Well, here goes my first Naruto fic! Neither English nor Japanese is my mother tongue, so bear with me if there are any mistakes! If you find stuff that is soooo wrong that your computer breaks down, please tell me and I'll try and fix it.
I'm always glad for constructive criticism, so go and read and review! Have fun!
Thanx go to the KHW-members and my sis!
Oh, and btw, I don't own anything of the original story... wish I would (especially Kakashi... O.O'' ), but I don't...sweatdrop
"Stop it, idiot!"
Cringing, Naruto stopped dead and turned around slowly to his female companion... who was standing, arms akimbo directly behind him, glaring daggers into his direction.
"But he deserves it, dammit! Don't be such a spoilsport, Sakura!" He complained, whining like a five year old as he showed her the plastic bag in his right hand.
"I know that, but he won't fall for such a stupid trick!"
"No, he won't."
Spinning around, Naruto came face to face with Kakashi... a very annoyed Kakashi to be exact.
"Sensei! We were just on our way to get ya, 'cause you're already two hours late"
"Oh, sorry 'bout that guys... but, well..."
"Don't even get started with another one of your lame excuses!" Sweatdropping, the white-haired shinobi could feel Sakuras accusing eyes piercing a hole into his skull, a feeling he would probably never get accustomed to... even after all this years.
"We better go back to the bridge... Sasuke is probably already waiting for us..." Sakura said with a smile when she suddenly felt a familiar presence behind her, making her stop mid-sentence.
"So here you are... thought so."
"Boy... here, the party is over." Naruto said, provoking a sigh from Sakura.
Ever since Sasuke had returned more or less unharmed from Orochimaru, the two young men had behaved like nothing had happened at all.
Their rediculous quarrels had started as soon as Sasuke had opened his eyes in the hospital and though Sakura had to admit that she was more than glad that Sasuke tried to fit back in, she slowly but surely lost her temper with their continuing fights.
Apparently she wasn't the only one, because she heard the deep heavy sigh from beside her.
"Get a grip you two, we have a m..." Kakashi never finished his setence. Something had caught his eye and for a moment the pink-haired ninja had to search their surrounding, when she suddenly found a small bird chirping its melody on a rooftop on the other side of the street.
"What does it want, sensei"
"Seems like our mission got cancelled... Hokage wants to see us."
Nodding in confirmation, the other three shinobis jumped up as one, disappearing behind the large houses lining the busy streets of Konohagakure.
"We've no information regarding their number or where they're from. All we know for sure is that they've already killed two nins who were defending some farmers in the south. I want you all to move out with kakashi as squad leader. Take care and do whatever you have to in order to keep them out of Konoha."
Face set, Kakashi looked around, watching the (mostly) serious faces of his fellow team-members. Directly behind him, Sasuke and Sakura watched helplessly as their friend tried hard not to explode in anticicipation. To his right Shikamaru and his former team-mate Ino stared at Tsunade, the ever annoyed expression on Shikamaru's face having seemingly intensified.
And to his left, Neji, Tenten and Lee builded the last part of his team.
He knew that they were all gifted with extraordinary abilities and quite capably of defefending themselves, their team-mates and the city.
Closing his eyes for a second, Kakashi waited for Tsunade to give him the order to move out.
"Another thing... we're not sure what their intentions are, which is also the reason why I can't send more ninjas with you. They need to stay here in case they want to attack the city directly. Watch out for everything and now go!"
Within a fraction of a second, Tsunade was alone in her office, eyes slowly closing as she tried to banish the bad feeling in the pit of her stomache. She took a coin out of one of her pockets and flipped it high into the air, catching it and holding it tightly in her fist.
"Head." She said out loud and opened her hand, revealing the coin on her palm.
It showed 'head'. She had won.
'Something bad is gonna happen...'
"Neji can you see anything?" Kakashi asked as he landed on another branch.
The nine shinobis had been jumping with highspeed through the thick crown of the forest for nearly half an hour by now, having not come across any sign of their targets... a fact that started to worry Kakashi.
He also didn't believe that Naruto could keep it at such a low number of smart-ass comments any longer. He just knew from experience that there wasn't a chance in hell that Naruto could keep quiet for much longer than an hour... at his best!
