One Choice, One Promise, One Bond, One Future
Summary: Did you ever wonder how Team 7 became such close friends despite being so different from each other? Team 7's past life revealed!
Disclaimer: Nah, I'm too young to continue such an amazing plot that Masashi Kishimoto has made. I might just end up corrupting the 'Naruto' world with my childish imaginations.
Warning: Contains blood and gore. If you can't handle intense descriptions of gore, then I suggest you skip that part, or you could read something else that might suite your tastes.
A promise is a commitment. No matter how long time passes by―even death can never break it. It lasts for all eternity.
"Thank you for healing my husband, Sakura-hime," a woman bowed out of respect.
"It's no trouble. I'm glad to have helped you," Sakura smiled in response.
"I don't know how I could repay you for everything that you've done for my family."
"No. It's fine―really. Instead on thinking about that, you should focus on taking care of your family, Akari. They really need you right now." Sakura walked towards the exit of the hut, but Akari's insistence stopped her from leaving.
"Please―take our horse instead as a sign of my family's gratitude," Akari insisted, not wanting the honorable priestess to leave without a small token of appreciation.
Sakura mentally sighed, "Thank you." There was no point in getting into an argument where she couldn't win.
She was always greeted with great respect by the villagers. Ever since she started living in this village, she had always cured the people that doctors believed had no probability of getting well. She had released people that were possessed by evil spirits and purified their souls. She had created many wonders for this village that many had seemed to worship and adore her. Because of how pure and peaceful the village was, many had called the Village of Konoha to be known as the Promised Land.
Many might think that the honorable priestess Sakura was perfect. She bloomed to be a beautiful flower at the age of 16. Every villager knew who she was, and many held great respect of her. Despite this perfect image, there was still something that made some of the villagers very disappointed of her.
She was friends with a demon and an assassin.
Sakura was startled when she saw a figure leaped right in front of her. She took a cautious step back until she was able to recognize who was now in front of her. "Na―Naruto, it's nice to see you. Where have you been?"
"I was with Sasuke-teme on a job," Naruto grinned.
"Since when did you two start working together?" Sakura asked with a frown.
Naruto smirked, "Why? Jealous?"
A red hue tinted Sakura's cheeks, and she replied quickly, "No!" Too quickly.
Naruto's smirk became broader. His hand eventually reached out and caressed Sakura's face that made her face warmer. "Can I kiss you?" He asked with a gentle and passionate smile.
"Eh―Eh?" Sakura stuttered, taken aback by Naruto's sudden request. Her face could now rival the color of a red tomato. She didn't know how to respond. His sudden request had succeeded in turning her mind into mush that she couldn't think straight.
"Dobe, stop harassing her."
With a scowl, Naruto brought his hand back down, knowing that if he didn't; his best friend would break the bones of his fingers. He glared at the newcomer that emerged from the forest near them. "You're too slow, Sasuke-teme."
"Hn," Sasuke responded with a cold stare. "But that doesn't mean that you can just go and start harassing Sakura when I'm not around."
Naruto turned away from him, quite annoyed. "I wouldn't call it 'harassing'. It's more like showing my great affection for her."
"Like a demon like you could express emotions," Sasuke stated his voice as cold as his preview statement.
"Like you can either with that blood thirsty profession of yours," Naruto quickly countered with a scoff.
Sasuke was about to shoot another comeback when a stern voice stopped them.
"Stop it you two!" She sighed both in relief and in annoyance. "Why do you always have to fight every time I see the two of you together? Can't you two just act like normal friends?"
Naruto snorted, "Yeah right."
"Che," Sasuke sounded as he rolled his eyes to the right.
What am I going to do with these two? Sakura sighed once more.
"Do you know… why…?" Naruto spoke in a soft and thoughtful voice; however, his question was incomplete that Sakura didn't understand what he was saying.
"Eh?" Sakura blinked in utter confusion.
Naruto couldn't help but smile at Sakura's display of innocence. "The reason that we're always like this…"
"Is because of you," Sasuke finished for him, knowing very well what his best friend was trying to say.
"What?" Sakura had a subtle idea where this conversation was going.
"You don't need to sound so surprised, Sakura-chan," Naruto was becoming more amused by Sakura's little responses.
"You know very well how we feel about you," Sasuke said as he started approaching her in a stable pace. Sakura remained motionless until he was close enough to touch her face with his hand. "But… how do you feel about us, Sakura?" His voice was as gentle as the way he caressed her face with the back of his hand.
The beat of her heart increased tenfold. She swore that she could feel her heart trying to beat out of her chest. She was that nervous with just a simple caress from the Uchiha. Why is it that he could make her feel this way?
Naruto couldn't help but notice frown suspiciously at the sudden change of atmosphere between the couple in front of him.
Regaining her composure, Sakura jerked away from Sasuke's touch and took a couple of steps backwards, distancing herself from him. She could feel Sasuke and Naruto watching every movement carefully. Giving them a smile that hid all her feelings, she said, "You know very well that I love the two of you just the same because you guys are my best friends."
"Best friends… huh?" Naruto muttered out loud warily.
"I better go back to my duties. It was nice to see you two back safely," Sakura spoke with great formality as a source of habit. "I'll see you two later then." She waved her hands as a sign of farewell and left, riding the horse that was given to her as a gift back towards the village.
"She's lying, isn't she?" Sasuke asked, watching the horse galloping out of sight.
Naruto gave a momentary glance towards Sasuke and smiled as he turned to look at Sakura's retreating figure once more. "She's lying."
Everything had gone perfectly normal after her short meeting with her two best friends. She had to bury the confused thoughts that were lurking in her mind for her to be able to perform her duties as normally and perfectly as possible. It became much harder than usual since throughout all the time that they told and showed her their affections, they seemed to be more impatient to her than usual.
But… she already gave them an answer!
Somehow, she was doubting herself even more.
Was it really?
Was that her answer?
Or was there something that she was hiding from everyone…
She was sitting on the grass where she had a good view of the setting sun. She sighed. She was really tired. Thank goodness that despite her great responsibilities, she was able to have time for herself. She really needed it to think. She shook her head, quite irritated in thinking too much about this matter. She was thinking too much. "I'm so confused," Sakura sighed, closing her eyes.
