Haruno Sakura was not having a Good Day.
First - and most importantly! -, Naruto got her and Sasuke saddled with some stupid old man that had a serious alcohol habit. Second, she was molting. Third, she was half-way through her period and now they were going to find out about her… odd cravings.
Her really, really odd draconic cravings.
It’s not her fault. Really, it isn’t! Deers and ducks had absolutely no right at all to taste so good while bleeding to death in her mouth. But they did.
So she ate them. And she ate them a lot. They were well worth the bloody dresses, in her opinion, and Mebuki was all on-board with it too.
But, she couldn't be seen all gorey and gross around her teammates, they were her hoard. She’s worked so hard to make sure they’ve only ever seen her as demure, and gentle and- ugh- fragile. She pulled her punches, made sure to absolutely never at all flash her fangs, and under no circumstances be spotted with even a splotch of blood on her. She needed to be small and trustworthy so, that way, they’d like her too much to leave when she inevitably put them in her shiny clean cave to guard and protect and keep them pretty until the day they died!
She’ll officially have the kyuubi and the people with the pretty red eyes under lock and key. All the other dragons will be so jealous and she won’t even share.
But. There was a problem to that idea-- just a minor one, of course. Mother said that was kidnapping. And mother also said that kidnapping was illegal.
Sakura called bullshit, considering Orochimaru did it for years, but yeah, whatever.
Humans were such odd creatures.
Still, they were simply too cute to be annoyed at for too long. These ninja-folks were just so… so absolutely adorable!
Even now, while she’s walking past one of the village’s training grounds and watching shinobi fling lightning-infused kunai around, all Sakura could remember was childhoods spent dancing in the twilight’s aubergine sky and brutally beating the shit out of her cousins to assert dominance.
Distantly, Sakura wondered if Dormu’s ever managed to grow his shoulder back. She tries very hard not to smile with all six rows of canines she’s hiding in her mouth.
Ah, fond memories.
But, she also sometimes forgot how incredibly breakable all these humans were. They get squashed under boulders, struck dead by lightning bolts and even managed to die by drinking too much water. Can they even do anything without flopping over and dying while doing it? It’s honestly gotten to the point where she feels sad for them.
Poor fleshies. They really did get dealt the bad hand in life.
Oh well! It’s fine! She only cares for a couple of them anyway, and that’s the reason why she’s even bothering to disguise herself.
The fox-demon kid had pretty sapphire eyes that reminded her of clear-waters and the sunny skies and the shore-side cliff she roosted by. Sakura knew that people in this village didn’t take care of him, and she desperately wanted to keep him. The Uchiha’s black eyes reminded her of onyx and obsidian, and so she just had to have those. It helped that he'd get those lovely ruby-red eyes when he got older, and Sakura really liked them.
Oh, and Kakashi looked like Sakumo a lot. That was reason enough, in her mind. The older Hatake was a lovely man to talk to when she was younger, so she could at least do him the favour of taking care of his son.
With a jolly hum and a flick of her cherry-blossom hair, Sakura skipped home-- and if she grabbed a duck out of the pond as she walked by, then that was no one’s business but hers. And also maybe her laundromat’s. But she was technically a ninja now, so it’s pretty much expected.
Sweet, sweet technicalities, Sakura thought as she cradled the duck to her chest. After a moment, she lifted it to her face and barely reacted to its distressed quacks. “So, should I eat you now or save you for later, Dinner?”
“Quack! Quack, quack.”
Sakura ran her tongue over her very, very , sharp teeth. “So… now?”
Dinner abruptly silenced, and slowly closed its bill. After a few long deliberating moments, it shook its head. “Quack.”
She squinted. “...Later?”
“Alright,” Sakura shrugged, tucking it back under her arm. “I’ll save you for the trip.”
She stared passively at her teammates, cocking a single brow as they stared incredulously at the duck on her head. Naruto, mid-way through barreling her over with a hug, paused before lowering his hands. “U-uh… Sakura-chan?”
Sakura’s nose twitched. “..Yes?”
The blonde tried his best to subtly point at the bird on her head. “I-Is… u-uh. You gots’ a duck on your head, Sakura-chan.”
“Yeah,” she reached up to scratch her cheek. “He’s Dinner.”
