The Hidden Heart of the Nausicaa Forest
I do not own Naruto. This is a complete work of fiction. Enjoy.
Chapter 9 – What we know
'Dear my darling daughter Ino,
I write this letter as a confession of my wrongdoing. I am a shinobi but I have failed as a father. I have hurt you, and it pains me greatly to know that I have caused you unhappiness. When I learned the truth about your involvement with Neji Hyuuga my response was to protect you. At the time, I did not think Neji was the best choice for you.
With the help of Genma, I concocted a plan to split the two of you. The plan was for Genma to use a transformation jutsu and impersonate Neji, you would see the fake Neji with another girl and believe that he had been unfaithful to you. It's sad for me to say that it was a success and now I have come to greatly regret what I have done. The consequence of being an overprotecting father was hurting the one I tried to protect.
I'm sorry Ino. I'm so sorry I went so far as to hurt my beloved child. I have reflected and have come to realize the error of my actions. Please find it in your heart to forgive your idiotic, meddling father. I hope I wasn't too late and that the love between you and Neji has not been destroyed.
Love you always, Inoichi'
This can't be happening, Ino clutched the letter in a tight fist; the paper crumpled under the force. This is all wrong.
Sasuke, and Neji watched the girl from behind. A disgruntled Kiba stood next to the Yamanaka girl. His face still swollen from the early beating.
Learning the truth brought a twisted feeling in Ino's stomach. What should I do? What kind of mess did my father put me in! That bastard of a dad. Why didn't he tell me this before the mission? Why tell me now… in this way? Ino wanted to cry but at the same time she wanted to smile. She felt relieved in a way, Neji had not been unfaithful. But then again, being caught in this type of situation wasn't great either. Seriously, what the hell was that old man thinking! I swear when I get back home I'm going to-
"Is there something wrong Ino," the Hyuuga boy asked. He had been watching her, noticing the change, her shoulders had dropped, and there was a thickness in the air.
Ino jumped. She had forgotten all about them. She looked over her shoulder at the two with a queer grin. "No! Everything is A-okay!"
Neji didn't believe the blonde. Sasuke spoke, "Are you sure? If there's a proble- "
Kiba cut the Uchiha off, "If everything is fine then it's fine. We should just go already! This forest creeps me out."
It was then they felt the low rumbling beneath them. "What the heck is that," cried the dog boy. The wide-eyed shinobis looked at one another. "The beast! It's back." They jumped backed only for an explosion of rocks to blow them away. Neji and Sasuke were flung to the side. Their backs hitting the hard ground with a thud.
"Ino!" Sasuke gasped, he didn't see where she landed. The monster turned to the two boys and let out an excruciating shriek. Sasuke and Neji covered their ears.
"I think your attention should be on the ugly beast. It's going to attack!"
Ugh, wait for me Ino! I'll be with you right after I kill this demon! Sasuke produced kunai knives and flung them at his target, the projectiles pierced the insect's rough skin.
Neji took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Byukugan! Veins formed around white eyes. The genin could see the chakra point of the beast, he took a defensive position, lifting his palms up in preparation of an attack, feet spread apart.
The worm seemed unaffected by the weapon attack and went after the Hyuuga. "Eight trigrams – palm rotation!"
The creature was knocked back by the defense. Before it could recover, Sasuke started making hand seals.
Snake. Tiger. Monkey. Boar. Horse. Tiger. "Fire Style – Great Fireball Jutsu!" A huge ball of fire engulfed the worm.
Sasuke and Neji stood by, watching the fire feast on the creature. But something felt wrong to them. The fire vanished and the demon was gone along with it.
"It disappeared again," said Neji.
Sasuke jumped to where the worm had stood. There wasn't a trace of it anywhere. Even the hole it had burst through had disappeared. Sasuke quickly moved in search of Ino.
"Where's Ino? Ino!" called out Sasuke. But there was no response. Neji approached the frantic boy and tried to calm him, Sasuke scowled at him.
"I can't find Ino… and it's all your fault!"
"Calm down Sasuke, we're not out of danger yet. We need to- "
"Don't tell me what I need. All I need is Ino. She loves me! Not you, you weak little shit. She's mine!"
Neji noticed bluish-purple blotches on Sasuke's skin. "What's wrong with your skin, Sasuke?"
"No more talking, let's end this now!"
Sasuke lunged at the Hyuuga with a kunai knife.
