Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or the characters, OOC though they may be.


Puppet in Pink

1. Snapping the Strings

...while a kingdom

Sits in your palm, a people and power

That Death will steal.

...the soldiers ate

And drank like kings.

...but those beer-drinking sleepers

lay down with death beside their beds...

... war, wherever they rested...

-Beowulf

Exhausted from a long day of training and staring at Sasuke (those two activities had become almost inseparable for her by now), Sakura opened the door of the small house. "Mom, I'm home!" she called out, at the same time wishing deep down inside that nobody would answer. For the pink-haired girl knew she'd disappointed her mother once again. She'd ask Sakura the same question as she did every night, and once more Sakura would be forced to answer with a truthful 'no'. How much longer could this go on? For how many more years?

Noticing that nobody had answered her call, Sakura shouted again. "Mom? You here?" Still no reply. On instinct, Sakura was about to yell "Dad", but remembered that her father had been dead for almost a full year. Neither of her parents were official ninja (both had dropped out), so there were no dangerous missions, but Sakura's father had died in an explosion at the low-level power plant where he worked, which supplied much of the Leaf Village's electricity. He wouldn't have been home anyways, since he'd used to work until late every night.

Picking her way through the messy kitchen, Sakura felt her heart race. She was almost afraid to go into the living room; she'd heard of these things happening before. Nobody's home...then you go to the living room and blood coats the walls...

Mustering up her courage, Sakura forced herself to go into the room. But nothing was there. No blood, no bodies. With a sigh, she surveyed the area, which was as messy as the kitchen, then almost leapt through the ceiling at the sound of a knock on the front door. Please don't let it be them...Please don't let it be them...Sakura panicked, inching towards the door. Pasting on her best smile, she yanked it open. To her relief, the only person she saw was Kakashi. "Oh, thank goodness it's only you..." she sighed. Then she noticed that her teacher was unusually silent. He cleared his throat, trying to get the damn job over with so he didn't have to see Sakura break down and cry.

"Sakura, your mother was mugged on her way home from work today. We found her body...someone stole all her money." Haruno Keiko had worked as a bookkeeper and secretary since her husband's death, tallying up the costs of missions and balancing budgets. Despite being known as an alcoholic, she had an incredible memory and intellect when sober. However, one drink could turn the perfect picture upside down.

Sakura looked shocked for a moment, then her face returned to normal. She wasn't going to show her real feelings, not here. Despite what everyone thought, she was an expert at hiding what she felt. "Oh... I see. Thank you," she said quietly, closing the door. Kakashi was thankful that Sakura hadn't burst into tears immediately, but he figured he knew what she was doing now that the door was shut; he could just picture her now, slumped on the floor and crying. He didn't expect to see her at training the next day.

But for once, Kakashi was wrong. As her teacher headed away, Sakura stared at the wall. Crying didn't even occur to her.

Her parents were gone. Both of them. GONE.

And now that nobody was watching, she could let her emotions out.

The corners of her mouth crept up into an eerie smirk and her eyes widened as the truth sank in. Then she burst out laughing, gleefully, like a child who just received a present.

Who knew? Dreams DO come true!