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Sakura hates being a beta. There's nothing inherently wrong with betas. Betas are the lynch that keeps the other two dynamics from getting out of control; betas are the dynamic that keep situations calm. They're the dynamic that supports their alpha and omega counterparts.

Sakura doesn't want to be support. She wants to lead.

--

Sasuke-kun smells like a campfire and the contentment of finishing a hard mission. His scent brings her comfort, allows her to feel her shoulders ease from the tension that rested upon them. (And yet, there's something there that for all Sakura has tried, she can not yet place.)

Naruto is like a fresh garden, wet with dew from an early morning shower. (Sunshine doesn't have a scent, but warm grass and scorching earth do, and Naruto's scent is exactly that.)

Kakashi-sensei reminds her of thunderstorms. His scent is a mixture of a lot of things; subtle hints of wet fur that could be his ninken, the feeling of electricity as it pierces a raining sky. (It leaves a feeling of somberness and loneliness that Sakura doesn't understand.)

She tries asking Sasuke-kun what she smells like, tries to get him to take notice, but all he does is glare. Naruto, however, has no compunctions on answering for their silent teammate.

"Like flowers!" Naruto shouts, grinning. "Like a summer day, while standing in a field of flowers."

Sakura is flattered, smiling slightly at the blond.

"Like dirt," Sasuke-kun's voice inserts.

Sakura can physically feel her heart stutter and shatter.

Naruto is yelling at Sasuke, screaming about his lack of empathy, while Sakura numbly walks beside them.

"Sakura," Kakashi-sensei starts softly, drawing her watery gaze towards him. His book is nowhere in sight as he gazes down at her.

"Y-yes, Kakashi-sensei?"

"I don't think Sasuke meant it like your taking it," Kakashi-sensei tells her softly. "You smell like freshly tilled earth."

Sakura sniffs, glancing at the two arguing boys beside her. She wants to believe Kakashi-sensei, wants to hold out hope that Sasuke is just bad with his words, but she isn't so sure. She has a sudden and distinct feeling that Sasuke knew exactly what he was saying and that he didn't care if it would hurt her or not.

(The next time she really pays attention to Sasuke's scent, she is surprised to pick up tones of wet ash. She wonders why she was blind to it before her sudden revelation.)

---

She made a distinct point not to care about Ino's scent. Sakura presented after their friendship was over, so there was never a reason to know what Ino's scent was.

(Except she does.)

She's standing across from Ino, determined not to lose this fight, to finally prove to Sasuke that she's not weak.

(Except, is it really Sasuke she's trying to reach?)

As they meet each other blow for blow, Ino's scent keeps wafting around her. There's sweat and blood, they're fighting and neither of them are pulling their punches, and there's even the overpowering scent of the flowers that Ino regularly tends to at her parent's flower shop. There's also the sweet scent of vanilla.

A lot of alphas have stronger scents, heavy with saturation, but Ino's vanilla is soft and sweet and if Sakura wasn't so focused on beating Ino, she knows that she would breathe in deeply, just to catch a bit more of the intoxicating scent.

(She doesn't like to think about how it's far more comforting then Sasuke's burnt wood scent.)

---

Sakura meets Tsunade, a beta with incredible strength, whose feared and revered in turn, and she feels something rise inside her. Tsunade is the dream that she pushed aside all those years ago, the dream that she thought she let die when she became Ino's rival and chose to fight for Sasuke's affections.

Tsunade is the beta who leads, instead of follows.

Sakura asks to become her apprentice and she knows her life will never be that of a simple beta again.