46 – Chapter notes


Chapter notes: This chapter and the next, although flashback heavy, really dive deep into Sakura’s story. It answers questions about her background that are never addressed in the original. How was her chakra discovered? Were her parents happy about it? Was she happy about it? “How did she go from civilian kid to being accepted to a shinobi academy? It’s about fear and trust, friendship and perseverance. It’s the beginning of who she is. And it reveals that there are a lot more parallels between Naruto’s story and her story than were ever shown in the manga. Turns out he wasn’t the only kid in the village born with was unique and immense powers that people don’t really know quite what to do with. So for Sakura fans, this is her story….

• The Green Light – The name is a play on Sakura’s healing chakra as well as her eye color, the color of the light through the leaves (Naruto’s favorite color) and the green in Naruto’s necklace. It’s thematic. And this is its origin. More on this in the spoiler notes….

• The chakra was the only thing that was easy. The rest was a challenge…. But her chakra was always there, a constant companion, even from the beginning. — Sakura’s story is very much the parallel of Naruto’s. They both have an unknown power, from the beginning, that they didn’t ask for and don’t have much help in learning how to control. One is for healing, the other is for power. Sakura’s innate healing ability is overshadowed completely when compared to Naruto’s destructive kyuubi powers. But, in essentials, their story is the same. 

• Sakura’s mother was so surprised she loosened her fingers. Sakura tugged her little hand from her grasp. — Sakura’s mother and father are not named here, for a couple reasons. First, because Sakura is an orphan in the ninja world. So their identity, ‘mother’ and ‘father,’ will always be from Sakura’s perspective alone. They will always be adjacent to the life she’s chosen. She loves them, and she moves in and out of that civilian world. But they do not cross over to hers. Second, in a story that is so full of orphans, so awash in the legacy of lost parents and family, ‘Sakura’s parents’ have staked their claim to this role in the story. They are real. They are normal. They are weird and boring. They are not mythologized like Naruto’s parents or longed for like Sasuke’s. So when her other orphan teammates and teacher talk about her parents, the term takes on new weight. Calling them by name would be less significant. ‘Parents’ are something all of them had to do without, except Sakura. She doesn’t get a sense of this until the end, when she sees them anew through Naruto’s eyes.

• Finally, the one in the vest growled quietly. “Tell Root to go harvest their new recruits somewhere else. As you can see, she’s no orphan. So she’s ours.” — Sakura’s story could have easily been Sai’s story, if Root had been able to get to her and persuade her parents to let her go. So this is a little glimpse into the division of power behind the scenes. Orphans that are not spoken for go to Root, like ones found on a battlefield, such as Sai. (This makes sense when you realize that Naruto didn’t end up in Root like Sai, even though they were both growing up orphans in the same village, at the same time.) The idea here is that Root was trying to get there ahead of them and pull in Sakura for their own.

Sakura’s mother clutched the Sandaime’s card in her fist so tightly it had crumpled. And if she hadn’t looked so steadfast to her purpose, one of the throng of shinobi there might have stopped them and asked if they were indeed lost. — Sakura’s mother’s braveness in the face of a situation she is no way experience to handle is very much passed on to Sakura. Aside from her chakra, it’s Sakura’s most defining character trait. So, hidden in a chapter that talks about Sakura being ‘not from a clan,’ not having an inherited skill, and not having family support in a shinobi world, she is, in fact getting lessons in bravery from her mother. And his skill will serve her far better than any class-taught technique or shinobi legacy will.

Suddenly there was a tiny yip. Sakura glanced up. A fluffly white puppy barked at her from the arm of a scruffy boy. “Nah,” the boy said. “Akamaru says he would have smelled it on her—“ “You can’t understand that dog! Quit lying, Kiba!” “I can too!!” — So many of the exchanges in the schoolyard have the feeling of Naruto. Like he’s the invisible loudmouth in the crowd. If you look, there are little glimpses of him in this chapter, but not where you think. You can find Naruto in the empty spaces where he should have been if he’d grown up alongside them. Like laughing with their classmates. 

