Disclaimer: Naruto is NOT mine


Uhh... I'm so very sorry for the late update... I just didn't expect that there will be a lot of reviews saying that I should continue this story... I didn't have this story planned out. Since you want me to continue, I finished doing the outline first before finishing writing the next chapter! XD

...And then... I got addicted on other things again... but I'll explain it later after you read this chapter. XD

Sakura sighed sadly, for even the warm rays of the sun that welcomed both her and Junko as they entered the forest didn't change the tense atmosphere that still lingered between the two of them. It was a shame, really, because the forest was bustling with so much life that it could make just about anyone want to be happy and smile for no reason at all.

Frowning seemed like a sin... and yet, that was what Sakura was doing. And it was all because of...

"I didn't recognize you... because of that damn haircut of yours." Junko suddenly shouted grimly over his shoulder. He continued to walk ahead, not bothering to look back and see if his female companion was still following.

Sakura, surprised that Junko finally said something to her after an hour of walking together in complete silence, was speechless when she heard his voice.

His tone still sounded bitter.

This made her cringe inwardly. She didn't expect that he was still angry with her after all this time...

He sure hadn't changed much... Sakura pondered quietly as she studied him from behind. Obviously, he hadn't bothered changing the style of his hair, for it was still... unique. And his style of clothing was still the same as before. Both his shirt and pants were still black, as if he was going to go and pay his respects to the dead or something...

She briefly wondered if his attitude had...

"Damn it! Hurry up, will you? Fuck! I came for Lady Tsunade's help and I got the useless wench instead!" Junko exclaimed angrily as he threw his hands into the air in frustration.

Sakura sighed, her thoughts confirmed. Yup. His attitude was the same as before...

Then again, Sakura realized grimly, her hands clenching into fists. He became like that because of me. It was my fault why his trust...

"If it weren't for my damn brother, I wouldn't dream of letting you come to our fucking village." He muttered under his breath, but still loud enough for her to hear. "Still, I didn't expect you to become the Hokage's student." He snorted before continuing to piss her off even more. "She's just wasting her time on you, you know."

His laugh grated Sakura's nerves and it made her glare murderously at him, her green eyes burning him with supressed hatred.

Oh, if only looks could kill...

Her mouth instinctively opened to shout at him, to make him pay for talking to her like that, but... Her guilt for what had happened that fateful day stopped her. It was still nagging at her, making her feel that she really deserved every bit of his anger.

No... Sakura shook her head and looked at Junko in determination. I'm a different person now. The past flashed before her eyes, forcing her to grit her teeth. There's no way I'll let something like that to happen again!

The rest of their journey towards Samara village was spent in complete silence. Sakura didn't expect him to talk anymore and didn't bother initiating a friendly conversation with him since she knew that it would only lead to something bad, or something that she would regret, anyway.

Besides... She'd rather talk to a rock than talk to a foul-mouthed jerk like him!

Sakura mentally slapped herself for thinking that way about Junko. She reminded herself that it was her fault why he was acting like that and it should be her who should patch things up between them!

Just as she was about to open her mouth and say something nice to Junko, they finally arrived at the village.A wave of familiarity instantly struck Sakura as soon as she laid eyes upon the busy streets of Samara village. It was still the same as ever, still bustling with so many people busy doing their own business in every corner of the streets, which were filled with so many different shops and stalls.

But what really caught Sakura's attention was the mansion-like house that stood up like a sore thumb among the hundreds of houses in the village. The houses surrounding it were practically nothing compared to its beauty, for the house was designed in a way that makes just about anyone to stop for a while and gape at its marvelous structure.

In fact, she still couldn't believe that Junko was lucky enough to live in a huge house like that!

It took a few more minutes before the both of them arrived in front of the two towering gates of Junko's mansion. Even if Sakura had come here before, she still couldn't help but feel slightly uneasy...

"Listen up, girl..." Junko disturbed her train of thoughts when he suddenly stopped walking and turned to look at her, his black eyes boring deeply into hers. "You'd better not screw this mission up again or else..." He said before threatening her with a glare. "I won't go easy on you... even if you're a girl."

Sakura was taken aback at his words, but she didn't allow him the oppurtunity to see her surprise. Instead, she pursed her lips into a grim line, struggling to not let her anger overcome her senses. "Don't underestimate me... " She tried to hold herself back, to prevent him from seeing her fury or the way her pride was hurting. "I'm not the girl whom you used to know..."

The two stayed rooted at the spot for a long time, both glaring intensely at each other, neither of them wanting to back down.

"Tch. You'd better be right, wench." Junko spat eventually and finally averted his gaze from her. With a snort, he turned his back on her and gestured the guards to open the gates.

Sakura remained silent as she kept her gaze on his back, her hands clenching into tight fists.

I'll show you... I'm gonna finish this mission even if it's the last thing I'll do.

