the other person(s)ENTRY RULES1: You cannot make another person(s) notice something; you have to let them notice it themselves2: You cannot appear in-between or near other characters unless approved by the other person(s) and allowed to do so (usually for battles or something)3: You cannot be dramatic, it MUST be a subtle entry (ie: no big flashes into the area, bothering other characters; no screaming; no making other objects fly around when you entry, bothering other characters, etc.) [Note: exceptions are allowed if approved by the other person(s) if you are in a battle or something, but it must still be kept in moderation.]4: You cannot move or come into contact with another character(s) when you enterSOCIAL RULES1: You cannot control the conversation or be the center of attention2: You cannot interrupt someone else's conversations (unless permitted by the other person(s))3: You cannot make person say something, nor may you tell them to say something outside of RP chat (your character may tell them to say something in RP chat, but they are allowed to refuse)4: You cannot relate to someone else's background or history without the consent of the other person(s)BATTLE RULES1: No godmodding (ie: being invincible, overpowered, etc.)2: No controlling other people3: You CANNOT kill another person(s)'s character without their permission4: You MUST allow the other person to CHOOSE to accept or avoid an attack [Note: there are some exceptions to this rule once you are familiar with the rules and the feel of RP battles, but you must still keep it in moderation; it cannot be a big attack (ie: cutting someone's head off, stabbing their heart or lungs, etc.) and you must allow the other person(s) to do the same.]5: You CANNOT say where a character(s) got hit, nor how they took damage, they became crippled, they lost a limb, etc.) [Note: again, there are exceptions to this rule, as well; following the same exceptions as rules #4 and #66: You may ONLY make ONE attack at a time, still following rule #4 [Note: again, there are exceptions to this rule once you are familiar with the rules and the feel of RP battles, but you must still keep it in moderation; you cannot go into a frenzy (attacks that count over 5 in this case) and you must allow the other person(s) to do the same.]7: You may not make any moves without giving the other person(s) a chance to do something (this includes running away, teleporting (not blinking), summoning things, banishing the person(s) (and it must be approved by the person(s), etc.)8: You MUST take damage at some point GENERAL RULES1: When you are talking out of RP text, use "(( ))" to indicate such2: When you are talking with only one character in the same area, you should not skip any lines; if you are talking with more than on character area, then you must separate them by skipping a line after the action and text of the first character, then starting the same thing for the next character [Note: this only applies if both characters are interacting with the same character(s); if they are in the same topic, but different areas of the topic, they must be posted in different comments.]3: Any speech MUST be indicated with quotation marks and actions should be indicated by "* *", but that is optionalGLOBAL RULES1: You cannot skip between different RP storylines2: You cannot skip between different time frames3: You cannot declare your character(s) to know someone without permission from the other person(s)4: You cannot declare your character(s) to share history or a background with another character(s) without permission from the other person(s)ENTRY RULES1: You cannot make another person(s) notice something; you have to let them notice it themselves2: You cannot appear in-between or near other characters unless approved by the other person(s) and allowed to do so (usually for battles or something)3: You cannot be dramatic, it MUST be a subtle entry (ie: no big flashes into the area, bothering other characters; no screaming; no making other objects fly around when you entry, bothering other characters, etc.) [Note: exceptions are allowed if approved by the other person(s) if you are in a battle or something, but it must still be kept in moderation.]4: You cannot move or come into contact with another character(s) when you enterSOCIAL RULES1: You cannot control the conversation or be the center of attention2: You cannot interrupt someone else's conversations (unless permitted by the other person(s))3: You cannot make person say something, nor may you tell them to say something outside of RP chat (your character may tell them to say something in RP chat, but they are allowed to refuse)4: You cannot relate to someone else's background or history without the consent of the other person(s)BATTLE RULES1: No godmodding (ie: being invincible, overpowered, etc.)2: No controlling other people3: You CANNOT kill another person(s)'s character without their permission4: You MUST allow the other person to CHOOSE to accept or avoid an attack [Note: there are some exceptions to this rule once you are familiar with the rules and the feel of RP battles, but you must still keep it in moderation; it cannot be a big attack (ie: cutting someone's head off, stabbing their heart or lungs, etc.) and you must allow the other person(s) to do the same.]5: You CANNOT say where a character(s) got hit, nor how they took damage, they became crippled, they lost a limb, etc.) [Note: again, there are exceptions to this rule, as well; following the same exceptions as rules #4 and #66: You may ONLY make ONE attack at a time, still following rule #4 [Note: again, there are exceptions to this rule once you are familiar with the rules and the feel of RP battles, but you must still keep it in moderation; you cannot go into a frenzy (attacks that count over 5 in this case) and you must allow the other person(s) to do the same.]7: You may not make any moves without giving the other person(s) a chance to do something (this includes running away, teleporting (not blinking), summoning things, banishing the person(s) (and it must be approved by the person(s), etc.)8: You MUST take damage at some point

RP, RP rules, rules to follow

DarkZone

06/07/2021 12:44 PM 

Triboulet_69

Real name: Jet JenkinsAge: 29Hunter.net user name: Triboulet_69Height: 6'2Weight: 210Eye color: BlueHair color: BrownRace: WhiteCreed: WaywardVirtue: VisionTriboulet is not your run-of-the-mill Wayward Hunter.  He might have same characteristics as most Waywards, but he is a little extra. How so? He hunts down other Creeds, and without mercy. Both former friends and even strangers are his targets. Bystanders too. If you were given the 'gift' by the Messengers no matter how tiny, he will try to kill you.  This placed him at odds with fellow Hunters and to retaliate they used Hunter.net to issue a kill on sight for this Rogue Hunter.  He wasn't always a Rogue, and once worked with a team. It was the many hunts that eventually caused the already mad hunter to fall deeper into the abyss.Pre-Imbuing: Not much is known about him on Hunter.net, other than his former job: Renassiance Jester.  During a show one day he felt an itch in the back of his head, an itch he couldn't scratch. A headache ensued and he lost the will to perform. Back in his dressing room he saw phantom writing on the wall. It said: "Faces lie, they have no eyes." Then, words suddenly echoed and burned into his brain. "Their will is gone, they will thank you for mercy." At that moment he accepted the words given to him by the messengers. His Secondsight activated and the world shifted, twisting around him like a constricting snake. Monsters. Monsters everywhere. Co-workers, families enjoying the fair. All of them were horrible monsters and they had to die. 150 people died that night in a freak accident when the big tent caught fire. Post imbuing:Triboulet joined up with a group of people just like him after being caught trying to do a head-on assault against a vampire nest. These strange people took him in, taught him the Hunt and how to use his destructive powers against the supernatural world. For seven years he fought with his fellow Imbued against the night. But since day one he was a problem, often killing innocent people or fellow hunters who got in the crossfire. This was expected however, since he is a Wayward. All Waywards shared this common trait. His partners just had to be more careful.. Rogue Hunter Countless battles with his ever changing squad changed him over time. He became more violent, even by Wayward standards. Out of the blue one day he snapped further and killed his squad, burned down the base and went on his own war against both Hunters and the Supernatural. Four years later:Triboulet has been marked an enemy of Hunter.net and they are to terminate him on sight. This extreme is to the point any Hunter stops whatever they are fighting and go after Triboulet. Monsters sometimes join in for a brief alliance to kill the Wayward.. Triboulet hasn't been seen since the Ashcroft incident...

ใ€ŒใŠใๆพ !!ใ€

06/07/2021 01:32 PM 

Addressing the Concerns
Current mood:  exhausted

Sooo... this is going to be a pretty big post. I'm posting it here in my blog because I don't think it will fit in a status post lol. I guess I'll begin where this all first started. Late Winter/early Spring I'd been hit with some pretty severe depression. It isn't uncommon for me. I frequently suffer from bouts of anxiety and occasional self-loathing. Big deal, right? This Winter it was pretty extreme because my little sister moved out and since she's like, one of my best friends, it left me feeling pretty sh*tty and alone. Eventually, I was able to cope with her absence, but the depression and loneliness only got worse. I ended up ghosting all of my friends who cared deeply for me and my wellbeing. I have the bad habit of doing this whenever I'm in a sh*tty mood, but this time it was bad.  I would stop talking to friends for months and the only social interaction I got was at work lol. After my birthday came around, I was more or less at rock bottom. I could have cared less what happened to me (it didn't help that my health was in a poor state either). I was able to FINALLY pull myself together come late May, thanks to a few events I was/am looking forward to coming up. So I'm trying to reconnect with the people who are still interested in interacting with me/being my friend. If my absence has upset you, then I understand you not wanting to be my friend anymore. I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm ok. No, I'm not suicidal. It's just that when I'm bummed out I sort of stop functioning lol.NOW THAT'S NOT ALL I WANT TO SAY. Regarding roleplay as Osomatsu-- I've been pretty burnt out on writing as him lately. He just doesn't feel super fulfilling to write as right now. I blame it partly on my depression and partly as I've only been writing as him for, like, the past two years lol. I've been wanting to branch out with some other fandoms I've been interested in lately. So, I'll be focusing on some alt accounts, mainly. (If you would like links to them I would be more than happy to oblige!) That doesn't mean I will be deleting this account or giving up on Osomatsu entirely. I just need some time away from him so that I can find it fun to write as him again. I will be trying to catch up on my replies on here when inspiration strikes, but don't expect daily/weekly replies.I am so sorry for leaving you all in the dark for so long. I've wanted to come back for a couple of weeks. Sh*t, I even wanted to return on the Brothers' birthday, but it didn't end up happening. I'm writing this as a means of preventing myself from running away again. So please hold me to my promise. Again, I understand if you're tired of my BS, but if you're willing to stick around, I appreciate you more than you know. Thank you all so much for your concern, I love you guys. I hope to talk with you all again soon!-- Oso-mun aka Roachy  (Me when I realized how long I've been gone)

