Cherry Bomb

- Chapter One -

Regrets

::

Sometimes, villains could be so cliche.

A secret lair hidden in an underground base, complete with henchmen patrolling the creepy cave and a few bats flying around.

How unimaginative.

Sakura muffled a grunt, dropping down from a rocky ledge as quietly as she could before glancing around to keep an eye out for any guards, her jaw clenched behind her mask. Being quiet wasn't quite her specialty - her usual approach to most situations was to just cause a ruckus and break shit and, while she'd certainly broken a few faces so far, now was the time to be sneaky and not bring any attention to herself.

For weeks, she and her partner, Mind Jumper, had been searching the forest outside the city for the rumored secret base of one of Sakura's - Cherry Bomb's - most formidable and long-battled villains. While she might have known the villainous Kabuto when she was younger, any fond feelings had long since been destroyed.

The man was a monster.

Both he and Cherry Bomb shared a similar power but, while she used her healing abilities to help both her fellow heroes and civilians, Kabuto took his (admittedly impressive) healing power too far.

He'd always been very open about his villainous side. So much so that he had neither a 'secret identity' nor a supervillain persona. He was just Kabuto, a well-known supervillain in the hero community, and had admitted to her, years ago, that he saw no need in hiding behind a mask or pretending to have a life outside of his villainous deeds.

However, despite not really having a villain 'persona', he was often referred to as a crude Dr. Frankenstein because of his monstrous... creations.

He'd always struck her as a mad scientist of sorts when they were younger, but the fact that he used his 'healing' powers to bring life to haphazardly stitched-together creatures, modified with weapons and gadgets, horrified her more than she was willing to admit.

Their similarities didn't stop at the healing powers, however. While they both had astounding intelligence, it wasn't really a superpower - more of just a funny coincidence that they were both very smart. Again, luckily, their contrasting personalities reflected in how they used their abilites - Kabuto used his brain to create his weapons for evil-doing while she used her smarts to aid her allies.

Inwardly, Sakura found great satisfaction and comfort in the fact that their secondary powers were very different. Kabuto could utilize blades of pure energy with a terrifying precision, cutting through flesh easily and even bone (with enough force).

Sakura's super strength was... a little less refined. But she couldn't wait to punch that ever-present, insufferable smirk off of that creep's face (and maybe just send him flying into a wall).

Gritting her teeth, Cherry Bomb scanned her surroundings. Mind Jumper had gone ahead into the lair a while ago, sneaking past guards to the main chamber much more easily while Sakura took up the rear, taking care of any henchmen that would ultimately thwart their escape plans once they dealt with Kabuto.

She was so ready to finally end this - to put a stop to the villain once and for all. Rumor had it that he was up to something big and, while she didn't have all the information, she knew that it couldn't be good.

"Cherry," Sakura paused, listening carefully to the sound of Mind Jumper's voice through her ear-piece, static crackling slightly, "I think I'm getting close to Franky's main lab."

"Got it," She replied, hurrying down an empty hall, "Hang back if you see him, Jumper. Key me in on any news, but just keep an eye on him until I get there."

She could hear Mind Jumper huff over the radio and instantly imagined her rolling those pretty, blue eyes of hers.

"You don't think I can take him? That big brain of his won't due him much good when I hop in and take control."

Before Sakura could hiss out a reply, Mind Jumper was quick to continue, a pout pretty evident in her voice.

"Don't worry, I'm kidding. I'll lay low and watch while I wait for you to catch up. How far-" She suddenly cut herself off and Sakura held her breath, listening to the sound of cloth scraping against rock.

"Shit, I see him."

"What's the layout like?" She called back, following the directions Mind Jumper had given her earlier when she'd gone ahead. The path to what was probably Kabuto's main lab was pretty straight forward, but the cave had a lot of paths that branched off into dead ends and other tunnels. It would be easy to get lost if she wasn't careful.

"Big cavern but there's a lot of rocks and stalagmites that provide decent cover. The lab is down in the center, about twenty feet below the cave entrance. Lot of techy shit too - computers and junk. Creepy is near the center, messing with some weird gadgets. Ugh, Cherry, it smells awful in here."

