Right! Hi, people who have bothered to click on this new story of mine! This idea has been messing with my head for over a month now, and I just had to let it out. It was originally meant to be an OC-centric story, but then I decided that I just love Saku-chan too much, and thus wouldn't be able to write her as the pathetic fangirl she is at the beginning of the anime. She needs some awesomeness, sue me.
Disclaimer: I'm only gonna do this once, 'cause, come on, do I look like Masashi Kishimoto to you? …Oh, wait. You don't know what I look like…
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I don't own Naruto,
And neither do you.
Summary: What would happen if Sakura wasn't placed with Team 7, but with a team which actually appreciated her for who she was? A young, unrecognised prodigy blooming into one of the finest shinobi, that's what. Then again, life just isn't right without complications.
Oh yeah, last thing, in this fic Sakura will be two years younger than in the original timeline. So, when the Rookie 9 are, let's say, twelve, she'll be ten. You'll see why.
The events which took place before my third birthday are but a blur to me, so I don't think them too important. You could say that the moment I blew the pink candle on my pink birthday cake was my first real memory. But it's what happened the day after my birthday that seems to be permanently engraved into my mind.
But I'll talk about that later. Now, I just want to tell you that if you look up the definition of the word 'childhood', what will come up will be the exact opposite of what I had. And I don't mean it in the good way either.
Apparently, I've never really been a normal child. I've gathered this much, even by the tender age of three. I wasn't interested in scribbling on walls with crayons, or destroying everything in my path, and going outside petrified me. So, I stayed indoors most of the time, and tried to mimic everyone around me; though that wasn't too many people, since, like I said, I stayed indoors. That's how I've learned to walk incredibly early, and my first word came to me as quickly and easily as if I'd been saying it for years – or, at least that's what my father told me when he was in his talkative mood.
Speaking of my parents; they're the reason I tried to be the best so hard. They are both shinobi, and although I attempted to hide it, they're also one of the reasons why I hate going outside so much.
I've heard about it, seen it, saw people talking about it. After that, it wasn't too hard to come to the conclusion of what the big, black, and incredibly fast blurs moving outside our window were.
After all, I am a smart child.
I lived in a world of trained assassins.
That's enough to discourage anyone from going even a foot away from their house.
But back to my parents for now. My dad, a respected Jounin Commander was a tall man with short spiky white hair and jade eyes. He specialised in Wind Elemental Ninjutsu, though the first time I heard it I had no idea what he meant. Ninjuwhat? Due to his high position in the shinobi ranks, he was rarely home, but whenever he was he would always find some time to spend with me, either by reading with me, or teaching me the shinobi history, or just simply letting me cuddle into him to my heart's content. He was stern, but he never purposefully hurt me.
My mother on the other hand was a chunin medic-nin, because she preferred to save lives, rather than take them. She was a red-head with golden-coloured eyes and a caring personality to match. But that's only what I had managed to pry from father. I don't even remember my mum. She was killed the day after my third birthday. All I remember is seeing one of dad's colleagues from work at our front door, a black-rimmed scroll grasped tightly in his hand. His eyes were red with unshed tears.
"Gomenasai," I remembered him mutter. "It was a surprise attack at the borders. She didn't even have a kunai to defend herself with."
The broken look I saw on dad's face that day still haunts me. He took the scroll with a shaking hand and shut the door in the man's face. I was oblivious to the contents of the scroll, but even as a three-year-old I understood that whatever had happened wasn't good when I saw tears rolling down dad's face.
"Daddy?" I asked him. "What happened to Mummy? And who was that man who gave you the scroll?"
"Mummy… isn't coming back, sweetheart. That man's job was just to pass on the news to me. I'm sorry."
"You mean she's dead?" I remember asking, an unknown feeling settling in my stomach. Grief. "Then what's the scroll for?" I asked innocently, and my voice grew weak at the end. Dad just shook his head, and I had an inkling suspicion I knew what was in it. I felt something warm and wet sliding down my cheeks. Seeing my tears, dad scooped me up into his arms and brought me onto his lap. I was still tiny, even for a three-year-old.
"Sssh, sssh, Cherry. We'll get over this. Daddy won't leave you alone, don't worry." That day we cried together.
But we didn't get over it. Every day when dad got back from work, I would find him on the sofa, holding some sort of bottle in his hand. I didn't understand what was happening at the time, but it only solidified my will to never be a shinobi. I didn't want to end up like mom; killed and still unable to do anything to prevent it, even after years of training.
That's when something began to change. Every step I made into securing and solidifying my decision, a small part of me always wondered but what if…? Soon that small bit developed into an entire alternate personality inside my head. And thus, Inner Sakura was born.
She was louder, brasher, braver than me. She kept nagging me to change my decision, to stop being a coward and finally do something useful. I knew I couldn't tell dad about Inner; he already had too much to worry about, and unknowingly I had followed her advice – Inner was my problem, and therefore I would deal with her.
Finally came the day when my will snapped. Inner's cunning ways of leading me in circles inside my own mind had gotten the better of me and I agreed. I was actually eager to become a shinobi, regardless of the long time it would no doubt take before I became the best.
So I sought out father and told him of my decision. To say he was surprised would be an understatement. It was no secret that I didn't want to be a ninja – I made sure to tell him about that at the very beginning, when he first brought me a book about the history of the five Ninja Nations. I had no qualms about learning about ninja, but I didn't want to be a ninja.
