Disclaimer: Shit not mine.

Chapter One

It was a long time before Sakura Haruno opened her eyes. She could tell by the thick layer of sleep that had to be rung from her crusted eyelids. The stiffness in her tired bones and the feel of poison still running through her body were also indicative of her long slumber.

The ground beneath her felt hard. Solid, and uninviting. That was strange. Naruto had usually allowed her the comfort of a futon ever since he'd kidnapped...?

Some of the memories from the day before slowly crept back in. Kyuubi. The fucking Kyuubi no Kitsune, and lil' Sakura Haruno was now the Jinchuriki for it. Or was she...? Had it all been a dream?

She finally turned her mind away from thoughts and to the outside world.

She blinked. For some reason she'd thought that travelling through time would place her right back in the shoes of her younger self. Looking down at her body, she realized that it had. Figuratively.

In the more literal sense, Sakura wasn't anywhere nearher past self's shoes. The pink haired nin lay butt naked on the edge of the world in far northern earth country. Upon her significantly smaller left breast lay the greens blues and reds of the Kyuubi's seal. Intricate patterns that quite frankly gave her the coolest fucking tattoo this side of the edge of the world.

That said, she was now going to have to make her painstakingly slow body travel all the way back to Fire Country. She frowned. "Well this sucks."

Thinking hard she focused all her energy in contacting the Kyuubi. Hey! Naruto... er... Kyuubi? Are you there?

No response was forthcoming.

After several attempts she decided that he simply was incapable of speaking to her. Even though he couldn't, she could tell he was there. Her veins seemed flooded with some form of putrescence. During her days as a chunin, she'd been poisoned once or twice, but this wasn't like that. It felt sickening but at the same time... pleasant?

It was the feeling of having a teammate you weren't too familiar with watching your back. Comforting but at the same time, worthy of wariness. It was the sour taste of an apple that was not yet ripe. The music your friends love and you can't stand.

Did Naruto feel like this all the time?She thought wonderingly. Probably, she decided. But if he'd housed the Kyuubi since he'd been a child it was unlikely that he'd ever known the difference.

She sighed.

Well this was an irritating situation. No food and at least twelve miles from the nearest village. People weren't fond of living close to the edges. Any of them. That, and she didn't even reallyknow if she was actually in the past.

Her body was definitely...! Surprise took her. And her eyes widened.

God damn I was a tiny little thing!She hissed at herself as she overlooked.

The weakness from before had faded. She stood with no trouble and walked around as if she'd just had a great night's sleep.

"Well!" She said wonderingly. "No time like the present!"

With that, the pink haired girl gave the edge of the world a salute, taking one final glance at the picturesque thunderstorms and the cliffside that stretched down into darkness arrayed out before her.

Then she turned and began walking down the mountain.

In the manner of ninja, everything and anything could be considered a form of training. Sakura Haruno was one of the best, and therefore she took that to an extreme.

How feeble was this younger body? Very, unless she missed her guess. But luckily, she realized quite quickly that not all had been lost.

Her feet were accustomed to this body. She didn't step with the long gait of a seasoned jounin. Instead her footsteps were the inexperienced toddle's of a genin. She didn't find herself tripping every time she took a step, or overestimating her reach with each punch. Her body was her body, as familiar as her jounin body was now foreign.

Her thoughts turned back to her memories. Feats of physical prowess she had committed in her old world were now viewed with utter and complete awe. Only the knowledge that she had truly been capable of such power kept her from believing her memories weren't just figments of her imagination.

She was a thirteen year old girl who'd been gifted with the memories of a much older self; not a seasoned jounin who had been placed in a younger body. And that counted for quite a bit. A young body with a mind that suited it, could be trained, rather than retrained. Training something one didn't know was a thousand times easier than forgetting something one had learned wrong.As her body was so small now, everything her older-self had been capable of would've been wrong. Lucky indeed.

She sat on a tuft of grass, wishing vainly for a pair of clothes. Her breath had run away from her and now she sat trying desperately to catch it. As she did so she fondly reminisced of a time mere days ago when she could have run as far as she just had without breaking a sweat. Four miles. All her tiny body had been able to manage was four fucking miles before near complete and total exhaustion had begun to overtake her.

God damn. She knew she'd been weak as a genin but god damn.

True, she'd been running on trees and over open water but still! Four miles?Meeeeh...

Even so, one takes what one can get, and the fact that she could finally use her Chakra again after two months under Naruto's kidnapping did feel wonderful. Meager as it was...

She sighed, idly wishing she could find out if her bloodline was still active. Her money was on 'no'. Ever since she'd gained her own bloodline she'd made an effort to study them as a whole. Her efforts had proven fruitful. Her private belief was that a bloodline would not appear until a ninja had chakra levels strong enough to sustain it. Her own bloodline hadn't appeared until she'd turned fifteen... A rather depressing thought.

Still, feeling the Kyuubi's poison-sugar chakra knitting her aching muscles back together gave her confidence that her own limit would appear much sooner than last time. Being a Jinchuuriki had to count for something, right? Naruto had been a chakra powerhouse during those short few months they'd been teammates. All those fucking shadow clones...Unless she missed her guess her own Chakra would start to be enhanced by Kyuubi's.

