Getting Started

(A/N: Hello beautiful people! I'm back with more as per request. I'd like to start off by saying thank you to everyone who reviewed, added this story to their favorites/alerts and those who just read my story. You all have ignited my creative spark again and now I can write once more. I admit I hit a bit of a rut and stopped writing, but thanks to you guys and some damn good music; I'm fucking BACK! Now, this chapter deals with some medical jargon you may not understand, I can assure you that I am not making any of it up... I did my research. Thank you Webster's Medical Dictionary! Anyways, enjoy.)

~xxx~

Sakura didn't remember falling asleep, but she was sure glad that she slept. Feeling refreshed and alert, she sat up in bed and stretched she muscles. Sakura then turned her attention to the window and peered out at the world below. It was completely different from her village. Long gone were the little homes and shops made of wood and clay shingles, having been replaced by much larger ones made of white stone. It was truly a magnificent sight for her wide green eyes. It was a wonder how she never once believed this to be a dream. It was more like a dream come true. Kneeling on the bed, Sakura watched black-clad figures go about their daily lives with an awed expression. This was going to be her new home... and she liked it already.

"Haruno-san." Sakura turned to see Hisagi leaning against the door frame.

"Good morning, Hisagi-san."

"Good afternoon," he corrected, stepping inside the room. "Are you ready to meet with Soutaichou-dono?" she gave a smile, determined to meet this new life head on.

"Absolutely! Lead the way," it was a long walk from the fourth division headquarters to the first, but it gave Sakura the opportunity to ask questions to which Hisagi was more than willing to answer. She did notice one thing though; the stares. Almost everywhere she looked, people were watching her every move – some more obvious than others. Hell, some were even brave enough to walk right up to her and say hello.

"You'll get used to it. Shinigami don't remember their past lives, but you Shinobi are the exception to that rule. But so far, only a few have actually joined our ranks, others decided to settle for the quiet life or they've been reborn." Hisagi explained with a shrug. He was used to the surprises the Shinobi sector seemed to dish out (his captain is a former Shinobi, after all).

"And how often do Shinobi crossed over... whole?" Hisagi paused to think for a moment.

"Well, last year we saw an increase of Shinobi souls... I'd say only a handful actually crossed over whole." Sakura blinked.

"Oh." she fidgeted a little, nervous to meet the man who led this society.

"Don't worry, if you're anything like Uchiha-taichou then you won't have any difficulties adjusting."

"Oh please, I'm nowhere near as good as Itachi-san. He's ahead of me by leaps and bounds... even now." Hisagi smirked at her, stopping in the middle of the road as he turned to address her directly.

"That may be, but he didn't take out a Hollow with one punch before he was brought here. So, I guess that puts you ahead." they started walking again, taking more turns than Sakura could count until they reached a set of shoji screen doors. "Soutaichou-dono is an old fashioned type of guy, I hope you have some experience in formal meetings because it's kind of a pet-peeve of his." her cheeks began to hurt because she was smiling so wide.

"Politics and formal meetings are my forte... aside from medicine, of course. I'm sure I have it covered."

~xxx~

"I understand that you were the apprentice to your village's leader," Yamamoto commented as he sipped on his tea, discretely eying the pink-haired girl sitting in his tea room.

"Yes, sir, I was." Sakura nodded politely while lifting her own cup of tea to taste.

"Uchiha-taichou has informed me of how you came here, but he was unable to tell me as to how you... passed." he set his cup down, waiting. So far, their conversation had been filled with her accomplishments and duties in her former life. For instance, Sakura had actually finished her apprenticeship and became the head of the Shinobi Alliance Medic Core Training Program (or MCTP for short) – which made he a perfect fit for the fourth division or Ukitake Jushiro's personal doctor (he liked the sound of that better). But – and he could tell it was a touchy subject – her death had not once been mentioned. "Would you kindly explain how it happened?"

