This would be the result of being bored in school with nothing to do in school. The original title was simply "Hope," but that sucked, so I went with this one. Another Sakucentric story--God, I think she's my all-time favorite in Team 7 now--and NaruSaku, SasuSaku. Especially post timeskip.

Nyah, I feel as though I'm experimenting with more stuff for Naruto X. Character deaths, Orochimaru dies, Sasuke returns, Naruto and Kakashi have died--only difference is that I've finally remembered about Akatsuki and Sai and Yamatao now... I'm not a bad person--it's just that after reading that part in the Naruto manga where SPOILERSAsuma diesSPOILER, I remembered that the whole ninja thing is dangerous. No one can escape death--not even the main characters!! Thus, I'm just killing off random people because...I feel like. Not a good reason, but, don't yell at me for killing of your favorite character!!

Er, anyway, enjoy the fic.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto in anyway. I'm just writing this story to stretch my imagination a bit.

WARNING: CHARACTER DEATHS AND CURSING ARE IN THIS FIC!! DARE TO READ!!! (...Actually, go on ahead!)

X-X-X

Stupid Akatsuki... Stupid Orochimaru snake-freak... Stupid stubborn-assed Sasuke. Idiot Naruto...! It was all their goddamn fault!! If Sasuke was conscious, she'd hurt him so badly that Itachi would seem like a harmless kitten compared the raging pink-haired kunoichi! She'd take her aggression out on Sai as well, as soon as he got better. He had frightened her back there, getting such a critical wound, but he would live--and he'd pay. And Naruto...oh, she couldn't forget Naruto. If not for the fact that he was lying on the ground, on the edge of life or death, she'd have already beaten him into a bloody pulp begging for his Sakura-chan's mercy! Yes, she would pound on all three of those morons to within an inch of their lives, heal them, then pound on them, and repeat the process over and over until the backup group had come or her anger was gone.

But beating the tar out of Naruto was out of the question. The blonde wasn't moving anymore. His chest wasn't going up and down, signaling his breathing. Her hands felt cold from touching his chest. Naruto was... He was...

"No..." Sakura held back a sob, fought back the tears that began to well up in her eyes. "You can't, Naruto. You just... You promised...we'd all go back together...!" Sakura's callused hands touched his cheek. She had been praying that he would live. She worked on him until her fingers bled, until she wasted almost all of her remaining chakra to heal his wounds. After a while, she began to curse the bastards of Akatsuki, the fucking Snake Sannin, that damn jackass of an Uchiha that she once claimed he loved, and even the demonic Kyuubi that was partly, if not fully, the reason for Naruto's death.

The pink-haired kunoichi couldn't hear the approaching backup team from Konoha. She couldn't hear Yamato asking her what had happened, or the female ANBU who was trying to calm her down while the Medic-nins began to work on Sai. One proclaimed that Sasuke was still breathing and Yamato left her side, but Sakura could care less. All she saw was her dead teammate's body as hot tears streamed down her cheeks and fell onto his face.

X-X-X

Naruto was gone. The blonde had no specific things to say about his funeral--such as where he should be buried or on what sort of day because he never expected to die so young. No one had. Tsunade wanted to hold an honorable funeral, one fit for a hero. Naruto was like a second little brother to her, and after what he had done for her it was the least she could do. While few people came except maybe the old Rookie Nine, Team Gai, Iruka, Jiraiya, and even Gaara, Temari and Kankuro, word soon spread about what he'd done. Sacrificing his life to save the village... Some said good riddance, while others had a change of heart and thought the demon fox boy was not so much a demon after all.

Sai couldn't attend the service, sadly. He was in intensive care and couldn't come out for months. However, he passed the time by drawing and reading. He even told Sakura that he managed to make conversation with one of the nurses--though it was a short one. Maybe there was hope for Sai yet

Sasuke...had 7 years in prison, 2 years of parole and a year of community service. His ninja license had been revoked, and he wouldn't get it back until Tsunade had felt he'd regained the trust of Konohagakure. Originally, he was either going to have 10 years in prison, 5 on parole and 3 on community service and a permanently revoked ninja license or execution. Sasuke chose execution. When Itachi had died, his purpose in life had died as well, and the Uchiha thought he had no reason to live anymore. Sakura, however, somehow managed to convince the Godaime Hokage to reconsider and let Sasuke live.