โ€” The Blackest Night

06/06/2021 09:51 PM 

Proof in the Blood

Summary:Tim Drake knew that finding proof that Bruce was alive was slim to none. But when he actually found proof, it proved to be better than he could have ever hoped. Now his family has grown ever bigger, and he's not alone. Having this many siblings wasn't such a bad thing.            I see Pru, bleeding out into the desert, miles from…from…            I knew I was right. I knew…            I thought I would die as Robin.            The comm in Tim’s ear crackled to life, a strong, graceful, barking voice filling his ears as he lay in the desert, dying. Blood was falling from his lips, staining the sand red. He needed to focus. Ignore the voice. He needed to move. But…            “Did you find what you were looking for, Timothy?”            “Timothy?            Footsteps in the sand. Perhaps the killer coming to claim him again. Tim had to move. He forced his limbs to adjust, clenching his fists, forcing his body to move. The footsteps kept coming. A hand, soft, gentle, but clearly with power behind it, rested on his shoulder, tugging him gently into a lap. Female. At least, by first assumption. Tim could worry about actual gender later when he’d gotten away. Except…            “Shh, little brother,” the voice soothed gently. “Let me handle Grandfather. I’ll take care of you.”            With a gentle hand in his hair, the person plucked the comm from Tim’s ear. It took Tim a moment to realize his cowl had been removed. He should probably have been more concerned about that. But the person’s next words just…            “I have him, Grandfather,” the person spoke into the comm, power and authority in their voice. “Z and Owens are down. Pru and Timothy might survive. I’ll need to take them back to the hotel to treat them. They won’t make it to the base like this.”            Tim didn’t hear Ra’s response, but he was lifted and placed into the back of a vehicle seconds later. Pru was placed next to him, and they were both given quick medical attention. Then they were moving, and the pain caused Tim to finally black out.--------------------------            He met her twice. Never once did he remember her name, but he could never remember his own, either. The first time he met her…well…that was a tale for another time. But the second time he met her, there was something dark about her. Something different. But he remembered how much he loved her the first time. This time around, they married. It was a quick ceremony, beautiful, though. She had been waiting for him. The year was 1864. He hoped he remembered next time he saw her.            The night they spent together, however, would be their last for many generations to come. Or, for him, it was his last. For her, it would be their second. He did not know this, though, and neither did she.            The next night was taken from them by her father’s men. He was forced to move on. She was murdered and taken away by her father.            The next time she would see him, Talia al Ghul would not be the same, and he would not be the man she married. The two situations would lead to a twisted relationship that would lead to her third night with him, and yet, it would be his first.--------------------------            After falsely believing he had been dunked in a Lazarus Pit, beating up a bunch of ninjas, meeting the White Ghost, and ripping open his stitches, Tim found himself back on the slab with a woman standing beside him.            “I told you that putting him next to the Pit was a terrible idea,” the woman chastised the White Ghost. “And must you introduce yourself like you are some sort of demon?”            Tim wondered if she knew the irony in that statement. Of course, the amused look she gave him meant she clearly knew the irony. Tim kind of liked her. But priorities. He needed to focus.            “Where’s Pru?”            Tim winced as the needle met his skin, but kept his attention on the White Ghost.            “Recovering from her own surgery. You lost your spleen. Prudence lost her larynx. And two more of Ra’s assassins lost their lives on you mission.”            “Enough, Ghost,” the woman snapped with authority that made the White Ghost move back. “Grandfather would not have approved this quest if he did not believe there was some merit to it. It is not your place to question the reason for Grandfather’s orders, or to doubt the one Grandfather placed power with.”            “Of course, my lady,” the White Ghost bowed. “But Ra’s al Ghul wishes to know what happened in the desert?”            “Grandfather knows patience well, and he understands that Timothy may need to rest before he can answer these questions. We are to aid him, not to beat him down like a prisoner. I trust you to mind your tongue next time, Ghost.”            Tim had a feeling this might become a fight, so…            “A man calling himself the Widower attacked us. He killed Z and Owens. Pru and I survived,” Tim stated flatly as the woman, who was definitely Ra’s granddaughter, finished stitching him back together. “Now, who are you? I saw Dusan, the Original White Ghost, die. And where are we?”            “I am the White Ghost,” the dude supplied unhelpfully. “I am not here to answer your questions.”            Yeah. Right. “Yeah? How much do you want to bet that Ra’s al Ghul told you to do anything I asked?”            The White Ghost said nothing, but the woman cracked a grin. “Oh, I like you.”            “Why were we attacked?” Tim plowed on. If this woman truly was Ra’s granddaughter, then she wouldn’t have the same orders as this new White Ghost. He wouldn’t be able to order her around, and he needed to hope that she was nothing like Damian. “What is the Council of Spiders?”            “I AM the White Ghost.”            That was nice.            Not that Tim was even questioning the guy’s name. He just wanted answers. No, he needed answers. If this Council of Spiders was going to get in his way, then that was a threat he needed to deal with. And if Ra’s could give him those answers, then he intended to get them.            “There has always been a White Ghost,” the man went on. Which, okay, guess he was answering Tim’s earlier question. “And you are in The Cradle. If the League of Assassins had a Headquarters, this would be it. Your other questions will be answered in tie. Right now, you should rest, and comfort your guest.”            What?            “Guest?”            “Tim?”            Shoot. I knew I was forgetting something.”            “Um. Hi.”----------------------------            A knock on the door as he was explaining things to Tam had both a little startled. It was made more shocking when the woman who had to be Ra’s Grandfather entered the room without permission. She had changed out of the black she had worn earlier that resembeled a type of armor, and was now clad in a dress. Not nearly as revealing as Talia’s, but nonetheless beautiful.            It was a display of comfort, Tim had to guess.            “Timothy Drake-Wayne, or would you prefer Timothy Wayne?”            Tim frowned, not sure what to expect from the woman. She had been a wild card earlier.            “I prefer Tim Wayne, or Red Robin.”            The woman nodded. “And your friend is Tamara Fox, correct?”            Tam looked to Tim, taking the slight nod of his head as permission. “You can call me Tam. And…you are?”            “You may call me Athanasia.”            “Athanasia al Ghul, I assume?” Tim questioned. “Granddaughter of Ra’s al Ghul.”            Athanasia’s smile was familiar. Tim would have sworn he saw it before. Which was weird because Tim rarely forgot people. It was one of his strengths, and a way he solved cases. So the fact that Tim could recognize her smile but not place her was rather infuriating.            “To the League and to Grandfather, yes, I am Athanasia al Ghul,” she said kindly, somewhat amused. “Though to my siblings, my mother, and to you, you may call me Athanasia Wayne.”            And suddenly, that smile clicked in Tim’s mind. Because it was one Tim saw often once Bruce had adopted him, just with a hint of more amusement than Bruce ever really showed. Still, it was so painfully familiar because it was Bruce’s smile.            “You-?”            “Are the proof you’re looking for that our father is alive,” Athanasia finished for Tim. “Grandfather doesn’t know, though he might suspect, so we must tread carefully. The White Ghost is not a friend, and he trusts me even less than he trusts you.”            Tim could do that. He could. Of course. After all, if what Athanasia said was true, then he just found proof better than a cave drawing. He’d need blood tests, and given Athanasia’s smile, she wasn’t going to give him much of a hassle in that endeavor. But he needed to-            Of course, things had to take a turn for the worst when he was cornered into taking over the League.            And later, Tim had Athanasia and Tim alone.            “I’m going to take them down,” Tim said decisively. “The Council. The League. All of Them. I’m going to take them down from the inside out.”            “Good,” Athanasia said flatly. “It’s about time someone did.”            “But I haven’t forgotten my first goal,” Tim turned back to his older sister. “You said you were his. I’ll need proof. But you also said there were others.”            “Yes. I did. There are two others. Though we’ve adopted a third. I can get you samples from all four of us.”            Tim nodded. Things were coming together.---------------------            Playing with the Council of Spiders was a trap, and Tim had been foolish to let the White Ghost pressure him into engaging. Now Tam and Athanasia were in danger, and it was his fault. He wasn’t going to make it back in time to save them before they all died.            He found Tam first. Holding a gun to one killer’s head, while another assassin planned to attack from behind. Tam had to come to his rescue.            “Athanasia?” Tim asked as they tried to run away from the subdued assassins.            “I don’t know,” Tam shook her head. “I was looking for her when the attack started.”            Not good.            Especially when Ra’s…no Ra’s al Ghul’s doppelganger, suddenly dropped dead. Tim was going to have to fight to get Tam out alive and hope that Athanasia was already out. He had to wait before the Wanderer noticed before he made his move. Then he just had to fight to get Tam out. Tam knew the final end game. Knew the goal. She could do it. She could pull it off with Athanasia.            Tim just had to get her out.            Pru and the White Ghost came to his aid just as Tam was close to getting out. Tim had to keep fighting, though. It wasn’t time yet.            After all, he already won.            With that escape, he made his plan. He made his move. And he won.            He won. Finally.            They launched into the air, grappling to safety as the Cradle exploded. As they tumbled through the air, Tim let himself pull Tam close to cushion their fall. Except they didn’t hit the ground. They were caught by a woman with red hair. And in the arms of the blonde woman next to her was Athanasia.            “Sorry it took so long,” Athanasia grinned, bright and cheeky. “Got a little sidetracked. “Tim, Tam, I’d like you to meet our sister, Asteria Prince, and her half-sister, Hippolyta Trevor. You can call them Teri and Lyta, though.”----------------------------            He met her a few times. Each time, he knew her, but she didn’t know him. They were friends. Allies. She met her lover once, too. Steve Trevor. Then he died, and she was alone. He was alone too.            Nothing happened between them right away. No. It was too soon. But the draw between them was undeniable. So, the last night he ever got to see her, they gave in to those feelings. It was refreshing. Different than Talia.            Brighter.            He felt bad, comparing. But he knew them both, and he hoped to remember how he knew them. He never did. Because the next time Diana Prince of Themyscira saw him, he was Batman, and by the time he let her see his face, it was clear he did not know her.            Diana mourned, but never once let herself act on her feelings a second time.            She never made the connection.            She would soon.---------------------------            Fury and Kull. Hippolyta Trevor and Asteria Prince Wayne. Daughters of Diana. The first was the daughter Steve Trevor. The second was the daughter of Bruce Wayne. Though Diana never knew her name. Other than Teri’s red hair, Athanasia and Teri could have been twins. Both took after their father, much like Damian.            But Tim was back in Gotham, and he had a job to do.            Though seeing Conner was nice, Ra’s had a way of ruining the moment. It was really infuriating, really. And then Stephanie. As Batgirl. If the situation wasn’t so dire, Tim might have flipped. He wanted her safe. Away from all this. And now Pru was going to kill her and…            He really needed to give Steph more credit.            The Council of Spiders again. Ra’s targeting the things and people Bruce loves. And of course, Damian attacking his alias. It was a good thing Athanasia, Teri, and Lyta had made themselves scarce, because this was ridiculous.            Not to mention Hush.            Ra’s made a mistake, though.            Tim had friends. Family.            Now he just needed to defeat Ra’s. No. Not defeat him. Just distract him long enough to destroy Ra’s final plan to destroy the thing Bruce loved. Something that Athanasia and Teri were personally overseeing to make sure that Thomas Elliot, disguised as Bruce, could not destroy Wayne Enterprises or Wayne’s Fortune. He didn’t need to beat Ra’s in a fight. Just out smart him.            Even if that meant Tim would die alone, that was enough.            He was going to die.            Except…            “Haven’t you done enough Grandfather,” a voice washed over the room before Ra’s could react to the news that he had lost. “I certainly didn’t take you for a sore loser.”            Tim only had a second to take in Bruce’s younger face before he was kicked out a window.            He was going to die.            He won’t say anything. He never does. But I know.            I know Bruce will be proud of me.            Not a bad day.            Tim…Tim had done his part. He let the darkness take over.--------------------------------            When he met her. The first time. She was pure. Innocent. He was young. Broken. Lost. She was kind and took him in. It was peaceful. He got the sense that he didn’t get this. Ever.            She had no family. Just her name. Her mother had long since died. Her father, she never knew. She was lonely. So was he. It made sense that they were drawn to each other. They fell in love. Slowly. But it happened.            As he stayed with her, things were nice. Life was nice. They talked marriage. A family. They even decided to try for a family. It was one of the best decisions of his life, settling down with Talia.            He was happy.            And then it was taken away. They were attacked. She was taken. Their unborn child too.            He kept on going.            He had no other choice.            He never met his son.--------------------------------            Tim woke up. Which was…odd. What was odder was that he was in the Batcave. And to make matters even weirder, he was surrounded by his siblings. His older siblings.            “Easy, Timmy,” Athanasia huffed when Tim sat up too fast. “You got a pretty bad beating, and you were kicked out a window. You’re lucky we decided to send Lyta back for you. Not sure of Batman would have made it in time.”            Tim cracked a smile at his sister. “He would have. D*ck’s just that good.”            Something tense in D*ck’s body relaxed, and a relieved pain danced on his face. Tim reached out for his older Brother, letting D*ck come to his side and wrap him in a hug. Tim took the moment of melting into D*ck’s arms to look around at everything. This wasn’t the normal cave. Definitely the one under the Penthouse Bruce never used. Alfred was there, looking relieved to see Tim alive and relatively well, but still clearly worried about the whole mess. Steph and Damian were a short distance away. And there was a face, so familiar, so young. Tim knew it well enough to know the man’s name, even if he didn’t know the man.            “Tallant,” Tim greeted with a soft smile. “Athanasia said you preferred to keep to yourself.”            “Naturally,” Tallant gave a smile, so clearly inherited from Bruce. “I’ve never been fond of Grandfather, or his League. But to hear that Grandfather had a vendetta not only against father, but my little brother, I believed it a worthy endeavor to take a step forward.”            Tim sent Tallant a smile. “Thanks. I mean it.”            “I know,” Tallant hummed, reaching out to squeeze Tim’s good shoulder. “You should get some more rest. As I understand it, humans need rest. Grandfather has already left Gotham, and the blood test that will prove our father alive is already running. Your friends are upstairs, and Athanasia already has a plan to wrangle me into talking to Jason. You can breathe now, little brother.”            Still wrapped in D*ck’s arms, Tim took Tallant up on that offer. He trusted his older siblings to keep him safe. Things would be alright. He could rest now.            “He hasn’t slept this easily in years,” D*ck cooed gently at Tim. “Thank you, all four of you, for being there for him.”            “You’d have done the same if you weren’t grieving and taking over the role of Batman,” Athanasia waved off. “We’ve kept tabs on all of you for years since we connected the dots of our history. And given all the time travelers among your heroes, I’m sure you understand why we couldn’t take a step forward and reveal ourselves until father vanished.”            “Yeah, I can understand,” D*ck agreed with a nod. “And I’ll admit, I’m not happy with this turn of events, nor am I happy that Tim’s spleen was a casualty of this. But I’m glad that it brought him to all of you. It’ll be nice not being the oldest.”            “Assuming they are telling the truth.”            All head turned to Damian. D*ck was frowning, but none of the other four said anything else about it. In fact, they didn’t seem all that bothered by Damian’s accusation.            “The blood tests will certainly tell either way,” Tallant stated calmly, gently, in a way that D*ck knew wouldn’t grate on Damian because Tallant wasn’t speaking to Damian as a child, but as someone who simply didn’t understand. “Perhaps, Damian, we should discuss our family blood alone. Just you and me.”            Damian tsked but allowed Tallant to guide him further into the cave where they quickly fell into a conversation. Damian clearly a ball of fire and rage, Tallant quite the opposite.            “Don’t worry,” Teri assured gently. “Tallant knows what he’s doing, and he’ll understand Damian’s frustration better than anyone else. There are many reasons Tallant left the League of Assassins, and there is but three reasons he has ever chosen to come anywhere near them again.”            D*ck pursed his lip, but didn’t say anything, instead following Alfred’s silent instruction to lay Tim back on the table so he could rest. It was…odd, seeing the four people before him. Tallant, Athanasia, and Teri all looked so much like Bruce in their own way. And he could see Diana in both Lyta and Teri. There was no doubt in his mind, even without the blood test, that the four were who they claimed to be.            “I doubted him,” D*ck whispered, more to himself than anyone else.            “I don’t think Tim truly blames you,” Lyta offered gently. “If anything, he believed himself crazy. Until Ra’s got involved, all of this was just a way to ignore the grief and forget the pain. You made the right call suggesting the therapist in Metropolis for Tim, because he probably needed it. Still needs it. The biggest mistake you made was letting him go alone.”            “Which was why I stepped in,” Athanasia piped up, a cheeky grin on her face. “Tim’s a tough kid, though. You should be proud of him.”            “I already am,” D*ck huffed fondly, brushing Tim’s hair from his face. “So, what now? You mentioned Jason.”            Athanasia suddenly got serious. “The blood test should be enough proof that Father is alive for the Justice League, and if there’s still any doubt, Teri and Lyta will accompany you. If Prince Diana ever connected the dots before, she’s never said, but she certainly will when we provide the evidence. As for Tallant and myself, we do need to have a discussion with Jason.”            D*ck wanted to press, but he knew enough of Bruce’s expressions to tell that Athanasia wasn’t going to explain any further. He supposed that was a benefit to being a carbon copy of one’s parent.            “On the other hand, Tim will have his hands full with the Dragon Gang moving into Gotham, and with his…engagement,” Teri grinned in bright amusement. “Poor kid has clearly never sat through a PR seminar before. She’s going to have a hard time after this.”            Yeah…Tim was probably going to flip once he saw that headline by Vicki Vale. Alfred was already working with Lucius to figure out what to do. After all, both Tim and Tam were technically minors, and Vicki Vale didn’t exactly have permission to share about that engagement. However, she’d been clever. D*ck had seen enough PR nightmares to be glad he wasn’t involved this time around.            In the background, Damian stormed away from Tallant as the blood tests all came back. One by one marking positive tests for either Bruce, Talia, or Diana. They were exactly who they claimed to be.--------------------------------            Convincing the League was easy. Booster Gold was leading the search with Superman and Green Lantern, which was good. They were keeping him updated. Athanasia and Tallant had gone to talk to Jason. Tim still wasn’t sure what had been discussed, but the two had Jason home. At the penthouse. Benched, but home. Good. The family deserved to be here. Together. They just needed to get in touch with Cass so they’d all be together.            And then Damian cut his line.            The fight they began happened to end up at The Theater. The place where it all began. Tim wasn’t 100% sure what he did to tick Damian off, but D*ck had to come and stop the fight. So, of course, Damian had to reveal his contingency.            “Impressive,” Tallant hummed, looking over Tim’s plan to take down each and every hero. “These might be better than Father’s.”            Tim…wasn’t sure that was a compliment. But he’d take it.            “He has a hit list for heroes,” Damian barked.            “You don’t?” Lyta questioned the youngest child of Bruce Wayne. “I thought paranoia was a Wayne trait.”            “Drake isn’t a Wayne.”            “Maybe not in blood, little brother, but that does not make him any less family,” Teri huffed. “The only one here surprised by this list appears to be you. In case you haven’t noticed, each of us is on here. Friends. Allies. Family. Tim trusts his Titans more than anyone, and he has contingencies for them, too. This is not some personal vendetta, little brother. It’s a precaution, and a wise one.”            “Especially with the multi-verse,” Tallant agreed with a hum. “There have been instances through time when the universes have collided, and not all of them were friendly. Though I noticed D*ck was not on here.”            “He was never a threat,” Tim shrugged.            Tallant looked unimpressed until it struck him that Tim wasn’t saying D*ck wasn’t dangerous. In fact, it appeared that Tim was saying his trust in D*ck was just that high. He did not believe D*ck would actively try to harm in any way. That level of trust was impressive. Especially for one as paranoid as Tim.            D*ck seemed to understand the implication, too.            “So the kid’s got a Superhero Hit List,” Jason huffed. “Big deal. If Timmy wanted to take over the world, I have no doubt he’d pull it off.”            “Thanks…I think?” Tim said slowly.            Jason responded by ruffling his hair and moving to where Alfred had brought down a couple snacks.            “Huh, you even found our old hero names,” Teri mused. “See, look Lyta. That’s really impressive considering everything.”            Lyta leaned over Tim’s shoulder, opposite the side Teri was doing the same. The woman blinked at the alias next to her name.            Fury.            Kull.            Their stint as heroes had been brief, ending with the death of Lyta’s husband and son. Tim had really only found out through sheer luck. He found it odd that Lyta and Teri could hide for so long, especially being the immortal daughters of Diana. But it made sense now that he understood.            Tragedy could change a person. Tim knew that well.            Taking in a breath, Tim turned to look at Damian. With everything that had happened in the last few days, there was no doubt that this had simply been the tipping point.            “This isn’t an attack against you, Damian,” Tim spoke slowly and with purpose. “It’s a precaution. I’ve seen what the League can do to people. And if you looked closely, my contingencies are to subdue, nothing more. Whether you become evil of your own choice, or something is forcing you, I don’t want you dead, and I’d rather never use these contingencies if I can help it.”            “Fine.”            And that was all Damian said. Tim knew this had to set back Damian’s opinion of him, but Tim really didn’t have time to fix it. After all, there were bigger fish to fry than this. Like the announcement tomorrow. Speaking of, M’gann had just texted him. Everything was in order.----------------            Getting Vicki Vale off his back was a piece of cake. This, being confronted by most of his siblings, was not ideal. Not in the slightest.            “We could have helped,” Athanasia snapped at him.            “I needed the plan to be genuine,” Tim argued back. “Even if none of you are in the spotlight, there’s already word getting out that the four of you exist. Tam’s engagement announcement directed Vicki’s attention to me, but she was there the day Lucius shifted the Wayne fortune to me. Besides, you had bigger things to worry about.”            “Bigger things to-!” Athanasia growled, cutting herself off and stomping from the room. Probably to take out her frustration on one of the punching bags.            “Are you sure you’ll be able to keep up this charade, Tim?” D*ck questioned, gentle, not doubting, but still worried. “It’ll be an active thing for a year. Maybe more.”            “Whatever I need to do to keep Vicki away from our family,” Tim stated, determination bleeding into every word. “I’ve got this.”            “Of that, I have no doubt,” Tallant stated flatly. “What I do doubt, little brother, is how this will affect you.”            Tallant wasn’t just talking about the assassination. He knew Tim planned to visit Captain Boomerang, knew that Tim needed to do this for his own sanity. Tallant didn’t like it, and he was every bit the worried, reclusive older brother Athanasia, Lyta, and Teri described. But Tim needed to do this.            Tallant hadn’t pushed since the initial confrontation. Tim was grateful, but he knew his older brother was worried. There was a lot going on, and Tim barely slept. Barely ate. He supposed if it had been the others, he’d be worried too.            “I expect you to take a break after this,” Tallant said flatly, jaw clenched, body tensed. “Everything else could wait.”            Yeah. It probably could.            A nap didn’t sound half bad.-------------------------            It was a flurry of chaos, getting Bruce back. The virus, the omega virus was meant to take over Bruce and use him as a weapon. One that could win. But Bruce was Bruce. He fought it. He nearly died in the process, but for Gotham, Bruce came back. Because Gotham needed Bruce.            And now Tim was sobbing in Lyta’s arms in a corner because Bruce, his dad, was alive.            He had been right.            D*ck was with Bruce now. Tallant, Athanasia, and Teri were waiting to meet them, if they hadn’t already. And Lyta had followed Tim as he fled, too overwhelmed. He had seen Bruce. He had been there. In person.            And yet…            “Red Robin,” Diana’s voice washed over him like a silent call. “He wishes to see you.”            And who was Tim to deny that.            Bruce looked…not great. Pale. Exhausted. Given everything Bruce had been through, that was understandable. But Bruce also looked…happy.            “Tim,” Bruce breathed.            That was all Tim needed. He barreled forward, charging into his dad’s chest, sobbing out all the ache and agony that had plagued Tim like a phantom. Bruce wrapped his arms around him, still weak from the strain of nearly dying over and over, and yet he still tried to hold Tim close.            “You…found…me,” Bruce breathed.            “I did,” Tim laughed wetly. “I found you, B. I did. You’re here.”            Bruce gave a tired, warm smile. “You…found…them…too…”            Tim looked to the four siblings he’d found. Siblings that chose him. Adopted him. Loved and supported him despite the lack of any blood relation.            “Yeah. I found them. And they found me.”            Those words were more than true. In so many ways. Tim wasn’t sure how he would have survived without them by his side. Things might have been different without them. As they sat there, just soaking each other in, Tim let himself finally let go.            Bruce, his dad, was alive. Now they just needed to get them home.Notes:So, fun times. Here are the children of Bruce Wayne.Tallant used to be Damian (we're not acknowledging Ibn. Forget him.) He was the son of Bruce and Talia way back when. Athanasia was invented in the Injustice verse. Hippolyta Trevor used to be canon, way back when in the Silver Age (it may have been the Bronze Age???). As for Asteria, I pulled that name from the recent Wonder Woman movie, and her alias, Kull, was introduced in the Dark Knight Metal series. If you look up "Kull Dc Comics" you'll find her.

