The Golden Scroll Chronicles: Sakura’s New View




NOTE from author: Part of this story was inspired by two drawings of Sakura as a giantess sent in by KCruzer.





            A crescent moon shined down on the Leaf Village; not a single soul stirred from their peaceful slumber. Of course, this peaceful atmosphere hid the true terror that was lurking underneath; a terror that threatened to destroy the very Hidden Leaf Village. As clouds rolled and covered the moon, three solitary figures suddenly appeared nearby on top of three nearby trees.


            “The Hidden Leaf Village,” the first figure said. “How long has it been?”


            “Things seem so peaceful, everyone seems so blissful,” the second figure said. “We’ll have to fix that.”


            “Indeed,” the third figure. “They’re in for a serious wake up call. Do you have the instructions and the scroll?”


            “Right here,” the first figure said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of scrolls. One was a bland, pale brown and the other a beautiful shining gold.


            “Then let the experiment commence!” the second figure said.


            As the moon crept back out from behind the clouds and the light shined down on the tree tops, the three mysterious figures had vanished. One could only wonder what new plots were aimed at the Hidden Leaf Village this time.



Chapter 1


            Things were quiet in the Hidden Leaf Village; all that could be heard was the sound of the wind rustling through the trees, the leaves dancing in the air. But all this silence was soon broken by the loud voice of an all too familiar hyperactive knucklehead.


“WHAT?!” Naruto yelled out. “No missions! You’ve got to be kidding me!”


Tsunade just rubbed her forehead with her fingers and thumb.


“Look, Naruto, I know how eager you are to go on a mission,” Tsunade began. “But they were all taken by the other teams. There’s no need to send out any more of you today.”


“And besides that, you loser,” Sasuke said smugly. “Our village’s defenses are still suffering from that whole battle from the Chûnin Exams. If we spread out our forces too thin, our village might be attacked by the enemy. So it’s probably best if we stay; besides, you’d probably find some way to screw up the entire mission, like you always do…”


Naruto gritted his teeth and clenched his fists, scowling. Well, you didn’t have to say it like that, Sasuke, you jerk. Man, why does he always do this to me!


“All right, all right, calm down Naruto,” Kakashi said in his usual calm and collected tone. “This is probably for the best anyways. You’ve already been on a quite a few missions already; all of you deserve a break every once in a while. A good ninja always manages to find balance in his/her life. That means taking some time off to relax and chill out for a while.”


Did Kakashi-sensei really just use the words “chill out” just now! Sakura thought in astonishment. Indeed, it was rare for Kakashi to use a vernacular like that.


“Listen, it’s true our village’s defenses are a bit lacking, but not so much that they will need the help of three genin like your team. So, why don’t you take this time and do some recreational activities.” Tsunade addressed the three young rookies.


Naruto just crossed his arms. “No way, I can’t relax, not while scum like that Orochimaru out there. I might as well get in some extra training…”


With that, Naruto walked out of the room without saying another word. “I’m actually with Naruto on this one. We can’t exactly relax; we are ninja and to relax means to be vulnerable. That is something we cannot be, not now…” Sasuke turned and started to leave the room. Besides, I’m still not strong enough to take him down! Sasuke’s blood boiled as he recalled his last encounter with his older brother Itachi and how he was unable to even so much as lay a hand on him.


“Uh, Sasuke,” Sakura started to say, but she was too late. Sasuke had already left the room and walked out into the hallway.


Kakashi just sighed and shook his head. Sometimes, I really worry about those two, he thought. He then turned to Lady Tsunade. “Well, I’ll guess I’ll be going,” he said as he bowed. He then disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving Sakura all alone. She quickly turned and bowed to the Fifth Hokage before she hastened out of the room.



Things had been fairly quiet in the village for the past few days. There had been no reports of attacks or enemy activities for a while and no really dangerous missions had been received either. In fact, the most dangerous mission any of the ninja teams had had was a simple delivery mission to a neighboring town in the Land of Fire. Most weren’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad omen, but some were glad for the peace. Sakura was walking through the calm streets of the village, staring up at the clouds with her hands behind her back, thinking of what she could do.


Man, have things ever been this dull around here? Sakura thought as the wind blew through her hair. I wish we did have some kind mission, that way I would at least have a good reason to be close to Sasuke. That’s when an idea hit Sakura. Hmmm, a reason to be together…that’s it! Now, if I know Sasuke, then he should be somewhere…


Sakura immediately raced off to the forest; Sasuke was sure to be training in a nice, dense part where very few people would go. And sure enough, he was there. Sakura had found him in less than ten minutes, a new record by her standards. He was standing in a large clearing surrounded by three large rocks. Actually, there were remains of a fourth rock, but it was obviously the latest victim of Sasuke’s Chidori.


Sakura stood behind a nearby tree and took a deep breath, gathering all the courage she could muster as she began to walk out towards Sasuke. “Um, Sasuke…” Sakura started to say.


“What?” Sasuke replied in a rather harsh tone. He then turned to face her and Sakura could see a cold hard stare in his eyes. Normally, she was pretty confident and sure of herself as well as ready to say what she wanted to say, but the look that Sasuke was giving her just made her choke. “I was wondering…if, uh…you and I…might-”


Sasuke abruptly cut her off. “Look, if this is one of your pitiful attempts to flirt with me, forget it! I don’t have time to deal with such ridiculous notions, especially not with someone as annoying as you. Just save us both the time and trouble of this meaningless conversation and just…LEAVE ME ALONE!”


Those last words fell on Sakura like a lead weight. Her heart just sank like an anchor and tears began to form in her eyes. Sakura wanted to say she would help with his training; that she wouldn’t be a burden, but all she was able to say was, “All…all right, I won’t bother you.”


She then turned around and proceeded to walk away slowly, leaving Sasuke to his training. She continued to walk for who knows how long, the tears constantly trickling down her face. What were you thinking, Sakura? How could you possibly help Sasuke with his training? You’re not even on the same level as he is, so what use could you be to him?


Sakura eventually walked into a clearing where the sun glistened on her face. She suddenly stopped crying. She wiped away the tears that remained in her eyes. Well, if that’s the case, then I shouldn’t just cry about. Come on, girl, pull yourself together. I mean, look at Naruto, look at how far he’s come; if a knucklehead like him can go that far, then you can too.


Sakura suddenly surveyed her surroundings and realized that she was in a very familiar location. “Hey, I know this place,” she said. “This is the very spot where I became a Genin. Whoa, it feels like I haven’t been here in ages.”


Sakura cracked her knuckles. “Well, I guess it’s as good a place to start. After all, sometimes the best way to start is right from the beginning.” She was about to work on some basics when she suddenly heard a rustling noise from behind her. She half-expected it to be an enemy, unlikely as it may seem. Then other half would’ve been Naruto making the same attempt she had just made with Sasuke. But no, instead she saw a very familiar masked face. It was Kakashi reading his usual “Make-Out Paradise” novel.


“Oh, hi Sakura,” Kakashi said as he put the book away. “Uh, sensei, what are you doing all the way out here?” Sakura was indeed quite puzzled; Kakashi wasn’t usually that easy to detect.


“Oh, I’m just passing through. I was looking for Sasuke; there’s a new technique I want to teach him. I was reading to pass the time and I guess I got sidetracked.” Now Sakura was starting to get suspicious; the words “Kakashi” and “sidetracked” were never used in the same sentence. “Actually, I was also looking for you too. I have something I wanted to give you.”


Kakashi then reached into his back pocket and pulled out a small scroll. What was unique about it was that its color wasn’t a pale tan with green edges; no, this scroll was gold and had sapphire edging. Sakura looked at it in awe. “Whoa, is this really for me?”


Kakashi nodded, handing the scroll over to Sakura. “It’s a new jutsu I came across in the village library. This jutsu might just be up your alley Sakura; it requires a great deal of chakra control and focus, two of your strongest qualities. It’s a rather impressive jutsu; in fact, it might even be impressive enough to grab Sasuke’s interest.”


Sakura immediately perked up when she heard those words. “R-really!?” Sakura said.


Kakashi just shrugged. “Only one way to find out, right?” Kakashi said as he winked at her. Sakura had wide smile across her face as stared at the scroll with great intent. “Well, I have to be going now; so long, Sakura.” Kakashi said as he walked back into the forest, leaving Sakura alone with the golden scroll.


Kakashi had only walked a few yards into the forest when he stopped at the sound of leaves rustling. “So, did you give to her?” asked a mysterious low voice from within the shadows.


“Yes,” Kakashi said in a cold, cruel tone. He was suddenly surrounded by a cloud of smoke and was replaced by an unfamiliar ninja. “She took it without question or suspicion, especially when I mentioned that Uchiha kid.”


This ninja was called in a dark violet ninja outfit with a grey cloak embedded with a yellow crescent moon on the back. He was bald, wearing sunglasses and a headband with the same crescent moon design. Two more ninja appeared before him clad in the same outfit as him; one had short, black hair and bandages wrapped around his mouth while the other had long, silver hair in a Mohawk with an eye-patch covering his right eye.


“Excellent,” said the bandage mouth. “Everything is going as planned…”



Chapter 2


Sakura was in the middle of the fields, still holding the scroll, excitement eating away at her. Oh, I can’t wait, Sakura thought. Man, I wonder kind of jutsu this is? Kakashi didn’t exactly leave a lot of specifics, but if it’s something that can impress Sasuke, it’s got to be incredible! Maybe it’s a summoning jutsu or some type of elemental jutsu. Well only one way to find out…


Sakura undid the string that held the scroll together and opened it. She was surprised to see that there wasn’t much detail about the jutsu on the scroll. It just listed the hand signs; there was no suggested chakra amount, no description as to what the jutsu did, there wasn’t even a name for it. This is sure weird. What kind of scroll is this? Sakura just shrugged.


“Well, here goes nothing,” Sakura said. She started to build up and balance her chakra until it was a perfect level. She then did all the hand signs listed in the scroll listed in the order they were written in. She then braced herself as she finished the last hand sign. She waited for several moments, but nothing happened. Sakura didn’t even feel a tingle or twinge.


She then returned to the scroll to see if see missed something. Maybe I did something wrong? She looked at the scroll every possible way, but no matter how hard or how long she observed it, nothing came to her.


Sakura just sighed and stood up. “Well, maybe this jutsu is something only male ninja can do or something. Oh well, it was worth a shot…” She then picked up the scroll and rolled it back up, tying it up tight. She then started to walk away, when all of a sudden; she began to feel a strange tingling sensation all over her body. What’s going on? I feel so sleepy… She soon found she could not remain conscious and wound up collapsing to the ground.



Meanwhile, Sasuke was still busy training, obliterating the last of the rocks in the clearing. He was breathing heavily, having used up so much chakra. This isn’t good enough, Sasuke thought. If I’m already this exhausted after just four shots, I won’t stand a chance against him! A sudden image of his brother flashed into Sasuke’s mind and he could feel his hate growing even more. But just as his hatred was nearly at its peek, a new image suddenly popped into his head. This time, it was some one he did not expect; it was Sakura.


Why would I be thinking about her now? Sasuke then thought back to what he had said to her earlier. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge; maybe I should at least go and apologize to her. Man, she can be such a pain, even when she’s not around… Sasuke walked into the forest and followed the set of footprints in the ground as well as the broken branches.



He had almost made it to the clearing following Sakura’s tracks, when he suddenly bumped into something. He rubbed his face as he looked to see what blocked his path, expecting to see a rock or large tree. But what he saw didn’t appear to be a rock, in fact when he bumped into it, it felt more like rubber or something like the kind he would find on the soles of his sandals. As he closely observed the obstacle in his path, he saw that it was flat and had strange ridges embedded in it.


He soon realized that this was the bottom of a sandal he saw. But that was impossible; this sandal had to be at least ten feet high at least. Sasuke went around, expecting, hoping that the sandal was all there was. But no, as he came around it, he saw a giant foot in the sandal and a long giant leg attached to it. He followed the leg until he came to the hem of what looked like a red dress, a very familiar red dress.


As he continued to walk along the red “wall”, he could not believe what he was seeing. He thought it was a bad dream or perhaps a type of genjutsu; he even performed the hand sign to try and break the illusion. But it was no use, no matter what he did, the image before him didn’t fade. He then took several steps back to get a better view of what he saw; the short (not so much by Sasuke’s view), pink hair, the long red dress, and the same annoying face he had come to know so well.


Sasuke was staring at a 50 ft tall Sakura! He was just dumbstruck at the sight; if he wasn’t such a disciplined ninja to take the unexpected, he would’ve fainted already. But still, this was almost too much for him to take all at once. Sasuke quickly spun around when he heard a rustling from behind. He got himself in a battle ready pose, kunai knife drawn. He quickly relaxed when he saw the all too familiar orange suit and ridiculous grin.


As he cleared the trees, Naruto looked to see Sasuke standing in front of him. “Huh, Sasuke,” Naruto said in surprise. “I didn’t think you’d be here. Man and this is my fav-” Naruto stopped abruptly when he finally noticed the large red “wall” behind him. “Hey, what’s that thing behind you?”


