"This mission, I thought will be completed for you Naruto so that you can have your dream, I will not fail you!"

Chapter two
The River

My travels through the wind country had not been fine and complacent, our relationship with the Sand Siblings should have made my passage through easy but of coarse things do not always go to plan. I was ambushed by three Chuunin wind ninja's, although they would have been fairly easy to defeat the idiots made me chase them across the desert in an attempt to keep my travels a secret. After hours of chakra enhanced running and the occasional fighting, I finally dealt with the flighty ninja the old fashion way; kunai and samurai. Although, I am not impressed with the situation as I used up most of my chakra and it will take nearly twelve hours for it to replenish itself. Also, if those ninja's know of my travels then who else does and more importantly how do they know? It was only Tsunade sama and myself who had such knowledge.

I should have continued pondering but I find myself confronted with a more troublesome, as Shikamaru would describe it as, problem. Now ninja's from all sorts of hidden villages would scoff at the predicament faced before me, but not Sakura! I see the danger that lies before me clearly and will not be fooled by such innocent pretences.

A damned gushing, rushing and spluttering river.

Great, just bloody brilliant. A massive river that can't be leapt over and is too tumultuous to simply walk across not to mention my limited chakra supply, I have to swim through it to the other side. My pack and all of my stuff is going to get wet and become useless, I'M going to get wet. This is all his fault.

Just what I need right now, to be confronted with the most debilitating weapon against a female ninja is just not fair. I was hoping to get away with no straightener for at least three days, but once a drop of moisture lands on my pink locks. Ka-poof. Alas, it must be done; I must cross the river and seal my fate.

I flopped onto the slippery bank of the river, seating myself in the oozing mud, I removed my ninja sandals and attached them to the side of my pack. I unclipped and slid my overstuffed pack off my shoulders and commenced to hold it above my head in a vain attempt to keep it as dry as possible during my trip through the river.

Dipping an uncovered toe into the rushing water before me, I shuddered at its icy chill, "AGH!" I cried aloud in frustration. Shrilly squawking and squeaking, I slowly walked into the freezing water wondering the entire way whether I was sane for simply not finding another way around the debilitating water. Albeit this was the quickest and most efficient way across; however, as the water lapped at my sensitive stomach this was not the foremost thought rushing through my mind. Something more along the lines of, "Curse you Tsunade! Damn you Naruto! Burn in hell UCHIHA!"

Ack, great. The sub freezing temperatures of the water surrounding me has forced me to utter his name, just bloody brilliant. More of a reason to loathe the mere air he breathes.

I was now up to my shoulders in the rapid water, with it splashing my face and threatening to tip me over. My pack was still raised above my head, shoes dangling hazardously from the side yet still dry. I'd admit although that my arms were getting sore and tired as the blood rushed out of them, but not as tired as my legs were becoming; fighting against the current had proved to be more difficult that I had anticipated. Pushing some chakra into my calves to add to my strength, I preserved forward. I soon entered the most tumultuous area of the rapid river, immediately I was gasping for breath as I battled to keep my footing. One foot in front of the other became easier said than done. Gasping loudly I pushed more chakra into my weakening legs, fighting against the power of mother nature.

A sweat broke out on my forehead, but was soon washed away by the waves and splashes. It was then I made my mistake, out of sheer frustration at the situation I pushed too much chakra into my calves creating too much force onto the already unsteady and unbalanced river rocks beneath my feet. The rocks below me gave out and in a matter of seconds I was submerged in the rapids, flailing and scampering for the waters surface. When I surfaced it became extremely obvious that the water was now taking me down stream at an extremely fast rate.

I hollered loudly but only managed to emit a strangled, "WAhh- gah—" before being dunked beneath the water once more, my pack was ripped from my hands. I was thrown around like a ragdoll, my body contorted unwillingly and unwittingly into painful positions by stretching and pulling at my muscles. The pain was nearly in comparison to being hit by a Hyuuga's gentle fist, except that this was prolonged and entirely mother natures doing. I pulled my hands threw the brisk water, in a vain attempt to stay afloat and close to the beloved air that I craved but was unsuccessful. The water pulled me deeper and deeper under the surface, although I could not tell where I was or which way was up as the water encompassing me had transformed into a wash of white cloud.

I started to panic when the tightening in my lungs began to burn and ache in an insistent manner. If I did not receive air soon my extensive ninja career not to mention my life could be cut short in an instant. However, I soon forgot about the burning sensation in my chest cavity and was brought to the more alarming incident inflicting pain on my hip and upper thigh; I had hit a rock or at least a very solid tree branch. I didn't have much time to focus on the throbbing on my right side as almost immediately I was hit from behind and was now dealing with a tearing feeling on my back, this time it was surely a branch as the stinging feeling and the blood now swirling around the mess of water indicated a gash.

