Theme: September - Recess
Character(s): Tenten, Uchiha Sasuke, Yakushi Kabuto; brief mentions of Orochimaru, Maito Gai, Hyuuga Neji
Disclaimer: I own nothing but these words.
Note: Written for the September theme at ten_squared. Inspired by a recent plot development that has come about in a RP comm I'm in (and see, Cosmo-san, that extra hour from my canceled class did pay off~ :D). Sadly, this will be the last monthly theme I will be participating in for a while, because of time constraints concerning school. I could manage it last year, but it's far too difficult to do this semester. But I'll be around. My fics will just be slow in coming. <3
Dedicated to: ...'Sasuke'. You know who you are. ^__~
Stretching out the muscle in her thigh, the young kunoichi aimed a swift heel kick to her opponent's seemingly unprotected face. But instead of the satisfying crack that would surely indicate a broken jaw, her foot met with the soft flesh of a readied palm. He had been expecting it. And though his condescending smirk did nothing but boil the blood in her veins, the older girl could not help but smirk in return. After all, there was nothing Tenten liked more than a challenge. And who would prove to be more of an obstacle than Uchiha Sasuke after his years training under the Snake Lord Sannin, Orochimaru?
Fixing his fingers around her ankle to keep the kunoichi close, the former shinobi of the Leaf Village drove a chakra-charged punch at Tenten's abdomen and the vital organs that lay hidden underneath the skin. But the mistress of steel was quick, a major benefit from being placed on a squad under Maito Gai, and she had sparred far too many times with the prodigal Hyuuga of the Branch family to allow such a move to happen. If there was one thing Tenten learned through the years, it was avoiding deadly blows at point-blank range.
Swinging the upper part of her body down under the captured leg and out of the way to protect it from the attack, she jabbed a chakra-infused thumb into the Uchiha's side, relying on her perfected accuracy and concentrating on the intercostal space in between the seventh and eighth rib where it would cause the most damage. She felt the muscles twitch and constrict from the force and could feel his fingers tightening around her ankle from the initial pain that such an attack would cause, though all that came out of his mouth was a barely audible grunt, bordering on a growl. But it had been enough.
Taking advantage of the pause (however brief it was), Tenten pivoted her hand on the thumb jammed into Sasuke’s side and took a firm hold of his training shirt, using the new-found leverage to bring the heel of her other foot up for a strike to the chin and free her foot from his grip. To replace the loss of support from the move, the kunoichi pressed the palm of her free hand against the ground and used the momentum of the attack to flip back onto her feet in a crouched position while he stood stunned.
"Tsk, tsk," came a smug voice to her right, practically dripping with condescension as he spoke, "You're getting sloppy, Sasuke."
"No one asked you, Kabuto," the rebellious shinobi spat out, the latter part of the sentence sounding strangely muffled.
Tenten glanced over her shoulder just in time to see the Uchiha prodigy swipe a knuckle across his lower lip, wiping away the small trickle of blood that had been the direct result of her quick attack. And with that image, a bud of pride blossomed, though it was short-lived. Because shinobi with his level of skill and experience were never to be underestimated, especially when taking into consideration who his sensei had been for the past three years.
"Just a lucky blow," he added as an afterthought while dark eyes, glinting red with determination and something else entirely, met with brown, "It won't happen again."
Tenten narrowed her eyes in return. "Sharingan."
Through her connections to both Hyuuga Neji and Maito Gai, she knew enough about the bloodline limit to be extremely wary of it. She had seen first hand what Sasuke was capable of doing with it long ago during the Chuunin Exams, and that had been when the young prodigy was still new to the techniques and concept, still not yet mastering it. Now, after years of cultivation, there was no telling what would come of it.
“A pity,” Kabuto murmured from the side, reminding them of his presence, “I was just beginning to enjoy this match.”
“Don’t count me out just yet,” Tenten interjected, not at all willing to be cast aside so easily, “I've had experience fighting against a Kekkei Genkai before, after all.”
