Title: Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond
Word count: 946
Summary: Naruto had been bragging all day that his new jutsu was his best yet. Sakura and her new situation beg to differ. Post time-skip. DeiSaku.
A/N: In all honesty, this should never have been started and will probably never see an ending. You can blame this one on hot wine and 3am. The title is from a poem by E.E. Cummings. (That sounds so delightfully pretentious.)
Being a fairly cheerful and optimistic young woman, Sakura had decided early on that one of the most interesting things in life was the way that you never knew quite what would happen before the day was out.
"So I just finished training to make this totally sweet new jutsu. You guys'll be blown away by it! Blown away! Ahaha! Oh that's a good one… Just wait'll you see it!"
Tuning out Naruto's incessant bragging, Sakura was about to discover that her philosophy was, for better or worse, absolutely right.
Team 7 was currently camped out along the northern border, checking into recent reports of disturbances in the area. With the constant threat of Akatsuki and Orochimaru, Tsunade had decided on the tried and true method of 'better safe than sorry' and sent out an extremely competent team.
That was how Sakura, Sai, and Kakashi wound up re-rolling their sleeping bags and erasing the traces of their campsite one fine spring morning as Naruto chattered away, half to himself, half to them.
They'd been hearing about his newly developed technique for the past three days, but Naruto wouldn't let them in on exactly what it was.
"Just wait," he assured them as he fastened the final latches on his backpack, "it's my coolest one yet!"
And that's when a little clay sparrow dropped from the canopy of trees into the centre of their half packed-up camp.
Any lesser team would have been injured or dead, but Team 7 was, as always, a special case.
While a good deal of their gear was burnt to a crisp, they leapt away to the safety of the surrounding trees, alert and ready in their stances. As the smoke cleared, two figures walked directly into the charred remains of the campsite.
Confident bastards, Sakura thought as she cracked the knuckles in her right hand in anticipation.
The familiar red and black cloaks became clear as the last of the smoke vanished.
Keeping down a wave of fear, Sakura started in on her left knuckles.
"Well what do we have here, yeah? Some Konoha shinobi snooping around? Can't have that, yeah! Plus, I owe you all for the last time. Let's go, Tobi!" The blond Akatsuki smirked and two clay birds appeared in his hands.
The atmosphere around the soon-to-be battle site tensed.
"But Deidara-senpai, they've got a girl on their team."
If the situation had been different, Sakura would have burst out laughing at the look of absolute exasperation on Deidara's face. What had he done to deserve this fate?
"Just. Fight." He managed to grind out between his clenched teeth.
"I'm sorry Miss, I really don't want to fight you."
They'd been at this cat-and-mouse game for the past half-hour. The Akatsuki known as Tobi just refused to fight her, instead preferring to weave between the trees as she smashed them up with the ground futilely. He was quicker than he looked.
"Don't underestimate me!" To prove her point, she smashed the ground open beneath him with her fists. He dodged, pleading with her that it wasn't right to hit girls and he didn't want to hurt her so could she please sit this fight out?
Although Sakura secretly found Tobi's old-fashioned code of conduct kind of sweet, she had her duty to do. Just because he wasn't going to fight her, didn't mean that she was going to refrain from fighting him.
Unfortunately, her chakra was depleting fast. The fight might not have been intense, but it was long and Sakura had neither the stamina nor the chakra reserves to keep going much more.
Throwing on another burst of speed, Sakura finally caught up to Tobi, catching one of his arms in her hands and preparing to swing him into the nearest tree.
Nearby, Naruto, Sai, and Kakashi had their hands full with the blond Akatsuki member, although his chakra was severely depleted and he was nearing defeat.
Sakura channeled the last of her chakra to her arms, increasing her strength. Realizing that he was finally caught and that what she was about to do would likely hurt quite a bit, Tobi whispered an apology off to his conscience and drew back his leg.
Naruto saw that they needed just one final, finishing touch to take down their opponent.
Tobi kicked Sakura square in the stomach, sending her flying and winded.
Naruto formed the handseals for his new jutsu.
Sakura's form, still airborne from the kick, arched across the battlefield…
"SENPUU NO JUTSU!"
…and collided into Deidara.
Right in the path of Naruto's new technique.
Leaves and branches were ripped from the nearby trees, and when the dust settled, the area formerly occupied by Deidara, and Sakura for a few brief seconds, was revealed to have…
"Well… Fuck." The unveiling of Naruto's new jutsu hadn't gone entirely according to plan.
Sai and Kakashi loomed over him.
In the confusion of the following moments, Tobi wisely took the opportunity to flee.
As Sakura gradually regained consciousness, the first thing her hazy mind registered was that the tree beside her looked a bit funny. She squinted her eyes, trying to stop her vision from blurring. Rather than leaves, it had… Needles? Spines?
She was glad she hadn't landed in it.
As more details of the past few moments came rushing back to her, she was suddenly aware of something vaguely soft and warm under her. Planting her hands on the ground and gently lifting her chakra-depleted body up, she blinked as she focused on what, or who, rather, had cushioned her fall.
Red clouds on black cloth…
Inner Sakura had never screamed so loud.
A/N 2: ...I have no idea where this story is going. Or if it's going anywhere at all. We'll see. Thanks for reading!