To Archaize Despair
A/N: Hi there, this is a story imported from Fanfiction.net, a re-edited version of one of my original stories that was created back in 2005. So it's a bit outdated, but all the more improving as I re-write it.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the Naruto series, sadly. Isn't it like over now? *shrugs*
There is a Reader's Guide posted at the end of this first chapter to help with my sporadic writing.
Chapter 1: To Archaize Despair
Struggling from the pain of aspiring to something, and struggling from having nothing to aspire to ... I wonder which is more difficult.
Emerald eyes fluttered open. The cobalt background of the sky and its slowly scuttering clouds of ivory reflected. Even with such a display, her gaze remained stagnant and dark with aridity – absent was any relation of vibrancy – present, was an illusion of a long held languor.
In her unfocused, glossed-over stare, her irises mirrored the occurrence of soft petals lifted and guided away from nearby trees; they danced effortlessly towards the distance with the same wind current that had stirred her gaze to the expansive sky above her.
If I continue on like this, where will I be?
Her stare was soon shaded, as an arm positioned itself on her forehead to block the fiery glare of the radiating sun. The relief as such was fashioned by the ever more apparent dullness that entreated her blank stare.
That place that I reach, what will it look like?
Haruno Sakura made no other movement, her body both placid and un-motivated from where she lay upon the tall, lusciously-verdigris grass. The slight breeze ensued, continuing to liven her clothing with subtle movement; astray strands of long roseate hair played part in the ensemble of innocuous disturbance: they danced high and low with the changing tides of the breeze, as it would subside only to whisper once again.
It did end, in the same unannounced moment as it had arrived, leaving no movement to stir the land nor disturb the silence but the welcoming patter of the glistening stream nearby; its currents moved gracefully in their rapid travel – crystalline appearance and glitter-reflection not haltered as it calmly swayed around protruding stones underneath a old and familiar wooden bridge.
The thing that I am looking for, what is it?
Eyes flashed with memory.
Her face was completely hidden from view; long, bountiful roseate hair poured down over her shoulders to hang in free fall towards the ground. She was bent over at the full stretch of a humble bow, and her eyes were squeezed shut with intensity of her hope and emotion.
“Tsunade-sama, please make me your student!”
Her jaded eyes still daringly rivaled the sky in its blinding luminosity.
If I continue to fight for it, will I be able to own it?
Sakura lazily lifted her free hand, still leaving her other arm to rest against her forehead. Her eyes transitioned to her upheld hand with an indolent expectance, and she watched as it started to glow with the emanated chakra – lightly green in color.
The glow deeply reflected in her gaze, as did the clouding memory.
“I-I can’t do it!” Her arms quivered in the their extended position over a fallen shinobi; she was applying pressure to a bleeding wound at the same time that she was trying to heal it. The chakra outflowing from her trembling hands was blue in color, faint, and dimming. Perspiration dotted her forehead, and her face grimaced in exhaustion and distress.
There were countless others littered amongst the battlefield; they were battered and unmoving.
“Yes, you can Sakura, you have to!”
The green flow from Sakura’s hand faded, and the same arm proceeded to drop from suspension – it plopped lazily onto the tall grass in the same outstretched position it was before.
Will I be able to get close to it?
She continued to lay, unmotivated and relaxed.
The past years had almost seemed moments before. Those moments had shaped her, molded her, welded her into a person of being and ability. She had been fortunate, and she had been non-wasteful. With her new abilities and strengths as not only a specialized medical kunouchi, but as a student of one of the three legendary sannin, she truly was removed from the past-renounced shadow that was her former self. She wasn’t the same progress-incapacitated child – the naïve, shallow girl with a very limited perspective on the world, its traditions, and the people around her; she had been abandoned, left behind – amended with a refashion.
Many things were placed behind her in the time that passed. Many things had been swept away by the antiquity of their occurrences. Too many things had been discarded or forgotten from her personality – recognized as that of follies – including her expressions, and her feelings.