My terror only rose when I realised that my incessant flailing to reach the surface was completely in vain, and my head started to become light. Dark spots started to appear in my vision and the squeezing and burning sensation in my chest only increased tenfold by the second. Fighting viciously against the strength of the current, I pulled aggressively and desperately at the water surrounding me. My vision was just a small crescent now, a glimmer of light bursting through my hindered sight but I would not give up. I had gone through too much to become a world class ninja and kunoichi just to fall prey to a measly puddle. Gritting my teeth against the almost unbearable pain inflicting my back, thigh, hip and lungs I drug stroke after stroke of water in the direction that I could only hope was up.

My throat was beginning to close up as the pinprick of light now entering my darkened eyes began to brighten quickly; I pushed harder with the unparalleled motivation of desperation thrusting me forward. My hand burst through the surface of the tumultuous rapids and soon my face erupted behind it while my arms continued their flailing as I fought to stay afloat, desperate gulps of fresh air flooding down my oesophagus and setting my lungs aflame. My strands of my pink hair sticking to my gasping face, my eyes were wide and my mouth imitating a distressed fish.

After the first few seconds of animalistic determination to survive, the black spots in my vision began to clear and I snapped back into ninja awareness by scouring the immediate vicinity for oncoming danger. I almost groaned aloud at my situation, I found myself halfway down a rushing rapid and was about to enter a particularly steep rock and branch infested section. Before I could be plunged into the treacherous depths of the water before me I pulled a string attached to my customary red zipper vest and hoped to Kami that the floatation portion of my multi-facetted outfit was still functioning. With a loud whoosh my red Haruno vest inflated in seconds just as I was swept over the edge of the steep decent into rocky hell.

My arms ached and shook violently as I dragged my sodden and beaten self out of the shallow water and onto the stone covered river shore. My arms gave out and I landed on my stomach that was accompanied by a loud, "oof" sound, rolling over onto my back I lay there for awhile just trying to catch my breath.

The rapids had been exhausting and life threatening, but because of my now deflated jacket I was able to survive by using my left over chakra to repel myself off and away from the rocks before they caused too much damage. The rapids had ended with a ten metre drop into a calm and serene lagoon, a stark contrast of the hell I had just encountered.

My eyes were still sealed shut as I counted out my deep breaths, trying to accommodate the piercing stitch that had developed in my side. I hadn't had a stitch since my Genin days when Kakashi would make us join Team Gai in laps around Konoha. The rapids today however, had made me utilise different muscles, endurance and techniques that I had never even dreamt of.

Blinking consecutively at the stinging sensation in my eyes from having them open underwater for so long, I tried to the best of my current ability to analyse my surrounds. The waterfall that I had plummeted over at the end of my river rapid ride was the only thing moving in the small clearing that encompassed the lagoon. I soon spotted my pack laying on the shore some metres away from where I had collapsed and scowled lazily at my earlier stupidity. If I hadn't been so worried about getting my hair and items wet I would not be in this situation.

I quickly wrapped a large bandage from my medic nin kit around my middle to support the deep gash on my lower back and drained a vile of pain killer. However, the bandage was almost immediately soiled as the blood streaming from it was continuous and strong. The wound expanses from one hip to the other in a slightly diagonal line, well that's what I had concluded anyway. I made a quick equation in my head that I usually used on the field with wounded ninja; how long I could live without treatment to my back. I calculated thirteen hours.

Completely drained in chakra and energy I slowly strapped on my sopping pack, wincing at the effort before slipping on my shoes. Noticing a nearby path I began to make my way towards it, if I had any chance of finding out where I was and getting some rest so that I could tend to my wounds I would have to find a town. The path that lay before me was my best bet of finding aforementioned civilisation.

Each step hurt as my now wet ninja sandals were rubbing uncomfortably against my soft and pruny feet, not to mention that my body was beaten far worse than any ninja could have accomplished. Mother Nature would have made one hell of a Kunoichi. So to take my mind of the uncomfortable situation I now found myself in, I began to process a plan within my brain.

When I had crossed the river I had been four hours away from the nearest town; however, I had no way of judging how far the river had carried me or in what direction. My maps were ruined, so that was a no-go and my radio to Konoha was electrical thus consequently shot. Yes, my best option was to find the nearest village or town, revive my chakra, give myself medical attention and find out where the hell I was so that I may continue on with this joke of a mission.