Neji felt he had no other option, even if the Uchiha was acting unusual, he had to defend himself. He repelled the knife with his own, staring hard at the angry eyes in front of him.
"Since reason isn't getting through to you, there's no other option but to comply… If it's a fight you want, then a fight you'll get."
"He first caught my attention when I was very young."
Hinata began telling Lee. "I've always been timid, and had trouble standing up for myself. I always listened and followed every command I was told. For me, life was easier that way. But not the best. My father always put pressure on me. I was the heir to the Hyuuga clan after all, I had a lot of responsibility to my clan.
But then Naruto entered my life. And it changed for the better. He told me to believe in myself. To stand up and face my fears. To live my life for me. It gave me more purpose, a nindo of my own, not one handed down by my family. And ever since then, I have treasured Naruto. He has a special place in my heart."
Rock Lee listened to the dark hair girl with large watery eyes, moved by her story of youthful love. "That's beautiful. As beautiful as the spring time of youth!"
Hinata was flustered. At first, she had surprised herself by confiding on the boy. But it was as she said, Naruto's words had changed her and she wasn't going to hide from her true feelings anymore.
"What about you, Lee?"
"For me, Sakura was like a cherry blossom petal that had blown from its flower and landed on the right spot. Right before me. Like destiny! Her beauty was like no other. I had no choice but to confess my admiration of her!"
Hinata let out a drop of sweat, but giggled at the ambitious boy. "Love is a strange thing. But it does feel so warm and so right. Even though they don't feel the same. You can continue to hope that one day they would see you properly and return the feeling. Thank you, Rock Lee. This conversation made me feel more confident about conveying my feelings towards Naruto."
"I as well feel more confident in my pursuit of Sakura's love! Let's keep doing our best!"
The warm feeling was soon gone when they sensed a rumbling under their feet.
"It's the monster from earlier, it's going to break through the ground again!"
Hinata and Rock Lee quickly reacted, fearful that the creature would attack but to their relief, the rumbling passed them by.
Just as the two had a surge of ease, an explosion was heard to the east.
"Achoo! Ne! Ne! Sakura! Don't go so far without me!"
"Hurry up! You're so slow!"
"You wouldn't be sneezing if you had all your clothes on… But you had to go and lose them!"
The Kyuubi kid had searched all over the lake as best he could, but could not find his pants along with his shirt and jacket. His shoes were also missing.
"Ne, Sakura. Are you annoyed to by me?"
"Of course! You're so annoying… I wish it was Sasuke not you…Not only are your clothes gone, but so is Sasuke and we can't find him either!"
"Tch, Sasuke… You mean Sasuke who ignores you? The same guy that has a stick up his ass. He is just an idiot, you know?"
Sakura stopped walking, she slowly rotated her head towards the blonde boy. Naruto yelped when he saw the girl's face had turned into that of a demon ogre. "Don't talk about my Sasuke like that!"
Naruto stopped cowering, "What? But he doesn't even feel the same about you. What's so great about him, huh?"
"He's strong and good looking. Nothing like you… Jealousy is ugly, Naruto, y'know."
"I'm not jealous! Is he really that great to end a friendship over? To throw away the only girl who cared about you? Or me? I care about you. And bushy eyebrows! Even he cares about you. You keep pushing us away and treating us like shit when we're just showing you we care. I don't get it…"
"You don't know anything!"
"Oh yea? I know no one is worth stabbing a friend in the back for!"
Sakura took a step back. Her body felt tight, her green eyes look down at the dirt, pink hair shielding her face.
"You're right…Sasuke doesn't give me the light of day and yet, I sacrificed the best friend I would ever have for him…
But you're not one to talk, Naruto! You're just like me. You completely ignore Hinata's feeling for you."
"What? Hinata? What does she have to do with any of this?"
Sakura fell flat on her face. "Are you kidding me? How oblivious are you? It's so obvious that she likes you, it's as clear as day."
Their argument was disrupted by the sound of a blast and a dust of clouds. The two gawked at each other and yelled at the same time, "Sasuke!"
"Yosh! Made it down. Seriously, that Kiba. Jumping in like that. He really needs a good punch in the face to knock some sense into him."
The weapons girl looked around her, curiously. A forest under another forest, with trees that glowed like a faint sapphire gem. What kind of magic was this. The girl did not know. The Nausicaa forest seemed like a huge mystery for her. Maybe one that would never be solved.
