Edit: Sorry guys, I was in a real rush last night so I didn't have the time to add an author's note. Seriously, I've been up all night, first finishing off this chapter and then catching an early morning flight out here to Portugal. I've only got the internet for today so I thought I'd add this little note while I can.
Yes, this is the last chapter. It was thrown together haphazardly and I didn't even proof-read it. So excuse the typos and I'm sorry if this doesn't quite live up to your expectations. But I hope you enjoy it anyway. And I will try and type up the epilogue while I'm out here, so look forward to that.
Edit2 (08.01.09): Okay, okay. My sincere apologies...I've tried to write the epilogue and it just doesn't seem to be coming. So, I officially give up. The story ended in a good enough place for me and I hope you're not too disappointed; one day I'll come back and write the stupid thing, but I wouldn't hold your breath. Thank you for travelling this amazing journey with me; Contradicted will always have a special place in my heart, along with all it's faithful fans. You guys have been amazing.
Disclaimer: For the last time...don't own it!
Chapter Twenty Four: Start Living
In the end, Konoha, my home, had been completely destroyed in the battle. Many had died. Some were civilians. Some were complete strangers. Some were the enemy.
Some were the people I loved.
The village was completely uninhabitable. Homes would need to be rebuild, markets and stores set up once more. The hospital would need to be built from scratch. The roads cleared and mended, the holes filled and the debris swept away. Even the monuments would need patching up.
And before even that could start, the civilians would need to be housed. The wounded healed and taken care of. There was so much to do…
And I didn't know if I could do it.
In that moment, with Sasuke cradled in my arms, the sun blinding my tear-streaked vision, the pile of rubble soaked with Itachi's blood—I couldn't do anything. I didn't have the will. I couldn't even get off my knees.
In that moment, more than anything, I wanted Naruto.
But life is cruel and sadistic, and I remained Naruto-less, and eventually I got up.
Because the world never stops turning.
And life never pauses.
Just get up. And move on.
One year ago
By the time Sakura got up, her legs were numb and near buckled at the sudden combined weight of lifting herself and Sasuke. Her arms were not numb, however, and trembled in pain. She had to put Sasuke down again, kicking aside rocks and pebbles to create a somewhat decent space. He was mostly healed, but she didn't have the chakra to prevent the scarring.
But what did that matter? They were all leaving this war scarred.
She stood up again, using the heel of her palm to wipe away residue tears from her right cheek. Her left eye remained blissfully and agonizingly black. She felt shattered. Her body was at its limit, ready to collapse at the nearest sign of peace. Her mind was fractured and still healing from the virtual mind-rape it had suffered from Itachi's eyes.
She still hadn't really acknowledged that she was blind in one eye.
Sakura sniffed, disbelieving that it really was over—her muscles were still tense, ready to move at the slightest whisper of movement—but she couldn't see the Kyuubi anymore, and she couldn't hear anything. All she saw was smoke and rubble and destruction and bodies.
It was too quiet.
She turned and looked up and down the street, seeing nothing that moved or breathed, and decided she wasn't going to make her way back to the Hospital Bay. She didn't have the energy. Eventually someone would find her.
So she walked back to Sasuke, leaking a little chakra into her arms to kick-start the muscles, and picked him up. She took him the short distance to the nearest rock that was bigger than her—not far, and coincidently the one she had chucked at Itachi—and settled down beside it, leaning against the rough marble. Sasuke's head settled into her lap. She buried her hand into his hair.
It was silent.
The sun beat down upon her face. Smoke rose in large, lazy plumes, blocking her view of most of the village. The fires that had ravaged the village had left an intoxicating heat. Her eye blinked a couple of times, wanting sleep, but her muscles clenched and disallowed such a thought.
And the silence was deafening.
Her mind buzzed, batted out formulations and helpful jutsu—medical, defensive, offensive—and she picked up the nearest and safest route from the street and calculated how long it would take her to throw a sizable rock at an imaginary enemy depending on their positioning and the heaviness of the rock. Her eye soaked in the number of bodies in her vision and their countries—ten Cloud, six Rain, eight Fire—and then catalogued which buildings she remembered standing here, on this street.
Her own breath rattled in her ears. Quiet, too quiet—
Had Itachi really escaped? Had he died in the forest, unable to move, unable to heal himself? How had he escaped in the first place? Why didn't she kill him when she had the chance? How was Sasuke going to take this? What would Naruto say now? Would he smile and tell her to get up? Would he cry as well? How much had she lost? How much had she lost?