The gates slowly opened with a screeching noise, and Sakura could feel her heart thumping wildly in her ears. She didn't know why she was feeling so nervous all of a sudden, but somehow, her instincts told her that she wouldn't like what she was about to see inside...

Indeed, for when the gates opened and revealed what was on the other side of the gates, Sakura couldn't help but let out a gasp, her eyes nearly bulging out of its sockets as soon as she saw what was in front of her.

What in the world...?

"Damn that Sasuke... Who does he think he is, anyway?" Naruto was furious, so furious in fact that he couldn't stop himself from mouthing colorful curses under his breath as he jumped off from tree to tree, scaring the birds or other animals resting on top of every tree he landed on in the process.

"Naruto!" His unbearably bossy teammate hissed angrily at him from behind. "Shut up or we won't be able to find them!" He could feel Sasuke's glare piercing his back, irritating him even more as they sped off deeper inside the woods.

If only he could stop, turn around, and meet his teammate's glare with his own intense glare. He'll give Sasuke a glare so intense, it will crush his damnable ego right into the bowels of the earth!


Because of his stormy mood, Naruto didn't realize that he was making too much noise with his non-stop grumblings again, making the animals in the forest grow restless, including the ones they were hunting.

By the time Naruto realized his carelessness, Sasuke already lost his patience with him and let out a curse. "Let's just split up." Sasuke told him in a commanding tone with a hint of irritation in his voice. "I'll go find the remaining monkeys and you go guard the ones we caught back at camp."

Eh? Guard the monkeys back at camp?

The fox boy immediately protested. "What? No way!" No way in hell he'd go back to camp and be near to those damn "monsters" again! "I'll go find the monkeys and you go back to camp!"

Ealier that morning, Kakashi had given both Naruto and Sasuke the task to help the traveling circus clean up the stage after their last performance here in Konoha, but... as much as Naruto hated to admit it, due to his childish fascination about monkeys, he had accidentally left the monkeys' cages open and let the monkeys escape.

Now, because of the furious demand of the circus master, Kakashi had ordered them to help the circus people gather up the missing monkeys.

Naruto frowned at the memory. It wasn't really his fault! Who would have thought that those seemingly innocent and cute circus monkeys could be so... so...!

Unconsciously, he looked down at his arms, which were filled with scratches and bruises, and remembered the pain that he had to go through when he tried a futile attempt to catch those fucking "monsters" by himself...

Hunting for these said "monsters" had been quite a feat, but both him and Sasuke had been able to successfully catch most of the monkeys and lock them up in their cages. Now, only two monkeys were left and, according to some freaked-out people whom they passed by, these monkeys had gone to the direction of the woods.

Naruto groaned in frustration. He still couldn't get over the fact that those monkeys managed to trick him into opening their cages and letting them run off into the forest...

And then, Sasuke's gonna piss him off even more with his damn arrogance and bossy attitude!

"We won't get anywhere if you're here making all that racket!" Sasuke snapped back at him, clearly irritated. "Just shut up and go back to camp. And try not to act like a dobe for once or those damn monkeys might try to outwit you again."

So that was it! Sasuke was trying to get rid of him! The fox boy whipped his head at the Uchiha and scowled. "What the hell did you just say, you--!"

"Move!" Before Naruto could do anything, he felt someone shove him to the side, making him lose his balance. His eyes widened for a second as he felt himself falling dangerously to the ground. It was lucky for him that his fast reflexes kicked in and he was able to land safely on the ground without breaking any of his bones.

He was just about to demand as to why the hell did Sasuke do that to him for when he saw him land just a few meters in front of him, his dark eyes alert. He was staring at something from his right. Naruto followed his gaze and his senses caught some rustlings from the leaves and several trees surrounding them.

There were rustlings and some sort of squeaking sounds coming from around him, too. He glanced at his left, just in time to see something brown... and small...

"Okay." Sasuke started, his voice regaining its usual commanding tone. "You go right. Stay focused, dobe."

There he goes again... Just who the hell died and made him the leader of this team? "Stop calling me dobe! And why would I go right? And whose right, anyway? My right?"

Sasuke, who was about to get ready to run off, stopped and gave him a very annoyed look. "I don't care! My right."

Naruto frowned, not liking to be bossed around. "Your right? Why yours?"

"Fine! Your right!" Sasuke exclaimed in frustration and was about to leave when he realized with a curse that the forest had grown silent, meaning that the monkeys had escaped... again. "You idiot. It got away." The Uchiha prodigy muttered to him with a curse, his hands clenching into fists.

"What?" Naruto couldn't believe it! Why in the world was he blaming him now?

Sasuke didn't spare him a glance as he continued to look ahead. "If only Sak--" He suddenly stopped, as if surprised that he almost let a thought slip out of his mouth. Naruto narrowed his eyes at him in confusion, but before he could ask his teammate what he was about to say, Sasuke disappeared and ran off deeper inside the forest again, leaving him behind.