Took him long enough… Sasuke thought. Naruto leapt up into the trees to get a better view. He gawked when he finally took in what he saw which, for a knucklehead like him, took at least thirty seconds if not longer.


“Wh-wh-wh-WHAT?! This is impossible! I’ve got to be dreaming!” Naruto yelled out in his usual loud, boisterous voice. Sasuke just shook his head and turned around, but quickly turned back when he heard a squeal from behind him. He looked to see Naruto had gotten his boxers caught on a branch.


Figures, he’s the only person I know who can give himself an atomic wedgie. Sasuke thought in disdain. The branch Naruto was caught on eventually broke and he fell to the ground with a hard thud. He quickly shoved his boxers back in and started to rub his aching rear.


“Aw man, that’s really going to sting in morning,” Naruto said as he got back up. A thought then suddenly occurred to him as he looked at the large body of his Kunoichi teammate. “Wait, wait, oh I get it. This is some kind of genjutsu meant as a type of practical joke. Good one, Sasuke, I didn’t think you had it in you…” He started to walk towards his teammate.


“Naruto, first of all, you should know me well enough that I am not into practical jokes like you are,” Sasuke said in his usual serious tone. “And second, if this were a genjutsu, don’t you think I would’ve released it by now since the ‘joke’ is over…”


Naruto just froze as he took in what Sasuke had said. Indeed, what Sasuke had said was true; he wasn’t into pulling pranks or jokes like Naruto. But if that was the case, then what he was seeing was real. As the reality of it set in, Naruto’s jaw just dropped in disbelief.


“But, how did this happen!? This is just impossible!?” Naruto yelled.


“Will you just be quiet you idiot!” Sasuke said abruptly. “If you keep yelling like that, you’re going bring the whole village out here. We don’t need anyone seeing Sakura like this, not now. We have to find a way to hide her somewhere…”


“Uh, Sasuke, I think we may have another problem,” Naruto said with a worried expression on his face. “I think she’s waking up!”


Sasuke looked at Sakura’s face and could see her eye lids beginning to stir. This was bad; if she wasn’t aware of her problem, she was going to be in the next few minutes.


“Mmmmm, huh,” Sakura said in a sleepy tone. “Wha…hey, what are my Sasuke and Naruto plush dolls doing next to my bed? I thought I put them in my desk drawer…” Sasuke was little disturbed that she just mentioned that she had a plush doll of him, whereas Naruto was quite flattered and rather happy to know that Sakura at least had a memento of him. “Why does my bed feel so dirty? I could’ve sworn I just washed the sheets last night. And it feels so hard…did mom use extra starch or something?” She then started to sit up, which made her already massive and intimidating figure even greater to the boys. She then rubbed her eyes as things started to come into view.


“Huh, where’s my room? Where am I?” Sakura said as she continued to rub her eyes. She then started to take in her surroundings and the look on her face started to change. She slowly went from calm and relaxed to shock as she continued to look at her surroundings. The trees were shorter now; their trunks looked no thicker than the golden scroll she had held not too long ago. Then she looked down by her side to see her two teammates the size of dolls. She then reached over and pinched her arm. When it didn’t work, she started to go pale.


Uh oh, here it comes… Sasuke thought. “Hey, Naruto, better cover your ears.” Sasuke quickly clasped his hands over his ears.


“Huh, why…?” Naruto asked. He was soon answered as Sakura let out loud, ear-splitting scream. Sasuke had braced himself, but Naruto was blown back into a tree. He had his ears clasped as soon as he stopped, but they were already still ringing. Sakura’s scream soon subsided and was immediately replaced with weeping.


“What happened to me!? Why did this happen to me!? How could this-” Sakura continued to clamor on until Sasuke finally spoke up.


“Sakura! Calm down!” Sasuke yelled so that she could hear him. Sakura quickly stopped her ranting as she looked down at the tiny Sasuke. “Look, relax; if you keep going on like that you’ll have the entire village out here in no time.” Sakura started to relax as she took a deep breath.


“Yeah, if that scream of hers hasn’t already got them heading out here already!” Naruto said as he stuck his fingers in his ears. Sakura quickly started to feel panicky again. If any of the other ninja saw her or worse if Ino saw her, she’d never hear the end of it. Sasuke gave Naruto a quick rap on the head, leaving a nasty bump.


“Look, Sakura, don’t worry,” Sasuke said reassuringly. “We’ll hide you someplace before anyone gets here.” Sakura wiped the tears away that started to form in her eyes and nodded. “Now, the only question is: where can we hide you?”


Both Naruto and Sasuke scratched their heads trying to think of something. Naruto was the first to say anything. “Hey, I know place where we can hide Sakura,” he said with enthusiasm. Sasuke looked at him with skepticism. “No really, I do. Come on, you two follow me!”


Naruto leapt up into the trees. “Come on Sakura, get up!” He said. “Don’t worry; you’ll be safe where we’re going!” Sakura looked a little unsure, but in her current state, she couldn’t exactly be picky. She nodded and stood up to her full height; the tops of the trees barely reached up to her stomach. Sasuke just shrugged and figured wherever Naruto was taking them had to be more secluded then where they were now. So he too leapt into the trees and was ready to follow; now that they were ready, Naruto began to leap from branch to branch with Sasuke moving right along with him. Sakura, on the other hand, had a bit of trouble moving through the forest as the trees were grouped so close together and she was trying not to knock too many of them down.



Chapter 3


The trio continued on for about an hour or so. Both the boys had to stop a couple times to let Sakura catch-up. She was big, but the forest was thick and they did not want her leaving a lot of evidence for anyone else to find. So she had to walk as carefully and as delicately as she could. Still, it was probably better if nobody found a new large path in the forest where all the trees had been knocked down off their trunks.


They eventually made their way to edge of a large cliff. Naruto dropped down from the trees and skidded to a stop in front of a small cave. “Well, we’re here,” Naruto said with a wide grin across his face. Sasuke also landed from the trees next to Naruto and saw the cave he was standing in front of. He couldn’t believe how dumb Naruto was. The cave stood only ten feet tall and ten feet wide.


“You can’t be serious,” Sasuke said. “Are really that stupid!?”


“What’d you say Sasuke!?” Naruto said.


Sakura eventually made it to the clearing and saw the boys the two arguing, as usual. She then saw the cave behind them and easily figured out what they were arguing about. She quickly moved her hand between them.


“All right, you two, break it up, behave now boys,” Sakura said. Both boys just turned and scowled at how they were being treated like little kids, even though they acting like them. Sakura removed her hand. “Look, Naruto, I appreciate the thought and all, but this cave is just way too small. There’s no way I’ll be able to fit inside it.”


“Huh, oh, Sakura, this isn’t the cave I was thinking about,” Naruto said. “There’s another one right around the bend. It’s much, much bigger than this dinky little thing.” Naruto then ran off along the edge cliff and both his teammates followed behind him.


Naruto eventually stopped. “Here it is, this is the one I was talking about,” said Naruto pointing at the cliff. As Sasuke and Sakura came around, they saw a much bigger cave opening; much, much bigger. The entrance stood at least 70 ft tall and 60 ft feet wide, and so dark in the back there was no telling how deep it went. “I found this place when I escaped from class one day. Iruka-sensei had found many of my other hiding places, so I had to go hunting for a new one. He never found this one; it’ll be a perfect place to hide her and plus, look over here…”


Both his teammates followed Naruto as he ran over to the edge of a large lake. “See, this perfect; Sakura can hide in the cave and take a drink from the lake if she gets thirsty. Also, there are lots fish here, so you’ll all right on food for a while Sakura if you get hungry. Heck, I went fishing here for one day and caught over a dozen fish in an hour.”


“Well, I’m impressed Naruto,” Sasuke complemented. “This is actually a good idea. You should be fine here Sakura; why don’t you get settled in the cave…”


Sakura nodded as she headed inside the cave. She was surprised that it wasn’t as bad as thought it would be. The cave was dry and quite cool, which was nice considering it was summer. The base of the cave was flat, the ground was soft, and so it was sure to be comfortable. This wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be; she began to feel a little bit better about her situation, especially since she had two great teammates like Naruto and Sasuke.


“Okay, now that you’re all settled in,” Sasuke began. “Now, why don’t you tell us how you got this?”


“Hold on, Sasuke,” Naruto interrupted. “We might want to get Granny Tsunade and the other jônin team leaders here-”


“Whoa, hold on a sec there, knucklehead,” Sasuke interjected. “I admit we should at least let Kakashi and Lady Tsunade in one this, but do we really need the other jônin in on this?”


“Of course,” Naruto said in his defense. “Look, its better they find out about this sooner rather than later. If they find out about this now, they’ll be able to keep their squad members away from here and away from Sakura. Besides, if Ino finds out about this, she’ll spread it all over the village in less than an hour. At least the jônin will keep their mouths closed about this.”


“Wow, you’ve really thought this through,” Sakura complimented. “I’m quite impressed.”


“Ah, come on, you’re giving me too much credit…”


“Yeah, she is,” Sasuke retorted. He turned to see Naruto glaring at him. “Now, why don’t you get moving and find the Fifth Hokage and the others.”


“Yeah, fine, whatever…” Naruto grumbled as he leapt into the trees and headed back towards the village.


Man, what is with Sasuke, he thought. He’s always picking on like that. Why does he always- Naruto stopped abruptly as a thought suddenly. “Hey, wait a minute, why do I have to be the one to get the others!?” Naruto yelled. “Ah, he did it to me again!”



Meanwhile, back at the cave, Sakura had gone inside and just curled inside while Sasuke stood guard outside. He was just leaning against the cliff twirling a kunai knife around his finger, listening to the sound of the wind rustling through the trees, the birds chirping off in the distance, and the occasional fish leaping out of the water. But then, he heard a new sound, something that didn’t sound like something from nature. It was the sound of whimpering; it was coming from inside the cave. He peeked inside to see Sakura with her eyes full of tears and her knees pulled close to her body. Sasuke was starting to worry because he could easily hear the sound outside of the cave and if it got any louder, it might attract unwanted attention. He wasn’t good at it, but he would have to try and calm her down.


“Sakura, calm down,” Sasuke said calmly. “What’s wrong?”


“What’s wrong? What’s wrong!?” Sakura said in an agitated voice. “Look at me Sasuke! I’m a freak!”


“You’re not a freak…”


“Yes I am, look at me! I’m over fifty feet tall; I could easily crush buildings with my bare hands! I could cause an earthquake if I slammed my foot down! All these years Ino’s been calling me by that stupid nickname and now I really do have a billboard brow!”


Soon, tears were streaming down her face and splashing on the ground. Sasuke just shook his head; this wasn’t going so well.


“Look, Sakura, come with me for a second,” Sasuke spoke up. “You need to see something…”


Sakura stopped whimpering and looked at Sasuke. What could he possibly have to show her? She wiped the tears in her eyes away, got up, and out of the cave. She walked out and saw Sasuke standing next to the lake.


“Come over here,” he yelled. Sakura walked over to the edge of the lake. She then looked into the lake and saw her reflection. “What do you see?”


“Excuse me…”


“I said what do you see?”


“Well, I see myself…”


“Exactly!” Sakura looked at Sasuke, a little confused. “I don’t see any horns, fangs claws, or extra eyes. All I see is the same smart kunoichi, nothing else.”


Sakura could feel herself blushing.


“You’re worrying yourself over nothing. You are not a freak; you’re still Sakura Haruno, just a bit taller.”


Sakura had to wipe a tear; she was just so happy.


“Thanks Sasuke,” Sakura said. “I needed that.”


“Sure, no problem. Now get back inside before someone else sees you; it’ll be too troublesome to explain this entire situation.”


Sakura smiled and nodded before she got up and went back inside.



Chapter 4


For the next hour or so, Sasuke just pretty much stood outside the cave twirling the kunai around his finger like before. Man, Naruto, what is taking you so long? He thought. It shouldn’t be that hard to find the Fifth Hokage, especially since you know her so well.


Suddenly, Sasuke heard voices off in the distance and immediately assumed a defensive stance. But he relaxed when he heard an all too familiar loud, obnoxious voice.


“Well, about time…” Sasuke said as he put his kunai knife away.


“Come on, this is really important,” Naruto yelled. “Come on, pick up the pace already!”


“Naruto, this had better be good,” Lady Tsunade said. “I was just in the middle of a blackjack game.”


“Yeah, and losing badly,” said a female voice. It belonged to Shizune. “It’s probably a good thing Naruto came along when he did.”


“Oh, shut it, Shizune,” Tsunade said.


“Look Naruto, I know we need to be here since this is an emergency and all,” said a gruff voice, which belonged to Asuma. “But do we really need Lady Tsunade with us. I’m sure we can handle it.”


“Asuma is right, Naruto,” said a female. It was Kurenai. “I’m sure we can handle whatever this problem is.”


“Right, leave everything to us Naruto!” said the loud and boisterous voice of Might Guy. “If there’s any fighting involved, leave that to me!”


“I wouldn’t be so sure about that. This is really BIG problem; we’re going to need all the help we can get.”


