Tsuno o tamete ushi o korosu
"To kill a bull by straightening it's horns."
A Japanese proverb that refers to the idea of the action taken to solve a problem often being more damaging and unpleasant than the original problem itself. Eg. a remedy being worse than the disease.
Imagine that every person is a channel on the television that is existence. Okay, understandably, that sounds as strange as it can get, but bear with that weird thought for a few minutes.
Each channel is unique. They are almost always rudimentary at the beginning in ways that are similar to others. But, after that period of awkwardness, they're ensured to grow in different manners and shoot off in widely separate directions. Some might become specialised channels, a news one perhaps or maybe one that shows nothing but nature documentaries. Others could go the opposite way and be filled with programmes so different from each other that it becomes a mess. There will be a few that reach fame and are immensely popular whilst a handful can only be understood by a very small albeit loyal niche crowd. All of them are constantly changing, evolving with time.
But, eventually, the great television of existence, which is being watched by some higher entity to us or perhaps by no one, just accidentally kept on when someone left the house maybe, will lose the signal to a few channels. When flicked to by a remote, there will be no shows waiting there. No reality show dramas, no horrifying news, no cartoons, only white noise accompanied by a screen blaring static.
The channel, no matter how loved by the viewer, no matter how much effort went into production, is lost.
Now, imagine this one channel. One incredibly unimportant channel. It's been lost by the TV, absence hardly noticed amongst all the others disappearing and starting up. Supposedly it's meant to be lost forever, but imagine, somehow, its defunct signal is accidentally caught by a completely different television. It's not meant to be broadcast on it - different frequencies, you see. In fact, a completely different channel was meant to appear there, although now it will never make it.
This is how Sakura Haruno accidentally is born as the wrong person entirely.
(Except not at all because the constant creation and loss of channels would undoubtedly be a logistical nightmare for everyone involved.)
Sakura Haruno was born on the 28th of March to Mebuki and Kizashi Haruno in the image of perfect health. For the first two years or so of her life, she progressed at the same rate as the rest of her peers did. If one were to glance at her, nine out of ten times the sight that would meet you would be that of a normal child, babbling nonsense to herself whilst observing the world around her with an inquisitive eye. However, if your gaze managed to meet the girl at that inopportune tenth time, you might witness instead her garbling things that sounded almost like a defined but unknown language, or perhaps notice her curious eyes focusing on certain symbols and landmarks with just a tad too much intensity for that of a child.
She would be even more removed from the norm if anyone had happened to look into her mind and occasionally hear snippets of thoughts that ran along the lines of 'what is inside my body', 'this isn't even my body' and the ever popular 'what the fuck is that'. These strange ideas however never lasted long. They drifted in and out of Sakura's barely developed mind, too complex for her brain to grasp a hold of yet and be fully understood.
It was only at the age of three, whilst drawing a picture of her family, that everything suddenly clicked into place and Sakura Haruno finally caught a firm grip on the thoughts that had previously flown out of her reach.
I realized, quite calmly, the obvious.
It wasn't so much a divine revelation as much as it was just a simple fact that finally allowed everything to make sense.
Oh. I am Sakura Haruno.
By the time I had placed my pencil gently down on the kitchen table, I had managed to comprehend what that epiphany actually meant for me.
I was not, as you might have gathered, pleased about my conclusion as to who and where I was. In fact, I doubted there were very many other places and identities I would've rejected more wholeheartedly than the place and identity I had come to inhabit.
The Naruto-universe was not a kind place. Sure, as a reader/viewer, it was incredibly easy to forget that as you watched our bumbling, excited orange underdog of a main character reach for his dream, spreading word of peace and friendship as he went. Because even he, the supposed nicest, friendliest one of them all, had killed people and brushed it off with his signature grin.
This universe was terrifying. Children were trained from a very young age to be able to kill an enemy with the flick of a wrist. Major villages were in a constant state of what was pretty much martial law. You were practically guaranteed to see at least one wide-scale war in your lifetime.
And I was Sakura Haruno.
A girl that started with arguably mediocre skills that was thrown right into the thick of everything that could possibly go wrong.
There were very few worse people I could be than her. The Haruno clan was hardly a family that could give me a biological edge over anyone in a fight or any powerful techniques that nobody else knew. At least the other clan kids of the series had something to protect themselves with practically from birth. Sakura was blessed with the oh so helpful gift of a larger than average forehead.
If for some reason I'd been given a choice in the bizarre, seemingly impossible scenario, I would've rather picked Ino or, hell, even Hinata with all her awful family issues tacked on.
But no. I couldn't even have been granted that.
The unfairness of my situation, the unfairness of this world, and the lack of anyone to blame for it caused a mixture of terror and resentment to smoulder inside of me.
Which was only made worse by the uncomfortable sensation of something foreign running around my body.
The small stature of this body and awkward chubbiness of a child did not bother me much at all. I supposed it was generally due to the fact that I didn't remember now a lot of what it had been like in my body before, well, Sakura. I'd spent so long drifting in and out of consciousness, unable to sustain my adult mind with her small brain, that the somewhat stumpy fingers, short legs and painfully soft skin had slowly become what I considered mine.
