Summary: The invasion of the Akatsuki cause Naruto to lose control. With no options left,Tsunade orders Sakura to help recede the Kyuubi. The effect leaves her comatose for a year. When she awakes, she must deal with the changes that have occurred – starting with a specific Uchiha's return. SasuSaku
"You don't have to do this, Sakura."
She was wrong – in every way. They both knew there was no one else capable enough to finish it. There was so little time left that even if there was someone else, she was the only one now. Another piercing sound ricocheted through the rubble and they both tensed.
"Yes…yes I do."
Tsunade merely looked at her before handing her a kunai that was tiny enough to be concealed. It glowed faintly with a strange shade of her mentor's chakra – pulsing steadily in her hand.
She sheathed it in the back pocket of her skirt before getting shakily to her feet.
Tsunade nodded her head fiercely; the words she had meant to say dying on her lips. What could she say? Was there anything left to even say? Was she right in asking her pupil to make the ultimate forfeit? She was so beautiful. So young and loyal. In all of her years, she had never come across someone as bright and promising as Haruno Sakura.
The Godaime grabbed her pupil's wrist as she turned to leave. "You know I would only ask this of you if there was absolutely no one left, don't you?" Her amber eyes surveyed the pillars of smoke beyond their current position. The clamoring of metal against metal was endless.
And there was no one left. No contact. No radio.
"….And that it has to be someone who has his full trust. You have that. As much as I would like to think that I have earned that…well his most special bonds are rather exclusive. Even that fool, Kakashi, doesn't have the trust that he's placed in you. Only the Uchiha boy," Sakura's eyes tightened at the corners. "….had what you have now. By his betrayal – he shattered that special reliance. Kyuubi has not yet taken total control but he will. When you get close take that kunai I gave you and thrust it into the seal….the chakra will be so immense that it will kill you."
Her fingers held fast to the wrist of her apprentice. "But you are the only one who is able to get close enough. I-I think that….you would take comfort in the fact that Naruto will survive this. His dreams are big enough for the both of you, I suppose."
Sakura lowered her head in silence. Beneath her boot clad feet, the pavement darkened with thick tears. Tsunade felt a sharp pain begin to work its way through her stomach at the heart breaking sight. But she lifted her head up seconds later, a smile on her face as Tsunade knew it would be.
The sides of her mouth upturned higher into a larger smile. It looked every bit as bright as her hair but her eyes reflected resignation and anguish. "I accept this last mission Hokage-sama."
Tsunade wiped the look of ache from her face with one quick motion of acknowledgement with her head.
"Then you will go straight to the objective and you will not stop to help or heal anyone. I do not care if it is your mother herself out there bleeding. You are not a medical ninja anymore, at least not tonight. You are a kunoichi of Konohagakure with a mission at hand. You will eliminate all obstacles. The Akatsuki have retreated but there are still Iwa nin that have allied themselves. Use whatever you can to finish this – forbidden or not."
"Yes."Sakura agreed in a whisper.
The hitai-ate attached to her waist was lifted with swift fingers and tied tightly to her forehead. She stopped just at the rim of the crag overlooking the mess that was beneath them, and turned dimly to the side.
"I'll send back cover for you Shishou." Sakura barely tried to conceal the finality of her voice. There was no use seeing as this would be one of her final moments. She hesitated - but decided against more words – and jumped straight into the destruction.
The heels of her boots left distinct marks in the earth where she had landed. Swarms of dust, earth, and something metallic hit her in the face upon impact.
There was no time to dwell on the mangled bodies beneath her. She ducked her head under and pushed her legs forward. If her sense of direction was still intact, though she could barely think in the midst of all the screaming, most of the fighting would be taking place in the west end.
The medic whirled on her feet and began pushing her body towards the sounds of metal. If she guessed right, which she would soon find out, this was where the real chaos was happening. Her fists pushed aside a fallen piece of debris with ease that lay directly in her path of search.
Despite her words, there was no denying the lock of pale hair that extended from a long ponytail. Tsunade's words seemed to reach her even through the yells and shrieks. You will not stop to help or heal anyone.
But the choice was clear and she had already made her decision. She prayed that the loss of such valuable seconds wouldn't be the downfall of them all.
"Ino!" She screamed in the woman's ear. The mind specialist lay unresponsive and almost unnaturally still. A lift of both lids revealed nothing but the empty stare of cloudy eyes. Sakura looked up in distress, sensing someone or something watching her.
A kunoichi that was obviously from Rock Country was staring at her with a relieved expression. How strange. She should have been trying to snap her neck off. And then one quick look at the pretty woman in her arms and back at the red haired Rock nin told her everything.