Nodding to herself, Sakura continued her quiet run down the pathway before skidding to a halt as she turned a corner, suddenly facing a pair of guards. Luckily, she caught them by surprise and, moments after they shouted and scrambled for their weapons, quickly landed a few punches with enough force to knock one out and send the other flying into a wall, the impact rendering him unconscious. She didn't have time to hide the bodies and, muttering a quick curse, she hurried down the hall.

"We're gonna be short on time; someone's gonna notice the henchmen I just took care of and sound an alarm. But, I think I'm almost there."

"I'm moving closer," came Mind Jumper's voice, as well as the subtle sounds of her movement on her end of the connection. Anticipating Cherry Bomb's reply, she continued, her voice hushed now. "I need to get a clean shot at him if shit goes down. If he escapes, it'll be weeks of us running around trying to find his new base and more time for him to work on whatever he's planning."

Sakura sighed, muttering a quick, "Just be careful," before letting the line to go silent. A few more turns and she finally made it into what she assumed was the cave Mind Jumper had mentioned.

Quickly taking cover behind a large outcrop of rocks, she looked for both her partner and Kabuto, tugging her fingerless gloves more firmly onto her hands when she spotted the bastard. He looked as he always did, silver hair pulled back and his glasses gleaming wickedly when the light caught the lenses just right. Gritting her teeth, Sakura searched for Mind Jumper, her gaze eventually catching sight of her blonde hair, the heroine nestled in a cluster of stalagmites a ways ahead of her, dangerously close to Kabuto.

She was just about to call over the radio for her to pull back and regroup when, suddenly, a piercing siren broke the silence of the cave. Kabuto jumped slightly at the sound of the alarm, hurrying over to one of the computer monitors and keying something in before grabbing something off of the table of gadgets. Sakura's eyes narrowed, gaze flickering from the man to Mind Jumper, only to find the blonde no longer hiding amongst the stalagmites. Cursing, she moved to a different vantage point, finally spotting Mind Jumper now a few feet closer to Kabuto, her hands raised in front of her, thumbs touching and her forefingers laced in that odd hand-signal she made when she was about to use her power.

Glancing back to Kabuto, she watched him slip some odd metal band onto his head, electrical lights flickering on a panel near his right ear. His back was turned to Mind Jumper's hiding place and he quickly began gathering what looked like blueprints off of the table, the metal contraption fitted snugly around his head.

"I'm taking the shot." Came the blonde's voice and Sakura tensed, the muffled sounds of hurrying footsteps in the distance.

Before she could tell her to wait, Mind Jumper had used her mind transfer power, attempting to incapacitate Kabuto before his backup came.

However, Cherry Bomb instantly knew something was terribly wrong when the blonde's body didn't slump forward slightly like it normally did when she jumped into someone's head.

Instead, Mind Jumper's scream echoed sharply through the cave and Sakura could only watch in horror as her partner hunched over, her hands flying to her head as she continued to scream.

Just as quickly as it had happened, it ended.

Mind Jumper's body crumpled to the ground and, as Sakura scrambled out of her cover, the pinkette realized that Kabuto had turned to look searchinginly and was heading towards the blonde's unconscious body, a satisfied smirk on his face. Cherry Bomb was too far away to beat him to her partner, her heart pounding in her chest as she raced over the jagged rocks and stalagmites, down to the center of the cavern. She felt her blood run cold as she watched Kabuto drag Mind Jumper's body out of the cluster of rocks she'd been hiding behind, his hand gripping her neck as he held her up off her feet, her limbs dangling freely.

Sakura froze, Kabuto's head turning in her direction and his gaze settling on the pinkette as he smiled. Gaze flickering from his disturbing face to Mind Jumper, she was horrified to realize that there was a faint trail of blood coming from her ears, her blonde braid stained with more blood as well.

