A team of three anbu bound through the trees in route back to the leaf village, their home. Each of the three was adorned in black clothing and grey chest armour, metal arm guards and gloves, ninja sandals with spikes for travelling into mountainous regions, three ninja pouches on their back or waist and each member donning the signature spiral anbu tattoo on their upper arm. However the clear leader of the group has a black cloak draped over petite shoulders, the hood up covering their hair, with a piece of cloth coming across their face, only allowing a pair of jade eyes to be seen, while the two anbu following behind have the basic porcelain animal masks covering their faces.
The trio comes into the view of the gates of Konoha and the squad leader signals the team to stop. The three come to an abrupt halt, the two followers step up to see what had caused their sudden stop and nod in understanding to their leader and disappear in a poof of smoke.
The squad leader, quickly latches her cloak tightly together, to hide the anbu uniform, and swiftly pulls off the hood and face covering, allowing long, bright fuchsia locks of hair to escape and flow down her back. Jade eyes close in concentration as she casts jutsus over herself to hide her anbu tattoo and uniform as a precaution.
The young anbu quickly leaps through the trees continuing on her way, as she braces herself to enter the village gates. The woman reaches the gates and gracefully descends from the trees and onto the road, coming into clear view of the people she had sensed earlier.
"SAKURA!" a blonde young man in bright orange shouts bounding toward the now beaming pinkette, and captures her in a bear hug, which Sakura gladly returns. After a few seconds the blonde pulls away and drags Sakura through the gates, where a crowd of people were gathered, all of the rookie nine and sensei's are present along with team Gai.
Sakura rolls her emerald eyes and glances suspiciously around; she already knew why they were all here, but decided to allow them to surprise her. "Naruto what is going on?" the pink haired woman finally asks as she smiles at her friends.
"I finally did it Sakura! I kept my promise to you! I brought Sasuke back!" Naruto speaks excitedly gesturing toward the left where some of their friends step back to reveal the pair's former team mate along with three others behind him, two men and one woman. Sakura smiles, and simply nods in acknowledgement at Sasuke, then turns back to Naruto a bright smile gracing her lips as she quickly engulfs him in a hug, which is returned as a goofy fox grin makes its way onto Naruto's face.
The duo pull apart and link arms, as they had begun to do when they had turned sixteen and Naruto had gotten over his crush on Sakura. The two nineteen year olds turn toward their friends and smile, until they were rudely interrupted by the red haired woman behind Sasuke, "So this is the weak little kunoichi slut you left behind Sasuke, no wonder. She is ugly; I mean really that hair and look at that forehead."
Dead silence descends as every person has eyes on Sakura, not even Naruto can bring himself to speak, with wide sea blue eyes bulging out of his head, his mouth flapping open, like a fish out of water, his arm going slack around Sakura's. Sakura however sends a blinding smile towards the red head and softly replies, "Hmm, well at least I'm not his sloppy seconds, like you."
This reply elicits cackles from each and every kunoichi present, as the men simply stand by smirking, except Naruto and Sai, who look on in wonder as they were only use to the violent side of the pinkette. While the red haired woman gapes startled by the woman's comeback. Sakura smirks at the woman and turns to Naruto and says "I have to go and report to Lady Tsunade."
"Awww, no Sakura it's dinner time, we can go celebrate with ramen." Naruto replies a pout adorning his whiskered face. Sakura smiles giving him a side hug and quickly moving away with a simple reply to float back to the blonde "Don't worry Naruto, we will have ramen together soon, but how about you take Hinata out instead." Sakura smiles as she glances at the blushing Hyuuga, who smiles shyly at the fox boy. The pair had been dating for two years now and still Hinata blushed around the blonde man.
Sakura goes around to all her friends and hugs each of them, the guys included, talking to some in passing. The girls quickly formulating plans for a girls night, as they each put in their ideas for their night out, as they received their hug.
Sakura stops momentarily in front of Kakashi, who has his little orange book in front of his face, causing the pink haired woman to cross her arms over her chest and glare at the silver haired man, who was like a father to her, and tap her foot impatiently.
"Oh, well hello there Sakura. Did you need something from me?" Kakashi questions innocently as he tilts his book to the side to reveal his uncovered eye. Sakura sighs rolling her eyes, allowing a smile to come to her face as she snatches away his book and almost tackles him in a hug, which he gladly returns, chuckling slightly.