• The borders were there, but it was criss-crossed with roads she’d never seen, landmarks she didn’t recognize: A dashed line looped around and around a big stump. A solid line ran along one side of a large pond full of fish. A penciled-in line led to what looked like a chicken pen. But the end of that line was erased and redrawn several times as the location of the chicken pen kept moving around on the map. — Kakashi’s tracking dogs are such an awesome part of who he is. And they don’t show up nearly enough. Here, they have worked out their language and tracking system. The maps aren’t about human landmarks but about where dogs would like to go…. Like to sniff out a chicken pen, even though the farmer keeps moving it! Haha

• “They’re tracker dogs, good for catching those who don’t want to be found. And good for hiding those,” he motioned to the three humans, “who don’t want to be followed.” — Again, using tracking dogs in a very ninja way. Not just for hunting down a scent, but using the very overt stinky-dog smell to disguise their scent as well. 

• She never said his name. Not even to herself. She didn’t want to see him. He’d left her life, and she didn’t want to find him again. — Important little detail. This is how she copes, by forgetting him and not even saying his name. She has turned away from this part of her life, completely. But this detail will be revisited again.

• Sakura leapt over the edge and disappeared into darkness. — Taking a literal leap, falling off the edge of everything she thinks she knows, and descending into darkness…. Literal foreshadowing. These chapters are so filled with light and safety and structure. But the darkness is approaching, and she has no idea it’s coming for her.

Spoiler notes:

• The Green Light – The name is a play on Sakura’s chakra as well as her eye color, the color of the light through the leaves (Naruto’s favorite color) and the green in Naruto’s necklace. It’s thematic. And this is its origin. There is also a spoiler here, because one thing in most fics is that her hair sets her apart. But in this fic, it’s her eyes. It’s always her eyes. Naruto sees it first. But others see it too. In the next chapter, Sakura will encounter the first person who will see it for what it is and use it negatively. There is also a giant interplay here between light and dark. There is darkness gathering. Sakura doesn’t know it yet. But it will consume her. So the idea of the green light inside her is vitally important to her survival, now and in the future.

• Her mother laughed and tousled her hair, pushing her bangs away from her eyes, and they went home. — Sakura does this to other children. So it comes her mom and the kind way she was treated growing up. It’s an endearing trait Sakura’s already done a few times. Also, getting the note in about the too-long bangs. Obvious foreshadowing to Ino’s schoolyard hairstyling!

• Sakura’s top half was soaking wet. There was a scream. And then her mother was at the door. She looked aghast at Sakura, and Sakura looked down at what she’d done. Water was everywhere— But that wasn’t the worst of it…. — Uh, yeah…. So Sakura totally killed all the fish in the pond. It’s not exactly a secret. But she never tells a soul, and she thinks the Hyuuga have forgotten about it. Of course, she’s never gotten close enough to any of them to find out if some remember…. 😉

The older boy who had been showing off muttered under his breath, “Weirdo—” as he walked past Sakura. — This is not Neji. Neji doesn’t seem like he’d be such a jerk from a young age, but more importantly, Neji wouldn’t brazenly show off. (The kid who kicked the ball is Neji. He, of course, wouldn’t like the one showing off.) There will be a full circle for this somewhere later in the story. And yeah, it’s a twist  on the original, with someone in the Hyuuga clan calling an outsider a ‘weirdo.’

• Sakura’s mother opened her hand for her daughter, and Sakura ran to her mother, starting to sob. But Sakura’s mother shushed her and refused to let her dissolve into tears. She held her hand, tipped her chin up and they walked out in silence. — Another scene of her mother powering through, not letting someone get the upper hand, no matter what the station. It’s very much something that Sakura would do. 

• Exiting through the round moon gate, Sakura shut her eyes hard. She never wanted to see this place again.— Now you see why Sakura didn’t want to look at the Hyuuga Moongate when she passed it two chapters back. 

• “Bah, let them sew up their own designs. You shouldn’t waste your talents on them.” — Not as pronounced as Sakura’s mother’s traits, but Sakura’s father and his up-beat supportiveness is also a trait that Sakura inherits. 

“Speak to Ebisu, tell him I sent you. I agree, she needs to be back in school. And I think you will find this academy is a better fit. Of course…it’s your choice….” But there was something in the way he let the words hang in the air that made it clear it wasn’t a choice at all. — Difference here between Sarutobi and Tsunade. Sarutobi may look grandfatherly and act nice, but he’s delivering a directive. Tsunade lets people make choices. 

• Sakura suddenly felt very alone and abandoned below them. — Foreshadowing of a future event. Specifically, feeling abandoned and kept apart from her lifeline, and looking up at something out of reach. This is the same feeling she has at the lantern in the forest, and that she feels from finding the skeleton at the base of the tree. 

