Summary: Sakura's character goes through a brief crossover event which will have increasing repercussions. The "Naruto Part 2" series will begin like normal… a few chapters from now. As for the crossover series, if you aren't familiar with it, hopefully the character and situations will be explained enough that it doesn't matter.
Other inspirations and plot directions will be explained as time goes by. Hopefully funny in many places, adventurous in others. The second arc will be comedy/adventure, the third will be dark/adventure. Occasional bad words and some lime scenes in arc 2 and perhaps later.
As per canon, this story begins with Sakura deeply smitten with Sasuke, the tragic and brooding dark genius. Be warned that in the long run, this is NOT a Sakura Sasuke fic.
We begin with Sakura at age 15. It is still six months before Naruto will return to the village of Konoha, and Sakura has completed her apprenticeship with Tsunade…
Sakura leaned back with a satisfied sigh, pushing a loose strand of light pink hair away from her face. The unconscious blonde in the hospital bed in front of her was her best friend – Ino Yamanaka.
Ino was also her fiercest rival. And unlike Sakura, Ino had remained active in the field. The lazy genius Shikamaru had been making a name for Team 10 as he, Ino, and Choji outwitted probes from north and the newly aggressive Land of Sound. The original team had broken up, changed, and then reformed, as each member took their own pace through the chunin promotion. Now re-united, the three members of Team 10 had outwitted a group of six Sound ninja, though Ino had paid for it with a nasty gash across her face.
Back home, in a proper medical facility, Sakura had been the one to see her friend's mutilated face, and the one who was able to repair the damage.
Wearily, Ino blinked, slowly opening her eyes as she woke. She was confused for a moment, then seemed to remember. You could see her expression clouding, as she remembered that from this day on she would be seen as a scarred freak, rather than a desirable beauty. Even more heartbreaking was the blank expression that quickly followed that.
A ninja must never show emotion. Sakura knew that rule far too well, even though she was terrible at following it.
She reached for Ino's hand.
"It's fixed," she said simply, happily. "Good as new. No scar, no torn muscles, no nerve damage. Not even a blemish."
Ino's eyes went wide, as she raised her other hand to touch her healed face. "But…how? It was so deep…so jagged…"
"Tsunade's a good teacher," Sakura explained. "She was able to teach me exactly what to do."
As much as Ino tried to maintain her emotionless mask, the tears were flowing freely. "Tell me the truth, Sakura. I can take it. Will I really look…normal?"
"Completely. Though you shouldn't expect it will make any difference to Sasuke, when he comes back. After all, you still have the same personality."
Ino actually laughed. "If you can joke with me, Forehead-Girl, I know I must be okay."
"You will be." Sakura felt tears flowing down her own cheeks. "After all, I had to take care of you. It's not like I have that many best friends to spare."
"If Tsunade's that good, maybe I should become her apprentice, too. Sometimes, out in the field, I get jealous of you, back here in the village, learning to be such an expert medic-nin."
"Hmph. You're also less likely to get your face sliced off."
"There's that, too," Ino admitted. She looked directly into Sakura's eyes, the gratitude more than evident. "What's it like, to heal someone? To bring them back from hell?"
"The second-best feeling in the world," Sakura admitted.
"Second-best? Then what's first?"
Sakura's face abruptly went blank, as she followed her usual pattern and closed herself off, rather than face the ridicule of those who couldn't understand.
"Sasuke," Ino realized. "Sakura… he will come back. Someday."
"Will he?" The medic-nin busied herself with tucking her pink hair back behind each ear. "Even if he does, what will he care for me? I offered him everything before, and he wasn't interested. He only cares about skill. And mine hasn't grown, Ino. Not like you. If I'd been out in the field all this time, instead of following Tsunade…"
Ino's eyes were leaking more freely now. "If you can envy my life, then I think it must be true. You really did fix my face, didn't you?"
Sakura rose, pulling the covers a little higher on her friend. "I had to, Ino. I couldn't bear to have my best friend hurt. Sleep now. I used almost all your chakra."
"I will, Sakura. Thanks to you, I'll sleep easy." Her final murmur was almost a whisper. "Thank you…"
Sakura slipped out of the room and down the hall.
Sakura found Tsunade in her office, ready for the report. Sakura's rounds had included not just Ino, but the rest of Team 10, two other teams in from the south, and an ANBU member who had taken a spill from a loose roof tile.
