Birds of a Feather
Chapter Two: Matchmaker
Sakura quickly ran through the halls of the ninja academy. It had
remainder of the morning to convince the nurses she was fine now. A
eardrum had been healed by Tsunade at the scene and a few cuts were not
to keep her out of active duty.
Tracking down the rest of her
been difficult. All of the jounin were assigned to searching Konoha and
surrounding area for suspects. Most of the chuunin were trying to piece
Hokage's tower back together which left the genin to deal with the
the students within.
Sakura peeked into the classrooms, trying
Naruto and Sasuke. It was a wasted effort since five seconds after she
a door at the far end exploded into a fireball. Clutching her fists
stormed down the hall and sure enough, there were teammates,
skills to a squealing group of children.
"If you think that's
till you see my Sexy No Jutsu!" Naruto yelled.
stopping him in the middle of completing the hand sign.
Naruto said happily. Sasuke looked up, watching her cross the
are you doing?" she demanded.
Naruto frowned a bit. "Sasuke and
just showing them the techniques we know."
"And you thought Sexy
was a good one for academy children?" she yelled. Sasuke smirked as
cowered. Sakura just rolled her eyes and looked at the teacher's table,
the lesson plan there. "Everyone, open up your scroll and start reading
basic chakra control. We'll test you on it by the end of
students moaned and severely muttered about the mean big forehead
sensei but a
sharp look from her shut them up quickly. Once her attention was off
turned back to glaring at Naruto.
"But Sasuke started
blame Sasuke-kun!" Sakura hissed. "I know that he would be more
Sasuke, for his part, was enjoying the fact that in
he was perfect. This once, anyway. Most of the time it just annoyed him
way Naruto was squirming was just priceless.
turned her attention back to the class. They quickly moved their eyes
the scroll but it was obvious they weren't really concentrating. Sakura
blame them. All the excitement of the morning was making it hard to
keep them in
line. She could see them shifting in their seats, exchanging notes, and
"Look," she whispered to her teammates, "I give
about two hours before we've lost complete control of
"How do you
mean?" Naruto asked. A moment later a crumpled piece of paper hit him
side of the head. He looked up but the class acted innocent. He frowned
turned back to Sakura. "What's your plan?"
"Pass the ball!!" Sakura screamed at one of her kids. The little boy
passed it to a teammate who quickly scored. Sakura jumped up with joy
across the field. "Take that Ino-PIG!" Next to her Naruto was yelling
"This was a good idea," Hinata's soft voice
"Thanks Hinata," Sakura smiled. "I figured that
outside would work better."
Hinata nodded silently and watched
academy class continued to play soccer. They had divided them into two
her and Sakura's class playing against Ino's and Neji's with Shino
acting as a
referee. With frequent substitutions and the loud rivalry between
Ino, the kids were actually enjoying themselves. And if luck stayed
by the time lunch rolled around they should be exhausted enough to
afternoon just sitting around.
"SUBSTITUTION!" Ino yelled and
Chouji onto the field and towards the goal. He quickly settled between
and performed several hand seals, transforming into his meat tank
"What the..." Sakura started.
"NO FAIR!!" Naruto
"Sakura-chan, substitute me in!"
"Like you could do anything
"Substitution!" Sakura called and quickly
pushed both of
them as she waved over a couple of the children attackers to the
"Both of you, get past Chouji!"
Her teammates quickly ran to the
waiting for Shino to signal the restart of the game. Next to her, Kiba
demanding he be placed in as well but the whistle rang and the game
again before she could reply.
It was unclear who was cheering
the point, the genin or their students. The entire field fell silent as
drove the ball towards the goal and blasted it right towards Chouji.
Sakura covered her eyes, already very aware of what would
ball bounced off Chouji and ricocheted back at Naruto, nailing him in
and sending him back several feet. There was a collective groan in the
followed by Shino's whistle blow to stop play to give Naruto a chance
"Substitution!" Ino and Kiba screamed. Sakura was about
protest but at seeing Ino's side empty out onto the field, she quickly
Hinata's hand and pulled her in.
"Just stand in the goal," Sakura replied, quickly
children to the side. "Kiba and I'll protect it too."
Hinata!" Kiba smiled, flashing a toothy grin. "We won't let anything...
Kiba whirled and quickly took off after Rock Lee, trying
him before he got any further.
"Watch me, Sakura!" Rock Lee
happily and passed the ball, arcing it up into the air towards Neji.
there, Sasuke managed to leap up and get a head on it.
Sasuke-kun!" Ino and Sakura sang out simultaneously.
He's on my
"Doesn't mean I can't cheer for him,
Ball!!" Tenten called out as she passed the ball to the blonde. Ino
snapped back into reality and managed to stop the ball before it sailed
quickly got it under control and started edging towards the other
Sakura took off, heading towards Ino as fast as she could.
Rock Lee caught up to her, blocking her and jumping around to keep
"AH! Lee-san!!" she protested trying to get free of his
Naruto headed towards Ino, summoning several of his clones
tackle. But Ino quickly kicked the ball away just before they collided.
the recipient and he moved quickly, bypassing Kiba's defense almost
before kicking the ball at the goal.
