The place was dark and eerie. She tried to calm her beating heart as she trudged onward, trying to claw her way out of the darkness. Once or twice she had stumbled from the unseen dangers below, and the sting from the wounds that had resulted worsened her tired and confused state. Where was she? Where was Kakashi? Sai? …Naruto?
As if an answer to her questions, she started to hear footsteps approaching her. She could hear it getting nearer, and nearer.
"Naruto…" She said questioningly with relief. Oddly, she could discern the spikes of his hair even in pitch black. However, as he neared it became flatter around the sides.
"Naruto? Is that you?" She asked, "Stop fooling around." She added with an uncertain chuckle. A moment of silence and then he answered, hand reaching out-
"Sakura." His voice was deeper, colder and familiar. She tried to remember who that voiced belonged to. Actually she knew, but she didn't believe it. The way he said it was different. It wasn't the usual tone he had called her with, it was a bit playful, as if he had said it with a smile on his lips. At rare moments he had smiled before, but now, she thought grimly, a smiling him would only indicate his secret pleasure at your death.
It just couldn't be…Could it?
She held her breath as he leaned forward. Slowly,…slowly. He seemed to be holding something on his hand. Was it some kind of weapon?
"What are you doing here alone?" He asked. Before she could answer, he pulled her by the wrist and held her by the waist. A rose flashed by her vision as he directed his big swollen lips on her face, brows were bushy and eyes looking perversely at her.
"No…..No…..No!-"She sat up in bed, sweat beading her eyebrows. That was the worst nightmare she could ever come across. She shivered at the memory of it all, that..that-
"Sakura!" She heard loud footsteps before the blonde slammed her door open.
"Naruto," she said sternly "What are you doing inside my room?! Out!Out!"
"But Sakura-chan-" Before he could finish she harshly threw a pillow at him, knocking him down and quickly closed the door to get dressed.
"Okay, you said that we had to figure out how to break the genjutsu that we were in, right? I found a way." Naruto said with a smile. Now she remembered the reason why she had that dream about Sasuke. After the confrontation with the masked man, he had sent them on a parallel universe where everyone either switched personalities or totally had an opposite one from their original self. She had met with an introvert Ino, an aggressive Hinata and a cat-like Kiba. And the worst of them all was a playboy Sasuke. He had first fooled her with flowery words and a rose offered at her balcony first thing in the morning. A rose that he gave to every other girl he met on the street. He should have been glad that she was too distraught to punch a hole on his pretty face.
"Sakura, you're breaking your glass." Naruto alerted her of the crack forming on the glass of water that was now dripping on the floor. She muttered a quick apology with a blush, proceeded to mop it off and threw the glass on the bin.
"You were talking?" she said, after composing herself.
"Oh yeah, Tsunade-sama told me that she could perform it the day after tomorrow. She had to prepare for a day and a half since the task was chakra-draining."
"How did you manage to convince her?" She asked amazed. Naruto always had a nick of befriending people but she never knew he could be this good. Convincing people that they did not belong in this world and were from another dimension was a very complicated process.
Naruto smiled, noting the amazement in Sakura's tone. "Well, I just added in a few Tsunade facts coupled with how-to-talk-with-Shizune style! She believed me!" He said with a grin.
Made sense, Naruto could be smart on few desperate times but mostly he ran things with his impulsive logic. Just now, she was not sure which one was talking. But as long as it worked, she would go with it. They barely had enough time left. With her and Naruto here, they were completely cut off from their world. Unknown to them the dangers the others were facing, they lived here in peace and tranquility.
They couldn't stay.
Because the longer they did, the greater the danger their loved ones were facing on the outbreak of the Fourth Shinobi War.
She strolled around the village, basking on the warm sunlight and trying to record everything in her mind. This wasn't her Konoha, but it was still Konoha. This would be the last day that she would be staying here; tomorrow Tsunade would perform the genjutsu that would dispel the trap that Obito had set. She had to say goodbye to Konoha along with all its inhabitants. She had already gone to the Yamanaka Flower Shop only to see that the mild-mannered Ino of this world had gone to the training grounds with her teammates. Upon hearing that, she decided that it wouldn't be bad to train and bid them goodbye at the same time.