She gazed up to the sky once more.
"Saaaaaakuura-chan!" She could hear her name called from the distance, a chirp of a ring sounding with the “chan” delegation to her name.
Her gaze lazily moved to stare in the distance; she watched the person progressing towards her, his figure becoming more defined and prominent with his nearing distance; and his voice clearly recognized.
She had taken the distance separating them to slowly close her eyes, and to inhale a deep breath of air. She held it like that, for a moment – thoughts nameless. And she released that breath, opening to her eyes to accept the bright glare of the sun. This time the bright star actually illuminated her once dull stare, livening it with an appealing vibrancy.
She lifted her upper body into a sitting position, letting her outstretched legs bend up in support, and hands rest behind her in anchorage.
Her demeanor had changed in that moment: apathy had given way to cheerfulness; impassive eyes now held a creation of light; and a more upward curve of her lips replaced the taught, unexpressive posture of her face. These changes were facilitated, manufactured with point of ease.
When he neared a closer proximity, she lifted her lips up in a curvy smile, gracefully raising herself up off the ground as she did so. She had been waiting for him.
His face was beaming with a brimming excitement as he jogged up to her; his deep ceruleans eyes were also glowing in greeting.
It was noticeable: the complete difference in height as he towered over her quite handsomely. She studied Uzumaki Naruto, as if she hadn’t seen him for a long time. His once childish looks were now refined with a sculpted maturity; his jawbone was taught, his face longer and more slender. His locks of spiky golden hair were lengthier now, the weight and volume positioning them in slight hanging to the sides of his face – and they did nothing to balance out the bright intensity of his cerulean eyes. His stance was sly as he stood with one hand resting in his pocket, slightly leaning backwards as a leg crossed over the other in slight bend.
"Hey Naruto-kun" She had briefly contemplated the use of the suffix, but seemed unbothered to use it. In response, Naruto's cerulean orbs lit up in a humorous way.
"Spoil me with too many nice greetings and you won’t be able to get rid of me, Sakura-chan.” He let out a small grin before raising his arms over behind his head, and leaning back – his trademark stance. He had disregarded that subject without a bother nor sense of lingering.
"How 'bout we spar today?" His voice was also deeper; it still rumbled energetically and remained true to his past familiar sound.
Sakura let one of her eyebrows slightly cock in curiosity as she contemplated his words.
"Don’t you usually train with Neji-san?”
"Eh..probably not anymore..." His cerulean eyes looked up to the sky as he drawled in thought. "The last time we trained I guess I said some things I shouldn't have ... aaaand—”
"Aaah what did you do now, Naruto?" Sakura interrupted him, trying to contain a small smile as she spoke sternly to berate him.
Naruto’s hands shot up in lighthearted defense. "Hey it was only a joke! But you know Neji, if he doesn't regularly have a stick up his rear he's got a sharp kunai lodged real deep!” His gaze lingered upwards and a hand came to grasp his chin in wonderous realization. “...Come to think of it, it's probably Tenten's--"
"You know it's true Sakura-chan! I juuust kinda made an unnecessary comment about it. He got emotional and—"
"Naruto!" Sakura tried to reprimand him again, though it was hard to hold in a laugh.
"To make a story short...it's prooobably not the best idea for me to go any where near him right now." He grinned, scratching his head in embarrassment.
"You’re so silly."
Naruto grinned even more, letting his hands reach into the sky above him before clasping them together and pulling in a stretch. He let out a small grunt before allowing his arms to fall down to his sides.
Inquiring cerulean transitioned to emerald.
"So, spar with me?"
“You sure I can handle you?” He grinned at her response.
“I’m super sore from yesterday – so you might have an advantage.”
Sakura smiled. "Oh, so now I'm only good enough to take you on while handicapped?" She gave him a light punch to the shoulder and Naruto laughed to his reflex of soreness. They had already started walking together, playfully teasing one another in mock wrestle.Their soft footfalls left momentary imprints to the tall grass behind them.
