Chapter 3 – Yakedo-Burn

The smoke was near unbearable. I couldn't breathe, let alone see where I was going. I couldn't hear much either, distant screams and loud booms echoing off of buildings blocked out any way to hear Naruto or Sasuke's voices.

I had lost Sasuke some time ago. One minute he was behind me, the next he wasn't. I hope he was having better luck finding Naruto than I was. I vaguely wondered that when they found each other, if they would come looking for me. Probably not, I wasn't exactly close to them, and they would be worrying about their own skins instead of some mangy girl they met on the road.

I was walking along the edge of the buildings now, holding one hand to the side of me, brushing against the structures, hoping they would lead me somewhere. My other hand out in front, so I wouldn't walk in to something. Fires were still burning, and rubble lined the streets. The situation seemed to get worse and worse. I started coughing, and paused where I stood.

Fighting the temptation to sit and wait for someone to help me, I pushed forward. Sitting and waiting for help was not why I rushed into this. Walking faster now, I recovered my role to find Naruto and now Sasuke.

It wasn't long before I heard the sirens. The ground started to shake, and I leaned against a wall to steady myself. I looked around wildly, to see what was causing this.

To my right, shapes began to emerge from the heavy smoke. I froze. They were army tanks! Either they were rounding people up, or set on the destruction of the city.

The tanks were huge, towering over me as they shot past. Panic set in as cannon-like guns emerged from the side of the machines. My eyes widened in fear. Explosions erupted from the guns as they aimed for the buildings above me. Debris began falling to the ground all around me.

If I stayed here I was going to be crushed! I ran in the direction I was previously headed, trying to dodge the falling stones. Gasping for clean air I pushed myself to go faster. The ground still shaking because of the enormous machines, and the added booms of their guns going off, began to disorient me, I was slightly tripping over my feet as I ran.

Suddenly, a sharp pain ripped through my leg, bringing me to the ground in a heap. I held back a scream, and tried to pick my self up again. I couldn't spare even a glance at my leg if I wanted to get out of here. Limping now, I still made my way to get away from the destruction. Sasuke had been right. I couldn't help anyone; I couldn't even help my self. I was going to die.

An explosion came from above me and I looked up to see a large piece of rubble falling towards me. No! I don't want to die like this! I tried to get out of the way, but my leg had slowed me down. I wouldn't escape this time. I braced myself for the impact and waited.

And waited.

It should have hit me by now… I chanced a look up. And saw Sasuke standing above me. I looked for the large piece of rubble, but couldn't find it. Explosions were still erupting around us, but I could only gape at him.

"What…" I began, but Sasuke cut me off.

"What happened to your leg." He asked more out of curiosity than concern.

"I..don't…" It was then that I looked at it. It seemed like a large piece of glass had sliced its way into my calf. I grimaced in pain. Blood was oozing from it in quantity. I tried to put all my weight on my good leg, but with the ground still shaking I found it hard keep balance. Sasuke seemed to notice this and grabbed my arm to put around him to use as leverage.

"This is why you should have stayed behind. You are useless here." His voice was filled with frustration and annoyance.

I felt a sort of resentment for his comment, but our current predicament kept me from coming up with a witty retort.

Running and half -limping wasn't getting us any further from the mechanic monsters chasing us. It seemed as if the smoke was getting darker the farther we went, also. Sasuke seemed to notice this too, and pulled me into an archway of a collapsed building. We ducked behind the wall and waited for the tanks to pass by us. I could see fire raining down from the buildings surrounding us and pressed my back against the wall of the archway and sank down to sit and have a look at my leg.

It was still bleeding, and I was beginning to feel the effects of it. I grimaced in immense pain, and gritted my teeth. Sasuke stood above me and I could only see his outline, the smoke was so thick.

"You need to see a doctor for that." I glared at him, but I don't think he saw it.

"I just need to stop the bleeding for now. I'll worry about the rest later." Sasuke was about to say something else but I interrupted him.

"How did you save me?" I looked hard at him.

He stilled for a few moments, and bent down to look at my leg.

"That is something that you don't need to know." Suddenly he grabbed my knee and held it down tightly. I screamed in agony, and was about to push him away when another searing pain ripped through my leg a second time. He had pulled the glass shard out of my leg, and rather harshly too.

Tears were streaming down my face as I strained myself to calm down. He then gripped the end of my shirt and pulled a long piece of material off.

"What the heck are you doing?" I yelled, followed by a round of coughing. My voice was harsh and cracked now, my nails digging into my hands.

"I'm going to try and stop the bleeding. Unless you're fine with dying?" I gaped at him. This guy was going to kill me either way!

"Why did you rip my shirt? You could have used your own!" he looked at me angrily. I looked away from him; he was rather frightening in this atmosphere.

"I didn't injure my self. Why should I sacrifice my clothes for your mistake?" I gritted my teeth as he tightened the knot.

In the distance I could hear the mechanic tanks moving on, and I let out a sigh of quiet relief. Sasuke heard this and roughly picked me up by my arm and began walking in the opposite direction the tanks were heading. His hand was hot and calloused, I felt intensely uncomfortable with his skin on mine. I yanked my arm away from him and he stopped to turn and face me. I looked down at the ground, ashamed for some reason that I couldn't comprehend.

