Author: BlueGreenApples PM
Cyberpunk!Verse. SasuSaku. The mission was nearly complete when things began to fall apart.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Sasuke U. & Sakura H. - Words: 7,489 - Reviews: 45 - Favs: 164 - Follows: 19 - Published: 02-16-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4077935
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Unremarkable figures in long, white lab coats stood behind a wall of glass observing a child sitting silently beyond the transparent barrier. The girl could be no older than five or six, and was normal-looking enough, aside from her bubble gum pink hair. She exibited standard behavior for a child of her age group, as she entertained herself with a few blank sheets of computer paper and a box of crayons. The pictures she produced where the common fare of refrigerator doors: dominated by puffy clouds and five petaled flowers.
Glancing down to her clipboard, one of the figures began to read aloud to the rest, "Patient T-7: Haruno Sakura. Arrived at the facility approximately forty-eight hours ago, having survived an 7.3 magnitude earthquake without apparant injury. A rescue worker says he found her sitting in the rubble, next to a large chunk of steel she claimed she moved. The staff nurse reports having sighted a "strange green light" hovering around the girl as she slept. Her legal guardians were lost in the disaster and a team at the local hospital spotted the red flags and rerouted her here." The woman paused and regarded the little girl in the glass room once more. "It seems that we've found another Anomaly."
The scientists gasped and chattered among themselves while the speaker stared greedily at the child in the sterile, white room before her. "We'll begin tests immediately. I don't--"
Before another word could be spoken, an explosion rocked the facility. The group of scientists panicked and slipped to the ground as the entire building lilted sideways on its foundation. The woman who'd read the chart growled from her landing place, "It's Them! They've come for the girl! Someone notify security! Hurry!"
Flipping onto her stomach, the woman crawled up the now-inclined floor to check on the subject. She screamed in frustration and struck the glass at what she saw: the child was being hoisted up onto the back of a man clad entirely in black. At the thump of her fist on the glass, the man turned, revealing a shock of silver hair and mismatched eyes. With a smirk and a puff of smoke, both were gone.
Then a terrorist group of Anomolies that called themselves Sound appeared and things began to spiral downward. The group's attacks on non-mutated civilians fanned persecution against the Anomolies. Riots and brutal attacks abounded from both sides.
Finally, the government stepped in: Anomolies were to report to designated testing facilities by order of law to be assessed. If they were found to be neutral or benificial to society, they'd be free to go; if found to be dangerous--procedures would begin to reverse their mutation. The reversal procedures were agonizing and rudimentary, often leaving the patient crippled or, in many cases, dead.
Word of the reversion's mortality rate soon reached the Anomaly community, and citizens became non-compliant. Their refusal to report to the sites led to the government's next step: the implants. All Anomalies were to be fitted on sight with a microchip that could be scanned by law enforcement. It would store a report detailing their mutation and government assessment. Any and all who resisted being injected with an implant could be imprisoned and Reversed.
Outrage met the news. High ranking Anomolies lobbied, sued and campaigned, but the government would not budge. Something had to be done to apease the public, no matter the cost. They were on the brink of civil war and it was time for desprate measures.
Only a small percentage of the projected number of Anomolies reported for fitting, the rest fought openly and were incarcerated or went underground, never to be heard from again. Either way, the turmoil continued, with almost daily attacks on major cities and assassination attempts on government officials. The ranks of Sound swelled with the disgruntled and war-orphaned.
Chaos reigned in the streets until the government initiated the final step in its plan: forced mutation. The very facilities that had pioneered the Reverse procedure began to create super soldiers. They were called ANBU. The masked thugs were genetically engineered with select Anomaly traits: super strength, speed and stealth. In addition, they were given implants all their own: a master computer imbedded in their retnia designed to read the microchips of born Anomalies. They had the jurisdiction to implant un-fitted Anomalies and punish them as they saw fit.
Any facade of fairness or equality for Anomolies was shattered with the unveiling of the ANBU, and most mutants slipped Underground. Those who didn't were implanted and forced to undergo routine scans and government assessment. One thing was clear: war between Anomolies and non-mutants was immenant.
Within four years of their appearance, Anomalies on the Surface became a rarity, and those who remained paid for costy augmentations to blend into the crowd. A shallow peace settled over the Surface, even as the Underground grew and strengthened.
