-Her parents are dead, her sister's gone, and yet, in all of this, he's her only light—and she his. This will be her last heartbreak. 2ND SEQUEL TO AKATSUKI NO KURUMA AND SEQUEL TO TOKI NO SABAKU

Whoo-hoo! I got this chapter up a bit earlier than expected! I believe thank-yous are in order. Just kidding! :P

Anyway, NEJI'S DEAD! Oh my god, I cried! How could he die? How could Neji die? Oh, my god! A moment of silence for him please, even though it's long overdue… But on a happier note, Sasuke's returned to his senses! I'm so proud of him, but it has yet to be seen if he'll return to Konoha and Team 7, but hell yeah, he'd better or Kishimoto's gonna have a rabid angry SasuSaku fan knocking right outside of his door! And now . . . we wait… Also, does anyone have any ideas as to why Kakashi killed Rin? I'm very curious!

P.S. I have Sakura sign something in this chapter, and I would like to point out that most Asian countries don't sign their names. They have specialized stamps to do that for them. (Warning: This chapter may suck like crap for some of you)

P.S. 2. I kinda made Haruno Mebuki Konan's cousin, just saying...

The endless pain of my heart,

I'm getting over it

And I want to be closer to you

Going round and round this place

Somehow the blue sky seems within reach…

~The Seventh Hanami~

There was barely any light in this hell—heck, even the Akatsuki base had had more light than this dungeon, and the base had been deep underground! The only visible light sources down here were the torches that lined the steel walls. Sakura almost laughed at the irony of it all. If she had all of her chakra then she could have just easily smashed through these walls to freedom. But as it was, she was stuck with a chakra-draining bracelet in a dark and murky prison cell. . . . Well, actually, she wasn't in a dark and murky prison cell at the moment. No, right now, she was in a dark and murky interrogation room (but she was sure she was going to be sent back to her dark and murky prison cell any moment now). She was awoken from her thoughts when a folder was slammed onto the table.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" the interrogator asked. For once, worry colored the man's scarred face. "There are other ways to protect them, you know."

Sakura could only smile at his concern. "Thank you, Ibiki-san," she thanked him because, without him, being imprisoned would really have sucked. "But this is the quickest way and the easiest." She opened the folder and took the papers in her hands. "I refuse to be the one to drag them all down with me… I wouldn't be able to live with myself if that were to happen."

"But do you realize the magnitude of what you're doing? Have you even imagined what their reactions would be like once they see these papers?"

Sakura's smile fell that second, but the façade was up again the next. "Well then, it's a good thing I'm in this prison where they can't reach me, huh?" she joked, the fake smile hurting her cheeks so much that she was beginning to cry. She was sure it wasn't just because of her mask that she was crying, but she just wanted to pretend she didn't care anymore. And if that had really been the real case then this probably wouldn't hurt as much. "I love them all so much… I can't bear to see them fall too…" She was forced to pause when her stomach pain returned as if it were a rekindling fire. "If I am to die then . . . let me die alone." And with that said, she signed her name away on the paper, afterwards sealing the deal with her stamp.


Haruno Kizashi just didn't know what to do. His daughter—yes, Sakura was his daughter, no matter what anyone told him—his little girl was stuck in prison, probably frightened out of her mind. (Oh, his poor little girl! Why wouldn't they let him see her? Why wouldn't they let him see if she was alright? If she needed better food? If she needed a blanket? Or if she just needed Daddy's hug?) And the situation wasn't better for his wife to handle, either. Haruno Mebuki was a mess! Nothing Ino's mother (whose name has escaped him again for the hundredth time) did could calm the Haruno matriarch.

"Now, Dear…" This must have been the twentieth time today that Kizashi has tried to reason with the sobbing woman.

"DON'T YOU 'DEAR' ME!" Even while wailing, Haruno Mebuki still could terrify everyone in the room. "My baby girl's in jail, probably scared out of her mind, and I'm HERE! Warm and safe and eating food when she probably doesn't even have her own bathroom to use! Don't you dare try to 'calm me down' when my baby's on death roll! I'd strangle those elders if my baby really dies…! Oh, my Sakura… My baby…" It was probably lucky for everyone in that room that Mebuki's cries began to choke her words until she couldn't speak anymore.

