title: Road to Sakura
possible eventual SasuSaku.
summary: "You have to admit, the two of them are very similar in many ways: both are headstrong, both are intelligent, and both have lost their most precious peoples because of the village. And you know what they say, two negatives always make a positive. Perhaps, it will be the same in this case. We just have to have faith."
notes: Sorry for the long absence, but starting college has made my life soooooo busy. I haven't had the time for anything fun! So I hope you guys enjoy this chapter. I have no idea when I'm updating again.
notes 2: But can you all believe it? Naruto will end soon! I think I might cry... but I really want one final Team 7 moment and a new picture! Can't wait for the last two chapters!
notes 3: I wanted to showcase some of the adults in RTN version, but I didn't want to change much about the adults and, since Kushina and Minato weren't too different in RTN, I kept many of the adults pretty much the same (with a few notable exceptions). Hope you all agree with my reasoning. WARNING: this chapter is going to be in the style of a conversation between two women (you'll see who in a sec, I might have switched their personalities tho), but bear with it because some very important info will be given light here. Make sure to pay attention! I actually didn't plan on this chapter, but it just started flowing out of my head and so here it is!
notes 4: lyrics from Bleach opening Ichirin no Hana

°∴✿° ·°✿∴° .·°∴°·. °∴✿°· °✿∴°

Road to Sakura

"You are like a flower
That bloomed in a dark shadow
Even though you're in a place you didn't wish to be,
You can't move because of your roots
Just spit out your closed-up feelings

Being the matriarch of the Uchiha clan meant that Mikoto had very little free time—plus, in addition to tending to the clan's needs, she also had two sons to look after and, boy, did that not get easier with time! And so, it is on a rare occasion that she'd be having an afternoon tea with her best friend. Luckily for her, such an occasion reared its pretty head today.

"It's so nice being out of the house for once!" she sighed as Kushina poured tea into the cups. "The house is filled with too much testosterone!"

With a giggle, Kushina shook her head at her friend's clichéd joke. "You make it sound as though you've been under house arrest. Don't you remember being at the stadium watching the final rounds just a few days ago?" she asked as she took her seat across from her friend.

Of course, the female Uchiha didn't forget—both she and Kushina had been cheering for their sons and their teammate. "Obviously, but I need some girl time. Don't you feel the same?"

"I know what you mean... Having just boys in the house is really something. I guess I'm lucky I only have two to worry about..." The redhead's eyes turned sad as if she'd cry.

"Kushina..." Mikoto instantly regretted bringing up the subject. She should've been more careful, knowing what had happened.

"Oh, look at me, being silly!" If there had been any hint of sorrow, it was all gone as Kushina brightened up. "Thinking about the past doesn't do any good anyways!"

But Mikoto knew her friend was still hurting. It wasn't easy losing a son, especially right after giving birth. She wanted to say something, but she didn't know what. Kushina always avoided the topic.

"Oh, by the way, did you know?"

"Know . . . what?" Mikoto wondered if the childish glint in Kushina's violet eyes was a good sign or a bad one, and she didn't know if she wanted to know.

"Sensei's back in Konoha!"

"What?" Mikoto's dark eyes widened. "When did she return?" It must have been kept a secret, she concluded when Kushina replied with an "I don't know." It would have been common knowledge since Tsunade returning to Konoha was VERY big news. She wondered why the Third was keeping her return under wraps.

"You'll probably hear about it from your husband later tonight but apparently, from what Minato heard from Fugaku, Tsunade was completely against the idea of ever coming back. No surprise there. But there have been rumors that some people in her Sound village may be plotting against Konoha." —that was a bit of a shocker as once again surprise showed itself on the Uchiha's face—"Though she has really no more connections to the village anymore despite from establishing it, the Elders and some other clan leaders do not believe she hasn't a hand in the unrest. That's why her returning was kept a secret."

"But why come back now?" Mikoto was obviously worried. If Tsunade was really a part of the unrest in Onto then... Well, Mikoto didn't want to think about any possibilities, especially with the memories of the last war still so raw and recent. "The Third's been begging for her to return for years! Why did she choose now to come back?"

"Well, I'm not too clear on the details but, supposedly, she came back on Orochimaru's urging."

Now that made even less sense to Mikoto. Tsunade hated his guts, more than she hated her old sensei, so why did she give in to him? "Did he blackmail her or something?"

"Well..."—Mikoto didn't like the sound of that—"I guess you could call it blackmail . . . in a sense..."

"Kushina, what did he do?"