“Uh Naruto,” Kakashi said. “What do you mean by ‘we’?”


“Sasuke and I,” Naruto answered. “Sakura has gone through some big changes and we need some help.”


The jônin and the Fifth Hokage just looked at each other. They were thinking pretty much the same thing: He’s got to be kidding…


“Uh, Naruto,” Lady Tsunade began. “If this is about a little zit or something like that-”


“No, no, nothing like that,” Naruto interjected. “Trust me, this is not about a little blemish; in fact it’s not about anything little at all.”


The gang finally made it to the cave where Sasuke stood.


“What took you so long, you knucklehead.”


“Hey, don’t me blame! Do you know how hard it was for me to convince these people there’s an emergency when nothing is actually happening?”


“Yeah, I guess if I were them, I’d have some trouble believing a moron like you.”


Naruto scowled at Sasuke. He just couldn’t take Sasuke’s verbal abuse.


“Okay, okay you two,” Kakashi intervened. “Now, Naruto, what exactly is wrong with Sakura?”


“Huh, oh, right,” Naruto ran in front of the cave. “Hey, Sakura! You can come out now! I brought Granny Tsunade and the other jônin with me! And don’t worry; none of the other genin are with them!”


The jônin didn’t have to wait long before they heard a loud thudding noise that was getting louder. Suddenly, they could all see a long, tall figure come out of the cave. As they looked up the slender figure, they soon realized that it was a leg attached to a body. As they looked up, they all looked into the face of a very familiar kunoichi. They quickly realized they were looking into the face of a 50 foot tall Sakura!


The entire group was speechless. A couple of them thought this was a genjutsu, a mind trick. But after trying every trick they new to break a genjutsu, they soon realized that what they were seeing was not an illusion. Naruto had to keep himself from laughing so hard; he couldn’t believe the looks he was seeing on their faces. Asuma was in so much shock that his mouth was hanging open and the cigarette he had in their just fell right out. Shizune was so shocked that her arms fell to her side and Tonton dropped to the ground with a hard thud. Guy’s mouth was hanging so far down he looked like the catch of the day at the local fish market.


Man, this is priceless, Naruto thought. I wish I had brought a camera.


“Hi…” Sakura said meekly as she waved down at her onlookers. She felt extremely embarrassed.


“Uh, Naruto, Sasuke, how did this happen?” Tsunade asked.


“We don’t know,” Sasuke answered. “We just found her like this. She was going to tell us how she got this and we figured you might want to hear her story too.”


“Okay…well, Sakura, can tell us how you got like this?” Tsunade asked.


“Well, I was planning to do some training over by the Hero’s Memorial Stone,” she began to say. She conveniently left out the part about Sasuke shooting her down because she was embarrassed enough as it was. “I was about to get started when Kakashi-sensei came along and gave me a strange golden scroll-”


“Whoa, hold on there, Sakura,” Kakashi interrupted. “What are you talking about? I’ve been nowhere near the Memorial Stone all day. I’ve been down at the teahouse; just ask Guy and the others, they can vouch for me.”


“It’s true, Sakura,” Guy said. “We arrived at the teahouse earlier today and saw Kakashi there as well. The owner told us he’d been there all day.”


Now Sakura was both confused and worried.


“But, sensei, if you didn’t give me that golden scroll-” Sakura gasped as she looked into her hands and even checked her carrying pouch; they were completely empty. “The golden scroll, it’s gone! Naruto, Sasuke, did you take the golden scroll?”


“What are you talking about, Sakura?” Naruto asked. “We didn’t find a scroll of any kind with you.”


“But that’s impossible! I had it in my hand right when I passed out! It was that golden scroll what did this to me and I got it from Kakashi-sensei!”


“Sakura, I don’t have and never did have a golden scroll.”


“But, if everything you’ve said is true and you didn’t give it to me. Then who was it who gave that scroll?”


“Come one, isn’t it obvious, Sakura,” Sasuke said. “The ninja who gave the scroll was an enemy using a Transformation Jutsu to disguise himself as Kakashi. He must’ve stolen the scroll back after you passed out. Man, how could you fall for one of the oldest tricks in the book?”


“Hey back off, Sasuke,” Naruto scolded. “Give her break; at least she’s all right. That golden scroll or that ninja could’ve hurt her or worse-”


“Exactly,” Sasuke interrupted. “She could’ve been killed. She’s lucky this is all that happened; she should’ve been more careful.”


Sakura started to sulk at Sasuke’s harsh words.


“All right Sasuke, that’s enough,” Kakashi said.


“No, sensei, he’s right, I should’ve been more careful,” Said Sakura, her head hanging low.


“Now, now Sakura, relax,” Tsunade said reassuringly. “Do you at least remember the hand signs that were written on the scroll?”


“Yes,” Sakura replied happily. She quickly got on her knees and started to write the symbols on the ground with her finger.


When she was does done, Tsunade walked over and looked at the signs she had written. She looked at them inquisitively.


“Hmmm, I’ve never seen hand signs put in this order before?” Tsunade said.


“I know how the Akemichi Clan’s Expansion Jutsu works,” Asuma said. “But I’ve never seen them use any of this hand signs like this before.”


Tsunade continued to look at the signs and back at Sakura, the wheels in her head turning.


This is strange, she thought. I wonder why the jutsu hasn’t worn off yet.




“Way ahead of you, my lady,” Shizune responded. “I’ve written down all the hand signs. And here is your medical kit…”


Man, she’s prepared for anything, Naruto thought.


Tsunade took the kit from Shizune and started to shift through it. Naruto could hear all kinds of things rattling around in there, making him wonder what exactly she carried in there. Soon the rattling stopped and Tsunade pulled out an incredibly large needle. Naruto just gawked when he saw it.


Whoa, and I thought the flu shots I got as a kid were big!


Tsunade took the needle from Shizune and looked at Sakura. “Okay, Sakura, extend one of your arms for me, would you?”


“Okay…” Sakura said her voice a little shaky, extending her right arm. “Is this really necessary, Lady Tsunade?”


“Yes, it is Sakura,” Tsunade said in a rather annoyed tone. “Look, you may feel fine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are fine. Your external body may be bigger, but your internal organs may not have caught up. This is just a precaution; now suck it up already, this won’t take long!”


With those words, Tsunade plunged the needle into Sakura’s arm as deep as she could. Sakura cringed as Tsunade drew the blood from her arm, the massive needle quickly becoming full. When it was finally full, Tsunade withdrew the needle quickly and Sakura immediately placed her hand over the entry point.


“Shizune, take this back to the Hidden Leaf Hospital. Don’t let any of the other medical ninjas or doctors anywhere near it. Store it in one of the medical examination rooms; I’ll be by later to check on it. If anyone asks, just say it’s a sample from Gama Bunta or something like that.”


“Yes, my lady,” Shizune said as she bowed and disappeared in a puff of smoke.


Tsunade then reached back into her medical kit and pulled out a roll of bandage tape. She tied it around the wound on Sakura’s arm until it was completely covered. “All right, now that that’s done, I just need to do a quick medical examination,” Tsunade said as she reached back inside her medical kit. She then pulled out a stethoscope. “Okay, Sakura, lift me up to your chest, will you?”


Sakura nodded as she lowered her hand. Once Tsunade was on, she was lifted up the Sakura’s chest and placed her stethoscope on her. She moved it around and listened carefully. As soon as she was done, Sakura placed her back down on the ground.


“Well Sakura,” Tsunade said. “You don’t have anything to worry about, health wise, I mean. It looks like all your organs grew with you, so you don’t need to worry about any immediate problems.”


Sakura breathed in deeply at the news; of course, she caused a minor windstorm that nearly knocked back all the jônin. At least the only thing she had to worry about was how she was going to get back to normal size; and getting something to eat. At that instant, Sakura’s stomach decided to start complaining, loudly. The others braced themselves, expecting an earthquake, but once they realized it was Sakura’s stomach they managed to relax. Sakura could feel herself blushing, she was so embarrassed.


“Well, it is close to dinner time,” Naruto said. “I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that she’s so hungry.”


“How or what are we going to feed her?” Asuma asked. “Her appetite has gotta be bigger than Choji’s!”


Sakura’ head flopped down; now she was feeling even worse.


“Asuma…” Kurenai said as she nudged Asuma in the stomach.


“Don’t worry, I’ll pay for her meal tonight,” Lady Tsunade said. “But starting tomorrow, your teammates will be responsible for your meals, do you all understand?”


Naruto, Sasuke, and Kakashi all nodded. They quickly decided who would be the one to bring Sakura’s breakfast in the morning with a quick game of rock-paper-scissors. Amazingly, Naruto wasn’t the loser, Sasuke had the losing hand and he just scowled at his bad luck. Sakura frowned, but hid it well; she was starting to feel like a real nuisance to them. Kakashi decided to take dinner and volunteered to take lunch.


“Well, we better get to it,” Tsunade stated. “Kakashi, Naruto, and Sasuke: you three stay here with Sakura until I get back.”


“Why do I have stay?” Sasuke asked.


“You are the one who found her like this. And you are her teammate, so it’s your responsibility to make sure she’s safe.”


“Yeah, Sasuke, you can’t shirk responsibilities!” Naruto added.


Like your one to talk, Sasuke thought. He looked around and saw the eyes of the others on him. “Fine, fine, I’ll stay too.”


Everyone just smiled; they knew he would’ve caved in eventually. He wasn’t that cold hearted. Sakura was the only one who wasn’t smiling; from Sasuke’s tone, he thought watching over her was a nuisance or a chore, something he didn’t want to do. That made her feel a little more miserable but she showed no sign of it. She just simply sat there not saying anything.


“All right, the rest of you, get back to work!” Tsunade ordered.


“And try to keep your teams away from this area for now.” Naruto added.


The other jônin nodded and disappeared in three puff’s of smoke. Tsunade quickly did the same and left the four of them alone. Each one decided to pass the time in their own way: Kakashi leaned against the cave, reading his favorite novel “Make Out Paradise”. Sasuke just sat underneath a tree in the shade and stared at the leaves as they fell. Naruto was pacing back and forth, his arms crossed, waiting impatiently, wearing a path in the ground. Sakura had just pulled her knees in close and made in a circle in the ground with her finger. Soon, there was a big, circular indentation in the ground.



Chapter 5


The sun was starting to go down and they were wondering if Tsunade was ever going to come back. Suddenly, Tsunade burst through the trees, carrying a big net over her back, filled to the brim with fish.


“Well, it took you long enough!” Naruto yelled.


“Oh, be quiet, you little moron,” Tsunade groaned. “Even with my incredible strength, lugging this big net through the entire village and the forest was hard enough.”


Tsunade released the net and it hit the ground with a hard thud. Once it was off her back, Tsunade wiped her forehead.


“All right, Sasuke,” Tsunade said. “Why don’t you use that Fireball Justsu of yours and cook these puppies?”


Sasuke just sighed and shook his head. Man, do I have to do everything around here… he thought. He quickly did the hand signs and blew a big fireball that easily cooked the entire catch. Once it was done, she dipped her hand in and scooped a large portion, dumping it into her mouth. She licked her lips at how succulent the fish tasted. Of course, as hungry as she was, anything would’ve tasted like a fancy meal. In three scoops, she had eaten the entire catch. Naruto was just amazed; there had to be enough fried fish in that net to feed more than ten people for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and she had finished it all in one sitting.


Man, I better remember not to be too close to her when she’s eating, otherwise… Naruto gulped as the image entered his mind and shivered.


“Well, now that that’s taken care of, we’d better get back.” Kakashi said.


Naruto and Sasuke nodded and then looked at their taller teammate.


“Well, I guess I’ll see you in the morning,” Sasuke said.


“Sleep well, Sakura,” Naruto said as he waved to her.


Sakura nodded as she watched her teammates, leader, and the Fifth Hokage walked away, leaving her alone. She frowned; she was alone, with no one around to help her through her troubles. She quickly shook it off.


Come on, pull yourself together girl, she thought. You’re kunoichi now! You’ll be fine on your own! Besides, it’s not like no one would dare mess with someone as big as you. She looked around and saw a boulder nearby. She reached over, picked it up, and crushed it with her bare hand. Oh yeah! Look out bad guys; mess with Sakura Haruno and you’ll be asking for trouble!


She stood back up, full of confidence, and went back inside the cave.



Elsewhere, off in the distance, stood a tall oak tree that towered over the entire forest. In the branches of that tree, three very familiar figures perched on the branches; one of them had a telescope out.


“Well Ko,” asked the bald ninja. “How’s it looking?”


“So far, so good,” said Ko the ninja with bandages around his mouth. “She doesn’t appear to have any physical ailments and she seems to be mentally stable, but only time will tell if this jutsu is ready.”


“Man, why can’t we just take her now?” asked the ninja with the eye patch. “Do we really need to do these pointless observations? It’s obvious she’s fine…”


“That may be, Sai,” said the bald ninja. “But this is only the first day. Our master ordered us to view the test subject for a week; if any changes occur during that time period, we need to send word back to our master at once. Besides, you’ve already had your rear handed to you be a girl once, care to make it two?”