"Yes, I know, Mebu-chan…" Kizashi tried once again. "But you have to be strong… Strong for Sakura's sake. Please… Our Sakura-hime will be safe. Just you wait and see. She'll—"

"DON'T ACT ALL BUDDHA-LIKE! IF YOU WANT TO BE A MONK, GO LIVE IN A MONASTERY!" Mebuki was screaming again. Had Ino's mother not been holding her back, the Haruno woman may have clawed out her husband's eyes. "Our baby, Kizashi! Our baby's in danger right in her own home village! How do you expect me to react calmly to that, huh?" She fell to her knees, her hands covering her tear-ridden face. "She may have been adopted, but I love her like I would have loved my miscarried baby, had she been born! It's not because Konan had saved my life or that I owe her because she was my cousin or that Sakura filled the hole my miscarried baby left… I love her because she is my child! If she dies then I'll die with her!" She lifted her head from her hands to glare at her husband. "If you love her like I do then you'd get off your lazy ass and do something! Are you not her father? Do something, ANYTHING!"

Kizashi may not have shown it on his face, but he was genuinely hurt by her implication. "How can you say that I don't love Sakura like my own?" he asked his wife. "All those years of watching her grow up, all those years of comforting her when she was hurt by the world, how can you say that I didn't do those things out of love? If I wasn't confined to this safe house then I'd be using even my last resorts to save her…"

Mebuki must have regretted those painful words because she couldn't stand to look at her husband after that, her head faced towards the floor, tears freely dropping from her eyes—the very eyes that Sakura shared with her, despite her bloodline being much different from her adopted mother's. "What if we really have to say goodbye to her, Kizashi…? What will I . . . How will I live on afterwards…? I really can't bear the thought of living without her…" The thought just pained her even more. Sakura was the perfect daughter. Sure, there were times when they would fight, but Sakura never was a troublesome child. When it mattered, Sakura always listened to her. There wasn't anything more Mebuki could have asked for.

Kizashi didn't know what to say. He could only kneel beside his wife, placing comforting hands on her shaking form and asking Inoichi's wife to get Mebuki a cup of water.

Ino, even just as a spectator, also cried with Mebuki. She may not know exactly how her friend's mother felt, but she knew Mebuki must be going through torture. And Ino couldn't bear watching it any longer, following her mother out of the room. She gently closed the door behind her, not wanting to draw any attention to herself.

"Oh, Ibiki-san!"

Ino was shocked out of her sadden stupor when her mom's surprised greeting rang through the air. "What are you doing here, sir?" she asked him, worry tracing itself onto her face once she remembered that he was one of the prison wardens. "Did something happen to Sakura?"

Ibiki didn't say anything, just handing Ino a folder of papers.

"What is all of this…?" her mother asked as she too looked through the papers with her daughter, only to gasp at their content. "This is…!"

"Oh, that stupid girl!" Ino could not believe this turn of events. "Kizashi-jii! Mebuki-oba! You need to see this!"


"Otousan, you must help Sakura-san!" Hinata pleaded with her father. For once, she felt angry with her only parent. Not even when her father had disowned her had she felt this fury. The Hyuga heiress knew her father was a calm and collected man capable of planning out intricate plots in where no one would have to be sacrificed. So why? Why did her father take such a dangerous route this time? Why couldn't he have come up with a more foolproof plan to take down the Elders? Why did he have to make such a ruckus when he could have covertly carried out an impeachment case? "You cannot let her die!"

But Hiashi did not say a word. Instead, he kept his steady gaze as a leader of a clan would.

"Otousan!" Even Hanabi had argued with Hinata this time.

"Please hear your father out first, Lady Hinata, Lady Hanabi." It was Neji who spoke for his uncle. "You know that your father has come up with plans that have rivaled even those of the Nara clan's. Hear him out first."

"Neji-niisan!" Hinata yelled in surprise. Why wouldn't Neji side with her on this? Why did he have to share her father's view of things and believe it to always be correct? "Do you know what will happen if my father's plan does not go accordingly? In fact, it hasn't gone accordingly at all! If it continues on like this then Sakura-san will end up becoming a sacrificial pawn! I do not wish to see that happen!"