Sakura had eventually made her way ahead of Naruto, and didn’t notice as he briefly stopped behind her.
A small, dazed smile graced Naruto’s lips, yet his eyes – they gleamed with solemn torment as he looked on after her. The distance between them was steadily growing, yet he remained stationary.
Deep were his thoughts in that moment, as he watched her.
It had been almost three years, since Uchiha Sasuke had been seen – a separate timer from the additional years before that when he had first left Konoha gates in alliance with Orochimaru – with reconnaissance missions and power struggles the like in between. The consummation of his heart by a dark desire for revenge and unrelenting power marked Sasuke's absence; the crimes he had committed since then had decisively branded his fate, leaving no penance nor hope for mending. Those same transgressions left scars that never seemed to mend for those personally involved, even after all the time that had passed.
“Naruto … this is a once in a lifetime request.” (Saku)
Each day that he looked to his friend to admire the kunoichi she had become, was also a day that he suffered regret. Regret after the failure he could never take back. It was a failure that changed everything, and rendered the same null.
Null were the days for his female comrade that had passed since he found her on that concrete bench.
The moment was instantaneous and split. Yet in it he had frozen, his fists clenched and his eyes widened with a violent waver. The pit-falling, gut-wrenching of his adrenaline-inspired insides solemned all the more with the realization of what it all meant. Fear and surprise battled with a rising anger, and it seemed ages that he stood on the cobble-stone ridden road in shock at the sight before him; his standing body partially blocked the view.
She laid there, her body painstakingly still. She was as stiff and immobile as the concrete bench she reposed upon, yet she was placid, malleable – so easily breakable. The roseate hair directly resting on the onyx stone was matted with wetness; the culprit – the tears – had left dried stains on her face.
Some light from the rising sun speckled upon her incapacitated form, specifically onto her face to highlight her dreary, worn out skin. Her sleeping expression -- how ever was it so peaceful in that moment with the rays of light shining upon her despite the condemning evidence that surrounded.
Time was slowed to a crawling motion as he had started to move, flashing down to a knee, arms shooting out in reach towards her.
She had not shed a tear since that day. And she had smiled, everyday. He had never seen her give in to it – he had watched and painfully marveled at it – her attempts – her determination – the abiding commitment she was suffering to make old the thing that always tempted to break apart their progress: the despair. She archaized it, categorized it under a pretense of joy.
It was behind the smile that he was witness to the gradual change – to the succinct and hollow absence of adolescent light to spark her eyes or fiddle her tongue. Her gracefulness and efficiency were no longer in concert with a determination, but instead anteceded by something entirely different. There was a peculiar tone to her on-point cheerfulness.
And he was the only one to see it. Just as he was the only one to challenge it.
Each day that she proceeded to veil her insecurities and fight to prosper victorious, he returned the same effort, frownlessly taking on the guilt and burden of the despair he wrought onto her with his failures – the same despair she ignored. She masqueraded an older form of herself, while he costumed the younger version of himself to match. They played a game of hide and no seek to keep up the deception, and it was undeterminable who did better.
“Naruto!” His eyes regained their focus as he looked with slight surprise to Sakura.
She had since stopped and turned around to look towards him. In the same moment she brought up a hand to frame stray strands of roseate hair back behind her ear, and kept it there in continuous hold against the onslaught of wind that suddenly swung her hair over her shoulders and ruffled her clothing – pulling both towards her comrade.
There was great distance between them as they stood facing one another.
Naruto had still not moved or spoken, as he looked to her; his eyes were still wide, as he studied her.
The sun seemed to discriminately focus on Sakura in that moment; it illuminated the playful, light gaze of her emerald stare, and highlighted the expansive curvature of her forming smile. It was a picture-capture perfect moment, one that had imprinted itself in his mind instantaneously, and one that he assured himself would never fade.