"Something such as the Sharingan shouldn't be wiped out completely. It would be useful to Konoha."

"Sakura..." Tsunade rubbed her temples before setting her honey-colored eyes on her second apprentice. "I can't just let Sasuke off scot-free. He betrayed this village and sided with one of our greatest enemies. He killed his own friend out of anger--you were there, you saw it! He has to pay for his crimes, one way or another!"

"Th-then... Then let living be his punishment! Let him live with his wrongs. Lock him for a while, revoke his ninja license or make him do community service for years!! But please...don't take him away!! He's all I have left, now!" Sakura shouted.

"It's not that easy, Saku--"

"It's what Naruto would've wanted..."

The Godaime's honey-brown eyes widened for a second, but soon her serious face came on again. Sakura bit her bottom lip as Tsunade said, "I'll see what I can do..."

Her pink-haired apprentice smiled, and then bowed. "Thank you...Tsunade-sensei..."

X-X-X

Sakura hadn't seen Sasuke for 10 years, 4 months and an odd number of days. ...Not that, you know, she was keeping count or anything. But she was very sure that she saw him months ago, delivering newspapers to several homes as part of his community service. Her apartment never got a newspaper until some time in the afternoon, after she had left. Was Sasuke...avoiding her? She saved him from execution and wanted him to remove the stains both he and his brother put on their clan name...and he has the audacity to not even come up to her and say a simple "Thank you"?! Just because Tsunade had added a couple of months to his community service, that didn't mean he should take it out on her, too! Unless...

'Maybe he really does want to die...and he's upset at me because I prevented that.'

"That bastard!!! He's whining because Naruto accidentally killed Itachi when he was transformed?!! He needs to grow up be glad he's alive!" Inner Sakura shouted, causing her outer half to stop walking and blink. It had been a long time since that part of her had spoken. Ever since she began training with Tsunade, bits and pieces of her inner self became part of her normal personality until she found herself acting like Inner Sakura at times. Hearing her again was a big surprise.

'It was an accident. If Orochimaru told him that Naruto gets out of control when he goes over his three-tailed form...'

"I say if he wants to die so badly, we should kill 'em ourselves. It's not like he's got a reason to live anymore."

As much as she hated to admit this, Inner Sakura was right. When they were genins, Sasuke stated he had two goals alone in life: kill Itachi and revive the Uchiha clan. The latter goal was forgotten when he went to Orochimaru. He'd have given up his body just to kill his bastard brother--it was like he didn't care if he simply desecrating the once honorable Uchiha name and putting his deceased family to shame. But Itachi was dead, now, and Sasuke was still alive and in control of his own body. The problem was that he didn't know what direction to go in next.

'But Sasuke's hard to turn. It might be hard to convince him to do something if he doesn't want to do it...' "Hm?" Sakura blinked. Somehow, she had wound up in front of Sasuke's house in the Uchiha section. Her feet must've carried her here subconsciously. Or maybe it was some sort of higher power. The Uchiha probably wasn't in his house anyway--

"What are you doing here?" A deep voice asked her. The pink-haired kunoichi spun around and came face-to-face with an ANBU wearing a bird mask.

"Um... Nothing." Sakura leaned forward and narrowed her eyes. "...Neji? What are you doing here?"

"I asked you first."

"Well, I just...found myself walking here and I wound up in front of here."

"...Right..." Even if he was wearing a mask, the pink-haired kunoichi swore the Hyuga prodigy was arching an eyebrow. He turned around as if to leave.

"But-- Wait! You haven't told me why you're here!"

Neji turned his head to look at Sakura. "I'm looking after Uchiha to make sure he won't try anything--Hokage-sama's orders." He spoke stiffly. He was annoyed because it was simply repetition with the traitor. If he wasn't doing community service, he simply locked himself up inside that house or trained (thought he couldn't see the point of that since he wasn't a ninja for the time being).

"Ah..." The medic-nin rubbed her chin in an intellectual manner. "From the tone in your voice, I take it it's just you alone?" She giggled after Neji gave a grunt, which probably meant, "Yes."

"...You want to see him, don't you?"

"Huh?" Sakura blinked.

