Zabuza smelled. Stank to high heaven really, and that was what Sakura first noticed about him, before anything else. She supposed it made sense, he was a missing-nin, after all, and really, they had much more to worry about than hygiene.
Add that to the fact that he currently had her jounin sensei, who was famed in Konoha for being their number one tactician, trapped in a ball of water, and suddenly the huge sword strapped to the man’s back wasn’t the most imposing thing about him.
The missing-nin - Zabuza - pulled out his huge sword, edging forward slowly as Sakura, trembling, stepped back, kunai shaking in her hands as she kept a death grip on it. She could see Sasuke and Naruto out of the corner of her eyes, looking very, very pale. Tazuna was somewhere behind her, but at the moment, she couldn’t bring herself to care about anything, not when her heart was pounding out of her chest.
Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, this is what a real mission is like, this is what a real missing-nin is -- oh shit, I don’t wanna die --
Kaka-sensei was still trapped inside that ball of water, burbling a warning to them to run, Sakura supposed.
She was about to turn on her heel and run, mission be damned, but Naruto beat her to the punch - except he was running in the direction towards Zabuza, hands outstretched for something. Sasuke looked aghast as he exchanged a look with her, and they both tacitly agreed that their teammate was most definitely a nutcase.
Kaka-sensei had real panic written on his face now, too, and Sakura pictured what he must be thinking - Zabuza swinging the sword at Naruto, Naruto bleeding out, dying -
For a second, Sakura was horribly still. She watched, watched as Naruto scrabbled forward and tripped, watched as Zabuza swung his sword up, up, up, knowing what was about to come. Those who abandon their teammates are worse than trash. And she didn’t want to watch Naruto die,because this was a boy she had grown up with, this was a living boy, and she would not watch the life fade out of his eyes in front of her -
She moved as Zabuza did.
Sakura flung her kunai at the giant of a man, watched it hit the blade of the sword and bounce off, as she ran towards Naruto, who was trying to get up with something in his hand, but he was going too slow - and Zabuza’s sword was too fast, and oh Kami Naruto was going to die -
Her body acted on autopilot, pulling out another kunai, bringing it up to deflect the sword that Zabuza brought down on her and Naruto, who had gotten up and was looking between her and Zabuza, indecision clear on his face.
“ Dobe!”, Sasuke yelled from somewhere behind Sakura, but she couldn’t pay attention to that now that Zabuza was slowly bringing the sword lower and lower, and both of Sakura’s hands were quaking with the pressure of holding it away from her, because she knew one slip of her hands could mean her getting stabbed and dying right now.
Zabuza chuckled and pulled out a kunai with his left hand, the one that wasn’t bringing the sword down on Sakura, and grunted, “Stupid kunoichi like you die young.”
She watched the hand bring the kunai in towards her gut in slow motion, and shuddered - I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die, oh Kami - and in her desperation, she looked for something, anything, to stop Zabuza from moving his feet forward and carrying momentum. And even as she pulled her kunai from under the iron blade Zabuza was boring down on her, she moved with the kunai in her left hand, slid enough out of the way that the blade hit her shoulder and not the juncture of her neck - and something in the earth gave in to her desperation, because she screamed in pain as the blade hit her shoulder, but somehow the earth encased Zabuza’s ankles, and he didn’t move forward for a few breaths. Somehow, somehow, that was enough time for her left hand, her left bleeding shoulder, to rotate with enough momentum to knock the kunai out of his hand, and she continued upward, slicing Zabuza’s arm before she leapt backward, and that was when the pain started to catch up to her.
Someone grabbed her from behind, steadying her - Sasuke-kun - and if Sakura was in any other situation, she would have blushed.
But right now, Zabuza was growling, and the very air around them seemed to thicken with something invisible that was settling over them all like a blanket. She gulped, and pulled out another kunai with her right hand, her arms shaking as she tried to recall jutsu that would be useful in this situation.
Naruto sounded oddly subdued when he spoke. “Sakura-chan, you’re bleeding…”
Sasuke hissed something unintelligible and jostled Naruto as the three of them surrounded Tazuna in a three-six-nine formation, kunai out. Sasuke had a huge shuriken in his hands somehow, and Naruto was making a low rumble in his throat not unlike a growl as the air around them seemed to fill up with vapor that kept on thickening around them, making it harder for them to see.
Somehow, this seemed familiar to Sakura - there was a shinobi who could manipulate mist with his chakra … his name was Zabuza too .. he had a giant sword and was one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist …
“Sasuke-kun, Naruto, listen. This missing-nin is deadly - it’s Zabuza of Kiri - the demon one.”
There was a sharp inhale next to her, and both she and Inner could have bet all of their mission pay that she was not the only one trembling right now.
Zabuza had started running now, and the mist had begun to thicken - she couldn’t accurately pinpoint his location anymore, and she inhaled, then exhaled. Fuck, we’re gonna die -
By this point, her left shoulder was throbbing awfully, and Sakura was biting her lip to keep herself from crying out and accidentally alerting Zabuza of their location. She tried to siphon chakra to form a jutsu, any tangible defense against the missing-nin. His jutsu relies on silence - She felt very, very afraid. And everyone was still, Tazuna the only one breathing heavy, irregular breaths. Don’t breathe so loud! , she wanted to yell at the old man, but then Naruto yelped, and - fuck - Zabuza was running right at them, sword drawn again.
Running right at her, to be more precise.