Author: cutecrazyice PM
For the world is cruel, and so is life. Now, she must put aside her heartaches and go on a mission with the one boy who betrayed her, and the one man who abandoned them - all this, to save the most precious person in their lives. KakaSaku, SasuSakuRated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Romance - Sakura H. - Chapters: 6 - Words: 28,442 - Reviews: 660 - Favs: 244 - Follows: 354 - Updated: 03-15-09 - Published: 08-10-08 - id: 4462313
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Something cold was touching her face, and for a moment, Sakura tried to understand what it was. It wasn't the wind, because there was pressure in the touch, gentle but very much there. It skimmed from her forehead to her eyelids, from her cheek to her chin. She heard a wet sound, a dripping sound, before it was overlapped by something else—a light voice, sweet and just as gentle as the touch.
The voice was chattering.
"...the first time I've seen the blue sky in a long time and even in this type of weather, that's like a miracle..."
"...said that it's a rematch, but didn't know when, though I doubt it's gonna come this early..."
"...not much to do except please the masters and make sure their happiness is catered..."
The word master had Sakura's heart jolting, the familiarity of it coming slowly.
With difficulty, she opened her eyes.
"...and it's not like everything's going to—oh, you're awake!"
A pair of brown, feminine eyes stared back at her.
"Thank goodness you're awake! I really thought you were going to die, what's with all the bruises you had—but then again, you've been reckless and uncooperative, so I suppose you needed those to—"
"Who are you?"
The girl blinked, her fingers stopping on Sakura's neck—she had a washcloth on one hand, and it didn't take Sakura long to realize that it was what she'd been feeling earlier all over her face. Mind churning with thoughts, she tried to recall why a girl would be wiping her face with a washcloth and talking about the weather and a rematch and masters...
In an instant, every brutal memory came back. Abruptly, Sakura shot up from her position, startling the girl, who stood up as well—and ended up upsetting the basin of water balanced on her lap. It fell on the floor with a soft thud, the water seeping through the carpet.
The girl cried out in annoyance.
"Oh! Now look what you made me do! I'll get in trouble now!"
Sakura ignored her, and made a move to stand up.
"Oh, no, you don't! Sit back down!"
To the pink-haired kunoichi's shock, the girl managed to push her back down. She fell back on the cot with another soft thud, sitting at something hard in the process. It took her a second to realize that her wrists were shackled firmly, the metal chains trailing from them to the cot posts, located at each ends.
It took her another to realize that she had no wounds anymore.
And there was no more pain.
"You are such a fighter! No wonder they beat you up good! I think you deserve it!"
Wincing slightly at the voice (because it was sounding more and more like a banshee every time it got louder), she stared at the girl again, who now had her hands fisted and was glaring at Sakura heatedly.
Without further ado, Sakura glared back.
"Who are you?" she repeated.
"Well, now, I'm Anyi, and you are—"
"Release me now," Sakura demanded—rudely.
The girl named Anyi gaped, her brown eyes going wide. She had long, silky brown hair to go with the eyes, and a petite figure that was wrapped in very revealing clothing, exposing her cleavage and her legs for the world to see. She was very skinny, too, and quite short in height.
Slowly, Anyi broke out of her surprise, and glared again.
"Like hell I would. You—"
"Release me now," Sakura spit out, making a move to stand up again. "Or I will kill you, you stupid slave-enforcer."
Instead of glaring, Anyi did the exact opposite.
"But I'm not a slave-enforcer," Anyi chirped, her beam widening. "I'm a slave, just like you."
Then the beam disappeared, and a vicious glare replaced it. "And it wouldn't be helpful if you called me bitch again—so stop being rude."
Sakura shut her mouth at once, taken aback. This was unexpected. She had thought this was another master, another brutal person, another one who would beat her up...
"So, what's your name?"
Sakura glanced at the cheerful-looking girl tentatively. There was no more glare.
"Sakura," she replied, albeit reluctantly.
"Hi, Sakura! I'm—"
"Anyi, yeah. You said that already."
Anyi pouted. "You're such a spoilsport. You're ruining my mood."
Oddly enough, the girl grinned at that. "Yeah, I know. And so are you. Kicking and screaming the moment they took you in. You are such a little hellion!"
Not really sure how to answer that (because she was certainly not as weird as this girl), Sakura merely remained silent, and studied the shackles that bound her. They looked sturdy and tight, almost menacing.
"How do I get out of this thing?"
