Chapter 23 Notes

Chapter 23 — Perfect, Part 3

Author’s Notes

Thanks so much for all the reviews. I try to pm as many people as I can, but if I missed you or couldn’t respond, then let me just say thankyou from the bottom of my heart.

I’m so glad everyone like the addition of the little girl. I was afraid it would be too cliche, so I took extra care when I wrote about their interactions for Katsuro and Sakura to not come off too parenting towards her, but just have fun in the same tone of the rest of the chapter. She is a piece of the puzzle, but maybe not in the way you suspect. Glad everyone has enjoyed the light-hearted scenes too, and I hope that the ones in this chapter have carried through, along with their deepening bond.

Looking ahead, Katsuro’s missions will be revealed, as well as his backstory, plus the cherry blossom festival and more K/S interaction. I’ll be in Washington DC for the cherry blossoms this year, so I’ll have lots of inspiration! Lots more to come! As always, please read and review. And check the website for more notes.

Chapter Notes

Lots of notes for this chapter. Sorry! I try to keep the notes as short as possible, but there was a lot being cross-referenced in this chapter.

• Chapter is the final Perfect, from Katsuro’s pov, as he mentions the necklace as being his “perfect.” And hopefully the enjoyable stuff has stayed in the forefront with just the shadow of their other lives creeping into the picture every now and then.

• The theme of these three chapters has been about stolen moments, and like the dewy morning, time together that can only happen under the right circumstances.

• Also, just as in the panel of the temple painting that Katsuro reminisces about in Part 1, they have shared experiences that have transcended the seasons, with a protective, overarching tree as the centerpiece. The memories of that day spent under the tree will stay with them. Most notably for Katsuro (as hopefully you’ve already guessed) through the necklace. More things will surface for Sakura in some less tangible ways.

• Ending scene: wanted to write a feeling of winter in the last scene dark and cold and rather lifeless as the opposite end of the spectrum from the beginning, warm dewy Konoha scene. Different seasons, different villages, different feelings.

Katsuro landed softly on a branch, only the whisper of movement in the leaves this time, and dropped to a squat. His fingers skimmed the cool bark at his feet. — He’s stopped on a branch, considering her. Mirror of the first scene in Chapter 1 where he was also on a branch, considering her: “Med-nin,” said the younger ninja, settling his smaller form into a crouched position on the branch. “She’s our target.” … The young man skimmed his fingers along the smooth bark at his feet and mentally ran through his paces….” This little quirk will appear again, much later.

Several rained down, including one leaf that stuck right into the bangs of Katsuro’s disheveled brown hair. — Obviously, a reference to the Konoha forehead protector

• Katsuro was transfixed. The sun shone through her hair, casting her face in a peach light. A few gold seedlings clung to her, sparkling in the strands. — I think the sun through pink hair would be a lovely effect, as soft on the face as candlelight. But the peach color has deeper meaning here because it is directly reflecting the genjutsu with its “shimmery peach haze.” This moment in the field is certainly not an illusion, but it hearkens back to a place that was set apart from reality. So I wrote her description to reflect those wonderful qualities.

• “You did that little thing you do,” she said, wiggling her fingers at the tips of her hair. “You know, with the breeze?” “I didn’t do anything,” he said, utterly confused. — Ok, so now it’s out: Sakura has some idea that wind ruffling at the edge of her hair is coming from him somehow. More on that in the coming chapters.

• The road was flattening and taking on more rocks than dirt, until it was transformed into the only cobbled road in a tiny hillside community. — So most stuff I try to write from an image in my mind (in this case, an idea of what an old Japanese town should look like). Well, the inspiration for this road is a world away from old Japan — it comes from the cobbled lanes of Culross, Scotland. I spent a summer in college in Scotland and England. And the lanes reminded me of dry riverbeds winding around all the buildings. It was a lovely time and a lovely summer. And if you’re lucky enough to have been to Culross, well then, you’re lucky enough. Just thought I’d share. It’s a tiny place, but it was my inspiration for the road.

•  Ahh, the necklace scene — I love this scene. All of it. This part and…ahem…the part that is still to come! 🙂

•  It was covered with trinkets, gem stones, necklaces and amulets — all matter of things. Most were the types of garish talismans favored by old women. — lol. Joke about Tsunade being the old woman with the necklace in the manga.

• “Sacred stone, that one is,” a gruff voice cut across Katsuro’s thoughts. “Said to be the link between heaven and earth.”…. “That one there. The jade one,” he lowered his voice, letting the words drag out. “The one that looks like her eyes.” — Alright, lots here. First: obviously this is the necklace Tsunade would have given to Naruto in the manga. But this story’s different, so he comes upon it a different way. Second: Sakura’s eyes in Perfect Part 1 were written to match up with the necklace. So it’s not a powerful talisman against the kyuubi, rather a strong connection for him to her. Third: Jade is a sacred stone, said to be the link between heaven and earth in Chinese culture. And when Team 7 passes the chunins, Naruto and Sakura are charged with finding their heaven and earth, respectively. So lovely significance there. Lastly: Nods to the gang at the Heaven and Earth forum for their kind support and for being an all-around haven for things naru/saku.

