Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own Naruto or any of its characters.

A/N: This will most likely contain NC-17 content in later chapters. Not sure how later, but you are forewarned so please proceed with caution if you're uncomfortable with it. Wouldn't want to corrupt anyone. Me thinks the smidgen of guilt that follows isn't really conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Oh and this is my first Naruto attempt after being on this Naruto fanfic reading fix for a while. Kinda nervous about it so don't shoot me down too harshly, ne? I like strong female characters, so you can guess that Sakura is going to kick ass, none of that 'I need saving all the damn time' stuff. I'm not promising strait line in-character-ness, but I'll try not to stray to far either. Creative license is a beautiful thing after all…

Fade In

Chapter One – ANBU

"Kano, Aki, get those scrolls back to HQ. We didn't spend six months on this mission to have it get shot to hell. If any of these guys get through me and you end up being pursued, do whatever is necessary. Just make sure they don't find out who we are or where we're from."

"But Captain—" Aki interjected.

She shook her head. "Better get those pretty little legs flying boys. I'm counting on you two." Her tone was hard, allowing for no argument or thoughts of insubordination.

Kano nodded, his golden irises visible through the two holes in the mask, telling her to be safe…to come back alive.

"What the hell are you guys waiting for?! A swift kick to the ass?" Their ANBU squad captain growled.

"Don't die Captain." Aki said before hesitantly turning his back and following his teammate through the trees.

"Don't you two go dying either, or so help me I'll haunt you both even in the afterlife…"

Her threat was carried on the rain swept breeze, floating to her team of two years. She knew they wouldn't fail her…knew that they wouldn't die because truth be told, having your pink haired captain kick your ass even in death wouldn't be a pleasant experience.

She sensed the numerous approaching shinobi from behind. Any second now they'd be upon her and she'd be more than ready to make sure not one made it past her. Tossing a last glance over her shoulder, Kano and Aki already a good distance away, she turned around and tightened her gloves.

Haruno Sakura let a small rush of chakra flow to her hands as she soundlessly landed on the moss covered ground. Without a moments delay, she brought them down and watched as the ground before her tore open in a destructive zigzag, uprooting trees and plants, sending bits and pieces of the forest floor into the air around her.

In their attempt to dodge the powerful force, two of the eight Sound nin jumped from a falling tree only to be struck down by rapidly rotating shuriken to the throat.

'Two down, six more to go…'

Sakura quickly dodged a barrage of kunai, her body springing into action the next to parry her opponent's kicks and punches. But he was too slow. She grabbed his leg mid kick and swung him around to block another onslaught of shuriken, hearing the many thuds of metal meeting flesh. She didn't spare his shocked and pained face a glance before dropping his dead body and agilely sidestepping another Sound shinobi's ninjutsu. The sharp blades of wind swept past her, but she didn't anticipate them coming back around.

"Stupid bitch. Thought you could—" His black eyes widened when the ANBU shinobi 'poofed' upon being pelted by his wind knives. He never finished his sentence as Sakura's ninjaken pierced his heart with deadly accuracy.

However, she realized a bit belatedly the explosive tag attached to the trunk of the tree and as it exploded, she felt the wind knocked out of her and the intense heat as the fire licked at her skin and damn, was that shrapnel?

"Shit." Sakura tried to land as gracefully as she could, feeling the small pieces of metal tear into her skin.

"Did you think you could handle all of us by yourself ANBU?" A taunting voice echoed throughout their battlefield.

She paid it no attention, instead focusing on where it was coming from and the faint traces of chakra. 'Got'cha.' The idiot was closer than she thought and that didn't bode well for him at all. Using the body flicker technique, she was in front of his surprised form in seconds, kunai already in hand and made a clean cut across his jugular.

Sakura barely had time to dodge a flying arrow and winced behind her mask when it grazed her shoulder. Using her monstrous strength, she pulled a tree out of the ground and swung to her left, knocking down several other trees and smirking when the Sound archer was forced to reveal himself and hold back on his attacks. She could assume well enough that he probably wasn't good at close range combat. Well, too bad for him because his arrows were about to become quite useless.

A shriek pierced the air as Sakura's honed chakra blade ruptured a vital organ and ended the shinobi's life.

"It would seem that we underestimated you ANBU."

Sakura didn't respond. Her wounds were bleeding but she didn't bother to heal them, knowing that she'd need all the chakra she could afford for the next round of beatings to come. Her shoulder throbbed abnormally and it dimly registered to the pink haired kunoichi that the arrow tip was probably poisoned. Judging by the slow reaction, it was a weak poison by her standards, which left her with plenty of time to dispose of the remaining Sound ninjas surrounding her.