“What’d you say Goro!?” Sai (the eye patch ninja) said to Goro (the bald ninja). “Care to repeat that?”


“Both of you,” Ko scolded. “That’s enough! Don’t waste your energy on such pointless arguments.”


“Let’s just turn in, it’s getting late,” Goro said. “Besides, it’s not like she’s going to really do anything more tonight…”


Ko and Sai nodded and they all leapt from the tree down to small campsite where several sleeping bags waited for the observers.



Meanwhile, back in the cave, Sakura had fallen into a deep sleep. Sure, she could’ve stayed up all night, feeling sorry for herself. But she knew there was no point to that; she was already feeling a little better about her predicament and with the thought of Lady Tsunade, the greatest medical ninja ever, helping her there was no real reason for her to worry. The calm night air held no threat of an enemy presence and the quiet chirping of crickets sounded like an easy lullaby for her. Sakura soon found herself in a very interesting dream…


In her dream, she was still at her abnormal height, waiting outside the cave for Sasuke to bring her breakfast. She then heard a very familiar and annoying voice. She then saw Sasuke come around the bend…with Ino wrapped around his arm, flirting with him as usual.


“Oh Sasuke…” Ino said in her most romantic voice.


“Hey, Miss Ino pig,” Sakura said. “What do you think you’re doing with Sasuke?”


“Well, isn’t it obvious?” Ino said in an obnoxious tone. “There’s no way a giant, billboard brow freak would stand a chance with Sasuke now.”


“Oh yeah,” Sakura replied in with a confident tone, smile forming across her face. She reached down and wrapped her hand around Sasuke, pulling away from Ino’s grasp. She then pulled him close to her face and planted a big wet kiss on Sasuke’s cheek. Ino gritted her teeth and started to yell incoherently at Sakura, but she was barely audible to Sakura; the kiss was just too distracting. When she finally pulled Sasuke away, she looked down at the very annoyed Ino.


“You…you gargantuan goof ball…you oversized hussy…how dare you just plant one on Sasuke like that… and in front of me!?”


Sakura’s confident smile was back on her face. She placed Sasuke back on the ground; he was in a bit of daze, the kiss was a bit of a surprise for him and he wasn’t exactly prepared for it. Sakura then looked at Ino with her hands on her hips.


“You know, Ino,” Sakura began. “I think it’s about time you saw just how small you are compared to the rest of the world and me.”


Ino stopped ranting and looked at Sakura confused. Sakura then reached down and plucked Ino off the ground. She then started to raise Ino into the air higher and higher, all the while Ino was flailing her arms and legs, crying for Sakura to put her down. But Sakura just smiled, watching her helpless victim struggle, as she lifted into the air above her head.


Sakura smiled in her sleep as the dream went on.


Ah, if only this dream would come true… Sakura thought.



Chapter 6


The next morning, Sasuke came shuffling through the forest, carrying a huge basket of fruit on his back. Man, sure hope she appreciates this, Sasuke thought. This whole thing cost about a small fortune alone. Well, at least Naruto and Kakashi have got lunch and dinner covered. Of course, knowing Naruto, he’s probably blown all his earnings on ramen by now.


He finally arrived at the cave and dropped the fruit basket off his basket, rubbing the sweat away from his brow.


“Sakura!” Sasuke called into the cave. “I’ve brought you your breakfast! Sakura!”


No answer came from within the cave. Sasuke looked inside and couldn’t see any sign of his humongous teammate. He went further inside to where the cave was darker, to see if maybe she had gone in deeper to hide herself. But there was absolutely no sign of her, the cave was completely vacant. Now Sasuke was starting to worry. What if she had wondered off somewhere, or worse, towards the village? He could already see the mass panic as people were running about just trying to avoid being stepped on by her.


“Sakura!” Sasuke yelled as he ran out of the cave. “Where are you!?”


At that moment, an enormous wave erupted out of the water. Sasuke watched as the wave came crashing down on him, soaking him all over. He shook off the water and watched as Sakura’s enormous figure rose out of the water and climbed onto shore. She then noticed the drenched Sasuke; she was confused at first, but quickly realized what had happened and blushed.


“Uh, hi Sasuke,” Sakura said as she got back on land. “Sorry…”


“Forget it,” the annoyed ninja said. “Why did you go in the water, you had me worried.”


“Well, it was pretty hot this morning,” Sakura began. “And I was kind of sweaty when I woke up and didn’t want to take my dress off, especially with the off chance of Naruto peeping-” Sakura stopped when she suddenly realized. “Wait a minute, you were worried about me?” She sounded a little excited that Sasuke was actually concerned for her.


“Don’t get so excited,” Sasuke said. “I was just worried you might catch someone’s attention. We really don’t need a panic right now.”


“Oh, right,” Sakura said depressed.


Sasuke took a breath. “Sorry…I brought your breakfast by the way.” He pointed over the large basket. “Hope you enjoy it, it certainly wasn’t cheap.”


Sakura licked her lips as she reached over and picked up the basket. She quickly dumped the entire load in her mouth, gulping it down in less then three seconds. Once she was done, she placed the basket down on the ground.


“Thanks Sasuke,” Sakura said satisfaction. “That really hit the spot…”


Sasuke looked inside the now empty basket. Not even a single leaf or peel was left.


“Yeah, know you probably should’ve rationed that. Naruto isn’t exactly a good budgeter and he’s the one responsible for your lunch.”


Sakura thought about it and had to agree with that; Naruto’s wallet was usually emptier than his head. Well, if he at least brings her a bowl of ramen, she’ll be lucky. Speak of the knucklehead, Naruto leapt down from the trees with a wide grin on his face.


“Hey, Sasuke!” Naruto yelled in his usual loud voice. “Great news, we’ve got a mission today.”


“Yeah, so what?”


“It’s an A-rank mission and the guy’s paying a fortune for us to escort a kid of his. I’ve already met him and he’s sweeter than a strawberry; this’ll be a piece of cake. Don’t worry Sakura; I’ll have enough money to cover you for both lunch and dinner today!”


Sakura smiled down at the excited ninja. “Thanks Naruto, but just buy me lunch today. Kakashi has got dinner covered and you’ll need the money to buy food for yourself.”


“Yeah, good point. Well, we’d better get going Sasuke. Come on, Kakashi-sensei is waiting for us!”


“I’ll be right there,” Sasuke said. “Now Sakura, don’t go too far from here. Remember, we don’t need anyone else finding out about this.”


“I know, I know,” Sakura said, slightly miffed at being like a child. She wasn’t like Naruto; she was mature enough to look after herself. She watched as Sasuke and Naruto leapt into the branches and disappeared into the distance. Now she was all alone again, a cold breeze blew through her hair and reminded her just how lonely she was. She pulled her legs in close and waited patiently for her teammates to return. She just stayed there in the fetal position, daydreaming about her and Sasuke, together, on a nice romantic evening…




In the village, at the hospital, Tsunade had walked into the solitary examination room she had asked Shizune to procure for her. She was looking into a microscope when she heard a knock at the door.


“Lady Tsunade,” said a female voice. It was Shizune.


“Come in,” Tsunade answered.


Shizune walked in with Tonton in her arms. “Lady Tsunade, how long have you been here?”


“Since this morning,” Tsunade said. “Come here, I want you to take a look at something.”


“What is it?”


“It’s the sample I took from Sakura yesterday. There’s something rather interesting about it…”


Shizune walked over and looked into the telescope once Lady Tsunade had stood up. She looked into it and saw red blood cells, but they weren’t your usual red blood cells. They were much bigger than your normal blood cells.


“These cells…” was all Shizune could say.


“Yeah, I know,” Tsunade said. “I was surprised too when I first saw the sample. When I tried to squeeze some out from the needle this morning, it was like trying to pump out jelly, it was so thick. I’ve never seen a jutsu that alters a person’s physical make-up all the way down to the cellular level to such a degree and still persist after it’s been cast. I’ve got to admit; whoever came with this is either a real genius or a complete madman.”


“Have you had any luck with finding a cure?” Shizune asked.


“Unfortunately no, not yet. I plan to run some tests today, hopefully they’ll provide me with the answers we need.”


“I’ll help however I can, my lady,” Shizune said. “Just tell me what to do.”


“Great, let’s get started!” Tsunade said as she rolled up her sleeves.



Chapter 7


Sakura waited patiently outside the cave. She hadn’t really moved much from that spot except to get a drink of water and keep her legs from falling asleep. She didn’t even try to practice her jutsu or chakra control. She was afraid the activity might draw the wandering eyes of some unsuspecting visitor. It was then that she heard the wheels of a wagon and an all too familiar series of grunts. She then saw Naruto coming around the bend with a cart full of vegetables; Sasuke was walking besides him with his hands in his pockets.


“Geez, Sasuke,” Naruto groaned. “You could at least help with this thing!”


“I am helping,” Sasuke said. “Helping you mediate your time and money. Knowing you, the moment we’d gotten back from that last mission, you’ve spent half your earnings on ramen before you even remembered Sakura’s needs. Plus, I’ve already lifted my far share today.”


Naruto gritted his teeth as he continued to push the wagon, complete annoyed with Sasuke. Once they reached Sakura, Naruto released the wagon and collapsed from exhaustion.


“Well…Sakura…” Naruto gasped. “Here’s…your lunch…”


Sakura just smiled as she watched her exhausted teammate lye on the ground, his chest heaving for air. She reached over and scooped up a handful of the vegetables. In less than two handfuls, the cart was completely empty, save for a few stragglers. Sakura picked up the cart and tipped the rest of it into her mouth. She placed the cart back on the ground, completely empty. There was a satisfied smile of Sakura’s face as she rubbed her stomach.


“Thanks Naruto,” Sakura said. “That really hit the spot.”


“Glad you liked it,” Naruto said, still collapsed on the ground. Sasuke just smirked at seeing Naruto down on his back like that. He finally got back on his feet after a few minutes and stretched out his arms. “Okay, now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, I’ll take the cart back to the farmer. He’d said he’d kill me if I didn’t have it back by sundown.”


“Guess I’ll see you later, Naruto,” Sakura said.


“Yeah, see later, Sakura,” was all Naruto was able to say as he turned the wagon around and headed back for the village. Man, I wish I could say something to cheer her up, Naruto thought. But I’d probably just say something stupid and make her feel worse…


Sasuke and Sakura just watched as Naruto disappeared around the bend.


“Well, I guess I’ll you later,” Sasuke said.


Sasuke turned around and started to walk back to the village when he suddenly stopped; Sakura’s hand was blocking his path.


“Wait Sasuke, um,” Sakura started to say. “Would you… would you…spend the night with me?”


“Why?” Sasuke asked flatly, not even bothering to turn around.


“Well, I was king of lonely last night, and I was wondering-”


“Quit acting like such a little kid! You’re ninja now, start acting like one!”


Sakura pouted, but she refused to remove her hand.


“How can you be so cruel to a lady who’s just asking for a little company? Besides, it’s not like anyone is waiting for you at your home…”


Sasuke flinched when he heard those words. “What did you just say?” Sasuke asked.


Sakura suddenly looked worried. There was a particularly cruel, cold accent to his tone. She had never heard it before; it scared her. She withdrew her hand as Sasuke turned around, his eyes closed shut.


“Do you even have the slightest idea what it’s like for me? Coming home to empty halls, which were once filled with the warmth and joy of a mother and father ready to greet you at the end of the day? To see the dark windows of your relatives left dark and devoid of all life? All because of someone you trusted entirely and looked up to?”


Sasuke eyes suddenly burst open, revealing his Sharingan Eyes. Sakura cringed as she looked into his eyes; they were filled a cold bloodlust she had never seen in them before. There was also a hint of anger, sadness and disappointment in his words. For the first time, Sakura was seeing what truly rested in Sasuke’s heart.


“That’s exactly what it was like for me, what it still is like for me. I go back to those empty halls and unlit windows everyday, expecting to see some kind of sign, a sign of life. But it never comes; all I ever come to is the cold emptiness and dark hallways. And it’s all because of him…my brother!”


Sakura gasped as the reality of what he said set in. All she could do was curse herself for being so insensitive; not just for what she had just said, but for all the years she just stared at him and only thought of him as some kind of prize she was trying to win.


“I’ll still remember the day it happened, I will never forget it!” Sasuke continued. “I’d arrived home from school one day to find all my relatives; aunts, uncles, cousins all littered with kunai and shuriken. Some had been hacked and slashed by a sword. I raced home and got there just in time to see my mom and dad lying on the ground in a pool of their blood. And then, out of the shadows, stepped their killer. That person was my own brother, Itachi. He used his Sharingan to show me how he slaughtered the entire clan and then he left me to live with those tormented visions. Now, every time I go to sleep, I hardly have a peaceful dream. Because all I see are the visions Itachi showed me before he disappeared. I will never forgive him for what he’s done. Because of him, I’m all alone. Because of him, I have no one to come home. Because of him, I have nobody…”


And that was the last straw for Sakura. She had been feeling sorry for Sasuke before, but that last comment was all she could take. She slammed her hand down so hard the earth shook. Sasuke was barely able to keep his balance; his Sharingan had completely dispelled from his eyes. He looked up into Sakura’s face; her could see that she was obviously angry and upset, but it also looked like she was about to cry. She was holding back the tears.