"Ah," came Kabuto's voice, her emerald eyes focusing back on him, "There you are. I figured you'd be here. I wasn't sure if this one," Here, he shook Mind Jumper's unconscious body slightly, his grip on her throat tightening dangerously, "would be tagging along, but I'm glad I was prepared." He tapped a finger to the metal band around his head and Sakura's gaze narrowed, her hands clenching into fists as she readied herself to dart forward and attack.

But before she could move, he raised his free hand, his black eyes falling on the blonde in his grip. Cherry Bomb could just barely hear him mutter, "Now, let me take care of the pest," before that familiar blue glow formed around his free hand, creating a wicked blade. His gaze flickering back to Sakura for a moment, he plunged the energy blade into the blonde's middle, slicing through the skin before pulling his hand back, blood quickly flowing from the new wound.

"JUMPER!"

Cherry Bomb desperately scrambled over the rocks and Kabuto threw the bleeding blonde away from him, her skull connecting with the rock floor with a sickening crack. Blood quickly began to pool around the heroine, both from the gash in her abdomen and the wound on her head from the impact.

Sakura saw red.

Barely thinking, she dashed forwards, her fist connecting with Kabuto's face with a satisfying sound and sending him backwards a few feet and down to the ground. Before he could even move to stand up, she was on him, her fist flying towards his form. He just barely managed to roll into a dodge, her punch creating a large crack and decent sized crater in the stone, throwing rock into the air, while the impact seemed to shake the cave itself. Eyes burning with rage, she moved towards him again, not even bothering to dodge the energy blade - or 'scalpel' as he liked to call it - that he swung at her arm before she managed to grab him, swiftly bringing a knee to his gut before holding him up off the ground by the front of his shirt.

"What did you do to her?!"

Kabuto's glasses were shattered and his face was bloody but he still had the gall to grin at her, reaching up to grab the fist that was holding him up. Blood ran freely down her other arm from the cut he'd given her, but she barely noticed, instead pinning him with a ferocious glare.

"I simply deflected that pesky mind transfer ability of hers right back at her."

"What?!"

He sent her a smirk, blood dripping from his nose onto her fist, his feet kicking slightly in the air as he searched for purchase, locking gazes with her through her mask.

"She's trapped in her own mind now. Well, so long as she doesn't bleed out first."

Sakura sent a desperate glance to Mind Jumper's unmoving form, fear flickering through her eyes before she turned her hateful glare back on Kabuto. Her reply was cut off when the cave suddenly shook, dust and rocks falling from the cavern ceiling. She glanced upwards and Kabuto took her moment of distraction to land a kick to her stomach. She grunted, doubling over slightly and quickly releasing him as he formed another energy scalpel around his hand.

She leaned backwards in a dodge as he swung at her again, his smirk only fueling her rage. Righting herself and pulling her fist back, she forced all of her strength into a punch that sent him flying back, impacting the wall hard enough to make the stone crack and cave in slightly. He fell to the ground, wheezing and coughing before the cave shook again, the crack in the wall shooting up.

It was quickly apparent that the cave was starting to collapse.

Before Kabuto could move, the ceiling above him crumbled and rubble rained down, large slabs of rock falling to crush him and cut off his cry.

Panting and bleeding, Sakura spared the pile of broken rock only a moment of her attention before she turned on her heel, rushing towards the blonde's prone form.

"Mind Jumper!"

A soft green glow quickly encompassed her hands and Cherry Bomb pressed them to the bleeding gash in her abdomen, desperately calling for her.

"Jumper! Stay with me; you need to wake up!"

There was no response, the blonde's eyes closed and her simple mask still resting perfectly on the upper portion of her face. The cave shook again and Sakura leaned over her partner, shielding her body from any rocks that might fall. A cluster of the stalactites, a few feet away fell and shattered against the stone floor, scattering flying debris. Still trying to stop the bleeding and wake the blonde, Cherry Bomb called to her again, the desperation shaking her voice.

"Jumper!"

Rock and rubble continued to fall and more of the ceiling of the cavern began to crack, the rest of the underground base beginning to succumb to the cave-in. Shoving her full-face mask off and tossing it aside as her tears began to fall, expression terrified and voice begging, Sakura gathered her partner's body in her arms.