"Confused about what?" A voice spoke from behind her.
She cautiously and swiftly whirled around at the feeling of the demonic aura that she recently noticed. She mentally cursed herself for being so careless. However, she was able to sigh in relief when she recognized her unwanted visitor. "Naruto, that's the second time today."
"Why? Is there something wrong?" Naruto asked, quite amused at the way he affected her.
Sakura shook her head, "It's nothing." She stood up and brushed her kimono of the little pieces of grass that might have been stuck to her clothing. She turned her face away, looking thoughtfully at the ground. "Why are you here… Naruto?" Her voice reflected the seriousness of her thoughts and confusion within it.
"Who is it that you really like Sakura-chan?"
That question again. Why couldn't they just leave her alone? They already knew her answer, so why do they have to be so persistent? "I already told you… I like the two of you equally. I―"
"If I were to tell you that I'm going to leave tomorrow, will you finally tell me the truth?" Naruto's lips quirked into a soft smile.
Will you finally tell me what you really feel?
Sakura's eyes widened. "What?" She couldn't even feel her lips moving. She was too shocked to register what came out of her mouth. "You… you're joking… right?" She lightly laughed, hopeful that what he said was a lie.
Naruto only smiled at her. Without a word, he averted his gaze directly towards the blood red sun illuminating light that reached their faces. "I always wanted to travel. I always wanted to explore the different parts of the world." He turned his head back to stare at her with the same gentle look that he usually gave her. "I don't want to be stuck in one little village. I want an adventure, and I believe that if I stay in this little village, that dream won't be fulfilled."
It was ironic. He was supposed to be a demon, but whenever he looked at her, she couldn't consider him as a sinful, bloodthirsty and evil demon. He didn't act like a demon, nor did his aura held any maliciousness within them.
Sakura lowered her head that her bangs were now able to hide her eyes. "So… you're leaving?" Her question came out as a breathy sigh, desperate to hide her feelings.
"After sun down," Naruto muttered hesitantly in sadness.
That was… too soon. He was leaving only in a couple of minutes. No. How could this happen? Deep down inside, her selfish left wanted to beg him to stay with her, but she knew better. She wanted what was best for him. She wanted him to be happy, and she didn't want to tie him up with her selfish desires. He deserved this.
"Will you come back?" Sakura asked with great hope that he would say 'yes'.
Is this what she really wanted?
Or was it something else?
Suddenly she felt her arm being pulled gently but with enough force to make her stumble. Next thing she knew, Naruto's arms were around her. His arms were wrapped tightly yet gently around her frame and he placed a chaste and loving kiss on the crook of her neck.
Sakura gasped at his unexpected actions. She was too shocked to even return his loving gesture, and her arms stayed limp to her sides.
"Just say that you love me, and I won't leave. I'll stay here… with you," Naruto said softly with great longing.
Sakura could feel her eyes burning. Her eyes were starting to become moist and blurry. She could feel it now. She was crying. Taking a deep breath, Sakura tried to hide the fact that she was crying by keeping her voice even. "I do love you."
Naruto raised his head to look straight in her eyes. "You're lying again." He smiled slightly. "Who is it that you truly love, me or Sasuke?"
"The only reason I came here is because I wanted to spend time with you watching the sunset…" Naruto stroke her head gently, caressing her hair and enjoying the feeling of her silky pink locks in his hands.
… One last time.
"But even if it had come to this… it was enough for me." He tucked a stray strand behind her ear. "Thank you."
She could feel the meaning of his words. He was leaving. He was saying goodbye. No. She was trained not to cry and because of this, her eyes shone beautifully from the unshed tears. She didn't want it to be true. But…
She didn't need to think what else to say because Naruto had already cut her off.
Before she knew it, her face was already cupped in Naruto's hands and her lips were connected to his. Her eyes widened and the last fragments of her self control chattered when her tears flowed freely her cheeks. Her mouth was already parted, because of the startled gasp that escaped her lips when he kissed her. Despite knowing this fact, Naruto refused to taint her mouth just yet.
He trailed his tongue to her bottom lip, coating it with saliva as his tongue gently caressed it. He did the same thing to her upper lip, and when he was satisfied with the way her lips were coated with his saliva, he nipped at her bottom lip, sucking it gently.
Despite the feeling of shock still present within her, she couldn't help but give out a soft moan, liking wonderful and pleasurable feeling of his lips against hers. When she thought he was going to take it up to the next level, she felt his lips pull from hers, making her confused. She frowned sadly, noticing that she was crying. "Naruto…"
She merely watched him as he brought his forehead, placing it against hers. "You better figure out who it is you really love, because if the time comes that I come back and you still haven't got an answer―don't expect me to let you go."
Her eyes narrowed slowly with sadness―not offended at all with the profound possessiveness that Naruto possessed.
"But if the one you love isn't me, just know that I always have and always will love you… no matter what," Naruto smiled softly.
Sakura saw through it. She didn't understand why. He suddenly became sad. What was the reason though? Was it because he was leaving… or something else?
"But even if it had become to this… it was enough for me."
"… if the one you love isn't me, just know that I always have and always will love you… no matter what…"
Sakura shook her head, trying to get the unwanted thoughts out of her mind. What was he trying to say? Was he saying that she didn't love him? That mere thought annoyed her. He didn't have the right to speculate things he didn't understand.
He shouldn't judge things so quickly.
"A priestess hugging a demon―now that is something you don't see every day." A mocking voice echoed from behind her.
"Ami-san," the stranger's name automatically flew out of Sakura's lips, recognizing her with only a glance.
"You're a disgrace to all priestesses associating with a demon and an assassin," Ami snarled.
"I don't care what you think. The fact that Naruto is a demon and Sasuke is an assassin doesn't matter to me. I love them the way they are," Sakura protested. She thought that even though her two best friends were seeds of evil, the goodness that they had shown her would bloom into a flower that sprouted from this darkness.
Ami scoffed. "Look at you. You're even saying that you love them. It's really annoying that one day you suddenly arrive here and take my place as the priestess of this land. You cast me aside like I was nothing. I can't forgive you for that. What's worse is that even though the villagers know how you associate with those two, they chose to ignore it and still continue to worship the ground you walk on." She glared at Sakura with a pure jealousy and anger.