“Oh, so Naruto, Kakashi and I are just nothing to you, is that right!” Sakura said. “We’re just nobodies to you huh! How can you say such things? I mean, sure, we’re not your actually, but weren’t we always there for you when you needed somebody. When you thought nobody was there for you, we were always with you, even if you didn’t want us near you. All of us, especially me, were worried about your well-being. And when you were in pain, we were in pain too. Even though we didn’t show it some the time, it was there. And for me, that pain was unbearable,” Sakura said, the tears now streaming down her face. “Like the time when Might Guy brought you back to the village in critical condition. It nearly broke my heart to see you lying there, on the hospital bed, wondering if you would ever wake-up. I came by everyday, expecting you to just sit up in that bed, saying that you were just fine. But you never did; I thought I had truly lost you for good, Sasuke. And when Lady Tsunade finally cured, I was overjoyed to see you finally sit up; I thought it was a miracle. So don’t say we’re nothing, nobodies to you; don’t say that I’m nobody to you, because you’re somebody to me Sasuke. You’re special to me, the most precious person in my life and that why I…I…I LOVE YOU SASUKE!”


Sasuke just froze when he heard those words. He wasn’t sure how to respond at all, this was completely new for him. All he could do was just look into Sakura’s face as the tears rained down on the ground. He started to feel guilty now as he watched his teammate begin to weep. He just sighed; he figured he might as well try to calm her down.


“All right, all right, fine,” Sasuke said at last. “I’ll stay one night, just one night. Will that make you happy?”


Sakura stopped crying and collected herself. She slowly smiled again, happy to hear those words. “Okay!” Sakura replied with a smile and a nod.


“Great,” Sasuke said casually. “But do not mention a word of this to Kakashi or Naruto, understand?”


Sakura nodded in agreement. She took in a deep breath to steady her already excited heart. After just getting the feelings she had been carrying for so long off her chest, she was ready for a long night’s sleep. She patiently sat outside the cave as she watched the sun go down, waiting for her dinner delivery…



Off the distance, the three ninja had resumed their operations of observing the “test subject”.


“Day 1 of observations: test subject shows no sign of physical ailment or mental stress,” Ko said as he wrote down the observations in a little journal. “No obvious signs of any illness of fatigue due to physical alteration. Will continue to observe subject for continued time period.”


He closed the journal and leapt down to the clearing where his companions were waiting.


“Man, Ko, do you always have to talk when you write?” Sai asked in an annoyed tone. “It’s really annoying…”


“At least I’m doing something constructive,” Ko answered. “All you do is sit around doing nothing. You don’t even bother to practice any of your justsu. Geez, it’s no wonder you got your butt whooped by a genin kunoichi.”


Sai reached over, grabbed hold of a rock, and literally crushed it into pebbles. It was as if he was trying to say ‘like I need to practice.’ There was a bit of a smug grin across his face, his confidence (or rather overconfidence) evident in all parts of his face. Ko just shook his head in skepticism; Sai’s ego had to be as big as the pink-haired kunoichi’s forehead. But he was more concerned with his other companion, Goro. He was in charge of bringing their dinner tonight and he was significantly late. Ko could hear his stomach growling like an angry boar.


Suddenly, the two of them heard a rustling from the bushes and quickly assumed a defense position. They relaxed when they saw the shiny head of their compatriot come bursting through the bushes. They were even more relieved to see that he had several bags of food in his hands. But they grew a little concerned when they saw the worried look on his face and gasping for breath.


“Goro, finally,” Sai said. “We’re starving here, what; did you take the scenic route or something?”


“Goro, is something wrong?” Ko asked. “You look a little troubled…”


“Huff, huff, huff…We may have a problem!” Goro said as he finally caught his breath. “I did a little recon around the village…huff, huff…I overheard that Tsunade broad and her assistant talking at a restaurant. They apparently took a sample from that kunoichi we’re observing before we noticed. They’re conducting tests on that sample to try a find a cure.”


“Yeah, so?” Sai said casually.


“SO! This is Tsunade we’re talking about: she’s one of the legendary Sanin and a medical genius.”


“And again, yeah, so?” Ko said, this time shrugging his shoulders.


“So, what if she finds a cure,” Sai said, watching as the reality of the situation sank into Sai’s thick head. “All the days we’ve spent planning and preparing for this will have been for not. And worse yet, if our master finds out about our screwed up…”


Both their faces turned completely pale as they remembered what happened to the last failure. He went all to pieces and was later nicknamed “Chum.”


“Relax, that isn’t going to happen,” Ko said coolly. Both his partners looked at him in disbelief. “She’s a medical expert; so she’ll naturally try medical procedures used to treat injuries and sicknesses. But since this is a jutsu, she won’t think to try any techniques that could dispel it first. And even if she does get around to trying dispelling-type jutsu, she won’t have any luck finding the right one in any of the village’s archives since this particular jutsu predates the village. By the time they even consider this, of course, it’ll be too late. Everything will be in place and the Leaf Village… no, no, all of the villages will fall to our power and the Crescent Moon Syndicate will be the supreme power of the world!”


Sai and Goro both nodded in agreement. What Ko said revived their confidence and reminded them of their empty stomachs. They immediately set to working on dinner…



Chapter 8


Sakura smiled as she watched the sunset, enjoying the last of the cooked fish Kakashi had brought for her dinner. Actually he brought the fish raw and cooked them for Sakura using a fire-type jutsu she had never seen before. Kakashi was now just leaning against the cliff, reading his favorite novel. Sakura just watched Kakashi, waiting for when he would finally leave a hint of anxiety on her face. As Kakashi continued to read, his eye peeked over to a tree in front of him, as if something had caught his attention. He gave a little chuckle as he closed his book and put it back in his carrying pouch.


“Well, Sakura, if you’re all done, I’ll be heading back now. You get a good night’s sleep and I’ll see you in the morning.”


Sakura smiled and waved as Kakashi walked off around the bend. She waited a few minutes just in case he was still in hearing distance. When she couldn’t hear his footsteps, she knew the cost was clear.


“Okay, he’s gone,” Sakura called out into the forest.


Sasuke walked out with a backpack and a sleeping bag slung under his arm.


“About time, I’d thought he’d never leave,” Sasuke said. “So, where exactly do I sleep?”


“Anywhere you want.” Sakura said with a bright smile, hoping that he would ask if he could sleep close to her.


“Good,” Sasuke said flatly.


Sakura smiled as she went back inside the cave. Sasuke followed in behind her. Once they were inside, Sakura found her favorite spot which was mostly soft soil that was much like her old bed at home. Sakura began to make herself comfortable when she looked over and saw Sasuke setting up his sleeping bag at the entrance of the cave.


“Uh, Sasuke, what are you doing?”


“What does it look like; I’m setting up my sleeping bag…”


“Well, yeah,” Sakura said, blushing a little. “But my spot over here is much more comfortable. And besides, I don’t bite.”


Sasuke stopped and dropped his pack.


“Look, I promised you I’d spend the night with you, nothing else. So just be thankful I even agreed to that. Now good night!”


He opened up his sleeping bag and got inside, zipping it back up. Sakura frowned as she watched Sasuke just sleep, all by himself, his back turned to her.


Why is he always like this? Thought Sakura. Could what his brother have done really been that terrible? Sasuke couldn’t possibly really hate his own brother so much that he would want to kill him? He must still be suffering so much; I wish I could so something to ease his pain?


Sakura continued to watch Sasuke, his back still turned to her. Just then, a thought popped into Sakura’s head which made her smile. She waited a little while until she was sure Sasuke was asleep. She then quietly reached over and unzipped his sleeping bag. It was a little difficult considering that her hands were bigger than the sleeping back. Once she had gotten it open, she carefully and gently lifted Sasuke out of the bag. She then laid back down and placed Sasuke on her chest. She then placed her hand over most of his body and watched he continued to sleep, oblivious to his new situation.


I hope I can see the look on Sasuke’s face when he wakes up in the morning, she thought. It’ll be priceless!


Sakura continued to smile as she slowly drifted off to sleep herself.



Sasuke eventually woke up in the middle of the night; something just didn’t feel right to him. His sleeping bag felt a little too warm and it felt like the ground was moving. As his vision came into focus, he could see that the ground had turned a deep red, like that of a rose. He then looked up and saw the chin of his gigantic companion. He just sighed and gritted his teeth.


            “I don’t believe this,” Sasuke grunted quietly. “Why would she do something like this? Man, she can be such a pain…”


            Sasuke tried to lift himself up, but it was no good. Sakura’s hand was just too heavy, even for him. He eventually just gave up; it was fairly late and he was still fairly wiped from the mission they had earlier today. He just sighed and laid back down.


            Man, as Shikamaru would say, this is such a drag… Sasuke thought as he slowly drifted off to sleep.



            The night seemed still and quiet, even the wind was not blowing through the trees. But not everything was so calm; a certain stubborn, obsessed avenger started to stir in his sleep. Sasuke started to toss and turn in his sleep; his dreams had suddenly become a nightmare.


In his dream, Sasuke was surrounded by darkness, completely alone, with no sign of any other life around him.


“What the…where am I?” Sasuke asked as he frantically looked around for anyone else. He could swear he was just sleeping on Sakura a moment ago. “Sakura, Kakashi, Naruto…anyone? If this is a joke, then it’s not funny. Kiba, Ino, Choji, Shika…”


Sasuke stopped abruptly when his foot brushed up against something. He slowly looked down and saw that his foot had brushed up against a hand. As Sasuke followed the hand down its arm to the body which was covered by a very familiar orange jacket, he suddenly realized that he was looking at Naruto. But he didn’t appear to be sleeping, in fact he wasn’t breathing at all. As Sasuke looked closer at Naruto strangely positioned body, he gasped in terror as he found a large hole impaled in his torso. He quickly grasped that his teammate was now dead, but what could’ve done this?


Sasuke quickly grew scared as he continued to stare at Naruto’s corpse. He began to slowly back away when he suddenly tripped over something and fell on his back. He quickly sat up and saw the dead body of Kakashi, a looked of fear petrified on his face. He could see the same injury on Kakashi as on Naruto. He quickly got back up and started to look around him. As he looked around him, he saw the bodies of all his other companions, all with gigantic holes in their chest. Sasuke at first was shocked, but when he looked little closer, he realized that the others had been impaled by what appeared to be Chidori. But the only ones who knew that move were him and Kakashi.


Then, it occurred to him that there was one other person who could’ve done this. The only person who would have the capability of performing such a difficult jutsu without any prior training. The very person he had been pursuing: Itachi.


“So, he’s here!” Sasuke said as he gnarled his teeth. “I won’t let him get away with his crimes this time, especially after doing this.”


Sasuke quickly performed the hand signs for Chidori as he prepared himself for the upcoming conflict.


“Itachi, come out and face me!” Sasuke called out, Chidori now crackling in his palm. He began to spin around looking for any sign of his brother. “You won’t escape me this time! You’ll pay for all your crimes with your life! Now come and get me!!!!”


Suddenly, Sasuke could hear a very evil and maniacal laugh coming from behind him. He quickly spun around to see someone draped in a black cloak wearing a straw hat. He knew right away that it was Itachi. He screamed out as he started to charge Itachi at full speed, Chidori cindering the ground. But his scream subsided and the Chidori fizzled out as he saw another body behind Itachi’s, the only problem was the dead body…was Itachi with the same gaping wound as the others. Sasuke finally stopped, completely confused.


“But wait, if that’s Itachi, then who are…?”


Sasuke watched as the mysterious figure turned around and removed his hat. What Sasuke saw nearly turned him white, his hands had dropped to his sides and collapsed to his knees. He couldn’t believe it was true, but the proof was standing right in front of him. He wasn’t looking into the face of his brother, but rather, he was staring into eyes that were filled with only cold bloodlust and hunger for power. These eyes possessed Sharingan much like his own; in fact they were his own. The person who’s face he was staring into was his own. The one who had killed all his friends was him!


“No, it can’t be…” Sasuke said.


“Oh, but it can,” Dark Sasuke (we’ll just call him that for arguments sake) said coldly. “After all, is it really so hard to believe? They were hindering your progress, holding you back, keeping you from fulfilling your true potential. And besides, does it really matter now; you got what you’ve always wanted. You’ve finally got your revenge, your brother is dead and now there is nothing left to hold you down.”


“I did want to kill Itachi, but I didn’t wish for the others to die,” Sasuke said in distraught.


“Well, it’s certainly too late now,” Dark Sasuke said. “And besides, now that the others are gone, you can now achieve ultimate power and there is nothing left to stop you. Don’t worry; you’ll learn to love the feeling of killing others. I know I certainly did…”


Sasuke just shook his head as he took in those words. “No…No…NO!”



