A/N: While I did not originally wish to have a third story to work on (already have 2 active), this is one of those ideas that I did not simply want to shelve or push aside, so I decided I might as well go against my wishes and start a third. While my other two stories are Naru/Hina, this one will be Naru/Saku. So, please let me know how the first chapter turned out.
Summary: How could I have forgotten my first real friend? How could I have forgotten the day, many years ago when I met a boy who actually complimented me for once instead of mocking my forehead? How could I have forgotten him after we grew so close together? It was just a dream after all…or was it?
Sakura had always liked Naruto, ever since they met one day before the academy. However, some people were not too happy with her new friend and sealed away her memories of her childhood friendship and crush. What happens when Naruto returns from the failed attempt at retrieving Sasuke, on the verge of death? Starts just after the Valley of the End.
Pairings: Naru/Saku (main pairing and no harem); Ino/Cho or Sai (still undecided on that); Kiba/Hina; Shika/Tema; Neji/Ten
Raiting: M for violence, language, mature references, and eventual lemons
Bashing: Will contain council, Sasuke, Orochimaru, and others (if I feel they truly deserve it) bashing
Disclaimer: Sorry, I'm not Masashi Kishimoto; therefore, I don't own Naruto
*While I don't mind constructive criticism, please no flaming! If you don't like, don't read.
*Jutsu names will be in the Japanese spelling with English translations following. If it is a non-cannon jutsu, I will provide an explanation at the end
Normal speech; Normal thought
Demonic Speach/Summon Speech/Inner Sakura/Pissed off Tsunade; Demonic Thought/Summon Thought/Inner Sakura
Chapter 1: Breaking the Seal
Night had fallen upon the streets of Konohagakure no Sato and despite the tragedy that had befallen this Village Hidden in the Leaves, the city was dead quiet. Most people had gone to sleep, hoping for good news the following morning. However, one pink-haired girl found a sense of insomnia drift over her as she found that despite her heavy eyes, she was unable to close them, a myriad of thoughts swirling through her head.
Just the last night, Uchiha Sasuke had left the village to join with the traitorous snake sannin, Orochimaru, who wanted Sasuke for nothing more than his body. You know, thinking about it like that really did make Orochimaru sound like some sort of pedophile, but that's not the point here. Only last night, she had professed her love to said Uchiha, only for him to knock her out and leave her in the cold night air while he silently left the village.
The following morning, a retrieval squad of four genin and a newly minted chunin was assembled to track down Orochimaru's team of four who had been sent to collect Orochimaru's precious Sasuke-kun by promising him the power he needed to succeed in his goal of killing his brother. That squad consisted of Nara Shikamaru, Akimichi Chouji, Hyuga Neji, Inuzuka Kiba, and finally Uzumaki Naruto. The final member of the team, Naruto, and her blonde-haired teammate had made it his 'promise of a lifetime' to bring Sasuke back for her. While this bestilled a sense of comfort in the pinkette, there was something more there than even she was really aware of. A part of her just wanted Naruto to come back alive and unharmed, not really caring too much for what fate held for the Uchiha. However, this part of her remained silent…until she finally managed to drift off to sleep.
It was a peaceful day with the sun shining brightly upon Konoha. A 7 year-old Sakura had come to the park that day while her family was busy running their business. She was part of a civilian family in a shinobi village. Throughout her short life, she had seen the mighty shinobi of this village come and go, leaping from building to building and to some, it was just an amazing sight. She had talked to her parents about it a lot and had decided that she wanted to become a shinobi, but would sadly have to wait another year until she was old enough to enter the Academy.
However, today the shinobi appeared to be confused and lost and much of the business sector in Konoha had been painted bright orange. It was obvious the shinobi were looking for the culprit, but they were having trouble finding him/her. For now, Sakura just shrugged it off, figuring the culprit would be caught soon enough, although a warm smile of amusement came to her face.
As she reached the park, Sakura spied a group of girls around her age and figured it would be a good time to make some new friends. Despite being a happy a cheerful girl, Sakura was still lacking in the friend department, possibly due to her large forehead that everyone her age made fun of.
"Hey everyone! I'm Sakura, does anyone want to play" asked Sakura as she approached the group of girls.
"Hey, what's up with that forehead?" called out one of the girls.
"I don't know, it's huge!" exclaimed another of the girls.
"And ugly" commented another one as they all burst out in laughter.
"So girls, it appears Ms. Forehead wants to play" said an intimidating girl with long dark hair by the name of Ami. "What do you say, girls? Shall he let her?"
The girls took a step towards Sakura, who was now scared. These girls looked all to menacing and she was most certainly afraid of the 'game' they wanted to play. Sakura began backing up until she had reached the edge of the park and the beginning of the forest, perhaps they wouldn't follow her in there. Unfortunately for her, it appeared as if she was wrong and this wasn't going to be her method of escape. As the scared Sakura backed up, she wasn't watching where she was going and tripped over a root, landing flat on her behind.
"Alright girls, I think Little Ms. Forehead here needs a makeover" said Ami. "Don't you think that'll help her out?" All the girls grinned sinisterly at Sakura and Sakura closed her eyes, expecting the worse to come. But it didn't.
Sakura had opened her eyes just in time to see her attackers being pelted by a barrage of paint-filled balloons. The girls squealed a bit before running away as to not get sprayed with any more paint.