"Kami…." She exulted in sheer relief. She cupped her hands to her mouth and screamed, "Ino! Head back over the north cliff. There you will find Tsunade who has taken position there. Get as many Leaf nin there as possible." She placed her friend's body in a more discreet location and raised to her feet. Ino, or the body she was currently residing in, slumped to the ground and her original form jerked to life.
"Alright." She exclaimed. She was already running towards the northern part of the village. "Sakura stay away from the center, that's where, Naruto….."
She could have kissed her right then and there. That saved her so much time that a sliver of hope wedged its way to the surface. The medic sprinted off towards the heart of Konoha ignoring Ino's shouts of stop.
Her breath hitched when the perimeter of the area stung at her bare skin. The chakra emanating in the air was so thick and vital that it must have been tangible. She crossed over the threshold of bodies – praying that the Akatsuki and their allies had been the cause and not the man in her vision.
He was there standing with his chest bare. The muscles of his sun bronzed skin rippled and constricted as his hands made a very distinct popping sound. The air in her throat seemed to stop on its pathway upwards. The sensation caused her to cough from the lack of oxygen.
She couldn't bring herself to move or much less inhale.
"Naruto," She breathed out in a low whisper.
The muscles in his back jerked. His face snapped in her direction and she almost died at the sight of him. It wasn't noticeable before. But now red streams of chakra – in plain sight – snaked its way around his form and then pressurized itself against his flesh like a second skin.
The cracked earth beneath her feet sizzled and flared as his chakra leaked across the expanse of it. It bubbled around his feet in substantial clouds. It made large scarlet ears over his own and stretched out behind him forming some kind of tail. And then they materialized in sequence. One. Two. Three.
A flood of thankfulness overcame her at the realization that he was only in his three tailed form. So he did have some control. But for how long could he maintain it? He stared at her silently.
Her fearful eyes darted instinctively to the right at the sound of footfall. An ANBU nin had been inching closer, taking Naruto's sudden pause to his advantage.
"Stop!" But her scream was drowned by the sudden wave of energy. He was still gazing at her with a transfixed expression when he waved his arm faintly. The approaching ANBU was decimated into nothing.
Cold and hard unforgiving waves washed over her. It froze her into place, her eyes wide and tearful. He had just killed a man without looking at him. Without so much as lifting an arm.
Her last meal threatened to come up right then and there but she doubted she had the strength to even up heave her food. She blinked and then screamed.
Her body was wrenched up into the night air. It felt like someone had taken a white hot brand and shoved it around her throat. She felt the remaining slivers of oxygen leave her as she sputtered for breath.
Her legs flailed uselessly in the air all around her. "Don't do this, Naruto. Please…." If anything, he pulled tighter at her throat. Tears brimmed and then fell in miniature rivers down the hot skin of her face. Her eyes burned briefly before lolling until they threatened to roll into the back of her head.
Suddenly she could breathe again. Her glove torn hands clutched at her throat, her breath coming in short bursts. Her own chakra healed the burns that marred her skin - the chakra flowing in heaps from her palms.
She wouldn't need it anymore. Not after tonight.
Hot. Hot. Hot.
His clawed hand cupped her cheek in a flash of red. The skin very well might have seared off because of the pain. Naruto's handsome face was etched on both sides with deep black whiskers, his eyes a dark ruby, almost black. They closely resembled a fox's in their cat like elegance.
His golden hair was matted to his forehead, beads of perspiration working its way down his temple. There was something deeply animalistic about his gaze that made her want to cringe back in terror. He dropped his hand as if realizing the pain that it caused her.
"Naruto?" She whispered hesitantly.
His chest gave a low rumble in response to her question.
Her hand inched behind her. "Please, you have got to control this. I know it's hard – but you cannot kill people. Innocent people. They have hopes and dreams too. Like yours. You strive to become Hokage, remember? Remember?" She insisted again.
She could feel the kunai inches from her hand.
The blackness of his eyes receded until there was nothing left but red irises. They lightened until they were almost azure colored again. They flickered between red and blue. But she could tell the red was winning. Whatever had to be done – better be done quickly. He seemed to realize this too, his gaze searching hers questioningly. The shield of chakra around him flickered – leaving his abdomen vulnerable.
His eyes hardened over as he realized her next actions.
She shoved the blade into the spiral seal on his stomach with a forceful lunge of her arm. His reaction was instinctual. One of his chakra covered hands, she couldn't tell which one, shoved into her chest.
Her scream very well shook the rubble beneath them.
It was like she had been cast straight into hell. It burned through her entire body like another flow of blood. The bubbling chakra ate away at her insides, leaving her in utter agony.
"……I love you." He snarled.
