A/N: This chapter is boring, overdue (what Kishimoto has done to the manga has killed my inspiration) and short but I needed to get this out of the way. Hopefully now that this is done I can start with the major plot of the story, which of course is Sasu/Saku love. Also I am looking for a beta. If anyone is interested please email or comment.
"That arrogant son of a bitch!" Swinging out her right leg Sakura hit her intended target. "The pigheaded jerk!" Another connexion of her fist and flesh was made. Oh yeah, that felt good. "Do you know what he said then? He said, he said...argh!" Kicking out one final time the medic-nin sent her sparring partner sliding across the training field. The sight would have been impressive if only her vision wasn't tainted by a red mist.
Dropping down onto her knees Sakura panted and wiped the beads of sweat from her brow. She could feel the adrenaline quickly seeping away from the pores of her body, feel the aches and pains on her bruised flesh start to awaken. She knew that in the morning her body would hate her but at that moment she couldn't find it in her to care. It had been vital to do this, her sanity had depended on it. Kick, punch, scream and vent, a beautiful combination.
As the drained woman regained a steady breathing pattern she rose up on shaking legs, still cursing under her breath. He had reduced her to this, him and his nasty mouth. Calling her a whore, calling her weak, mocking everything she had worked so hard to become.
The real anger hadn't hit her until later when she had been sitting at her desk in the hospital surrounded by paperwork. A prescription had required her signature but as she went to sign her name she couldn't for the life of her remember how to write it. Sakura had started at the paper for over a minute trying to figure out how the hell to leave her mark.
"So weak, so pathetic." Her body had frozen as Sasuke's words came back to her. "You must have pulled a lot of strings." The grip on her had pen tightened. Why was this happening now? She had told herself that his words didn't affect her, had simply brushed them off as a failed attempt to rile her. "Who did you have to..." No, she wasn't going to let this get to her! He was nothing, his words were nothing.
"Fuck." She had clenched her teeth and squeezed her eyes shut, caught in an internal battle. You're nothing to me Sasuke, you're nothing, nothing...
"Whore..." Snap. The pen fell to pieces between her fingers its ink staining her creamy skin.
Then she had screamed, punched her desk in half and gone in search of a sparring partner. Unfortunately the unsuspecting soul had not expected sweet Sakura Haruno to go to town on their poor self.
Standing up on shaky legs she walked towards her partner who was laying face down on the field. As she approached she heard the words, 'Sakura-san,' being whined in a pained tone repeatedly. Guilt crashed down on the medic-nin as she knelt down next to her victim.
"Oh Lee," she sighed, her voice laced with shame. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to be so aggressive back there." Rolling over The Green Beast of Konoha she placed a hand on his dirty forehead. "Do you want me to heal you?"
Sakura jumped back as Lee's fist punched the air. The overly eager man began to cheer and pump his fist. "Oh no Sakura-san not at all. Your skill and strength triumphed over my own. Oh how great is your power of youth! How inspiring!"
Eyes wide Sakura twitched. Maybe his condition wasn't as bad as she originally thought.
"Such power you wield Sakura-san. I must train harder for our glorious rematch! I am truly honoured to ha..." And in mid sentence Lee's eyelids closed shut and his fist fell to the ground with a thud. For a long moment Sakura stared down at the motionless body and blinked. Had he just...?
Crossing her arms Sakura scowled at the blonde haired Jinchuuriki.
"Oh man Sakura i can't believe you actually knocked out bushy brows!" Bowing over Naruto continued to laugh hysterically nearly falling out of his chair in the process. Apparently this was the most hilarious thing he had heard in years. Huffing at Naruto's lack of consideration Sakura resisted the urge to reach over and dump the contents of her teammate's ramen bowl over his head.
After years of being witness to Tsunade's outbursts Sakura had been worried that her temper was manifesting into one that matched her sensei's. The day that Tsunade had punched a young, smart mouthed chuunin through her office wall had been a revelation for the medic-nin. Sakura began to practise extreme self control, meditated frequently and if the situation called for it beat up and knock out a fellow ninja and friend.
It had not escaped the medic-nins notice that most of her frustration stemmed from none other than her very own teammates. After years of training it appeared she was no more resistant to them than her twelve year old self had been. That fact was deeply worrying.
As Naruto's laughter began to subside the pink haired woman raised an eyebrow in his direction. "You finished?"
The blonde sniffed, chuckled one last time and breathed in deeply. Tan cheeks were flushed and sapphire orbs wet with tears. Sakura faltered at the view from her side. Naruto had become incredibly handsome. Just when had that happened? When had the puppy fat melted away into tight skin and hard muscle? Where had the firm jaw and high cheekbones come from? Frowning at her trail of thought Sakura pushed the inappropriate observation of her friend to the side. What the hell was wrong with her? This was Naruto! The same Naruto who was currently shovelling food into his mouth with a total disregard for any manners he may have been graced with.
"I'm sorry Sakura," the blonde said his mouth half full. "I didn't mean to make you feel worse. Lee will be back running laps around Konoha in no time; he's stronger than you think. Remember Gaara?" Slurping up the last of his meal Naruto stretched with a satisfied sigh. "Thanks for the treat Sakura i'll pay next time yeah?"
Snorting the medic placed her money on the counter top. The day that happened Tsunade would summon her and announce that hell had officially frozen over.
"Eh...Have you spoken to Sasuke since yesterday?"