"And it will not, Hinata." For the first time since Hinata had asked for his audience, Hiashi spoke. "And I will have you know that my plan is going accordingly, for you see"—at that time, one of the maids brought in the two guests Hiashi had housed since this whole problem began—"there are a few old Konoha laws that the Elders have overlooked. My daughter, you must put your trust in your father." At the end of this sentence, Hyuga Hiashi smirked. "Like those dirty Elders, your father also has a few tricks up his sleeve. Haruno Sakura will not become a sacrifice. Those Elders don't even deserve that."

Hinata did not carry on her argument. She knew her father and, when her father spoke in third person, something was going to go down. And so, she placed her attention on the two who've entered the room. "And these two are…?"


Upon awakening from her coma, there were two things Tsunade paid heed to. One was her apprentice's return. Oh, how joyous that reunion was… That is, until those dastardly Elders ripped Sakura right out of her hands. Tsunade didn't even have the time to ask Sakura how she was. (Oh, she was going to make sure those Elders will regret that.) And two . . . well, let's say that Tsunade wasn't exactly proud of this second thing she immediately noticed because . . . well, let's just say it made her eat at least three tables of food by now. And she was still hungry!

"La . . . Lady Tsunade…" The speed the Hokage was eating at almost frightened Shizune. "Should . . . should you be indulging yourself so much? I mean, your body still needs to recover and—"

"And nothing, Shizune!" The Senju princess's voice carried like thunder. "You should know that, once a comatose person wakes up, the first thing that must be done is to nourish them back to their original strength and health!" And after that, the Fifth Hokage gulped down her fifteenth bowl of rice. "Next bowl!"

"You can't still be hungry, Lady Tsunade!"

"I am and I will continue to eat until I'm full! Now give me another bowl before I find another food source…" Her voice darkly trailed off when her eyes landed on her pet pig.

Shizune followed her master's line of sight and, when she saw that Tsunade was looking right at Tonton, Shizune took the pig in her hands and curved her body so that Tonton was out of sight. "YOU CAN'T EAT TONTON!"

"Hey, Tsunade-baachan! Shouldn't you be thinking of ways to help Sakura instead of just lying around and eating?"

Tsunade swore a vein in her forehead was popping. "Naruto, even if you yell louder, nothing will be accomplished."

"The Hell!" Naruto was infuriated now. "You act as though you don't care what happens to Sakura-chan!"

"Hn, Dobe, calm down." Sasuke was getting a headache. It would seem as though Naruto would never learn. The Uchiha will admit that he agreed with Naruto that Tsunade was a bit too calm, but there was something that the Uchiha knew that Naruto didn't. And that was the fact that Tsunade was hysteric the other day and had only calmed down after a secret meeting with Hyuga Hiashi and the other clan leaders, himself included since he was the last remaining Uchiha.

"Yes, listen to duck-ass-hairdo, Dickless," Sai said, again experimenting with another nickname for the Uchiha. "After all, Tsunade is the Hokage. Don't be so disrespectful and calm down."

"Calm down?" Naruto asked in disbelief. "Who cares if she's the Hokage? She shouldn't be this calm when her own apprentice is in danger! She can't protect Sakura-chan while she's just eating! We went through Hell and Uchiha Madara to get Sakura-chan back home! I'm not going to let our efforts go to waste by just letting the Elders execute her! Tsunade-baachan can be the Fire Lord, for all I care! All I know is she's doing a pretty lousy job of protecting her apprentice!"

"Naruto…" Kakashi warned the blonde. He knew Tsunade's temper was horrible—hell, everyone knew that—but that temper may be amplified since she had just improved from a coma.

But Tsunade didn't get mad at Naruto. Nope, she did the opposite and laughed—actually, it was more of a chuckle than laughter. "You know, Naruto, I recall you saying the same exact thing when Sakura was first kidnapped," she mused, smiling at the memory. She had been awfully pissed off that day but, looking back at it, that day had been . . . eventful, to say the least. "Of course, the situation may be a bit different, but . . . do you remember what I told you?"

"Naruto, you can't speak to her like that." Ino said. "She's the Hokage."

"Well, she's doing a pretty lousy job then!" Naruto yelled. "Her own apprentice! She couldn't even protect Sakura-chan! I can't sit here and do nothing! Sakura's probably being tortured or something! I—"


"Hai!" the black-haired woman stepped forward.

"Your squad will go as the primary search team. Two whole ANBU squads will accompany your team as you search for Haruno Sakura, but your squad is not to engage in battle." Tsunade explained. "Leave the fighting to the ANBU."

