By Andrew J. Talon

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Naruto, nor am I writing this for profit.

A/N: Written for Watashiwa's Iron Fic challenge, in about four hours. With that in mind, enjoy… Or don't. Entirely up to you.

- - - - - - -

Raindrops. Tapping, tapping, tapping, over and over again, splattering and drumming all over the ground. Every strike imparting more water to the ground, every drop having made the long journey down to the pavement, to the soil, or just to hit the top of a person's head. The gray overcast sky was lit from the sun behind, not enough to break through but causing a dull, almost broody sort of atmosphere to fall upon Konoha.

It was dark, dreary, save for a girl with pink hair in the midst of the dull, wet world. Stand in the middle of an abandoned playground, red raincoat giving her an almost childlike appearance. The smile on her face completed the picture.

Sakura loved the rain. Where other children hid in fear of nature's fury, she'd gleefully cheer with each clap of thunder, even when it made the house rattle and shake. Especially when it rattled. That was nature-Beautiful, powerful, understandable.

Every raindrop falling was natural. Every puddle in the ground, that was natural. She stood in the middle of the playground, not as a stranger but part of the scenery. She knew. She understood.

Sakura looked down into the nearest puddle, smiling at her reflection with innocent glee. Her reflection smiled back, just as joyfully. The young woman walked to the next puddle, smiling back at her twin within the water.

At no smile returning, she frowned. The faces matched, but not the emotions.

"Why are you frowning?" Sakura asked quietly, pink brows narrowing. The Sakura in the water pointed to her left. Sakura followed it with her eyes, settling on another puddle. She walked there, making sure to not step on any other water before reaching it.

She looked back down, and the reflection was looking up at her with surprising coldness. Sakura gawked back.

The Sakura in the water held up a fist, covered in a leather glove. She slammed it into her palm and cracked her knuckles. She then reached up, and pulled down goggles over her eyes.

Sakura watched, spellbound, as the other Sakura pulled out tools and devices, some she recognized, some she didn't. She set to work, building, her creation reaching up over the tops of the reflected buildings. Sakura gasped as the device came to life, and left the puddle. Reflected Sakura followed, as did Sakura, to a larger puddle in a sandbox.

The massive device swung about, flames unleashed from every pipe and opening. She saw the reflections of people running over, under the puddle, all to escape it's terrible power. And in the center of it all was her reflection, trying to control the terror she had unleashed.

"Stop it, stop it!" Sakura cried. The reflection looked up at her, eyes wide and desperate.
She seemed to mouth that she couldn't, the silent rampage continuing in the world of water. Every effort she made, the creation would not respond. Frustrated tears came to both sets of eyes, for the horror she had made would not abate.

Until another power entered the battle. A spiraling sphere of destruction, the power of red chakra-Combined to strike down the machination. Reflected Sakura held up an arm to cover her face, the machine continued to fight. The figure that had drawn it's attention… A flash of blonde was all Sakura needed to see.

"Naruto," she whispered. The drama continued, Naruto bellowing something to the other Sakura, both working together quickly in mute agreement. Others appeared, others fought…

The machine was winning. And her reflection couldn't stop it. She saw Shikamaru fall, then Ino. Chouji and Lee, defeated. Tenten, Neji, fighting together and striking like birds of prey, only to be swatted away like insects. Kiba's primal strength, Hinata's quiet determination, Shino's silent ruthlessness… They all fell against her.

Naruto was the last, and left against the machine. Her reflection struggled, now atop the machine, to reestablish control. Naruto was trapped underneath it's arm, his struggles never ceasing…

The machine stopped.

Sakura breathed a sigh of relief, smiling down. So much death, so much destruction… But her counterpart, the other Sakura had…

Naruto's smiling face changed tone. He was surprised… Shocked… In disbelief…

Sakura jumped to another puddle, higher up, and saw herself… But not herself. Her reflection… So cold, so calculating…

"No… No, don't!" She cried. "DON'T!"

Intent was there… Strange intent. Dark intent, within the mind words formed to fill in the mute silence.

"I have all the power now… I have all the strength… My mind is a worthy weapon, a powerful weapon… A weapon that can surpass all others."

So much spite and anger in her reflection's eyes. So much betrayal… So much inferiority…

Naruto pleaded. Naruto yelled. Naruto admonished the other Sakura to stop, to think about what she was doing. He asked, asked for a reason… And the reflected Sakura smiled.

"Why? Because… I can."

Sakura gaped in horror as the machine prepared to crush Naruto, destroy him as it had destroyed so many others…


She jumped into the puddle, the image lost in a sploosh of water. She stood there, breathing hard, slowly, so slowly, daring to look down into the puddle again.

There was only her reflection staring back. Bewilderment and horror… And ultimately relief.

Sakura shook her head, stepping out of the puddle.

"Sakura-chan! Hey! Sakura-chan!"

The medic turned and looked over her shoulder. She couldn't help the big smile to come onto her face at the sight of Naruto-Alive, free…

"Naruto!" She cried happily, running over to hug him. Naruto's own eyes widened, and he blinked uncertainly at the pink-haired girl.

"Sakura-chan…? You okay?"

She smiled back and took his hand.

"Just fine," she said. She turned and headed away. "C'mon… Let's get some ramen."

At that phrase, Naruto asked no more questions, and eagerly led the way. Their hands still joined together, Sakura followed, boot splashing through a puddle.

The ripples bounced back and forth within the small body of water, before finally coalescing back into a smooth surface. Upon it, the reflection of a pink-haired girl couldn't help but smirk, before vanishing, leaving only the pale imitation of gray sky in her wake.


- - - - - - - -