I'm alive!!! OMG!!! XD...hey at least I tried to make this chapter a bit exciting.

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Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.

Land of Leaves

Chapter 14: Touching Reality

A loud explosion shattered Sakura's peaceful slumber.

She sat up straight, startled at the loud bang that came from the western wall.


"Sakura-chan!" Naruto called from outside her door, "Someone's attacking!"

Sakura flew out her room while putting her cloak on, "It's Kenjyo, Orochimaru's general. Damn it all, I didn't know that he'll attack so soon." She said hastily as she begins to tie her hitai-tae in front of her eyes. She then started darting towards the exit of the Hokage Tower with Naruto in tow. She cursed herself for not being alert enough, now they were in another surprise attack.

Sai appeared beside Naruto and Sakura and reported, "Sound Jounins were able to breach a part of the traps Hyuuga and his team had placed. They're moving slowly now but they'll pick up momentum when the elites start widening the breach, we have to move fast. I have already spoken with Kakashi-san and he's on his way on assembling the Jounins. Hyuuga has already engaged the enemy last time I checked."

"Have the Jounins report to the rooftop. I'll meet them there." Sakura ordered and immediately Sai disappeared to search for the Copy Ninja. Sakura then spoke to Naruto, who was running beside him, "I should've been more careful. Damn that Kenjyo, I have been receiving reports of him riling up the Sound troops but I never thought that he'll be stupid enough to actually attack."

Naruto just grinned while adjusting his hitai-tae, "Then let's give him a good beating."

Sakura laughed as they exited towards the balcony and jumped up towards the Tower's rooftop.

Sasuke, unable to sleep, was surprised when explosions was heard. So they had regrouped, he thought, maybe there's a chance in slipping out without being noticed. He immediately got up and jumped out of his window. Running full speed along the road that was devoid of life for the people were hiding in their homes, he kept a close eye on nins that would notice him. The attacks are from the west wall it seemed, meaning that most of the Konoha nins' attention would diverted that way. And with the Sound camp lying on the south, escaping would be easier but doesn't go to say that there aren't any guards in the main Southern Gate. He still has to be careful.

The fact that he couldn't fight was drilling in his mind. Orochimaru should have something that could void the Chains of Atlas. He has to. Sasuke has already decided that, despite all the feelings and wisdom he had learned the past few days, it doesn't change the fact that he lived his life for revenge. And to go without at least trying would be almost cruel.

Silently apologizing to the Nymph in his thoughts, Sasuke dashed towards the southern wall.

"ANBU reported that about a hundred Otonins are in the vicinity of the western wall. Intelligence also reported that the objective of the skirmish is to blow the western wall down. This Kenjyo guy is just a really bad tactician. We can assume that Kabuto, Orochimaru's head tactician, is not present in this skirmish. But still be careful, I have received samples of these magna-explosives that Sound had developed. Five of these on the western wall and it will crumble." Shikamura continued his debriefing.

"I assume that their formation is mostly made up of Jounins that would spring and neutralize the traps set and a handful of bombing specialists. Take those specialists out and they'll have no point in continuing the skirmish." The tactician said, "I also assume, from Kenjyo's profile in the intelligence, that he'll be in the front line. If we could also take him out, this battle would be served to us in a silver platter."

"And Akatsuki…?" Sakura asked.

"No reports. I doubt that they'll even take this attack seriously. Although I'll still go out there assuming that they're participating." Shikamaru shrugged.

"So, let's get going." Kakashi piped in, "I doubt Neji-kun would be in a good mood if we let them wait any longer."

Naruto yelled, quite excited to finally join the fight, "Let's go kick their asses!"

Most of the Jounins cheered, happy to see the Number One Hyper-Active Ninja rejoining their ranks but none of them moved.

"Your orders, Hokage-sama?" Shikamaru asked.

Sakura almost didn't answer, assuming that he's talking to Naruto. With her band over her eyes, Sakura didn't realize that everyone's gaze were on her. Even Naruto was surprised for a bit but smiled nonetheless. He was amazed on how everyone looked up to his best friend. He can rile them up but apparently they only take orders from their Hokage. And he wasn't their Hokage.

It was a bittersweet moment for the Kyuubi Vessel.

"But…" Sakura wanted to protest, wanting to announce that the power of command was on Naruto now. She had promised Naruto that he was to be Hokage come dawn. She can't bear to live her best friend's dream for him.

"Sakura-chan," Naruto's gentle cheerfulness quietly said, "No, Hokage-sama, we're waiting for orders."

"Naruto…" She held on.

Naruto held her shoulder, "Nothing's made formal yet," he half-whispered to her, "To them you're still Hokage."

Sakura sighed and nodded her head, "We are to join the ANBU squad, who are currently engaging and resetting traps, and take out the Bomb Specialists and, if possible, Kenjyo himself. Take all precautions; assume that Akatsuki are moving among us in the battleground. First priority is to take out those bombers and second is to stay alive. That wall would be standing meaningless if its warriors are all dead, remember that. Move out!"

