By: (Yami) White Rain
Pairing: Uzumaki Naruto/Haruno Sakura/Uchiha Sasuke
Spoilers: Up to around chaper 295.
Notes: These are the three main characters in a highly complex story. There is no way I can fit everything and keep the word count, so I am skipping over bits that of the manga that focus just on Naruto and tried to stick with how the three of them relate to each other.
“If that’s what it means to be wise, I’d rather live as a fool.”
A lifetime of being shunned because of the nine-tailed fox sealed within him, Naruto grew up as an attention-seeking prankster desperate for love and attention. He decides on an impossible goal – to become the village Hokage – the champion of the village – so everyone will have to look at him and acknowledge his existence.
Because of his lifetime of loneliness, when Naruto gains the love of someone, he has a frantic need to keep it and protect that loved at any cost. Through sheer determination and the power of the fox demon within him, he slowly gains the respect of the people of his village.
So it’s understandable that Naruto’s greatest strength is his ability to not give up on the people he cares about and see the good within the people who most would see as a monster (illustrated best with Gaara).
Naruto’s knack for inspiring people and fixing the seemingly impossible to fix problems of the people he grows to care for makes his inability to help Sasuke in part one even more heartbreaking. Naruto tried again and again to reach out to him, only to have Sasuke push him away and nearly kill him.
This would drive off a normal person, but like most strengths, Naruto’s devotion to his loved ones has drawbacks. He refuses to give up on Sasuke, despite the fact that Sasuke’s broken as hell and doesn’t want to be saved. The first time he tried and failed to save Sasuke, he had to go home to a broken promise.
And Naruto’s determined not to be a liar again. His need to save Sasuke goes beyond the binds of normal friendship and with Sakura’s help, the two of them are too devoted and stubborn for Sasuke to stand a chance.
“I lost everything once. I don’t want to see another precious comrade die in front of my eyes again.”
Sasuke’s entire life revolves around his older brother, Itachi. As a child, Sasuke wanted to be exactly like him, and when Itachi killed everyone but Sasuke in their clan and forced him to watch the slaughter for seventy-two hours with a powerful technique, Sasuke is nearly driven insane with the need to avenge his clan by killing him.
And Itachi chose the perfect person to manipulate (while his reasons aren’t explicitly stated, it’s my belief that he’s shaping Sasuke to be his equal). Sasuke is obsessive, devoted, and single-minded on his goals. Growing stronger to kill Itachi was the only reason Sasuke got up in the morning after everything died. No one was there to pick up the pieces of his shattered heart and he tried to kill his humanity and hate more each day so he’ll get more powerful.
But things started to change when he was assigned to Team Seven with Sakura and Naruto with Kakashi as their teacher. To put it simply, Sasuke was put on the perfect team to start his healing. Naruto’s his rival who grows to be his best friend, Sakura grows to love him like he never wanted to be loved again, and Kakashi knew exactly when to leave him alone and when to tie him to a tree and make him listen.
And that’s the problem. Since the tragic day in which he lost everything, Sasuke’s equaled power with hate. Love has broken him and he believes love makes him weak – and Sasuke can not be weak. Team seven tempted him so much that he actually starts to believe that love is not always so bad, he even declared Sakura and also implied that Naruto were as important to him as his family was, and his life revolved around his family as a child.
But things spiral to hell with Orochimaru’s cursed seal offering him power and Naruto growing stronger then him. Itachi came back and easily subdued him and Sasuke begins to question his growth. Angry at the world and jealous of Naruto, Sasuke tries to kill Naruto before Kakashi was able to stop him and lecture him on loved ones and revenge.
Kakashi’s words started to get through to him, but Sasuke still couldn’t stay in Leaf. He didn’t think he was growing powerful enough and Orochimaru’s offer was too good to pass up. Sakura tries to stop him, her feelings couldn’t reach him and he knocks her out with words of gratitude.
Naruto tries to bring him back, but Sasuke tells him to leave. When Naruto wouldn’t, Sasuke decides to kill him in order to gain power. However, as his best friend was lying on the ground and Sasuke leans over him, he realizes he can’t kill him, Sasuke takes a step forward and goes to Sound, determined not to be Itachi’s tool anymore and find power his own way.
“Now it’s your turn to watch my back.”