Naruto was dead, and now, so was her mentor and leader, Tsunade. There was no Hokage to rule, no one to tell them what to do. The village, Konoha, her home, had been completely eradicated. How many friends had she lost in this very battle? She knew some were definitely gone. Because that was life and it was unfair and unjust and so very cruel. She was used to that now.
Hinata and Kiba had been in the Hokage Building when it had collapsed. She remembered that now, and she remembered hearing Hinata scream during that bright flash of light that she knew was the Kyuubi being sealed. Was she okay? Was Kiba dead? Had they both survived? She hoped so.
But that would be asking too much.
Was Kakashi okay? Genma? Neji? They would've fought the Kyuubi. Had they survived?
Had she really lost everything?
Her hand tightened over matted locks of ebony hair. She laughed, and it sounded delirious and relieved and tired all at once. She really hadn't lost everything. Because through all the hell and hate and death, she had gained something amazing.
Four years ago, had she realised that she would be calling Sasuke amazing, she would've laughed in disbelief. But life is contradicting in that sense, and now she clung to his unconscious form, face pressed against his cheek and she cried in relief, because after everything that had happened, she hadn't lost Sasuke.
This was the way Kakashi found her an hour later.
He appeared through the smoke, calling her name and looking so entirely relieved when he spotted her hunched over Sasuke.
She looked up, her neck complaining painfully as she did so. Relief flooded her and she thought she might just faint there and then, because now she wouldn't need to worry about leaving herself as a target, but she held herself together because she needed to know about everyone else too.
"Kakashi," she said breathlessly, and then, very carefully moving Sasuke's head to the floor, she sprung up and dashed to him. "Kakashi!"
Sakura hit his chest suddenly and she was hugging him hard, and Kakashi would normally pat her on the head and wriggle away uncomfortably, but the situation warranted this particular hug returned. So he bundled her up into his arms and let her cling.
Eventually she pulled back.
"Are you okay?" she blurted before he could even ask her the same thing.
"Could be worse," Kakashi shrugged, posture slouched and uncaring, eye jumping over her figure, showing the fatigue that his body wouldn't allow, "…I was worried about you."
"I'm fine," she muttered. Pausing, she added, "And so is Sasuke. He needs some more medical attention, but nothing that can't hold."
Kakashi nodded but didn't offer much else. The pair stared at each other, seemingly waiting for the other to do something. Anything. Minutes trailed by, and Sakura was struck by how strange it was, now that she only had one eye as well, and now she looked like a distorted mirror image of her ex-sensei.
Things had changed so much during the war. Now what would happen? Were they just supposed to…keep going?
Kakashi stepped forward, taking a hold of her elbow.
"C'mon," he murmured, leading her back to Sasuke, "I think it's time we left."
Sakura could only let herself be guided.
Sakura pushed together a few notes and slid them into a folder, sighing. She stored it away in a filing cabinet as the door squeaked open and someone shuffled into the room. Sakura braced herself for another patient, another complaining Konoha civilian who had no idea how minimal their injury was. She turned around and smiled politely at the agitated middle-aged woman standing in front of her desk, fiddling insistently with the frayed edges of the bandage wrapped around her forearm.
"Kichi-san, how nice to see you again." She greeted pleasantly. Despite what she had been through, she still knew how to paste a smile on her face and appear unaffected by anything in front of her patients. It was one thing she could, at the very least, fall back on in times like these.
"It's almost impossible to book an appointment with you, Haruno-san. Popular as ever, I see." Kichi drawled, sitting gracefully in the chair. She was a high-class socialite, married to one of Hyuuga elders. She was out of place in the heat of the desert and nothing more than a refugee, and she made it known how much she despised it to everyone who mattered. Unfortunately, Sakura had found herself labelled as someone who mattered.
"My apologies, Kichi-san. I'm very busy these days." The medic replied, pulling on a pair of gloves. She stepped over to the woman and took her arm carefully, unwrapping the bandage. A sore looking and rather deep cut that ran several inches seemed to glower at her. The stitches holding it closed almost seemed just a little barbaric compared to the fluidity of chakra-healing.
"Alright, I'm going to take these stitches out and heal it over with chakra. You'll have a scar, unfortunately, but it'll be very faint and not at all noticeable. Okay?"
Kichi pursed her lips. "Very well."
