A Kunoichi:

Truths About Sakura

A Woman

1. Sakura used to be envious of Ino because of her shuriken skills and confidence. Now, she is envious of Ino because of her resignation and insecure motherhood.

2. When Sakura was small, she had met Itachi only once. The teenager had walked her home from the Cherry Blossom Festival and had given her a friendly peck on the cheek as she went inside her home.

3. Years later, when she fought Itachi, her cheek burned, and she felt her first ever urge to kill.

4. Sakura secretly wishes she was thinner, taller, and not so pale.

(She hits her head on the counter whenever she wishes this.)

5. On her first information-gathering mission, she lost her virginity to an enemy shinobi.

(She was fourteen.)

6. There was once a law that said that a kunoichi's virginity couldn't be taken by a fellow shinobi. Tsunade abolished it when Sakura was seventeen, and Sakura saw Ino hug Chouji hard at the public announcement, and felt the one of the worst feelings of loss she'd ever felt.

7. A couple weeks later, Ino had come to her at the office and asked for a pregnancy test. She tested positive, and the blue-eyed girl had cheered racously, throwing a party the next day. The feeling of loss increased.

8. During the pregnancy, Ino told Sakura that she didn't want to die.

(Sakura slapped her, and the feeling of loss deepened so much that she wanted to cry with her friend.)

9. Even though it is short, Sakura still loves her hair. She is somewhat proud of the remark Kin made, that it was glossier than hers, and she likes the way Kakashi-sensei and Naruto and even Sai remark that when it's newly cut after it grows a couple inches, she looks very pretty with it curling under her chin.

10. Sakura became a woman when she was eleven, but didn't feel adult or mature enough to call herself one until she was sixteen.

A Friend

1. Among the small number of Konoha (and even Suna) kunoichi, Sakura is their stability. Every kunoichi in the group, from Anko to Hinata, has cried on her shoulder or spilled out her secrets.

2. Sakura hates knowing these secrets, and she hates being the shoulder to cry on. They weigh her down like boulders on her back. Why, she thinks sometimes, do they tell me this? Don't they think I have problems, too?

(She remembers that it's because they trust her as the strongest emotionally, and as their friend and teammate, and forgets her anger because she also remembers when nobody thought she was any kind of strong or any kind of friend or teammate.)

3. Sakura spent a week without sleeping after Naruto gave Hinata a promise ring.

(She still doesn't know really why, but she suspects with some guilt that it was because Hinata found love before she did. Hinata was eighteen when Naruto gave her the ring. The next week she spent the whole time treating Naruto to ramen and Hinata to coffee whenever she liked.)

4. When Sakura was little, she had seen TenTen alone, practicing throwing kunai during recess at the Academy. Even though the brown-haired girl was a bit older than her, Sakura had approached her and told her gently to grip it the other way.

(The next shot TenTen threw was a bull's-eye; she had hugged Sakura hard and said they would be good friends.)

5. Sakura still has the ribbon Ino gave her. She started using it as her hitai-ate when she was fifteen. It was shredded to tiny strips during a mission, and she had cried.

(It is now the thread that is sewn into her gloves, into her palms, so it feels like she's holding their friendship in her hand.)

6. During Hinata and Naruto's wedding, Sakura had cried and had nearly broken Hinata's ribs with a hug.

7. On her first mission to Suna to educate their medic-nins, Sakura had stayed with the Kazekage, Gaara, and his family. After a day of poking fun at Kankurou's hat and face paint and stealing Gaara's cookies, Temari and Sakura had become best friends.

8. Sakura feels horrible about the way she treated Naruto when they were in their Genin days. This is why she buys him ramen whenever he asks and also hits him whenever he's about to get in trouble.

(It's her own way of loving him.)

9. By the time she was sixteen, Sakura knew every shinobi in Konoha, including the jounin, and said hello to them whenever they passed her on the street. She had already treated most of them for injuries; but now she was the first one on the guest list of parties and the kunoichi informally voted "friendliest" of Konoha.