Sakura knew that Ami had hated her from the very beginning, and she was somewhat right. Sakura knew that it wouldn't be wise to say something. After all, she did take something that was of great importance to the fellow priestess.
"I should advise you to stop being a delusional little girl that thinks demons, and humans can live together in peace. Your naïve belief that every person has goodness in them would only end up destroying you," Ami gave a mocking smile at Sakura, knowing very well what the girl was thinking. "Those two might be your friends now, but in the end they will betray you without caring about your feelings."
"You're wrong!" Sakura protested, shaking her head.
"You might think they're your friends, but they're just deceiving you," Ami taunted Sakura's relationship with the two.
"They don't even care about you," Ami mocked as if she didn't hear Sakura's voice.
"That's not true!" Sakura was now on the verge of crying. Her eyes were glistening with unshed tears. She hated it when Naruto and Sasuke were always taunted by the villagers. They had feelings too, and even though they didn't react at the sound of the villagers cruel taunts and comments, she felt sad. If they refused to show their feelings about it, then she'll just cry for them.
"Naruto and Sasuke may seem cruel and evil, but deep down they're very good people. They may have done some terrible things in the past, but that's in the past. What matters is the way they are now, and I know for certain that they are great people." Sakura couldn't help but smile at the thought of them. They always had the ability to make her smile, no matter what the circumstance may be.
"You're strong faith in them is utterly disgusting and nauseating," Ami scoffed with a frown. She shifted her body to walk away from Sakura. "Remember this, if something happens to Konoha because of either of those two, I will kill you myself―along with those two."
Content with the threat that she had left Sakura to contemplate with, Ami left without another word.
Sakura could only watch Ami's retreating back in silence sadly.
"A new mission came today, little brother."
Sasuke narrowed his eyes and looked at Itachi keenly, showing that he was paying attention.
"I think you'll be very eager to hear it," Itachi uttered calmly.
"What is it?" Sasuke asked, while he matched his brother's calm and cold demeanor.
"It is something that would surely bring our clan to the top," Itachi continued, ignoring Sasuke's question.
"What kind of mission is it?" Sasuke repeated, getting slightly irritated.
"The usual," Itachi answered simply.
An assassination again huh? Sasuke thought without a doubt. The thought of killing someone didn't faze him anymore, since killing random people had been a part of his life since he was born.
"Who do I have to kill this time?"
Itachi smirked at his younger brother's naiveté. "It won't be the usual easy targets, little brother. Since this time, I'm coming with you."
Sasuke became suspicious. His older brother never came with him during missions. They tended to avoid each other as much as possible. Their brotherly bond had faltered all because of their father's high standards that caused a rivalry between the two. "Why?"
Itachi's voice grew colder. "Our mission this time is to annihilate everyone in the Village of Konoha."
After the exhausting and eventful day, Sakura was finally able to return to her sleeping quarters for a quick rest. In a couple of hours, she would have to go outside again. It would be morning in a couple of hours, and she would have to do her daily priestess duties without getting enough rest.
It's not like she would be resting anyway. Too much had happened in the past few hours for her to even fall asleep.
"You know how I feel about you, Sakura-chan." She remembered how he looked at her gently.
"Now, I want to know, who is it…" she could remember the feeling of Sasuke's hand caressing her face gently, "… that you really love…"
She walked to her bed and looked at it thoughtfully.
She strolled over to the window and looked at the night sky.
Why are you making things… so much harder for me?
"What do you want me to say?" she whispered, looking sadly at the full moon.
She immediately turned around, as she heard her name. She squinted her eyes at the figure hiding in the shadows in the room. "Sasuke?"
The figure remained silent and chose not to respond.
"Is that you…? Sasuke…?" She took a step towards the figure, trying to get a better look at him.
"Ah," this time, Sasuke responded and took a step forward so that his facial features can now be seen more clearly.
"What are you… doing here?" That was the very first question that flew out of her mouth without even thinking.
Sasuke remained silent as he looked at her with a straight gaze.
Knowing that he wasn't going to answer, Sakura decided to bring up a conversation instead. "Naruto… came to me… a couple of hours ago."
Sasuke still remained unresponsive.
"He told me that he was leaving." She swallowed the lump in her throat that was the cause of her nervousness. "Did he… tell you… that he was… leaving?" Sakura couldn't even bring herself to say it. The thought of her very close friends leaving had caused her great pain.
Sasuke looked away.
Sakura understood his silent and simple gesture. "I see," she smiled sadly. "You two… never tell me anything. Am I so different―that you can't tell me anything? Is the fact that I'm a priestess bother you?" She asked as she looked at the ground with desperate sad eyes.
This time… Sasuke responded.
Bringing his hand up to her the level of her face, he cupped her cheek. "No… that's not it," he answered with an even tone.
This encouraged Sakura to look up to the dark depths in his eyes as she tried to analyze his feelings at that moment that their eyes were locked in a trance.
Sasuke was able to break the silent conversation that their eyes were having when he spoke. "You are a priestess… and I'm an assassin. You heal people, and I kill them."
She didn't want to listen anymore.
"We're different… Sakura."
"Wha… what are you trying to say?" She shook her head as she took a step back.
She didn't want to hear it.
"If the time comes where you would see me kill someone, would you still feel the same way about me." Sasuke took a couple of steps toward Sakura, lessening the gap between them once again.
Sakura lowered her gaze to the floor. "But… I have already seen you kill someone… before." She was a bit hesitant uttering that statement. She wasn't acting like how a priestess should.
"Even though… there would be a time… where I would have to kill someone you deeply care about."
Sakura immediately looked up, shocked by his statement. "Wha… what are you saying?"
"When that time comes… would you still continue to think like I'm a pure and harmless man, or would you finally look at me the way I am…"
Sakura continued to stare at him with a sad frown, not knowing what to say. What was she supposed to say?
"Would you hate me…?"
"Why are you saying this?" She asked in a pleading voice.
"It would be better if you hated me…" Sasuke gaze softened as he took notice of the unshed tears that were evident on Sakura's eyes. That way… it would be easier for me.
