EDITED - 18/10/2010

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Bleach

Just taking a chunk out of my AN, in fact all of it as it was pretty much unneeded. One thing to say: please vote in my poll. :) Thank you.

Where I Can Breathe


They swerved through the debris.


They jumped over a fallen citizen of Konoha.

Five tired humans treaded loudly on the dirt as they sprinted down the alley way before making a sharp left. One skidded at the corner before collapsing to the earth, their skin ripping and blood dribbling from a newly made cut on their leg as they wailed.

The other four stopped, looking back, breathing heavily. "Go! Go!" The pinkette shouted at the others, waving at them to move on. The two children clutching to the other teenager sobbed loudly, protesting, before gripping the brunette's wrist even tighter. "Go, Tenten!"

The brunette weakly nodded, sweat outlining her eye and cheek as she watched her friend head back to nurse the fallen child at the corner. Hardly a second passed before she was off again, leaving behind her companion and hopefully the madness that was spreading to the rest of the village from behind.

They came quickly and suddenly. And on top of their haste appearance, it seemed as though not everyone could see them. How could they not? They—they were—

A tug on her arm brought Tenten back to reality, along with a sudden and loud crash nearby that caused the entire earth to shudder. She halted instantly, pushing chakra into her feet to keep firmly in place as she allowed the other two survivors to cling to her for safety.

The tremor quickly subsided.

"Come on," Tenten whispered through dry lips, brown eyes narrowing in concern as she looked down at their mud caked faces. "Let's go."

The female child, who had blonde-turned-brown hair, wet dirt sticking to her locks, burst into tears, stomping her feet and shaking Tenten's wrist. "What about Sakuwa?" she screamed, pellets streaming down her cheeks; the trail became defined against her dirty skin. She let out a piercing shriek as the other child, a boy, whacked her across the head while water leaked from his own eyes. "Stop! Stop!" The girl protested, holding up an arm.

"We have to huwwy!" he berated.

"Stop," Tenten whispered hoarsely, craning her neck to the male child. He stopped instantly, widening his blue eyes at her. The liquid in them shimmered as he prepared to let another onslaught of tears go. "Hush. Hush." The brunette ninja felt her heart clench as she squatted down and pressed a calloused finger to his lips, quickly stopping the sadness. "You need to be brave okay? Be brave, Ryoichi. You'll need to help protect everyone else as well when we get there, okay?"

The boy nodded slowly, wiping at his eyes with his palms. "I'm sowwy, 'Dowi," he muttered.

Midori's tears didn't stop flowing as she yelled out that she wanted Sakura again, her small hands in fists as she whacked at Tenten's shoulder viciously; she clearly didn't hear him.

"Stop!" Ryoichi grabbed both of the blonde's chubby hands and fought against her strength as she shook her head from side to side, her tears not ceasing. "Stop, 'Dowi! I'm here, 'k?"

Tenten tried not to smile as he attempted to do just what she had asked him to do. She knew that it would inspire him in the future. "Midori," she whispered, pressing her hand against the child's back. "Midori, shh. Sakura will be fine. She'll find us." The girl stiffly halted her movements and blinked rapidly, ridding the tears that were caught in her lashes.

"Weally?" she asked, peering up at the brunette ninja through her blonde bangs and lidded eyes.

The weapons mistress nodded slowly, Ryoichi following her movements before letting go of the girls fists and wrapping an arm around her tiny shoulders and patting her. She seemed to blush but it was hard to tell under all the mud sticking to her skin.

"Now, we need to go find the others as well," Tenten told, straightening. She looked down the alley, both directions, but lingered on the way from behind, hoping that she'd see Sakura with the other boy come through the clouding dust. "Come on." She grabbed both of the children's grubby hands and pulled forward, hinting that it was time to move. "Let's go."

"Hokage!" a voice yelled from outside the door, followed by some loud knocking that made the wood groan. That was all the warning the elderly women got before it suddenly burst open, the door hitting the wall on the other side with a resonating bang. A Chuunin stumbled in, hair in disarray and his chest heaving as he panted.

"This better be good," Tsunade stated, her honey eyes tracing over the battle plans to oppose the current attack on her village. "And it better be worth my door!"

"Lady Tsunade!" Shizune shouted indignantly.

The Hokage paid no mind as she lifted her gaze from her table and onto the dishevelled ninja in front of her. Her eyes narrowed dangerously as she felt the floor beneath her quiver ever so slightly; her fingers tightened beneath her palms. "What is it?"

The loud chatter from the group of strategists scattered throughout the room adjacent to the library faded to a hush banter as few of them listened in.

"They're coming in from the west too!"

The words barely left the Chuunin's lips before Tsunade slammed her palms on the table, causing everything on it to shake and topple over. Ink flooded the top and splayed across the floor, followed by an array of papers. The blonde woman didn't say a word, just turned and left the room swiftly, her heels clicking on the tiles; Shizune followed silently behind her. In her wake, the strategists resumed plotting.

Tsunade stalked angrily through the barren streets.

