Haruno Sakura lifted her eyes up to the fading sunlight to watch the last rays of light disappear.
"It's been years and after all this training I still can't get it out of my mind!" Sakura screamed out at the tree in front of her, glaring at the innocent tree before her. "Yeah, I was innocent once! But that stupid jerk took it all away!" she said manically, but the sadness hidden within was still present.
Turning eighteen and becoming the ANBU Captain of Squad 2, should have been one of the greatest days of her life. Not to mention when Tsunade pulled her aside that day to her office to congratulate her on having surpassed even herself, one of the legendary Sannin as a medic-nin and accomplishing the feats no one else could have done. She passed down everything to her, especially her in-human strength. Now, that should have put her over the top. Any eighteen year-old ninja would have killed to be her, for becoming so strong, starting out so weak and in the end proving everyone wrong. Not to mention being under the tutelage of Tsunade. But, turning the doubters into believers, and showing everyone who she really was.
A strong, beautiful, smart kunoichi.
But the memories five years ago brought up the tears that welled up into her eyes. These memories couldn't allow her to be happy like she once was, they scarred her and showed who she was deep down inside. A lovesick, past-lover, hypocrite that gave everyone hope when she lost it a long time ago. She lost him. But soon after, she also lost the one other only person so special to her, that she would do anything for, and the one who made her herself when no one else could. Naruto. After all the years thinking he was annoying and stupid, she came to appreciate his caring nature, and his happy-go-lucky attitude for the world. And he left her.
On her thirteenth birthday, Jiraiya finally came back from his gathering information on the Akatsuki, and came back to get Naruto to train him for the tasks that lay ahead for him, and the world. Team Seven never was together again, even though Kakashi-sensei was still living in Konoha, he blamed himself for what happened to Sasuke. He blamed himself for what happened to Team Seven and to what he couldn't protect. So even though he lived in Konoha, it seemed he wasn't even there. It was mission after mission for him, trying to keep busy, never staying too long in Konoha so the memories wouldn't come back and haunt him.
Sakura turned away from the world. Nothing seemed like it used to be. But…a year later stopped the depression because it was pathetic. How much she hated that word! Oh and because she knew Naruto wouldn't want to see her so stricken with emotion that she wasn't even herself. Then he too might blame himself for what happened when it wasn't even his fault. No. She wouldn't let Naruto feel blamed for everything like Kakashi-sense when he came back. She would do it for him.
So four years later, Sakura trained, and train she did. Her training wasn't merely a two-hour session that could be rescheduled anytime of the month! No it was non-stop training with Tsunade, the Rookie Nine, Team Gai, and sometimes even Temari, Kankuro, and even Gaara. But she did allow herself some free time. Chat with friends, have some fun, eat, catch up on some sleep, or just go out to the park for a stroll. She would never, become so obsessed with training that it took up her entire life.
Everyone became closer together after Sasuke's departure and following that Naruto's. No one wanted to see Sakura in that depressed state again. Even Neji and Shino talked to her! Everyone was there to help each other out and was there to have some fun and unwind. They found things out that they never really knew about each other. Like for one, did you know Shino was a party animal? Hm…I didn't think so.
Over the years Neji and Sakura became closer and they shared things with each other only best friends would know. Like the pain he went through with his caged-bird seal. Or with Sakura's feelings on the past with Naruto or Sasuke (they all knew what a touchy subject that one was).
Even Ino and her patched up their old friendship and became the best of friends, following that the rest of the group became closer, and depended on each other.
But back tracking on all these thoughts she still couldn't forget him. Sasuke. Never was there a moment when she couldn't hear his voice echoing in her mind on how weak or annoying she was. That he left her. She would have given everything up for him! Why couldn't he just understand that she loved him!
"Damn it! Damn it all! Why did he just have to leave! Why did he—" As her thoughts became known to her she realized, "Why did I just have to remember?" Sakura couldn't take it anymore and let the tears she didn't know she was holding back out. The pink-haired girl continued to shake and sob and continued looking at the tree that brought her so much pain.
"Great…so just one simple tree can set me off!" She yelled and sighed soon after, despite the hiccups that started to become heard. "Why?" as she whispered, she threw a kunai at another unsuspecting tree a few feet away.
"Did I catch you at a bad time…" a monotonous voice called out from the shadows.
"I'm alright Neji," despite the tears that still fell from her eyes, "I was just…reliving some old memories." They were standing in a small clearing in the forest where Team Seven took their bell test and worked at a team. The place where Kakashi-sensei surprised her and made her faint, nonetheless.
"Neji?" the voice questioned as he stepped out of the shadows. Black sandals stood in the light. But as she slowly moved her eyes upward, realization hit her. This wasn't Neji at all, Neji would never wear black pants, and he was more into the whole white and brown scene!
Emerald met jade.
Sakura stood gaping, eyes wide open at him. Gaara did not react to this…"greeting" he received from her and her loud gasp went unnoticed.
'Damn! How could I not sense his chakra! And I mean I'm an ANBU Captain now! ANBU CAPTAIN! Doesn't that mean anything anymore? If he was the enemy I could have been killed!' the pink-haired kunoichi thought.
"Gaara! Or should I say Kazekage-sama?" A grinning Sakura replied trying to cover up for her reaction when she first saw him. Smooth Sakura. 'Oh my god that was so lame!' she cringed.