"Yeah! Take that your meanies! That'll teach you to pick on people, -ttebayo!" shouted a boy with spiky blonde hair who jumped down from the tree, holding a water balloon in his hand.
Sakura's eyes shot wide as she eyed her savior. He turned around with a big foxy grin on his face.
"Hi, sorry about them. I hope they didn't hurt you" said the blonde boy.
Sakura shook her head. "No, thank you umm…"
"Huh? Oh, sorry. The name's Uzumaki Naruto, -ttebayo!" declared Naruto. Sakura couldn't help but giggle a little bit at the blonde's enthusiasm at introducing himself.
"Thank you, Naruto-kun. I'm Haruno Sakura" said Sakura, but saw that Naruto was examining her curiously and for some reason. "Is something wrong?"
"Nothing, it's just…you have a big forehead" said Naruto. This caused Sakura to shrink away, thinking she was being made fun of again.
It was at this point that Sakura began to cry. All she had wanted was a friend and even this boy, who she thought she could be friends with was making fun of her. That is until Naruto finished his thought.
"It's actually kind of cute" said Naruto.
It was at this time that they both heard the sounds of approaching ninja. "I think he's over here!"
"Oh crap. Sorry Sakura-chan, but I've gotta get out of here. Maybe I'll see you around sometime" said Naruto as he threw the paint balloon he had in his hand, nailing an ANBU square in the face/mask with it before taking off with an entire ANBU squad in chase.
The dream seemed to fast forward almost a year in time, with her and her blonde friend hanging out more and more. This day, they were hanging out around one of the small rivers flowing through the village; Naruto was teaching her how to skip rocks. Everything was enjoyable for her and she enjoyed the times where she and her friend would meet up and play. He was one of the few people whom she felt she could actually be herself around, the only others being her own family and another blonde girl by the name of Yamanaka Ino.
Sakura's head perked up as she heard her mother calling out for her.
"Kaasan! I'm by the river!" called out Sakura. She turned around to her friend, wanting to introduce him to her parents. For some reason, Naruto had rejected any attempt to meet Sakura's parents and actually ran away whenever he heard or saw them coming. If this kept up, they were going to think she had an imaginary friend, which was something she obviously felt she was too old for.
"Oh please?" she begged Naruto, wanting her mother to meet the blonde for the first time.
"I'm not so sure, Sakura-chan" said Naruto.
"What's wrong? It's not like she's going to bite or anything" assured Sakura.
"It's just…the adults. You see, they kind of don't like me and I don't want to lose…" Naruto trailed off.
"Lose what?" asked Sakura.
"I don't want to lose you. For some reason, all the adults pull their children away from me" said Naruto.
At that point, Sakura suddenly remembered the day over a year ago when she saw a certain blonde boy standing in the middle of the park while all the parents dragged their children away, scolding them. It was then that she realized that boy was Naruto, but the question was why? She had been friends with him for nearly a year now and even though he could be a bit of a trouble maker at times with all his pranks, it was actually rather enjoyable…at least if you weren't on the receiving end of the prank.
"It's okay, I'm sure everything will be alright" said Sakura. "Trust me."
"O-okay" said Naruto hesitantly.
"There you are Sakura, and who's you-" Sakura's mother, Haruno Mebuki never finished that sentence as she ran over to Naruto, slapped his hand away from hers and shoved the boy away, a look of hatred and fear in her eyes.
"Mom?" asked Sakura.
"SAKURA, I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU NEAR THAT, THAT THING AGAIN!" demanded Mebuki. The words stung Naruto deep. Yet another of his friends was being taken away from him.
"What are you talking about, mom?" asked Sakura. "Naruto's actually pretty nice. We've been hanging out together for some time now and he's friendly, and actually really funny."
"THAT'S NOT THE POINT HERE! HE'S…HE'S NOT RIGHT. YOU'RE BETTER OFF JUST STAYING AWAY FROM HIM!" objected Mebuki. At this point in time, Sakura's father, the person who it appeared Sakura got her pink hair from, also came onto the scene.
"Honey, take Sakura home. I'll get rid of THAT" he said pointing at Naruto. Mebuki nodded and dragged a struggling Sakura away. All Sakura could do at this point was mutter the words 'I'm sorry, Naruto-kun' before her own mother slapped her across the face.
Sakura jolted awake in the early morning. That had been an odd dream, and the most surprising part is that it had been about her and Naruto. What the hell was that even about? She couldn't figure out. Sure she didn't hate him as much any more since they were out of the academy, but she could never see herself actually playing with her teammate like she was in her dreams.
"Hopefully today's the day Naruto brings back Sasuke-kun" thought Sakura as she gleefully moved to the bathroom to get ready for the day ahead. Today was going to be a big day indeed, but not in the way she thought.
It was later in the evening and Sakura was walking around town until she heard Ino call out.
"Hey billboard! We've gotta go now!" shouted Ino.
"Ino-pig? What's up?" asked Sakura.
"They're back! And apparently Chouji, Neji, and Kiba are in the hospital!" shouted Ino, grabbing Sakura's wrist and dragging the pinkette back. It was on their way to the hospital that the skies opened up and rain began to wash over Konoha.