โ€” The Blackest Night

06/06/2021 09:33 PM 

I Found You Missing

"As you are all aware, proud men and women from our village are fighting in a war that's been going on for quite some time now," Iruka said to his classroom of students.'Four years, three months and two days,' Sakura clarified in her head."Some of these brave shinobi have been there a long time and need reminders of home and what they're fighting for," Iruka continued on. "As such, the Hokage has implemented a new volunteer program. Anyone who wants to can sign up with me, and you'll be assigned a soldier. While there are a lot of regulations and you can't talk about everything in case the letters get intercepted, and you won't know his or her real name for their safety, it's a rare opportunity to directly help in the war."'They're asking us because these soldiers have absolutely no one left to write home to,' Sakura thought with a frown. 'There're away from home fighting for their lives and they have no one.'"For those of you interested, please come up to me after class. Now, for today I thought we'd work on…"Usually the studious Sakura listened to Iruka-sensei with acute attention, always eager to learn more about the glamorous shinobi world. Yet today his special announcement had caught her off guard and Iruka's voice drifted into the background. Were there really lonely men and women out there who did not realize just how amazing they were? Just how heroic the sacrifice they were making was?Coming from civilian parents, Sakura knew how hard it was to believe in something strongly and to not receive the reinforcement and praise she always desired. Her parents understood on a fundamental level why she wanted to become a shinobi, but did not sympathize when she got home dead tired. Why would she want to purposefully throw herself into something that would no doubt kill her?But Sakura was stubborn, and she thought those soldiers who refused to leave or die at the front lines must be as well. They deserved to have someone to hear from, to know there was one individual out there that cared about if they lived or not.Feeling full of self-righteousness, Sakura strutted up to Iruka's desk after being excused for the day."I had a feeling you would be interested, Sakura," he said with a kind smile that Sakura easily returned. "And I know just the person to assign you to. They're being a little stubborn, and a lot of people have quit since they didn't write back. But I think this person needs a pen pal the most out of anyone else, and you're just the equally-stubborn individual for the job.""Is there anything you can tell me about him or her?""Well, like I said, everything is going to be strict and regulated. I'm sorry to say I can only give them the number they're assigned to. You'll have to wait to get their return letters to know anything about them."Sakura looked at the slip of paper he gave her. It only had a four digit number: 2284. She frowned, thinking it odd that a person had been reduced to a number. Maybe it was for safety, or consistency. Or maybe it was easier to organize people if they were just numbers."Whenever you want to write a letter, put the number on the envelope with 'Shinobi Letter Exchange' underneath. Don't worry about the postage or address. Others will take care of that.""Ok," Sakura said, suddenly feeling very small at the responsibility."And Sakura?" Iruka asked as he reached over and put a hand on her shoulder, "Thank you."Sakura found herself grinning again from the sincerity in her teacher's voice..Sakura sat at her desk, short legs swinging under her and toes wiggling. She pulled at her hair and nibbled on the end of her pen, wondering what she should write.She had written a very select few letters in her life. She had grandparents that lived in the country and a few times a year she sent them a letter. And of course she signed her name on their christmas cards. But this letter was entirely different.Not only was this to a stranger, but it was to someone who needed a little support in their life. And they were probably at least double her age. Yes, she felt proud for finally turning past ten into eleven last year, and Iruka said she was quite intelligent for her age, but they were more than likely way smarter than her. It was more than a little intimidating."Well, I bet their handwriting isn't nearly as good as mine," Sakura muttered to herself before she put the pen to the paper.Dear 2284,She crumpled up that piece right away and resisted the urge to tear it to shreds. If she did not like the idea of referencing people as numbers, she was sure her mystery person would hate it all the more. She started again and only got one word in.Dear...But then who did she address it to? Soldier? Fellow shinobi? Stranger? All these options sounded empty and weak in her head. She wanted to inspire happiness in this person, no matter now small.She crumpled up that piece of paper as well. Sakura took a deep breath.Yes, this was a war-aged shinobi, but they were just a person. Just a human like Sakura, with the same organs, bone structure and senses. And once she thought about it, it was almost comforting to imagine just writing without trying to actively impress this person. And writers had always said to start with what you know.What did Sakura know best? Well, herself she supposed. And she thought that introductions would be a good place to start if any.So Sakura took a deep breath, counted down from ten, and started writing..Hello.Unfortunately I'm not allowed to tell you my name or anything that might give me away. You may address me as anything you prefer, if you so desire and it makes you feel better. Although, it's probably best that you wait a little bit to get to know me more before choosing a nickname suddenly. I will do the same.Honestly, I don't exactly know what to write to you. I cannot empathize with what you're going through. My daily life probably seems inconsequential to the amazing heroics you preform daily. And even if you're not fighting every minute of the day, you're still putting your life out there.The person who assigned me to you told me that others have given up on you, and I am sorry that happened. I hope you don't hold it against them. I don't think they stopped writing because they disliked you, but people really like positive reinforcement and when they don't get it they probably get a little surly.I'm mad that I can't ask you what it's like out there in the front (it's a strict rule on the regulations page given to gave me). I just hope that while you have no one back here in the village, that you have people you care about out there with you. Although, I'm sure that's very frustrating. Being thankful that there are people you can connect to out there, but that you don't want to get hurt.What I'm trying to say: is I hope that you have friends out there. I hope you're not alone.I really only have one friend, but she's been there my entire life and she's amazing. One time when I was younger some classmates were picking on me because of my unusual hair color and she stood up and defended me. I hope that nothing bad ever happens to her. Friends are very important, aren't they? I hope maybe one day you can think of me as a friend.I wish I had more to say, but I think this is enough. I hope that you write back soon, so I can have more points to talk about with you. It will get awfully boring if it's just me talking all about myself.Stay safe..Hello again.It's now been a week since I sent you your first letter. Maybe you never got it? I don't know if it's a lot quicker to send mail out there than to get things imported into the village. I was asking my school instructor about the process, and it seems really extensive.I'm a little embarrassed that not only you will be reading these letters, but also the person who screens them. (Greetings to you, too, second mystery person.) Then they pass or send it back, or black out certain names or whatever, and send it on its way. I will try my hardest not to break any of the regulations so that my letters will be able to get to you as soon as possible without any omissions.I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm reading an old book, and a worm has eaten away a word and I'll never know what it is, I get really mad at everything. And then I wonder about exactly what those words could be for much too long. Usually I can do with the gaps, but just the fact of not knowing makes me very irritated. I would hate it if I made you go through that.Anyways, not much has changed since my last letter. School has been going alright. I got the highest score on the test again, but still the boy who I think is the cutest won't bother looking at me. I'm sorry, that was probably really boring and sounded like I was bragging, but it's simply fact. I am definitely the smartest, and arguably the prettiest, girl in the class. Aren't you lucky you have me as a pen pal? You should really show your gratitude by writing back.Have you ever been in love? I'm sorry again, that's very forward for only a second letter. I really should start over again, but I've already gone this far. I might as well keep going.I only have one more year in the academy before I'm assigned a new teacher. That is, if I manage to pass. My teacher says that I have nothing to worry about, and that if I try really hard I'll be able to get a really good teacher. Also if I begin to think about what exactly I want to do I'll have a better match and won't end up good at something I'm not naturally proficient in. I do like genjutsu, but other than that, I don't know.I wonder what it was like for you, who probably was taught in a group of three. Since so many shinobi are away, it's more beneficial just to have individual pupil-to-teacher ratios. While it's more intense, this way we get more time to study with our teachers, and we can become more specialized.Dad says that it's just a quicker way to teach us so that we can be shipped out into the war faster. But he's just a civilian, like my mom, and while he is very smart, I don't think he really understands our world somedays. If anything, we're getting better training so we can better protect ourselves.This is all just a very roundabout way of me saying I hope I get a good teacher so I can do well.Unlike the last letter, this one has gotten quite long suddenly. I eagerly await your response.Until next time..Good morning.Or, at least it's the morning here. I have no idea when the mail comes in for you.Yesterday I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival with my best friend I mentioned earlier (let's call her Sunflower) and it was very fun. The flowers were very pretty. I could watch the petals fall all day and be perfectly content.Are you happy that winter is so far behind now? I bet the winters out there are really bad, if it's so cold here in the village.At the festival it was really nice to see our village come together, shinobi and civilians alike. But I wished people wouldn't get so publicly drunk. I bet if you're off duty you're allowed to drink. My parents say that it's relaxing after a long day, and I think you guys have the longest days without a doubt. I don't care what anyone else says, I hope that our taxes go to those sorts of comforts.I bet you and all your friends at the front would've enjoyed the festival. Maybe you did your own thing? Probably not. I just hope that you didn't have to fight a lot of people yesterday. Everyone deserves some type of peace, no matter how brief.On other news, I just finished reading this great book about the Sannin. Apparently one of them wrote it, so there's the problem of bias. But he didn't hold back on disgracing his friend for his betrayal. Some days I wonder if I'll even be able to stand in their shadows.I know that I'm still young, but I feel that I want to do a lot. Did you feel like that when you were younger? It was the reason why I became a shinobi. Did you have a reason? Or are you part of a clan? Hah, that would be funny. Me, writing dribble to someone from one of the four honorary clans. Or even one of the lesser ones. It'd make me all the more embarrassed about this.Anyways, I'm going to start reading more non-fiction. There have been so many famous shinobis from our village, and I know that I can learn at least one thing from each of their lives. I'm just having a hard time determining if I want to go back into the more obscure, older accounts or into the more contemporary ones. Maybe I'll switch back and forth until I meet in the middle.Do you read a lot? Maybe sometime I'll send you a book. Right now not a lot of books are printed, since the materials go to scrolls and explosion tags and everything. War really does change everything.I hope that you are still looking out for your health and safety.Until next week..At first Sakura had not been overly concerned by the lack of a return letter. Iruka had explicitly warned her when she volunteered that this person had been abandoned before because of his habitual lack of response. Still, after she had sent out her twelfth letter and she still had not gotten anything in return, she began to feel concerned.After the sixteenth letter that went unanswered she just felt angry.But surprisingly, even to herself, she sat down and wrote a letter to this person every week. It was therapeutic in how every Saturday morning she would sit at her desk and write. Sometimes Ino wanted to go out and play on those mornings, but Sakura held firm that she wanted to stay and write her letters. Ino's dad was out there as well and the blond girl wrote letters to him almost daily."He calls me his little piglet as my codename. I have no idea why, considering he could have just called me 'Blossom' or something actually flattering," Ino had complained about it to Sakura one day."I named you Sunflower for my code," Sakura shared.Ino answered her with a wide, toothy smile and a tight hug that Sakura eagerly returned.So even though she was writing to a complete stranger, Ino understood that Sakura just wanted to keep writing. And keep writing Sakura did.She was fueled my a mixture of long standing annoyance that this person had not responded and that she would keep going until something finally came in her mailbox. Iruka called her one of the most stubborn people he had ever met, and also said she had probably been a little hardened by the war prematurely. But Sakura still found the time to coo after Sasuke between her studying.Sakura still somewhat resented this person from never writing back, but soon she envisioned that maybe they just physically or mentally could not do it. Yet at this point, Sakura would be happy about getting an abstract splatter ink drawing.But her annoyance became slowly eroded by the simple monotony of writing. It was relaxing and freeing in a way, knowing that the other person would not respond, no matter what she put in the letter. So she vented, shared and talked about anything that struck her fancy. Her days of intimidation by this mystery person were long gone.Despite this, Sakura hoped that whoever this was read her letters. They probably were bored with them, but Sakura had started this and she was going to keep going with them..Good morning to you on this fabulous day of personal accomplishment.Remember how I wrote to you all that while back about getting a new teacher? Well, guess who I got?TSUNADE.(To the person screening this: it is very old information that Tsunade is Hokage. This is not new information in any way, so I request that you do not black out the name. There is no way, even if this letter is intercepted, that the enemy can glean any new information from it.)You read that name correctly (because there really is no reason to black it out). I got the honored Hokage as my new teacher. Let me just write that again- the HOKAGE. I'll call her the Slug Queen in future letters.Apparently she was there when we were screening us for abilities and she noticed my 'exceptional chakra control,' as she said so herself. I never thought that I was particularly good at that, but apparently I use the exact amount for my jutus.My training starts this week and I'm so nervous I feel that I may throw up that morning. Or even now. Really, any moment lately.While I know she's beautiful and really accomplished, she's very harsh on those around her. She demands that everyone around her live up to their full potential. I'm sure this war would have ended a long time ago in our disfavor if she wasn't our leader.I wonder what it was like living under the past Hokage like you did. It's crazy to think that the assassination of him and his wife was the tipping factor for why we started planning for war. I've read all about him, but did everyone really love him as much as all the literature says?Do you know about the myth that they had a child but hid it away because they knew war was coming and they didn't want him to be in danger? But that's just what the younger kids at the Academy whisper about, so it's obviously bogus.Anyways, back to myself (since you never respond). It's kinda sad graduating and knowing everyone's going their own separate ways. I'm really going to miss the boy I like, and even that annoying blond kid. Even the kid with all those bugs. Especially my Sunflower friend, even though she's still mad and won't talk to me anymore because I like the same boy as her. I've already been missing her for a while now.It just really feels like everyone is growing up. I just hope that we don't grow apart.Please keep yourself hydrated through this warm summer and be careful..Sakura's training was tough, but she pushed herself through it daily. She thought about Naruto and Sasuke and how well they were advancing, and how there were rumors that maybe they could finally end this war through their raw talent and power alone.It made Sakura envious, which made her angry, which made her a little reckless."What were you thinking trying my taijutsu like that already?" Tsunade snapped as she wrapped up Sakura's left hand. The right one was already done, and Sakura was staring at it morosely. "You could have done much worse than breaking all those bones."Sakura winced as Tsunade unnecessarily tightened the bandage; it hurt plenty enough already.As if sensing just how down and useless Sakura was feeling, the pig-tailed woman sighed and sat down beside Sakura. Tsunade wrapped her hand around Sakura and pushed her comfortingly into her impressive bossom."I know you're seeing your friends Naruto and Sasuke succeed by leaps and bounds. But they're not learning what you are: which is how to save and protect everyone else. Without medics, and people like you who can think and make plans and then actually execute them on skill and not just raw luck alone, this war would have been long gone."Sakura sniffled pathetically."I know it's hard, but you're doing great. I already know you're secretly doing my Strength of a Hundred Seal. And it seems unlike my ability to create valleys with my fist, you're getting that jutsu down just fine.""Really?" Sakura asked with a hiccup."Sakura," Tsunade said with a sigh before pulling back and looking into her tearful green eyes. "Despite you being my only student I've ever had, you're also my best."The girl frowned at that."But still, I'm not going to fully heal your hands or give you medicine to take away the pain. You need to learn your lesson about being impatient."Sakura huffed before saying: "Fine.".It was not like Sakura was helpless with two broken hands, but it was still frustrating. It allowed her to focus on strategies if she ever did get her hands incapacitated, and working on taijutsu with her legs, but it was mostly just a pain.Even little, simple tasks took four times longer than usual. She had to struggle to turn the page on her books. Sakura was forced to drink a lot of her food now. Most times she just lied around moping and storing up energy for her seal. She wondered what color it would be. If it would be the same shade as Tsunades or maybe something entirely different.Sakura did not even realize she had not written her weekly letter until her mom told her she had gotten something in the mail."For me?" Sakura asked, a bandaged hand scratching her head confusedly."Well, it had our address and your name, so that's what I naturally assumed. It's up in your room."She looked at it for a long time as it just innocently sat on her desk. It was a little battered, and it seemed that at one point it had gotten waterlogged, but she opened it with the excitement of a shiny, perfectly wrapped present on Christmas morning.Because it had finally happened: her mystery soldier had written back!Before she took out the piece of paper, she closed her eyes and dreamed about what she might read. Maybe there was even a clue about who they were? A fun, silly anecdote about when they'd been her age? Not being able to take the anticipation anymore, Sakura pulled it out.Why did you stop writing?She turned the page up and over, but that was it. The person had not even really signed it, and had only drawn the crude face of a scarecrow at the bottom corner on the sad. This almost entirely empty piece of paper with five scrawled words and a cartoon face did not constitute as a true letter in any way or form.Well, if anything, at least she finally had a nickname to call this person by..Dear Scarecrow,Your first attempt at a letter was the antithesis of pathetic.But I finally have something to make a nickname for you. I did not know I was corresponding with such an obviously skilled artist.I want to thank you for finally responding back. I do not know if you have read my letters, and if so, why you have decided to remain silent for so long. First, I thought it might be because you were injured and recovering. I imagined that you had cut your hands while saving your friend from a katana, funneling chakra into your hands to stop the blow. But still you got your hands cut deep in the process, making it impossible for you to hold a pen or pencil.Then I thought that maybe it was too wet where you were stationed, as it was typhoon season and apparently the front lines were heavily hit. Didn't people nearly drown from refusing to move from a strategic river spot? Don't respond to that, they may burn your letter. Or maybe it was the winter, and you were shivering too badly that your handwriting became illegible.I imagined that you were just too busy with a war going on to write back to a silly little girl. And I realized that this was the most viable option.There was recently the Cherry Blossom Festival here again. I wrote to you about it last year. I almost can't believe it's been over a year and a half since I started writing to you weekly. No wonder I'm still in shock of your lacking response. I forget to write one week and you call me out on it while you haven't done it this entire time? Hubris: look it up.I've written you almost seventy letters and you can't even manage to give me seven words. Congratulations. Clearly you're a genius among us mortals.To show just how frivolous I am, I have included a flower I pressed at the festival. I hope that some of the sweet scent manages to stick around when you receive this. Even if you don't deserve it because it was kinda rude to make me wait that long. Fun fact: the petals are nearly the same shade as my hair.Please stay safe..I have never had any family or friends to write back to. They are all either dead or here. Excuse my inability..Dear Scarecrow,I apologize for my lack of finesse in my last letter. I didn't even bother explaining why I didn't write for a week either, the sole point in your own letter.I tried doing some secret, personal training of something I'd seen Slug Queen do, and ended up shattering the bones in my hands. Slug Queen healed some of the breakage, but only enough that it would heal correctly. So for the past few weeks I've been learning how to live without hands for the most part.This was actually the main reason why my letter was so aggressive. It's very painful to move my hands, but I really wanted to write a letter to you. I could have just written a bereft thing like you have the clear skill of, but I was just very excited about finally getting a response from you.Please don't feel guilty. I could have just asked someone else to write down what I said if I really needed them to. But I really don't want to do that since (even though those screeners read these before you) I feel that this a very personal endeavor for me to you.As for your lack of experience, it's really not that hard. Obviously you're able to write, and that's the biggest hurdle. The second is being able to read, but that usually goes hand-in-hand with writing. Although I honestly have no idea if you read my letters, or just simply cast them aside for another time. Yet judging by how you immediately realized I'd missed a week, I think you're more than just aware of them.Other than that, you write about anything you want. At first I was nervous, but eventually I didn't hold back.I think since you're older, you should share some anecdotes about when you were a kid. Despite our age difference, maybe we grew up with similar fashions or sayings or favorite foods. What are your happiest memories?Again, I'm sorry for my lack of sympathy in my last letter. I think I've almost fully healed my hands, so I should very soon be back to writing you novella length letters.Until next time when you respond with that scratching you call handwriting..When I was promoted to jลnin I took on a mission that got my teammate killed. My happiest memory was realizing, as he died, that he was my best friend. I had not realized how much I loved and appreciated him until that moment.My second happiest memory was realizing I loved the girl who had made herself die at my hand. She was the girl my best friend loved and who I'd promised to protect right before he died.Please don't ask about my parents.I warned you I was bad at this..Dear Scarecrow,I do not know what to say. I have known pain (my hands are all healed now), but I cannot even begin to imagine what that must be like. But surely those aren't your happiest memories. If not, I hope that someday you'll be able to replace them. That's not to mean that you should forget about your friends.And I don't mean to insult you by saying I don't think they want you to remember them like that. I'm supposing they were part of your three-genin group and I'm sure you went on better missions and had better days than their deaths. Apparently there was a cat that always got loose- did you and your friends ever have to chase it down? I heard the cat burned in the great fire. I had been very young during that fire, but I can still remember the heat.I wish you could tell me their names so I could go put some flowers on their graves. Maybe I'll try and research it, but it would be impossible to know if instead their names are on the cenotaph. I'm guessing your best friend is. I should go and do that always. A lot of people visit there now and there's always flowers.Maybe this will make you feel better: I saved my first life today. A boy had been training and had cut his leg clean off, and the Slug Queen let me try and reattach it all by myself before he bled out. The bone was a little tricky because the cells are more complicated, but I managed it all the same. He didn't even have a scar when I was done. Slug Queen said I did a really great job and soon I should be able to lead more surgeries so she can focus on other things.It's now been almost a year since my training began. The Queen says it's a waste of my time since I'll obviously pass, but I need to sign up for the chลซnin exam. I know the usual age of passing is thirteen now. Before it used to be fifteen, but the war speeds things up I suppose. I bet you were much younger than me when you made chลซnin, if you were already a jลnin still in a three-man team.I want to apologize if the beginning of my letter seemed preachy, or if I overstepped my boundaries. I have not lost any close friends to the war. I lost relatives in the great fire I previously mentioned, but I was too young to really remember them.I wish I could think of something better to cheer you up with than my own accomplishments. But it probably helps to know that the next generation has not been weakened by the war. If anything, we've become stronger.What do you do with your friends over there to kill time? Like I've said in past letters, I read a lot when I want to relax. Do you do the same? Maybe your short responses are hiding your literary prowess. They probably hide a lot.You took two weeks to respond this time. Is everything alright? I hope it is and I will be able to hear from you promptly.Farewell for now..I can't write as fast as you, and there's not much I can tell about here other than the food is horrible. I do enjoy reading, but all my books are ruined by the rain and mold.He'll like getting flowers from a girl. He also would have been the one needing his leg reattached like that boy. Congratulations on that..Dear Scarecrow,First, I want to thank you for responding so quickly. I asked the postman the other day how long it usually takes for a letter to get to the front lines, and it can be as quickly as two or as long as four. Sending back letters is usually quicker, only one or three days. Since your latest response arrived five days after I sent my letter, I can safely assume you dedicated yourself to a speedy response. And now you get to have a letter from me all the faster. Aren't you lucky?I'm sending you a book with this letter, if they haven't confiscated it. I don't think they would, unless the saga of 'The Dragon King' is illegal. It's really