P.O.V. Naruto Uzumaki
"Sakura!" Tsunade tensely called out, I turned my head feeling the pregnant Tsunade move away from my side as we stood at the back of the enlarging crowd.
"Granny!" I hissed irritated quickly following her as she dashed towards Sakura who was now arriving on the atwitter scene. I felt my eyebrow raise seeing Kakashi casually walking beside Sakura his hands resting inside his pockets, since when are those two on speaking terms?
I glanced over my shoulder feeling the muddy tension swirling around in the cooling night air. A group of waterfall soldiers stood in our busted open gates with dozens of our shinobi keeping them at bay.
"What are you...?" I trailed off looking between Kakashi and Sakura, feeling like I was missing something here.
"Sakura, your friend over there just barged into the village-" Tsunade ranted on how the waterfall shinobi stormed through the gates, demanding we hand over Sakura to them.
"You need to leave." Sakura sternly instructed, I looked up confused. My heart eased seeing Sakura was looking at Tsunade and not at me.
"Wha-What?" Tsunade shook her head, "I will not-"
"I am here now." Sakura said, "You should get to the Hokage Tower and-"
"I will not leave you here alone to deal with them-"
"This is my job-" Sakura stated, sounding so calm as we stood inside an eye of yet another twisting storm. "-now that I am here you don't need to be. Have you really not learned your lesson from the trade with the Lock Village?"
"I know you want to be here, and I appreciate you wanting to stand beside me, but you are pregnant."
"And I am not going to be facing them alone." Sakura said.
"I have him-" Sakura nodded her head towards me, I felt the large smile bloom across my chilled face as she nodded to her side where Kakashi stood. "-and him. I will be fine."
"But they want to take you-"
"Yeah-" Sakura laughed, "-let's see them do that."
"I am worried." Tsunade breathed the truth we were all fearing, what if Sakura was to leave with Dawn and Kaguya? What if I never see her again!?
"I'm not worried-" Sakura flashed a smile that made me feel this situation was nothing but a brush off our shoulder. "-so why are you?"
"I-I-Because it's my job!" Tsunade reasoned.
"And this is mine-" I couldn't believe how tranquil she was right now; she almost didn't act like there was a village war breathing down our necks that could possibly set off the next great shinobi war! "-so, go home." Sakura moved passed Tsunade walking towards the front of the gates where Kaguya, Dawn and the waterfall soldiers all impatiently waited.
"Naruto-" Tsunade pulled my attention to her, "-watch her back." I nodded, turning on my heel to catch up with my new commander.
"Mm-" Sakura called out; "-it must be my birthday."
"Sakura." Dawn sounded irritated but her face alleviated upon seeing the pink hair shining against the reflective moon light.
I knew the feeling coursing through Dawn's body right now, I felt it all too many times when Sakura would ride through these large gates after weeks of not hearing from her. Seeing this reaction made me tighten my fists even more as a burning rage filled my chest, they weren't taking her away from us!
"What do I owe the pleasure?" Sakura questioned, having reached the front of our collected shinobi. I glanced at Kakashi, I rarely see any other emotion on him besides his lazed demeanor so upon seeing the darkened frost that dusted his exposed eye, I felt even more anxious.
"I am here for you, Sakura." Kaguya answered.
"Me?" Sakura tilted her head in the cute way she always did when confused.
"Yes." Kaguya nodded, "I gave you your free time to play with your friends, but now it's time you come home." Sakura glanced off into the distance, the smile on her lips that made the pit of my stomach unsettled.
"And if I don't?" Sakura questioned, making me glance questionably towards her, what was she doing?
"If you do not return to the Waterfall Village with me, then we will bring this village to its knees." Kaguya declared, Sakura pulled her full lips into a thin line.
"Ok-" Sakura nodded; my heart dropped as my eyes widened in skepticism. Was it that easy for her to just leave us?
"Sakura." Kakashi breathed her sweet name, sounding just as bewildered as I felt. Sakura took a step forward, this wasn't fair! We only had her for short time, in that time we couldn't show her that this was her home, where she truly belonged. I needed more time! I was about to reach out, I needed her to stay here with me.