Sakura sucked in a breath. Oh boy. She was not ready to talk about this. But she felt compelled to tell the kind, old man, whom reminded Sakura of her late grandfather, exactly what happened. So, with a heavy sigh, Sakura told Yamamoto everything. From the start of her 'obsession' with Sasuke to the inevitable end, with his hand squeezing her heart until it burst. Everything. The wise, old man poured more tea for them as Sakura tried to keep her tears at bay. Now was not the time to break down and cry, she scolded herself.

"Please, don't tell Itachi-san what happened. I'd like to tell him myself, even if it does destroy all the faith he has in his little brother." Sakura sighed once more staring into her half empty tea cup. "Itachi-san knows that Sasuke killed me... he just doesn't know how or why and I owe it to Itachi-san to tell him to his face. I just don't want Itachi-san to be angry with him; Sasuke's been though enough but Itachi-san has suffered more... and for a lot longer." said the medic softly, raising a hand to press it against the fresh scar under her yukata. "I don't know what hurts more; his hand squeezing my heart or the fact that the person I loved so much was so angry that he killed me in a fit of rage. But he can't be blamed completely – I did say some pretty mean things that really ticked him off." Sakura admitted, fingers gripping her yukata tightly.

"Haruno-san," Yamamoto called her softly. "You have been through much, your life cut short and you admit fault and feel guilt while you still think of others' feelings," he said slowly, making Sakura wonder just where he was going with his observations. "Theses are qualities befitting a Captain and we would be honored to have you in our ranks." his words made her blink as she watched him sip his tea. "Your training will begin tomorrow at the academy, and for now you will be housed in the thirteenth division under Ukitake Jushiro-taichou. But first, I want you to see Kurotsuchi Mayuri-taichou to test your reiatsu and determine your zanpakuto." Sakura smiled brightly at his words, glad she could be apart of something... anything. She bowed to him to express her gratitude.

"Arigato gozaimasu, Soutaichou-dono." she said, raising to meet his pleased gaze. "I am eager to learn."

~xxx~

Kurotsuchi Mayuri blinked at least three times when the ninth division lieutenant appeared with a pink-haired... girl. Standing from his beloved computer, Kurotsuchi motioned for Nemu to step forward. He watched the girl for a moment as she gaped in awe of his lab before cracking a grin.

"Hisagi-fukutaichou, what have you brought for me? This one looks like a taller version of Kusajishi-fukutaichou." emerald green came to rest on Kurotsuchi's person as the pink-haired girl grinned up at him. Kurotsuchi stalked towards Sakura until he towered over her and then hunched down to look her in the eyes. "What are you grinning at?" the girl seemed to smile wider.

"I like your lab. It reminds me of the lab back in Konoha... only bigger." now Kurotsuchi was smiling (well, his smile was more like the grin of a mad doctor, but you get the picture), he liked the little rosette already.

"So, she's the new Shinobi, ne?"

"Yes, she is." Hisagi answered, stepping forward to properly introduce her. "Kurotsuchi-taichou, this is Haruno Sakura. Haruno-san, this is the twelfth division captain, Kurotsuchi Mayuri and his lieutenant, Kurotsuchi Nemu." in return, Sakura bowed politely.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Kurotsuchi-taichou, Kurotsuchi-fukutaichou."

"So well mannered." commented the captain, still grinning. "The Uchiha just stood there and grunted when they brought him to me. Oh well." Kurotsuchi turned and tapped a few buttons on the keyboard. "I guess she's here for testing," Hisagi nodded, motioning for Sakura to follow the mad scientist captain. "Come along, Haruno-san, let's get this over with." Sakura cast one last look to Hisagi before following after Kurotsuchi, further into his lab. "Same as last time, Hisagi-fukutaichou. You'll have her back in a few hours."

Four hours later and Sakura was honestly tired of laying still on the cold, metal table, even if Kurotsuchi was making odd comments – some of which had made her chuckle. After being endlessly poked, prodded and hooked up to various machines for the last four hours, it was safe to say that Sakura was bored... and starting to get annoyed. So far, the testing seemed like a normal physical (which Unohana-taichou had already given her), minus some of the tools he had used – a lot of which she had never seen before.