“Hm.” The smirk that flashed across Sasuke's lips was prideful and arrogantly confident with just a hint of mocking playfulness, everything she had grown to expect as a reaction from the young man. “Maybe, but this isn’t anything like Byakuugan.”
“Tch, the way I hear it, Sharingan is just a second-rate bastardization of Byakuugan,” the kunoichi retorted with a taunting smirk of her own, “So I’ll be sure not to worry so much about it.”
This time it was Sasuke’s turn to narrow his eyes at her. Gone was the playful disposition from the previous exchange of words, and with it the smirk that had been poised on his lips. The games were over. Now, it was down to business.
And Kabuto could not miss his chance to add a snarky comment. “Oh, I think you’ve gone and hurt his feelings.”
Sasuke gave a quiet growl as both shinobis glanced fleetingly at Kabuto, each giving a look that spoke of his insignificance to their minds at the present moment. Locking eyes once more, swirling red and solid brown, a wordless agreement was made between them: there would be no holding back this time around.
Not that I was holding back much before, Tenten thought with concern.
As skilled and experience as she was, the kunoichi knew from her experience sparring with Neji that fighting against a bloodline limit would be anything but easy. And with Sasuke's life-long goal of defeating and killing his brother looming over the outcome of the match, there would be a good chance that the steel mistress would be sporting a few more injuries by the end of the day. Yes, she would resign herself to that 'fate,' as Neji would put it. But Tenten would be determined to take the young Uchiha down that road with her as well.
Both shinobis rushed forward in the same instance, as if a signal had gone off in their minds to indicate the start of the match. Sparring for as long as they had with each other, such idiosyncrasies were to be expected to develop among partners. Tenten had shared a great many with her former teammates because of the long hours of training they had spent through the years. But this...it was almost too much for her to bear.
Facing another opponent at the level that Sasuke possessed brought back memories for her, of days when her team still had the time to train together without the hassle of dealing with conflicting schedules. The dark resolve glinting in his Sharingan eyes seemed so much like the look that Neji’s ivory orbs would hold; the blinding speed and reckless determination reminded her of Lee’s lifelong goal to prove the fruits of his hard work were for a purpose. He was like a ghost of her teammates, embodied into one being to haunt the kunoichi’s long forgotten memories.
With a burst of chakra, the young Uchiha increased the speed of his charge, turning him into a blur of black and grey. Something Lee could never do. And that had broken the spell that had fallen upon her, forcing the former Leaf-kunoichi to focus on the match. Knowing that she could not defend herself against such a high-speed attack, Tenten skidded to a stop and turned her body just in time to avoid a full body contact, using that same motion to reached back and grab a kunai from her weapons pouch. She felt rather than saw Sasuke breeze by her and moved on instinct, making a slash at him with the kunai in her hand. The wind from his movements blew past only seconds after Sasuke had passed, kicking up a light cloud of dirt in its wake.
Turning to face her opponent, the weapon goddess brought a hand up and touched the curve of her arm, not at all surprised to find small trickles of blood sliding down from the newly-made gash. She had felt the dull sting of the blade slicing into her skin when he had swept past her. Had she not moved, he would no doubt have slit her throat. Lee had done the same once during one of the few times that they had sparred together. After she was released from the hospital, he had decided it would be safer for him to not use weapons during their matches because of his speed advantage. Across the field Sasuke was examining his injuries in a similar manner, feeling his fingers over the wound across his abdomen that she had managed to make.
“Chakra blade,” Kabuto commented at Sasuke’s questioning look while he rolled the blood between the pads of his fingers, “Impressive.”
Without pause, Tenten charged forwards once more, throwing three kunais at Sasuke while his guard was down. He easily rolled out of the way of the assault just as easily as she had avoided his attack, and used the momentum to charge forwards once more as well. In a fury of blurs and glinting steel, the two former agents of the Leaf Village clashed again and again, neither one willing to give up so easily. But Tenten was in a losing battle, both against the talented prodigy and with her weakening body. Her knowledge of fighting against such speed and chakra control were useless if her body could not keep up. And that was when Sasuke finally made the decision to end the battle.
