AN: A little ficlet…to tide _me_ over, I suppose.

I wrote this in one sitting, and I really hope that it's good. Because I was feeling…strange…restless.

And when you're an author, restless is a bad emotion to feel.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto

Ending Theme. By Poison Ivy

~

The field was stained a bright red, with parts of it drying to a dull maroon. The grass was covered, every inch of it, and the dirt was so saturated with it that any extra that was deposited just sat on the top, instead of sinking down.

It was noon, but the day was cast over, darkened by a certain aura that hung over the events, a dark cloud hanging over them, and them alone.

They had been fighting for hours, but oh God, the blood wouldn't stop spilling.

The day had been bright and sunny, and in parts, it still was. But in that little clearing, and that little clearing alone, it was dark and overcast. A pallor of some unidentified color hung over things, making it impossible to believe that there was an end to this madness.

He had only been fighting for a few hours, but it felt like forever.

He swung his kunai with all his might, long since giving up on any sort of big attack, and watched another fall. Only to have two more appear in its place. There seemed to be no end of them, and he couldn't spare a second from his fighting to count how many were left, on either side.

He almost forgot why he was even here, in this field of death and war. Almost. He swung again. And again. And through it all, a beat seemed to pound itself into his brain, into his heart. This is it. This is the end. The _all_.

Pain exploded into his arm, but he ignore it, since it didn't seem to hinder his fighting. But it must have bled more than he realized because his companion stopped for a second, and gasped.

"Naruto. You're bleeding."

He paused also, trusting the others to cover for him, and yanked the shuriken out. "Aren't we all." It wasn't a question, and he really didn't want an answer. God, war turned him stoic.

"Do you need—"

There's no time for this! His mind shrieked shrilly, as they both watched the crimson of his blood run into the ground, to puddle atop what was already there.

He managed a grin. "Don't worry Sakura-chan. I'm invincible." He promised.

She nodded slightly, a small smile on her lips.

"But are you sure—"

"I'm fine."

This is it. His mind whispered, as he tuned his movements back into the fight.

This is the end. Sakura's seemed to agree.

And the fight continued.

*

He couldn't last much longer. Hell _he_ could, but his men were a different story. They were tired and listless, and seemed no long to even believe in what they were fighting for anymore.

He needed to moral them up, and he needed to do it fast.

Another fell, and he groaned inwardly. He needed to act _now_.

But a war zone is no place for pep talks.

"This is it men." He announced loudly, over the sounds of metal clashing and even (though he didn't know it was possible) the screams. "When we win this one, we can go home. After this, it's over."

A few of them turned their heads towards him, but their faces were lined with worries, and their eyes were blank with pain.

He wished fervently that Gai was here. After all, the green ninja always had the things to say in a situation like this. But he could see him, over the heads of others, all the way on the other side.

So many fell. So many fell that he couldn't—no _stopped_—counting.

But at least most of those were from the other side.

Ninja weren't meant to fight openly like this.

"Kakashi-sama." A cheeky chuunin grinned at him, the only one seemingly unaffected. She was fighting alongside him, and she was holding her own quite well, he noted. He memorized her face. When they got out of this hellhole, he would recommend a promotion. _If_ they got out of here. "What would you do once this is over?"

He smiled underneath his mask, as unwittingly, his men began to listen once again. He winked at her, rather unnervingly, since he used his Sharingan eye.

"There is a book I rather want to finish." He drawled slowly, stabbing and cutting.

The ninja laughed while several others smiled wearily. He was surprised at this, not actually _knowing_ anyone that could laugh during war.

"The famous Icha Icha Paradise ne?"

"I left it at a rather interesting part…"

More of his men smiled, and for the first time since this God-awful war started, Kakashi started to see hope.

"What about you?"

Her eyes held a faraway look to them. "There is someone I want to see…when I go home. I left him without an answer…"

Most everyone nodded at that statement. He felt a pang of sadness in his heart. Once, he had been like that, rash and unthinking. Once…

Maybe the moral idea wasn't such a hopeless cause after all.

Just when he thought this, a shrill scream pierced the air, rising above all the sounds of battle, and, miraculously, everyone halted.

And looked toward the source of the noise.

*

He had her by the throat, and God, was life good. He was feeling high on it by then, and all he could see was green. Shade of green, so dark they seemed black.

"Let me go." She pleaded, looking up into his eyes, grabbing onto his arm with her hands. Her weak hands.

This was what he had been waiting for. Not this moment particularly, but this fight. This blood. Death. Destruction.

He could smell it on the breeze, taste it on his tongue. And he wanted more of it. So much more.

He brought her closer while she tried to recoil, all her clever little tricks gone. So that all that was left was naked fear. So much fear layered with pain, making her face the most delightful of studies.

"Please," she said again, her voice a sob, all her pride, and dignity, and even _sanity_ gone.

"No." he told her slowly, relishing in the look on her face. "No. After all…didn't _you_ come looking for _me_, Anko-chan?"

" No more." She said suddenly, not quite making sense, but sounding more resolved than she had since he had gotten his claws into her. "No more of this. I want…I want to go home. _Please_."

