DISCLAIMER: This story is solely written for fanservicing. All known characters and plot lines belong to Masashi Kishimoto and the publishers of the Naruto series. I am merely a fan who wishes to write her alternate story to the Naruto manga. The title "In The Name of Life" is taken from Joe Hisaishi's soundtrack of the film 'Spirited Away', by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. This fanfic is not intended for lucrative purposes.
In The Name of Life
"Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor." Dr. Alexis Carrel
Her patient was bleeding to death. They had just run out of bandages and the atmosphere was so tense that she did not feel capable of saving him.
Don't think that way, she told herself.
Sakura inhaled in order to calm her nerves. The Fourth Shinobi World War had just begun; there was no time to lose. Her patient was her priority right now, and no matter how many other medics were there with her, she had to save him. She gathered the perfect amount of chakra in her hands and dedicated the next moments in closing off her patient's skin so that the bleeding would not continue. Afterwards, she focused on healing beneath his skin, layer by layer, until he was safe enough to recover using his own cells.
With her hands full of blood and shaking, she finally exhaled and wiped off the sweat on her brow, covering herself with her patient's blood in the process. That did not matter. He was alive and would be able to go back to battle. She decided to take a seat for five seconds. As Sakura's back leant against the chair, she felt a relief that she hadn't felt for a while. She hadn't had a chance to sit down since the declaration for war was announced and as Tsunade's apprentice her responsibilities were much higher than the other medics', except Shizune.
"Sakura, what are you doing sitting down!" Tsunade's right hand woman had appeared inside her tent, startling Sakura with her shouts, "There are people dying here, woman!"
Next, she grabbed Sakura by the arm and stood her up. The two women walked towards the next tent of injured victims.
Fortunately, Sakura had arrived at the Logistical Support and Medical Division in time to heal most of the shinobi who were in critical condition. Shizune, who was the Captain of this Division, had been very frustrated at seeing her not working, so she placed her in front of five beds that had critically wounded ninja and ordered her to put her hands to use immediately. Sighing, Sakura went back to her work. She concentrated on healing every wound that could put these shinobi in danger of hemorrhage or concussions. She made sure that they could open their eyes and talk coherently before moving on to the next patient.
"Well done, Sakura," said Shizune, now more calm after finishing up with their last patient, "You may go gather more bandages for our next patients. Be back in five minutes."
"Thank you," the girl responded quietly, feeling a sense of fulfillment inside.
Sakura was proud, though. She was proud of fighting to protect her best friend, to bring peace to a world that had never known a Shinobi Alliance like this one. Her faith was placed in Naruto, even though he was missing in action at the moment. All she wanted to do was to fight by his side, to save Sasuke from sinking into more darkness. Sakura took another, deeper breath as she thought of her current and former teammates. The three of them had changed so much. Naruto and Sasuke had experienced losses that she hoped would never happen to her; hence, why she couldn't fully understand their bond.
She often wondered why they were all put in the same gennin team. However, she discarded this question after looking at her blood filled hands. No, she was not like Naruto or Sasuke. Their bond was stronger than any type of friendship she had ever had. Nonetheless, Sakura took pride in her healing abilities, in her monstrous strength. She knew that her abilities were essential to the compound that Team Kakashi formed.
However, thinking of Sasuke not only brought tears to her eyes; it also brought a sense of fear that was not there before. Before the Land of Iron, Sakura was aware and familiar with Sasuke's murderous acts. She knew of his status as a missing international criminal. What she never expected was his attempt to kill her.
After all they had done for him...
And all she did was get saved by Naruto and then let him protect her. So much for preparing herself emotionally for that encounter... Deep down though, Sakura knew she would never be happy with herself if she inflicted any sort of pain on her friends, regardless of how murderous they may have turned. Especially when it came to Sasuke, Sakura knew she would never be able to put her head before her heart. That was the prime reason of hating herself. She still loved him. Despite everything Sasuke was still her first love, and first loves are always the hardest to forget.
In fact, at this point, she thought she would never be able to forget him. She kept repeating Naruto's promise in her mind, and every replay troubled her more and more. How would she live without Naruto? Without Sasuke? Kakashi-sensei would feel like a failure, and she would be all alone trying to comfort him while her own soul would be slowly, painfully breaking into pieces.
"No, that's not going to happen" she said aloud while grabbing more bandage rolls from the supplies tent.
"What's not going to happen?" a voice startled her and she clumsily dropped everything that was in her arms.