Standing painfully awkward at the edge of a group of other children, a small girl with bubble gum pink hair thought quietly to herself. She couldn't decide on what she wanted to say and she wanted terribly to be accepted by these children. When the dark-clothed man who'd rescued her left her here she'd noticed one thing that every child in the room had in common. They were all Anomolies. From where she stood, she could see one boy whose mannerisims reminded her of a dog, a girl who seemed to be manipulating air pressure and a boy with a strange bowl cut and big smile.
Unlike any other place she'd been to, the Anomolies here were laughing and playing, not sticking to the fringes of large groups. There had to be at least fifteen children here, all of whom, as far as she could tell, were mutant.
Shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other, Sakura glanced toward the door she'd been led in through. The man with the dark facemask and silver hair was still there, good she thought. Striding quickly toward his lounging form, she tugged lightly on the hem of his odd green vest. When he finally tore his gaze from the bright orange book he was holding, she asked, "Um, may I use the restroom?"
She blinked up at him with her best puppydog eyes, watching as he considered her request. At last he sighed, "Sure, Squirt. Follow me and don't wander." Without waiting for her response, the man swaggered out, leaving the door open for her. Breaking into a jog, she sped to keep up with the taller figure's lope. After a moment, they reached a pair of doors marked 'male' and 'female.' Stopping and leaning on the opposite wall, the man gestured vaugely at the woman's restroom and went back to reading.
Smiling and heading toward the swinging door, Sakura called over her shoulder, "Thanks, mister!"
A few minutes passed and the small girl was standing on tiptoe to wash her hands carefully when she heard a pair of voices outside the door. Twisting the tap back to 'off,' she paced back toward the exit and paused to listen. A man and a woman seemed to have stopped outside to talk to the man who had led her here. Careful not to lean on the door and attract attention, Sakura saddled as close as she could and strained her ears to pick up the female's voice as she spoke.
"...three-man teams. It helps them to cope, and makes assignments a sight easier later. Shizune and a few others worked out their compatabilities last night. She says 'three's the magic number.'" There was laughter and a male cut in, "When will they be allowed to make the choice?"
A sigh and to woman spoke again, "Twelve or so. It's really more time than we have to spare but...we will not be like Orochimaru. These kids deserve to have a say in their lives at least once. Theoretically, it will strengthen loyalty and emotional attachment as well. It gives them a sense of belonging with the Village."
Sakura could barely believe what she was hearing, she was going to have a home! A permenant home with other children like her! What was the mysterious choice they were talking about? Frowning, she saved the thought for later. Turning her attention back to the voices outside, she balked at the sound of approaching footsteps.
Just a second later, the door swung open to reveal the masked man. Quickly pasting on her brightest smile, Sakura chirped, "All done, mister!"
Raising an eyebrow, the man stepped aside and started back toward the room with the other children. As she trailed behind him, Sakura craned her neck to look around her guide and down the hall, trying to catch a glimpse of the pair from before. Noticing her behavior, the man asked, "Looking for something?"
Sakura blinked up at his tall figure. "No! O-of course not!," she stuttered. Thinking for a moment, she baited, "Just thinking about this place."
Slowing down to walk leasurily along side her, he slanted her an amused look. "Oh?"
With a nonchalant shrug, Sakura went on, "Yeah. I mean, it's nice and all...but what's with this place? Who wants to take care of a bunch of freaks? Kids at that. What good are we?" Once she finished, she eagerly waited for his response.
"Ah, I see what you're preposing. I suppose they must be gaining something."
Grinning up at him, she exclaimed, "Exactly!" She paused for a moment before adding slyly, "Any idea just what that may be?"
"Oh, I have an idea." That said, he stopped short, opening the door to the room full of the other children. Smiling enough to wrinkle his eyes, he held the door for Sakura.
They were already back! She had been distracted by the conversation and lost her opportunity by dragging it out. As she crossed into the room, she tried to hide her dissappointed frown. She thought she'd had him!
What she didn't see was the flash of admiration on Kakashi's face as he watched her retreating back. He decided he'd have to get back to the Commander on that Cell Leadership position. At least one of these children had proven to be promising. Maybe there was hope for this program after all. Shaking his head, he resumed his slouching post and returned to his favorite book with a slight smile still clinging to his masked face.
