Summary: Bad with summaries. Read it. It's not as cheesy as it sounds. Sakura-centered. SasuSaku, possible SakuNeji
Note: This story takes place after Shikamaru's team comes back from their failed mission of retrieving Sasuke.
A pink-haired Kunoichi found herself standing blankly in front of two large wooden double doors. She breathed in a forced pattern, hoping to make her heart slow down from its anxiety. After several minutes of uncertainty and hesitation, she finally summoned enough courage to knock. Three taps would be enough.
Instantly a female's voice responded on the other side of the doors.
Sakura instinctively reached for the brass handles and pulled it open. The door was much lighter than she had anticipated. Within seconds, she was inside the large room, peering at the green walls and dark furniture. Directly in front of her was the fifth Hokage seated behind a grand wooden desk. Godaime Tsunade.
"Haruno Sakura, am I correct?" the Hokage asked with a deep voice of authority. Sakura bowed respectfully.
Tsunade took a brush, scribbled something quickly on a scroll before blowing on the wet ink and rolling it up.
"What can I do for you?"
Sakura's eyes were still cast on the floor although her body had straightened from the bow. Even though the Hokage was a woman, she still felt immensely intimidated by her deep voice, fierce appearance, and oversized breasts.
"A-ano… I have a favour to ask of you." She managed to spit out. Tsunade was intrigued.
"Oh?" she breathed, already familiar with what the young ninja's request was. The two females were strangely alike in many ways. "What is it?"
Sakura fiddled with her dress before shutting her eyes and dropping lower, to a more surrendering bow. Keeping her eyes closed, she pleaded with unyielding determination.
"Please! Make me your apprentice!" she spoke quickly.
Her request was more straightforward than Tsunade had expected. The Hokage smiled. The girl doesn't beat around the bush, she thought. I like that. She collectively drew her hands together, fingers interlocking one another, elbows on the table, and chin resting above her hands.
"I've heard a great deal about you, Haruno Sakura."
Sakura was surprised and a tad flattered, but refused to let it show, keeping her bowed stance.
"You were the top of your graduating class in academy years. You have excellent genjutsu skills and even greater chakra control." Sakura's ego was inflated. "But you were regarded as weak during the chuunin exams, am I not mistaken?" Her confidence deflated with the comment as she maintained her silence. "Tell me, why should I teach you anything?"
Sakura paused a moment. Her mind instantly flashed back to her teammate in the Konoha hospital and the sadness in his ocean blue eyes of his disappointment in being unable to keep his promise. Her mind wandered to her rejection of being allowed to join Shikamaru's team in retrieving Sasuke, and her shock to find out that he had not returned. Sakura looked at her team from a distance; Naruto and Sasuke. Both were excellent fighters and brilliant ninjas. They had excelled farther than she had and all she was considered was a dead weight to them. Now, when both of them needed her the most, she was unable to provide the aid because she was… weak. Sakura wanted to become stronger for the two of them, and also herself. She wanted to prove her status as a ninja and delete the title of a weak kunoichi that everyone already had of her. She wanted so desperately to become the opposite of her current title.
Sakura opened her eyes and looked straight at the fifth Hokage. Tsunade widened her eyes in surprise to see the piercing emerald eyes glazed with threatening tears. That response was enough to convince Tsunade. The two female ninjas came from the same place. They both wanted to prove themselves, as well as help their friends.
Tsunade closed her eyes and grinned. She has the same determination as I do. I have no doubt she will be great in the future. Opening her eyes, she moved to a blank scroll, dipped her brush in ink and began to gracefully paint strokes.
"Sakura. You have the needed ability and intelligence of a potential medical ninja. But even greater, you have a will that will not give up. Kakashi-sensei has already informed me of your abilities and he too has faith in you. I will forewarn you that my training tactics are not light and are far from easy. Do you accept the challenges of becoming my apprentice?"
Sakura was far from uncertain.
"I do." She spoke confidently. Tsunade smiled with this response, unsurprised, however at it. She did not mean to frighten the girl or intimate her for that matter, but she had great faith in her.
Tsunade finished the last stroke.
"Very well. We begin tomorrow, 5 am sharp. And I will not go so easy on you." She instructed. Inwardly, Sakura flinched, but accepted the challenge.
"Hai." She simply said, bowing.
And she would no longer be the same ninja she was before.
Author's note: Yeah, this is just the intro, so it's not really interesting yet. The story will surface soon enough. Please be patient. I tried to keep the characters' dialogue as real as possible because I hate it when authors write a quote that would not normally come out of a certain character's mouth. Anyway, second chapter coming up soon! Please Review!