• Though they left without making a single purchase, Katsuro felt he had gained something irreplaceable. — The whole chapter he has struggled with what to say about how he feels and what to hide, which is pretty much everything in his life. It’s really troubling him, and nothing really troubles him. In fact for all three parts, he has felt the weight of these moments slipping away. So at the end of the necklace scene, he leaves feeling like he’s part of something with her. That he’s been acknowledged by others and by her as being her partner. It’s a little resolution for all the internal struggles he’s had.

• Closing scene with Katsuro on the rooftop — Lots of things coming full circle here, some obvious, some not. The warmth and soft colors of earlier in the summer have given way to winter. The orange and her pink hair are the only colors in this scene. And in then end, after he gives her the orange, all the color in his world leaves with her.

“Katsuro rewrapped the dark fabric, trying to keep the fronts of his legs warm.” — This is a direct reference to him at the campfire with her in the beginning of Part 1, when “only moved when the low fire grew too warm on his legs.” It’s really the opposite now, it’s colder now and he’s trying to hold in the warmth. Not like earlier in the summer. Adds to the feeling of ending.

• Sighing softly, the ghost of his breath hung as a cloud in front of him, blurring the round edge of the orange for a moment. — Direct reference to Sakura looking back out at the town in Part 1. “Plumes of steam hung in the air. Only red lanterns, just being lit along the streets, shone in soft rose spots through the cottoning drifts.”

• She held up the orange and mouthed, “Thanks.” — Paraphrased line from the temple, when he peels the orange and leaves it beside her while she’s sleeping.

• And finally — Their time alone was quickly drawing to a close. — Wrapping up the end of this chapter as well as signaling the close of this little window in time, parts 1-3. They will meet up again, but things will not be as perfectly easy as they have been.

Spoiler Notes

What if something had gone wrong on this one…. The dark abyss, the vulnerability that her presence had opened in his life. What if something had happened, what if he was too late — His fears, that he’s too late, that feeling something might have gone wrong if he wasn’t there, are foreshadowing a future mission. (So he’s already beginning to feel more like a Konoha nin, even though he has no idea of it, because he’s concerned and willing to care about her own safety with no thought to his own. The silent sacrifice that Sakura was prepared to make with the children. This theme will continue.)

The dark abyss, the vulnerability that her presence had opened in his life. — Being vulnerable is one of the themes that will be built on. As Katsuro and again as Naruto, he has this tremendous weapon inside him. Fear and vulnerability are things he simply does not experience. He has a memory of it from childhood, but has stamped it out. So with the bond to someone else come these feelings of vulnerability, of having a weak spot through which horrible pain can be inflicted. Just like Sasuke in the manga, having the bond is what hurts. Katsuro/Naruto will have to come to terms with it.

• But as the words left her mouth, the man did something odd: He reached up and slid his hand along the edge of the doorframe. Then down the sides. Then he kicked at the dirt beside the door. — you’ve probably already figured out that it’s foreshadowing of some subplot stuff. But, most noticeably, Katsuro is occupied with opening her bag, believing the threat of danger to be gone. So he sees none of the strange, telling behaviors of the man.

• The necklace scene — lots of description there so that the reader will recognize the scene again, even before Katsuro does. And don’t worry: he get’s the necklace. Just not yet.

• Orange on rocking on it’s peel — Sakura had forgotten this little quirky way he had of peeling the orange. She will remember now, and it will resurface again a few times.

• This last scroll was from Itachi directly, with specific orders to rendezvous with the group. The whole tone was different. Itachi was specific, never letting anything slip. The other assignments had just come down through the hazy chain of command. But if Itachi had returned, then Katsuro wasn’t sure he could meet up with her again. At least not with the measure of freedom he’d had. — More foreshadowing of the subplot. This will be unfolding in the next few chapters, so even though it’s in the spoilers, there’s no quick explanation. We know what Sakura’s been doing, and why. But now the focus will shift to reveal more of Katsuro’s missions, as well as his background.

• I didn’t write it intentionally this way, but it works symbolically: I’ve already said there’d be no orange jumpsuit in the story, so Katsuro’s choice of fruit sort of represents that. So if you look at the last scene like he’s forgoing his own hunger pangs and sending the orange off with her — the orange and pink colors, leaving together — it’s a pretty appropriate symbolism. He’s making a silent sacrifice, but in his heart he’s going with her.

• Ending scene, wanted to write a feeling of winter in the last scene dark and cold and rather lifeless as the opposite end of the spectrum from the beginning, warm dewy Konoha scene. Different seasons, different villages, different feelings.

Also, just as in the panel of the temple painting, they have shared experiences that have transcended the seasons, with the day under the tree as the centerpiece. It is not the same, obviously, as the analogy of the cherry tree touching the whirlpool, because this is a real tree, and part of that day was spent pushing out the bad realities of life. But the memories of that day will stay with them. Most notably for Katsuro (as hopefully you’ve already guessed) through the necklace in Part 3. More things will surface for Sakura in some less tangible ways.