The pink-haired teenager gave her summary, including Ino's recovery, and ended with, "I don't know if it's the shock of taking a wound to the face, but Ino sounded interested in doing medic training."
The Fifth Hokage nodded sagely. "We're always short of medic-nins. We've slipped from the point of having a medic-trained person on every chunin team we field. So if your friend asks, what's your recommendation? You know her as well as anyone."
Sakura huffed, blowing a strand of her unique hair away. "I used to know her. She's been taking a lot of field missions, doing a lot of training. Shikamaru and Choji probably know her better than I do, now."
"And you're feeling bitter about that?"
"No…it's just…it's been two and a half years. And my skills – they've just languished. I haven't gotten any better, and I wasn't that good to start with." In one of those unconscious gestures of insecurity, she brought her right hand up to clasp her left arm, hunching her arms in slightly as if giving herself an insecure hug. "Even before, some people thought I was useless…" she admitted, quietly.
"Oh, grow up, girl!" the Fifth bellowed out, as if her volume alone could overpower the basic truth of the statement. "Your genjutsu is top-notch. Admittedly, you've specialized in healing sleep and the like, but with a bit of study you could master a half-dozen offensive forms. And I don't think I've ever seen finer chakra control – ever. It's the control and detail that are usually the stumbling block with genjutsu, and you have both of those mastered.
"And your medical skills – you have a gift, girl! Do you realize how rare that is? You've almost matched me, in two and a half years! Do you think your friend Ino will do so well? Do you think anyone in this village could do so well? Please don't tell me that you regret becoming a medic-nin! If it wasn't for you, your friend would have a very memorable scar. I can think of three dozen people, without even trying, who would have wounds or limps or scars that could either make them miserable at home, or a little slower in the field, which could cost them their lives some day. But under your care, it's always, 'Good as new.' Tell me you don't regret that!"
The slender teenager tightened her self-hug and looked aside, as the floor. "No, I don't regret it…"
"But there are people I care about, like Ino. She's getting so good. Didn't you see her in the last chunin exam? And I got a postcard from Naruto, last month. It's always hard to tell what's real and what insane bragging with him, but I think he's going to impress a lot of people when he gets back."
"Whenever that is," Tsunade muttered. "Jiraiya expects to be out for another six months, at least." She peered at her apprentice. "But this isn't about Ino or Naruto, is it?"
Sakura's gaze remained fixed on the floor.
"This is about the Uchiha, isn't it?"
"I just don't want to be useless!"
"Arggg!" the older woman yelled. "If that boy wasn't already in trouble with the law, I'd be tempted to charge him with criminal stupidity! I swear, between Uchiha and Uzumaki, I often wonder who's the bigger idiot!"
Without realizing, Sakura found herself moving forward, her hands planted on the Hokage's desk. "You can't say that about Sasuke! He's got reasons for everything he's doing! He just … couldn't tell us. But he's the best, the most caring of all of us! He has to be! Look at the sacrifice he's making for us!"
"No, he's a revenge-obsessed fanatic," Tsunade spat out. "Brilliant within the narrow focus of his tunnel-vision, but despite his sharingan, he's utterly blind outside that." She studied her apprentice. "Although I suppose his blindness puts him in good company."
For a moment, neither of them spoke, then Tsunade finally ended the stalemate. "What is it you want, Sakura? What do you really want?"
"I – I'm not sure," the slender girl admitted. "I just don't want my friends to look down on me. Maybe if I transferred to field work – you were just saying you wanted field medics."
"Girl, you are utterly wasted as a simple field medic. But, I'll admit, your remaining instruction could be done from a book, as well as under my tutelage. I've taught you all the specialized skills I know."
"Except for your strength," Sakura reminded her.
The Fifth Hokage sucked in her breath. "That technique – I almost wish I'd never discovered it. The strength trick can't be taught. I've tried. Among other people, I've tried to teach you, if you recall."
Sakura shook her head. "That's because it made no sense! I must have understood it wrong, because everything you told me was practically backwards from what we know about chakra!"
"Maybe we don't know as much as we think we know…" the Fifth muttered.
