Chapter 1: Tears For The Fallen
Pastel hues colored the vast welkin. The descending sun radiated an orange glow upon the many buildings and lush trees, kissing the onlooking silhouette adorning an ivory robe and crimson Hokage hat. The gentle breeze caused the robe to sway to the side, waving the proud kanji that read 'Rokudaime' on the back, slightly ruffling the protruding locks of pink hair, as emerald spherules watched over the village almost impassively.
She loved her village dearly. The well-being of Konohagakure and her fellow comrades were of foremost and utmost importance, and she took on that burden with dauntless valor.
Having acquired the ability to perform shadow clones greatly aided her duties of expertly juggling between wracking her brain over the unceasing stacks of papers to sign, to her work at the hospital, and roaming the streets of her beautiful home, observing the streets behind the shadows. She assigned missions, arranged funerals, and maintained the wealth and peace within the walls of Konoha. The village continued to flourish under her authority.
Sakura was always ready and willing to give up her life for the sake of the village, for better or worse. That is what a true Hokage did, carrying out her duty as the heiress of the will of fire, resuming the wishes and works of her predecessors.
But it was not her burden to shoulder in the first place.
Sakura Haruno had become a legend in her own right, capable of bringing forth raw, unadulterated power from her rather small, petite frame. She was also equally capable of bringing forth life and relief upon those under her care, giving her patients a second chance with the green glow her hands illuminated and set upon them briefly before she would carry on her way.
She was feared as she was admired. Her name became known throughout the five nations. She had gained respect from the other Kage and many shinobi who knew of her. Many reveled in her ability to heal hundreds at once, her ability to keep moral up and maintain her strong poise, and walk, that held a sort of swagger that spoke of her unbending resolve in the face of the enemy.
Sakura had carved a name for herself during the Fourth Shinobi War. She had surpassed her master, one of the famed legendary sannin. As she walked on the streets people would bow their heads out of respect to her, many children giving her flowers and gifts they made by hand, bringing forth a small smile on the Hokage's face. She was detached, but she was still very kind. Many referred her as the Blossom Queen, for the bud she once was, unfurled into a beautiful Sakura blossom.
But she figured she had wilted too fast after the war.
"What is it, Sasuke?" She inquired in her usual business tone, drawing in a long breath from her cigarette and exhaling a smoky billow in front of her.
The Uchiha stood at her side, keeping a steady gaze on her heart-shaped face, as she kept looking over the village atop her perch on the Hokage mountain. When she wasn't in the hospital, over by the cemetery, or at her respectful desk in the tower, he usually found her there, watching over her beloved village as the other stone-carved faces of the other Hokage did. Sakura's had also been expertly carved, resting adjacent to Tsunade's face, with her yin seal a prominent aspect of her.
He wrinkled his nose distastefully at the cancer stick that rested lazily in between her fore and middle fingers.
Many had become appalled and baffled when Sakura started smoking, even when she herself knew too well of its many health degrading properties and side affects. Ino had stomped right to her best friend and tried snatching the pack away from her, to no avail.
Konoha 12 realized that drinking and smoking had become her saving grace, her crutch. However it still didn't sit right with them that their friend succumbed to habits as she chose. Sai had successfully added drawing lessons to her attention, keeping the sake and cancer sticks away from her for a bit longer as she learned how to draw.
Yes, the village was continuing to flourish under the kind medic's care, but the memories of the war lay a heavy blanket of despair to still hover around the war veterans.
Sasuke averted his gaze to rest at the dwindling sun, not able to look at her expressionless face that was only a barrier of what she actually felt.
After the war, Sasuke had come to realize his mistakes as he had fought Naruto the last time. He also came to realize that Sakura loved him, but not in the romantic way, as both once thought. She really only wanted Sasuke to learn to love himself. She felt it was her task to save him from the darkness. That's how kind she was. She always believed in her boys, and never closed either of them off, no matter what.
Now that he was redeemed and his Curse of Hatred no longer ruled over him, he felt indebted to his teammate. They would never be lovers, but he was willing to save her from her despair.
"You are becoming more introverted." He deadpanned.
"Am I now?" She responded humorlessly. She had become used to his visits, as he was her right-hand man and she could see even as he was still platonic in his wording, he along with her other close comrades were worried about her.
It was almost routine to her. Her and Sasuke would exchange words, no matter how few, and then revel in the peaceful silence that would always come next. But it seemed Sasuke was tired of silence.
"You can't go trough this all on your own. Isn't that what Naruto, Sensei and you have tried ingraining in my head?" Sasuke demanded, his tone more demanding and louder than he originally wanted.
Sakura let out another billow of smoke before turning towards the Uchiha, locking eyes with him, as the next words she uttered lowly were nonetheless eloquent and served to irk the taller man at her excuse for her withdrawal from others unless she deemed necessary.
"The burdens you and I bear are completely different. None of you need to be caught in it any more than you already are. Everyone has their own baggage to sort out, they need to focus on healing and forgiveness."
Sasuke grabbed both her arms, forcing her to face him and meet his smoldering gaze, foot smashing the dropped cancer stick.
"Are you stupid, Sakura?" He asked bitterly, narrowing his mismatched orbs as her emerald gems took in his change of attitude.
"There is no time for me to sulk now, I did that when I had to help bury our comrades. All five nations are at peace, and I will not let Naruto's selfless acts be forsaken!"