"-I want to see it." Sakura called out, freezing me in my place.
"What?" I heard myself dumbfoundedly asking feeling Sasuke move to my side as mutters broke throughout the crowd.
"Excuse me?" Kaguya responded.
"If you're going to stand there-" Sakura said, "-and threaten me with a war if I don't return to your village, then I want to see what you will bring down onto my head."
"I-" Kaguya blinked, clearly having not seen this coming. "-Of course, we can-" Kaguya recovered from her stunned stature quickly.
"On your knee!" Sakura ordered; her hardened voice hit me like a punch to the gut. I almost dropped down but before I could take in a breath, the waterfall soldier quickly dropped to one knee and bowed. I felt my jaw hit the pavement as I glanced to Sasuke.
"What!?" Kaguya breathed turning to Dawn, who looked just as shocked as we all did.
"You forget-" Sakura said moving closer, away from me and the safety I could help provide her if she would just stay still my life would be so much easier! "-I was the one who built your army, not a damn soldier will dare stand against me."
"Her fail safe." Kakashi gasped under his breath, I turned to look at him not understanding what he was talking about.
"I see." Kaguya nodded her head, "Well then, I suppose there is no other option left-" Kaguya never finished her sentence, a bright line of light shined through the night as it flew towards Sakura.
I helplessly stood rooted in place as I watched the bright light revolve around Sakura who casually glanced at the bright silver circle glowing mid air around her.
"What is this!?" Tsunade boomed moving through the crowd.
"Why are you still here!?" I shouted.
"Tha-That's-" Inoichi stuttered, turning a ghostly white.
"What?" I asked turning to Ino's grumpy father.
"You know what that is?" Sasuke questioned.
"Yes." Inoichi breathed shaking his head looking almost sweaty from his nerves.
"Care to share!?" Iruka snapped.
"That's a very powerful mind jutsu."
"A...what?" I asked,
"That type of jutsu is old and dangerous, it can wipe a person's memory clean if done right-"
"That's what Kaguya did to Sakura-" Carver realized sending shivers down my arms as I recalled that day...
"-Sakura, this isn't you. You're not this monster-" My terrified voice echoed through my head,
"No, I am much...much worse." Her wicked smile and wild animal like eyes still made my skin crawl.
"Excuse me?" Kakashi turned hearing our conversation, "What happened to Saku-"
"Oh, you were dead-" Raiden waved his hand, "-mind your business."
"But I-" Kakashi turned wanting more information. I quickly spun around as the light that lit the night illuminated brighter.
"Sakura!" I spun around; I couldn't lose my best friend again; I didn't want to see her turn back into that thing she once was. "Sasuke-!" I called, we had to break this jutsu before it could-the reflecting light shattered pulling everyone attention to a shocked Kaguya.
Sakura's glowing eyes shined against the darkness like a beacon of hope.
"How-?" Dawn shook her head in disbelief.
"That isn't going to work a second time." Sakura said as her eyes returned to their vibrant emerald color.
"You will return with us!" Kaguya snapped, "I made you who you are today-"
"You mean what I am?" Sakura smirked, "The balls on you-" Sakura laughed, "-to stand here and act like you have any hold over me."
"No." Sakura shook her head, "I was the one who freed you, not the other way around. I don't owe you a damn thing."
"I trained you-"
"You trained me to be your soldier and nothing more. You're the one who got your threads twisted and wanted warm and fuzzy feelings from a cold-blooded killer from your own creation."
"I did not-" Kaguya baffled out.
"It's not my fault when you decided that I was more to you than a weapon I was already too far gone!"
"Sakura, this is enough-!"
"You're damn right it is, get the fuck out of my village-" Sakura bared her teeth.
"This is not your village!" Dawn stepped into the tense conversation. "You don't belong here!"
"Yes, she does!" I stepped beside Sakura, if Dawn could but in then so could I! "She made her decision where she wants to be, accept it and move on."
