Tree of Might
The sky is dark and the village should be lit with lights flooding out through the windows of the houses. There should be lanterns lit at every corner, there should be life—casual laughter of people heading home, going out for a night of adventure; there should be a buzz of conversation. There should be so many things but there's nothing at all.
The houses are dark, unoccupied. They're all empty and the ones that are not have broken soldiers too tired to even bother with lights. The lanterns are but a fading orange glow, never reaching out of its diameter and making Konoha look as dead as it actually is.
Everyone is dead and the ones that still rise every morning are dead inside.
Sakura stands at the highest tower of her village, short pink hair whipping around her like an unwanted halo. Her hands are clenched at her sides and she wonders if this should even be called a victory, if every breath taken by those that have survived is worth the life it pumps into their lungs. If giving up and standing down is as pathetic as it once was or if it is now a noble act.
The war has been won—but has it really, she wonders.
Just about everyone she has once cared about is dead and she's alone, a sorry excuse of a village in her hands and a title she has never wanted hanging over her head. It leaves a bitter taste in her mouth and salty trails down her cheeks at the reminder that holding the title—standing in her current position—should be someone else.
"Naruto is dead," she reminds the night as she does every other night.
Her teammate, this ray of sunshine that had grown to be her idiot brother, is gone. He won't smile at her and reassure her that everything will be okay, even when she didn't need any reassurance anymore. He won't stand in the middle of a crowd, torn between sucking in the glory and the acknowledgement or curling into himself from the weight of such a massive amount of attention.
She won't watch him grow and live his dream.
Instead, Haruno Sakura is living it for him.
"We need to show these survivors that there is still a reason to live!"
Sakura turns to stare out the window and down at the village, her chin on her palm, fingers drumming against her lips. Konoha is as sunny as it always is, the sky a clear blue and without a single cloud in sight. A part of her wants to smile. But smiling seems like too much work.
"Sakura-sama, it is your job as Hokage to be an inspiration! You should be an example of perseverance and instead you're wallowing in your own pity!"
She turns to stare at the woman—she is pretty, white hair and dark skin, pretty black eyes and the fierce determination to make everything right again. She is from Kumogakure and she lives up to everything that has been rumored about the village and so much more; there is no Kumogakure anymore, but she seems to forget that. Sakura can't even remember her name.
"Raikage is dead," Sakura spits out without remorse. "Just like my Hokage, just like the Tsuchikage, just like the Mizukage and just like the Kazekage. They are all dead and all that is left is me. I have five titles over my head and a handful of shinobis to watch spin in their own downward spiral. My job, woman, is to give the illusion that everything is okay and you know what? Nothing is. So stand down and know your place before you even start yelling at me about issues I am trying to deal with!"
She sits back down, the squeak of her chair swallowing Shikamaru's snort, from her right side. The woman lifts her chin up in the air, in defiance, and sits straight in her seat.
"You have not taken care of the prisoner," she begins, her tone clinical. "It has been months since the war has ended and you have not brought him up as a topic of conversation in none of the meetings. He's dangerous."
"He's a prisoner," Temari states.
"He must be taken down," the Kumogakure native goes on. "Are you hesitating out of sympathy for an old teammate? He ki—"
"He killed Naruto," Sakura interrupts, "I know. He's a teammate that has killed a teammate and he must be handled. But this is still a village and we are going to act as such. A trial will be held."
"Sakura," Shikamaru begins.
With nothing left to say and the telltale feeling of bile rising up her throat, Sakura stands from her seat and walks away.
Sakura had been the one to find them.
Running and limping, bleeding and trying to suck in air to breathe, greedy and desperate.
Blood had been splattered everywhere, and a gaping hole where Naruto's chest—his heart—should have been. There had been no Madara left, but the ashes dancing in the wind had implied a lot and not too far from Naruto's body had laid Sasuke, as pale as ever and his limbs shaking as he stared up at the blackened sky.
"How could you," she'd screeched, choking on her sobs and tears. "How could you?!"
She'd grabbed his shirt, yanked him back and forth, repeating the question out of desperation and out of her inconsolable hysteria.
"You'd come back! You stood next to us—you were back, Sasuke, how… How c-could you?!"
He hadn't responded, his eyes glazed and his face devoid of emotion. He looked dead as dead could be but his heart was still beating, under her hands, and he had been breathing yet he looked so dead. She'd cried on his chest, clenching his tattered shirt, sobbing and crying out Naruto's name as if lost—and, Christ, if she hadn't been.