As Sakura and Ino arrived at the hospital, they saw Shikamaru standing in the middle of the hallway, his eyes still red and wet as if he had been crying. Tsunade was standing outside the door to the operation room with a look of success on her face.
"Tsunde-sama, how is he?" asked a worried Ino.
"Don't worry Ino, Chouji will be fine. And so will Neji from the sounds of it" said Tsunade.
"And Sasuke-kun and Naruto?" asked Sakura.
Tsunade sighed. "I don't know, they haven't gotten back yet." "You had better make sure you come back safely Gaki."
For Sakura, not knowing where Sasuke was a hard blow for her. But then there was that part of her screaming out, caring for Naruto and not Sasuke. Again, it was silenced.
"Sakura? You alright?" asked Ino. Sakura just looked down, worryingly as her own head began swirling with thoughts. It was at this time when the remaining members of the Konoha 12, along with the Sand Trio who had provided assistance to the recovery team, had gathered to await the hopeful return of their two comrades.
For the third time that day, the red lights in the hospital went off, indicating the arrival of a critically injured patient and everyone held their breath as to who would be the next arrival. There were only two more arrivals they were waiting on and the red-light was never a good thing.
As Tsunade turned her head down the main hall, leading to the lobby, she immediately spied a silver-haired man running her way at top speed, carrying a bloodied orange bundle. Everyone's eyes, especially Sakura's, widened in horror and Tsunade could only help but stand there in complete and utter shock as her past looked as if it was going to repeat itself again.
"Tsunade-sama, we need to get Naruto into operation immediately, he's fading even as I speak" said Kakashi. "Tsunade-sama?"
"I…" Tsuande could barely speak.
"TSUNADE-SAMA!" shouted Shizune. "Damn, get a stretcher over here stat!"
Within seconds, a stretcher was brought and Naruto was laid down so that everyone was able to see the hole that was still present in his chest. The healing abilities of the Kyuubi had been hard at work repairing the most vital of things, but even with the biju's help, it still wasn't enough. Naruto was dying and the only one who could save him had frozen up.
Everyone rose to their feet to get a better look at just what had befallen the cheerful blonde bundle of energy they all knew and love.
"Tsunade-sama! Snap out of it!" shouted Shizune as she gave Tsunade a strong slap across the face, hoping to snap her master back to reality. Tsunade lifted her hand up to her still pink cheek and rubbed it. "Tsunade-sama, I'm…"
"Shizune, thank you" said Tsunade before she began to yell out. "Get him into the ER NOW!"
As Naruto was wheeled off into the ER to undergo a life-saving operation against time, everyone was left standing there in the hall, speechless until Gai finally spoke up. "What happened Kakashi?"
Hatake Kakashi, the Copy Ninja, and jonin sensei of the team that had practically imploded upon itself raced to the site of the battle hoping to arrive before it was too late. This was his team and he wanted to do everything he could to keep them together and happy. He owed it to his former teammate, Uchiha Obito, and his late sensei, Namikaze Minato, to see that these two boys were happy and safe.
As the skies opened up and rain began to pour down upon the silver-haired jonin, his pace increased as he now knew he was running out of time. If he didn't hurry, the scent would be gone and his hopes lost. Kakashi and his lead, a dog by the name of Pakkun, raced forward towards the site of the conflict, hoping nothing too drastic had been done just yet.
As Kakashi approached the cliff overlooking the Valley of the End, his single visible eye widened in horror at the site that befell him. His orange-clad student laid along the bank, two large holes in his blood-stained jumpsuit, one in his shoulder and one directly over the boy's heart.
The scarecrow raced down to the scene, a single thought repeating itself in his mind. "Please don't be dead, Naruto."
Surely a Chidori to the heart would kill a person instantly, but Kakashi held onto the sliver of hope that the very thing that his blonde student was cursed with was keeping him alive. Yes, the blonde was the jinchuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune, the very monstrosity that attacked Konoha almost 13 years ago. It was because of this curse that Naruto had suffered his entire life at the hands of the village, being constantly beaten, shunned, insulted, and even almost killed on numerous occasions.
It had been the very thing that cursed Naruto's life that had kept him alive throughout all of those events and all Kakashi could do now was hope that the Kyuubi was keeping him alive now as well. When he was able to get his first good look at his student, he could already see that the hole in Naruto's chest was smaller in size than a normal Chidori would have caused; giving him hope that Naruto was alive. As he reached Naruto he checked for a pulse. Thankfully there was one, but it was weak. Even with the accelerated healing, courtesy of the Kyuubi, Naruto was still dying.
Taking one last quick look around, Kakashi saw the only sign of Sasuke being the scratched forehead protector lying next to Naruto. Sasuke was long gone and it was too late to catch him, but that was now the least of Kakashi's worries. He had to get Naruto back to the village immediately to be treated if the boy had any hopes at surviving and so Kakashi popped a few food pills, picked up the blonde, and raced back to Konoha with time working against him. The healing on Naruto had slowed and Kakashi knew that even this injury was too much for the Kyuubi to fully heal. The only one who could heal him was Tsuande-sama herself.
As Kakashi raced on, it was becoming clear that Naruto would not make it at this pace. He only had one option left. You see, Maito Gai wasn't the only one in the village with the ability to open a majority of the eight inner gates. Kakashi had the ability to open up to five of them and he would need all five open if he had any hopes at making it back to Konoha in time, even if it would mean he was bed-ridden for a few days recovering from the side-effects. "Gates of Opening, Healing, Life, Pain, and Limit…open!"