"Never." Dawn spat,
"This is ridiculous, Sakura-"
"I don't think I stuttered-" Sakura said glancing at me, "-when I said get the fuck out."
"Why?" Kaguya breathed, "Why would you want to stay inside a village that banished you-!?"
"Why would I want to stay inside a village that makes me numb and so checked out!?" Sakura countered, "Why would I want to stay with you when you made me feel so mistreated that when they-" Sakura gestured towards me and Kakashi, "-reached out and actually made me feel happy, I pushed them away because I was too scared to feel anything!?" I turned to Sakura; a ping of pain spread through my heart hearing her words.
"She-" Kaguya pointed out Tsunade, "-was the reason you laid awake at night desperately trying to figure out why you weren't good enough, this village is the reason you were drowning in anxiety, depression and the loneliness nearly crippled you-"
"Yeah, they did do that, but you got me when I was drowning in the shallow end, you're the one who catapulted me into the deep end and left me there alone to drown!"
"This village banished you! They threw you out into the cold and-"
"What you did was better?" Sakura asked, "You beating into me that my baggage was only my fight to fight? That all my battles I had to face were mine and mine alone or I was weak? You making me believe that all the demons you poured into me was all on my shoulders and my shoulders alone, that's better!?"
"No!" Sakura darkly laughed, "You took fucking years of my life that I can't get back, you ended my life and put me through literal hell all for what?"
"I made you strong."
"I didn't need to be strong." Sakura replied, "I needed help. I needed a roof over my head, food in my mouth and I needed guidance controlling what had happened to me. The only thing you did was take advantage of a terrified child."
"Whether you like it or not, we are family-"
"No-!" Sakura laughed, tilting her head up as she did so. "-if you truly cared for who I am at all, you would stand by my choices and-"
"I will not stand by as you make a mistake-"
"Then it is my mistake to make." Sakura replied. "You don't get to control my life; you don't get to pick and choose when you can step in."
"Yes, I can we are family-"
"You want to call us family?" Sakura scoffed, "How can you stand there and say that?"
"Because you killed me in every sense of the matter?" Sakura asked, earning Kaguya sharp daggers from me and my friends. "Because you feel entitled after all these years of us just working together?"
"We did more than work together-"
"No, we really didn't." Sakura said, "You would sit on your ass while I kept the village standing or you would send me off on missions to die, that is our whole relationship."
"We are family-"
"You keep saying we are family, but we are not."
"Family cares about each other! They don't care about what my name can do for them, they have my back without question, and they are always there when I need them, even if it hurts them to do so. You were never there when I needed you Kaguya."
I sniffed fighting back my tears as I stared at Sakura, my heart swelling with emotions I couldn't unpack in the small fraction of time, all hell could break loose at any given second. I just wanted to reach out and hug her, I could see the pain in her eyes as she spoke with Kaguya and all I wanted to do was wash it away.
My body moved on its own as I wrapped my hand around hers, Sakura turned to look at me with wide eyes, it was time...time for the fighter to be fought for.
"Sakura is not just my best friend-" I said looking into her emerald eyes, "-she is my sister. One thing she has taught me is family doesn't always end with blood, she had no reason to step in the line of fire for me, but she did without hesitation multiple times. She always had my back even when I didn't know it."
"Naruto..." Sakura whispered my name, but she couldn't stop the waterfall of words pooling from my heart.
"A smart man once told me, those who abandon their friends are worse than scum, so if a war is what you're asking for then we will gladly bring one, because we are not going to turn our backs on Sakura, not ever again!"
"Yeah!" Voices behind me cheered.
"You don't have to do this." Sakura turned to me, "This is my fight-"
"No, it isn't." I shook my head, "That is Kaguya talking, not you. You're my family, I am going to stand beside you no matter what it takes!"
"Sakura-" Sasuke said moving to my side, I smirked seeing Sakura cringe at his voice. "-you are worth being fought for."