"We're not out of danger yet, so don't think of running off again, I may not be there to save you next time." I glared harshly at him, despite knowing that I should be grateful to him. His attitude towards me had offended me immensely and I turned on my heel and began to walk away from him once again, ignoring the voices in my head that I was being stupid and just walking into danger again. Dignity, that had no right to be there, had taken place in my mind and caused me to say something I immediately regretted.

"Well I never asked for your help! I don't need it, I'm capable of taking care of myself, and you don't even know anything about me to make the presumption that I would need saving!" The words were stupid and full of bravado. I continued walking away, not looking back. The black smoke was making my eyes water and my throat dry. Still limping from my leg injury I turned the corner and disappeared from his view.

The smoke was beginning to clear somewhat, so I limped off towards the east, still far enough from where the tanks were going, and no where near where Sasuke was. My only hope was for Naruto to be okay. He was a nice person.

Grayed, bombed-out buildings were everywhere, hollow and dead. I hated this place. I hated this war. What were we fighting for anyway?! The world wasn't supposed to be like this. People weren't supposed to be afraid, Children weren't supposed to be fighting suicidal battles! Parents...parents were supposed to stay with their children. Everything that had once seemed bright and loving disappeared before any of us knew what was happening!

I knew I'd reached the outside of the city once the buildings were replaced by burnt trees. The sky was still black with smoke, but there was a taste of fresh air, and I kept going. If I was in a forest, then if I kept going east, I could make it to the cafe' Yukino-san had told me about. It shouldn't be much farther.

My leg was still severely injured; maybe when I got there, I would be able to get medicine. It was a small chance but it was all I needed to push forward.

~*~

"Sakura, try hard, okay?" At least, I think she used to tell me that. I was put in the orphanage when I was four, so I don't remember a whole lot about my life before my parents died. I just remember her smile, she looked really pretty when she smiled, but it was never a real smile. It just had this feeling of being fake, and I hated it.

She told me to try hard, but when the time came for her to try to get better, she gave up much too easily. Father followed soon afterwards. It seemed like life wanted me to suffer from the start.

It was raining again when I reached the end of the forest. The air now had the scent of smoke and rainfall. A stone fence went along the edge of the forest; I climbed over it, watching out for my leg. Wet strands of pink hair clung to my face as I limped closer to what seemed to be a town in the distance.

"Could this be the town where the café' is at? I really hope so." The town appeared to be small. Stone structures with thatched roofs made it seem comfy and inviting. Once I entered the village I began to receive strange looks. I couldn't blame them; I must have looked a mess. My stomach growled loudly when I caught the aroma of baked bread coming from a building to my right.

Hoping it was the café' I went inside. It was dark inside; candles were lit at every table to help lighten the place. I reached the counter and looked around. I couldn't see anybody.

"Hello?" Somebody must be here, I can smell food cooking.

"We're closed!" a voiced answered me from behind the counter. A tall middle aged looking man with a shaved head came around the corner.

"I…I..er, umm...do you know a 'Yukino-san'?" I asked the man apprehensively. The man's eyes widened marginally.

"I do. My sister. She send you here?" He asked gruffly. He looked me up and down, giving me a look of pity.

"Yes. She said you could give me a job?" He sighed, and shook his head. My heart sank, if I couldn't work here, where would I go?

"I can't hire you missy. I barely make enough to keep this place afloat." He looked at me again, pity swirling in his eyes.

"Here's what I can do, you look like you've been through hell, so I'm gonna take you to see Tsunade. She can fix you right up. Then, if you can't find a place to stay, I'll let you stay here. You got to earn your weight though, so don't expect an easy day." I gaped at him. I could stay here?

The man came around from the corner and kneeled down to sum up the damage to my leg. Blood had seeped through the improvised bandage and my leg looked like it began to swell.

"What have you been doin' missy?" He asked as he stood up. He gave me a look disbelief and suspicion.

"I got caught up in a military raid awhile back." I gave him a blank stare, hoping that the questions would end at that.

"Hmm. You were lucky to make it this far with an injury like that one. What's your name?"

"Haruno." I stated immediately.

"No no, if you're going to be staying with me I get to know your full name, not just your surname." I stared wide eyed at him. I really disliked giving people I hardly knew my real name. I sucked in my stubbornness and relinquished my name.

"It's Sakura." He grinned at me then, and chuckled to himself.

"What?" I asked indignantly. Was he making fun of my name?

"Well Sakura just seems to be a bit too feminine for a girl like you. I think I'll stick with Haruno-san then." I frowned. I wasn't that boyish was I?

"My name's Jiro. Well, let's get you to Tsunade before you pass out from blood loss." He had spoken his words a little too lat e though, I was already on the floor in a heavy sleep.


A/N: I'm sorry I always make it short, and there are probably lots of mistakes, but I don't have a beta. Is there any one willing to be one for me? Updates most likely won't be very often, I might not continue with this story. I'm having just a bit of trouble getting it out of me. Sorry the chapter took so long.

**Another thing you may be wondering, Sakura is a little OOC at the moment, but given her circumstances and troubles, I think her character would be altered a bit. Thank you for reading.

Please review if you want me to continue!!! I need it!!!