A massive surge of chakra flowed through Kakashi and his speed increased greatly. Now, all he had to do was to try and maintain this level of chakra until he reached Konoha.
"Did Sasuke-kun really try and kill Naruto…no, it couldn't be" thought Sakura as she was trying to digest the thoughts amongst those already spinning in her head, primarily those from last night.
"He can't…" muttered Sakura.
It was then that Ino snapped around to her pink-haired friend. "You had better not be thinking of defending that stuck up bastard!" To say everyone was shocked by Ino's outburst would be an understatement. To everyone's understanding, she was still thought of as one of Sasuke's biggest fangirls and to hear her call him a bastard shocked everyone. Ino got no reaction from Sakura, which was odd. Something was wrong; Sakura hadn't blurted out something in defense of her 'precious' Sasuke-kun as Ino had expected. Instead, she was just frozen there, not doing a thing.
"Sakura?" asked Ino, waving her hand in Sakura's face to try and grab the pinkette's attention. "Hey, Sakura?!" Ino decided to shake Sakura on the shoulder, only for the pinkette to collapse completely to the floor.
"Sakura-san!" shouted Lee, rushing to catch her before she hit the floor. Immediately, the jonin around were around Sakura to see why she had suddenly collapsed.
"Sakura!" shouted Kakashi as he tried to wake his student out of whatever fainting spell had hit her. Kurenai immediately drew a flashlight out of her back pocket, opened Sakura's closed eye and shown the light, looking for some sort of pupil dilation.
"Shit, she's not responding" swore Kurenai. "Get a stretcher over here!"
Within seconds Sakura was also on a stretcher and being carried away for treatment, if only they knew what to treat.
"Kurenai-sensei? W-what just happened?" asked a scared Ino.
"I don't really know. It's like her brain has shut down on her" said Kurenai. "But the question is why?"
"What can we do?" asked Ino.
"Mot much I'm afraid but see what the tests say" said Kurenai.
"Sakura, please come back" thought Ino.
The light to the ER flickered, indicating that Naruto's operation had just finished and everyone was now holding their breath to see if Naruto would emerge alright. He had to, he always had after all. Moments later, an exhausted Tsunade came out of the door, rolling a gurney with a bandaged Naruto laying on it.
"Is he…" asked Kakashi. His question was answered as Naruto began to stir, something no one had expected, but then again this was Naruto we are talking about.
"Uhg…Kakashi-sensei?" muttered Naruto.
"Hey there, I'm surprised you're up so early" said Kakashi. "You've only been out of surgery what, a few minutes now?"
"You know me, it's going to take more than a hospital to keep me down" said Naruto, before looking depressed. "I'm sorry sensei, I failed."
"No Naruto, you didn't. I am the sensei of Team 7 and as such this is my responsibility" said Kakashi. "Just rest for now and everything will be okay." "I hope."
"Kakashi-sensei, where's Sakura-chan?" asked a concerned Naruto, looking around.
"Naruto, she's…" spoke Ino.
"She's not here. I was hoping…maybe she'd be here. But I get it, she probably hates me for not bringing Sasuke-teme back" said a disappointed Naruto.
"Naruto, don't think that…" replied Ino. "I'm sure she cares about you." "I know she does, but I don't know where those feelings for you went. You were the first one she ever called a friend. Where did that Sakura go?"
"No, it's alright Ino. Perhaps we never were meant to be friends" said a depressed Naruto. "You tried and I can't thank you enough for that, but I guess those times were never real."
"Naruto…she passed out when she heard what happened" said Ino.
Naruto's eyes quickly shot over towards the other blonde's. "W-what happened!" said Naruto, trying to get out of bed, only to be restrained by Tsunade.
"If you even think about moving around, I'll make sure you don't leave that bed for the rest of the year!" growled Tsunade.
"Tsunade-sama" spoke Shikamaru. "What do I have to do to be condemned to a bed for an entire year?"
This earned a round of laughter from everyone.
"Oh you shouldn't worry about that. You've got far too much to do that I don't even know if you'll need a bed at all for the next year" replied Tsunade, earning a groan from Shikamaru.
"Ino, what happened to Sakura-chan?" asked Naruto.
"Yes, I believe you mentioned she fainted? What happened?" asked Tsunade.
"We don't really know, Hokage-sama" spoke Kurenai. "One moment Kakashi told us what happened and the next, she collapses."
"I see. Well, sadly we'll just have to wait for the tests. Although Ino, if you could go and get your dad. I have a feeling his services might be required" said Tsunade.
"Right away, Hokage-sama" said Ino.
"Hold on, what's going on? Ino, you can't actually think Sakura truly cares for Naruto after everything she put him through during the Academy" said Chouji. "And what does he mean by you tried?"
"It's going to be hard to believe, but before the Academy, those two actually used to be really close friends, but then something happened just before we started the Academy, and…well you all know the rest of it" explained Ino. "I just don't know what happened."
"What are you talking about Ino? Sakura practically hated Naruto in the Academy. Even I can't see how those two would be friends. And since when did you stop being a Sasukette?" asked Shikamaru. Even he was slightly confused by the dialogue that had taken place in the hospital.