"Stop…" her voice was weak and was barely heard.
"I suggest you stop trying to fool yourself and look at the real us. You might say that you 'love' us, but it might all be lies."
"Stop it…" her voice still held the same weakness and volume as before.
"For all we know, you might be lying to yourself. You keep mentioning that you 'love' us, but maybe… you don't give a damn at all." Sasuke watched Sakura trembling figure calmly, without moving to comfort her. He merely stood there.
"STOP IT!" She screamed. This time, her voice reached his ears, and he shut his mouth, keeping his intense gaze the same that was giving her the same uncomfortable feeling as before.
She missed the past. The time where everything seemed normal. The time that the three of them first met. It was the time that the three of them spend time with each other's company, having fun as if they were kids.
It was the time where they cherished each other more than anything.
Everything was breaking apart.
They were finally growing up, and going on to their separate ways.
She hated it.
But she knew…
It was time to grow up.
She had to make her own decision.
… Just like they did.
"Stop trying to decide my feelings for me. They're my feelings and you have no right to tell me who to 'hate' or 'love'―because that's what I decide for myself!" She didn't care if she screamed at Sasuke. It didn't matter.
Right now… her feelings were her top priority.
She glared at him, pouring all her anger through words. "You think you know my feelings so much, but―"
"Then decide now," Sasuke said simply. He had struck her speechless when his palm caressed her face. "Tell me… your decision," he whispered in a calm and husky manner.
"My… decision…?" Sakura knew that her beating heart wasn't a sign of her anger from before. Her anger had quickly dissipated when she felt Sasuke's hand touch her face.
"Who is it that you choose… me… or Naruto?"
Sakura got pissed. Why can't they just leave her alone? They keep asking her that. "Why do you keep asking me that? There isn't a decision to make! I told you before―"
"You're stalling again."
"Tell me now… who you really care about."
"I… I don't know," she tried to give him her best answer, and that's all she could give him. Why do they want to know? Why do they need to know so badly?
"Now I see… it's not that you're trying to stall us. You're afraid. Are you afraid of hurting one of us?"
"Just stop―stop. Please… leave me alone." Her voice was breaking. She was breaking. She couldn't take it. The way that Sasuke's words were piercing her made her feel cold.
Sasuke closed his eyes for a brief thought. "I can't do that." He opened them once more and turned to look out of the window, "Since this might be the last time we'll see each other."
The sun was already rising and light was already reflecting around the room.
What? First Naruto, and now Sasuke as well. Why? Why was this happening? How could this happen?
Tears now freely streamed down her cheeks. She choked down a sob and cried, "But…"
Sasuke looked back and her, but his eyes widened in shock as he saw her… crying.
She sobbed once more before she was able to cry out in the most vulnerable way, "I don't want you to leave." She wanted everything to be the same, but she knew that was only a childish wish.
It couldn't hurt in trying…
… And hoping…
… That everything would be the same.
She couldn't even register it in her mind, but it was only when she found Sasuke's arms wrapped tightly around her did she register what was going on. She could feel one of his hands coaxing her head to lean on his shoulder, and the other wrapped securely around her waist. She could feel her face hot and warmer than every passing minute.
She couldn't see his face because her head was now leaning on his shoulder, but her tears had ceased, caught up in the moment. Her hands were hanging limp to her sides, not knowing what she should do.
"Sakura…" Sasuke whispered as his lips grazed the shell of her ear.
It was then that her subconscious had returned to her. She lifted her arms as and hesitantly wrapped them around him. She brought his body as close as she could and let her emotion flow out of her. She cried once more, not thinking whether she might be bothering Sasuke by wetting his shirt with her salty tears. "Sasuke… Sasuke…" she whispered back with great longing and sadness pouring as much as the tears flowing down her cheeks.
"If you can't decide now… I won't force you. Maybe… I was just hoping that in the end, it would be me that you would choose." Sasuke smiled slightly. "Sorry… for forcing you."
Maybe the time that when she would say his name that would give him certainty that she was only his and his alone would never come.
"I'm glad that I met you." He released his arms from her head and waist, but before he could let go, Sakura's grip tightened even more.
"Don't," she whispered painfully. "Don't say that as if you're saying goodbye." She shook her head, refusing to look at him. Please… don't say goodbye. Don't leave. Don't―
"Then I won't say goodbye," he responded coolly. He stood there with his arms motionless to his sides, not bothering to return any of her affections.
Sakura's eyes widened. It was then that her arms fell limply to her sides. She couldn't say anything. She was shocked, hurt and disappointed. She couldn't bring herself to tell him to stop as she watched him walking away from her.
Sasuke remained silent. He kept on walking without looking back. He wanted to end it right here, and the best way to do that was to say goodbye.
Because… this would be the last time they would meet as friends. The next time that they would meet, they would have to become… enemies.
Itachi turned around, immediately noticing the presence of someone entering the room. "Ah, so you've come back." Itachi took notice of the glare that Sasuke sent him and dismissed it carelessly. "Are you ready for our mission, little brother?"
There was no hint of hesitation or doubts in his eyes. Only indifference and determination remained. "Let's get this over with."
"Sakura-hime. Sakura-hime." The woman sighed when the girl remained unresponsive. "Sakura-hime!"
Sakura was brought back to the world of the living only when the woman's voice became louder and stronger. Turning towards the woman, Sakura gave her a smile. "Sorry, Akari. I'm just tired, that's all."
"If you're tired, you didn't need to have come to check up on my husband again, Sakura-hime. It would have been better if you have gotten some rest," Akari said with understanding.
Sakura closed her eyes with a sigh. "Maybe… I just have a lot of things in my mind."
Akari nodded silently. "You should try to get some more rest, Sakura-hime. It's not good for you to try and take all the burden of the village on your shoulders. If there's something that you need help with―just ask. I'm sure that everyone would be willing to help you out. It's the least we could do for everything that you've done for us."
Am I really helping anyone? Sakura thought out loud. Her face held a sad frown.
"Even when you have problems and doubts, know that we will never give up on you, so please―don't give up on us."
Those words had struck her like no other that it made her want to cry, but she couldn't. Not in from of her. She wasn't strong enough to. So she did the only thing that she could do…
She tried her best to smile, even though tears were threatening to drop.