Blood still makes her stop, still makes her curl into herself, still makes her shake, still makes her cry.
She walks up to the caves a week later. The caves were special jail cells for those criminals that need to be in complete isolation—created by the merciless Danzou, of course. And Sakura numbs herself by thinking of the poor fool—Danzou, founder and leader of the now dead ROOT, who only wanted the best for his village but did it in the worst ways possible. The man that ordered a mere boy to massacre his entire family.
Danzou could be looked as a respective hero, by most—the ideal stoic shinobi.
Sakura sees him as a complete fool, a murderer and a monster.
But they are all monsters, aren't they?
How is she any better than the dead man?
She's walking up to the caves to interrogate someone she has loved for years and is quite positive she'd love for a thousand more—she's preparing his trial and his execution.
How is she any better?
Sakura sighs, closing her eyes as she pauses at the mouth of the only cave occupied, gathering her center and her composure and her resolve. She must be careful, she knows—Sakura wears her heart on her sleeve and she knows herself enough to know she'd give it right back to the only man that's ever held it.
Foolish, she tells herself, snapping her eyes open and lifting her chin up in defiance as she heads inside.
The cave is cold, moist and dark with only a series of lit torches hanging off the walls with a decent amount of space in between them. Sakura walks with cautious steps, making sure the soles of her boots didn't cause an echo to alert the prisoner at the very end of the cave.
When she sees him she bites her lower lip until it bleeds.
His head is dipped low; chin resting against his chest. The heavy iron chains nailed to the cave's wall lead to the back of his neck, chained to a thick collard around his throat. Sakura holds her breath in, studying his pale skin and all the battle scars that litter his bare chest. He shifts, the chains clasped on his writs by iron bracelets clink against each other.
The sharp clang echoes in the quiet cave.
Sakura isn't sure how long she stands there, quiet, studying him, biting her tender lip, swallowing her own blood and blinking back her tears.
"I know you know I'm here," she whispers, clearing her throat in her attempts to regain her composure. "Sasuke-kun."
He doesn't respond, settling into shifting again so the chains could sing up an answer for him. She crosses her arms in front of her chest, looking away and willing her strength to surface. She swallows, furrowing her brow and clenching her jaw taut. She is Hokage, now—in charge of cleaning the last bit of the aftermath and leading her soldiers into a brighter future. She can do this… She can do this…
"You're going to be given a trial," she states, cracking her knuckles to distract herself from her dissolving resolve. "For the murder of Uzumaki Naruto."
Silence is his response and Sakura feels a spark of anger; she desperately grasps for it, fanning it and forcing it to grow into wild flames so she can have the strength to deal with the one person she throws caution to the wind for every single moment of her life. She can do this… She can do this…
"I didn't kill him."
Sakura loses her senses and punches him.
He slowly lifts his head up, his skin looking close to translucent against his messy dark hair. His eyes are wrapped with binds but he faces her way; Sakura isn't surprised, Sasuke has always been perceptive, the mere fact he could find her by just following her voice isn't impressive, not when she knows he can kill and coat his hands in blood and be okay with it, not when she's experienced, first hand, all the pain he can cause. The fact that he can find her position when he might as well be called a blind man is nothing compared to all Uchiha Sasuke can do.
"Why did you do it?"
"I said I didn't."
"Don't lie to me," she screams, her voice reverberating around the cave.
He doesn't flinch and Sakura isn't surprised. No—she's the one that flinches and he's the one that stands as still as the night. She breathes hard, trying to gather herself once again. She closes her eyes, slowly exhales and stands straight, beginning to pace and trying to find a way to get him to admit the greatest mistake he's ever made.
"Sasuke-kun," she begins. "You have to tell me why you killed Naruto. If you continue to refuse, I may have to bring in actual interrogators—"
"I said I didn't," he repeats, tone smoky and smooth.
Sakura stares at him, lower lip quivering and annoyance—both with him and herself—skyrocketing. This is why she'd pushed dealing with this to the back of her mind—her emotions aren't stable enough, yet, loss still fills her lungs and despair still wraps itself around her mind like a belt. Dealing with Sasuke… It's still as hard as it has always been.
She turns around and walks out without a single word.
She returns three days later and, this time, not alone.
