The day Nanami had left, I went back to her house that evening. It had been turned inside out from the anbu searching it. Still, I looked around; the house was small and had a dining room and kitchen upon entry. There was no living room, but to the right of the dining room, there was a staircase that led to two upper floor rooms. One was a guest room, and the other, Nanami's room.
I went inside Nanami's room. It was small and extremely tidy. There weren't many personal things within the room or the dressers for that matter, which was a surprise to me because I thought all girls had too many clothes to wear. Although one thing did catch my eye, it was a very old camera. Next to it was a carrying case and a photo album. I picked it up and paged through it; most of the pictures were taken in forested scenery and none of any people, except one. She had taken a picture of herself and I before we had actually talked. I was in the field sleeping and Nanami was in a tree in the front of the picture. She must have gotten these developed on her way home, but I had to wonder; did she intentionally capture me in the frame of the photo? I didn't care at the moment and decided to take the album and camera with me.
As I exited the house, I gave it one last look thinking of how empty and lifeless the house looked. I didn't normally care about much, but for some reason I felt obligated to care about the fact that Nanami was gone. I shook my head for thinking so hard about all this. She was gone, her house was empty, and she probably wasn't coming back to Konoha. That was that I thought as I turned around and headed for home. When I reached home, my parents had questioned me pertaining to my whereabouts, but I gave them no answer, and went straight to my room. I set down Nanami's photo album and camera on my dresser and aimlessly paced through my room not knowing what to be thinking or what to do with myself. I opened my bedroom door and stared at the spare room directly in across from mine. I took a few steps towards it and opened the door. There were many boxes and things just piled to the brim within the room. I gave a deep sigh and pick out a box from the room. Sitting down on the floor directly in front of the spare room, I opened the box and began to sift through its' contents.
Hearing my rustling, my mother peered around the corner till her whole head was visibly in my sight, "Shikamaru? What are you doing honey?"
"What's it look like, I'm cleaning out the spare room," I answered her.
"Why would you want to do that?" she questioned.
"There's a lot of junk that we don't even need around that's been stuffed in here, so I'm sorting what can be placed throughout the house, what should go in the attic, and what should go in the trash. If I need your opinion on anything, I'll ask," I said still continuing to look through the first box.
"Okay sweetie," my mother said as she headed towards the kitchen. "So what's Shikamaru doing?" my dad asked as he was looking through some papers.
"He's cleaning out the spare room," she answered him with a sigh.
"So he's not accepting the situation well, is he?"
"I'm afraid not,"
"Well, just let him be. If this is how he feels he needs to cope, then we should let him do whatever it is he needs to do."
"What if he never gets over this?"
"I'm sure he'll be fine, he may be lazy, but he's a strong boy."
I finished sorting through the first box and place everything within it in one of the three categories I told my mother about earlier. After that was done, I came around the corner of the hallway and into the kitchen. "Are you done already?" my mother asked.
"For today; a box a day till it's cleared out," I responded.
I wish I would have been cleaning out a box today, but with the way things were going, that wasn't an option for today's agenda. Today started out so plainly, who'd have thought it would turn out like this...
"Shikamaru...Shikamaru. Shikamaru! SHIKAMARU!"
I awoke from memories past. Groaning and scratching my head, I saw my mother immensely angry that I'd been sleeping. She was currently yelling at me, but I hadn't heard a word she'd said considering I knew what she was yelling about.
It had been five years since I last saw Nanami. I hadn't given much thought to her until recently. I had been having weird dreams with her present in them all, some just a memory and others more fictional. Still, it had been five years; why now were all these dreams coming to me at all hours of the day and night I wondered.
I rolled out of bed, got dressed, and went down the hall to the kitchen for breakfast.
"Well, look who decided to roll out of bed," my father said glancing at my sleepy appearance.
"Lay off, I didn't sleep well dad," I replied in a groggy voice.
"Shikamaru, watch that attitude of yours!" my mother scolded as she lay my breakfast in front of me, "Now eat up, you have to train with your father before he has to leave."