Even Sasuke looked taken aback at that. The boy blinked, trying his best to mask his confusion in his usual air of nonchalance. “...Dinner?”
“Yes. He’s Dinner and he’s going to be coming with us for a while.” Honestly, Sakura didn’t know what the big deal was.
Naruto gingerly reached out to grab her shoulder. “S-Sakura-chan,” he started gently, “It’s… I-It number two’d on you.”
Oh. So that’s what the wetness was from.
“Can someone tell me why one of my cute, innocent students has a chicken on her head?” There’s Kakashi-sensei, along with the drunk old guy. Gross.
Sakura scowled, and she’s pretty sure that Dinner was honking angrily at him. “It’s a duck and it’s Dinner.”
Kakashi’s single grey eye blinked. His mask twitched and his fingers reached up to rub his neck. After a moment, he just shook his head and nudged the group towards the gate. “Okay, Sakura. Okay.”
A jounin just mistook a duck for a chicken and he’s trying to say it’s okay?
She couldn’t stop herself from groaning. “Ugh. Humans. ”
Dinner honked sagely.
Sakura blinked as Dinner was beheaded right in front of her.
She blinked again as his warm blood splattered across her face.
Then she blinked one last time to make doubly sure that it was, in fact, a bodiless duck-head that just bumped against her foot.
After the realisation set in, the rosette pulled her lips back into a snarl and hooked her fingers into claws-- already feeling the scales press up against her ivory skin. “Hey, you dick! I was going to eat that!”
The weird pajama ninja blinked at her through the fog, then laughed with pointed teeth. “Scram, kid.”
Oh, hell no.
Sakura, against her better judgement, smiled wide-- showing all one-hundred and sixty-five of her pearly whites as, with a flick of her wrist, the mist collapsed into chakra-infused puddles on the forest floor. The ninja’s laughter abruptly stopped.
He blinked. “Holy shit.”
She idly wiped the blood off of her cheek, too far into her transformation to be able to stop. After a world-weary sigh, Sakura pretended not to hear Naruto’s jaw hit the ground as her dress began to rip, bones cracking and thickening beneath her veins.
Then, rather abruptly, she grew.
Sakura’s horns pierced the veil of the trees, long neck and serpentine body covered in pearlescent pink dragonskin as the cyanic jade glow of her magic pulsed in-between every individual scale. Hands turn to paws, fingers into claws and she did her best to coil herself carefully in the clearing in a bid to not squash anyone.
Far above their heads, the cloud-serpent did her best to look them in the eyes. “Uh… Surprise?”
Kakashi blinked. “Holy shit.”
Sakura frowned and whacked him very, very, gently with the tip of her tail because if she wasn’t careful, his head would just fly off into the sunset. “Watch your language, Kakashi.”
He didn’t even wince at the hit, just slowly raising his hands in surrender as a very distressed grunt slipped out from his masked mouth. “What happened to the sensei, huh?”
She blinked. Then, she chortled.
“Kakashi,” she started gently, her voice rumbling in the depths of her throat and vibrating the earth beneath them. “I’m older than Konoha. If anything, the tailed beasts are closer to me in age.”
He paused, face paling, as he raised a shaky finger to point at her. He's. So. Cute! And small! Oh, how these squirming little meat-bags made her cold heart feel so very warm!
“So,” he stared, “you’re the thing that ate one of the Kyuubi’s tails when he was rampaging around twelve years ago?”
Sakura nodded. “It burned and tasted like ashes.” Just to show him the proof, she rolled out her slitted tongue, pointing at the burn scars that dotted it with a titanic claw as she whined. “But I was hungry, so I swallowed it. He just grew another one, though, that cheater.”
Kakashi pinched the bridge of his nose, and had the good grace to sit down. For a moment, he said nothing.
Then he fainted.
“Uh…” She leaned down as best she could, tail swirling around to cushion his fall as it coiled around him. “Kakashi? Are you alright?”
Sakura craned her head around, trying her best to squint down into the clearing in an attempt to find the colour-coded blobs that made up her teammates. “...Sasuke? Naruto? Pajamas? Are you all… okay...”
They all fainted.
...Huh. Well, fuck.
That really wasn’t the effect she was going for.