If his mask wasn't on, one would see the brunette Hyuga smirk. "Don't lie to me. The tone in your voice says it all."

"DAMN YOU, Hyuga, you smug bastard!!!" Inner Sakura shouted as she punched the air several times. "Damn you to hell!!!"

X-X-X

The moment that Sakura saw Sasuke, Inner Sakura was saying things so perverted that would make the deceased Kakashi blush. His looks had not changed much, except for the fact that she now had to look up at him. Years ago, she was only a couple of inches shorter than him. Now she only measured up to his chest. But he still looked at her with that blank stare, so she couldn't tell what he was thinking about seeing her again. His eyes held no hostility or anger or sadness. His eyes, his face were all blank.

Sakura would've sworn he'd at least notice that she had a bigger...er...rack than before. Hey, she didn't have a few male admirers for her smarts and strength alone.

"So, Sasuke-kun...how have you been?"

"Fine."

"That's...good."

"Why didn't he learn how to speak more in prison?!" Inner Sakura shouted. "I hope nothing happened to him in there, like some man trying to--"

'I'M NOT LISTENING!!!' Sakura shouted, drowning out the rest of her demented inner self's answer. She took a few steps closer to the Uchiha and sat down next to him on his bed. "How come you haven't come to see me? I was...wondering if you knew I was still alive."

"...I knew." He muttered as he rubbed the spot where that accursed mark of Orochimaru's once was.

"I was also wondering... What are you going to do when you get your ninja license back, Sasuke-kun?" Would he suddenly remember about his second dream and set off to impregnate any girl he deemed worthy? ...Maybe. 'And the poor girl he's chosen will have a loveless marriage while churning out little Uchiha bastards into the world.' The pink-haired woman stifled a giggle, which caused Sasuke to arch an eyebrow. "Um, sorry. I'm just...thinking of something."

"Smooth one."

'Quiet, you...!' "So, what are you going to do?" She repeated.

"I..." Sasuke paused and looked at the ground, as if he didn't know the answer. "...I honestly don't know."

X-X-X

For the next few days, Sakura would think about Sasuke for a few split seconds. Without his reason to live, what would he do with his life? Simply becoming a killing machine? A tool for Konoha? That didn't seem right. He deserved to feel emotion outside of missions--to feel like a normal human again. Tsunade had informed her that she was planning to give him the opportunity to move up to Chunin when she gave him back his ninja license--which would be a few days from now, but that couldn't be enough.

As the pink-haired kunoichi was leaving the hospital, a few minutes after her shift had ended, she noticed someone was leaning against the wall near the gate. Her eyes widened as she came close enough to see who it was. "Sasuke?" She didn't even notice she dropped the 'kun'. "What are you doing here?" The sun was beginning to set and soon night would fall on Konoha.

The raven-haired man pushed himself off the wall with his arms still folded across his chest and eyes closed. "I've decided."

"Huh?" Sakura blinked. "Decided what?"

"What my next goal is going to be."

After a few seconds, she began to smile. "Ah, that's wonderful, Sasuke-kun! What are you going to do?" She couldn't help but give a bigger smile. Sasuke had decided to try living for once since his clan had been killed.

"After I get back my ninja license, I'm going to revive the Uchiha clan."

'I knew it!' Sakura cheered inwardly.

"And you're going to help me."

The cherry blossom-haired woman blinked in confusion as she stared at her ex-teammate. "H-huh?"

"Marry me, Sakura." He wasn't even asking. It sounded more like an order.

Those next couple of seconds, her brain registered those last three sentences. Marriage... Marriage? ...MARRIAGE?! Before Sakura had known it, her fist found its place in Sasuke's face. The force of the blow sent him flying back into the stone wall. She wasn't Tsunade's student for nothing!

"SHANNARO!!! Who the hell do you think you're talking to, Uchiha?! Did all that time in prison rot your brain?!" Her fist fell back to her side, thought she was clenching it and unclenching it. "In case you haven't noticed, I am a woman now--not some fan girl who thinks she's head over heels in love with you! I don't care for you like that anymore."

"You lie." Sasuke, who was standing behind her, unscathed, wrapped his arms around her waist, preventing her from moving. "If you didn't care for me like that anymore, you'd have punched my clone harder." As if right on cue, the Sasuke that was lying on the ground disappeared in a puff of smoke. "I'm just thinking of the future, Sakura. I know the only reasons I'm being kept alive is because of the Sharingan...and you."

