It was a cool autumn night, and Sakura found the fresh air was already helping to clear her head. She rounded a corner, and headed past the ninja academy, where so many good memories still lived. There was also that swing. Sakura remembered how Naruto would often just sit on it, alone, while everyone gave him else gave him cold looks and a wide berth. As a little girl she couldn’t understand why, and now that she new the truth of the horrible burden he was destined to carry, she was as determined as ever to help him reach his dream. The fact was many people would still rather not have him around. Her father for instance . . .
Sakura continued on by the light of the hanging paper street lamps that were still traditional in the hidden village. They swayed slightly in the breeze, causing Sakura’s shadow to flicker eerily as she walked. Her shadow grew large as it fell across the Konoha hospital and medical center. She had spent countless hours here too, and many sleepless nights studying under the tutelage of her master. In a kinder world, Sasuke would be in there as well as Naruto, especially after the state that they had found him in when they had finally discovered that secret place of the Uchiha clan.
The state of the place had been terrifying. The roof and most of the interior had been completely demolished. What a battle it must have been between Sasuke and his brother. They found him passed out near his brother’s lifeless body. Sasuke had been burned by a fire unlike anything Sakura had ever seen or heard of. Black flames still flickered all around the area, of which Naruto warned them not to go near. At first, Sasuke looked to be alright, but a quick analysis revealed he and was in danger of bleeding to death from some internal injuries, or suffocating as a result of a collapsed lung. Some of the fire was somehow still burning him, and Sasuke kept waking up and passing out again from the pain.
Tears had filled Sakura’s eyes as she tried desperately with all of her knowledge to heal him, but no amount of chakra healing manipulation would stick. He had inhaled some of the fumes from the flames, and that was what was causing his lung to collapse as the fumes slowly burned him from the inside. Fearing there was nothing she could do but ease his pain, Sakura prepared herself for the worst.
But Naruto didn’t. He believed in her just as he always had. He reminded her of Chiyo, of her Sacrifice, and how the elder ninja had believed Sakura would surpass even her master. Naruto offered what remained of his chakra to her in the same way he had to elder Chiyo for Gaara. Sakura had refused, explaining to Naruto that in his condition it was too dangerous.
"If it will work . . .then take it." he had urged. "Even if I die, I don’t mind. We’ll have succeeded."
Together they stopped the burning in the collapsed lung, and Sasuke began to breathe with less difficulty, but there was still a long way to go. Sakura still didn’t know if she could heal all the damage in time until that girl, Karin, had showed up with Sasuke’s new team. Karin was more adept at sensing the flow of Chakra than anyone Sakura had ever met. Although the fiery redhead’s medical skills were not as developed as Sakura’s she managed to heal Sasuke from the inside out, drawing on his own chakra, while Sakura concentrated on the outside in. Together, they healed the internal concussion injuries, repaired the lung, and restored his trachea. Together, they save Sasuke’s life.
This was someone Sakura thought she could respect, but the entire healing session had felt tense, and not just because Sasuke’s life was on the line. It felt as if another fight would break out at any moment. Naruto, though weak and no longer able to rise to his feet, watched the lean, white haired boy with two enormous swords very carefully. Sakura thought one of them looked like Zabuza’s sword, and Naruto would tell her later he was sure the other had belonged to an Akatsuki member. The other member of Sasuke’s team had the cursed seal. He scared Sakura. He just felt broken to look into his eyes, as if would go berserk at any time, but especially if Sasuke died.
Sakura nearly collapsed as Sasuke finally stabilized, and the work was done. It was then that . . . that bitch smiled sweetly and said,
"I am grateful for your help, but be warned, stay away from my Sasuke or I’ll kill you."
Sakura snapped out of her thoughts for a moment and looked around the quiet Konoha street, wanting to punch something. The nerve of that woman! Her Sasuke? As if sasuke would actually go for an ugly frizzy, haired, four-eyed, she-wolf like her! Sakura felt her fists tighten as she stormed away from the hospital. Calm down, she thought at herself. You came outside to relax.
But Sakura continued to relive the moment that Sasuke had regained consciousness, for this troubled her above all else. Without a word, Sasuke took aid from his new team members and began to leave. Naruto launched into a grand speech about how Sasuke’s path, if he turned his back on his friends again, would only lead to ruin. He pleaded for Sasuke to see that true power lied in the strength of his bonds with his comrades. Sakura found she could do nothing but cry again, and it haunted her to this moment. Sasuke wasn’t listening to Naruto, and Sakura refused to beg again.
Not this time.