Reading guide for this chapter:
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from both SnK and Naruto. I do own the plot, however. I also do not own the image but credit to the anime.
The first thing she remembered was falling.
Her body ached, especially her stomach, and she could tell that her shoulder was dislocated and her ankle was sprained. How did she know this? Oh, she was a medical ninja, yes, that's why. Her arms shook in restrained pain, and there was a dull throb in the back of her head that, although not life threatening, was incredibly uncomfortable to the point of eliciting a groan.
The ground was soft, and she could feel both the sun beating on the parts of her body not covered by a shade. She blearily opened her eyes and observed the thick trees with mild fascination. They reminded her of something, somewhere, but she couldn't exactly remember what exactly. The lack of knowledge irked her, but at the same time she had other things to worry about at the moment.
She carefully got up, hoping not to make her injuries worse. She knew any normal person would have been rendered useless from such pain, but she managed to handle it just fine. Some would say mind over matter but... Yes, she had a high tolerance for pain because she was a medical kunoichi.
Ah, there it was. She was a kunoichi, sworn to defend...
She frowned. Her memories seemed to stop there, or at least that was all she could retrieve at the moment. Her name, though...
Her name was Sakura, though she couldn't quite remember her last name, even after she went through different words in her mind; none of them sounded familiar.
The kunoichi frowned momentarily, but then shrugged, or at least attempted to before the pain made her grimace. Well, it was nigh time to try to heal these injuries anyway.
She placed her hands over her ribs and let her subconscious lead her movements, since she didn't quite remember how to use medical ninjutsu to begin with. The familiar green light relaxed her and alleviated her body, but she panicked when the light faded almost immediately. Her body suddenly felt very heavy again, and she cursed herself for not realizing her chakra exhaustion first and foremost.
It's not that she didn't recognize it... More that she forgot how it felt...
The next time she woke up she was in a much softer place, possibly a bed. She felt the pressure of bandages in her ribs and ankle, the dull ache of her rather well-set shoulder, and the wetness of a cloth on her forehead. Sakura opened her eyes and wasn't surprised to see a wooden roof. The light seeping through the small window in her room gave the impression of mid-morning, maybe around nine, which meant that she had passed out for at least a day. That was a sound judgement considering her chakra reserves had improved from the day before.
She gingerly got up, making sure not to agitate her wounds any further. After double-checking her reserves to not make yesterday's blunder, she placed her hands over her ribs and felt the cooling of her chakra mending her broken bones. After a couple of minutes the tightness in her chest dissipated completely and she could breathe easily once again. She wanted to carry on to finish the job with her shoulder and ankle, but she was still not in her full strength and didn't want to cause another chakra exhaustion.
Sakura sat at the edge of the bed and warily observed her surroundings. Her bed was at the far side of the room, with a night stand next to it with a lamp that seemed to burn on oil. Her whole room was made out of wood, which was slightly dangerous if her lamp really did burn oil. Other than the bed and nightstand, the room was devoid of any furniture.
Her sensitive ears heard slow, light tread in the other side of the house. The house must've been small, because maybe even without her chakra-enhanced hearing she might've heard the footsteps of this home's inhabitant. The frailty behind the movement was weak, which meant that if need be, Sakura could quickly eliminate the threat and be on her way. Though the ruthlessness behind her thoughts surprised a small part of her mind, a larger part of her psyche was more focused on keeping her alive.
She got up and made her way to the door, making sure to slowly push it open so as to not attract any attention. A small woman with gray hair was washing her dishes in the sink, though she got the water from a bucket. The sight shouldn't have surprised her, but for some reason she found it odd. There must've been an easier way to get water... right?
The old woman dropped a dish and whirled around, staring at her with wide brown eyes. Her face was wrinkled and not well treated, and her yellow shirt and beige skirt were dull from use. Speaking of which, the woman must've changed her out of her ninja clothes and lent her the white shirt and black skirt she was wearing. Though the airiness was comfortable, she preferred her pants.
"I... I just wanted to thank you for helping me with my injuries. I could have died out there so for that... Is there something wrong?"
