The pitter-patter of shoes slamming against the ground resounded throughout the devastated forest. It could only be called 'a forest' by people who had known what was here before. Not now. No one who walked into this area would think it was a forest; they would call it a battle-scarred field. No one dared wonder through here, especially not during a war. But, then again there was someone running.
A young woman with pale pink hair, normally bright but currently dull-looking jade eyes, and was dressed in the remains of a war shinobi's uniform. Her dull eyes frantically searching every inch of the so called "forest" ahead of her.
I should've reached it by now. What if I went the wrong way?!
She slowed her running, turning it into a slow walk.
It's possible. I could've got my directions screwed up, I was fading out after –
Her thoughts trailed away. It trailed back to the memory of what happened just before she passed out. The haunting genjutsu, that seemed so realistic, that had been cast onto her by the only man she had loved. Honestly, he would probably the only man she could love. Fear gripped her.
Her thoughts started swirling in her head.
NO! I refuse to pass out now! I need to find them. I need to help them.
The little voice started trying to bring her down.
How can you help them? You are the weak link of the group. You always have been and always will be. You can't help them. All you can do is cry. It's annoying.
I… I don't care! I need to try and help them! Besides, we're Team Seven. It's true though… I am annoying. I am weak. All I do is cry. But not now! I have to fix this, or die trying!
Her feet, the pure sound of them pounding down upon the forest ground echoed, moving her faster than she had been going, faster than she imagined she could move right now. She was tired, constantly healing people, using your chakra to help travel through dimensions, and using her normal chakra-powered punch would do that. Yes, she was tired, but that wasn't going to stop her from finding her teammates and stopping this stupid game they were playing.
To her, all of their actions right now were a game. Part of a strength testing game that had been going on for far too long.
Little did she know, she was so close to her destination. So close to the Final Valley. The battleground that her idiotic teammates had chosen the first time they decided to go all out without interference.
Where are they?
Where are they!
She was getting even more frantic and desperate, if that was possible considering her current state. Suddenly a gasp escaped her lips. They're still alive. Oh, that's wonderful. Yes, it was wonderful. To anyone else, this scene would be a horror show.
Two former teammates and best friends- although one of them would never admit he felt the same- fighting to the death against one another.
No, this scene would surely be part of a horror show.
But to their female teammate, this was a promising sign. One of them could've killed the other by now. If both of them were still alive, then there was a chance that this could be solved. There was a chance, no matter how slim, that Sakura was going to bet on.
Shishou would be proud. I'm gambling on a losing fight, just like her. A small sob escaped. That's right, she's still stuck in the infinite Tsukuyomi, just like everyone else… Get a grip on yourself! There's no time to stand around here!
Her quickly formulated plan was idiotic, beyond idiotic. Naruto's plans were more thought out than this. Her plan could also backfire dramatically. Not only could she die, but it might not be enough to stop them.
Time indeed. Looking down at the scene she could she her teammates getting ready to clash.
Naruto to her left. His normally bright orange outfit was dimmed, covered in blood and dirt. His expression showed that he was ready, but his eyes had a contradicting look in them. He didn't want to fight to the end with his self-proclaimed "brother".
To her right was Sasuke. The man she loved. The man she desperately wanted to save. The one she would give up everything to make happy, even if it wasn't with her directly. She couldn't look at him for too long, and she couldn't look at his face.
"Let's end this."
"I was just thinking the same thing."
The two almost didn't realize what was happening. They were too absorbed in their own fight –or stupidity- to realize it. Their attacks were now clashing, but the sudden color standing in between their attacks made them regret everything. Sasuke had noticed and pulled his attack away. Naruto took a moment longer but did the same.
There she was, as stupid as ever, in the middle of the clash. It didn't feel real.
It's not real. It can't be… Naruto's thoughts raced. There was no possible way that this, this horrific scene in front of him, was real. There was no way that Sakura, being as smart as she is, would have gotten in between their attacks. How could she even be here? She… She can't be here, so it's not real. It's just a sick dream that I'll wake up from…
Naruto attempted to pinch himself. It didn't work. He could still see her. Standing – barely – right where their attacks had met. She didn't say anything. She looked exhausted. But worse than that, she looked dead. There were no words that he knew, or ever would know, that could describe the pain he was experiencing just by looking at her.
