[Oneshot][Mild yuri] Sakura is frantic to catch up to Naruto and Sasuke, but the forest itself has turned against her
A/N: So, yeah, this couple is a guilty pleasure of mine in spite of myself. I've always wanted to give it a try but since one character necessary for the relationship is, y'know, dead, I had trouble coming up with anything that fit the timeline.
Anyway, I read an absolutely superb example recently and it inspired me to finally try to write one of my own. I'd planned for the couple to be a bit clearer, but it somehow got watered down to this. Heck, it's almost gen. Regardless, I think it came out okay
Panting heavily, sweat trickling down and over her flesh in streams, Sakura sped through the thick foliage of trees. Behind her, branches were scarred with chakra burns, casualties of her desperation for speed. Leaves and branches scraped at her face from above, but she ignored them as best she could. Another hindrance that was increasingly difficult to ignore was the burning in her lungs, to make no mention of her aching legs. Every muscle of her body screamed for her to rest. But, no, there was already far too much distance to make up; slowing down was not an option, never mind stopping.
"Naruto, I'm coming!" Sakura answered desperately. "Please wait, I'm on my way!"
As she spoke the words, she caught sight of the familiar head of shocking blond hair and the ridiculous orange track suit. Sakura allowed a smile; at last she had found him. Naruto was perched on a branch just a few yards ahead of her. Her smile disappeared entirely when she noticed his facial expression. He looked annoyed, impatient, not at all happy to see her as he usually was.
"I can't wait anymore, Sakura-chan," Naruto said firmly. "You're too slow."
With that, he turned and jumped away from her, rushing off through the trees. It took a moment for Sakura to register what had just happened. Naruto had gone off and left her behind. Sakura blinked, shook her head to clear it- and realized that she was standing still.
With a curse under her breath, she sped along again.
"Naruto, slow down!" Sakura demanded, having more and more trouble catching her breath each second, drops of sweat stinging her eyes. "Wait for me!"
"He'll get away!" Naruto replied from somewhere far ahead of her. "Hurry up!"
He? Sakura wondered, forehead furrowed. Who is he... Sasuke-kun!
Struck with the recollection, Sakura nearly fell from the tree branch she had landed on. How could she have forgotten that it was Sasuke they were chasing? Shaking her head again, Sakura pressed on, trying desperately to catch up. Up ahead, she heard someone cry out in pain.
There was no response.
Forgetting how tired she was, Sakura forced even more chakra to her legs and feet. Naruto was hurt somewhere, and she needed to find him and heal him. Her heart clenched as though someone were squeezing it when she realized how far he might be. Tears began to pool in her eyes and she swiped at them angrily. She couldn't cry now, she had to catch Naruto. But where... there!
Sakura jumped from the trees, spotting Naruto lying on the ground with someone else standing over him. She pulled her legs up to her chest as she fell and cushioned her landing with chakra pooled in her feet. The man standing over Naruto made her freeze.
"Sasuke-kun," she gasped. "We found you."
Sasuke, dressed in clothes that he could only have gotten from Orochimaru, regarded her coolly, not saying a word. He didn't seem at moved upon seeing her, nor did he appear guilty over... Naruto!
"What did you do?" Sakura demanded angrily, finally moving forward, albeit shakily.
"I thought I made it clear before," spoke Sasuke tonelessly. "I don't want to be found. Both of you are as annoying and stubborn as ever. At least Naruto has strength to him. You?"
"I haven't just been sitting around either, you know!" Sakura growled, ready to charge.
"Maybe not," Sasuke regarded her from the end of his nose. "But you may as well."
Before Sakura could protest, Sasuke was gone, a shower of disturbed leaves and debris falling in his wake. Sakura was about to go after him when she remembered Naruto still lying injured on the ground. Cursing again at her stupidity, she hurried to his side. Just as she knelt beside him to examine his injuries, he jumped to his feet.
"Naruto!" yelped Saukra, falling flat on her butt from shock. "Are you okay? Here, let me check your wounds."
