...what's happening to me? It's so dark.
"Sakura-chan! Sakura-chan, wake up!"
Hm? That voice...it sound's familiar. I can't quite put my finger on it. Who does that voice belong to?
"But-but...sensei! Sakura-chan is-"
"There's nothing more we can do. C'mmon. We need to regroup."
"Kakashi-sensei, Naruto. We must go- NOW."
"Lead the way, Sai."
The sound of dripping water echoed throughout the darkness. With her eyes shut tight, Sakura held out her hand, hoping for someone or something to miraculously get a hold of it. She heard a low murmur. Curious, she folded her fingers. Much to her relief and surprise, they wrapped around something rigid and warm. That object seemed to respond by grasping her hand tightly. EH!? A beam of bright light shot through the dark haze.
Sakura's eyes shot open, wide and pupils thin. She frantically looked around, trying to find her bearings. What was once a murmur was now a racket. She flinched and closed her eyes again, shaking her head. "Umph!" she grunted in pain. My head! Why does it hurt so much?
"Sakura-chan, are you okay?"
That voice. "...Naruto?" she uttered. "Is that you?" You sound so different.
"Yeah, it's me. Can...can you see me?"
Sakura squinted through the brightness. Much to her joy, it was indeed the blond ninja; only he took the form of an adult. Around his early twenties, his bangs grew longer and his hair more fair, his eyes looked more sincere, and his voice much deeper than from that in her memories. "...!?" How...
A clap echoed in the room. "Alright, alright," Kakashi's voice hummed. "Naruto, give Sakura some room."
Naruto obeyed and stepped back, releasing Sakura's hand. Sakura let out a small cough. "Kakashi-sensei?" She looked up at her teacher.
Kakashi now had small, almost unnoticeable wrinkles forming under his eyes. His silver hair was lighter and less spiky. Standing next to Naruto, it was discovered that he was a centimeter or three shorter than the blonde. A smile formed from beneath his mask. "Sakura."
It felt so good to hear that familiar voice say her name. Sakura smiled back. "Kakashi-sensei," she breathed.
"It's good to see you're finally awake."
"What happened to me? I have such a bad headache..."
There was a moment of silence. Kakashi made an attempt to answer, but Naruto's hand stopped him. Sighing, he stepped back and allowed the younger person to speak. "Sakura-chan," Naruto whispered. "You...you've been asleep for about eight years."
"What Naruto means is," Kakashi intervened. "You were in a coma. Eight years have passed and you're finally awake."
Sakura was speechless and beyond baffled. "Eight years..." Saying those words brought a chill to her body. It was a scary thought; having missed eight years in deep sleep, what events could have gone on during those eight years? How had people changed? Were any comrades killed? Tears formed in her emerald eyes. I don't know anything.
Kakashi waved a finger at her. "Now, now," he hushed gently. "Don't cry."
Sakura tried her best to obey. "But...but..." she stuttered.
"There's a good outcome from this," Kakashi stated with a grin. "Look!" He handed his ex-student a mirror. "You've grown to be a lovely young woman."
Sakura shakily took the mirror and looked into it. What she saw emitted a gasp from her lips. Her baby-ish cheeks were now gone, replaced by smooth, well-refined adult cheeks that showed off her delicate jaw-lines. Her eyes were more slanted, conveying maturity. Instead of pale, thin lips, she now had rosy, slightly plump lips. She dropped the mirror on the bed and brought her hands to her chest. Her eyes widened. ...my chest isn't flat!
Naruto could not hide the blush that appeared on his cheeks at that reaction. "Uh, Sakura-chan," he said. "We're still here so..."
Kakashi began pulling Naruto towards the door. "Perhaps we should give her some time alone to literally find herself," he suggested. With that, the two left the room, closing the door behind them.
As soon as they were gone, Sakura jumped out of bed and attempted a dash for the bathroom. "Whoa!" As though her legs were made of jelly, they wobbled and fell lifelessly to floor; bringing her down with them. She collapsed with a thud, wincing at the pain. "Ow..."
"Need some help?"
"Um..." Sakura felt herself being hoisted up, relief flooding her. "Thanks a lot," she told the person assisting her to the bathroom. "I had no idea I'd lose the ability to walk on my own." She tried to turn her head to see who her companion was, but her head was starting to hurt again.
The person shrugged. "No big," she replied. "You'll learn fast; you're Sakura after all."
Sakura could sense good will within this person. Letting out a smile, she nodded and said, "Heh, thanks. Who are you by the way?"
"Oh, you'll see." THe two entered the bathroom.
