Chapter 20 notes

Chapter 20 – Sakura’s Mission

Author’s notes:
This one is Sakura-centric, focusing completely on her mission, choices, etc. Kind of the answer to the Katsuro-centric chapters earlier on. Next chapter will move through several missions, focusing on their interactions and some trials and tribulations they are going through away from each other. But this has the spotlight on Sakura. Some themes from this chapter will be built upon, including Katsuro’s background. This mission is a happy one, everything is straightforward and resolved easily. But they won’t all be like this.

Chapter notes:
Even though Konoha was days away, she could still hear her parents’ voices ringing in her ears, as if they were right beside her. “Why would you want to get involved? Their troubles have nothing to do with you. You could get hurt…or worse. Just stay out of it. It will all work itself out, you’ll see.” — My opinion about Sakura’s parents in the manga is that they are not ninjas, but still support their daughter. However, their absence in her life makes her on par with Naruto, Sasuke and Sai’s orphan status. (The other rookies, except Tenten,, all have their parents present. Yes, I know, they’re all in clans, but still.) So I think Sakura’s bond with Team 7 is as strong as the others because they represent a different kind of family to her. In this story, I’m writing to that by making her driven to find a bond that she can’t find at home. One that Naruto and eventually more of Team 7 will fill. Her family loves her, supports her, but still wishes she didn’t do it. Not a lot of angst, I just think it’s a more normal teen/parent relationship. Also is a minor parallel of Katsuro’s memory of being told he’d never be a ninja. They both have to strive for the things they want.

Sakura sighed to herself. ‘Can’t find one set of kids. Can’t shake the other.’ — With the kids, I tried to portray Sakura as having both compassion and a short temper. She’s (imho) often portrayed as downright mean or cloyingly sweet. I think she’s neither. I think she’s more like Naruto in many ways: hotheaded, stubborn, able to give compassion or a tongue-lashing as he/she sees fit (think about how Naruto treated the Inari in the Wave arc, both mean and nurturing), and immensely powerful. So I’ve tried to write to those complexities I see in her character. I hope it’s come through!

But he had to admit that he knew very little about her. Perhaps she was just like everyone else in Konoha. Only following orders, serving their own needs. Abandoning anyone once their usefulness was at an end. Even little kids. Especially little kids. — More to come on Katsuro’s background. Obviously, a friendship with a Konoha kunoichi is going to stir up bad memories. But I also hope I covered any holes in their trusting each other. Katsuro may be crazy about her, but he’s still part of Itachi’s group. He’s going to approach anything with caution, so I wanted to address that aspect of his personality. Hopefully by the end of the chapter, their trust and partnership is complete and moderately believable.

“Grab the food. I brought enough for everyone,” she called over her shoulder. … Katsuro pocketed the orange and softly padded up the trail after them. …  The children settled down to eat their fruit while Sakura disappeared with the girl inside the tumble-down building. Katsuro found a spot on the roof where he could observe out-of-sight, stretched his legs out in front of him and peeled his orange. — Katsuro is also one of these kids. In life, he’ll be a lot harder to sway than just by the promise of fruit. So he follows at a great distance. Anyway, it’s a little metaphor for him.

But this young man had taken it on himself to right his wrongs. She was very proud of him, but she had hoped to keep him from any serious punishment. He was doing what he had to do to survive. — Sakura understood all along what was going on with the boy, and why. What Katsuro thought of her was wrong, stemming from his upbringing. So Sakura and Katsuro are seeing the same thing but from different angles.

“You probably saved his life,” Katsuro said, sobering finally. But she wanted none of his praise. “He saved his own life. I just helped out where I could.” — another smallish theme. They all have the keys to their own success or demise.

Katsuro’s pov: Katsuro was silent, but his eyes glittered. His mouth curled into an easy smile. He should have known her answer would surprise him. … Sakura’s pov: A corner of her mouth tugged up into a smile. He’d been working out things out, coming up with some sort of plan. She should have known. — parallel thoughts, sentence structure. Reinforces that they are coming to know one another.

He decided he’d never tell her what he saw, or what he had thought of her. Instead he would amend his thinking. Trust was something he’d never had much use for. But he would try. For her. … If this was how it would be, then meeting up with him while on her missions might actually work. She’d try it. Just once. For him. — another parallel, reinforcing their choice to trust one another.

Spoiler Notes:
• He was wrong about her. Just as the boy had been. He supposed both of them were used to thinking the worst of people. It was second nature when you had to do it to survive. — This theme will be revisited when Naruto returns to Konoha. Both he and Sakura will have to rediscover each other beneath that layer of defensiveness.

• Some writer’s notes — I changed the point-of-view in the middle of the story from Sakura to Katsuro. So, the whole “point” of the point-of-view is to figure out who tells the story the most powerfully. I originally had this in Sakura’s pov. But it was boring, more walking, searching, etc. But with Katsuro, his pov lets me talk about his background and add the element of surprise and suspense to the plot when the reader could pretty much figure out what was going on anyway. You won’t care about this stuff unless you write, but if you write, then you deal with pov choices all the time. Just thought I’d mention it because Katsuro’s pov was not my first choice, but I’m really happy about the way it turned out.

• She spoke quietly to the boy, who only nodded impassively. He thought maybe Sakura was lecturing him. But when she reached down impulsively and tousled his hair, Katsuro smiled. Maybe not, he thought. — Katsuro ruffles her hair when he first captures her. He understands it’s a little kindness on her part. This little movement will come up again in the flashback chapter to come: Iruka ruffles young Naruto’s hair. So it’s important for Katsuro/Naruto to see her doing this. I am writing in how important “touch” is for all of them. When Iruka freely tousles his hair, Naruto hadn’t been touched in ages at the orphanage (he’s not abused, just ignored). Sakura has the same sort of freedom to give of herself. And Katsuro, in turn, relishes in being able to touch someone in a friendly way when he lives in such a violent world. This theme will be built on with Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke.

“Well,” she said at length, “I told him…. I told him that it didn’t matter what happened, it was only how he fixed it that counted.” … “He never gave up.” — This theme will come back when Naruto returns. And it will be touched on in a few different ways. Like with Kakashi vowing to watch over baby Naruto, but being to young to know how to keep that promise. The intention is good, but sometimes things get in the way. But the ones who truly love them, see the good intentions and forgive the mistakes. I think it’s like that in life too: It’s never the argument, it’s how you make up that counts. So by writing this aspect into Sakura’s character early on, I’m laying the foundation for her understanding Naruto’s reasoning much later. And by her accepting him, he comes to learn to accept others.