Disclaimer: The Naruto premise and all characters belong Masashi Kishimoto. I am not making any money from this page.

Warning: Not beta read and may contain errors.

Sakura never wanted her life to be like this.

She never wanted to watch her best friend, Sasuke, turn his back on their country, their entire way of life, just to chase demons that had already disappeared.

She never wanted to accept that Sasuke was truly gone. That the person she had fought and worked beside had been extinguished, replaced by a revenge-obsessed fool who was willing to walk away from people who cared about him for power.

She didn't want this to happen. She didn't want to watch as her first sensei and then her second sensei were devastated by the news of what Sasuke had done.

Sakura didn't want to grow up. She didn't want to be forced to realize what needed to be done. But she wasn't left with much of a choice.

People had to grow up. People had to change.

They didn't have much of a choice, either.

Her friends had already made their choices. With much difficulty, but Sakura was certain they had made the right decisions. They had abandoned any optimism and allowed themselves to face harsh reality, and coped with it quite well, all things considered.

Next to them, Sakura felt pathetic. They were already adults and here she was, trying desperately to hold onto her childhood, which, at seventeen years old, should be far in the past.

A hot tear escaped from her eye and she brushed it away, her gloved hand also smudging the dirt and blood on her face.

Damn them.

They made it look so easy.

A dizzy sensation washed over her, and Sakura tried to regain some of her awareness. This wasn't the hardest decision she would have to make. There would be more to come in the future. Her friends' choices had far more impact on their life, and they had stood strong.

Hinata, who had chosen the life of an ANBU after realizing that her father would never accept her.

Ino put aside any romantic aspirations in order to prove herself a competent ninja. And she was doing a damn good job.

Neji, who had tried to change his beliefs time and time again, until he had thrown up his hands and decided to just fight for bloodlust.

Gaara had decided that it was his duty to defend a country whose citizens had feared and hated him and some still did, because he wanted to honor his dead father, who had also hated him.

With her vision blurring, Sakura placed a hand on the earth in a weak attempt to push herself off the ground. She had to keep going. If she were to stop now, she would only be disempowering herself.

She was no longer the pathetic, idealistic teenager she had been in the past that seemed so long ago.

She was stronger now. She was strong enough to do this.

Kiba had watched his father die, totally unable to help him, and only later discovered that they were related.

Chouji had forsaken hope that there was good in the human heart and had taken it upon himself to exterminate the evil.

Tenten, unable to return to her homeland, and instead had to lead as clan head of a family that she inwardly despised but convinced everyone else she loved.

Kankuro, who had to watch his younger brother suffer, unable to ease his pain in the slightest.

Standing, Sakura swayed, but quickly regained her footing. The battle waging around her had trickled away, the shinobi still alive now engaged in combat a distance away.

A weapon. She needed a weapon; she would be too disoriented to just fight with her bare hands in this condition. Sakura snatched up a katana blade lying on the ground, the blood staining the silver fresh and warm. Sakura gazed at it for a moment, entranced by how the metal captured the setting sun and gleamed in the fading light.

Gripping the handle firmly, the blade at her side, Sakura scanned the combatants in the distance, green eyes searching for one in particular.

And . . . there.

She had found him. She could see the bursts of energy from the Chidori.

Her feet felt abnormally heavy, and her legs were sluggish, but Sakura managed to coordinate her muscles into a run. She flew across the rough terrain of the plains of Konoha until-

The impact of the sudden collision threw Sakura backwards. She rolled and stood; staring there with a psychotic smirk, was the redheaded whore who professed herself as one of Sasuke's allies.

Without even thinking about what she was doing, Sakura rushed towards the girl, wrapped her fingers around her throat, bending the muscles in one direction, and used her other hand to shove the girl's head in the other. Sakura felt the girl's neck snap under her fingers, and as the body dropped to the ground, glasses upon its frozen face askew, she couldn't dredge up enough emotion to care.

Taking a deep breath, Sakura set off again, towards Naruto and Sasuke, but not before reassuring herself that she still had the katana blade.

Her friends' decisions had been much more heartbreaking. There was no reason why she should even be upset about this, but she couldn't stop the tears from slipping down her cheeks.

Shino, who had sacrificed his position as clan head, giving the title to a cousin of his in order to empower the clan.

Shikamaru, attempting to pick up the pieces of his shattered life after offering to give it all up for the woman he loved.

Lee, who had been forced to acknowledge that hard work could not always accomplish the impossible.

Temari, who had chosen her country over the man she loved and refused to allow herself to regret it for even an instant.

She could see them both now. Sakura couldn't help but feel that it was absolutely pathetic that two of the greatest shinobi in her generation were so exhausted that they were reduced to grappling with one another, no longer even using taijutsu.

The world seemed to speed up around her as she reached the pair, threw Naruto aside, grabbed Sasuke by the throat and stabbed the katana blade as deep into his chest as it could possibly go.

"Maybe Neji was right." Sakura smiled at Sasuke. "Maybe this is our fate and it needs to completed by us together."

The light in his eyes, the color of his irises already as black as hell, faded away, leaving only a hollow gaze. As Sasuke's corpse fell to the ground, the smile fell off Sakura's face, and she wondered if Sasuke had felt this empty when he was alive.

Something knocked into her, the force of the impact nearly throwing her back to the ground. Naruto was before her, shaking her by the shoulders and losing all patience, Sakura pulled back her fist and let it fly at his face, catching him in the jaw. He stumbled backwards, and Sakura thought it was odd, because his mouth was moving but she could no longer hear his voice.

She strode over to Sasuke's body and yanked the katana blade out of his flesh, allowing the blood to gush out of his chest into the pool of red that had already been rapidly forming beneath him. His heart was still beating, but Sakura knew that was merely a formality at this point; the person who had been her best friend when she was twelve years old was gone.

He had been dead for years.

Sakura turned away from Naruto, leaving him to sob over Sasuke's corpse and began walking across the blood-soaked plains.

Sakura had made her choice.

And she didn't regret it.