Disclaimer: I think we've established this with my past 11 disclaimers.

A/N: Hey everyone! So, I'm back with another story- this time sticking with the real Naruto plot (meaning it's not AU… it's just… um… U). I was going to continue An Unexpected Gift, but I was getting bored with the AU stuff and wanted to write some ninja stuff.

Summary: There's a new leader in Sound now that Sasuke has killed Orochimaru. He's Konoha's greatest enemy and its greatest threat. Unless he gets what he wants, he's starting a war with Konoha. And what he wants is Sakura. SasuSaku, NaruHina

Inner Self

Thinking


Mission Impossible: The Cherry Blossom Bride

.:Chapter.One:.

"Sakura-chan! Look out!" Nineteen year old Haruno Sakura did as she was told, seeing three shuriken shooting in her direction. The pink-haired Jounin threw three kunai, each propelling the shuriken in different directions.

Sakura looked over to her two former teammates, who were working with her on this mission to get some scrolls from the Sound Village. Things had gone perfectly, until they were ambushed on their way home. Uzumaki Naruto and his clones were running about, jumping off trees, flinging kunai and shuriken everywhere. They seemed to be doing alright, the real Naruto was slightly more bruised than his clones and his shoulder was bleeding a lot, but other than that, he was going to be okay.

And then there was Sakura's other teammate. Uchiha Sasuke had returned to Konoha after killing both that bastard Orochimaru and his brother Itachi just two years ago, when they were all seventeen. Sasuke's sharingan had been activated and he seemed to be fending off alright. His nose was bleeding and there was a gash in his stomach, but he would be like Naruto, absolutely fine.

Sakura looked down at herself, both of her feet and her left forearm were bleeding pretty badly. The right leg of her black cargo pants was ripped off to the knee and Sakura could feel the bruises forming on her face. Other than that, she seemed to be pretty fine as well.

Until, someone kicked the back of her head, causing the apple green eyed kunoichi to fall to the ground, face first. She'd been so caught up in checking on her teammates, that she hadn't even noticed a ninja's chakra behind her! And the fact that she was exhausted didn't help.

"Sakura-chan!" Naruto shouted, immediately forgetting the unconscious body he'd been beating on since there was no one else to fight with. Sasuke turned around quickly, seeing Sakura laying on the ground, a ninja hidden in the shadows standing behind her with a katana raised.

Better end this quick, Sasuke told himself. He drew his chakra-fused fist back and slammed it against the Sound ninja's head. The man's head hit the tree behind him quickly, if it didn't kill him, he'd be unconscious for a long time.

Sakura moaned, slowly trying to get to her feet, but the throbbing pain in her head and arm would only let her get up so she was on her hands and knees. She stared down at the ground, seeing blood drip from her mouth and nose.

"Stupid girl," the large man behind her muttered. Sakura's heart beat faster and faster, she knew she should move to get away, but she found that her body wasn't cooperating. All she could do was slowly raise up her head, her weary gaze going right to Sasuke, who was glaring at the man behind her. Sakura knew that Naruto and Sasuke were already formulating plans in their heads.

"That's enough, Goro," a voice from Sakura's right said. Naruto and Sasuke's heads immediately snapped in the voice's direction.

The man named Goro groaned, lowered his katana and took several steps back as the other man stepped out of the trees, followed by at least half a dozen men. Naruto and Sasuke each glared at the way this second man was looking at Sakura, who still was frozen.

The man knelt down next to Sakura, lifting her chin up with his forefinger. "Well well well, what do we have here? A fallen cherry blossom."

"Get away from her!" Naruto shouted, grabbing several kunai. Sasuke remained glaring, but now had several kunai in each hand also.

The man, who had long dark brown hair that was tied back in a low ponytail and deep brown eyes, turned towards the fox boy, snorting as he looked at the two former Team 7 males.

