Aftermath...!!

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Naruto stood protectively in front of an injured Sakura and an unconscious April. Sasuke had already been knocked out. It was just him and the charging grass ninja. Naruto's eyes widened in alarm as the enemy thrust his kunai at him...

THUNK!


Shikamaru noted the resulting sound was strangely hollow when Chōji hit the village idiot on the head with a stick to wake him up.

"GYAAAAAA!!!" Naruto screamed at the top of his lungs, bolting upright at the rude awakening, holding his head in his hands like a copy of The Scream. "Ah!" he said when he spotted the still unconscious April lying next to him. "!" Naruto gasped, relieved that she was still alive, but startled when he saw that she somehow seemed even more battered than the last time he saw her and remembered the fight they had been in the middle of before he woke up there. He quickly started looking around for the enemy. "!" He noticed Sasuke and Sakura next and was alarmed by how beat up she looked. "...!" He was even more surprised to see a vaguely familiar injured ninja in a green jumpsuit there, too. Especially since he was wounded and leaning against Ino for support. 'Where is he?!!' Naruto thought, growing more worried when he couldn't find that dangerous grass ninja right away. "Everyone hide!!! No, get down now!!!" he shouted abruptly, dropping to the dirt on his stomach beside April, turning his head in every direction. "Where did that guy go?!"

"!" Sakura and Sasuke said, turning their heads to look at him when they heard he was awake.

"Naruto..." she said, a little surprised to hear his energetic voice after everything that had happened. The events of the previous evening suddenly felt like they had been ages ago. 'April...' she thought, her expression softening as she frowned with concern, noticing that the older girl had passed out again after pushing herself to the limit for them despite her precarious condition. Sakura quickly wiped away the fresh tears threatening to form in her eyes. 'She really... she really came through for us!' If April hadn't intervened when she did, then they would all be dead right now. They would have died before Sasuke had a chance to wake up and save them.

'That idiot is finally awake...!' Ino thought with a frown, a little disgruntled that he had managed to sleep through everything. He should learn from April. Ino didn't know what was wrong with her, but whatever it was, she hadn't let that stop her from saving them. Unlike a certain halfwit, who apparently couldn't tell dreams from reality.

TNK.

"!!" Naruto flinched when Chōji tapped the bump on his head with the stick to get his attention.

TNK. TNK.

"..." Naruto frowned, chagrined at the way Chōji kept poking him with it.

"You sure are one of a kind..." Shikamaru told the hyper halfwit sardonically, chagrined at his stupid behavior.

"Ha?" Naruto said indignantly, scowling up at them. First they hit him, and now they were giving him attitude!?

"... Just looking at you gets on my nerves..." Shikamaru added, starting to get fed up.

"Huh?" Naruto said, looking around again when he suddenly remembered seeing something extra odd during his earlier scan. "Oh! Sakura-chan!!!!" he exclaimed, shocked when he spotted the frayed ends of her abnormally short hair. Of course, he was very worried about Sakura and April's injuries, but for someone to cut a girl's hair...!! He didn't understand why, but he knew that Sakura's hair had been very important to her! He lurched to his feet and ran over to comfort her. "Sakura-chan... you hair...!!"

"Oh! You mean this..." Sakura said, reaching up to touch the short ends with a sad smile. With everything going on, she had almost forgotten about it. "Just trying to change my image!" she said, forcing a brighter smile on her face so he wouldn't worry. "It's an image change!"

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