Rushing to the white-haired man reading the list, Sakura smiled widely at the two boys already waiting. One was a short, blond boy with what looked like whiskers beneath his bright blue eyes. He was attempting to talk animatedly with the other, more darkly complected boy. The silent one of the two had choppy black hair and regarded her with bored, equally black eyes.
Finally seeming to notice that the darker boy had no intrest in responding, the blonde turned to Sakura and beamed, "Hi! I'm Uzumaki Naruto! What's your name?"
Smile flickering back into place, she mumbled shyly, "I...I'm Haruno Sakura." Folding her hands infront of her and tucking her chin to her chest, she blushed. She'd never really had anyone approach her before. Usually she had to work herself up to say something, and usually it didn't end well.
With new found courage she turned to the other boy and asked, "Um, what's your name?"
Worried that the boy would ignore his new friend, Naruto tried to inturrupt. "Don't worry about that jerk, Sakura-chan. I heard it when Mr. Jiraya announced it! It's-"
"Uchiha Sasuke," came the quiet, calm voice.
With an exaggerated gasp, Naruto yelled, "So now you talk? Why couldn't ya earlier!?"
Regarding the boy with an annoyed air, Sasuke replied. "I could have. I simply decided against it."
Before Naruto could set in again, Sakura whispered, "It's nice to meet you, Sasuke-kun."
Removing his glaring gaze from Uzumaki, Sasuke nodded a little to the girl and smirked at Naruto's growl.
"Why would ya ignore me when I ask your name, but answer Sakura-chan, huh?" Nauto smiled, "Do ya like her or somethin'?"
Blushing even harder, Sakura glanced up through her rosy bangs to see Sasuke's reaction. His face remained blank as he responded, "As you said earlier, you heard my name when it was announced. Sakura was too far away to have heard. I do not waste time on stupid questions."
For a moment, Naruto looked put out. Then his eyes sparked and he smirked, "So you were watchin' Sakura-chan before she got assigned to us, huh? You do like her! Told ya so!"
Watching with what seemed to be a cross between disbelief and disgust as Naruto preformed a happy dance, Sasuke looked to the extremely red-faced Sakura and muttered, "Idiot."
At her laugh, Naruto stopped and called out, "Hey! I heard that! Loser!"
Sakura giggled as she watched the boys bicker back and forth, intejecting quietly when they began to get too nasty. This was somthing she could get used to. She couldn't have been happier with her team.
The air was buzzing with excitement as teams prepared. Team 7, one of the more successful units throughout training, stood near the blast door talking amongst themselves.
A short girl in a high collared, red shirt-dress carefully adjusted a holster over her dark leggings. Checking the hooks on her heavy combat boots one last time, she slipped on black, fingerless gloves and ran a hand through her long, pink hair. She caught one of the waist length pieces between her fingers and seemed to diliberate for a moment.
"You should pull it back. It may get in your way if we have to fight."
Sakura glanced up to the boy who'd spoken and replied, "You're right Sasuke-kun."
Sasuke watched as she twisted her long locks up into a deliberately messy bun and secured it with a large pair of senbon. He grunted and nodded when she asked if it looked alright.
Patting the top of her hair one last time, Sakura glanced sideways at Sakuke. He was wearing his blue leather bomber jacket and baggy cargo shorts with a tight white tanktop underneath. The loose, pocket filled attire left him plenty of options for concealing weapons, which pleased him. The three loose belts riding low on his hips and blue-tinted goggles around his neck, however; had been her idea. Kakashi-sensei had said it'd be best for them to blend in as much as possible on the Surface and months of scouring fashion magazines and newspapers had inspired the looks she'd put together for her team. The term the magazines had coined for the trend was 'urban cyberpunk.'
"Hey guys! Sorry I'm late! I brought food!"
Sasuke groaned and Sakura laughed as their final teammate arrived. Naruto galloped up to them balaning three steaming to-go bowls of ramen from his favorite shop. Once he reached them, he made short work of passing out the meals and quickly digging into his own share. As he slurped the delicious noodles he slurred, "I gosh you guysh your favrish!" He grinned and adjusted his large headphones to leave one ear uncovered.