just about love, so I can't see how it would be taken away. I hope that you'll enjoy it, as I've loved it ever since I was very small. I enjoy the simplicity of the story: that not all guys who are bad have to be, that anyone with a strong, sure heart can make it through anything.The postman also said that if it fits in an envelope, he'll mail it for me. I plan to bribe him with fresh baked goods so he'll pass along larger envelopes. (Maybe even large enough envelopes that I can fit some cookies into it for those who screen it.) I will also try and find some yarn so I can knit you a scarf. It must be getting really cold out there, and it wouldn't do good to let your face get cold and for your senses to dull because of it. Do you have a color you'd prefer? I might not be able to get it, but Slug Queen does owe me a favor for attaining some more sake for her on the side.Everything over here as been fine for me. Slug Queen has put me up for more hospital shifts. At first I was a little worried about working there because I still am fairly young, but everyone there is very friendly. Also, most nurses are my age and the doctors are very old. Anyone in between is already out there with you guys, or out at neighboring villages offering aid.Also, I've started working on identifying poisons and learning how to remedy them. Apparently Slug Queen is second to none in making them, and that she says I'm fairly good at them. Not as good as my natural affinity for chakra control (I can now create an earthquake with a punch- how cool is THAT?) but if I practice and work enough I can learn how to be better.I hope that you're still trying hard out there as well. Again, I hope you enjoy the book. I know it's small and a fast read, but please enjoy. Also please be careful with it and keep it safe. It was the copy from when I was a girl. I know you're not allowed to send anything back but letters, so you'll have to keep it safe until the war ends and I can pick it back up. (Yes, this is me giving you another reason to make it through if you didn't already have enough.)Maybe you'll start responding faster and we can correspond every five days instead of seven now. Wouldn't that be nice.Goodbye for now..It's really dreary around here (the mushrooms love it) so something bright and soft. Yellow if you can manage it?I enjoyed the book..Dear Scarecrow,I hope you like the yellow I picked out. While I like this goldenrod shade, I think it's a little darker than what you were imagining. All the same, it is the color you requested so I'll count it as a victory. Don't you dare get blood on it! Just kidding, I can just make you another one now that I have finally gotten the hang of it. The stitches are still a little bulbous, but I like the way it looks still. I made an infinity scarf so you don't have to worry about an enemy grabbing hold onto one end to pull you down. This way it can sit quite snuggly around your neck and shoulders. I hope it's not too bulky.Last winter I tried making you a scarf, but I was not confident enough in my ability. It's a sad excuse of a thing, bright red with way too many holes and misaligned lines. You and no other will ever see just how badly I failed at my first attempt. I pride myself in being a fast learner, but this took a lot of patience.I have leftover yarn from the scarf and I tried to make you matching gloves, but like the first scarf, it did not turn out well. Although, I don't think you would cut a very intimidating sight to the enemy dressed in matching, obviously homemade knit articles.Yes, I can see through you fishing for more books. Try working on your stealth more. I'll send you another one from my collection next time, since the scarf took up all the space in this envelope.I hope that you're doing alright out there. I know that the weather is soon going to change for the worst. In my haste to finish the scarf I had to omit taking time to write up a nice long letter to go with it, so I'll try and sum up what's been happening quickly.It's flu season, so of course the hospital is in total disarray.I assisted Slug Queen in some complicated, experimental surgeries I wish I could tell you more about, but it seems I have some secrets to keep on my side as well now.I moved out of my parent's and into a quaint, old apartment closer to the hospital. I really like it so far.I got a plant. I still do not have a name for him. Any suggestions?I think that's it. Please stay warm and hydrated, remember to wear layers. During seasons like this, more soldiers die from exposure than enemies.And remember most of all: don't get sloppy or careless and get yourself killed..Sakura's warm breath crystalized as she waiting at her mailbox, large envelope held tightly against her chest. It was snowing, but the snow simply brushed off the clear tape she had wrapped the envelope in to avoid just this occurrence. It would not do good to have her newly made scarf get soaked and then freeze. She was sure her scarecrow would not appreciate a gift to warm him coming in a block of ice.She eyed the postman coming around the bend and jumped to grab the thurmous. She poured a cup of hot chocolate and offered it to him as he approached."Ah, good afternoon yet again, Sakura. I see you have quite a large letter for me there," he said, gratefully taking the offered cup with a smile."If it wouldn't be too much trouble," she said hopefully."Maybe… if you give me the rest of this delicious hot chocolate," he said with a chuckle, smile widening behind the curling steam.Sakura felt her shoulders straighten in pride before passing over the envelop and beverage container to him wordlessly."Thank you," she said as she watched him put the package in his satchel.His smile turned a little sad for a moment before he reached forward and ruffled her hair, causing the snow that had accumulated there to drift down onto her jacket..The scarf is perfect and all my comrades are envious. I suggest Mr. Ukki..Dear Scarecrow,I thought about knitting you a hat, but stopped. For one, because of my inability to do so, and two, because just like the mittens, I think it would clash horribly with your cool-guy reputation and that you wouldn't wear it. Although, if you're so tickled-pink about showing up your friends, you probably would wear it just to spite them.The book I included are some old histories of the four noble clans of Konoha. I thought it was a little dated, and obviously biased in some aspects, but interesting none-the-less. I just wish it had better information on some of the newer clans and bloodlines.Slug Queen is making me do research on bloodlines and such, so I can better understand all types of patients. I'm a little fearful that all this extra assignments outside of training and the hospital is her preparing me for her position, or at least for the next Hokage's assistant. While it would be amazing to be so high-up, I mostly enjoy the hospital.I wonder what it was like to do missions outside of our boarders. I've done a few missions, but they were all safely in the village. Slug Queen says I shouldn't bother myself with such stuff when other younger, less specialized kids can do it. But I like them, and some days I dream of begin able to leave the village to travel. I cannot believe that in a few years the war will be over a decade long. Yet I believe it will not go on that long, and soon I will be able to travel.Did you travel a lot before the war? I feel that you have a lot of fun stories to tell, and probably a few are from abroad.Speaking of stories, you have never commented during the entirely of our correspondence about the war before. Maybe you think a higher-up will see your lack-luster opinion and criticize you? Although, you must have one dumb general if he thinks this war is still glorious. More likely, no information about the war can be given. Or you're thinking about it so constantly you don't want to have to write it down.Regardless, I still hope you're doing alright out there after being gone for so long: both mentally and physically. I cannot even imagine the homesickness you must go through. Although maybe it's been so long you're just numb to it all. In case you're wondering, the village has barely changed at all. Yes, people are growing up, but the buildings and businesses are nearly all still here. And they'll stay here waiting until you return.I'm sorry for feeling so nostalgic today, and if it's painful for you to think about, but I realized the other day that it's now been about three years since that first letter to you. It's hard to believe, but the drawer full of your sparse responses is evident of it. And if I have such a collection, I can scarcely imagine the horde of my letters you have. Or maybe you don't have room to keep them. I won't blame you if you didn't.I really can't wait to meet you after the war. It's happening, don't argue. We'll figure it out somehow.Also, I appreciate how your responses have become speedier. Thank you.Until my next letter.Oh, and before I forget: I told Mr. Ukki all about you and the name you gave him. He seems very happy, and similarly cannot wait to meet you. He seems a little lonely all by himself though, so I think I need to go get a Mrs. Ukki now..I have never written about the war because there is nothing to say about it. I grew up into the beginnings of it and I'm just living through it. I will be fine. I always have been..Dear Scarecrow,Alright there, man with a heart of immovable ice. I thought I told you to stay warm during this winter. And it's pretty obvious to nearly anyone that only those who say they're fine really aren't. But I can tell that you don't want to talk about it (or for me to try and talk about it and you just ignore the heavy hints).I did get another plant, and she is quite lovely. I think that Mr. Ukki is very happy with his pretty, young new wife. It helps him get through this cold winter, since I don't want to waste money on heating my one-room apartment. Maybe I'm being thrifty, but I'm trying to save money for when I can travel, or really just for a better time to spend it at. I have so much to do at the hospital that but the time I get back I'm dead on my feet.Recently Slug Queen started this charity program for the hospital. It takes possessions from dead shinobi, stuff their families don't want or need, and then sells it off. The money generated goes to funds for more medicine and supplies for soldiers still fighting.Anyway, there's was this fairly large section of books and I bought about eight boxes, nearly all of it. Slug Queen though it both odd and hilarious that I spent nearly an entire paycheck on dusty old books, but then she spends hers on illegal sake so whatever. She can mentor me on some things, but others I don't trust her on. What this all means is that I can now send you a book with every letter for a bit now! I know, it's exciting, calm down. Cool guy reputation right? Heart of ice that you can't allow to crack?I realize you probably won't be able to keep so many books, so you should just hand them over to your friends once you're done. I can't knit them all their own scarves, but at least this way you can help share. Although maybe they get much more than you. My Sunflower friend sends her father stuff nearly daily. It must be nice to be that loved. I wish I could send you more things.I expected to be more lonely living by myself, but it's actually not too bad. Friends come and go, and I can always just write to you if I get lonely or bored. And now the lovely Mr. and Mrs. Ukki are here to keep me company. I hope that your friends take up a ridiculous amount of time to distract you from everything. My opinion all those years ago about taxes being used to get you all properly drunk sometimes still stands unmoved.This is somewhat embarrassing, and I wasn't thinking of adding this, but I can't help it. Sometimes when I'm bored at work, or I just need to relax, I draw really bad renditions of what your face may look like. I know it's ridiculous, but I'm stupidly envious of everyone who knows you. I admit, I have always been curious. The fact that I can write to you about anything except who know who you are is infuriating to me.Anyways, I'm never including one of those doodles. Ever. No argument.For your response I eagerly await..I wouldn't dare to share the books with the others.It's good that you can't send more than you do. I'm already indebted to you as it is. To be honest, I enjoy your words just as much as these published verses. Yes, that even includes the one time you wrote about that new flavor of yogurt you loved for two (very lengthy) paragraphs in vivid detail.You must realize you don't need to see my face to know me..Dear Scarecrow,So I think maybe you're just acting like a petulant child unwilling to share rather than actually worrying about how your friends treat literature. You must have been an only child. It's so obvious.Onto more important matters: a seal I've been working on for the past three years has finally shown up. It's on my face, and I can't tell if I like it or not. It's a little disconcerting to suddenly have something new and obvious on your face, directly in the middle of your forehead. I didn't get to see it manifest, but when it did Slug Queen suddenly stopped and gaped at me when she was lecturing me, so it probably looked at least a little cool.And the Queen says it doesn't matter if I like how it looks or not, because it will probably save me and all my comrades lives one day. In classic mentor fashion, she told me not to get full of myself and to put even more chakra into it daily.I agree with her like almost always, but it's hard not to care about your appearance when one of your best friends is the town beauty queen. Yes, the Sunflower friend. By the way, did I ever tell you we've made up?It's extremely rewarding to see such long term investments finally begin to pan out. Sorta like your letters. I think you beat your record in that last letter. Four paragraphs, twenty sentences in total? Don't strain your hand too much now.Maybe this is as boring as when I used to droned on about my Moon friend, but boys are starting to notice me. I know that I'm older now, and my body shows just that, but it's still a little odd to feel that sensation of being watched to turn around and see guys staring at your behind.Tsunade says not to worry about it, and that if they really annoy me I can just break their ribs. There's a lot of valuable organs around there that would be a shame to get ruptured. In a way, sometimes it's fun to flirt with them and get them flustered, only to leave them just as they finally remember where their tongues are. Maybe it's cruel, but it's still entertaining. Oh god, I'm such a jerk, aren't I?This brings me back to that letter I wrote that was all about my hair routine. Maybe initially my letters had a serious tone and a vocabulary that made me seem like a stiff grandma. I don't know whether to be happy or sad that I've loosened up my writing style.Like always, stay safe mighty guard..I admit: I thought you were a forty year old mother from your first letter. Imagine my shock finding you were an Academy student.Don't be too cruel to those poor boys. I'm sure many are falling over themselves, and they just don't know how to spot danger and and run from it just yet. Good thing they aren't out here, else they would have been gone within hours.Forget about breaking their ribs, those heal quickly enough. Break their hearts if they really bother you. That pain will last much longer..And so the letters continued on for months and then years more.Sakura realized in utter dread that her scarecrow's letters became increasingly depressed and clipped. Sometimes she could get him to write more than a few sentences, but it kept getting harder and harder as time wore on.Yet he still made every effort to write back, and Sakura continued to gather his letters carefully in a drawer. Before she had just put them in randomly, but one day she took time away to organize them into a photo album. The responses were usually just slips of paper and easily fit into the plastic squares. Some days when she felt down, like when a patient could not be saved, or a young widow came in from malnutrition caused by heartache, Sakura flipped through them.She had not yet gone through them all individually. She was saving that for a special day. Maybe they could go over them together?Sakura had thought that she loved Sasuke, and her feelings she felt for this mystery person was akin to that, but not identical. Was it even possible to feel so strongly for a person she had never met? Not to mention she did not even know who this person even remotely was. She had only decided this stranger was a man because of his messy handwriting and clipped tone. It was a little biased based on gender, but Sakura had seen enough handwritings from doctors for some semblance of reference.Their correspondence still covered everything and anything, and always nothing about the war even if Sakura burned to know about it. To know her scarecrow faired in it, and if those enemy creatures were as horrible as soldiers said they were. But the rules were strict, and he never offered anything.Then something seemed to have recently switched for the man. Because in the past few weeks her scarecrow was channeling all that anger and aggression towards the war into his writing for her. While before Sakura had been lucky to get a few sentences, now he wrote pages. Just the other day Sakura had gotten a three-page long letter from him. True, nearly all of it was describing his ninnken and how each one was special (although all equally amazing). She had enjoyed the attached sketches of the dogs the most, which were a lot better than any of the doodles Sakrua had ever made of his imaginary face. It was a clear bribe to get one of those, but she was not giving in.He also demanded that if anything happen to him, she would have to take care of them. Right now they were still out on the field with him, but because he had no one else to fall back on, she would have to take custody of them. He even made her sign a contract in blood, which she sent back with mixed feelings of honor and worry. He assured her that his dogs already adored her on her lingering scent on the letters alone.Sakura wrote back about her life as well. Some days she could barely put a pen in her hand, when her fingers were stiff and shaking from half-day long surgeries, or had just done hours of taijutsu training with Tsunade. But she just mercilessly cracked her knuckles, bit down the grunt of pain, and filled up at least a page with her neat handwriting to send off.Her scarecrow was the same in his resilience to write no matter what. Apparently one time he got his entire right hand severed, and barely an hour after the reattachment surgery he had written her a letter. It had threatened the delicate restitching and his medic had yelled at him for a five minutes. Sakura would have yelled at him for a good hour. She stomped around her apartment yelling for that long, until a neighbor came and asked her politely to please stop making it sound like the village was being invaded.Sakura worried that her scarecrow was writing so much and so frequently because he was worried he would not be around much longer. That he had to get things out, to tell her silly things and stories, before he physically could not anymore from passing on.Still, the war carried on and his letters gave her an equal amount of hope as well as trepidation. Lately there had been a lot of soldiers brought in from the front who were too severely injured to be treated adequately there. Apparently the creatures were getting more active; Madara seemed ready to unleash himself on the world. Infiltration attempts to find his lair failed each time, only resulting in losses. Sakura watched as Tsunade became increasingly stressed; she was sure if not for that jutsu her Slug Queen would look much older than her actual age.Sakura had mixed feelings about the soldiers coming in. Half of her wanted her scarecrow to come, but the other half wanted him to remain strong and steady as he had all these days, months and years. Eventually she realized it silly to think that he would come back to get healed; he would die out there trying before abandoning it.So every time Sakura got a letter, reaffirming that he was not dead and very much alive and fighting, she felt not just a wave, but a tsunami of relief pass over her..Dear Scarecrow,I turned sixteen today. Apparently I'm a full fledged adult in the shinobi world now. I don't feel like it. It's just all very surreal.My blond friend (or my Sun friend) gave me a gag gift of some p0rny literature that his mentor apparently writes. I read it, and it doesn't seem too bad despite the gratuitous descriptions at the sex scenes. I've never heard so many inaccurate nouns for 'penis.' Sun's mentor gets points for creativity at least.I thought that you might like it, so I've included it for you.Not to say that you're a pervert, but I feel that you're a romantic in some ways. And while there are sad parts in the book, overall it's uplifting. I know you'll appreciate that. And not to get sexist, but in my experience a lot of guys like p0rn.Anyway, it's small but I bet it'll really pack a punch for your overgrown love of romance. I hope you enjoy it.As always, please be safe..The book was amazing. The best by far. Send more if at all possible..My Scarecrow,I know it's impossible to miss the presence of someone you've never met, but I still cannot help but feel that with you. I wish you could have been here today for me to see just how far I've come.Anyways, I made jลnin today, and so did my Sun and Moon friends. My Sunflower friend only got a partial advancement, but she's ecstatic all the same.For entertainment to the public, they had us compete against others and the person I went against made fun of my hair to try and break my moral. I kicked him out of the stadium, and he had such grievous injuries that Slug Queen had to personally heal him. I thought she would be mad, but when I explained what he'd said about me, she laughed so hard she cried. Then she gave me a whole bottle of sake and we drank it in celebration. I don't think she should help foster my temper that has gotten a bit drastic lately.Maybe that's why I said that convoluted sentence as a start. It's kinda weird and funny being drunk. I like it. I approve.Is my handwriting different? Am I not using as many big words as usual? I wonder if you thought it weird when I was beginning to write and already knew so many. I really pride myself over my vocabulary. And I was really trying to impress you because I was so scared that you wouldn't respond or would think me stupid and hate me.But I know that you don't hate me. Maybe you even like me in some sort of way. I like you quite a lot, when I think about it.I'm getting pretty sleepy suddenly. I should metaphorically sign off before I embarrass myself even more.I really wish you were here. And again, I miss you.Until next time when I'll be sober again. Maybe. I really do like this feeling. Why aren't people drunk ALL the time?Goodnight..They'll try sending you out here now. Promise me you won't go.Hope the headache wasn't too bad..Dear Scarecrow,The headache wasn't the best, but it also wasn't the worst. After you've dealt with woman in labor screaming for hours, you get used to a ringing in your ears and an inability to feel like yourself for a bit.I don't know why you're so worried. I'm just a medic so even if I am involved in the war, I would just heal people in the back lines. Not that I can't take care of myself. Didn't I say I explain how I punted a guy out of an arena just for making fun of my hair? I can take care of myself.I see that you're back to your small responses. Do you not have a lot of time anymore? I enjoyed those times when you sent me long letters. Did I ever tell you I keep all your old slips of responses in a photo album? Some of your letters were too long to fit in the small plastic squares, so I keep them in their original envelopes. I'll hopefully find some larger plastic sheets soon enough. I also want to frame those sketches of your lovely ninken. Say hello and give them a nice long belly-rub for me.I'm sorry I similarly can't write as much lately. The hospital has been overrun, and Slug Queen has been stepping up the training. I feel that something is really starting to form.Until another day and letter..You need to promise me..Dear Scarecrow,Since you're clearly ignoring everything else I'm saying, I promise that I won't volunteer to go into the war. The Hokage says I have way too much to learn anyway before I'm remotely ready to head out there. I could make a difference if I went now, but I can change the war if I stay and continue working. But, again, you must know I'm strong and able to protect myself.I think she's planning something with my Sun and Moon friends, though. But there is no use in worrying, and I'll just have to wait. I just wish she would include me more on her plans.Did you know, I've been calling you by the same nickname this entire time because of your funny little signatures, but you have never given me one? I would be a little disheartened that you did not care if not for your speedy responses.Can you believe it's already almost winter again? I wonder if your scarf has kept up over all these years. I bet it's pretty dismal despite how well you might've taken care of it.Also, Mr. and Mrs. Ukki now have five lovely children! They were getting a little big, so I cut them back, and then thought I might try to propagate some of the clippings All the cuttings took, and now there are small little bits of themselves growing. You will obviously get one when you get back, as it is your right as their godfather. Don't argue, it was decided the moment you named him.Just think: after this war is finally done all you'll have to worry about guarding is a small plant. You can finally live up to the full potential of your nickname from me! Hopefully you can think of another winning name to give to the little tike.Me and the lovely Ukki family await for your response..The scarf is still well, as am I since you finally agreed.I apologize, as I cannot write much but this today. Even though I know you will, do not worry..Sakura hummed as she arranged paperwork on Tsunade's desk. She could feel the older woman's eyes on her. The full sake cup in her hand sat forgotten. Finally giving in, as she felt she may instantaneously combust any moment now by Tsunade's intense gaze, Sakura turned to her with her eyebrows furrowed in silent question."Sakura, I need to talk to you about something," her blond sensei said with a sigh, suddenly not looking like the pillar of strength and ability she was known to be. This must be really serious if she was looking older than she liked her jutsu to show.Taking a seat in one of the chairs in front of the desk, Sakura crossed her hands atop her lap and waited patiently for her mentor to speak."As you're aware, Madara is nearing an end to his hibernation. Soon he'll stop with his defensive warfare and start wiping out all the villages, picking them off when they are weakened by physical separation."At the idea of her entire world disappearing, Sakura shivered."In that vein, I have decided that we're going to do one last, final push. Naruto and Sasuke are ready to face him. I recognize it's a risk allowing Sasuke to get close to the other Uchiha, that he may be converted. But it is a risk we have to take."Sakura looked down at her lap and counted her breaths up to ten before she trusted herself with speaking."Naruto is going to be estatic about being a hero," she said as she stood with a start, willing her tears to not fall. "No matter how much I tell him that war isn't glamorous, he is set on the idea of becoming a hero.""He's going to be alright, Sakura. You, and everyone else now, need to trust that he's ready to do this.""I'm coming, obviously," Sakura said with a huff, green eyes flashing with more than just unshed tears."I would never leave my favorite apprentice behind when I need her the most."There had been times when Sakura felt like she'd grown up: saving her first life, advancing to chunin and then jonin, turning sixteen, when she lead her first major surgery. But suddenly, realizing that she was actually going out there directly to the war, she knew that she had truly grown up at the tender age of seventeen."It's going to be alright, Sakura," Tsunade said as she stood and gave the teenager a hug.Sakura thought about the promise she had made to her scarecrow. Throughout the years they had made many promises: always brush twice a day, remember to stay dry, bring back her books, take care of the dogs if anything happened to me. But all those fell away to that one promise that had clearly meant so much to him. Now she had to break it."I know," Sakura whispered, hoping that everything would turn out alright..Dearest Scarecrow,I'm heading out to the front lines.I wanted to tell you sooner, but the less time you had to worry the better. I'm sorry I can't keep my promise of staying out of the war. But don't worry- you're well aware I'm a medic second to none except for Slug Queen!I know you don't think war is glamorous, and I understand that, but please understand that I feel proud going to where you are. If only you had given me a clue about what you looked like, I could find you.I will miss our letters very much.Till another, better time.."I'll be fine. Please stop crying now.""Please come back to us," her Dad said, tears in his dark eyes. Sakura could not see her mother's green ones she had inherited

