On the battlefield, she was a goddess.
Her enemies almost died happily. At her hands, of course, why not? At her hands, with her beautiful, unreal features and glassy doe eyes, she was the deity who received them and took them up, up and away... At her hands, to receive Death...
Ah, Death was her filthy dog, loyal only to her despite the scoundrel that he was. Usually, she let him pulverize them, crush them until they were only a mass of ripped up blood and organs and bone.
Other times, she unleashed him on her foes, allowing him to quietly seep into them and coax them into his world. Sometimes, she even allowed him to take them away from the realm of sanity and into illusions so complex they lost their minds before their bodies hit the floor.
And when she whispered to him, laying upon him her glowing green hands, "No, you cannot take this person yet", he did not deny her.
Then again, when did he ever?
Time passed by, and the lines blurred.
Was Death her pet, or was it she?
On the battlefield, she was a goddess.
On the battlefield, they called her Death.
the makings of a goddess
It began when she was thirteen.
Sakura had been on a solo mission to eliminate a group of Stone rebels causing trouble for Gaara, who had begun a still unstable term as Kazekage. If Gaara himself had sent one of his own men, that would only further shake the rocky foundations of his leadership, for Stone had a weak yet essential alliance with the Sand. Temari, the loving sister that she was, pleaded with the Godaime for assistance.
Tsunade saw herself in Temari's eyes, and thus the mission was allowed. It was not an official Konoha mission, though, and if anyone were to ask, Sakura had been ambushed by the rebels and defended herself accordingly.
Of course, as it was a personal favour by Tsunade, only Sakura or Shizune could be sent. Shizune was needed for a few official meetings, and Sakura needed the training anyway.
So Sakura began her first solo B-class mission.
The battle occurred in the middle of the desert. It was a few miles off Suna itself, but even from there, the rumbles from the ground and the roars and groans of shattered earth could be heard.
When the racket had died down, several curious Suna shinobi set out to investigate.
They arrived at a wasteland. Deep, deep cracks and craters marred the once pristine landscape. The bodies were hardly human, twisted in monstrous, unimaginable ways. Bones jutted out in all the wrong directions, organs bled out to mingle with the sand.
A single cherry blossom lay in the middle of it all.
The whispers of Sakura no Fubuki spread throughout the lands. Cherry Blossom Hurricane, they chanted in fright and awe.
"Shishou, I.. I..."
"Shh, Sakura, be strong."
"I killed them, Tsunade-shishou, I killed them and—"
"Hush, Sakura. Chin up."
she can feel the blood on her handsskinhair; it's everywhere
In the three days after that mission, Sakura perfected seven A-class medical ninjutsu, used five of them in the hospital, and saved thirty-five lives.
In the three years that followed, everyone in Konoha knew her, and everyone in Konoha was indebted to her in some way. She had saved a close friend or perhaps a relative or even a lover.
In Konoha, they whispered Sweetheart. Sweetheart, they would look up in admiration and love.
(She never did hear their praises;
she never did see the love in their eyes.
The guilt was everything.
Is this the price of strength?)
She was seventeen when she earned her next moniker.
Sasuke was back in Konoha, and the Akatsuki was gone, and Naruto was the youngest Hokage in history.
She was on a solo mission in the Wave to heal a wealthy merchant's ill twins, a boy and a girl. The boy died before she could make it to heal him, but the girl she patched up as soon as she had arrived.
As is her charm, they were all very thankful to her and adored her and respected her. She left after attending the boy's funeral, and the girl she healed, though nobody knew it then, would grow to become the Wave's first kunoichi, and revered throughout the nations.
Sakura was glad she had healed the girl, but the boy remained fresh on her mind as she set out to return to Konoha.
Along the way, she encountered a barely conscious boy, battered and beaten and on the verge of death. His hair was a bright orange, and though he looked nothing like the boy she had not been there to heal, his hair was the exact same shade.
Determined, Sakura laid her hands upon him and began to focus her chakra.