Sakura smiled again as she saw her more exuberent friend in his Surface gear. Naruto had taken a special intrest in dressing for the mission, visiting Sakura and making sure to get some say in his attire. Naruto had chosen a bright orange track suit with a thin black hoody underneath his jacket and the funkiest shoes they could find. As a final touch, he'd talked Kakashi into getting him some antique DJ headphones on one of his frequent Surface-side trips. Naruto had spent the last few days leading up to their mission doodling in white ink on the dark headset: they now displayed everything from 'Team 7' in chunky, block script to a picture of steaming ramen in a smiling bowl.
Sasuke smirked, "Nice outfit, Idiot."
Coughing as he accidentally inhaled a few too many noodles, Naruto glared at Sasuke through watery eyes. "Yeah...well yours is ugly, Loser!" He grinned mischeviously, "In fact, Sakura-chan looks the best of all of us, don't you think?" Sautering over to their pink-haired teammate, Naruto cast an arm around her shoulders. "Looks downright foxy today, don't she?"
Naruto laughed as Sasuke scowled and swiped at his smirking face. Flirting with Sakura always knocked him down a few pegs. Ruffling her hair affectionately, he added, "You really do look nice, Sakura, no joking!"
Gasping as her long bangs fell free from her bun, she yelled, "Naruto!" With a huff, she shrugged out from under his arm and rummaged in her thigh holster. Humming happily when she found what she was looking for, Sakura went about pinning her hair back into order.
Sasuke grinned at Naruto's shocked face until he noticed what Sakura had pulled out of her weapons holster. He stepped up to her, growling, "What did I say about using this thing like a purse? It's a weapon holster!"
Rolling her eyes, Sakura looked less than impressed by his tone. "I realize. I'm a medical specialist, and that's what the pack on my back is for. All the rest I need fits in this holster with room to spare. A few kunai will suit me just fine." At the still stoney look on his face, she sighed and smoothed her hair before reaching into her pack for an extra pin. "Besides, I can make anything," she paused, straightening the bobby pin in one smooth motion and flicking it at Sasuke, "a weapon."
Naruto laughed and Sakura grinned at the slightly suprised look on their normally stoic friend's face. Staring down at the improvised senbon caught between his fingers, Sasuke grunted. With a deliberate look at Sakura, he tucked the pin behind his ear where the silvery metal gleamed brightly against his dark hair. Before she could protest, he slipped one of his arm holsters free and wrapped it around her non-dominant bicep.
Leaning in close as he tightened the velcro strip, he whispered into her hair, "Since you're such a pro with senbon."
Sakura tamped down the blush threatening to rise in her cheeks as she glanced down at the addition to her weaponry. It was a set of ten heat-seeking senbon carefully arranged in a dark square of cloth.
Deciding not to answer, Sakura turned instead to devouring the meal Naruto had brought her. It was the first thing she'd eaten today, though she'd been up since early in the morning, ironing out mission details and preparing. She smiled as the flavor of chicken broth met her hungry lips. Naruto really had gotten their favorites. Sakura looked up to see Sasuke had followed her example and was eating the tomato and pasta combonation he liked so much.
It was moments like this that made it hard to believe she'd ever been alone. Now they were such a seamless unit, it was nearly unbarable to think of being apart. But from what she'd been able to glean from her case file in Tsunade's office, she'd been discovered Surface-level, alone. She'd been whisked away by one of the research facilities and destined for a life of testing before Hidden Leaf had found her.
Naruto had been rescued from a similar facility that had claimed his rebel parents. His file was considerably thicker with all the tests that had been run on him in his earlier years, from only a few months of age until his discovery by Jiraiya at seven years old. They were inhumane, but had left him with higher energy levels than anyone else Sakura had ever seen. His cheery nature hadn't always been so ubiquitous though, she and Sasuke had helped to pull him together and give him a goal: serve and protect the organization that had saved them all. Now the bubbly blond was dead set on becoming the next leader of Hidden Leaf.
The thickest file by far, however; had been Sasuke's. He'd been brought to the facility at eight after being discovered by Kakashi, roaming the streets attempting to fend for himself. Newspaper clippings in his chart detailed a high-profile murder case of a prominent family in on of the largest cities on the Surface. Sasuke's elder brother and family prodigy Itachi had also been an Anomaly. Once the family discovered his "condition," they had shunned him completely. Itachi had snapped. The dipictions of the crime scenes were horrible, and Sasuke was assumed dead. The police examinations were inconclusive, but most were convinced the young boy was somewhere among the carnage. Never in the six years they'd been together had Sasuke ever spoken directly of that night. Sakura knew when he got a glazed look in his eyes though, that he was thinking back and had done her best along with Naruto to make the episodes few and far between.