Ino sighed as she looked around. Even the jonin looked interested in the story she had. "It was actually the day right before we started the academy…"
Flashback no Jutsu
Sakura, Naruto, and Ino had once again gathered together in the park. Ever since that whole incident a few weeks ago regarding Naruto and Sakura's parents, they had to get together in secret without Sakura's parents knowing. Seeing as Ino's clan and parents really didn't have a problem with Naruto, this worked out perfectly for the three of them whenever they wanted to get together as Sakura would just tell her parents she was going over to Ino's.
"So tomorrow we start our careers as ninja! I can't wait, -ttebayo!" declared Naruto. This caused Sakura to blush a little, not going unnoticed by Ino. She never did understand why Naruto had so much energy, but she did always like him like that. The best way she could describe it was that it was just him.
"Eh, it seems someone's got a little crush" thought Ino as she began to get some mischievous thoughts in her head. "You know we won't be real ninja until we graduate in four years, right?"
"I know, but tomorrow we start getting to learn all sorts of cool jutsu and ninja stuff!" exclaimed Naruto.
"This coming from the guy who can already outrun a squad of ANBU" said Ino, pointing to Naruto.
"How about this. Let's all make a promise to do the very best we can" said Sakura.
"Alright, those silly boys won't know what hit 'em!" said Ino.
"Hey!" objected Naruto. "No matter, because tomorrow I start my journey towards being Hokage! –ttebayo!"
Pause Flashback no Jutsu
"…After that, Sakura had to leave to go home" said Ino. "And when we saw her the next day, it's like her personality had done a complete 180."
Resume Flashback no Jutsu
The following morning on the very first day of classes at the Academy, Naruto burst into the class room. "Yata! Today's the day I start down my path towards being Hokage! -ttebayo!"
This immediately earned Naruto multiple glares, including one from the one he considered his best friend…Sakura.
"Who the hell is that loser? And why does he think he can become Hokage? If anyone's going to become Hokage, it's going to be Sasuke-kun…EEE!" squealed Sakura inside her head.
"Cha! Sasuke-kun can kick that loser's ass!" declared Inner Sakura.
"Good morning, Ino-chan" said Naruto, waving to Ino. Ino returned a smile and a polite wave and Naruto made his way to the chair in front of Ino, seeing as the blonde already was sitting next to Shikamaru at that time, who was pleasantly taking a nap at that time.
Naruto took his seat, which just so happened to be next to Sakura. "Good morning, Sakura-chan. Today's the day, right?"
"You mean the day I strangle you if I don't get to sit next to Sasuke-kun" thought Sakura. It was then that squeals of crazed fangirls erupted throughout the classroom.
"Sasuke-kun!" shouted every girl in the room save two. Ino was now sending Sakura a questioning look as to why she was jumping up and down like a baboon waiting for its daily banana.
"Sasuke-kun, sit next to me!" shouted Sakura as she sent a threatening glare towards Naruto. "Naruto! Move it! That's Sasuke-kun's seat!"
"What she did then absolutely dumbfounded me" said Ino.
"Don't remind me" said Naruto, rubbing his cheek.
"Yeah, I think I remember that day. She hit you pretty hard didn't she?" asked Shikamaru, earning a wince of sympathy from Hinata.
Resume Flashback no Jutsu
"That's Sasuke-kun's seat, Naruto-baka! Shanaroo!" shouted Sakura as she slammed her fist hard into Naruto's face, sending him clear across the classroom and smashing into the opposite wall.
Ino just sat in complete shock, not knowing what had just happened. Did Sakura just give her best friend and possible crush a punch that made her look like the next generation Tsunade?
"Oh Sasuke-kun there's a seat over here" said Sakura sweetly. Unfortunately for her, Sasuke took a seat elsewhere in the room and Ino had already rushed over to check on Naruto.
"What the hell was that Billboard-brow?!" shouted Ino out of complete rage. "You could have seriously hurt him with that!"
"That's what'll happen when you get in-between me and my true love! Cha!" declared Sakura.
"True love? You barely just said your first words to the guy and yet you've known Naruto for over a year now!" argued Ino.
"Please, like I'd ever hang out with that loser" scoffed Sakura.
"That's it, I'm going to…" Ino was stopped before she had an opportunity to beat the sense back into her 'friend'.
"Ino-chan, don't" said Naruto as he picked himself out of the rubble and took his seat before class started.
End Flashback no Jutsu
"That day, Naruto knew something was wrong with Sakura and he also vowed to do whatever it took to get the old Sakura back" explained Ino. "From then, we agreed to have me infiltrate the Sasuke Fan Club to see if I could convince Sakura to come back, but it only ended up developing into the rivalry between us that I absolutely hated. I mean, I didn't mind a bit of competition from Sakura, but I didn't want it to be over some guy, especially not Sasuke-teme."
"Okay, let me get this straight. You actually faked being a Sasukette?" asked Shikamaru. Despite having an IQ over 200, this was just something that defied all logic to him. Ino nodded. "I never thought women could be even more troublesome than they already were." This earned the lazy genius a couple of death glares from all the women in the room.
"While this is actually turning out to be a good story, can we take it out of the hallway?" suggested (more like ordered) Tsunade. "I've still gotta get this Gaki hooked up for observation."
"So how long are you going to be out of commission for?" asked Ino.