Anyi sighed. "You don't. So don't even try. You'll only hurt yourself, and I've just taken a great amount healing you."
Surprised, Sakura stared at the girl again. "You healed me?"
"Why, of course! I'm a great medic, so it was a piece of cake!"
"...but you're a slave," Sakura blurted out.
Anyi raised a brow, as if to say, And your point is?
Sakura's eyes narrowed. "How come you have chakra and I don't?"
"That's not something you're allowed to find out, sorry," Anyi finally replied, sighing again. "So stop questioning already. Just sit still while I clean you up, okay?"
Reluctantly, Sakura relented, and let Anyi take her arms, washing away the dirt with the still-wet washcloth. She closed her eyes, tugging her bonds every now and then—but it wouldn't budge, so she eventually stopped, and just let herself relax, even for a moment.
It lasted only for five minutes, before she felt Anyi stiffen beside her.
The washcloth froze on her shoulder, before it abruptly pulled away, and a lot of scrambling happened. Opening her eyes on instinct, Sakura looked down, her mouth dropping slightly open when she saw Anyi suddenly kneeling on the floor, her hands spread before her. Her head was down, too, her forehead fully touching the fabric of the carpet.
"Haruno. Aren't you going to kneel like a good little girl?"
Sakura shut up.
Then, relentlessly telling herself to stay calm, she looked down, and sat up—but she didn't budge from her position on the cot.
"No," she answered softly. Firmly.
She heard Anyi gasp beside her. A moment later, the girl was frantically pleading as if her life depended on it.
"She didn't mean it, Master! She was only kidding! She's still new to this kind of thing, please don't be angry—"
Anyi became more frantic. "Please, Master, just one more chance—"
"I said get out. Don't come back until you are summoned."
The voice was soft—and very deadly. The babbling stopped, as more scrambling ensued. From the corner of her eye, Sakura saw Anyi stand up and bow profusely. Then the girl disappeared from her line of view, her tiny, bare feet moving as if something were snapping at her heels.
Sakura remained where she was, head still down, until another set of feet came in sight before her—not tiny now, but large, and encased in black leather boots that seemed new and polished.
One boot came up to tap her lightly on her knee.
She jerked back immediately.
She froze, as the sound vibrated in her ears.
"It's master. You say that first if you're addressing me."
Indignantly, she made a move to lift her head.
He kicked the bed again, making it wobble in the process—her chains stretched, causing her wrists to jerk back. It earned her a loud, sharp intake of painful breath.
Why was he doing this? Why?
"It's master. You will keep on disobeying, I will kick you harder."
The words registered. Sakura's eyes widened, as she finally realized what he was doing. What he was trying to say.
There was an eavesdropper somewhere.
"So, do you understand me now?"
Knowing it was all purposeful now, Sakura let out a pained, deliberate cry, her breath going out in harsh pants.
"Yes," she said through gritted teeth. After all, it wouldn't be believable if she was immediately compliant on the first day of her...housebreaking. The word made her grimace, but she supposed she had to get used to it now, because this was undercover, and she had to be the best actress ever to be believable.
She had always been good at hiding things.
Now was the best time to put that to use.
There was silence again, and Sakura thought he had stopped—but a real, startled cry escaped from her lips when, as quick as lightning, her chains were unshackled.
Then she was suddenly tossed over his shoulder, with his hands on her...butt.
This wasn't part of the plan.
"Put me down! No—AHH!"
The zing on her neck was like a warning—she quieted immediately, but didn't stop struggling, as sunlight poured in her eyes, signaling that they were on outside grounds once again. There were people milling about, some going about their business and ignoring her, others pausing to spare her a glance or two.
Her captor spoke. His voice was loud and clear.
"There are other ways to make you see reason."
As if to emphasize his point, he ran his thumb over her thigh, just right under her clothing.
Her mind blanked in panic.
She saw Anyi standing behind a tall man, head down, but giving her a worried glance. She saw another girl, a taller one, staring at her in utter shock. The next moment, the almost-blinding sunlight was gone. She was unceremoniously dumped on a soft mattress. Still panicking, she scrambled up and away—
He easily pinned her down with his own body.
It took all of Sakura's self-control not to gasp or react at his actions. She remained still, and tried to keep her heartbeat in check, as his hands took a firm hold of her wrists, as his head bent closer, his hair—his still wild, still messy hair—brushed against hers.
Then his breath was on her ear, warm and soft and...unexpected.