"Teach me the real technique! You said yourself that I had good chakra control! I'll bet I could master it!" She looked frustrated for a moment. "Isn't control the secrect? Precise bursts of chakra emitted from the hands? Is so, I'll bet I could master it!"
"Yes, that's exactly what I'm afraid of."
"Sakura… you're a wonderful girl. Look at me. I have problems keeping away from saké half the time, we all know what I'm like with gambling…"
"Tsunade-sama, that's not because of a jutsu."
"Are you so sure of that?" Tsunade demanded. "Everyone thinks my 'issues' all began with Dan's death. Well, I let them think that. It's safer that way. And I'll admit that I changed after his death – a lot. Before that I never drank, I could care less about gambling, and I had no problem looking at men, or falling in love, or pursuing a relationship, as I proved through my love for Dan."
"That horrible jutsu – it's an S-rank jutsu, do you understand? It seeks out knowledge. Your spirit is forced out of your body. The jutsu takes concepts from seals and summoning… My idea was that if reincarnation was real, maybe some past self of mine had the knowledge I lacked – strength, skills, mastery, knowledge of the mind and body. Knowledge I could have used to save Dan, or people like him. And in a way, it worked, didn't it?" The hokage gave a bitter laugh. "I gained my incredible strength. I don't even use chakra, it's… it's just different. And it messed me up so bad I couldn't even heal for weeks afterward.
"But don't you see? I gained too much knowledge. Your spirit is forced out of you – it travels through time or space or I don't know what. You touch other incarnations of you. That's the only way the knowledge can cross over. But you get more than dry information. The spirit that returned to my body was changed. Sometimes, I think I was permanently damaged. Along with that so-valuable strength technique," her voice was heavy on the sarcasm, "I came back with a love of drinking, and an addition to gambling. And worst of all," Tsunade turned away, and forced herself to say it, "I was a man. I mean, the part of me that got contacted. I don't even want to talk about how much that messed up my love life."
Sakura stared at the older woman in fascinated horror. "You remember being a man?" The thought was even more disturbing than Naruto's perverted centerfold jutsu.
"Bits and pieces," Tsunade admitted. "You'd have a fifty-fifty chance of picking up the same problem. Half the population is men, after all. For me, I remembered just enough to totally kill my sex life for about three years, and screw up the rest for decades. But I learned a strength trick that no one else can duplicate! Whoop-de-doo!"
Tsunade paused, scowling seriously at the frail-looking girl. "So, do the risks sound worth it?"
Sakura's mind was racing. The possibilities! The knowledge to be gained! She imagined herself with strange abilities that neither Sasuke nor Naruto could match. They wouldn't find her useless anymore! But then she pictured herself with beard stubble on her chin, holding a cigar and a stiff drink, wearing men's undershorts and belching.
Which got her thinking of other questions. "Tsunade-sama, did you ever consider trying it again? Reaching for some other incarnation or whatever?"
"Believe me, this technique is a once-only. After one exposure, the only way you'd use it twice is to perform and extremely slow and painful suicide. I don't think there's anyone whose personality could stand up to a second exposure."
"Is it just random?"
"Noooo… You concentrate on what you're looking for, and your spirit travels to meet the closest match."
"So you could ask for a girl."
Tsunade nodded. "But no guarantees. The closest match. I wanted to be stronger. It was too late to save Dan, but I wanted the strength and knowledge to save people like him. And Orochimaru was on my mind a lot. I wanted to understand his 'poker face' and the moods and secrets that people hide, and ambition. I got all of that, but not quite the way I expected."
"So you saw into a strange man's memories? Someone from the past?"
"It wasn't like that. First, he was from a completely different world, I think. Second, he wasn't 'a strange man.' He was me, once. And for a while, I was him again. Only, this wasn't his world, or his time."
Tsunade dropped her head, feeling miserable with the memory. "I'm not convincing you at all, am I?"
Sakura's eyes had gone wide. Forget about Ino's lousy two years of field work. Who knew what she might learn?
"Sakura – please think this through! You're a wonderful girl! I don't want to lose you!"
"I can handle this, Hokage. I know I can!"
The Over-Used Crossover Corporation, in conjunction with Chee-Z Plot Device Theater present:
ARC 1: Sakura 1/2
I returned to the "real world" with the echo of my demands still running through my skull like a broken record. "A strong girl, a master of taijutsu, with special techniques like nothing we know today. I want to be the best!"