"Yes! About two hundred meters from here in this direction"
Neji changed abruptly directions, the rest of the team already hot on his heels as they made their way as silently as possible through the treetops. He had seen one man standing motionless on a large clearing not far from their current position and was quite sure that he was none of Konoha's ninjas.
Lee, who had been following his friends silently for the last minutes, bringing up the rear,
nearly crashed into the back of Ino, who had suddenly stopped dead. She had taken up position beside Shikamaru and Tenten after having seen Kakashi's handsignal that they should stop.
"What is it?" Tenten whispered as she surveyed the area for any sign of the man Neji had seen with his Byakugan. To her dismay she found nobody in their close proximetry.
"We should better divide up and attack from diferent sides... we can't know what that guy is doing alone out there... maybe an ambush." Kakashi mused aloud, crouching on a thin branch.
Flanking his sides, Sasuke and Shikamaru nodded in affirmation. Without another word being spoken, the squad parted into three teams, each one taking another direction towards the clearing, where they would come across their opponent.
As Sakura followed Naruto, Kakashi and Sasuke she couldn't help herself but think that they had just made a horrible mistake.
But neither Sasuke nor Kakashi seemed to think in the same lines, both jumping silently ahead through the thick treetops, heading both lower as they neared their aim... the clearing.
Inhaling deeply, she gathered more Chakra in her feet, hoping to subdue the sound she caused when landing on a branch.
When she looked to her right she could see Naruto swinging effortlessly from tree to tree. The smirk on his face didn't go unnoticed by her and somehow she had the feeling that such a mission was just the right thing for the former team 7 to get some of the old spirit back.
'Back to the topic, Sakura!' Her inner self yelled in her mind, 'Neither the time nor the place to get sentimental'
Setting her features she concentrated again on the two men in front of her and suddenly noticed that the forest was starting to clear around them, which meant that now the dangerous part of their mission started.
Again the four of them stopped abruptly, each of them hiding as best as they could.
When Sasuke looked diagonally across the clearing, he could just make out the thin outlines of a shadow of a branch that seemed to fade away as the sun coninued its journey across the sky.
'Good... Shika is already preparing his Ninpo-kagemane-no-jutsu...' Kakashi thought as he watched as a shadow as thin as a rope creeped towards the solitary figure standing unmoving in the middle of the large clearing, staring up into the blue sky.
Raising his hand, the silver-haired man gave the signal to get ready to launch their attack since both Sasuke and Neji hadn't given any sign that there were more than this one man.
'Finally!' Naruto practically flew down from the tree as soon as Kakashi had given the order to move, landing with a soft thud on the grassy ground some meter away from the motionless man. He could see his other comrades doing likewise as they all surrounded their opponent within a fraction of a second.
"Who are you?" Naruto heard his sensei ask the man. But he got no answer...
Instead the man's scarred face seemed to darken, dull eyes still staring up into the blue sky as if he expected something or 'someone' falling down from it. A frown appeared on Kakashi's forhead when he watched the man for a while, when suddenly a slight movement somewhere to his right caught his attention at once.
He didn't even have enougth time to call out when suddenly a large Karasu sliced the air where his head had just been a fraction of a second ago. He allowed his gaze to wander to where his comrades were all half lying half crouching on the grassy floor covering their heads with their arms.
"Watch out!" Sakura's voice startled him, but he didn't give it another thought and just sprinted to where he assumed her to be. While he was running towards her, he could hear a loud thud followed by a metallic sound. It reminded him of a kunai cutting through bone.
Apparently he had been right with his assumption, because when he looked around he found a ninja lying where he had been, one arm missing and blood spurting out of the stump. Making a face he watched as about a dozen ninjas started to circle his team... their prey.
'Tss, idiots... they kill each other...' Sasuke thought with a smirk, eyes watching their opponents seemingly casually. As if he wasn't even in the slightest bit impressed that they had been able to hide from both his and Kakashi's sharingan and from Neji... he had never come across any jutsu that had been even partially able to conceal a person from his special blood limit.
"Dammit..." Turning slightly around, his eyes fell on Sakura who was kneeling, the man from earlier in her arms, on the crimson ground. Ino was standing beside her, ready to defend her from any threat while she was trying to rescue the man with her healing abilities. Underneath the ninja clothes, the original ones could be seen... the typical wear of a farmer.
