Sorry for the long delay. The last couple months were busy with moving across the country and starting a new job. Still trying to settle in. Only one chapter left after this.
For those up to date with the manga, this assumes something different happens as the war climaxes. Just a heads up to put a stop to the cries of it not being cannon.
I hope you like it.
Sakura kept pace with her comrades despite the large scroll on her back. Naruto assembled an elite force to travel with him to the statue. Each village was instructed to keep their forces limited to prevent any conflict. Seal masters from each village were sent ahead to prepare the sealing of the tailed beasts. Konoha had their tailed beast so they did not send a seal master. Konoha was kept out of most of the planning and preparation for this sealing. Gaara sent along the information he could from time to time but it was limited. Sakura knew Naruto was prepared for the worst but he never said what that was. When the ninja army arrived at the end of the last war, Naruto and Bee were becoming human again. Kakashi and Gai were passed out from chakra exhaustion. That horrible statue was sitting on the battle field with Madara's body turning to ash and the masked man was dead. The four heroes of the last battle never spoke of the details but it had to be horrific. Sakura noticed Naruto kept glancing at Kakashi as they traveled. It was clear they didn't agree about something. Every time she tried to speak to one of them about the disagreement they would clam up. She was used to Kakashi going silent or changing the subject but Naruto was another story. When she tried to get the information out of him, he told her it was S-rank business. It was still difficult for her to accept that Naruto would keep things from her, but it was his duty to protect the secrets of the village.
"Hokage-sama," said a sensor type ninja before pointing off into the trees.
Sakura's eyes darted to the side to see a group of ANBU from the Hidden Cloud coming along side. They said something to Naruto before they pushed ahead of him blocking the path. Naruto stopped with everyone stopping behind him. It was a silent standoff for a moment before Naruto stepped forward.
"Last I checked we were allies," said the Hokage in a serious voice.
The ANBU took hold of their swords.
"This could start a war," said the Hokage. "Are you ready for that?"
The ANBU didn't move, but Naruto took a step forward. He walked through the squad before gesturing to his subordinates. They walked past the ANBU before Naruto took off at full speed. Kakashi was on his heels. Sakura pushed ahead faster to catch up. When she pulled even with Naruto he glanced at her.
"What was that all about?" she asked.
Kakashi glanced at her with a warning look.
"Bee is trying to discourage us. Omoi was leading the squad. He is more loyal to Bee than the Raikage. It was a warning that the worst is going to happen," said the blonde.
Sakura felt extremely uneasy. She reached back and touched the scroll on her back. Naruto gave her the task of carrying the scroll to mimic the Creation of All Things Jutsu. It was cruel torture for her to carry the jutsu that could end her beloved's life. Based upon his tone, it seemed more likely that this scroll would be used and he would die. She imagined a hundred different horrible scenarios and each one ended well for the world but badly for her. Naruto losing was inconceivable but a tie was possible. In death, all combatants were equal. As the group continued forward Sakura started to notice something was off on the horizon. She heard a pleased sound from Naruto.
"Good, you can sense it," he said.
She looked at him confused.
"What could cause the horizon to distort like that?" he asked her.
She was going to smack him the next time she had a moment alone. She wasn't some fresh genin that needed prompting by her sensei.
"It's a barrier seal," she said with a hint of irritation.
He smirked and nodded. She looked forward again plotting the painful way she'd get him back for his attitude. She examined the barrier for a moment before letting out a huff.
"That barrier will never hold the power of tailed beast," she said.
He nodded as they kept moving. The group approached the barrier. A squad of ninja was sitting outside the barrier with scrolls holding up the barrier. Naruto weaved signs as they were approaching the barrier without slowing his pace. He held out his right hand as they got close to the barrier. Charka erupted from his hand with sealing symbols mixed in the blue energy cloud. The symbols hit the barrier and it opened enough to allow the Konoha ninja to enter. Once inside the barrier squad of ninja surrounded them. Naruto stopped with a smirk on his face.
"If you can't stop me without using the Kyuubi's chakra how do you think you will stop more than one bijuu?" he asked calmly.
Sakura was tense facing so many opponents from other the allied nations. A loud growling voice caused the ninja to open. The Raikage, Kazekage, Mizukage and Tsuchikage walked toward the Hokage.
"You were to stop and ask permission before entering the barrier," growled the eldest Kage.
Naruto appeared innocent.
"Oh, was that a barrier?" asked the Hokage gesturing over his shoulder.
The Tsuchikage stepped forward.
"Why are you here?" she growled while walking toward Naruto.
Sakura took a step forward. Kurotsuchi had a smirk on her face.
"How cute. You send your little whore to fight for you," taunted the Tsuchikage.
The rosette didn't react to Kurotsuchi's taunt, but Naruto stepped forward.
"I'd watch it Kurotsuchi," growled the Hokage walking past his fellow Kage toward the other three.
