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Old 01-12-2009, 11:22 AM   #22
thegodfather2450
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Re: Shade of the Leaf

chapter14:
Unfortunately, she didn't have time to hide in her room. Life had stopped giving her those little moments to herself when she turned twelve and lost her childhood to being a shinobi. With the Jounin trials coming soon, Sakura found herself splitting her time with Tsunade in the hospital and on the practice field learning moves her master thought were important when she wasn't chasing Sound ninja with her team. She stumbled home every night, wondering if Kakashi had ever been such a taskmaster. Thankfully, Shizune, knowing both Sakura and Tsunade too well, brought them meals. Sakura never had the energy to cook once she returned home, and would have lived off of trail rations had the kind medic nin not made a point to feed them at least once a day. Once or twice a week she would find herself eating ramen with Naruto and Sasuke, or whatever place Sasuke badgered Naruto into going instead. Those moments were hardly ever long enough for more than inhaling lunch and asking a few questions before she was out the door again. More embarrassing had been the time she had just fallen asleep against Sasuke for the entire lunch hour, waking up with just enough time to inhale an onigiri or two before going back to work.

She was highly suspicious of Naruto being behind her making it to her bed every night. Her memories of the past month held the vague impression of warmth and the wild, woodsy scent that she associated with Naruto was sometimes on her pillows. Some nights, the couch was the farthest she could manage to coach her tired, aching legs to carry her. She would have crashed on her floor if there had even been a rug. If Tsunade made training any more difficult, she was going to borrow a futon from Ino and throw it into her living room.

Sakura would have pulled her own hair out if she hadn't been able to see the differences in herself with the extra training. As a child she would have wailed at her shoulders and upper arms, worried that they made her look like a man. Even though her chakra control was damn near perfect, it was important that she had larger reserves and the stamina to use what she had. More importantly still, she had to be able to handle the strain of a hard fight and be able to save the lives of her two teammates. That pushed her more than anything. Strength training was a big part of that. Now she looked at herself and saw something her childhood self would have been horrified at, but the woman she was could find satisfaction in.

Three days from now was the Jounin exams.

XxXxXxXxXx

Sakura recognized the smell before anything really registered. It was as familiar as her favorite perfume and it clung to everything that it touched: antiseptic, blood, and the faintest scent of heated air that came with chakra use. The only question was, what was she doing in the hospital? Her short-term memory wasn't working properly and she was having a hard time placing the events that had recently occurred.

"She should be coming around soon."

Tsunade's voice was recognizable even in her daze. There was a note of brisk exasperation that she had found herself copying over the years, but rarely had directed at her. She usually saved it for problem patients like Kakashi-sensei, not her. Taking a deep breath, she started coughing immediately, her lungs and ribs painfully contracting with the heavy motion.

"Sakura-chan?"

Cold hands pressed against her chest and she was immediately able to breath easier. The coughing jarred her memory of pressure and pain, and it took a few moments later before she was able to put all the pieces together. This time, her groan was from more memory than the pain.

"Sakura?" This time it was Tsunade instead of Naruto and she kept her eyes stubbornly shut. Kakashi. Her Jounin exam had been against Kakashi. Now she understood why she felt like she had been stuck in a blender. It would figure that after months and months of struggling with her genjutsu, she would go up against someone who her complex genjutsu was absolutely wasted on. Training with Sasuke had taught her a little of what to expect in a flat out battle with him, but not enough that she hadn't needed to do that. Naruto was going to kill her…

She had held her own fairly well; Kakashi seemed more interested in testing her skills than taking her down. She had managed to land more than one chakra-enhanced punch and then she had… Oh. Right. That probably hadn't been the best idea. If the pounding of her skull and the heat in her ribs and back said anything, it had been a terrible idea. It took some work to keep the satisfied smile off her face.

It had worked though. Something (or Kakashi) had apparently flattened her after her little trap, but it had worked well enough that she was almost positive that Kakashi was somewhere in the hospital as well. It had worked. Lying there in the hospital bed, she ignored the hands that were pressing against her lungs and carefully tested the memory. Of all the possible Jounin they could have thrown at her, Kakashi had been the last she would have considered. She had thought he was still out fighting Akatsuki. Apparently not.

When fighting someone at Kakashi's skill level, her normal approach would have been to flatten them as soon as possible. The problem with her old Sensei was that he was quite aware of what she could and could not do with her hits, and he knew the feel of her chakra. The fact that he hadn't uncovered his sharingan from the start had given her an idea. Complex genjutsu was wasted on a sharingan, and adept users could move very quickly in and out of them. However, fighting Naruto had required something else. Her training with Naruto (under Sasuke's very watchful eyes) had served two purposes. The first had been to teach her the art, the second was to help Naruto learn at least to recognize when he was being attacked with genjutsu.

So instead of using deep, complex layers, she had thrown them at her teammate as quickly and as thickly as possible. It was the same method she had hit Kakashi with. Using her strength to hide the carefully controlled weave of low-level genjutsu, all her summoning techniques had taught her something after all, she had carefully started her third trap. Once she sprang the accumulated low-level genjutsu, she had figured a possible thirty seconds before Kakashi had worked through them.

Everything had worked as she had planned, except for that last trap. Groaning at another burst of Chakra from Tsunade, she coughed violently. Next time she set up a trap like that and used explosive tags, she was going to make sure she wasn't spread quite so thin. She was going to be lucky if she ended up with just a lecture from Sasuke on the safe distance from explosions, much less Naruto. Currently though, she had another problem. She could either 'wake up' to tell Tsunade what was hurting or she could keep her eyes shut and hope that Sasuke and Naruto would be gone when she woke up again.

"Sakura," Tsunade's voice held a note this time that told her she wasn't going to get any more time to herself. Sighing, she gave in to the inevitable and blinked her eyes open, wincing at the lights of the room, and the expression on the faces behind Tsunade. "Ah, you are awake then."

"Kakashi?"

"A few broken bones. Only one of the cuts we deep enough for us to worry; nothing we couldn't heal. Your head wound, on the other hand, we wanted to keep an eye on." She clucked her tongue.

Sakura winced. Head injuries, even with perfect chakra control, were tricky. Surface injuries were easily healed, but it was best to leave the internal bruising to nature. Someone who came in with a ruined kidney had less hospital time than someone with a major concussion did.

"Did I pass?"

Tsunade crossed her arms and sighed. "We haven't received word from the judges yet, but it took them half an hour to clear the testing grounds so the next match could be presented." A faint, flickering smile curved her lips. "Kakashi will be sporting an interesting scar."

It probably wouldn't have been so bad if she hadn't committed herself to winning. Odds were anything less than everything would have failed her. Unfortunately, she had either overestimated herself, underestimated Kakashi, or she had just put too much strain on her chakra control… she wasn't entirely sure which. Another one of those things she was going to have to think about when she wasn't ignoring two very irritated men. Men who were irritated at her for doing her job even if she had taken a very small, if only slightly unnecessary risk…

"Well, you're going to have that concussion for a few days until your natural healing abilities kick in," Tsunade said finally, her fingers probing the wound on the back of her skull carefully. "I would suggest having someone stick around to check on you, but I don't think that is going to be a problem."

Sakura closed her eyes. She had read a story once, about a ninja who had painted jutsu signs on a pair of strange shoes and then just clicked her heels out of danger. Transportation scrolls were difficult, and dangerous to carry into enemy territory, but who looked at shoes? Hearing the sounds of Tsunade walking away, she internally cringed. She really needed to look into something.


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