They walk in silence, steps solid and confident. Sakura walks without blinking her eyes, hands clenching and unclenching at her sides. She's putting on a show for the person accompanying her, regardless of the thought—the fact—that she doesn't have to. Not with this person—not with Yamanaka Ino. But Sakura still hunches over with the weight of everything she's carrying and she doesn't want to look incompetent in front of the person that made her who she is in terms of confidence and inner strength.
But Ino walks with grace, next to her, shoulders squared, chin stabbing the air, eyes as blue as ever and the cloud of benevolence gone and replaced with clinical disdain. Her hair dances behind her like a pendulum, her interrogation uniform dark and harsh against her pale skin.
Sakura furrows her brow, straightens herself and leads her to where Sasuke sat, chained up and blinded, wearing nothing but a pair of nin-pants riding low on his hips.
"Sasuke-kun," she says. She freezes upon watching, from her peripheral vision, Ino whip her head to stare at her, eyes growing a bit wide and thin lips cracking open. Sakura clears her throat. "I have brought my interrogator."
"Ino," he drawls, shifting so he'd lean back against the wall of the cave. His chains sang the song of a dead man.
"Sasuke," Ino says, voice like liquid gold. "As an interrogator I am to explain my manner of working."
Sakura crosses her arms in front of her chest, reminding herself that he killed Naruto, repeating it like a mantra, so she can gather the strength to be as strong as she is supposed to be, as strong as she knows she can be.
"I will use my Shintenshin to infiltrate not just your body, but your mind and your memories. Everything you hide will be known to me, every secret—like why you killed Naruto."
Sasuke shifts, again, tilting his head and raising an eyebrow.
Sakura wonders if, had his eyes not been covered, he would be glaring at them or if his face would be void of emotions—impassive like he'd looked when he'd join their forces against the Juubi and Uchiha Madara.
"Are you prepared for this," Ino asks, "Or are you willing to speak for yourself and keep your privacy?"
He does not respond.
Sakura and Ino turn to face each other, their eyes locking and having a silent conversation. They turn back to face Sasuke's unmoving form and Sakura takes a deep breath as Ino raises her hands, forming the seal for her clan's jutsu and preparing to catch her limp body when she breaks away to enter Sasuke's.
"I'll speak," he says just as Ino is pumping her chakra to complete the jutsu.
Sakura places a hand on Ino's shoulder. "Wait."
"I'll say everything that happened," he elaborates, lifting his head up to face them. "But I want these binds cut off."
"Thank you, Ino," she says, dropping her hand back to her side. "But I don't think your services will be needed after all."
Ino nods her head, slowly, her eyes glued onto Sasuke for a minute longer before she turns around. She pauses and turns to stare at Sakura, her eyes imploring as she relied a silent warning. She leaves with the echo of her footsteps as her escort.
Sakura slowly turns to face Sasuke again, cracking her knuckles and walking over to him. She allows a current of chakra to coat her hands as she grazes her fingers against the white wrappings around his eyes, watching as they fell from his face, down to his chest and lying on his lap.
He opened his eyes, blinking them and narrowing them down as he tries to adjust himself. In the end, they land on her, never breaking away even as he begins to softly tell her a story.
Somewhere along the battle, Sakura got lost and broken away from the recently reborn Team Seven, fighting her own battle and destroying everything in sight with her recently released Yin Seal.
Sasuke and Naruto tagged team their way towards the Juubi, fighting it with everything they had—Chidori, Rasengan, and everything else they had to offer. Sasuke had been enveloped by a dark, purple chakra, a skeleton-like being hovering around him protectively and delivering blows that made the Juubi screech in utter pain, deafening the Alliance and causing some to drop to the ground from the force.
They'd taken care of it, unsurprisingly. They'd bled, they sprained and broken and dislocated limbs but they won and suddenly victory became a bit brighter, strengthening the willpower to fight.
At some point everything goes wrong and the impending victory looks farther away; the predecessors are suddenly gone and it is up to Naruto and Sasuke to defeat.
The battle against Madara is as difficult as expected; he toys with them, half-battered from his previous battle against the Shodai. Naruto wills his Kyuubi chakra to resurface and Sasuke's Susanoo returns and as bruised and broken as they already were, they fought as best they could, coming at the man from left and right and front and back, never giving him a chance to breathe.
Naruto sacrificed himself.
He pounded his most powerful Rasengan into Madara's chest and though it dropped the man to his knees, it didn't kill him.