"It's okay now. No bugs in this room. Just don't yell."
And then he was off her, and the warmth was gone.
"Survey the area, would you? Befriend the other slaves. I will meet you here later. I still have some business to attend to."
His eye crinkled, the way it usually did—an assurance that this really was Hatake Kakashi, in the flesh.
It's alright. It's okay. There was nothing to fear.
It didn't stop her heart from beating erratically, her emotions from jumping.
Cautiously, Sakura sat up from the mattress, biting her lip as she thought. There was still one thing she was worried about, other than the danger of their situation here.
With his face covered by a dark brown bandanna, Kakashi tilted his head in her direction, hands on his pockets, usual slouch on his stance.
"...are the others alive? Ino?"
For a moment, there was silence.
Then he nodded his head, his eye crinkle disappearing, and his face becoming serious.
"I don't know. But I'd like to think so."
Translation: I hope so.
Sakura tried to ignore the churning in her gut at the possibilities. Instead, she let her mind get distracted, and let her eyes wander to the room they were now in.
It was still a tent, like the previous one—but unlike before, this one looked sturdier, with thicker poles and walls made not only of fabric, but of what looked like a combination between that and some marble. How that was done, or even possible, she had no idea—but it looked somewhat beautiful, somewhat elegant. The carpets were maroon, and looked lush and comfortable on the feet. The bed was big, filled with pillows and sheets and—
She stopped perusing, and blinked.
"There's only one bed."
Kakashi's brow rose.
"I'm not blind, Sakura. I can see that."
"But there's two of us," she blurted out.
"Well, it's either we share the bed...or you can sleep on the floor."
"I'm not sleeping on the floor!" she said indignantly.
"...you're my slave. You will sleep where I want you to."
"When no one's around. You said this room isn't bugged."
Miffed, Sakura folded her arms. He did have a point.
Sighing finally, she unfolded her arms, and gave him a reluctant nod.
He nodded his head back, apparently satisfied that she had given in.
With another sigh, Sakura frowned, and looked at him again, her eyes fixed on the bandanna he was wearing. "One more thing, though."
"Can...can I see your face?"
His eyebrow rose again.
"You already saw my face yesterday, Sakura."
Her frown deepened.
"But—I was delirious! My focus yesterday was on killing you! Now that I know who you are...I want to see."
His one hand went up, his fingers lingering on the edges of the bandanna.
Her own hands gripped the bedsheets of the mattress, her whole body leaning forward.
He slowly, ever so slowly, pulled the cloth down...
Then his eye crinkled again.
And before Sakura could even comprehend what was happening, he was out of the tent in a flash, leaving only echoing words behind.
Be more obedient next time.
She gaped at the entrance, not sure whether to be angry or dismayed.
Then Sakura threw herself facedown on the bed, punching it as she did so.
Damn, stupid Hatake Kakashi. Damn him.
He just had to take away her only source of joy lately, didn't he?
The man who was sitting beside him didn't really look like he could live up to his reputation, so to speak. Kakashi had been watching him for some time now, from the corner of his eye—from the long velvety robes of maroon, to the slightly obese body said robe was covering. His hair was a light yellow, slicked back in a neat, fashionable style. His hands were covered in gold rings, with glinting gems in them—so was his neck, but only with one silver necklace that looked expensive, and looked exquisite.
At one glance, Yamagata Yasuo seemed to be ordinary enough: a wealthy, prosperous man, one who was contented on enjoying his riches. Who was satisfied with that, and in living a healthy, harmless life.
But then again, looks can be deceiving.
Subtly, Kakashi shifted his eyes away from his quiet perusal, and turned to look at a certain spot on the wall just as Yasuo turned his eyes on him, hands gesturing grandly.
"No, thank you, Yamagata-san," Kakashi replied, eyes shifting back to the man in front of him almost politely.
Yasuo dismissed one hand. "Now, now, you're a well-renowned man—no need for theatrics and all that. You can call me Yasuo."
"Yasuo-san," Kakashi said. "Please call me Kashi-san."
Yasuo's light blue eyes brightened up at this, as he sat down and gestured for Kakashi to do the same. With a snap of his fingers, a curtain on the right of the beautiful red tent was parted, and a girl dressed in see-through fabric—with a bronze collar around her neck—meekly made her way towards them, arms in front and eyes shyly on the floor. Yasuo snapped his finger again. Suddenly, the bronze collar glinted and the girl was abruptly propelled forward, throwing her directly in Yasuo's lap.