โ€” The Blackest Night

06/06/2021 09:03 PM 

Terror feeds the Soul

For a week after graduation Sakura lived in Dreamland. There was something nagging at the back of her brain, but she was just so excited! They were real genin! She had passed at the academy, they had passed Kakashi’s test, and she was on Sasuke’s team!There was this niggling little trying to get her attention, but Sakura was just too happy to let it bother her during the bright days. It took a week of steadily feeling like there was a large problem glaring at her, for it to click. It was a week of excited babbling and learning her new team and D-ranks. It was a week of pausing at odd moments to frown and wonder what was bothering her, before brushing it off and smiling again.Sakura was lying in bed at the end of the first week, ready to slip into sleep when it finally clicked.Sakura’s brain ran a million miles a minute as she tried to comprehend the thought that had just struck her hard across the face. She was trying to reason out the fear that suddenly lodged itself in her chest and made her heart jack-rabbit. A cold sweat broke out across her forehead and her hands picked up a tremble. The terror made a noise deep in her throat like a whimper and a scream and she tried desperately not to hyperventilate.Sakura realized in a single instant that she was going to die.“I’m dead,” Sakura whimpered, “I’m going to die.”Sakura was only twelve but she knew enough statistics about ninja mortality rate to know she would die one day. But as a twelve year old kid she had thought herself invincible, had thought she’d had good odds.But suddenly all the little niggling thoughts over the last week coalesced and Sakura’s brain practically screamed the conclusion she had reached: she was going to die sooner rather than later.Out of the thirty kids in her year of the academy, only 9 of them had passed the genin exams to become real teams with a jonin-sensei. A few more had probably been snatched up by administration to be paper-ninja and reserve ninja. A few more had gone back to the academy and more than that had probably dropped out to rejoin the civilian ranks.Every single one of those who had graduated to teams except for her and Naruto were clan heirs.Naruto was an orphan but was allowed to call their Hokage grandfather. She didn’t know why but that spoke more than just a passing familiarity and he had to be important for some reason if the Hokage of all people let him get away with informality in public.And then…and then …there was Sakura.Little civilian born Haruno Sakura with pink hair and book smarts and no stamina.On paper she balanced Sasuke and Naruto out to make a decent team. But …but in real life even Naruto, dead last of the class, was league above her in physical ability. There had just been no one else important enough like a clan heir to replace her on this team. Sakura had gotten lucky.Or in reality, Sakura had gotten extremely unlucky.When you considered it, Sakura despite her book smarts and top spot in the academy was nowhere near the level of her teammates in skill or drive. Sakura was just an extra body to make their team look well rounded or to…Or to take the fall.Kakashi, the copy-cat ninja, famous across the nations and a genius was the perfect teacher for the Last Uchiha. And Naruto was obviously important as well, so two for one. But Sakura, well Sakura had shown she cared more about appearances then training. She was one less person to distract the other two, to take precious time away from Kakashi who could be focused on the other two.Someone had obviously looked at her profile and decided Sakura would be a good obedient student with just enough smarts to be useful but not demanding. She had no clan ties to object if she got less preferential treatment. She had no one to check in on her and make sure she was learning what she should be learning. Had no one who would prepare her.And if it came down to it, on mission or in a fight, well Sakura didn’t rank as high a priority as Sasuke or Naruto or even Kakashi. If…when Kakashi had to choose between the three of them in an emergency, Sakura was last, after Kakashi’s own well-being.Sakura was cannon fodder for Team Seven.She was an extra body, an extra face that wasn’t important enough to care about or save. They had profiled her as obedient and unlikely to cause trouble or demand training. Someone somewhere had decided she would be placed on a high-profile team even though she didn’t have the skills to survive it.Somewhere, someone had decided Sakura was expendable.Sakura dissolved into panicked tears..--..--.Kakashi had been a teacher for all of a week and he knew he wasn’t really supposed too, but he had picked a favorite. From his understanding, parents and teachers weren’t supposed to pick favorites, but as a ninja who gave little to no care, he could not find it in him to be impartial.When he had got Team Seven, he had looked at them, squinting to see his own team. And he could kind of see it. A broody genius, a loudmouth hopeless dead last, and a fairly competent little girl with a crush on another teammate. But then he looked twice and found too many differences to be consumed by the similarities.Sasuke was indeed a genius, but he was also aloof and arrogant in a way Kakashi had never been. Oh Kakashi had been a tad arrogant as a child, but he had also been a strict adherer to the rules. Sasuke, spoiled by the title genius and the high regard of the rest of the population, saw himself above the rules. Sasuke seemed to expect a lot to be given to him, seemed to expect respect and regard. Kakashi, raised under the shadow of his father’s failure and bred on war, had never expected anything to be given to him. Kakashi tried to look at Sasuke as Obito and despite sharing the same last name found no similarities there either.Naruto was a loudmouth dead last, but he was not Obito. Obito had been dead last but had been easy to bring to tears, had been highly emotional and sensitive. But Obito had also been raised for war and he had been vicious for it. Naruto, for all he acted loud and brash, had too thick of skin. He had been raised with hatred from every angle and no one to protect him from it. He was also soft for it somehow. Naruto would be the one to take violence and killing the worst.And Rin and Sakura were so different it was perhaps only gender that had had him trying to compare them. Rin had been a friendly but reserved young woman with a sharp focus and a crush that did not consume her. Sakura on the other hand was polite but passionate. Her crush was far more manic for her passion and emotion and her low tolerance for lack of intelligence.So Kakashi looked at this team and saw none of his former and breathed a deep sigh of relief.He had not thought to like them, had not considered picking a favorite because he disliked them all equally.His week with them had found him no more joy in training a team, but he had started to see them as less of a burden.Mostly.Well, he found one of them less of a burden.The first week he had planned to evaluate them, dragging them on D-ranks to see their stamina, their patience, their skills. He watched to see how they reacted and how they worked. He found them lacking.Naruto was quick to make drama and pick fights with Sasuke. He never looked beyond what he was told and argued constantly. He had stamina in spades, and a desire to learn ‘super cool ninjutsu’, but he had no patience for basics and never asked for anything other than overpowered attacks.Sasuke likewise seemed to have little patience for their ‘missions’. He tolerated his team even less, barely responding beyond sneering at them as if he were a king looking at filth. He demanded training, demanded strength, and snarled when he did not get it. He egged Naruto on subtly and would not acknowledge Sakura in any way.Sakura meanwhile was a tad distracting with her fawning over Sasuke, twitchy about her appearance before him.But while Sakura’s fangirling was annoying, that was really the only think Kakashi found annoying about her. Sakura was a girl who knew her manners and held the top Konoichi spot in the academy for a reason. She was keenly intelligent, full of knowledge and questions she did not hesitate to ask. Her stamina was decent even for a girl who dieted and who focused so wholly on her looks. She was quieter, kinder with their clients and had more patience then even he did for Sasuke’s moods and Naruto’s yelling.Sakura was also obedient. Where as Naruto would kick up a fuss and Sasuke would simply sneer and try to refuse, Sakura listened. She might question him, but she still did it. Kakashi could respect that.So when the week was done Sakura was firmly his favorite because she simply listened to him.And then….and then something in the girl changed..--..--.Sakura stared at her team. She stared and stared and stared. Despite the fact she was absent from conversation they went on around her like normal. Sasuke grunted, Naruto bellowed, and Kakashi-sensei giggled. They did chores and missions all under the supervision of a slouched teacher reading orange p0rn.And Sakura felt something in her chest that might have been her heart quiver. There was a ball of tension building up of fear and terror. So Sakura stared and tried not to wonder if any of them would save her if it came down to it.Sasuke was her dream prince, the man she wanted to marry, and the boy who had not spoken a full sentence to her alone. He didn’t even look at her.Naruto who asked her on dates and loudly complemented her was also the boy who spoke (or yelled) more at Sasuke, his attention seemingly riveted on the other boy.Kakashi, a genius who was late to every meeting and didn’t teach them anything at least answered her questions, but what were words to a ninja?Sakura didn’t think she would come first to any of them. Or even second. Probably not even third.Sakura went home and cried. She wasn’t sleeping much these days..--..--.Sakura had been near dead silent this week and Kakashi watched her closely over the top of his book. She was looking pale and wane and had the look of sleep deprivation.It was such an abrupt shift from the week before that Kakashi would expect Trauma, but from his careful check in to it, he had found nothing. It was like a switch had been shown and the Sakura that had been profiled had been changed for a quieter, twitchier one.This usually only happened after missions where they saw their first death or kill.Kakashi watched her carefully and realized one day it was exactly that: it was fear. And fear was a worrying emotion in ninja. There was plenty to fear in their life, but fear could make a ninja unpredictable. It could drive them to work harder (often to the point of risking their own health) or it could make cowards out of them. And while ninja didn’t really focus on honor or care to tout bravery, a coward might flee in the face of a mission or in the face of a teammate being hurt and Kakashi would not stand that.So Kakashi gave Sakura her space and subtly watched her..--..--.When the tension in her chest ached Sakura went to the library. She had very few resources but the library was open to all ninja and so Sakura went. Every day after training she left the team in a flurry and shut herself in with the scrolls and books. She devoured everything she could, looking up advanced hand sign theory and chakra manipulation techniques and survival information. She looked up politics and economics and ecology of surrounding countries. Sakura devoured book by book, scroll by book, as she sought anything and everything that might help her. Every night she was kicked out by the librarian, eyes and brain aching.When the fear fizzled in her stomach Sakura started to eat more. If she was going to die anyways, then f*** looking good and dieting. She was going eat what she wanted. And so she did, cramming snacks into her pockets and bentos into her bag. She was never without food and her stamina improved in leaps and bounds as she started getting enough nutrition.When the terror made her hands shake in the morning Sakura stopped caring for her long luscious locks. She took a kunai to them one morning in a fit, upset at having to spend precious minutes brushing them out. She chopped her hair off short and choppy, like a boy who had cut his hair to escape the heat in the summer. She got rid of the red dress because it took too long to iron and hang straight. She dug up old t-shirts and shorts, easy and baggy and comfortable. She wasn’t about to spend what time she had left devoted to clothing. Then she went and found a larger kunai pouch and went on a spree in the weapon’s store. Anything to help stop the shake in her hands.Sakura slowly changed over three weeks as she stuffed herself with knowledge and food, and lost sleep over worry. Sakura thinned down to wiry muscle from her frantic movements and her nutrition. But she also gained dark bags under her eyes and her hair would have been lank if it had still been long.She also started to run out of books that she could actually use, or well, started to realize not everything she had access to was useful..--..--.Kakashi was a tad unnerved by how many books Sakura could cram in her head. He had seen her devouring scroll upon scroll in the library and thought perhaps she was skimming. But when he carefully made note of subjects and subtly slipped in questions about said subjects during team meetings, Sakura always had an answer. She wasn’t just reading, she was learning; devouring knowledge.Besides her frantic swallowing of words, she had started to eat more at least and Kakashi had heard no more of any diet nonsense. That paired with her more appropriate training clothes had been a welcome change and Kakashi was happy with her focus on the little training they did in between missions.Her hair though…from all reports, and from his impression of her first week, she was a vain girl. Which was fine as long as it didn’t interfere with anything else. And yet one day she had come to training with her hair mangled and chopped to something less then a bob. Naruto had cried about it but Sakura had hardly seemed to notice. She had been unnervingly focused on him and the mission..--..--.Sakura spent an entire evening after D-rank missions running around Konoha trying to find something to help her as the books stopped helping. She found two things;The first was the obstacle course hidden in the depths of Training field Ten. It was filled with pits and bars and traps and Sakura decided then and there it would be her first test.Her second find was the first aid courses offered at the hospital, free to all ninja. It was to teach emergency first aid for in the field including diagnostics, stitches, bandaging, and other such endeavours. The Academy taught them CPR and how to recognize poison over illness but this course was more intense and Sakura leapt at the chance. It might one day save her life..--..--.Kakashi signed off on the first aid course without prompting as the medic-nin held it out. If Sakura wanted to learn first aid, all the power to her. He was just worried at what was driving her. He might have said concern for her teammates but she barely acknowledged them these days. The crush her academy instructors had warned him about seemed to have vanished over night as Sakura had no eyes for Sasuke. Whenever there were team meetings, missions, or training, Sakura was focused completely on Kakashi, face still and pale, bags under her eyes, and an odd fear in her stance.When she found the obstacle course in one of the further training grounds, Kakashi watched her carefully. Despite the sign with warnings not to use alone in case of injury, Sakura forged on ahead, unaware of his supervision. He let her, watching with concern.It was only when she finished the course and collapsed laughing that Kakashi eased away. Something about completing the course seemed to have broken through the gloom around her for now and she was laughing happily, hope in her eyes.Kakashi propped his book open as she turned to take the course again..--..--.Sakura panted very faintly as laid on the grass. Her bag was by her head, scrolls from the library peaking out and she reached for it vainly. She flopped in defeat as her muscles complained. She also had an assignment in there due tomorrow for the first aid program.But for now Sakura let herself breathe, face buried in the grass.There was something like hope in her chest.The fear was smothered for a brief little bit. Sakura had gained knowledge and first aid and now some stamina all on her own. It proved she could train on her own at least a little bit and didn’t have to fully rely on her team or her sensei.The fear was starting to be dulled by the fact Kakashi didn’t seem to teach Naruto or Sasuke any more then he did her. She had seen no signs of any extra training for either of them. She had seen no favoritism there.So when the terror was almost dulled by time, Sakura approached Kakashi-sensei. She had completed the obstacle course in under ten minutes, a personal best, and so she shored her courage up and approached Kakashi as Naruto bolted off yelling about Ramen and Sasuke huffed and slinked away.“Um, Kakashi-sensei,” Sakura cleared her throat nervously.“Hmm? Yes Sakura?” he eye-smiled at her.She hesitated but ultimately decided the worst he could do is say no.“Um, the doctors teaching the first aid course said there are chakra exercises you can do as a genin to sharpen control and grow reserves,” she scuffed a foot in the dirt, “He said you usually start with tree walking.”“That’s true.”“Would…would you teach me!” she blurted out, louder than she had meant to.She cringed immediately, afraid her yelling would scare him away somehow. But Kakashi sensei surprised her by smiling again and then actually putting his book away!“Sure!” he chirped, “Do you actually need the details, or just a demonstration?”“B-both!” Sakura hyped up.Kakashi chuckled but walked over to a tree, Sakura running behind him, still in shock that this was happening. He was actually giving her a lesson! One she had asked for!Kakashi launched into a brief chakra lecture which Sakura knew most of but listened intently to. Then he walked up a tree with only his feet, defying the laws of gravity. Sakura watched and barely breathed until he nudged her towards the tree.She got it her first try and something like tears pressed at her eyes..--..