Once he passed her a gust of chakra enhanced wind picked up blowing a small cloud of dust at her. She turned and growled but didn't react any further. Sakura watched the Kage talk. It seemed no one was thrilled to see the Konoha group. Gaara was the least argumentative but he seemed displeased while Kurotsuchi was downright irate. She accused him of trying to steal a Bijuu to build Konoha's military power.
Naruto was largely silent while everyone talked at him. When the other Kage seemed out of complaints, he shrugged and turned to leave.
"Where are you going?" roared Kurotsuchi.
The sage looked over his shoulder.
"I'm going outside the barrier and I'm going to prepare for the worst. When the worst happens, I'll save your asses again," he said without any hint of joking.
He was beyond angry at this point but he was keeping his emotions in check. Naruto gestured and the Konoha group formed up.
"Uzumaki," roared the Raikage. "I know what you're talking about and I've been assured that won't happen."
Naruto shook his head.
"Then you can only begin to imagine the worst case because what Bee told you only begins to scratch the surface of how terrible that thing is," said the blonde.
Sakura's eyes darted to Naruto. She had an idea what happened but the thought terrified her. Could he have faced that legendary best and walked away?
The Konoha group moved away from the barrier area in a nearby forest. Naruto gave the order and a camp was set up. Sakura went about her duties to prepare. When it was approaching time for the meal, she noticed Naruto was gone. She looked around and decided his most likely path. She went into the forest looking for him.
"Promise me," said his voice in a serious and commanding tone.
"You ask too much," replied Kakashi.
Sakura stayed silent and still.
"I guess it's too much to expect you to follow orders," replied the Hokage. "After all, you couldn't obey your sensei. Why should you obey his son?"
Sakura could practically hear Kakashi's teeth grinding. It was known in Team 7 that Kakashi regretted leaving Naruto alone but he worried his own emotional scars would make him unfit to raise his sensai's child.
"I promise you I will do as you command," ground out Kakashi.
"Dismissed," said the blonde.
Sakura leapt back along the path and called out for Naruto. Kakashi gestured behind him as he passed. The rosette thanked him and continued down the path. Her beloved was sitting by a pond mediating now.
"Dinner," she said.
Naruto sighed and put his head down.
"It's going to be bad," he said.
"I hope you're wrong," she answered.
He rose from the ground and faced her. She was surprised by the look on his face. Downtrodden, scared and burdened came to mind. He took her in his arms.
"I'm sorry for the time we wasted. It's my fault," he whispered in her ear.
She pulled back to look in his eyes when he kissed her. She was caught off guard by this level of affection but returned it. When he broke the kiss he rested his forehead against her forehead.
"You are what matters most to me," he said softly. "How I wish we were somewhere else?"
She smiled at him.
"We will be after this is over. We will return to Konoha and be happy," she said trying to measure the severity of the upcoming battle.
He released her and turned toward the pond.
"I'd like that," he said never meeting her eyes.
She tried to say something but he started to walk back toward the campsite. He offered his hand and she took it. The walk back to the campsite was quiet. Emotions were mixing in her chest. His grip on her didn't comfort her. He was clinging to her rather than holding her hand. She felt uncertain and concerned. Naruto was not one to waver and if he was worried there was a reason for great concern.
Food was waiting when they returned along with reports from the village. Naruto spent the rest of the evening in his tent working. The rosette sighed thinking about how they could be spending their time. She stared into the fire. Her preparations for a battle were checked and double checked. She was as ready as she could be.
"He loves you," said Kakashi sitting across from her.
She smiled at her sensei.
"He does," replied the rosette. "And I love him."
"What was going on earlier by the pond?" she asked knowing Kakashi knew she was there.
The copy nin smiled.
"Oh, a disagreement. Nothing important," replied the copy nin.
Sakura saw through the mask.
"Fine, lie to me. I'll ask Naruto and he won't lie to me," she threatened.
Kakashi closed his regular eye before meeting her eyes. She could see his concern and disagreement.
"He asked me to do something if things go badly. I don't agree with him but he is the Hokage and I must obey."
Her sensei never revealed anything.
"And what was his order," she asked.
Kakashi never flinched or cringed.
"I can't say. It was an S-rank command directly from the Hokage to me; a personal mission of sorts that I must complete."
Sakura wanted to know but Kakashi pulled the mission card which meant it was forbidden information. She hated dating a Kage at times. Kakashi left after pulling out his book. The rosette sighed. Some things will never change. After sitting around the fire for hours, she went to Naruto's tent. He was sitting on a pillow next to a small table. The blonde was working away on a stack of papers. He glanced up at her.
"Hey beautiful," he said with a smile.