Sakura got to work. She did it all automatically, as she did with most mundane tasks, and her mind wandered as she worked. She thought about Hinata, who was still getting used to having a separate entity held within her, and Kiba, who was struggling to cope with his leg missing. She thought about Kakashi, who was running the reconstruction of Konoha—not that he wanted to, but rather from the lack of experienced and non-injured shinobis Konoha had left.
She straightened her back, lips tugging into a familiar fake-smile. "All done. You're free to leave, Kichi-san."
"Finally." Kichi sniffed, getting up. She bowed shortly and nodded to her, then left. Sakura let her smile slip before slouching into her chair, grabbing the relevant paperwork to be filled and filed. She had a short ten minute break now before the next patient.
The last two weeks had been hectic and so very tiring. She had wanted to just curl up and sleep for weeks on end, but how could she, when her village had been destroyed and civilians and shinobi alike needed immediate medical attention? With Kiba grievously injured and Sasuke in a coma, the Leaf-nins turned to their last remaining leader: Haruno Sakura. Once again she had found herself with a tremendous duty towards her country. She ordered the dead to be buried beside Konoha. She led the resettlement to Suna, taking care of the injured as they travelled. She set up clinics and dealt with the worst cases. She liased with Gaara—being the only one he trusted—to deal with politics and resettlement and money and then reported back to the council. She healed and arranged and delegated and led until she couldn't think straight.
But she'd rather work til she was old and weary than think about the war, think about all they had lost and the very little they had gained. She'd rather work than think about Uchiha Itachi and the fact she had failed to avenge Naruto's death.
With another weary sigh, she filed the paperwork and pressed a couple of fingers to the fresh bandage wrapping around her eye. Chakra seeped in and gently soothed the ache. She was still blind in that eye and she seriously doubted her vision would ever return. She could sense the severe damage to the cornea, lens and retina.
After soothing the away the pain and her oncoming headache, she considered the time and stood up. Pushing aside a curtain that blocked away a single corner of the expansive room, she only needed to take a few steps before she was right next to the occupied bed.
Sasuke remained still and alarmingly lifeless, in a way that would always make her heart jolt when she saw him lying there. If it was it wasn't for the steady beep of the heart monitor, she'd probably suffer heart attacks every time she looked at him.
Instead, she sat on the edge of the bed and took his pale hand, pressing a gentle kiss to it.
"Hey," she whispered softly against his hand, "Wake up soon, okay?"
Kami, it was so easy to make her jump these days! War-induced paranoia wasn't planning on letting her go any time soon, that much was apparent.
"One moment!" she called back. She looked at Sasuke again, reaching over to brush hair from his forehead before getting up and going to greet her visitors. Kiba grinned at her from his wheelchair and Hinata smiled, a hand resting self-consciously on her stomach, both the perfect image of broken veterans hiding their pain.
"You would never believe what I saw today," Kiba announced instantly, as Hinata helped him manoeuvre the wheelchair next to the sofa, before sitting down herself. Sakura took a place opposite them on a chair.
"Iruka-sensei and Kakashi."
Sakura raised an eyebrow at him. Kiba's grin grew wider. It made it easier to forget that only one of his legs made it past the wheelchair seat.
"They looked downright cosy too. All cuddled up and sharing a sandwich." He said, wiggling his eyebrows comically.
Hinata laughed. Sakura spluttered.
"What are you suggesting about my sensei, mister?!"
"Oh come on, you ever wondered why you never seen him with a woman? And don't bullshit me, I know you go through the window in his apartment all the time, and you've never once caught him out?"
Sakura spluttered some more, wanting to deny everything, and waved her arms about in disbelief as she babbled about innocence and privacy and there was no way her sensei had swung that way all that time and never once mentioned it—an image that had Hinata and Kiba in tears of laughter. After a while the pink haired medic gave up and laughed with them.
It was worth it, just to forget about reality and to gossip and laugh with her friends.
For five minutes, she pretended the war had never happened.
"Meeting adjourned. Haruno-san, can you stay behind?"
The medic nodded and stayed seated while people moved past her to reach the door. She busied herself with packing away her meticulously taken notes until the last council-member or Konoha official had left.
She looked up and found herself staring into jade eyes. Gaara's face gave away nothing but she could discern the concern in his eyes. It was a familiar look. All her friends looked at her the same way.
He glowered. She coughed into her hand.
"Uh, Gaara-kun. Yeah."
"How are you feeling, Sakura?" he asked, slipping into a seat by hers. His Kazekage robes always looked out of place on him, she thought idly.
Sakura shrugged, responding automatically as she often did when someone enquired after her health or mental well-being. "A little battered, but moving on."