Sakura turned around and recognized a shinobi from Sunagakure. He was part of the Medical Division as well and was probably sent to do the same task as her. She dismissed any sort of thought that was running through her mind in order to focus on the present. Ever since she had arrived in this Division, there had been a total of ten love confessions, five invites to dinner after the war was done, and two attempts at sneaking a kiss. Sakura was extremely surprised by all of the attention she was getting, but she immediately put herself in the shoes of all the male shinobi that were fighting out there. Their lives could end the next moment, and all they wanted was to share their feelings or just fool around with a kunoichi. She would never put herself in a situation like that.
Well, not unless she predicted that it was the night before her death –but anyway, she had declined every single type of offer because her duty was to the Shinobi Alliance and to protecting Naruto, not to a short-lived fling.
"Um... n-nothing! I was just talking to myself. You know, after interacting with patients who are in critical condition one starts talking to oneself and... Yeah." Bad, bad excuse.
Ah, Ino would enjoy this type of attention.
The Suna medic did not seem to mind how she was caught off guard as he side smiled and made his way to gather some bandages as well.
"So I was thinking that after this war is done –if we both survive, I mean–, we could go to this place in my village" he said, coolly confident.
Sakura, once again, had to slump her shoulders and reject his offer.
"I'm sorry, but I am not really..." she did not finish her sentence, as she herself did not know how to ever answer these types of offers. She just made a few gestures with her hands while trying to balance the rolls of bandages before making her way to the exit.
"Is there –is there someone else?"
Sakura turned around and nodded slowly.
"Is it Uzumaki Naruto?" he asked hesitantly.
She was about to say yes, but stopped herself before the word escaped her lips. There was no point in making up that excuse, as it was not going to help her in any way. She loved Naruto, she really loved him. As a friend, of course. Why would she pretend that Naruto and she were more than friends, if they both clearly knew who was her person of interest? Besides, it was not like Sasuke would slice a guy's throat because he asked her out or anything. In fact, he would gladly slice her throat if they were to ever meet again.
Sakura promised herself that in her next life, she would make sure never to fall in love with a guy like Sasuke. It hurt too much.
"Haruno Sakura, isn't it?" asked the guy, taking her out of her thoughts.
She nodded with a weak smile. Yes, that was her. The apprentice of the Hokage, etc, etc.
Sakura was about to ask for his name, but his skin colour gradually became white and his facial features changed. Her heart stopped as she saw the Suna medic turn into a towering, empowering figure. She recognized that creepy smile, the lack of another half, those sadistic eyes.
It was Zetsu.
As she suddenly regained her senses, Sakura took a hold of her emergency poisoned kunai and stabbed him in the eye, with the hope of shocking him. Nevertheless, Zetsu's creepy smile stretched even further and he released a laugh that caused chills to creep up her spine. He was not even slightly affected by her weapon. In fact, it seemed like he enjoyed the spectacle of fright that was obvious on her face. She was in deep trouble.
"Then come with me, little kunoichi."
It all went black.
Naruto was the symbol of the Shinobi Alliance, and that was driving her to give one hundred and ten percent. This war was to protect him.
Hinata slashed another one of those white soldiers alongside her cousin. He was sweating and wore an expression of pain on his face. She knew Neji was overdoing it with his Byakugan, but this was not the right time to tell him that she could take over the fight. They were currently surrounded by the enemy's army, and no matter how tired they were after this battle, they had to give it their all. -She- had to give it her all.
She proudly wore her village's uniform as a respectable kunoichi. Hinata had earned her spot among the Konoha shinobi, her cousin's trust and her father's approval. She often heard stories of how women were always portrayed as either a damsel in distress, the love interest of a hero, or a heroine who does everything possible to gain her love's heart. Hinata knew that all these stories centered on men, just as her life as a female ninja was, but she was not going to let her feelings overshadow her goals again. Although this fight was for Naruto, her one love, she did not disregard her own aspirations as an individual.
Hinata was determined to become the head of her clan and finally change the rules regarding the head and branch families. She knew and had experienced the injustice of being considered secondary and disposable. There was no way that she would allow her future clansmen to feel that way, regardless of their birth order.
"Hiya!" she heard her cousin fighting beside her. "Hinata, do not give up on this fight!"
No, she wouldn't. That was her nindo.
"Neji-niisan, let's finish these colts and then you can rest!"
With a swift, fatal move, Hinata and her cousin were able to defeat the majority of the white coloured soldiers. When the enemy started retreating, the cousins helped out their comrades until victory was fully theirs.