She blushed a little and greeted him. She moved to his side and tried to sit but he pulled her onto his lap. His grip was firm but not commanding. Her head dropped to his shoulder. They sat silently for some time. Sakura took in her beloved's scent. His heartbeat filled her ears. She was falling asleep when she heard someone from outside the tent call him.
"Did it arrive?" asked the blonde.
"Hai. The return message confirmed the Lord and his family are moving toward Konoha," said the ninja.
"Very well. Dismissed," commanded the Fire Shadow.
Sakura never moved during the exchange as the ninja remained outside the tent. It was right to be near him. If the worst happened tomorrow, she didn't want to waste tonight.
"Naruto," she said softly.
Her right hand started to trace his chest.
"Not tonight, love," he replied.
She looked up at him with an irritated huff. Strictly speaking it was forbidden but he was the Hokage so she figured he'd bend the rules.
"I have to prepare," he continued.
He lifted her from his lap and stood. He placed her back on the pillow and smiled in a queer sort of way. She couldn't put it into context. She was going to say something but he turned and walked out of the tent. She leapt to her feet and followed. He walked to a place that he could see the barrier area. He sat in a meditative position and closed his eyes. Sakura kneeled behind him until she felt the air grow heavy with chakra. The pressure was so intense she moved back. Naruto's chakra was powerful but this was ridiculous. He hadn't tapped into the Kyuubi's chakra yet either which further concerned her. How terrible was this thing if the combination of Naruto's chakra and the Kyuubi's chakra couldn't handle it? The rosette stayed as close to him as possible. Her ability to sense chakra was completely gone as the energy radiating from him was jamming her. Even her normal five senses were being reduced by the chakra in the air. She turned to see Kakashi and the others came to check out the rise in chakra.
"He's preparing. Leave us," she said firmly.
Kakashi stared at her for a moment contemplating his response. Rather than speak, he gestured and the ninja faded back into the forest. He looked a minute longer then disappeared into the shadows. Sakura retook her spot and waited. It was early in the morning when she felt his chakra vanish. Her eyes darted open to see him still mediating. She remembered this during the war. Massive surge of chakra suddenly vanished. It was followed by explosions and a rise in the jinchuuriki's chakra.
"Sakura," he said in a voice that sounded strange to her.
She rose and moved toward him.
"Don't come too close," he said without looking at her.
"OK," she replied with great concern.
"I want you to know that I love you. You are the one for me. I regret I didn't…well," he started but stopped.
She knew what he was trying to say.
"When we go back to Konoha, you will be my husband," she said without any doubt. "I'm tired of waiting."
He chuckled and his normal voice almost broke through in the happy laughter.
"I hope you know what you're in for," he answered.
"You are my heart's desire. I want to stand by your side," she said pouring her devotion out.
His head fell.
"After today you can be at my side. Today I must do something alone. This is my battle," he answered.
He rose from the ground.
"We fight as a team," she insisted.
He stretched his arms skyward causing a gust of wind to pick up. She felt more chakra leaking from him.
"This isn't about being Hokage. I can't let human ambition continue to include the tailed beasts. It is time for them to be away from us. We aren't ready to interact with them," he said.
Sakura could feel the conviction in his voice. She moved toward him despite his warning. The chakra was growing so powerful but she fought her body and kept moving forward. She wrapped her arms around him from behind and held herself against him.
"I don't care about that. I care about you," she said barely able to speak.
He made a pleased sound. Her grip was broken by the chakra pressure and she was pushed back. He turned and looked at her. His face was a mix of his sage form and the Kyuubi form before the chakra covered his skin. His eyes looked like pluses.
"When we get back to Konoha, I will be honored to be your husband. I love you, Sakura," he said as the barrier behind them shattered.
He held out his arm as the shockwave hit him. Sakura watched the destruction around him but he was a barrier for her. She barely felt the wind pick up. When the wave passed them, he lowered his arm.
"Save those that you can. Stay out of the battle," he said.
She looked away.
"Naruto," she said in a rebellious tone.
"Please. I will be able to fight as I need to if you are protecting the others," he said.
"I have to go. I love you," he said while forming a hand sign.
The giant scroll appeared at his feet. He grabbed the scroll and slung it over his shoulder.
"Hokage-sama," said Kakashi appearing behind the rosette.
"I have to go and fight. Keep your promise," said blonde before he vanished.
Sakura raced forward yelling her love for him. She'd never felt anything so final in her life. Even when Sasuke knocked her out and left her on the bench, it didn't feel over. This felt like it was the end.
"Sakura," said Kakashi as he put a hand on her shoulder.
She looked at her sensei. The concern bordering on fear was clear on his face.
"This is a battle that he alone can fight," he said.
Sakura shrugged of his hand ready to follow.
"You think you can help him. The ten tails is revived…again. Naruto and Bee could barely stand against that thing," he said.
The rosette was ready to let loose on him but he continued.
