Feet don't fail me now

Take me to the finish line

All my heart, it breaks every step that I take

But I'm hoping at the gates

They'll tell me that you're mine

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Water. That's all she could hear. It was the hard ripples and the ear-shattering roar of thunder that licked and crackled through the rocks. Sakura had never guessed that a waterfall existed on the other side of Konoha. But that could be attributed to the fact she had never been to the other side of Konoha. She heard stories of the West side of Konoha—how people did not know what a Shinobi is, a baffling thought to her, to say the least. They whispered rumors that the spirits of the fallen heroes roamed the area.

Of course it had to be a superstition, things of that nature did not exist.

"Damn Shishou, you didn't tell me it's a cave." Sakura grumbled under her breath as she reached for the last rock, before her feet dusted against the ledge. The rocks were slippery, dusted with water, so slippery that even with using chakra, she couldn't walk on the surface without sliding.

Sakura had left early at noon that day. Her Shishou had demanded her to get the eucalyptus root which grew in the cracks of the rock behind the waterfall, claiming that it was a dire necessity for the perfection of her own solider pills. After Pain's attack on the village, the wounded were slowly starting to decrease thanks to the medical ninjas pulling longer hours. Unfortunately, many of these Shinobi had collapsed from chakra exhaustion. The eucalyptus root should make it so that the Chakra pills would help refuel their reserves within a few seconds; max.

A cave made out of rock- obsidian rock, hid behind the waterfall. So it was slippery, big deal- it least it wasn't glassy. But as to why the cave seemed to be made out of igneous rock and not a cooler granite base, she didn't know.

Sakura's eyes widened as she walked into the cave. In front of her was a statue made from pure white marble. It looked like a graph; or on second thought a shogi board. Sakura chuckled dryly, Shikamaru would have had field day with this. It didn't stand like most statues. Instead it lay flat against the ground, and had a red dash along the centerpiece. The herbs were adjacent to her, but this statue seemed far more interesting.

The dashes were actually kanji written messily. Sakura rubbed the rocks and leaves away from the dusty playing board and let her fingers trace the grooves as she read the words aloud "BEFORE THE HEROES."

Sakura frowned. What happened before the heroes? Who were the? Were they here? On a shogi board? In a cave? What was this place?

Before she could even begin to search for the answers to the questions forming in her mind, a bright white light emitted from the red kanji and appeared in front of her. She could feel the sucking, vacuuming, powerful force, trying to draw her in. Before she could even breathe- she was sucked into the portal.

Her ears rang. Sakura groaned.

What the hell happened?

Sakura blinked her eyes blearily as her sight started to sharpen and the blurry mass of green solidified. It looked like a forest- a forest that was right outside the gates of Konoha. How the hell did she get here? Sakura sat up, groaning at the strain on her ribs and reflexively raising her hand to fix it. All she remembered was a white light, blinding her vision and then a hard pull. Was the statue imbibed with some sort of transportation jutsu?

"Hey lady, are you okay?"

Sakura's eyes shot up and nearly dropped her jaw at the sight before her. A child no older than thirteen observed her with blank onyx eyes, small black onyx eyes and ohmygosh she knew those eyes.

"Kakashi?"

"Do I know you?" He asked, his mask muffling his immature voice.

Sakura swallowed thickly. Dear Kami, where the hell was she. Kakashi appeared to be around twelve and she had just turned twenty. She glanced at her surroundings; Kakashi seemed to be…alone. Maybe it's just in her head; maybe she hit her head harder than she thought.

"Er - you're kind of well known… with the female population?" Sakura trailed off, trying to rake her brain for some type of excuse.

Kakashi's eye twitched.

All of a sudden Sakura really wanted to laugh, because he looked so normal and cute and it was funny even though she was probably hallucinating and there was most likely something wrong with her head.

"So, um do you think you can take me to see the Hokage—my ribs are kind of sore." She said quietly. Actually, they were only sort of sore, but she needed really just needed something to touch that—had a grip on her sanity.

"Yeah, sure. Whatever." He grumbled, she had a Konoha headband, and she looked more lost than anything. He dragged her to the village gates and Sakura nearly stumbled, her legs almost giving out and her feet fumbling when she saw the Hokage Mountain, the three calm faces staring back at her from smooth stone. Sakura was on the brink of hyperventilating.

The white light could have been a portal. Sakura had read many, many scrolls as the Hokage's apprentice. Time-travel technically was not impossible. Everything became a blur because suddenly she was face to face with the Sandaime, her stomach somersaulting unpleasantly.

