Done a lot of times, I know, but I wanted to try my hand at Time-travel with Sakura going back. Here's the result, so far. It's also far fun. :) Also, I realise Sakura may be a little annoying at the beginning, but it's all because of what she believes. She gets better in chapter four.
Constructive criticism is appreciated and encouraged, but please point out where in my story you are talking about, so I can fully understand. Thank you.
Update (16/08/2014): This story was written before I read the spoilers of the Third Shinobi War. Therefore, certain people didn't die in the future Sakura knew; some of the battles did not happen; and the war's resolution is different. Please keep this in mind when reading.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Sakura panted loudly as she fought against the clambering fear in her chest and throat. A knock on the door made her thoughts go wild and she heard her mother's voice calling her name softly. Panic sprouted like a fountain and she scrambled for the window, unlocking the latch and flinging the glass doors open loudly.
Still in her chequered pyjamas, the twelve year old Sakura leapt from the upstairs window sill to the soft dirt beneath. Pain zigzagged up her legs at the hard land, but the long-haired rosette didn't wait to catch her breath as she looked both ways of the alley way she was in before sprinting down the right.
She heard her name being called desperately behind her, but she didn't risk glancing back as she continued sprinting, her body swaying – she was unused to the new weight of her body. Twigs and pebbles stabbed and hurt her feet as she slammed them against the ground, but it was easy to ignore. Suddenly merging with a busy morning street of Konoha, she almost ran into an older woman with long brown hair and holding a basket, but she managed to swerve in time, only to trip over her feet and fall to the ground again.
"Watch where you're going, girl!" the woman screamed at her, but Sakura, like everything else, ignored it.
Tears blurred her eyes as she disregarded the confused looks she was receiving from basically anyone who bothered to notice that a twelve year old girl wearing her sleeping garments and running barefoot down a busy street was just a little weird. She heard her name being called once or twice again, but the rosette stopped for no one as she slipped down another less empty street.
She leaned against the stone wall a little ways down near a store, hand grabbing at her heart that felt like it was about to burst; it was pumping so loudly that she could hear it thrum in her ears. Blood started to rise below her skin, staining her cheeks and hands a light red as she inhaled hoarsely. More tears left her eyes as she sealed them shut and let a sob crawl up her throat and out her lips, making her choke on air in retraction.
There was just—no way—couldn't be—! She had to find more proof. Her room was one, her body, two, her mother, three, her house, four, her weaker body, five, but it was still not enough. She wasn't convinced. It just—no.
A growl gurgled through Sakura's throat and she started to sprint again. She ran harder and faster to all the places she could think that confirmed her worst thoughts. Lady Tsunade's face was not on the Hokage Mountain; the dumpling store that was moved further into the food district after the attack on Konoha during the Chuunin Exams was back in its old location, still being managed by the old man who had hair growing out of his ears. Every face she passed, whether it be a child's or an adult's, was unmarred of fear and causality of war; or a recently destroyed hometown.
Everything was back to the way it was before the Chuunin Exams. And as this thought started to make itself set in stone in every crevice of her mind, Sakura started to notice her screaming lungs and how unbalanced she felt.
She was almost convinced. There was just no way Konoha could ever look the same as it had back then. There was just no way.
The last bit of strength oozed out of Sakura by the time she reached the training grounds, but by then, the doubt had fizzled to denial. The grounds didn't look the same. After Konoha had been flattened by the Akatsuki, the training areas were practically unrecognisable. Even after the years of re-growing the trees or smoothening out the earth, they never looked the same as they used to. But now they were.
She collapsed to her knees, long pink hair spilling over her shoulders and spooling on the earth. Tears spotted the flat earth as they fell, one by one, from her creased eyes. Sobs were pulled from her chest one after the other, and slowly she lowered her head to the ground, her arms triangle-d beneath it to steady her weak body.
Her legs were jelly, her feet bleeding and lightly clogged with dark-red clumps of dirt. Her blue and white pyjama's were covered with mud and grass stains, but Sakura didn't care. She didn't care, either, that she had collapsed where ninja were training, and were wondering why the hell she was there.
She just. Didn't. Care.
"Hey, little girl, are you okay?" one of them asked her in a soft voice. "Ow!"
"Of course she's not alright, stupid!" another piped up, his vocals loud enough to drown out her sobs.
"I wonder whose kid she is."
"Genjutsu," Sakura muttered so quietly that it could have been mistaken for a snivel. She swayed her head, nails digging into the soft soil.
"What was that?"
"It has to be a Genjutsu," she whispered again.
"Oh, hey, kid. It's okay," the initial shinobi tried to calm, placing a hand on her back softly in case she'd lash out. Sakura almost did. By Kami-sama she was about to grab his wrist and twist it around his back, but she didn't have strength for one, and by the time that thought breached her muddled mind, someone had called her name.
"Sakura! Sakura—oh my God, your feet!"