"Hm... interesting," Kurotsuchi hummed, tapping a long fingernail to his chin as he studied the results on the screen. He then turned from the computer, eying the girl on the table. "Very interesting indeed."

"What is it?" inquired Sakura, she did not like the way he was looking at her. His eyes were locked on her chest – where her scar lay – brows furrowed and lips pressed in a straight line. He strode over to the table and peeled back the hem on Sakura's yukata, cold fingers pressing against her discolored flesh.

"You should thank the person who killed you." he stated with a grin.

"What the hell are you talking about?" she shouted, slapping his hand away. Sakura fixed her yukata and rolled off the table to stand on the opposite side.

"Please be quiet in the lab." Nemu droned, standing a few feet away from the rose-haired, former kunoichi. All the while, Kurotsuchi frowned at her reaction.

"Oh, calm down," he flapped a hand at Sakura. "In Uchiha-taichou's case, that funky eye thing of his became his zanpakuto. You, on the other hand, don't have a blood anomaly like his... or any for that matter." Sakura nodded in understanding... somewhat.

"That's right," she said, backing away slowly. "I never had a Kekkei Genkai, I came from a normal, civilian family."

"Ah, but your reiatsu nature suggests otherwise." he was smiling again, in that mad doctor sort of way. "The person who gave you that scar transferred some of their reiatsu into your soul just before you passed. After all, electric type reiatsu is rare around here; exceedingly rare and very powerful." Sakura stilled, eyes wide as a hand came to rest upon her chest.

"You mean... he gave me this power?" Kurotsuchi nodded.

"He did. Whether or not it was intentional, well... you'll have to ask him."

~xxx~

Ukitake was not there to greet Sakura when she arrived. Instead, she found a mass of Shinigami huddled around a doorway, and she could clearly hear someone coughing violently while another person was barking orders. Beside her, Hisagi – her escort for the day – sighed, glancing in her direction.

"You're a medic, right?"

"Well, yes... but I'm not sure if my knowledge would apply here." again, he sighed inwardly debating on interfering. Then Sakura answered his debate for him. "I'll never know until I try." Hisagi smirked, decision made.

"Out of the way, medic coming through!" as soon as the words left his lips, the members of the thirteenth division parted, standing on either side of the hall. Without a moments hesitation, Sakura set her shoulders and stepped into the room.

Calculating, emerald eyes landed on a man with long, white hair, coughing into a white cloth with spots of blood on it. Fussing over him was a short, dark-haired girl who looked too frazzled to be a nurse.

"Rukia," called Hisagi from behind Sakura. Said girl looked up, panic clear in her eyes. "Haruno-san will take care of him."

"But I've already called for Unohana-taichou and Kotetsu-fukutaichou." Rukia rebuked as she eyed Sakura skeptically.

"It's alright," Sakura spoke before any more protests could be made. She turned to Hisagi with a small, reassuring smile. "Tell them to go about their business, everything is fine." turning back to Rukia and the stricken Ukitake, Sakura moved to kneel next to the coughing captain while rolling up her sleeves. "Rukia-san, please stick around, I may need your assistance."

"I'm not a medic, though."

"It doesn't matter, having a familiar face around will help him." the pink-haired medic said, turning her attention to Ukitake. The poor man sat hunched over, coughing roughly and fighting to get a good breath of air as another glob of blood found it's was onto the soiled handkerchief. Placing her hands gently on his shoulders, Sakura spoke softly, "Ukitake-taichou, I know you're uncomfortable but I need you to sit up straight so I can listen to your lungs." said man nodded softly while taking quick, shallow breaths as he sat up a little more. Not wasting a second, Sakura pressed an ear to his back, listening for fluid build up. Another round of violent hacking gave her the answer; he was practically downing and she needed to do something quick.

"Will he be alright?" asked Rukia, wringing her hands together. Sakura helped Ukitake lie down, smiling gently as he smiled up at her. She then turned her gaze to Rukia.

