The Flip Side
Summary: [SasuSaku Festival 2017 – Day 9 – Prompt: “Community Service”]
Disclaimer: This story utilizes characters, situations and premises that are copyright Masashi Kishimoto, Shueisha, Shonen Jump and Viz Media. No infringement on their respective copyrights pertaining to episodes, novelizations, comics or short stories is intended by the author in any way, shape or form. This fan oriented story is written solely for the author’s own amusement and the entertainment of the readers. It is not for profit. Any resemblance to real organizations, institutions, products or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All fiction, plot and Original Characters with the exception of those introduced in the books, manga, video games, novelizations and anime, are the sole creation of KuriQuinn and using them without permission is considered rude, in bad-taste and will reflect seriously on your credibility as a writer. You will be forced to scrub away graffiti with a toothbrush if you are found plagiarizing.
Warning: AUish. Deals with evens from the Naruto Movie Road to Ninja. OOCish. Because RTN version of our beloved characters. And not edited, because I didn’t have time.
AN: Sasuke was very interesting to write in this one. It’s like, the total opposite of who he is. And it was soooo hard to write Sakura! I have such a hard time imagining a world where isn’t utterly smitten with him!
Sakura arrives at Training Ground Three bright and early to find the familiar sight of Sasuke and Menma glaring at one another.
Under normal circumstances, she would brush it off as just being their never-ending competitiveness – they are so alike in temperament and skill that they have always been natural rivals. Since the three of them were assigned to Team 7, it’s just a constant string of one-upmanship. Sakura had to become Tsunade’s apprentice just to keep up with them (although she usually tells them it’s to get a break from the constant testosterone).
Today, though, when she approaches the boys, she gets the sense she’s stumbled onto something else.
“Hey…” she greets, inwardly preening a little when Menma is the first to glance her way.
“Sakura,” he says quietly, nodding in her direction.
Sasuke straightens up and turns around, brightening at the sight of her. “Hey, kitten. Haven’t seen you in a while.”
Sakura glowers at him.
“Stop calling me that!”
Geez, he has to start right away in the morning!
“Ah, Sakura, there you are!” Kakashi declares, straightening up from the ground where he’s been doing push-ups. She wouldn’t have seen him except for the white shock of hair. “It’s odd that you’re late. I remember when we ran missions together you were as dedicated to punctuality as the White Beast of Prey!”
“He still talks about himself in the third person?” Sasuke inquires with a yawn.
Menma nods. “It would seem so…”
“He’s right though,” Sasuke agrees. “You’re never late.” An expression of concern passes over his face. “Are you still tired from being stuck in that other world?”
“I’m fine,” she shrugs him off. “I only found out from Lady Tsunade and Shizune just now that I had to come here. They wouldn’t say what it was about, so what gives?” Menma frowns, looking down at his feet, and Sasuke scowls. “Have I missed something?”
“Not at all, my most esteemed and youthful student!” Kakashi declares. “For your sake, I will gladly repeat the mission! You see, in light of the recent attack on the village, Lady Tsunade has decided that you’re all to be placed on probation!”
There’s silence. Then –
“Well, it’s better than I expected,” Sasuke muses.
“EHHH?!” Sakura exclaims. “What? Why?”
Kakashi rubs his chin thoughtfully.
“Well, I imagine it has to do with the fact that one of you almost destroyed the village, the other went AWOL during an all-hands-on-deck emergency situation and the third defaced Hokage Rock. I’ll let you fine young people ponder who exactly did what.”
Menma tenses, still looking at his shoes and Sakura’s gaze softens.
Since being back from her strange visit to another world, she has heard bits and pieces of what happened from Ino. How Menma somehow came to possess the Nine-Tailed Fox Spirit that everyone thought was sealed inside his mother, and how it corrupted him. If it weren’t for the other Sakura and Menma – No, wait, they called him Naruto, didn’t they? – he might have been lost for good. As it is, he’s being treated like a pariah lately while the village tries to come to terms with what happened.
And he’s not the only one…
Whatever happened while she was gone, the girl that everyone thought was her went missing during the attack on the village. Instead of organizing evacuations and directing field medics to help the villagers, her doppelganger was nowhere to be found. But everyone thinks that it was Sakura who abandoned her post.
So that explains the first two offences, but not…
Her brain catches up with what Kakashi said and her head whips around to stare at the Hokage monument, just visible through the trees. Lord Hashirama’s sombre expression has been altered with several slashes of paint, and Lord Tobirama’s face is speckled with blue and red that makes him look like a prostitute. She didn’t even notice this morning, because she was in such a hurry to meet with her master.
If Menma was battling his doppleganger and she was in another world, that leaves –
“What the hell, Sasuke?!” she demands, rounding on her teammate. “Why would you spray paint all over Hokage Rock, you stupid ass!”
Sasuke is unbothered by her outburst and instead offers her his usual flirtatious smile. “So I could ensure I spent more time with you, of course. I told we haven’t seen each other in a while – ow!” She bashes him on the head, only just reigning in her strength from turning it into a skull-crushing blow. “Come on, Sakura, I didn’t – ow – do anything to your father’s face – ow – you know I wouldn’t – ow – !”
“You two are an embarrassment,” Menma sighs.
“Embarrassment or not, the Hokage has tasked us with an important array of community service tasks,” Kakashi says. “With the village recovering, we’ve been put in a precarious situation. Anyone who might try to take advantage of Konoha in the interim needs to know we’re still able to do our jobs! So all of our away missions must continue! And while our shinobi forces are dealing with that, it means there are fewer people here to fix the place up.”
“And by fewer people, you mean no one,” Sasuke says.