Sakura's cringed as she saw
hurtling towards Hinata. Her idea had been that no one would kick the
hard at the sweet and shy girl. Of course, she had neglected to realize
hot blooded, borderline homicidal cousin was on the other
a large smacking noise and Sakura cracked open an eye. There was
standing, her Byakugan activated and the ball nestled in her arms. She
shocked at the fact that she was still alive. Kiba and Naruto were
they arrived next to her and celebrated.
Sakura smiled and was
join them when she noticed a figure that the edge of the field, long
jacket billowing slightly in the wind. She saw Sasuke near her, looking
same thing she was. He turned to face her and she motioned that she had
leave. He frowned but nodded none the less.
Naruto and Kiba were
celebrating, alternating between making fun of Neji to congratulating
who had turned a deep red by now. Shino blew the whistle a few times
game resumed. But by then Sakura had already left with Ibiki.
"The rest of my workers were reassigned," Ibiki said as they descended
stairs. It was the first words he had spoken but Sakura had had a
was the reason he had collected her. So she smiled, trying not to
taken away from her friends.
"What do you need me to do?" she
skipping down the steps to keep up with his long stride.
his office and motioned to the pile of scrolls that were sprawled
desk and slowly pouring onto the floor. He was talking but Sakura was a
afraid to hear exactly what he needed her to do.
"You're good at
organizing things like this so I want you to find any reference to the
clan and make notes," Ibiki was saying.
Sakura blinked. "The
Ibiki paused. "The woman who died today was from
"You think they're involved?"
Ibiki took in a
and looked at her. "I hope not."
Before she could ask what he
walked out the door. Sakura let out a sigh and turned to the task at
reached out and tugged on a scroll only to have the entire pile
bury her feet.
"It was tied!" Ino yelled.
"Feh, we won fair and square," Naruto
"That's only because you're counting points from when the
playing," she yelled back.
"Man, she's loud," Kiba said,
behind his ears.
Chouji stopped munching long enough to shoot
response. "You don't know the half of it." He paused and when he was
wasn't paying attention. "Sometimes, I wish we'd gotten Hinata instead,
He didn't finish his statement as Ino's head
and her eyes glared at him. He looked a bit sheepish and quickly went
"So you're paying for the ramen right?" Naruto asked,
the conversation to the important matter they had been
would be," Ino snapped, "if you had won. But we were tied. So no one
the other team."
Naruto began to whine and behind him Sasuke
turning to Chouji. "Hinata or Shino," he added.
his chips and Kiba smiled at the idea that his teammates were such a
commodity. A few steps behind, Neji scoffed at the discussion and then
ignore the fact that his male teammate was still relating how his
Sakura had been an expression of true love in disguise.
that?" Tenten asked, bring all the conversations to a halt.
of the market, a large multi-colored tent had been set up. There were a
torches outside to illuminate the way in. A wooden post held an elegant
that proudly spelled out the business of the occupants.
squealed. "A matchmaker!!" She ran up and looked at the sign. "World
Matchmaker Mabaroshi is here to help you find your true love. Success
Naruto eyed the entire scene warily. He stomped
and grabbed her hand. "Food first, stupid stuff later," he settled
"Stupid?" Ino shrieked. "Only an idiot like you would think
more important then finding true love!"
Naruto frowned. "I
were all ready in love with your dear 'Sasuke-kun'."
bit as she realized her mistake. Chouji visibly cringed, remember what
every time Shikamaru had shown her errors in her logic. Ino didn't like
And sure enough, a second later, she started
Naruto had to run to avoid the blows.
"The Tengu clan has been here a long time," Sakura said when Ibiki
many hours later. "I guess I can see why you wouldn't want them
Ibiki nodded and took a seat at his now cleared desk.
else did you learn?"
Sakura looked at her notes. "Well, they
either before or right around the time Konoha was founded. They were
supporters of the first Hokage, a few have even served on the council.
intermarried into a lot of the main Konoha families but for whatever
never sought the seat of Hokage themselves."
"Well, it's like they spent all this time gaining
allies but there was never really a reason... well maybe until
Ibiki looked up at her, waiting for her to continue.
look on her face was perplexed as if she didn't know if she should say
"Why was that?" he asked, hoping it would prompt her to
"There was a big discussion about whether or not to keep
as a primary form of communication for the village. With radio and
they've become a bit redundant. The Tengu leader managed to convince
keep them, mostly due to the fact that there was so much support among
Shinobi. Sandaime dropped the proposal soon after that." Sakura
nose. "It just seems a bit excessive to garner that much support to
just to use
it in a situation like that."
"Animal companions are very
shinobi," Ibiki pointed out.
"I know that," Sakura replied. "But
like Sandaime was going to banish the hawks from ever being used. It
was just a
matter of practicality, really. Everyone was using radios for team
then anyway. It was more a question of how to communicate across the
Ibiki watched her as her face contorted into a few emotions.
Sakura shook her head. "It doesn't... sit right, I
just don't understand why they worked so hard to get themselves all
if they weren't after the Hokage's seat."