In fact, she could almost feel it.

She blinked, suddenly excited with the thought of using her own massive army of Shadow clones. Oh what fun she could have! By god! Her entire style had focused on Taijutsu. If she had shadow clones...!

She was nearly giddy with anticipation by the time she realized that her earlier exhaustion had almost completely dissipated. Once she realized thather jaw dropped.

"Ten minutes...?" She thought giddily. "Ten minutes and I'm ready for another four miles? Oh Naruto... You would've been a Hokage to shake the foundations of this world."

She was struck with a pang of regret. Remorse for the time she'd wasted. Wish I could be there now. As it is I'm probably going to have to talk myself out of missing nin status...

As if the thought had been some sort of trigger, the world shifted. Reality itself stretched and bent around her. The landscape seemed to bulge like a drawing on a balloon. Sakura watched as the scenery seemed to collapse and expand whirling around as if she'd suddenly become utterly drunk. "Wh-what's happ-!"

Reality made one final stretch. And then snapped back into place. A completely different scene greeted her eyes though as the dimensional shifting finished its work on her. Her feet, no longer shifted on dirt and plains, but were instead encased in the chilly touch of slightly wet grass.

"S-Sakura!" Came an ecstatic cry that the pink haired ninja hadn't heard in nearly seven years.

She snapped her face back around to find the blond boy from her memories wearing that same hideous orange jumper. His eyes were wide as saucers and a small trail of blood was peeking out from his right nostril.

"Naruto!" She exclaimed in shock. "What are you...!"

She started, suddenly realizing that she was nowhere near the edge of the world anymore. Not even in Earth Country. Instead she was in... in...?

A forest? No. A woods.

Wait... something is wrong here. The pinkette thought wonderingly trying to figure out why spiders felt like they were crawling around her skin.

Then she realized... not spiders. Eyes.

"Uhm... Naruto. Could you turn around please?" She asked sweetly, trying lightly to quell the rage that burbled within her as a reflex from the youthful Sakura. When Naruto failed to turn around, his eyes still lingering, Sakura allowed a tick to begin throbbing on her brow as anger entered her tone. This reallywasn't how she'd wanted to meet him.

"Na-ru-to!"She enunciated hatefully.

"Gaaah!" The boy screamed and turned quickly. "I'm sorry Sakura-chaan! I didn't mean...! I uh..."

"Just shut up and get me some clothes baka!" She said, folding her hands over her breasts in embarrassment. "I've had a bad couple of days..."

"Uh, Right!" He scrambled, banging his thigh into a short bush in his rush to get to his pack some ten feet away. Where were they? This woods seemed strangely familiar...

Now what in the hell just happened? She thought worriedly. One second I was in the middle of nowhere and the next Naruto's staring down my...!

Her chest. The seal! Oh holy fuck...

Well, cat was probably out of the bag now. No use complaining. All she could do was hope that Naruto had been too preoccupied with her chest to notice.

Didn't even take fifteen minutes. Dammit Kyuubi...

She took a moment to get her bearings straight. It was late afternoon, and nearly sunset. The ever-shifting way the sun moved near the edge of the world had obscured the actual time of day from her before. The light was dim. Almost dim enough to have cast a shadow over her frame. Maybe he hadn't spotted the seal… maybe.

They were in a thicket of trees with relatively clear amounts of underbrush. Sakura turned to look at Naruto as he frantically searched through his pack. She giggled as he pulled out a white shirt, sniffed it, and then immediately discarded it with a gagging noise. He pulled out another one and did the same. This one he gave a short nod to and proceeded to withdraw a pair of blue sweatpants that surprisingly looked as if they might've never been worn.

She scanned the trees and near where Naruto had been standing before, and she found what she'd been hoping for. A series of scratchmarks climbing right up the side of a particularly tall oak. Those scratchmarks created an unerring sense of nostalgia. The scent of this place. The beauty of greenery mixed with the scent of human decay and starvation...

Wave Country.

Kyuubi had said that the edge would take her back to a time when her chakra coils were small enough to accommodate him. It nagged at her that her chakra had been thissmall as a genin, but what was she going to do? Complain? Pah.

Unless she missed her guess, the tree-climbing exercises during their mission to wave was Sakura's first true expanse in her chakra levels. So she'd probably been taken to a time just before that.

That explains my age. Now how the hell did I get here?She thought. It seemed she had somehow teleported directly to Naruto.

"H-here you go Sakura-chan! I'm sorry about... er... I didn't mean to...!" The boy approached walking with his eyes shut tight and clothes held as far away from his person as possible as if they were angry vipers about to snap out and bite him.

"Thanks Naruto." She said warmly, accepting the clothes, and knowing she was already acting out of character. She quelled the initial need to punch him again and put the clothes on quickly. They actually fit irritatingly well. Naruto was a skinny kid without that jumper on. Cute little dweeb. But later... who could say how far he might go?

Hokage? Well within his reach.

"S-Sakura-chan?" He asked warily. "Uhm... I... was just wondering where you've been for these past three days? We were really worried about you." He asked warily. "Even Sasuke-teme! Though he'd never admit it."

