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Protecting What's Dear

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Sakura has always been a little too smart for her age, maybe even a little too curious.  When she was Six, she was asking questions like, "Why do you have a scar on your neck?" or "Mommy why do you keep rubbing your cheek on my neck?, or even, “Why does that man over there smell like sweet apples?", leading to Sakura's mother slapping her hand over the Six-year-old's mouth, while becoming red in the face, apologizing to whoever had captured Sakura's questioning eye.  Sakura's father on the other hand would just heave out a hearty loud laugh while patting Sakura on her head, “That’s my little girl!  Look how smart you're becoming," he would coo, not seeming to care when Sakura would shout about Not messing up her hair Papa! 

This became a regular occurrence up until Sakura was Seven.  The small family of three had been sitting in their house one afternoon at their table enjoying their dinner, when Sakura put down her chopsticks calmly but with a nervous energy she seemed to carry everywhere, and said, "I want to go to Academy," Mebuki spat out the water she was drinking, and Kizashi beamed at his little girl proud, but sad that she was growing up so fast. "Are you sure, Honey?" Mebuki said concerned, she looked at her small and frail pinked haired child and wondered how her shy little girl would fair in such a brutal environment.  Sakura kept her eyes to the ground, but nodded firmly, only when looking up to hold her Mother's gaze, did Mebuki see the fire in her little girl's eyes.

Later, that night Mebuki sat her bedroom getting dressed for the night.  Brushing her hair she slowly let her memories pull her back gently into a familiar embrace, the kind of feeling she always got when she looked back to the days of her childhood.  Her eyes soon glazed over as she thought back to her own academy days, when the Second Shinobi War was ongoing and how dozens upon dozens of children, civilian or clan, were forced into the academy, so they could be prepared for war.  

Mebuki had hated the war torn life she had grown up in; hated that she was constantly dirty; hated that she was constantly hungry; hated that she had become too weary of strangers and their kindness, but war had shaped her into its mold, and Mebuki being the young girl she was didn't know what to do to get out of its tight grasp.  It was only when she was thirteen and living in one of the military communes on the outskirts of Kusagakure and Amegakure that she finally found a resemblance of happiness. 

Her happiness had come in the shape of an injured sick boy, a boy with pink hair for heaven's sake.  "He's a goner," the camp nurses had told her when she passed his medical tent one day, "He's too thin, and his body's been rejecting the nutrient pills we're giving him," they would murmur as they hurried onto the next injured shinobi that was carried into the overcrowded medical tent.

Mebuki stood in her spot, though, her eyes stuck on the injured sick boy, digging her fingernails into her palm and making small moon crescents in her callused hands not knowing why she felt so much anger in that moment.  Was it because she was sick of this war? Maybe.  How many children had she seen die? Mebuki couldn't keep count anymore, faces blurring into each other until all she could recall were heartbroken face and tearful words of, "Please, I don't want to die.  I want to go home, I want to go home." 

Convection filling her body Mebuki made her decision in that moment. Walking over to the sick boy's bed and taking up the cold and unfinished soup, Mebuki pulled up a chair and sat down next to the boy's bed.  The pale boy looked toward Mebuki' s direction, his head peeking to see who had come to bother him this time, his eye's holding a sliver of interest when he realized that it wasn't a nurse, but a stern blonde girl with angry green eyes sitting to the side of him.

"Eat," Mebuki firmly ordered, dipping the spoon into the cold soup, before holding it out towards the boy.  He blinked slowly, confused, like he was trying to comprehend whether he should chuckle at the serious look that rested on the blonde girl's face, or if he should tell her that he wasn't going to get any better just because the blonde girl ordered him to eat.

"You know," the sick boy uttered at first slowly, "People usually say 'Please' when asking for something from others," he said, sounding more amused than angry.  Mebuki took this as a good sign, seeing that the boy now looked a bit more awake than he did before.  "Okay, please eat before I shove this spoon down your throat.", Mebuki said while slowly inching the spoon closer to the boy's face.