Kakashi realized she probably wasn't more than fifteen, and it disgusted him to see the pudgy man's hands cover her breasts and start squeezing and molding them. But he kept his face passive, and concentrated on the girl's face, which were still trained on the floor.
Her eyes were filled with terror and resignation, as Yasuo leaned forward and whispered in her ear.
"Go get me some tea, will you, Jin?" His hand trailed away from her breast and trailed down on a thigh, touching her through her cloth.
It was then she began to struggle, as the terror in her eyes increased. But the struggle lasted only for a while, as a few seconds later, the collar flashed again.
There was a slashing sound before Jin's head was suddenly on the floor, along with her body—though the two weren't attached anymore.
It took a bit of Kakashi's control not to fist his hands at the cold, careless display.
"Tesa," Yasuo called out commandingly. Instantly, from the same curtain, the beautiful black-haired woman came out, hips swaying seductively and carrying with her a tray with a teapot and a cup balanced in it. She crinkled her nose at the bloody sight on the floor, but didn't comment as she brought the tea by her master's side, sliding her hand on his shoulders and automatically massaging them as she did so.
"Yes, master?" she purred belatedly to Yasuo, her icy and intense eyes fixed solely on Kakashi. Technically, he knew this wasn't prohibited, because he was still a newcomer: meaning his status as master only applied to the low-ranking slaves—and low-ranking, Tesa certainly wasn't.
"See that this gets cleaned."
Ten minutes later, the only thing that remained on the carpet were a few spots of blood. Leaning in his seat, Yasuo's eyes glinted, as he slowly poured tea for himself and sipped on it quietly.
"I never like it when they're struggling against me," he commented.
Kakashi, still silent, leaned back as well. Then he spoke.
"Funny. I always like them better when they struggle," he intoned idly.
Then Yasuo smiled at the other's statement, showing off his silver incisors as they glinted.
No, not harmless.
Kakashi thought he became quite dangerous right then.
"That is an intriguing statement, I must say," Yasuo complimented, finally putting his teacup down and joining his hands together. Slowly, he rested a chin on top of them, his expression going thoughtful. "Is that why you chose to make the Hokage's apprentice your personal slave? There has been talk that she's not very easy to control."
Who said so?
Instead of asking, Kakashi merely replied, "Not really. I can handle her."
"Are you sure, Kashi-san?"
"I would like to see for myself."
"Do you not believe me, Yasuo-san?"
Yasuo smiled again. "On the contrary—I'd just like to see the progress." Before Kakashi could protest, the other man was already snapping his fingers again, calling for his slave in that quiet manner of his. Tesa appeared once more, hips still swaying seductively. Eyes still on Kakashi.
"Bring Haruno-san here. Right now. Dress her up."
Tesa's eyes narrowed a bit, before going interested, as she bent her body in a graceful bow, showing off her cleavage. Then she disappeared once more behind the curtain.
Yasuo's hands disconnected, as he settled fingers on the cup again, and took a small, small sip. His eyes stayed on Kakashi, and while they were still friendly...there was something else glinting there now.
"Let's see how well you can control her sexual pleasure, Kashi-san."
It was then that Kakashi knew this was going to be more trouble than he thought.
Just because they took away her chakra didn't mean that she was completely powerless. Ninja was ninja, after all, no matter the circumstances.
And if there was one thing Sakura excelled at as a kunoichi (other than her awesome chakra manipulation, of course), it was stealth.
She had never expected the organization to be this big...and this ordinary. From the looks of it (and there wasn't much to look at, to be honest), it seemed like everything they needed were already inside. Sleeping quarters. Eating quarters. Training grounds. Entertainment tents.
Where were the prisoners kept?
That was what puzzled her the most—and what worried her. There were all kinds of places, except the most important one. In her head's thinking, there were only two reasons for this, really: it was either the prisoners' quarters were hidden from plain sight...or there were no prisoners at all.
But that was impossible. Because she hadn't seen Naruto or Temari anywhere, and no prisoners' quarters meant...
Her stomach turned at the thought.
She couldn't think about it. No.
Them being unseen didn't mean they weren't here. They were, they had to be.
She just to look further.
She had been searching for a good three to four hours now—she couldn't really tell how long, not exactly. Sakura knew it would be highly suspicious if she kept this up, because after all, there were still highly-skilled guards stationed all around, both in plain view and in secret. While she had been fortunate enough to spot them first and avoid them in her impromptu surveillance, she didn't really want to push her luck.