In the same blissful moment that it had arrived, it had gone, and she turned her back to him. She had changed her stance, crossing and folding her arms underneath her chest in defense against the wind. She almost seemed embarrassed.
His ears tuned in to her following words. “Just cause you’re sore doesn’t mean I’ll go easy on you!”
He was left dumbfounded as she started to jog then, towards their far away destination, having just taunted him to follow. He was left to watch her once again; and this time, his eyes wavered with a newfound, rising elation. Cerulean gaze suddenly relaxed from a previous widened fixation, and proceeded to close as he let out amused grunt of air. His lip was upcurved in an incredulous smirk.
She had given him that moment, consciously, to quell the angst that bided him stationary. She had just told him, in that moment, with her auspiciously serene smile – a true smile that he hadn’t seen in ages – that she knew. She knew the thoughts that coursed through his head, and she gently warned him away from them.
Naruto's cerulean eyes opened at the same time that his fisted hand moved up to smudge the corner of his lip, as if wiping off the incredulity of the moment. He was still smirking as he started to move again.
And the distance between them started to grow smaller.
It still looked the same.
There were various trees, diversifying the area in a forest-like haze; they surrounded an open area to create the circular shape of its ground-level plateau. The breeze ensued just like it always did, moving the blades of grass in the ever-same whistling of disturbance.
The sun shined in the area, slightly diluted with the various puffings of white clouds moving daringly across the sky. The large clearing made way to the same unforgettable logs, three in quantity, thick in circumference and now short in height; they had remained there all those years, unmovable and still standing against the time and events that had passed.
A slow inhale stilled her presence as emerald scanned the memories at each specific part of the clearing. There was an emptiness in that moment, a solemn breath of solitude and longing remembrance. A similar, lengthy exhale moved her being once again, flooding acceptance and clarity.
She looked away, finding Naruto as he himself seemed to have released the same breath as she. His eyes were untraceable in their fixation as he looked triumphantly around the clearing. He looked ready to say something. Anything to break the silence that had ensued. The careful tension.
"Ready, Sakura-chan?” He looked to her, chest boasting with readiness, hands planted on hips, and face gentle with anticipation.
She gave him a small smile in response, wordless as she turned to walk a few feet away from him. She soon came to a halt, and crossed her arms across her chest as she spun around playfully to face him once again.
"Well then, come at me!"
Naruto obliged, grin wide as he pulled out a couple of shuriken; his fingers were looped through the openings at the end of the handles, allowing the blades to spin with their equipping. He tossed them with excellent precision and force towards his teammate and friend, watching as she had caught them – both her index fingers holding one of the weapons within her grasp; they continued to spin with momentum as she held them in front her. That same momentum perpetuated them back towards Naruto.
He had disappeared then, avoiding the weapons entirely. However, he did not reappear as instantaneously as he had vanished.
Sakura straightened tall and gracefully, closing her eyes to the sensations of the surrounding environment.
[Song Play: Naruto Shipuuden OST 2 - Track 14 - Shikku (Foreboding Skies)]
It was sudden, when her eyes snapped open, poised fist slamming into the ground directly below her. Earth all around unleveled itself, imploding and breaking apart amidst soiled rock; this revealed the dumbfounded golden-haired shinobi who was trapped within the rubble at an awkward position.
"Found you." Her voice teased with accomplishment and intended mockery.
“Not quite.” He mischievously retorted back. His words were on queue to a puff of smoke that anteceded the falling of a wooden log.
Sakura turned her gaze behind her in that moment, moving to dodge the real thing as Naruto appeared behind her. She continued her backwards travel as he followed her with combinations of attack. As he delivered one punch, a clone separated from him to deal his own punch from a separate angle. In this instant more clones appeared beside Naruto in a consecutive pattern, each delivering their own unique jab or punch in continuous assault. Sakura proceeded to defensively out maneuver Naruto – jumping up and to the side and ducking low to the ground and blocking in repetition. She once more took a far leap backwards to promote distance between them.