Kakashi pulls away, his lone eye showing his obvious amusement, as he ruffles Sakura's cherry hair softly. "Well then, am I going to get my book back?" The jounin jokes chuckling as Sakura moves away abruptly and tosses the book over her head with a small laugh. He catches the small object with ease and pockets it immediately, still a happy sparkle in his one eye. He truly did see the young cherry blossom as a daughter.
Sakura continues her greetings, as she hadn't seen any of her friends in over two months, well really they were family. Since her parents deaths when she was fourteen, these people surrounding her, as well as a few select others where the only people she considered family.
Sakura shared a special bond with each of them, such as her an Ino being best friends as well as all of the girls along with her; they all stuck together, they were even known as the fierce four around Konoha. Then there was the brother/sister relationship between her, Sai, and Naruto. There was also her flirty, but never serious relationship with Kiba, which had led to Sakura's attachment to Akamaru. This attachment resulted in many runs through the forests on the out skirts of the village with Akamaru. Then there was Sakura's constant cooking adventures, which always involved Chouji in some way, and were usually followed by a game of shogi with Shikamaru. Sakura even formed a bond with Shino, and had been on several bug hunting escapades with him. These were the kinds of small but firm bonds that she shared with each of the people around her in some form or fashion, never too complicated, but always worth the time spent.
Sakura finally makes her way to the final few of her group of friends and comes to Neji, who was standing next to Lee, who was hugging Gai sensei and crying out something about the joy of youth, which elicits a wry smile from Sakura. The green beast of Konoha had gotten over his massive crush on the cherry blossom some time ago, but still found her to be the most beautiful and youthful woman in the village.
"Neji, are we still on to train tomorrow?" Sakura asks tilting her head a smile on her face, her emerald eyes sparkling as the Hyuuga smirks and nods, before enveloping Sakura in a friendly hug. Neji was a very special person to Sakura, he was the first person she had told about her parents deaths. He understood what it was like to lose a parent and had been an immense comfort to Sakura over the years. The pair had trained regularly together since she was fifteen, and Neji's mother had taken a liking to inviting Sakura over as often as possible for either dinner or to simply talk. It was a very deep bond the two shared, but neither ever acknowledged it.
Sakura grins as the two pull apart and turns toward Sasuke and the trio behind him. "I am glad your back Sasuke." Sakura says a friendly smile set in place, as she sees the red haired girl glaring at her again, yet does not move from her spot beside Neji. Sasuke nods in acknowledgement, but does nothing else, so the pinkette rolls her eyes and takes two quick strides toward the Uchiha and wraps her petite arms around him, causing him to stiffen, but quickly relax, yet still does not return the hug.
Sakura pulls away after a second and turns to leave, but is stopped by another sarcastic comment from behind Sasuke "Well it looks like you finally grew a pair."
Sakura turns around slowly her jade eyes set in a hard stare on the fiery young woman behind Sasuke, and replies "No, I did not grow a "pair" as you say, because you know balls are sensitive and weak, so no I did not grow a "pair." I grew a vagina. Now they can take a pounding. That along with an attitude and I'm set for life. How about you go grow a vagina and then you can talk to me Karin."
Sakura briskly walks away, as every single girl left except Karin burst into fits of laughter, while the men have mix of reactions. The friends however quickly disperse with the pinkette's exit.
The pink haired medic quickly takes to the roof tops as she leaves the sight of her friends, heading for Hokage tower, where she can sense the Hokage's chakra signature. When the pinkette reaches the tower, after making a short stop, she enters through the window silently and is greeted with a sleeping Hokage.
"Tsunade!" Sakura yells laughing as she jumps and comes close to falling out of her chair. The pink haired woman makes her way to the chair in front of the desk and gracefully takes a seat as Tsunade rights herself while glaring daggers at her apprentice.
"Sakura, glad to see you too." Tsunade says yawning, while clearing away some paper work she had scattered across her desk.
"Well, I figured you would be asleep, so I stopped and got some food." Sakura sings out placing two boxes of fried rice down on her desk, eliciting a soft smile from Tsunade, who was like a mother to Sakura, as she gratefully takes the offered food and chopsticks resting on top of the little container.
"So saw Sasuke and everyone else when I got back. My team had to leave a mile from Konoha." Sakura says as she tears apart her chopsticks.