Another unexpected emotion cropped up in Sakura that she quelled with unbelievable fervor. Her older memories showed her just how wrong that road would take her. No. No swooning over Sasuke for her!

"And how did you just, appear out of nowhere like that!" Naruto asked suddenly excited. "Can you show me? God it would be so cool to be able to do that!"

Sakura blanched. "Uhh... I really don't know. I was... I just decided to come back but got in a bit of a hard situation on the way. I'm not sure." She flushed a little, embarrassed by the eagerness of the boy's request. How had she forgotten that smile? How had she forgotten that unbearably irritating grin? Or the incessant yammering for training? Heh heh.

Through her aged eyes he looked so silly. But the younger part of her disagreed.

This idiot is the reason we don't have Sasuke-kun yet! Shannaro!

Sakura's eye twitched. Was thatirritating figment still hovering around in her mind? Oh right. It didn't really shut up until her bloodline activated. Pah.

"Oh... well that's okay. Kakashi sensei and Sasuke teme will be happy that you're back! And... uhm... I'm happy too. We really were worried Sakura-chan."

Sakura bowed her head in apology. "Sorry to have worried you guys. Uhm... where... where are we exactly? And where is Sasuke-kun!" She gushed, in an effort to comply with her role as the boring, talentless, sasuke-whore she'd been in her younger days.

"In the forest near Tazuna's house!" Naruto exclaimed. Everything was an exclamation with Naruto. "Come on, we gotta go tell the others that your okay! I'll introduce you to Tsunami!"

Sakura sighed, but nodded. Time to face the music.

Sasuke raised an eyebrow. From her years as his teammate and their subsequent relationship and split, Sakura could tell that this particular expression was as close screaming "What the Fuck!" as Sasuke might ever get.

Kakashi was far less readable.

His eyes curled up into silly grins and he made all the motions of an accepting team leader... but something was just slightly amiss.

"As punishment," Kakashi intoned from behind the cover of his precious book, "Naruto and Sasuke will both fight against you. Be relentless boys. Teammates do not leave without telling each other where they're going. Especially not on a mission so serious as this."

Sakura bowed her head. "I'm sorry sensei..." She intoned grimly. The emotion wasn't fake either. She'd disappeared mere moments after the battle with Zabuza it seemed. Any good shinobi should feel utter guilt for leaving teammates behind, no matter who they were, and no matter why. A lesson Kakashi had instilled within her well. "I swear, it won't happen again."

"Where did you go?" The leader asked, putting his book down and gazing at her with eyes that were harder than she'd ever remembered.

"I-I... was afraid. I was so useless in the battle with Zabuza... I thought. I thought maybe I should just quit. But I'm over that now. I'm going to become stronger..." She grimaced at this next part. "...for Sasuke-kun!"

Kakashi seemed to accept that with short nod. Even so, she knew he was suspicious. No team lead wouldn't be. She'd have to be cautious. Random character quirks rarely meant that a person was changing. No. To a seasoned ninja, character change usually meant they'd been infiltrated.

And they damn hell never meant that a time traveler had stepped back a few years into her own shoes.

Sasuke's eyebrow was still raised. Was the image of her in Naruto's sweatpants and tanktop really thatunusual? Apparently so. She faced the two boys with trepidation. Sure she had the years of experiences from an elder jounin version of herself, but she didn't have that woman's muscle memory. She didn't have that woman's bloodline. She didn't have her speed, strength, chakra levels, and felt she didn't have an ounce of her charisma.

In short, this was going to hurt.

"Begin." Kakashi intoned.

Sasuke disappeared like lightning. Her older mind wanted to follow but her younger eyes had no experience in keeping up with him. Sasuke and even Naruto were both her superiors in every way.


"I'm sorry Sakura-chan." Naruto said, his eyes shining with the apology. "But you can't worry us like that again! Kage Bunshin!" He exclaimed, his fingers moving toward the obligatory hand symbol with ease.

Instinct alone saved Sakura from a sudden barrage of shuriken from above, while Naruto's army of a mere seven clones circled her. She skipped backwards, listening to the thuds of the throwing stars slamming into the soft ground below.

One of the clones came in with a swift punch and she ducked under the wild swing, smacking the clone in the face with an uppercut that burst the construct into oblivion. Three more approached, but she was unworried about them.

Sasuke's fireball blaring down from atop her was far more intimidating.

She scrambled to get away and just barely escaped as the burning fireball consumed the three Naruto clones, as well as a good sized patch of land, behind her.

"What the hell, teme!" The pink-haired genin hissed hatefully, and blinked when she realized she'd spoken in tandem with her blonde teammate.

"I just about had her!" Naruto whined obnoxiously, and Sakura sighed with relief. Back then, er... now, Sakura wouldn't've dared called Sasuke a bastard. Then, she grinned. Maybe if she could play the two off against each other, she could win without even a bit of her advanced jounin skills.

That this body didn't have...

She silently made the seal for Kawarimi along with an impressive bunshin for a genin just as more shuriken were about to find homes in her body.

She saw Naruto's eyes widen in horror from her position hidden well in the trees as her genjutsu-crafted bunshin became a human pincushion with a scream and a spray of blood.

