I don't own Naruto.

Hold On To the Other Light



Chapter 1

Twelve year old Haruno Sakura sighed as she walked along the streets of Konohagakure no Sato, the Village Hidden in the Leaves. Naruto and Sasuke were busy training for the finals of the Chuunin Selection Exams, in which Sakura failed to qualify for since her match against Ino ended in a draw. Sakura is disappointed that she did not get to join her teammates; then again she knew that she has not been working too hard on her ninja skills as she should have been. It was hard because of her stupid, stupid crush on Uchiha Sasuke. She knew that she should not been obsessing over a guy that could care less about her, but Sakura felt something weird every time she tried to stop liking Sasuke and treat him normal.

Sakura kept walking the streets of Konoha. All the people seemed to be passing by her like she was standing still. She spotted people she knew. She saw Ino talking to her father, as Sakura passed the Yamanaka Flower Shop. Ino's father is a Jounin, that Ino got instruction from on their special techniques. She passed Kurenai and Hinata, eating lunch together at a restaurant near Ichiraku's Ramen Stand. Hinata had a close relationship with her sensei Kurenai, who trained and treated Hinata with respect she never got at home. Sakura sighed once again as she passed Tenten and Neji from Team Gai walking side-by-side headed towards the training grounds. Tenten is respected by her male teammates and even was the preferred training partner of Hyuuga Neji, even though he was kind of a jerk.

Sakura did not come from any special Clan. Hatake Kakashi, her team sensei, seemed to take care of Sasuke more than Naruto or her. Sasuke and Naruto hardly had respect for her, Sasuke probably hated the ground she walked on for being so annoying and Naruto may like her but treats her like she can't take care of herself. Sakura knew that Kakashi probably thought that she was weak and going to quit being a kunoichi and Naruto was right in the fact that she couldn't take care of herself.

She had parents, she had team, comrades and a rival, all of them took care of her like a baby. She could not stand it. Sakura walked faster this time, making people stare at her funny. Soon she got into the area where all the training areas were. She hopped into the trees and jumped from tree to tree using her almost perfect chakra control to go faster.

The wind in her hair, her heart racing, this feeling of freedom from her pathetic existence was a good one that she wanted to keep close to her. However, because of her lack of endurance and low chakra levels she got tired quite fast. She stopped and jumped out of the tree to the ground. She screamed in rage at herself.

"WHY AM I SUCH A LOSER? I CAN'T KEEP DEPENDING ON PEOPLE TO SAVE ME! WHY CAN'T I GROW UP," snapped Sakura at herself. She began crying uncontrollably. She hit the tree trunk lamely. "Ow, stupid girl, don't break the hand. Maybe I should just give up like my parents and Kakashi-sensei expects me to." The tears kept coming out of her eyes as she furiously rubbed her face, trying to dry it. "I want to stop crying, I'm so weak!" She took off her Konoha headband and hugged it. Then she put it where it was supposed to be on her forehead, just like in her match against Ino. Sakura kept crying, sitting and leaning against the tree she tried to punch. Her knees were brought to her stomach and her face was buried in her knees. Her body shook

Sakura was so angry and frustrated at herself for breaking down like this, like the useless weakling she is.

Suddenly, her head was lifted up and her green eyes bore into black onyx eyes similar to those of Sasuke but these had more emotions in them, more kindness. The person had her hand lifting her chin and Sakura was blushing, embarrassed that she was caught crying. Sakura knew she was safe, seeing the woman looking at her intensely was wearing a Konoha headband.

"Why are you crying," the lady asked.

"I don't know anymore," Sakura sniffled. The woman stared at Sakura with her black eyes for a few minutes. She, then, put her other hand in her pocket and took out a handkerchief. The woman wiped Sakura's face. The black eyed woman hugged Sakura, shocking her.

"It's okay to cry when you're hurt," said the lady. "It doesn't make you a weak person." Sakura's eyes widened and unconsciously hugged the woman back. Sakura felt that this woman hugged similar to that of her mother. The lady broke the hug and stood Sakura up; with such strength that Sakura was envious of her. "I'm Izumi, and you're Haruno Sakura, correct?"

Sakura looked shocked that someone knew who she was, someone she never met before. Sakura couldn't bring herself to talk and just nodded. Izumi patted Sakura on the head.

"Would you like to spar," asked Izumi.

"Oh, I wouldn't be a very good sparring partner, I'm only a genin and," started Sakura. Izumi laughed in a way that reminded her of someone, but Sakura couldn't put her mind to it.

"Just go with it Sakura-chan," said Izumi, winking playfully at her.

"Alright then," said Sakura. Fifteen minutes later, Sakura was so tired and Izumi did not even break a sweat. Sakura was internally was impressed with Izumi's skills and equally pissed that she showed a complete stranger how weak she is. Izumi took out a small notebook and wrote something down.