Bright and obsessive, Sakura’s the brightest of team seven with perfect chakra control and quite a bit of potential to be strong. Unfortunately, Sakura was always distracted from her training with her goal of winning Sasuke’s heart.
Although she appears to be the normal one in the group, there are hints throughout part one of the manga that there is more then meets to eye to her. Despite the fact that both Naruto and Sasuke have the potential to surpass their teacher, Kakashi – a legend in his own right – Naruto and Sasuke never completely surpass her in control and leave her behind.
Unlike her teammates and teacher, Sakura has a normal life with both of her parents and knows how relationships work. Which made her immature compared to Naruto and Sasuke who have both faced unbearable loneliness. As she reaches out them, Sakura grows to understand the pain they’ve both suffered and leave the majority of her childishness behind.
Sakura goes from a child who grew out her hair to impress the boy she liked and break off friendships to become her own person to cutting it off in a time of need as she realized she could become her own person and keep her relationships. Sakura is the rock that keeps Naruto and Sasuke grounded.
But that hardly makes Sakura normal. Once Sakura’s obsessive personality has a focus, she’s single minded in it. She continued to love a highly broken Sasuke even as she begins to see his darkness – it just made her more determined to stick by him.
Because her focus shifted from winning Sasuke’s heart to becoming a strong ninja to help him, Sakura’s growth as ninja has begun and she’s extremely powerful in part two. She’s just as determined to stay with Naruto and Sasuke as she was at twelve in order to protect them and the three years of training under the under the Hokage has proven the thesis of the story true:
‘When you have something genuinely precious to protect, you can become as strong as you need to be.’
Naruto x Sakura x Sasuke
“When you have something genuinely precious to protect, you can become as strong as you need to be.”
Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke, are frankly, a big mess of intense, complicated feelings and passions. Sasuke is pushing away the love that Naruto and Sakura give him and Sakura and Naruto refuse to stop giving it too him no matter how much he tries to push them away, which breaks them both quite a bit.
In chapter three of the manga the triangle is set up: Naruto likes Sakura, Sakura like Sasuke and Sasuke just wants to be left alone. Sakura tries to get Sasuke’s attention, Sasuke rejects her, and Sakura takes out her annoyance on Naruto. And the three of them are to become a team who put their lives on the line for their village, and more importantly, for each other.
The turning point of this team is during the Wave Country Arc. A seemingly simple mission soon turns deadly as it becomes startlingly clear that Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura’s abilities are nothing compared to many ninja’s – and their fighting two of the most powerful ninja’s they’ve seen. The tragic fight has Sakura realizing that she counts on BOTH Naruto and Sasuke, Sasuke putting someone above Itachi for the first time in his life and Naruto’s rapid growth as a ninja and realization that his precious people were more important then anything to him.
The three of them take chunin exams and the fates of the three of them become even more intertwined with each other. During the written exam, Sakura thoughts are on Naruto and she considers giving up so Naruto will still be able to keep his dreams – a far cry for a girl who thought him the most annoying person in the world.
Of course, the real fun begins in the Forest of Death. Sasuke and Sakura are separated from Naruto for a time by Orochimaru, who fights Sasuke in order to see if Sasuke is worthy enough to be his vessel. It soon becomes clear that Sasuke and Sakura are no match and Sasuke is paralyzed by fear, knowing that there is nothing he can to do to help his teammates.
Naruto arrives, one ups Sasuke and calls him a coward and a chicken before he Orochimaru takes him down for good. However, Sasuke is still paralyzed and desperate and only Sakura’s voice can snap him out of his fears and allow him to draw upon the strength to fight. Orochimaru marks him before leaving with cryptic words to Sakura: Sasuke will come to him for power.
With Naruto and Sasuke down, it’s up to Sakura to protect them and when the Orochimaru’s Sound Ninja’s attack her, Sakura’s clearly outclassed. She’s saved by Lee and realized that she has to put her pettiness behind her in order to protect the people she loves.
When Sasuke wakes up, he sees Sakura’s black eye and chopped off hair and demands to know who hurt her. He attacks her attacker violently and decides to sell his flesh in order to gain the power of the cursed seal. Shocked at his brutal behavior, Sakura knows ‘that’s not Sasuke-kun’ and she runs to him, unafraid and embraces him, pleading with him to stop and Sasuke slowly comes to himself.