Laughter shook the boy's thin frame, his eye's crinkling with delight. "Well, when you put it like that, who could deny such a convincing offer," he chuckled, before accepting the soup from her. 

This continued on for the next hour:  Mebuki would dip the spoon into the cold soup and hold out the spoon for the boy to eat, the boy would then crack a joke about how dirt probably tasted better than this soup, and then Mebuki would threaten to hurt the boy with the spoon if he didn't shut up and Just eat the soup dammit', before you die.  But, Mebuki was smiling too much for it to be taken too seriously; trying but failing miserably to hide her laughter.  And, that's how the day ended for the two; with soft laughter shared, and shy smiles exchanged, leaving both of them feeling like just for a moment that they weren't in a cramped medical tent; as if they weren't in the middle of war, but maybe, just maybe they were just two normal kids who had yet to experience any hardships in life. 

If any nurses or shinobi had walked by, they didn't dare to interrupt them, instead they would let their gaze linger on the serious looking blonde-haired girl, and the sickly pinked haired boy who smiled at each other, before going back to their work, feeling lighter and a bit more hope for the future and what it had to offer.

This became a three month routine for the both of them. Mebuki would leave the camp communes to fight off small bandits or low ranking Ame-nin, before she headed back to the camp and towards the medical tent, picking up food for both her and Pinky, as she sweetly dubbed her new friend.  She'd than sit down with Pinky and feed him, while cracking a serious look on her face before uttering a small, "You know, I can't keep hand feeding you soup or food.  Shouldn't you'd be able to feed yourself at this point?".  But then the pink-haired boy look gain a mischievous look on his face and retaliate saying, "No, I'm still too weak to do such an arduous task.  Also, for some odd reason food always taste better when you're the one feeding me."  Mebuki would roll her eyes, and deny later that she was most definitely not smiling when he said that.

"I can't keep calling you Pinky, it's becoming a strain on me these days," Mebuki said one day as she broke off a piece of her somewhat stale bread, and popped it into her mouth, before letting her gaze falling onto her beloved friend. 

After three months he had regained color to his face, his pale complexion now darker, his once thin frame had filled out making him look less like a skeleton and actually like a living and breathing human, and his dull-pink hair and now changed to a more coral tone sheen.  He finally looked healthy, and Mebuki knew that soon her beloved friend would be sent back out to Amegakure to fight again. 

He shouldn't be out here, he was too soft and too kind, Mebuki had watched her beloved friend talk softly about golden colored sand dunes he had seen in Suna, and sparkling cerulean waters he had heard whispers of about Uzushiogakure.  One night when both him and Mebuki had stayed up, he had looked off into a corner with soft eyes, and talked about wanting to become a merchant with so much fondness that Mebuki could only grip her leg in silent anguish as she looked at her friend heartbroken.  He didn't deserve this kind of life, none of us did; he didn't deserve to be in this war, or this medical tent, but here they were.  Silent prisoners to wars smothering hold.

Too caught up in her own thoughts, Mebuki didn't realize that she had drifted her focus away, until her friend was poking at her face with his finger, poking harder until Mebuki regained her focus and swallowed the dry bread, slightly coughing as she gulped down water.  She glared at him, suddenly not feeling any of her previous pity when she looked at the cheeky grin that laid on his face, his chuckle letting her know that he was well aware of his actions and that he felt no shame whatsoever.

"What, is Pinky not fitting for me?  I thought you said that it had a charming ring to it?", he said humorously, his eyes upturning to their familiar crinkle.

"Yeah, I thought so too, but then I realized that I would look pretty stupid if I was shouting 'Pinky no!' if you died, so I think it is only curtesy that I know your name in the case that you may perish," Mebuki said smirking, while fake wiping a tear from her eye.  Her friend laughed before nodding wisely, like he was pretending to realize the seriousness of the question.