Reluctantly, Sakura jumped down from her perch on a metal chain (why these people loved metals, she couldn't really understand) connecting two multi-colored tents, and walked as casually as possible towards the area where she knew the other slaves were either finishing their designated tasks or being ordered around—not that she was eager to join them. There were some whip-holding guards monitoring the slaves, and they weren't exactly pleasant—the look in their eyes showed all too well how amusing they found this organization, this business.
Still, she could learn something from them. Or better yet, she could learn something from the slaves when the guards weren't looking.
Grimacing, Sakura eyed her dirty, sandaled—freezing—toes, hugging her plain brown overcoat closer to her body. It was mid-afternoon, the sun still bright as Anyi had predicted—and Sakura knew she had better get her ass back to her duties before they caught on that she wasn't where she was supposed to be, under watchful eyes.
"Lost, little missy?"
Oh, hell. Just when she thought she had gotten away.
Sakura cursed herself inwardly, though her facial expression remained the same. On instinct, she looked up—but before she could stare the speaker in the eye, she remembered how she was supposed to act and looked back down immediately, bowing her head and body respectfully. She knew the drill now—she'd been watching it, observing, for at least a day now, and that was long enough.
No slave who defied any of the masters lived to savor the triumph.
She wasn't about to risk it.
"I was just looking for my master, sir," Sakura replied—lied—politely. She was staring at a pair of men's feet, big ones encased in leather brown sandals that looked used-up but still wearable. She would have kept on staring, but a hand was suddenly on her chin, gently encouraging her to look up. She did, but instantly closed her eyes.
The male voice came again.
"Don't worry, missy—I'm a low-ranking master. Denkou-san is now above me, you know."
Because Sakura still remembered the rules, as it was written in the mission scroll, she slowly opened her eyes. She stared.
Anyi's master was staring back at her.
Now that she was standing right in front of him, she could immediately see that he was taller than she had first thought—even with her not-so-short stature (well, as she liked to think), he was still towering over her. He would probably tower over Kakashi, too. As of the moment, the top of her head barely even neared his shoulder. He had carrot-colored hair, a gangly body structure, a gentle touch.
Mesmerizing green eyes.
Slowly, his hand let her chin go. The corner of his mouth quirked slightly.
"You do know you should be doing your slave duties right now, don't you?"
At the words, Sakura stiffened, and eyed him warily. Was he going to deck her now? Torture her? She braced herself. He looked harmless enough—but what did she know? She watched him shrug, his stance still casual.
"Not that it matters. Just be careful. It's not like you can escape from here, anyway. I know a lot who tried—they ended up dead."
Silence. Mostly because she didn't know what to say to that.
"It's probably because you're famous, right? Haruno Sakura of Konoha. No wonder Denkou-san's rank went up immediately. Lucky bastard." His tone was that of amusement, instead of resentment.
Sakura nearly protested that Kakashi wasn't a bastard, but remembering that he was sometimes—heck, he'd proven it time and time again—she kept her mouth shut and waited for him to speak some more.
Before he could, however, a female voice came and interrupted.
"Master Kan, I've been looking for you everywhere and...oh. Sakura! So this is where you are! I've been looking for you everywhere, too!"
It was Anyi. Sakura saw that she wasn't looking at her master's eyes, but said master was looking at her in quiet amusement. His hands went to his pockets, as he eyed Anyi with raised brows.
"If you were looking everywhere, Anyi, you would have found us instantly. It's not like we were in hiding or anything."
Anyi flushed at this, and fidgeted nervously.
"Master!" she stuttered. "It's not—not like I was slacking! I—I had chores and—and—I really was looking for you and—it's true!"
The master named Kan chuckled. Then he proceeded to pat Anyi—whose head only reached the middle of his chest—in the shoulder, his eyes shifting towards Sakura. Slowly, he nodded his head.
"Well, Haruno-san...it was nice meeting you. Anyi, go take care of your duties with her for now. She needs to know that she's just going to hurt herself if she keeps this rebellion up. I'll be in the tent."
He ruffled Anyi's hair almost affectionately, before walking away and disappearing from their sight. Sakura kept on staring at his back, bewilderment spreading all over her at his behavior.
Was this all a trick?
She switched her gaze to the girl standing beside her, still blushing and smiling dreamily.
It didn't look like it was.
"I—oh. Yes, Sakura?"
"...your master is very nice."