"Are you busy tomorrow, Sakura-chan," asked Izumi. Sakura shook her negatively. Izumi ripped the piece of paper out of the notebook and handed it to Sakura. "That's my address, come to my apartment five tomorrow morning."

"Huh, Izumi-san, I'm confused," said Sakura, stunned.

"Just trust me, okay," she replied, jumping up into the trees and sprinting away. Sakura stared at the address on the piece of paper.

Sakura woke up at the crack of dawn at three thirty in the morning, the next day. She took a shower and ate a quick breakfast. She dressed in her normal clothes and headed outside by four thirty. The brisk morning air was comforting. It was fresh and gave Sakura energy to walk. She located the street of where Izumi's apartment was situated. She climbed the stairs to the top floor and knocked on the door.

Izumi answered the door and looked surprised.

"You actually came, interesting," said Izumi, grabbing her bag and joining Sakura outside. Izumi was wearing black shorts and a tee-shirt. Her black hair was up in a tight bun compared to yesterday hairstyle which was completely down and loose. She locked her door. "So have you ever gone to The Breakfast Pancake House?" Sakura blinked.

"With my parents a few times, why," asked Sakura.

"Good, let's go," said Izumi, walking down stairs. "Come on, Sakura-chan, we have a busy day ahead of us." Sakura looked confused but followed anyway. The Breakfast Pancake House was the place to eat the best breakfast ever, and it was all the way across town from Izumi's apartment. They walked leisurely in silence to the restaurant. Sakura did not know what to make of Izumi. The black eyed lady was nice, warm, and generous. She was probably a Jounin or something that was stuck in town because of the Chuunin exams.

When Sakura arrived at the breakfast place with Izumi, they entered. Izumi asked for a table for two and the host smiled tiredly. Once Sakura and Izumi were seated, they got the menus.

"So, Sakura-chan, what would you normally get," asked Izumi.

"Er, a couple of pancakes and orange juice," replied Sakura. "But I already had some toast before I came to your place."

"Pssh," said Izumi. "That's not a breakfast. A young girl such as you needs a hearty breakfast especially before a big day of training." Sakura's eye lit like fireworks on 4th of July. Izumi is going to train her. Perhaps this is just what Sakura needed. Izumi ordered them some food.

Sakura ate every bite of her breakfast and was very full but happy. She had been watching her weight, as not to get fat so she would be more attractive to Sasuke. But somehow she really could not seem to care anymore. The two left the restaurant and Izumi led Sakura to the shopping district into the weapons shop that Sakura had always wanted to go into but never got a chance to before today that is.

"Ah, Izumi-chan, it's a wonderful morning, is it not," said the shop's owner and blacksmith.

"Yes, sir, it is. My friend here needs some new shuriken and kunai," said Izumi, putting a gentle hand on Sakura's shoulder.

"Coming right up," said the owner.

"Izumi-san, you don't have to buy me new weapons," said Sakura. Izumi waved her off and went to see the other merchandise. Sakura watched Izumi picked up some things and brought them to the counter. "Weights, what are those for?"

"You, of course," said Izumi. "It'll help improve your endurance and stamina. These are special ones that change weight, according to the one wearing its chakra supply." The owner came back with two boxes, one of kunai and one of shuriken. The owner priced everything and Izumi paid for it. Izumi took the bags that the owner put the items in and Sakura followed her outside.

"Thank you so much, Izumi-san," said Sakura, bowing gratefully.

"Pssh, no problem," said Izumi. "We're not done, let's go." Sakura and Izumi headed to a clothing store. Sakura wondered if something was wrong with one she was wearing. Izumi simply grabbed few red tee-shirts and bought them. "Now, follow me." Sakura followed the black haired woman into the training grounds where they first met yesterday.

"Now what," Sakura asked. Izumi took one of shirts she bought out of the bag and threw the shirt at Sakura.

"Put that on," said Izumi, turning around. Sakura blushed but nonetheless took off the red dress she normally wore leaving only her undershirt and black tight shorts. She quickly put on the red tee-shirt.

"Done," said Sakura. Izumi turned and took out the weights.

"I have to put them on you," said Izumi, motioning for Sakura to come over to her. Izumi put wrist weights on first, then ankles weights. Sakura, then, got weights for her upper arms. The last weight Sakura got on was the one on her back. All in all about forty pounds of weight was added to Sakura. She nearly fell over, but Izumi helped her stand. "By the end of the day, you'll be used to them. Now remember as your chakra reserves got up, so does the weight. Only take them off for bathing and before you leave for C-rank or better missions, D-rank I'd keep them on."

"Okay," agreed Sakura. Izumi was being so kind to her, helping her train.

"Now, let's begin," said Izumi, smiling.

End of Chapter