"Now where to begin search-" Tenten is interrupted by a blast ahead. A few meters down. Over the trees, she saw a cloud of dirt being formed and something flying out of it before disappearing in the trees. "Guess that's my best bet."
As Tenten started walking, she noticed something. At closer inspection, she realized it was a shirt. "Why is there a shirt lying here?"
Just then two figures darted in front of the girl, brown eyes widen in surprise.
"Tenten?" Two people yelled in unison.
"Naruto! Sakura! Wh-…Naruto? Why are you in your underwear…" The girl looked at Naruto with disbelief.
"Hehe, long story."
Ino brushed dirt and rocks off her, "Ugh, why does this keep happening? That worm keeps getting the upper hand. What is it's deal?"
"Kiba!" The dog boy laid on his back with spinning eyes. Ino pulled him up and gave him a good shake. "Stop playing around! We need to go fight that annoying creature and kill it."
"Okay, okay! Woman let me go!" The kunoichi did as he said and dropped him.
Kiba rubbed the back of his head and growled, "What's that weird smell?"
Akamaru sniffed the air and barked. 'Smells sweet and yummy! Look over there.'
The small dog walked over a tree that was bearing a handful of blue fruits. Ino recognized it immediately. "Hey, that's the same fruit Sasuke had been eating."
"So, it's safe to eat?" Kiba asked already pulling a fruit out of the branch. He took a bite before the blonde could protest. "Not only does it smell good but it taste delicious."
Ino breathed out her nose. "Okay, we have to move. We have to back-up Neji and Sasuke."
Kiba went to grab another berry but the blonde intercepted. "Get out the way Ino," the dog boy snarled.
"It's just a damn fruit. I said to stop eating. We need to go help-"
Kiba growled, grabbing her shoulders. Ino stared into his dilated eyes. Before Ino could speak up, he bit into her neck. Ino yelped in surprise. "What the fuck do you think you're doing you stupid dog! Stop it!"
Ino tried with no avail to push the dog-boy off her. Kiba was too strong. He licked her neck, up to the base of her chin. Ino tried to fight him off, also fighting the urge to knee him in the groin, but he was relentless, nipping at her neck. Face flushed, Ino wriggled an arm free.
"Kiba! Listen to me dog-breath! Ah… don't make me do this!"
The kunoichi headbutted Kiba, knocking him back. She then lifted her leg and kicked him in his face. He was knocked out cold.
"Sorry, Kiba... Had to do it…" Ino dropped to the ground, breathless, she placed her face in her hands. Her body was trembling, her neck felt like it was on fire.
After calming down and regaining her composure, Ino remembered how Sasuke had eaten the same fruit Kiba had just eaten. "It's the damn fruit! That's what causing Kiba's madness."
'How do we snap him out of it?' Barked the small dog.
Ino gaped at Akamaru. "I'm sorry Akamaru… I don't understand what you're saying, I don't speak dog…"
Akamaru whined with frustration.
"I need to find a way to snap him out of it."
Akamaru let out a woof of approval.
"But how…" Blue eyes searched the area until it spotted a shoe. Ino crept closer to it, and distinguished it was a ninja shoe. Who's was it, she wondered, but she left it for another time. She carefully picked it up and almost gagged. The shoe had a horrible odor emanating from it.
Akamaru sniffed at it and fainted. Ino pinched her nose, "Maybe this would help." She put the smelly shoe up against Kiba's nose. His nose wrinkled and he shot up from where he laid, he immediately covered his nose while running in circles, trying desperately to get rid of the odor, crying out. He stopped long enough to throw up the contents of his stomach.
"Kiba, stay still. Are you okay now?"
"What the hell happened!"
"It's fine now I think the fruit did something to you."
"Ahhh! Ya think? It was like I was under a genjutsu or something and had no control. All I wanted was to…do stuff to you…and uh…"
"Wahhhhhh! Freaking shit!" Kiba hopped away from the kunoichi as she pulled and disheveled her hair, agitation wrinkling her features. "We have to hurry to Sasuke." The revelation had hit her, the fruit, the unexpected desires, Kiba not being himself.
"We have to hurry now! He ate the damn fruit and is under its influence. We need to snap him out of it before he does something reckless!"
There was a loud bang and boom, Ino and Kiba snapped their head towards the direction of the noise. They saw a shower of shiny objects falling and a large fireball.
The last two chapter (9 and 10) are written a decade after the initial story was created, I've forgotten some of the ideas and the original ending but I'll try to create a good and satisfying ending.
Thanks for reading.