"Or what?" the man challenged. Naruto gritted his teeth, clenching the kunai harder. The man just laughed and squatted down next to Sakura again. "What's your name?" he asked, tucking some pink hairs behind the girl's ear.

Sakura didn't answer, she just kept staring at Sasuke, who wouldn't take his eyes off of the brown haired man. She felt her arms quiver, she knew that she couldn't hold up much longer, if they kept this up, she'd fall unconscious soon.

"Just who do you think you are?" Naruto shouted, stepping closer.

The ponytailed man kept his eyes on Sakura. "That doesn't matter. All you need to know is you shouldn't get in the way of the things I want." He leaned his head closer to Sakura's, but she just jerked her head in the other direction, so he ended up kissing her cheek. Sakura shuddered, Naruto's eyes flashed and he was shaking with rage, Sasuke glared, but otherwise remained impassive.

Sakura started scooting away from the man, but he just laughed and glanced over at his men and Goro, nodding his head in Sasuke and Naruto's direction. As Sasuke and Naruto took on a battle stance, Sakura started panicking. This meant that her only rescuers would have to focus on killing those other large men, and she was left to fend for herself from this man, who had a look of lust in his eyes.

Sakura began to crawl away, but tripped on a tree root, causing her to fall and land on her back. The brunette man smirked and slowly made his way over so he was on top of the medic nin, who was now aware of the fact that her red and white tank top (which has the same look as her dress from her genin days- red with white lining and a white circle on the back) was cut down the middle, revealing more of her chest than she would've liked. The man hungrily looked at Sakura, licking his lips and slowly lifting a hand to caress her cheek. He tugged off the forehead protector that served as a headband for Sakura. Thinking quickly, she grabbed the last kunai in her holster, stabbing the man's hand that was on the ground, and pinning him to the ground. Sakura rolled out of his grasp, looking around and seeing that Naruto and Sasuke had disappeared.

Oh no! What now! her mind screamed, as the men closed in on Sakura. Her hand instinctively went to her holster on her thigh, only to remember that she'd used her last on to pin that man to the ground. And said man was now pulling the kunai from his hand and was getting up.

Sakura pinched her eyes shut, but suddenly felt a strong arm around her waist. Sakura's eyes shot open as she felt herself be lifted quickly into the trees. Sakura turned around to find Sasuke holding her and Naruto worriedly smiling at her. Sasuke pulled his hand over Sakura's mouth and nodded at Naruto, who nodded at something behind the ninjas below the trio.

Suddenly, another Naruto appeared from behind a tree, pretending to be surprised that the ninjas had caught him. They all chased the fox boy clone in the opposite direction of Sasuke, Sakura, and Naruto.

When they were gone, Sasuke removed his hand, still holding Sakura up. "S-scrolls…?" Sakura managed to whisper, still wiping blood from her nose and mouth.

Naruto smiled and held up the three scrolls, then putting them back in a pouch on his waist. Sakura smiled and tried to stand on her own, only to nearly fall from the tree they were hiding in. Sasuke grabbed the girl and held her at the waist, when he suddenly felt something on his shoulder. He looked down to see the pink-haired kunoichi unconscious on his shoulder. Sasuke sighed and picked her up bridal style, then nodded to Naruto, meaning they should get going.

Suddenly they heard a noise, discovering the ninjas had realized the clone was a clone, and also a substitution. Clone Naruto burst into a log, and several curses were heard. The ponytailed man ran back into the clearing they'd just been in, searching the trees, but finding no one. He punched a tree, which crashed to the ground.

"Mark my words!" he shouted loudly, knowing the trio was still close enough to hear him, even if it was just the faintest sound. "I will find you! I'll find her! And besides, I have this!" He lifted up Sakura's forehead protector, which had the hidden leaf symbol etched in the metal rectangle.

Sasuke looked down at the unconscious girl in his arms as he and his best friend (which he would never ever admit) jumped from tree to tree, making their way back to the Hidden Leaf Village. He sighed as he saw blood still flowing from Sakura's nose and forearm. If they didn't get home soon, she could be in real trouble.