She figured it went over better than "I'm fine.". Unfortunately, most of her friends had clued into that one by now.
"What?" yelped Sakura, voice oozing self-consciousness. She just didn't do opening up at the moment. Surely Gaara of all people would understand that? And frankly, she found it so much easier to focus on the now, rather than the past or the future. It was the only way she hadn't broken down into little pieces yet.
Apparently he did understand, because he simply sighed and patted her on the shoulder. In her mind, she equated it to something like a bear-hug of comfort, coming from her incredibly stoic friend.
"I have news for you," Gaara suddenly told her after a moment of companionable silence, his jade eyes revealing nothing. "Your council members are considering who to appoint as the Hokage."
There was another pause.
"They want Kakashi to step up."
Sakura let out a derisive snort, looking out of the expansive windows that showed the Suna skyline. Everything was brown or gold or shades thereof. It was disconcerting, compared to the view she had seen so often from the Hokage Building. A building that was now blown to bits. Dear Kami, would life ever return to normal after this?
She forced herself to stay on topic.
"He'll never do it. Barely any missions, barely able to leave the village, and tonnes of paperwork? Not a chance."
Gaara nodded, having suspected the very same thing.
"They have a second option…one they're quite keen on, actually."
She was so tired. So tired of politics, of reconstruction, of healing her village and her people and her friends when she wanted to tell everyone to piss off and leave her alone. She wanted to grieve, for Naruto, Tsunade, Jiraiya, Neji, Akamaru and so many others. She wanted Sasuke to wake up so they could start living. So she could start living…
"You've been quite amazing, y'know," he said abruptly, "Having such a pivotal role in the war, taking the responsibility of looking after your villagers and the shinobis after everything you've gone through. The war is over and yet you haven't stopped at all."
True. So true. And now she wished she could just stop and cry. But every time she tried, nothing happened.
"Sakura, they want to make you Hokage."
All of a sudden, she realised that she'd never start living.
"So, how's it look, Doc?"
"Don't call me that Hinata."
The Hyuuga smiled and laughed and neither reached her pearly lavender eyes. Sakura smiled back and it looked like a mockery of a smile that she had once bestowed on the world, seemingly so long ago.
"Well?" Hinata prompted once they had stopped pretending to smile.
"No infection. No interior damage. No degenerative side effects. Perfect looking seal, same as yesterday." She announced, and then her voice took a softer tone, "What's it like…having a seal that we always associated with Naruto?"
The black haired beauty smiled, and this time it was truly a wonderful smile that made her eyes spark with light. Sakura felt somewhat astounded.
"It's a part of Naruto, y'know? It's…I feel proud. The villagers condemned him for being a Jinchuuriki, but now I have the Kyuubi inside me, and I can feel the power, I can hear the horrible things it says, and it makes me proud, because Naruto had this thing inside him for all his life, and he still turned out amazing. Now I can take his burden. He wouldn't be happy unless he knew the Kyuubi locked up somewhere safe, and now he can rest in peace knowing that it is."
Sakura took her hand and squeezed it gently. "Guess there's no replacing him, huh?"
Hinata shook her head. "No. But I love Kiba too, and I think I'm ready to move on and be happy, just like Naruto-kun told me to be."
At least someone got their happy ending, Sakura thought to herself, as she turned and shrugged her white coat off. And who deserved it more than Hinata?
"How's Kiba doing?" she asked, eyes flickering to the curtain that hid Sasuke.
"Not so good. It's so easy to put on a mask, isn't it? But when it comes down to it, he's lost his leg, and his familiar, and there's no easy way to deal with that."
No. There wasn't.
There was never an easy way to deal with anything these days.
"I best be off. I promised Kiba I'd pick him up from the Mess Hall, and you know how difficult it is to manoeuvre that wheelchair through the sand to the tents. I swear, the sooner Konoha is rebuilt, the better for everyone…"
How strange, the way people coped. Once upon a time, Hinata could barely string a sentence together without blushing and stuttering, and now strong, long and winding talk would pour from her mouth to fill the silence. Sakura didn't mind. She hated the silence as well, but silence was rare with a life as busy as hers. Silence only came when she sat with Sasuke at night.
The Hyuuga left, closing the door quietly behind her. Sakura checked the clock and figured she could grab some dinner after her meeting with Kakashi and Shizune.