• Ino stuck out her tongue at the boy. “Shut up, Shikamaru!” She took Sakura’s hand. “Come on, do you want to play?” She pointed to an older student leading several younger ones through the playground with a long red ribbon. Eyes closed, the kids were trying to hold on and follow each other, when the leader jerked hard around a tree, and the ribbon slipped out of the grasp of the last two. They fell back laughing, eyes blinking in the light. — Foreshadowing, connection to the game Sakura plays at the beginning of her “Two Worlds” arc and a foreshadowing of events to come, where Sakura is tethered to chakra, eyes closed, and having to follow along. This game will also be part of the explanation of the “We move as one” mantra for Team 7. So, a fun memory, but also a foreshadowing to more serious stuff. 

• But Sakura was frowning. “I thought that was only a…a….” The dogs all turned their heads at the same time, comically, like they were listening to her too. “Uh.…” She regrouped. They were only dogs. “You know, a myth or a trick or something—“ — A twist on Kakashi’s dogs, which were not shown nearly enough in the original. More than just tracking, Kakashi would have developed a language and unique relationship with them. Maybe they live as long as humans, so he’s known them most of his life. It would be a super secret connection, like all animal contracts/spirit world pacts. So Sakura would have only heard about them from books, not ever known that her sensei was connected. Sakura doesn’t understand them, but Kakashi does. So the idea is there that you have to be ‘invited’ to understand spirit-type animals (like a contract) or already have part of a spirit animal in you (like Naruto). Here, Kakashi has deemed this trip important enough to reveal his connection the the tracker dogs. But Sakura and Sasuke are not part of that pack and thus are not able to understand anything more than what they see and guess. More on these spirit world connections to come, but this is all part of the world being much bigger than a couple of village kids realize.  

“You saw?” She nodded. He looked at her for a moment before his tone turned light. “Nope!” He even pulled out the edge of the scroll from his pocket, showing off a large ink wash of the setting sun over the now hidden desert landscape. The sun was dropping between two enormous rock outcrops. “Just some art. I’m a big fan, you know.” — There’s a lot of subtext in this scene with Sai. He can’t communicate with the team because of the as-yet-to-be-revealed seal on his tongue from growing up in Root. So, he juggles his loyalty to both sides. He passes information to Kakashi in the form of artwork. And he and Kakashi make sure they are out of each other’s earshot before information is passed to the rest of the team. Sai’s story will unfold with Naruto’s return, but his precarious position of being part of Root and on a shinobi team under the direction of the Kage sometimes bleeds through.

• Kakashi shook his head. “No. The body’s not our problem. That’s for Sand to worry about.” — So…this is the rescue Gaara arc, which will be revealed next chapter. But it doesn’t look like it did in the original. Why would Leaf nins — and kids at that — be rescuing the Kage and jinchuriki of a rival/sometimes hostile nation? Why was there no one else out there but an old woman and the Kage’s siblings? None of it makes any sense. So here, Kakashi’s response is more realistic. The only reason they are even going is because there is something in it for the Leaf. The body of the Sand Kage is not the Leaf’s problem.

• “But we have an idea who might have done it.” Sasuke stiffened. “Itachi,” he growled. “Akatsuki,” Kakashi clarified. “It’s the only solid lead we’ve had in months— No, years.” He shook his head with a grimace, revealing a deep regret he rarely let show. “We can’t afford not to take it.” — Sasuke thinks it’s Itachi. And it does look like it on the surface. But Kakashi is looking for a deeper lead. He is looking for traces of Naruto, the stolen child. This is the source of his deep regret. The intel that the Akatsuki has stolen another jinchuriki (who happens to be Kage), means that if he can catch an Akatsuki he can interrogate them for information on their own stolen jinchuriki. This is personal for Kakashi, so he wants to take the lightest fastest team possible. And who better to go than his own team, and especially Sasuke who has a personal stake in taking down the Akatsuki (Itachi) too.

Kakashi took the bowl from Sai in silence and dropped it back into the storage scroll. It had a paw etched on the end. — This signifies Kakashi’s connection with the Dog spirit animals. It is similar to Jiraiya’s frog scrolls and to the cat symbol on the lantern outside the Uchiha compound. Basically, there is a whole other world hidden in plain sight. 

She made a fist, locking away the errant thoughts again. She just wanted to hold onto the peace she and Sasuke had managed to find for themselves in Konoha. — Language of locking away that part of her, just like the painting locked away in the temple. She tries to forget, but it’s still there. It never leaves, even when she tells herself she’s over it.