Naruto pushed past Konoha's large gates as Sasuke followed behind, Sakura still unconscious in his arms. Forgetting about the scrolls, the two nineteen year olds made their way towards the hospital as quickly as possible. Even though neither of them were very experienced in the medical field, they both knew that too much blood loss is deadly. Which is what they were afraid of.

Naruto pushed the hospital doors open, holding one open for Sasuke to slip through. The pair ignored the stares they were getting and walked right up to the receptionist.

"Haruno-san," the quiet woman said, seeing the young girl in Sasuke's arms.

Naruto nodded. "She needs a hospital room. She's been out for several hours. We think she's lost a lot of blood."

The blonde woman nodded and called a team of medic nins. They took Sakura away in a stretcher, saying different words like "intravenous" and "transfusion." They were big words that scared Naruto. He bit his lip and looked to Sasuke for reassurance, who was being uncooperative as always and remained impassive about the whole situation- like it was an every day event that Sakura was sent to the hospital for reasons besides work.

Naruto scowled, then remembered the scrolls. He turned to Sasuke, patted the pouch, and the pair headed for the Hokage tower, but not before insisting that they be informed of Sakura's condition as soon as possible.

"You're late," was the first thing that came from Tsunade's red lips as soon as the two Jounin entered her office.

"What!" Naruto shouted, throwing his arms up, causing Tsunade to smirk and quirk a golden brow. "We were ambushed! I could've died and that's the first thing you say!" Sasuke scowled at the blonde who continued to rant about how his life was endangered and no one cared.

"…and then I got poison oak on my-"

"Do you have the scrolls?" Tsunade interrupted before she could hear the rest of Naruto's all-too graphic story.

"Of course," Naruto said in an 'You-gotta-be-kidding-me' tone. He pulled out the three scrolls and handed them to the Godaime. Tsunade smiled at the boys, ignoring the bored look on a certain raven haired one's face. She glanced from onyx eyes to azure ones to--

"Where's Sakura?" she asked. Her heart sped up as the boys both immediately stiffened and then avoided her gaze. "Don't make me ask you again!" Still no answer.

"Where is Sakura, damnit!" Naruto flinched and took a step back.

"When we were ambushed, there were some… issues…" Naruto whispered, staring at the floor.

"'Issues'?" Tsunade repeated, trying to comprehend.

"Hn."

"What kind of issues?"

"…"

"Uzumaki…"

"There was a man…"

"What!"

"Not like that," Sasuke said monotonously. "She was kicked in the back of the head. She couldn't move."

"And then this Ponytail Guy comes out of no where with his goons and starts hitting on Sakura-chan!"

"WHAT!"

"And then he sent his goons on us, so Sakura-chan had to fend for herself. Sasuke-teme and I got away, but Ponytail was on top of Sakura-chan. Sasuke-teme grabbed her right after she stabbed a kunai on his hand and pinned him to the ground- it was really cool! You should've seen-"

Sasuke cleared his throat.

"Oh, anyway, we sent one of my clones in the other direction and we got away! But Sakura-chan's been unconscious ever since."

Tsunade had her elbows on her desk, her hands clasped in front of her mouth as she listened intently, occasionally nodding. "That's it? So… that wasn't too bad. She'll be in the hospital for a while… but other wise, I'm sure Sakura will be alright-"

"He has her forehead protector. He said he'd find her and nothing gets in the way of what he wants," Sasuke said.

"WHAT!" Tsunade stood up so fast her chair fell over. Naruto hid behind Sasuke, who rolled his eyes. The blonde haired woman began to pace back and forth so fast the boys thought she was going to ware a hole into the floor. "This is bad. He knows what village she's from. And it's not like Sakura is a common person. He'll immediately recognize her. What did you say this man looked like?"