I snorted. I was the best, all right, for all it had gained me. A life of combat and chaos, the strongest fighter, but ignorant and inarticulate and constantly being exploited by everyone. Doomed to endless frustration in love due to the fact that I just couldn't be decisive. I couldn't stand to hurt anyone's feelings. And the things that had really mattered – parents, growing up with a normal childhood, friends who would support me without always hitting me – I never had any of those. If reincarnation was real, in my next life I was going to do things differently!
Only…I realized that I had done things differently. My love life was utterly decisive. I'd offered Sasuke my love, my heart, and my body, and that adorable bastard had sucker punched me and walked away. And I was still in love with him so hard that I wanted to puke.
The disgust of it made my eyes cross. Me, Saotome Sakura, in love with a guy, of all things!
At least I'd done a good job fixing the 'ignorant and inarticulate' part. I'd gone from being the dumbest kid in school to the smartest bookworm. And I'd had loving, normal parents. And I had the very best of friends. That counted for a lot. And even when I clouted them in the skull, they never ever hit me. Yeah, my friends were better than I deserved.
I looked down at my body, seeing myself with new eyes.
Thank god my boobs weren't too big. I was lying flat on my back, and I could actually see my toes. Back when I'd been a guy, my tits had been so huge that I couldn't jump up to the roof without smacking myself in the face, practically.
My eyes crossed again.
I'd deliberately sought out a girl! And I'd found one. Just a girl who was mostly a guy.
"Sakura? Are you there? Are you okay?" Tsunade's voice was worried.
So long as I was hung up on boobs, the lady leaning over me had quite the pair. Absolutely huge. Made my girl-body look like Miss Hinako. In her child form.
"Yeah, I'm okay. Mostly. Can I get a glass of water?" Then a terrifying thought struck me. "Make that two glasses – one hot, one cold."
Reaction set in after that. Tsunade sat there watching me, as I took a sip and then poured the water over my head. I'm sure she thought I was insane.
"Heh heh," I fake-laughed. "No change." Neither glass had any effect, aside from making me wet. I wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad. I wasn't a sex-changing freak, but I was stuck as a girl. Which is what I wanted – sort of. Except when I didn't.
"Crap, lady, you weren't kidding about what that does to your mind. Insert soul, press 'frappe'."
The woman scowled at me. "Sakura, give me a sign that you're still in there!"
Just for grins, I indulged her, talking in my wimpy voice. "I'm here, Hokage-sama. Just a little confused, I guess. But then," I blinked at her innocently, "I've been doing stupid shit in the name of training ever since I was a little kid in my previous life!"
The woman gave a theatrical sigh and rubbed her temple. "I am not letting you outside like that! I'm either going to lock you up where only I can see you, or else send you on a long and distant mission alone, which I suppose might as well be a death sentence, in the condition you're in."
I held my hands up. "Whoa! Hold it, there, grandma! A couple of points here! First, it might not be the death sentence you're thinkin' of. Haruno Sakura don't lose! Although, I could stand to get in shape, I guess. And second, nobody locks me up! And… what number was I on? Anyway, what's wrong with the way I talk?"
"Because you don't sound a BIT like Sakura! This is an S-Rank jutsu. That means, no one is even supposed to know it exists! I told people I got my strength from a secret medical scroll. You can tell them the same thing, if you end up learning a technique out of this. But not unless you can convince people that you're still Sakura, and you won't do it sounding like that!"
"A technique? ONE technique? Listen up, Life Support, I've got more techniques than you've got scrolls in your library!" A memory intruded. "Uh… well, maybe not the whole library. One floor. One room, I mean. But I'm getting off track! I got a lot of techniques!"
The lady in the sloppy kimono just sighed. "If you can remember this later, Sakura, keep hold of this personality or whatever it is. It's a great disguise. Better than genjutsu. I'm looking at you, I've used the technique myself, and even I can't believe this is you."
"That reminds me," I said, "you got a mirror? I mean, I remember what I look like, but then I think to myself, 'That can't be right.' So I kinda want to check."
"Over there. I understand perfectly. Do you actually remember the name of your past life? I never got quite that much detail."
I sat up off the low cot, rising to my feet and feeling how incredibly weak I was. It was like the weakness moxibustion, only worse. It was like being drained by Hinako, only worse. I stood unsteadily and stared at myself in the mirror, comparing the girl I saw to any one of my fiancées.