So those bastards had used him as a bait.
"What a mess."
Spinning around, Sasuke lifted his arms, ready to fight the owner of the voice that had suddenly appeared from the bushes behind him.
There, only about fifty meters away from them was a large bulky man walking casually straight towards them, hands jammed deeply into into the pockets of his khaki trousers. Sasuke guessed that he was in his late fourties or early fifties, but still quite muscular.
"Not easy to find loyal personal these days, huh, Kakashi?" The man asked as he made his way towards the group of tensed shinobi.
One corner of his mouth lifted into a lopsided grin as he gave them all one after the other a once-over, sending shivers down Ino's spine.
'Where the hell had that guy been hiding?' Sasuke asked himself, eyes never leaving the man adavancing towards them. Something about him was creepy... Sasuke just couldn't put a finger on what it exactly was that had caused the inner restlessness.
"Don't tell me you havn't heard of me, Kakashi... I'm hurt." The man said, finally coming to an halt about ten meter away from Sasuke and Naruto who had taken up position directly beside his teammember. His hands were still deep in his pockets, something Sasuke wasn't too happy about... this way he couldn't see what he was up to.
Even after all the years they had been working together in a team, it still amazed Sakura how those red orbs changed Sasuke's appearance and radiance in an instant... like a red glow that surrounded him.
"Oh... the famous Uchiha heir... did I already scare you that much young man"
Jaws set, Sasuke listened to the man's short chuckle that didn't contain any amusement at all.
"Kei, the Devil"
"I'm honored, Kakashi, copy ninja of Konohagakure"
"Now that the introduction is over, you could tell me why you're not dead." Kakashi asked bluntly, cocking his head slightly to one side as he waited for an answer of the other man.
"You see, I still have some unfinished business here. My time has not come yet... but maybe yours?"
Inhaling sharply, Tenten watched as Kakashi uncovered his left eye, the angry Sharingan glaring openly at their oponent... who didn't appear to be impressed in the slightest. He just stood there, a self-righteous grin covering his lips. 'Too confident for his own damn good', Lee thought as he prepared himself for the upcoming fight, standing straight behind Sakura and Neji.
Pink hair swayed in the slight breeze that had suddenly picked up and Sakura had to supress a shiver that threatened to run down her spine... this man gave her the creeps! The way he kept on glancing her way made her want to run away... something she would never do though. Not as long as she was a ninja and the only medical ninja!
"I would have never recognized you if it wasn't for your hair and eyes."
Frowning in bewilderment Sakura stared at Kei, not knowing whether he had actually ment her.
"The color of a cherry blossom. Your mother's favourite."
Suddenly it seemed as if all the air left her lungs at once, as if somebody had punched her hard.
What did that man, this stranger know about 'her' mother!
"How did you know about the favourite color of my mother?" She finally asked, gathering all her will-power to get her lips to form the sentence.
"I don't mean that scum you call 'mother'. No... I mean the woman that gave you life and protected it with her own."
Her breath caught in her throat as the words repeated themselves in her mind.
'Who does he mean? Who gave me life?'
"What the fuck do you want from her!" Naruto suddenly yelled, the anger clearly audible in his voice as he pointed an accusing finger at the man Kakashi had called a 'devil.
"Well... don't you think that a father should be allowed to see his only child once in a while?"
What followed was an ominous silence. It seemed that even the forest held its breath... like the calm before the storm.
It was Kei who broke it with a low dangerous chuckle: "Hihihi... Did you really think those low people were 'your' parents?
They are nothing! Dirt staining your immaculate face! Your fate was it to be my child... no, my tool and instead you never got to know the real power that lies hidden within you, my dear Sakura."
"What are you talking about!" Lee demanded harshly, glancing down where Sakura was still kneeling on the ground, eyes hidden behind pink strands as she stared at the dead man in her arms. She hadn't said anything yet, giving no sign at all that she had been listening to that man who claimed to be her father.
"I know its not easy for such low creatures to grasp, but Sakura is indeed 'my' child!... Unfortunately, right after she was born her mother hid her in this forest... from me. I never found the baby, but at least I got the chance to kill the woman who dared to betray me."