She wasn't crying because of happiness.
She was crying because she felt guilty.
She was already giving up on herself, so what right did she have to help them if she couldn't even help herself.
The feeling of loneliness and sadness welling up inside of her was swallowing her up.
But those words served as a leverage to bring her back up, and find hope.
Maybe… there was still hope.
How… how did it come to this…?
Blood was everywhere. It was as if it was red paint that had been spattered carelessly to the ground by an amateur artist, trying to get a good design, but the results caused intense scenery of gore and brutality that could only be seen at war. The stench of blood was so strong that it could be smelled from a great distance. The cuts and stab wounds on the people's wrists, abdomens, necks, and faces only caused an even more horrifying sight. It was like it had been the work of someone who held great hatred towards the place.
That was the site that greeted her.
How could that be? How could this happen? Konoha was a peaceful and safe village. Who would want to ruin it's peaceful harmony? Why? What had these innocent people had done to deserve this cruel fate?
"No…" she could barely make out the words that came out of her mouth. She was too shocked to move. She was too preoccupied by the blood everywhere. It was even at the ground she was standing on.
A shrill scream filled the silent air, alerting Sakura of the presence of another living being that had possibly survived. Before Sakura knew it, there were screams everywhere. Agonizing and piercing screams.
It could only mean one thing.
The other villagers were being slaughtered. Without wasting any more time, she ran towards where the screams were coming from. There were still some of them alive. It could still be possible for her to save them. She could still make it in time.
She was charging blindly now, without even thinking about other possible ways on how to solve the problem. All she cared about was trying to save that person who gave that agonizing scream from the brink of death. She didn't know what she was up against… or who she was up against.
There! Her eyes narrowed with determination as she took one last leap and landed at the very end of the village. She immediately came to a stop at the sight that greeted her.
His body was practically covered in blood. She saw him thrust his katana into a woman's mouth and down to her throat mercilessly, but was too horrified to move. She could feel herself shaking as she watched the helpless woman squirming helplessly, trying to fight for what was inevitable. He merely watched the woman struggle, whimper, choke and cry out in pain as he twisted his katana without even an effort. The woman was now suffocating, and was sputtering and coughing out blood with the sword still thrust into her mouth.
As Sakura watched the woman's life lowly draining and drifting away, she didn't even notice she was crying. The wet trail of her tears remained unnoticed as she now focused her attention to the face of the killer as he faced her with those cold eyes.
"Sa… Sasuke…" She breathed out; his name didn't even sound audible and clear to her ears. She was too shocked to see him, killing someone with those cold eyes. It was as if he wasn't human, but a demon―a devil that only lived to kill.
She didn't even blink when Sasuke pulled out his katana from the woman who fell down to the ground dead. She remained focused on Sasuke's face, eyes and body, watching his every move.
It was when he pointed his katana at her did her body finally allow her to move.
"You're next." He spoke the words like he was talking to a stranger whose existence didn't even matter to him. Who was this man standing before her?
Because she knew―this wasn't Uchiha Sasuke.
She wasn't looking at the Uchiha Sasuke that she met. It was as if the time they had spent together didn't occur at all.
She was looking at a stranger―and a murderer.
"Who… are you…?" She breathed out a pained sigh, his actions affecting her in the way she knew it would.
Sasuke didn't even make an effort to reply. He disappeared from her view in a blur and in an instant; he was already in front of her with his katana positioned to strike. Sakura managed to duck in time, with the blade barely missing her head, but had managed to cut a few strands of her hair.
Knowing that it would be dangerous to linger in the place where she was, she slid back, trying to distance herself from him. Instead of bringing up her guard, Sakura drifted off towards the possible reasons that Sasuke could be acting this way. She couldn't help but get hurt because of how cold and emotionless his eyes were.
"If you don't take me seriously, I will kill you." He said as if he was talking to her in a normal conversation about how her day went. He didn't even seem fazed by what he was saying. "How can you protect anyone, if you can't even protect yourself… Sakura?"
Sasuke… She immediately shook her head for thinking that this was Uchiha Sasuke. "No. You're not Sasuke. You're not!" She had to convince herself that this man wasn't him. It would be too painful to believe.
"Are you too shocked to believe that I will be the one who will kill you?" Sasuke cocked his head to the side, mocking her.
"Why are you talking like that? What's wrong with you? You're not like this." In the end she couldn't fight the side that wanted to believe that the man before her was the Uchiha Sasuke that she had known.
But this time… he came back as a changed man.
"What's wrong with me?" He shot the question back to her, greatly amused. He chuckled at the question. "I'm an assassin, and didn't I tell you that I had lived my life killing people."
Why was he talking this way? How could he say such a cruel thing with a straight face?
"I will kill anyone that I need to kill… even if it's you," he said coldly, his face revealing nothing about any thoughts or hidden feelings that he might have.
Sakura gasped in shock. She lowered her gaze to the ground, afraid to look at him without crying. "So… the time that the three of us spent together had meant nothing to you." Her voice came as a pathetic whimper.
"How could you even think that I would value something like that?"
Sakura laughed, knowing in her mind that he would say that. "You coward," she whispered as she bit her lip soon afterwards. She twisted and cracked her hands at her sides, and formed them in closed and tight fists. She lifted her arms and brought her fists in front of her into a fighting position.
If that was his decision, then she had no other choice.
There was one last thing left for her to do.
Sasuke eyed her with a smirk, "So… have you made your decision?"
Sakura's eyes narrowed with determination.
Why should this be their fate?
Sasuke wiped the blood dripping from the corner of his lips with the back of his hand. She was serious after all. He had never fought against her before; therefore, it didn't really occur to him how difficult it would be to fight against her.
It was hard to inflict a fatal injury on her because every time he would try to do so, she would shatter the earth below her, using it as her temporary shield.
This was getting rather annoying.
He knew that she wouldn't back down now, when she was the one who had the great advantage. That didn't matter. After all, he was just getting started.
"How could you do such a thing?" Sakura spoke for the first time after the two had been engaged in battle. "Did you… kill of those people?"
Sasuke smirked, "So what if I did?"
