When Sakura finds herself facing a rogue ninja, she never dreamed that she would end up fourteen years in the past. Trapped in a Konoha where she must hide her true identity, she runs into a familiar face, except he doesn't seem familiar at all.
Disclaimer; I do not own Naruto or anything Naruto related. If I did, there are a lot of characters I would smack some sense into. All I really own is the plot and my mind that created said plot. Also the original characters that will randomly pop up throughout the story, they come from my own imagination.
So this is my first Naruto-based story, one that has been rustling around in my head for months now. I was originally going to wait until I had finished my previous stories, but that may end up taking quite a long amount of time and I wanted to get this one down while it's all fresh in my head.
It's canon up to about Chapter 488 of the manga (just after Sakura attempted to eliminate Sasuke). Everything after that hasn't occurred in the universe of this story. Why? Because when I thought it up, I wasn't that far into the manga. But it shouldn't be too much of a deal, I won't really be focusing much on it anyway.
So please enjoy, and remember that reviews are very much loved. :)
The cover art is called 'Wounds aren't important' by GoldCoinSuperStar and can be found on DeviantArt.
It had been a very long day, that was for sure.
All Sakura Haruno wanted to do was to curl up in bed with a good book. It was the perfect weather to do so, the cool winter air breezing through her petal-coloured hair, sending a chill through her alabaster skin. She was currently returning to Tsunade's office, the Hokage having kept the young kunoichi rather busy throughout the day, running errands back and forth since the sun had risen.
Times were now peaceful, but that never meant it would last long.
Konohagakure had slowly rebuilt and repaired itself over time, it now resembled an actual village once more. However, it was nowhere near it's former glory. The villagers had been forced to start their lives over again from scratch, though most had proper housing once again. So many had lost everything dear to them, some had even relocated to other villages and towns. Those who remained loyal to the Hidden Leaf Village had stayed to help, and finally it seemed as though things were beginning to settle down and resume somewhat normally.
Sakura ran a hand through her bubblegum locks, sighing as she did so. It had been a rough two years since Pein had invaded the village and effectively destroyed most of it, two years since Naruto had defeated the enemy and returned to be heralded as a hero. She was now a woman of eighteen, although there were some days where she felt much older. Along with the other young shinobi of the village, she had been forced to mature quickly to adapt to the situations that faced them.
As Sakura walked down the street, she passed the window of a nearby store, pausing to look at her reflection that dully gazed back at her. She couldn't help but be pleased with what she saw, petal-pink tresses that now flowed past her shoulders, framing a face of creamy complexion with bright green eyes that sparkled with determination. Her breasts had finally swelled to a suitable size, nowhere near that of Tsunade's ample bosom, but it was fair to say she was no longer flat-chested. Her hips added to her womanly figure, she was now curvy yet still quite slim and toned.
Her usual attire had changed once more, this time to suit the cooler season. Her red qipao-style top had been replaced with a long-sleeved dress of the same hue and of chinese-design, similar to Ten-Ten's shirt, only her dress was much tighter and hugged her body. It ended mid-thigh but with slits on either side to make it easier for her to move, much like the dress she had worn in her younger years. The white circle on her back remained, but the white hems had gone, the material of the dress embroidered with cherry blossoms, the stitching done in a maroon hue, slightly darker than the material itself.
A black belt hung loosely on her hips, her small pouch connected at the back, her weapons pouch and tanto however were missing. The short black shorts that were paired with pink apron skirt were gone, now she wore long black leggings that reached her ankles, as they were much warmer and yet still easy to move around in. The open-toed boots had been replaced with enclosed ones that were very similar if not almost identical in style, except that her toes were no longer exposed to the elements.
The only aspect of her outfit that remained unchanged was the red hitai-ate that was nestled amongst pink locks on the top of Sakura's head, still worn in the same style. She wore it like a badge of honour, it had been in countless battles with her, always reminding her enemies that she was a proud kunoichi of Konoha and was not to be underestimated.
"Daydreaming, are we?"
Sakura broke from her thoughts to turn and face the owner of the lazy-toned voice, and gave him a smirk. "Says the man who always has his head in the clouds. It seems like you're always off in your own little world, Kakashi-sensei, always got your nose in one of those awful books…"
The silver-haired man looked down to his hand, which indeed held a small green book, the last of the Icha-Icha stories that Jiraiya had released before his death. "Ah, you got me there." he replied, sighing and clasping the book shut before proceeding to store it back in the pocket of his pants.
It had been a few weeks since Sakura had last seen her sensei, and for some unknown reason, it was comforting to be in his presence. Through everything, Kakashi had been there for both Naruto and herself, picking them back up when they had fallen, putting the pieces back together when they broke. Despite the fact that he could no longer be classified as their teacher, Sakura kept the honourable suffix attached to his name, even after his continuous requests that she drop the habit.