"You... you are not my father."
Turning around, Kakashi watched as Sakura carefully lied the corpse in her arms down onto the with grass and moss covered ground. She still hadn't looked up. Her face was partially covered with hair, an unreadable mask concealing emotions from the world around her.
"Ha! You will find out sooner or later that those powers you have, have nothing to do with your 'parents'!" Kei spat angrily.
"This power,this blood limit passed on to you from your 'real' mother, has been supressed by that scum for too long! The time has come to show the world your whole potential, Sakura!"
Breathing heavily, Naruto's gaze wandered forth and back between Kei and Sakura.
Just like the others he was more than bewildered and shocked to hear such stupid things!
"You still don't believe me, huh? I have a present for you, my dear Sakura... maybe it will help to awaken your real self."
Like on cue, a ninja, his face fully concealed by a black mask, landed soundlessly on the ground beside Kei, a bloody bundle dangling from his outstretched arm. Kei took it and opened the knot slowly.
The nine ninjas watched tensly as their opponent turned the bag around, emptying its content on the clearing in front of his feet.
'Oh my God...' Ino thought, gulping hard when the bile threatened to rise in her dry throat. Unconsciously her hand flew up to her mouth, covering it to keep the gasp behind sealed lips.
Lying in a crimson puddle, two pairs of dead eyes stared dully into the distance. Two mouths gaped open in a silent scream for help, blood smeared around the lips.
Kakashi had seen enough dead people to know that Sakura's parents had been dead in an instant, their murderer having chopped off their heads in one swift movement.
"You..." Even Naruto was at a loss of words, his eyelids closing slowly as he tried not to look at the kunoichi crouching behind him. All he knew was that that son of a bitch had to pay...
Eyes snapping open immediately, the blond boy intended to speed forward in order to block the upcoming attack from the hostile ninjas, but he couldn't move!
Not even the smallest muscle in his body obeyed his brain's orders. He just stood there, still like the trees around them.
And when he looked around he wasn't surprised to find deep shock in his comrades' eyes when they noticed as well that they were unable to move.
'A genjutsu!' Sasuke thought in horror and wondered at the same time how that man had been able to get it working without any hand seals... otherwise that so called devil wouldn't be still standing there, grinning smugly.
When he looked up he saw three ninjas jumping straight towards them. They were holding three long lances in their clothed hands, the spearheads pointing at him and the two shinobis flanking his sides, Kakashi and Naruto.
Still paralyzed by the jutsu there was nothing he could do but wait for the inevitable to happen.
He had felt pain before, but he was sure this time there was only little hope that he would get away with only some scars.
This time, neither his Sharingan nor his friends could help him...
Sasuke could already feel the chakra of their advancing opponents coming closer; a feeling as if the pressure of the air was increasing around him.
And though he had tried hard to supress it, Sasuke blinked...
Only for a fraction of a second had he lost sight of the three man, the one aiming his lance at his chest in particular, but when his eyelids opened again all he could see was the spearhead sticking out of a bloody chest only centimeters away from his.
Slowly his gaze wandered upwards to the face of the person standing in front of him, her long pinkish hair curtaining her face. Sasuke could only see the slightly agape lips and fresh blood trickling out of the corner of her mouth, dripping down onto the ground.
"Sa-Sakura...?" The choked voice of his comrade came from his left, from Naruto.
The young blond man stared shocked beyond words at the spearhead hovering dangerously near his face, the delicate fingers of Haruno Sakura wrapped so tightly around the shaft of the weapon that the knuckles had turned white from the strain.
She had stopped the lance only a heartbeat away from killing him with only one hand.
Like in trance, Sasuke averted his gaze from Naruto, his eyes wandering along Sakura's outstratched arms to where she was holding the third spear in her left hand, preventing it from killing their former sensei.
Kakashi was still standing almost casually in the front row of Konoha ninjas, but his eyes displayed openly the emotions flickering across his features.
Lee cringed inwardly when he watched Sakura coughing up dark blood. He, the taijutsu specialist of Konohagakure, had never seen such fast movement! Sakura had jumped in front of the three men with such speed that no normal eye could have possibly followed her and judging by the look of shock on both the Byakugan and Sharingan owners, even the advanced blood limit hadn't been able to 'see' it.