And without a second thought, the whole Jounin regiment, including Kakashi disappeared in a poof of smoke.

"Wow…" Naruto whistled, "I couldn't have done it better myself." He joked.

"Stop joking around, Hokage-sama, we have a battle to win." Sakura said.

"Are you talking to yourself, Sakura-chan? Did you hit your head or something?" Naruto asked, eyes wide.

"You're Hokage Naruto, that's the last command I'll give them. You'll be wearing that robe before this day ends." Sakura said in mild annoyance.

Naruto laughed, "I may be a Hokage-level shinobi but you're the Rokudaime, Sakura. I take orders from you and only you. You should've taken your hitai-tae off to see how the nins looked at you. Even if you made a thousand documents that declare I'm Hokage, in their hearts you're their leader. I don't think I'm in the position to butt in."

It was true; the sight of them staring at Sakura earlier proves it. Naruto suddenly felt small in their gaze. He may be standing right along side Sakura but their gazes went through him. All their attention was on the pink haired woman that was standing beside him. They looked at her in respect and complete trust. Their eyes told him that they're ready to die for her, as if Sakura was Konoha and Konoha was Sakura, as if they were one entity, that to obey Sakura was to obey Konoha and to protect her was also to protect the Land of Leaves.

Naruto had never seen such devotion. These people weren't his to lead, he has accepted that the moment they had stepped up in that rooftop and met the squadron of Jounins. Some greeted him, but all of them saluted Sakura.

Sakura spoke in protest, "I would not live your dream, Naruto. You've strived for this all your life. I won't allow myself to be the one obstacle that keeps you from it. I accepted this position because Kakashi-san refused and I had the insurance that I can transfer the power and title to you the moment you step inside those gates!" She pointedly gestured towards the giant gate of southern wall to emphasize her point.

"Sakura-chan you don't understand. I wanted to be Hokage so that people would appreciate and notice me. I never wanted the power, just the recognition that I am a shinobi. A shinobi that is determined to serve the people, to change their views on who I am, that I'm not just the Kyuubi's container. I love Konoha as much you do Sakura-chan, and I'll give everything, even my life, to fight for it as it's Hokage" Naruto gently said, "but at this moment, Konoha doesn't need me. Konoha needs you right now Sakura-chan. This is your battle and with your orders I'll fight proudly along side you."

Sakura couldn't believe her ears, was this young man the same Naruto from two years prior, of Team Seven? Was this the same Naruto that screamed to the whole world that he shall be the next Hokage? It can't be. She had expected him to be angry, to be furious, of what she has done. That was the first thing that crept into her mind when Kakashi had first told her that he wanted her to be Hokage in his stead. She had said she wouldn't be able to bear the wrath of her best friend, of her brother. The one-eyed nin only smiled underneath his mask and said, "Be reasonable Sakura. You have the experience, you worked under the Godaime. We can't afford to lose touch of reality. You shall be the Rokudaime."

She had cried for nights after that, feeling like she was betrayed, that this responsibility was dumped on her unwilling and fragile shoulders. Naruto wanted this, not her. She merely wanted to be worthy of respect of honor. She wasn't fit to lead for she always been a follower not a leader. She can't do this. She wanted to refuse to do this.

It was then she truly realized that she needed to. She convinced herself that she's merely holding this for Naruto. She always told herself that the moment Naruto appears, she will dump everything on him. Everything that he had every wanted, being the Hokage.

In this moment, she desperately wished that his words were hollow, that he didn't mean what he had just said. She wanted to believe that he was only joking, that he will accept the title as he had always wanted to.

His words rang solid.

He meant it.

And still, she was Hokage.

"Just be warned though, after this war I will challenge you for the position." He grinned, "And I don't intend on losing to that super human strength of yours. And don't you dare lose on purpose. You're a NeoSannin like me…I'll be really upset if you don't try to beat the crap out of my ass."

"I won't have anymore words to rebuttal you huh?" Sakura asked, defeated.

"Nope!" He declared cheerfully.

Sakura smiled, "Naruto…"


"Thank you for everything."

Naruto chuckled, "You know the best way of thanking me?"

Sakura snorted, "I am not kissing you, you baka!"

Naruto blinked, "That would be very nice too but I didn't mean that. Let's just win!"

Sakura laughed and followed him as he jumped off the rooftop towards the western wall.

Sasuke jumped of sight when a group of Chuunins jumped past the alley he was running in. Damn it all, he thought. Stealth was everything, with the Chains of Atlas upon his limbs; he doesn't have a chance in an encounter. He pressed his back against a palisade wall, trying to even his breathing and hide his chakra. One false move and his effort would prove vain.

At least it worked, the Chuunins went by obliviously.

Sasuke slowly sidled and looked if the coast was clear. Satisfied, he continued his trek of looking for an exit without being caught. He kept his path south, putting to good use all those hours he had spent jogging about the high wall. During those times, he had found that there was a small door just below one of the watch towers on the southern wall, leading to another that, he deduced, was an exit. Nins used such garrisons to reach the top level of the watch tower without jumping up, in plain sight. All Sasuke needed to do was sneak through it.

