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In Pursuit of Sunshine

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Stepping over yet another body, Sakura forces herself not to look down. Forces herself to avert her gaze from an ally, one of thousands that litter the battlefield. They deserve recognition, she whispers to herself. The tiny part of her that is still human. The rest of her knows, knows, that if she allows herself even a moment to acknowledge the fallen, she will fall apart and never stop. Choji, Ino, Kiba, Kakashi, even Shikamaru. Especially Shikamaru her traitorous mind supplies and she forces it away. She can't think about them, about him, or she will lose the last two comrades she does have. Steeling her meager remaining chakra, she looks ahead to the last alive. Her team, her boys. Traitorously, she remembers a shock of grey and white hair, blood spilling over his lips as her smiled at her, as her sensei... No, she can't think of that.

Naruto and Sasuke are engaging Kaguya, and Sakura can see Rasenshuriken and Susanoo warring with the goddess. It's impossible to see who has the upper hand, if there is even an upper hand to be had anymore. Feeling the familiar ache that comes from scraping the bottom of your chakra reserves, Sakura pushes herself forward anyway, she can't, she won't leave Naruto and Sasuke alone, no matter what. As she draws near, she can feel the searing heat that comes from Sasuke's flames, and for a single second, Sakura imagines she sees Kaguya take the hit, sees her cringe at a burn from a Uchiha fireball, but then the whole world explodes into white.

Shielding her eyes, Sakura realizes she hasn't felt any heat from an attack, and forces herself to open her eyes, blinking at the after-image of such a blinding light. Kaguya is gone from sight. For now... Naruto and Sasuke shoot twin glances back towards Sakura, and both relax slightly at the sight of her. She finally catches up, and takes in the condition of her teammates. Sasuke looks... rough. Blood drips from his Sharingan and he holds his left arm awkwardly. Naruto looks like, well, Naruto, but even the usually energetic ninja looks weary. Eyeing the two of them warily, Naruto speaks up:

"Guys, we need to talk."

"No, Naruto!" Sakura would have punched her idiot teammate if she had the strength to move, which she doesn't. That doesn't stop her from shooting him a deathglare. Naruto ignores her, and looks to Sasuke. Sasuke, looking pensive, gives a soft "hn", in Naruto's direction. Sakura switches her glare over to the Uchiha,

"Sasuke, you can't possibly be okay with Naruto KILLING himself at just a CHANCE to send us to the past! Who know if it would even work!"

Naruto holds up his hands placatingly, as if he honestly thinks if he smiles bright enough he can win over Sakura.

"Sakura, think about it. You'd have a chance to change things. It wouldn't REALLY be killing me because I would still be me and okay in the past, and present me won't even exist anymore, ya know? Think about Kakashi sensei, and Shikamaru-"

He's cut off by Sakura finding the strength to actually slap him upside the head.

"DON'T bring them up to try and guilt me, Naruto! I know what we've lost. Believe me, I know what we've lost..."
She can't stop herself from starting to cry, remembering, loving, all those people she's currently trying to push out of her head. Taking a deep, shuddering breath, she continues,
"and I love you too, Naruto. I can't just sacrifice you for the chance for it to work, no matter who we've lost."

Sakura looks imploringly at Sasuke, hoping the most frustratingly logical of their team sees reason.

Sasuke lets out a huff, and opens his mouth to speak. Whatever he was going to say, they'll never know, because at that moment, Kaguya returns. Sakura had been right before, Sasuke HAD hit her with a fireball, or at least grazed her, if the bubbling skin on Kaguya's right hand is anything to go by.

"We're out of time, ya know!"

Naruto says and he begins to glow. Kaguya laughs lightly, gliding toward them with supernatural grace.

Sakura knows this is the end. Her teammates seem to know it too, because instead of fighting, Naruto grabs her hand with his left and Sasuke's with his right. His chakra is comforting, and Sakura closes her eyes, waiting for the end. Any peace she may have felt at finally being at the end shatters as it feels like her body is being ripped apart. She screams but can't even hear it, the roar of it all surrounding her so completely that there is no room for anything else. The pain seems to go on unendingly, her body, if it can even be called a body anymore is ripping and knitting itself back together and ripping apart and it hurts and Sakura hurts and she begs for the end.

The first thing she registers is that it's finally, finally quiet. No one is screaming, she can't smell blood anymore. In fact, she can smell grass and trees, and it makes her think of home, of Konoha. Feeling a gentle breeze on her face, grass beneath her legs and arms, and no pain, she doesn't bother to open her eyes yet. If this is truly the afterlife, Sakura thinks she can be happy here. She already feels so at peace, and it's been so long that everything has felt okay that she feels herself get drowsy, and gives into it, falling asleep to the feel of a breeze on her face, and grass beneath her hands.

Sakura wakes up with a slight jump to someone shaking her shoulder, grabbing for a kunai that isn't there and cursing herself for letting her guard down, Sakura jerks upright, eyes open and looking for the threat. She registers a grassy hill, surrounded by trees, and the night sky above her. More importantly, she sees a small figure in front of her, a child of perhaps 5 or so, with dark hair and even darker eyes, looking expectantly at her. She relaxes, and smiles at the little child, he looks kind of what she remembers Sasuke looking like when she started the Academy, all those years ago. Her smile wanes a little, when she takes in the serious look on the boy. He is tense, and considering her very calmly. The little boy's face stays serious as he speaks, and it's so adorable she can hardly register what he is saying to her.

"Sakura,"

he says, in as serious a tone as a little boy can sound.

"Sakura, we're in the past."