During her fight with her rival, Ino, Sakura’s body is taken over by her technique and Naruto’s voice is able to give her the strength to fight Ino off. Sakura even goes out of her way to thank him for the strength he gives her.
The next big moment is the fight with Gaara. Sakura is in Gaara’s sand trap and about to die. Sasuke realizing he can’t win, pretty much throws away his pride to Naruto, declares Sakura as his family was and is willing to walk into what he believes is his death so Naruto and Sakura could live. A real growth from the boy who said that he hated many things and there was nothing he liked especially.
Of course, things couldn’t get better so soon. After all, there was Orochimaru’s promise for power and the fact that Naruto was growing faster than Sasuke. Sasuke may have been able to overcome that if not for the fact that Itachi came, ignored Sasuke in favor of Naruto, defeated him easily when Sasuke attacked and forced him to watch the slaughter of his parents for twenty-four hours as punishment for not hating enough.
When Sasuke awakes from that torture, Sakura hugs him, crying, and he allows it silently, knowing that she needed to hold him. It’s also remarkable for Naruto because he sees the depth of her feelings and stands back, and allows them their moment without a word.
The next big moment is when, jealous of Naruto and hating the world more then usual, Sasuke attacks Naruto with the chidori, intending to prove he’s much stronger and better than Sasuke. Naruto, too needing to prove that he’s Sasuke’s equal, is willing to use his more powerful attack, the reigun, against Sasuke. Sakura watches the two of them brutally attack each other and tries to throw herself in the middle of them, hoping to stop the fight. Thankfully, Kakashi is able to stop Naruto and Sasuke before anyone died.
After Kakashi’s lecture, Sasuke decides to leave for Sound. Sakura admits that she loves him with all of her heart and pleads with him to stay or let her come with him. Sasuke was tempted by her offer, but knew he only has room for Itachi in his heart and knocks her out just after thanking her.
Sakura then begs Naruto to bring him back, and Naruto promises to return Sasuke to her. When he catches up with Sasuke, Sasuke tells him to go, but Naruto refuses. He tries to reach out to Sasuke, but Sasuke pushes him back. When he realized that Sasuke wasn’t coming back, Naruto began to cry as he drew on the power of the fox.
Sasuke turns a murderous eye on Naruto and decides to kill him. What proceeds is a devastating fight in which it’s drilled home again and again how much the two of them mean to each other. Naruto wants Sasuke’s acceptance and Sasuke needs to be more special than Naruto. Naruto can not be better then Sasuke. If so, what has he been working for all these years, if the dead last was stronger than Sasuke?
Naruto’s words on how he knows what it means to be alone are countered painfully by Sasuke’s truth: Sasuke had everything and lost that in an instant and nothing can compare to that pain. Sasuke has no hopes for the future, but just an ambition drawn from the past. The fight ends with Sasuke the bitter victor and with him realizing that he can find power on his own.
However there is a shining hope, he didn’t kill Naruto, in fact after his fight with Naruto he finally realizes he doesn’t have to kill be Itachi’s puppet any longer. He still chooses to go to Sound and kill off his bonds in order to kill Itachi, but a step forward is a step forward.
Naruto is carried by Kakashi home to a broken promise. Naruto wasn’t able to bring Sasuke back. However, Naruto hasn’t given up on him and declares he’d rather be a fool then to give up on Sasuke when told to give up on Sasuke.
When Naruto comes back without Naruto, Sakura goes to Tsunade, the new village Hokage, and demands to be trained. She’s going to get strong enough to save Sasuke with Naruto. She’s tired of depending on Naruto and Sasuke, and truly wants to stand by them and save them.
For the next three years Naruto goes off with to train with Jiraya, Sasuke is training under Orochimaru and Sakura under Tsunade.
Team seven is now under the legendary broken senin, and it seems as if they’re taking the same tragic steps. However, Sakura and Naruto not giving up on Sasuke and Sasuke’s stands against his brother makes me believe that Sasuke’s path is redemption.
And the time skip has done nothing to disprove my belief. Naruto and Sakura are just as devoted to saving Sasuke, and Sakura even punches their new ‘teammate’, Sai, when he speaks against Sasuke with these words:
“You don't know anything about Sasuke-kun either. So don't talk shit about things you don't understand!”