His grip only tightened on her, teeth exposed as he attempted to come up with something for her to see reason. "Stand down, Sasuke." Her tone was unamused and an indirect warning.
"I have more urgent things to tend to, not to indulge in my inner turmoil. As the Hokage I have a whole village to think about, and what's worse is when your own parents are not supportive of my position and kick me out of the house precariously, leaving me to suspect they have a secret hidden from me, their daughter. Along with that, Naruto still hasn't come out of his two month coma before naming me the Rokudaime in his place. I don't need any more of you or anyone else's pity or bullshit about my introverted state, so I advice you to get your hands off me before I make you, Uchiha!"
She hadn't intended to be so harsh with her former teammate, but they all needed to move on, and it only served to undress her of her stoic facade when they all looked at her with sadness.
The last living Uchiha gave her a slightly pained glance, before loosening his hold on her to a soft caress, "You don't protect your heart by acting like it's not there." He muttered sagely.
The medic's eyes widened at his blunt statement, mouth slightly ajar as she was taken aback while he continued to stare her down.
It was true in a sense, she mentally acknowledged. She finally gained the admiration of her peers, but at the cost of her happiness and many lives had been lost. At times, she would still shed a lone tear as she stood over the endless rows of tombstones with the name's of her fallen comrades inscribed on them. She had failed them, she had to bury them. Her eyes would cloud over as she saw things that weren't there, adorning a thousand yard stare as happy and depressing memories would ensnare her into a state of reminiscence.
She was the Hokage, but it was supposed to be a mere substitute act, as this position was meant for Naruto, not her. Nonetheless she would go down in the history books as one of the strongest, steadfast, and intelligent. She would be an inspiration for medics and Kunoichi for future generations, but the books would be biased, as they would fail to recognize she was also one of the most hollow, heart-broken, and numb.
Hushes spread out as far and wide as the wind, of her accomplishments, that she was one of the most powerful of women, rogue ninja having their knees shake and their lips quiver when her name was whispered, her reputation for being merciless upon opposing enemies making them pale. Tsunade having passed on the torch to her apprentice, an honorable Kunoichi and now Hokage.
Sakura the woman was broken, but Sakura the Rokudaime carried on admirably, ceasing to falter at any given odds, as her love for her village and comrades lay before her own life, as she demonstrated graciously on countless occasions.
She awaited the day Naruto would wake up.
Having visited his bedside at the hospital, checking his vitals and just talking to him, even though a one-sided conversation was awkward, she knew he was listening.
The council had been unrelenting and a constant annoyance to the pinkette, as they deemed it better to end his despair as they felt Sakura was doing miraculously with being Hokage. They held no belief in him, they jumped to the thoughts of him dying right in front of Sakura, continuing to discuss the dangers of his death with the nine bijuu's power that lay in him, them going on havoc in the village if he were to pass.
Her foot came down at that point, ordering security to his room and sent the two remaining council members her most blood-curdling stare that promised things worse then death.
Sakura had later agreed to have most of the nine bijuu's powers placed inside her body, so the collateral damage would be less if the unfavorable did occur.
She was brought out of her stupor as Sasuke bent his head down to place a chaste kiss on Sakura's forehead, where the lilac byakugou lay.
He just stared at her baffled face, the shock evident on her face that used to hold more indifference than any other emotion these days.
"You have people who love you, Sakura. This part of you, this withdrawal is not good on you, Sakura. You became this strong with the help of your emotions. Not your impassiveness or facade you wear." Her eyes softened at his words, still recovering from his rather bold action.
Before she could answer him, Shikamaru made his appearance by running towards the two teammates. The perturbed look on his face had both Sakura and Sasuke on edge, muscles immediately tensing.
"Hokage-sama, it's Naruto, someone broke through his security and injected a poison in him." He said hurriedly, watching as horror and resentment colored their faces as the three of them proceeded to dive down the mountain head-first, twisting their bodies and jumping from the rooftops.
'Damn it! You can't die on me, Naruto!' She spoke repeatedly in her head like a mantra, praying she would make it in time. He always knew how to drive her into a cold sweat.
The two men flanked her as she charged through the hospital, reaching his room where the guards lay carelessly on the floor, unmoving, already dead, as other medics served to carry them away from the scene.
His heart monitor screamed erratically, as her hand moved right to his chest to analyze his vitals.
The poison attacked all his cells, a poison his body wasn't immune to, and blacked off the bijuu's chakra from filtering it out of him.
She was the Hokage as a substitute.
He was supposed to take over when he woke up.
She was supposed to watch over him beofre the day came of his awakening.
She deemed she wilted too fast after the war...
His heart stopped.
She kept going.
She wasn't listening to anyone. She kept pouring her chakra in his limp body, forcing air down his trachea as she pumped his chest vainly.
"Hokage-sama! Please stop!"
She heard anguished screaming. She wasn't aware it was her own voice that poured out all the despair and raw emotion she lay beneath her core. She was seeing red, blood. Her mouth tasted metallic and the bubbling anger she held. Her left eye bled of the angry mangekyou sharingan, her vision continuing to go black, before she was taken over completely.
So sorry this story was posted late...the website went down and I had to recollect my ideas and such. But I hope this was an okay start to my new story. There will be much more on the way, don't worry! Please let me know what you think!