"He will be when I'm done." Rukia breathed a sigh of relief, sagging slightly as she ran a hand through her hair. "But first, I need to drain the fluid from his lungs." only to feel like she had been kicked in the gut. "Hisagi-san, I'll need the large, tan pouch I came here with." Itachi had snagged her supply bag before they left Konoha, and Sakura was very thankful for his foresight.

"Right. I'll be right back with that."

"Rukia-san, why don't you get him a glass of cold water? It'll be good for his throat." nodding mutely, Rukia quickly left to complete her appointed task while Sakura returned her focus to the white-haired captain.

"So, you are Haruno Sakura?" Ukitake rasped, voice scratchy and cracking from coughing.

"You shouldn't speak, you'll aggravate your lungs and start coughing again." she informed him, reaching for a damp cloth by his bedding and wiped the sweat from his brow. "To answer your question; yes, I and Haruno Sakura." while they waited, Sakura asked a series of health related questions to which Ukitake nodded or shook his head yes or no to.

Then Sakura explained the procedure she needed to perform in order to clear his lungs. "Essentially, I have to poke a hole in your lungs and place a tube in them so they can drain." he looked horrified. "Don't worry, I'll put you to sleep, so you won't feel a thing." Ukitake sighed – hearing that was better than the visions in his head of actually seeing her do the procedure. Rukia came back with a tall glass of water as Sakura stood and washed her hands in the basin on the bedside table.

"Your bag, sensei." a new voice said from the doorway. Sakura looked up to see a young man – almost a boy – standing with a smile and holding her bag, Hisagi right behind him.

"I thought Unohana-taichou was coming." Rukia declared disbelievingly.

"Ah, well... she said that Haruno-sensei was more than capable of taking care of things here." stammered the young man. "I am here to observe and report back Ukitake-taichou's status once she is finished." pride swelled in Sakura's chest. She was useful here, and people noticed her skills – it was more than she could have asked for.

"Well then, come in." Sakura nodded while drying her hands. "What's you name?" the young man stumbled for a second, blinking in surprise.

"Oh... um, I'm Yamada Hanataro, seventh seat of division four."

"Nice to meet you, Yamada-san." Sakura said with a smile. Hisagi excused himself from the room to go about his other duties, leaving two slightly nervous Shinigami, a sickly captain and a newbie to do... whatever it was they were going to do. "I hope either of you aren't squeamish."

The procedure went as follows: pulling on a pair of gloves, Sakura smiled down at Ukitake before pressing a pressure point at the base of his neck which knocked him out cold. Next, Hanataro set out the required tools and properly sanitized them for Sakura while the pink-haired doctor sent Rukia to fetch a collection basin for the fluid. Once everything was set and ready, Sakura began while Rukia and Hanataro watched in awe. With practiced ease, Hanataro watched Sakura make a small incision between Ukitake's ribs but Rukia turned her head away – she couldn't bare to watch. Picking up a clear, plastic tube with two open ends, the petite doctor inserted the tube until she was certain it was in the left lung and quickly moved the collection basin into place. Blood oozed into the basin while Sakura circulated her reiatsu in his lung to make sure all of the fluid was out. Ukitake's sigh of relief could be heard in the quiet room.

Hanataro was amazed by her reiatsu control, watching as Sakura expertly removed the tube and healed the cut she made in the blink of an eye. He took careful and thorough note of the process as Sakura repeated the procedure on the other side. It didn't take more than an hour before Ukitake's breathing was deep and even, not a rattle could be heard as Sakura double checked her work. Wiping the light sweat from her brow, Sakura smiled at Rukia who sat across from her.

"He'll be fine now. Let him wake up on his own tomorrow, he'll need to rest for a few more days before returning to his duties." Rukia sagged with a heavy sigh.

"Thank you so much, for all you've done for him. We are indebted to you." the dark-haired girl said with a deep bow.

"He's not out of the woods yet... not without proper medication." Sakura informed solemnly, reaching into her bag. "He will take these for the next nine months along with careful monitoring and some tests." she pulled out a small, blue pill bottle that rattled when shook and the word 'Isaniazid' printed in bold font on the front.

