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Safekeeping

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——
A blade through his heart.
The sound of it slitting his heart is loud. (—and it will echo in her mind for longer than she imagines.)
The pierce of the cursed blade sounds more like boots squishing into a mud-puddle, followed by her father collapsing.
Thud.
And then her sight flashes to a shade of merlot.
She sinks to the ground. Her head cracks on the floor. She strains to look, and through hazy eyes and a cracked lens, she sees her mother run towards him, letting out a bloodcurdling shout.
Her father doesn’t yell, shriek or gasp as he dies; he simply grits his teeth.
Her mother rolls him onto his back, places her hands—now thrumming with chakra, wisps of green, medicinal energy glowing—on his left breast, mumbling words of console. Sarada thinks those words are more for Mama than Papa.
Her father laces his nimble fingers into Mama’s as a sigh escapes his nose. It’s like holding warm skin and flesh is like a nicotine-craver taking a long drag after a hard day.
He says to her, voice low, “Take it.”
“Take what—?” she meets his eyes, and then gasps, “No. No, Naruto would be better—”
“Take it, Sakura.”
“Kakashi has experience with this—”
“I said take it.” He sounds slightly annoyed now. “And… give it to Sarada when she needs it.”
“No…” but her mother’s voice is frail.
He says something else after that, but Sarada’s consciousness is fading. She sees his lips move to three—no, six—syllables she didn’t know her father’s tongue could dance to.
I love you.
Both of you, he adds.
And he goes still after that, closing his eyes.
He looks utterly at peace.
And Sarada hates it.
——
Her mother is never the same. Her temper is harsher than ever. She’s as silent as ever. She’s too uptight, too prim, too perfect. She only sees Mama laugh occasionally.
And she’s as strong as the Seventh Hokage.
She’s asked the Sixth for some tutoring, to get used to her new visual prowess, and she has also mastered the Chidori.
She has a gaze that sends men tumbling, begging for mercy. She has a punch that splinters the earth. She has eternal black flames that burn for seven days and seven nights.
The last thing people have heard is the chirping of a thousand birds, the shink of a sharringan whirring to life or the crack of her knuckles before she swings them. The last thing they have seen is sparks of lightning blazing upon her palm, an elaborate pattern surfacing in her crimson eyes, her fingers being thrust towards them, or the prim face of a violet susano’o before it strikes them.
Though she has the power to kill (does she ever), she has something much more treasurable. The power to heal.
Years later, these same words will be used to describe Sarada, when her mother gives the her what she has kept in safekeeping.
(Except her susano’o is the same colour as her mother’s hair.)
They will be the strongest kunoichi the world will ever see.
But for now, Mama is keeping Sarada’s destiny in safekeeping.
——