Naruto's words. Kyuubi's voice.
Her back arched in his arms as the fiery pain blistered on. In his eyes she saw her own reflected back at her. Filled with the complete energy of Kyuubi, they glowed red as they burned in her sockets.
Her body hit the pavement beneath her as the air seemed to whoosh by. There was a loud cackling sound and another thud. Tsunade's kunai must have taken effect. She could hear Naruto's screams of anguish as he came to his right mind.
Sakura prayed for death to hurry. She didn't want to be alive when Naruto realized what he had done. She heard a broken scream surround her, tears on her face, and something beat at her chest. But it was soon gone. A numb and cold feeling replaced the pain and she gladly welcomed it.
There was another voice but she didn't have the energy to decipher whose.
She felt cold lips press against hers, pushing their breath into her lungs. It couldn't have been Naruto. He was still writhing in pain somewhere beside her. Heavy hands beat in a timed fashion against her chest.
One. Two. Three.
One. Two. Three.
She sputtered for oxygen as something hot congealed in her throat. It blocked the oxygen that she craved, leaving her floundering around. Something cupped her head in an upwards motion so she could breathe. The medic continued to sputter for breath as someone blew into her mouth.
There was a searing pressure against the gaping hole in her chest. She cried out, the pain somehow worse than before. Rough hands held her down as her back begged to be arched. Slowly, she felt something begin to click. To restart. It sowed inside her body, weaving intricate patterns.
Her heart jumpstarted as if she had been shocked. The action caused her eyes to snap open and look for the source. But soon it faded and she felt the weariness begin to take its toll.
Her vision focused in and out on the sight above her.
Black and Red.
Her eye lids drooped – oblivion threatening to take hold.
She drifted soundlessly, content with the hypnotizing sight being her last image of life.
It never exactly occurred to Sakura what death would actually be like once she got there. It was bewildering to find the comfort of it so simple and easy. It swept over her like a warm blanket – covering her in its security.
It was strange, however, when she felt a nagging somewhere. A sense of discontentment settled which left her feeling oddly empty. What was wrong with her? And then there were the voices. Why were there so many people talking at once? Why weren't they addressing her? Did they not like her?
But as her hearing gradually increased, she realized there were in fact only two voices. Not the millions like she had imagined. It sounded like a female and a male were conversing.
Interesting. The female sounded almost…bossy.
"Look." There was a shuffling of papers. It sounded as if she had jabbed a finger at something. "The electrical activity is soaring. Hm, maybe…."
"Maybe what? A breakthrough?" The male voice asked in a silent whisper. As if he didn't want to believe what she was implying yet yearning for it at the same time. The voice was very boyish yet somehow familiar.
Was he drumming his fingers?
Why was the woman screaming? It disturbed her slightly.
But the woman was faster. "Go ask for the top neurologist in this building! I don't care what floor he or she is on or if they're at home!"
There was the scuffling of feet and then the shutting of a door. Something cool and smooth was pressed against her forehead. She must be in a hospital. That obviously meant she wasn't dead. But how?
There was no way she could have survived that…
A shrill beeping broke out. Sakura could feel herself grow weary. What was that? Why couldn't she move? She forced all of her concentration into her eyes.
It's as good as place as any to start, I guess.
The thick veil that had been draped over her mind seemed to lift suddenly. She felt her eye lids twitch which resulted in someone gasping. Almost there.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Maybe if someone turned off that damned beeping then she could actually concentrate. There was another quick intake of breath and then she heard the bossy woman mutter, "Listen to your heart soar, Sakura."
Oh. Well that would explain the beeping.
Beep. Beep. Beep!
Her eyes fluttered, taking in the startling light of the lamp overhead, only to zero in on the beautiful face of Tsunade.
"Welcome back, Sakura."
Her heart beat dulled to a natural rhythm. Somewhere, she could hear loud footsteps approaching.
A pause. "Where…am I?"
Fresh tears formed in her eyes as a relieved smile broke across her face.
"The intensive care unit."
A/N: And here I am again! This idea has been bugging me for the longest and I'm really happy to have posted it. I think I'm going to have A LOT of fun with this SasuSaku. So where's Sasuke, you say? Hm, he was here in this chapter, in which he played a very important part if you paid attention. And of course you can't have a SasuSaku without Sasuke! Next chapter guys…..XD
Anyways I am now going back to edit the sequel for Missioning With You, which I have the first three chapters written. Yay. That will be up soon. Okay, I'll end this long Author's Note. Also I'm strongly considering bumping this up to the M rating, we'll see.I would really appreciate feedback on this chapter. I have a feeling this is going to be the beginning of a very long and beautiful relationship, this fic and I.