Even as she said it, she could see that they were healing themselves. Of course, the Kyuubi; she had forgotten about that.
"Sakura-chan," Naruto said firmly, drawing her attention. Sakura was shocked at the hard look he sent down at her, his usually warm blue eyes icy. "Stay back if you can't help."
"What? Naruto, I-"
Without even bothering to hear the rest of her sentence, Naruto jumped back into the trees in pursuit of Sasuke.
"What in the world..." Sakura spoke under her breath. Then, realizing that she had again stopped, she clambered to her feet and tried to jump back up after her team mates- but couldn't. The strength wouldn't come to her. Not knowing what else to do, she took off running along on the ground, determined to catch up.
"Hey, forehead girl!"
"Ino?" Sakura blinked in shock.
Sure enough, standing just a little ways ahead, Ino smiled casually, one hand raised in greeting. Totally out of place but not seeming to realize it in the least, Ino took a step forward as if to meet Sakura half way.
Stunned and confused, Sakura slowed only for a moment before hurrying on.
"Hey!" Ino called indignantly, reaching out to take hold of Sakura's arm but missing. "Sakura! Where are you going?"
"I need to catch them!" Sakura called breathlessly over her shoulder, still surprised and more than a little uncertain. Her bewilderment increased tenfold when she looked ahead and saw Lee, barely standing out amongst the foliage.
"Sakura-san! Are you out for a run? May I join you?" Lee smiled pleasantly, starting towards her as Ino had.
"Not now!" Sakura cried, utterly confused, as she breeze right past Lee and his welcome.
She could hear the hurt in Lee's voice but pressed forward. There would be time for apologies later, and hopefully a few explanations. Glancing back over her shoulder, Sakura saw Lee slumped in dejection. Not three paces behind him was Ino looking hurt and annoyed.
But there was no time for them now. Naruto and Sasuke were both far ahead of her; she still hadn't caught so much as a flicker of orange amongst the thick branches and she could no longer hear the sounds of their chase. To add insult to injury, the blazed path she had been following suddenly disappeared and she was stumbling through thick forest.
Thorns snagged Sakura's clothing and skin as she went, but she ignored them, ignored the searing pain as the sweat running in rivers down her body invaded the scratches. Twigs and branches reached out as if to grab her, hold her back, but she fought her way through. Her heart all but jumped in her throat when something clammy closed around her wrist. Sakura pulled free, but not before seeing eyes full of pain and fear staring up at her through a thick patch of high weeds.
"I need to go!" Sakura said, not knowing who she was talking to, her words coming out in a desperate gasp. As she went, more of the branches and foliage in general began to metamorph into hands and claw deliberately at her. "I need to /go/!"
This time, she was answered by a chorus of breathy moans and groans. Not far away, somewhere to the side, Sakura heard a piercing scream but continued to fight her way forward. Voices, dozens of them, begged her to stop and stay, to help them, join them. When she persisted in ignoring them, they turned mocking and cruel.
"You will never catch them!"
"Why do you bother?"
"Stay where you can actually be of use!"
"You'll never change."
"Nothing but a burden..."
"No, I have to go to them," Sakura pleaded, her legs feeling more like they were made of jelly than muscle and bone. Her entire body was one big ache; her lungs and throat were on fire as she breathed shallow breaths and sweat dripped into her eyes and burned them. Blood trickled from her increasingly deeper cuts and ran down her arms and legs and face.
A scream caught in Sakura's throat as she realized that not all of the blood was hers, that the forest itself was bleeding as bark and leaves gave way to marred flesh. As she ran, the disdainful presences around her covered her with the warm red substance that flowed from deep wounds. The smell of decay wafted from everywhere. Fighting not to fall her knees and throw up, Sakura lashed out blindly, struck the otherworldly beings with her chakra. A hanging vine caught one arm, an upraised root fastened around her right foot, the hands kept grabbing for her. Shadowy figures, some of which she could just identify, passed her all around. Amongst the forms she recognized Lee and Ino, though neither stopped to acknowledge her presence. Tears welled in Sakura's eyes as panic set in. Around her, the voices grew louder, crueler. Under the sounds of the crying she could hear laughter not unlike what she had endured as a child. Somewhere ahead, another scream sounded, this time one she recognized.