10. Sakura's real best friend is her Inner self, and everybody else is amazed that she can be so comfortable and accepting of herself.

(Sakura has no best friends because she never likes singling anyone out, even Ino. She loves them all equally.)

A Lover

1. Sakura has always wished for true love.

2. Now, she realizes she never loved Sasuke.

3. When she saw Sasuke for the first time in two years, she had been in a state of shock. After that mission, she had dragged Sai behind a tree and punched him through it in absolute rage for Sasuke making her believe that he was her true love.

4. She healed him right after that.

5. When Sakura lost her virginity, she had waited until the man had his back turned before taking her kunai with shaking fingers and stabbing him viciously, cutting his throat and watching him die with absolutely no regrets.

(She had stopped believing in true love.)

6. After she had killed the man, and sat sobbing uncontrollably with her clothes ripped and bloodied, Neji had approached her, picked her up, covered her, and stabbed the dead man in the face with his katana.

(She hadn't given it any thoughts of romance, but from then on his name was 'Neji-san' instead of 'Hyuuga-san'.)

7. When Sakura joined ANBU, she joined the team under Hyuuga Neji. He had regarded her coolly before saying that she was too weak to be under his team.

(She had punched him into a building.

She hadn't healed him, but she had smiled a smile that made him actually blush.)

8. Later, when they were nineteen and twenty and happily among the sweaty sheets and she was lying on his bare chest after a particularly hard mission, he had admitted grudgingly that she was, actually, strong enough. He had apologized with a breathy whisper to her ear, and she had kissed him hard.

9. Sakura had been afraid of spiders once.

(Now she had to protect Neji from them.

...but oh, it was incredibly hard not to fall over laughing when he gave that very un-masculine shriek when one crawled through the kitchen window.)

10. When Sakura and Neji had their first child, she named her Michiko and had laughed when Neji cried.

A Kunoichi

1. When Sakura was little, she wanted more than anything to be a kunoichi, and her parents were against it. So while other girls protested that they didn't want to go to the Academy, she protested that she had to.

2. Since her parents hadn't enrolled her, she enrolled herself, even forging her mother's signature on the papers. She had been grounded for a year, but there had been no going back, and she was happy.

(She found out later that the last ninja in her family had been her famous great-aunt, and that her parents were deathly afraid of the new shinobi in the family.)

3. When Sakura was twelve, she cut her hair. Contrary to popular belief, she hadn't done it for Sasuke.

(She'd done it for herself.)

4. During the two years Naruto had been gone, Sakura's hair had grown back. She asked Shizune to hold it for her so she could cut it. When Shizune asked why, she turned around and told her to shut the fuck up it wasn't her business.

(But Shizune had smiled at her anyway.)

5. Sakura is now one of the second-generation Sannin, and she prides herself on being able to flaunt this in Neji-who-only-has-a-bloodline-ability's face.

6. Sakura has passed Tsunade.

(Many thought she would be the next Hokage. But Tsunade had given Naruto the honor, and Sakura had been the first (with Hinata) to hug him at the festival.

7. Sakura's favorite jutsu is not, contrary to popular belief, the Sōzō Saisei, or Creation Rebirth, that Tsunade taught her. It is the Dokunuki no Jutsu, or Poison Extraction Techinque, that she favors.

(She loves it because she made it herself. Few people she knows have made their own jutsu.)

8. Even though it has taken Sakura sixteen years to call herself a woman, it has taken nineteen to be able to call herself a true ninja.

9. Sakura is, she always states adamantly, not a shinobi. She is a kunoichi, which she says is a huge difference to a confused Neji as they debate over it. It means she's stronger.

(He always sighs and smiles that secret smile when she says this.)

10. Sakura is, was, and always will be a kunoichi.

(No one will stop her from saving the people she loves.)