Her eyes had widened. How did he find out? ". . ."

"I'll give you a choice." He whispered into her ear. "Yes? No?"

"I..." An image of Naruto flashed through her mind. "I need time, Sasuke." Sakura didn't need to look to know that Sasuke's eyes looked upset. His face, however, was blank. "I need to think it over for a while."

The Uchiha's arms removed themselves from her waist and fell back to her side. "...Fine. I could wait a day or two for an answer."

'A day or two?!' Sakura screamed mentally. 'That's not enough time for something like this!!' "Sasuke!" She spun around to look at him, but found he had already gone. "Sasuke-kun..." What was she going to do?! She couldn't reject Sasuke--he might try to harm her! Well, that wouldn't be such a problem considering she could make demons like the Bijuu of yore and nukenin like the former Akatsuki seem like nothing if she got upset. Plus, they were in Konoha. Any wrong he'd try would probably get him another 10 years of prison or more.

But...if she rejected him, would he just find another woman? Most of his former female fans had given up on him when they heard he ran away from Konoha. And when he came back, they all avoided him like the plague. In fact...Sakura was probably the only single female Sasuke talked to since he came back to Konoha. The pink-haired kunoichi groaned as her shoulders slumped.

"I hear wedding bells!!" Inner Sakura grinned like a madman in her mind.

X-X-X

That night, when Sakura came home to her apartment, she simply flopped down on the bed, still in her work attire. She had been walking around Konoha, trying to figure what to do about Sasuke for a good couple of hours. It was already past 10 o' clock, but she had a free day off tomorrow, so no problem. As her eyelids began to get droopy, she began to wonder about what she should do about Sasuke's proposal. When she closed her eyes, she expected that some sleep would rid her of the feeling she was getting.

"Pssst! Sakura-chan! Wake up!"

Boy, was she wrong... Sakura's eyes fluttered open and she found herself looking up at a blue-eyed blonde wearing an orange and black jumpsuit. She blinked as her vision became clearer, and gasped at who the blonde was. "Na... Naruto...?" 'Am I dreaming? I have to be dreaming!'

"Good to see you, too, Sakura-chan!" Naruto said as he stepped back.

They were in the middle of a field, where the sun was shining brightly and the sky was clear with puffy white clouds. Except for Naruto and Sakura, it was completely devoid of life. As Sakura stood up, she noticed she was 15 years old again. 'Now I know this is a dream.'

"So, how have ya been? I wanna know what happened after...you know..." The blonde scratched the back of his head.

"Naruto... Are you really here?" The pink-haired kunoichi arched an eyebrow.

"Hmmm... Well, yes and no." He began to stroke his chin in an intellectual manner. "It's kinda hard to explain." He stopped stroking his chin and held up one finger. "Well, I'm here in your dream, but in reality, I'm not physical. I think they said I'm just a spirit until they figure out what to do with me." Naruto folded his arms across his chest and squinted his eyes in a fox-like fashion. "I've been waiting for more than 10 years, already! I wish they'd just hurry up--I'm getting anxious. Oh!" He looked at Sakura again and grinned. "I saw Kakashi-sensei, you know! I'm surprised he's allowed to read his porno up here since it's supposed to be all pure and stuff..."

"That's...great, but didn't you say you wanted to know what's happened in Konoha?" Sakura asked as she placed her hands on her hips. For the moment, she'd play around in this dream world.

The blonde nodded frantically. "Yeah, yeah! I wanna know, I wanna know!!"

"Hmmm... Well, what is there to say?" The medic-nin began to count on her fingers. "Hinata-chan's dating someone, y'know. I met him once--he reminds me of you."

"R-really..." Naruto got a sad look on his face. He had rescued Hinata when she got an almost fatal injury and the Hyuga Heiress had spilled the beans about her admiration actually being a crush. He never got to tell her how he felt about her, though. "That's good."

"Ino and Shikamaru actually got together and even got engaged a year ago, but..." Sakura's eyes got a sad look. "...He went MIA on a mission to Water Country. Ino's gotten over it, but she's not sure if she'll be dating for a while... Neji is in ANBU, now. Lee's got his own genin team--I feel sorry for those poor kids, because he's as bad as Guy was now. Oh, and Sai has a girlfriend."