"You know me, I'll be up and about by tomorrow" replied Naruto.
"Oh hell you won't! You just had your heart pierced by a Chidori! You're lucky to even be alive!" yelled Tsunade.
"How did you survive that?" asked Tenten.
"Naruto heals...faster than normal" said Ino. The night Naruto had found out about the Kyuubi, he had told Ino as she was one of his close friends at that point, even if she was still acting like a stuck-up fan-girl.
"But still…" pushed Tenten.
"Consider it Naruto's bloodline" said Tsaunde. Naruto had a bloodline? This revelation startled everyone who didn't know about the Kyuubi and Shino, but then again no one could really read an Aburame.
As the entire mob left the hallway, they left a certain masked ninja behind sitting on the bench.
"You coming Kakashi-sensei?" asked Ino.
"Hehe. You see, since I kind of had to use the gates to rush Naruto back, it hurts to move" said Kakashi, causing Tsunade to smack her head.
As the relocation ended in a designated hospital room, a nurse came bursting through the door. "Tsunade-sama, the reports on Haruno Sakura are available."
Tsunade nodded and took the reports from the mental scans performed on Sakura. "Hmm…Well this certainly is interesting."
"What is it Tsunade-baachan? Is Sakura-chan going to be alright?" asked Naruto.
"She's in a coma it appears" said Tsunade, causing everyone to gasp. "But this isn't a normal coma. Unlike a normal coma, the brain's activity is brought to a standstill. However, in this case, her brain activity has actually been accelerated to dangerous levels. If allowed to go on for much longer, her brain could overload, causing normal activity to cease."
Following a few more gasps, Tsunade signaled for an ANBU. "I need you to get me Yamanaka Inoichi, immediately!"
"Hai, Hokage-sama! Right away" said the ANBU before disappearing.
"Is it really that serious Tsunade-sama?" asked Ino out of concern for Sakura.
"I'm afraid it is. I don't even know what's going on and your dad's our best bet when it comes to the mind" said Tsunade. "I'm sorry, but I'm going to go and check on Haruno. If you all want, you can remain here, but I can't have anyone else inside with us."
No more than 15 minutes later, Inoichi was already in observation room set up for Sakura, along with Tsunade and Shizune.
"So her brain processes have increased to dangerous levels?" asked Inoichi. Tsunade nodded.
"We need you to tell us what the hell is going on in there" said Tsunade.
"Hai, Hokage-sama" said Inoichi as he placed his hand on Sakura's head and prepared to take a mind walk.
Inside Sakura's head,
As Inoichi was looking around Sakura's head, at first glance it appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary for a regular genin. However, even he could tell that her brain was working at a much faster pace than it should have been as the heat inside Sakura's head increased as he got closer to her actual brain. Tsunade was right, if it continued on like it was now, Sakura's brain would completely overheat and shutdown.
It was then that he saw the cause of the problems, a broken seal, placed on the underside of the brain where memories are processed.
"A seal? Why would a genin have a seal on their brain?" asked Inochi as he moved in to examine the seal more closely. Thankfully, it proved to be unguarded as the one who placed it on Sakura must not have been expecting anyone to come in here, at least not for awhile. However, that didn't make things easy for Inoichi. He recognized that seal. It was a Yamanaka Memory Alteration Seal.
"H-What the hell is this doing on Sakura?" asked Inoichi. That seal had been forbidden in the Yamanaka clan for the very reason Inoichi was in there now. The seal was rather easy to break by emotional trauma and if it did break, then the very thing that was happening to Sakura would happen, until the brain completely overloaded.
The only good thing that came out of this was that Inoichi knew how to remove it and thankfully it wasn't too late to do so. Also, he would be able to find out who and why that seal was placed on Sakura in the first place. Performing the necessary jutsu, Inoichi showed his skills as a mental expert and removed the memory seal from Sakura. Immediately, he could feel her brain activity settling down to a normal level. Now it was time for answers as he pulled out one of Sakura's memory scrolls. Ino had mentioned Sakura had started acting weird around the time when they started the academy, so he figured it would be best to start around there.
The day before the start of the academy, Sakura was walking home from the Yamanaka compound after spending some time with her two best friends. She was happily humming a cheerful tune. Seeing as her and Naruto-kun were supposed to be in the same class together, that would give her a chance to get to spend some quality time with him. The only problem was that some hot-shot Uchiha was supposed to be in her class as well. She had met one of them once, Uchiha Inabi was his name, and honestly he came over as a stuck-up arrogant prick, and she was certain the Uchiha in her class would be the same.
Oh well, as long as he didn't try to make a move on her, thinking that since he was a 'Great Uchiha' that he was entitled to whatever he wanted and she could spend some more time with Ino and Naruto-kun that everything would be alright.
As she got home, she saw both of her parents sitting at a table, motioning for her to take a seat.
"Sakura, as you know you'll be entering the Shinobi Academy tomorrow" spoke Mebuki. "Seeing as this is a shinobi village, shinobi have a great deal of power and seeing as you are seeking to become one, you will to and thanks to you, you will help our family gain the power that it's entitled to."
'Is that all Kaasan wants? More power in this village' thought Sakura to herself. She was well aware of her mother's attempts to increase her status in the village. She was already a member on the Civilian Council, but she wasn't satisfied with that.