"Maybe I should take your body next." He whispered to her slowly, watching her eyes turn back from what it was before, this almost _sanity_, into the unstable fear. "After all, this jutsu is only temporary. Soon, my arms will be useless once again. And I _really_ don't want that to happen."

He needed the fear, he needed it as much as he was afraid—yes _afraid_—of the almost-sanity.

"What do you say, Anko-chan? After all, you loved me once." He eyes were full of denial of this statement, though both of them knew it was true. "This way, we can be together. Forever."

Her eyes grew even wider—if possible—as he brought her face next to his and licked her cheek.

"No." she whimpered. "No."

"Then scream for me, Anko-chan. Scream."

And she did. And he loved it. He loved every moment of it.

*

He saw it all. He saw everything, from every viewpoint, as he had been able to do much of his life. He wished that he could close his eyes and rest, to forget his duty for once, to just sleep.

But he couldn't. Though he was tired as hell, he couldn't turn away from the destruction that he was causing.

After all, leaders don't turn tails and run. Even in a place such as this.

He couldn't stop fighting, he couldn't just drop down and _die_ because he was afraid.

Hell must be like this.

He threw a shuriken behind him expertly, catching the enemy shinobi who had thought to sneak up—as if anybody could—unawares, killing him instantly.

Though his body never stopped moving, he heard all of Kakashi's conversation because they were stationed only a few meters away from his own troop.

When I go back home…he thought grimly, none of the irony of that statement lost on him, I want to appreciate it.

Home…Family…

_If_ I go back home…his thought was the same as many in the clearing.

That was, of course, before someone began to shriek.

*

He watched them fight, detached from it all, from his perch on a tree branch. From his seat, he could see it all, and see exactly _who_ was winning. Not that he cared.

He watched it all through tones of red, hidden in a tree. He could smell the blood on the wind, but no longer cared.

He watched _her_ fight, her movements but a blur to the untrained eye. She had improved so much, he noted with care, yet she looked tired. Weary.

The tree he was sitting in, ironically, was a Sakura tree.

"Don't leave." She pleaded with him. "Take me with you. Please. If you leave, then I will die. Please."

"No." he told her firmly, watching tears form in her eyes with detached interest. It surprised him that she could cry over something so trivial as a comrade going away.

"I love you with all my heart." She told him tearfully.

Well. This surprised him.

But he was still going to leave. And in love with him or no, she was _not_ going to stand in his way.

He used his speed to appear behind her, pressing a pressure spot carefully, whispering into her ear as she fell, "Thank you."

He left on a bench for others to find, and he set out on his own.

"Sakura…wait for me."

Looking at her now, there was no way to tell if she had done it or not.

He watched her dance with death, and something within him woke.

He watched her lunge forward, leaving her back open to attack. Another soldier saw it, and stepped neatly into the space there, holding the kunai in strike position.

Naruto, the bastard, was too preoccupied to do a thing.

And so he, unthinkingly, took a rock, and threw it. Hard.

It struck the soldier at the base of his neck, snapping it.

Sakura, unbelievably, looked up. Right into his eyes.

"Sasuke." She whispered.

Please don't cry for me. Please…

And then someone screamed.

*

All the fighting stopped as everyone that was left turned their attention to the center of the clearing. There, in a bubble made of chakra, was a perfect circle of untouched grass. The only grass that was still green. And there, inside the bubble, stood Orochimaru, with his hands around Anko's neck.

"No." Sakura whispered, forgetting, even if only for a second that _somehow_ Sasuke was there, sitting in a tree just beyond her reach. The man that she believed was dead for the last six years. The man, that is alive, was a certain traitor.

Missing-nin…

"Kuso." Kakashi cursed, lowering his kunai. No one was going to be moving, and he might as well use the moment to rest. His companion stood beside his silently, for once, quiet, as she gazed at the one that had provoked this war.

"What's wrong, Neji-sama?" a shinobi asked the stoic jounin, who had been gazing wordlessly at the scene unfolding.

"That baka." He replied quietly. "She disobeyed orders, and now we are all going to pay for it."

"Why…" the shinobi questioned, looking at the scene fearfully. The underlying message was clear.

Why would anyone want to get close to that _thing_, especially if it meant _disobeying_ orders?

*

She could relate. She, of all people, knew the pain of a love gone wrong.

She watched as the fighting stopped. She looked at everyone's faces carefully. The Sound-nin were full of anticipation, as if knowing that they would win. The Leaf, were full of apprehension.

She had known that this would happen. She had told no one, not being sure herself, but she had guessed.

The past between the two was full of mystery, but she knew that in the end, Anko had chosen the Leaf in place of love.

It hurt. It really did.

Especially as she was reminded that she had been ready to take another path when a similar question had come her way.

Why Anko? Why did you have to prove this to us?

Because, that, essentially, was what this was all about. Anko wanted to prove to everyone, and herself, that she was over this. That she could look the enemy in the eye, and place a kunai in his heart.

And now, she was about to pay.

"Don't…" she whispered, without knowing to who, or even _why_ she was whispering.

She was so confused, after seeing him there; his eyes swirling with the Sharingan, seeing him watch her without even seeing her.

Why did you save me?