Her thoughts were inturrupted when a loud 'pop' split the air just infront of the assembled team. The resulting plume of smoke cleared to reveal their masked teacher's grinning figure.
"Ah, I'm sorry I'm late! I was--"
Naruto snorted loudly, "Don't bother, Kakashi! Let's just get on with it!"
With another eye-squinting grin, Kakashi tucked his book into his pack and turned to the keypad at the side of the blast doors. "Well then," he began as his fingers danced across the holographic keyboard, "let's be on our way then!"
The heavy doors slid back, revealing a bleak tunnel and a single elevator door. Once everything was gathered, team seven stepped outside the protection of Hidden Leaf. They were headed for the Surface for the first time in nearly seven years.
Team seven was headed back, using energy-inhanced jumps to skip along roof tops and powerlines. The grav-crates of food and medical supplies they'd bought from a small black market near the old docks were being towed along behind them and all was going well. Within two hundred yards of the building that housed the blast doors, four shadows dropped directly into their path.
The dark clothed, masked figures cackled as they prowled a clothes line between the buildings team seven was seperated onto. In the blink of an eye, one jumped toward the boys and the remaining three descended on Kakashi and Sakura. Sasuke and Naruto eluded immediate capture with a substitution illusion, while Sakura and Kakashi were forced into hand to hand combat.
With a flicker of steel, Kakashi drew a long holo-katana from the air and spoke slowly and clearly, "Run kids. Now!"
Glancing back and forth between themselves, the teens hesitated and it was too late. The ANBU attacked. Three were occupied with Kakashi, leaving time for Sakura to hop over to Naruto and Sasuke's rooftop. As they pressed themselves into a triangle shaped, back to back formation, they tried desprately to think of a plan. They were clearly out manned and outclassed in the middle of the field without the immediate possibility of backup.
Sakura's brilliant mind whirred with possibilities, pros and cons. The fastest of the three and easily the loudest was Naruto. However, the mostly likely other than herself to have noted and memorized the entrance codes Kakashi had used was Sasuke. Coming to a quick decision, Sakura sprung into action.
Without taking her eyes off of the circling ANBU, Sakura whipered harshly to her left. "Naruto!" When he didn't answer, she tried again, "Naruto!" This time he jumped and she continued, "Let me see your scriBE!" Turning to look at her incredoulusly, he asked, "How can you think of videogames at a time like this?" Sakura just scoffed and grabbed his wrist, twisting it to reveal a small computer banded to his inner wrist. Scrolling quickly through the interface, she found the notepad option and scribbled in the access codes. Task completed, she released his arm after locking the screen and looked seriously at her teammate. "I need you to listen very closely to me, Naruto." When she was sure his bright blue eyes were focused on her, she said, "I want you to run as fast as you can back to Hidden Leaf." Before he could protest she continued in her strained whisper, "And I need you to find Tsunade, Jiraiya--anyone! You have to tell them we're out here, I wrote down the coordinates and that we were attacked on our return. Tell them there are ANBU, an entire squad. Sasuke and I will cover you! GO!"
With one last, long look at his team, Naruto took off in a single energy-loaded leap. Not giving the ANBU agent the time to even think of persuing her friend, Sakura launched herself with all her might at him.
The agent laughed mockingly, "Ah, what have we here?" He caught her tiny fist in a crushing grip, deflecting Sasuke's kick with his other arm. "Two unmarked freaks. Both non-compliant. Must be my lucky day!" Twisting her arm cruelly, he forced her into a submission hold. When her knees hit the roofing tile with a jarring force, he let go of her hands to grip her thick hair at the bun.