"INO!"

::

The emergency teams and a few heroes who had been on call gathered around the secret entrance to the villain, Kabuto's, lair, having followed the signal of the tracker Cherry Bomb had set off before she and her partner had headed into the base. A few cried out in surprise as the ground shook slightly, bits of the mouth of the cave entrance breaking off. All were tense as they watched and waited, ready to rush forward at a moment's notice.

Someone called out when they could see a figure approaching through the clouds of dust, deeper in the cave but rushing towards the entrance as they dodged falling rocks. The heroes remained on guard, ready to fight if the figure proved to be a foe, but a few people in the crowd let out a collective gasp as the person escaping the cave-in came into focus.

They were all quick to recognize Cherry Bomb's pink hair, her ever-present mask turned askew and resting on the side of her head, revealing her face to the crowd. A few of the emergency aid members actually glanced away from her face before they realized that she wasn't alone.

"Medic! I need help, now!"

In her arms was the unconscious, bloody body of Mind Jumper. There were a few more gasps in the crowd before people started shouting orders, a couple of the heroes rushing forward to help Cherry Bomb. Tears still ran down her face, but she quickly caught the approaching medics up, telling them that she'd momentarily stopped the bleeding from the wound in Mind Jumpers abdomen, but she had a head injury as well and needed to get to a hospital immediately.

It all went by in a blur. One moment she'd been desperately running through the tunnel passageways, unable to heal a majority of Kabuto's damage with so little time, Mind Jumper in her arms as she tried to outrun the cave-in. The next, she was running through the halls of the emergency room, doctors and nurses shouting as she clutched the blonde's limp hand in her own, her gurney being speedily pushed through the hospital.

Cherry Bomb was forced to stay behind as she watched her partner be hurriedly wheeled through a pair of double doors and out of sight, tears still streaming down her face and she pulled her mask back into place.

::

Kakashi sighed to himself, gaze on the disarray of papers on his desk. Sakura sat on the other side, her expression solemn and her mask resting on the desk. He'd seen her face plenty of times before, as one of the few people who knew Sakura as more than the heroine Cherry Bomb, but it was still rare to see her without her mask.

"Are you... sure?"

Sakura nodded sternly, her clenched fists resting on her lap as she stared ahead at Kakashi, a former hero and a dear friend and mentor of hers.

"The past two months have been... difficult." She admitted, gaze dropping down to her lap before resting on her mask. "I can't focus and I've become more of a hindrance than a help. I've... lost my edge."

Her eyebrows furrowed as she held back her tears and Kakashi regarded her with a sympathetic look, waiting for her to continue.

"The nightmares haven't stopped. When I'm out working, if I hear a scream, I freeze up - it sounds so much like her's that everything comes flooding back and," she pauses, eyes clenched shut as her shoulders shook, "I can't do it. Not anymore. Screams, blood, anything seems to trigger it. The memory comes flooding back and I j-just see so much blood - her blood - and I get so lost in it that... that villains take advantage of my distraction and keep getting away."

He watched her silently and she took a breath, her gaze still cast downwards.

"I can barely sleep. All I see is J-Jumper and that bastard a-and-"

Kakashi cut her off when she started shaking more, glancing back down at the papers on his desk.

"She still hasn't woken up?"

Sakura shook her head, expression grim. That was the one relief she had from everything - Ino was alive.

Alive, but gone.

She hadn't woken up since that evening in the cave. Alive and healing and stable but just... gone.

The pinkette could only assume that what Kabuto had said was the truth. She was trapped in her own mind, stuck in a coma with no hope of awakening.

Sakura reached up, running her fingers over the back of her bare neck. She could still remember the first moment she'd seen Ino laying in her hospital bed, her long, beautiful, golden blonde braid missing. The emergency team had had to cut her hair for better access to her head wound, cropping it short in an unfamiliar, haphazard style and leaving Sakura to think, for only a moment, that she was looking at a comatose stranger rather than her dear Mind Jumper.

