"Are we finished?" Sasuke asked as his cursed form receded back into its mark, "I never thought you'd be one to disappoint me."

Kabuto heard the scene unfold with disinterest. He knew exactly how this would play out, as Orochimaru had engraved this very moment into his mind since the day Sasuke left Konohagakure. Orochimaru would act as the bad guy, pretending to take over Sasuke's body. Inevitably, he would be killed and be absorbed so he would no longer be in the land of the living. Surely there were more details, but he hadn't cared enough to remember them.

Suddenly, the door swung open and Sasuke stepped through.

"... Which one are you?" Kabuto questioned, feigning suspicion.

"Why don't you tell me?"

With an arrogant smirk, Sasuke walked away. Kabuto pushed up his glasses and entered Orochimaru's quarters. He sifted through the debris of battle for a while before finding a preserved hand surrounded by shattered glass. Kabuto slid the ring off its pinky finger and held it up to survey it in the light.

"Dear, dear, Sasuke... What little you know."

::

Haruno Sakura sighed as she sat at the Hokage's desk. It's not like she was complaining or anything like that; it would just be nice if Tsunade would do her work for once. But she had just finished completing three hours worth documents at the hospital only to be dragged into the office to do more paperwork.

She spun around in her chair and gazed over Konoha through the recently polished window. She liked the view from so high up. There was a knock at the door and she spun back around, calling out a soft 'enter'. Shizune came in and stalled.

"Sakura-chan...? Oh gods, where's Tsunade-sama?"

Sakura shrugged. Shizune heaved a sigh and shook her head.

"I'm really sorry for this, Sakura-chan. You can go home now and I'll drag Tsunade-sama back to work." she said. Sakura gave her a thankful smile and grabbed her coat before leaving the tower. Konoha's streets were peppered with crisp snow that crunched with every step she took. It wasn't completely boring doing her shishou's work as it did educate her in advanced politics, but there were some decisions she wished she could change. It wasn't her place, of course, but it would be nice being the one to make choices for once.

Being Hokage...

Sakura shook her head. What was she thinking? The Hokage title would belong to Naruto one day, not her. Never her. She let out a puff of air and watched it condense in the cold air.

She wished she had worked harder in the past- wished that she was never the team's burden. She wished that she hadn't clung onto Sasuke and neglected her studies until the last moments. In the beginning, before her infatuation at the Academy, her initial goal was amount to something great. To be better than those who bullied her.

She wanted to amount to someone more than who she was now.

'But what could I do?'

As she reached her apartment, she saw a small purple box on her doorstep. No name. No return address. Sakura plucked it from the ground and entered her place, relishing the warm air that crushed against her. After she hung her coat on one of her dining room chairs, she sat down on her couch and opened the box.

"... Oh no."