The Hokage had dismissed Kakashi, despite the nin's obliviousness, he couldn't exactly care for something ridiculous as a pink-haired nin—with the soundproof walls of the Hokage's office, she wasn't worried for something such as a leak.

Sakura's eyes widened when she remembered the statue's words. 'BEFORE THE HEROES.'

Could she really be stuck in the past?

"Hokage-sama." Sakura had said nervously, because oh God he's supposed to be dead. This was far too complex to be something of a dream, because he was here, in front of her breathing and with flesh on his arms. It wasn't like he was still in his casket with her throwing flowers on his corpse. She had to be rational. Time-travel is a possibility—hell if reanimation was possible—time-travel surly could be a prospect.

"Dear, are you from here?" The Hokage asked a bit suspiciously, blowing a puff of smoke from his cigar. He'd never seen anyone with pink hair before, which was odd, but what was more worrying that she had ANBU tattoo on her arm and he did not remember ever promoting her.

"Er well, I don't know how to explain this." Sakura inhaled, ignoring the nerves in her stomach that were starting to twist into knots, and tried to be calm, to think rationally, to sound sane.

"My name is Sakura Haruno, I'm an ANBU Medic Captain and I'm from the future."

She watched with a sudden flash of some type of amusement as his cigar fumbled in his hand and dropped to the ground. She had never seen any Hokage fumble and lose their composure. It was a novel experience. His eyes widened and she watched as flash of emotions passed through them.

"And I'm supposed to believe that?"

Sakura frowned, he would be a poor excuse for a Hokage if he didn't question her but it did make this more difficult. "Um, yeah? I have a scroll from the Fifth Hokage, in my pack, with my mission details."

Every mission that is enlisted by Konoha, the Hokage has to sign it, or it's illegal. It was a main element of the basic political system in Konoha.

She grabbed the scroll from her pouch, tossed it to the older man and watched as the Sandaime's eye twitched at the signature.

"Tsunade's the Hokage?"

She laughed despite the obvious incredulity of the situation, "Don't worry, she's actually doing a pretty good job at it." Her eyes twinkled in mirth.

'Only because she has Shizune and I. Otherwise I doubt Konoha would still be standing.'

He chuckled and then sighed, "This seems authentic, which unfortunately leaves us with a question: So what do you suppose we do now?"

Sakura looked slightly shocked that the Hokage had asked her what to do. He is the Hokage; shouldn't he be making the decisions?

The Sandaime knew that she was taken back when he asked her what she wanted to do, but it did seem more logical that Sakura make the decisions and steps right now, because the girl was from the future, and therefore probably knew more than he did. He couldn't tell her what to do.

She scratched the back of her head, much like Kakashi does when he's thinking. She could prevent Orochimaru's attack, get rid of Danzo and start taking out the Akatsuki. But damn, this is a mess. She had to think strategically now, because one simple thing could change the future.

Sakura grimaced; she really had to go back.

"I'm going to prevent a few wars, and hopefully go back to my own time." Sakura said and bit her lip. "I can't mess up the balance."

It's all she could say, because honestly she couldn't say she saw this coming.

"I understand, but Sakura you're human. You're going to make mistakes. If a few wars is what you're going to prevent, the future is going to be changed nonetheless." The Third started, he startled Sakura with his quick understanding of her hesitance and reluctance. "There probably is a reason you were sent back here."

Despite the turmoil that was curling her stomach, despite the anxiety she was feeling, despite the disbelief that had filtered throughout her system, she had to think. She had to numb her feelings because she was a shinobi, and she has to do her job. It didn't matter that she was just one person and it certainly did not matter that basically the future was on her shoulders—she couldn't sit back and do nothing. "Understood."

The Third nodded. "Now mind telling me what happens in the future?"

After finishing her tale, the Sandaime thought that it's for the best that only he knew she hailed from the future. But being ANBU Head Medic was something he needed to put into consideration. It didn't take a genius to figure out that she was Tsunade's successor. Despite the oddity of the situation, he had to keep her identity as much of a secret as possible, if she ended up in the wrong hands—only the Gods know what mayhem it would cause. But her medical skills were on par with Tsunade, and she wasn't living in the village—her help was needed. He could say that she was on a long-term undercover mission, thus diminishing speculation. But he needed someone—someone who was liked by everyone, someone who was loyal and if she was Tsunade's successor— he needed to summon the next best thing—his successor.

"Minato, this is Sakura. She recently returned from a long mission outside of Konoha." The Sandaime explained. "I want you to find her an apartment, preferably close to you." The Hokage smirked as he saw Sakura still. "I'm putting her on your ANBU Squad, but you'll still be in Team Minato."