As they charged at each other once more, the young Uchiha began concentrating a small amount of chakra in the palm of his hand. Little tendrils of lightning and static crackled and jolted from his hand in a low-grade Chidori, appearing only half as powerful as the one Tenten had seen him use during the Chuunin Exams against Gaara's sand shield. An attack like that would certainly not kill her as it almost did the sand shinobi, but it would be enough to give substantial injuries should it connect. But it was too late to pull back now; Tenten had too much momentum to stop as she had done before. So she continued forwards, ducking down at the very last moment to avoid his chakra-charged hand, and in a last effort to fight back, she darted upwards to shoulder him in the stomach as hard as she could.
A wisp of air and a small twitch of movement was all the warning she received before his hand slammed down into the small of her back, knocking the kunoichi off balance and pushing her face first into the ground. With the added force of their charge, her body skidded and rolled across the field, kicking up puffs of dust from the tumble, finally stopping on her side with a dull thud. In the distance amid the confusion of her ungraceful fall, Tenten heard Sasuke moving, shifting, stumbling to his feet. With a cough and a groan, she struggled to stand as well. Her stubbornness would not let her commit to defeat so easily, despite her injuries. The blow to his stomach had lessened the chakra concentration and so there was less power in his Chidori attack, but there was still internal damage; she could feel it.
“Had enough?” Sasuke called from the other end of the training grounds.
Tenten lifted her head in defiance to her aching muscles, just enough to fix her blurring vision on his form and note how he clutched his stomach protectively. “I’m still alive aren’t I?”
“Tch, that means nothing. Just give up already.”
Fixing a smirk across her lips, she responded mockingly while fighting through the pain of her injuries, “What’s the matter, Sasuke? Afraid to...ugh... to fight a girl?”
Scoffing, Sasuke only frowned in anger. “Fine, if that’s how you want it.”
Reaching back, the nuke-nin unsheathed the Kusanagai blade that he had been carrying the entire time, never once touching it until now. The handle gripped firmly in his hand, Sasuke stepped forward, sword stretched out in front of him to taste blood once more. He never landed his mark however, as Kabuto barred the prodigy's way.
“I think that’s enough,” he said coolly.
“Stay out of this, Kabuto,” Sasuke practically growled.
“She will be of no use dead.” Pushing back the frame of his glasses so that it sat perfectly on the bridge of his nose, the medic-nin surveyed and assessed the damage between both shinobis. “It’s clear that neither of you can hardly move. I’m afraid class is now dismissed.”
Coming to that realization as well, the young Uchiha begrudgingly withdrew his sword, sliding it into its protective sheath once more. Meanwhile, on the ground Tenten was fighting her body's need to shut down from exhaustion, and losing quickly. She blinked a few times to try and clear her vision, but only found that the world became tainted red with the blood dripping down from the kunoichi's forehead. She strained to continue listening to the conversation between the two shinobis of Sound, only to find their voices nothing more than garbled nonsense. Finally, with one last effort to push herself up, Tenten's body gave out, turning the mess of colors and movement into permanent night.
Later on, she woke up to a familiar searing pain just behind her left temple, cringing when it slowly spread to the rest of her brain. Moving to massage away some of the ache, Tenten found her movements sluggish and slow, drowsy as if someone had pumped her blood with cold medicine and soldier pills. Another one of Kabuto's sedatives.
Knowing the cause of her body's delayed reactions, she took another moment and waited for the drugs to finally wear off before attempting to sit up. All the while, she replayed the spar over and over again in her mind, finding the flaws in her technique and plotting ways to work past them so that next time, she would finally beat the proud clan prodigy. Eyes shut to the dank smells and dim lighting of her assigned quarters, Tenten waited what seemed like hours until she felt a light tickle against her toes. Whiskers. With a soft groan, the kunoichi slowly turned to her side, glancing down at where her leg dangled over the edge. An irritated frown was all that she offered to the mouse who stared silently back.