He was surprised, but then that surprise turned to excitement. Being a skilled, successful shinobi, he wanted to pass on his knowledge so that I too could be a skilled and successful shinobi. Of course, he agreed to train me almost immediately. Inner was jumping around in my head doing summersaults, ecstatic at the prospect of becoming a real ninja. To be honest, I was too. One of Inner's arguments which truly convinced me into agreeing was that there are two ways to go for a woman in a shinobi village – either, become a kunoichi and risk death by kunai every day, or, become a housewife and risk death by boredom every day. Even then, I had no desire to be a housewife. That just seemed so booooring.
But then, dad just had to kill my fun.
"Before you start actual training, there's a great deal of theory you need to learn. A shinobi's life on the battlefield is only about 10% skill, 40% knowledge and 50% luck. Since you already know the basic history, let's start you off with chakra theory, then the easiest taijutsu stances, how to aim projectile weapons, and how to ensure survival once not on the battlefield. When you learn all that, then I'll start putting the knowledge gained from scrolls into practise. Do we have a deal?"
I was flabbergasted at how much stuff there is to learn before the actual shinobi business even starts. Even Inner was shocked. But I decided I wanted to be a shinobi, and there was no way I was backing out.
The next half a year was spent in my room, the multiple scrolls dad had borrowed for me from the library spread out in front of me, my tiny, not yet fully experienced hand making shaky notes about what I learned from each. Out of all the areas dad had told me to focus on, I found chakra control and manipulation the hardest to understand. I spent countless hours cooped up in my room trying to make sense of the various scrolls, diagrams and explanations. Finally, I understood it.
Now it was time to prove to dad that I was ready to start the practical stage of my training.
Dad laughed when I skipped out of my room with a ginormous grin on my face. He easily guessed why I was suddenly so happy, and didn't ask any questions. Just took my hand and led me to the small forest close to our house. I was still inwardly shaking at the prospect of going outside, but ever since Inner's appearance I was not as paranoid as before.
The forestry was thick, but every few meters there was a small clearing. Dad led me to one of those clearings and crouched down so he was eye-level with me.
"Okay, Sakura-hime. First thing first: you read about the importance of a warm-up before training, right?" I nodded. "Good. Stretch, then we'll test your speed."
I remembered gulping nervously when he said that. Speed = Running = Not good.
But I didn't say anything and just stretched like I'd read is appropriate when you're going to be using your entire body. When I was done, I simply stood and waited for instructions.
"Right. There's a tree about forty meters away from where we're standing. I just want you to run up there and back as quickly as you can."
I nodded. Nothing too complicated, which was good since I wasn't really prepared to do the stuff I read about in the scrolls. Yet.
I pushed off and sprinted as fast as my short legs could carry me. During the six months I spent studying the different areas dad had recommended, I had stumbled on many techniques which many shinobi would probably deem useless, but for me they were a treasured way of advancing in my training quicker than expected.
For example, there was the idea of circulating chakra only to the feet instead of every leg muscle. Since my muscles were far from developed, enhancing them with chakra seemed pointless. However, flooding chakra to the feet would allow me to take bigger steps quicker than I could have imagined. Unfortunately, seeing that I was only at the beginning of my training, any sort of chakra manipulation was out of the picture.
I spotted the tree sooner than expected and pushed myself even harder, using its trunk to propel myself back where I came from.
When I finally skidded to a stop in front of dad, I saw him staring at his stopwatch with a mixture of surprise and horror. It was almost comical how he kept looking from the stopwatch to me, back to the stopwatch, back to me.
"Sakura… This is no place to be cheating. You don't need to; I promised you I'll train you from the very start."
I blinked at him, stupefied. "Cheating…? I didn't cheat daddy! I ran like you told me to!"
He shook his head. "Impossible."
I was suddenly enraged. "No! I didn't cheat! If you don't believe me, then come and see for yourself!"
I grabbed him by the hand and attempted to drag him after me. Luckily, he took the hint and allowed me to lead him and prove that I was not cheating. I was anxious, not really knowing what I wanted to show him, but I just hoped there was something, something that could prove my innocence.
I almost jumped with joy when I saw the spall imprint of my shoe on the tree trunk. That will show him! I thought. All the proof I could need! Then something else came to mind. Wait… I'm not really that heavy, am I? I just used this tree to turn around, not stomp all over it!
Apparently, dad was thinking along the same lines as I was. He walked over to the trunk and crouched down, experimentally brushing his fingers against the indent.
"Visible traces of chakra…" he muttered. "But… that's impossible!"
"Traces of chakra?" I asked, once again confused. "But for there to be traces of chakra, I would have to be using chakra, right? And my chakra coils aren't developed yet."
"While all that you've said is true, this is undeniably your shoe-print, and about the height where you'd have to reach to push off." He frowned, fingers moving to his lips into his typical 'thinking position'.
"But daddy, I can't use-!"
"That doesn't matter." He cut me off quickly. "Tell me, what were you thinking about when you were running?"
I blinked, surprised at his question. "I was thinking that I should circulate my chakra into my feet so I could go faster, but I knew that it was impossible since my coils aren't developed yet." I answered truthfully.
"Incredible…" he murmured, still dumbfounded. "It seems that we might be able to proceed with your shinobi training quicker than I expected."
"Eh? How?" I asked, blinking in puzzlement.
"It happens sometimes, but it's very rare for it to happen to someone your age. Usually it happens to the most experienced of ninjas, who'd been doing things for so long that they don't need to concentrate on them anymore, just think what they want to do, and their bodies obey, since they're used to the job." He explained patiently. "But for it to happen to you when you've never had any proper battles and only just began your training…"
He looked into my eyes, a small, teasing, but careful grin on his face.
"Are you ready to take your training up a notch earlier than planned?" he asked.
"You bet! I want to be strong, and I'll do anything to get there!"
Well, what do you think?
Anything to improve?
I hope you enjoyed, and I would be really happy if you could REVIEW!