It didn't take long for her to settle on the chair next to the bed, brushing a kiss to Sasuke's forehead before settling down to read through the reports the Genins and Chuunins had made concerning the quality of living amongst the civilians. They had been comfortably set up in all available hotel rooms and Sand families had helpfully taken a large amount of orphans. The shinobis who weren't back at Konoha rebuilding, were settled in tents just beyond Suna's walls. Large amounts were still in hospital, where Shizune had taken control of things.
Briefly, she told herself to invite Gaara back to Konoha once it had been rebuilt, and throw a festival in his honour for being such a wonderful ally and taking care of them so well. Of course, she'd need the Hokage's permission, but—
She stopped, remembering what Gaara had told her earlier.
Would she be the Hokage at that point?
Uneasily, she checked the clock again and was thankful for the fact it was time to leave for her meeting. She got up, pushing the thought out of her mind, and instead focusing on Sasuke.
"Gotta go, Uchiha," she told him softly, kissing his forehead again, "I'll be back soon."
She passed the open curtains, putting the reports on her desk, and shrugging on her light jacket. It was night, and that was a stark difference in temperature compared to day. Something she would never be used to. Checking she had all the right files and her notebook, her hand was on the doorknob when she paused.
Something wasn't quite right, and her instincts were screaming at her. She had learnt to not ignore them.
She whirled around.
Sasuke's hand was twitching.
Her breath suddenly abandoned her and escaped in a swift, surprised whoosh. She took several gasping breaths, and then came out tiny, doubtful hope lacing the trembling voice.
His hand moved again, this time sharper and almost rising completely off the bed. Sakura rushed to his side, holding her breath as onyx eyes flickered under their eyelids. A moment later, he stilled again, and Sakura waited a few more tense moments, before her shoulders slumped.
"Prat," she muttered fondly, but disappointed, and touched his cheek gently; "I thought you were going to wake up."
Very suddenly, so fast that she couldn't honestly say how it happened, Sasuke's hand wrapped around hers, and onyx eyes fluttered open and dazedly took her in.
"…Sa—" he rasped.
She inhaled sharply. A single apple green eye widened in surprise and alarm, before lighting in sheer relief. She reached for the water and helpfully held it to his lips, and he took several gulps.
She didn't quite believe it.
"Are you okay? How d'you feel?" she asked, feeling as if she was in a dream of some sort. But that couldn't be right, really—she didn't sleep until she has run herself completely exhausted, so that her sleep was deep and dreamless.
"Sore." He replied, dark eyes jumping back and forth, and then, "Is it—is the war—over? Sakura?"
This was the most torturous and beautiful dream she had had in a long time, that was for sure. She sat down on the edge of the bed and curled her hand around his, revelling in how real he felt.
"It's over, Sasuke. You've been unconscious for two weeks. We're in Suna, and we've started rebuilding Konoha already."
She winced. "I'm so sorry, Sasuke. I thought you killed him, but he disappeared after I started to heal you. I don't know if he's dead or alive. His body was never found, but the injuries he sustained…he can't have survived those…"
He closed his eyes briefly and then opened them again. Sakura half-expected rage but found only resigned calm.
"Your eye…will it ever…?"
"No. I don't think so."
He didn't say anything. Instead he seemed to drink her in with his eyes, reaching up to pull her closer. Her fingers ran over his cheeks, nose, lips, feeling the flawlessly pale skin beginning to warm up to normal temperature. Was this really happening? Was he really…?
"Sasuke…" she whispered.
And then he kissed her, softly and gently and very chastely. She very nearly started crying there and then and only clung to him, feeling his dry and chapped lips pressed against hers. He was awake, oh Kami, he woke up…
"We survived, Sakura." He muttered against her lips, "I guess that's all we can really ask for."
He was awake, and he was holding her and kissing her. He was awake, and she felt the tiny threads holding her together snapping one by one until she could do nothing but let him hold her and kiss her as she fell to pieces.
Sasuke was awake, and Sakura thought her heart would burst.
True to Sakura's expectations, Kakashi shot down the idea of him taking on the job as Hokage. True to Gaara's word, they asked her to take up the mantle that lunch meeting.
Despite having known about it, the words still stunned her.
It was Sasuke that answered. He had barely left her side since he had woken up, although that was partly her doing as well. War had made them both more paranoid than drug addicts and it came out as jumping at sudden movements and refusing to be apart in case something happened. Although what could possibly happen, neither really knew.
Sakura went from being stunned to staring at Sasuke in disbelief. "What?"
Sasuke shook his head. "No."