Once again, this was all his -Sasuke's – fault.

I had blisters on blisters and it was dark by the time I saw the soft glow of artificial lighting in the distance, picking up my pace I soon found myself stumbling down the muddy main road of a backwater town known as Koisha – well at least that's what the sign said. Despite the small size of the village, Koisha was actually a very busy place as I found while weaving my way in and out of commonly dressed village folk. I clutched my bruised hip as I hobbled down the road scanning the advertisement and shop signs for anything resembling accommodation. I had reached my limit, no chakra and injuries did not bode me well, if I didn't find somewhere to rest soon things would become very unfortunate.

The villagers that hurried to and fro all seemed wary of my presence, and I did not blame them. A strange girl wanders into your home town covered in blood, torn clothing, hobbling and with unstraightened hair; of coarse they are slightly iffy about her. Just making sure I don't draw any unwanted attention to myself, I really was not in the mood for a fight right now as I need my beauty sleep.

At last, once I had nearly walked the entire length of the village and accordingly the main road, I finally spotted a sign that indicated to an inn. Following the directions on the sign I weaved down some back roads, and slowly hobbled towards a large double door with the insignia Myst Inn. Although I was tired beyond belief, I still pieced together that Myst was just a play on letters and that I must be near the Hidden Village of Mist. Way off course, that river carried me much further than I had assumed. I decided to use this information later after I had rested, my mind switching to thinking about treating my feet to a nice comfortable bed as I approached the doors.

Just as my hand touched the painted gold handle of the door, I had the strangest feeling of being scrutinised intensely. My Kunoichi senses were going haywire, but I decided to push passed them and enter the Inn despite the odd sensation rippling through my body. Villagers had been ogling me from the moment I had step foot onto that main road.

The lobby of the Inn was quaint and cosy, a respite from the muddy and harsh conditions I had just encountered. A fire crackled in its brick enclosure and the overstuffed couch hosted a strange looking man that kept his face in the shadows, he too made my suspicions rise but I pushed them back down. I shuffled to the oaken desk, trying not to transfer too much mud onto the wooden flooring or in my strenuous case, blood. Just as I leant on the wooden desk for support a man with a handle bar moustache popped up from behind the counter.

"What may I do for you today?" he quickly greeted her, his eyes roving my tattered appearance.

"I need a room" I said simply, hoping that the man would get the idea and just give me a key.

He seemed nervous, but I did not blame him, housing ninja's was risky business.

After a long pause, the man seemed to put two and two together and realised that I was in desperate need of reprieve.

"oh- yes- but of coarse, I will – ugh- just get you a key ma'am" he stumbled while shuffling papers and attaching them to a clip board and sliding it over the counter at me.

Raising an eyebrow at the details form, I stated "I'll make sure to fill this out" before stashing it in my still damp pack.

The man looked at me for a moment with a look that said he might protest, but once more glanced at the blood soaked bandage around my middle and the cut on my left cheek before going back to his search for a key; "Very well".

I shifted my weight onto my right side before wincing and putting it back onto my left, my hip was either fractured or heavily bruised. Either way it was going to take a lot of chakra to repair.

"Ah, here we go" the old balding man finally announced, "Room for one, with an ensuite. This is what you are after?"

I simply gave him a curt nod, before snatching the key from him with speed only a ninja can possess.

I didn't look back at the old man, I did not care if he was affronted by my behaviour or if he was frightened. All I cared about was making it into my new abode and leaving the last twenty-four horrendous hours behind me.

Making a strategic guess that the room numbers went from left to right in the tight hallway, I stumbled towards number five. The key clutched in my slightly shaking hand jingling in a joyous manner that I was not appreciating, my head feeling like it may split open at any moment and leave a god-awful mess behind. With one hand leaning against the frame of the door for support, I jabbed the key into the lock and twisted it with a last ditched effort for the rest I was craving. When the locked gave that almighty click I pushed the door open with the entirety of my body weight, I fell threw the door and slammed it behind me, not even bothering with turning on the light.

My breathing was laboured as I dropped my pack and stumbled towards the outline of the bed. Just as I was about to flop onto the bed, two large arms encompassed themselves around my shoulders and thrust me into a close-by wicker chair.

"Long time no see, Sakura."



Here we go.

Chapter Two, things will start to speed up from here on. I really hope you enjoyed this chapter, i tried to convey just how life threatening the situation Sakura was in was so i hope you liked it.

I'm just writing this as a side hobby to placate my literary aspirations, so dont judge me too harshly.