It was startling, to say the least, and she knew that, when Ino awoke - she had to, Sakura wouldn't accept the thought of her staying like this forever - she'd been incredibly annoyed at the loss of her lovely hair.

That night, the pinkette had gone home and cut her own hair as well, taking a pair of scissors to her ponytail and discarding the long, pink locks with an inward promise to keep her hair short until Ino came back.

Over the past two months, Sakura had spent a vast majority of her time at the hospital, watching and waiting and talking to the unconscious blonde, hoping that eventually she'd open her eyes.

But with no such luck, Sakura's work as a hero - and her life in general - had suffered. She was unfocused and numb; she barely slept and had to force herself to eat at times. Her mind was constantly consumed by the memory of that night in Kabuto's lair, the scene replaying over and over again.

She couldn't let the city suffer - she couldn't let innocent lives remain in danger due to her inability to handle her job anymore.

"I'm retiring from being a superhero and fighting crime. I can't be a heroine anymore."

::

The next five months went by in a blur.

There had been plenty of alarm when Cherry Bomb had announced her early retirement to her fellow heroes, what few the city of Shirogane had. Many understood her decision and wished her luck in turning to a life of a civilian, offering their support and well-wishes, as well as their sorrow in her leaving.

Luckily, in the months following her impromptu retirement, the city fell into an air of relative peace. Kabuto's minions hadn't resurfaced to cause trouble after the collapse of the base and the death of their leader and the remaining villains in Shirogane were handled by their heroes. And the city flourished.

But Sakura's mind was still darkened.

Everything seemed to have lost its vibrancy. She often passed through the days on autopilot, barely aware of her surroundings. When she wasn't at the hospital - a very special facility that took care of injured superheroes, the staff of which were all sworn to secrecy regarding any unmasked heroes under their care - sitting with Ino either in silence or trying to find something to talk aimlessly about, she was at home, trying to consume her time with distractions from her aching heart.

Mind Jumper's condition hadn't improved. Her wounds had healed, yes, but her mind was still trapped and Sakura had experienced a number of breakdowns, often begging whispers into her ear for her to wake up. There was never any change, the scanners and machines monitoring her condition remaining just as stagnant as the unconscious blonde.

Sakura found little solace in much of anything.

However, she did find temporary peace of mind in her gardening. It had started out small, a small pot of pansy seedlings on her windowsill, before she found herself focusing her attention on taking care of various plants around her apartment. While, at times, the flowers would remind her of Ino - the blonde had always had a natural green-thumb and spoke fondly of her parents' old flower shop - Sakura found the plants therapeutic. She knew that Ino would have been pleased to see her taking care of the flowers and, after several finally began to bloom, the pinkette began to bring some to the hospital, brightening up Mind Jumper's room.

Still, she knew that, while Ino was safe and under the watchful care of the hospital, Sakura wasn't getting any better.

So much of the city reminded her of the girl she loved so dearly and she'd often hole herself up in her apartment, mourning and suffering in her own way.

Fortunately, she wasn't the only one aware of her mental condition.

Which brought Sakura to where she was now, back in Kakashi's office, months after she'd announced to him her desire to retire. She hadn't been too surprised when he'd given her a call, as he'd kept in a fairly constant touch to make sure she was okay. When he'd asked her to come visit him, Sakura had been a little hesitant, having barely set foot in the building that acted as a sort of secret headquarters for the heroes of Shirogane since she'd given up being Cherry Bomb. But, she knew Kakashi wouldn't ask her over unless it was important.

Dressed in casual clothes and her pink, pixie-cut hair hidden under a hat so as to not draw unwanted attention to herself, she made her way up to Kakashi's office, flashing a quick ID card to the guards inside. It didn't have any actual personal information on it nor did it tell them that she was Cherry Bomb, but the symbol in the center granted her access to the facility without raising questions or revealing herself.