Many of the survivors sought refuge in the Hokage Mountain, believing it to be the most secure place. That was three days ago, when the attacks began. Only a quarter of Konoha made it to the tunnels there before several of the entrances collapsed after a vicious fissure. Now they were stuck there and no one else could help them until it was all over.

Some had vacated to the forests around Konoha, and many had headed straight to the Forest of Death, hoping that the creatures in there would dispose of the invaders. She didn't know how well that went but at the moment, most of her villagers were scattered in all directions, while the village itself was being torn apart.

Much of the south wall and buildings were demolished—done on the first day of the attack—and until now, that was the only direction they'd come in; they had often left but they always returned.

It pissed her off.

It was difficult to summon ninja as well and she had wondered how many were still around, fighting. She also wondered how many citizens were still within Konoha, just hiding.

She growled as she punched through a wall, rock and rubble blooming away from the point of impact as dust fogged her vision. Stepping over the collapsed wall, she walked on, hands in fists with nails burying into the skin.

It was going to be hell to clean up.

If there was even anything left to rebuild.

Sakura sneezed as she ran through the dusty cloud surrounding all sides of her. She had almost dropped the injured boy but she gripped him around the shoulders and knees even tighter, just as he curled his dirty fingers into her pink clothing. His wound was deep, and she had neither the tools nor energy to heal it. It was just bad luck that he had landed on a shard of glass, and if had she known how bad it was, she wouldn't have told Tenten to go on. She was lost and tired but she refused to give in.

The ground shook and she pressed herself against the wall of the alley, tucking her head into the child's chest as more dust fell from above.

Swallowing and licking her lips, she pushed herself off the wall as soon as it was safe and jogged down the alley, glad to finally see another corner with a sheen of light hitting the ground.

Her blood froze suddenly, and Sakura stopped instantly, her heartbeat quickening as she saw the light disappear. Releasing a sharp breath, she pressed herself against the wall again, this time on the side that the alley turned.

Moistening her throat again, she lowered herself to the ground, careful not to nudge the boys bleeding leg; she had tried to slow it before but the bandages—that were from her clothes—were now soaked red. She inhaled and exhaled continuously as she watched and waited for the shadow to disappear but all she got was a loud purr in return and the air lodged in her throat in result.

The child moved, opening auburn eyes. His small lips parted to make a sound but Sakura pressed a slender finger to her lips.


Fear flashed in his orbs as he bit his lip and stuffed his head back into her shoulder, almost nudging her arm away from her chest so that he could nestle into her armpit.

She breathed out slowly and shakily as she began to move back the way she had come; she preferred to go the long way around, if she could, than to meet this invader. Her feet glided across the dirt quietly as she inched further and further away. She was almost unable to see the corner through the dusty air as she took another step back.

A hand suddenly clamped around her mouth and she squealed, her noise muffled as she whacked at the offending arm.

"Shh, shh," a voice whispered in her ear. "Relax." She didn't. "Sakura, it's me."

Just the fact that this person knew her name was enough, and this time she melted; her spine, that was straight for the last half an hour, finally bent as she collapsed into the arms of the male behind her. She was so tempted to close her eyes and fall asleep but she didn't, she was too tired to do that.

Her head propped against his shoulder, she groggily gazed up but saw nothing but a nose poking out over a high collar and black sunglasses.


His hand left her mouth and he slid his arms around her waist, lifting her up into a sitting position with her back to his chest; he did so carefully as not to disturb the apparently unconscious boy in her lap. His eyes narrowed.

Sakura sighed in relief and content. "Thank, Kami."

"Sakura. I won't be able to carry you and the boy," the Aburame whispered back, his breath hitting the shell of her ear.

She was instantly alert, her sight dropping to the boy. With her limited knowledge of medical jutsu she checked his vital signs before relaxing slightly; he was alive but…

"He passed out." She groaned softly as she attempted to lift him up, only for the muscles in her arms to give out and cause the child to tip. Shino caught him quickly, manoeuvring him so that he was holding the young boy bridal style. "Blood loss. His leg has glass in it," she hurriedly explained, realising that they were indeed still in danger.

The Aburame nodded. "Kiba is not too far. I fear I may also bring danger to us."

"What do you mean?" Sakura asked she hoisted herself up, using Shino's side as help.

"I do not have time to explain. Soon the—" He was cut off as the alley way wall was suddenly blown apart, rock thrown everywhere and dust clouding the already thick air.

Sakura coughed loudly, her ears ringing as she grabbed Shino's elbow. "Lead the way!" she screamed, feeling the earth beneath her quiver once again.

They were off, streaming down the narrow way with an invader following closely behind, its movement causing the entire ground to shake uncontrollably as its pace quickened. It was beginning to get difficult for her to remain balanced, especially since she was already exhausted.

"Kiba is not far! Make it to him and he'll carry you the rest of the way!" Shino shouted back, his pace hastening; Sakura tried to keep up.

Easier said then done! she wanted to scream but found that she didn't even have the energy to talk anymore. Her legs felt like jelly as the two jumped onto a stand then onto a roof. Her thighs ached with pain as she landed on the solid roof and she teetered as the invader moved faster in from behind.