"The dopes right-" Kiba agreed, moving to stand by Sakura's side wrapping an arm around her. "-you may be a different breed of crazy that I don't understand but I like it!" Sakura smirked as she looked around the growing group of people.
"What do you say Sakura?" Hinata sweetly smiled,
"Huh?" Sakura blinked.
"Are you going to stay?" Choji asked.
"There was never a question of if I was going to leave or not." Sakura chuckled.
"There...There wasn't?" I slowly questioned.
"I'm not going anywhere." Sakura said turning to Kaguya,
"You have your answer-" Tsunade smirked looking like she had just won the jackpot, "-the next question you have to ask yourself now is do you want to go up against the entire Leaf Village as well as Commander Haruno?"
"You are done trying to control the Reaper-" My father stepped forward standing by my side with a strong hand on my shoulder, making me feel reassured and safe. "-she is no longer yours to lay claim on. With the harsh way you treated her you should have known there would come a time she escaped your labyrinth, now it's time to reap what you sow and let her go."
"Sakura, you do not belong here-" Kaguya brushed off my father's wise words. "-it's only a matter of time before you realize this village could never contain what you truly are-"
"Don't tell her what she can and cannot be!" Tsunade snapped, "You have no idea who she is or what-"
"I will be waiting Sakura." Kaguya blatantly ignored Tsunade as she turned to exit through the front gates, "The longer you make me wait, the worse it will be for you." Dawn stared at her village leader clearly unhappy they were leaving without Sakura and without putting up a fight.
I swallowed the lump sitting inside my throat as the waterfall shinobi faded into the distance.
"Well that was an eventful thirty seconds." Raiden cracked, breaking up the riotous tension causing a few people to smile and even chuckle.
"I bet you hear that a lot." Sakura turned joining in on the joke.
"I-I do not!" Raiden blushed a bright red as he quickly puffed air from his chest.
"Sakura, would you like to come-" Hinata looked to her feet as she spoke until a masked shinobi came running through the dispersing crowd who as ready for this long day to end now that the threat was no more.
"Commander Haruno!" He desperately called out.
"Ugh, what?" Sakura groaned her head tipping back as she did that, I could see just how tired she was from the long day.
"You are needed-" The shinobi quickly bowed his head in respect.
"Why?" Sakura sighed.
"-we are having...issues...with...um..." The ninja glanced over my shoulder at Kakashi looking too uncomfortable to continue the conversation in front of all of us, he turned back to Sakura who huffed, glancing sideways at me before turning on her heel.
"Maybe next time." Sakura said to Hinata before following the shinobi through the thinning crowd of watching eyes, leaving me standing in the cool night air feeling relieved but worried all at the same time.
P.O.V. Change: Commander Sakura Haruno
One of the guards from the jail had come to retrieve me after the conflict with the waterfall village mostly resolved itself. I knew that wouldn't be the last time I seen or spoke with Dawn or Kaguya. I glanced to my phone feeling aggravated seeing no new messages from Annistyn, I had a nagging feeling there would soon be a fight between the leaf and waterfall...
"What is the issue?" I asked as we walked through the hallways of the underground jail.
"Well Commander, I didn't want to say anything in front of Lord Sixth but...Hanare has been very difficult."
"Difficult?" I repeated the word I was not expecting, "It hasn't even been a day since she has been locked up, how hard is it to keep her-"
"She has tried to commit suicide two times Commander." The guard said,
"What?" I partially laughed, Hanare didn't seem like the type to just end it all. If anything, I would expect her to try and escape...
What plan did that unhinged psychopath cook up?
"She went completely insane; she ran herself into the stone walls as hard as she could, she broke three ribs and has a grade three concussion Commander. She was banging her head against the metal bars of her cell until we intervened, it took three of us to contain her."
"I see..." I muttered looking ahead as her familiar cell came into view.
"We sedated her but when she comes to, I have no idea what she will try next."
"She will probably go on a food strike or try to choke on her next meal." I answered, I looked over seeing the horror on the guard's face. "That's what I would do." I shrugged.
