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It should have been obvious from the start that the Kiri genin would try to attack Sakura. To be fair, she was wearing Haku’s headband around her throat, and it was only natural that they would assume it was the headband of someone who was not, in fact, a missing-nin. What couldn’t have been predicted, however, was the speed with which they did so.

As soon as Anko had pronounced the start of the second stage, Sakura and Shikamaru had began to run towards the Forest of Death as fast as their feet would carry them. She’d seen a kunai whistle by her shoulder, narrowly missing her by a few millimeters on the right, and, wide-eyed, she turned around.

Both of the Kiri genin were running at her. One of them had his hands outstretched, undoubtedly aiming to strangle or choke her into submission, and the other one had a kunai between his teeth and one in each hand. Shit. They either want to hurt me really bad or they want to kill me. Shit.

“Sakura!” Shikamaru exclaimed, and that jarred her into action. 

The Kiri genin were undoubtedly aiming to subdue her, and they would most likely be able to find her in the Forest in the future - after all, they had two weeks. So we either decide it here or not at all. If she was able to terrify them enough to the point where they wouldn’t chase her, however …

Well. That was a different matter.

There was another kunai aimed at her from the genin with spiky hair, and Sakura let it come, continuing to go a few feet into the forest. Just a bit closer … 

Both of them ran at her, and Sakura was aware of Shikamaru tensing up, though she wasn’t sure whether it was with the intention of hiding or fighting. One of the genin rushed her point-blank, kunai out in both hands, aiming for her shoulder or torso - be careful, be careful - and she waited for a second, a breath, before bringing her hatchet down hard to deflect one of the kunai. There was a familiar noise of metal-on-metal next to her - probably Shikamaru - the boy in front of her bought the kunai in his right hand up, aiming straight for her -

Sakura twisted her hatchet like she’d seen Kakashi do with his kunai before, using it as a stand to kick off of before her left foot was on the shoulder of the genin, and bought the butt of her hatchet down before she slipped - 

The genin caught it in the palm of his hand, and her heart dropped. Fuck, fuck, fuck. She tugged back on it with her right hand, left hand blindly pulling out a shuriken, and she tried to remember a kata Kakashi had taught her and Naruto once - 

If you’re ever on top of someone you’re fighting, get your left arm around their throat if possible if you want to subdue them, like this - 

Gritting her teeth, Sakura dug the shuriken into the boy’s shoulder, making him howl in pain and loosen his grip on her hatchet. She yanked it out of his grasp and re-oriented herself as they both began to fall to the ground, wrapping her legs around his shoulders. 

They hit the ground, then, and it was a scrabble for a few seconds, with both of them terrified, desperate to get some sort of hold over the other - the boy was faster. He cut fast and hard on her arm twice, leaving deep gashes on her right arm, and Sakura yelled as she forced herself to fight past the searing pain that was beginning to come. She pulled herself up to her knees as the boy stood up - 

Kakashi’s voice was now coaching her through a different scenario - 

Get them to the ground. Right foot out, and roundhouse kick with your left foot to their side - 

Sakura kicked hard and fast, dropping back to the ground, as the boy clutched his side. She got back up as fast as she could, right arm trembling as she dropped her hatchet at her feet  and pulled out a kunai - 

They’ll disbalance a little to the right, use that and go in for a tackle - 

She didn’t go for a tackle. Instead, as one of his hands clutched at his side and he raised his kunai, she suckerpunched him, hard enough to feel it reverberate in her left hand. “You fucker, ” she whispered, raising her kunai up - 

And then, make sure they stay down -

“Sakura!” She whipped her head around, seeing Shikamaru call out to her, a few meters away, lurking near another huge grove of brush. “Come on!”

She kicked the boy in the crotch, watching as he crumpled, and she ran towards Shikamaru. 

“What a bother,” he muttered. “Why were they after you, anyway?” 

“That …” she began to answer, then watched as his eyes darted down to her throat and then away, putting two and two together. “Yeah. Do you know where Ino and Choji are?”

“I told them to meet up near the center of the forest, because there wouldn’t be too many people coming that way,” he answered, scanning the forest as he did so. 

Meeting up … where are Sasuke and Naruto?

“We should find Sasuke and Naruto, then,” Sakura began,” because they probably aren’t too far away - “ A huge blast of … well, something, interrupted her, and she watched as an explosion knocked over several trees on her right, setting a huge portion of the brush on fire. She acted immediately, turning away from the fire, meeting Shikamaru’s wide eyes. 

They didn’t have to speak to draw the conclusion that whoever was responsible for the explosion was not someone either of them wanted to confront. Particularly in a forest. Particularly in a survival challenge. 

Sakura exhaled. Two weeks. 

She needed to find Naruto and Sasuke.

The two of them ran nonstop for about ten more minutes, in complete silence, when Shikamaru suddenly stopped. “Running around will just be a bother, man. And if we don’t run, someone will probably track us down and we’ll have to fight. How troublesome.”

Sakura nodded. “We need to find the rest of our team as soon as we can, but …. with the explosion, there’s no saying that they wouldn’t have run in the opposite direction that we did - away from it.”

Shikamaru groaned, sitting down. “ Troublesome.”