The woman just stared at her, and her mouth opened slightly.
Sakura looked around, trying to find the source of her astonishment, but she found none. She turned back to the woman and cleared her throat awkwardly. "Um, is there something in my face?"
The woman opened her mouth, and Sakura wanted to whimper when she heard what the woman said.
She didn't understand a single word.
All that I knew was that my name was Sakura, and that I could heal and fight.
I didn't know where I came from, whom I was supposed to protect, or where I was.
The moment she spoke in a language I couldn't understand was the moment I truly broke.
Because that was when I realized I was alone, and no one would recognize me.
The first week was a bit awkward for both Sakura and Helsa. Most of their communication resembled a crude game of charades, if they even managed to get their point across. What Sakura did manage to convey with growing proficiency was her hunger and thirst, which Helsa regarded with open amusement. Though she didn't understand where she was or how she got there, Sakura detested the idea of being a free loader and helped Helsa with whatever she could, especially the more physical chores.
They lived around thirty minutes from the nearest town, near the woods where Helsa had found an unconscious Sakura. Helsa had taken her there three days after her arrival, and although she couldn't understand a word that anyone said, Sakura knew she was asking around to see if anyone knew her. Sakura knew she was pretty unforgettable; her pink hair and bright green eyes made her almost impossible to forget or not recognize.
However, Helsa's attempts were always met with a shake of the head.
It was in the first week that Sakura's depression set in. It was not that she missed anyone, because she realized that her amnesia had taken a new form and she couldn't remember absolutely anybody other than herself, and even that was a rather blurry. What caused her to sink in the depths of despair was her loneliness. Not only was she unable to communicate with anyone, but she quickly found out she was the only one with the ability to manipulate chakra, making her somewhat of an anomaly in this world. Even gentle Helsa became a bit wary the first time Sakura lifted a table with ease. Soon after that she quickly learned to gauge Helsa's strength and mimicked a slightly enhanced version of hers to appear more normal, but she knew Helsa wasn't going to forget.
So here she was, lonely and a freak. Maybe it was a small blessing to have amnesia, because she knew she wouldn't be able to cope with the homesickness.
However, what started as an uncomfortable relationship soon became a relaxing companionship in a matter of weeks. Sakura's worries of being kicked out of Helsa's home faded once she realized the old woman liked having her around, even if she wasn't that great of a conversation partner. Her fears were completely squashed when Helsa brought a notebook and pencil one day and beckoned Sakura to sit down on their small table. She drew pictures and wrote next to them in a foreign alphabet, sounding them out and pointing at her artwork.
Nouns were the easiest for her to learn, but verbs proved to be tricky. Helsa tried her best to draw them and explain what was going on, but Sakura was having problems conveying her sentences, and her attempts usually ended with sheepish smiles and toothless laughs.
"The girl run forest?" Sakura asked in broken German.
Helsa shook her head and said, "Wrong verb."
"This is all so frustrating," Sakura muttered in her native tongue. Both women sat there, staring at the notebook as if it had the answers to their problems. And in hindsight, the notebook had been the answer to her problems before, but now they were starting to understand the limitations the notebook brought. There was no way Sakura could become proficient in a language with just that.
The woman stood up and slid her chair back in. "Come... going to market." Though Sakura had problems conveying her thoughts, she was picking up on what Helsa said with ease, at least when she used simple verbs like "going to" and overused nouns like "market."
Sakura readied the basket meanwhile Helsa went for her money in her room. She had been curious as to what Helsa did for a living, considering she didn't have a husband or son that could work the fields. A couple of days after their meeting Sakura had seen her sewing her pants and long-sleeved shirt, and she realized that her savior had a knack for sewing. In fact, she later deduced that the worn clothes they had were her own creations, which were quiet popular in Beinn, the town they frequented.
The walk there was peaceful, as it always was. Sakura found trees to be strangely relaxing and familiar, though the reason was a mystery considering her memories were inaccessible. She had tried to communicate that to Helsa to see if she had any recommendations, but she didn't know how to show amnesia. She settled for saying "forgot my life," which elicited a sad look from Helsa, a reply she couldn't understand, and a quiet dinner.