"Ah yes, sorry I couldn't warn you. Naruto dragged him and those other three in two weeks ago. The elders are still discussing punishment, but ultimately I decide what is to happen. I decided to wait for you to get back before making the final decision." Tsunade answers Sakura's unasked question as she digs in to her rice.
"Hmmm, so did he kill Itachi?" Sakura inquires taking small bites of her rice as she watches Tsunade's expression sadden.
"Yes, they brought the body in and he was cremated, after I examined him."
"Man I wish that idiot would have just agreed to go along with my plan; he would be here right now." Sakura says sadly placing her container of rice down on the desk. The two women remain silent; the only movement is Tsunade's chopsticks.
"It is a terrible loss, but he was a wonderful shinobi and a fantastic teacher." Tsunade speaks finally watching her apprentice's reaction carefully as she continues eating.
"Yeah he was, I was so surprised how much I learned from him in the last year." Sakura says quietly, thinking back on her time with Itachi.
The pair had met when Sakura was on a solo anbu mission over a year and a half ago in the land of wave. It was purely an accident that they ran into each other that day, it was a dreary morning when Sakura came across Itachi's chakra signature, she immediately was on guard, and she knew it was not wise to mess with Akatsuki members, especially if they were with their partners.
Sakura however was confused that she could sense Itachi but not Kisame, who she assumed was still his partner. At the time it didn't occur to here that he might want her to find him, but she soon realized it as she came to a small clearing in the forest.
"Kunoichi, I know you are there." Itachi speaks standing in the center of the emerald covered area, his Akatsuki cloak blowing in the breeze, the blood red of the Sharingan trained on Sakura's position in the trees. Sakura sighs and mentally prepares herself for this conversation, her inner self aiding encouraging her.
"Itachi Uchiha, I did not expect to find you." Sakura says as she gracefully enters the clearing, donning her anbu gear, a black piece of fabric covering her pink tresses and her face, only her jade eyes in view.
"I suppose not, but I wanted you to find me, Sakura." Itachi says nonchalantly causing Sakura to stiffen at the mention of her name, but remains silent and carefully watches the powerful man before her that somehow knew who she was. "You are wondering how I knew who you were." Itachi states his eyes trained on the pink haired anbu. The silence continues for a few minutes, neither moving, but simply staring. The silence is broken however as Sakura inhales suddenly in surprise as Itachi's eyes fade to black.
"Why?" Sakura questions remaining in her place as she watches Itachi turn to face her fully, revealing to her trained eyes a deep gash in his right arm, which was plastered to his side. Then Itachi actually smiles and Sakura inadvertently relaxes.
"I simply needed assistance, and I sensed you nearby. Purely coincidence, but I am glad you are here Sakura Haruno." Itachi answers slowly walking toward the anbu in front of him. Sakura rolls her eyes and shakes off her dumbfounded expression and quickly removes her head scarf and advances on the Uchiha in front of her.
"Itachi Uchiha, I never thought I would see the day that I would help you." Sakura laughs but soon goes in to medic mode, ordering Itachi to first remove his cloak and then sit down. Sakura worked on his arm for an hour, knowing that Itachi had set up jutsu to protect them from others.
Once Sakura finished her work, she leaned back and the two stared at each other for a moment before Sakura spoke. "Itachi why?"
Sakura twitched irately and closed her eyes in concentration, and tried to keep herself from hitting the Uchiha sitting in front of her. "Itachi do I need physically drag the truth out of you? I know about your mission, every anbu does, which is so none of us will attack you or bring you back to the village, but really it's been almost ten years since the Uchiha massacre. If you were to come back to the village, you could reveal the truth about the mission and be reinstated as a Leaf Shinobi. Sasuke would understand or at least acknowledge the truth." Sakura blurts out, blushing a pretty pink as Itachi lets out a deep baritone laugh.
"No, my brother must kill Orchimaru and then me; it is the only way for this mission to end." Itachi answers after a minute, causing his pink haired companion to shake her head in disagreement.
"No, you have been such a help to the village and they would welcome you back with open arms if they knew about all you had done these past ten years. You have prevented wars and destroyed threats to the village. Itachi you are the best of the best, the village needs you." Sakura explains exasperated, but watches as the man in front of her has a small smile on his face, as he shakes his head.