"Miss," the little boy croaked out as she repaired the last of his injuries. Sakura looked him in the eye. "Are... are you a fairy?"
Sakura smiled and ruffled his hair. "I'll be anything you want me to be."
The boy grinned with some teeth missing, and his smile carried the charm of innocence and tooth fairies. Sakura wondered who would bother hurting him and asked him as much.
The boy frowned. "I was just on the way home, you see. I live in a tiny, tiny town just down that trail." He pointed a to the right before continuing. "And then... these people with headbands just like yours," He reached up to poke her hitai-ate. "except theirs had notes instead of leaves, just... came up and beat me. For fun, I think. It hurt a lot."
Sakura marvelled at how the boy remained so blasé. For a second, she saw Naruto in the boy, and felt a powerful amount of rage for the Sound ninja that had dared to hurt the child. Oto itself was long gone, having been obliterated by Sasuke, Naruto, herself, and the rest of the Konoha Twelve. Its ninja still ran amock, occasionally wreaking havoc on innocents.
Unlike Sasuke, Sakura did not believe in revenge. But she believed in justice.
"Let's get you home, young man, you've been through a lot," she said, her voice even and chipper. The anger would come later. Gently, she picked the boy up and headed down the trail.
Just before she set him down by the shabby gates of his hometown, he spoke quietly. "Ne, Fairy-hime, my name's Haru. Don't ever forget it."
Sakura smiled. "I won't," she whispered, before briefly pressing her lips to his forehead. Haru blushed, and with a "Bye, Fairy-hime", hurriedly ran through the gates.
He would be spreading the name of the Fairy-hime that saved him for the rest of his life.
The name, though, would not be remembered for her small act of charity.
Three Sound ninja would be found unconscious and piled atop each other. A single pink petal lay on top of them. When they were shaken awake, they acted childlike and innocent. They would have every aspect needed to make a good citizen of any community, but occasionally showed an inkling of insanity. They chased butterflies and never told lies and died happy.
But the people around them saw the cruelty underlying the happiness. They were robbed of their very selves, and twisted beyond recognition.
It was identified as the result of an extremely complicated genjutsu.
Fairy, indeed, they whispered, recognizing the work of Konoha's Sweetheart, Haruno Sakura. Fairy.
And the name only added to Sakura's fame: the apprentice of the Godaime who had surpassed her mentor, who could very near heal the dead, who could bring mountains to their ends with a flick of her wrist and empires to their knees with a flick of her hair...
The fairy who stole reality away with her illusions.
she wonders who they were, these people twisted beyond recognition
for all she knew, they could be somebody's narutos or sasukes or
please, no, not them
"Forehead, welcome! Come in, come in! ...hey, you don't look too good. What's wrong?"
"Remember how you helped me work on that genjutsu? The one that dabbled a little in your mind techniques?"
"Yeah? You used it, didn't you? Tell me how it went!"
"... Oh, Sakura, don't cry! Here, let me wipe those away..."
"Ino, how do you deal with the guilt... Knowing that you've taken someone's very being..."
"Now you know how I've always felt, Sakura, after an interrogation or a solo mission, when you'd comfort me and tell me it was going to be okay. All those times, I was glad... thinking... you'd never ever have to truly understand me. And now..."
"Ino, it hurts."
"I know, baby; I know."
Sakura helped Ino out more often in the psych ward after that. And, as usual, she saved more and more people.
(She still felt the blood, thick and redredred, coat her hands.
She still saw the depths of their souls reflected in their shimmering eyes, convoluted beyond repair.
In every man she saved, she saw the men she'd killed.
There was no escape from the guilt that threatened to destroy her from the inside.)
"No matter how many people I heal to replace the ones I've broken, Naruto, it's never going to be enough, is it?"
"I feel so broken, Naruto. I don't even know who I am anymore."
"You're Haruno-going-on-Uchiha Sakura. You're the most powerful kunoichi in the world!"
"That may be an exagerration."
"You know it isn't."
"Naruto, I do know my name. But..."
