Note: There's a couple things I should just tell/warn you of before you read this. First of all, the inspiration for this story came from a painting I sold as last years Anime Expo. If you want to see it, it's on my deviantArt page (info in my profile) and it's also called "Sakura's Choice." Secondly, I'm not really sure how good this story will be (if at all) because I tend to do the stupid thing of starting a story with just a vague idea in mind and not really a plot. Also, because of that, I'm not sure how long this will be. I know this first chapter is short, but it'll probably be the only one lol! Thirdly, be warned that there will be some action in this (hence the hesitant "M" rating). It's kindof a test for me because honestly I don't know how well I can write action since I haven't really done it before. Oh, and by "action" I mean fighting and not sex. OK, I think that's all for now...

Disclaimer: The only thing I own is the rites to my own imagination.

Chapter 1: Selfish

So much had happened in the past day that it left my head spinning.

Looking back on it, I don't know what I was thinking. I had seen how much Sasuke had changed when we met him at Orochimaru's hideout, so somewhere in my mind I knew – I knew – that I could never actually kill him! Honestly, as good as Kakashi-sensei is I'm not even sure he could do it.

As selfish as this sounds, sometimes I wish I had been put on another team. Back then I was so stupid and naive; all I cared about was how popular Sasuke was and how annoying Naruto was. I thought it was just going to be fun and games with a little bit of danger thrown in here and there, but…well, that was before I really knew anything about my two teammates.

The two most powerful and troubled boys in Konoha – maybe in our entire country. And the two people I cared about most in the world.

So many thoughts were stampeding through my head that I was only paying half of my attention to what our friends were arguing about. Shikamaru said something about Naruto protecting Sasuke but Naruto denied it. Then Neji asked Naruto that if Sasuke was so weak after fighting the five kages and Danzo, why didn't he just finish him off? I had to say something then because that just wasn't fair.

"Madara was there, too!" I blurted. Neji hadn't been there. He couldn't say things like that because he couldn't understand what it was like for Naruto. "It wasn't that easy, and besides –"

"You still shouldn't have let him get away!" Kiba interrupted me. He didn't understand, either. I'd like to see him go up against Madara and Sasuke! "Naruto, you're strong. You're the one who defeated Pain! Sasuke should be no prob –"

"That's not true."

I looked at Naruto but he was facing away from me so I couldn't see his face.

"I wouldn't have been able to defeat him. I just knew…" He trailed off. I couldn't see his expression but I could hear the unsettled, hollow tone of his voice clearly. It made me wonder even more what had really happened back there. I had witnessed it and still it made no sense.

"What do you mean?" Chouji asked, sounding a little anxious.

"I mean that no one else can face Sasuke," Naruto told us dismissively. "I'm the only one who can fight him, that's all." It didn't take a genius to know that his mind was made up and nothing would ever change it. Why did he have to be so stubborn all the time?

"What the hell happened?" Neji demanded. "Tell me."

"I will tell you…when the time comes."

Where was the happy Naruto we all had grown up with? What had happened to my friend?

A sudden memory flashed through my mind of what Naruto had said to Sasuke back there: 'When you and I fight…we will both die.' When I thought of the way he used to be, and the way he was now…I hated it. I hated how Naruto felt like he had to face this on his own; how whatever he was hiding was so terrible that he couldn't even tell his closest friends. I hated how Sasuke was so unimaginably different. I hated how I was so helpless, compared to them.

I hated how Naruto could just smile and say that they were both going to die.

'When you and I fight…we will both die.' Just like that. Like they were the only two people in the world and their deaths would have absolutely no affect on anyone. Like their deaths would mean absolutely nothing to me.

I know I was being selfish again, but I couldn't help it! I couldn't lose both of them – I just couldn't. It would tear me apart.

When Sasuke left it felt as though my chest had been ripped open, leaving me with nothing. Then Naruto went after him, but came back alone. He was lying there in that hospital bed assuring me again and again that he would keep his promise and it just made me hurt even more.

Then when we got the first real hint of Sasuke's location, and we met Orochimaru on the bridge of Heaven and Earth…that thing that Naruto became; that rage, that ferocity…it broke my heart to see it; to see how far he was willing to go to keep his promise to me. And then when we finally got there, when we finally met our old teammate, when we finally got to see his face after all those years…

I'm not sure if I ever truly knew Sasuke. It was more as if I knew the idea of him and not the actual person. As much as I hated to admit this, I'm pretty sure Naruto was the only one who even had the slightest chance of truly knowing him, and yet…

I don't understand it. I don't get how they can be so close and still all they can think about whenever they meet is killing each other!

I felt someone touch my arm and it tore me away from my thoughts.

"S-Sakura?" It was Hinata who had been standing next to me. "Everyone is g-going back, now."

It was true. Everyone had wandered off. Thankfully, Hinata was nice enough to actually tell me, or I'm sure I would have stood there for hours without realizing.

The two of us began walking back into the village silently. I cast a sidelong glance at her without turning my head. We had never been close friends, but of course I knew her. Knew her, and how she felt about Naruto. Everyone secretly knew she had confessed to him during his fight with Pain, and that had brought out the Kyuubi in full force. She had almost died defending him. She had been brave and fearless in the face of love, and what had I ever done?

All I ever did was act selfish. I wanted Sasuke to stay because of how he made me feel. I wanted Naruto to risk his life bringing Sasuke back for me. After Naruto returned from fighting Pain I didn't want anyone else to go near him, although I'm not exactly sure why. It was like…he went away and returned a sage and he was so powerful and taking on Pain by himself, and then everyone gathered to welcome him home and I – I wanted them to know that I had been through more with him than anyone else. For some reason seeing all those kids crowding around him, and the thought of Hinata approaching him after her confession made me feel overprotective and – no, not jealous. I wasn't jealous. I was just so glad that he had come back alive and I selfishly felt that I was the only one who deserved to touch him.

I was so distracted, again, that I jumped in surprise when an ANBU appeared beside me.

"Sakura Haruno, you were the student of the Fifth Hokage, correct?"


"Then you will be happy to hear she has awakened."

"What?" I gasped in shock, all previous thoughts pushed out of my head. "She - she's awake?" I faltered for a moment as I the last time I had seen her face. "Is she…how is she?"

"Please follow me." He took off and I leaped after him. No matter what she looked like, she was awake. Finally something was going right.