The same technique Kakashi had used against the demon brothers on the road to wave.Sakura recalled vaguely, knowing that she had a reasonable way to explain the use of the technique.

The fake Sakura popped, revealing Sasuke's equipment bag. She didn't know where the Uchiha was hiding, but she gave a small private grin at the thought of his face knowing that he had destroyed his own stuff. Ha, ha. Sucker!

During Naruto's moment of surprise, Sakura ghosted in for an attack as best as her genin body was capable. Which was pathetic. The second she slipped from her tree cover she was spotted by allof Naruto's remaining three clones.

Her feet scuffed on the sand as she sent a punch towards one of the smiling blondes but the boy dodged it like a fly, falling onto his back hands his foot lashing out with a hammer of a kick.

Sakura wished she could dodge, already knowing the attempt would fail, but she leaped to try anyway.

Her chakra, weak as it was, did not support the jump she was trying to make, and so she ended up three feet in the air instead of twelve when Naruto's foot slammed straight into her thigh, flipping her in mid air.

She landed painfully on her side her face smacking hard against the dirt. The only saving grace was that her fall had been broken by the clone who poofed out of existence as soon as she landed on him.

"Get her!" Naruto shouted, launching his own Kunai to follow his two remaining clones.

Muscle memory at work, Sakura snatched the thrown-weapon from the air and hissed as the blade cut into her hand. Stupid weak body! Ignoring the throbbing wound in her hand, she flung the kunai and her own array of shuriken towards where Sasuke was still hiding in the trees.

Then as quick as she could manage, she dashed for her own cover, away from the clearing where Naruto and his endless supply of clones were king. As she ran, she lobbed two more shuriken and saw the two clones surprised eyes widen just before they popped as well.

"Damnit! Teme are you going to help or what?" Naruto yelled, his eyes scanning the trees to find his hidden teammate.

Sakura grinned, despite her throbbing hand, and the minor concussion she suffered from Naruto's painful kick earlier. She performed a henge.

"If you weren't such a dobe, you might be able to beat her without help." She voiced, her henge giving her Sasuke's lower vocal chords.

Naruto growled. He performed his usual hand seal and some thirty clones erupted within the field each spreading out into the woods, most likely in search of Sasuke over Sakura. "Shut the hell up teme!"

"That isn't me, dobe." This from the real Sasuke, caused Sakura to curse. She expected the bastard to stay silent. Hmph. Well maybe she could play it two ways...

"Whose a dobe, Sasuke? How high are you on the trees? Seven feet? I'm already at fifteen!" Sakura bragged just after henging herself into Naruto.

An aura of killer intent that frightened Sakura's youth, but made her scoff with her older memories lit the clearing and surrounding woods. Hah! She'd hit a nerve! Without warning, four of Naruto's clones that were still hovering in the clearing popped out of existence as wires constricted around them. Oh, damn, she hadhit a nerve. It was working!

Then, clones began popping left and right as Sasuke began attacking Naruto full out. It was possible that he was hoping to find Sakura's henged form, but far more probable that he was just pissed with the blonde shinobi.

Without warning the two materialized in the middle of the court, already engaged in a heated trade-off of taijutsu. Sakura growled. These damn geninwere too fast for her to see? Well she'd have to change that.

Sasuke threw an uppercut followed by a roundhouse that both missed as the blonde monkeyed his way around them. He threw a feeble punch of his own, but it was enough to force the black-haired genin back, giving the blonde a half a moment to breathe. Naruto's signature jutsu echoed throughout the clearing and Sasuke was suddenly on the defensive as eight more clones surrounded him.

The pink-haired ex-jounin had to admit, the Uchiha had a flair for style. He weaved through Naruto's reckless punches with the expert ease of someone who had been fighting the same person for months. Not skill, well not purely. Just knowledge of how Naruto fought.

Luckily Sasuke wasn't the only one to pick up knowledge on his opponent's fighting style. Naruto held up a hand and suddenly all of his clones disengaged. Sasuke's eyes widened in surprise as Naruto gave him a thumbs up, then jumped back.

The raven-haired nin's eyes only widened further as he realized that Naruto had lead him into a trap. Two clones had been sawing away at a tree, with... by god was that a third clone hengedinto a jigsaw? Now the burly tree tumbled right for where the Uchiha stood.

Sakura let out a giggle at the comical expression on Sasuke's face as he just barely managed to escape the largest of the trees falling branches, diving to get out of the trap's range. The humor was compounded by the all of the clone's shouting "Timber!" Oh Naruto. Some of the silliest ways to attack, but it was amazing how they worked. Her mind took her back to the Zabuza fight, in which his clone had henged into a boomerang.

Good times. It was hard to remember that she was right back in them.

Sasuke's clothes were torn, his epically cool demeanor shattered with rage burning in his eyes. He stood, tearing the twigs of the fallen tree that enclosed him off as his eyes snapped on the laughing blonde.

At that moment, Sakura caught the ghost of an eye watching her and she knew Kakashi had witnessed the whole thing. The man was clearly still tired from his injury but he waswatching the fight with profound interest... for him anyway.

He was suspicious of her. Well nothing new there. Ninja don'tdisappear for three days. It just isn't done unless there is no other choice. Then again Sakura had never been the most stalwart ninja during her early genin days. He might be able to believe that she needed a few days of soul searching. Even so...

