This story is going through a process of revision (don't worry it won't stop the updates). The reason for this is twofold: First since the servers were update some months ago, FFNet has deleted the scene breaks I had inserted in the chapters. Second there are a lot of horrible spell mistakes that must be fixed (thank ArtanisRose for finally getting me to do it). I'll be reviewing the chapters regularly and try to fix any mistakes that might have persisted since the last purge. Be patient, though: it will likely take time.
Chapter I - Darkness
The wind sped through the trees, whistling like a child between the branches, shaking the leaves to their very core. A wind of sorrow and suffering that couldn't have been more perfectly matched with the grim face the sky had been presenting itself at the time.
Straps of dark grey clouds, almost black, slid in the sky, letting the first stars of the beginning of the night show their faces to whoever found themselves in the mood for such activity. But that night Shikamaru wouldn't be watching them. Because there was something much more important, and because the huge fully black clouds in the horizon promised more rain to come.
The wind sped through the forest and up the village's gates, swirling in the streets, trying to take away coats and other belongings to the unaware peasant, like a small child playing outside, cackling with laughter. But it was also a wind with the howl of tragedy, sounding like a pack of wolves, mourning their dead comrades after a particularly gruesome fight. The wind passed through the closed doors of Ichiraku's Ramen stand – no client would have his meal here today - and ran to the local barbecue in order to take a curious peek to the life of the people of this strange village of Konoha. A fairly large number of villagers were there, laughing and drowning themselves in food and drink, yelling in an happiness that, to many of them, was nothing but fake, commenting on how good it was the demon was gone, complaining to the hell he had put them through while, at their heart, wondering for the first time, just what had the little boy done to them that had been so bad.
The wind rose up and resumed its way. Those were not the ones he wanted to observe. A few lights were lit in the houses and, as Wind looked inside through the window, he would see a child playing by the fire, a housewife busy with her affairs, or just an old man sitting, reading the paper at the light of some candle lights, now that the sun's luminosity was starting to fade. There was a small humming in the air. The wind rose above the houses, spotting a somewhat large group of people, all dressed black, silently and slowly making their way to the graveyard. The wind hurried itself to catch them.
The clouds were now right on top of the village again and, has Wind reached the roaming humans, he spotted a young woman slipping slightly on the soaked ground, looking miserable and consumed by sadness at all time. There was a thunder, a thunder which lit the sky in a yellowish colour, deepening the sad frowns on everyone's face. The wind rushed between them, trying to make itself noticed, only getting groans and muffled curses at itself in the process.
As she forced herself to keep up with the miserable pace of the Godaime, Sakura was getting more and more depressed. For the most part of the last few days, she had tried to put up a brave face, to show her strong side to everyone, in an attempt to ease the suffering around her, only deepening her own in the process. The thunder startled the girl, making her take a small jump out of scared surprise, making her slip in the muddy ground bellow her. She felt something cold fall on her cheek and reached for it automatically. It was a droplet of water. All around her, more droplets started to fall, but none of the presents tried to shelter themselves. The rain echoed in a monotonous compass, sending a sad music to the air. A music that matched the despaired sadness, the buried longing and, deep inside, deeper than she would have ever imagined, unknown to everyone including its bearer, the dark hate Sakura was feeling.
She forced her legs to keep moving, even though her feet seemed to have been morphed into chakra enhanced weights. She was at the limit of her resolve and only kept walking due to an unbreakable stubbornness.
They had finally arrived. Everyone who had known him, truly known him, was there, to pay their last respects to them. Almost everyone, at least. The Toad Sannin didn't seem to have been able to make it. It was not surprising, since he had done the same when his sensei had died, killed by a former team-mate, Orochimaru. The man just didn't do well with crowds. He preferred to pay his respects on his own way.
To Sakura, moments of her relationship with him kept coming back to her mind. Despite her best efforts, it seemed her brain just wouldn't let her have a moment of rest.
Naruto. Naruto, running around the village, pursued closely by a bunch of ninja, just after having performed his latest prank. Naruto, annoying her to death at the academy. Naruto at the Chuunin exams, refusing to give up, Naruto cheering her up in that same exam. Naruto...
"It's the promise of a lifetime, Sakura-chan!" he said, before sprinting of to catch up with the others.
"Naruto made the nice guy pose. He won't fail!" commented Lee at her side.
"I'll bring him back for you, Sakura-chan! I'll train to get real strong!"
"Why?" Sakura was sure. She distinctively heard the question. She raised her head in a jerk, foolishly looking around, a glimmering hope trembling in her heart. But the sky was still dark, rain was still falling, and reality hadn't change. Naruto had died, killed by the boy he considered his best friend. Killed has he struggled on a foolish errand, a suicide self-imposed mission. No, not self imposed. Sakura had been the one to impose it on him. And because he was who he was, Naruto just couldn't stand and watch someone close to his heart suffer. And he died, died with a smile, confident on a promise that would never be kept. Sure, Naruto. I'll get the Mangekyou by killing you. I'll gain the power to kill my brother. I'll return Home. Sakura clutched her hand at her heart, pain shooting through her chest, burning her eyes. The tears fell alongside with the rain, undistinguished. If it wasn't for the bloodshot eyes, no one would ever notice she was crying.