"Well done," said Neji, and Hinata felt ten times better.
She would have never guessed that they would be fighting a war during their lifetime. When she was little, there were many reminders of the Third Shinobi War, and she (like every child of her generation) was kept away from all the atrocities committed during that time. Nonetheless, there was the occasion that Kumo had captured her in order to gain the Byakugan. It had caused Neji's father to sacrifice himself for the bloodline. That issue would never leave his relationship with Neji –the one where his father died because of her and her father. The idea of Neji doing something like that to save her put a huge rock over her shoulders.
For a moment, Hinata felt terrified thinking of Neji dying in the war protecting her.
Ever since the war started, she had been experiencing random ups and downs with her emotions. She could feel happy for a bit, knowing that the enemy was getting abolished, then depressed because of all the losses on their side, then even more depressed thinking that those close to her were putting their lives on the line.
Hinata was currently at the latter stage. Neji was her closest relative, just as close as Hanabi. It was a little hypocritical of her; she would not let Neji die for her, but she would sacrifice her own life for him or another loved one at any time. She did not care though, if her life ended, so long as somebody else had the opportunity of living in a better world. Although it meant that her dreams of changing her clan's dynamics would not happen, her precious people were what inspired her.
Neji was ordered to go towards the left wing of their Division's territory to take guard. Hinata was left among the rest of their Division and felt a little out of place. It was true that she did not know many, and she was not sure if it was the right time to start a friendship with these shinobi since they all may die the next day. That depressing thought had haunted her since the war began.
She jerked her head up when she felt Kiba coming close to her. He was sporting the same uniform as everypony else: Konoha's traditional flak jacket and dark undergarments. Kiba was sitting on Akamaru. making his way towards her. He looked just as exhausted as everybody else in her squad. It was quite fortunate to have reinforcements of the Fifth Division like him; however that also meant that they needed more soldiers fighting on their front.
"Hay Hinata, you seem to be more quiet than usual," said Kiba, and Akamaru barked in agreement.
"Well, we're in the middle of a war, Kiba-kun; we cannot let our guard down."
Her teammate gave her a feral grin before the two of them went to sit on a rock near the rest of their squad. Once they had both settled, Kiba took out a bottle of water he had hanging on his belt and took a large gulp from it before passing it to her. Hinata received it and drank some of it, feeling her whole system become purified and refreshed.
"Don't worry, my nose can detect anything that is coming our way, and so far none of those weird white guys have stepped into our territory," he reassured her. Hinata was glad that she was placed in Team 8 with Kiba and Shino; the three of them got along pretty well. There were a few issues when they first joined up, such as Kiba's tendency to tease her when it came to Naruto, but they were able to deepen their bonds in the many missions assigned throughout their gennin career. Now, as chūnins, Team 8 had even more duties and an even stronger bond.
Also known as Team Kurenai, they had developed a sense of understanding and a deep friendship that was irreplaceable. Kiba, Shino and Kurenai-sensei were also part of her precious people.
"I just... I can't believe we've been exterminating them for the whole day and it feels like these soldiers will never stop coming," she confessed.
In fact, she was surprised and amused at how strong she had gotten over the last few years. All that hard training was put to the test. As they say, a smooth sail does not make a good sailor. One does not learn everything during training, as the real battle always brings new surprises. Hinata was satisfied that she could take on those surprises and make the best out of them. She gave her all, just like Naruto.
"I know," responded Kiba before taking another sip from his bottle. "Mom always reprimanded me when I wasn't taking my training seriously. I guess she was right, eh? I mean, look at us. We're sixteen, fighting alongside the other villages rather than against them. The enemy wants Naruto, and you would give your life for him. Hay! Don't hide yourself behind that blush, Hinata! We all know you would, in fact he must be the only one who doesn't know."
Ah, yes, no one really knew about her almost death when Pain had attacked their village. This made her blush even more than before.
"Don't act like I don't know. Heh."
Maybe Kiba did know about her confession, and he was probably going to tease her about it. However, this was not the time nor the place for that.
"Well... I-I guess he ought to find out sooner or later, right?" said she shrugging her shoulders.
Kiba decided to put a protective arm around her and gave her a reassuring smile.
"That was really brave of you. Naruto is the kind of guy who goes hard or goes home. Your confession was on the same line: you told him you loved him at the least expected time and BOOM, he saves the village. That says something, don't you think?"
