Chapter 33 – Notes

Author’s Notes:

Thanks for the reviews and faves! I love to hear your thoughts and ideas! Next chapter, is about Katsuro, and a lot more blanks will be filled in. Sorry if this chapter is too painful or angsty, but it had to be done. Sakura is incredibly loyal. So Katsuro’s betrayal is a terrible blow. But there if you can’t tell, the stage is being set for some big changes…. 🙂 So read and review, and always check the website for extra notes, and chapter previews.

Chapter Notes:

• “Inner Demons” — of course, meant to be about the inner demons we all have. Not just the literal ones locked in cages behind your navel. So it’s a little twist on Naruto’s demon. This chapter focuses on Sakura and Sasuke’s inner demons.

• Sasuke — so this chapter investigates some of Sasuke’s pathos. I’m trying to write him as more human. With a lot of baggage from his childhood, as would be expected of anyone who survived that. But he’s the same ol’ Sasuke (expect he just didn’t leave), so he’s not meant to be likeable. I just hope I’ve made him more than the two-dimensional villain he always seems to be.

• Sasuke totally has ptsd (post traumatic stress disorder/syndrome) — he’s having flashbacks and he has a serious dislike of blood. Not fear, but it really makes him uncomfortable. There is some support in the manga for this too (not getting a drop of blood on him in training, and not liking to kill when he doesn’t have to). He also can’t emotionally connect with others. Again, just trying to make Sasuke more human and interesting.

Sakura’s parents: “Just stay here, work in the hospital. Where you’re safe. Where you can save others, and not the other way around“ — Sakura’s parents are like most parents who have a child that takes risks. They push the child toward the safe choice. They don’t recognize that Sakura is doing what she wants. They love her, they just don’t understand her.

• Tsunade looked from Sakura’s face to the dead fish under her clasped hands. — This is from a scene in the manga, where Sakura is receiving training from Tsunade in some sort of medical scroll room. It seems like there is a fish pond in the room. (lol – but I may have spent so much time in this fic that I’ve just embroidered those details onto the original!)

Tsunade said, leaning back against the table, “You have that something that most people don’t have. I don’t know, like a spark. Something that drives you….” But Tsunade was wrong. Sakura squinted against another spray of water. This was no work ethic. More like desperation. — So, this is a spin on the manga training from Tsunade when she says that Sakura has the key ingredient for a good medic: desperation. But I think that’s a double-edged sword. And Sakura’s desperation here is tearing her up inside. She’s receiving excellent training, but only because she’s running away. So she will get to the same strength and skill in the manga, but she is taking a very different path.

It was challenging, but it was clear that Sasuke was enjoying devising creative ways to trip her up. — With the genjutsus, Sasuke is coming out of his shell and becoming more a part of a team as well, although he doesn’t think of it that way.

Sasuke blinked slowly. Tired lines had etched themselves under his eyes. — A little nod to manga Itachi.

• But that seemed like a far off dream. Because she was here. Alone. And she was going to die like the rest of the Uchihas — Being alone is a theme of Sasuke’s. (That whole avenger thing, I guess.) He doesn’t want Sakura to die alone in the hospital. He thinks about being along and no one touching you. And he is strangely disappointed that Sakura is like he and Sai, an emotional orphan. So in the genjutsu, Sakura encounters the overwhelming despair of being alone. For Sasuke, it’s not just the deaths, it’s that he’s been left behind. And this manifests through the genjutsu in which she thinks she’s going to die alone, outside of help from the clan or the village. Yeah, I told ya he had ptsd. 🙂 But I promise there is a method behind the madness. (Check the spoiler notes if you want to read more.)

“Here to see little Mai? Sign in, and I’ll take you back.” — I decided to name the little chakra sensor girl “Mai.” I have a hard time with original characters, and an even harder time naming them. But she will come and go in the plot, so she needs a name. I’m trying to get better about this.

Mai turned her head slightly at the approaching footsteps, but she whipped her head back when she caught sight of who it was. — There are lots of fanfics where the main characters save the child and the child loves them for it, and everything is sunshine and roses. Well…not in this one. lol. “Mai” gets her fair share of inner demons too. She is shell-shocked from her experience and resentful of where she is. And as a shinobi, Sakura is ill-equipped to handle her needs. (And even if she could, realistically she wouldn’t have the time!) I would think the orphanages in any shinobi village would be overrun with the children of shinobis and civilians alike. And not all of the children would be happy about their situation. Mai is more sensitive than most, so she is exceptionally unhappy — and aims it all at Sakura.

And through that one memory, a door cracked open to the place inside where she had locked everything about him away. It all came back in a rush. She wept again for that loss. — So this is a small reference to the temple room. It’s about the ability to lock something away — it’s not gone, just hidden until you can find the right key.