"If a person really wants to die, they will find a way." I said gazing into the cell, Hanare was restrained as a guard stood inside her cell as a babysitter, she physically sighed seeing me.
"Commander." She stood.
"How long has Hanare been out?" I questioned.
"An hour." The guard beside me answered, "The drugs she was given should keep her under until morning."
"Hm..." I hummed staring at Hanare, I didn't like the fact a guard was pulled off the floor to act as a glorified babysitter. This could leave the prison open for careless mistakes, and I don't like mistakes.
"Do we have an execution list?" I wondered out loud.
"Uh, Ye-Yes Commander." The guard nodded.
"Fantastic." I turned to him, "Put her on it and then have it on my desk by morning."
"Um...of course-" He bowed his head. "-but..."
"Yes?" I turned from leaving looking at the unsure expression sitting on his face.
"She is—was the Lord Sixth's-"
"I don't give a damn who she is." I said, "A title doesn't excuse her from the law, she almost crippled this village. Put her on the damn list, chain her up and get the hell out of her cell and get back to your post, if she wants to die then that's her choice. I am not going to put this village at risk for a fugitive to escape so you can babysit the spy."
"Yes...Commander." The two guards nodded, looking so unsure of my decision but did as I ordered.
"Anything else?" I asked.
"Good." I nodded taking my rare chance to leave.
I sighed feeling a weight roll off my shoulders seeing no one was hanging outside my door. My body ached in pain with the lack of chakra taking its toll, my stomach rolled angry from the tease of food I gave given it. I wondered if Kakashi's dinner was still good. I felt a wave of excitement course through me as I walked through the open door, I turned locking it behind me.
I loved Naruto and everyone else, but I just needed some peace and a little sleep. I sighed ready for food and a hot shower, turning on my heel I froze as my stomach jumped in surprise.
Kakashi rose from sitting on the couch, he placed his phone in his pocket seeing me staring at him.
"Hey." He sounded breathless, was his mind still breaking apart?
"Are you ok?" I wondered, taking my armor off as I gazed around wondering who else was going to pop up tonight.
"I am the only one here." Kakashi said seeing me look for the others.
"Oh-" I nodded, feeling a little relieved I didn't have to entertain anymore people tonight. "-so, is everything alright or...?"
Why was he here?
"Uh, yes." Kakashi nodded humor lacing his voice, "I just wanted to make sure you were ok."
"Why wouldn't I be?" I asked.
"Well-" Kakashi deeply chuckled, the sound of his voice scorched my tired heart. "-you had a long day. Between the Lock Village trade, the Waterfall Village coming in and whatever you got dragged off to do after Kaguya left, I figured you—I just wanted to make sure you were alright."
"I am." I said.
"Good." Kakashi smiled under his mask, "I'll just be going then..." He cleared his throat as he moved towards the door. I watched him with a heavy heart, why did this feel so hard? I faintly remember a time when being with him use to be so effortless...what changed between us?
Kakashi's hand reached out, gripping the doorknob. I heard him unlock the golden bolt lock, my heart stirred as my stomach turned at the thought of sleeping alone without him.
"I don't want you to go!" The words flooded from my mouth before I could realize what I had said, Kakashi turned his eye wide as the full moon outside. I licked my lips as I felt sickened to my core by the heavy silence that slowly ticked by.
"I don't want to leave." Kakashi breathed, his hand falling off the doorknob as took long strides away from the door.
"What did you-?" I don't think I caught his words right; I hadn't noticed him reach me until Kakashi took me into his tight embrace, his hand found the back of my head taking a fistful of my hair as he pressing his lips against mine.
As always there are more chapters to come!
I have edited the ending of chapter 22 if you want to check it out.
One last thing before I go, you get to choose Tsunade's baby's name! In the original version of the story I named him Layton but I have decided to do a poll instead! I will tallie up the results and post the results inside the chapter where she has her child. The name can be either male or female, it's up to you guys!
The next update will be 9/24/2020.
Stay Calm and Jommy on!