"Now, unfortunately from what I hear, there's a…boy….in your class that I believe we've told you about before" said Kizashi.
'They must be talking about Naruto-kun. Why does everyone hate him so much? Why can't they just accept him like Inochi-san?' thought Sakura. In all honesty, this wasn't something she was willing to argue with her mother as the last time she had even brought up Naruto's name, her parents had threatened to ground her for a month.
"Don't worry Kaasan, Tousan, I'll stay away from him." That was a complete lie and the very last thing she wanted to do while at the academy.
"But, if I am also correct, there is also an Uchiha boy in your class that we believe would be more than fit for someone like you" said Mebuki. Sakura wanted to barf and was struggling to hold down the sushi she had at Ino's house that day. Her parents caught the look of disgust on her face. "Is something wrong dear?"
"No, Kaasan" said Sakura, swallowing her pride (and lunch) and taking a drink of the water that was in front of her to wash everything down. Sadly, the pride didn't stay down. "But if you think I'll just be some plaything so that you can weasel your way up someone's ass, you're wrong!"
With that, Sakura stood up and slammed her chair into the table before stomping up to her room, leaving her parents shaking their head at the table.
"You can come out now" said Kizashi as a masked figure with orange-ish hair tied into a ponytail stepped out from the shadows.
"So you want me to do it?" asked the masked figure.
"Please. It's the only way to do what's best for our daughter" pleaded Kizashi. The masked figure nodded. "There's a minor paralysis drug in the water she drank. She should be out right about…" a thud was heard upstairs. "Now."
As the three of them walked up the stairs, they saw Sakura lying on the floor, unable to move.
"K-kaasan? What's wrong with me? I-I can't move" said a worried Sakura.
"Nothing's wrong with you dear, at least nothing will be wrong once our friend is finished" said Mebuki. Sakura tried to scream, but the drug had now numbed her vocal chords and she found herself completely unable to move or speak.
"So what exactly shall I have her think?" asked the masked figure.
"First, make sure she doesn't remember this night at all. Also, make it so she has no memory of that…THING. In fact, make it so that she'll attack him if he says anything to her. We would also appreciate if you could make it so that she practically fawns over the Uchiha" said Kizashi.
'What? Me fawn over the Uchiha? And hurt Naruto-kun? No! I can't!' thought Sakura.
"Very well. I am sure my master will appreciate the fact that this will help sever any emotional bonds the jinchuriki may have. After all, he is but a tool and should have no emotions" said the masked figure in a cold tone as he went to apply the mental seal. "So why did you leave the organization, Kizashi?"
"As you said, a shinobi is merely a tool that should be without emotions. I was unable to extinguish mine, so I felt as if I would only hinder the organization's goals" replied Kizashi.
The masked man went to apply the seal to Sakura's mind and at first she struggled to resist, but then she felt another presence enter her consciousness.
Inside her own mind, she could only help as another persona began imposing its own will on her own. The best way Sakura could describe this persona was as 'Inner Sakura'.
Inoichi was by no means happy. Not only had he discovered that a forbidden seal had been applied to a mere child, but also that it was done by one of his own clansmen, and he had a pretty damn good idea as to who it was. Now the only thing left to do was to find this alternate persona. Fortunately, he didn't have to look too far.
"Get out of my head, you don't know what you're messing with!" screamed Inner Sakura as she brought her giant fists down upon where Inoichi was standing. Fortunately, Inoichi was able to float just out of reach of the Inner Sakura.
"Hmm…a more dominant personality to repress the real personality. Yeah, that seal definitely is a pain in the ass. One reason why it was forbidden in the first place" thought Inoichi. "Fortunately, all it is is a persona, making it vulnerable to my own techniques."
"Ninpo: Shinranshin no Jutsu (Ninja Art: Mind Destruction jutsu)" called out Inoichi, aiming his jutsu at Inner Sakura. His jutsu hit its target and Inner Sakura began to cry out in pain as it slowly began to crumble away under the effects of Inoichi's jutsu.
"You've got a lot of answering to do Fuu" thought an angry Inoichi as he exited Sakura's mind.
The real world,
Inoichi's eyes opened, indicating that he was done with whatever he had set out to do.
"What did you find?" asked Tsuande.
"She should be fine now. There was a seal in her mind that was affecting her personality in an extreme way. I'll tell you more in my report, but right now I've got a rat in my own clan to hunt down" said Inoichi.
"A rat?" asked Tsunade.
"Yes. The seal used was a forbidden seal of my clan" said Inoichi. "For some reason, it broke and that's what messed with her mental activity. She should wake after a little time to rest her mind and I think many people here will find her much more pleasant to be around, if I remember the way she used to be. I also think you should question the girl's parents."
"I see, ANBU!" ordered Tsunade and three ANBU appeared before her. "Tora, Neko, I want your full cooperation with Inoichi in removing this 'rat' of his. Dog, I want you to go and locate Mr. and Mrs. Haruno and bring them in for questioning."
Ino was the last to leave Naruto's room, staying with her friend until visiting hours had officially come to a close. Thankfully though, she was able to catch Tsunade on the way out.
"Tsunade-sama!" called out Ino as Tsunade came to a halt. "I-is she?"
"She's going to be just fine, and I think you'll notice something different about her when she wakes up. You're father's truly a miracle worker of the mind" said Tsunade.