It was her mother again and the rosette tensed her entire body before curling up a little tighter. Someone crouched down next to her the same time new hands slipped over her back and rested on both of her shoulders. Soft, comforting mutterings were being whispered in her ear, and Sakura felt denial dramatically shoot to her mind again when she recognised the voice as her father's.
A lighter touch caressed her lower back and another person leaned down on her other side. Her mother. Discomfort squirmed in her stomach.
"Genjutsu," the rosette whispered, eyes shut tight. "Genjutsu, has to be." She felt sick. Really sick.
"What-What did she say?" her mother asked uncertainly, looking up at her husband. Her face was a worry filled pale, her eyes wide at what had just happened.
He shook his head. "I don't know. I can't hear her." Sakura's father looked up at the two shinobi watching them and asked again, but they, too, reported the negative.
"Sorry. Couldn't discern them through her tears," the initial ninja explained, crossing his arms. His friend slapped his bicep and gestured to the training stumps, and quietly the two left, glancing back at the strange pinkette once or twice.
"Kami-sama, Sakura," Mother sobbed, resting her forehead on her daughter's head. "You worried me half to death. I opened the door to see you flying out your window." She ran a hand through Sakura's pink hair and moved her sweaty fringe back so that she could see her daughter's green eyes – eyes that were filled with horror. "What were you thinking? You could have been hurt!"
"Her sensei should be coming soon," the husband announced. "Then we'll take her to the hospital to get her feet taken a look at." She felt him brush a thumb over the bottom of her feet, and only then started to take into account that they hurt like hell!
"They're covered in dirt and blood," Mother tutted. Sakura stirred, feeling her body tremble in disbelief.
It was a Genjutsu. Had to be. Must be. Just believe it.
"Mr and Mrs Haruno," a new voice sounded. Iruka Umino rushed over to the three, instantly catching sight of Sakura's slightly bloody feet and more than unsettled shivering body. "What did she do?" he asked himself, bending down to take a look at the small wounds she had.
Sakura started, bile suddenly surging through her throat and out her mouth, splattering against the earth. She choked on the acid-like taste on her tongue, tears dripping again. She didn't intend to swallow, but she did, and felt like throwing up as her throat contracted against the horrible taste.
"Oh, Sakura. Better out than in," her mother murmured, a crooked smile on her face as she massaged Sakura's shoulders lightly. "It's okay, honey. It's okay."
Iruka glanced at the coughing rosette, grimacing at the vomit that her hair was threatening to fall into. Luckily her mother grabbed it in a bunch and held it securely on the back of her neck. "Mr Umino?" her father prompted.
"Should get her to the hospital," he murmured. "Just to take a look." He ran a hand over his head to his ponytail, sighing. "Today and tomorrow were going to be practical based days; running, kunai/shuriken throwing, among some other basics. She'll be off her feet for at least a week, maybe more if she's still like this." He paused, contemplating. "Do you know what happened?"
The red-headed woman shook her head forlornly, tips of her lips drooping downwards as Sakura continued to hack and choke on her sobs. "I heard her getting up this morning, then it went silent." Her fingers casually stroked her daughter's back. "I went up to check what she was doing but she didn't answer. Opened the door to see her disappear out the window."
Iruka nodded, finger tapping at his chin in thought before he scratched the lower hairline. "You'll find out when she comes down, I imagine," he remarked. "Mr Haruno, are you able to take her? I've left my class unattended."
"Yes, yes, of course," her dad spoke distractedly. "You must get back quickly. I'm… sorry for dragging you out."
"Not at all."
It was… so strange.
Sitting in front of the hospital window and looking out of it was just so strange. It was all because of what she saw. She could see pedestrians walking the afternoon lit streets, going about their usual business with an almost innocent, carefree air in their every motion, every smile or word. Back home—well, where she was from—Sakura couldn't look out of the window of the hospital without seeing fear and paranoia everywhere.
After Konoha had been flattened after the Akatsuki invasion and then rebuilt, no one – no one – in Konoha was quite the same. Many children had been left homeless because their parents had been killed, and they had started to fill the streets until someone else found the heart to take them in; most went to an overflowing orphanage on the edge of town.
Adult figures, without any ninja capabilities, had started to rely so much more on the shinobi of the Leaf to the point that it was stressful. They pulled and tugged for the ninja to defend this land or to pick some vegetables before something terrible unexpectedly happened. Missions were plenty, shinobi were becoming few – especially when the war began.
Citizens of Konoha were left mostly in the dark as their shinobi went to war to protect them from afar. The peace and… 'tranquillity'… had started to stretch the longer the soldiers were gone. Samurai from the Fire Country's Daimyo did spread some relief and comfort, but not much when they imagined the ravaging war of shinobi.
The Village Hidden in the Leaves was broken; fractured by war and the daunting thoughts that someone was trying to control everything. Heck, she, herself, was petrified of the thought of one man lording when she was fighting in the war that involved the Hidden Country alliance against the Akatsuki, but she managed to push this possibility to the back of her mind to focus on her current predicament.