However, what resided inside her body was so different to anything I'd experienced prior that I couldn't think of it as being a part of who I was. I could feel my chakra flowing through me. So aware of it was I that it made me squirm in discomfort and cause my new parents to give me strange looks. Before I had grasped who I was, Sakura had never really felt it at all. To her, her chakra had been as unnoticeable as the blood pumping through her veins.
To me, it was a constant, upsetting reminder of who and where I was.
It took three days of anxiety and internal panic before I managed to calm down enough to think of what I was going to do now.
My initial thought was to just run. Where didn't matter, as long as it was far enough away to avoid the hell that was life in a ninja dependent world.
Reluctantly, I pushed it to the side. There was no way I could just run. For starters, I was a mere toddler who could barely keep up with an adult walking extremely slowly. Secondly, this was Konoha. Some concerned ninja would inevitably spot the bright pink haired child without a parent and pick me up, ruining any chance of escape. Anyway, I doubted I could survive on my own even with my adult intelligence. I still didn't have the basic knowledge of how the economy worked or the geography of the land.
On the other hand, there was no way I could just stay in Konoha for all the events of the canon. That was just asking to be killed during one of the many invasions that were to come.
The brief, quiet thought of doing exactly what the original Sakura had done and trying to help the world with the knowledge I had made me wonder for a split second whether I had gone completely mad.
No. A million times no.
I was under no false pretence that I was in any way some sort of noble hero. That was Naruto's position and I'd gladly let him have it, no contest required. To put it simply, I did not want to sacrifice myself for the good of a world I was still having difficulty thinking of as not fictional.
Because why the hell would anyone even want to try that? To purposefully have the responsibility of hundreds of thousands of lives weigh down on your back when it worked out fairly okay without your meddling involved? To purposefully step into the line of fire and spend the rest of your life dodging bullets?
Yes, I'd have to live with the guilt of not even attempting to save innocent lives. But at least I'd be alive.
So there'd be no following in original Sakura's footsteps with noble intentions thank you very much.
I eventually came to a compromise between my desire to run as soon as possible and live as long as possible. As much as I disliked the prospect, I would have to go to the Academy to train as a ninja. In order to be in the safest position possible, I had to be able to squeeze out of situations that could be mildly dangerous and that warranted skills only ninjas could achieve. Even if that meant chancing interaction between myself and the rookie nine.
Once there, I'd make it my mission to be the most unremarkable, unnoticeable student to ever walk through the Academy's hallways. Not so good that teachers would take notice of it. Not so bad that I'd be seen as a slow learner. I had to be completely and utterly average.
After years of that, I'd then graduate. Statistically, there wasn't too much of a chance I'd end up on Naruto and Sasuke's team. They had picked the squads based on the attributes of each person involved. I assumed Sakura had been chosen to be a member of team seven as she had been intelligent, which would not only average the team out further considering Naruto's 'dead-last' position but also work with her being the appointed strategist whilst the orange monstrosity and Sasuke acted on her orders with their raw power.
Since I would be going for average intelligence though, it would mess up the balance of the team. Another member of high stats in one field was needed so that Sasuke didn't just overrun the whole group and, without the original Sakura, it meant someone aside from me would have to fill that gap.
So, now hopefully in a team with no rookie nine members (although it was something manageable as long as Naruto wasn't involved), I'd progress as quickly as I dared to becoming a chūnin. Then, after being sure I had enough skill to properly defend myself, I'd retire young with some excuse as to wanting to take up some other career and leave Konoha ultimately after a few months or so. If that wasn't possible, I'd escape in an invasion/fight/etc. with the likely prospect of just written down as MIA, presumed dead.
In either case, as soon as I was out of Konoha, I'd run as far away as I could. Not that I expected anyone to come hauling me back as I'd be too average for that. My presence would not be missed at all. People would forget I even existed soon enough.
Which was a plan that would only work without Naruto's involvement because he would undoubtedly care enough to bring me back if I was his teammate. It was a trait that, whilst endearing for his character, would spell my imminent downfall. Anyway, even if for some insane reason he didn't care, it wasn't as though a teammate of a jinchuuriki could just leave when they asked to.
Avoiding being his teammate was easy enough though if it seemed like it was going in that direction. Just calling him a 'demon' a couple of times would ensure that Iruka would fight tooth and nail so that I wasn't put on his team. Sure, I'd feel bad about it for a while, but Naruto had handled enough prejudice to not be reduced to tears by my half-hearted words. Although calling him names was a last resort. The attention it would draw from people in a position of power above me, no matter how small, had the potential to ruin my perfectly constructed mask of average-ness.
That little idea from earlier that had suggested I follow a noble path piped up again to question whether Sakura's removal from team seven would change the ultimate outcome. The answer was a resounding yes, however, would it definitively result in the end of the world?
