Disclaimer: noun – a) piddly little statement squeezed into the top margins of a fanfic, with no legal fortitude whatsoever, that supposedly protects one from being sued by richer people whose property will be blatantly stolen and exploited in the pages to follow, but really just amounts to a poor college kid begging.
Date Written: January 2004
Summary: Circumstances force Naruto and Sakura to rely on only each other to survive.  Chapter 1.
Spoilers: Anime only, set before the chuunin tests.

Homeward Bound

Chapter 1

          Why the hell are we stuck in this stupid place with such a stupid job? Sakura asked herself as she sat in the basement of the Ninja Academy, mindlessly sorting through piles of rusted kunai and shruiken.  'Have to find a single stupid dagger with a single stupid carving,' she mimicked, doing her best internal mockery of Kakashi's voice.  It wasn't even the real village armory, just a basement depository for stuff too worn to be of use to anyone but too valuable to throw away.  She darted her to the side and glared at her sorting partner.  And why the hell am I stuck with him and not Sasuke!

          The embodiment of her distain felt her stare, and looked up from his own mess of weapons, grinning at the attention as he rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet.  Sakura snorted and turned back to the piles.  Naruto is so irritating, she ranted.  He never takes things seriously, and he always wastes time, and oh god is he humming?

          "SHUT UP!" Sakura screamed, jumping up with a shriek.  Naruto started, accidentally kicking out with one foot, and stacks of sorted weapons as high as their waists went tumbling around them with a clatter of metal and stone. 

          When the noise stopped Sakura opened her eyes and uncovered her ears gently, looking around.  Her partner sat hunched forward, head down and hands clenched together.

          "Naruto."  He didn't move.

          "Hey… Naruto?"  Sakura put a hand to his scalp and pushed his head back.  When wide, empty eyes looked up at her she shrieked again and darted back from him.  The boy's head fell forward again, limp.

          Calm, Sakura, be calm! she scolded her other self.  Look at him again and find out what's wrong.

          Nothing seemed to be a problem from where she stood.  He wasn't wounded from falling, but his chest didn't move.  Sakura bit her lip, feeling her throat go dry.  There's more to this, I know there is.  But there was no time to think about traps when Naruto had stopped breathing.  A few minutes to go get help, and his brain would die form lack of oxygen.  Gathering her wits she stepped forward, taking Naruto by the shoulders

          don't look at the eyes, don't look at the eyes  

          and laying him on the floor of the basement on his back.  She put two hands over his chest and began pumping her arms downward in harsh, even pushes.  Every five pumps she leaned his head back and breathed into his mouth.

           This isn't working!    Why won't he wake up?

           Iruka-sensei had always told them, over and over again, to keep pumping until help arrived or you collapsed from exhaustion, because you could be the only thing keeping your friend alive.  Sakura was nearing that exhaustion point right now; she felt it in her bones.  They'd both been tired from the morning's intensive training and this was meant to have been a cool-down mission, allowing them an easy afternoon of meaningless task work.  Up and down she pushed her hands onto Naruto's chest.

          Up, down. 

          Up, down. 

          I have to think of some way to send for help--

          Up, down.

          Breathe.

          Kakashi and Sasuke won't be back to check on our progress

          Up, down.

          for two more hours

          Up, down.

          Up, down.

          and Naruto will be dead by then

          Up, down.

          Breathe.

          Up, down.

          I don't understand--

          Up, down.

          why is this happening?

          Up, down.

          Up, down.

          Sakura felt her knees give way, her body fall.  Her head struck the basement floor, lolling to the side.  The sound of her own breath echoed far off in the distance.

          Naruto, he's glowing... I wonder why.  He's got a kunai under his elbow, too.  I didn't notice that before.

          She tried to lift herself, but something weighed down on her middle, and the whole idea seemed too much trouble all of a sudden.

          Hey, my body's glowing now.  All this light... it's kind of pretty.

          Before Sakura's eyes closed entirely she wondered if Kakashi would be pleased that they had sorted almost the whole basement.