--.Sakura seemed…overly grateful for the lesson on tree walking and the subsequent lesson on water walking. She had thanked him over and over and over and only stopped when he had escaped up a nearby tree and told her to practice.Kakashi watched Sakura run herself into the ground, nearly into chakra exhaustion and fondly realized she was indeed his favourite. He didn’t know what drove her yet but she did indeed have drive and passion.Sasuke and Naruto on the other hand…He was still waiting on them. He had spent the last month and a bit observing his new team with minimal training and a heavy focus on team missions. He had expected to see more drive in the two boys and less in the lone girl and somehow his expectations had been reversed.Oh Sasuke demanded training and Naruto loudly asked for super-cool jutsu but that was missing the point. Naruto only wanted the flashy techniques and could barely focus long enough to hear criticism on his basics. He also had not worked up the courage to actually ask Kakashi politely for any real lessons. Sasuke on the other hand made demands and scoffed when Kakashi made suggestions to start by working with his teammates. Kakashi refused to teach the boy who blatantly dismissed his teammates. And this had led Sasuke to stop asking and spending more time in his compound.Kakashi was a bit disappointed by how easily Naruto and Sasuke gave up any drive. They seemed to have taken Kakashi’s minimal training as a sign of how it was going to be. In truth, if they came to him with serious requests that were thought out and on their level he would be happy to train them. Just like he had done with Sakura and the chakra techniques. But Kakashi refused to put all the effort into this team he hadn’t wanted. He was waiting for them to gather their wits and approach him respectfully and intelligently with some drive behind them. And so far he was disappointed.Except for Sakura.Kakashi cast a glance at the kunoichi on their team and watched as she collapsed in exhaustion, physically, only to pull out a scroll and start training herself mentally.Kakashi smiled..--..--.Sakura stared at her bag in dread. The house was silent, her parents long have since gone to bed. It was just Sakura, wide awake, staring at her mission pack.Mission Pack.They had a C-rank mission and it made Sakura’s throat clog with fear.Stupid Naruto had not consulted any of them and made wild demands of the Hokage for a C-rank. And he had been granted it. Whatever doubts Sakura had of the Hokage and Naruto’s relationship was put on hold as the Hokage allowed Naruto to yell and make ridiculous demands and actually gave into them. The fact Sasuke had nodded in agreement with Naruto and neither had looked at her had just shown they didn’t care for Sakura and her opinion.Sakura was not ready for a c-rank mission.C-rank meant bandits usually. And while on paper a genin could trump some civilian bandit, that meant nothing in real life. All it had to be was more than one against Sakura while Kakashi was concerned with the two boys and she would fall to even the clumsiest blades.Sakura broke into a sweat at the thought of her body being left where it fell out of unconcern.She looked at her pack with shaky hands and made sure she had extra medical supplies that her first aid trainer had been happy to give her. She had a few old outfits tossed in, all old worn shorts and t-shirts she had never felt fit to wear in public. But out in the wilderness they would be more use than anything and she didn’t have to worry about if they got dirty. She had also crammed ration bars and food into the available space. And then she’d stocked all her knives.Her kunai pouch sat neatly beside her outfit for tomorrow, fully stocked and more.Sakura allowed herself to bring a scroll along though she doubted she would have a chance to read it. She would have to be extra alert. She had no one watching her back.Sakura allowed her fear to fester, allowed it to make her twitchy and aware. Better twitchy than relaxed and dead. And if she didn’t get much sleep, well that was what coffee from the convenience store near the gates was for..--..--.Kakashi watched Sakura over the top of his book. While Naruto ran ahead exploring everything and yelling, and Sasuke sauntered trying not to obviously do the same as Naruto, Sakura stood firmly at Kakashi’s side. She did not wander, did not let herself get distracted. Instead she was almost twitchy with how much she was scanning their surroundings with keen eyes.He felt a surge of pride as he took in his most professional student, on guard and following half a step behind him in deference to his rank but staying in formation.“Mah,” he smiled reaching out to ruffle her hair.He ignored the twitch she gave and looked into her startled green eyes.“Good job Sakura,” he told her letting a sliver of pride slip into his voice.She blinked in bemusement but did look faintly…less tense.He almost felt bad when he let himself get ripped apart moments later and her eyes flew wide in shock and terror..--..--.Sakura’s hands twitched as she pulled a kunai from their pouch.“Stay behind me,” she told the bridge-builder harshly.The fog around them was thick and hazy and Sakura could hear nor see anything, her heartbeat loud in her ears. She wanted to abandon the man at her side and run until she was clear of the fog. But as much as Sakura was afraid of dying, she was also a trained shinobi and this was the job she had sworn too. She was a coward and she knew it, but she wasn’t a traitor. And if the missing-nin didn’t get her if she fled, her own village would.Sakura was afraid, not stupid.So she watched her sensei fight an A-rank missing-nin. She watched the crash of jutsu and weapons, the fast pace almost too quick for her eye to see. And she kept careful guard of Tazuna even as Naruto and Sasuke forgot the objective and fought water clones, allowing themselves to be pulled farther away from the client.And then Kakashi got trapped and Sakura went from scared to numb. Everything narrowed and a sweat broke across her forehead as he told them to run. Did he think they could outrun Zabuza? That the man wouldn’t simply kill Kakashi once they were out of range and come after them? And what would Konoha do to the team that got the famous Copy-Cat ninja killed? Kakashi was worth a hundred of Sakura in their eyes and Sakura would be punished for leaving him, maybe not outright but she would be.So when Naruto and Sasuke helped free him Sakura nearly cried in relief even as she kept a steady grip on her kunai.And when Kakashi collapsed, after the enemy was gone, well Sakura had been taking first-aid and knew what to do..--..--.“I have to keep an eye on the boys, ne?” Kakashi said shuffling on his crutches.“No,” Sakura said bravely, “You have to rest. You can’t help if you strain yourself.”She was looking at him with sharp eyes. Kakashi tried a smile and it came easily enough. He reached out and ruffled her hair and she seemed to relax under the gesture, eyes losing some of the worry.“I’ll sit here and be very still and very quiet and not strain myself,” he told her, “Buts someone needs to make sure they don’t crack their skulls. I will entrust you with Tazuna for the day.”Somehow that had been the wrong thing to say. She tensed again, eyes dark.“Okay,” she finally managed, “I’ll guard the bridge.”Then she was gone. Kakashi stared after her trying to parse what had been wrong with his words.“Kakashi-sensei! Look how high I got this time!” Naruto bellowed as he rolled to a stop on the grass.“That’s not very high Naruto,” Kakashi said idly as he took a seat on a log.His whole body ached, that dull pain of chakra coils used too much. It was his own fault he supposed. He had used his sharingan and chakra unsparingly, unchecked, and the amount that had burned through him in so short of a time made him very aware he’d gotten a little soft over the past bit.He looked down at his hands, at the bandaged nicks, and then at the standard crutches. Sakura had been the one to drag him to safety, had cleaned his wounds and declared him chakra exhausted. She’d been the one to keep him cool as his body developed a fever from the upset of his system. She was the one who had had crutches stored in a sealing scroll full of first-aid supplies he knew must have cost her most of the D-ranks from the past month.Naruto had been quick to sing her praises even as she’d ducked her head when he’d woken. She’d been prepared to crush a solider-pill between his jaw if he hadn’t woken up within the allotted time for chakra exhaustion; a jolt to the system that could have saved his life if he’d went into a shock.Kakashi knew that he would have been fine without most of that, he would have woken up much sorer and more tired, but he would not have died. But Sakura had been ready for it, had been ready to try and save his life. Unsaid was the fact that Naruto and Sasuke had floundered.Kakashi looked after his lone Konoichi, up and about and in better shape than all the boys. He looked after his student that had nailed a chakra control exercise on the first try. At the student who he knew was being flung through the first aid courses at an advanced pace. He’d already had three med-nin sidle up to him and try to talk to him about the benefits of getting kids into the medical program young if they showed potential.And he wondered why Sakura still had a trace of fear in her eyes..--..--.I’m going to die, Sakura though faintly. The blood rushing in her ears was nearly louder than sound of battle and her heart hammering in her chest was almost painful.“Shouldn’t you help him out?” Tazuna asked, voice high with fear as they watched Sasuke get thrown around.“You’re the client,’ Sakura said, “If you die it’s all for nothing.”Tazuna pressed his lips together, eyes wide and hands shaking. Sakura’s hands were shaking too but she had a firm grip on her kunai. She was waiting; waiting for a clone to slip past Kakashi, waiting for a senbon to slip past Sasuke. Waiting for death to stare her in the face.And then came Naruto, blitzing past her, no concern for her or the client as he beelined for Sasuke. Sakura resisted the urge to close her eyes and pray.And then Sasuke died..--..--.Sakura stared at the grave, stared at the fresh turned earth she had just helped dig. Momichi Zabuza, one of the strongest missing kiri-nin, one of the seven swordsmen, was nothing but a lump of flesh in the ground now. The boy, Haku, who had held off Sasuke and Naruto at the same time was nothing but worm food.That could be me, Sakura thought.She clenched her hands in her shorts, her little kid shorts that had Sasuke’s blood on them and she thought of how the first thing her teammate had looked for after waking was not her but Naruto.Sakura stared at her mourning teammates, at the graves, at Kakashi-sensei still swathed in bandages.All the fear, all the nerves, all the…everything, came to a head and Sakura burst into tears. Everything that had been building up inside of her for over a month suddenly exploded out of her in harsh messy sobs.All three of her male teammates took an instinctive step back and Sakura hated them a bit for it.“I can’t do it anymore,” Sakura sobbed, covering her eyes with her hands, “I just can’t.”She heard the sound of murmuring over her tears but she had no concern for them anymore. She lowered into a ball, pressing her face into her blood stained knees and sobbed, letting everything she had been bottling up out.“Sakura,” Kakashi-sensei said loudly.“I can’t,” Sakura said feebly.A hesitant hand touched her shoulder, just the ghost of a touch, before settling more firmly. It sat there awkwardly, as if unsure of what to do after that and Sakura simply sobbed messily, unable to stop the flow of tears and snot and fear that was being drained out of her.“Talk to me Sakura,” Sensei said softly, “Talk me through why you are upset.”And well, Kakashi-sensei hadn’t been as bad as she had thought, acted far kinder than he had needed. He may have sent her out every day to face death but he was kind about it and gave her any tools she wanted. Maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t get mad at her if she pointed out he was her death warrant..--.Sakura peeked up at him, lashes heavy with tears and looked so scared Kakashi felt something in his chest hurt. Maybe one of the bridge builders was hurting her? She was such an obedient girl and pretty with her coloring and there was so much stress in the air… If they had done anything to her, if anyone had, Kakashi would simply slaughter them all and they would go home.“I don’t want to die,” Sakura whispered, voice clogged with tears and fear.“Sakura,” he soothed, “I promised I wouldn’t let any of you die.”“Yes, but…,” she swallowed, “If It came down to who you could save, I know where I rank.”He looked at her, a tad confused.“I don’t want to be cannon fodder,” she cried and Kakashi tried to understand.“Talk me through it,” he repeated, because Sakura was good at explaining.And so it started to spill out, from her first moment of dread, to her political interpretation, to training, to watching them all with fear wondering who cared less. To being sent out to guard the client (the target) all by herself when they knew there were people gunning for his head and it would be her duty to stand in front of him. Of Naruto and Sasuke and how they revolved around one another with barely any room for a third teammate.“Sakura,” Kakashi said low and rough, “I promised you, ‘those who abandon their mission are trash but those who abandon a teammate are worst then trash’.”“I didn’t think I was a real teammate,” Sakura sniffled.“Sakura, I promise you are,” he said gently, “In fact, you’re my favourite little student.”“No. Sasuke or Naruto are,” she shook her head, “Cause Sasuke has the sharingan like you and Naruto is the Hokage’s secret grandson or something.”Kakashi gave a low laugh and slowly sat beside her. He wasn’t good at comforting, didn’t know how to deal with crying kids. But she was his student and he’d promised to protect her. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and she leaned into his side like a flower turning to warmth, like she was lost and had simply waited for such an invitation. She pressed her face against his flak jacket and he didn’t even care about the snot and tears (he’d had far worse rubbed into his clothes).“Sakura,” he told her, “Do you know how much you have improved since the academy?”“Not enough,” was her instant answer.“You’ve done more than the boys. More than both of them combined,” Kakashi said, “Your chakra control destroys theirs. You’ve quadrupled your stamina and strength in a month. And when I fell, you were the one to jump in and take control, to care for me where the boys were useless. And best of all, despite your fears, your worries about being left behind, you’ve been more of a teammate, more of a shinobi, than either of them.”“…really?”“You sought me out, you looked at your limits and came up with what you needed and sought me out for training. Neither boy did. When you realized you were lacking, you looked for a solution. When you found a weakness, you addressed it. And you put your all into it. I know how many scrolls you’ve read, how many hours put in at the hospital in first-aid programs. I know how much you train.”“You do?” she asked, incredulous, “You were watching me?!”“Like I watched all of you,” he grinned at her, “And you were the only one who did not fall into old patterns, you were the only one who increased your training, who tried even harder. The boys got lazy and stuck to their academy routines despite the fact they were essentially promoted. And more than that, you’ve been brave.”“I’ve been scared,” she shook her head, “All the time I’ve been scared out of my wits.”“And yet,” Kakashi said gently, “You didn’t quit. You didn’t give up. Instead you faced those fears. Even being scared you didn’t run away or let the client die, you didn’t turn your back on your team. Sakura, that’s bravery. Far more brave than the boys who don’t know their mortality well enough to fear.”She wiped her nose on her arm and stared at him with hopeful eyes.“You’re a good kid Sakura,” he said giving her a squeeze, “But try to remember, you’re just a kid. I will never expect you to face A-class missing-nin. I don’t expect you to suddenly take on multiple enemies. That’s why you’re a part of a team, why I’m your sensei. I promised, and will promise again, we are a team, and I will protect you with my life.”Sakura burst into tears again. But he was pretty sure these were happy tears as she hugged him.“I’m sorry you felt so scared Sakura,” Kakashi told her, “But I promise, I’ll help you get strong enough you don’t have to feel like that again.”.--..--.The Sakura who faced the journey home was not the same Sakura who’d started it.“You feeling better Sakura?” Naruto asked carefully.“Yeah,” Sakura told him honestly, “I am.”“Good!” he brightened.She smiled right back and realized it felt really nice to smile. How long had it been since she’d felt so relaxed, so unafraid she could smile. She told her self that she would try to feel like this more often. What was the point of living if she was only living in fear? She’d been driving herself crazy and that was no help to anyone, least of all herself.She looked up at Kakashi-sensei’s back and firmly reminded herself of his promise. She wouldn’t be left behind, she wouldn’t be forgotten.She was part of Team Seven.And one day she’d be strong enough she wouldn’t be afraid..--..--.     The thought lingered in Kakashi’s head.Sakura was a keen girl. Outrageously smart and intelligent, with insights even he had not considered in her readings. She was aware of politics and numbers in a way he’d never studied.And nothing she had feared sounded outrageous. In fact it was all very sound reasoning; a civilian girl put on a team with the Kyuubi-Jinchuriki and the last Uchiha (the brother of Uchiha Itachi). Team Seven was a powder leg and Kakashi had known that since the beginning. He himself had wondered, once or twice, why Sakura of all people had been placed on his team, why shed been put in such a situation but he had simply accepted the fact they had indeed needed a third kid. Now he wondered why Sakura? Her academy report had not held a lot of hopes for her beyond her intelligence, nothing at least that said she could keep up with Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke and Hatake Kakashi.So why not give him someone who could? Why Haruno Sakura? Why the civilian girl who would be forgotten if she died?Kakashi twitched at the thought. It hadn’t been malicious he was sure, there was no way she’d made any big enemies at twelve. So was it just casual disregard? Did they expect Kakashi to ignore her and focus on the other two? Or would something like her death been used as an excuse to perhaps put a different person on his team.Kakashi thought of Danzo almost immediately, thought of his ROOT and how much the man wanted both his boys in his grasp. What would have happened, Kakashi wondered, if Sakura had died and a spot on his team had opened up. He wondered how long it would have taken for Danzo to find someone to fill that spot.Kakashi shook himself like a dog and tried to banish such thoughts. He was too paranoid. It was just numbers he told himself, Sakura had just been unlucky.But the thoughts lingered. Kakashi told himself he’d keep a sharp eye on his favourite student. Maybe teach her some less-spoken of politics so she might watch he own back. No need to make her afraid, but enough that she might see what he didn’t.Sakura looked back at him, as if sensing his gaze and gave him a shy smile. He smiled right back.One thing he knew was, come hell or high water, no one would be killing the kids on his team..--.