If I were him, I'd be assuming Sakura was dead and this was an impersonator. She realized with sudden horror. But her rational mind was already coming up with a solution, and by the time Naruto and Sasuke had engaged in battle again, Sakura was already feeling better. She had a plan. And a fight to win.

Well, if I want to win this fight now is the time. While both of them are distracted... hell I didn't even get hurt too much!

She jumped to a nearby tree to get closer to the two genin below her, and retracted her thought. She didhave a light concussion. Pah. She could deal. Both of them were going down.

The two boy's battle was heating up now. One on one; Naruto's clones had all been dispelled. Sasuke was angry, but Naruto wasn't any less so. The fight of rivals. Of silly boys who couldn't get enough of the spotlight.

She leaped over the fighting pair, both too engaged in their match to notice her. Knowing which of the two targets was the more dangerous, she went for Sasuke first.

A surprise haymaker smashed the raven haired boy in the face and sent him flying into a nearby tree, knocked out cold and disengaging him from his heated battle with Naruto.

The blonde blinked in utter surprise. "S-Sakura? He asked, his fist suddenly missing their target. Confusion crossed his face and it cost him.

Sakura leaped, flipping in the air in a text book flying roundhouse to smash directly into the boy's boulder of a stomach. He doubled over as she landed beside him, but she gave him no chance to recover. Her elbow smashed him in the back of the head, slamming him face first into the ground.

Unconscious. And Sakura Haruno is the winner! Chacha! Her inner Sakura did a victory dance in her head and she let it blow hot air around. The figment of her imagination was rapidly losing cohesion anyway. Might as well let it live while it could.

A slow clap echoed across the clearing as Kakashi strolled into view. His nose was miraculously not inside his Icha-Icha Volume 7and instead was trained straight on her. His single eye was curled into a smiling upside-down U. "Congratulations my cutest genin! You did fairly well, though trickery is not usually advised in a friendly spar."

Sakura cringed. Oh yeah. He's definitely suspicious. No worries though. I've got this...

"Friendly spar my ass-! Er... I mean, uhm... Kakashi sensei. That wasn't really a fair fight. How else was I supposed to win?" Sakura asked, using her most convincing, "I'm a weak lil' genin, Help Me!"voice.

That way Kakashi had of grinning with his eye became even more apparent. "One of them is finally getting it." He said more to himself than to her. "Sakura, you have no idea how far your teamwork will rise after today." Then he turned to the still unconscious Sasuke lying slumped at the bottom of a tree, his hair hiding what was surely a beast of a swelled cheek. "Quite the hit. One might almost think you have a bit of anger for him. I am surprised."

Sakura merely shrugged and smiled. "I am a little angry I guess. At both of them. Fighting with the Demon Brothers and then Zabuza... I felt so left behind." A true statement if ever there was one. "Best in theory... It doesn't count for much in the real world, does it sensei?"

"Not a drop." The man said with a grin. "But... well. Maybe a little bit. Good henge. Even I was almost fooled."

"Really!" Sakura asked, the excitement of the compliment filling both old and young Sakura with pleasure. Kakashi doled them out rarely.

The white haired jounin nodded. "Now let's wake up these two and see if they've learned anything."

"Okay!" Sakura exclaimed. Well, the jounin was still suspicious, she could tell. But luckily, Kakashi wasa lazy bastard. Even if she was an infiltrator he probably wouldn't engage her mid mission.

If I were him I'd start asking subtle questions... trying to weasel out village codes that only a genin of Konoha would know.

"Tell me Sakura, since we're on the subject of theory. Who ended the Solstice Rebellion seventeen years ago? The question has been in my mind lately and I've been having trouble remembering... But you know a lot of things like that."

Like clockwork. She thought with a slight chuckle.

"Oh, uhm. Wasn't it the Hyuuga clan lead? Morituri? No it was Morituso..." She fumbled. She knew the answer clear as day, but as a genin, this would seem to be just a polite question. Genin were only trained to look underneath the underneath once. For jounin? Underneathwas a building with forty stories.

"That'sright!" Kakashi exclaimed joyously, the laugh of a man who'd remembered some nuance that he'd forgotten. As an actual jounin she would've been hard pressed to note the question as a probe for her identity. But she was looking for it now, and she was ready.

"You see the main character of this story is a stoic bastard named Moritumo, who keeps getting into the most interesting situations with women...! This one time he winds up with two girls in the middle of the southern Jungle in Tea Country and...!"

"KAKASHI SENSEI!" She yelled hatefully. She didn't even have to act for that one. Kakashi and his books. Even as she walked away in a huff she hid a smile. Volume 7 hadbeen a pretty good one.

"Sakura-chan that was awesome!" Naruto gushed for what seemed like the hundredth time. "I mean, you played us against each other like, "Sasuke I climbed the tree higher than you" and "Too bad you can't beat her alone, dobe" and then you...!

"She gets it, dumbass." This came from Sasuke, who was still sporting a swelled cheek and an even more bruised pride. An icepack was gingerly held to the side of his face but he somehow managed to play it off as if the icepack were merely an article of clothing, and not an emblem claiming "I got beat!" to the world.