"Um… he looked like… a man?" (a/n: haha for anyone who watches Mad TV, this totally just reminded me of Ms. Swan.)

"Dark brown hair in a ponytail. Brown eyes. Pretty pale and about six feet tall," Sasuke said coolly, leaving the blonde beside him in shock.

"And he's from Sound… he travels with a group-" Tsunade gasped loudly. She grabbed a manila folder and searched through several papers, breathing heavily. She finally found what she was looking for.

"Is this him?" the Hokage asked, holding up a photo of a man walking down a street with several men. He obviously had no idea this picture was being taken.

"Aa."

Tsunade slumped down in her chair, her face in her hands as she shook her head.

"Who is he?" Naruto asked, getting worried about her reaction.

"His name is Ryuu. His specialty is a powerful dragon jutsu that no one has been able to copy- Sharingan or not. He and his group came into power just after Sasuke took care of Orochimaru. The good news- he always travels with a large group, which means he's easy to track. The bad news- he's deadlier than Orochimaru, and all of his men are about as strong as you boys, Nara Shikamaru, and Hyuuga Neji."

"Thank you for the introduction," a voice said in the doorway. Everyone's gaze turned to who the uninvited visitor was and gasped.

"Ponytail Man!" Naruto shouted, pointing an angry finger in his direction.

Ryuu- or Ponytail Man- smiled suavely as he strolled into the Godaime's office.

"What are you doing here?" Naruto snapped. "You're not wanted here!"

Ryuu laughed in a disturbing way as he nodded in Tsunade's direction. "I think she'll want to hear what I have to say," he said, looking the Godaime up and down, smirking.

Tsunade cleared her throat nervously, putting away Ryuu's file and sitting in her chair. "Boys, go check on… go get yourselves looked at. Let me know how everyone's doing." The boys nodded in understanding of Tsunade's code. They pushed past the burly men in the doorway, giving Tsunade one last glance.

They didn't like what they saw. The Godaime looked like she was going to cry.


"G-gomen Uchiha-san," a nurse said as she turned even brighter red. Sakura giggled as she woke up to a shirtless Sasuke looking annoyed as a nurse treated his stomach. Naruto was eating a rice ball on the couch to the left of Sakura's hospital bed, laughing as well.

"Riko," Sakura said laughing as Naruto looked at her, grinning. "I think Sasuke-kun will be fine."

"B-but, Haruno-san, I'm not finished-"

"I'm fine," Sasuke growled, nearly causing the nurse to fall over she was so afraid.

"Good to see you're awake, Sakura-chan!" Naruto said as he finished his rice ball. Sakura smiled at him and then Sasuke.

"I'm gonna go get a cup of water, I'll be right back," Naruto said, hopping off the couch and heading out the door.

Sakura noticed Sasuke wince as he got off the table he was sitting on. "Sasuke-kun," she said. The youngest Uchiha looked over at her. "Come here. You're not completely healed."

"I said I was fine," Sasuke insisted.

"That's just because you wanted that nurse to get away from you," Sakura said, knowing that was Sasuke's true motive. Sasuke sighed and walked over towards Sakura.

"You really shouldn't be doing this-"

"I'm fine. I have enough chakra to finish healing your stomach." Sakura pressed her small hand on Sasuke's toned abs, a green light coming from her hand as she finished Riko's work.

When Sakura was done, she kept her hand on Sasuke's stomach, staring at where her hand was. "Sasuke-kun, arigatou."

"What?"

"You- you saved my life back there. Arigatou." Sasuke sat in the chair next to Sakura's bed, his hand resting on the bed and Sakura's falling on top of his. The two stared at their hands, neither sure of what to say. Sasuke wasn't sure of what he was feeling or what was controlling him to be so… open and comfortable with this girl. She was just another silly fangirl, wasn't she? Sakura knew she still had feelings for Sasuke, but she thought it was just an infatuation she'd get over. But infatuation grew to caring and caring grew to love.