"Uchiha-san, this is really not your choice," A council Elder told him sternly. Sakura blinked. "Haruno-san, I understand if you need time to think this over. But despite your age, you have done a remarkable job leading us to recovery. Tsunade-sama would have been extremely proud of you."
"Not only that," another Elder added, "But you're the best suited. You've worked under Tsunade for years. You know what it takes to be a Hokage. I imagined you've performed plenty of duties regarding that title before."
Sakura glanced at her boyfriend. He looked increasingly annoyed. In the corner, Kakashi shook his head.
"I, er…" she started, "I need to think about it. If you don't mind."
The Elders nodded and hummed in that way of theirs. "Hurry back with an answer, Haruno-san. Time is of the essence."
Sakura gripped Sasuke's arm and led him away. He let her, saying nothing until they reached the safety of her office.
"I want to leave."
The words seemed to hit her straight in the face. She blinked, dazed, as if the impact had been physical. "What?" she repeated.
"I want to leave. The both of us, that is. Just…get out. We need to get out of here, Sakura. We need some time out."
She digested the words for a moment.
"Sasuke…" she sighed, "They need me here."
"The hell they do!" he shouted, suddenly, a burst of anger that she hadn't expected at all. "Can't you see how overworked you are? Can't you see that you need time to heal? The last few years have been hell for everyone, but you suffered the worst. Sakura, you haven't even grieved for Naruto properly. What about Tsunade? Neji? When do you start grieving for them?"
Sakura's mouth opened, but she had nothing to say, so she snapped it shut again.
Sasuke had started pacing, trying to work off his agitation. "If you became Hokage, when d'you think you'd have time for anything? Don't you just want to…tell everyone to go away and deal with it
themselves? Don't you want to just relax for the first time in years? Because now's the opportunity. If you become Hokage, you won't ever relax again."
This was all true, and she knew it. How often had she wished for time for herself? Now that Sasuke was awake, she had wished it more and more in the last two days. Everything had happened so fast, when had really any time to focus on herself? Losing Leiko and then Naruto, fighting on the front lines of an intensive war, the Mangekyou-induced coma and seeing Naruto again, Konoha's capture and Tsunade's execution, the re-taking of their village and then the Kyuubi and Itachi—everything had happened so very fast.
Her coping mechanism had been to just keep moving.
But why did the pain have to keep coming?
Because she loved her village, and Naruto had sworn to protect it, and the least she could do for him and for her village was to rebuild and protect it in his place. She told Sasuke as such.
His eyes became soft and he walked over to her, cradling her face in his hands.
"Sakura," he murmured softly, "The Hokage was Naruto's dream, not yours."
She gripped his shirt and closed her eye, the image of Naruto flashing instantly before her. Sasuke's voice was gentle and his breath ghosted across her nose.
"And he loved you more than Konoha. Much more, Sakura."
She was trembling. When had that happened?
"I have so much invested in Konoha, Sasuke. My friends…"
"…they won't blame you. And we'll be back soon enough. We just need some time. To heal. You can't do that here."
His eyes were expressive and open, and oh how strange that was, strange and yet so very normal at this point. His simple "No." seemed to cut straight into her. Sakura wanted to laugh and she wanted to cry as well, a myriad of emotions storming through her until she couldn't make heads or tails of anything she felt. He was right. She needed to heal.
Away from Suna. Away from every reminder there was of the war.
After everything, after all this, it was just her and Sasuke. Haruno Sakura, the talented medic, and Uchiha Sasuke, the stoic Captain. How things had changed, how they had changed, but they started together and now, they would finish it together.
Her life was decided in a single word.
This is a story about a girl, a girl who was forced to grow up fast and face tragedy and violence without flinching. She lost countless people, including the one person she loved more than anything. She fought and healed in the front lines of a war she helped instigate. She bled and hurt and nearly died more times than she could count.
This is a story about a girl who fell in love with a boy. He was an asshole. At first. Time and war changed everything. He went from asshole to the love of her life.
So much has changed since I was nineteen years old and naively happy.
This is my story. My name is Haruno Sakura. I am twenty four years old, and the last five years were some of the horrible I've ever had to face. On the other hand, five years ago, on the third of September, I met the man I would hate then love. I met the man who would help me heal.
Life's just contradicted like that.
I left Suna a year ago. I started living again.
Moral of the story?
Just keep moving. Never stop moving. Look back but never for long, always with a smile. Look forward. Appreciate everything and everyone around you. You never know when you'll lose them.
That in itself is utterly amazing.
Thank you, Naruto.