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Cherry Blossom in Bloom

Chapter 3

Encounter With an Uchiha

~Three Months Later~

Splash! Chink! "Aww Sasori-sensei! I was almost all the way across!" Sakura pouted as she stepped out of the small lake, soaking wet.

"Had you been concentrating more, you would have been able to dodge Sakura-chan," replied Sasori in a calm even tone.

It had been a little over three months since Sakura had started Sasori's training regiment. She had completely forgotten her encounter with the mysterious man that was somehow connected to her sensei. Even if she hadn't, she had become completely immersed in her training schedule. Her body had completely transformed itself. She was no longer the small wisp of a girl that she used to be. Of course, she was still considered petite, but now she had considerable muscle mass for a young girl her age. She no longer felt like passing out after just warm-ups, and by the time she was done with training, she had plenty of energy to go teach Naruto her lesson for the day.

Speaking of him, she thought to herself. He's been improving rapidly. I'm actually a bit jealous. The things it takes me weeks to learn, he learns them in a few days. His learning curve is insane. Her training had been added upon exponentially. First Sasori had started her weapons training; first with kunai and shuriken. When she perfected her aim with both accuracy and precision, they moved on to more specialized weaponry like senbon. With her physical training came mental and educational training. Sasori taught her the shinobi principles, the history of Konohagakure, Amegakure, and Sunagakure.

Although Sakura wasn't a huge chakra powerhouse, she knew how to use her control to perfect almost any task given to her. Not to mention she was an incredibly intelligent young mind.

"Sakura-chan, are you even listening?" said Sasori in a dangerously low voice.

"O-oh, of course I was Sasori-sensei!" she exclaimed nervously.

"Then what did I just say?"

"Um just that you were impressed with my amazing-ness.?"

"Increase your laps. Now you will run 50 laps."

"What! But-"

"60 laps."

"Hey stop tha-"

"70 laps."

"..."

"Much better. Anyways, I said that today we'll start on putting your katas to use in your taijutsu styles," said Sasori.

"Really! Yeah, finally!" yelled Sakura.

"Calm yourself child."

"Yes Sasori-sensei."

For weeks Sakura had been perfecting stances and movement. Finally they had come up with three different styles that fit Sakura's personality. There was basic academy style that she'd need to know when she entered, then something she liked to call "Tsunade Style," because it's modeled after the great Sannin herself. The first represented her fierce determination to never give up because it was surprisingly the hardest to learn. The next represented her fiery temper and iron control because of the explosive damage that came with the style, and the precision she needed to use it. Finally, her own style of movement which she dubbed "Migoto Kaze." (Beautiful Wind.) It was a mixture of both styles, but it added more flips and graceful movements. She enjoyed that style best because it suited her the most. She was known for being quiet and demure, so the movements embodied that part of herself, yet the damage inflicted upon her opponent combined her control, rage, and determination. Her body was small, so she couldn't put as much power into punches for her Tsunade Style as she wanted. The basic academy taijutsu was more top heavy than anything, and as stated before, she just didn't have that kind of strength; at least not without chakra.

Another technique Sakura had learned was how to gather chakra in her limbs to reinforce her punches and kicks. With practice, I could surpass Tsunade-sama! She thought excitedly. She was snapped out of her thought when Sasori heaved and heavy sigh. "What's wrong Sasori-sensei?" she questioned innocently.

"Your mind is obviously not focused enough to carry on with this lesson. Go start your laps. After you finish, you may come back here and begin working on your Migoto Kaze," he stated. Her shoulders drooped in disappointment, and she cursed her lack of concentration.

"Sorry Sasori-sensei, I was just thinking of all the progress I've made these past few months," she said guiltily.

"Aa. But you'd make even more progress if you'd listen," he snapped. When she flinched, his scathing look softened and he leaned down to ruffle her hair. "Go do your laps, then we'll continue training," he said quietly.

She grinned up at him. "Yes Sasori-sensei." And with that, she ran off to run laps around Konoha.

"SAKURA-CHAN!" screamed a familiar voice. She rolled her eyes at his flamboyance.

"Hey Naruto-kun," she replied, not slowing her pace.

"Is your sensei making you run punishment laps again?" questioned Naruto.

"Yes. I wasn't paying attention," she rolled her eyes again.

He giggled. "Ya know, one day I'd really like to meet this sensei of yours."

She quickly veered off that subject. "So how's the search for you own taijutsu style going?"

"Oh Sakura-chan! Don't remind me! I've got the academy style down pat, but I just can't find another style that suits me," he complained. She sighed. She felt bad for not telling him about her own personalized style, but Sasori-sensei had told her not to tell anyone, or else she'd cause too much attention towards herself. And Sasori-sensei was always right.