He did have the grace to congratulate her though. In his own way. A 'hnn' that ended with a nod. She knew it well. Smug, teme.

"Next time, just try not to get so distracted. You two are at each other's throats with the slightest provocation! Its... its unprofessional!" She said, vainly trying to get the boys to see the reason in her words. They held much wisdom, and surprisingly neither boy seemed to take them lightly.

"Now Sakura, since one of the boys already told you," Kakashi interrupted lightly. "I've been having them work on tree climbing."

Sakura grinned. "Yeah, Naruto told me." He had told her several times in fact. "But I... I think..."

She took a step, placing her foot flush against the side of the tree nearest her and walked straight up without the slightest hint of difficulty. It was even easier than she remembered it being the first time, and even then it had been simple. "Hey, this is cakewalk!" She shouted joyously. She pretended not to notice both of the boys glaring subtle daggers at her.

And so time passed.

The days seemed to fly by for Sakura. She barely remembered times like this. Joyful times training with friends. Sure her two friends were boys who were at each other's throats more than they cared to smile but hey, they were kids.

Despite the animosity between Naruto and Sasuke, Sakura had never had so much fun. The past few days, flirting with Sasuke to keep up appearances and answering Kakashi's odd questions in a suitable geninly manner brought her happiness like that which she could barely remember.

Her family. It was like she had it all back. And she didn't know if she could ever let it go.

She was certain that Kakashi and Sasuke both had noted her oddities. She wasn't half so clingy with Sasuke as she remembered being. She interacted with Naruto on a far friendlier basis than she had before. Laughing and joking with him about all the nonsensical ideas he had.

"When I'm Hokage, I'll make sure there is no such thing as orphans!" He had once proudly claimed.

To the widening of both Sasuke and Kakashi's eyebrows, Sakura couldn't help her response. "That will be a wonderful thing to see, Naruto."

His widened eyes when he realized someone agreed with him had been the highlight of Sakura's whole day. Of course then he'd ruined it with a proclamation demanding all Konoha restaurants serve at least one type of ramen.

But talking and flirting wasn't the extent of her time spent with her old team. Training was the larger part by far.

Ever since she'd beaten the two of them, they had both had the opportunity to redeem themselves and sparred against her together. As Kakashi had claimed, their teamwork had skyrocketed. Sakura's ass had been cleanly handed to her without even a half a spec of effort, and any attempt to turn either boy against each other was met with a ruthless sense of "I don't care what you say dobe/teme. Kill Sakura."

It was fricking awesome.

When Naruto and Sasuke worked together… truly worked together? Sakura was unsure if she could've stood against the two as a jounin. Her bloodline was something else but Sasuke's precision with Naruto's unpredictability might've been enough to overcome even the strongest of foes.

Even Kakashi had been impressed with the two's sudden and unrelenting increase in ability when they both had the same goal.

But she was catching up. If Sakura had to guess the Kyuubi within her was expanding and increasing the capacity of her coils by the day. It had probably doubled or even tripled within the first two days of tree climbing alone.

Her punches had gone from things to be wary of for the two boys, to "Danger: Avoid at all costs!" Her long years spent learning taijutsu had given her everything she needed to bring herself to greatness once again. And she felt herself come closer by the day.

The hindrance to that? Kakashi of course. She had only slipped up with her futuristic knowledge in any noticeable way once. A spar between herself and Sasuke had led them particularly close to a nearby pond.

"Kick his ass, Sakura-chan!" Naruto called from the sidelines.

"No problem!" She returned not taking her eyes of the black haired genin and giving him a malicious grin.

"Che." Sasuke replied, a sort of wary grin on his face. After that first spar he had learned to his peril that Sakura was no longer willing to pull punches on him. He discovered that the girl had strength behind those fists. And once he'd discovered that, he demanded that she give her all.

He was an avenger, and no opponent was going to baby him. He had someone to kill, and if Sakura had an ounce of use to give him in training, then he would take it.

She gaveher all.

She spun forward with a round house kick, that Sasuke narrowly bounded over. Spinning in midair, he sent his own foot careening towards her face. Her hand caught the limb in a war of chakra control and strength. She grinned as he began to fall, but her grin fled as his other foot snaked in around his first, catching her hard in the chin.

She sprawled backward, but recovered in a backflip, her face now indented with the design of the sole of the Uchiha's shoe.

She ignored Naruto's giggling from the sidelines.

"You can do better, Sakura." Sasuke intoned. "I've seen it."

The girl blinked. Inner Sakura giving a rather joyous leap at the black haired ninja's words. She was surprised that a little bit of pride from that compliment came from herself as well as her younger form.

Well. Perhaps she still cared a bit for the Uchiha after all. Cheating bastard that he was… Then again, maybe he would be a better person this time around.

Maybe he'll be worse.

They flew together again. Fists smashing one into the other, feet colliding, and kunai being deflected left and right. Her control met his finesse in a dazzling display of genin impotence.

She caught a lucky punch, bashing his face in, but too late did she notice the Uchiha's plan. He'd taken the punch on purpose, in order to open her defenses.