History only repeats itself if you let it – and Sakura and Naruto won’t.
“So this is what a shinobi is. It’s unbearable…”
As you can possibly tell, NaruSasuSaku, is without a doubt, my Naruto OT3. I love me an intense mess and the Naruto/Sakura/Sasuke ship is nothing if not an intense mess. The idea of the three of them being ‘normal platonic friends’ is laughable. Sakura’s devotion to Sasuke is terrifying. Naruto’s desire to bring Sasuke back is breaking him bit by bit. Sasuke feels he cannot have room for anyone else in his heart while Itachi is still alive.
Put it simply, Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura’s relationship is the core of the series. It’s the bond that’s been expanded and developed the most. The three of them are so important to one another and vital to each other’s development that I can’t really imagine that they’d be the same people without each other.
Loving Sasuke has driven Sakura to new heights, allowed her to grow from the shallow girl we see in the beginning, and through Naruto, she draws strength and inspiration FOR Sasuke.
Sakura is the force that keeps Naruto grounded, either to hit him for being stupid or to run to him when he’s in crazy four-tailed fox form, his obsession with Sasuke driving him insane, with promises that she’d help him with Sasuke, that he doesn't have to do it alone, anymore.
Sasuke is broken as hell, and Naruto is able to force out his goodness while Sakura touches his humanity and draws it out.
You can’t talk about any one of them without mentioning the other two.
The three of them become strong when they’re together, but they need each other so much, that they’re all breaking when they’re apart.
For Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke are the two people he loves the most, and the only two people he ever failed, the only two people he gave a personal promise to that also means something to him. He can save a hardened criminal from damnation, a child monster from a life of pain, help another child break from a cycle of bitterness and many other things, by just being Naruto. But when it comes to Sakura and Sasuke, who he really wanted to save for other reasons then facing his demons and strengthening his views on the world, he failed.
For Sasuke, Sakura and Naruto are what he fears. They (and Kakashi, but that’s another subject together, which I won’t get into) make him love. Sasuke only allowed to hate – he’s only allowed to live for Itachi and the past. But Sakura and Naruto tempt him from that, show him a life of love and dreams, what he wants, but fears and knows he doesn’t deserve.
For Sakura, Naruto and Sasuke have made her grow from someone who probably would have been an ordinary person, to the caring and compassionate person we see in later chapters. They brought out what was within her all along: the potential to be one of the strongest ninjas ever, but she can’t bring that out within her for herself, she needs to have a reason to work herself to the bone to be strong. She needs them to keep growing.
Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura make each other strong and are co-dependent as hell and devoted to each other dangerously. And, well, the aesthetic appeal doesn’t hurt either. I firmly think the best solution is for the three of them to just jump each other and get it over with.
“The power to clear for a field of vision, to clear a path... The power to find you..."
Naruto/Sakura/Sasuke tend to have the best fics of the all the possible team seven pairings and I’m glad that I’m able to offer so many good fics. (Any recs I don’t mention would be awesome.)
FANFICTION: Directly Naruto/Sakura/Sasuke
-And This Is Love by darushi_chan
-Breaking Point by lynnxlady
-Hell Yeah! by northblue
-Teaching Skills by harukami
-Team Seven OT3 by riddering
-Turnabout by edenfalling1
-Bcause We Three Are One by muffytaj
- What Keeps You Awake? by mindfcuk
-Ritual by Elizabeth Culmer
-Lambency by Calendar
-This Is Our Place by Sunfreak
-Bindings by Silverlight
FANFICTION: Implied/Possible Naruto/Sakura/Sasuke
-Three Weeks, She Sleeps by jc_eastling
-Cyclical by reimars
-Moments by annwyd
-Ten Steps to a Happy Ending by lukita1
-Home by Phoenix Satori
-Harumonia by psychedelic aya
FANFICTION: Multi-part fics
-Teamwork by Asuka Kureru
-Teamwork 2 by Asuka Kureru
-Team Seven C2
-I Believe In You - fan soundtrack by annwyd
-My Naruto/Sakura/Sasuke fics
-Naruto/Sakura/Sasuke recs updated as new fics come in
EDIT July 28, 2006: I had a few time line errors and I wanted to fix.