Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto...


Sakura had never wanted to hurt anyone so badly.

Instead, she continued kneeling beside the heiress to the Hyuuga clan, bandaging what wounds she could from the field kit she had scrounged out of the wreckage of the hospital. Sakura was almost out of chakra, but popping another soldier pill would only add her name to the list of the dead—don't think about that now.

Team Gai had found Hinata in the shelter of a pile of rubble, and Neji had spotted Sakura not too far away, anxious to take her to the fallen kunoichi. A small part of Sakura wanted to refuse, but the larger part, the medical nin of the Hidden Leaf, had immediately followed to where Hinata lay. Thankfully, Gai-sensei had convinced Lee, Tenten, and Neji to go look for medical supplies and other people in the rubble—Sakura didn't think she could handle them crowding around her at the moment.

Hinata was sprawled out on the ground, her curtain of glossy hair in a matted tangle around her head. Blood trickled from the corner of her mouth, and one arm lay at an awkward angle. But she was breathing and her heartbeat seemed steady. The worst wound was on her leg—looked like she'd been stabbed dangerously near her femoral artery. Luckily, it appeared that Hinata had the sense to tie the leg off with a hasty tourniquet before falling unconscious, so she wasn't in immediate danger of bleeding out. Sakura worked as quickly as she dared, splinting the broken arm and tying it securely in a makeshift sling over the other girl's neck. Sitting back from the physical patching, Sakura placed both hands above the girl's torso and let the real work of chakra stitching begin.

Just as Sakura was finishing up, Hinata's pale eyes blinked slowly and then focused on Sakura.

"N-Naruto-kun?" she said hoarsely.

The sound of that name from her lips made the slender thread of Sakura's self-control snap.

"You bitch," she said, her green eyes hardening.

Hinata's lavender eyes blinked and then she frowned. "What's wro—?"

"He's GONE, you idiot!" Sakura screamed, suddenly grabbing Hinata by the collar of her jacket and yanking her forward so fast that the other girl gasped in pain. "Don't you know anything about Naruto?"

"I—"

"Naruto told us to stay away for a reason! He couldn't focus if he had to protect everyone, but I guess that didn't apply to YOU! YOU had to get in the middle of his fight! You had to break his concentration! You were stupid enough to think that you might give some hope, might do something against the most powerful enemy our village has faced in decades! Thanks to you, Naruto freaked out! Six tails! SIX! Do you know what that means?"

"But—"

"And now he's gone, and he's going to die at Pein's hand and it's YOUR fault!" Sakura was trembling. She wanted to punch the other girl, wanted her to fight, wanted some outlet for the yawning gulf within her. Her hand seemed to rise on its own volition and connected with Hinata's face in a stinging slap that snapped the other girl's head to the side.

"Juuken!"

Sakura felt two of her ribs crack as the hand that wasn't Hinata's connected with her torso. She dropped Hinata with a startled yelp and skidded across the ground, the rubble tearing at the exposed flesh of her legs. A kunai slid into her hand instinctively, but she paused before throwing when she saw Hinata hold out her good hand toward another Konoha nin, a pale-eyed Hyuuga that she didn't recognize.

"Leave her alone."

"But, Hinata-sama—"

"Please, Ko."

The other nin subsided, though Sakura thought it was more due to his leg—which appeared to be broken—rather than Hinata's order. His face was gray with pain—he looked as if he might collapse at any moment. Sakura gingerly felt her ribs and saw black spots dance in her vision; definitely cracked. But she wasn't a kunoichi trained by one of the Sannin for nothing. Sakura closed her eyes briefly, sequestered the pain to a different part of her mind, and stood. Ko watched with unbelieving and wary eyes as she walked to where Hinata was still huddled on the ground.

Sakura stood over the other girl for a moment, then abruptly opened her med pouch and withdrew a couple of pills.

"Take these—one's a blood pill to replenish what you've lost. This other one is for the pain."

Hinata hesitated, then took the blood pill but not the painkiller.

"Don't be an idiot," Sakura said, frowning, "you're still hopped up on adrenaline so you're not in much pain, but you'll be feeling it soon enough, and then you'll be wishing I had punched you unconscious."

Hinata flushed and took the painkiller. She fiddled with it a moment, before popping it in her mouth and swallowing it dry. Sakura turned away, her muddled emotions finding outlet in the one thing she was good at—healing. The other Hyuuga nin—Ko, she remembered—had collapsed to the ground, groaning and clutching at his leg.