"What is it with me and red hair? So – not exactly a beauty, am I? Cute, I suppose. Oh, great, just what I wanted. Cute. Nice hair, though. What am I? Some offshoot of the Amazons? How come I got a normal name, instead of something like 'Toilet Water'?"
"What are you babbling about?"
I stepped up to the old biddy and stuck my hand out. "Haruno Ranko – sorry about this."
"Aw, hell, that's not right. I'm… Sakuranbo. No, uh, that's that stupid monk. I mean, I only go by 'Ranko' when I'm a girl. Sometimes. I'm Ranma. Saotome Ranma."
The old woman looked as confused as I felt. I gave her my life story, the abridged version, ending up with my fight against Saffron the Phoenix God.
"It was pretty much more of the same after that," I wrapped up. "Fiancées, fights, but new techniques got more and more scarce. I started spending longer and longer on 'training trips' and out looking for a cure. I'd long since gotten used to the curse, but it made a good excuse." I sighed. "I never did get cured."
"Which one did you end up marrying?"
"None," I admitted in disgust. "Died an innocent young lad, at the tender age of 38. At least I went out defending all of them. Damn demon. Guess I should be glad not to be waking up in Hell."
"You didn't marry any of them?"
I gave a tired smile. "Whose honor was I supposed to spit on? Whose life was I supposed to destroy? Believe me, if I'd had just one, any one of them, but only one, I would have clung to her until the day I died." That's when it hit me, right in the gut. The thought made me want to throw up, but I felt the truth. "Oh, crap. I guess this really is me. I suddenly understand. I gave my heart to Sasuke. It's like fate's revenge or something. I couldn't decide between Shampoo and Akane and Ukyo, so this life I get exactly one. Sasuke. And no matter what he does, or how he acts, or how long I have to wait, it won't matter, will it?"
I collapsed down to my knees, legs splayed to each side in a pose that no male can emulate. Or would ever want to.
"Fuck. I am head-over-heels for a guy. That's just sick."
"You're a girl, Sakura. It's considered fairly normal."
"Yeah," I grumbled. "Just like the rest of my life. And now my death. Real normal … not." I tried to keep from crying, and thereby proving my total girliness and pathetic-ness. "At least he kicks butt. He better not try to kiss me though, or I'll punch him."
"Let me just check on a room for you. Something with a locking door, so no one will … disturb … you. I'm sure that with a good night's rest you'll get yourself more 'together.'"
"Still," I mused, "combat ninja. How cool is that? And a buttload of new techniques to learn. And chakra? What the hell is chakra? And for once, I'm the smartest one in class. Ha ha! Ask me when the battle of Sekigahara was!"
"The battle of … what?"
"Beats me!" I shouted. "But I can recite every rule in the Shinobi Code." Those ran through my head and I realized how ruthless those rules actually were. "Crap, you people train your kids to be psycho killers, did you know that? No wonder Itachi went off the deep end!"
"We're soldiers," the village leader shot back. "Entirely voluntary, and trained from childhood. Was your world any better, with flaming phoenix gods and malignant spirits, or schools with orchestrated attack mobs?"
"Heh heh." I scratched the back of my head in embarrassment. "Actually, that was pretty unusual. My personal corner of weirdness, you know? And we were all fairly decent. Fights to the death, but it was pretty rare that some creep would actually try to hurt someone. The rest of the world didn't have it half so good, what with police forces, standing armies, and all those tanks and fighter planes. But it got so you didn't have to worry about stuff like atom bombs or terrorists with anthrax, or those things so much." I tried to shut my mouth while I was ahead. "Okay, I'm saying it badly. I'll admit, my world had some violence, too."
"Atom bombs? Our tiniest bombs are explosive tags. Why in the world would you need a bomb the size of an atom? And what would you do with it?"
I flushed in embarrassment once more. "Uh, never mind. You're better off without 'em, believe me."
The old battle axe rose up. "Well, you take some time to settle in. I think it'll be a couple of days before you'll be ready to roam the town."
"I told you before – you ain't locking me up!" Then I got a crafty idea. "But I might cut a deal, for some training."
"What are you talking about?"
I held out my skinny girl arm, with its noodle-like muscles.