Over the years, Gaara became the Kazekage of Suna, and all the citizens seemed to love him. Not to mention all the women in the village, that seemed to turn their eyes toward him. Only the elderly villagers seemed to see him as the monster, the weapon of Suna from the past. But even they too were starting to turn a new leaf, despite their age. Naruto changed him from his bloodthirsty demeanor, to this caring person of his village, and only Naruto could do that to people he just met. Change them into this person who believed anything was possible and changed the way they looked at the world. Even Naruto's ninja way became Gaara's ninja way. Becoming the hokage (kazekage in this case) of the village and have the respect of its citizens was their dream.
Also with the help of Naruto's words Gaara became somewhat social. During the absence of Naruto, when he was a ninja still an active ninja, his missions seemed to be located nearly in the Konoha region. Helping them scout areas, or be back up to them in those suicidal missions. The bond of the two villages seemed stronger, they could count on each other to help each other out. They were allies. So Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro befriended the Konoha shinobi, and did the usual friend things. Gaara being the unsocial person he was became…a little more social because of them. He learned to trust and accept the people around him, as friends.
When Sakura first saw Gaara those many years ago, she instantly remembered their past… 'meeting' where…he wanted to… 'kill' her, so to say. Anyways, they didn't hit it off so well until Sakura saw that everyone stayed away from him. Even though they have had missions together before, they still couldn't even stand next to him for fear of angering him! They couldn't even have a conversation with him, let alone say hi! So she went over there and talked to him about his likes and dislikes, his dreams, anything to just get him talking. But during their conversations, she realized she enjoyed his company a lot and they were friends ever since.
But over the past few years they've seen less and less of each other. With Gaara's responsibilities and all, she couldn't just waltz right in his office and ask him to 'hang out'. Plus she had her own job, being a kunoichi of Konoha! This being their first encounter for the longest time, she thought she should joke around.
"Oh come on! It's been like what, 3 years since we've seen each other and all you can say is "Hn"?" Sakura pouted.
'Same old Gaara huh?'
"Hn." Was the infamous response from the talkative Gaara. 'Hey what was I expecting? A full sentence?' she smiled a bit at her little inside joke.
"Fine Gaara, whatever. So why did you come here?"
"Sakura you are to accompany me back to Suna and heal Temari—" Gaara started when he was rudely interrupted by the bubbling pink kunoichi, his so-called friend.
"Temari's hurt?!" Sakura panicked. Temari never, and I mean never got hurt so badly that they would need assistance from Konoha. What was she doing? But then something hit her.
Who did it?
Anger swept over all her emotions and she started fuming. Her worried look soon became replaced with anger. Her pink eyebrows knitted tightly together, her mouth pursed, and she crossed her arms in front of her chest.
This sudden change in emotion was what Gaara noticed first and he started at her long and hard, wondering what could be going on in that complicated head of hers. He wondered inwardly if all women were like this, mood-swinging, emotional people that plagued the earth. People who could swing to one emotion as fast as the first became present! That made him frown, all this contemplating about the pink-haired kunoichi in front of him, when his sister was in Suna with some injury nobody knew about. Why was he putting up with this? Sure they were friends but really!
'God! I finally see her and what does she do, she doesn't shut up, she interrupts, and now she's off mood swinging? Does she not remember me at all?' he growled.
Having been interrupted he growled showing his frustration and dwindling patience. "As I was saying, Temari's hurt and needs your assistance. I've asked your Hokage and she's recommended you for the task."
At least it was a friend, and not some blundering idiot that is so scared of me that he would the stupidest things, he thought inwardly. Plus, he wouldn't tolerate such things, and he wasn't known to be a patient person. She knew that, but somewhere in his heart, he knew he was always, different around her, and he showed her parts of him no one even knew.
'Whoa…what was that about?' This shocked him, never in his life had he thought these kinds of…thoughts about another human.A look of confusion flashed through his eyes, but it went unnoticed by the pink-haired kunoichi, and he disregarded it instantly.
"We are leaving once you've assembled your supplies and anything else you might need. This mission has an indefinite time period for the moment. I know she's your friend and if you want to stay a little while after she's recovered, it is, permitted."
"Thanks Gaara." With that she ran up to him and gave him a hug, a long time ago she explained these actions as best as she could, and hugs meant thanks and showed affection.
Bam. Both of them could feel the jolt of electricity flowing through them when they made contact.
'Oh my god, what is this feeling?' Sakura thought but soon found herself lost in his embrace, warmth radiating out of him.
Gaara stopped. She was hugging him. Yes she explained to him what a hug meant, and high-fives, sure. But she didn't explain the feeling of shock throughout his body when they made contact with each other would happen.
But he was even more surprised that she was still hugging him after that jolt. Even though they were friends, wasn't she still afraid of him? Didn't the thought of death cross her mind every time she touched him? Was this what that jolt meant, her death? But even with these thoughts he still couldn't get over the fact, someone was hugging him. And everything else melted away.
'Oh wait…what am I suppose to do now?' he thought. As he looked down at her he never noticed how soft she looked and how soft she…felt.
What the fuck? What am I thinking?
But before he even knew what he thinking he responded, "Your…welcome"
He did a double take. 'What did I just say?' and then he looked down at her, and saw someone who cared for him.
Hm…maybe being friends with her wasn't so bad after all. This will be…interesting, he thought and then the infamous smirk rose up again.
(A/N: Hey everyone! Hope you like this new story. Oh and I also hope there weren't any spelling or grammar issues you guys came across while reading it.
Anyways what do you think? Reviews are welcomed and encouraged!
Yours truly, PandaxXxchan