            “No!” Sasuke said as he suddenly woke up, breathing heavily.


            He started to look around and saw that he was back in the cave, sleeping back on Sakura. He took several deep breaths as he wiped the sweat away from his forehead. He was relieved to see that what he had just experienced was only a dream, and yet something about it made it seem so real. He then looked at his hand, which seemed clean, but through Sasuke’s eyes, he could see the blood already starting to drip over it.


            Oh my god…what have I become? Sasuke thought as he continued to look at his trembling hand. I can’t believe it! Have I really been so blind…? I’ve turned into a monster, just like Itachi!


            Sasuke stopped his train of thought when he suddenly heard Sakura muttering.  


“Sasuke…Sasuke…” she said several times, obviously experiencing a romantic dream herself.


            Well, at least she’s having a good dream.


            That’s when she said something that shook Sasuke to the core.  “Sasuke…don’t worry,” she said still in a deep sleep. “No matter what…I’ll stay by your side…I promise I’ll never leave you…even if you turn into a monster…I’ll never abandon you…because I…love…you…”


            Sasuke gasped at see had just said. He couldn’t believe it; could it be that all those times she tried flirting with him, she was really trying to connect with him? Could it be that she really did love him? As he considered these questions, he couldn’t help but feel the need to kick himself. He couldn’t believe that all the times he felt alone, there was actually someone there to help ease that pain.


            Could it really be that she’s been there to help me all this time? Sasuke thought. Man, all this time, and I never even considered the possibility of having a real friend like her. And maybe not just her…


            Those last few thoughts stayed with Sasuke as he slowly drifted back to sleep.



            Sasuke suddenly found himself back in the same darkness as before. At least this time, there weren’t any dead bodies. Sasuke quickly started to survey the area, trying to find that darker part of him. He didn’t have to search long, for he soon heard the same evil laughter from before. He spun around to see the same dark figure of himself clad in the black robe.


            “I knew you’d return,” Dark Sasuke said in his usual wicked tone. “I still can’t believe you’re hanging with that worthless kunoichi. She’s just another obstacle in your way. You should kill her or else she’s going to get in your way.”


            “No, I won’t,” Sasuke protested. “I can’t…”


            “Of course you can,” Dark Sasuke said. “You’re an avenger; you need power, not some pathetic weakling hanging over your shoulder. You should kill her now, after all, now is the perfect time. She’s asleep right now; you could easily slit her throat.”


            “No way, no way,” Sasuke said, shaking his head.


            “Why not?” Dark Sasuke said as he reached into he is pocket and pulled out a kunai. “It’s real easy; you just take a kunai and slit her like this…” He moved the kunai to his throat and did the motion for Sasuke.


            “I won’t do it, not to her,” Sasuke said, as he started to back away. “I’ve already lost too much; I don’t want to lose anymore.”


            “Oh come now, that’s no way for an avenger to talk. Besides, being an avenger means being alone. You don’t need anyone or anything else except power.  And besides…”


            Sasuke watched as Dark Sasuke reached up and grabbed hold of his own face. Sasuke watched in terror as Dark Sasuke began to tear it off. When it was completely off, he looked into the eyes of someone he thought he’d never have to see again. That pale skin, long black hair, and snake eyes brought back horrible memories. But Sasuke found he could not stop staring into that evil face. The face of Orochimaru!


            “…you’ll come to love the feeling of power, just like I did.” Orochimaru hissed. “Sure, I tried to resist the urges at first, but I soon gave into them. And you know what, I’ve never felt better. You may have to spill some blood here and there, but you’ll come to love the taste of it after while.” A wicked smile began to spread across his face. “Now then, my dear Sasuke. Stop this foolish nonsense…”


            Sasuke began to back away, but tripped and fell. He could only watch as Orochimaru began to walk towards him.


            “You can’t escape your destiny. Become who you were meant to be, what you were meant to be. You are an avenger, you don’t need anything else but power.”


            “No, I don’t want power, not anymore. I won’t turn into a monster like you!”


            Orochimaru laughed wickedly when he heard that statement. “A monster…ha-ha-ha-ha-ha…My dear boy, have you forgotten the power I gave to you already?”


            It didn’t take long for Sasuke’s memory to be jogged when he felt a familiar pain in the back of his neck. He soon found himself coupled with pain as the dark mark began to make its way over his body.


            “You see Sasuke; it’s already too late for you. You’re already a monster, you’ve already accepted this dark power and it’s accepted you. Now there is no one who will ever come near you, no one at all…”


            “That isn’t true!” A loud voice thundered in the distance. “Sasuke isn’t a monster at all. And you’re wrong about no one wanting to come near him…”


            Suddenly, an enormous sandal stomped down right of Sasuke. He quickly trailed the foot to the leg and the leg to the body. That’s when he saw the hem of an all too familiar red dress. As he continued to follow up the red dress, he soon saw what looked like short pink hair. And at that moment, he knew right away who had come to his rescue.


            “I’ll stand by him, no matter what has become of him!” Sakura said, her voice like thunder booming. “I don’t care what he decided to do with his life, he’s precious to me and I’ll never let him go. No matter what happens I’ll stand by Sasuke, forever. So just back off!”


            Orochimaru stepped back a few paces. Sakura then spun around and bent down to pick up Sasuke. She was extremely gentle as she cupped Sasuke in her hands and lifted him off the ground. She then brought him up to her face and smiled at him. She then gave him a gentle peck on the forehead (or more appropriately, on his head band) and began to nuzzle him against her cheek. She then moved him to her chest and hugged him to it. He could hear Sakura’s gentle heartbeat, like a beautiful, rhythmic lullaby. Somehow, the pain that was just inflicting Sasuke a moment ago had vanished. He could feel his body beginning to heal. It was almost as if Sakura’s embrace was relieving him of all his pain.


            “Oh, how touching,” Orochimaru said coldly. “Well, Sasuke, now’s your chance. You’ll so close to her neck; just pull out your kunai and end it.”


            “Shut up!” Sasuke shouted from within Sakura’s embrace. “I’ve had enough of you!”


            Sakura opened her hands to find Sasuke good and angry, his Sharingan eyes already active.


            “Sakura put me down. I have to settle this myself…”


            Sakura looked a little concerned as she placed Sasuke back on the ground. Orochimaru just laughed as he looked into Sasuke’s angry eyes.


            “You think you can take me,” Orochimaru hissed. “You can’t defeat me; you don’t have enough power or hatred.”


            “You…just shut up,” Sasuke snarled. “I’m through with it all, with hatred, with power, with being an avenger. I’m through with all that, you hear me…” Orochimaru watched in both horror and amazement as Chidori suddenly crackled to life Sasuke’s hand. “I am no longer an avenger. From now on, I’m making a new declaration. I will keep getting stronger, but not to avenge my family. This time I will use the power I acquire to protect all those I love from anyone who wants to them harm. From this day forward, I will be Sasuke Uchiha, the Protector!!!!” Sasuke cried out as he charged forward towards Orochimaru at full speed. Orochimaru could do nothing as he watched the Chidori plunge right into his heart. “And this is your end!” Sasuke called out as he watched Orochimaru shatter into a million pieces.


            He could hear Orochimaru as he cried out in agony and then slowly fade away. Sasuke collapsed to knees, completely exhausted. He had done it; all these long years and he had finally done it. The demons that had haunted his mind had finally disappeared; he couldn’t believe how happy he was. He looked back as the gigantic Sakura who was smiling down at him with a few tears streaming down her face. Sasuke also shared in the enjoyment as he too managed to smile.


            Suddenly, the darkness around them just shattered and it was quickly replaced by a white veil of light Sasuke had to shield his eyes for a moment. Once they came into focus, he could see several figures off the distance. Once they were close enough Sasuke could see that they were the other ninja teams from the village.


            “Hey Sasuke,” Naruto said. “Man, what happened to you? You’d lose a fight or something…”


            “Nice work, Sasuke,” Kakashi said. “You’ve come quite a long way.”


            “Man, Uchiha,” Kiba said. “You’re really impressive!”


            Other comments like this followed from the others. But then, Sasuke saw several other figures come towards him from the side. As they drew closer, Sasuke couldn’t believe who he was seeing. There, right in front of him, was his entire family.


            “Mom, dad,” Sasuke choked as he watched his clan come closer.


            “Sasuke…” his mom said softly as she came closer. “I’m so proud of you…”


            “We all are,” his father said.


            “Mom, dad,” Was all Sasuke was able to say. He was far too choked up to say anything as the tears began to flow down his cheeks.


            “Sasuke, we just wanted to say we’re sorry for what happened to you,” said Sasuke’s father. Sasuke looked up in shock; why was he apologizing for something Itachi did? “When Itachi attacked the clan that day, we didn’t mean for you to see that carnage. We didn’t want you to feel any responsibility for our deaths; we didn’t want that weight on your shoulders. We just want you to be happy…”


            “Know this Sasuke,” his mother said. “No matter what you do with your life, we will always love you…” Sasuke’s mother extended her hand and gently rubbed the tears out of his eyes, giving him a small peck on his head. “If you never forget us, Sasuke, then we will always be with you. Good bye…”


            Sasuke watched as his entire family suddenly began to fade away. He started to move his hand towards them, but he stopped. He realized that even though they were dead, they weren’t really gone. He started to feel a great weight lift from his shoulders as he looked at the faces of all his friends. He couldn’t believe how blind he had been all these years; these people had been with him and were willing to help him. He then felt something wrap around his torso. He then saw several large fingers wrapped around him. He then looked up into Sakura’s gentle face, a bright warm smile spread across it.


            Naruto, Kakashi, Sasuke thought as he looked down at his companions’ faces. He then looked back towards Sakura. And you Sakura, you all have been right here for me. No matter what I did, you never left me alone and I’m glad you didn’t. Because now, I realize for the first, I am not alone…


            Sasuke drifted off into a blissful dream as Sakura held him close to her chest.



Chapter 9


            The next morning, the sun’s rays illuminated the dark cave. Sakura twitched as the sun warmed her face. She rubbed her eyes and yawned, stretching out her arms and legs. She then reached for her chest, but was shocked to find that there was nothing, or rather, no one there. She raised her head and saw that Sasuke was gone. She began to look around her, wondering if maybe he had simply rolled off and hoped that she hadn’t rolled over him. But alas, there was nothing, no sign of Sasuke anywhere. She was relieved that she hadn’t accidentally hurt him during the night, but was also sad that Sasuke had just simply left while she was sleeping.


            The least he could’ve done was say goodbye, Sakura thought as she rolled over on her side and frowned.


            “Hey Sakura!” A voice called from outside the cave. Sakura immediately recognized it as Sasuke. He had come back, but something about his tone seemed off; it didn’t sound as ruff or cold as it used to be. It almost sounded more cheery and happy. “Come on out, I’ve got your breakfast! Don’t worry, nobody’s with me!”


            Sakura got up and walked out of the cave. She looked around and found Sasuke standing next to the cave with a big basket of fruit. This basket was much bigger than the last one; in fact Sakura wasn’t sure if see could easily finish this herself. She looked at Sasuke, a little concerned.



                    “What?” Sasuke asked, shrugging his shoulders.


                    “Sasuke, are you feeling all right?” Sakura leaned down and touched her finger to Sasuke’s head. “You seem a little bit odd?”


                    “I feel fine, nothing’s wrong. Now, I’m sorry was only able to get you fruit, but even with the earnings from yesterdays mission-” Sasuke stopped when he saw a confused look on Sakura’s face. “What is it?”


                    “Sasuke, did you hit your head? Or wait-” Sakura stopped as she sat back up and crossed her arms. “I get it now, nice try Naruto, but I know that’s you. You’re using a Transformation Jutsu, like you did last time.” (Sakura was referring to the time when Naruto changed into Sasuke after their team was announced.)


                    “But, Sakura, it really is me, Sasuke.” He protested.


                    “Yeah, very funny Naruto. Cut the act already and change back…” She flicked Sasuke with her index finger and he went tumbling back, forming a dust cloud. When he finally stopped and the dust cloud settled, Sakura could see that it was still Sasuke. But then, if that was really Sasuke, then she had just—she suddenly began to blush. “Oh no, what’ve I done!”


                    Sakura quickly walked over and kneeled down, looking over Sasuke as best she could. She couldn’t believe she had just flicked more than several yards. She could feel herself blushing from embarrassment; she knew he was going to be angry with her for sure. But when Sasuke stood back up, she was surprised to see that he was smiling. He got up, brushed off the dirt and had a big grin across his face.


                    “Nice one, Sakura,” Sasuke said as he brushed off the dirt from his knees. “But then again, I probably deserved it.”


                    “Sasuke, what happened to you? You are not yourself…”


                    “I’m just fine, Sakura. Now hurry up and eat your breakfast, fruit doesn’t exactly keep well in this hot and humid weather.”


                    Sakura looked a little unsure, but she figured she’d just go along with it. She reached over and lifted the basket of fruit to her mouth. After she had engulfed most of the fruit, she placed the basket back down on the ground. Surprisingly, she found she could not finish the entire basket of fruit even with her new appetite. That’s when she began to wonder how much this fruit cost. She began to feel guilty that Sasuke had spent so much on her. Sasuke could see the guilt on her face and grew concerned.


