Author Notes: At work again. Boss isn't in. No work to do. What does this mean? More fanfiction! This is for week 36's theme "seeing red" at LJ's naruto_contest. The other entries are going to kick my ass, but I couldn't resist. And woot for being last minute, lulz.

Pairings or Characters: Sakura, mentions of Naruto and Pain
blood and death, semi-spoilers for chapter 437
Word Count:
Sakura needs to save her village. Too bad she can't.

Try As I Might

All she can see is the dead. All she can smell is the dead. All she can hear is a dull ringing in her ears and the faint cries of the not-quite-dead. All she can taste is blood.

She can't feel anything at all.

Somehow, she makes her legs work. Slowly at first, and then she's running. She pushes her chakra out to test for others' and finds little. But she can still sense some, and when she comes to a boulder three times her size, she pushes it out of the way like it's nothing and concentrates on healing the broken shinobi underneath. When a slug arrives by her side, most of the work is done, and she gives it an order before moving on.

Her healing is quick and sufficient. She uses only what chakra she must and no more. Those with non-fatal injuries must deal with the pain because she can't spare the time or energy to dull it for them. There are hundreds to aid and thousands more dead, and her work is just beginning.

She's on her thirty-second civilian, and ninety-fifth victim overall, when the horrible cry of the kyuubi sounds through the air. A chill runs up her spine, but she continues with her work. She can't -- and she won't -- let the little girl beneath her chakra-infused fingers die. The monster wants to fight, and she can't stop it. She only hopes Pain learns to fear the beast once it's far too late.

Suddenly, the heartbeat goes out and the little girl joins the ranks of the dead. She's wasted precious time and chakra, but she can't bring herself to think about that.

All Sakura can see is the little girl's blood on her hands and the end of Konoha fast approaching.