Ibiki nodded. He had
similar feelings himself but hadn't wanted to act on them. "You have a
all the families allied with Tengu?"
Sakura nodded, handing it
The man frowned as he read it over, taking note of a few names on the
wished were not there.
"Are they going after the Hokage?"
Ibiki looked at her. "I don't know yet. And I don't want
to conclusions." He rolled the scroll close and put it in his pocket.
to go talk to the Tengu clan."
"We?" Sakura asked.
wanted you to be up to speed on the situation before we went. I need
look for a few things and they're less likely to suspect a genin of
Sakura nodded firmly. "What do I have to do?"
Ino waved good bye to the rest of the dinner group as they left the
They had mentioned something about a movie but she was following
advice. Food first, stupid stuff later.
Not that it was stupid
Naruto was stupid for pointing out the minor flaw in her words.
knew Sasuke-kun was for her, she just wanted proof. If a matchmaker
with a 92
percent success rating would speak on her behalf, she was a lock for
the role of
Not that she told anyone where she was going. She
might laugh at her but she really felt drawn to the tent. She ignore
voice inside her head warning her that the matchmaker might not say
wanted to hear or that something felt very wrong about the whole
Instead Ino marched right in, preparing to demand to be
immediately. The moment she did, she was assaulted with smoke and
strong they almost made her eyes water. She stumbled back, trying to
fresh air but someone blocked her way outside.
here to see the matchmaker?"
Ino nodded, still trying to clear
A few second later, the feeling of suffocation faded and Ino felt calm.
older woman smiled at her, watching her eyes slowly
sit by me and we shall talk."
"Can you..." Ino started, pausing
as she felt
how thick the words felt on her tongue. "Can you help me
Mabaroshi said, moving across the floor, a withered hand on Ino's arm.
on her belt tinkled melodically and Ino watched them with a
me about him," Mabaroshi whispered, pulling a chair next to her and
Ino nodded seriously. "He's got dark hair. Dark eyes.
The best ninja in our group..."
Ino slowly trailed off without
it. Mabaroshi smiled. "Then I'll have to see what I can do." She
"There's a price."
"I'll get money."
Shikamaru let out a long and deep sigh as he walked down the road,
having been relieved of duty. Being a chuunin truly sucked, he decided,
mind that everyone was so happy and proud of him. It wasn't worth the
Halfway home, he came across a familiar
walking across the road. He watched as she stumbled a bit, head looking
"Ino?" he called out.
She stopped and looked at
His brow furrowed as he walked up to her. "What's
She looked at him funny for a moment before shaking her
clear. "Nothing... sorry, I thought..." She paused. "Never
you doing out here?"
She looked at him and shrugged. "I was out
dinner with the gang. Then I had to go home to help mom clean the
"Dinner?" he asked. "But it's almost 10 o'clock at
Ino blinked back in surprise. "No it's
pulled out his watch and showed it to her. She frowned. "It's broken,"
replied while searching for her own watch. Much to her dismay, she saw
the same time.
"What..." she trailed off.
"Did you fall
the park again?" he asked.
"I don't think so. I was at dinner
Ino paused and tried to remember what she was going to say. "Then I was
Shikamaru rolled his eyes and grabbed her arm. "You must
fallen asleep. You need to get home before your parents start freaking
He led her home and she didn't protest. He shot a few glances
her, looking for signs of illness or injury but there was nothing. When
reached the door, Inoshi was sitting on the porch, pretending to enjoy
evening rather then look like he was waiting for his daughter. He
Shikamaru as he led her inside though the reason behind that was a
Shikamaru looked down the road towards his house and
had been a long day, he just wanted to go to sleep. But there was
about the way Ino had acted and he knew it would bother him to no end.
instead, he turned and walked towards the familiar house near his and
Picking a few stones off the ground, he hurtled them
window of his friend. It only took a few before the light flickered on
Chouji stumbled to the door, wearing his large night
what the hell's wrong?" he yawned.
"I need to talk to you,"
Chouji looked at the clock and frowned. Practice was
daybreak tomorrow and Shikamaru knew that. So it must be important. He
his friend up while he went back into his room to find something to
"Thanks," Shikamaru said. "It's about Ino."
Chouji smiled, settling onto the bed.
"Not like that," Shikamaru
"Look, about tonight... did anything weird happen?"
paused in his
munching. "Weird for our group?"
"Weird for Ino."
"Not really. We took care of the academy kids, went out to dinner and
then to a
movie after." He paused. "Ino didn't go. She said something about
parents with the store. Most of the guys figured she snuck back to the
"The what?" Shikamaru asked.
"I don't know,
weird old tent set up in the market. Had a sign for a matchmaker and
how Ino is about things like that."
Shikamaru frowned. Ino
mentioned that. It was worth checking out but obviously not tonight. He
and straightened his jacket. "Thanks. I'll see you in the
"You're not going to tell me what this is about?"
Shikamaru paused at the window and shrugged. "It's
nothing." He jumped out the window and headed home, repeating that last
sentiment but not believing it in the slightest.
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