I grumbled and ate my breakfast. It had been like this since the chuunin exams and I had been promoted from genin. I hated that I didn't seem to get a brake with all that had been going on. The chuunin exams were tiring enough, but there was the attack of Konoha, the third hokage's funeral, the rising of the fifth hokage, all these little side missions that have been jeopardizing Konoha's security, I wasn't sure how much more I could handle. "Shikamaru, there's someone here for you," my mother said.
"What now..." I muttered as I got up from the table and headed to the door. At the door was higher in the ranks ninja relaying that I had been summoned by the hokage. 'Great, another mission,' I thought as I explained what was going on to my parents and left the house. I was quite sure what to expect this early in the morning, but I knew that it had to be something bad since it was so early; the sun hadn't even crawled from behind the horizon. It only took me a few minutes to reach the Hokage's office from my house and I knocked on the door.
"Come in," hearing Tsunade - sama's voice, I came through the door.
"So what's going on this early in the morning?" I asked.
"We have evidence and confirmation from Haruna Sakura that Uchiha Sasuke has left Konoha in pursuit of Orochimaru"
"We can guess that he left about a couple of hours ago. You are to assemble a team quickly and bring Sasuke back by all means necessary. Anyone and everyone is at your disposal."
As I headed out of the office to contemplate who I would use for this mission, I thought, 'Why now? In all this chaos...I knew I hated Sasuke, but for him to pull something like this now...tsk, attention whore. I bet if he hadn't made a scene with Sakura he would have gotten away clean without anyone noticing...ugh, how troublesome.'
There wasn't much time, so I had to assemble the best that I could and we met at the gates of town. As everyone arrived, I counted to make sure everyone was present before telling everyone the situation at hand. 'Neji, Kiba, Choji, huh ...ahhhhhh...where is Naruto?! He's always so late for everything!' "Heyyy! Sorry I'm late," Naruto yelled out running towards us.
"Okay, now that everyone is here, it's time to tell you our mission and how it's going to be done. Last night, Sasuke left Konoha, we are to pursue him and bring him back. We'll move in a line fashion with Neji in the front, followed by Kiba, then me, next Naruto, and last, Choji. I'm responsible for all of you, and if you're not careful...you'll die. I don't like Sasuke, but...he is the same as us, a shinobi of Konoha...he is our comrade, and it's our job to bring him back safetly. Lets move out!"
Our team left to find where Sasuke had disappeared to which didn't take us long; we had soon found him imprisoned in a sealed wooden container. It was a bit clouded as to whether or not he was still alive, but we assumed that he was for the time being. Since our encounter with the enemy, the team was split up one by one till we were all separated with one of the enemy.
Naruto was the one to go ahead and actually chase after Sasuke.
I myself had gotten stuck in a battle with a girl who controlled summoned beasts with the sound of her flute. With all that had gone on, I was running out of options. I had managed to at least get rid of her puppets and trap her using kage mane no jutsu. It wasn't any good though; she had broken free of my jutsu's hold and cast an illusion on me. Even though I was caught in her illusion, I could feel her getting closer, and as soon as I heard her right next to me, I used my shadow jutsu to break my finger in order to escape the illusion. She was ready to stab me with a kunai, but she left herself open for the punch that I threw her in the stomach. I then trapped her with kage mane, and tried to use a more advanced extension of the technique that allowed two shadowy hands to climb up an opponents' body and choke them to death.
I no sooner had the technique half way up the enemy's body, when I noticed that she started to use her chakara to push back my jutsu. I didn't have much chakara to sustain my technique for much longer, so this wasn't good since there was no one to help me out. I thought about death and how I would soon come to meet it at this rate. But as my shadows faded, there came a burst of wind that flung the enemy away from me. I couldn't believe my eyes; it was the girl from the sand village that I had fought in the chuunin exams. What was she doing here? She then asked me what the situation was and I started to tell her when a strange figure appeared in front of the enemy with their back to us.
"Hey, get out of the way!" Temari yelled. But the person didn't move an inch.