"I know; I know. I was kidding. Sakura-chan, you are loved, and you are needed. I don't even have to say this."
"But I kill, I murder, I destroy. I... I'm a monster."
"But you save people. You couldn't be a monster."
"... I should know that. But I guess... I guess this is healing. And it takes time. Maybe someday, I'll come to terms with being a kunoichi. But it isn't now, and it isn't tomorrow. I... I don't know when it will ever be."
"I trust you'll get there, Sakura-chan. We're here for you. We need you."
"Thank you, Naruto. Dang, you really are good at this stuff. Here I thought our village idiot was the village leader."
Sakura was twenty, and the citizens of Konoha gave her the suffix -hime.
It was only fitting. She had succeeded Tsunade; she was loved by all, and she had become the matriarch of the Uchiha clan, which was sure to rise again magnificently as one of the most powerful clans in the world.
One day, she did Naruto a favour and taught a class at the Academy.
It was just one class, but it had only fuelled the ardour with which the young ninjas-to-be admired her. Even the boys were able to admit how wonderful they found her.
"You know, they call her Fairy."
"She's definitely like one, isn't she? She's so pretty and she heals and she's strong..."
"One day, I'm going to be just like her!"
In Konoha, the name held a totally different meaning.
(Only she did not know it.)
Naruto's peaceful reign only had one blemish. The threat of what remained of the Sound ninja.
Over time, in dark, shabby corners, like cockroaches, they had gathered together and schemed.
Yet however well they hid, they could not hide from Ino.
"Naruto," she said airily as she entered the Hokage's office. "Mission accomplished."
She lay down her report on his desk. "And more."
Naruto raised an eyebrow. "So, what has my most excellent spy have to offer more than this?"
Ino took off her ANBU mask, revealing pretty features and a coy smirk. Naruto recognized the expression; she had gotten something very, very big.
"Sound rebels, and they're still wearing those ridiculous bows on their asses, are plotting against us. They're quite a lot of them. "
Naruto frowned. "Them again? Geez, where are those bastards?"
"They're trying to be smart by 'hiding in plain sight'. They're a little ways off the village, in a cave system they've developed by the Valley of End." Ino wrinkled her nose. "There are about ten of the big shots. Without them, the rest will just back away. They're about S-Class, though. If we don't nip this at the bud, they're slowly going to become quite a threat. How do you propose to deal with it?"
Most spies would not have bothered discussing the information with the Rokudaime. Shikamaru was the strategist. But it was blatant the problem would best be handled undercover. Ino was always the best person to ask about such things, and she knew it.
Naruto laughed. "Sakura-chan and teme have been at it like bunnies and louder than earthquakes; I'm kind of getting sick of them."
Ino groaned knowingly. Though you wouldn't see much in the way of public displays from the two, what they did in the bedroom just about made up for it.
"Sasuke's a good choice. He'll be pretty clean, efficient," she said, turning on her heel to leave.
Before the door clicked shut, Naruto called out. "Who said anything about the teme?"
Ino understood what Naruto wanted of her. Perfect, she thought, a grin in place as she walked to the Uchiha compound.
"Ino, you know I can't do it."
"Sakura, you can. And to come to terms with these issues of yours, you need to face them head on. Heaven knows you've got the brow for it."
"You know, forehead, you're almost like a goddess. Brilliant and stupidly self-absorbed. With all your power and all your issues. God, look at it this way. You kill ten people."
"That's still not a nice way of looking at it!"
"Hey, hey, I wasn't finished! You kill ten people; you save ten thousand."
"Ugh, it's like you're asking me to play God, Ino. Calling me a goddess and then making that analogy..."
"Every wound needs antiseptic, and it hurts like a bitch. I'm giving you the chance to clean your wounds so they can heal properly. So take it."
"Doing this gets you to shut up, right?"
The Sound chuunin knocked nervously at the door to the conference room. The dark corridor he was in was only barely lit by the lantern in his hand.