"Well why don't you come up with your own style? Ya know something that suits your personality," she suggested. Just because I can't tell him about mine doesn't mean I can help him with his own. She thought to herself.

"What do ya mean Sakura-chan?"

"I mean like… well you're unpredictable, crazy, and wildly hyper!"

"Was that a compliment?"

"What I mean is match your movements to your personality."

"I still don't understand…"

She sighed exasperatedly. "It's like match the way you act with how your body moves. You are always all over the place, and no one can possibly predict what you're gonna do next. So why not use that to your advantage? Why not make up a style where your body will be in constant motion? And I mean not in the flowing and graceful way; in the sudden jerky way that you always are when you move. Do ya get it now?"

There was a long silence before, "Okay Sakura-chan, I'll try!" he said enthusiastically. She smiled gently before waving good-bye, and increasing her pace. She wanted to get done before mid-afternoon so she wouldn't be home late. Otherwise her parents might get suspicious as to where she'd been going. Right when she went to turn her head back around, she ran into a solid wall of flesh.

"Oof!"

"Hey~! Well what do we have here?" Came a gentle but masculine voice. She looked up to see an older guy, probably ten years older than herself with inky black hair, dark opaque eyes, and chiseled features staring back at her. An Uchiha, she thought to herself, remembering hearing many girls swoon over mentioned features.

"Who're you?" she asked softly.

"Who am I? Who am I! Why I'm the great Shisui Uchiha. At your service my flower," he exclaimed lavishly.

She stared for a minute. "Uh… huh. I'm Sakura. Sakura Haruno," she replied in kind.

"Ah~! What a beautiful name for such a beautiful little girl!" he cried out. "And what might one pretty girl like yourself be doing?" he questioned.

Not liking the sudden attention, she stood up, and prepared to begin running again. "I'm training," she replied curtly before taking off.

She sighed in relief as she watched his form grow smaller and smaller, and she turned her head to concentrate. Only to come face to face with Shisui once again. She startled a bit before trying to ignore him. "Gotta finish these or sensei'll be mad," she muttered quietly to herself.

"Aw, who's your sensei? I could explain how you had to keep me company for a bit! Ne?" Shisui said.

"That's none of your business," she replied icily. "And I don't want to keep you company. I want to train," she added before increasing her pace to a dead sprint. He easily kept pace with her though. Damn my short legs! She cursed in her head.

"Well that's all you had to say! Sure, we'll train," the man replied happily before picking her up by her waist and poofing away.

"What the hell is wrong with you!" Sakura finally exploded when they arrived on a training ground. Training ground three to be exact.

"Well~! You said you wanted to train, so let's train!" he said.

Hmm. This could be an opportunity to fight against someone other than Naruto, who's too easy to beat, and Sasori-sensei, who I can't compete with at my current strength. She thought. "Alright fine. But taijutsu only, I can't really do any other ninjutsu except academy level stuff, and from that vest, I'd say you're at least a Jonin. Pretty unfair to fight a Genin-in-training, ne?" She baited. When he just smiled brightly at her and didn't take the bait, she dropped into her basic academy taijutsu style. They stared at each other for a few moments before she raised her eyebrows. "I'm definitely not going to be the first one to attack. You rank higher than me, it's only fair," she reasoned.

"I suppose you're right Princess," replied Shisui. She scowled at the nickname, but stayed silent. There was a moment's hesitation before,

"Shunshin No Jutsu."

Her eyes widen for a moment when he suddenly appears in front of her, and she's forced to back-flip in three concise circles to avoid the senbon thrown at her. She immediately noticed the poisoned coating, but was relieved to find it was only a paralytic mixture. So he's definitely not going easy on me. Time to bring out the heavy hitters. With that thought she shifted into her Tsunade Style stance and charged. She augmented chakra through her legs that gave her a burst of speed that could rival Shisui's own, and almost smirked when she saw his eyes slightly widened at her display. Then she gathered chakra in her fist and slammed into the ground beneath her. SHANNARO! Her inner self screamed when the ground split for her like butter. As chunks of earth and dust flew, making the area around them barely visible, she made a Bunshin to take her place and went on with her plan. "Doton: Shinju Zanshu No Jutsu," she whispered. Tch. Doesn't even feel threatened enough to activate Sharingan. She thought to herself as she sank into the ground.

Shisui Uchiha was surprised. There weren't many who could keep up with him in the village, and so when this young girl, not even Sasuke's age almost matched his speed, Shinshun No Shisui was surprised to say the least. He was so focused on her astounding strength that he barely dodged her next attack.