The enemy appeared annoyed and questioned, "Who are you?!" She began to play her flute in order to cast an illusion on the person directly in front of her. It was strange, they didn't move, nor scream in horror from the illusion; not a word and then they suddenly grabbed the flute and snapped it in three different pieces as if it were nothing. The enemy looked shocked that the illusion had taken no effect to a person directly in front of her. "You're disturbing the trees..." the person said as my opponent growled with anger and threw a series of punches at the mysterious figure. They seemed to dodge each punch with ease as if it were nothing and suddenly jumped back. Some of the near by branches came to life and restrained the enemy; then the mysterious figure extended their arm and began to rotate each finger on their palm. As soon as they had closed their fingers into a tight fist, my opponent had been pierced with needles all over her body. She fell from the treetops to the ground dead.
Temari and I stood on a near by tree astounded and before either of us could speak a word, the person that had came to my rescue disappeared. I still had so many questions to ask them. Where did they come from? Why did they come here in particular? Why did they target my enemy? Were they a higher up from the enemies' side on a mission to dispose of them? If they were our enemy, why didn't they end my life as well as Temari's? Furthermore, if they were able to beat my opponent with such ease, what were they? And why was there a sense of familiarity that made me feel so at ease in their presence? All these questions and no answers...
Later that night after things had died down and I was assured that everyone from my mission was safe, I snuck out of my house to the forest where I had seen that strange person. If anything, I would be lucky enough to stumble upon something to track them with. I'm not sure why I felt so compelled to find this person or why I didn't take into consideration how dangerous they were.
While I was thinking about all of this I had reached the battleground from earlier today. I noticed that they didn't bother to recover my enemy's body. I got close to the body and examined the needles that had pierced it. They looked like leaves melted together. That would make sense since they had used tree branches to restrict the enemy earlier. "So they use plants to fight their enemies," I said trying to think if there was any jutsu like that around. The only one that I knew of off the top of my head was the first hokage's jutsu, but I also remember that no one else could really use that jutsu, not that I was aware of anyway. I then heard a twig break among my thoughts. Quickly looking around, I caught a glimpse of a shadow and ran after them. As I caught up, it was without a doubt the person I had encountered earlier. I ran and jumped through trees chasing them and all of sudden, they stopped in a tree.
I hastily used my shadow jutsu to keep them from running away again. As soon as it looked like my technique had reached them, I stood and started to walk towards them. It was strange though; they didn't move. As I got closer, I realized they had used chakara to stick their feet to the tree and place a leaf underneath them as a decoy so I wouldn't reach their shadow. How could they know that from just watching the tail end of my battle? I released my jutsu on the decoy so as to block the strike of the mysterious person.
"How did you know about my shadow jutsu?" I asked.
"Because I know who you are; you don't seem to remember me, but that's okay," they replied as they jumped back from attacking. They turned their back to leave.
"Wait! At least tell me who you are; you haven't even shown me your face!" I yelled hoping to get their attention.
"I would love to, but it's time I take my leave," they said.
I was about to reply when kunai and shuriken were thrown at the mysterious person as they dodged them. They spread out their arms and tucked their fingers so that they were just barely touching their palms. With the sudden clench of both fists, there was a scream and a rustle of the trees as a man fell onto the ground. I watched as the person I had been pursuing all night walked over to the man and placed two fingers on his neck to confirm his death. They examined the body as if looking for something, stopped, and stood. With a series of hand jutsu, they opened up the ground, pushed the body in, and closed the ground back up. They waved one hand around as some twigs came together and formed a cross near the body.
"Why did you do that?" I asked.
"He was just a pawn sent here through mind control jutsu; they weren't involved," they replied.
"How do you know that?" I asked. Then I noticed their breathing was irregular as I inched my way closer to them. They noticed my movements and tried to run, but I had gotten close enough to grab their wrist. It felt thin and frail to my amazement.
"Let go!" they screamed.
"No, there's something wrong! Let me help," I pleaded.
They fell to the ground coughing and gave a faint and weak-sounding demand to let go once more. Before I could say anything more, they blacked out.
This was my chance to get a look at who they really were. Upon shifting the body, I noticed that it was a girl. It was surprising and humiliating at the same time to know that two girls saved me. What was even more surprising was when I actually looked at her face; I was shocked.