It came as no surprise to me that the time travel story won. I love them too. But I'm writing the other stories anyway because it was a close race.
I owe this whole story to Angellwriter, who left me the best review ever, the one with the idea for this story, and who doesn't mind my adopting her ideas. And I recommend you go read her newly posted story Following the Blind. It's a unique adaptation of her family's history tweaked to fight Sakura and Sasuke and promises to be great.
Thunder rumbled. Lightning flashed. The wind blew at insane speeds. The earth shook with tremors.
It was not a storm. It wasn't a freakish once in a lifetime occurrence of weird weather. It wasn't the apocalypse. It was a battle to save the world, or what was left of it.
Three figures watched the battle that would determine the fate of the world from a distance. Even over the deafening noise they could hear Naruto's pleas.
"Haven't you destroyed enough, Sasuke? Haven't you gotten your revenge? Konoha's gone. You razed it to the ground. What more do you want?"
The last Uchiha laughed cruelly. "What more do I want? I want what happened to my clan, to me and Itachi, to never happen again. And if I have to destroy the world and rebuild it to do so, then so be it."
Naruto's face hardened and his heart clenched painfully. Why couldn't Sasuke see beyond his hatred? Why did he still need revenge for an event that happened over a decade ago? Why couldn't he see that constantly chasing after revenge would only continue to hurt him? If Sasuke had just left it alone, never vowed to kill his brother, Konoha would still exist and Kakashi would still be alive. He could have had a family in them; him, Kakashi, and Sakura.
Sakura took a step closer to her blonde teammate. This battle was reaching its crescendo. She could see it in their posture and feel it the intense buildup of chakra.
Lightning chirped in Sasuke's palm. Naruto's Rasengan screeched as it whirled. Sakura had a brief flashback to that day on the roof, when she had foolishly run between her two teammates to prevent them from killing each other, only to be stopped by Kakashi-sensei throwing them to the ground.
Kakashi wasn't here this time. And she wasn't going to get between them.
That didn't stop her from crying again. Even after all these years, it wasn't easy to let go of the bonds she had made on Team Seven. She watched through watery eyes as black and orange clashed and the force of the jutsus colliding flung them apart.
Hating herself for agreeing to Naruto's plan, Sakura raced in Sasuke's direction. Sakura had memorized the anatomy of the human body, everything from cells to chakra coils, and she could hit the chakra point of the heart with the accuracy of a Hyuuga.
Sasuke doubled over, coughing blood. Naruto staggered over, collapsing next to him. Sakura tried. Stars, she tried, but not even with the Kyuubi's help could Naruto survive a hole in the chest. The Chidori had blown right through him, incinerating everything. Sakura could not heal what did not exist.
Sakura's attention returned to Sasuke as he coughed once more. She stared in awe at his receding Curse Seal. As the Curse Seal disappeared his expression changed. He was the old Sasuke again, but it was too late. As he choked out a broken 'sorry' they knew they hadn't killed the man who had a hand in enslaving the world; they had killed a comrade, a friend.
"Don't worry about it, teme. I told you, the next time we fought, we would both die. I promised to shoulder your hatred and die with you. And I never break a promise."
"You told me a first class ninja can read his opponent's heart just by trading blows with him once. I've seen inside your heart. You're not evil, or even corrupted. You were manipulated. You were a victim, and no one ever saw that you were healed. We're friends. Family."
Tears slipped silently down Sakura's cheeks. The three observer's shunshined to Team Seven's side, noting the three's clasped hands. Neither Naruto nor Sakura would leave Sasuke alone to die. Kakashi had taught them better than that. They did not leave comrades behind. That was not their way.
"I think we should give it a try."
Three heads whipped to gaze at Shikamaru, who shrugged. It was a jutsu Gaara had found in the Kazekage's archives. It was an experimental jutsu, untested, extremely dangerous, and designed accidently by a man trying to improve upon Shukaku's seal.
Instead he had created an extremely complex time travel jutsu. So complex that it was impossible to use without risking the lives of the casters. Shikamaru had found several flaws the first time he read the scroll. To start, it was a Five Element Seal, meaning it needed a different person to represent each seal. Second, it needed more chakra than one person had to activate. Third, it needed a level of chakra control that rivaled Tsunade.
Essentially the jutsu needed six people to cast just to send one person into the past. And the more they tried to send through time, the more chakra that was needed. Unfortunately, they did not have six people. Also, both Naruto and Temari had Wind natured chakra. That wouldn't have been a problem if Naruto had the control necessary. If he did, he would have been able to power the jutsu and they would only need to find a survivor with Fire natured chakra. The Kyuubi was Fire natured, but a clone would not work. Seals required blood, which Shadow Clones did not have.
"But we have nobody for Fire."
It was ironic that Shikamaru was suggesting it, because he had spent the last five years since Gaara had found it warning them that it was too risky and that they should just destroy it. "What do we have left to lose? What's the worst that could happen? It doesn't work and we have to rebuild the world? It kills us? Whatever the outcome, it's better that we can say we tried to save the world."
Sakura and Naruto immediately gave their agreement. Not even in the death of Kakashi or Konoha or the world or Sasuke himself would they leave a teammate behind. They could save Sasuke.
Reluctantly the others did too. Gaara worked quickly to assemble the pieces of the seal. He distributed four smaller scrolls to Temari, Shikamaru, Sakura, and Naruto, and kept the fifth for himself. They were representing Wind, Lightning, Water, Fire, and Earth respectively. He only hoped, as he and Sakura raised Naruto in order to slide the central scroll beneath him, that he could use the Kyuubi's chakra to satisfy the element part of the seal and to power it.
"Sasuke." Sakura worried her lip.
"I still have some chakra."
Temari's eyes softened slightly. She had never cared for the Uchiha, aside from the fact that Naruto kept chasing after him. She never imagined their bonds would be this strong.
Shikamaru's eyes, on the other hand narrowed. It certainly was the ideal solution. There would be no, less, chances for mistakes if Sasuke activated the Fire scroll. "You won't be coming with us Uchiha."
Sasuke rolled his eyes. He may not have the Nara's IQ of over two hundred, but he wasn't stupid. Even if he had enough chakra to survive, he knew the only ones that trusted him were Naruto and Sakura. The other three would never agree to let him join them. His team was ready to forgive and forget, but Shikamaru at least would never forget that he was responsible for his village's destruction.
"Teme." 'Thank you, Sasuke. This time I'll save you. Believe it.'
"Dobe." 'Whatever, Naruto. Just don't screw up this time.'
"Don't start." 'I can kill as easily as I heal. Don't think I won't beat the crap out of you. I don't care if you're the Hokage or your past self didn't do it.'
The three of them shared a smile. They all understood it to say we'll meet again, one way or another.
Gaara yelled for them to begin. Five colors of chakra arced into the sky, meeting at the center and forming a cage around them. The Kyuubi's chakra then washed over them, saturating the air. In no time at all they had vanished in an orange light, leaving behind the last Uchiha, whose body had given out power part of the jutsu.
Sasuke died with the smallest of smiles present on his face, placing his faith in Naruto and Sakura to change the future.