"What exactly did you mean, when you told Sakura to 'remember her
"Haha! Have you noticed something interesting, Kakashi?" Absently
kicking his current enemy across the gallery, the bushy browed jounin
looked over his shoulder at his comrade. "While I admit that the
progress of your other students is truly impressive, you were foolish to
ignore adorable little Sakura-chan!"
Though his tone bore only mild reproach, Gai finished with a
self-satisfied smile that seemed to say, 'Haha! You are a worthy
opponent, my eternal rival, but today, victory is mine!' Pausing, the
mightiest taijutsu master of Konoha faced forward and motioned boldly at
a pair of Sound nins that were circling just out of reach.
"You left your forgotten subordinate in quite a bind, you know," he
continued, countering the attacks of the two hostiles with effortless
ease as he lectured the gray-haired shinobi. "They say a maiden's heart
burns like a beacon for the man she loves, but a kunochi is a warrior as
well as a woman. Even if those boys shine brighter, that is no excuse
for letting Sakura-chan's flame go untended."
Noticing that his rival was barely paying attention, Gai pressed on with
a bit of a swagger, refusing to be defeated by Kakashi's hip,
unconcerned attitude. "It is fortunate that she came to me for help. If
it were neglected any longer, the determination in her heart might have
simply burned out-"
"Hah!" Fading into view behind Gai's opponents just as the first one
fell, Anko reached around and grabbed the remaining sound nin under the
chin, spinning him like a top as she ripped out his throat. "I think I'm
more worried about the way the she keeps sticking her hand in the fire!"
she quipped, leering like a maniac and licking the blood from her
*She- she _stole_ my metaphor! And before Kakashi could even react to
it!* Trembling at the indignity, but still impressed by the brunette's
ironic timing, Gai was reluctantly forced to call this match with
Kakashi a draw on account of interference.
That didn't mean that he would be denied a victory, however. "That
reminds me of a child I once knew," he mused wistfully, sizing up the
younger woman. "I can remember how she used to come home with burned
fingers and lumps on her head after trying to steal sweet chestnuts from
Anko's expression soured for a moment, but she recovered quickly. "Well,
if we're talking ancient history here, I can remember a few things too,
fuzzy," the kunoichi purred with a predatory grin. "I doubt _anyone_
could forget the time you-"
"Ahem, did you want something, Anko?" Kakashi interjected, clearing his
throat. The copy-ninja's expression of inquiry was for the examiner
alone; it was as if Gai wasn't even there.
*Such- such style!* It was all Gai could do to keep from crying in
frustration. Kakashi's tone had struck the perfect balance between
disinterest and impatience; he had completely taken command of the
conversation, and now _Gai_ owed _him_ for that conveniently timed save!
*The battle rages on! I must not fail in my next attack!* Clenching his
fist in determination, then planting it firmly in an unfortunate Sand
nin's face, Gai valiantly sallied back into the fray. "Indeed,
Mitarashi! What business do you have here? Shouldn't you be attending to
your emergency duties?"
"I was on my way there when I saw you and broom-head here talking to
those kids," Anko replied testily, flicking a couple needles over Gai's
Maybe this is just my failing memory, but just as the last time you
posted these, I felt a sense of discontinuity between this chapter and
the previous one. It's as if I missed a chunk of the story. A bit more
exposition would be appreciated.
"What would you know of it, Mitarashi?" he demanded, graciously taking
point in their counterattack. When the laughing woman had spoken
Sakura's name, the battle of words had unexpectedly come full circle,
and _his_ time had finally arrived. "Though I am a fair man, and know
better than to drink from the poisoned spring of gossip, even my
wonderful, pure-hearted Lee has had his ears sullied by the rumors
circulating about you and my precious new student- and now this! It just
seems too coincidental!"
Standing back to back with Kakashi to show the righteous solidarity of
platonic teacher's love, Gai pointed an accusing finger at the examiner.
"If the girl who was here just a moment ago was truly a clone, then tell
me, what have you done with my darling Sakura-chan?"
"I have her tied up in my closet. Wanna see?
The edge of the clearing approached almost too quickly; it hadn't seemed
nearly so close when she was stuck on the defensive. Surging up the tree
that she'd pinpointed as the sniper's nest, Sakura was greeted by a foe
with wild eyes and a ready sword. *Crap! Too tight!*
There wasn't any room to move in the branches of the tree her opponent
had chosen, limiting her avenues of attack to a single path; one which
the sound nin charged down sword first, straight through the gutted
bunshin. Then, at the last moment, his attack faltered mid-lunge,
allowing her to twist out of the way unscathed.
She's really going to have to get a grip on her control of those
genjutsus. Having them constantly go off without her being consciously
aware of it is not going to make her popular.
I note, incidentally, that they seem to be acting more like a bloodline
trait than a "true" genjutsu. No handsigns, activating with nothing
more than a thought...
"How am I the pervert? _He's_ the one with a hard-on!"
"And you rubbed up against it!"
"He started it! And it made 'im stop bonin' my thigh, didn't it?"
Grimacing, Temari stiffly getting to her feet, the glanced down in
Jumping at the blonde's curse, Sakura glanced around warily. "What?"
Moving away from the group, Sakura changed directions as soon as she was
out of sight; she wasn't getting any closer to that monster than she had
to. *What he hell is with that, anyway?* She'd have to review her
clone's memories carefully once they returned to her.
Rolling up her sleeve, Sakura examined the character for "evil" on her
arm. Anko had told her that the technique would end when she 'defaced'
the seal, but her so-called 'teacher' had never explained to her how she
was supposed to do that.
Vainly, Sakura tried to recall any useful information about this
technique that might have accidentally leaked into her brain. *Why does
she always have to be such a fucking victim in her dreams?* If her 'Anko
persona' ever bothered to try and defend herself from Orochimaru's
nightly advances, Sakura was confident that she'd be able to remember
any techniques she used. If only-
"Ah!" In a flash, a simple set of seals flickered across her mind's eye.
She wasn't sure how she knew, but Sakura was _positive_ they were
related to the 'Oketsu Bunshin' technique, and they weren't the same
ones Anko had used to create the clone. *Damn, that's nice; I wonder if
I can remember anything else.*
Practicing the motions a couple times, Sakura took a deep breath and
focused, letting her body move on its own. It was hard to trade her
normally perfect chakra control for the uncertainty of raw instinct, but
there was a feeling of 'rightness' about the way the power moved down
the pathways opened by her seals. As she reached the end of the
technique, Sakura lifted her mask and bit her thumb, wiping a smear of
blood across the mark on her arm.
At first nothing seemed to happen, but then she felt a presence nearby.
Looking up, she saw her doppelganger land on a branch a few yards away.
Crumbling where she fell, the pink-haired girl clutched the tree beneath
her and started trembling like a leaf.
"Hey!" Sakura called softly, waving to the clone. "Are you okay? What's
"...uuuuaaaAAAAGGH!" Emitting a barely human scream of agony, the
bunshin tensed up like she was having a seizure and then suddenly
_exploded_ into a fountain of steaming red blood and black serpentine
"S-Snakes?!" Drawing her swords in an instant, Sakura knew she was
already too late. She managed to knock a few of them out of the air, but
was quickly overwhelmed by the cloud of slick, squirming bodies. Reeking
of iron and decay, the snakes lashed out at anything within reach,
including each other. Sakura was bitten over a dozen times before she
managed to cut herself free and spring away.
Even for a snake technique, that's unsavoury.
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