"Sasuke," Naruto growls through his teeth. "Do it!"
Sasuke swayed in his stance, his Sharingan eyes wide as the gravity of the situation settles in between his bones. Naruto was as good as gone—they both know it. He had his arm elbow-deep into Madara's chest, missing anything vital by an inch. He was caught in the man's grasp and anything Madara could will himself to do would end Naruto.
He had been as good as gone.
"Do it!" He screamed and Sasuke willed his Chidori to rise, pouring every ounce of chakra into it, the screech of a thousand birds growing—piercing ear drums.
Sasuke sprinted towards them, shoving his Chidori into Naruto's back, out his chest and into Madara's.
Naruto had coughed out blood, had given a short, wet chuckle and muttered a last, "Good…"
He'd drop forwards as Madara turned into ash and Sasuke flew back, limbs spread, eyes dead as he stared at the sky.
That's how Sakura had found them.
Sakura shakes as she stands before him, every limb in her body shaking as she rides a wave of panic attacks. She is wary, angry, heartbroken and torn—she is so goddamn torn about what all this can mean, about believing Sasuke, about him lying, about killing him and thus becoming the last sole survivor of the infamous Team Seven.
"You're lying to me," she whispers, shaking her head and slowly crumbling down onto her knees. "You're lying to me."
Sasuke doesn't break his eyes from hers. He doesn't respond and he doesn't move, just watches her with his dark eyes—looking sad, as if he knows the secrets of the world and they aren't any good ones and he grows saddened for humanity. But Sasuke… he cannot feel such a thing for anyone… Sasuke thinks about no one but himself and—
"You're lying," she repeats, her voice rising as she feels tears stream down her cheeks. "Naruto wouldn't—"
She shakes her head, sobbing. She doesn't know what to think.
Naruto was selfless… But would he sacrifice himself for everyone else? Sacrifice his dreams and his future for the sake of giving everyone else to live theirs?
Sakura curls into herself and cries. Sasuke watches her the entire time, his jaw clenched and his fingers fiddling with each other. She doesn't compose herself until she's sure she's run out of tears to cry, sniffing, and hiding her face in her hands.
All she has is Sasuke's words and he has never been a liar.
She sniffs, dropping her hands and staring at him with her bloodshot eyes. "He sacrificed himself…?"
He nods, his chains ringing lightly.
And Sakura believes him.
They sit around the thick oak desk; the Hokage and the five representative of what used to be the other hidden villages of the Alliance—the new council. Sakura slowly turns to face the Kumogakure woman, licking her lower lip and furrowing her brow. She feels the eyes of the others on her and she slowly begins to grow tense. With all that Sasuke has told her, she still has no proof that his words could be trusted, despite if she believes them.
"What is the verdict?" the woman continues. "When is the trial being held?"
"I have not finished interrogating the prisoner," Sakura begins, calmly.
"How can you not be finished!?" the Kumo woman demands. "What is there to interrogate, to begin with—he killed Uzumaki Naruto, one of the two jinchuuriki that we were fighting for, the boy that saved us; your teammate!"
There is silence in the room and Sakura fears the edge of the table will break as she held onto it in her attempts to control herself.
"You cannot bring out your sympathy for this man," the woman continues, a bit more calmly. "You must set aside anything else and execute him for the greater good of this village's future."
"You are misinterpreting my intentions," Sakura argues.
"And what are your intentions, Sakura-sama?" the Kirigakure native asks, pushing his glasses up his nose.
She turns to him and then spares each individual a glance—Temari and Shikamaru eye her with a gleam of worry in their eyes but Sakura ignores them, standing up and placing her hands on the surface of the table. She spared them all glances, again, holding onto their stairs for a minute or two to give them a sense that she knows what she is doing.
"I am interrogating him about his time away from our village, before this war—"
"And what does that all matter now?" the Iwa woman asks.
Sakura lifts her chin up, "Documentation, of course."
There is silence in the room as they all give each other glances.
She walks up to the cave a few days later, her steps losing their caution and hurriedness taking its place.
Sakura knows she is foolish—knows she's returned her heart back into his chained hands and that if she is not careful, she'll wind up hurt again. Like she always has and like she always will. But she doesn't care, and that is the difference this time around.
"Sasuke-kun," she greets, walking until she's inches away from him.
He looks up at her, his eyes following her movements as she settles down onto the ground. "Sakura."