"He . . . sorta . . . let it out to her that . . ."—Kushina fired out the last part so rapidly that Mikoto almost thought she misheard.—"Mebuki and Kizashi actually named her Sakura's godmother." The Hanabanero braced herself for the reaction she knew was going to come.

And Mikoto didn't disappoint. "WHAT?" She was furious—no, livid—as she practically jumped out of her seat, pacing back and forth. How dare that snake make the decision on his own! Everyone had agreed to keep that a secret! "So she finally wants to act like a real godmother now? What a joke!"

"Well, to be fair, Mikoto, she didn't know she was Sakura's godmother. Mebuki had joked about it for a while so..."

"It doesn't matter, Kushina! She left! She left us, she left all of us! She didn't come back when Mebuki had that miscarriage or when I had complications with Sasuke or when you lost Menma, not even when Mebuki died!" Mikoto was ranting so angrily that she didn't even notice the stabs of pain she caused Kushina by mentioning all their past sorrows.

"She saved Itachi..." Kushina pointed out, trying to calm the Uchiha matriarch.

"Only when it was convenient for her!"

"She's still our sensei, Mikoto..."

Mikoto was quiet for a moment, closing her eyes as she ran a hand through her black locks. "Yes, that's right..." she said in a dejected voice. "She's our sensei... She's our sensei, but did she even act like it after Jiraiya was denied the position of Hokage? Did she even spare us a glance after Jiraiya left the village? No... She completely lost it! She just threw us aside and abandoned us! She doesn't care about us anymore, Kushina!" She grabbed the redhead by her shoulders, looking straight into Kushina's sad eyes with her own pleading ones. "She hasn't cared since Jiraiya broke her heart! What more proof do you want? She's not the same! You can't keep hoping she will return and be the same as she once was! Kushina, the sensei we knew is dead! And if you keep hoping otherwise then you'll only get hurt even more."

"Miko-chan, please... Let's just give her one last chance, huh?" Kushina implored, going so far as using the pet name Mebuki had come up with and the pet name that had become obsolete after her death. "Mebuki named her Sakura's godmother for a reason. We should respect her wishes and give sensei a chance."

Mikoto just let out a bitter laugh, releasing Kushina from her grasp and turning away as her tears—both angry tears and sad tears—flowed down her face. "A chance for what, Ku-chan?" Mikoto refused to be deterred, also fighting fire with fire. "A chance for her to poison Sakura's mind? A chance for her to ruin the last thing Mebuki left on this Earth? No..." She shook her head, wiping away her tears. "No, I refuse. Sakura had already been in a dark place after her parents died. She's just opening up again! I refuse to let Tsunade get her hands on her and turn her away from the world again!"

"But you don't know if that will happen..." Kushina reasoned. It was her turn to put her hands on Mikoto's shoulders, forcing the dark-haired lady to look at her. "I'm the same as you, Mikoto. I was hurt by Tsunade-sensei too. I share your fears, but we can't jump to conclusions and worry ourselves with paranoia. Like you said, our sensei is not the same person, but that doesn't mean she's dead. She's still in there in that mess of a woman somewhere, but no one's been able to reach out to her. Maybe it's time to give Sakura a chance to try. You have to admit, the two of them are very similar in many ways: both are headstrong, both are intelligent, and both have lost their most precious peoples because of the village. And you know what they say, two negatives always make a positive. Perhaps, it will be the same in this case. We just have to have faith, Mikoto."

The female Uchiha just sighed in defeat. "Fine, I'll give Tsunade one last chance, but I only gave in because I trust you, not her."

Kushina's large smile was the only confirmation Mikoto needed to know she made the correct decision.

"And only because this is also what Mebuki would have wanted. As you said, she named Tsunade Sakura's godmother for a reason. I can only hope that this doesn't backfire on us."

"Oh, quit your worrying, Mikoto. Be more like an Uchiha and be overly confident in your choice!"

Mikoto rolled her eyes. "That sounds more like a Namikaze and Uzumaki thing."

Kushina just laughed. "Come on, we can't be arguing. We have a congratulatory dinner to cook. After all, a genin only makes chunnin once, and we must make it the best for your future daughter-in-law."

"Honestly, it's about time Sasuke did something about that crush of his, but I really wish he had done a better job of making it known. Sakura might kill him before she even starts to reciprocate those feelings."

And all through the house, laughter filled the rooms.

"I want to become your strength.
Even if there comes a time
When the whole world becomes our enemy
I'll protect you"