Sakura hadn't brought the topic again.
Beinn's commercial district was bustling with activity, with horses moving carts filled with goods and people bartering for food and produce in stalls on the streets. Even though people already knew of Sakura's existence, she still managed to turn a few heads towards her, and it always made her blush under the pressure of the stares.
They approached a stall that sold Sakura's favorite potatoes, but instead of the usual blond seller, there was a woman with long black hair and happy dark eyes. Helsa seemed rather content about this, because they started chatting animatedly to the point that Sakura easily lost track of the conversation. She knew that the topic was about their lives, at least until Helsa said her name.
"Sakura?" the black haired woman repeated, confused.
Helsa nodded and started explaining their meeting, if the words "forest," "hurt," and "living" were of any indication. The black haired woman was very interested in her, though, to the point that Sakura became uncomfortable and started browsing the potatoes to see which ones they would take.
"Do you understand what I am saying?" the woman asked in Japanese.
Sakura whipped her head up and stared at her with wide eyes. Yes, there was a very noticeable accent, but her sentence structure and delivery were almost flawless. "I do... How do you know what I am saying?"
Her answer seemed to please her greatly, because she smiled widely, showing her slightly yellow teeth. "My grandparents came from a land far away where they spoke this language, however it seems I am the last one that does. Your name is very beautiful, Sakura-san; even though I never saw them, that was all my grandmother ever talked about."
She bowed slightly in respect and acceptance of her compliment. "Thank you very much... Well, this is rude of me, but what is your name?"
The woman blinked and laughed nervously. "Oh, if my grandmother heard me she would be very disappointed of me. My name is Mikoto Ackerman, though I guess you would say it Ackerman Mikoto."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Ackerman-san."
Mikoto turned to talk to Helsa for a couple of minutes. Since Sakura couldn't quite follow the conversation very well, she settled for observing her expressions. The Japanese woman was visibly ecstatic, but there was a wariness behind Helsa's eyes that disappeared the more Mikoto talked. Eventually Helsa agreed to whatever Mikoto was proposing, which made her grin in happiness.
"Ah, Sakura-san, what would you say if you came to my house every day to learn our language? Helsa tells me that she reached the end of what she can teach you, but there is still much for you to learn."
The pink-haired girl blinked in wonder, but then she smiled widely and nodded enthusiastically to both Mikoto and Helsa. "That would be wonderful! I would love to be able to have a conversation with Helsa without trying to guess what we're saying."
Mikoto laughed and translated what Sakura said for Helsa to enjoy. She grinned, showing her lack of teeth, and nodded along with her statement. Sakura couldn't help but feel a bout of warmth for the woman right then, considering that she knew her hesitance was not for her fear of Sakura being distracted, but of trusting someone else with the well-being of her housemate.
However, Sakura knew that somewhere in Helsa's mind she was remembering her freakish strength and that must've assuaged her doubts.
Even though I didn't have precious people to protect, I could see myself wanting to protect Helsa, the woman who nursed and trusted a stranger with the remnants of her youth.
Six Months Later
October 8th, 842
"Mikasa, can you bring the plates please?"
Sakura saw her trip before she started falling and quickly took the plates and righted the younger girl with her other hand. Mikasa stared at her with wide gray eyes, astonished at her ability and swiftness, but Sakura just winked at her and placed an index finger in front of her mouth playfully. The girl nodded gravely and mimicked her gesture, the action so somber that it made her giggle.
"What are you two up to?" Mikoto asked, her voice light and amused.
"Nothing," they replied in unison and giggled together.
"Help, Ackerman-san?" Sakura asked, eyeing the heavy laundry in Mikoto's arms. Though her speech was still heavily-accented, she could now quickly form sentences in her head with simple verbs, something Mikoto was pleasantly impressed about, considering her limited training. Sakura deduced she must've been someone smart prior to losing her memory, something that made her chest swell with pride.
"Oh, no, don't worry, Sakura. I heard that Erick needed help in the fields. Help there?"