"What happened to you?" She paused for a brief moment, thinking of what to say next. I thought… I thought you―"
"My mission is to kill everyone in this village―including you," Sasuke stated with a straight and calm face.
Sakura's eyes widened, as her eyes locked towards Sasuke's cold and indifferent ones, desperately trying to search for something. Hesitation? Anything that would prove that his words were nothing but an empty threat. Fear, disappointment and sadness became known to her when she found nothing in the depths of his obsidian orbs.
Was there no hope?
"Is that so?" She muttered in a whisper, smiling sadly at him. "Does that mean what you said to me before… was a lie? You were merely playing with my feelings then? What was the point of that?" Sakura thought for a moment for all the possibilities, "Did you want to gain my trust to gain information, and then betray me later after getting everything that you needed?"
She wanted him to say no, but all she ever got was for an answer was the sound of the wind blowing.
Silence was the best answer she would get.
"What is it then?" She voice broke into sobs, making her vulnerable and unaware of the things that might be going around her. All she cared about was her feelings now, and she didn't care about anything else.
Even her or the village's safety.
"Tell me," she yelled, desperately wanting him to respond. "Was all you told me before a lie?" She looked up but her eyes saw the empty presence where Sasuke was supposed to be standing.
She gasped, having an idea where he might be. She turned around as quickly as she could, only to see Sasuke's sword merely inches away from her neck. She didn't have enough time to dodge. Using a great amount of energy, she grasped the blade of the sword and tried to move it away from the vital part of her body.
However, her efforts weren't enough when Sasuke's katana was able to inflict another wound on her.
Her fingers were shaking as she tried to keep a firm grip on his sword. Her breath was uneven, trying very hard to get oxygen into her lungs. She was completely aware that Sasuke's katana had managed to cut her at least 3 inches down her shoulder. The cut was deep, but not deep enough to damage her vital organs.
Her white kimono was now turning red because of the stain of blood. Some were dripping down her chest, to her leg and making a small pool of blood at the ground she was standing on. She winced and shook as she forced the katana out of her body.
She took a couple of steps back, staggering and barely able to regain her balance because of the wound on her shoulder. Forcing the katana out of her body had been a bad idea because now more blood was coming out of the wound. The wound felt like a stinging and burning pain, like alcohol had been poured unto it. She grimaced, feeling herself growing weak.
She clutched the wound tightly with her hand, trying to stop the bleeding, knowing that it wouldn't help much. Despite the intense pain that was reaching her brain, she was able to give a small smile.
She knew she should be cursing at him, and trying to wound him back, but she was through with that. She couldn't in this condition. She was too weak to fight, and she would just bring herself closer to death's door if would get wounded like this again.
It didn't matter. She knew that fighting him won't get through to him anyway.
"Are you doing this, as revenge because I didn't give you a decent reply before?" A lone teardrop fell down her cheek. "Are you mad at me?"
She had to make a decision.
Who was it that she really loved?
No. There was no reason to ask herself that. Not when she already knew the answer. She had only been too stubborn to admit it. The only thing she needed to do now was say it. She needed to make him understand… before it was too late.
Maybe… it was too late.
Now was the only time left she could do it.
"Before you left earlier, you wanted to know how I felt." She sobbed, crying harder. "If I said I loved you, would it have been different?" She lowered her gaze to the ground, watching a teardrop fall to the ground before continuing. "Would we be in a different situation than we are now?"
"You think that a dramatic confession would work on me." He smirked, not even slightly affected by Sakura's confession. "Don't make me laugh."
It didn't matter to her if he didn't listen. Even if she was too late, she needed to tell him. At least, at least…
Sakura shook her head, shaking the tears into the air around her. "The one I love is Uchiha Sasuke." She cried silently, regretting that she might have confessed too late. She sobbed as she repeated her previous statement, but this time, she was able to speak louder more confident with herself and her feelings. "I love… Uchiha Sasuke the most. I love him… more than anything."
She didn't hear Sasuke say anything. Maybe… she had been too late after all. However, this fact didn't seem to hurt her feelings one bit. She was somehow glad. She was glad that she was actually able to confess her feelings… even if it had been too late. It didn't matter to her whether her feelings had reached him, but the just seeing his face as she made her confession was enough for her.
"Oh, little brother, you're still not done."
Sakura turned her head around slightly and saw Itachi land a couple of feet behind her. She didn't have enough energy to take one let alone two people at the same time. She was in a tough situation, and it seems that there was no possibility of her getting out of it.
"And here you said that you would be able to handle it alone. I decided to help you, since you are taking longer than usual." Itachi voice held a mocking tone that Sasuke couldn't help but notice.
Sakura saw Itachi walking towards her but was too weak to feel fear at the moment. "It makes me wonder why you're taking so long just to kill one simple girl."
"I'm the one who will kill her Itachi. Stay out of it." Sasuke growled in annoyance of his brother's unexpected presence.
"Kill her?" Itachi asked, looking at Sakura's weak figure and taking notice that she wouldn't be able to fight to defend herself. Not in her state. "I wonder how you'll do that." This would be too easy for him.
"What?" Sasuke glared at him, offended by his mocking statement.
"You don't need to be offended, little brother. You don't need to hide that you love this girl, and that's why you can't kill her." Itachi's words were like poison to both Sasuke and Sakura's ears.
Sakura watched Itachi confusingly. Her breath hitched when he started approaching her.
"You are weak, and you always will be." Itachi watched Sasuke's face contort in anger with sick amusement.
"I'm not weak. I'll kill her myself." Sasuke gritted his teeth, clutching the hilt of his katana in a tight fist. He knew that Itachi was mocking him, but what annoyed him the most was that he was letting him.
"No need," Itachi brushed Sasuke's claim aside. "I'll do it in your stead."
Sakura didn't have time to react or try to dodge Itachi's attack. All she could do was watch him draw his own katana out of it's sheathe. She saw him bring his katana to the side, getting more force for his attack, and he swung the katana towards her, with great intention of splitting her body into half. She turned around, preparing for the impact.
Everything had been a blur afterwards.
Blood obscured her vision.
She was too shocked to scream.
All she could do was watch as Sasuke's body took the impact of the katana. Itachi's strength was reflected on how far he was able to cut Sasuke's body. His katana had managed to cut Sasuke twice as deeper than hers.