Puffing loudly, her mind began to sway and her thoughts shifting indiscernibly.

I'm running purely on fear and hope, she noted barely, eyelids drooping. Her vision blurred as Shino jumped across to another roof.

The Aburame paused and looked over his shoulder, eyebrows pointed inwards as he analysed her condition. She couldn't make the jump on the little energy she had left; she barely had any to even run. Plans flittered through his mind. What to do?

Gritting his teeth, he placed the boy as gently as he could onto the roof and leapt over to Sakura again, his heartbeat increasing as the black invader zeroed in on them. Grabbing her securely by the waist, Shino flipped forward, narrowly dodging the landing of a heavy punch. The roof shattered to pieces and he lost his footing as it trembled. He skidded on his back for a few seconds, his skin tearing and burning—he let out a groan of pain—before he slammed a foot down onto the rubble and propelled himself ahead, onto another roof. He landed heavily, quickly kneeling to keep a secure crouch.

Sakura was limp in his arms, unconscious. He was never one to swear but, "shit."

The beast turned to him, revealing a white masked face. It tilted its head to the side before springing forward, its massive bulk shadowing Shino and Sakura from above.

The Aburame widened his eyes, wondering what the hell to do in those brief seconds, before pressing Sakura into his chest and lurching to another roof. The beast still shadowed him and he wished over and over again that he'd reach sunlight and escape the bellyflop-like attack. He glanced above him, panting, and then looked forward again, just in time to see a gleam of light flash passed him.

Her chest burned as she pushed her legs to maximum speed, even then she still couldn't match Neji Hyuuga's pace. This normally would have angered her but there was no time to feel any of the sort, partially because she knew the prodigy kicked butt—hence why he was a prodigy—but more so because the black beasts had torn down the west wall not too long ago and the two of them were on the move.

What annoyed Ino the most was… they were running towards the beasts. Albeit, she understood why perfectly; in fact, it was her idea.


Because there were kids there—where the orphanage was—and the adults working the place only had enough time to save a few. The rest were up to the ninja.

There was no point in hiding either, as the invaders had known they were there, having found them ten minutes ago.

She jumped over a corpse impaled by a stake and pushed her legs to go faster. The only warning she got before she was suddenly bulldozed to the side and into a pile of broken wood, was Neji looking over his shoulder, his Byakugan activated.

Dust rained down around her and she attempted to hoist herself onto her elbows. The skin on her back stung horribly as she stretched, so she relaxed instantly. The warm sensation of her shirt sticking to her skin made her aware that her back was most likely now adorning an assortment of scratches, thanks to the wood, and blood, again, thanks to the wood.

Blinking her blue eyes, she took note of the weight on top of her and then focused her vision on the person hovering over her. The lavender tinted orbs hinted that it was Neji, as well as the chocolate brown hair falling from his ponytail and framing his face. "Are you okay?" he whispered, his puffs of air swishing the locks around his chin.

Ino stiffly nodded.

"There's a hole behind you. Crawl through it." He gestured to the opening with his eyes. "Hurry. We're covered in wood but they'll find us soon."

That was all she needed to hear before she sprung into motion. She twisted onto her stomach and slammed against the edges with the palm of her hand. The wood broke away and she slid herself forward.

"Your back. We'll fix that later," Neji said from behind. Now that he wasn't lying on top of her, Ino found she was able to breathe properly.

The hole was now bigger and Ino slid through it easily enough with her lithe frame. She tilted her head from side to side as she surveyed the room swiftly.

A room, which meant they were in a house. Not good. It could collapse any second.

Neji's hand appeared through the opening and in her panic, Ino grabbed it and pulled, causing him to slide on the wooden floor and hit her legs. He didn't say a word as he stood up. "Let's go."

They scampered upstairs and quickly found a window; they smashed it. They slipped through just as the house was flattened by a beast. Ino squealed, having the claw of the invader just miss her feet. Neji pulled her to a stand before he zipped off, the blonde female following, although wincing.

Now on the rooves, the two moved swiftly, jumping over alleys and, in the mean time, attempting to put as much distance between them and one of the invaders behind. "Where's the Hokage when you need her?" Ino yelled, even though her lungs and back were on fire.

The two jumped down from the roof and onto the main walkway, just as a pair of heeled feet stood walked forward beside them. Blinking, Ino looked up, seeing the very person she was wishing for.

"I believe there's your answer, Yamanaka," Neji replied dryly.

Ino glared.

Tsunade's honey-coloured eyes were not on them but rather on the black beasts that had quickly noticed her; they moved in. "You kids better get outta here before the real danger comes."

Neji nodded. "Yamanaka. Let's go," he said, gesturing to the path in front of them that was also a turn off from the main road. She didn't feel like running though. Her legs were screaming 'no more', as did her lungs and back. She almost decided to reply with a negative as she swallowed but found herself picturing those orphans cowering underneath rubble.

Ino narrowed her eyes and nodded, sprinting along behind him as they left the Hokage behind.

Besides, she looked pissed; only idiots would want to be around for that.