"WHAT?! Sai?!!" The blonde exclaimed. "Since when could Sai get a girl? I thought he was gay with how much he kept talking about my penis..."

"Yeah...it confuses me, too. But he told me that he simply did what the book told him to. Made a little small talk with a random girl at a restaurant who kept glancing at him, gave her a cute nickname and before I knew it, he said he had a date!" Sakura's lips quirked up into a smile. "Sai's changed--he can express himself much better, but he still has on that same smile and keeps calling me a hag!" A vein throbbed on her forehead as she said the last six words.

Naruto shielded his head with his hands--a force of habit that went on automatically every time he was alone with Sakura and the medic-nin got upset. "N-now, Sakura-chan! Easy, now! I may not be alive, but I still get afraid of seeing you get mad. ...Anyway, I think it's time we get serious." He pointed a finger at Sakura. "I'm here to talk to you about your little Sasuke problem."

"Y-you know?!"

"Of course! That's the entire reason of why I'm here!" Naruto nodded. "I'm here to give you a suggestion. You don't have to follow it, but I'd appreciate if you did."

Sakura gave him a nod. "Go on."

"Well... This is gonna kill me to say this, but...marry him."

"...Wait a minute, what?!" The kunoichi exclaimed. "What do you mean, 'marry him'?! I thought..."

"Hey, it's not like I like the idea of you...and that bastard Sasuke...making out in a bed...! But, let's face it. Me, you, Kakashi-sensei...we're the closest thing Sasuke's had to family since Itachi murdered the clan. And you're the only one who still has a pulse, so it's up to you to make Sasuke happy." The orange-clad blonde folded his arms across his chest. "Besides, we don't want him being all angsty and cold and isolated till he's an old man, now, do we?"

"But marry him?! I don't know..."

"I know, I know. A jerk like him doesn't deserve someone like you..." He looked down at the floor and closed his eyes. "But...you're the only one left to make him happy. I mean...maybe you could give him a reason to live."

Sakura's emerald green eyes widened.

"My time's almost up, so let me say something to you. Um...I l-love you." He began to blush as he grinned. "I didn't get to say that to you before I died, so...I just wanted to let you know before you become Uchiha Sakura."

"A-are you...serious?" At the moment, she forgot that it was probably all a dream. The tone in Naruto's voice sounded too sad to not be real. "I-I... I never got to tell you this either...but when you died. I felt something...break. There was a...a hole in my heart--not like when Kakashi-sensei died. This was like...when Sasuke left Konoha...13 years ago on that night." Naruto's eyes widened, but Sakura continued, "That's when it hit me. I think...I loved you...and I still do." Warm tears began to stream down the kunoichi's cheeks. She looked down at the ground and began to sob. "I couldn't save you...! It's all my fault...!"

Sakura suddenly felt arms wrap around her body and a voice whisper, "It's not your fault," into her ears. Her deceased teammate's eyes were dull as he looked down at the ground. "It's not your fault... Maybe...it was just my time to go. ...Sakura-chan, I'm sorry for making you cry again..." The only tears the blonde had wanted to see streaming down her cheeks were tears of happiness. "But promise me you'll think about what I said. Please?"

"Y-yeah..." Sakura whispered as she nodded her head. She felt his lips touch his lips. The touch...his scent...it had to be real...! It just had to. "Naruto..." She heard him chuckle and felt a cold sensation overtake her body. He broke away from her and she saw that he seemed more transparent now than before.

He was fading away.

The blonde shinobi flashed her his characteristic grin "Maybe we'll see each again, someday. Not too soon, I hope." Before either knew what was going on--before Naruto and Sakura knew what the hell she was doing, the pink-haired girl tackled him to the ground and kissed his lips passionately.

Too bad she felt nothing--no heat or cold. But she should've known better--he was nothing more than a spirit, now.

"Naruto..." She pronounced, slowly, wanting to savor the moment she had left. Most of the dreams she had with Naruto in them were either replays of the times when they were genin and Team 7 was whole, or simply fantasies of things she wished had happened back then. "Don't go... Don't leave again..." As her eyes fluttered open, Sakura saw the ceiling of her room. She was awake.