Her hand shot out of the ground beneath him, and once again he was surprised because the Headhunter technique was a C-rank. For a girl not even in the academy probably; it was unprecedented. It was then that Shisui decided that this girl, whoever she was, is a prodigy.

She didn't know what happened, but one minute she had been smirking to herself for catching him off guard, and the next she was pinned with a kunai to her throat. "Wah.."

"In your moment of celebration when you thought you had won, I took the advantage and won our spar," explained Shisui.

Her head was spinning a bit from the fast movement he just displayed, but she nodded nonetheless. "I see. Thank you Uchiha-san, I'll be sure to work on my… arrogance," she replied sourly. She motioned for him to let her go, and he obliged her. She rubbed her arms where he had her and stalked away.

"Hey~! Princess, where ya goin?" he yelled after her. She turned angrily on him.

"Since you saw fit to interrupt my training, I'm now late to see my sensei, and he hates waiting!" she shouted without thinking.

"There's that sensei of yours again. May I ask who he is?" Shisui inquired.

"No you may not," she replied lowly before attempting to walk away again; only to once again walk into a wall of flesh. Dammit! What now! She creamed on the inside. On the outside, however, she reacted instantly flicking out her left leg, augmenting chakra in it, and delivering a devastating blow to the person in front of her. Normally, this hit would knock even the biggest man off his feet, but this certain person was not normal.

No, the person that young Sakura had the unluckiness to hit was Itachi Uchiha himself. Prodigy and heir of the Uchiha clan.

"Why me?" she whimpered to herself before inclining her attention towards his imposing figure. "I apologize Uchiha-san," she demurely bowed her head. She once again began to leave before she heard him speak.

"I wish to fight you."

That stopped her short. She slowly turned around, fire burning in her eyes. "Look I don't know what's up with you Uchiha's, but your pompous ways and attitudes are pissing me off. I don't even know you, and you're acting like we're old friends. Plus the fact that I'm only 5 years old, and you're like twenty, calling me princess? It's creepy, please stop," she hissed at Shisui, then continued her onslaught. "And you! What, you think that just because you're a clan heir you can demand whatever the hell you want and I'll bow to your will?! Well news flash, I don't care who you are, I don't care where you come from, and because of you people, I'm late to meet sensei, and he's gonna be mad. I hate you," she raged before running away as swiftly as she could manage.

The two Uchiha men stood there for a moment in astonished silence. Shisui then grinned at Itachi. "Wow~! Princess has backbone! Did you see that Itachi? Isn't she just amazing?" Shisui gushed.

"Refrain from making such disgusting commentary Shisui," Itachi intoned.

"It looks like someone's interested. Maybe you can finally get yourself a girlfri- Ack! Itachi! Why'd you try to kill me?!" Shisui fake sobbed.

"You disgust me." before he turned away.

There was an awkward silence while Shisui caught up with him.

"Itachi."

"What is it?"

"She is skilled."

"Hn."

"I wonder why she was so angry."

"Maybe it had something to do with you interrupting her training for your childishness."

"Or maybe it was something you did!"

"..."

"Itachi?"

"I merely wanted to spar with the girl."

And if Shisui hadn't known any better, he'd say that Itachi was almost pouting.

"Crap! Sasori-sensei's gonna kill me!" she panicked as she sprinted through the forest in a desperate attempt to get to the clearing on time.

"Hey! Pretty Blossom-chan! Tobi finally found you!" called a voice.

Kami must hate me. She bemoaned her fortune. "Tobi-kun," she replied in a resigned manner.

"What's wrong Blossom-chan?" he asked/shouted.

She winced before replying, "I'm very late to see my sensei, and as such I don't have time to talk right now Tobi-kun."

He tilted his head for a minute before, "Well, I'll take you there really quick," he said excitedly. Before she could ask what he was talking about, she was once again grabbed by her waist and whisked away in a transportation jutsu.

They arrived in a flurry of wind, whoever it was, they were incredibly powerful. It was just Sasori's luck that he would run into someone powerful. As he prepared himself for battle, circling the scroll that would summon Hiruko, he was shocked by the appearance of a man clearly from his organization, holding his precious student Sakura by her waist.

When she saw him, she turned a brilliant shade of red, and at first he figured it was embarrassment, but then she raised her fist, and he saw the faint outline of blue chakra surrounding her tiny fist.

"SHANNARO! What the hell gave you the right? Get the hell off me Tobi before I pound your ass into the ground!"she screamed shrilly and he cringed. The killing intent she was releasing was enough to make any Genin fall to their knees in fear. He'd have to help her with that later.