Kakashi was quick to notice how tired she looked when she slipped into his office. There were very prominent dark marks under her eyes and he was slightly alarmed to notice how thin she looked. Obviously, she hadn't been too concerned with her own health the past few months as she worried over Mind Jumper. He sighed, motioning for her to take a seat. He'd seen her occasionally over the past few months and what'd he'd noticed had worried him - Sakura wasn't healing.

She watched him, waiting for him to speak and reveal why he'd asked her to come over. Kakashi paused, leaning forward slightly and sending her an earnest look, his mouth turned down in a serious frown under his half-mask. Despite not really being an active hero anymore, he still had never revealed his full face to anyone, which Sakura understood but had always found a little frustrating for her curiosity.

"Sakura," he started, eyeing her carefully, "I'm going to make a suggestion that I want you to honestly consider. Okay?"

She tensed slightly, watching him warily before nodding. He looked over her face, frowning at her blank, numb expression - he had a distinct feeling that it had been months since she'd last been able to smile.

"You should leave the city."

Sakura's eyes narrowed slightly at his words and her frown deepened as she shifted in her seat.

"What?"

He regarded her with an even look, rubbing the back of his neck. "I think you should leave Shirogane. These past few months have been hard on you, but you're not healing - you're not getting better and you won't if you stay here."

"Kakashi," she started, a brief mixture of panic and vague anger flashing through her eyes, "This is my home. Ino needs me, I can't just-"

"There's nothing you can do to help her right now." He replied sternly, though she could see the concerned look in his eyes. "The only thing you can do for Mind Jumper right now is to wait, but you can't just wait here and let yourself waste away. Staying in Shirogane could very well kill you if you stay stuck in this pattern you've been living through the past few months."

There were tears in her eyes, he could see, but he continued, his tone turning gentle.

"You need a change of scenery, Sakura. Get out of the city, go somewhere new. Take a vacation, live somewhere else for a while, meet new people, anything. Just don't stay here and let the pain consume you. You're worrying me, Sakura. I can't bare to watch you suffer like this. I know you want to be here when she wakes up," He had to hold back his additional comment of "If she wakes up," and stood up, walking around his desk to stop in front of her, his hand resting on her shoulder. "But all you can do is wait, hope, and let yourself heal. And you can't do that here."

She shook slightly, dropping her gaze and staring down at her clenched fists. She loved Shirogane, she really did. This was Mind Jumper's home, Cherry Bomb's home - her home. But, she thought through Kakashi's words, an ache of sadness hitting her as she remembered how much everything about the city seemed to remind her of Ino.

Kakashi watched her, sighing softly as he stepped back but paused when she reached up and gently grabbed his wrist. Sakura looked up at him, her expression defeated and desperate but, as he watched, he could see a glimmer of determination in her eyes.

"You're right. I... I need to get out of Shirogane for a while. I won't do Ino any good when she wakes up if I've just wasted away and resigned myself to living like this."

She took a calming breath and offered Kakashi a brief - it was only there for a moment, he might have missed it if he had blinked - small, sad smile.

"Thank you, Kakashi."

::

It took Sakura a few days to pack. She'd often find herself staring down at some article of clothing or a book or a piece of jewelry Ino had given her, lost briefly in her reminiscing of a happier time. When she finally pulled herself from her thoughts, she always let out a soft sigh and gently packed the item into its appropriate box. Kakashi had offered to help her pack but she'd declined, giving him a quick hug before she headed back to her apartment.

It was scary to think that she'd be leaving Ino behind, but she knew the hospital would keep her under constant care and she could always get in contact with the blonde's nurse to check on her status. They would contact her if anything happened and alert her the moment Ino finally woke up.

Sighing, Sakura gathered up the last of the clothes in her closet, pausing when something fell and thudded softly on the carpet of her bedroom. She glanced down, chest clenching slightly at the sight of Cherry Bomb's mask. Gaze traveling back into the closet, she spotted her hero outfit, folded up and shoved into the farthest corner. Depositing the clothes in her arm on her bed, she moved back to the mask, kneeling down as her hands shook slightly as she recalled how long it had taken to wash Ino's blood out of her clothes.