Her fingertips stilled on top of the crisp notes. The sudden question had startled her but really shouldn't she have seen this coming? Thinking about it, Naruto had done well in holding for as long as he had.
"Yes Naruto, I have spoken to him."
The answer caused Naruto to jump out of his chair and approach her with his palms open and turned upwards.
"What did he say? Does he know what happened? Did he say anything about me?"
Naruto continued with his questions not stopping for Sakura to give an answer to any of them. Her head started to hurt and her patience grew thin as he verbally attacked her for answers. Why was everyone depending on her? What had she done so wrong to be given this task?
The talking carried on, the blonde not even noticing what affect his words were having on the medic. All that mattered was Sasuke. Sasuke! Sasuke! Sasuke! For years it had been about him and dammit it still was!
"Shut up Naruto!"
The loud outburst caused Naruto and everyone else at Ichiraku's to stop in their conversations and stare.
Realising what she had just done Sakura blushed and stepped away from the stand. So much for curbing her temper.
"Sakura...are you alright?"
And there is was, the question that she needed to hear. To know that despite everything people still cared for her and not for the job she did. Ever since Naruto had walked through those gates with their former teammate it was all she had heard about. No one had bothered to see if she was okay with what was going on, nobody had cared. They saw a twelve year old girl who had once had a crush and therefore must have been ecstatic at the role she had been given. They didn't see a woman who had nearly lost her best friend, her life, herself.
Time had moved on but everything had stayed the same. The missions had grown harder and the risks higher but Sasuke had always been their goal. At one point it had stopped being about Naruto bringing him back for her. Their orders became more strict and their failure more frequent. Bring back the youngest Uchiha traitor for sentencing, his actions could not be left unpunished.
Sasuke's crimes had grown greater and his hunger for power had rivalled that of any enemy they had come across. Sakura no longer saw the Sasuke of team twelve. He was the avenger, the leader of team Taka and an S-Class missing nin. Her Sasuke-kun was gone.
It was a lie of course but to tell the truth would do no good, it would change nothing. Leaving the now crumpled notes Sakura left the still silent stand and started walking home. The sound of Naruto's feet following her had been expected.
"I'm sorry Sakura. I didn't think, I never do. Just forget it okay!"
The forced cheer to Naruto's voice was obvious and it only made Sakura feel worse. He was probably dealing with this no better than she was, at times like this they needed each other. They were a team, they were partners.
"Don't apologise to me Naruto. I overreacted, I shouldn't have yelled like that in front of everyone." Clasping her hands together she spun around to face the blonde. "Tell you what, let me pay again next time and we'll call it even okay?"
Smiling Naruto threw an arm over her shoulder and squeezed her close.
"Sure thing Sakura-chan!"
He started talking about his training and how he was trying to master a new form of Rasengan but Sakura couldn't focus on his words. She knew he was trying to lighten up the atmosphere and make her feel better. Naruto wanted to know about Sasuke but he didn't want to upset her either and so he was faking smiles and laughter all for her benefit.
"Sasuke's fully conscious now."
It was the second time that she had rendered Naruto speechless that day, Sakura noted that she was getting pretty good at it.
Arm falling away from her shoulder Naruto stepped away his eyes wide.
The pink haired woman stayed silent as Naruto stood there his eyes downcast. Sakura didn't think she had ever seen Naruto this contemplative. His tanned brow was furrowed in thought and his mouth set in a firm line.
"Did he...did he try to attack anyone?"
The question startled her. Up to this point Naruto had been so positive about Sasuke, talking as if he was still a part of team seven, like he was still on their side.
The look of relief on her friends face was one the medic-nin didn't think she would ever forget.
Then it hit her. Despite what Naruto felt for Sasuke as a friend and former partner he was still a Konoha ninja. The safety of the village came first, always. If there was a threat to the village then they had to stop and defeat it. That was what they were trained to do, that was their job. It was comforting to know that Naruto felt that way and that he had not lost forgotten his duty.
"I'm going to go see him now."
Mouth open Sakura shook her head at the determined man before her. He was going to what?! Only a few hours ago Sasuke was swearing he would kill Naruto, his presence would only anger the already unstable Uchiha.
"Naruto no, you can't."
It was too late, the blonde had already started running in the direction of Konoha hospital. Panic seized Sakura momentarily before she hastily followed the idiot man. Perhaps the safety of Konoha was not at the top of his priority list.
"Naruto," she screamed, "wait!"
xteenuh102593 – OOCness is the enemy and it must be killed!
MizuiroNeko – I'm disappointed with this one chapter as well. The next chapter will have a lot more action (hopefully)
Blacksharingan03 – She will...eventually ;)
Whitexgodess – Thank you for that lovely review! It's reviews like yours that boost my ego and encourage me to continue.
Haliz – He's a bastard and he's going to be a bigger bastard in the next chapter too...sorry! Also sorry for the delay, I won't desert this story I promise.
The Only Sane One – I'm looking for a beta to help me with this. I hate bad grammar in fics and I don't want to be one of those people.
Saints amoung Angels /Christina/sakka san/PC Princess/moonsiren06/ Jad3/winrycherry101/KimiTien/Skizzle – Thank you so much for the reviews. I love reading them all.
ChristinaAngel – We never get to see why Sakura fell for Sasuke do we? So that was my interpretation and i'm glad you like it!
Sonia – My update schedule has been appalling and i apologise, all i can say is that the manga has been lacking in inspiration for me lately but hopefully the next chapter will be with you soon.