Mosaic by The Lady Arianrod

a/n: I've always liked Sakura in a way, but I've also disliked her at times. Now that she's a bit older (and obviously changed), I thought I'd try to characterize this new, searching Sakura…The girl who's recovering from Sasuke's betrayal and the loss of her first love. I hope that this piece gives you some insight into the Sakura that I envisioned.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Kishimoto does.


"Oh, be the music in my head,
the air around my bed, oh be my rest.
Replace the small disgraces of
the times and places that I never really left.
Did you leave the darkness without me?
You're always miles ahead.
And you're standing in tomorrow on the runway.

Oh I want to fly, fly forward into the light,
be alive, to come alive…"

-"Tomorrow on the Runway", the Innocence Mission

Sakura looks at herself in the mirror. She smiles gently and genuinely, eyes shining with a well-earned pride that suggests wisdom and maturity beyond her years.

She looks at herself differently than before. She doesn't primp and preen and perfect like she used to; she is no longer a doll or a damsel or even a genin.

She is Sakura, intelligent and kind, wise and brave. She isn't Sasuke's girl or Naruto's true love or Kakashi's pupil… She's herself.

Granted, Sakura still carries some of her old habits, pausing every once in a while to run a swift and self-conscious hand over her forehead or a firm, commanding finger over a disobedient hair. Image-conscious, blossoming, unsure creature, still testing the wind and the water and the world with unsteady feet and a slightly-bowed head.

She isn't ruled by romance anymore. Perhaps these last few years of instruction and fighting and the occasional gambling session with Tsunade have made her into a different person. She likes to think that she's a new person, but she's still Sakura.

Sakura isn't so mature that Inner Sakura cannot exist… In fact, her bellicose shadow-self often shows up, protesting and screaming and longing to /fight/… And she does fight now, planning battle techniques in an instant before unleashing an unexpectedly impressive attack.

Tsunade and Kakashi and even Naruto notice that she's grown. Naruto, however, focuses mostly on her changed appearance—black boots and all. He's still the lovable idiot he always was, teaching Konohamaru various perverted techniques and corrupting the youth in general.

Team 7 is different, however, but it isn't ruined. Sasuke's absence has allowed Naruto and Sakura to grow separately with less distraction—less rivalry, less romance. Even so, they still wonder what it might have been like if Sasuke/hadn't/ run away to Orochimaru, if he still smirked proud and cold in the corner while the other two fought and bickered.

Sakura thinks of Sasuke less and less. Even though she still longs for the approval and affection of a tall, dark and handsome man, she's content with being Tsunade's pupil. Even though things have changed, Sakura has found a new place in the world. She is physically and mentally stronger, or, simply put, more mature.

And, even though she's taller and confident and /changed/ for the better, Sakura is still testing out her new face. In private, while not battling or hanging around Tsunade or Hinata, Sakura looks at her life. She still cannot shake away the breathless joy she felt around Sasuke or the quiet bliss that filled her heart as that cursed little trio wandered from town to town, mission to mission. She measures her current happiness with those days, looking through a rosy window at the past that she cannot repeat.

Even so, Sakura learned to shake off those moments of longing, replacing the old emptiness in her life with a new fire for becoming better. Everyone wants to be someone in this world, and Sakura's plan involved self-improvement and training with a coveted master, the 5th Hokage.

And, as she sifts through the memories and mistakes and lost moments, Sakura crafts a vague image of Self, piecing together the mosaic day by day. She delights in finding small, discarded pieces of colorful tile to add to the bigger picture, discovering something new in every living moment. Inside, Sakura is alive, wild and joyful and celebratory as she realizes her potential and her progress.

Inner Sakura, romantic Sakura, brave Sakura, selfish Sakura… Each and every side of the rose-haired girl hazily comes together now in a surreal, scintillating reality that Sakura can't help but love.

Time is passing, past meeting present meeting future, uncontrollable and frightening and tragic. Sakura crafts herself as she learns to ride the waves of the Ages, falling excitedly onto sunny shores of fulfillment as the tide rolls in.


End note: Reviews are appreciated! )