Everyone was paying their respects. Shikamaru, Chouji, Neji, a crying Hinata, the Suna brothers, the Kazekage himself, Gaara of the Sand, a very shaken Kakashi, the Godaime Hokage and others. A new bolt of lightning split the sky in half allowing Sakura to clearly see, in the darkness, the photo of a smiling boy, with guts and courage rivalled by none, the hair the colour of his heart. With whisker marks on his face, Konohagakure's most surprising ninja, Uzumaki Naruto, Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune, had passed away. Sakura fell to her knees, unable to cope with the pain.
"Why?" She heard again. Except this time was the voice of a girl, next to her. Right in front of her actually. She raised her head to look at the trembling figure of Hinata, standing above her, high and erect. "Why?" she asked again. Sakura shook her head, unable to answer, as a lump formed in her throat.
A powerful kick sent her flying backwards in total surprise. And before she or any of the others could react, Hinata was next to her, anger and hate on her face, darkened by her soaked hair, palms glowing with raw power. She was hit again more times than she could even count before the other girl was stopped by the powerful hand of the Hokage, with a little help from the only other Hyuuga present, Neji. Sakura landed with a soft bump, next to a tree. As the Hokage readied herself to punish the Hyuuga heiress, a sudden feel of power burst through the field, before something knocked over Hinata, sending her several dozens of feet in the air. With just a flick of her finger, Sakura had knocked the Hinata flat on the ground. Tsunade knew the power of even on flick of her finger would be enough to kill a person, but she also knew she couldn't quite blame Sakura for it because... what was in front of her was not Sakura...
Sakura looked around. Her surroundings were awfully familiar. She didn't have to look to know: Naruto was battling Sasuke once again, and she was stuck in the nightmare that haunted her every night since that fateful day.
Sai was there, next to her, unconscious, after being knocked out by a particularly bold move of Uchiha Sasuke, who was battling Naruto once again. And once again she was sitting there in the dusty ground, powerless. She didn't know why she couldn't help. There was a large confusion on her heart. Did she really want Sasuke back? Yes, of course she wanted. And yet she couldn't bring herself to help Naruto. Something pinning her to the ground. 'No. No. I don't want to see it! Please, no!' She continued to watch as tears fell down her face in despair: She knew what was coming, she had watched the dream too many times, unable to avoid it. She closed her eyes in a futile attempt to keep the images from reaching her. But it was of no avail. If anything, her attempts only made the images bolder.
She was forced to watch, as Sasuke, the very same person she had thought so much of, the very reason she had passed the most lonely years of her life, apart from her best friend Ino, the very reason why she chastised Naruto on a daily basis, the one she once had thought was the love of her life, trusted an overpowered Chidori through Naruto's chest. She watched as the blonde's eyes widened in disbelief, and as Sasuke's Sharingan swirled madly, becoming the feared Mangekyou, and the boy's mad cry of triumph and crazy happiness. She cried out as loud as she could, trying and failing to block those images again and again. In a desperate move she forcefully flung her eyes open…
… only to find herself laid back on a Konoha's hospital bedroom. She tried to calm herself, tried and failed once, twice and again, sweat dropping from her forehead. She wiped it, remembering that it was the reason why she had had a hell of a time in her fist times at the academy. And that it was why she had made friends with Ino, who felt sorry for the little pink-haired girl sobbing quietly on the park. Forehead-girl was still a teasing name her friend used in order to pick on her when they used to fight over Sasuke. She clenched her fists at the thought of the boy and tried to think on other things, not wanting to destroy the hospital. The mix of her bloodline limit and the insane strength she had gained from her training with the Godaime Hokage, Tsunade, the Slug Sannin, was not a good combination for the furniture when she was enraged or otherwise distressed.
Her memories from the fated day, when Sasuke did what she thought impossible and murdered his friend, weren't very good. She could not remember much after the Uchiha had shoved his attack towards Naruto, sealing his fate.
She remembered hearing him brag about his Mangekyou Sharingan and how he was now able to defeat his brother and rebuild his clan. She remembered how she listened without believing when he asked her to follow her to "glory" and be one of his "trusting servants". She remembered him asking her cooperation on the rebuilt of the Uchiha clan. She remembered spitting on his face and trying to attack him. She remembered Tsukuyomi… All the rest was blank.
