Hey everyone! So I finally found time to rewrite this chapter, hope you all like it. Because I didn't have a copy of it beforehand, some small parts of this are written differently then before. I liked the old version better, but maybe that's just me. I guess if there's any upside to this I learned a good lesson about saving. Anyways, I don't own Naruto. Enjoy guys!
A trickle of sweat made its way down Sakura's forehead before she swept it off with a small hand. She had been running at top speed to Konoha for quite a few hours now. Not because she was eager to see the Leaf village, but because she wished to get her visit over with as soon as possible.
Don't get her wrong, she loved Konoha, really she did (even though she was pretty certain that the feeling wasn't mutual). It was the place where she grew up. Some of her best memories were there. And it was the first place that she ever felt loyal towards.
However, certain events of the recent past were causing her to fear, dread, and even loath her return. The fact that she was being forced back didn't help.
In Konoha's defense, they didn't really have a choice but to send for her. Naruto's and Hinata's baby was sick. Before she had initially left the Leaf village, the pinkette had done pregnancy tests for Hinata. She had detected a small problem and managed to get rid of it. Or at least, she thought she did. Apparently the issue was returning and since Sakura was the one who had treated the problem before, it would only respond to her chakra signature. So now she had to go back and heal the child. Lucky her.
Sakura wondered how many medics must have tried to heal Naruto's child before they realized that only she could fix the problem. Probably quite a few. Heck, even Tsunade herself most likely tried to help the baby. It must have also been really hard for them to have to send the message to Mist asking for her help. However, as hard as it was for them to do that, it was even harder for her when she realized that she had to return to the place that had treated her so badly.
Her pace slowed as she neared Konoha's gates. How would the people of Konoha treat her when she returned? Would they be kind to her? Or would they treat her the way they had before she departed to Mist? She wouldn't put it past them...
The Leaf Village looked exactly the same as it did when she left a year ago. But then again, it had always looked the same, even as the pinkette was growing up. Still, looking at the gates made her miss the times when she was a part of the village, when she was welcomed and embraced by it. It almost made her wish that she could change what had happened before. Almost.
A guard met her as the pinkette neared the village. Since Konoha had sent for her and the guard probably knew who she was, there wasn't much need for the guard to say anything to her. In fact she wasn't expecting him to say anything. Ever since it happened everyone in Leaf seemed to try to avoid talking to her whenever possible. Unless they wanted to insult her that is. They did that a lot too.
Much to Sakura's surprise, the guard did say something to her, and it wasn't meant to hurt her. "Welcome back and good luck."
Her eyes visibly widened. "Thank you." She told him before she walked through the gates. Why would he say that? Especialy considering how everyone treated her before.
Maybe it was because, even though she was likely still quite unpopular, he felt gratitude for helping the child of the great Uzamaki. It still astounded her a little to think that the once complete outcast was now the village's hero. And yet, because of her forehead and hair color, she started out was an outcaste, was loved for a while, then ostracized again. But this time it was for an entirely different reason.
The sun was out in a cloudless sky and because of it there was a cheery atmosphere to the village. It almost made her want to smile. However the circumstances of her visit prevented her from doing so.
As usual, the streets of Konoha were bustling with activity. Couples and families were walking around, enjoying the opportunity to spend time together. Merchants were trying their hardest to sell their products. Others were simply trying to finish their shopping for the day.
And all of those people immediately stopped what they were doing and froze as she entered the marketplace. All eyes were on her. Was this what it was like for Gaara when he first came to the chunin exams all those years ago?
After the initial shock of her arrival seemed to wear off, some people resumed the tasks that they were doing earlier. However, others continued to look at her, as if they were unsure how to respond to her presence. She saved them the trouble of deciding what to do by walking past them without making any eye contact so they wouldn't have to make a decision.
The marketplace resumed its usual loud and fast-paced atmosphere. The pinkette was unsure of what to make out of everyone's uncertain responses. Just like it had been with the guard, the most likely answer was that they were still feeling hostile towards her but the fact that she was helping Naruto's kid prevented them from lashing out. However, just like with the guard, Sakura hoped that maybe they were about to start acting nicely towards her.
Sakura's train of thought was interrupted when a ball came rolling towards her. When she looked up she saw that a young boy was trailing after it. Knowing that in this busy marketplace, someone would likely kick it away before the boy was able to catch up to it; the medic stopped the ball with her foot. Then she picked up the smooth object and held it out to the child.
The boy came rushing towards her. "Thank you." He told her gratefully. A huge smile was plastered on his small face. Seeing that made her believe that things did change around her for the better. Perhaps she could feel welcomed here again.
At that moment a woman, who Sakura assumed to be the boy's mother, came up to the child and took his hand. "Toka, you know better than to talk to that traitor!" The woman grabbed the boy's hand and marched off with him in tow. When she thought that the pinkette wasn't looking, the woman gave her a death glare. Apparently Sakura was wrong. Everything was exactly the same as it had been when she had left. Nothing had changed. And she definitely did not feel welcome.
The medic got up and continued her journey, trying unsuccessfully to push the event with the boy out of her mind. But no matter how hard she tried to forget about it, to toss it out of her mind, it just wouldn't leave. The mother's words kept bouncing around in her head. Traitor. Traitor. Traitor. It was enough to make her want to run away, hide under a rock and cry.
But Sakura didn't run nor did she cry. She kept her emotions bottled up. Like she had learned to do a year and a half ago. When she discovered that there wasn't much point to crying because it didn't make the hurt go away and there was no one to wipe away the tears and tell her that it was going to be ok.