Sakura did not want to go through this entire feeling all over again. She just wouldn't be able to take it, but now she knew she might have to. Whether she was in a very strong and realistic Genjutsu, or stuck in some other sort of stupid thing, she didn't know, and that was what scared her the most.
The rosette whipped around, eyes wide as she soaked in the sight of both her parents standing worriedly at the hospital door. She teetered on her weak feet, a hand tightly clutching the firm pane of a window frame she was standing by. Water started to spill from her eyes as she closed and opened her mouth, trying to figure out what to say.
Seeing her parents in the flesh was basically… unimaginable, yet they were right there.
"Mother," she whispered croakily. Is she my mum?
The young red-headed woman glanced back at her husband, gripping his hand before nodding with a calming smile. "Are you alright now, Sakura? You gave us quite a scare."
She stole her way to her daughter with almost silent footsteps, hands outstretched. But as soon as her warm fingers touched Sakura's wet cheeks, the young kunoichi flinched and tore herself back to against the window. Pain flashed across her mother's face, and she slowly, hesitantly, lowered her pale arms.
Anxiety seeped into every pore in her body as wrinkles bloomed on her forehead. "Sakura. Please, tell me." She paused, waiting for the heavily breathing rosette staring out the window to control herself. "What is wrong?"
Her lips felt numb as she responded with a weak, "I'm fine." Sakura's eyes were wide, but she wasn't focusing on anything in front of her completely. She was unable to.
Mrs Haruno tightened her lips at the answer she was given, not believing a word of it. Her gaze flittered about Sakura's face, zoning in specifically on the pasty nature that her skin took on. "I don't believe you," she said.
Sakura shook her head minutely, her face remaining stony and her eyes capturing movement in the corner which showed Dad coming nearer. "You don't have to."
Her father sternly stared at her, emphasising his five o'clock shadow and the dark bags under his eyes to make him appear more like a rogue than a Konoha potterer. She could see his jaw stiffening, his teeth grinding against each other, and she knew he was bristling, noticeable by the way the stubble on his chin stuck out a little more, like a cat fluffing up its tail.
"Did you have a nightmare, honey?" her mother asked, reaching out again to touch the rosette, but like last time, Sakura cringed out of reach.
She shook her head again, closing her mouth and realising how dry it was; she swallowed. "I'm fine," she repeated, trying to scrounge up a smile that didn't seem to want to appear.
I'm back to base one, she realised scornfully. I can feel it. Everything my body has learned is gone, which is very unusual for a Genjutsu to sap everything of me, and make me twelve again. But what could they possible hope to gain in the past? Back in my past? And who would be 'they'?
"Alright," her father agreed, though seemed very hesitant to do so. "If you say so. I trust you."
Sakura nodded slowly.
"Will you be alright for school tomorrow?" her mother asked. Sakura watched as the older woman blindly searched for her husband's hand behind her and give it a tight squeeze. "The nurse said your feet are fine. They were a little wounded, but you should be okay for tomorrow."
School; where her oldest friends were, once again as twelve year olds and going about their daily routine like she had not been just tossed into a Genjutsu – or something worse. They wouldn't know that her mind was much older and much more experienced than what they thought.
Did this not give her an edge?
No, it doesn't. Whoever cast this Genjutsu needed my memories, my mind, to uncover something that I might've known back around now. They could want anything, and I wouldn't know what it would be until it was too late.
I have to be ready for anything; any curve ball they may throw at me to push me in the direction they want. She looked at her parents who were whispering quietly to each other, casting worried glances in her direction that made her heart squirm in discomfort. How dare they use my parents against me.
"No," she suddenly murmured, earning her 'parent's' attention. Her unfocused gaze sharpened on their confused expressions. "No, I'd like to stay home tomorrow."
Her mother frowned. "Are you sure? You have your exam coming up in a few weeks. I thought you wanted to get some practice in."
I'll keep up the guise of an Academy student, which means nothing flashy – even though it's bound to be hard in this body anyway – so the Genjutsu user won't think that I'm on to them.
" And what about this Sasuke Uchiha you've always mentioned?"
Sakura hadn't even heard the end of her sentence before her eyesight went blurry and she felt herself slip back onto memory lane. Her mind was filled with thoughts of Sasuke; everything she had witnessed of him, everything she heard, and felt.
Crush, admiration, happiness, fear, fear, fear, sadness, love—betrayal, hatred!
No, stop, she begged. A jolt of pain bloomed in her chest when that one particular memory breached, and she sharply inhaled as she was brought back to reality, where the only people around her were her supposed parents trying to get her attention. It took her a moment to gather her senses.
Her gut felt as though it had turned to acid as she said, "I want to stay home tomorrow. Please." I'm not going to let them tell me what to do.
Whoever you are, I'm not going to fall for your game.