She found Ino sparring with Shikamaru as Chouji calmly sat on the ground watching and instructing the two. Sakura smiled and greeted them. They too smiled in acknowledgement but returned to their training. Sakura knew they were different, but she couldn't help but wish that they weren't.
When she had entered the grounds she had not noticed the other presence until he appeared behind her. With a swift motion he lifted his arm and put it around her shoulder surprising her.
"Goodmorning, Sakura-chan. You're beautiful as always," he said whispering by his ear. This brought shivers down her spine. He smirked noting the effects that he had on her. Well that was before she brashly removed his arm around her shoulder and held the hem of his shirt with an arm raised up ready to beat the daylights out of him. Luckily, Naruto picked that time to drop by and stopped Sakura before she could do further damage.
"Sakura-chan get a hold of yourself!" Naruto said struggling. A fuming Sakura was always hard to handle. "Remember, we only got one day left."
We only got one day left.
The statement stopped her. He was right. She did not have time for this. Quietly she withdrew her arm and walked towards the nearby tree and sat there. Sasuke drew a sigh of relief. Patting Naruto on the shoulder, he asked Naruto to spar with him in which the blonde enthusiastically accepted. From that safe distance; Sakura watched, quiet and calculating.
It was different here. Konoha was peaceful: no war and no feud. The Uchiha Clan massacre never happened, Naruto's parents were alive and well, while her? She was orphaned. She was Naruto's counterpart here. She now knew what Naruto felt back then, being alone without anyone to welcome you back home. She had felt relieved first, but slowly the loneliness sunk in. She tried to be happy, tried to see through Naruto's eyes. Naruto was happy, she should be happy. But it only made her lonelier, so she looked unto Sasuke. The new Sasuke should at least brighten it all up. He never left, never attempted to kill them both in cold blood. Most of all he noticed her and smiled at her like he never did before.
But then, he started noticing other girls too. He smiled to them like he did with her. Then it struck her, this one wasn't any different. His personality was different but when he looked at her he saw nothing but… Sakura. He didn't see through her heart. And it broke her to know that if they went back that they had to face with a world of turmoil, of deaths, empty homes and a Sasuke that neither cared nor minded if their hearts were ripped out of their chests.
They only had one day left before everything came crashing back down again. She stood up, and slowly walked away. Naruto noticed her retreat. He knew her too well to know that she didn't need his company right now so he continued what he was doing. Unknown to them a pair of black obsidian eyes had started to take interest on them.
Sakura laid on the grassy field, listening to the sounds of nature. The wind played with her pink hair, teasing it. She sighed; at least here everything was the same. With a swift motion she took the kunai on her knee pocket and pointed it on the neck of an Uchiha.
"What do you think you're doing?" she said with a frown, at the small distance between her face and Sasuke's.
"I should be asking you that question. What are you doing helplessly sprawled here in the ground. Someone might take advantage of you," he said with a sly smile. Sakura couldn't help but blush not knowing how to respond to this Sasuke. She had not in her entirely life expected to have those words spout out from Sasuke's mouth. Composing herself, she pushed him away. She scooted away before bending her legs on a sitting position. Sasuke did the same.
"The only one who would do that is you," she said sharply.
Sasuke looked at her trying to deduce what kind of girl this was. She was different from the typical girl or Sakura for that matter. He thought that she was the same at first, blushing and stuttering at his presence. Then later on she goes berserk on him going as far as pointing a kunai at his throat. Moreover, when she looked at him he sensed something he had never felt from other girls who looked at him. Hers were a mix of longing, sadness and something else he couldn't quite discern.
"What's so different about you?" he asked, voicing out his thoughts.
Sakura looked at him and said with a smile," Aside from the fact that I really want to stay away from you? Nothing much." With that she stood up and walked away.
Sasuke would have chuckled like he always did whenever he found those few girls who did not like him. But he didn't, he couldn't. Her sad smile and sincere tone stopped him before he could do anything to respond.
Sasuke strolled to the Hokage's office with a confident smile on his face that kept the bystanders looking. Stopping on the wooden door, he was about to knock when he heard an exclamation of gratitude from the inhabitants of the room and based on the loudness and sound of the voice that must have been none other than Uzumaki Naruto. He turned around attempting to leave when a question voiced by Tsunade stopped him.