Upon that big mirror, she could see her own full figure. The smooth curves that was hugged by her white robe, her long legs, and feminine collar bone- they were all there. Her silky, cherry blossom hair even reached her hips. Next to her was the mysterious helper, wearing a purple tank top with a short, black skirt. She had long, bleach-blond hair and charming blue eyes. Her long bangs graced her porcelain face kindly, a smirk upon her pink lips. "Having fun checking yourself out?" she laughed.
Letting out a surprised yelp, Sakura turned around. "You...you...!" Her name, her name! It's-
"Do you recognize me?" the woman teased.
"...I-Ino...!" Sakura ran to her best friend and gave her a hug. Hearing herself properly, she discovered her voice had become less of a child's and more of a woman's.
Ino hugged back just as tightly, tears of joy and relief spilling from her eyes. "Sakura!" she sniffed. "You...you're finally awake!"
"Yeah, I'm so relieved!"
"You have no idea how worried everyone was about you. After that incident...oh...I could just hit you for it!"
"Heh." Sakura wiped her eyes. "Incident? What...oh. You mean the incident that led to my eight-year coma?" She received a nod. "Mind telling me about it?"
Ino fixed her long bangs and smiled. "I'll tell you about it while I cut your caveman hair, okay?" she offered and led Sakura back to the bed. "Take a seat while I get the scissors. And don't fidget so much or else!"
"Right." With Ino's help, Sakura sat on the bed, trying to swing her legs. Ino's changed a lot. She watched as the blonde fetched the scissors and made her way back. She's much calmer and speaks more softly. Her temper has even become more bearable. She bowed her head. This jealous feeling again.
Ino positioned herself behind Sakura and ran a comb through the kunoichi's long, rosette hair. "Well, the incident happened during your mission to retrieve Sasuke."
A ticklish feeling touched Sakura's mind. "Oh, I remember this!" she chimed. "I was on my way to get Sasuke on my own. I met him, we made eye contact. Angry as I was, I couldn't bring myself to make the first attack. He said some things concerning my feelings for him...how pathetic they were. And then...nothing."
Sakura, I'm sorry. "After that 'discussion', Sasuke charged at you," Ino elaborated quietly. "He threw attacks that you could barely dodge. It was a good thing Naruto, Sai, and Kakashi-sensei showed up a minute or two after your battle just started. By this time, Sasuke had to use Susano and Amaterasu. As the battle raged on, everyone was suffering fatal blows. But you, Sakura, suffered the most. Your healing abilities just weren't fast enough." She snipped off a strand of hair. "You lost your speed and most of your mobility- making yourself an easy target. Sasuke...took that chance."
"...!" Sakura's lips quivered. Sasuke...
"He made his way to you and unleashed a powerful chidori. Not having much strength left, all you could do was dodge."
Sakura watched emotionlessly as multiple strands of pink fell to the floor. Her body felt numb. "And then what?" she asked.
"...that's all I know," Ino sighed. "Naruto wouldn't tell me anymore." She took a band from her wrist and tied it near the end of Sakura's now mid-back length hair. "Done!" She walked around the front and fixed her best friend's chin-long side bangs. "And you look absolutely stunning! Thanks, of course, to the one and only Ino Yamanaka."
Sakura touched her hair first and then felt the bangs. A bright smile lit her pale face. "Wow, Ino," she giggled. "I love it!"
Ino winked. "I knew you would."
"You even added layers," Sakura commented as her hand glided behind her head. "Thank you."
"Sure." Ino noticed the forlorn look in Sakura's eyes and frowned. "So...ready to come greet everyone? They've all been waiting a long time."
Sakura snapped out of her trance and nodded. "Y-yeah!" she said as cheerfully as she could. "Just...let me get dressed properly, okay? I don't want to go out with a revealing, white robe now." She realized that, being in a coma for eight years, she couldn't have possibly prepared herself any clothes. "Oh, um..."
"There are clothes in your closet," Ino informed, laughing a little. "I always bring clothes for you everyday in the event you'll wake up. So don't worry." She walked to the closet, brought the clothes out, and placed them next to Sakura.
"Hm." Sakura smiled sheepishly. "Thanks, Ino."
"No need to thank me so much." Ino made her way out the door and closed it quietly.
Sakura brought the red yukata closer to her eyes and stared at it. She then closed her eyes, deep in thought. This hospital's smell is nauseating. I feel like puking. But... Her nails dug into the delicate wood. The unfamiliar scent of this future-present life...makes me feel like I want to die.