Sakura agreed wordlessly, quickly heading out to their fields and spotting Mr. Ackerman working with his prized potatoes. Though Sakura had kept her powers as a kunoichi hidden for the sake of fitting in, both the Ackermans and Helsa knew about her freakish strength, and they didn't hesitate to request her help. She didn't mind, though; the times were rough and they could use every able-bodied person at their disposal. In fact, it made Sakura happy to know she could be of any use to them.
Erick Ackerman had started out as a very quiet, reserved man, but he had soon warmed to his wife's pupil and showed his kind, happy personality that he only seemed to have around Mikasa and Mikoto. He had showed her how to plough a field as well as check the overall health of the crops, which was quite the feat considering the lack of available communication.
Both of them lost track of time, too engrossed in their work, and only realized the sun would soon set when Mikoto calmed them back. Sakura wiped her brow and walked inside, already thinking about the excuse she would have to give Helsa for her tardiness. Though she had only been with her for half a year, Helsa considered Sakura like a granddaughter and protected her as such. She had confided to her that she had lost both her husband and son to the titans, tall humanoid creatures that inhabited this world and preyed on humans. It had apparently been an accident, because they belonged to the military division that was less involved in combat, the Garrison, but it had happened and so here she was, a widow and childless.
The worst part was that she was barely forty but she looked old enough to be a grandmother.
"Oh, Sakura, are you going to have dinner?"
She shook her head and chuckled nervously. "Helsa must be mad. I am... ah... after hour? Late?"
"Late," Mikoto supplied gently.
"Yes, I am late."
Mikasa placed two plates on opposing chairs and Erick soon followed, placing another pair. They all looked at each other and grinned at Sakura. "Well, there's four plates set, so I guess it would be a shame to waste so much food, right?" Erick, though kind, was quite sneaky and knew how to get what he wanted.
Sakura sighed but she didn't restrain the smile that blossomed in her face. She had been a bit nervous that there was the possibility that she would never get her memories back, but being surrounded by such wonderful people eased those worries and she soon realized that she didn't miss those memories, because she had Helsa and Mikoto and Mikasa and Erick to make new memories with.
Dinner was particularly eventful as Mikasa related her encounter with the laws of nature right on her gardens. The strong dominated the weak... It was both an inter and intra-species law, applied mercilessly and almost without fail. That Mikasa had noticed it at such early age was testament of her heightened perception and intelligence.
She would make a suitable pupil when she grew a bit older. Perhaps Mikoto or Erick would let her teach Mikasa a bit of taijutsu later on? Well, first she had to go over the movements herself, of course. Even though she innately remembered what she was supposed to do, just like breathing, Sakura didn't think she was ready to pass on the knowledge just yet.
After cleaning the dirty dishes, Sakura bid her farewell. The sky was already dark, and she knew Helsa would probably choke her a little tonight, but Sakura was feeling happy and satisfied with the turn her life had taken so she was more than ready to take whatever punishment Helsa deemed necessary.
Sakura looked around and, after making sure there was no one in the vicinity, walked on the trees by coating the bottom of her feet with chakra. Soon she was jumping effortlessly from tree to tree, barely making the branches tilt under her weight. If someone was around to see it, he would've thought she was flying. This exercise was something Sakura could seldom do, considering that it had to be night and she had to be alone for her to do it, since nobody seemed able to use chakra or was even aware that jumping such long distances was possible. Sakura had even questioned Mikoto about the uses of chakra in her history and she had only given her a blank stare before asking what chakra was.
There was a very high possibility that she was the only one able to use chakra in this world, which meant that either her people were secretive and reclusive or... less likely, she wasn't from this world. But that was impossible, right? How would that be even possible after all? Out of the two choices, it was much more likely and preferable if her people, the shinobi and kunoichi, were secretive like their profession. After all, that's what they were supposed to be and do, after all. What kind of shinobi would–
Sakura skidded to a stop when she saw smoke rising from the woods in the general direction her home was. She sped up, her body almost a mirage as she ran faster than she had ever run before. The apprehension and anxiousness in her gut worsened when she saw the eager fire rising, rolling in the rooftops of their home by the wind. She immediately barged in their small wooden house, quickly locating Helsa because she was the only chakra signature in the house, however frail and fleeting.