"Hai!" Shizune bowed. "We'll leave right away!"

"Naruto, you are to stay in the village with the rest of Konoha 11. Is that understood?"

"Yeah, you told me to remain in Konoha." Of course, Naruto remembered that. The conversation had taken place right after he had found out Sakura had been kidnapped. It was hard for him to forget something he was so fervent about.

Tsunade almost wanted to shake her head. Was Naruto trying to make her look like the bad guy? "Yes," she told him. "But do you know why I ordered you to stay in the village? It was because I didn't want to put you in danger too. But don't forget, I also said that you shouldn't act as though you're the only one who cares about my apprentice. And this situation is the same." She stood from her seat then and walked over to the self-proclaimed-future-Hokage. "This situation is very dangerous, and I can't just be thinking about Sakura. I have you and everyone else to think about. However,"—she placed her hand on his shoulder—"what I said was and still is true. There are more people than just you who care about Sakura, more so now than before." And she gestured for him to look around the room.

And Naruto did. He glanced around and wasn't disappointed with what he saw. There was a representative from every team that consisted of Konoha 11 in the room: Shikamaru from Team 10, Shino from Team 8, Lee from Team Gai, and even Team Kakashi. To add to this makeshift group (and to fill in the empty spots for those who were busy with their clans and Yamato who was watching the every step of the Elders), Sasuke was back and with them, along with the three from Team Hebi. Naruto wasn't alone in this dilemma. He had others to back him up and to support Sakura too…

"You see, Naruto?" Tsunade's voice was gentler now, less aggressive and more reassuring. "You aren't alone. And neither is Sakura."

And Naruto couldn't be happier to agree.

But the blissful revelation came to an end when the door slammed open.

"Lady Tsunade…" It was Hinata, out of breath like she had been sprinting her way to the rebuilt Hokage mansion. "I want . . . No, I need permission to visit Sakura-san… Please, it's important…"

At the urgency of Hinata's tone, everyone began to panic in their own little way. "What's wrong, Hinata-chan?" Naruto was the one to voice the question. "Did something happen?"


"Lady Tsunade, we have a problem!" Ino came running in right at that moment, interrupting the dark-haired heiress. "Take a look at these!" And she handed the paper-filled folder to the Godaime.

Tsunade wasted no time in reading them. This was just paperwork that she could just leave to the next day. No, these were important. "Well . . . this is . . . something…" Tsunade was in a lack for better words. She handed the papers to Shikamaru, knowing he could make better sense out of them than she could ever.

"What does it say?" Lee asked, wondering why Tsunade's face had begun to be marred with wrinkles of confusion and why Shikamaru was sighing his favorite word.

"Well…" Shikamaru took a slight pause in order to figure out a nice way to explain the situation. He could find no other way than to bluntly state it. "According to these papers, we have no relations whatsoever with Haruno Sakura."

"What?" If everyone in the room had been panicking before, they were freaking out now. "What do you mean by no relations?"

"Sakura's signed these papers to officially say that we had no idea she was part of the criminal group Akatsuki and that we only went out on our mission to retrieve her as part of our duty and loyalty to Konoha," Shikamaru explained.

"And she's also signed off on a paper that stated, and I quote, 'Haruno Kizashi and Haruno Mebuki were not in control of their actions. The two did not realize they were harboring a daughter of criminals.'" Ino added.

"What the hell is this?" Suigetsu was exasperated. Exactly when was this loopy predicament going to end? "Can Pinky even do that? Is that even an official document?"

"These sort of papers were created during the reign of the First Hokage," Shino was the one to clarify the papers' authenticity. "The Shodai was eccentric, and one of the many things he legalized was paper contracts in which people could say something and show that they officially meant it. Of course, once the Second came to power, no one really followed this law."

"So, in other words," Sasuke said as he snatched the papers out of the genius's hands, "Sakura is just being annoying." And he ripped the papers in two, afterwards setting them ablaze.

"We need to talk to her," Ino suggested. "She thinks she's protecting us by signing away our relations, but we need to show her that we don't care about any danger that'll come to us so long as she's off of death roll. Her execution's tomorrow. We need to show her we're willing to do anything to save her! Now who's with me?" To say that the response was energetic would be over-exaggeration, for Naruto was the only one who raised his hand.

Shikamaru sighed. "Of course, let's set out to do something troublesome again. Why not?"