Naturally, she assumed that he was ANBU, but he was wearing a Jounin vest meaning that he had a team, but if he was in ANBU, he was doing missions undercover—which meant that he was an important person in the Hokage's eyes.

Sakura really didn't like that grin the Third had painted on his face.

"Hokage-sama, this really isn't ne-"

"Of course, Hokage-sama. I'll take care of Pinky." The blonde-haired man said smiling slightly.

Sakura's eye twitched, "Who the hell do you think you're calling pinky, Blondie."

He smirked and turned his head toward her so she can finally see the bastard.

Sakura nearly swallowed her tongue. Bright, unruly blonde hair and electric blue eyes. He had thick lashes, a proud nose and thin lips. His jawline was well defined, fair skin and ridiculously tall.

This man is Adonis in the flesh.

"You're right." He said in smooth voice, it flowed like water and tickled her nerves.

Sakura smirked, idiot.

"I should be calling you forehead instead. I mean it's kind of noticeable- in case you haven't noticed." He grinned.

Sakura's jaw dropped and then she scowled. The audacity of this man! "Watch it you bastard before I break something that can't grow back." She felt a silver of satisfaction as he paled slightly.

The Third chuckled, "Now I'm sure you two, will get along swimmingly."

She just honestly hoped that the Hokage wasn't playing matchmaker.

"This is Forehead, she came back from a very long mission and she will be teaching you Rin. You may call her Sakura." Minato explained, as he pointed to the brooding pinkette that leaned against the tree glaring at the bastard.

"Then why do you call her forehead?" Obito asked, cocking his head to the side, he suddenly reminded her of a bird looking for bread that was scattered on the ground. She had to muffle a laugh.

Minato swiftly avoided a kunai that was thrown to his head and raised a brow at the woman. Honestly, did he not find any wrong in that sentence he said? "Because she doesn't like the term girlfriend."

"EXCUSE ME?"

He ignored her and looked at his students with a cherry grin and continued, "Besides I find it incredibly-"

A fist that aimed at his spine cut him off; he twisted her wrist up so that her torso slammed against his and her head near his.

He greedily drank in her furious face.

Long bright rosy hair that barely swept her waist, dark emerald orbs that sparkled with irritation and annoyance, alabaster skin, dainty structured bone structure and soft pink pouty lips.

She's the epitome of Konoha.

His home. His village. Everything that he represented, everything that he stood for. Something that he would protect till he died. In that moment she was the Will of Fire, —that spark, that light, that fire that kept burning and burning until it was acknowledged by everything and everyone.

Beautiful.

"If you are done drooling Blondie, I would like my wrist back." She growled, her breath hitting his mouth like a cool mist. Before he could retaliate she drew her foot back and snapped it forward, only to have his thigh nudge his way in between hers.

His reflexes were so damn fast!

"You were saying." He said softly, his azure orbs melting into her jade ones. He watched her cheeks turn a soft rosy color as he rubbed the inside of her thigh with his left leg.

"Dammit, let me go!" She shrieked, she slammed her foot into the ground as fissures of earth crumbled between the both of them and he was forced to release her.

She stood in the middle of the smooth rock of her earthquake and clenched her fists. "You asshole, I'll rip you to shreds!"

Minato widened his eyes at the insane strength she had in such a petite body. The fact there was not any chakra in that attack… just brute strength, surprised him.

She must be really holding back.

Sakura looked back. The genin had their jaws on the ground and had paled slightly at the amount of destruction she had unleashed.

Then Minato grinned cheekily and it reminded her of the blonde that's waiting back for her in her time, not this one. It left a pang in her chest, but she refused to have it show on her face.

"You can't even touch me."

Sakura really hated him; she didn't care if he is pretty, and her captain. She would enjoy pounding his conceding, obnoxious and goddam irritating face into the ground.

"I may be slightly drained of chakra, but I can pound your pretty face into the dirt!"

His grin widened. "You think my face is pretty."

A statement. Not a question.

Sakura sputtered. No one had ever riled her up this much before. The tips of her ear burned red. "Did you just ignore everything I said?"

"Of course not! I'm just more concerned at the fact that you think my face is pretty!"

From the sidelines Obito, Kakashi and Rin watched with some type of horrific amusement.

"Kakashi, have you ever seen Minato-sensei speak to a woman like that before?" Obito asked slightly fearing the pink-haired woman's wrath.

"I didn't know he spoke to the female race." He said blandly.

"Shut up, Kakashi," Rin said, glaring at him.


Please review!

Edited: August 9, 2015

Beta: Lionswing (love)