Neither one of the boys moved for what seemed like hours. It hadn't even been five minutes since the clash. Naruto's voice cut through the chilling silence.
She heard him. She truly did. She wanted to answer them with an "I'm ok. Just a scratch" but couldn't. That would be a lie, and they – at least Naruto was, to her eyes – were in pain. Funny. Why do they look like that…They aren't the ones standing here in physical pain and so unimaginably close to death…
She couldn't help it, she laughed. She laughed at the stupidity of the situation. This, of course, made both teammates stare at her, as though she was completely insane.
She stopped laughing and was silent for a moment. This scarred the two, terribly. Her eyes were dropping and the silence was killing them.
"Idiots." Both heads snapped back to her. Her eyes were half-closed. She was ready to fall over or die. Either one… She didn't mind. "Naruto. Sasuke-kun. You are both idiots."
She shouldn't be talking... They both thought.
It was true though. In her condition she shouldn't be talking. She really shouldn't be talking when she did the stupidest thing in the universe.
It was stupid. But she did it out of love. She loved both of them – in different ways – and she wished that they wouldn't fight. She only wanted them to get along, they didn't have to be super close, just get along enough that they weren't trying to kill each other every time they saw the other.
Naruto was speechless. What was worse, he couldn't make his legs move. He could get her to someone that could heal her. He could get her to Granny Tsunade. Wait, she's still in the Infinite Tsukuyomi….
She looked at Naruto, "It is ok. I, I chose to do this. I just couldn't watch you two anymore… I'm, I'm not enough to help you two… But I hope that you can see how this effects, effects more than just you two…" She paused and risked a look at Sasuke. "Okay?"
It hurt. Terribly. She could barely breathe right now. But she pushed herself. She needed to hear them answer.
She's in pain. That's not your fault. She deserves to die. She was stupid enough to do that. What was the purpose? Hoping that you'd feel all warm and fuzzy? That you'd decide to stop? She's even stupider than the dobe if she thought that. She doesn't deserve to die. She was just trying to help. HELP?! HA, ISN'T THAT A LAUGH. LET ME HELP YOU. LET ME HELP BY BEING A COMPLETE AND TOTAL IDIOT BY STEPPING IN THE MIDDLE OF A FIGHT. ALL OF THAT JUST TO HELP YOU. WHO WANTS TO HELP YOU?! WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO HELP YOU?! She is stupid. She's an idiot. She's always been one though. She fell in love with me… that alone should say how stupid she is. But, I'm not going to let her die.
Sasuke had been arguing with the little voice in his head. The voice that had more or less decided what he did and how he acted. He had come to a decision. No, a realization. If he let her die, right now in front of him or had killed her himself, he would regret it. He had realized this the moment the attacks hit her.
His conviction was strong, although any conviction that an Uchiha made was strong. This conviction, however, was stronger than any he had had before. He would save her.
He walked up to her, ignoring the sudden look of warning that the dobe was giving him. "Sakura. Show me the hand signs of your healing jutsus."
"W-what?" she couldn't believe what she was hearing. Why did he need the hand signs? Did he want to help her?
"Hurry up. You'll die if you waste any more time."
"T-Teme?" Naruto spoke again. "Teme! Sakura-chan! HURRY UP!"
Hurry up…? Easier said than done… I can't hardly move.
"Sakura-chan~!" Naruto was starting to whine.
She's getting weaker.
Sasuke's eyes focused on her hands as she forced herself to perform the signs.
"Dobe." Naruto looked over at his former teammate/best friend. "What, Teme?! Just hurry up and heal her!"
"She's going to die if you don't keep her awake." Naruto's eyes widen. "WHAT?!"
"Keep her awake." Sasuke moved over and started healing. She's fading.