God I suck so hard...Sakura thought as she dodged a sharp uppercut, already knowing that Sasuke's other strike was coming too fast for her to even block. The sidekick flowed out from his leg like liquid taking her in the stomach and once again sending her flying. This time nearly four feet over open water.

She tried to catch her footing, but her control flaked out on her. For just a moment, she stood on the water, coin balanced precariously on its edge.

Then a fireball seared her body to a crisp. She screamed as she fell in.

"Rematch!" She bellowed as she parted the water's surface, her tiny frame freezing in the water's early spring cold. She wishedshe could use what little chakra she had left to warm herself, but at least the burns were already healing. God damn Kyuubi had a sweetass healing ability.

As she pulled herself up the rocky shore Naruto was there in an instant with a blanked wrapped around her frame.

"Oh... thanks Naruto." She said graciously, and then menacingly turned her eyes back to the Uchiha. "Reeematch!" She squealed girlishly. Good ole' Naruto. Why had she hated him so much? Hell, with how cold she felt she might love the boy already!

EEEWWWW! Inner Sakura bellowed with all of its remaining strength.

The Uchiha stood there smirking at her. "Alright. Sparring you beats fighting the dobe any day."

And thus the two boys began to fight again while Sakura rested and watched on the sidelines. It was really kinda of cathartic.

Neither of the boys had noticed, but she caught Kakashi warily eyeing her for all the next day. Only then did she realize that she'd nearly walked on water. Had to watch that...

Inari was his usual crybaby self; this time around Sakura felt much less sympathy for the whimpers of the stupid boy. She didn't have to worry about that much though. Naruto would straighten him out, one way or another.

Tsunami was... well... a housewife. A housewife without a husband. It was almost piteous to see her. So... so dull. Sakura could never imagine such a life. So peaceful. Watching the woman cleaning dishes after each meal almost hurt her after all she'd been through. Where was the excitement? The rush?

Then again... she had a family. A real family. Something Sakura could never have. Barren. And Tsunade the great, again failed to help Sakura Haruno. Yet another reason to hate medic nins.


"-abandoned me! Still don't understand how the little pinkette could just abandon me for three days! Ninja, pah! I don't care how impressive their skills are they're all jus' kids to me!" Tazuna's loud voice carried in from the kitchen ringing throughout the house at some ungodly hour of the morning.

Sakura's eyes were still filled with sleep, and no small amount of irritation at the old geezer. How many more times could she apologize? It's not like she'd had control over where she'd appeared! The damn old bastard just wouldn't shut up!

"I'm going to find Sasuke-kun." She said as she stood, leaving a half eaten plate of bacon and eggs. Inari took them without complaint as she left the house.

Now where are those two?She thought curiously. The morning was sunlit and filled with dew and moisture and wetness and all things that made Wave Country a year round spring nation. Sakura wandered around for a while, hunting through the various places where she might find her two teammates.

After an hour she began to grow irritated. Dammit! How far into these woods did you two go? Wish I could find Narut-Hey!

As happened before, reality again began to shift. The landscape expanded and contracted like a spring. But this time it happened quicker. The world gave a final stretch imitating a cat before pouncing, tail coiled.

Then everything snapped back into place to a different scene. A very similar scene. But different. A forest clearing lay before her with several trees, each peppered with the scratchmarks of a genin training to climb them.

Naruto himself lay in the middle of the clearing, flat on his black and ignorant of the world around him. Fool. An enemy nin could-!

"Hello." Came the soft voice of a girl behind her.

Sakura didn't let the girl know she'd been startled but turned around anyway. She locked eyes, and knew instantly who this was. A blue haired ninja who'd fought her two teammates while she was a coward...

A very long time ago.

Haku noticed the tense. The wariness, and the way Sakura looked at her as if she were a predator.

"Is... something wrong?" The girl- Sakura blinked- boyasked. She had never truly interacted with the blue haired assistant to Zabuza. Hell the mission to wave had been a colossal sign pointing to just how useless she was at the time. If her memory served her well, she'd passed out from the release of some godly killer intent that felt vaguely like Naruto's.

Now she knew...


It was amazing how many things clicked when she thought of Naruto housing the Kyuubi. Hated by the village? There was a good reason. Dead last? Untrained by the prejudiced teachers. Lived alone? Who would care for the Kyuubi? His fight against Orochimaru in the forest of death? His endless shadow clones? His occasionally red chakra?

It all made so much more sense now...

Well. Sakura wasn't going to shun him this time. Or ever.

"No... Sorry. You just startled me a bit." She said in an effort to placate the imploring eyes of Haku. "What are you doing here, if I might ask? This place is rather... remote."

The boy posing as a girl grinned slightly. "There is a certain type of herb in this region that is good for healing. I hoped to find some when I stumbled across..." She gave a nod in the direction of the sleeping boy.

Inwardly, Sakura cursed. Dammit Naruto. This probably happened last time. How easy would it have been for Haku to kill him? Pah...

Well she was here now.

"He is rather cute, don't you think?" The girl asked suddenly, completely derailing Sakura's train of thought.

"Wh-wha...? The baka? No wa... well... er..." Younger Sakura's habits had flown in place of her normal self's tongue and it took a moment to get that particular habit under control. Naruto wascute. Even her younger self should've been able to admit that; if only her head hadn't been shoved so far up Sasuke's-!