"Is that sarcasm?" Sai asked him, perplexity setting into his chalky white skin.

"Yosh! Let us show Sakura-san our youthfulness and our resolve to save her!" Lee almost jumped for joy at the thought of seeing the pinkette.

"Eh, Karin will be our representative," Suigetsu volunteered the female Uzumaki. "Someone has to be watching Juugo, in case he goes curse-mark berserk."

". . . I will probably be ignored," Shino simply shrugged. "Hinata will go in Team 8's stead."

"Oh, speaking of Hinata," Naruto just suddenly remembered, "Were you going to say something before Ino came into the room, Hinata-chan?"

"Oh that . . . um, actually, Naruto-kun . . . it can wait…" In the list of priorities, Hinata knew that whatever she had had to say wasn't really that important. The news she carried was not even relevant unless Sakura herself was in the room.

"Then what are we waiting for?" Ino asked, in her flamboyant rallying voice, pumping her fist into the air in an overdramatic manner. "Let's get to that prison and pound some sense into Sakura's large forehead!"

It was after that band of merry fools left, Naruto dragging Kakashi along, that Juugo spoke up. "Sasuke, shouldn't you go too?" he asked the Uchiha. "It would do Sakura-san some good to see you. It has been two days since you two last saw each other."

"Ha! Do Pinky some good?" Suigetsu laughed, almost tipping over. "It would do this prick even more good! Do you have any idea how much sulking he's done in these last two days?"

"Shouldn't you two be helping with reconstruction?" It was Tsunade who came to Sasuke's rescue (and possibly Suigetsu's too since he was now under the Uchiha's intense glare).

"Shino, escort them, would you?" Shizune was the one to assign the bug-lover to the task, though he accepted without reluctance.

But once the Uchiha was alone with the Hokage and her assistant, Sasuke realized that his "rescue" would cost him. "Is there a reason that you wanted to speak with me alone?" he asked.

Tsunade did not answer right away, instead taking her time to sit back in her chair. "Shizune, go make sure no one is eavesdropping. We wouldn't want the Elders to overhear." And with a nod, Shizune carried Tonton out of the room. "Uchiha," the Lady Hokage said, placing her elbows on her desk and folding her hands, "I have something I need to speak to you about. The clan leaders and I already have a few plans to stop Sakura's execution, all of which you are aware of. However, as Sakura's mentor, I still need to take more precautions. Are you familiar with the three familial laws the First had created?"


Sakura should have known prison wouldn't have kept her in peace and quiet until death do her apart. She should have known that her friends—well, actually, strangers, according to the papers she had signed earlier—would have found a way to forcefully get pass the guards and insist on a meeting. "What is it are you guys here for?" she asked them. She knew fully well why they were all here, but it couldn't hurt her to ask.

"Forehead! Why the hell did you sign those crazy papers?"

Okay, apparently, it would hurt to ask—in fact, Sakura swore her eardrums practically broke once Ino made her disapproval known. "It's nice to see you too, Pig," Sakura bit out, sticking a pinky into her ear and cleaning it out. "It's as it says in black and white," the girl said, crossing her hands over her chest. "I have no more relations with any of you. I was just using you all to benefit myself."

"That's bullshit, and you and everyone else in the village knows it too!" Karin exclaimed, beating Naruto to the punch-line. Why was Sakura giving up now when her opponents were just the Elders? Madara and Kabuto had been worse, so why was Sakura's resolve all put out? Karin didn't know if Sakura was just tired or if she had finally decided to surrender to the game of life.

"And those papers do not count anymore, my youthful cherry blossom," Lee pointed out as if his words would bring happiness to Sakura. "Why, Sasuke-kun has delightfully lit those papers alight in a fantastic show of fire jutsu!"

"He what?" Naturally, Sakura wasn't all that surprised. She sort of expected that kind of reaction, but she was pissed that all that reading and signing she did was wasted. Plus, did Lee have to sound so happy about that?

"I burned them." The Uchiha appeared then, flash-stepping to right behind the kunoichi. (And Sakura wondered why she was so surprised at his entrance. He usually never used a door, so why would he start now?) "I almost regret not using my Amaterasu on such dim-witted things."

"You jerk!" The accusation barely contained an eighth of the anger it was supposed to carry.