She saw Itachi's katana ripping Sasuke's flesh, hearing the cracking sounds of his breaking bones, tearing muscles and splitting flesh. It only stopped when the katana was already in the middle of Sasuke's chest, the damage already been done.
As soon as Itachi saw his katana resting in the middle of his little brother's chest, he immediately pulled out his katana without even a slightest change of reaction. "How pathetic," he muttered coldly. He didn't care that he had practically cut down his brother in half. He was somehow disgusted at his brother's heroic act.
He swung his sword at his side, trying to get some of the blood off of his katana. "You're not even worthy of my time. I have a mission to complete." He disappeared soon after that.
It was only when Itachi had already disappeared that Sakura had finally realized that Sasuke was facing her when he took Itachi's hit for himself. The hand that was grasping her shoulder fell limp to her side. The pain on her shoulder long forgotten, but her attention remained focused on Sasuke, who was standing before her.
"Why?" She looked up to him through those blurry eyes that were obscured with her tears. "Why did you…?"
She didn't get the reply she wanted, because before she knew it, Sasuke's weak but strong arms had wrapped around her small frame, while he buried his head on the crook of her neck. His hands were on the back of her head and her waist, pushing her further towards him to bring her even closer… if that was still possible.
"Took you long enough," Sasuke chuckled, making Sakura sob in response. She felt him raise his head, feeling his breath her ear and neck. She cried, hating herself for feeling this way. She hated herself for realizing how much she loved him… when it was too late.
"Say it… again. Tell me… one more time," Sasuke whispered softly, barely able to speak.
Sakura's sobs became more coherent, and her breathing became heavier in each minute. She lifted her arms and brought them around Sasuke's form, returning his embrace. "I love you. I love Sasuke. I love Sasuke-kun more than anything." Her hands tightened around him, not wanting to let him go. She couldn't let him go, but she knew she would have to… sooner or later. For now… when she still had the time to be with him, she would cherish it and use all of it.
After all, the time she had with him was very short, and it would get shorter and shorter, as time passes by.
But there are times that even though no matter how much you want to hold on…
You just have to let go.
She was kneeling with her hands supporting his head and his body. Slowly, she lowered his head to the ground, letting him lie down. She smiled, somewhat glad at the sight of the peaceful expression on his features, despite the overwhelming sadness that she felt inside at the moment.
Suddenly her clear vision became unclear and blurry. Everything became a blur. She closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to regain her vision. She opened her eyes and blinked over and over until she had recovered her clear vision.
That was when she felt it. The burning pain had returned, and she had to grasp her shoulder with her hand again, trying to ease pain from the wound. She had lost too much blood already, and it was effecting her body's ability to function properly.
A laugh echoed through the air, alerting Sakura of an unknown presence nearby. She looked up and saw a figure walking towards them, with a katana at hand.
Itachi? No. That was impossible. This couldn't be Itachi. The voice sounded too feminine to be him. Who could it be?
"Look at you. You look pathetic."
"Ami-san," Sakura said, finally realizing who the new presence belonged to.
"You make me sick. If you weren't so infatuated with that―" (She gave a loathsome glare at Sasuke's lying figure.) "―bastard over there, then maybe Konoha would still be at peace," she taunted with a loud and confident voice, knowing that Sasuke won't hear her.
No. Wait. That wasn't right. That wasn't what she wanted to say.
"If you didn't come here in the first place, then this wouldn't have to happen." Ami yelled, slashing nothing but her to further strengthen her point. "But that doesn't matter. I will kill you right here and now."
Sakura chuckled weakly, "Really? Are you sure about that?" She groped the ground and grasped Sasuke's katana, which was right in front of her, beside Sasuke's laying figure.
"You didn't even bother protecting anyone did you? You might even have assisted that assassin friend of yours." Ami was running straight towards her, her katana in position for a strike.
"You're wrong," Sakura mumbled incoherently.
"You only replaced my position as priestess because you bribed them, and pretended to be the good girl they wanted you to be."
Sakura had enough. Before Ami could even go any closer to her, she punched the ground with a closed fist and the earth below shattered, engulfing the whole clearing with dust.
Ami couldn't see. There was dust everywhere and she had no idea where Sakura might be hiding. That inhuman strength. Where had she ever gain such strength? Even she had no idea about this ability of Sakura's until today. Why did she hide such an incredible ability?
She felt jealous, but hated to admit that Sakura's strength had a possibility of surpassing hers. Instead, she came up with another conclusion to reassure herself that she was still better. That girl is a demon… a demon in disguise.
Before she knew it, a katana pierced through the skin of her chest, making her feel intense pain course through her body. She couldn't do anything about it before it was too late.
No… she used the dusts as a diversion―how could she have…?
The pain was enormous. It was just one hit, but it was as if all of her energy had been sucked out of her. She collapsed on her knees, the energy in her body not enough to keep her from standing.
She grew weaker and weaker as time passed by. She became drowsy, trying to fight eternal sleep.
She couldn't believe it. How? How could she not have sensed that? How could she have been so careless?
The smoke and dust subsided, and eventually, Sakura became visible to Ami's vision once again. She was now standing only a couple of feet away from her. It was quite a distance from where she was before, kneeling beside Sasuke's body.
Ami had to use a chunk of her energy just to send her a glare that didn't even look threatening to a small squirrel.
"No. I wasn't appointed to replace you as the priestess because I bribed them; it is simply because I'm better than you. It is as simple as that." Sakura voice was low and weak, the effects of her wound, starting to affect her.
"I promise you… that I would hate you forever. In my next life… be assured… that I will make you suffer… the way you destroyed… and took away everything from me," she said in between desperate and greedy breaths, like air wasn't going in her lungs. She laughed lightly, pleased with the thought of it.
Sakura gave a curt nod, "We'll see… that is… if we do meet again in the future."
She could barely keep herself conscious when she saw Sakura carelessly and indifferently turn around. Her body twitched, trying desperately to move. Why? Why couldn't she move? She didn't want to be beaten by this woman. She had no desire of losing.
It was then that something snapped inside her. Seeing her rival walk away from her just like that―she wouldn't allow it.