The others had, eventually, told her the rest of the story. Apparently, Sai had come back to his senses to find her performing medical Jutsu on Naruto, desperately keeping him alive, even though he had no heart any more, with a blank look on her face. He had made one of his Jutsu and summoned Tsunade and a few of the others, such as Jiraya and Kakashi, to help. No matter what he would try, Sai just seemed have been unable to release her from her state of mind. They told her Tsunade had been forced to knock her unconscious to succeed in stopping her, effectively keeping her from killing herself from chakra exhaustion but, on the process, assuring the fate of the blonde shinobi. Not even the chakra of the Nine-Tails had took effect in saving the host. It was as Jiraya had said, Kyuubi could only repair, not rebuilt out of thin air. After that, Naruto's body just seemed to dissolve itself into the atmosphere, on colourful streams of smoke, disappearing. At first, Sakura had gained some hope from it, but not for long. Jiraya explained her that, what had happened was not a Jutsu from the Nine-Tails trying to save his vessel, but actually the irrefutable proof that Naruto's life had come to an end. The boy had entered the legendary Lifestream, the shortest path to Heaven, where only the fairest an the pure could thread.
Apparently, it had been then her bloodline limit had manifested itself for the first time – at least with full power. As far as she had understood from the Hokage's explanations, what was moving her body was not her as she was now, but rather another her. She had two versions of herself inside her body, two minds of the same person but, at the same time, with different behaviours. The scarce information she had been able to get, she had received from her mother. It was a well known fact that practically all the females of the Haruno clan were gifted with high levels of intelligence and what some people would describe as photographic memory. It turned out that those were the early manifestations of their bloodline, an alter-ego which was composed of all the repressed feelings of the girl and held no problem in breaking the rules of society. It was known to be a formidable defence against mind attacks and it was because of that that the Haruno family members were so good at Genjutsu. It could also take control of the body if the user was in a state of high peril. Apparently, that's what had happened.
She remembered the funeral. The giant Toad that appeared out of thin air to pay its respects. She remembered Hinata and her heart almost stopped.
Hinata hated Sakura. That much was obvious. It was also obvious that she held her responsible for what happened to Naruto. And the most terrible thing of it all was that she was probably right.
A pointless quest, a childish and immature request. The ramblings of a spoiled brat was what the demands she had made for him to rescue Sasuke seemed to Sakura now. And as result Naruto was gone.
There was a dark atmosphere in the Hokage's Office. One of suffering and distress. Never had Tsunade expected something like that to happen. She had been convinced that the bonds between the team were strong enough, she would never expect the Uchiha to murder one of his own.
Still she supposed she should not be surprised: the Uchiha clan had been known to have some extreme instabilities in their branches, due to the fact that they treasured their bloodline so much that actually almost prohibited marriage outside the genetic lineage of the clan. It was a well-known fact that such behaviours led to mental instability and madness. Although it would be true the Sharingan would remain pure due to the genes being always present, it was also true that genetic problem affecting behaviour and even physical qualities would also be enhanced. All reasonable medical ninja knew of such facts, but they had no power to intervene inside a clan's affair. That was something that not even the Hokage had power to do. And the Uchiha clan had been left alone.
It was now clear that the last of the Uchiha had surely inherited some of those instabilities, which had been probably worsened by the murder of the boy's family by his older brother. Still, there was something more, something luring in the shadows. Tsunade could not perceive what it was, but she was sure there was more to the Sharingan and to what some would call the Uchiha's curse than met the eye.
With a sigh the woman got up and looked through the windows. The circular room had only one regular exit, which consisted in a door, guarded by ninja every time of the day. It was a circular room, much similar to the one where missions were assigned to the ninja teams, although smaller. The Hokage desk stood in the centre, from the viewpoint of someone who enters, and was slightly misaligned with the overall centre of the room, so that the light coming from the big windows behind the Hokage's seat could give the best amount of illumination possible. It was to those windows the Hokage went and, looking down, she was just in time to spot a small woman approach the building. It seemed that punctuality was one of the Haruno's qualities, although, at the time, the Hokage couldn't say if it was a quality or a curse. She still hadn't figured out how to break the news to her apprentice's mother. Another thunder made itself known as the Hokage returned to her desk.
She looked down at the desk. The necklace she had given to Naruto stood there, unmoving and darkened by bits of blood, as if the object itself was sad with the death of its previous bearer. Tsunade had been through three hellish days, suffering the death of the one she considered almost as a grandson, even going so far as if wondering if there was some curse related to the necklace and if it had been her fault Naruto had died. It was all even worse because of Jiraya's disappearance. When her lover and brother had died, she had always been able to count with the other Sannin shoulder but it seemed he too had taken an hard blow with this particular death, even more so than when his previous students died.
