Sakura woke from a vaguely unpleasant dream, feeling the warmth of the morning sun on her face. She'd gone to be the night before, worrying about Naruto. He'd hurt himself so much fighting against Hidan and Kakuzu and despite how much she had improved, Sakura still felt like she has been useless. Her medical techniques, already beyond those of normal medics, had been woefully short of what had been needed and despite the fact that Tsunade had told her she was strong enough to qualify for special jounin already, Sakura hadn't been able to do a thing to help.
Shaking off the sad feelings, Sakura sat up and stretched, yawning deeply. She immediately froze when she realized two things that felt wrong.
One: Her hair felt like she'd grown it back out to where it had been when she started as a genin.
Two: Her admittedly small breasts felt like they'd shrunk. As she didn't have much to start with, this annoyed her greatly, but concern tempered her notorious temper.
Cautiously, she opened her eyes.
" What the hell?" she exclaimed softly, looking around. She was in her room at her parents house, but it had been changed. Things were out of place, her medical scrolls were gone, and the old posters of Sasuke he'd torn down were back.
Then her eyes fell on the calendar. It read three years in the past, on the day she'd first been put on team seven. In dawning comprehension she looked to the mirror and saw not her fifteen year old self, but her twelve year old body.
No way. she thought, instinctively canceling the genjutsu. She'd practiced with Kurenai and knew there were very, very few genjutsu users who could effect her, which was only slightly reassuring to her when the room stayed the same. This is like something out of those stories you read on fan fiction dot com. This can't be real, but how are they doing this?
Experimentally she got out of bed. Her body seemed just like it had been back then, down to a paper cut she'd gotten from the written exam on the genin test. It seemed to fabulous to be real, but after spending fifteen minutes checking for signs of any trickery, she came to the conclusion that she was really back in time. Her body was as weak as it had been back in the day, low on chakra and muscle.
But she could remember everything.
She performed a few medical jutsu for practice, testing to see if they worked. After flawlessly healing the paper cut and slicing a pencil in half with the chakra scalpel technique, she tested the strength enhancement jutsu by kicking bed.
It flew into the wall with a WHUMP!
" Sakura, sweetie, it's about time for you to go!" her mother called from downstairs. " You don't want to be late for team assignment!"
" No I don't, mom." said Sakura, tears welling up in her eyes. " I'll be right down."
The reason the tears were in her eyes was simple. Just like in the poorly punctuated and grammatically butchered stories she'd read, she now had the most wonderful gift she could imagine. With the knowledge of what was to come and the skills to actually matter this time around.
It was time to kick Ino's ass and take names.
" First!" shouted Sakura, walking triumphantly though the door to the academy. Ino was still sprinting down the street, woefully behind her. With the chakra focusing techniques Sakura had been able to boost her speed enough that she'd had enough time to pick herself up some leather combat gloves like she favored without even worrying that Ino would catch up.
" You…cheater…" wheezed Ino, stumbling in.
" Good morning, Sakura-chan!" Naruto called from his seat, waving to her.
" Morning Naruto!" Sakrua called back, leaving the gasping Ino and walking towards her seat by the blonde and Sasuke. " How are you?" she greeted.
" Great!" said Naruto, looking a little surprised but staying loud. " Hey, nice gloves, Sakura-chan!"
" Thanks." she said with a smile, taking her seat. " So, who do you think your getting on your genin team?" she inquired.
" Well…..uh….." said Naruto, caught off guard.
" Actually, I already know." said Sakura, looking to Sasuke. " They put the best and worst on the same team. You'll be with Sasuke."
" That would be stupid." grunted Sasuke, glancing over. " He'd just get in my way."
" Me? Ha! A loser like you'd only slow me down!" declared Naruto.
Sakura sweat dropped, scowling slightly. That hadn't gone quite as planned, but it seemed about right. She'd forgotten how the two acted around each other.
" Stuck up!"
" SHUT THE HELL UP!" Sakura shouted at the top of her voice, making both boys jump. She instantly settled back into a calm look. Sasuke looked quizzically at her, having never been told off by a fan girl before, and Naruto looked bashful.
" Morning, everyone!" said Iruka, strutting inside with a bright smile on his face. He nodded to Naruto, who smirked back, believing themselves to be the only ones who knew the secret of the previous night. " So, who's ready to be put onto their teams?" he asked, taking a seat on his desk.