Sakura woke up to find that the day she had dreaded and looked forward to had come. Fixing herself up, she left her apartment and went to the meeting place where Tsunade would start the ritual. Upon arriving she found the area empty. Apparently, Naruto had forgotten to tell her the supposed time they would meet. Exasperated she turned around determined to go to Naruto's house to clarify some things up when a figure stopped her. It was Sasuke Uchiha. She was about to dismiss him when he suddenly asked her.
"What was I like?" he said in a sincere tone.
"What do you mean?" she said puzzled at his demeanor.
"I meant, what was I like in your world?"
Sakura looked at him wide-eyed. She and Naruto had agreed not to let anyone know except Tsunade, then how did he know?
"What are you talking about?" she said laughing.
"I overheard Tsunade and Naruto talking about you and Naruto's entrapment here. I'm part of this aren't I? So I should know."
Sakura avoided his gaze," You're not part of it."
"I'm not. Then why do you act like I am. Sakura you can't fool me. I might not be your Sasuke but I can sense it. Besides," he stepped closer to her, "Tsunade-sama needs me for the ritual to work. She told me that it was an advance Uchiha technique that only we could perform. You need me." He said.
Sakura looked up at him, meeting his obsidian eyes. For once his eyes resembled those of the Sasuke she had used to admire.
"You won't like it. Sasuke," she paused looking for the right word," isn't as showy as you. He was cold, calm and cunning. He had reason to. His whole clan was wiped out in one day, leaving only him as the survivor." She didn't want to add in the tidbit that his brother Itachi was part of it, "As we grew up Naruto and I tried to break that ice but we couldn't. And one day, he just left. He left everything behind in his quest for power. And now, we have to get him back or stop him even if it meant killing him in order to spare so many more lives that are at stake. That's why we need you."
Sasuke was quiet for a while trying to consume everything. Sakura thought that, that was the end but he soon broke his silence.
"Then why do you still love him?" Sasuke smiled when he saw that emotion again amidst those emerald eyes, "I figured it out. When you look at me, I see something different in those eyes. I maybe a playboy, but I know love when I see one."
Sakura laughed, "I don't know."
She looked at the ground as if trying to find the answers there. " I can't seem to give up on him. No matter how evil he becomes in my eyes he's still Sasuke. Maybe not the Sasuke I knew, but inside there is the Sasuke who have always protected Naruto and me. The Sasuke who used to smirk whenever he defeated Naruto. The Sasuke who incessantly told me how annoying I am. The Sasuke Uchiha that I love and will always love." A tear rolled down her face. But Sasuke knew that she didn't need to sob for him to know. He could hear it in her voice, see it on her face and he felt it. He had seen it on his mother's eyes whenever they had to go away for battle.
That long and suffering love.
Like her mother, Sakura must have secretly cried in her room. And it saddened him to know that it was he that caused it. Maybe not him but another version of himself. He reached out and hugged her. She froze in his arms but slowly relaxed. Drawing away he kissed her forehead with a smile. Sakura stood stock still, shocked.
"Sakura-chan! Sasuke! You guys are quite early" Naruto ran towards them, Tsunade following behind.
"Alright Sasuke let's start the ritual" she beckoned for Sasuke to come. Sasuke followed and did everything needed for the ritual to happen and stood back.
"Now just step in the circle," Tsunade ordered the two. Naruto and Sakura followed.
"Everything's set. Let's start-"
"Wait." Sasuke stepped forward and flicked Naruto's forehead much like when Itachi did it with him. "Hey, idiot, when you come back remember to not overdo yourself and always protect those who you love."
"Sasuke," Naruto grinned with teary eyes.
Turning to Sakura, he took off his necklace that had the Uchiha symbol on it and placed it on Sakura. "It will protect you. Oh and this," He slowly took off his grey jacket and put in on Sakura's shoulder with a wink.
"So that you can have me by your side." Sakura sighed. But looking up, she smiled. It was the first time that Sasuke had seen her smile aside from the first time they met. It was a smile he could never forget. He stepped back and they said their goodbyes and with that a light burst out sending them back to their world.
But before they could disappear Sasuke said one last thing to both of them.
"Thank you for never giving up on me."