"Honestly, Ongaku, you have the worse timing," she mumbled tiredly.
"Easy to blame someone who can't talk back to defend himself."
Begrudgingly, she pushed herself into a sitting position, turning to the side to rest her feet on the wooden ledge of the bed as a pale arm reached out from underneath. Under normal circumstances, such a thing would have been considered strange, but for Tenten, it had quickly become a common occurrence within the past few weeks. If asked exactly when it had all started, the kunoichi would admittedly say that she did not know. There were so many events and instances that had happened between the time she was first brought to the Sound Village and the present moment that it became hard to keep track of all that was going on. The days passed by without notice, and she never realized when the line between loyalty and betrayal had blurred into a greying limbo of uncertainty. All that Tenten could manage was to watch with mild interest as the main cause of it all emerged from the trap door hidden under her bed.
"Have you no sense of decency?" she pouted, doing her best to will away the lingering traces of Kabuto's concocted medication.
"Not particularly," Sasuke replied evenly, glancing at her as he dusted himself off, "And last I checked, neither did you."
A snerk of amusement came her response. "Only when it comes to you."
Tenten saw a faint smirk form in the corner of his mouth as he scoffed in return at their on-going banter, and found that she could not help but share the sentiment. With a love of taunts and teasing, it was no big wonder that the two of them had eventually formed a tolerable relationship...if it could even be called that. Placing labels on things that were difficult to define was a pointless endeavor, and there was no title in the world that could identify just what had formed between the both of them.
"How are you feeling?" he asked, the small trace of amusement disappearing just as quickly as it had appeared.
"Normal, considering my blood is chalked full of chemicals courtesy of our resident medical specialist." Tenten was still feeling sluggish as she worked her fingers through some simple movements. Even closing and opening her hand seemed difficult, off from how it normally felt. There was no way she could hold a weapon in such a state let alone defend herself. "Though I suspect there won't be anymore sparring for me tonight."
"Not that kind, anyways."
With a scoff and a light chuckle, Tenten slowly stood from the mattress and began pacing the room to reorient her legs to the action, grateful that she could at least walk after one if Kabuto's treatments. To this day, she still winced at recalling one occasion where the Sound medic had left her paralyzed for an entire day after giving her one of his experimental medications. "Save the propositions for someone who'll actually find them flattering."
Suddenly, in one smooth motion, her back was slammed against the wall and a hand was gripping tight around her throat. Tenten gasped for oxygen that would not come as Sasuke's palm pressed harder against her windpipe. Locking eyes with the younger shinobi, her brows furrowed in defiance to the silent threat he was posing, even as she felt her body aching and burning for air. The swirls of his Sharingan eyes were already spinning in anticipation of any attempts to escape, though the precaution was unwarranted. She was not going anywhere, they both knew it. And Sasuke took it upon himself to steal the opportunity.
Moving swiftly, he pressed his lips against hers, unexpectedly. Her body trapped between his and the wall, there was nothing for the kunoichi to do but stand there and endure as she had always done. But then came the familiar heat in the pit of her stomach that always came when they were engaged in such activities. It was not from love, and certainly not from desire that this feeling surfaced, but from a primal need for contact that dated back to the beginnings of mankind. And after a few moments locked in the kiss with Sasuke, Tenten was more than willing to give in to those instinctual urges. But it was then that the steel mistress felt his grip loosen just a fraction around her neck. And that was all that she needed.
With a hard shove, she pushed him off of her and took in a harsh breath, gasping for some much needed air to fill her deprived lungs. Leering daggers in his direction, Tenten swiped a knuckle across her bottom lip in disgust to rid herself of his taste. Whether it was more from discuss at herself for entertaining the thought of succumbing to his wants or whether it was simply an open dig to his male pride, only Tenten would know. But no matter what she did, the memory of their kiss still lingered. And that angered her more than anything. "Did you get all that out of your system?"