                    “Hey, Sakura, is everything all right?”


                    “Um, Sasuke…How much did that fruit cost you?”


                    “Oh, well,” Sasuke tried to say something to keep her from worrying, but he knew there was no real way for him to a lie. “Well, it wasn’t cheat, that’s for sure. I had to spend a good deal of my earnings from the last mission.”  Sasuke then reached into his pocket and pulled out a saggy looking wallet. “In fact, I’ve never seen my wallet look so empty before.”


                    Sakura now began to feel even worse. Sasuke had spent so much of his money just so she could have a decent meal. Sasuke could see it in her eyes and knew just what to say to cheer her up.


                    “Come on, Sakura, don’t worry about it. You needed that meal and besides, I’ve got plenty of secret stashes of money hidden around my place for emergencies. So I’ll be good on food and other things for a while. Now stop feeling so bad and just relax.”


                    Sakura did cheer up a bit, especially since Sasuke wasn’t even blaming her at all. He seemed like a completely different person from what he used to be yesterday. It was rather strange to see him so cheerful and happy, which made Sakura wonder if she wasn’t dreaming. Then, Sasuke said something that really shocked her.


                    “Say, Sakura,” Sasuke said, rubbing the back of his head. “Do you think you could use some company today?”


                    Sakura nearly bowled over when she heard those words. Was Sasuke really willing to spend time with her? This was really strange; Sakura did not know what to say. She kept fumbling with the words in her head until they finally came out.


                    “Uh, yeah, sure you can,” Sakura quickly said. “But can I ask why you want to stay? Don’t you have a mission today?”


                    “Nope,” Sasuke said as he shook his head. “There weren’t that many missions today and by the time Kakashi got there to register us for a mission, they were all taken, again. Sheesh, sometimes I wonder if he ever really does anything in the morning.” Sakura chuckled a little when Sasuke said that. “So, we all got the day off and seeing as how you’re always out here by yourself, I figured you could use some company. You don’t mind, do you?”


                    Sakura quickly shook her head. She could feel herself blushing again and she knew Sasuke could see it. Of course, that only made her blush even more. Sasuke chuckled a little as he leaned against the cliff.



                    Back in the village, Naruto was wondering the streets. He was busy pondering what he could do to cheer Sakura up, if he could think of what might be best to cheer her up.


                    Man, I really wish I could help Sakura feel better about what she’s going through, Naruto thought as he walked with his hands behind his head. But I’d probably say something stupid and make her feel even worse, man what this is hard! May be I could get her a gift; but what could I possibly give her?


                    Naruto started to think what he could possibly get her? He first thought a card would be nice, but then how would she be able to read it; it’d be too small for her. May be a nice box of chocolates, but those wouldn’t even be a morsel for her even with the box. That’s when he passed the Yamanaka Flower Shop and an idea popped into his head.


                    “That’s it, flowers!” Naruto said excitedly. “It’s the perfect gift for anyone, even a giantess! I’ve got money for it and I know the best flowers to get her!” Naruto started to walk when he suddenly realized something. “Wait a minute, if Ino’s minding the shop…Oh, I’d better be careful not to mention Sakura or else who knows what will happen.”


                    Naruto carefully walked into the store and was relieved to see Ino’s father at the counter. He quickly looked around the store and saw no sign of Ino anywhere. Breathing a deep sigh of relief, Naruto walked casually into the store.


                    “Oh hello, Naruto,” Mr. Yamanaka said as he saw Naruto come in the shop. “What brings you by, today? Planning on buying a bouquet? That’s very unlike you…”


                    “Well, actually, I’m getting some flowers for someone special…”


                    “Oh and would that special someone happen to be Sakura?” Mr. Yamanaka smiled when he saw Naruto blush. But he also grew a little concerned when he saw Naruto looked a little worried. “Is she okay? She’s not hurt or anything is she?”


                    Naruto shook his head. “No, no, no she’s just fine. She just going through some…‘growing’ problems. It’s just that…” Naruto leaned in closer and bade Mr. Yamanaka to do the same as he whispered to him. “It would be very nice if a certain someone did not find out about said party. It could lead to a few embarrassing arrangements…”


                    Mr. Yamanaka was a little confused at first, but he eventually got the point. “Oh, I got you,” Mr. Yamanaka said tapping the side of his nose. “I don’t know a thing about Sakura.”


                    Naruto smiled and nodded, glad to know that Mr. Yamanaka was going to keep his mouth shut about Sakura. Mr. Yamanaka got to work wrapping a bouquet of roses for Naruto. Once it was done and Naruto paid for it, he quickly left the shop.


                    “That Naruto,” Mr. Yamanaka said to himself. “He may not be the brightest star in the sky, but he’s got a big heart…” Mr. Yamanaka began to wipe down the counter, resuming his normal duties of around the shop.


                    Naruto walked out of the shop, holding the bouquet in his hands. He had a big grin across his face. Man, Sakura is going to love this, Naruto thought as he kept looking to the bouquet. And who knows, may be she’ll finally accept my feelings for her and even give me a big kiss; and I do mean BIG! The image suddenly popped into Naruto’s head as himself getting the world’s biggest kiss from Sakura. Of course, that only made him even more excited and gave him a little extra hitch in his step.



Chapter 10


                    Back at the lake, Sakura was standing up looking across the horizon. She was in a very happy mood, even with her current situation. She was really enjoying herself, especially since Sasuke was there to share it all with her. That made her feel even happier, she didn’t know what had happened to him the night before. But if it meant he was going to be much nicer to her, she wasn’t complaining.


                    “Hey, how’s the view from up their?” Sasuke called out from below.


                    Sakura looked down at her tiny companion. “It’s great…” She said softly.


                    “Really, cause it isn’t exactly that breathtaking down here!” Sasuke then smiled as an idea popped into his head. “Do you think you could maybe, give me a lift?”


                    Sakura was a little surprised, but she just smiled and nodded as she bent down and lowered her hand and held it open for him. He quickly jumped on and held on tightly as Sakura gently lifted him off the ground. She lifted him towards her shoulder and let him jump on. Once Sasuke was on and in a comfortable position, he looked over the horizon and was amazed at the sight he saw. It was so beautiful, the top of the forest spread out before him like a long green carpet. The wind blew peacefully through the trees, rustling the leaves down from their branches. Sasuke was awestruck, he had never seen such a beautiful sight, or if he had he would’ve just simply ignored it, thinking it was pointless to just stare at something that seemed so ordinary. He looked over to Sakura’s large face and quickly remembered the dream he had last night. Sasuke began to blush a little and began to twiddle his thumbs. He didn’t know why, but something deep inside of him was egging him on to tell Sakura the truth.


                    The silence was so peaceful for Sakura. It was even better having Sasuke so close to her, it was invigorating. Sakura enjoyed the peaceful silence when Sasuke suddenly spoke up.


                    “Uh, Sakura,” Sasuke began to say. “There’s something I need to say to you…” Sakura looked a little concerned at first, wondering why Sasuke looked so nervous. “First of all, I wanted to apologize for…how I’ve been acting like a complete and total jerk to you all this time we’ve been together.”


                    Sakura was shocked! Smiling and being happy was one thing, but now Sasuke was apologizing for his behavior. This was completely unlike him. “It’s okay, you just had—”


                    “No, it isn’t okay. I’ve been carrying around this great weight on my shoulders this whole time. And all it ever did was made me shut out the people who really cared about me, like you…” Sakura was stunned. She didn’t know what to say. “Last night, I had a dream…” Sasuke went on to describe all the details of his dream. About how he saw himself turning into a monster, how Orochimaru tried to coax him, and how she came to his rescue. Sasuke went into as much detail as he could remember about the dream. “…and that’s when I woke up. After that, I began to realize just how great my life really is and just how important the people in it are. And I also realized just how much I care about you.”


                    Now Sakura was completely shocked. Did Sasuke say he really cared about her?


                    “Also, I’ve come to realize something else as well…” Sasuke suddenly began to blush and twiddled his fingers faster. “I…I…I love you…too!”


                    Sakura was now completely dumbfounded. She could barely find the will to speak. But she quickly collected herself and found the right words. “Do you…do you really mean that Sasuke?”


                    Sasuke looked at her with a bright, warm, gentle smile on his face. “I do…I really do…”


                    Sakura’s lower lip was quivering. Tears had formed in her eyes. She couldn’t believe it; after all this time, her dreams and wishes were really coming true. Sasuke had finally shown affection for her; she could barely believe it herself, but it was true. She reached up, grabbed hold of Sasuke and held him close to her heart. Sasuke was a little surprised at first, but he eventually relaxed as Sakura’s warmth enveloped him.  After a few minutes of cuddling, she pulled Sasuke away and lifted him to her face.


                    “Oh, Sasuke…” She then started to pull him closer to her lips. Sasuke began to feel a little nervous; this would be his very first real kiss. He could feel his heart racing; he wasn’t sure if he was ready for this. But as Sakura’s warm, tender lips enveloped him he could feel all his doubts and fears melt away. All he could feel was the endless bliss and joy that flowed through his soul.


                    Meanwhile, right behind a near off tree, Naruto was standing with the bouquet in his hands. He had a great big grin on his face. “Man, this is going to be good…” Naruto could feel himself sweating with excitement. He took a deep breath and prepared himself for the big moment as he stepped out from behind the tree. “Oh Sakura, I’ve got something for—”


                    Naruto stopped abruptly after he had stepped out from behind the tree. It was a sight that literally made his heart stop. There, right in front of him, was Sakura with Sasuke against his lips. What was even worse was that Sasuke wasn’t even trying to resist her; he was just letting her kiss him without any complaining. Naruto didn’t want to believe it, but the truth was there in front of his face. He didn’t know when it happened or even how, but it did. He could feel his heart break into pieces as the bouquet fell from his hands.


                    “Well, that figures…” Naruto said as his arms fell to his sides, his head hung low. “He always had to beat me at everything…” Naruto turned around and started to walk away.


                    As the kiss ended, Sakura slowly pulled Sasuke away. She could see he had a pleasant look on his face; obviously he had enjoyed every minute of it.


                    “So, Sasuke, tell me; was that the first time you’ve ever been kissed by a girl?” Sakura had a cute smile across her face as Sasuke collect himself after the experience.


                    “You mean, other than my mother, yes it was; and it was the best feeling I’ve ever experienced. Thank you…” Indeed, Sasuke couldn’t have been happier for he had finally found someone who truly loved him and who he truly loved back. It was the happiest day of his life.



                    The rest of the morning was mostly uneventful. Sasuke and Sakura just spent most of their time cloud gazing; they both needed something just to take their mind off everything. It was actually quite nice, especially since Sasuke was resting comfortably on Sakura’s lap. They continued to watch the clouds go by peacefully until Sakura’s growling stomach interrupted.


                    “Uh, sorry,” Sakura said, blushing a little. “I guess it’s close to lunch. I wonder where Naruto is; he should’ve been by now.”


                    “I don’t know; just give him a little more time. You know how he always likes to show up at the last minute.”


                    Sakura nodded as she sat back against the cliff. But an hour passed and still no sign of Naruto; Sakura and Sasuke were starting to get worried, especially since Sakura’s stomach was starting to get a little impatient.


                    “Man, where the heck is he?” Sasuke said as he began to pace back and forth. There had been no sign of Naruto at all, not even a groan or the sound of a squeaking cart wheel. “I know he likes to take his time, but this is just ridiculous. Well, I’m through waiting. I say if Naruto isn’t going to bring us lunch, we catch it ourselves…”


                    Sakura was more than just a little confused. “Um, Sasuke, what do you mean?”


                    “Remember what Naruto said about this lake,” Sasuke said as he ran to the edge of the lake. “This lake is full of fish! We just need to catch enough…”


                    “How?” Sakura asked.


                    “I have an idea!” Sasuke snapped his fingers and quickly made a hand sign. “This is usually Naruto’s thing but…Shadow Clone Jutsu!” Suddenly, a half a dozen replicas of Sasuke appeared all around him. “Okay, you guys, here’s the situation: we’ve got a very big lady with an incredibly big appetite. We need to catch as many if not all the fish in this lake to satisfy her hunger.” Sasuke then placed his hands behind his back and began to pace like an army general addressing his troops. “You will dive down into the lake, rile the fish up, and drive them up to shore. Stay down as long as you are able and then come up for air. As soon as your lungs are full, dive back down and continue the hunt. Do not stop until this bank is piled high with fish. Do I make myself clear?” Sasuke yelled to the clones.


                    “Sir, yes sir!” The clones all responded in unison, saluting their commander. Sasuke looked behind him to see that Sakura was smiling and giggling a little at how silly Sasuke was being. Sasuke responded with a smile of his own.


                    “All right, then…Dive, dive, dive!” Sasuke shouted as he watched his clones plunge into the lake. He looked back to Sakura as she shook her head. “What…? Its dinner and a show, get it?” Sasuke winked playfully at Sakura before he turned back around to watch the lake.