" Me! Me me me me!" shouted Naruto, waving his hand.
" Be patient, Naruto." said Iruka, sweat dropping as Sakura knocked Naruto face first into the desk. " I'm going to read off the teams, then we'll break for an early lunch. Afterwards, your jounin teachers will come by for introductions. Team one will be the crybaby, brace face, and zit girl. Team two will be what's his name, the skank, and Poppin Fresh…."
Sakura tuned out the nobodies. She already knew who was going to be on what team and which ones would be passing. When Naruto cheered at being put on her team and collapsed for being put on Sasuke's, she had to smile. It was so nostalgic anyone would be touched.
" All right, everyone, see you after lunch." said Iruka, when he finished. Everyone mulled off to their respective lunches, with Naruto of course asking Sakura to go get ramen with him. She felt a little sorry for turning him down, but she had something more important to do at the moment.
Namely, she needed to head into the woods and see how much weaker she was in combat.
" Ow." moaned Sakura, rubbing her red knuckles. She was seated with Naruto and Sasuke in the classroom, waiting for Kakashi.
The training had gone….badly. Sakura never realized how much more chakra she'd built up over the years, how much faster she'd gotten, and how much stronger her muscles had been. She felt uncoordinated, weak, and slow, though she still knew she was at least a chunnin.
The strength enhancement jutsu was the hardest on her. She'd forgotten how it had felt before she'd gotten used to the technique, since the human body wasn't really supposed to hit that hard. Her knuckles and heels were sore and she'd had to repair a minor fracture, but she'd figured out about what her body could take.
And come on. I can punch though a tree in one hit. she thought with a smirk. Original Sakura could barely punch though paper and didn't have any real taijutsu training. I'm still awesome.
" We should prank him for being late." said Naruto, leaping to his feet.
" Yeah!" Sakura agreed heartily. She was willing to help this time and glad Naruto had spoken, since it meant it was about time for Kakashi to arrive.
" I got a good idea too." said Naruto, smirking as he ran to the chalkboard and grabbed the eraser. As he went over to stick it in the door, Sakura stopped him. " What?" he asked.
" There's a jutsu I learned that will help." she said, taking the eraser and putting it on a desk. She formed three hand seals and touched the eraser, causing it to vanish. Naruto blinked in shock. " It's a trick ANBU developed for hiding things in the field." she explained, handing Naruto the invisible eraser.
" That's awesome!" said Naruto, wide eyed.
" Thanks." replied Sakura as he put it in the door. " It's not much of a trick, though. It's a transparency jutsu and it only lasts a few minutes."
" How did you learn an ANBU technique?" inquired Sasuke as they sat back down.
" It's was declassified a while ago." Sakura explained, going into the lie she'd prepared. " Since it was deemed harmless and useful to lower level ninja. When I was volunteering to help the hospital one of the medic-nin tutored me in some simple ninjutsu."
" Hn." grunted Sasuke, giving her a unusual look. Sakura realized he was reappraising her, since the Sakura he knew about was completely useless and had never demonstrated any special jutsu.
Then, there was the scuff off the door.
This time, truly caught by surprise, Kakashi entered and was hit by the eraser. It reappeared, covering him in dust as it fell. He came to a halt, his one eye blinking.
" Got ya!" laughed Naruto, pointing at him. " That'll teach you to be late!"
" Yeah!" shouted Sakura in agreement as Sasuke sighed deeply.
His introduction was still lame. thought Sakura as Kakashi looked to them.
" I'm Naruto Uzumaki!" shouted Naruto, going first. He began to adjust his headband over and over as he spoke. " I like ramen! I hate how long it takes to cook instant ramen! My dream is to become the Hokage, believe it!"
" Good." said Kakashi with a nod. " And you?" he asked, looking to Sasuke.
" My name is Sasuke Uchiha." said Sasuke, in his best brooding pose and voice. " There are not many things I like or dislike. I don't have any dreams, but I do have a goal: To revive my clan and kill a certain man."
" And finally, you, miss." said Kakashi, looking to Sakura as Naruto and Sasuke began to glare at each other.
" My name is Sakura Haruno. I like the color pink and my hobby is volunteering at the hospital. I dislike Ino-pig and snakes. My dream is to become a powerful kunochi and the best medic-nin in the village."