"Don't... touch cough... them." Sakura's voice was raspy and dark.
Gulping, Ino tried to stop a shudder from running down her body. Never had she heard her best friend threaten somebody in such a dangerous, cold tone of voice. Averting her gaze from Sakura's face, still hidden behind pink hair and eyes casted downwards onto the crimson floor, the blond woman stared at the hand hovering in front of Naruto.
Just then it moved.
To Sasuke it almsot seemed like slow-motion, his Sharingans showing him her movements before she had even started them.
Her right arm pulled the lance in one swift motion out of its owners grasp, the ninja falling over from the sudden pull.
Not wasting a second, Sakura smashed the end of the spear back into the man's face, the sound of a skull being crushed echoed through the air making Tenten gulp down the lump in her throat.
Without hesitating, Sakura took a better hold on the lance and whirled around, giving the ninja to her left not the slightest chance to react to her attack. He was totally oblivious to the flashlike movement of the female ninja, his attempt to dodge the spear being seconds too late.
He fell face first forward, blood oozing out of the large hole in his forehead.
But Sakura wasn't finished yet.
Spinning around her own axis once, she let go of one lance and pulled out two shurikens, throwing them precisely at the third man behind her. The two small weapons sliced his throat open, shocked eyes staring at his opponent as his mouth gaped wide open in a desperate attempt to get oxygen into his lungs.
Her breathing was shallow when she finally came to a halt, crouching in front of Sasuke.
Sakura was holding one spear in her hand and the other one still stuck in her chest, the shaft moving up and down with every ragged breath the pink haired kunoichi took. Sasuke watched it in morbid fascination, eyes not obeying his brain's order to look away.
Irritated Neji stared at Kei standing not far away from the three dead ninja, a content smirk playing at the corners of his mouth.
Slowly he advanced towards the nine Konoha shinobis, applauding with unbroken enthusiasm.
"Well done, my dear daughter...", Kakashi noticed Sakura flinch at hearing him call her this, "... who'd have thought that you grow that fast, hehehe. Undoing my jutsu and awakening your real self... impressive."
"Shut the fucking hell up, you bastard!" Naruto suddenly yelled, his arms shaking as he tried desperately to get them to move.
But he was, just like the rest of his friends, unable to lift even an accusing finger, still paralyzed from whatever jutsu that 'Devil' had used on them.
'This is gonna be troublesome...' Shikamaru thought, teeth gritted as he watched Kei walking straight towards them. To his dismay, he could not only move no finger, but he could therefore also not make any hand-seals to activate his special technique to control his shadow.
Sasuke, gaze fixed on the female ninja in front of him, could suddenly feel the slight breeze picking up, the wind coming apparently from all sides. It messed up his hair, blowing long black strands in his line of view. Looking up, he could see the large treetops swaying dangerously from side to side, the sound of creaking wood filling the silence around him.
But it wasn't the wind that brought a frown onto Kakashi's face... ever since it had picked up it seemed that the forest was getting darker, gloomier and the trees had a greyish hue to their mighty boles.
'As if life itself drains from them...' The white-haired ninja thought as the light left the clearing, bathing the shinobis in the large shadows of the trees.
When Sasuke averted his gaze reluctantly from the forest he looked down at the kneeling woman in front of him.
The third spear was still sticking out of Sakura's back, blood oozing out of the wound, staining her clothes crimson. Her breathing was labored and Sasuke bit onto his lips when her back tensed from the pain.
"It seems like you finally noticed your ability, huh"
Kei was regarded with silence none of the assembled ninjas knowing what he was talking about. The only sound that could be heard was the gurgling whenever Sakura took a breath.
"Didn't you all notice that the forest looks different?" He asked with a smirk.
It was Kakashi who answered him:"I have heard stories about this kind of rare blood limit... I only know about one ninja who was said to have the power to drain energy out of everything around him... stones, trees, sand, fire... he could turn this energy into his own chakra and therefor would never run out of stamina."
"I knew I could count on you on this one, Kakashi. Yes, you are indeed right. My lovely cherry blossom is something like the ultimate weapon. 'My' weapon!..." Kei stared at Sakura's back, watching as it stopped heaving for a few seconds.
