If He Had Stayed
"If Sasuke had stayed, would you have wanted to be my apprentice?" Tsunade broke the comfortable silence that had spread between herself and her student.
Sakura's eyes widened at the question. She had never thought about it like that. After a moment of gathering her thoughts, she replied, "Admittedly, it would have been later on, but yes."
"You came to me after your failed mission searching for Sasuke." Tsunade hummed.
"I came to you because I was weak and you were you." Sakura frowned.
The Hokage gave her a small smile but didn't reply.
"If Sasuke had stayed..." Sakura began, "It wouldn't have made a difference. I would have messed up one mission so badly, seen how much I was behind my team and come to you. Either that, or saw what good you could do for Konoha and then request to be your apprentice."
"If you had been stronger," Tsunade began. "Would you still have asked then?"
"I think if I was stronger, I'd be clever enough to ask, yes."
"You were always clever," Tsunade pointed out.
"Well then I would be clever enough to ask you under any circumstance," Sakura smiled, "Even if Sasuke was still on my team."
"You would have stopped training with your team and trained with me instead? You'd have less time to spend with Sasuke," the Hokage argued.
"I would have done both."
"You know how much you had to work when you began to train under me, you wouldn't have had the time." Tsunade shook her head.
"This was Sasuke Uchiha, I would have made the time." Sakura laughed. "Besides, I would have probably bragged about what I was learning... Hit Naruto and then healed him again in an attempt to impress Sasuke."
"I would have physically beaten that crush out of you." The Sannin frowned.
"Yeah." Sakura sighed. "I guess that would have been a good thing."
"You guess?" Tsunade raised an eyebrow.
Sakura grinned. "OK, it would have been a good thing."
Sakura shook her head, before smiling. "You helped me get over him anyway, I got into my training and then began to be serious about my job."
"Mmhmm." Tsunade hummed.
"Seriously... Sasuke or no Sasuke, whatever happened... It was inevitable that I would be your apprentice. There would be nobody else in the world who I would rather have as a mentor." Sakura smiled.
"That's not true..." Tsunade smirked. "If Sasuke had stayed in Konoha, I'd have wanted to be his mentor, not yours."
Sakura opened her mouth to reply before shutting it again. She couldn't believe her mentor. "Shishou!"
There was a twinkle in the Sannin's eyes as she replied, seemingly serious, "Yes?"
"I don't care if that's a joke." Sakura frowned. "That's not nice! If I asked to be your apprentice you'd say 'no, but I'll train your teammate'?"
Sakura pouted and crossed her arms, not happy.
"Sakura..." Tsunade began. "I'm sorry."
When Sakura was about to forgive the blonde for the joke, Tsunade added, "But honestly, who would you pick? Your twelve year old self or Sasuke Uchiha?"
Sakura mumbled, "I guess."
"I'm kidding you, girl." Tsunade smiled.
"But it's a valid point." Sakura shrugged.
There was a long silence before Tsunade said, "I would have definitely picked you."
Sakura frowned. "Why in the world would you pick me?"
"The determination in your eyes."
"Sasuke was determined to kill his brother."
"You were determined to do things for the greater good," the Hokage replied.
"I was determined to bring back Sasuke."
"And?" Tsunade asked.
Sakura thought about it. "And to better myself, so I could start helping others instead of being a burden to them, so I could be strong enough to bring back Sasuke for Naruto and with Naruto..."
Tsunade smiled. "And that is why I took you on as my apprentice. It's easy being skilled, being a prodigy, but it's hard to be one thing and have the will to change yourself into something better. To change from, no offence, a brat, into what you are today, is what makes you inspiring and makes me proud to be your mentor."
"Awww." Sakura grinned childishly. "Inspiring? I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me, Shishou."
"I've been drinking," Tsunade mumbled.
Sakura laughed. "That's a poor excuse, you're definitely sober, I can tell you mean it... And I would have never gotten here without you."
"Of course." Tsunade smirked. "I had to work very hard."
"All right, all right." Sakura shook her head. "In conclusion... If Sasuke had stayed, we would still be the same. If he had stayed, we would now be contemplating how we would be if he hadn't stayed."
"Yes," Tsunade grinned. "I would be discussing with my apprentice, Sasuke, that if he had left, what it would be like to have you as my student."
Thanks for reading!