"We're in this together, Sakura-chan!" Naruto told her, grabbing her hands and forcing her to look him in the eyes, daring her to say otherwise. "Why would you—"

"Do you think this is what I want?" It was only just a whisper, but everyone in the room could still hear it. "Do you think that I want you all to be in danger again because of me?" Sakura could feel the tears prickling at the rims of her eyelids. "Do you really think that I'd be happy if I knew you all would die because of me?" she screamed, ripping her hands out of Naruto's.


"In the last two months, do you know what I saw? Do you know what happened to me? I lost people that I cared about! I lost people that I loved! I even lost my baby sister! Do you think I can take any more losses? Naruto, you promised not only me but the whole world that you'd become Hokage! If you were to die, how would you keep your promise?" Her voice had lowered in volume and intensity before she turned to Sasuke. "You're the only one left of your clan!" she told the Uchiha. "The duty of redeeming your clan's name is yours! Not only that, but you have to rebuild it! How would you face your family if you were to die before that? Plus, you know how I feel about you. I can't risk your safety." Her genin sensei was next on her list to lecture. "Kakashi-sensei, you need to stay alive for their sakes! If you were gone, who'd be left to guide these two imbeciles?"—Naruto and Sasuke were about to argue that point, but she continued before they had the chance—"Plus, you owe it to your old teammates to stay alive!" It was Karin's turn next. "You yourself promised me that I wouldn't have to see another one of my allies die… You can't break that promise now… Don't you dare start now." She faced her childhood friend. "You and your team gave your word to Asuma-sensei that you'd take care of each other! How is dying for one girl taking care of each other? And Ino, you promised me that you wouldn't lose to me at anything! If you can't fulfill that promise then I'll never forgive you!" And she continued with her speech, turning to everyone person in the group. "Hinata, you're the Hyuga clan's heir! Plus, you need to be there so that I know someone's watching over the ramen-loving idiot! Lee, you promised Gai-sensei that you wouldn't see him yet until you've outlived your youthfulness! You all have things left to do! How am I supposed to live with myself with I came between you and your goals?"

"And what about you, Ugly?" Sai asked. "Don't you have things left to do? Wasn't it yours and Naruto's goal to reunite Team 7? If you were gone then where would that leave your teammates?"

The thought had Sakura lost in silence. She hadn't thought of that. She had been so preoccupied with everyone else's safety that she had completely forgotten about herself, but still… In the scope of everything, it didn't matter. "I may have regrets," she said, "but they won't be lifted if you all were to die with me! I refuse to carry that burden as well… I already lost my mom, my dad, and my baby sister! Must you all make me suffer any more losses? I can't take anymore, I just can't! I—Ah!" She fell to the ground, holding her stomach which pained her so. What was going on with her stomach? Was she ill or was it because of all the stress?

"Sakura!" Ino and Karin ran to her side.

"Promise me!" Sakura pleaded, trying to ignore her pain. "Don't you all dare die with me! And don't come watch my execution… I won't be able to go peacefully if I know you all are suffering… And promise me . . . you'll do whatever it takes to prevent my adopted parents from coming to the execution grounds."

"What do you think you're saying?" The yell had everyone turning their heads to the entrance of the interrogation room. There stood Haruno Mebuki, her husband behind her, her eyes swollen yet still on the verge of tears. "Sakura, I'm your mother!" The Haruno matriarch cried, coming to stand in front of the girl and taking her shoulders. She shook her adopted daughter, a desperate attempt to try and shake sense into her. "It doesn't matter what has happened! I won't let you die! If you really are grateful to your father and me then you won't die! You won't!"

"Okaasan…" Sakura couldn't bear watching the tears fall from the woman's green eyes. It may be one of her biggest regrets, not being able to fulfill her familial piety to the two people who had raised her in her birth parents' stead.

But it was then that Ibiki came into the room with three ANBU Root agents. And from the look on his face and the note in his voice, he was hesitant to break up this poignant scene. "Haruno Sakura, visiting hours are over." One of the root members took Sakura by the arm. "It is time for you to return to your cell."

"Fine," she retorted, angrily shoving off the root ANBU's hand. "I'll go…" But the root ANBU seemed not to believe her. "I'll go!" she repeated with more ferocity.

"Where will you go?" Mebuki was hysteric at this point, cupping her daughter's cheeks with her hands. "Where will you go?" she asked again, blatantly ignoring her husband's pleas to calm down. "You can't go, Sakura! You can't!"