Sakura was rather surprised with Kakashi blinked, apparently taken aback.
" Medic-nin?" he asked gingerly. " I-I thought your file said you were a genjutsu type."
" I am, but I prefer medical jutsu." said Sakura, mind reeling. What is this? she wondered. He never acted like this before!
" O-okay then." said Kakashi, rubbing the back of his head. Then, he rallied. " Well, that does it for today. I'd like you three to meet me at training ground seven tomorrow for your final test."
" Final test?" Naruto asked loudly. " We already passed!"
" No, you passed the exam that allows you to take this test. It's a survival test unlike any you've ever taken." explained Kakashi, a devious glint in his eye. " And don't eat breakfast."
" W-why?" asked Naruto, looking intimidated.
" Because if you do, you'll throw up." said Kakashi with a laugh before vanishing.
"….I really hope this guys not a pedophile." said Naruto, sweat dropping.
Kakashi arrived just as Sakura finished the small snack she'd brought. She'd known to eat a light breakfast this time and have something for energy before lunch.
Naruto and Sasuke looked jealous.
" Good morning." Kakashi said cheerfully. " Now that you three are finally here, we can begin."
" You were the late one!" Naruto accused.
" Details." said Kakashi, dismissing the comment. He held up his hand, which had two bells in them. " See these bells? The test is to get one of them from me."
" Ha! That's a lame test." laughed Naruto.
" If you don't get one, you go back to the academy." said Kakashi, hooking them to his belt. Sasuke and Naruto suddenly looked worried. " And I'm sure that you noticed that there are only two."
" That means someone has to fail, right?" asked Sasuke, eyes narrowing as a look of excitement crossed his face. He was obviously looking forwards to this.
" Right." said Kakashi with a nod.
" It won't be me!" shouted Naruto, drawing a kunai. Sakura's training allowed her to see Kakashi's movement and sense the chakra he used to boost his speed, giving her an idea of how much faster he was. The advantage was his in everything, just as before, but Sakura knew she could still have some fun.
" Now now." said Kakashi, grasping the stunned Naruto's arm. " I didn't say start yet. And……." he trailed off as he let go of Naruto, backing a short distance away. " Go."
On his word Sakura punched the ground with all the force she thought safe. The earth split and shattered, forcing Kakashi and Sasuke to leap away and Naruto to fall into a crevice.
" What….strength…." said Kakashi, his visible eye wide. Sakura gave a cute chuckle and lunged, speed and strength boosted by chakra. Now that Kakashi knew he couldn't afford to get hit he dodged the vicious taijutsu assualt, ducking around quickly shattered trees and rocks as Sakura pressed forwards. I don't even have a chance of hitting him with a lucky strike. she mused, amazed as always at Kakashi's skill. He eventually vanished, leaving her alone in the rubblized woods.
" Oof." panted Sakura, leaning over to catch her breath. She'd used a lot of chakra in the attack, a reminder that her current reserve sucked. " Gonna have to watch that." she said out loud, looking up as she heard the burst of flames.
Off in the distance Sasuke and Kakashi were locked in a quasi-epic struggle as Sasuke threw everything he had at Kakashi and the jounin walked out of the way. True, the fireball jutsu and Sasuke's taijutsu skill caught him off guard, but he was still safe, even from the replicated shuriken. Sakura stood and watched the fight in it's completion. It was only then that it truly struck her that she had Sasuke back.
The old Sasuke. He had no cursed seal warping his mind and hadn't met with Itachi yet. He was simply the same old stuck up she'd loved back then, desperately trying to convince himself and everyone that he was the best ninja alive.
She wiped her moist eyes with a gloved hand as he was pulled into the ground, an inglorious and cute end to the battle.
Sakura sat down exhaustedly as Kakashi tied Naruto to the long. Naruto had done just as well as before, which meant he got anal probed and made an idiot out of himself after surprising Kakashi.
" Hey! What gives!" shouted Naruto, struggling under the ropes.
" You did the worst, so your punishment is to be tied to the log." said Kakashi, stepping back. " And you have to stay hungry while these two eat." he explained, handing the lunches to Sakura and Sasuke.
" But that's not fair!" whined Naruto.
" Yeah." said Sakura with a nod. " Since he did the worst, not having any food is going to make him mess up worse."