And sneaking was one of the talents he could merit himself with.

With all the Konoha nins' attention on the attack on the western wall, passing by the garrison proved easier than Sasuke thought. Of course a number of the guards were alert but the chaotic atmosphere of the assault tipped in Sasuke's favor, the guards were more interested in watching what was going on there, via binoculars, than watching for escaping missing nins like himself.

As soon as Sasuke had himself out the outer door of the garrison, he pumped his legs with chakra and kicked his way in the forest. He was also mindful not to succumb to violent thoughts, the last thing he needed at the moment was triggering that annoying effects of the forbidden jutsu casted on him. He cleared his mind of malicious, bloody thoughts of battle and the excitement of the fighting. It was not an easy task when he could still faintly hear the shouts of panic and anger within the walls of Konoha.

He focused his mind in getting away and reuniting with his snake sensei. He didn't dare think of anything else. He didn't even dare allow his mind to flash the Nymph's face in his conscience. Of all people, he knew that Sakura affected him the most at present. She still knew how to handle him after all this years, and he hated it.

He hated the one small part of him that wanted to be whatever she wanted him to be.

Sasuke gritted his teeth as he dashed through the thick forests that surrounded Konohagakure no Sato. Just focus on your goal, he chanted to himself. Just get back as fast as possible. Go back and take these chains off. Go back and kill Itachi.

Only then would he be free.

Sasuke's thoughts were too fixed on getting back to the Sound Camp that he did not notice a presence that was amusedly following him. The nin tackled him, clasping a hand upon his throat, on a tree.

Sasuke's onyx eyes found itself staring back at an exact replica. Onyx met onyx, until the cold blank stare of the one that smashed Sasuke on the tree turned into a flaming bloody red.

"I was wondering when you'll be able to escape, little brother." Uchiha Itachi said monotously.

Sasuke clamped his own hand over his brother's wrist and hissed, "Itachi…you demon."

Itachi chuckled, "Same old lines, little brother, can't you invent something else?" The elder then threw his brother, face first, on the dirt.

Sasuke growled, clenching fists, unable to get up. The anger and rage was going wild within his chest. Blood and hate flooded his mind. The Chains, sensitive to malicious thoughts of hurting another living being, was not only weighing him down but also preventing him to move. Sasuke tried to control his anger, to block his emotions, but years of hate and rage cannot be quenched by only his will power.

And it kept him immobile.


Itachi merely watched Sasuke amusedly, enjoying the younger's situation.

So helpless…so worthless.

He had someone else to chase in mind.

Itachi merely grunted as he started walking away.

"Don't you dare walk away…" Sasuke snarled.

Itachi smirked and didn't say word, he just continued walking away.

"Fight me! Damn it, how dare you show your back on me again, Itachi!?" Sasuke screamed in rage.

"I'm busy, little brother. I'll play with you sometime else. I have a flower to pick." And Itachi continued walking.

Sasuke's eyes widened. No, Itachi knows that Naruto's back and he's now going to hunt Sakura down as a part of his deal with Orochimaru.

"Don't you dare touch her…" Sasuke said darkly.

"Or what, little brother? What can you do with your face on the dirt? The Nymph is my prey and nothing's going to stop me from killing her." Itachi said, not even bothering to turn around to face his brother.

"I have been craving to touch her pretty little neck for a while now anyway. I wonder what sound she makes when she's touched." Itachi chuckled to himself. He had taken an interest on the Hokage for quite a while now.

"Bastard…" Sasuke clenched his fist even tighter, if that was possible. His knuckles were already white and now his nails are digging in his flesh. His anger bound him to the ground.

"On second thought…maybe I should bring her here. So that you can see her one last time, before I break her pretty neck."

Itachi then disappeared into the darkness of the early morning.

No, Sasuke thought. Not another one.

Sakura's damp form from the orchard flashed in front of his eyes. Her wet but still vibrant rosette hair flowing upon her shoulders like a pink waterfall. Her sincere words to make him understand and the warmth from the cloak she had selflessly placed on his shoulders when his world came crashing down around him.

Uchiha Sasuke then felt a wet sensation dripping from his eyes down to his cheeks. He looked down where the tear fell and suddenly he knew that he was touching reality.

He has to go back and look for her. He had made a promise to himself long ago that he didn't want to see any of his friends die.

And she's the only one left.

He'll be damned forever if she dies.

It was only then that the chains seized their hold. And in a matter of moments, Sasuke found himself sprinting towards the battlefield of the Nymph of Konoha.

Ooooo...brothers finally met XD. I'm really glad that I'm at the part where everything would flow faster. And since I adore battle scenes I think you can expect the next chapter to be up soon. Oh if you've seen a lot of mistakes in chapter, eheheeh...I only proofed read this chapter once...so forgive me.

And you know how I love your reviews...so pls review. Feedback is what keeps this story going.