"If you agree to come with me, I'll leave that trash here, unharmed. If you decide to stay, I'll kill you and that scum with my own hands! You have no chance against me... you can't control these powers, yet..." He never got the chance to finish his threat.
"You won't... lay... a finger... on them!"
Startled, Sasuke could do nothing but watch as Sakura suddenly got up from her crouching position on the floor, standing straight. Slowly she lifted her head, her pinkish hair falling out of her face and framing it.
When the Uchiha heir looked into her eyes he had to supress a shiver.
Never had he seen such a look of pure despair, hatred and blunt anger in them... He could almost see the darkness being emitted from her clouded green orbs.
"We will see." Was all Kei could say before Sakura moved.
With one swift movement she took hold of the shaft of the spear embedded in her chest and pulled.
Horror filled everyone's eyes, when they watched the spear coming out of her upper torso, dark blood spurting out of the gaping wound. For a second Ino thought Sakura would fall, her friend taking a staggering step towards Kei.
They hadn't counted on the energy their comrade posessed.
With amazing speed she jumped up high into the air, the spear rotating in her right hand. Making almost no sound, she landed right behind Kei, her arm lashing out and missing the 'Devil' only by millimeters.
Giving her opponent no time to react, Sakura followed him as he retreated hastely backwards, his eyes constantly watching the dangerous spearhead. It actually graced him twice, both times ripping open his clothes and causing deep cuts on his chest and shoulder to bleed profoundly.
Kei had to duck to avoid another strike and wasn't prepared for the two kunais coming flying straight towards him. They hit his left arm and belly and Kei grunted in pain as he pulled them out to use them to fend off the large lance.
Sakura watched the man with eagle eyes, no movement going unnoticed.
When the older ninja suddenly jumped off the ground, she followed him without hesitating. Her free hand opened the holster on her right leg and pulled out a couple of shurikens, which immediately cut throught the air.
The two fighting ninjas landed at the edge of the clearing and Sakura gave him no time to take a breath, her onslaught continuing with unbroken force, weapon after weapon leaving her hand with deadly speed.
Kei couldn't avoid them all, but he didn't bother to pull them out of his body this time. He was too busy ducking and fighting back hard punches and kicks from the female shinobi.
"Yo!" Kakashi suddenly said, gaining everybody's attention at once. The seven Konoha-ninjas had to strain their ears to catch what the white-haired man was whispering.
"Try to move... it's like he can't hold the genjutsu any longer with Sakura keeping his mind busy."
Frowning, Shikamaru concentrated on his hands.
After a few seconds he could feel his fingers curling into a loose fist, a smirk appearing on his lips.
In front of him, Sasuke and Naruto had tried to move too, a "Tss" indicating him that they had been successful.
Immediately he lifted his hands to form the appropriate seals, his shadow instantly flowing around the men in front of him to where two hostile ninjas stood guard. They had no eyes for the eight shinobis, their eyes following their master as he fought desperately against the rain of punches and kicks showering down on him from his 'daughter'.
'Gotcha.' Shika thought triumphantly as he lifted two fists, watching his 'victims' doing the same with bewilderment writting across their features. Knowing exactly what he had to do, the strategy-specialist moved his arms in such a way that the two men knocked each other out cold.
"Good one." Naruto's voice told him.
He didn't waste another second and moved, the slight noise from behind him telling Naruto that he wasn't the only one getting ready to get rid of the hostile ninjas standing in a circle around the Konoha shinobis.
"Wh-...!" Was the last thing Lee heard from one of the men, before he smashed his backbones with one strike of his fist.
The comrade of the now dead ninja used the time Lee needed to turn around to jump out of range of the black-haired young man. A slight grin played at the edges of Lee's lips as he watched his opponent pull out shurikens, preparing himself to fight back.
When the weapons reached the place where Lee had been standing, the ninja having thrown them was already falling half dead back down onto the ground. Lee didn't follow him though, his eyes having caught sight of Sakura as she fought against Kei in the top of the tree nearet to him.
He was just on his way upwards to where he could barely follow the two ninjas with his eyes, when suddenly Sasuke appeared right in his line of view, blocking his sight from Sakura and Kei.
