(edited 17/01/2013)

This was originally gonna have this oneshot be turned into a multi-chaptered story, but, well, that didn't exactly turn out. It instead led to the creation of River Of Tears. O.o

It was a quick write, so isn't fantastically written, and I don't know if I have their personalities down very well, particularly the Bleach characters, considering I haven't seen too far into the series. Technically I shouldn't write about them if I don't know them but feh, I think I have an idea. :D

Constructive criticism is muchly appreciated in this case.

Also, I know that it is Senbonzakura but the similarities in the name were close enough. :)

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Bleach.


She was running. Running for her life, or at least what was left of it.

Her blood pumped faster and faster until all she could hear in her ears was the harsh repetition of the beating organ and her quick, unsteady breaths of air she breathed in and out. Speeding through the forest via the branches was all she could possibly manage considering much of her chakra was depleted, and it was at one of the most critical points of a battle too.

It wasn't during the fight that had led to her imminent death where the lack of chakra was a problem, but rather the dark spawn surging after her. She didn't know where it was, only that it had zeroed in on her and didn't show any indication of finding another juicy meal; she thought that that was why it was chasing her at least.

Her feet began to ache and the brief thought of how she could feel pain as a spirit crossed her mind. Was it even possible? Then again, how did she know she was a spirit?

Considering the fact that when she awoke, the first thing she saw was her red-stained body, her green lifeless eyes wide with fright and realisation – she even saw the after tears that she shed strolling down her peach-coloured cheeks – she knew that she was dead then. And Naruto was going on a frenzy half a mile from her, destroying the woodland around him whilst Kakashi was tending her body, his hands working fast to try and heal their medic.

Their dead medic.

That thought had taunted her as she sat and watched him work to the edge of his knowledge. She even tried screaming out tips only for it all to fall on deaf ears. And then finally he just stopped and closed her eyes slowly, his fingertips trailing ever so slightly over her nose and lips. Sakura swore she could feel the tingling touch on her own face, even though she was separate from her body.

She didn't know how it was possible. But it was. And it scared her.

As soon as her funeral took place a few days later, she left, not wanting to be around the people she held close. It was heart-wrenching to see them cry their hearts out or reminisce on good times, and it was only a few days later that she encountered this mindless creature.

It was like it was hooked on her scent, like she was a drug.

She didn't know the mechanics of the whole thing, just that something about her smelled sweet and she doubted it was her blossom odour. It was something else. Something she knew, she felt, she could work to her advantage, but her fingers glossed over this knowledge and she couldn't uncover it.

It didn't matter. It was gaining on her, stamping down grown trees like they were twigs, and in unison her breath and pace quickened.

She felt the last of her energy ooze out of her and she swiftly dropped to the ground, ignoring the twinge of pain that jolted through her thighs as she landed. Like a cat, she quickly sped off once more, her short hair streaming behind her and catching on little twigs that were in the way. There was no way she could fight this creature, not with the weapons she had on her body, but she couldn't keep running either. Eventually she'd have to face it.

Sooner. Than. Later, she repeated over and over, clenching her hands even tighter until the black fabric of her gloves made a whine of tire. Courage spread within her like a wild fire and she narrowed her green eyes venomously before sticking a heel into the ground and skidding to a halt, low to the ground, dirt tossing up around her ankle and knees.

She steadied herself by moving her legs apart and both hands on the floor, one propped up on their fingertips. She huffed and looked from side to side, her mind screaming at her to keep running but her body retorted back with a strong 'no'.

She saw the dance of pebbles nearby her and the rustle of trunks, as well as the vibrations running in the earth beneath her hands, before she saw the thing come into view, spreading the forest to make a path for its massive body. A white face—a mask, Sakura noted—peered over a canopy, its long bone nose pointed at her and its yellow eyes gleaming with satisfaction and delight of a fighting prey.

"My, my, what's this? Something I surely miss," it sneered excitedly. Sakura could see its clamp-like claws close over the trunks of nearby trees and snap them in half; her body gave a sudden twinge at the thought of that happening to her. "Taking a breath? Good. Prepare for death." It laughed.

Sakura growled low in her throat before whipping out a kunai from her thigh pocket and presenting it in both hands; her fingers circled into the loop and the palm of her other hand pressed against the outer part of the ring. "I've already died once," she hissed.

"You'll suffice," it grumbled and slowly moved into the small clearing, its feet stamping into the ground metres from Sakura's shaky body. She jolted at the loud thump and swallowed. "Now pay the price."

In a flash it ducked its head down and what happened next surprised Sakura. Its neck stretched so far that the skull-head was behind her, reminiscent of Orochimaru back when she was thirteen when he dived to bite at Sasuke. She gasped and looked over her shoulder, clenching her teeth quickly then dodging its biting attack; its mouth buried a few feet into the ground.