"No Sakura, the village does not need me; they need my knowledge and abilities. I can pass most of those on before I die, but I know now that I cannot pass them on to just anyone. They have to be worthy." Itachi replies a genuine smile gracing his tired face as he sees Sakura's surprised expression.
"Oh and have you found anyone that is worthy. It sounds so cliché." Sakura laughs smiling brightly at Itachi.
"Yeah, I think so."
"So who is the lucky shinobi?"
"You." Itachi states his ebony eyes boring into shocked emerald. The two stay silent for a few minutes, Sakura ingesting the new surprising information, while Itachi stares at her amused. Finally Itachi breaks the silence with an explanation, "Sakura Haruno, you are the apprentice of the Hokage and she does not take just anyone. Also you made it to anbu and only the best of the best and most loyal shinobi make it in to the anbu ranks. You also possess the skill set required to perfect any technics I may show you, as well as the ability to examine my eyes to the benefit of the Leaf village. You are the perfect candidate for me to teach."
"What, wait wait wait… you mean, you want to teach me? Like be my sensei?" Sakura asks flabbergasted her green eyes wide and her mouth agape, causing Itachi to laugh again.
"Yes and I have already received permission from the Hokage. However I did not intend to seek you out to train for another few months." Itachi clarifies his gaze still analyzing Sakura as he sees her go from confused, to excited, and finally to calm shinobi exterior.
"Ok so when do we start?" Sakura questions trying to hide her excitement, she had always wanted to perfect her genjustsu and taijutsu, but never had anyone that was good at both to teach her. Now she would also be able to look at the Sharingan and analyze the blood limit for strengths and weaknesses.
"I will send a scroll to the Hokage in a week with the information you will need, now you should get going Kisame is on his way here to meet me." Itachi speaks grinning at the pinkette as she secures her head cover and nodded before disappearing.
Sakura shakes her head out of her memory as she finally takes the rice she had set down earlier and begins to eat again. Tsunade watches as her apprentice eats slowly and finally breaks the deafening silence, "Sakura he left you some things. Before you say anything, some of the things he left are extremely dangerous and should be kept hidden, but I can give you these and this list of everything he left to you."
Sakura quickly puts her food down and takes the two scrolls and the sword offered to her. Sakura admired the sword for a moment; it was the one that Itachi had trained her with. It was a black blade with sakura blossoms etched in a pale pink, that couldn't be seen until you were close enough to be cut with it, the hilt was a simple black that Sakura felt was made to fit her hand perfectly.
After her admiration of the blade Sakura quickly opens the list of things he had left to her, which had many very dangerous weapons and scrolls, but also many other ancient medical scrolls and weapons. He had also left many of the Uchiha relics in her care, until the day she deemed his brother worthy of them. However the most surprising object he had left her was the very last thing on the list, in bold dark letters.
"No Lady Tsunade there must be a mistake; he can't have left me these, that's impossible." Sakura gasps tears coming to her eyes.
"Yes he did. He left you his eyes; I have them in a safe place. He came to me not even a week before he fought Sasuke and asked me to remove them and replace them; he said he wanted his eyes to be used for the good of the village. I will allow you to decide what you wish to do with them Sakura, you have many options." Tsunade explains to the now crying girl, the blonde woman demeanor softens dramatically as she watches her apprentice break down into to sobs. This was something she had not seen Sakura do in almost four years.
"He…he was like… an older brother to me. Now I have not parents and no older brother." Sakura cries as she clutches the scrolls to her chest her tears slowing as Tsunade watches her apprentice calm herself. The two women sit in silence, a deep sadness permeating the room, as both women reign in their emotions.
"Sakura you do not need to decide this now and I know you can handle this, but I would like you to take the next two weeks off and go through the things he has left you. I think it's time you briefed me on your latest mission."
"Yes of course, here is the mission scroll. You will find all the information needed in that." Sakura replies changes in to shinobi mode immediately, no trace of tears left on her pale face.
"Well done, you're dismissed then. Go home and rest and come back tomorrow after lunch, oh but Sakura I would like you to find someone you trust to help you go through Itachi's things." Tsunade answers making it clear no argument would be accepted, and Sakura nods and grabs her food and starts to leave, but stops short and turns around.