Knocking Sasuke's barrage of punches away as if he were shooing a fly, Sakura could just see the ANBU drawing somthing from a holster at his waist. Then it clicked, he was going to give her the Chip! Before her hands could do anything, there was a blinding pain in the back of her neck just below her hairline. She must have screamed something horrible because she saw Sasuke's lips form a curse and Kakashi's flinch on the neighboring roof. But the pain was so great in her head and neck that her ears couldn't interpret anything but a low buzz. Rather than numbing, the pain only seemed to spread from the injection to every nerve ending in her body leaving fire in its wake. As her eyes rolled back, she saw Sasuke charge head-on at the man holding her hair, his face twisted in rage. Black creeped in from the edges of her vision, washing it out completely as she slumped bonelessly to the rooftop below her.
When conscience finally filtered back into her mind, Sakura was lying face down in a pool of water. Nearby she could clearly make out the sounds of fighting. Sitting up groggily, she gingerly touched her neck, grimicing when she pulled her hand back to find it coated in blood. She starred with morbid fascination as fat drops of moisture pelted her sticky fingers. A storm seemed to have blown in over the dark Surface city while she was knocked out. Rather than treating herself, she looked across the roof top, squinting through the pelting rain to see even a few feet.
Sasuke was holding his own against one agent, while Kakashi battled with two more. Pushing herself to her feet, somthing tugged at the edges of her groggy brain. Just then, she heard a faint footstep on the wet tile behind her. The fourth agent. Now she remembered. Drawing her kunai in a flash, she turned just in time to block a brutal downswipe from her enemy's weapon. She sprung backward, eyes locked on her opponent and tried to give herself some room to think. From what she knew, the Chip imbedding process should have left a small plastic dome on the surface of her skin. When she'd quickly drawn her fingers over the wound, it'd felt open rather than sealed by a foreign body.
Narrowing her eyes at the rain-blurred figure of the ANBU she thought to herself that there was no way she'd experience that pain again. They were not going to complete the process, not over her dead body. That in mind, she fought the agent with a new rigor. Knocking her attacker back, she quickly drew a pair of her borrowed senbon, tossing them with extra force. She smiled maliciously as one skimmed the mans cheek, leaving a deep gash and the other imbedded uselessly into his arm guard.
Sakura jeered, "One for two, not too bad, ANBU." Tossing her head back she laughed at her little rhyme. God, she thought, I must be loosing blood fast. That was pathetic.
The ANBU sneered, "We'll see who's laughing when I finish that Chip, princess!"
All traces of mirth drained from Sakura's face. "Not if I can help it!" Leaping foward, her eyes widened when her kunai embedded iteself deeply into the agent's stomach. The illusion shimmered and winked out even as she realized what it meant.
A cruel grip once again seized her now delapidated bun. Sakura sucked in a breath through her teeth as the rough handling upset the open lesion on her neck.
Tugging harshly on the hair in his fist, the agent cooed, "Not so cocky now, are we?" He laughed as he reached again toward the holster at his waist.
Sakura's eyes bugged as she thought frantically. There was no way she could take that pain again, she'd loose her mind! Squirming and squealing uselessly, she reached desprately for her weapon holster.
As he drew his Chip imbedding device, the ANBU smirked. "That kunai won't do anything for you, you little freak."
Hissing through teeth bloodied by her busted lip, Sakura hissed, "It isn't meant for you."
With a battlecry, she plunged her rainsoaked face toward her chest and swiped the kunai in a sharp arc behind her head.
The ANBU cursed in suprise as she lurched foward, free of his grip. Rolling with her momentum, Sakura performed a simple saumersault, taking care to kick the injection gun from the agent's shock-lessened grip.
Staggering raggedly to her feet, Sakura smirked with utmost satisfaction as she smashed the gun under the heel of her boot. As the ANBU agent sprung back into the shadows to regroup, she tilted her face up to meet the rain. How ironic, she thought, that it would rain on her trip to the Surface. She'd always wanted to see the sunshine. All the books and simulations she'd experienced of Surface weather didn't even compare. This experience was amazing. Cleansing even. Smiling into the pelting drops, she reasoned that if she died here, on this mission, that rain wasn't too bad after all.
She could just hear someone yelling her name over the sound of the water smacking the tiles. Turning slowly, she saw Sasuke, ragged and beaten as she must have looked. He was limping her way. They'd stand a better chance back to back. She started to smile when she saw an agent charging at his unprotected rear. Channeling every last bit of her remaining energy into her heel, Sakura lunged toward her teammate.