She took the second to take breath before firmly planting her body on the spot. It shook its head violently from side to side, aggressively whipping it from the earth and spraying dirt spraying. It let out guttural growl, which sounded vaguely like a laugh. She was prepared for it to do that but the flying specks of soil suddenly hit her face and she gasped, snapping her eyes shut and recoiling backwards.

Tears streaked down her cheeks as she blinked furiously, trying to rid the foreign substance. It was then a low chuckle resounded in her ears and she lifted her head hesitantly, ignoring the wincing pain in her eyes as she opened them. They were bloodshot and releasing water like she was crying.

The white mask hovered over her body, a wicked gleam on its face. "You were no fun. But the deed is now done!" it screamed and went for another blow. Sakura anticipated this through her blurry vision and attempted to dodge, only to fall to the ground once more. She didn't have a chance to check why before she heard a loud, piercing shrill which shattered her ear drums, and she tightly clamped her hands over her ears.

Silence flooded the field, a dull ringing remaining, and hesitantly she removed her hands and opened her eyes, wincing once more. It was gone. The creature was gone.

Panic fuelled her body and she rose quickly, wiping her eyes to rid of the tears and to hopefully clear her blurred vision.

No trace.


This new low voice made her whip around, and in a flash she held a long, thin piece of metal in her hand, only to be shocked as it made contact with something much broader and stronger than her weapon. It made a twang sound as the two met and her last defence flung across the field, snapped in two. Her jaw dropped as she took in this man – this man that could see her.

"Y-You can see me?" she mumbled out, stepping back and pushing away sweaty hair from her dirty cheeks.

Black locks cascaded over his broad shoulders and hung loosely over his left eye, clipped back by white hair ornaments that added to his posture of nobility. He was garnered in black and white robes, with a long katana wielded in front of his body, its tip tilted towards her. "Yes."

Sakura dropped to the ground and released a strange and loud sigh. "W-What just happened?"

"A hollow attacked you."

His voice reminded her vaguely of Sasuke; whether it was because of the tone or the shortage of words, she didn't know, it just did. She gave a terse laugh and if she was looking at him she would have seen the slight twitch of an eyebrow.

"I can see that."

He paused, as if to allow her time to come to grip of reality. Then he spoke. "It was foolish of you to consider fighting a hollow when you have no spirit energy."

"I know! I know! I—wait, what?" She stopped short after hearing his words and lifted her head to meet his gaze—onyx; the Uchiha resemblance again. She ignored the small burst of anger in her heart and pursed her lips. "Spirit energy?"

He tilted his head to the side and sheathed his blade. It made a smooth sliding sound as it slipped in with ease. Sakura briefly marvelled at its long handle and weaving of black and yellow before snapping her attention back at him.

"I won't waste my time explaining something that you will never have," he spoke firmly. "If you really want to know, ask the other souls when you get there." He waited a few seconds. "Renji."

Sakura narrowed her green eyes as a red-head appeared from the fallen trees, his hair stricken with twigs and leaves. "Sorry, Captain Kuchiki." He gave a curt bow and stood straight before nodding and strolling towards the pinkette.

"Wait! Woah! Woah!" She shuffled back and waved her hands in front of her; once again her eyes twinged when she blinked. "What the heck are you doing?"

"He just saved your life, you idiot!" this 'Renji'scolded, grabbing his own katana by the hilt and unsheathing it. Sakura watched with interest as the shape of it was revealed and wondered briefly how it was used.

"I, at least, want to know his name!" She felt a little silly as tears trailed down her cheeks; it looked like she really was crying.

"You don't—"

"Byakuya." Her saviour responded monotonously before eyeing his partner. "Renji."

Sakura sighed, glad to know his name and she replied with a courteous, "Sakura," but then her eyebrows were knitted together again as the other younger man stepped up towards her and twirled his blade around so that the hilt faced her forehead. Her eyes looked to the centre and made her sway. "Wha?!" She jumped back again. "What the?!"

Renji growled in annoyance. "Stop moving! Where was this before so we wouldn't have had to save you?!" He made a grab for her but she slipped through his fingers.

"What are you?! How come you can see me?! What's going on?!" Sakura's panic went unnoticed and her questions went unanswered as Renji struggled to grab her by her collar and held her still, stamping the end of his katana onto her forehead before she could let out another sound.

He sighed with relief as her body slowly dissolved into the air, her shocked and pained expression nothing but a ghostly visage. "What was that she used on you, Captain Kuchiki?" he asked slowly, sounding almost as if he was bored. He slid his weapon back into place before standing beside his officer.

"A senbon," Byakuya replied.

The lieutenant scoffed at the idea of such as small weapon harming his superior and crossed his arms. "Like that would have hurt you, Captain."

The elder man didn't reply. "Senbon. Senbon Sakura," he whispered to himself, giving a wry smile to the thin air before leaving the destroyed area, his lieutenant following calmly – if not, arrogantly – behind.

How ironic, was the Captain's last thoughts as he disappeared into the thick forest.