Sakura effortlessly tossed a shuriken, destination striking the first and closest Naruto clone and reducing it to a subsiding puff of smoke. The kunai reeled back, as if suspended in air before moving on to the next clone; the chakra string attached to the weapon was revealed by the sun’s reflection as it was guided to the remaining clones, cutting them in different angles to expose the white plumes that were their origin and demise.
The last one, the real Naruto, was upon her again, arm outstretched in attack. It seemed to go in slow motion as she leaned far back in limbo-stance. This, with the combination of Naruto’s momentum, caused his upper body to hover over her after he missed his strike. Strength and speed leaned her farther back towards the ground and brought her lower body upward in a backflip; her thighs caught hold of his waist, bringing him with her as she flipped. The end of this movement left Naruto pinned beneath her.
He let out a startled, humorous squeal when Sakura shoved a chakra-filled fist at him; he barely managed to move his neck and shoulder enough to avoid the devastation wrought upon the earth to his side – the kunoichi’s fist burrowed into the ground, breaking up and cratering some of the foundation underneath them.
He managed to escape from underneath Sakura, however was unable to distance himself as she charged him, executing her own combos of attacks.
They did that for a while, going back and forth between assault and defense, neither landing decisive blows on the other. Fist met fist, foot met foot, and weapons clashed.
Sakura caught Naruto off guard when she suddenly made a grab for both of his wrists; having attained them in tight grasp, she proceeded to jump over her him – her hands slid to grasp the cuffs of Naruto’s jacket, and the continued forward motion of her jump pulled the article of clothing completely off from over his head. He was left with his short-sleeved black shirt, and frazzled hair as he humorously called out.
Sakura closed her eyes, and stuck her tongue out in mocking as she landed on bent knees. She clutched the jacket in her arms until she stood fully tall, and then held the article of clothing upward in tease – she gave it a slight shake in taunt.
She then took off, running towards the huddled trees of the forest behind them. Naruto followed in pursuit, laughing as he did so.
It was a blur of passing pink and orange as speed carried them through the gaps of vegetations the forest provided. They maneuvered through the endless trees and earthen ground, hopping to and from various large tree branches and cutting various corners and ducking under obstacles the path created.
He was hot on her trail, and momentarily caught up to her. At their even pace, he made a grab for the jacket, only to miss it when she maneuvered it out a reach by mere extension of an arm.
Pursuit was forced to continue, and they zig-zagged and jumped to and from the trees once more, sprinting through a few more forest paths before he made a grab again. This time he went for her specifically, taking hold of her free arm to halt her.
As soon as contact was made, Sakura abruptly stopped to throw the jacket up into the air.
The clashing colors of orange and black illuminated with the glare of the sun that peaked through a small gap in the trees around them when the jumpsuit jacket reached the pinnacle of its height. Its descent soon followed, and Naruto grabbed it in victory.
He returned to a normal standing position, letting the jacket fall to his side within the clutches of his hand.
“I was too much for you huh? Had to go and play dirty.”
Sakura let out a light laugh as she threw her arms out to her sides in stretch; in the same movement she let herself fall backwards to the ground in submission – her back thudded upon contact, and fallen leaves were forced upwards before they airily descended all around. Her chest heaved up and down freely as she caught her breath, and her eyes gazed upon what was viewable of the sky through the over-looming trees.
Naruto plopped down next to her in a sitting position, letting out a little chuckle. He hadn’t put his shirt back on yet; it instead now hung between his legs – one was bent up, the other rested on its side in Indian-style position.
“I counted thirty,” she started, chest still lightly heaving with her breaths; she glanced to him as she said this, and proceeded to close her eyes again as she took full breaths. Naruto looked to her curiously.
“Thirty times that you could have landed a hit on me, but didn’t.”