Just a minute ago, her mind had been on the future, perhaps the bath that she would soak in and never get out of, when she returned home. Now, they were focused on the bitter present.

It's too late for you…

But what about the rest of us?

"This is it." Naruto whispered, seeming to be in a trance. A few heads turned his way. "This is the end."

He neglected to mention for which side, and nobody asked.

But, Sakura found, she was in perfect agreement, nonetheless.

*

He could feel all her mind drain away form him, he could feel it leave her body slowly, as she screamed again.

The jutsu on his arms was wearing off, but he no longer cared as he used his tongue to wrap around her throat instead.

All he cared about then were her memories of him, of _everyone_ as he slowly peeled them off of her mind.

*

Kabuto was not stupid. He had been with Orochimaru long enough to know that when his master switched bodies, there would be a few minutes where he would be defenseless.

And though he was certain that he and the rest of the Sound-nins would be able to hold of the Leaf shinobi, it was better to be certain.

He crept towards the pink-haired girl, who seemed to be in awe of the entire scene that was unfolding. She didn't even notice that he was there.

Neither did her comrades.

Orochimaru switching bodies usually had that effect on people.

Kabuto raised a kunai, ready to stab.

*

He had heard the scream; there was no doubt of that. But he didn't quite care enough about it to act, or even to freeze.

Instead, he watched the henchman creep toward his Sakura blossom.

This time, instead of a rock, he threw a kunai.

*

Kabuto felt pain enter his back, and he fell softly. When he did, however, the raised kunai fell into the shinobi's arm.

Another scream joined the air.

*

He could feel rage pulsing through his system. How _dare_ he hurt her?

I'll make you pay, was the last coherent thought in his mind, I'll make you all pay.

*

A blur flew past everybody and slammed into Orochimaru. It passed through the barrier so quickly, that almost nobody was able to see what had happened.

They were, however, able to see black hair, and a fan. The Uchiha fan.

Naruto, who had been tending to Sakura's injury, gasped quietly. "Itachi?" he asked, disbelievingly.

Kakashi, one of the few who had seen the amount of chakra gathered in the boy's fist right before he had plunged into the bubble, smiled wearily underneath his mask. This was not Itachi.

Then, as the two female screams ended, another began, one that was not quite human.

And as it began, so did the fighting, the fighting in which no one knew what was going on anymore, but everyone wanted to live.

*

Sasuke felt power rushing through his body, more so than the moment before he had killed Itachi. It threatened to consume him unless he gave in. it whispered little secrets into his ear as it surged through his mind.

He looked up from his chokehold on Orochimaru's neck, seeing everything through a rush of blood, and met Sakura's, so far across the fighting field.

"Sakura!" he shouted, his voice hoarse from disuse, "Run!"

And then he gave in.

*

"Kakashi-sama…what's going on?"

"If you want to live," he said grimly, grabbing her arm, and hauling ass. Everyone heard him speak; though it seemed as if he barely raised his voice, "then is suggest that you do as Sasuke says."

"Is that Sasuke?" she asked, wide-eyed, as they, and what seemed to be most of the remaining Leaf-nin sped through the trees, many limping.

He didn't waste breath to answer her.

*

A red light exploded from the clearing, covering everything in and around it in a dome of destruction. It was absolutely silent on the outside, however, the only evidence of anything even happening being that one could see through the dome, watching grass and trees shred inside it.

The three figures inside, however, were hidden.

*

Orochimaru tried to run. In the last moments, he tried to shake off that who could not be shaken off, and tried to run.

But Anko, who had, to all watching, seemed dead, grabbed onto him, and hugged him toward her.

"This is it!" she shouted above the clash of destruction. "Let this be the end! It's over!"

"No!" he shouted, losing his icy calm. He knew that there was still time, still time to run. His power would let him get out of here safely.

Sasuke, after all, had long since lost consciousness, slipping to the ground, only a catalyst of the power ripping out of him.

As the ground beneath their feet shredded suddenly, and they rose into the air, Anko began to laugh. "Together forever? Yes. Let's die! Together!"

She held him tight, and refused to let go, even when everything in the dome exploded into fire.

*

When it finally stopped, when everyone was sure that it was over, she limped back into the clearing.

She saw many burned and charred bodies of the enemy, and she closed her eyes against the pain and tears that threatened to spill out.

There were many that were torn beyond belief, and yet, it was a perfect circle of destruction.

Nothing could have survived this, she knew, and yet, she still looked.

Had he really said her name? Right before this had all ended?

"Sakura…" someone called, from the center of it all.

She snapped her head up, and searched desperately, hoping beyond hope.

"Sasuke!" she called, running toward the voice.

Someone stood up, his clothing torn, and his eyes weary.

Yet, surprisingly, his skin was untouched.

He grabbed and hugged her, and she forgot everything.

She forgot that he was a missing-nin now, and that there was a trial up ahead for him. She forgot all the friends that had been left behind, because they were unfit to run. She forgot about everybody that had died before.

And all that was left, the only untouched thing besides for Sasuke, was, ironically, a Sakura tree.

~

A lot longer than I intended. Oh well, I hope you got through that OK.

Review!