"But we'll rid you of this world soon enough and then once we find those two other ANBU, we'll be sure to send them your way after torturing and—"

Razor sharp senbon abruptly ended his little speech, embedding themselves precisely in a neat row across his neck, effectively causing him to claw at his throat while drowning in his own blood.

Sakura never took it too happily when anyone threatened the lives of her team. It'd be a cold day in hell before she'd let anyone get away with that. And it would seem luck was on her side today. These ninja were sorely lacking in the training department and she could tell that most of them had no real experience to boast of, at least not with the way she had killed most of them quite easily.

She readied her stance and glanced warily at the remaining shinobi, having a feeling that these were no doubt the strongest of the group that had managed to trace their tracks from the Land of Sound. Already a bit worn out from their earlier escape and endless drifting through the forests, Sakura could only rely on her determination to see this mission through and on Kano and Aki arriving safely back at Konohagakure.

"She'll come back alive…the captain isn't foolish enough to die…she better not…damn, I should've knocked her out and carried her over my damn shoulder!" Aki rambled, running a callous hand through his sienna colored hair. He kept glancing back, hoping that their pink haired captain would be darting her way from branch to branch, catching up to them.

"I doubt you could've rendered her unconscious." Kano supplied.

Aki laughed, but it was strained and laced with worry. "I probably would've been the one knocked out."


"Damn it Kano, why are you always so fucking calm?" Aki ducked to avoid a low hanging branch, his dark blue-violet eyes darting to his quiet teammate. But he knew that the silent man was far from calm by the slight flexing of his jaw muscles and the clenching of his fists. Kano was just as worried for their captain as he was, the tall and black haired shinobi just didn't show it as readily as he did.

"She will be alright Aki. She always manages to come back."

"Right. She's too scary strong to die anyway."

Every muscle and fiber of her beaten, bloody and bruised body screamed in retaliation every time she moved, every time she managed to not fall off a branch and land face first onto the rain soaked forest floor. It had only began raining a few minutes ago, making the world around her even more blurry.

But damn if she didn't make it back home at least half alive. She didn't kill eight Sound shinobi to just die sitting by a tree alone. And Kami knew what a pain in the ass the last one was. It took her last bit of chakra, extreme focus, and the memory of Neji's precise training to hit the key chakra points in the Sound nin's body, effectively stemming off the flow and leaving him vulnerable to meet the sharp end of her ninjaken.

Sakura heaved a shaky breath, her body shuddering and feeling more sluggish than usual. The poison didn't help either nor did her current non-existent chakra, which had she still had some left, she could flush out the foreign substance. But she had to push on regardless. Her team was most likely close to Konoha by now, intent on delivering the scrolls to the Hokage. And she hadn't seen her home for so long now that with every second she wasted, it increased the ache in her heart.

'My nice fluffy pillows…warm bed…come on Sakura, you're almost home…'

She brushed off another wave of vertigo as she headed back towards Konoha, overexerting her muscles and energy, but not caring in the least. Tsunade could have her hide later on, assuming she was still alive, and lecture her on proper medic nin etiquette then. But until she made it past the gates, she didn't give a flying rat's ass about what anyone had to say.

It was starting to become a torrential downpour. Two ANBU members had flown past earlier, nothing but blurs through the rain and Izumo wondered what was up. He glanced at Kotetsu who lounged in the chair beside him, twirling a kunai with his fingers.

"Think anyone interesting is going to enter the village?"

"Besides those two ANBU?" Kotetsu looked up and away from the rain. "Probably not."

An hour later, they were still sitting there, looking through paperwork the Hokage had sent down for them to organize.

"Izumo, I think—"

His attention was suddenly ripped away from his fellow shinobi when a masked body seemed to spiral down from the sky and land in a tangle of limbs and ANBU gear in front of them. A flash of familiar pink hair had them scrambling over to the fallen body.

"Haruno Sakura…" Kotetsu murmured, worry lines etched across his features.

Izumo grimaced when he saw the many puncture wounds and bruises on her battered body. Her ANBU uniform was torn and tattered, arm guards dented, no doubt from blocking weapons and she was both rain and blood soaked. He quickly searched for a pulse, blinking rapidly to keep the rain out of his eyes. He caught it…faint…and dying the longer they stood out in the downpour with her unconscious body.

"Shit. We have to get her to the hospital right away. I think she's been poisoned too." Kotetsu pointed to the irregular graze on her shoulder, it was a deep purple in color, vein like lines extending outward from the wound.

Izumo grunted. "Go Kotetsu, I'll keep watch on the gates."

He nodded and lifting the ANBU captain, secured her in his arms before making a mad dash towards the hospital.

to be continued…