Sasuke tried to name the feeling tightening in his chest as he watched Sakura standing in the rain. Water was teamming down her face, making her bottle green eyes look like they shone with a light of their own. But the beautiful picture she should have made was spoiled by the blood coursing from the nape of her neck, down to pool in her clavicle and disapear into the equally red dress she wore. A chill went down his spine as he remembered her scream when they'd pressed the injection into her neck, it'd been like nothing he'd ever heard. Or ever wanted to hear again.
What made his stomach lurch, though, was her shorn hair. He'd turned just in time to see her sacrifice her beloved locks to escape the rest of the Chip-injection process. And now, there she stood, her once flowing hair cropped to nearly her shoulders with some slightly longer pieces where the cut hadn't been clean. He knew in his practical mind that it was only hair and it would grow back. But his emotional side, as disused and often-silent as it was, insisted that the Sakura they knew would be heart broken when the full reality of what she'd done set in.
Stumbling slightly as his injured ankle rolled, Sasuke grimaced and squinted his eyes shut for a moment. When he opened them again, he was shocked to see Sakura speeding toward him, her feet alight with the green mist of her concentrated energy. He watched, stunned, as she jetted directly at him only to jerk suddenly to his left and sidestep him. With an outstretched hand, she nimbly plucked the forgotten pin-senbon from its resting place behind his ear and shoved roughly off from his back.
Sasuke whipped around as fast as he could, watching as his teammate tackled a highly-trained ANBU to the rooftop and wrestled visciously with him. Summoning his depleting strength, he made to join her when the battle took an abrupt turn.
The petite, battered form of Sakrua twisted suddenly, pinning the ANBU beneath her. Without hesitation, she raised her senbon high and plunged it down into the dark eyehole of the agent's mask. Sakura was tossed aside like a ragdoll as the man bucked, howling and clawing at his face.
His teammate's limp body slid to a stop near his feet, and Sasuke dropped down to carefully gather her up. Shifting her slight weight closer to his chest, he prepared his energy for a run. He had to get them out of here. Turning on his heel, he gathered his momentum only to stop cold. Lightening forked across the sky and all over the roof shadowy forms dropped into sight. Blue-white light from the lightening bolt reflected sharply from the metal bands on the foreheads of the dark figures. Hidden Leaf defenders! Reinforcements had arrived.
The cool droplets of still falling rain trickled down the collar of his shredded leather jacket as he heaved a relieved sigh. Team seven would live to fight another day.
Warmth filled her chest at the thought of her teammates waiting up on her to get better. Breathing softly and carefully retracting her had from Naruto's hair, Sakura shifted gingerly toward the edge of her bed. Just as her first toe skimmed the cool tile and she prepared to push herself onto her feet, a dark blur appeared before her bare knees.
Blinking up into Sasuke's onyx eyes, she began to smile when she saw sadness and regret pooled in his fathomless gaze. As the mirth sank away from her, Sakura whispered to preserve the hushed atmosphere. "What's wrong?"
His sorrow only seemed to deepen at the husky, unused quality of her voice. Saying nothing, Sasuke simply stepped foward, his thighs skimming her knees and hands braced on the bed at her hips.
With a voice as soft as she had used, he replied. "While you were...asleep, Tsunade came and spoke to Naruto and I." Looking her directly in the eye, he explained, "We are a part of the Gen-nin program. The ultimate goal of which was to literally raise an army of anti-ANBU soldiers. When the youngest member of our team turns thirteen, we are given a choice: become full soldiers or remain civilian." He paused, his eyes darkening to something past black. "You slept through your birthday."
Starring past her shoulder at some point on the wall, he continured, "If we stay civilian, we would be permitted to remain at Hidden Leaf or go Surface-level and try to blend. Should we elect to become soldiers, we would continue our training and begin going Surface-side with more and more missions. Eventually we would be fighting ANBU regularly. We'd be the first generation of an Underground army. Tsunade and Jiraiya were the masterminds behind the program, they think an all out war is coming."
Before she could respond, Sasuke pressed even closer to her until he stood snuggly between her thighs, resting his forehead on her narrow shoulder. Burrowing his nose into her neck, he murmered, "I don't want you to fight them, Sakura."