• The mid-sized trees shivered in the stiff breeze. The dusty yellow road glowed in the cold sunlight, hurting her eyes. A dry sob shuddered through her. — Couple things here, referring to Naruto’s early childhood experiences. When he was a boy, the trees were small and sickly. Now they have grown some. And the road still has that overly bright quality. Also it blinds her momentarily — a small physical cue that this is a shift in the story, leaving one section behind and beginning another in her storyline. (Last one like this was in Chapter 15, Returned.)

“Is that all you’re going to do,” Sasuke spat out as he dumped another armload of branches on the pile. “Just sit there!?” — So at this point, I want Sasuke’s words to mirror the readers’ feelings. So he just explodes at her and tells her to get over it. This is Sasuke’s version of a pep talk.

The rest of the night they sat in companionable silence, each mulling their pasts and the choices that lay ahead. — So in the end, they don’t exactly bond or connect, but they find a way to move on. Sakura most noticeably so of course, and Sasuke by coming out of his shell to help his teammate.

Spoiler Notes:

• Katsuro was supposed to be in this chapter, but when I finished, it just seemed too jarring and out of place. So I let this be Sakura’s story. Which also heightens the sense of separation between the two by having to wait another chapter.

• Some of the sutures reopened in her physical therapy, and she was back to wearing hospital clothes and having the bandages changed twice a day. — So, in this story, they use chakra to encourage healing, but it doesn’t override the body’s own ability. It only helps it along. And in a civilian hospital, they would be more likely to let patients heal in their own time. (In a battle situation, more chakra can be used to speed the healing, but it puts a bigger strain on the healer and on the wounded nin now having to support a three or four day heal in just a few hours.)

Guilt swamped her. Suddenly she felt like crying. What was wrong with her? — Sakura also has ptsd, with her emotional mood swings. But she’s also burying her feelings about what happened with Katsuro, and not forgiving herself for what happened. This is reflected in her long healing time, both inside and out.

• Sakura is keeping everything buried — so I’ve used terms like “suffocating the memory,” or “her outraged fury uncorked,” or “she pushed the emotion away” (or pushed it back down) to illustrate that. But her emotions are winning. And they are described in natural terms, as something she can’t control. They swamp her, crash down on her until it breaks like a dam inside and they come out in a flood. So those terms also reinforce the struggle.

• Some medic, she thought viciously. The only reason she even worked the seal was because of this mess. Not some great spark, like Tsunade thought. She probably couldn’t even do it again…. — So she’s moving ahead, but not because she believes in herself. In the manga, Sakura is attuned to her growth and progress. In this story, she is not. But it’s happening anyway!

Sakura turned from the table, feeling…nothing. She knew for certain then that something inside had changed. Tsunade may still think she was a great medic, but Sakura wasn’t so sure any more. — Sakura has some crushing self-doubt now. And that’s a heavy burden to bear. She has the skills, but she’s lost her purpose in using them. So it’s a cruel trade-off.

• Spoiler about Sakura — In this manga, she turns away from her medic practice for a while. And the scene with healing the fish is the beginning of that. Sakura has lost her way a bit. I wanted to write Sakura as completely changing as well – just like Naruto did to become Katsuro. So Sakura pushes away this part of herself that she’s really good at. And it takes someone fiercely believing in her to pull it back out again. (I’ll let you guess who!)

• Spoiler about Sasuke — So in the next few chapters, Sasuke finally form some bonds. Which is a good thing. For a little while he will be what he could have been if Itachi hadn’t interfered. (Well, almost.) A good Konoha nin and a loyal teammate. But, that moment can’t last, and eventually he will return to being the avenger again. But this time not just for revenge, but to help protect the village and those he cares about. Just as Sakura’s desperation changes her toward the negative for a time, Sasuke’s avenger mindset will ultimately bring him to a positive place where he knows his purpose and makes his own choices. This chapter becomes a springboard for them to change from.

Sakura walked up the dusty yellow lane, turned between two big planters and trudged up the steps. A dull plaque beside the door read Konoha Children’s Home. — Of course, this is where Naruto spent his time as a boy, and where he has his terrible memories.

But now that the little girl had started, she wouldn’t be stopped. It all came out in a flood. “You killed them! And you left him there! And you did this! You did all of it! And I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!“ — So Mai mirrors Sakura here. It was all pent up, and suddenly it all comes out in a rush. And this tips off Sakura’s finally being able to deal with her emotions.

“You don’t. You just move on.” — This is how Sakura copes. It’s how Sasuke copes. This will be echoed in the next chapter too, with Katsuro.