"Hold still," she ordered, drawing near. "I need to set it."

Ko glared at her, the muscles in his jaw clenching. "Don't… touch… me—"

"Ko!" Hinata said in a sharp voice. "Sakura-san is trying to help you. You will show her respect!"

The Hyuuga nin opened his mouth to argue more, but the Hyuuga heiress looked uncharacteristically stern, so he subsided as Sakura bound his leg to a plank she had retrieved from the surrounding debris. He didn't last as she set the bone, however; he lapsed into unconsciousness as she jerked the leg into place.

"All the better for him, I suppose," Sakura muttered, working faster now that the man's hands weren't in the way.

"Sakura…"

"What?"

"Why… why do you hate me?"

Sakura blinked and looked up from where she had been tying secure knots from a torn curtain to hold the splint in place. Hinata sat propped up against a boulder, tears streaking clean marks down her dusty face.

"I don't hate you," the medical kunoichi said at last. "I just…" She bit her lip. "You have so much, Hinata. Any kunoichi would trade her best jutsu to have what you do."

"W-what do you mean?"

Sakura cast her a disbelieving look. "Are you serious?" Hinata looked only more confused. Sakura sighed. "You're the heiress to the most powerful clan in Konoha, you wield a formidable bloodline trait… and have you checked out yourself in the mirror lately?"

Hinata frowned, looking more confused than ever.

"And…" the words fell from Sakura's mouth painfully, and she could feel the tears she'd been holding back for so long prick at her eyes. "And you were brave enough to do what I couldn't." There, she'd admitted it. She'd watched horrified but thrilled as Naruto faced down that… that monster and then when Pein had pinned Naruto to the ground, something in her froze. She'd wanted to go to him so badly, but her training and the needs of the dying multitudes called out to her.

She could have run to him, could have thrown one useless punch and then she would have been dead, no use to any of the thousands hurt in the wreckage. But all that hadn't mattered to Hinata. When Sakura had seen the timid kunoichi face Pein, something in her had shifted. Why was she so angry? Why did this hot feeling of envy overpower even her grief? And why did she wish that it was her standing over Naruto saying those words?

A dirty hand, the fingernails broken and bloody, reached out to touch hers. Sakura looked up. Hinata offered a tremulous smile.

"It's not easy, is it?" the Hyuuga girl said in a quiet voice.

"Young mistress!" One of the slug clones called out to Sakura from a wooden beam sticking out above her.

"What is it, Katsuyu-san?" Not more dead, please…

"Naruto is alive! He's controlled the demon fox on his own and is now stable. One of my clones is with him and it appears that the enemy may be too weak to fight anymore."

Sakura gripped Hinata's hand, their eyes meeting with shared relief. "Thank God," Sakura murmured, feeling Hinata's tears drip down on their joined hands. "Thank God."

She was trying to make Hinata more comfortable without making her actually move when Chouji came bounding up, his face streaked with blood and dirt.

"Chouji! Are you hurt?" So relieved to see someone alive and moving under their own power, Sakura ran up to the beefy young man, eyes scanning for any injury.

"No, I'm fine. Sakura, you need to follow me. Kakashi-sensei—"

"Lead the way," she interrupted and looked back at Hinata.

"I'll be fine," the Hyuuga girl assured her. "Go!"

Sakura paused, torn. "Your chakra stitching still needs a few minutes to set. If you reopen it, you could bleed out…"

"I'll look after her," said a new voice. Kiba, looking dusty and disheveled, hopped over a crushed wall on Akamaru's back. The big dog stopped beside Hinata, and Kiba jumped off.

"Kiba-kun!" Hinata stirred, as if to stand up.

"Hey, what'd the lady say, Hinata? Don't move." Kiba chucked his teammate on the head gently and gestured at Sakura. "Get out of here. I got this."

As she followed Chouji over the ruins of destroyed buildings, a new hope buoyed Sakura's flagging spirits. Naruto was alive. The number-one unpredictable ninja hadn't given up at all… and neither should she.


Author's Note: I started this story immediately after the publication of chapter 437, but it didn't have an ending until "Seeing the Past" (the next oneshot about Kakashi) came along. I had to fudge canon slightly but after rereading the chapters, it's not hard to imagine something like this happening as the scenes of Hinata's healing actually consist of only a few panels. Anyway, I should also mention that I adore Hinata as a character so this isn't a Hinata (or Sakura for that matter) bash fest.