And as if that wasn't enough there was the problem of her current student. It was obvious to her that, at some point in the struggle, something awful, horrible had been done to Sakura, thus inducing the self-activation of her bloodline ability in order to protect herself from such event. What exactly it had been, Tsunade hadn't been sure until the medical exam's results arrived at her desk, a day earlier. The diagnostic was clear, vestiges of semen and damaged tissue on her apprentice internal sexual organs left no space for doubt: Sakura had been raped. At first there had been at least two possible candidates for a beating up, if not something more gruesome, but after Sai had agreed to submit himself to scrutiny from Inoichi Yamanaka's mind reading Jutsu, it had been obvious who the perpetrator had been. If there still had been any doubt, the results from the cell's examinations that arrived from Laboratory had shoved it away. Sasuke Uchiha had raped his female team-mate and killed his other one. Two sins in one day and Tsunade didn't intend on letting him live past that, no matter what the councillors had to say in the matter. Although there shouldn't be much opposing to the harsh punishments, since most of the clans were on her side now, as their heirs were reaching adulthood, therefore being apt to assume command of the clan, and had been good friends with the blonde. The reasons for the rapping had been given by an unaware Sakura, as she described the ranting of the Uchiha about restoring his clan. It seemed he wanted to assure the continuity of the family no matter what and decided Sakura would be a good enough of a "host". Such word made Tsunade shudder.
Due to her student's mental instability, at the moment, Tsunade decided not to tell her anything about it. However the same could not be said about her mother and Tsunade felt that, as her guardian, the woman had the right to know. So she had summoned her for the discussions of urgent matters concerning her daughter.
She was also a little pissed at Sakura. It was wrong, she knew, but she couldn't help but blame her, at least a bit, for the fate of the blonde shinobi. If the girl hadn't been so selfish and childish, nothing like that would have happened. But of course, even the best person had failures and, sometimes, not even the Godaime Hokage could think clearly.
There was a low conversation outside and, after a moment, a light knock sounded through the Hokage's door, followed by an announcement that the Haruno Head of the clan was there, requesting permission to enter.
Sakura jerked her head slightly to the hospital's room window, as an unexpected noise came from it. After a few moments she realised it had been nothing more than the wind, gushing against the building. The nurses had already came and shut the main light bulge down, but Sakura maintained a small bedside lamp which gave enough light to barely illuminate the room. She couldn't really understand why, but she had been feeling a sense of dread as soon as the night had fallen and had become afraid of staying alone in the room; in the dark. She wasn't sure, however, if the lamp was making the situation better at all, as its light would cast shadows across all the room. Even though she tried to ignore it, she would sometimes perceive, or imagine to perceive, flickers of movement in the shadows. However, once she looked there, she would never see a thing. The thunderstorm wasn't helping either and she would often jump in surprise when a particularly close thunder would fall from the dark sky.
She kept looking through the window next to her bed, to the street outside, where the street lamps were casting a pale orange light, where the droplets of falling rains could be seen shining, like kunai made out of light.
Her mother had stopped by, earlier in the day, and had informed her that the Hokage had summoned her for a private meeting. Sakura wondered what that was all about. Although some part of her was wishing for the Godaime to ask her mother to gain a more firm grip on her so that she could improve her skills faster, she couldn't also avoid a dark feeling, a sensation of disaster hovering above her head. She sighed and turned to the window once again.
There was this feeling in the room she couldn't really explain. She tried to call for one of the nurses but it was of no avail, as no answer was given to her calls. Sakura got up and reached for the door. She opened the door and saw that she wasn't really in a hospital, but in some kind of underground dungeon. She followed down the corridor searching for something. What she was searching, she couldn't tell but it felt as something she definitely had to find.
She finally reached the end of the corridor and was now starting to feel something close to dark satisfaction. She opened the gates in front f her and entered a large room.
'About time you showed up!' said Sasuke, 'I was about to start without you'.
There was no audible answer from her but it was obvious there was no way in hell she would let him have all the fun alone.
'Actually, I'm through with him, he's all yours' the raven haired boy said before living the room.
Sakura grabbed the long knife she had with her, making sure it was sharp before turning to the person behind her, immobilized by a large set of chains reinforced with Jutsu.
'Hello, Naruto. Goodbye, Naruto.' She said before slowly driving the knife through the blonde's chest, slowly, savouring his screams of pain.
Sakura rose up from the bed, realising the screams she was hearing were coming from herself. She felt evil, dirty, and started to try getting of the bed in desperation. The nurses eventually came and found her sitting against the corner of the room, hugging her knees. No matter how much they tried, she would only say a single thing: "I killed him... I killed him..."
Wind had seen enough. Swirling around the distressed humans on the street one last time, it rose in the air. It sped past the graveyard, reaching the training grounds where an old man was sulking, looking at the darkened sky. This was the man destined to train his chosen, the man who had trained his chosen, his chosen who had now temporarily disappeared from the surface of the planet. Wind rose in the sky and left on a Quest. A quest to greet his chosen, who was just about to come back from the abyss.