"May I put Itachi's name on the memorial stone? I will put a jutsu on it so only those that know the truth about him will be able to see it. Please please let me do that for him." Sakura begs, her emerald eyes pleading with her Hokage, who simply nods in affirmation, causing a brilliant smile to emerge on her apprentice's face as she excitedly says thank you and goodbye, but is interrupt before she leaves.
"Sakura just do not harm Sasuke, if I have to come and heal him, you are dead." Tsunade says rolling her eyes as her pink haired apprentice simply grins at her.
"Oh I won't I am done with Sasuke, he's a teammate and friend, nothing more. However if his red haired girlfriend talks to me again, she might just disappear without a trace." Sakura replies causing Tsunade to burst out laughing and she waves her hand for Sakura to leave, which Sakura quickly adheres too and disappears in a flurry of cherry blossoms.
Sakura quickly makes her way to the memorial stone the sun just beginning to set as she casts the necessary jutsus before placing Itachi's name on the stone, as she had been shown to do years ago. The pinkette smiles fondly as she finishes her work, and looks at the rest of the names, many of these shinobi she had never met before, and for that she was glad. However it still caused a deep sadness to overcome the woman as she gazed at hundreds of names that had given their lives for the Leaf.
Sakura catches sight of one of the few names she did recognize and slowly runs her hand over it. "Asuma sensei." Sakura whispers sadly as she thinks of Kurenai, who had a beautiful little boy named Asuma at home, who had no father. Sakura sighs as she realizes that this is why Kakashi always came here, to remember those that came before and to honor those that gave their lives for the good of the village. It was a way to honor his precious people who had died.
Sakura tenses up slightly as she feels a familiar chakra heading toward her, her anbu training kicking in as she quickly relaxes and bends down; her eyes fixed a new name, Sarutobi Hiruzen. Sakura smiles at the name; he had been such a great man and a wonderful Hokage. Sakura smiles as her visitor tries to hide their chakra from her further, causing the medic to roll her eyes, sensing others chakra was something Itachi had showed her and helped her to perfect. It was to the point that it was useless to really hide from the pink haired woman.
"Sasuke, you can come out." Sakura speaks as she slowly stands to her feet, her fingers sliding off the memorial stone as she turns to face the Uchiha.
"Hn," the dark haired man replies as he comes out of the shadows, his eyes blood red with the three black commas spinning.
"What do you want Sasuke?" Sakura asks tilting her head to the side, causing her waist length pink tresses to fall around her shoulder, a wry smile gracing her pale pink lips. The pink haired anbu was not scared of the Sharingan; it no longer had any effect on her.
Sasuke doesn't answer and the two simply stare at each other, until Sakura breaks the silence by saying "Sasuke I don't have time for this, I'll see you later." Sakura turns to leave in the direction of her apartment, but is stopped by a simple sentence from Sasuke.
"You're still weak."
Sakura smiles and turns back to the raven haired man and shakes her head and smiles disappearing in a swirl of cherry blossoms, leaving Sasuke with the words, "I am done."
The pink haired woman steps into her apartment with a sigh of content as she quickly sets up traps and jutsus for any intruders. Sakura quickly changes into her night clothes that consist of one of Kakashi's black oversized shirts and a pair of Naruto's shorts, which she had acquired over a time. She also had a couple of Sai's shirts and some of Kakashi's long sweat pants, but it was still warm outside, so she stuck to the shorts she had of Naruto's.
Sakura looked around her apartment and sigh exasperated, everything was covered in a thin layer of dust. The pinkette straightens up and sets to work dusting, sweeping and cleaning her entire home.
It takes Sakura almost two hours to get her apartment sparkling clean; she had even done laundry, gone through all her food and disposed of any that was out of date. She even changed her sheets on her bed and now she dropped into her clean sheets with a moan of happiness, she hadn't slept in a proper bed for two months. The young woman promptly falls asleep.
Hello EVERYONE! I have been working on a sequel to my story gone, but something happen and then BAM! this happened. I'm working on the next chapter, so it should be out in a week at the latest. I don't know how many chapters this will be, it kind of took on a life of its own, but I know there are some grammar mistakes, especially with tense confusion, and I will edit it before I post the next chapter, but feel free to tell me if you catch a mistake. I hope you enjoy and I PROMISE there will be more NEJI in the next chapter! Please review! THANK YOU FOR READING AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!