He had to be at his best behaviour, the higher-ups could easily kill him if they found anything about him unworthy.
He knocked again.
No reply. Hesitantly, he opened the door.
The room was in shambles. Craters littered every surface, and the conference table was as good as dust. And yet in the middle of it all, his seniors, lay unconscious, with no wounds or injuries to speak of.
It was almost as if they were asleep.
Clumsily, the boy walked over to one of them, and checked for a pulse in one. None. He tried another, and another and another...
It was then he saw the sakura flower, beautiful and at its peak, in the center of one the craters.
"Death was here..." he whispered, before getting up and running out of the rooms. He wove through the corridors, chanting under his breath.
"Death was here."
there is no blood to stain her hands, but when she looks into the mirror she sees their glazed, broken gazes; pale, lifeless lips soundlessly moving to ask her:
"Mmm, Sasuke, you missed me, didn't you?"
"... well, I missed you."
"Ready for round four?"
"Yeah, I thought so."
"Ah... Wait. Sakura, are you sure you want this?"
"... Yeah, I'm okay. It's okay."
"Just kiss me."
"There we go, Tenten! A beautiful girl."
Sakura carefully handed over the newborn. Tenten took her daughter reverently. The utter love and worship in Tenten's brown eyes shocked Sakura to the very core. Tenten was no great beauty, but with the way her eyes were lighting up the room, the whole world, Sakura wondered if she was in the presence of the most lovely creature in all the lands.
It had been rather complicated birth. Under normal hospital procedure, Tenten would have died. Under a skilled medic-nin, the baby would have died. Only Sakura could have done it with no casualties. So she did.
Neji gazed at his wife and his daughter lovingly (as if seeing beauty for the first time, as if sipping water after years of drought, as if watching the whole world come burst into life and color in that tiny, white room), before looking to Sakura.
"Thank you so much, Sakura-san."
Sakura grinned. "Formalities, Neji, formalities. Even strangers don't address me as –san anymore."
"That's because you're either –hime or –sama," Neji said wryly.
Sakura laughed (a little bitterly). "You know, on the battlefield, they call me Death."
Tenten looked up at this, smiling softly and taking Sakura's breath away.
"Sakura, I don't think you should be looking at the battlefield."
"Sasuke, I'm pregnant."
"Mmm... Ahh... Sasuke, you know, I already am pregnant..."
"... Ooh... Mm, Sasuke, I'm not ready."
"Hn, for motherhood?"
"How could I be a mother? My hands are so tainted..."
"... They're beautiful."
"They saved me, Sakura. They heal people."
"... You know, you're right."
"I think. I think I've come to terms with everything now. This is the life I chose, and I wouldn't have it any other way."
"I love you, too."
recalling the way tenten's eyes lit up the whole world,
watching the citizens of konoha laugh and smile without worries, knowing they would always be safe and well,
and laying a hand on her growing stomach to feel the life throbbing into reality within her,
sakura remembers why.
"I have to protect the people who are important to me!"
In Konoha, she was a goddess.
Her fellowmen lived happily. After all, she was one of their protectors. They could rest easy knowing she, along with many others, fought to keep them living.
She was Death's enemy, Life's mistress. She fought Death off angrily, never allowing him near the ones she held dear. She brought Life in, allowing her to light up the sky, to light up lives.
And she whispered to them, "Let Konoha live; let them live"
Death would snarl and bare his fangs; Life would smile kindly.
And all was good in Konoha.
Time passed by, and the lines blurred.
Was Life her ally, or was she Life?
On the battlefield, they called her Death.
In Konoha, they called her Life.
this was originally supposed to go in 'pamumulaklak', but i felt that'd be too much of a dishonor for this piece. i mean, god. it's huge. not just lengthwise, but then, the concept. and sakura's growth. and blahh.
please review! :D and be nice, im a weakling.
(also, i'll be taking requests for my next entries in pamumulaklak! feel free to give me prompts + pairings and whatever. :D im real excited to get to work.)
/edited the hr lines. will get around to srs editing! some day