"SAKURA-CHAN! HEY! SAKURA-CHAN! STAY AWAKE! STAY WITH ME! STAY WITH US! IF YOU DIE THEN I CAN'T KEEP MY PROMISE TO YOU! IF YOU STAY WITH US, I'LL BUY YOU RAMEN! ALL THE TIME! I'LL PAY! MY TREAT!" They both heard her barely audible laugh.
"SAKURA-CHAN! I NEED YOU TO STAY ALIVE! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET HINATA-CHAN TO GO OUT WITH ME IF YOU AREN'T HERE TO GIVE ME ADVICE?! SAKURA-CHAN, I NEED HELP WITH THESE THINGS! YOU TOLD ME THAT HINATA-CHAN DESERVES A CHANCE! I DON'T KNOW HOW TO GIVE HER A CHANCE WITHOUT BEING A TOTAL IDIOT OR MESSING THINGS UP! SAKURA-CHAN!"
Stay awake… She told herself over and over. It was her mantra. Stay with them. Stay here.
She was almost out of the danger zone. "Don't stop yelling now dobe. She's not in the clear yet."
Naruto nodded, "Of course not! I CAN'T LET YOU GET ALL THE GLORY FOR SAVING SAKURA-CHAN!" At this moment, Naruto decided to strike a "nice guy" pose.
"OI! SAKURA-CHAN! AREN'T YOU SO EXCITED?! TEME IS ACTUALLY BEING NICE! I KNOW RIGHT?! TEME BEING NICE!" Naruto laughed. "MAYBE TEME HAS HAD A CHANGE OF HEART?" Naruto looked over at "teme" and smiled. That big stupid grin of his. "Shut it."
"BUT TEME! YOU'RE THE ONE THAT SAID TO KEEP TALKING AND TO KEEP SAKURA-CHAN AWAKE!"
"Hn. Then focus on talking to her."
"SAKURA-CHAN~! TEME IS SUCH A JERK. HOW CAN YOU STILL LOVE HIM?! BETTER QUESTION – HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE ME?" Naruto couldn't resist. He snuck a glance at Sakura and then at Sasuke, the latter was glaring daggers at him. Hmm, is it because I'm teasing or because he doesn't want Sakura-chan to love someone else? Decisions… Decisions…. Naruto decided to push the subject further. "SAKURA-CHAN, I HAVE SOME ADVICE FOR YOU."
"Hmm…?" She answered him, with a voice a little louder and stronger than before.
"I THINK THAT YOU SHOULD FOLLOW YOUR OWN ADVICE."
"Dobe. How is that advice for her?"
"IT JUST IS TEME! SHE SHOULD FOLLOW THE ADVICE THAT SHE GAVE ME. TO GIVE HINATA-CHAN A CHANCE. JUST CHANGE IT, SO THAT SHE SHOULD GIVE BUSHY BROWS A CHANCE!"
Glare. Not just a glare. It was the I-want-to-kill-you-right-now glare.
Teme, teme, teme. It's now painfully obvious to me. You don't want Sakura-chan to give you up. Nor do you want her to go out with anyone else.
Naruto smiled even bigger and brighter than before. Is that even possible?
That smile –
Is just plain creepy.
Sasuke and Sakura were on the same wavelength right then. But anyone who could see Naruto's gigantic, creepy, and bright grin would be thinking the same thing.
"N-naruto…" "Yes, Sakura-chan." The grin never left his face. Creepier. "Would you, uhm, stop staring at us like that?" "Like what?" "Uh, well…."
"Your stupid grin looks creepy as hell. Not only that but it looks perverted."
"WHAT?!" Naruto was outraged. How could Teme say that to him?
"AT LEAST I'M NOT THE EMO ASS THAT FIRST HATES SOMEONE'S LOVE. BUT THEN THE SECOND THE SUGGESTION COMES OUT FOR THAT PERSON, WHO LOVES ME, TO MOVE ON, I GET ALL PISSY!"
Sakura was way too lost in the conversation. Her head hurt. She watched them, hoping that they would NOT start fist fighting. Please not right now….
-BICKER- -BICKER- -BICKER- -BICKER-
Finally Naruto had reached his limit.