Sakura fought harder to go forward, but found herself thoroughly trapped. No matter how many bloody limbs she ripped herself away from, there were always more. One blood-curdling scream followed another, moans and groans of pain echoed all around and the sounds of crying grew louder all the time. Though she kept trying forward, Sakura realized with dread that she was stuck.
Suddenly, another voice, female and vaguely familiar, echoed through Sakura's mind. It was condescending, but almost jokingly so. Not quite, but almost.
This is messed up and you know it, little girl.
Before Sakura could consciously comprehend the meaning behind the words, she felt the familiar dawn of realization. Even as her eyes narrowed in her attempt to discern the words and the person behind them, Sakura felt the world around her start to loosen its hold. Rather than hold her back, the limbs pushed her forward as wounds closed up and blood stopped flowing. The once mocking words were now thankful and encouraging. Screams and moans broke off into sighs of content as crying slowly subsided and gave way to childish giggles. Shadows that had passed her without notice now paused to urge her to follow their lead, and Sakura was sure she heard Naruto call her from ahead. Not understanding and not caring to, Sakura gladly hurried ahead as the thick forest gave way to a sketchy but infinitely more workable trail.
Sakura had just started off when something hit her forcefully from behind, knocking her to her knees. She had no time to get up before someone standing behind her held her short, dirty hair in an iron grip. Stomach churning sourly, Sakura finally recognized the voice that had triggered the bizarre change of scenery.
"I see you aren't taking such good care of you hair as before," Kin said snidely. "I guess that's something. But then you are sitting on the ground in a shredded heap. Minus a few points for that one, princess."
"Let go," hissed Sakura, hoping that the stray tears that had made it down her face would be mistaken for sweat. "I can't deal with you right now."
"What's wrong, too prissy to cut it any shorter?" Kin mocked, tugging sharply at the hunk of pink hair in her hand. "And here I thought you had somewhere you were in a hurry to be."
"I do," Sakura growled, trying in vain to pull away. Even as she was hit by the sour reality of how tired she was, she tried to look proud and fierce beneath Kin's hand. "Now let. Me. Go."
"That isn't very nice," answered Kin with sadistic amusement laced throughout her tone, digging her nails into Sakura's scalp before giving another firm pull. "Maybe if you say 'please' I'll think about it. Is that fair?"
Anger coursed throughout Sakura's body and a burst of light exploded behind her eyes. Viridian eyes darkened drastically as she forcefully tore herself from Kin's grasp, ignoring the sharp pain of sizable amounts her hair tearing off in Kin's fingers, to turn and lunge, landing a chakra-loaded right hook in the other girl's shocked face. Kin flew back against a thick oak tree that snapped like a twig from the force.
Sakura stood shakily and hunched over, panting loudly in attempt to get her bearings, and glaring past the splintered stump that Kin had crumpled behind. Finally managing to straiten up and breathing a bit steadier, Sakura spoke in a low, threatening tone.
"I said I have somewhere to be."
Sakura almost jumped when Kin stood up all of a sudden, seeming none the worse for wear aside from a gnarly gash on the side of her face, a few leaves and twigs scattered in her hair and a few streaks of dirt on her skin and clothing. Sakura was also confused at Kin's overall physical appearance; she didn't look aged by so much as a day since Sakura had seen her at the Chuunin Exams almost three years ago. Sakura also noted, albeit off-handedly, that Kin wasn't wearing the Sound hita-ate.
Kin smirked, put one hand cockily on her hip and gestured in the general direction that Sakura had been going in the first place, saying, "Then go if you have to. Don't stop on my account."
Sakura blinked, regarded Kin suspiciously, making Kin smirk wider and roll her eyes.