The boy giggled, and Sakura was having doubts about her own information gathering. All her jounin senses told her this was a boy, but dammit he was one good actor. "You've never thought about him? Prefer the darkhaired one?"

"I... hey! How do you know about him?" Sakura asked warily as she let her hand hover over her kunai pouch. Two could play coy, but she was pretty sure both knew the other's identity.

"Come now. Lets not fight here... Today is... too good of a day." The blue haired boy said, gazing at the sky in wonderment.

Sakura followed his gaze. Indeed it was. But few fighters she knew would ever care, let alone postpone an inevitable fight for a beautiful sunrise. Even so... "Alright."

They stood in silence for a time before Haku returned to the ground and began gathering more of the plants into a cutesy wicker basket. What a screwed up kid.

"What is your name?" The green-eyed genin asked.

"Haku. And yours?"

"Sakura." She replied easily. Then, more worriedly, she cut to the heart of the matter. "Why... why didn't you kill him? He's your enemy right?"

Haku's eyes turned downtrodden at that. "I don't kill. It is my way... I fight to protect my precious person. But I have never had to kill."

Sakura blinked at that. No wonder Naruto had lived. Assuming he'd ever spoken with this strange boy in a past life... they were so similar.

"I... Thank you." She said oddly. Never had to kill? She remembered thinking Sasuke was dead for a day or two after the bridge battle back then. But he hadn't been. He'd lived. She could believe, she supposed.

"He's alot like you, you know." The pinkette told the boy fondly with a nod towards Naruto. "Always goes on about his precious people. Protecting. His dream is to become the greatest ninja that ever lived."

Haku's eyes shone at the change of topic. "Is it? And what is your dream, Cherry Blossom?"

My dream?

"I... I don't know." She replied sadly, her thoughts trying to find some meaning. Why had she come back in time anyway? Pity for the Kyuubi. But had her life reallyturned out so bad that she'd needed to change it all?

...Yes. Yes it had.

"I just... don't want to be alone." Sakura confessed. Then she blinked. What was it about this boy that had her opening up so easily? It must be the effeminate manner.

Haku mearly gave her a smile. "A worthy dream. A worthy dream indeed."

With that, the boy stood up, and walked out of the clearing, his basket filled with herbs to heal her enemy.


An idea crossed Sakura's mind.

Oh yes. She was going to assassinate Gatou.

She went over to wake up the blonde.

"Idiot!" Sakura raged at the blonde-haired shinobi. "You don't...! fall asleep...! in open clearings...! on enemy...! territory! What if you'd been assassinated! You could've died! You... stupid...!" Each word was punctuated with a haymaker the likes of which Naruto had never seen from his female teammate. Each could've dropped him right back into unconsciousness and with each punch the girl seemed to get even moredistraught.

"S-Sakura...chan?" Naruto asked, genuinely shocked at the tears in the pink haired girl's eyes as she screamed at him, her words stinging more than her punches, and her swings leaving indentions in trees and kawarimi logs.

"You could've died!" She repeated. "And then where would I be...? Alone with pervert-sensei and Mr. Feelingless? You can't do that..."

"Sakura...?" Naruto just didn't understand. The girl had spent so much time claiming to hate him. Where was this sudden worry coming from?

"You can't leave again. Promise me Naruto! You'll never leave! Not me... not Konoha! Okay!" The girl asked finally coming to a stop to stand, breathing heavily as she stared the blonde down.

"Sakura I'd never leave Kono-!"

"Promise Me!" She bellowed, over echoing his denials with a ferocity that Naruto had nothing to compare to.

What does she mean... leave again? I've never even left the city until this mission. Naruto thought, warily. Even so, he saw worry in her eyes. And it touched him.

"I promise, Sakura-chan. I'll never leave Konoha... except for missions and stuff, you know." He said.

Sakura gave him one more hard menacing glare. Then she nodded. "Good."

She turned around and strolled to the edge of the clearing. Before she left him, she turned to give him one more parting word.

"Naruto? I just wanted you to know… I acknowledge you. You're… gonna be great someday." She said softly. "Just… wanted you to know."

She left the clearing, unaware of the blonde shinobi's tears.

Author's Notes:

While it may appear like I am Sasuke bashing I assure you I am not. Sasuke, believe it or not, is one of my favorite characters. The only reason Sakura appears to dislike him so much is the bias she has against the Sasuke from her own world. That bias will fade as time passes. My apologies to those who believe I would ever bash a character based solely on personal dislike.

Okay. Thats all for that.

Nods and thanks aplenty to Ozz for prereading. That said, he's only one man. Prereaders wanted! Have gmail? Want early access? Put those reviewing skills to use and help me make my ficcies betta!

Unless ya don't wanna of course. Tryouts will be held at 3 pm and 6 pm respectively. And for those of you who are taking this seriously, I'm sorry; you're clearly not silly enough. Still, I do need a few prereaders. Spokavriel if you ever feel like it, I'd give you access in an instant. Best criticisms ever.

Well! Leave a review if ya want! It'll make me more enthusiastic I pwomise!

Till Next!