"Look at these muscles. Or rather, lack of muscles! I probably need both arms to do chin ups! And I'll bet I get tired after the first hundred or so!" My mind and memory revealed the ugly truth. "Fifty chin-ups? I can only do fifty chin-ups? It's not fair! I've got so much work to do! And I've got so little ki that I can't even feel it!"
"Sorry, Sakura. I'm keeping you in here for now. At least until you sound more like yourself."
I screwed my eyes shut and did my level best to restrict myself to being Miss Meek and Polite once more. Okay, I wasn't as bad as Hinata, but what a wimp I'd been!
"Please, Tsunade-sama?" I begged, straining to talk like the more modern, girl-wussy me. "If I were to use your personal training facilities, I shouldn't expect to run into many people. And if there were any problems, I could simply tell them I was recovering from a new medical technique you tested on me. Which is pretty much the truth, after all."
The boob-hag peered suspiciously at me. Finally, "Very well. But if anyone talks to you, you will talk back to them like the normal Sakura that we all know and love, not some psychotic bumpkin. Understood? And I'll interview you again before you're allowed out into the larger village."
"Agreed," I snapped.
Part of me, Ranma I suppose, was ready to grasp at any momentary victory. Another part – Sakura? – knew that these conditions were probably the best we could expect from Tsunade.
So I followed her down the stairs of the tower to a private, well-equipped gym.
I rubbed my hands together in anticipation.
"Okay, let's see what we can do!"
(to be continued…)
END OF CHAPTER 1
Obviously, the crossover series is "Ranma 1/2".
I was deeply impressed by Largo's series, "Wild Cherry Blossom", where Sakura is a reincarnation of Ranma. The image of Sakura kicking butt (with a compelling explanation and a well-crafted story) really grabbed me. Ranma crossovers seem relatively rare, and competent Sakura stories seem extremely rare. In large part, this story exists because I came to the end of Largo's work and wanted more. (Write more, Largo!)
My second influence… I won't reveal yet. Perhaps in sixteen chapters or so, when we begin that story arc.
There are many other good Ranma crossovers, particularly if you jump over to the Ranma section. There is "The Shinobi of Legends" by CrossoverFanatic1, "Ranma's New Path" by Joheru, "Fallen Leaf" by Porthos112, Innortal's "Shinobi 1/2", "Wild Reincarnation" by Ice-Tea-1983 (also inspired by Largo), and most especially the fantastic "Tales of the FoxCat" by Ozzallos. I've placed my story in the Naruto section, though, since it's 98 Naruto and only 2 Ranma. Heck, Sakura/Ranma isn't as out of character as half the fanfics out there. (And that's not meant as a complaint or a jab – that's part of what fanfics are for – to experiment with different characterizations.)
I have plenty of other influences beyond the ones above. I'll mention them as bits of my theft come to light.
Neither Largo nor other authors have been asked permission for my various plot thefts. They haven't given approval, nor do I seek their approval. My rationale: Just as fanfiction freely takes the work of Masashi Kishimoto and mangles it for our own amusement, without permission or approval, I have taken the work of some fanfic writers, and mangled it for my (and hopefully your) amusement.
Disclaimer: I do not own the works or characters created by Largo or Masashi Kishimoto or Rumiko Takahashi. No infringement of any copyright or property is intended.
Finally, a note on spelling and Romanization. Assuming that we don't use hiragana, katakana, and kanji (in other words, we write using a Roman alphabet), we're all spelling the names wrong. At best, we can achieve an approximation of the Japanese rendering. Traditional Hepburn romanization indicates long vowels (long duration) with a macron (hard to type) or a double letter (oo, uu) or an ou. By personal preference, I use a single O or single U. I would spell things "Tokyo" rather than Tookyo, and Hyuga rather than Hyuuga.
Japanese also doesn't indicate plural. In Japanese, you have one ninja or two ninja. (The same way that English has one sheep or two sheep.) But… English has stolen "ninja" and we've made it our own. So in America, you have one ninja or two ninjas. Either is correct, either is fine. But I'll be using the Japanese style, so I won't add a final S to some Japanese words, including nin, ninja, shinobi, kunoichi, and the like.
Next chapter: The new Sakura meets Team Gai, and confronts her best friend and worst rival! Be there!