โ€” The Blackest Night

06/06/2021 08:55 PM 

kismet

(n.) destiny; fateI.They called it an unfortunate error. Uchiha Sasuke called it a royal f*** up.He could understand the flight delay−anyone with a smidge of common sense would see that the dark, gray skies and the heavy downpour didn't exactly make for suitable flying conditions. But what he couldn't wrap his mind around was the idea that someone could have their head so far up their own ass that they would book two passengers−two complete and utter strangers−in one hotel room with only one bed.Sasuke occupied the couch like the gentleman that he was and kept busy on his phone, playing the rhythm game Naruto had gotten him hooked on two weeks ago. He could feel his eardrums shattering from how high he'd turned the volume to zone out the incessant ringing of his roommate's phone. He tried to turn it up even higher but found that it was already at its loudest. Frustrated, he yanked the buds out of his ears and was about to tell the stranger off when she abruptly sat up in the bed she was lying on and threw the phone to the wall with such force he was surprised it hasn't stopped ringing.Their eyes met for a quick second before her visage crumpled and she buried her face in her hands. And he sat there, frozen and confused. He was stuck listening to the heavy pounding of rain against the window and the woman's quiet cries and the factory set ringtone that still hadn't ceased. Fed up, he pushed himself out of the couch and walked over to where the phone laid neglected.He really wasn't the type to meddle, but he really wasn't the type to stay in hotel rooms with people he didn't know, either. He picked up the phone and answered the call. "If she didn't answer the first three times, take the f***ing hint," he said, annoyed.The person from the other end of the phone was a man. Too young to be her father. Boyfriend, maybe? "Who is this?"Ah. His voice was tinged with jealousy. Definitely boyfriend. Or maybe ex now?"She's busy right now," Sasuke said simply. Without another word, he dropped the call and locked her phone. He looked over his shoulder to check for her reaction, only to find that she was now sitting on the edge of the bed with her back to him and her ankles propped on the bed frame so that she was hugging her knees up to her chest.He grimaced, tapping a knuckle hard against his temple before taking a step forward. He approached her slowly and carefully, like approaching a wounded animal that could go feral on him anytime. Now standing by the bed, she looked up at him and he stopped abruptly.Her red-rimmed eyes were big and glassy, but they were the most surreal shade of green he's ever seen, framed by pink lashes that were thick and matted with tears. She sniffled and wiped her little red nose with the sleeve of her turtleneck, before tucking stray strands of pink hair behind her ear.Sasuke was never one to care enough to notice people's appearances, but she was pretty. Really pretty. Undeniably so.He cleared his throat. "Sorry," he muttered, and handed her her phone back. Her fingers twitched before she raised her hand slowly and reached for it. But instead of taking her phone, she got a hold of his sleeve and yanked at it with such strength that he fell on the bed next to her.Before he could register what had happened, she was on him, sobbing onto his shoulder as she gripped the material of his sweater tightly. He felt every shake of her bone, heard every dry heave from her lungs painfully sharp in his ears. And anyone who knew Uchiha Sasuke knew that he wasn't the person to come to for comfort. But this poor girl didn't know that so he tried not to grimace as he wrapped an arm across her shoulders, his entire body stiff as he awkwardly patted her on the back. He winced when she cried harder."I'm so stupid!" she wailed into his sweater. Between sobs and hiccups, she told him about how she had come to London to surprise her boyfriend of thirteen months−her boyfriend whom she's never met in person before, mind you. Instead, she was the one who was surprised when she found out that he not only had a girlfriend, but one that was pregnant with his child."I mean," she swallowed thickly, "it's one thing to be cheated on−" she hiccuped, breathed in sharply, and pushed her face further into his shoulder. "But it's another to be put in a position where I'm the other woman!"She continued to pour her heart and eyes out into the cotton material of his sweater, now drenched. And at some point while she told him everything, her sobs had subsided and the violent shaking of her shoulders had stopped. Now, she just rested her forehead against him, completely silent. He didn't care about her life story, really, but he was above kicking someone when they're already down. "There, there," he said awkwardly, a little exasperated.He was surprised by her quiet laughter. She pulled away slightly to look up at him with a single brow raised. Her cheeks were tear-streaked but her still-glassy eyes were bright with mirth and a ghost of a smile played on her lips. "There, there?" she repeated incredulously. "That's all you've got?"He scowled at her and her sudden mood change. "It's your fault," he said indignantly. "Who trusts people over the internet?""You're right." Her voice was still hoarse from all the crying, but at least that was over with. She was smiling now, and he found that she was even prettier. "Why meet strangers on the internet when you can meet strangers in a hotel room?""Well, rest assured, I don't have a pregnant girlfriend.""Oh? Is that an invitation for me to hit on you?"He shook his head, unable to fight the amused grin on his lips. He could have stood up and gone back to his spot on the couch right after she'd stopped crying, resumed his game and acted like nothing happened, go back to being complete strangers. He didn't know why he was indulging her in conversation when he wouldn't even give his closest friends the time of day. But there was something about her…Her smile faltered and she exhaled loudly. "I really liked him," she said, voice quiet once again. "I don't know if I loved him, but I really liked him. He was smart, he was fun to talk to, and he was so sweet−I woke up to good morning texts every day even with the time difference, and I…""What a bastard."She paused for a second, before the corners of her mouth lifted once more. "Yeah, he is… I don't need him. I'm smart, I'm fun, I'm sweet. Most of all, I'm accomplished. I am a strong, independent woman!" She met his eyes proudly as she recited these words to herself, showing off her pearl white teeth as she smiled widely and sat with her back straight. "I'm Sakura, by the way."Sakura. He took note of her soft pink hair and the light blush on her pale skin and how she looked so delicate, so demure. How fitting."Sasuke," he said, shaking her hand briefly. "What is it you do exactly, Sakura?""Guess."He studied her. The first thing he was drawn to were her fingers, long and delicate. She could be a musician. A pianist, maybe. His eyes traveled further down to her legs. She wasn't tall, but they were long, slender. He considered that she could also be a dancer. Maybe a ballerina, looking at her perfect posture and the air of elegance around her. But he wasn't so sure the pink hair would pass in any company."You look like one of those mall elves at Christmas."She threw her head back in laughter. "Close enough," she said, in a way that he knew it wasn't. "What about you? Let's see…"She held his gaze for a long moment, before she cocked her head to the side and pursed her lips in thought. Her eyes lingered on the watch on his wrist, then she looked past him at the coat he'd thrown on the couch. "You look…" she started hesitantly. He raised a brow in question, urging her to continue. "You look like a businessman."And she said it like it was the saddest thing to be."That's all?" She was right, of course. But he'd expected her to come up with something interesting."But like an unwilling heir to a multimillion dollar company," she elaborated. "Like you were thrust into the corporate world and you reluctantly accepted the job offer because you didn't have an alternative because… you've been groomed for this position since you were a kid. It's all you've ever known…"That got the smug Uchiha. He was perplexed, staring at her in stunned silence. Sasuke was anything but transparent. He was a master of concealing everything under a mask of indifference. And yet here was this woman, who he'd only been talking to for a few minutes, and her first impression of him was spot on.Sakura's eyes widened for a moment and she opened her mouth to say something but thought better of it, choosing instead to meet his eyes bashfully. It occurred to him a few seconds later that she was apologetic, feeling as though she'd crossed a line.He just sighed and looked ahead at the raindrops that streaked their window. "What, you read my diary or something?"Her eyes lit up yet again.They continued to talk as the storm continued to rage outside while they stayed warm under the covers. She talked about her ex-boyfriend whose name she'd decided never to utter again in her life so he remained strictly as my ex in all of her stories. When she felt like she's been talking for eternity, she nudged him in the ribs with her elbow, forcing him to air out his own laundry.He was never the type to talk about himself−he was never the type to talk at all. But here he was, staring up at the ceiling, lying next to this woman he didn't know, close but not touching. He oddly felt compelled to tell her everything. And so he did, vague but personal.Maybe it was the anonymity, the ambiguity, that made the words come easy. Maybe it's because he knew he would never see her again after tonight and she would never be able to hold these things against him, that he told her things he wouldn't have told even Naruto. Or maybe it was the way she looked at him as she laid on her side, green eyes round with curiosity, her fingertips so close to his elbow that he could feel them twitch like she wanted to touch him when he said something particularly sad.The storm had calmed and the night sky was pitch black when he saw her eyes grow heavy. It was already midnight and Sasuke reluctantly pulled himself out of bed to go back to the couch when the sky was momentarily lit up with lightning, followed by the deep rumble of thunder. He heard a sharp gasp from the bed and when he looked down, Sakura was already tugging at his sleeve, for the second time that day."Please stay," she said, and she sounded so small, so scared.He abandoned all common sense, every rational thought that screamed at him not to sleep in a bed with a complete stranger, and nodded. He lifted the blanket and slipped back down underneath it, maintaining a safe distance between them. "What, you're scared of thunder?" he asked lightly."Lightning, actually," she breathed. She turned on her side to face him again. And when light flashed through the sky for a second time behind her, she squeaked and scooted closer, hugging his arm tightly. "I… I've had this fear for as long as I can remember that I would get killed by lightning."He breathed out something that was caught between a chuckle and a sigh, then turned on his side so that she was safely tucked under his chin, his hand running up and down her back to soothe her. He heard her sigh pleasantly."The odds of being struck by lightning is 1 in 700,000. I doubt you're that special.""It's fear, idiot." She punched him lightly on the abdomen. "It's not always rational."And he must be really tired, really sleepy, to be so out of it. To be able to touch her as intimately as the way he was doing now, fingers reaching her nape and sifting through her soft tresses. "Well, I won't let you get struck by lightning tonight. Go to sleep."As if on command, she yawned. "Goodnight… Sasuke-kun…"And he was so tired, so sleepy, and so out of it that he didn't have the time to wonder why the way she said his name felt like déjà vu..Sakura tugged on his sleeve as they stepped in line."So, this is it!" she said, so cheerful in the morning. Sasuke could only shrug in response, taking another big gulp of his coffee.They were standing at the gate now. They had left the hotel together, taken one cab to the airport, and waited on each other as they passed through airport security. He'd even gone with her while she went souvenir shopping in the criminally overpriced little airport shops. Not that he minded; he enjoyed her company too much, maybe he was even a little sad that they had to part ways.And she must feel the same way, he thought, as she sidled closer to him and looked up at him a little hopefully. "Ne, by any chance, we're not sitting together, are we?"He scoffed. "That would be too much of a coincidence."She sighed and her head fell for a moment, her spirits deflated. "Thought so," she muttered under her breath. Clicking her tongue, she looked up at him again, this time beaming. "Well. Goodbye then, Sasuke."She held her hand out for him to shake. They shook hands stiffly, longer than necessary for a formal handshake, before her smile turned watery and she dropped his hand to wrap her arms around his middle."It was really nice meeting you." Her muffled voice sounded strained as she spoke into his chest.He wrapped his arms around her waist in return and murmured into the crown of her head, simply, "Likewise."Sasuke lost Sakura as they boarded the plane. He didn't see her at all during the flight, no matter how much he strained his eyes for a glimpse of pink, and it was even more impossible to find her in Tokyo once they had landed. It wasn't until he was being driven away in his best friend's car that he realized how absolutely stupid he was not to have asked for anything beyond her first name.II.Sakura was a common name. Hell, Sakura was a common word.Sasuke, in his desperation, had googled her, knowing full well that it was futile. He had gotten results for the tree, a couple of restaurants and spas nearby, and even a goddamned festival coming up. He glowered at his computer screen. He hadn't even thought to ask for her last name or what she really did for a living−no, she wasn't a Christmas mall elf, he had actually checked.It's been two months since he got back from London, since the unfortunate flight delay and hotel room fiasco. It had been two months and the stranger named Sakura was still on his mind.Uchiha Sasuke never knew what it was to want something. He was privileged enough to have everything he needed, so there was really no use asking for more. But when he closed his eyes, he could see the green of her eyes like the color was imprinted on the back of his eyelids and sometimes his fingers itched to feel the softness of her pink hair. Now he experienced the agony of wanting, of yearning.Meanwhile, his best friend was still relentless in his attempts to set Sasuke up with his girlfriend's best friend. He's been at it for a year but just the fact that this woman was friends with Yamanaka Ino was all the information the Uchiha needed to know. He answered with a resounding no.Naruto spun himself in Sasuke's office chair, holding his takeout container as he went. Sasuke chastised him from where he was stretched out on his leather couch, threatening to gut the blond alive if he spilled ramen on his paperwork."Come on, Teme," he whined. He slapped the palm of his hand to the desk to halt the chair's spinning then held it up as he started counting off his fingers. "Look, she's a doctor. She's smart. She has a black belt in taekwondo. She does yoga. She's hot. She's…"He continued to prattle on about this woman and everything that made her oh-so-great to the point that he'd started counting with two hands. Sasuke tuned him out and brought his arm over his eyes to catch up on lost sleep. Ino's best friend could be the most important person in the country for all he cared, and it still didn't matter. She wasn't Sakura.It was ridiculous, really. Sasuke didn't know a single thing about her aside from what little of her personal life she had divulged to him while she was in the middle of her post-break up rant, and yet he was losing his mind over her.Fortunately, the young COO had enough discipline to manage to push her to the back of his mind when the sun was up and he had work to do. Or so he liked to think. Just now, he totally did not space out during an important meeting with new potential partners to the company.He could feel his father's eyes on him as the presentation came to a close. He dodged his disapproving look and slipped out of the room just as board members began to rise and shake hands and compare whose d*ck was bigger. He locked himself in his office like a child hiding from house guests.He quickly turned on his computer and plopped down into his chair, already playing the part of a busy white-collar worker when the door to his office opened without even a knock, as he expected. He looked up just as his father entered his office, face stern and back rigid. But what he didn't expect was for his older brother to be following close behind.Sasuke turned off the computer he wasn't even using and rose from his chair and offered it to Fugaku, while he sat in his own guest chair. Itachi took the armchair next to him, eyes brimming with amusement even though the smile on his lips remained miniscule."You've been distracted since you came back, Sasuke," Fugaku said, eyes roaming his son's office desk, which was, fortunately, free from clutter today−he took a mental note to thank his secretary for cleaning up while he was out. His father leaned back in his chair, elbows on the armrests and holding his fingers together over his chest. Sasuke swallowed. "And I heard from Naruto that it's because of a girl."Next to him, Itachi snickered−snickered, like a child. He leaned back and crossed his leg with his ankle over his thigh. "I heard they shared a hotel room."Fugaku hummed in surprise, raising his brows at Sasuke. But his younger son, feeling utterly betrayed, whirled on his older brother, who looked a little apologetic but mostly amused."Aniki!""Really, son, if you were smitten by this girl, you should've at least asked for her number. I thought you had more… game than this."Sasuke's head snapped towards his father and Fugaku only stared at him impassively as he gawked. The last time he was in a position like this, squirming under his father's scrutiny while Itachi made the experience a hundred times worse, he had been in high school. And just like back then, he crossed his arms over his chest in defense and pouted."I didn't think it was appropriate," he muttered under his breath, scowling at his shiny shoes. "She just broke up with her boyfriend.""I heard he cheated on her.""Where do you hear this sh*t from, Itachi?" he hissed."Sasuke," his father called sternly, giving him The Eyes. The Eyes that used to reprimand Sasuke when he was ten.He shut his mouth. It was just like his father to hand him a high position in the company, give him his own office, and still treat him like a child right in their workplace. He could only hope that his secretary, who happened to be Naruto's cousin, wasn't listening in and having her own fun.He fought the urge to groan as his father launched into a lecture about how he was now 28 years old, fast-approaching 30, and still hasn't brought a girl home to introduce to his mother. Because nobody groans or gets exasperated at Uchiha Fugaku, even when he was being annoying.He sank sullenly into his seat, not even bothering to point out that Itachi was 35 and a monk.He expelled a deep sigh. He must have it pretty bad if he'd come to the point where he was talking about Her with his brother and father. So that night, Sasuke decided that enough was enough.He put Sakura into a box and stowed her away in the recesses of his mind, which wasn't all that hard because he knew very little about her so there wasn't a lot to compartmentalize except for her seafoam green eyes, her pink hair, her surprisingly rough hands, and the strength in her arms when she hugged him before she disappeared from his life, as suddenly as she came into it.He went back to his life before London. He buried himself in work and when he was dead tired but still couldn't catch a wink of sleep at night, he exhausted himself for a run no matter the time. When he was particularly bored or restless, he vacuumed his entire condo and scattered his clothes just so he could fold them neatly again.Effectively, he thought about her less.This all but lasted for three whole weeks.He had his fingers pressed against his temple, massaging the throbbing ache away. He pushed away from his desk, eyes strained from looking intently into a computer screen for hours, when a knock came on the door and Karin's red head popped into his office. He motioned for her to come in."Naruto's been rushed to the ER," she said calmly. He was out of his seat in a split second, eyes wide and worried. She simply waved him away. "It's just an appendectomy.""Start with that next time," he breathed, falling back into his chair."But he does want you to be there when he comes out of surgery. I've already cleared your schedule. You only had one meeting left today anyway, and it wasn't that important.""Thanks, Karin."By the time he got to the hospital, Naruto was already out of surgery. The idiot was high as a kite in his hospital bed, lids heavy and grin wide, looking like a bigger idiot than usual. Sasuke asked him how he was doing and he only grinned wider, nodding his head slowly."Sasuke-teme," Naruto drawled. "I'm so glad you could make it. You'll never guess who my surgeon was."He smiled cheekily and Sasuke squeezed his eyes shut in annoyance, pinching the bridge of his nose. Of course, the dobe's doctor would be his girlfriend's best friend that he wouldn't shut up about. And of course, he would use this opportunity to play matchmaker.Sasuke met Naruto's eyes. "I hope you go into sepsis," he said with mock sincerity. He stood up, deciding to take his leave before Ino came back with the doctor, but froze when he saw a flash of familiar color in his peripheral.He looked out the wide window right ahead of him and scowled. It was like the universe was playing a joke on him. Outside the hospital window was an abundance of pink, cherry blossom trees in bloom. F***ing sakura blossoms.He sighed and was about to continue on his way when the door opened. He cringed at the sight of Ino, whose blue eyes widened slightly when she saw him before she greeted him with a saccharine hello that made him uneasy.She looked to her side as if she was expecting someone to be there and clicked her tongue in annoyance when there was no one. "Get in here, Forehead!" she hissed, hand shooting out the door as she dragged someone into the room."Ino-pig, this is my workplace, not a dating site−"Sasuke felt his entire world come to a halt. For a second, he thought that he was going insane. That he'd started projecting Sakura on every face that he saw. But staring back at him with eyes as big with shock as his were the exact same eyes that he'd been trying to forget and it seemed that they hadn't forgotten him, either.She was here. Sakura, in the flesh.Her pink hair was tied up in a tight ponytail and she wore blue scrubs underneath a white lab coat. She clutched a clipboard with two hands, so tight that it could snap any minute.She was Ino's hot doctor best friend?!Naruto beamed, opening his arms as if for a giant hug. "Sakura-chaaan!""I−you−Sasuke−?" she sputtered incoherently and Sasuke snapped out of it with a wild shake of his head.She turned to Ino. The two girls seemed to be communicating wordlessly, and Sasuke watched as Ino's brows furrowed in confusion before her blue eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. "Sasuke?!" she gasped, still looking at Sakura as she pointed at the man with a shaky finger. "He's the guy you've been so hung up on?!"Sasuke's eyebrows shot up in surprise. Good to know he wasn't the only one pining. He was so sure he would've been overshadowed by her ex-boyfriend."Shut. Your. Big. Mouth!" she said, hitting Ino with her clipboard with every word. Her entire face was red, from the roots of her hair down to the collar of her scrubs. She met his eyes for a fleeting moment before she quickly turned to Naruto, the dear patient who has been forgotten. He remained smiling.She looked down at her clipboard, tucking stray strands of hair behind her ear, before clearing her throat. And just like that, she was Naruto's doctor once again.Sasuke crossed his arms over his chest as she spoke, explaining what had been done to Naruto's appendix and what recovery should look like. She spoke professionally and clearly, and occasionally her eyes would find his, shyly, but she never broke character.When she was done, she took a deep breath and smiled brightly at Naruto. Standing at the foot of his bed, she reached down and pinched a toe and he laughed. Sasuke frowned slightly, seeing how familiar the two were with each other.Then he watched her chew on her bottom lip as she turned to Ino, looking at the blonde unsurely. Ino muttered something quickly under her breath but Sasuke caught the words "shoot your shot" and tried not to smirk when Sakura finally turned to him. "So, uh… do you wanna get coffee?"."So this is what you usually do when you're not crying over men from the internet?" he teased, gesturing at her scrubs."What about you?" she retorted. "You didn't tell me you were a babysitter."They sat across from each other in the middle of the hospital cafeteria. It still felt surreal to have her right in front of him. Even more surreal that she was the woman he's been rejecting for over a year now. He frowned at the thought, taking a sip of his coffee. "Why have they been trying to set us up if you were in a relationship that whole time?"She rolled her eyes and looked mildly exasperated with their friends. "Ino didn't really like him."That surprised him. He frowned deeper in confusion. "I didn't think she liked me."Awkwardly, she wordlessly sipped her coffee and averted her gaze. "She doesn't like me," he realized, to which she giggled, shaking her head in agreement."She thinks you have a stick up your ass," she said, her voice tinged with mirth. And a little more thoughtfully, with a faint blush on her cheeks, she added, "But she thinks you're decent. And that you'd be good for me… and that you're totally loaded."His mouth turned up at the corners in silent laughter.Her hair was longer now, falling past her shoulders when it had barely touched them when he first saw her. But it was the same soft pink of cherry blossoms in the spring and her eyes are the same green tint of the ocean, sparkling and bright as she smiled at him."What time do you get off?" he asked. She shot her shot, he might as well shoot his, too.She laughed humorlessly. "Twelve midnight," she said, and he stared at her in awe. "But I have tomorrow off, if you want to…""I can do twelve midnight.""No way."He shrugged. "I'm staying late in the office anyway." He was not planning on it, but he could. Or he could just pass the time in Naruto's room."You're taking me on a date at twelve midnight," she said incredulously, shaking her head at him like it was the most ridiculous thing she's ever heard.He smirked, teasing. "Who said it was a date?"Uchiha Sasuke wasn't one to believe in destiny. But somehow, sitting across from Sakura now, he couldn't help but think that the airline's royal f*** up wasn't at all a f*** up. That it wasn't a mere coincidence that it was the two of them sharing that hotel room that night. That it wasn't pure chance that he would find her again here. There was something bigger at work here, the universe bringing them together. And he would be a fool to let her slip away again..fin.

