1The moon was low in the night's sky, so close to the earth it looked as if you could reach out and touch it. A loan shadow traveled stealthily through the night, looking for something he just couldn't seem to find. Not at the house, the Hokage Tower, the training court. For some reason the target had disappeared without a trace, and that was not a good thing. The target was vital for their mission, and if he did not find them he was going to catch some serious shit, and horrible missions for a while. Deciding that he needed a break the Sharingan disappeared in a cloud of smoke to where the series of bridges swept across the river. He could remember coming here when he couldn't stand to be at home with his brother or father. The soft beating of the water as it quietly lapped against the concrete was soothing. He appeared in a cloud of smoke and stopped. There was a soft almost inaudible sound coming from one of the benches. He looked up, and was surprised to see the target, sitting on a bench under a loan cherry blossom tree crying. She hadn't seen him come that was a good thing now he could easily grab her and leave.
The hurtful words of the Uchiha had cut her too deep this time. It was just after they had made it through the third round of the Chunin Exams. She had wanted to tell the proctors about Sasuke-kun's mark, but he wouldn't let her. He said he would kill her if she got in the way. Why? All she wanted to do was help him. She knew why he said that. She was annoying, that's why. Ever since they were released from the tower she had been out here crying. She hadn't even walked back with Kakashi Sensei and Naruto because she was so upset. Naruto had protested of course, the woods were dangerous—hence the name Forest of Death—and he didn't want her to go alone. She had turned and gave him a quick teary eyed smile and told him she would be fine. That's what she was always telling herself. She was always smiling though everything, Sasuke-kun's rejections, the beating she had taken from Zaku, the fight with Ino, and the numbing pain she had felt this afternoon. She was about to stand up and go home, she really needed to get her bruises and cuts taken care of, and even though Ino had helped with her hair, Kurenai Sensei was better, and Sakura only trusted her to fix her hair the right way. Since Sakura's mother was not a kunoichi, not only did she not understand, but she couldn't help Sakura with her genjutsu, but Kurenai Sensei could, and even though she wasn't on her squad, she had always offered to help Sakura with her training. She was the closet thing Sakura had to a Shinobi mother.
"Sakura-chan!" Sakura looked up and saw Naruto running over to her. He looked like he had been fully healed and gotten plenty of ramen—probably a treat from Master Iruka. Sakura quickly wiped her tears away, she didn't want Naruto to see them, he didn't need to carry her burden. He ran up and knelt on the ground in front of her. "Sakura-chan, are you okay?" he asked, concern lacing his bright blue eyes. The moonlight cast a bright sliver glow on them and Sakura realized that Naruto was actually growing to be a handsome man, but she was not about to get involved with him—he was all Hinata's all the girls knew that.
"I'm Fine Naruto-kun, thanks." She said with a smile. Naruto looked like he had just seen a ghost. "Naruto? Naruto what's wrong?" she asked.
Naruto shook his head, he couldn't believe she had called him i Naruto-kun /i "It's nothing Sakura-chan, can I walk you home, please? I'm really worried about you, and so is Kakashi Sensei." He said. Sakura nodded and stood. Naruto could tell she had been out here crying. Her eyes were all red and puffy; he was going to kill Sasuke Teme. "Sakura-chan?"
"Wh-what happened, when Sasuke Teme and I were knocked out? Those bruises didn't just appear out of thin air." He asked. Sakura-chan was one of the most important people in his life; even if she didn't love him the way he thought he loved her. But still he had to watch as Sasuke Teme treated her like a dog, and then when she tries to help him, he acts as if her touch is acid. He hated to see the way she just seemed to smile through everything. When he had woken up in the forest, Sakura-chan's hair was mangled, she had a bloody nose, blood was coming out of her mouth, and there was a kunai in a leg, and arm and her belly. He remembered when she pulled them out, they were so deep, and Ino had to take her away into the woods with Tenten so they could help bandage her up. He was scared she wasn't going to last, she looked like she hadn't slept in days, and she would fall down a lot. He asked her if she wanted him to carry her, but Sasuke Teme had called her weak and she declined. Damn Sasuke Teme really was an ass hole.
"Um, well Naruto the sound team attacked, and Lee-kun had tried to help protect me and you, but he fell too. I had to do something, and since Kin was holding my hair, and I couldn't get away I had to cut it, then I tried to attack Zaku, and I was coming down from the trees at him, and he though it was a clone, so he threw three kunai to make it change into a log, like the others had, but that time it really was me. I landed on top of him, drove a kunai into his arm, and bit the other. I managed to hang on a little bit, but he kept hitting my head, and eventually threw me off of him. Then Sasuke woke up, and broke his arms." She said, editing the pain and blood and everything. "I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough to do it on my own." She said.
Naruto spun on Sakura, pinning her to a tree. "Sakura-chan don't you ever apologize again!" he shouted. Sakura flinched a little scared. Naruto never spoke like this to her. "Sakura I saw you pull those kunai knives out of your body! I saw the pain you were in, the exhaustion, and the way Ino and Tenten looked when the three of you came back from the woods could only mean that it was worse than it looked! But you kept going! Damn it Sakura-chan, why does what Sasuke Teme say mean so much? You could have died form straining yourself in the forest, all because Sasuke Teme would have thought you were weak! You could have killed yourself because of him!" he shouted.
Sakura just broke down and started to cry. "Naruto . . . I'm sorry." She said. Naruto wrapped her up in his arms and let her cry.
He watched the whole scene unfold before him. Sasuke was going to pay for what he had done to the girl, but not now, now was about the mission. Taking the Kyuubi out would be easy enough, and Sakura was too exhausted to fight him off. This was going to be easier than he thought. Itachi moved so he was right behind Naruto when he and Sakura pulled apart, knocked him out with a knife jab, and moved at Sakura. The kunoichi jumped out of the way. "Naruto!" she called. "Itachi what are you doing here?" she asked.
"How do you know of me kunoichi?" he asked. He had never seen her before, and this confused the Uchiha very much.
"I saw your face, and I knew that simply because you looked so much like Sasuke you had to be his brother." She said, taking out a kunai, like she had a chance to beat him. Something deep inside her said that she should fight.
"Kunoichi, you have no idea who you are up against." Itachi said standing straight. All he did was look into her eyes and she fell to the power of the Sharingan. Itachi stepped forward and cradled Sakura in his arms.
Itachi looked down at the Kyuubi. "She no longer belongs to the Village Hidden in the Leaves." He said with an emotionless face and left, taking Sakura with him.