                    They waited for at least several minutes before the surface of the lake was finally disturbed. Sure enough, dozens of fish began to leap out of the lake; some even wound up on shore. It took an hour at least, but soon, there was an entire pile of fish on the bank of the river. It was surely enough to cover Sakura for lunch. She was incredibly happy, seeing how Sasuke was taking such good care of her. She was surely lucky to have a great friend like him or rather, a great boyfriend like him. Truly, this day was turning out to be a great day for her as she watched Sasuke fry the fish with his Fireball Jutsu.



                    As the sun began to set on another beautiful day, Sakura couldn’t help but feel content with the way things went today. She had gained Sasuke’s affection, had a particularly delicious meal of fried fish (apparently, it’s even better when the fish are freshly caught and cooked on the spot), and now she had the pleasure of enjoying a beautiful sunset with that very same person. Life couldn’t be better!


                    Kakashi eventually stopped by with his delivery of fish. “Here you go, Sakura. Sorry, I know it’s only fish, but it’s the best I could do on my salary…”


                    “Oh, no, it’s okay, sensei,” Sakura said. “I know I can’t exactly be picky with my condition, so I won’t be. I’ll be glad to get whatever I can; I just hope Lady Tsunade finds a cure soon. I’m so tired of being such a burden to everyone…”


                    “You aren’t a burden,” Sasuke quickly interjected. “We’re all glad to help our teammate.” Sakura smiled at what Sasuke said.


                    Kakashi smiled as he looked at the obvious romance growing between them. He was glad to see that whatever ailed Sasuke had finally been cured and no doubt he had Sakura to thank for that. He just stood and watched as Sasuke cooked the fish with his fire type jutsu. Once the fish had all been cooked and eaten, he decided to head back.


                    “Well, I’m off,” Kakashi said with a friendly wave. “Sleep well, Sakura…” He noticed Sasuke setting up a sleeping bag near the cave entrance. “Sasuke, planning some outdoor camping, are we?”


                    “Uh yeah, well…” Sasuke was a little too embarrassed to really say why he was staying, so he tried to make the best excuse he could. “I figured someone…might try to attack Sakura while she is asleep…and I thought she could use a bodyguard.”


                    “Sure…” Kakashi said with a playful nod. “Well, I’m off. Sleep well, you two little love birds…” He chuckled as he watched the two of them blush heavily.


                    They both waited until Kakashi had gone around the bend and his footsteps vanished into the night air. They both took a deep sigh of relief, glad to finally be alone at last. Sakura started to go back inside the cave when she noticed Sasuke started to put his sleeping bag away.


                    “Finally, I thought he’d never leave.”


                    “Sasuke, what are you doing? Aren’t you going to sleep outside the cave tonight?”


                    “What, are you kidding me…? The ground out here is way too hard; it’d be murder on my back. Besides, I’d thought of a better, more comfortable place to rest tonight.”


                    “Really, where’s that?”


                    Sasuke looked up at Sakura with a warm smile across his face. “The very same place I slept last night…” Sasuke said.


                    Sakura could feel her face blushing; she had never felt so embarrassed. She eventually snapped out of it and began to crawl further inside the cave until she found her favorite soft spot. Once she was comfortable and on her back, she looked over to see Sasuke ready and waiting, his arms extended, ready for her warm caress. She didn’t keep him waiting; she reached over with her giant hand and, with the same gentleness and carefulness as before, lifted him aloft and brought him over to her chest. She laid him down carefully and then brought the other hand over the first. Sasuke quickly fell into a peaceful slumber, enveloped in the warm embrace of his beloved, the gentle beating of her heart a sweet lullaby to aid in his peaceful rest.



                    Off in the distance, Ko continued to make a few notes in his journal, silently this time. Once he was done and had folded the journal back, he leapt back down into the campsite where Goro and Sai were waiting.


                    “Man, it’s already been three days since we set up this camp,” Sai complained as he rubbed his posterior. “The girl hasn’t suffered any ailments and the jutsu hasn’t yet worn off. Can we please go home now? Or at least find a decent hotel to spend the night in? I swear my back’s going to be even worse than that of an old man if I continue to sleep in the dirt!”


                    “Quit your complaining,” Goro grumbled as he snapped a twig in his hand. “You think we aren’t feeling any better than you? I’ve got sore spots in places I didn’t know I had!”


                    “Oh yeah, well the beetles have been making their homes in my hair for days now.”


                    “Beetles…Ha…try having several dozen mosquitoes nibble on you like a buffet every night.”


                    This bickering of theirs continued for at least several minutes, each one trying to outdo the other in what was making them ache every night. Ko just simply stayed out of it, ignoring there worthless bantering, flipping through the pages of his journal. He was looking for some of his earlier records, particularly the ones pertaining to the history of the jutsu inscribed on the golden scroll. He had managed to catch a glimpse of a few of the temples where they had found remnants and clues leading them to the hiding place of what they sought. He only wished he had managed to go inside the actual hiding place of the jutsu, to see the glyphs and inscriptions written into the wall. Studying history had always been his passion and his dream; both had been crushed years ago.


                    It was a kunai that went whistling past his head that got him to finally close his journal and look towards his two comrades wrestling each other.


                    “All right, that’s enough out of both of you!” Ko stood up, walked over to his teammates and forcibly pulled them apart. “Both of you, this absolutely ridiculous! You’re going to get a chance to fight, but not now. Save your strength for when the time comes for us to attack the Leaf Village. Until then, just bite your lips, hold your tongues, and get some sleep. Before I throttle the both of you!”


                    Goro and Sai just sighed and went to their respective spots in the campground. They curled up as tightly as they could as a cool breeze blew through the trees.



Chapter 11


                    The morning crept over the roofs of the village, illuminating the windows of the residents rousing them from their sleep. The light eventually illuminated the hospital examination room as Tsunade walked in. She rubbed the tiredness away from her eyes as she walked over to the microscope and squeezed out a fresh sample from the syringe containing Sakura’s blood. Tsunade suddenly stopped, however, when she noticed how easy it was to squeeze the blood out from the syringe. Before, it was like trying to squeeze out thick pudding, but now it was easy. She quickly looked at the contents of the syringe and noticed that more than half of it was empty. But she had only squeezed a few drops over the past three days. She placed the new sample she had taken. It was at that moment that Shizune walked in.


                    “Shizune,” Lady Tsunade said without even looking up. “Did you swap the syringe with Sakura’s blood in it for another one?”


                    Shizune was shocked by Lady Tsunade’s question. “No, my lady…Believe me, I know better than to mess with any of your projects. I haven’t touched the syringe unless you told me too.”


                    “Well, have any of the other ninja been in here?”


                    “No, my lady, I left specific instructions with the head medical ninja not to let anyone into this room. You and I have been the only ones with access to it. And I’m sure none of the other ninja would violate a direct order.”


                    Tsunade looked up from the microscope to Shizune. She had a confused look on her face as she turned back to the microscope. It was then that she began to smile, as if a thought had just occurred to her.


                    “Shizune, I think Sakura’s troubles are over…”


                    A smile quickly spread across Shizune’s face. “My lady, does that mean you found a cure?”


                    “Nope,” Tsunade said as she lifted herself up from the chair.


                    Shizune was suddenly dumbstruck and confused. What did Tsunade mean? If she hadn’t found a cure, then how could Sakura’s problems be over? Shizune quickly collected herself and immediately followed Tsunade out of the room, with Tonton following close by her feet.



                    At the cave entrance, Sasuke was busy pacing, waiting for Naruto. They thought since he had missed bringing lunch yesterday, he would at least have the decency to bring breakfast today. But an hour had already past and there was still no sign of their knuckleheaded teammate. They were starting to get worried when Sakura spotted three familiar figures walking towards them.


                    “But Lady Tsunade, I still don’t understand,” Shizune said.


                    “Don’t worry, you will,” Tsunade said calmly.


                    Kakashi was walking right beside them, not saying a word. He was just reading his favorite book, as usual, when they finally reached Sakura and Sasuke near the cave. Tsunade then halted in front of Sakura and looked up at her with a bright smile.


                    “Sakura, no need to worry, your troubles are over.”


                    Sakura’s face quickly lit up. “Lady Tsunade, does that mean you found a cure?”


                    “Nope,” Tsunade said flatly.


                    Sakura was now completely confused. “But, Lady Tsunade, you just said-”


                    Tsunade quickly held up her hand and looked at her watch. “It should happen in about 5…4…3…2…1…”


                    At that moment, Sakura felt a strange sensation rush through her body. Sasuke quickly looked over at Sakura, worried if she was feeling sick. Then, Sakura began to feel very strange, like something felt out of place. She looked at her hands and then at the horizon; that’s when she noticed it. The tops of the trees were getting higher and higher. Everything around her, the grass, cliff, and even the cave were starting to become bigger. Her friends watched in amazement as Sakura started to shrink!


                    It took about several minutes, but Sakura suddenly found herself at eye level with Sasuke, Kakashi, and the others. She couldn’t believe it, but it was true. She pinched herself, but the pain only reassured her that this wasn’t a dream. She was beyond speechless; all she could was look at Kakashi, Shizune, Tsunade (who still had the same bright smile), and then to Sasuke. He, too, was completely amazed; he almost felt like he should try to see if it was a genjutsu. But he simply raised his hands and gently rubbed to her face; that’s when he knew it wasn’t a dream.


                    Sakura was completely shocked. She didn’t know what to say, all she could think of at that moment was to wrap her arms around Sasuke and hug him with all her might. And that’s just what she did. Sasuke didn’t say anything; all he did was wrap his arms around her as well. They were both so happy that it seemed nothing could spoil that moment.


                    “Ah, isn’t that cute,” Kakashi said in a teasing kind of tone. “It’s a real picture perfect moment…”


                    Sakura and Sasuke quickly released each from their embrace and took several steps back. They were both so embarrassed; their faces were a deep red.


                    “Well, if you two love birds are done,” Tsunade said. “I just received a new mission this morning.” She reached into her coat and pulled out a small scroll. Shizune was a little appalled to see Lady Tsunade just give them a mission after everything Sakura had just been through. “It’s only a simple delivery mission, only a D-rank. It should only require-”


                    “We’ll take it!” Sasuke immediately interjected.


                    “‘We’…?” Kakashi asked.


                    Sasuke quickly moved his hand and took hold of Sakura’s. “We…”


                    Sakura could feel herself blushing. Kakashi looked like he was smiling (you can’t really tell with that mask of his) as he watched the two of them walk hand-in-hand, off to perform the mission. Sure, Sasuke and Sakura would’ve liked at least one more day off after this whole experience. But they were ninja; they had plenty of time off already; it was time to get back to work. They all watched as Sasuke leaned over and gave Sakura a small kiss on the cheek. Sakura smiled as she leaned her head over and laid her head on his shoulders. There was nothing in the world that could possibly ruin her mood now.



                    “Darn it, I don’t believe it!” Ko said in an annoyed voice as he leapt down with a hard thud in the campsite. This caused his other teammates to wake up from his slumber. “I can’t believe this happened!”


                    “What is it?” Sai said with a lazy yawn. “Is something wrong?”


                    “What’s going on?” Goro said as he got up and rubbed his eyes. “Did something happen to the test subject!?” Goro quickly sat up as the thought occurred to him.


                    “In a matter of speaking, yes,” Ko said as he took out a small piece of paper and placed it on his journal. “The jutsu wore off!”


                    “What!?” Sai said as he quickly sat up.


                    “Yeah, I saw it happen this morning, right in front of my eyes. She just shrunk back down to normal size in less than a couple of minutes. I can’t believe this…”


                    “So wait, you mean we’ve been spending the last three nights in this insect infested forest for nothing!” Sai clenched his fists and gnashed his teeth. He couldn’t believe how much of a waste this whole trip was.


                    “Great, so we just sat around patiently and we get squat…”


                    “Not necessarily,” Ko said as he rolled up the slip of paper. He then whistled and a hawk flew down from the trees. Ko extended his arm for the hawk to land on. He then tied the paper to the hawk’s leg and let it fly. “Our master ordered us to observe the subject in case anything went wrong. These jutsu are just loosely based on some ancient writing found in a few old temples. It’s a miracle we were even able to decipher them at all…”


                    “So…?” Sai said as he relaxed a little.


                    “So, set backs like this are bound to happen. If that’s the case, our master we’ll just read over the notes I made as well as research the ancient writings we found. This way, he’ll be able to iron out any flaws in the jutsu.  Once he does that and we get what we need out of all this…we’ll finally be able to bid farewell the Hidden Leaf Village for good!”


                    A wicked smile appeared on both his comrades’ faces. He then looked down near the remnants of their camp fire and saw a leaf had gotten too close to the embers and was starting to burn up. Ko reached down and took the leaf in the palm of his hand. He watched as the leaf continued to burn until it was a fine black.


                    “And when that time comes, the village will be like this leaf.” Ko said as he crushed the leaf in his hands. He then opened it and scattered the ashes to the wind. “Nothing more than ash, dust, and a memory…!”