โ€” The Blackest Night

06/06/2021 08:35 PM 

Un-Break My Heart

When you love someone in all the ways that break youIn all the ways that make you wholeOnly then will you really understandWhat it's like to lose pieces of yourselfOnly to find new ones that complete you(i) the beginning of the fallAt first it's the gentle nudge of a wayward thought. The what if. Like an iridescent butterfly fluttering its wings at you in playful calling— just out of touch, oh-so-pretty, and then it flitters away. You don't miss it. But occasionally you remember it.It starts like all great love stories start. When you least expect them to happen. And Sakura, after a past roughened with loss, no longer thinks she deserves love. She doesn't see it coming... but maybe she should have.Surely the shadow that looms just out of sight, caught in her peripheral, is a sign that she is never alone. And isn't that what always scared her? Winding up old and devoid of joy, so far away from the entire world?She wonders about him, when her thoughts spiral down this bleak road. Because he seems so alone, all the time. She doesn't know if it's entirely by choice or if circumstance has forced him into isolation, but she doesn't recall a time in which Kakashi, her ex-sensei, hadn't been secluded with a book in hand and the world held at an arm's length. Perhaps friendship scares him. Perhaps he's lost many, and doesn't stand the thought of losing more.It starts with a wayward thought. A desperate one of comfort: if I end up alone I'll have him. She can't imagine Kakashi ever changing after all; Kakashi is the one constant in her life, now that she thinks about it.Throughout her career, everyone changed yet he remained the same.(ii) the stumbleThe stumble is a mental stutter. The culmination of everything in a startling conclusion. The way you fail to notice how someone has invaded your life bit by bit, in small ways that end up big, so that when you do notice it, it's nothing short of a smack in the face.When Sakura had begun to spend more time with Kakashi, it was out of guilt. Surely no one liked to be that lonely and maybe Kakashi just didn't know how to reach out.He never rejected her company, so she had no reason to doubt whether her presence was welcome or not.Sometimes they spend the afternoon lazing together under the shade of a tree, surrounded by his dogs and reading quietly, never talking, but taking comfort in the shared tranquility of peace and companionship.Some other times they finds themselves in a tea shop, Kakashi sipping tea and Sakura munching on dango. On the odd day, Kakashi might share a story from his past, about interesting missions and places he's been to, foreign foods he'd sampled and remarkable people he's met. She sinks into the languid cadence of his voice and the unfamiliar nostalgia that colours it; she finds it inviting, the way those little shreds of him soften his rougher edges.There are times they meet on the Hokage mountain, never on purpose, but always when it seems they both need the company of each other most. Kakashi always has been, and probably always will be, a recluse. She'd call them friends, tentatively, but even then Kakashi never made to seek her out when he feels down.It's his eyes, she thinks, that gives him away. The melancholy that touches at those dark irises, somehow making a home for itself. It doesn't disturb his outward aura, but it simmers there quietly, like it's begging Sakura to unravel it. Pick him apart piece by piece and then put him back together so that it aches less.She knows Kakashi is haunted by the demons of his past, that he has been alone long enough they had sunk into his skin and burrowed in the cracks of his soul. She cannot untangle them from him; she gets the impression that they are one in the same now.On those days she sits next to him in silence until he's ready to talk. He's not always inclined to share, but she doesn't mind, it's not her business to pry.When he opens up, he speaks of a childhood paved with pain. And Sakura cannot help but ache for him in all the ways her heart knows how, in all the ways she craves healing the jagged pieces of a man with dark eyes.So Sakura doesn't really see it, the way her thoughts rearrange themselves to wrap around this man. It seems only natural that she'd care for a friend, especially one that needed it. About his health, mental and physical, his diet, his emotional stability.She tries not to be obvious about— what if he pushed her away like Sasuke did before him?Sakura doesn't want to torment him, but her curse in this world is that she cares too much.It's only when she goes shopping one day and stops at the eggplant stall to contemplate making Kakashi his favorite dish, and subsequently thinks of what kind of other meals he might enjoy, that the mental stutter happens.It seems silly, to come to a shattering realisation in the middle of such a mundane task. But it's the fact that those thoughts of Kakashi had become so frequent she stopped wondering about them that gives Sakura a pause.And she did think about him often, did she not? Waking up in the morning with the thought of hanging out, making meals with the thought of sharing them, buying a book she knows he'll inevitably steal and picking a genre they both would enjoy. It's those little things— hearing a joke and thinking he'd appreciate it, going on a mission and wishing he was there... Sakura doesn't realise, until then, standing in the middle of the busy market with a vegetable clutched in hand, that she had intertwined her life with Kakashi's without even noticing it.(iii) the spiralPerhaps she should have seen it coming. At least when Kakashi began to open up about himself.There's something quietly beautiful about Kakashi, that she has no name for. Maybe it's the way he smiles even when his eyes are sad, like he's doing it for her benefit instead of his. Maybe it's the way he listens silently, raptly, even when he pretends he is not— like he's afraid of caring, but can't help it. Or maybe it's the sweet way his voice dips when he's serious about something, like he's afraid the world would know and condemn him for it.Sakura thinks maybe it's all these things, but mostly, she thinks, perhaps it's the little ways in which he leaves himself vulnerable to her despite all the ways he's been hurt in the past. That small show of trust, of bravery, of— of his willingness to get hurt in the process, like he's too used to it he doesn't care.He's beautiful like all broken things are, in all the ways they could be mended, in their complexity, in their contrasting fragility and resilience.And Sakura never learned how to not love broken things.(iv) shatteringIt starts like all great love stories do, slowly, and then all at once.Sakura doesn't know how to love quietly, from the shadows, like he does. When the inevitable spiral takes her down an abyss of possibility, she's helpless against pursuing them.Kakashi is many things. But she doesn't think a lover is one of them. He's way too jaded, wrapped in a million layers, ever afraid, even if he doesn't show it. But hell, she can't stop herself from trying.It's a want that settles in her stomach, a pulsing little thing that winds her muscles in anticipation. A fluttery, anxious feeling in her chest that spreads over her whole body. It's consuming— the harder she tries to squash it down the more it fights her, takes over her.And she's completely taken by it, the giddiness of making him chuckle, the excitement of sharing something new with him, the warmth that takes over her when his bearing lightens in her presence.Sometime she aches in her heart so profoundly, from longing and happiness and sadness, that she wants to tuck him against it in hopes it'll quieten down.Maybe he knows—surely he sees it somewhere in her eyes, they've always been so expressive. Or maybe he notices it in the flush of her cheeks, or in the ways the proximity between them diminishes with every encounter.He never says a thing. Like maybe he's willing to take whatever she's willing to give, no matter how little. She knows this because sometimes his gaze lingers on her mouth, like he's curious, or longing, only to flit away quickly as if he's afraid of wanting more than he thinks he can have. She knows this because when she leans against him, he leans against her, like he doesn't mind the way she invades his space, like maybe he soaks up the warmth of her side against his the way she does with him.She knows, because Kakashi's eyes aren't so sad when she is around.Sakura never learned how to love quietly, the way she knows he loves her, even when he might not be entirely sure what love really is like. But she thinks that's alright, she would teach him in time.(v) the fightSakura always knew he'd resist it. Because Kakashi too, doesn't think he deserves love.He tells her she's crazy to love someone like him— how could she? There's nothing to love. He's just him, scars and battles and a weary heart. He'd break her, he knows it.And that's what pains her the most, not his rejection, not really, but the way he shuts himself away because he thinks he's unworthy of being loved by her.Sakura who spent weeks and months losing pieces of herself to him, getting unravelled by all the little things that made him Kakashi that no one else saw, sinking further down this road with no return... it's not fair, that he doesn't see the way she's helpless to stop those feelings.He doesn't quite avoid her. Maybe he tries, and fails. She thinks he might be battling with himself, because he disappears for a day only to appear the next, so full of silent apologies but helpless to leave.It's hard to watch."Why are you doing this?" She asks him, after she's exhausted all the ways she could convince him he deserves more out of this life than he's been lead to believe."Doing what?" He deflects, flipping to the next page of the newest book she's making him read."You know what." It's hard to say, because his rejection had stung, and despite the fact that Sakura didn't give up, sometimes the shame is too great. "You know... I'm just..."He looks up because she's floundering, and he's never heard her this uncertain when talking about her feelings."It can't be just you." She finally settles. "Surely it's me? Why can't you just be straight with me and— I don't know. Admit you don't want me."Perhaps it's cruel to guilt-trip him that way. She knows that's not how he feels, but sometimes doubt rears its ugly head and she can't help but think that maybe she's misread his every action.Kakashi lowers the book, his hand slack. He blinks at her, like he's trying to decipher something utterly complicated, or stupid, or both.When he doesn't say anything, just continues to watch her like he'd trying very hard to understand what she just said, Sakura carries on."I mean, maybe this is weird to you? Do you still see me as a little girl or something? I'm twenty-two you know. Or are you not— not attracted to me? That's completely fine by the way! It's understandable. I know I'm not curvy or necessarily pretty or anything. But we get along really well you know? I wish you'd just tell me why you really won't let us try—" she's not looking at him anymore, which is why she doesn't notice when he leans closer, a hand curving around her cheek.She halts, breath catching in her throat."You're so painfully, unbearably unbelievable." He says, slowly.Sakura can't look away from the tornado of emotions she spies—his eyes are so beautiful. The sunset dances over them, lights them up, and she's forgotten her breath somewhere in her lungs.The hand on her cheek is incredibly warm, it sends tingles seeping deep into her bones. His thumb flutters over her cheekbone, slowly, unsurely.Sakura's heart is beating so fast she's nearly trembling. Her eyes flutter shut under the intensity of the emotion, tries to will it to slow down. But she's hyper aware of him, his every breath, his every move."You're beautiful Sakura," he murmurs, the words thick and unfamiliar on his tongue; it's a hot ghost over her skin, heavy and tangible like the lost space between them.He's never complimented her before, and she's embarrassed at the way her body shivers in pleasure.She senses his trepidation before she feels him move closer, and she knows what's about to happen before it does. But regardless of that, her body seizes up completely when she feels his lips on hers, bare, warm and soft.So hesitant, and tentative, but gaining courage with every passing second, with every press of lips together. Sakura exhales heavily through her nose, wants to pull him closer and never let go, but as soon as she begins to sink into him he pulls away.She opens her eyes to find that he's no longer looking at her, his mask back in place.Something about him looks like it's about to shatter, barely held together at the seams.She wishes it would."It's not you." He says firmly, grabbing his book again. There's a minute tremble in his fingers he can't hide. "It's absolutely not you."She can't say anything, for long, long hours after that.(vi) acceptanceThat kiss opened doors and shut others. It's strange, she thinks, that he doesn't avoid her. He's right there, just an arm's length away, always; it makes her wonder if perhaps he's accepted the inevitability of his own feelings, and the fact that hers were here to stay.But it's a little like torture, the way she still tastes him on her lips. The vivid memory of his fingers on her cheek, and his words whispered against her mouth. It's all she can think about, most of the time— all the time.The first time she holds his hand, she's so close to falling apart under the weight in her chest. Because she wants him so badly, wants to be close to him, to love him the way he deserves, that she thinks it might crush her.Perhaps he notices that, because he lets her.She laces their fingers together, determined to keep him right there next to her and can't believe the kind of way it makes her feel to have his palm pressed against her own, his stuttering pulse against her wrist."Just try," she beseeches him, and expects a rejection."Okay." He says after a pause, voice cracking. "Okay, Sakura."(vii) the ever afterIn the end, it is like all great love stories in many ways: that it's not perfect, and definitely not easy.It's full of ups and downs, falls that bruise and some broken promises that sting.But it's worth it at the end of the day, because she thinks she's made to love him, and he crawls back to her like he's forgotten how to stay away.And there's this thing about happiness, that people crave, and once they have it, they can't let it go.It's a story, like many others, about compromise and patience and discovery. Finding self-worth, learning to love, to accept and to grow.It's the tale of two lonely people coming together; pink hair and dancing green eyes and soft hands and the way they softened the sharp edges of a scarred man.Kakashi is loved and loved and loved, and eventually, he accepts that too.

SilverMuse

06/06/2021 03:22 PM 

Naruto Male OC - Suzaku

AppearanceName: Suzaku HigurashiNicknames: Suzu, Zu-Zu, Zaku, Phoenix (Anbu name)Age: Varies with plot, 12, 16, or older.Race: HumanGender: MaleHeight: 5'9''Weight: 134 lbs.Eyes: Light, icy blue.Hair: Blonde, short with one long strand of braided hair on his right side.Voice: Smooth, dark, fiery. S/O: Gay, sub.Relationship Status: Single, monogamous.Occupation: Shinobi (Anbu)Scars: A few on his arms and shoulders.Piercings: None. Tattoos: A phoenix on his chest - https://i.pinimg.com/originals/23/a7/30/23a730c3c55f65e999402f9ca7ba2968.jpg Chakra Nature: FireWeapon of Choice: Dual wields a custom set of Katanas - https://i.imgur.com/iGivAbH.png Outfit/Clothes: Anbu Uniform - https://media.proprofs.com/images/QM1847940/7282484189.jpg Figure: Thin muscle, healthy and fit. Turn Ons: Many things, power/dominance displays, marking, making out in public, etc.Likes: Fire, phoenixes, bladed weapons, curry, a few sweets, dango, spicy foods, noodles, birds/avians, being cared for.  Dislikes: Bland foods, ice cream, dogs, storms, overbearing people, prideful arrogant a**holes. Abilities/Jutsu: - He is known as the Dark Phoenix of (village), because his fire jutsu is not a vibrant red, but a dark purple and blue mix. His patron animal is the Phoenix and his family reveres the great Firebirds of myth due to a legend that had been passed down.  - Hinotsubasa "Wings of Fire": A jutsu that forms fire wings on ones back, capable of flight, defensive and offensive maneuvers.  - Fenikkusu no Shukufuku "Phoenix's Blessing": Passive Ability, inherited family trait. Blood-related family of the Higurashi clan are immune to fire, however as one can guess it makes them more susceptible to water jutsus.    Personality: Calm, soft spoken, intelligent, attentive, comes of as rather cold to most, prefers to keep to himself, loyal, it takes him awhile to open up to others, can be rather passionate about certain things, he is a romantic at heart, sassy, can be a bit of a tease.    Bio: Suzaku is a lonesome individual who loves his village and comes from a family line of Anbu members. He's good at what he does and has made a reputation for himself at a very young age. He's a strong and smart shinobi, just happily serving his village.    Pets/Summon: His summon is a large, colorful Phoenix, Kamikaze - https://i.pinimg.com/564x/7d/96/b0/7d96b0bebd3858c33d5e4768dedf9748.jpg  He also has a pet eagle, Hikari - https://i.pinimg.com/564x/56/fd/90/56fd90cfcbe65e6938b57ac213c312f5.jpg    House/Residence: He lives on his family's estate, which functions sort of like the Uchiha compound but is much smaller - https://i.pinimg.com/564x/1e/d5/26/1ed526dd85f8b108bddeff8814a4e746.jpg    Theme Songs: Departure To The Frontlines [Extended] https://youtu.be/hoU7gqIhj-g    Two Steps From Hell - Flight of the Silverbird Extended https://youtu.be/6J373vtjn6Y    Fall Out Boy - THE PHOENIX (Kinetic Typography Lyrics) https://youtu.be/5JqY-6q-RNA    Quotes: "There is no flame that can harm a Phoenix, for it is the essence of fire."   "I survived, because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire surrounding me."   "There is...a fire..in your eyes...I like it."

Zenful

06/06/2021 12:33 PM 

~Rules~

1) Do not lie about your age. If you are caught lying, you will be blocked.2) Do not force me to do anything. Again, you will be blocked.3) No smut will be written; fade-to-black, curtains closes, timeskip, etc. In general, this makes me hell of uncomfortable to write anyways, but I’ve had a HUGE issue in the past with minors lying about their ages.4) Please be 18+ if you’re asking for an 18+ roleplay; blood, gore, violence, etc.5) Do not request smut only roleplays. For the obvious reason above, but those are pointless to me.6) Contribute to the storylines and plotting. I don’t want to be the only one running the story. I need my partners to enjoy it and have fun too.7) Please, please give me a little bit of everything in the roleplay; adventure, action, angst, sadness, happiness, etc. Don’t make it strictly one thing. Otherwise I will get bored. Sadly. This also means there can be mulitple characters as I am quite able to write more than one character myself.8) Have a little respect. I have real life, so I won’t always be online to write. I will try to respond at least once or twice a day. Sometimes more if possible! Although the evenings and night are really the only best times for me.9) Depending on my partners, I write back what I am given. All I ask is that you give me something that I can work with.10) Do not, and I mean DO NOT, come at me asking for something that deals with child p0rn and pedofilia. That is DISGUSTING and will be reported. There's other things I'd rather not be approached with either, but I'd really rather NOT be approached with this.

rules

ษนวส‡sษW สopษษฅS

06/05/2021 10:39 PM 

ไ‚“ ๐‘น๐‘ผ๐‘ณ๐‘ฌ๐‘บ

1) Literacy is a must, I don't rp in 1st person, it gets really confusing really fast so 3rd person it is. Still I want you to remember quality over quantity if you feel good about it then feel free to send it over! We're all on different leves and at different times! 2) Discord is a friendly place, if you don't like RPing on here that's cool it's a great place to meet people but not always the best for RP as counter intuitive as that seems. Just ask for my discord. 3) Life happens. I will never hold you to a standard higher than human so don't hold me to one either. Life happens, motivation fades, emergencies pop up. This isn't a job. So don't treat it like one, we get to replies when we get to replies so don't pressure for them. 4) I am NOT my character. I see people projecting themselves into their characters a little more than usual and I don't want you to get the wrong idea here but I'm not Megumi, I won't play him to yout EXACT specifications but I'll do my best at him, but it also means if you ship with Megumi you're not with me. (Sometimes I can't believe I have to say this). 5) This is a multi Love Interest account, so multiple people can date Megumi, if that isn't how you roll or you get jealous, or want to attack other love interests then exit my profile. 6) No drama. RP Drama 100%. OOC Drama 0%. 

ษนวส‡sษW สopษษฅS

06/05/2021 09:59 PM 

้ญ‚ | ๐“ ๐‡ ๐„ ย  ๐ˆ ๐ ๐ƒ ๐ˆ ๐• ๐ˆ ๐ƒ ๐” ๐€ ๐‹

้ญ‚ | ๐“ ๐‡ ๐„   ๐ˆ ๐ ๐ƒ ๐ˆ ๐• ๐ˆ ๐ƒ ๐” ๐€ ๐‹   ใ€Š ๐…๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐๐š๐ฆ๐ž ใ€‹Megumi Fushiguro ใ€Š ๐€๐ ๐ž × ๐๐ข๐ซ๐ญ๐ก๐๐š๐ฒ ใ€‹18-25 depending on the RP X December 22nd ใ€Š ๐‘๐š๐œ๐ž ใ€‹Japanese  ใ€Š ๐†๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ซ ใ€‹Male ใ€Š ๐’๐ž๐ฑ๐ฎ๐š๐ฅ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ใ€‹Bisexual ใ€Š ๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐จ๐ง๐š๐ฅ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ/๐€๐ฅ๐ข๐ ๐ง๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ใ€‹While outwardly stoic and calculating, Megumi wishes to help protect people he sees as good or kind. He believes that the world is unfair and that a sorcerer is a tool to ensure kind people are given more chances to live.Claiming it to be his selfish and irrational desire, he does not see himself as a hero for doing this. He is also quite a secretive person that doesn't like to talk about his past. ใ€Š ๐๐ฅ๐จ๐จ๐ ๐“๐ฒ๐ฉ๐ž ใ€‹Unknown ใ€Š ๐Œ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐š๐ฅ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ใ€‹PTSD ใ€Š ๐๐ข๐ซ๐ญ๐ก๐ฉ๐ฅ๐š๐œ๐ž ใ€‹Tokyo Japan  ใ€Š ๐Ž๐œ๐œ๐ฎ๐ฉ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง(๐ฌ) ใ€‹Student/ Jujutsu Sorcerer ใ€Š ๐‘๐š๐ง๐ค (๐ˆ๐Ÿ ๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ข๐œ๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž) ใ€‹Second year Grade 1 sorcerer ใ€Š ๐‘๐ž๐ฅ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ก๐ข๐ฉ ๐’๐ญ๐š๐ญ๐ฎ๐ฌ ใ€‹Single (MultiLI) ใ€Š ๐Œ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐š๐ฅ ๐’๐ญ๐š๐ญ๐ž ใ€‹Questionably stable  ใ€Š ๐‡๐ž๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ ใ€‹5'9 ft ใ€Š ๐–๐ž๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ ใ€‹147 lbs ใ€Š ๐๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ž ใ€‹Better than his dads ใ€Š ๐‡๐š๐ข๐ซ ใ€‹Messy black ใ€Š ๐„๐ฒ๐ž๐ฌ ใ€‹Navy blue (Anime)Green (Manga) ใ€Š ๐’๐ค๐ข๐ง ใ€‹Ivory  ใ€Š ๐€๐›๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ๐๐š๐ฆ๐ž ใ€‹Ten Shadow Technique; Divine Dogs; Divine dog, totality; Nue; Great Serpent; Toad; The Well's Unknown Abyss; Maxe Elephant; Rabbit Escape; Eight-Handled Sword Divergent Sila DIvine Genderal Mahoraga Berrier Technique:Chimera Shadow Garden ใ€Š ๐–๐ž๐š๐ฉ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ใ€‹Shadow BladePlayful Cloud ใ€Š ๐ƒ๐ž๐ฌ๐œ๐ซ๐ข๐ฉ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐€๐›๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ใ€‹He uses shadows to create shikigami, and is able to process ten at once. Megumi can use this technique to create various advanced shikigami and store objects, as well as himself within shadows.




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