Picking up the white, full-face mask, she trailed her fingers over the black markings, from the diamond on the forehead and down a stripe that trailed over an eye and towards the bottom of the mask before moving her fingers back up to the red markings around the eye.

She had the sudden, intense urge to break it.

But, taking a slow breath to calm herself, she carefully rose and moved back to the closet, gathering her Cherry Bomb uniform. With the black shorts and the red, midriff tank in her arms, she reached for the elbow guards, arm braces, and fingerless gloves, fingers trailing over the padding. It was all just where she'd left it months ago and, reaching blindly, she grabbed her knee-high combat boots as well, turning back to the boxes in her room. She grabbed her trunk of out of season clothes and pulled it closer, kneeling on the carpet as she removed some of the clothing until she could see the bottom of the trunk.

Carefully, she placed Cherry Bomb's clothes down, packing it all into the trunk with slightly trembling fingers. With the mask resting on top of the pile, she stared down at it all for a few moments before repacking the trunk, hiding the uniform beneath sweaters and coats. Clicking the latches into place she turned her back on the trunk and continued packing up her apartment, eleven years worth of memories of training and fighting villains and protecting the city rolling through her mind.

Once she had decided on where she wanted to go, Kakashi had been more than happy to help her find a place to live, making a few calls and easily getting her a nice apartment in Mabushii, a lively, exciting city about five hours away from Shirogane. Cherry Bomb's years of service to the city had landed Sakura with a pretty hefty amount of money for a nice, cushy retirement, all in gratitude for protecting Shirogane.

The thought of moving to a city where no one knew Haruno Sakura - and probably had only heard of Cherry Bomb - was... oddly nice. Sure, she might have traveled to a few nearby cities to chase down her enemies in the past, but Cherry Bomb had only ever really been one of Shirogane's heroines.

This was her chance to start a new life, if at least for a little while. Who knows, maybe she'd end up really liking Mabushii and Ino would come to live in the big, bustling city as well.

All of her belongings packed up into Kakashi's car, who had been happy to help her move out and into her new home, Sakura took once final glance around her apartment, making sure she hadn't forgotten anything. Unfortunately, she'd be leaving Cherry Bomb's motorcycle behind in Kakashi's care, so she'd have to eventually look into finding some other method of transportation in the future. Nodding to herself, she left the building and traveled down to the waiting car.

Before heading out on their trip, the pair made a quick stop by the hospital, Kakashi waiting respectfully outside Ino's room as Sakura stood next to her bed, thinking over her words. The soft beeping of the monitors and the sterile smell of the hospital was rather comforting to the pinkette, considering she'd spent a lot of time helping the staff and lending her healing powers over the years. Ino's hair was still growing back and Sakura reached up to run her fingers through her own short hair, which she'd been keeping cut as she had promised.

The blonde looked peaceful, resting on the hospital bed, and a stranger might have thought her to be simply sleeping. Sighing gently, Sakura sent her a small, sad smile, reaching down to gently hold her hand before finally speaking, her voice soft and careful.

"I have to leave for a while, Jumper. It's not... healthy for me to stay here. I need to let myself rest while you do the same." Her expression turned very determined here and she leaned closer, her free hand reaching up to brush a few stands of blonde hair off her forehead, her gaze gentle but steady.

"I'll wait for you, Ino. I'll wait for you and, when you finally wake up, I'll be here, right by your side. I love you."

Leaning down, she pressed a soft kiss to Ino's cheek before touching their foreheads together for a moment, resting and breathing out a careful sigh before finally straightening up. Giving her hand a quick, soft squeeze, she turned and exited the room, nodding to Kakashi and wiping at her eyes before her tears could fall.

"I'm ready. Let's go."

::

notes: ok so ive been wanting to write a superhero fic for literal years and this is waaaayyy different than one of the ideas i had years ago but! im rlly looking forward to this fic eheheheh

other pairings you can look forward to in this multisaku! kibasaku, sasosaku, madasaku, deisaku, karinsaku and many others that i may or may not have already decided on

sakura is hella pansexual

thanks for reading! i hope u enjoyed uvu please leave a review if you did!