"Don't." Was all Sasuke said as his hand took hold of Lee's right upper arm and jumped down the branch, pulling the other man along with him. It was only after they had both landed where the rest of their fellow teammates were standing that sasuke allowed his hand to let go.
More than bewildered, Lee stared at his comrade in confusion.
"She needs help, dammit! She is badly injured! She can't even use a simple Kage Bunshin!" Lee nearly yelled, having a hard time restraining his anger about Sasukes stupid behaviour. He needed to help her!
Suddenly a loud explosion gained the attention of both friends, their heads lifting as they trid to find the reason for it in one of the trees surrounding them.
To their surprise the upper half of one large tree came crushing down onto earth, tearing large branches and parts of its neighbours away on its journey down.
Blinking as a breeze carried dust and splinters into his eyes, Sasuke tried to make out Sakura's or Kei's form on the high stump of what was left of the tree.
"There." It was Neji's voice that indicated them all where they had to look.
Out of the cloud of dust, a body fell.
Like a stone it dropped down from the stump, landing twenty meters below on the grassy ground with a thud.
Looking up, Lee found a second form jumping down a large banch.
It landed some feet away from the motionless body without any of the usual cat-like gracefullness and skillness of a ninja. The person seemed to stare at the dead body for an eternity.
Again a slight breeze caught up, swirling around the ninja, playing with the pink strands of her dirty hair.
"It's not as if she couldn't use any special jutsus." Kakashi's voice broke the silence softly.
The white haired shinobi made a seal with his right hand an disappeared in a cloud of white smoke, re-appearing right beside Sakura. He came just in time to stop her from falling when finally exhaustion and the major blood loss took their toll on her battered body.
Kakashi was closely followed by Ino and Tenten, both of them immediately tending to their friend's wounds.
"But why didn't she use it then? She'd finished him within a heartbeat!" Lee asked, sorrowful eyes watching Kakashi and the two women working frenetically on their comrade.
Closing his eyes, Naruto looked away from the scene.
The picture of Sakura's eyes after Kei had given her his 'present' suddenly flashed throught his mind, making him gulp down a lump in his throat.
"'Why'?" It was Sasuke's voice that startled Naruto out of his iternal battle. His friend was staring at the ground in front of him and unreadable look on his face.
"Those eyes..." The black haired shinobi whispered to himself for no-ones ears to hear. When he finally looked up he continued in a louder voice.
"Have you ever felt such hatred towards some-one, such desperate need to kill this person, that this feeling turned into physical pain? A pain that seems to burn you alive every time you think about 'him'?" He paused as he heard Kakashi giving orders to Tenten and Ino.
"Sakura experienced this pain. ... She didn't just want to kill this man... no, she needed to do it with her own hands."
Averting his gaze from his friend, Naruto stared at the place where Kakashi was just about to lift Sakura up from the ground as gently as possible. Her chest was covered in thick bandages, their white colour having already started to turn crimson.
They had to hurry. The only one capable of rescuing Sakura besides herself was Tsunade. But with her friend being in such a critical condition, the shinobis wouldn't be able to move as fast back to Konohagakure as they would like to.
Without another word the eight ninjas jumped as one, the young men immediately catching up with Ino, Tenten and Kakashi, who was carrying the motionless form of the medical nin.
When Sasuke took up position beside his former sensei, his gaze unconsciously fell on the pale features of Sakura.
Her eyes were closed, but Sasuke could see slight, irratic movement underneath closed lids. A blue hue lay on her slightly parted lips, dark blood dripping out of the corner of her mouth and staining Kakashi's vest red.
Right then, Sasuke felt a bone deep chill spreading throughout his entire body.
The memory of how Sakura had looked at him just before she had started to attack Kei flashed through his mind. A look he hadn't seen for the first time in his life though...
'"Hate me... cling to life and live miserably..."'
He had seen the look of hatred and dispair thousends of times before, every time he would look at the dark reflection of his face in a mirror. Hatred towards his brother and himself, dispair and anger of not being able to do anything, of not becoming strong enough.
Sasuke had seen his reflection again today... within the deep dark voids of Sakura's eyes.
He just hoped he would never see them turn black again.
Hmm... what do you think? Bad for my first Naruto fic? You want me to end it here forever? Go and tell me, 'cause I can't read minds... yet...