He scratched his head in embarrassment, not willing to confirm her suspicion that he refrained from doing so. “You’re just really good at dodging, Sakura-chan.”
She ignored him, slightly grinning. “Well, I hope I gave you enough of a warm-up!” She let this statement flow with the release of a deep breath, voice chirpy and light.
Naruto let out a scoff. “You made me run too much.” Humor laced his tone, as he too took the time to breathe in and out in deep rhythm. They both laughed then, knowing the number one loud ninja was supposed to also have the greatest endurance in the village.
Her emerald eyes slowly closed, a small grin silencing her heavy breathing.
She opened her eyes after an extended blink, and let out a small, barely discernable exhale.
Her release of breath in that moment seemed to echo against the concrete half-height walls and leaf bristles that quivered against one another with the looming gale behind them.
Her sandals lightly scraped against the rock-cobbled path before her; it was a windy path she had not walked for years, and she treaded it with no purpose, no directing thought, not even as she neared an undeniable concrete bench that protruded from the small wall.
Nothing had changed, since that day.
A hazy image; upper faces hidden from view – the jagged facial structure of a young boy, and the soft facial curves of a young girl. Ebony spikes and rosy locks.
Lips moving, speaking. No sound to remember the words spoken, just the expressions, just the blurred scenery.
He spoke suredly, and she responded hesitantly. His were the last words to be spoken after her response.
His hands were relaxed, hers had clenched and stiffened.
You can’t even begin to compare it …
The bench, the path, the ironic synergy between the short concrete walls and the overflowing vegetation. It was all the same.
Her fingers lightly brushed along a concrete bench as she continued past it.
Sakura slowly and absentmindedly let her eyes flicker from the objects of the cobble-path road to the structures at the end of it. The shaded area made way to an opening – an entrance to the lighted, busy streets and populated areas of Konoha village.
The sound of loud chattering and everyday noises started to reach her ears with her continued pace.
Her footsteps echoed in that moment, a condescending impact to her forward progression; she did not stop, even before the subtle line of darkness and light; the shade from the surrounding trees stopped, and the light from the unblocked sky started.
She stepped off of the stone path, and onto the smoothed dirt-ridden foundation of the wide streets. The light hit her, unblocked and unrelenting; it lit up her dull emerald gaze; it illuminated her pale skin and rosy cheeks; it briefly glistened among her flowing locks of roseate hair.
She started her run, then, with no pause nor hesitation, embellished in that same unrendering fixation of luster. And she jumped to settle atop the roof of a nearby building. Her gaze was rested upon the towering cylindrical building that could be seen in the distance. And she started towards it.
“Sakura-san, we’ve received orders from the Fifth Hokage for everyone from Team Kakashi to assemble in her office.” (Random Shinobi)
Having nothing to aspire to, nor even a premise with which to start… that might actually be the one. The one that’s most difficult. It's the more hopeless, and stagnant form of the two.
Thanks for Reading!
Quick Readers Guide:
For starters I have my own original, reflective thoughts/musings at the beginning and end of each chapter that I've tied into to make relatable to each chapter of the story that are related to the content of each chapter. They will be in this print (regular/italic)
What’s most important, is understanding that my story attempts to depicts multiple scenes that are occurring relatively at the same time, and switching back and forth from one scene to another in a cessation of movie-like transgression.
Italics These sentences that typically
interrupt normal sentences are
are narrative thoughts in the
voice of the main character,
Sakura, but not necessarily
thought in that moment
(Like the movie 'Twilight'
where Bella's voice narrates
specifice lines of the book during
Actual character thoughts, not
spoken aloud, in the moment of
"Italics" (Bold, Quote)
Past statements made by a
character (either taken from
anime, or previous chapter in my
story, or just made up but still
a recollection) that supplement
an in-story memory or are just
Also, all the songs that I provide for enhancement of reading can be found on Youtube (of course its purely optional)
Hopefully its not too confusing!