"FINE TEME! BE LIKE THAT! BUT YOU CAN'T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO!"
'What?! When in the hell did we start talking about cake?"
"IT'S AN EXCEPTION –"
"EXPRESSION." Sakura corrected him.
"YEAH, EXPRESSION. JUST LIKE YOU CAN'T 'HATE'" Naruto performed air quotes around the word "hate". "SAKURA-CHAN BUT STILL BE SELFISH AND NOT WANT HER TO MOVE ON. YOU CAN'T EVEN SEE IT YOURSELF CAN YOU TEME?"
Naruto paused. "YOU. LIKE. SAKURA-CHAN."
"YOU LIKE SAKURA-CHAN, BUT ARE TOO STUBBORN AND SELFISH TO ADMIT IT. YET YOU DON'T WANT HER TO MOVE ON, EVEN THOUGH IF YOU DON'T TELL HER, THEN SHE WILL MOVE ON. WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT."
"Naruto… Did you suffer worse head injuries than I can see?" Sakura asked carefully.
"WHAT?! NO! I'M FINE! I'M TELLING THE TRUTH. I'M GIVING TEME ADVICE!"
Sasuke watched this scene in front of him, half interested in it and half interested in the thoughts spinning inside his head.
Do I like Sakura? Is that why I had this strange feeling that I needed to save her? I don't know...
Memories floated through. Ones that he had held back for so long. There was no little voice – the evil voice – yelling at him. Another realization.
"Shut it dobe." Both turned to look at him.
He knew he should give her time. That if he tried too hard to change and be who he should be around her, it would only push her away. Especially after everything that they'd been through.
Screw it. I'm tired of waiting.
Naruto wished he had a camera. This was priceless. This was amazing and awesome and perfect.
I wish everyone else could see this! Sasuke had taken his chance. He kissed her. In front of the dobe… Naruto was witnessing this. So it meant that if she pushed him away, screaming at him that he was heartless, Naruto would be able to tell all.
But his worse fear – for now –that she would push him away, didn't happen.
At first, Sakura was too stunned at the sudden development. She shouldn't want this but she did. The words rang through her head as she deepened the kiss.
I love him. I love Sasuke Uchiha. Through and though. Faults and mistakes. Only him.
Neither one seemed to care that Naruto was now jumping up and down excitedly, screaming about how happy he was… that was until a certain part caught both of their attentions.
"IMAGINE IF YOUR SONS HAVE PINK HAIR!" Fits of laughter from Naruto. "A PINK HAIRED MALE UCHIHA!"
Well, it was nice while it lasted. Sakura thought dimly.
She was surprised. Sasuke surely wouldn't even consider being with her – especially not long term – if there was a chance of what Naruto just suggested.
"Why do you look depressed?" She looked up to see him. "Did you not get enough?" It should have annoyed her, but when he says it like that, with his infamous smirk, and looking at her teasingly, she definitely couldn't be.
"What happens if I say no?" Is she trying to tease me now? Hmph. She'll learn.
This kiss was totally different from the first. The first had been very gentle, as if conveying all his worry and fear to her. This was the exact opposite. It was rough, passionate, and conveying every hidden and thus unspoken feeling from him to her.
Naruto decided to recover at that point. "WOAH! SAVE IT FOR LATER! EW! I REALLY DON'T NEED TO SEE YOU TWO MACKIN' ON EACH OTHER!" He was ignored. "TEME! SAKURA-CHAN! SERIOUSLY! SAVE IT FOR THE HONEYMOON!"
Even though Naruto protested, he was too happy to actually be grossed out by the scene. His teammates, Teme and Sakura-chan, were FINALLY able to be together. FINALLY! Teme better be coming home now. There's no way that Granny Tsunade will let Sakura-chan and him have a relationship if he isn't in the village.
There was no doubt in Sasuke's mind. He would head home. Back to the Leaf Village. He would make himself into someone that Sakura could be proud to say that she loved. He would become a better man.
No matter the humiliation. No matter how annoying. It's all for her. I love you, Sakura.