"It...was just a dream." The pink-haired woman stated as she sat up. Tears were still streaming down her face, but she wiped them on the sleeve of her shirt. The kiss was not real, but there was something that confused Sakura very much for the next hour:

Naruto's scent was still on her.

X-X-X

Later that day, Sakura found herself walking to the abandoned Uchiha section, towards the house where Sasuke lived. She pretended that she didn't notice or sense Neji and simply marched right in. The Godaime's apprentice soon found herself standing in front of Sasuke's room. She was about to open the door, but it opened from the inside.

It turned to be Sasuke, of course. "Sakura...what are you--"

"Yes." His ex-teammate interrupted, which made him arch an eyebrow.

"What?"

"Yes... I'll marry you." Sakura swore he was smirking--not physically, because his face was blank, but mentally. Or maybe her inner self's mad rants about being crazy for following advice from a dead boy--who was probably just a dream--were starting to get to her.

Sasuke leaned against the doorframe. "...All right. Meet me outside here at noon today."

"Huh?" The kunoichi blinked. "What for?" Was he going to give her some fancy ring to complement what Sakura hoped wasn't always going to be a loveless marriage? 'Would he even care to do something like that? I mean...this is Sasuke.'

"We're going to get married."

"WHAT?! But...but...but...there are preparations to make! Invitations to send! I have to have a wedding dress!!!" 'Or did he already get all of that...? That's a creepy thought!'

"We won't need any of that. It's a small wedding."

'I knew it.' "Wait a minute," Sakura arched an eyebrow and placed a hand on her hip. "How small is it?"

"Just I, you and Tsunade will know of this. Hyuga, too, if he's still keeping an eye on me."

"You noticed him, huh?" She shouted and cursed mentally at the raven-haired bastard. Such a small wedding?! And so soon! He'd probably tell her she couldn't tell anyone else of the event.

The Uchiha arched an eyebrow. "It's hard not to."

"...Okay. I'll be back at noon. But, Sasuke...why did you choose me?" Her emerald green eyes stared into his onyx ones. "You could've chosen any other woman, but why me?"

Sasuke stared at her for a long time before he said, "Because you're the only woman I know I can trust."

Sakura's eyes widened a bit. He trusted her? "Ah..." She just there with her mouth gaping open. The raven-haired Uchiha simply stared at her until she blinked and learned how to breathe again. "I'll...be going now." She spun around and walked away, saying, "Later, Sasuke-kun!" She heard his door shut quietly and her steps increased in speed.

"Man, this sucks..." Naruto muttered as he watched Sakura exit the Uchiha home. "I know I told her to go ahead and marry Sasuke...but now that I know...the thought of Sakura-chan and that bastard making out is killing me!!!" He held his head and began to shake it furiously. He had been trying to haunt Sasuke's dreams, but the Uchiha shook it off like he did the nightmares of his parent's deaths. It didn't help that the "Guys Upstairs" told him that the Sharingan could see spiritual chakra and he couldn't spend much time around him--because he really wanted to scare the crap out of that Uchiha bastard as revenge for killing him!

"I swear, Sasuke! If you do anything to harm Sakura-chan, physically or emotionally, I'm gonna haunt you till the day that you die!!!!" The blonde shouted as he shook a transparent fist at the Uchiha Mansion. Since Sasuke couldn't hear him, he could just spout off curses all day. He was stuck in Konoha until the Guys Upstairs figured out what to do with him. And that sucked even more than Sasuke and Sakura's...marriage at noon today. "And that's only a couple of hours away... Damn bastard probably wants to get it over with so he can make little bastards..." For some reason, Naruto began to imagine pink-haired, Sharingan-eyed babies and began laughing. "AAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I hope I'm around long enough to see Sasuke's expression to something like that! Heh-heh-heh..."

What sort of changes shall come in the future? Only time could tell, right?

X-X-X

Blu: So, how was that? I'm planning on making this a two-shot for anyone who's interested in the idea. I have to admit, I like this story more than 1000 Paper Birds (just a little, though). I hope I get some good reviews for this. Well, stay tuned for the second and final part to "A Reason to Live". If it ever comes out... Ja ne!