When Kiba put it that way, it didn't sound as bad. She still felt like her words were out of place, but decided to leave her confidence issues at the back of her mind. Just like before, this was definitely not the time or place to think about herself and Naruto.
"But what if he doesn't accept me?" That question escaped her lips before she could finish her thoughts. So much for preparing herself for war...
Kiba sighed in mock concern. Why would he mock her? She was the type of person who relied too much on her feelings and he knew that. He was one of her best friends!
"Hinata, you're one of my best friends," he started. "If there was a guy who wouldn't accept you I would take on the personal responsibility of taking his eyes and shoving them up his –well, y'know what I mean. What I'm trying to say is that Naruto doesn't forget things like that so easily, and my nose tells me that there is more than mere friendship on his side. Akamaru agrees!" His pet partner barked again in agreement.
Kiba didn't usually talk about these types of things seriously. This was the closest he'd ever gotten to being serious with her, so she decided to take his words to heart and make something of them. Naruto needed them now, more than ever.
If she wanted to believe her friend, she would and could.
"Thank you, Kiba-kun."
"Anytime, friend." He responded, flashing another feral smile.
These last hours had felt like an eternity to her. It had been a long time since she had felt safe in this world. Neji, Kiba, Naruto, everyone was targeted in this war. The enemy would not hesitate to take away their lives, and it was frightening, thinking that this could be the last time she sat down and enjoyed a conversation with Kiba. She only lamented not being able to do the same with Shino and Kurenai-sensei; her teammates and teacher had become an extended family. Her wish to bid farewell just in case had not yet been fulfilled, but that is what war brings upon people. Hinata thought of the many families and friends who could not say goodbye before going into the battlefield and never coming back. Her appreciation for Kiba and Neji being with her grew more.
If only Naruto was here to say goodbye to him too... She really hoped to see him one more time, to enjoy walking beside him by the lake, having a date eating ramen, anything.
Funny how you could miss someone so much. And how you could love someone so much.
"I think it's time I take my guard," Hinata announced, standing up.
"You don't have to," said a voice coming from her left side. It was a kunoichi from Iwagakure with short hair and pink eyes. "I won't let Konoha shinobi take all the pride in being our guards when we can all share the responsibility evenly."
Hinata felt a little intimidated by her statement, but the Iwa kunoichi did not seem to be threatening her. She was sporting a friendly look, though accompanied by arrogance.
"Well, we Konoha ninja have great tracking and guarding abilities!" It seemed that Kiba had not taken it well, but the woman ignored his response.
"My name is Kurotsuchi by the way," the girl introduced herself looking directly at Hinata. "You must be a Hyūga. My grandfather made me study every clan technique from every village. It was a pain to memorize, but hey, I guess that my memory can work well in this war."
Kurotsuchi offered her hand, and Hinata shook it showing that she was just as friendly.
"Nice meeting you. I am Hinata, and this is Kiba."
"From the Inuzuka clan? Yeah, I could tell by the dog and your facial marks." Kurotsuchi kneeled down and let Akamaru sniff her hands before the girl gained his trust. Kiba was a little annoyed at this, but remained silent with folded arms.
Kiba muttered something that sounded like a 'whatever' before Kurotsuchi stood up and started walking away.
"Anyway, see you around, Hyūga-san and Inuzuka-san. I must go to my guard post now," she said before turning around.
Hinata felt a little more relieved now knowing that her Division members were becoming friendlier towards each other. The village rivalries were blurring in this war; change was definitely happening.
"Hmph, who does she think she is coming here and acting like a know-it-all?"
Well, maybe Kiba did not think the same.
"Kiba-kun, she was just being friendly. We must build stronger relations with the other villages," she began to explain, but decided to remain quiet as his thick skull would never process that type of thought.
"You always find the nicest thing about people, maybe that's why you fell in love with Naruto."
Hinata's cheek adopted a rosy colour, and Kiba started chuckling. She wished that they were in another situation, another place, where her current state wasn't so unusual. Thinking about crushes was not the most adequate thought when one was in the battlefield.
However, before he could continue teasing her, they were both interrupted by Kurotsuchi's return. She was running towards them frantically; her expression was not a good sign.
"Hyūga Neji is missing," she announced, catching her breath.
Hinata's world started blurring.
(29/08/2014) Hi all. I deleted the first chapter because it didn't feel like it flowed well into the main plot-lines. Anyway, thanks for sticking around and I hope you like this story though it needs much rewriting :)