"Then he'll be cured, right?" Hanataro asked, blinking repeatedly at the little bottle.

"Yes, but there's only a month's worth of medicine in here." Rukia deflated immediately.

"Well... if you write down the ingredients and preparation details, I will speak with Unohana-taichou. We may be able to make it." Hanataro suggested. "If not, I'm sure Soutaichou-dono can send someone to the Shinobi sector to get the medicine." Sakura smiled at the young man and nodded.

"Excellent idea, Yamada-san. I'll have that ready for you in a moment."

~xxx~

The next morning found Sakura up with the sun. Years of working the early shift at the hospital had conditioned her to do so, and it seemed that the after life was no different. She dressed in the Shino Academy uniform which consisted of a white yukata, red under yukata and red hamaka pants. Inwardly, she was glad the girls wore the red uniform... because the blue uniform the boys wore would have clashed with her hair. Vain? Maybe. Then Sakura tired her long locks up into a ponytail with a black ribbon she found in her med-kit before leaving her room in search of breakfast. Once her belly was full, she loaded up a tray with hot medicinal tea and rice balls before heading off to check on Ukitake.

When she reached his room, Sakura knelt down and placed the tray on the floor then knocked on the shoji screen door. Upon hearing a soft 'enter', she slid the door open and bowed with a chipper 'good morning' before entering, closing the door behind her. There was a new face in the room when Sakura turned back to face Ukitake.

"Good morning, cutie." the man said with a saucy wink sent her way. Sitting beside Ukitake was a man dressed in Shinigami garb with a captains haori and a rather beautiful, pink kimono resting over his shoulders. Said man had curly, chestnut colored hair that was pulled into a ponytail and stubble on his face, forming a light beard and giving him a rugged look. Sakura noticed all of this about the newcomer while blinking rapidly and gaping like a fish. "Aw, how cute. She even has Yachiru-chan's hair color." unsure of what to think, Sakura just bowed politely to the new person.

"Good morning, Taichou. Good morning, Ukitake-taichou." she greeted, smiling again (she's been doing that a lot lately). "How are you feeling this morning, Ukitake-taichou?" the white-haired captain smiled in return as he motioned for her to come forward.

"Much better, thanks to you." Sakura set the tray on his lap then took a seat on the left side of his bedding, across from the other captain. "Oh, pardon my manners," Ukitake sighed. "Haruno-san, this is my friend Kyoraku Shunsui, captain of the eighth division. Shunsui, this is Haruno Sakura-san, the new recruit from the Shinobi sector."

"Oh? So this is the little spitfire Itachi-kun was talking about?" Shunsui questioned. Itachi-kun? Spitfire? Yeah, this place just went up a notch or two on Sakura's weird meter.

"Itachi-san must have told you about the frying pan incident." this time, both captains blinked and shook their heads in the negative.

"We haven't heard anything about frying pans, just a few stories about your temper." snickered Shunsui. "And the tale of purple panties." Sakura looked positively horrified. How dare Itachi tell people about the incident that must never be mentioned on pain of death. One night, during the blizzard, Itachi had come across a bottle of Snow Country's strongest sake. Being as bored as two people stuck in a cabin could get, they ended up drunk and playing strip poker. Sakura lost – naturally – and was stripped down to nothing but her chest bindings and panties. The funny thing was; her panties were purple with a little tiger on the front... but the back said 'Scratch me, I purr'. Needless to say that the panties provided Itachi with endless amusement and blackmail.

Sakura was tomato-faced and sputtering nonsense while the captains chuckled. Then she scowled, crossing her arms over her chest and growling.

"I'm going to beat the living daylights out of him!" quickly trying to defuse a blow up, Ukitake started eating his meal and taking long sips of his medicated tea.

"Do I detect a hint of honey in this tea?" Sakura's anger deflated immediately as she refocused her attention to the soft spoken, white-haired captain.

"Oh... yes. It helps the taste because medicinal tea is exceedingly bitter." she explained with a shrug and another soft smile (Shunsui could see why she made an excellent doctor – it seemed as though Itachi was right about the girl once again). "Just two teaspoons is enough to cut the bitterness without being too sweet and unhealthy." Ukitake too another sip.