She stares at him, wishing to move his messy hair out of his face and admire how his boyish features have all gone away, replaced by the sharp angles of a young man, the shadows of his life hiding in the bags under his eyes. She sighs, slumping her shoulder and throwing her title as kage out of the cave.
Here, she is Sakura.
Here, she is still just a mere girl trying to recover from a war.
Here, she doesn't have to think about anyone but herself.
"I am going to try and find a way to save you," she says, the first time she admits it both aloud and to herself. "I've convinced the council—"
"Why do you want to save me?"
She feels tears prickle her eyes, finding his piercing stare and locking it with hers. "Because you're Sasuke-kun."
Sasuke furrows his brow, his lips parting as if he's going to say something. He pauses before he settles for asking, "Why are you Hokage?"
And Sakura wishes she knew.
"Because I made the most logical sense," she finally says, repeating the words said in the room where she was elected.
He scoffs and Sakura smiles, wobbly.
"If only they knew I make no sense when it comes to you."
She visits him daily under the masquerade of interrogating him. No one questions her intentions or ask anything about her meeting with Uchiha Sasuke.
Sakura spends time with him, telling him stories of all that happened in the village while he was out, all the things Naruto got himself into, how he left the village, as well, to train with Jiraiya. She tells him of her time training with Tsunade, how her abilities finally made sense, how she grew in more ways than one and how she began to store chakra ever since and didn't unleash it even once until the battle that ended the war.
She tells him of the missions she and Naruto went through, after his return, about saving Gaara and defeating Sasori of Akatsuki and everything she can think of.
Sasuke listens, quiet as he always is, sometimes grunting, sometimes asking questions when he wants her to elaborate on something—like her training and her fight against Sasori or her time with Naruto.
Sakura manages to get a few things out of him, his unwillingness to kill unless he needs to, about Karin and Suigetsu and Juugo, about Kabuto and he even briefly brushes upon the topic of Itachi. He tells her of his meeting with the predecessors, and all the stories and justifications they told him. He tells her about Danzou and about his state of mind when she arrived and they tried to kill each other.
They speak about their attempts at each other's lives—and the inability to do it.
Sakura finds herself curled against him one day, about two weeks after he confessed to how Naruto's death went about.
He doesn't say anything at their close proximity, settling into staring at the dark mouth of the cave.
They find shelter in each other, Sakura knows; they find their sanity and a way to forget their faults, all their mistakes and all their sadness. Talking is optional, but the silence is filled with more conversations than anything they can ever outright say. Sakura closes her eyes, feeling the rhythm of his breathing.
"I love you," she says because she does. She loves him, she's loved him for years and she'll love him for a thousand more and she knows this. She'll never stop, and she knows this.
He stiffens for a millisecond before he relaxes; he says nothing and Sakura is okay with this—
And she smiles.
She kisses him on a Friday.
It's soft and hesitant, her lips pressed against his and her breath caught in the hollow of her throat. His chains drag under her as she straddles him, his nails grazing the back of her legs. Sakura pulls away, her eyes wide and her lips parted as she stared at him.
"I'm sorry," she says, scrambling off him.
He catches her hand with his, yanking her back and pressing his lips against hers.
Her hands feather up and down his body, fingering the sharp angles of his lean muscles, the jagged remnants of his scars—memorizing him in every single way she possible can. He shivers under her touch, head dipped down, facing away. Sakura trembles as she straddles his legs, hiding her face in his throat, nails digging into his skin.
She pulls away, looks at him and gasping as he kisses her, as awkward as they have both been these past few days of testing their limits, the shallow water they both walk over.
But Sakura throws caution to the wind, once again, and gives herself heart and soul and everything in between.
"We can't take this anymore," the woman from Kumogakure says.
Sakura stares at her, green eyes wide and lips parted. "Excuse me?"
"You're fraternizing with the prisoner! It's written all over your face!"
Sakura shakes her head, "No—why would… Why would I do that?"
The woman from Kumo stands from her seat, slamming her hands on the table with force. "Enough is enough! We are going up there and handling this as silently as possible! It all ends here!"
"No!" Sakura stands from her seat. "Shikamaru! Temari! Please!"
They look away as they all head off towards the cave. Sakura panics, looking around the empty room before sprinting in a different direction, willing herself to arrive to the cave before any of them did. Her limbs shook as a panic attack settled in but she pushes it all away just as she pushes her tears and rushes to Sasuke.
She arrives, but they are already there.