She crouched in front of her and gathered her in her arms, lifting her as if she were weightless. "Sakura...?" Helsa murmured, before coughing harshly, throwing specks of blood in Sakura's face. With growing horror she stared at the blood dripping from Helsa's stomach, coating her fingers in red.
As much as the curiosity was killing her, she needed to get out of the burning house before they caught on fire or asphyxiated. However, there was no way any normal human could logically flee the house, so Sakura had to throw all caution to the wind and use her power as a kunoichi to get them both out of there alive. With her chakra-enhanced eyesight she picked the areas were the fire was the weakest and jumped over them. Sakura could've sworn she should've burned her legs, but instead felt the fire caress her. That was something she would have to think about later on.
Once she was far away enough of the fire, she gently set Helsa down on the grass floor. Even though she wanted to heal her as fast as she could, she needed to find a way to put the fire down before it spread to the forest and burned everything in its path. But how exactly could she do that? The only things she remembered were those innate to her person, like her chakra-enhanced strength, agility, and senses. Then again, she could do medical ninjutsu, so maybe she could to other kinds of ninjutsu?
The wind was carrying sparks of the fire further and further. The sight would've been devastatingly beautiful had Sakura not been so emotionally involved with the burning of her first home. She didn't even notice her hands making the seals until she muttered, "Suiton: Bakusui Shoha," and her mouth released a wave of water that crashed down on their home and quickly overwhelmed the flames.
Even though it had felt natural to use that ninjutsu, the amount of chakra it consumed left her winded and exhausted. She was sure out of shape to be rendered so useless after just one jutsu, which meant that she should invest in training both her mind and body more often after this.
Once she was sure the fire was fully extinguished, Sakura headed back towards Helsa with a powerful jump. She landed roughly beside her, but she was too preoccupied trying to stop the bleeding to mind that much.
"Fine," she choked. "You'll be fine, Helsa. I promise you'll be okay, I'll promise I'll save you. I promise I won't lose you."
Helsa placed a gentle hand above her hands after noticing the healing light was flickering out of existence. "It is okay, Sakura. I am old, and there are people I want to see on the other side... Thank you for making the last months of my life... Ah, you don't know that word. I guess happy will suffice. You are full of surprises."
"Who did this?" she asked, her voice mixed with sobs and rage as she stopped the healing ninjutsu before she became exhausted.
Helsa shook her head sadly and squeezed her fingers. "They are gone, but they don't matter, dear Sakura. Love is better motivation than hate and revenge... Remember that, because when I did it was far too late."
"I'm so sorry," Sakura muttered, holding back another cry. "If I hadn't stopped training, if I had come home earlier, if I weren't so weak..." Sakura stared at Helsa's unseeing eyes, knowing that she hadn't heard a word of her apology. "... You would be alive."
Sakura retrieved her hands from her abdomen and stared from her bloodied hands back to the open wound in her stomach, which was still bleeding freely. Someone had broken into their home and attacked her precious person. Though she had no idea why anyone would prey on an old woman like Helsa, the end result was still the same.
"I'm sorry," she whispered to her corpse.
But this time she didn't mean it.
She waited for half an hour besides her body, allowing her hot rage to cool down to cold bloodlust. Once she was ready, she picked Helsa's body up and ran to the ashes of their house, placing her gently there until she found a suitable burial spot.
Right now, though, she needed to find the people that took away her precious person.
Sakura didn't have much experience with tracking, and the only experience she had been counting on was the one she had forgotten. However, she was determined to not rest until she found them. Even though she had given them a thirty minute head start, she could cover that distance in less than ten minutes, so she had the advantage there.
The trick was locating their chakra, and locating chakra in the middle of a forest usually devoid of people at this time shouldn't be too hard.
And indeed, it hadn't been hard, at all. After fifteen minutes of aimlessly jumping from branch to branch she felt four chakra signatures walking leisurely away from her location, around five minutes away. She headed that way and quickly caught up to them. Once she was in their hearing range, she muffled her footsteps with chakra and came close enough to hear their conversation. She had to make sure they were the murderers, but she also wanted to know why they set their house on fire and stabbed Helsa.