"It's very soothing."

"That's the herbs doing their job and now that you've eaten," Sakura reached into her pouch and pulled out the blue pill bottle. "You'll have to take one of these a day for the next nine months and have your lungs checked regularly." both men stared at the small, unassuming white pill as if it were a miracle.

"Why so long? Why not just a 'one-and-done'?" the chestnut-haired captain questioned, cupping his chin with one hand while the other crossed his chest in a thinking pose.

"Viruses are harder to kill than infections, TB being one of the hardest and highly contagious. I'm surprised no one else has come down with it." the petite doctor answered. "I've seen this virus wipe out an entire village before we found an effective treatment. The check ups and lung capacity tests you'll go through are to ensure that the medication is working." she explained further (because Ukitake was eyeballing the pill she offered him with a wary gaze). Sakura looked at the clock and sighed.

"I guess it wouldn't hurt to trust your judgment, you are the doctor after all." Ukitake took the pill without further delay.

"Excellent. Now, if you'll excuse me – I don't want to be late for my first day at the academy." Sakura said as she paused in collecting the dishes. "I can't believe I have to go to school all over again." the captains chuckled at her once more.

"Have a good day, Haruno-san."

"See you later, Sakura-chan."

"Thank you, and get some rest Ukitake-taichou." with that said, the former Shinobi left, a little nervous but excited.

~xxx~

Sarutobi Asuma sat at his desk, grading the last written exam before his students were due to arrive. Normally, he would have had it done the night before but with word of another Shinobi joining the ranks of Shinigami... it honestly had him worried. Asuma spent most of the night wondering who it was – and he prayed it wasn't someone he knew. Alas, early that morning, he heard of a pink-haired, green-eyed doctor brought in by Itachi and he knew that his praying had been in vain.

The Haruno girl had been the last person he thought he'd see here – at least not until she was old and wrinkly. But he thought wrong. He was honestly surprised by the news (as well as some of the faces he had seen since arriving in the Soul Society), even if he wished for another familiar face in his class. Forever the teacher, but it didn't bother him (even though it was better suited for someone like Iruka). What really bothered his was the fact that 'Konoha's Blossom' was dead and now in the Soul Society long before she should be.

Having finished grading the last test, Asuma set his pen down and stood from the desk. His mind wondered back to when Sakura was just a naïve, thirteenth-year-old girl, who demanded to have Hokage train her. Asuma had watched her grow stronger, more confident while Kakashi was away on missions. He had been the one most of the younger kunoichi would run to and ask advice of. Sakura was no exception. In her, he found a shogi partner, a smart, funny and bubbly girl with a good head on her shoulders. He would often ask her why she followed and fought for the younger Uchiha – and the answer was always the same: 'because I love him'.

"There will be hell to pay if he is the reason she's here." he swore to the quiet room.

"Sarutobi-sensei, un?" a voice beckoned from the classroom doorway. Asuma turned to find the blue eyes and golden-blonde hair of a reborn Iwa no Deidara standing there, watching him with wide eyes. Yet another surprise Asuma found in these last few years. "Is something wrong, sensei, hm?" Asuma returned to his desk and sat down with a sigh.

"No, nothing's wrong, Iwa-san." he answered calmly. Deidara watched him carefully, disbelief in his blue orbs. "Go ahead and take your seat. Class will begin soon."

~xxx~

Sakura puffed her cheeks in annoyance as she glared at her instructor. The man before her with brown hair and eyes, Kane something-or-other, kept calling her pipsqueak and sneering at her as if she were a ditz. How the hell was she supposed to know how to use Kido spells? She just got here, for crying out loud!

Here she was, grimacing while trying to perform a binding spell that Kane-sensei had shown her, but it wouldn't work. And her idiot instructor was not helping her... at all. He just laughed at every attempt and made some rude comment. Hell, she only had a peek at the piece of paper with the spells and incantations on it before he snatched it away and told her to have at it. And now he was laughing at her? The bastard!