"It was said that Naruto's father was a once in a lifetime genius. A ninja like him never existed before. Naruto is also in a unique class of ninja," said the sharingan user.
Sakura knew about his unique status or so she thought.
"Naruto is the re-incarnation of the great sage," said the copy nin. "Well that's what I believe anyway."
Sakura felt like she'd been hit in the head.
"At the end of the war, Naruto showed a power that hasn't been seen on earth since the Sage's passing if the rumors are to be believed. It was never the Rinnegan that gave the sage his great power. It was something far more common. It is something that Naruto understands and believes with all his being. One must never give up even in the face of the greatest hatred."
Sakura felt his chakra spike and turned toward the surge. A giant rasenshuriken was thrown into a cloud of dust. The explosion blew the dust away revealing a creature. The creature was monstrous even by the scale of the tailed beasts. It had ten tails but something was in its mouth. Eight smaller tails were sticking out of its mouth. Sakura saw another explosion but the creature swallowed what must have been the eight tails. Another shockwave left the creature as the creatures body seemed to fill out from a skeletal form to a better fed creature.
"What's going on?" demanded the rosette turning to Kakashi.
His mangekyo sharingan was focused on the battle.
"The ten tails assimilated Bee," said the Kakashi. "If it gets Naruto, the world is over."
Other ninja from the Konoha party arrived. Sakura turned to a member of the Hyuuga clan.
"What's going on?" she demanded.
The woman closed her eyes and focused. The stressed blood vessels formed around her closed eyes. She opened her eyes. The Hokage threw off his shirt. He made handsigns and touched the seal on his stomach.
Sakura watched the ten tails roar as sealing symbols were filling the air. Its body started to disassemble pulling it into the seal.
"No," roared the rosette.
The medic nin started to move but Kakashi grabbed her.
"This is the only way," he yelled at her.
Her mind raced. What was the legend of the sage?
"He's going to combine the ten tails with Kurma. When he has the original ten tails, he's going to use the Sage's jutsu to split the ten tails back into the tailed beasts we know," explained the copy nin.
Sakura threw him off.
"He can't survive that," she roared.
Kakashi looked away. Sakura turned back toward the battle as a flash of blinding light came from the battle field.
"He did it," said the Hyuuga.
Sakura took off at full speed but Kakashi grabbed her again.
"I can't let you go," insisted Kakashi.
"Is that the mission he gave you?" she roared.
His sharingan focused on her but she fought it. He wasn't going to use genjutsu on her. She felt his jutsu seeping into her and lashed out. She must have done something as the genjutsu broke. Kakashi was holding his leg. The bone was sticking out. Sakura saw another medic nin tend to him. She turned toward the battle again and took off at full speed. It wasn't fast enough. She wasn't fast enough to get to him. As she raced she could start to see him. She saw his arm go up and slam down on the ground.
"No," she roared as the seal activated.
Nine red chakra spheres shot from his body. Each expanded in size until they were large enough to contain a tailed beast. Each sphere flickered revealing the tailed beasts. The spheres faded leaving only the tailed beasts. She continued forward not afraid. She raced between the two tails and three tails to find Naruto in the middle. He was on his knees.
"I kept my promise to you," he called out.
The one tails looked ready to attack but the eight tails spoke.
"Leave him Shikaku," growled the giant ox with eight octopus tails.
Kurama grunted in agreement. The sand monster growled and turned to leave. The other beasts moved off in different directions as Naruto fell face first onto the ground. Sakura slid to a stop and dropped to her knees. She rolled him onto her lap. She yelled his name as she started medical ninjutsu. His eyes opened only slightly. He tried to chuckle but coughed up blood. When he settled, he looked at her.
"I guess Kakashi failed," he said.
"Stop talking," she commanded.
"I love you," he said with a finality that she refused to accepted.
She increased her chakra flow trying to keep his vital systems functioning. His body was dying from using too much chakra and factors she'd never encountered together before. She needed something extraordinary. She'd seen Naruto recover from horrible wounds before but that was when… Her head shot up. She lowered him to the ground and raced after the tailed beasts. They were walking away. She ran under the nine tails and slid to a stop in front of it. It ignored her pleas. Time was running out and she needed to speak with it. She ran up its leg when she got a chance and to the tip of its nose. He swatted her away.
"Be gone little girl. I've kept my word," replied the tailed beast.
Sakura shook off the blow and chased the beast again. This time she punched it on top of the head. She was ready to land another blow when she was grabbed. She was held in front of Kurama's face. His fangs were bared.
"It's been a while since I've had a meal. You are puny but it will be a start," he said.
"Eat me. Kill me. Do as you please but help Naruto," she begged.
She wasn't sure what she was saying. She poured out all her feeling for him. It probably wasn't coherent but something must have struck the Kyuubi. He set her down.
"If you can perform the sealing, I will allow it," he growled.