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Ino doesn’t believe in prophecies. She doesn't believe much of anything except the weapons on her hand and the bitter alcohol running through her veins. Looking at the woman with eerie black veins floating behind the glass makes her wonder if the truth of her heritage was out people would look at her and think the same of her. Like a damned demon. But what better than a monster to fight another?

"How do we get her out?"

"I really want to say let's break the glass, but if we do it this way I don't guarantee your safety."

"What about yours?" Her companion asks with more concern Ino has received in a while. If the goal was making her mushy, Sai achieved it. Getting her to defrost her insides must be an Artisan thing. Better ditch them soon.

"I am never safe. Hey, hold me while I pass down." This is dangerous to do alone not that ever stopped her before. Having someone watching her back serves only to incite her to transfer her mind.

The last thing she sees is a face like white paper with dark splotches of ink on it. It fits a painter like him.

 


 

The rage is suffocating. Just like the strong hands at her throat. That is what Ino gains by doing a good action. Only pain and violence. The void has her in its grasps and two enormous icy eyes stare down at her. She is not welcome here. "What you want? Get out."

"Well, for starters could you release me?"

"My domain, my rules. Would you like to see what I do with intruders?" There is a promise of blood and painful death here. It shouldn't be possible to die inside someone's mind. There is no doubt the voice will ensure it becomes a false belief.

"Nah, I'm cool. You know your body…? - It is your body, right? - is fully dormant out there...? Want wake up?"

The silence stretches for years. In a blink, the hands release her and now a pair of absinthe eyes keep her still. If she survives, this is going to enter the top ten of weird things happening to her. "Why would you do that?"

"What?"

"Why would you free me?"

"I got a guy out there, an Artisan, he thinks you are the Warrior of his prophecy. Something about you fighting and killing Orochimaru so he stops fucking things up?" For a trick of light, green eyes become marrow white before becoming bright green again. There is no light here. "I really didn't pay attention to it."

"And you? You think I am this Warrior?"

"I don't believe in prophecies. But it seems like you got a bone to pick with him." Mirthless laughter follows like scraping metal against metal. The mind is the legacy of blood Ino carries and even this strange mind still plays by some of the rules. She can feel the emotions from her like an echo of her own. And Orochimaru's name did elicit a reaction.

"You aren't wrong. Tell you what, you get me free, I heal you and your friend. And kill neither after."

"Deal."

 


 

Sai knows there are some believe him foolish to go after a prophecy like this. But it gives him hope, and hope has been needed for so long. It will never feed empty bellies for it is fulfilling for his needy mind, and so he goes to the catacombs. It doesn't mean Sai actually believed there was someone there.

But seeing his cuts close and the ache he has carrying for so long disappear he feels some sort of joy burn on his throat. The blonde woman with him keep her hands on her weapons, her hawk stare piercing them with a hint of distrust. It feels right, somehow. Sai has knows she was a huntress when she saved him. The healer is soothing his hurts. And he himself is an artist.

What are the odds he found himself inside another prophecy? Very high it seems.

 


 

Sakura cannot recognize a prophecy when she meets one, but Inner can. And Inner is pleased they can be terrible and release a bit of the millenia rage she has, so she is all for both prophecies. Sakura had no idea there was another. Yeah, no biggie, something, something the Huntress, the Artist and the Healer fight together and love together and live together. You were destined to be.

Both? It feels a little selfish and little wonderful she could have both. She is tired of begging for love. Sakura looks at both her companions. Somewhere along the night, Sai got an arm around Ino and the blonde's hair is covering all her face. The night must be colder than she thought; not like Sakura actually knows. She has gotten used to adjust her body heat unconsciously.

Ino only gets really soft when nobody is looking, and at other times she is like a coiled serpent ready for strike. No, that is not correct. Ino is wisteria, poisonous only if you get near. Pretty from afar, beautiful near and deadly all the same. Ino trusts distrusting and for all she is always smelling like alcohol and perfume of other people, she is always alert. She pokes and probes with the likeness of a surgeon,  operating with a few wounds herself. A part of Sakura wants to keep her safe from whatever hurt her and another wants to tear whatever hurt her. It is easy to banter and talk with Ino, easy to forget the weight of what Sakura must do.

Sai is another creature all together. He has the sharpness of an archer pointing an arrow except he is pointing to a target only he sees and cares few for havoc he is causing meanwhile. He is quiet, like a chessmaster planning his moves and talking only to say check or checkmate. Sai is kind too, on ways she is always pleasantly surprised: a bedding for her even she doesn’t actually need sleep, a question about her dietary needs, small things. Sakura returns it with gifts of her own: her knowledge on the magic he uses, a brush which works as a torch, taking the longest shifts… It is easy to fall on the steps of this dance, easy to make Sakura grow fond of it.

Both? How marvelous it would be to have these two dazzling people in love with her? It seems too outrageous, too ambitious, too frightening.

Both repeats Inner with the certainty the sun rises east and sets werst, that the stars still shine on the sky and that she is right. Sakura envies her for it.



The night passes slowly with no intruders or enemies passing through her range. When the morning arrives and two pairs of hands force her to sleep on a bedding inside the carriage what sparkles on her chest is the smaller of the flames. But it is there and Sakura doesn’t try to stop it.