"I think it's safe to say you have a long way to go, honey. Think you might want to work on catching up?"
Sakura finally started to turn away, not letting Kin totally out of her line of vision, when said otonin was suddenly in front of her, right in her face. Caught by surprise, Sakura as unable to put up any sort of a block before Kin suddenly took firm hold of Sakura's chin with one hand and tilted Sakura's face up, Kin still being the taller of the two despite her apparent lack of having aged at all. There was no time for Sakura to even look bewildered before Kin's dry lips were heavily on her own, Kin's tongue snaking out quickly as if she wanted simply to taste the stray drops of blood on Sakura's lower lip. For just an instant, the two of them made full bodily contact and Sakura felt a jolt of something like electricity pass between them.
The kiss was over almost as soon as it started and Kin was backed off several paces, but the whole thing still left Sakura feeling breathless and unoriented. When she finally managed to focus, Kin was smirking wider than ever, head held high as to look at Sakura down her nose.
"For luck," she explained simply with a shrug, eyes fairly glittering with mischeivous satisfaction. Then, as fast as she had appeared in front of Sakura, Kin was behind her, one hand on Sakura's shoulder. "Go. Get your boys. And while you're at it, do us all a favor and put that snake-eyed bastard out of our misery."
Kin gave Sakura a shove forward, and Sakura was suddenly hit with the sensation of falling. It lasted no longer than Kin's kiss had, and Sakura was sitting upright at her desk at home, books and scrolls littering it. A medical scroll she just barely recalled looking at was spread out in front of her, crumpled and marked with a large drool stain. If she looked in a mirror, Sakura would find that some of the print on the scroll had branded her face.
"Wha... Oh, /duh/," Sakura groaned as she wiped the corner of her mouth and rubbed the sandy gunk from her eyes. Of course something so surreal had been a dream.
Stretching her stiff muscles and looking over at her clock, Sakura was shocked to see that it was already a quarter to seven. Tsunade would expect her for training in fifteen minutes. Standing up so fast that the chair she'd been in toppled over, Sakura frantically gathered up the scrolls she would need and the books that needed returned. Tsunade was no tyrant, but Sakura rather highly doubted that sleeping in over a nightmare would be an acceptable excuse for keeping the Godaime herself waiting.
Well... almost a nightmare.
Sakura paused and ran a finger over her chapped lips, again feeling the electric tingle of the unexpected contact. It wasn't the first kiss she'd received in a dream, but it felt more real than any she'd had. Sakura honestly didn't know what to make of such a kiss being from Kin.
"For luck," Kin had said.
Glancing at the clock and seeing that two minutes had been lost, Sakura hastily dumped her things into the bag that had been haphazardly thrown on her bed the night before and rushed to make herself at least somewhat presentable. A damp cloth run over her face, a brush stroked twice through her hair and a piece of dental gum popped into her mouth, Sakura grabbed her bag and hurried down her stairs and out the front door without bothering to change from the clothes she'd fallen asleep in, almost tripping over her own feet.
Thank you, Kin/, Sakura couldn't help a small smile as she tried to avoid running people over in her rush. /I have a feeling I'll need it.
A pleasant shiver tingled along the length of Sakura's body, and she could almost swear she heard a snide "you're welcome" on the breeze.
Okay, so it could have been better. Still, it didn't suck... right? ... So, just in case I didn't make it clear enough, yes, that was actually Kin running around in Sakura's dream and being smugly, insultingly encouraging and laying uncalled for kisses on said medic. Well, it was Kin's spirit at the very least. I've always thought Kin would've made a good neo-rival for Sakura, and I can somehow very easily picture her as a semi-perverted lesbian.
The reason Sakura isn't very surprised to see Kin alive and kicking is because, quite simply, I don't know if she knows Kin is dead. Besides, after all the other weird stuff that had just happened, I doubt Kin showing up, dead or not, would seem all that odd.
Praise appreciated, concrit treasured, flames raspberried