Sakura storms into the cave, pushes through the Iwa woman and the Kiri man, stands in front of Sasuke as a shield.
"You don't understand!"
"Sakura," Shikamaru says, sighing. "I'm sorry… But this has to be stopped."
"No, listen to me," she stresses, "He didn't kill him—he didn't kill Naruto! He sacrificed himself!"
The five members of the council stare at her, each with looks of outrage mixed with disbelief. Sakura feels her heartbeat escalate, ramming itself against her chest and trying to find its way out. Tears prickle her eyes as they stare at her in utter rage but Sakura is telling the truth—she feels it to the very marrow of her bones.
Sasuke did not kill Naruto.
"Are you listening to yourself!?" the Iwa woman demands. "You cannot be trusted—you're unreliable now, Sakura-sama."
"She's not lying," Sasuke mutters, behind her.
"You have no say in this," the Kumo woman spits out.
"You have to believe me," Sakura emphasizes, turning to Shikamaru and Temari who are the two of the council that she knows in a more personal level. "Please. He didn't do it."
Shikamaru holds her stare for a second before he turns and walks away, shaking his head and unable to deal with where things were leading to. Temari does not look at her as she turns and goes after him. Sakura chokes on a sob, turning to face the mercy of the three remaining councilmen.
"Please," she whispers.
"You have failed in your duties," the Kumo woman says. "You have fraternized with the prisoner and nukenin, murderer of Uzumaki Naruto while working under the title of Hokage."
"Please," Sakura continues, taking a step towards them.
"You are here by condemned—found guilty to your charges and your failure," the Iwa woman continues. "Haruno Sakura, you are to be executed as is Uchiha Sasuke."
"No! You can't—"
She is cut off by her own gasp as a senbon pierces into her chest. She slowly looks down, watching as the senbon drips a purple liquid—poison. She shudders, exhaling as she drops to her knees, torso leaning back, head tilted back as she stares up at the ceiling.
"Sakura!" Sasuke calls out behind her, his chains singing a hymn as they rattle with his movements.
Sakura is still coherent enough to watch as another senbon is thrown—lodging into Sasuke's own chest.
She gasps, again, raising a hand up as her councilmen begin to walk away. She drops her hand when they are out of reach and out of sight, turning towards Sasuke and crawling towards him.
"Poison," she whispers, stumbling and falling onto him. The senbon digs deeper into her chest. "I—I'm sorry."
"Sakura," he says, swallowing thickly. He gasps, softly, for air. "I… Thank you."
She sobs, dropping her head as she whispers, "I have loved you for a thousand years."
The world grows dark.
So, because I feel like I need to explain my thought process when I wrote this, I decided to put my notes at the bottom. First and foremost, this was written for SasuSaku Headcanons in honor of SasuSaku Month. I was given a prompt (a summary, if you will) and I had to write a fic and TADA! Now, some things, in numerical fashion, shall we~
1. Something us SasuSaku fans know is that Sakura is in love with Sasuke. It has been said more than once throughout the entire manga so I feel like I don't need to explain Sakura's course of action, hm? If anything, though, my argument is Sakura is all heart, traitorous as it might be.
2. The "government" worked as such: Sakura was Hokage. As such, I gave her four "representatives" or "advisers", take your pick. One for each village; Temari was the adviser from Suna, Shikamaru was the adviser from Konoha, Chōjūrō was the adviser from Kiri and Mabui was the adviser from Kumo. I am ignoring the fact that Mabui is dead in canon because I needed a Kumo-nin.
3. Shikamaru. I feel like I have to explain him in the last part, though his actions can be up to interpretation, I want to say what I think his reasons were for doing what he did. You don't have to agree, in fact, I encourage you not to. But Shikamaru is all brains. Tactics. Sakura's all heart. He knew she was done for. But that's not why he did what he did. He did it because I like to believe the Konoha 12 are family. I also like to believe the Rookie Nine are way closer since they've known each other since they were kiddies. Shikamaru's all brains but as we saw how he spiraled after Asuma's death, he's also heart. Sakura is family. Do you think Shikamaru would have liked to see her get killed? He had to step out before he did something stupid.
4. As for Temari, idk. You take your pick there. (:
5. Yes, you can die by a poisonous senbon, I asked and I researched. No, I'm not wrong.
With that, thank you for reading. I know, I adore breaking hearts *flips hair*
Please review and tell me what you thought!