Instead of breaking down in the middle of the streets, the pinkette decided to change her train of thought. She tried once again to force herself to think of something else. This time, it worked. But it was probably only because this topic was related to the previous one.
She wondered how the blond was going to react to her presence. As much as the pinkette wanted to believe that he would come rushing up to her and welcome her with open arms, the situation with the ball destroyed any hope she had left in her. Now she thought that he would probably act like the other villagers: uncertain of how to respond to her. Sure he would refrain from yelling at her or insulting her because she was going to heal his child. But he wouldn't act nearly as happy or as nicely as he did before.
When they used to be friends.
By now she had reached her destination, the Hokage's office. Sakura entered the building and, not wanting to see another round of the shocked expressions, walked straight into Tsunade's office without bothering to look at anyone.
Tsunade was in the same position she was usually in: crouched over her desk glaring at paperwork. And judging by the way the blond was rubbing her forehead, probably also nursing a hangover.
As soon as the Hokage realized that Sakura was in the office, she looked up and offered a warm, genuine smile. "Hello Sakura. Welcome back."
Tsunade was one of the very few people who had still been kind to Sakura after the incident. Probably because she was closer to the pinkette then to anyone else involved in it. The fact that her old mentor had still cared for her after what had happened was one of the only reasons why the pinkette stayed in Konoha as long as she did.
Despite her slightly depressed mood, Sakura tried to offer her former mentor a small smile. It didn't work out very well, and the lines of her mouth only moved a little. But hey, at least she tried right? "Hello."
The blonde's facial expression turned slightly sorrowful when she saw how defeated her old apprentice looked. It made her want to go out and beat up everyone who dared make the pinkette feel hurt into a pulp. Of course however, she couldn't. She couldn't beat up everyone in the Leaf village. Especially considering that she was leader of the dang place. "You will begin your mission tomorrow." Tsunade announced. "You will go directly to the hospital instead of coming here."
Sakura nodded, and then looked up at Tsunade with a hesitant expression and asked. "How long do you think that I will have to stay here for?"
The tone that the pinkette used sounded so filled with hurt that the slug woman couldn't bear to tell her the truth. So instead Tsunade replied. "At least a week."
A small frown formed on Sakura's face as she nodded once again. She had been hoping that she would only have to stay for a few days. "Alright." With that she began to leave the small office room.
However, before she did so, Tsunade called out to her. "By the way, there's something you should know."
The medic turned and looked back. "What is it?"
"Sasuke has returned."
Sakura's eyes widened. He was back? And he hadn't even mentioned to let her know? Sure she had been in Mist for the past year, but he could have least sent a scroll to her. Especially considering his involvement in the incident.
Then again, she probably shouldn't be that surprised. He never seemed to ever really want to go out of his way for her, even back in their genin days. Sasuke had probably decided that it would be too annoying to let her know or something like that. Or maybe he didn't think that it was worth the effort.
Turning her attention back to the Hokage, the medic nodded for a third time, then left without a word.
Not having anything else to do for the day, she decided to go back to her old house. Fortunately it was not far from the Hokage's building so she did not have far to walk. Maybe she would take a nice, hot bath when she got to the house. Yeah, that sounded good. Her pace was a little lighter now that she had something to look forward too.
It went even lighter when a thought occurred to her. She had previously thought that her time here was going to be horrible. But now the one person who could make her situation better had returned. Sasuke was back, and maybe she could get to him to help make things better for here. Technically he did owe her one. A small glimmer of hope went into her heart. Maybe her situation here could get better after all.
That ended quickly when she accidently bumped into someone. Not wanting to hear 'watch where you're going traitor', the pinkette quickly mumbled an apology and tried to leave before whoever she had bumped into could comment.
Recognizing the voice immediately, Sakura whipped around to face the person she had stumbled on. "Sasuke."
For a while, neither person said anything. Then the pinkette asked, "So...Itachi?"
"I see." She was about to ask about the possibility of him talking to the other villagers about taking it easier on here when someone bumped into her. Sakura turned to see a teenage girl now fallen on the ground. "Hey, are you ok?" The medic reached out her hand to help the girl up.
The girl flinched away from it as if it was on fire. "Don't touch me traitor!" Then the girl pushed herself up and sauntered away, but now before looking at Sasuke at winking at him saying, "Hey gorgeous." As she did so.
Sakura blinked, her eyes filled with disbelief and hurt. But it was not directed at the girl. The pinkette was used to seeing that sort of behaviour. No, the anguish was directed at Sasuke. Because he could have done something about what had just transpired, should have done something, but for some reason chose not to do so. She turned to face and her emerald eyes narrowed into a glare. "Why didn't you do anything to stop that?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Why would I do anything?"
Her glare grew more intense. Why that pompous ass hole. "Because the reason that happened, the reason I'm being treated like crap, is because of you."
"What you did was your choice. You knew that there would be consequences for what your actions. Therefore I hold no responsibility for what happened to you after you made the choice."
The pinkette was once again filled with disbelief. "Nice to see that you've changed for the better." With that, the female walked away, not bothering to look back once.
As soon as she thought that she was out of Sasuke's line of vision, she bolted away, not caring if anyone else saw her. After making it to her house in a record time of six minutes, she slammed the door shut behind her and jumped onto her old bed. The pinkette screamed into the nearest pillow.
So not only was she forced to stay in this hell hole, but the only person who could make things better for her refused to do so because apparently he didn't feel responsible for what happened to her here even though the entire reason she was shunned was his fault.
It was official; her time here was going to suck. And there was nothing she could do about it.