"Tsuande-sama is looking for you. Seems she has another errand for you to carry out." Kakashi explained to his former student, before looking up to the sky. "You might want to hurry, she wants this task done by nightfall, which doesn't leave you much time." he added, closing his one visible eye in thought. "Just make sure she doesn't overwork you."
Sakura sighed once more. She'd honestly believed that she was done for the day, hence why her return to the Hokage's office had been slow and leisurely, and she'd allowed herself to become easily distracted. All she could do was hope that once this errand was completed, Tsuande would let her go home and relax.
She gave the older man a smile. "Thanks Kakashi-sensei. I'm just hoping that once I'm done with this task, she will let me have the night off. I have an early shift at the hospital tomorrow morning and I want a nice relaxing night. I guess I should head off." she explained, before raising a hand in farewell, which Kakashi then returned in his usual indolent manner.
As the pink-haired kunoichi hurried down the street, she was unaware of the one-eyed gaze that followed her.
"There you are!"
Sakura entered Tsunade's office sheepishly, she'd hurried to the Hokage's Mansion after bumping into Kakashi and learning that the Hokage had yet another task for her, yet she knew she was still quite late from her dawdling earlier.
The woman herself sat at her desk, her chocolate eyes on Sakura as she moved her elbows to the desk and laced her fingers together in front of her, reminding Sakura somewhat of a young Sasuke. Shaking that thought from her mind as soon as it had appeared, she bowed her head slightly to Tsunade before speaking.
"Sorry it took me so long, Tsunade-shishou. I was under the impression that I was done for the day." Sakura breathed, hoping perhaps her words would change Tsunade's mind. Realizing that she knew this woman rather well and that she wasn't one to be swayed with words, the young kunoichi placed her hands behind her back and awaited to hear her task.
Tsunade raised a slender eyebrow at the girl in front of her, before leaning to the side and reaching into a drawer of the desk, pulling out a rather ordinary scroll. Sakura's features contorted with mild surprise at this, but she remained silent. The honey-haired woman laid the scroll on the surface of the desk, pushing it towards Sakura.
"This medical scroll is to be delivered as soon as possible to a small town nearby, in the west. It should only take you an hour or so to reach the town, hand it to their leader and make your way back here." Tsunade explained, leaning back in her chair. "If you go now, you should return to Konoha before nightfall."
Sakura's green eyes moved to look out the window, she could see that the sun was already beginning to set, the sky taking on colourful hues of oranges, pinks and purples. No matter how fast she was, she knew she would not return to Konoha before it grew dark. The best she could do was complete the errand swiftly and return home as soon as she was able to.
"Yes, Tsunade-shishou." Sakura nodded in understanding, moving forward and taking the scroll before placing it in her pouch that hung from her belt. She had no idea why this errand couldn't wait until tomorrow, but didn't dare question it. Tsunde had been hung-over all day and therefore in a grumpy mood. Shizune had even kept her distance, claiming that she was needed at the hospitals for surgeries. Sakura didn't want to make it worse.
"Be careful, Sakura." Tsunade warned her young apprentice, and Sakura swore she could see worry appearing on her master's features, mixed with something else that strangely looked like regret. She had no time to question it, it was probably just her eyes playing tricks on her, she was beginning to grow fatigued from constantly running around the village all day, and she wanted to get this task completed.
"I will." she answered, before bowing her head once more and retreating from the office, making her way to the west village gates.
After she left, Tsunade sighed and stood from her chair, moving over to the window. She knew what was about to happen to the petal-haired kunoichi, and the worst part was that she couldn't interfere. Things had to progress naturally, there was too much risk otherwise.
All she could do now was wait until Sakura returned from her journey.
Sakura stretched her arms above her head as she walked, giving a small yawn as she did so. The walk to the town was taking much longer than expected, she'd been certain to have reached it by now, but she hadn't seen anything even resembling a settlement of any sort. The sun had already disappeared, the darkness of night settling in. The moon was not full enough to entirely illuminate her surroundings, which put her on edge. All she wanted to do was find her destination, hand them the scroll and go home.
"Well look what we have here."
Sakura froze in her steps. The voice had come from behind her, and was unfamiliar, the tone dripping with menace. She cursed herself silently, knowing she should have kept her guard up at all times, it was one the basic rules for a shinobi. Her hand instantly went to her the wrappings around her thigh, pulling out a concealed kunai as she turned around, her jade eyes searching the darkness for the owner of the voice that had spoken to her.
He slinked his way out of the shadows, the moon dully illustrating his features. Long dark hair, sallow skin and yellowed eyes that watched her intently, their gaze unnerving. However, there was no forehead protector to be seen. He was either a rogue ninja or just a strange and somewhat creepy villager.
"Can I help you with something?" Sakura inquired, trying not to show her uneasiness, keeping her kunai poised in front of her chest. She didn't want to initiate an unnecessary battle, but if he came at her, she would be ready to take him out. The man simply grinned at her, a yellowed and sadistic smile that made Sakura's blood turn cold. She could sense his malice, and gritted her teeth. It was beginning to look like she would have to fight afterall.