"Okaasan…" Sakura was crying now too. She could feel how frantic Mebuki was just by the amount of pressure the woman had applied to her cheeks.

"Don't go, Sakura…" Somewhere in the back of her mind, no matter how much Mebuki tried to deny it, she must have known this may be the last time she would see her daughter before her death. Her hands now roamed her daughter's face, stroking her cheeks as if trying to apologize for holding them so hard. "I've invested so much into you… You may be adopted, but I still love you like my own! You can't go! You can't! You can't go… Don't make me suffer the loss of another one of my children! Don't go…! Don't go!"

"Okaasan—" Sakura didn't have the chance to say what she wanted to, the ANBU root agents taking her by the arms and ripping her away from her mother and spiriting her out of the room. "Okaasan!"

"Sakura! Sakura!" Mebuki tried to pry the ANBU away from her daughter but to no avail. Instead, the ANBU pushed her back, and she fell to the floor crying. "Oh, my baby… My daughter… My baby girl…" Kizashi could do nothing but try to reassure her that her worries would not be realized.

"What will we do now?" Naruto asked of no one in general. "It's like Sakura-chan has given up…"

"Of course, it would seem that way…" Shikamaru sighed, muttering "troublesome" under his breath and stuffing his hands into his pockets. "She's lost almost everything in the span of two months… Almost everything she's cared about has disappeared in a blink of an eye. She's only acting like this because she believes that, in this way, we won't be involved and the Elders won't put us in any danger."

"She's lost her will to go on…" Karin added, the thought saddening her even more so than when it was just in her head. "She had already lost it when her younger sister died. She only continued living as a shell in order to get back at Madara. It was a struggle for her to live her life every single day. Now that an opportunity has presented itself, she's decided to take the easy way out…"

"Lost her will, huh?" It was Hinata who pondered on this, her hand under her chin as if a storm was brewing in her mind.

"What is it, Hinata-chan?" Naruto asked, Ino seconding his question by saying, "Yeah, it looks as though you're cooking up a plan!"

"Well, originally, it . . . it goes along with my father's plan…" She admitted, shying away from the attention she was getting. "My father's original plan had holes in it, and he wasn't exactly sure about it, though he acts as confident as always and he's going through with it regardless… But I believe I might just have the idea that'll restore Sakura-san back to her usual self!"

"What is it, Hinata-chan?" Naruto just couldn't wait to hear the details.

However, details seemed as though they would have to wait. "Sakura-san said she had a younger sister," Hinata highlighted the fact once again.

"Yes, she did," Kakashi replied, puzzlement and discernment battling it out on the showing facial expression of his sole eye. "But I don't see where you're going with this, Hinata-chan, unless you know something the rest of us don't."

Hinata didn't say anything to counter Kakashi's words, continuing with her train of thought. "Sasuke-kun, Karin-san, you two . . . you two were around when Sakura's sister died, am I correct?"

"Yes, we were around." Sasuke was the one to answer since Karin looked as though the mere memory of that night would have her crying in less than a second. "Why?"

"Did . . . I mean, how did Sakura's sister die?"

Karin sighed, not wanting to recall the memory, but she gave an answer, albeit a simple one. "Shion wasn't dead yet when Sakura sent her off, but I doubt she'd still be alive." She added the last bit in order to contradict a possible plan of searching for the infant.

"But Sakura sent the baby off with a small boy on a little wooden boat, right?"

"Yes…" The answer came out slowly, almost cautiously. Sasuke almost had an eyebrow raised at how much the Hyuga heiress knew about the funeral. "How did you know?"

"Because Shion and Botan didn't die! And we need to let Sakura see them before her execution tomorrow or else whatever we plan to do to save her may be foiled!"

Baachan = Grandmother; old lady
Oba = Aunt
Oji = Uncle
Okaasan = Mother
Otousan = Father
Shodai = First [Hokage]

So yeah… That's the end of this crappy sappy chapter… Sorry if this story isn't living up to any of you guys' expectations, but this has been planned out since the beginning of Akatsuki no Kuruma. Now, there's only one more chapter and an epilogue left. Also, I may have said this before, but I'll say this again. Sakura is having stomach pains for a reason, and it's not because she's pregnant. So yeah . . . please wait patiently for the next chapter!