"Well, if you must know, my name is Haruno Kizashi,"  Kizashi gleefully told her, holding out his hand toward Mebuki.  Soft and tanned hands coming to grasp Mebuki' s callused rugged one's.  Mebuki snorted before accepting Kizashi' s handshake, her tongue slowly rolling over the name as if it was a childhood food she hadn't tasted for a long time.  He had a handsome name, a handsome name to fit such a charming, and kind hearted face. 

Mebuki' s green eyes soon fell to meet Kizashi' s blue eyes, their laughter both fading out quietly, and their hands slowly stopping both teens just sitting there silently, soaking in the warmth that radiated from their touching hands.  The background noise of shinobi men and women sleeping, the clinking of spoons against bowls, and the soft murmurs of other attendants falling to a slow end as Mebuki and Kizashi fell into their own little world.  And just in that moment, both Mebuki and Kizashi felt content in their cramped camp; felt content in the small medical tent because at least they had found a friend in this horrible war.

Mebuki snapped from her memories, a soft tanned but much larger hand coming to rest onto her shoulder.  Mebuki looked up from the mirror, realizing that in the midst of her thinking back to her youth she had stopped brushing her hair and had began to softly mutter to herself,  she looked towards Kizashi' s gentle face looking at her.  Ah, I must have triggered an episode. 

Mebuki gently soaked up Kizashi' s features: the boyish and charming thirteen-year-old boy was now replaced with her rugged and handsome thirty-two-year-old husband; her nose gently sniffing out his subtle beta earthy scent, the claiming mark on his neck that she had placed on him after the war had ended when they were nineteen and newlyweds.  Yes, the war had left them damaged; had taken a piece of their innocence as a prize token for its collection, but war had given them a chance meeting, and for that they were grateful.

Kizashi looked at his tired wife's face, a knowing look in his eyes, like he had taken one look at Mebuki and knew what she was thinking.  "Sakura won't grow up like how we did, Mebuki," he gently told her, bringing her sturdy but small frame toward him while slowly releasing his earth scent to calm his wife down.

"I know you're scared, God knows I'm even more afraid, for our little blossom.  But, we need to believe in her, that's all we can do as parents; gently guide her, and then help her back up when she falls down.", Kizashi finished before laying him and Mebuki down onto their bed, wrapping them both in the soft duvet.

Mebuki let out a soft sigh, snuggling closer to her Husband's heated body, "You're right, I guess I'm jus-"

"Worried like any other normal mother would be about their child, Mebuki," Kizashi finished, cutting her off before she could beat herself down more than she already was. 

"Don't worry, Sakura is going to become an amazing woman," Kizashi said looking at Mebuki with his crinkled eyes.

"I think she must have inherited from her charming Beta Father," Mebuki said smiling softly, while gently lifting her hand to intertwine her callused rugged ones with Kizashi' s large, tanned soft hands. 

Kizashi chuckled, shaking his head before kissing Mebuki' s knuckles tenderly, "Hm, no. I think she got it from her strong Alpha Mother.", he murmured while rubbing his thumb softly over Mebuki' s thumb.  And just like that, Mebuki and Kizashi were transported back eighteen years ago to the small cramped medical tent, in their camp commune that laid on the outskirts of Kusagakure and Amegakure, where two teens held hands during a time when all around them laid destruction.

Mebuki slowly fell asleep, her eyes becoming heavy, and her head feeling full knowing that in that moment that everything was going to be okay.

 


 

Like a forest fire sweeping over a village, there was destruction and death surround all parts of the land, but in this death covered ground there'd lay a single sprout of a small plant.  Later, budding into a small sapling, and then years later when the war had calmed down, it would grow into a tall and proud Sakura tree.  But, for now, the sapling was but just a teeny seed, that was buried far into the darkened soil, content for what it was, but happy for knowing what it would grow to be.