"I'll be taking that scroll of yours." he announced his intention, edging closer to the pink-haired kunoichi. Sakura resisted the urge to look at her pouch, where the medical scroll was currently located. How had he known she'd had it? She'd barely made any indication of carrying anything since she had been walking. The only explanation was that he had organized this as some kind of trap. But why?
"I'd like to see you try." she replied, her voice huskier than usual as she crouched lower, digging her heels into the soil beneath her. It was clear that a fight was about to ensue, and she had to keep on her toes and finish it as quickly as possible. With her eyes not being able to properly adjust to her dimly lit surroundings, she would have to rely on her other senses to defeat him.
If he relied mostly on either tai- or gen-jutsu, she would be fine, as long as his speed wasn't too phenomenal. However, if he were to use nin-jutsu, she would be at a disadvantage. Sakura was strong shinobi on her own right, but even she was aware that she was not the most powerful ninja in her village.
The man before her simply grinned again before disappearing in a small cloud of smoke. A clone, she realized, meaning that the actual one was somewhere around her, unseen in the darkness. Sakura stood still, her ears trying to detect some kind of sound that would alert her to where the real shinobi was.
A soft crunch was suddenly heard on her left, so Sakura turned in that direction, raising her arm up as she focused as much chakra as she could in her fist before driving it into the ground, causing the earth to crumble and break before her. Before she could make another move however, the familiar whistling of a kunai heading towards her caused Sakura to quickly flip out of the way, noting that the weapon had come from behind.
She gripped her own kunai even tighter, it was obvious that her opponent was using the darkness to his advantage. The weapon in her hand was the only one she had with her, having had no time to prepare herself before leaving the village, and she'd had no reason to carry weapons on her during the day. Luckily she kept a kunai on her at all time, for emergencies like this.
Suddenly the man burst out of the dark bushes and ran towards her, aiming a fist at her face which she narrowly avoided by ducking down. She swung a leg at his shins in an attempt to knock him over but his speed was much faster then hers and he jumped backwards to avoid it.
This was bad. This was very bad. If it had been day time, Sakura would have had a chance of defeating her opponent, but the way things were looking, that chance was growing smaller by the minute.
She lunged forward with a chakra-filled fist, aiming for his chest but he effectively knocked her arm aside and landed a punch of his own in her face with an audible crack, sending her flying backwards before she hit the ground with a thud. As Sakura attempted to return to her feet, she could feel something warm and sticky flowing across her mouth and realized her nose was broken.
Knowing she didn't have the time to sit there and fix it nor the chakra to waste healing her injury, she put the pain in the back of her mind and moved slowly to her feet, swaying slightly.
"Why do you want the scroll so badly?" she asked her opponent as he leered before her, watching keenly with his yellow eyes, reminding her of cat's by the way they were brightened in the dull moonlight.
"Curiosity. And a chance for a new experiment." he replied simply, cocking his head to the side.
"Experiment?" Sakura echoed, trying her best to keep her balance. If she could distract him with conversation, it would give her time to concoct a plan of attack, as well as find out his motives, which so far, she didn't like the sound of.
"Yes." he grinned, before moving towards Sakura at a pace her eyes couldn't keep up with. The next thing she knew, he was standing behind her, a kunai at her neck.
Sakura blinked, trying to understand what had just happened. Clearly this man was a rogue ninja, and a powerful one at that. His speed rivalled that of Kakashi's, and Sakura knew that there was no way she could get out of this now. Her only hope was that perhaps the man would keep her alive, or that by some miracle, another ninja would come this way and help her out.
"I've been developing a new jutsu, and I think you're just the perfect test subject." he whispered in her ear, his hot breath on the nape of Sakura's neck making her almost retch because of the grotesque stench.
"Why me?" she struggled to ask as the kunai moved closer and pressed against the thin flesh of her neck, a bead of blood appearing on the blade. She had no idea why he was explaining all this to her, he was most likely one of those awful people who liked to divulge in their plans with their victims.
"Why not?" came the sneering reply, as the kunai disappeared from her neck for a moment before the man's hand thudded on the nape of Sakura's neck to knock her unconscious, just like all those years ago when she had tried to stop Sasuke from leaving the village.
Sakura felt herself falling to the ground, her eyelids closing despite the fact that she was trying to desperately keep them open.
Mustering all the strength she had left, Sakura attempted to open her jade eyes one last time, only catching a glimpse of silver before the lids shut heavily. It must have been a dream, a hope, a fleeting thought of being saved. The shout of a technique was heard just above her ear before everything went black.
"Taimutoraberu no jutsu!"
Here are three things you should know;
1. This took me hours to write, and ended up getting rewritten quite a few times.
2. I am awful at writing fight scenes. [points above]
3. This story will get a lot better, I promise. The first chapter is always so difficult for me to write.
Please let me know what you think, feedback is incredibly helpful and very much appreciated. :)