If Sakura didn't exist then somebody would be forced to take her place. Their skillset would develop differently, perhaps entirely so with the third teammate of team seven maybe never even becoming a medic-nin. The Sakura-shaped hole left by her absence would never be filled perfectly although this unknown person would fill gaps the canon Sakura had never managed to fill. Maybe they'd be a combat specialist from the start. Maybe a genjutsu specialist. Problems Sakura had had to solve might be avoided entirely because the situations would be different.
Hell, maybe that third teammate would be from a clan that actually had something to pass down to its members! The canon Sakura had been at a disadvantage from a start, probably having to work her ass off to keep up with kids born into power. If you just push a kid born with an advantage at the very start into her place facing similar situations to her own then they might develop into a great ninja too.
(And maybe they wouldn't. But damn it, I didn't ask for this, I didn't want to help save the world. So they could go deal with it and save it without me because I wasn't coming.)
I then stopped thinking about it as my chakra's movement made me squirm again.
Extra (an idea I didn't know quite how to implant into the original story but perhaps will explain Sakura's reasoning more)
For three years the adult mind that festers in her brain lies dormant. It is a short time really. Much of which is filled with what she will later describe as an acute unawareness when passing her fingers through the memories that are both her own and not at all. There is only a brief period in between the stretch of almost nothingness and mature, adult concepts where the child that is Sakura Haruno exists.
She does, naturally, little of merit in this time. She draws pictures. Her parents read her stories with exaggerated hand gestures. She plays dress up. She is like every other small child of her age save for those brief, confusing flashes of strange thoughts that are so out of reach of her young mind she dismisses them moments after having heard them.
It is a simpler time, one Sakura will view with bitter, twisted fondness when nothing is quite so straightforward to her anymore. Memories of which she will view through the eyes of a child that is not her.
It is therefore a direct consequence of the fact she sees the past through such eyes that she does not see the obvious. That three years is short and the time of the child's awareness is shorter still yet plenty enough for thoughts that her adult mind cannot deflect to become deeply embedded in her brain.
She does not think of how the pictures she often drew were of her being a super-powerful ninja in an obnoxious pink outfit that matches her hair. She does not think of the stories where the protagonists are usually ninja that win, always, always win. She does not think of chasing after her father with a blue piece of cloth tied around her forehead and declaring herself the hero ninja that has defeated the bad guy.
When her adult mind floods her brain, Sakura does not think she has absorbed any of the subtle manipulations of the world she lives in.
She is wrong.
So really, is it any wonder at all why in her horror and fear at the life she has found herself thrown into that she latches onto the idea of becoming a ninja even though it is such a terrible, awful plan?
Because, in the back of her mind, she will never be able to shake the thought found in her brief second childhood that contradicts so many other ideas of hers. That ninja are the heroes. That ninja always win.
Edit 4: Altered it because it read like this fic was veering off into the bashing sector in regards to Sakura (more on that further down A/N) and I did not like that AT ALL.
Edit 3: So this is a warning more than anything else - you are pretty much guaranteed to more than once want to scream at Sakura's choices. I myself scream at Sakura's choices. She is a heavily flawed selfish individual with an intense cowardly disposition. Therefore, if you don't enjoy reading stuff from the perspective of someone you aren't going to particularly like (at least, not until she's gone through some character development) then it is rather likely you aren't going to have a fun time reading this fic. I mean, I'd love it if you kept with the fic regardless of that but I thought it might be best for people who know they aren't going to enjoy that sort of thing to know now rather than ten chapters in that this Sakura isn't the nicest of people out there haha
Edit 2: Just wrote in that extra which will hopefully smooth out things more for people questioning why Sakura would want to become a ninja despite how awful an idea it is!
Edit: That feeling when a guest reviews and you want to tell them information they didn't potentially know and you can't *clenches fist*
So here is the info in case anyone else didn't know it:
Naruto has killed before. If you go strictly by the canon then he has landed the killing blow once to Yūra, Sasori's sleeper agent from Suna in Shippuden. Counting any filler/movies, he's landed the killing blow to even more. HOWEVER, as I would discount the latter, he has certainly contributed to the death of many, many others which in the court of law in our universe would amount to him being a murderer or at least an accessory to it. And, when talking abut the psychological aspects of that, Naruto really did just shrug it off with a smile.
Now onto my reasoning for other things: SAKURA IS WAY MORE IMPORTANT THAN OC!SAKURA IS SAYING SHE IS. A lot of people have been rightly telling me such. In no way am I saying this oc is right in any of her thoughts or making good decisions (I disagree with Oc!Sakura's decisions and ideas about eighty percent of the time). My intention is in no way whatsoever to make this a Sakura bashing fic - I honestly really like Sakura (catch me being salty about SPs and Kishi's treatment of her character 24/7).
I also know there is some debate as to whether there is a Haruno clan to begin with but in this case we are going with it being a clan, albeit a very, very small and insignificant one.
Also please don't pin high expectations on this fic because I will almost certainly fail them at some point ahaha (I say that jokingly but seriously, please don't be a dick if you want to criticize anything. I'm not asking to be coddled, just, I don't know, basic human decency?)