No, no―NO! She won't let herself die without a fight. It was either she would be the one who would live in the end, but if she was the one who would walk away from her, she would rather take her to the underworld with her.
She needed to kill her. It wasn't a desire. It was an obligation. If she killed her, then maybe… maybe… she could pretend that the time she spent contemplating about the loss of her title had never occurred. She could redeem herself.
Her mind was set.
She wouldn't die alone.
They would die… together.
Sakura dragged her left feet forward and stopped, barely having energy to walk any further. No. She couldn't stop now. She had to keep going. She had to. She had got to return to him. She had to go―
It all went so fast. She didn't feel pain at first. She was shocked at the feeling of an invisible object pierce through her body. She felt it went through her back and out through her chest. After that, pain ran through her entire body. The next thing she knew, she was on the floor with the feeling of blood flowing out of her fresh wound.
"No. We will meet again," she heard Ami's faint voice from behind. "I'll see you in hell." Ami laughed and laughed, knowing that she would die any minute from now.
Sakura tried to ignore Ami's voice and tried to focus on what had happened. What struck her? Ami was at the very same place that she left her, judging from the low volume of her voice. She tilted her head up, and saw an arrow with the tip of its head stuck at a bark of a nearby tree.
Oh, so that was it. Ami's voice finally stopped, making everything seem silent once again, except for the sounds that nature made around her.
She heard the wind blowing, the grass rustling, the birds chirping lively despite the amount of blood that had been shed and―
Because of the excruciating pain that she felt from her two critical wounds, she had almost forgotten about him. She couldn't just lie here, waiting for herself to die. She had to go back to him. She had to go back to Sasuke.
She needed to…
She needed to be with him.
Balling her hands into fists, she applied pressure to the ground and tried to push herself up. However, she wasn't able to lift herself any further than her waist. Her legs were weak and useless. She couldn't feel them anymore. Besides, she knew she couldn't walk, but she still needed to go to him.
Her mind did the thinking for her, before she knew it; she was crawling towards Sasuke's body, trying to get closer to him. She felt herself grow weaker and weaker as she dragged herself bit by bit. She was losing energy fast and she felt her blood making a trail behind her. No matter how tired she might be, she couldn't bring herself to stop.
She was almost there. She could almost reach him. She just had to keep going. She had to keep crawling.
She collapsed on the ground, her arms barely able to keep herself up. She tried to get up once again and collapsed. She tried again, but it had the same results. No. No, no, no, no, no. Why?
She was almost there. She could almost reach him. Why did she have to lose energy now? Stretching out her hand, she tried to touch his hand with her fingertips. She was just inches away.
She stretched her hand even more. She was getting closer and closer. Her hand suddenly fell limp on the ground, now only centimeters away from it. She cried once again. It wasn't fair. Everything wasn't fair.
Why? Why did this have to happen? Why did everything had to turn out this way when she finally realized how much she loved him? She could feel a lone tear making a wet trail down her cheek as she sobbed.
"Sasuke… kun…" she muttered tiredly. "I promise… next time… I would tell you… I would tell you first… how I feel. Next time we meet… we could go on a date… just the two of us. Next time… it would be different," she cried harder and more uncontrollable as time passed. Her tears, however, was no match with how much blood she was losing because of the size and deepness of her wounds. She couldn't survive any longer.
"Next time… I would tell you…" her vision started to get blurry, but this time she didn't bother trying to regain the clearness of her vision. There was no more time, and she didn't care about that anymore.
"I would tell you that… 'I love Uchiha Sasuke with all my heart.'"
She could fell her eyes closing.
Darkness came to her.
… How would you react…?
And she came to it with without a fight.
He heard nothing as he walked through the forest near Konoha.
He became confused. Why was it so quiet? He increased his pace, thinking in his mind that something might have happened.
He hoped that it was only in his imagination, and that everything was alright.
The sight that greeted him was gruesome. The color of dry blood replaced the earthy color of the sand, and its metallic and strong smell lingered in the air. The village's houses and crops were burned to a crisp, leaving its charred remains forgotten on the ground.
Dead bodies were everywhere. The old, men, women, and even children―all were brutally killed. Murdered.
"Sasuke." Naruto's eyes narrowed, as he clenched his fist in anger. Without a second thought, he ran.
There was no one else that would do such a thing.
That bastard! How could he? After all the things that three of them have went through. It didn't even matter to him.
"Ungrateful bastard," Naruto cursed under his breath.
He had always restrained himself in beating Sasuke because he knew that Sakura would be hurt if he did, but this time, he wouldn't hesitate to give the bastard a piece of his mind.
He continued running until he saw the familiar bodies of his friends on the ground. "Sasuke, Sakura-chan!"
He increased his pace, "Sasuke―Sakura―!" His legs stopped running by themselves because of shock. He reluctantly looked at Sasuke and Sakura's bodies lying still on the ground. Their bodies were lying perpendicularly, with Sakura's head near the side of Sasuke's stomach, but Sakura's hand stretched out. He immediately noticed that her hand was merely inches away from his.
Was she… trying to reach his hand…?
Naruto couldn't help but smile. He knew it. He knew that she was going to realize it sooner or later. Somehow… he had an idea about her feelings, but since she had always refused and denied it… he discarded this knowledge and tried to win her heart, knowing that it was already won by someone else.
Walking closer towards them, he knelt down and took Sakura's cold petite hands and Sasuke's equally cold and callous ones and carefully intertwined their fingers together. He smiled to himself. He released his hold from their hands and took notice of how peaceful they looked together.
"Idiots. It took you long enough," he chuckled, somehow guilty and angry at himself. It was like he was reprimanding himself more than he was mocking them.
If he had just gotten here fast enough.
"Next time… next time… I promise that I'll protect you no matter what. I won't run away again."
It didn't matter though.
"When we meet again…"
Because he had a distant feeling...
"I won't let you go."
That they would meet again...
"No matter what."
Sometime in the future.
And thus, each promise had been fulfilled as it resurfaced into their new lives. Their new lives… as shinobi.
A/N: Reading it once more after three years opened my eyes to see how gory this one-shot was. I'm sorry for anyone who was offended, but I only tried to be as realistic as possible. I hope you understand.