He forced himself to come back to the situation at hand. He had already determined that his student was in no danger from this man, and even though there was a malevolent chakra radiating from the man, it was not directed towards her at the moment. With that thought he calmly walked over to the two; Sakura was still in the midst of her rant, while the man, Tobi, was pretending to cower.

"Please release my student and slowly step away from her," he said softly. Dangerously. Just because he was no threat, it didn't mean that he appreciated the man touching his student so casually. Sakura looked at him as if he had just delivered her the world and Tobi quickly put her down.

"Ahh! Please Sasori-sempai! Tobi was just trying to be a good boy and bring Blossom-chan to him so she wasn't late!" Sasori was beginning to become annoyed with the man, so with a flick of his wrist, he released Hiruko and geared up to attack.

Suddenly, that malevolent chakra he had been feeling before came to the forefront, and Tobi released a bit of killing intent. "My, my Sasori-sempai such interest in the little one will be reported to Pein-sama and dealt with," he turned to Sakura who was frozen under his monstrous chakra and killing intent. "I hope to see you soon dear Sakura-chan. Oh~! And may I suggest agreeing to train with those young Uchiha boys? You may need it someday," he hissed, and she whimpered when she saw a flash of the Sharingan through the hole in his mask.

As soon as the chakra and ki had appeared; it vanished, leaving Sakura terrified and Sasori wary of exactly who this man was. He had a theory, but it seemed a bit too impossible to be conceived. This man's chakra was more malevolent than even the Kyuubi Kitsune itself. The only explanation he could think of was that this man, whoever he is, was not human. The notion that this man was watching and interested in his Sakura sent unpleasant shivers down his spine. I will do everything in my power to protect her until she is strong enough to protect herself. He thought about the Uchiha's that Tobi had mentioned. I suppose it is time for her to begin comparing her skills to others. The Uchiha most likely. I could probably arrange for her to fight more talented children like herself. The Hyuuga, Nara, and Inuzuka seem like likely choices as they have the flow of taijutsu when it comes to the Hyuuga style that could help to better advance Sakura-chan. Then there's the Nara, who could help improve her intellect—not that it needs much improvement, she's a genius in her own right. And finally the Inuzuka; with their brash strength and speed, she will be pushed tremendously past her limits… That's exactly what she needs. Sasori concluded.

Sakura, on the other hand was on a completely different thought pattern. So… so strong. Scary. I'm scared. Why is Sasori-sensei just standing there? Get this guy away from me! I'm so scared, Sasori-sensei help me!

Shut up.

The thought itself was so startling to hear that Sakura physically jumped.

Who-who are you?

I am you. The innermost you. You can call me Inner.

Why'd you tell me to shut up?

Because you're being weak again. After all that work that Sasori-sensei put into our training, you're gonna call to him for help like some scared little damsel? Well news flash Pinkie! We. Are. Not. Weak! Not anymore, and not ever again! Put yourself together and make our sensei proud.

She thought for a moment, reflecting on Inner's words.

Yes. Yes I am no longer weak. I will become the strongest Shinobi that Konoha has ever seen. This is for Sasor-sensei. She thought. She quickly began the handsigns.

Inner?

Yes?

Can you see if we have enough chakra to perform this? Even with all my control this still takes a bit more than half of my reserves. Do we have enough?

…I could just take away any exhaustion you may get while performing the jutsu. It'll still be there, you just won't feel it now.

Sakura thought about it. Okay, do it. She replied as she finished the final sign.

"Doton: Retsudotensho," she whispered. Sasori's eyes widened at her whispered words and moved to stop her, but he was too late. Her hand curled into a fist and she let out a fearsome cry as it descended to the forest floor.

"Haaa!"

The ground below her began to fissure between her and Tobi. Sasori took that moment to grab Sakura and Shunshin her away. Relieved to feel her there in his arms he directed his attention to the clearing dust and mysterious Akatsuki man.

Ominous laughter echoed through the field. "Very interesting indeed Sakura-chan. But I really must be going. Be a good girl for Tobi," the man said as he disappeared from sight. There was a long silence while both Sakura and Sasori sorted out their thoughts.

"Sasori-sensei?"

"Sakura-chan?"

"Did you know him? Is he from where you're from?"

"No I have never seen him before in the-... from where I'm from."

"I see. Sasori-sensei… I was weak."

His eyes widen. She attempted to take on a man with greater chakra than even my own. Foolish, yes, but never weak. "I wouldn't be teaching you if I thought you were weak. Do not speak such foolish things," he said stoically.

"...Thank you Sasori-sensei." 

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