It was Naruto's time to curse, a foul expression plastered on his face. He was getting really irritated now. He had a feeling that they wouldn't get this job done anytime soon...

If only Sakura-chan was here...

And so, the two ninjas continued to hunt for the missing monkeys for next couple of hours. By the time they finished the incredibly exhausting mission, it was already late afternoon, with the two of them looking tired and as dirty as hell. Both Naruto and Sasuke arrived at the bridge to meet up with Kakashi, who tore his gaze away from his book and looked down at them, a smile on his masked face.

"Congratulations, guys. The circus master was pleased." Kakashi told his students. It did nothing to lighten up their dark moods.

"Kakashi-sensei..." Naruto whined after plopping down into the ground in exhaustion. He never want to see another monkey ever again! "When will Sakura-chan come back?" He was missing her and he was sure that Kakashi and Sasuke were missing her, too, even if they didn't care to admit it. "It has been five days already since she left and we still haven't heard anything from her. Not even once!"

Kakashi grew silent for a moment, apparently lost in thought. Naruto hoped that he would say that Sakura would come home tomorrow, but he could see it in his face that they still wouldn't hear anything from her. At least not anytime soon...

Curse that old granny Tsunade for pushing Sakura-chan too hard!

"So, Sakura's absence the reason why it takes so long for you guys to finish your missions?" Kakashi asked with a lifted eyebrow. From what the foxboy could tell from their teacher's expression, he was trying hard not to grin at both of them.

Naruto wanted to yell a yes, but remembered that Sasuke's attitude was also becoming unbearable for him to handle all by himself these days...

"Let's go visit Sakura and see how she's doing then."

Naruto's ears perked up at the idea and for the first time that god awful day, his mouth formed into really wide smile. "Tomorrow! Let's go visit her tomorrow!"

Seeing Sakura would brighten up his day for sure!

"Whoa! This place is huge!"

It was early afternoon when the three of them arrived at Samara village and in front of the huge estate where Sakura was in. Naruto gaped at the towering gates in awe, and Sasuke could only shake his head at him for acting like a child.

Although he had to admit, the place was impressive and quite... familiar...

"You know what? I think I've been in this place before..." Sasuke heard Naruto mutter to them, his eyes squinted and there was a thoughtful expression on his face.

"You really have been here before. I'm surprised that you've forgotten this place already..." Kakashi told him, his voice turning unusually serious. Sasuke raised an eyebrow at their teacher and his sudden change of mood.

"Eh? Really?" Naruto was still clueless, but it didn't stop the young Uchiha from figuring out why this place and the weird-looking guy whom they saw Sakura with a few days ago seemed so familiar to him.

Just then, a thought clicked inside his mind, the past rushing in his eyes like a flash. His first thought was...

"Sakura." Her name rushed out of his mouth before he had the chance to stop it.

"So you've remembered, eh Sasuke?" Kakashi noted with a sad smile.

The dark-haired prodigy nodded. No wonder this place looks so familiar...

"Sakura-chan?" Naruto, who was oblivious to both his and Kakashi's conversation, was startled when he heard him blurt out her name all of a sudden. He looked around, hoping to see their female teammate. "Where?"

"Speaking of Sakura..." Kakashi turned to look at the side and stared at something, or someone, right across the street. Sasuke followed his gaze and saw their female teammate slowly approaching them. She was staring at the ground with her shoulders slumped, as if she was in deep thought or something.

He frowned. He then noticed that her posture was awkward. To his surprise, without warning, she started to wobble...

"Sakura-chan!" Naruto, as soon as he laid eyes on Sakura, was delighted and waved his hand frantically into the air in a way of greeting. Sasuke realized that if Naruto hadn't called her attention, he doubt it if she would notice that the three of them were waiting for her outside her patient's gates.

She looked up, but before she could do anything else, smile or greet them with a wave of her hand or whatsoever,

...she fainted.


Oh no! What happened to Sakura-chan? Teehee! XD Sorry for the cliffhanger! Couldn't help myself... -is shot for the lame excuse-

Anyway... the next chapter's probably gonna be up... err... this week? I have no idea when, actually... but I'll still try to update as soon as I can! I mean...since I've finished writing the outline of this, it'll be much easier for me to write! Hehehe! XD

By the way... does anyone here play DOTA? Defence of the Ancients? XD Mga kabayan, alam ko marami kayong naglalaro nun! Hehehe! XD It's my newest addiction! I'm still new at it, but I'll practice really hard so I can beat the guys at school and show them that even us girls can play DOTA! Hehehehehe! XD

Oh! And I have a little gift to all SasuSaku fans out there! It's just a little fanart of mine... Nothing big... but if you have the time, you can take a look at it at my profile page! XD

Thank you very much for reading! And Advance Merry Christmas to all of you! -kisses and hugs everyone-