"I thought you would appreciate some compensation for your troubles during our spar." Thin lips quirked up in his trademark smirk, still arrogant and devious as the day she had been brought to Sound against her will. But then again, unconscious bodies were useless when it came to putting up a fight.
She scoffed without a second thought and rolled her eyes at the notion as she rubbed away the soreness his fingers had left behind on her neck. There would be marks in the morning, which would only mean more excuses that Kabuto will more than likely not believe. Despite his more questionable tactics, he was a good physician. Even now, traces of her brush against the Chidori were nearly non-existent thanks to the medic-nin's talents. "You mistake me for Karin who actually cares about that sort of thing."
"Right," Sasuke mumbled, quirking a skeptical brow, "Because you just sleep with me for the training and endurance."
"Don't mistake hormones for actual affection, Sake," the kunoichi countered easily, mockingly innocent, "It makes you seem desperate."
Tenten smiled at the ghost of a frown that flitted across his face, satisfied at getting him back for nearly choking her to death. It was never a real threat that he would kill her. Sasuke needed her services too much to so carelessly toy with her life in such a way. At least in that, Tenten could find reassurance. "I thought I told you never to call me that?"
"Tch, and since when have I ever listened to you?"
It was not out of love or some great affection that the whole affair began. Tenten would attribute it to the loneliness that the isolation in the Village of Sound produced. Sasuke would merely blame it on convenience, though she knew better than to believe that. There was no camaraderie, no friendship to be hand among the village's agents, something that had been supported and encouraged in the Hidden Leaf Village. So for two who had been raised on such a principle of teamwork, it had not been all that difficult to form some level of trust...which quickly led to other things. And somewhere between the hatred and tolerance, their strange friendship had begun.
Kneeling down for a brief moment, Tenten scooped up the small rodent into her hand, stroking the short hairs as she stood once more. The whiskers on Ongaku's nose twitched with his usual curiosity, prodding between the creases of her fingers for a reward for his services.
"Does he suspect anything?" Tenten questioned idly, her focus more on their tiny messenger than on his answer.
"You ask as if I should be reporting to you," Sasuke responded evenly, quirking a brow at her, "You're my second in command, remember?"
"I was unconscious thanks to a certain someone," Tenten said with a pointed look in his direction, "I just want to know of Kabuto suspects something between us."
Crossing his arms in a casual manner, the former Leaf agent began pacing around the room, more than likely entertaining a thousand different thoughts in his mind. "Nothing other than the obvious, but it's never safe to assume with him."
"He caught us in bed together, Sasuke." the kunoichi pointed out with a nonchalant shrug, "There is no assuming about it."
“It doesn't matter now. What's done is done.” Stretching out his arms, Tenten watched quietly by his side as a pair of snakes slithered out from the sleeves of his shirt. "We've more important matters to deal with."
They were a shade of green and brown that she could only remember seeing in one place. Down below the leaves of the treetops, past the branches to the very foot of the trees and bushes, hidden by all the splendor of the forest lived the shady underbrush. It was there and only there where the darkness resided, where creatures slithered and skulked, stalking their prey. Perhaps it was a small reminder of all the things he left behind, all the things he had given up for the sake of his goals. So fitting, so poetic, so...beautiful.
"If only they knew what we were really doing when we weren't training." With a devious smirk good enough to give his a run for its money, Tenten stepped up to stand beside the Uchiha clan member to join him in his devilish plotting. The take over would be slow in the making, a true test of their endless patience. But it would be well worth it to finally see the fruits of their labor. "They'll never know what hit them."
"And by the time they do, it'll be too late," Sasuke added with his own smirk as the snakes slithered and coiled around the markings of his arm, the mark of his inheritance of power under Orochimaru's teachings. "The Sound Village will be under our control."