A smile lit up Ino's face. "Really? That's great!"
"Ino, if I could have a word with you" said Tsunade as she pulled Ino into a side room and told her everything that Inochi had discovered. Ino was furious, not only at Sakura's parents, but also at whomever in her clan had done this to her best friend. The only assurance that she had to this entire mess was that her father was already taking care of it. But still, Ino did the only thing she could at that point and wrap Tsunade in a hug. "Thank you, Tsunade-sama. If Sakura's really back, you have no idea how happy this will make Naruto."
"I'm sure it will, now if I could ask a favor…" said Tsunade.
"Anything, just name it!" exclaimed Ino without hesitation.
"I want you to say here with Sakura, in case she wakes up. I'm afraid of what might happen when she awakens and realizes what exactly she's done, even if it wasn't her fault" said Tsunade. There was no way Ino was going to deny this. Her friend would most certainly need her there, considering all the torment she put Naruto through the past four and a half years.
The next evening, Sakura awoke in a cold sweat, as if she had just awakened from a nightmare. She stared down with her emerald eyes at her trembling hands, the very ones that she herself had punched her Naruto-kun with what had to be at least 1000 times.
"N-no…it can't be...I would never…" thought Sakura, but then she remembered herself and every single time she hit him, every time she hurt him, just because he was trying to be her friend (or more). Every time he had tried to ask her out on a date, instead of responding with the 'Of course!' that she wanted, she would respond with a fist.
But the worst of it was that her own parents had done this to her. They had robbed her of four years of happiness and had some creepy masked guy do something to turn her into an Uchiha-tard, or Sasukette it put it nicely.
And then she watched as Naruto came through the hospital doors, a hole punched in his chest by the very bastard she wanted nothing to do with. What only made it worse was that she had used Naruto's own feelings towards her as a way to make him promise to bring Sasuke back. She knew what happened to Naruto when he promised something and she had to do something to make him take back that promise. Whatever that pedophile wanted with Sasuke-teme was none of her concern.
All she could do right now, was cry. Cry over the pain that she had caused the first one to truly befriend her, despite her forehead. After a few minutes of crying, she felt a gentle embrace and opened her puffy eyes to see Ino comforting her. "It's okay Sakura. Everything will be okay" said Ino. "You're back with us."
"Will he? Will he forgive me?" asked a teary Sakura.
"Of course he will. I already explained to him what had happened, but I think he wants to see for himself" said Ino. "Think you can walk?"
Sakura nodded and got out of the bed, nearly stumbling over herself before Ino helped her regain her balance.
"Hey, thanks for bringing the ramen, Shikamaru" said Naruto as he slurped down the bowl in front of him.
"Yeah, it was no biggie. I just wish I was in your position right about now. Although if I was, I'd probably be dead right about now" joked Shikamaru.
A knock was heard on the door, and in a panic Naruto fumbled the bowl of ramen and could only watch as it fell to the floor and the bowl shattered.
"What was that crash?" came a voice from outside the door, one that Naruto immediately recognized as Sakura's. Ino had said that she should be okay and back to the old Sakura, but Ino didn't know for sure that point either. Would this be the old, friendly Sakura, or the one who wanted to beat him in repeatedly?"
"Well, I'd better be going" said Shikamaru before heading to the door to leave Naruto to fend for himself. Not closing the door, Sakura poked her head inside.
"Sakura-chan?" questioned Naruto as Sakura slowly stepped into the room, before being brutally pushed to the foot of Naruto's bed by a certain blonde, who was grinning innocently.
"Don't worry Sakura-chan, I'll bring Sasuke ba-" Naruto was cut off as Sakura threw herself at him and wrapped him up in a big hug as she cried.
"Don't even think of completing that sentence. Please, don't" begged Sakura. "I'm so sorry Naruto, for everything. Just please promise me you won't do anything like that again. That's all I care about. I care about you, Naruto-kun"
"Yep, the old Sakura-chan's back" thought Naruto as he wrapped her in a returned hug. "I will, but on one condition."
"Condition?" asked Sakura.
"Wanna go on a date with me some time?" asked Naruto.
"If there is one thing I learned from my time as a Sasuke-tard, it's that you really can be a baka sometimes. Especially if you're still asking me out after everything I put you through. But, you're my baka, so I guess that isn't too bad" replied Sakura.
"So is that a yes?" asked Naruto.
"Of course it is. How else am I going to get the image of that almost catastrophe where I nearly kissed Sasuke. Bleagh!" replied Sakura.
"Oh my god! You actually almost kissed him?" gasped Ino. "I'm sorry Sakura, but if that had happened, you would have been lost for sure."
"Umm…actually that wasn't Sasuke you almost kissed" said Naruto. "You see, I kind of henged (transformation jutsu) into Sasuke because I wanted you to kiss me."
"Well, if you just wanted a kiss why didn't you just ask?" asked Sakura.
"Because I would have been kissing your knuckles" replied Naruto.
"Well, how about this" said Sakura sweetly as she laid a small peck on Naruto's cheek, causing the blonde to blush a near-Hinata shade of red. "You might get a little more if you show me a good time on our date."
A bright flash snapped and both Naruto and Sakura looked back to see Ino holding a camera. "Aww, who's the happy couple?"
Well, that's the start of this story, let me know how you like it so far and I'll go from there.