"... did we get?"
"Hn, almost nothing. Bitch was empty."
Her jaw clenched, and she held back her punch.
"That was not the point," a new voice pitched in. "Fear... We want the farmlands to fear us."
"Word... people will know. Then we get money. Then... rich."
Sakura cursed her inability to speak more fluently, but by now she had a rough idea of what they were trying to say. Helsa had been the first (or at least she thought she was the first) of a series of attacks preying on the people far away from congregated human settlements. Despicable actions which led to extortion, but to get there they needed to build a reputation, and the only way to become infamous was by causing more crimes like the ones that happened today.
That was all she needed to hear.
She readied her fist with chakra and leapt down from her tree branch to land silently besides the outermost male of the band. Without leaving them a chance to notice her, she punched him squarely in the jaw, the power behind her fist so great that she ripped his head out of his neck and sent it flying to a nearby trunk. Blood sprayed from his neck, streams of blood dirtying her face and hair and the new white shirt Helsa had gifted her two days ago.
The thugs jumped and yelled in surprise, but Sakura didn't give them time to recover as she uppercutted the next man, sending his head flying to the treetops. By now Sakura was starting to enjoy the noise of cracking bones and ripped skin, and looked forward to hearing what sounds the other two murderers would make.
By now the other two were prepared, if the glint of their knives in the moonlight was of any indication. However, they were at a disadvantage since Sakura could see much better than them and she had superior reflexes. Both of them charged at her at the same time, but Sakura quickly jumped out of the way, getting behind them and punching them in the chest at the same time, feeling giddy when she heard their spinal cords snapping beneath her fists. They crumpled to the floor like puppets being cut from their strings.
In the midst of her adrenaline rush Sakura had not realized how heavily she was breathing. If there had been another shinobi around she would've been dead already. Had she been a pitiful excuse of a kunoichi in her homeland?
She started becoming more aware of the blood on her face and clothes and started cleaning her face with her stained hands, though she was surprised when she felt something cooler making its way down her cheeks.
Huh, so she had been crying all this time.
What a pitiful excuse of a kunoichi she really was.
Mikoto was the first one to hear the soft knocks on the door. She turned around to look at her husband, who was peacefully asleep after a day of tolling in the fields. Harvest day was getting closer, so she knew Erick always gave it a little bit more these days. With that thought in mind, she made her way to open the door to give Erick some more time, noting as she passed the kitchen that it was barely sunrise.
She closed her eyes in annoyance and opened the door. "I hope you know..." She gaped at Sakura, who was drenched in blood and staring at her with empty bloodshot eyes.
"I... I... I didn't know where else to go," she whispered.
She sounded so pitiful, so alone, so broken, that Mikoto decided to forget she was drenched in blood and gave her a bone-crushing hug. She stroked her hair, which was more red than pink right now, as she sobbed into her shoulder.
"I promise I... I gave her a good burial."
"Shh, shh, I know you did, I know you did. I know you honored your grandmother."
Sakura only cried harder.
It was then that I realized that even people without a past can feel pain.
It was then that I realized that a kunoichi could lose to death.
It left a bitter taste in my mouth.
A taste I would experience many more times later on.
Water Release: Exploding Water Colliding Wave
Okay, so just to clear things up, the Naruto universe I will be using will be AU, which means that this Sakura will be AU too. That is all I will reveal for now. And yes, that AU universe will play a big role in this story, but much later on. As for Sakura's amnesia, I researched retrograde amnesia as much as I could but I had to take creative liberties to fit the story. I promise it will make sense as the plot develops.
Speaking of plot, this story is currently a side-project so depending on the response I receive I will put it on as a main project and start developing plot intensively or I'll just write when my muse dictates and I'm not feeling lazy.
Also, I wanted to try my hand at romance since I'm relatively new at that, so I'll leave the pairing up to the readers. Please keep in mind that Sakura is currently 17 so by the time the manga storyline begins she will be 24~25.
Reviews are love.