"I have no clue what the fuss is all about. From what I see, there's nothing special about you." he sneered once more, crossing his arms with an air of superiority about him. "You're just a weak and pathetic wannabe Shinigami!"

A vein pulsed in her forehead. That was it!

"Bakudo number sixty-three: Sajo Sabaku!" blue, rope-like electric energy shot out from her index and middle fingers towards the surprised man. The rope wrapped around Kane's upper torso, pinning his arms to his sides and the electricity stunned him into a paralyzed state as Kane stared at her, dumbfounded. With a flick of the wrist, Sakura pulled Kane forward, forcing him to fall face first and toward her. He came to a stop when Sakura planted her foot on his back, keeping him in place. "I will say this once: I am not weak nor am I pathetic." she growled as her reiatsu flared menacingly. Her reiatsu was nowhere near captain status but it was enough to scare the pants off of anyone in a twenty yard radius.

"Haruno Sakura!" the sharp call of her name cause the medic to look up and cancel the spell. Standing on the porch that surrounded the training yard was Sarutobi Asuma and about twenty or so students armed with wooden swords. Her mouth dropped open as she stared at the raven-haired, bearded man in shock.

"A-Asuma-sensei?"

"Come here, Sakura." he told her, crooking a finger in a 'come hither' fashion. Sakura dutifully followed his command, jogging toward him – still surprised. Asuma turned his head to look at his students. "Go back to your studies, I'll handle things here." the twenty plus students slowly, warily followed his instructions.

'It can't be...' Sakura thought, blinking up at the man Ino had once described as being 'as cuddly as a teddy bear'. She used to play shogi with this man, had talked with him about many thing – he even sparred with her a few times. Hell, she was Kurenai's doctor and delivered little Sarutobi Akira. Was this really the same man? All that was missing was his customary cigarette.

"If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times; you shouldn't let your anger get the best of you." Sakura immediately brightened, hopping onto the porch and hugging the burly man with all her might.

"It really is you!" though her voice was muffled (due to the fact that her face was now buried in his chest), he could still hear the happiness in her words.

"Sakura, if you hug me any tighter you're going to break me in half." she let go at once, apologizing profusely as he held her by the shoulders and looked her over. Sakura was about five foot seven now, her hair was longer – reaching the middle of her back – and she had shed the last of her baby fat. The girl he once knew was gone, and now a beautiful young woman stood before him. "You've grown up." he commented but Sakura was too busy whisking moisture from her eyes to pay much attention to the compliment.

"It's good to see you, Asuma-sensei." she said, looking into Asuma's eyes.

"I would say the same, but I wasn't expecting to see you here... at least until you were an old lady." Sakura snorted at that.

"Yes, well... that was the plan until someone decided that I'd make a great baby factory." Asuma's hands dropped to his sides – he knew it.

"I'll kill that little punk."

"Take a number and stand in line. You'll have to wait until Naruto, Kakashi and I are done with him before you get your chance." Itachi spoke as he stepped onto the porch with Kane, whom he held by the back of the neck.

"Apologize and be thankful that she didn't punch you, Ikegami-san." ah, so that was his last name. The brunette dropped to his knees and bowed, forehead on the floor.

"I... I'm so sorry, Haruno-san. I will never do such a disrespectful thing again." Sakura blinked twice then nodded her acceptance before turning fully to face Itachi.

"What are you doing here, Itachi-san?"

"I'm here to defuse a time bomb before it goes off." the raven-haired captain stated with a hint of irritation in his voice. Both Sakura and Asuma raised brow in question. "Zaraki-taichou is coming."

"Oh." Asuma sighed.

"Huh?" a confused Sakura asked.

"Ken-chan, look! She has pink hair, too!" too late.

(A/N: I apologize for the late update, I was still in the process of writing this when I posted the first chapter... and I was waiting to see what was happening in the Bleach manga (because I don't want certain people to be dead). Anyways, I hope you liked the update. Review and let me know what's up. Sorry for any mistakes, I will fix then as soon as I can. Love ya!)