It took her mind, foggy with his nearness and warm breath at her ear, a moment to process exactly what he had said. Wrinkling her nose as the words sank in, she gasped and pressed fruilessly at his chest. When he refused to budge, she dropped her hands and whispered sharply, "What? I want to help Hidden Leaf! After all it has done for us, after all that Tsunade has done--"
"I wasn't stong enough."
At Sasuke's raspy confession, Sakura stilled. "What?"
She could feel the sheets rumple as his hands fisted on the bed. He elaborated, "I wasn't strong enough to stop the ANBU who did this." As he spoke, one of his hands lifted from its resting place, skimming the curve of her spine and burrowing beneath her hair to the nape of her neck where a thick square of gauze was attached.
The incomplete injection site. She had almost forgotten, the night seemed so long ago in her mind.
In all of their training, Sasuke had always come out on top. His near ineffectiveness in fighting the ANBU had rattled him. He was not as invincible as he liked to believe.
Looping her arms around his waist and resting her cheek on his broad shoulder, Sakura chose her next words carefully. "I knew about the choice, Sasuke." When she felt him stiffen beneath her hands, she explained, "The day I was brought here, I heard Tsunade and Jiraiya talking with Kakashi. As we trained I overheard the squad leaders, and finally when I apprenticed with Tsunade I saw the older teams coming and going. I think I finally pieced it all together when Tenten's teams began going Surface-level and coming back scraped-up on a regular basis. I just...never knew how to tell you and Naruto. And I wasn't sure, you know?"
For a moment there was silence, then Sasuke raised his arms to fully wrap around Sakura's slight frame. He spoke at last, voice deep with some emotion. "Naruto and I already discussed a solution. You can stay here, in Hidden Leaf and serve as a med-nin while he and I go Surface-side. We decided it would be safer this way, and--"
Shoving with all her might, Sakura railed at him. "What? How could--you didn't honstly think I would agree, did you!?"
Tears rose to her eyes as her voice went hoarse with fatiuge and disuse, "I am a member of Hidden Leaf as much as you or Naruto. I have the right to choose. I'm going to fight, Sasuke."
Pulling away from the junction of her shoulder and neck, Sasuke avoided her eyes. He raised one hand from her back and spun an uneven lock of her hair through his fingers.
"Look at me." When he refused, Sakura placed a hand on either side of his face. Pressing her palms tightly to his cheekbones, she said roughly, "Look. At. Me."
As onyx met emerald, she spoke softly once more. "Is it that my mutations aren't as combat-effective as yours or Naruto's?" Met again with his silence, she asked, "Do you think..." Her voice broke, "that I'm weak?"
Worried-strained features twisted into a frown as he finally spoke, "Sakura I--"
Sakura slid her hands from his face, back into his dark hair. Starring resolutely into his eyes she she cut him off, "I'm going to fight, Sasuke. I'm going with you. Both of you. I won't be left behind while you two go Surface-level."
With a growl, Sasuke pressed one hand into her petite waist and hooked the other under the curve of her jaw. Without another word, he swooped forward and slanted his lips over hers.
Eyes round with suprise, Sakura froze up with uncertainty. Her first kiss wasn't the careful, adoring peck she'd been imagining. This was a meeting of wills, agressive and almost bruising. Slowly, she tightened her grip on his silky hair and kissed back with as much force. Sakura Haruno wasn't going to be cowed by a kiss!
With a sharp nip to her lower lip, Sasuke retreated. Starring with heavily-lidded eyes at her flushed face, he murmered, "I don't want to have to carry you back here ever again. I--"
Pressing a single finger to his lips, Sakura smiled widely. "Then I'll have to get stronger. We'll get stronger. Team Seven will become the best of the Underground."
Sasuke watched pride and hope bloom over his teammate's pretty face. Allowing a tiny grin to tug his lips, he glanced at the still-sleeping, oblivious form of Naruto. They had a long way to go, but he silently agreed with Sakura's declaration. They were going to become the best soldiers of Hidden Leaf.
The Underground was rising, and Team Seven was going to lead the way.
Sasuke (at introduction/close) age 8/14
Sakura (at intoduction/close) age 6/12
Naruto (at introduction/close) age 7/13
As I wrote the end of this never-ending one-shot, I decided that I would enjoy writing a sequel (maybe even two). Keep a look out for more in the Cyberpunk!Naruto arc from me, I hope to have more posted this weekend.