"Sakura," Sasuke whispered.

"Sasuke-kun," Sakura whispered back.

"Doitashimashite." It was this moment that the two realized how close their faces were. Sakura blushed, but found that she couldn't break her eyes away from Sasuke's.

"Hey, did you guys know that they have instant ramen here! Oh… am I interrupting?" Sasuke and Sakura each pulled their hands away as Naruto burst through the door, ruining their… whatever that was.

What the hell just happened there? Sasuke wondered.

Good Kami-sama! Was he just about to kiss us! Inner Sakura shouted, hugging a heart-shaped pillow, pretending it was Sasuke. Sakura was about to laugh, when things got a little… heated with Inner Sakura and the pillow- a.k.a. Sasuke.

H-hey, what are you doing? Sakura asked her inner self, who was busy making out with the pillow. Which instantly disappeared in a poof. No more pillows for you.

"No," Sasuke snapped suddenly.

"What?" Naruto asked.

"No… you weren't interrupting… anything," Sasuke insisted, pulling his shirt on and standing as far away from Sakura as possible.

What just happened to me? he asked his mind.

He never got his answer.

"Tsunade-sama! What are you doing here?" Sakura asked, sitting up slightly as her mentor entered the room.

Tsunade smiled weakly at her apprentice, her heart heavy. "How are you feeling, Sakura?"

Sakura frowned. Tsunade was acting strangely. Something was wrong. "I'm fine, thank you. What's wrong?"

Tsunade looked like she wanted to cry. She looked from Sakura to Naruto to Sasuke. The three former teammates were confused.

"You asked to see me here, Tsunade-sama…"

"Hinata-chan!" Naruto shouted. "What are you doing here?"

"Dobe. She just said. Tsunade-sama wanted to see her."

"HEY! I'M NOT A DOBE- AAAH!" Naruto fell over as his former sensei appeared in the room suddenly with a poof.

"I got your message," Kakashi said. "I came here right away."

"You mean… you weren't late?" Naruto asked in disbelief.

"She said it was urgent." Sakura gulped. Urgent? In her hospital room? And… her closest friends were all here? Sakura gasped loudly, causing everyone in the room to look at her.

"Am I dying?" Sakura shouted as tears began to flow quickly.

"WHAT? SAKURA-CHAN'S DYING!" Naruto shouted, causing Sakura to sob even heavier.

"No, it's nothing like that!" Tsunade snapped, rubbing her temples and sitting on the couch.

Sakura stopped crying and sniffled. "I-It's not?"

Tsunade sighed, closing her eyes. "No."

"Oh, what a relief! I'm so happy!"

"You won't be." All eyes turned to Tsunade.

"Tsunade-sama…?" Hinata asked quietly.

"Sakura… I'm so sorry." Said girl's green eyes widened.

"W-Why?"

Tsunade opened her eyes and looked up at everyone. "As most of you know, Ryuu of Sound is now one of the most powerful ninjas out there. He had an encounter with you three today. And now he came to meet me."

"Tsunade-sama… what's going on?" Sakura asked, her voice tiny with fear.

Tsunade's eyes began to tear up. "He says that he has some very powerful allies, and has been making clones of his bodyguards- you met them before." Naruto muttered incoherent things about said 'bodyguards'. "He says that if he doesn't get what he wants, he's going to start a war. Which is something we really don't want right now. Many ninja and ANBU are out on missions in other villages and countries. Konoha is very vulnerable right now. And… I have no choice. I have to give him what he wants."

"Tsunade-sama," Naruto asked carefully. "What does Ryuu want?"

Tsunade looked over at her apprentice. "He wants you, Sakura."


A/N: And so it begins! I have to say, I'm rather excited about this fic. I hope it's popular. Please let me know if anyone is OOC or anything.

PLEASE REVIEW! My last fic got a whopping 160 reviews! Let's try to beat my record!

Doitashimashite- You're welcome.