" That's how this test works." said Kakashi in an fake tone of disinterest. " It weeds out the weak. And if either of you feed him, I'll fail you. See you after lunch." he said, walking off and vanishing. Sakura could detect his presence, just outside of vision.
" Ha!" laughed Naruto. " I'm not even that hungry!"
Sasuke and Sakura sighed as Naruto's stomach gurgled loudly.
" Here." said Sakura, standing up. " I don't care what he says, not feeding Naruto is stupid. Right, Sasuke?"
" Yeah." grunted the dark haired boy, taking a bite of rice. Sakura smirked slightly, glad he'd spoken. She was prodding him so it would look good for Kakashi, since if he didn't participate they would fail. " Are you going to share with him?" he asked.
" It's not a problem. I'm on a diet anyways, so I'm not going to eat all this." Sakura lied.
" T-thanks, Sakura-chan!" said Naruto, looking thankful. " But what if sensei catches you?"
" Naruto, you're my teammate." explained. Sakura. " You and I and Sasuke are going to depend on each other in the field to watch each others backs. If you aren't capable of fighting, we could die. I'd share my food with both of you if I needed to, just like Sasuke or you would."
" Unless its dumplings." Sasuke interjected though a mouthful of rice. Naruto and Sakura looked to him, faces blank. " What?" Sasuke asked defensively. " I like dumplings. I don't care if you two are starving in the field and I'm sitting on a mountain of them, you two don't get one."
" Same goes for my ramen, then." Naruto growled.
" Anyways, here." sighed Sakura, rolling her eyes and inserting a piece of food into Naruto's mouth. There was a blast of smoke, signaling that Kakashi had returned.
" You guy's completely rock!" he shouted at the top of his voice, his eye watery. Sakura was as stunned as Naruto and Sasuke as the jounin skipped around. " Completely and absolutely! For years I've failed every team of rejects that came my way because they didn't get the point of this test!"
" Wait, what?" asked Sasuke, eye twitching.
" It's not about the bells, it's about teamwork!" laughed Kakashi, doing a cartwheel. " If a ninja disobeys orders, he's seen as scum, but a ninja that abandons their friends are worse than scum! You three totally pass!"
" All right!" shouted Naruto, rice spraying from his mouth onto Sakura, who sighed and slumped slightly. Sasuke looked triumphant as Kakashi ended his joyous gymnastics.
" Anyways, your skills still need some work." said Kakashi, instantly going back to normal bored mode. " Though Sakura, your….strength….is….uh….yeah."
" How'd you do that, anyways?" inquired Naruto as Sakura loosened him from the ropes.
" Chakra focusing." Sakura replied. " I took a normal technique that focus chakra into one part of your body and modified if for releasing as I strike objects. I got the idea by reading about the Sannin Tsunade. It takes really good chakra control, Naruto, so don't ask me to teach you." she said, seeing the look on his face.
" Well, it's quite impressive." said Kakashi, regaining their attention. " Your taijutsu forms are rather advanced as well and your chakra control must be quite good. I'll test you later on your medical jutsu. But your problem seems to be endurance. You tired far faster than Naruto and Sasuke."
" I'll work on that." said Sakura, faking a bashful nod.
" Naruto, your biggest problem is you don't think before you act. You have the coordination and speed to fight well, but you lose focus and attack wildly. And you've not been using your shadow clone jutsu for very long, have you?"
" Two days." Naruto said, looking embarrassed.
" I want you to work on that. Sasuke, you did the best of you three, but you really need to take your enemy more seriously. You may be nearly chunnin level already, but I'm a jounin. You can't underestimate me like you did."
" You only beat me once." said Sasuke with a scowl.
" With a very weak and easy to escape technique. But, you three are inexperienced ninja, so missions and training will help most of you guy's faults. Now, who wants a free dinner?" he asked, smiling under his mask. " I feel like celebrating your teamwork."
" Can we get ramen?" inquired Naruto.
" No." said Kakashi, shaking his head. " I want food that doesn't taste like wet cardboard in yak urine."
Naruto turned such a violent red he fainted before he could yell at Kakashi.
" That solves that problem." said Kakashi, picking Naruto up and hoisting him over his shoulder. " Come on, let's go. There's this place Choza Akimachi showed me that's got pretty good barbeque."
" And dumplings?" inquired Sasuke hopefully.
"….I don't know." sighed Kakashi. Sakura just giggled, knowing what the poor jounin was in for.