Anyi grinned. Then the grin dimmed, as she eyed Sakura seriously, with something akin to pity in her eyes.
"Not all masters here are evil, you know. So stop trying to escape."
That was very hard to believe, considering this was a crime organization—crimes thrived on evil, after all. Sakura frowned.
"You say that, but you have to remember he made you his slave," Sakura muttered, her tone almost defiant. "You don't call that nice."
"You don't understand. He's not the one who made me his slave—his father was." At the name, Anyi's grin disappeared completely, her eyes swirling with something Sakura couldn't really comprehend. It was somewhat like the look of a person who had seen the fires of hell and survived it. Then it vanished abruptly, replaced by a smile. "But the old master is gone now, and the Master Kan never harmed me. Not once."
Unlike his father, right? Sakura wanted to say. But she refrained herself.
"He's a caring person," Anyi said, almost persistently. "I know that sounds ridiculous, and not all are—so you better be careful with the other masters. They're not as trustworthy as he is."
"Your master...is very evil. I can feel it," Anyi muttered.
Sakura nearly raised a brow at that. Instead, she feigned nervousness and nodded reluctantly.
"But not as evil and powerful as the heads," Anyi continued. "Master Renshou, for example. But his slave loves it. She's a bitch and I hate her."
"Which is what you thought of me from the very beginning, right?"
Anyi looked surprised at this. "What? No! I don't hate you! I just think you're annoying."
The answer had Sakura frowning, and becoming irritated herself. "Well, you're annoying too, you know."
Anyi became indignant. "At least I can never be as annoying as that four-eyed bitch! She's so superior and full of herself and—"
"Well, gee. It's always nice to see myself being gossiped over. I'm so popular nowadays."
Suddenly, before Sakura could comprehend what was happening, Anyi was down on the ground, though only for a second. The skinny girl was standing up immediately, flushing even deeper now and muttering apologies nonstop towards the newest arrival who had just slapped her in the head.
Sakura automatically reached out, glaring instantly before she could control herself. Then she stopped—hands in mid-air, and eyes suddenly fixed on the new person who had spoken. A girl—the same girl who had been staring at her earlier, while Kakashi had been carrying her.
An oh-so-familiar one.
Sakura froze completely.
Said girl merely smirked back, one hand on her hip and the other flipping her long, faded red hair behind her. Then she adjusted her glasses, her red eyes glinting with malice, sadistic amusement.
"Haruno bitch—quit your staring and get dressed. The masters are calling for you right now, and it wouldn't be pleasant to be late."
It was Karin.
The new man who entered the tent wasn't one Tsunade had briefed Kakashi about—nor was his name found in the mission scroll.
But then again, neither was Yasuo's.
He had a bulky, well-muscled figure, black curly hair, and a stature that was part-arrogant, part-strung—like a top waiting to take its spin, or a little bundle of energy waiting for the moment to be uncoiled and explode perfectly.
Only he couldn't exactly be described as little.
Quietly, Kakashi eyed the man as he interacted with Yasuo, then sat down on the other empty chair inside the tent, on Yasuo's other side. There was more talk, about some shipment or the other (however much Kakashi tried to understand, he didn't want to appear too interested, and so left them with their cryptic words, filtering and storing them in his head for later), before the man finally sat up straight, and turned contemplative eyes—they were dark blue and unreadable—on Kakashi.
Kakashi merely eyed him back.
The man smirked. "So, this is the famous bounty hunter who has just caught the equally famous medic-nin."
Yasuo nodded his head. "Why, of course. How rude of me. Renshou-san, allow me to introduce Kashi-san—or rather, Denkou Kashi. He's the newest pride of this organization."
The man named Renshou narrowed his eyes slightly at this, though his mouth maintained its polite smirk.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that yet," he murmured.
Yasuo laughed jovially. "Now, now, Renshou—just because you're the other pride doesn't mean I'll allow you to kill him, as I'm sure you want to do right now. He's a valuable member now."
Kakashi and Renshou eyed each other quietly, one passive, the other calculating. Anybody with a brain could see the strain and tension radiating off in waves now, though Yasuo seemed content enough to ignore it.
Then Renshou nodded his head, slightly—almost as if in mocking acknowledgment.
Pretending it was no mock at all, Kakashi merely nodded back.
"Okay. If you say so, boss," Renshou murmured again. He leaned back in his chair, almost as if relaxing. How deceiving, was Kakashi's thought. How very deceiving.
Renshou made a show of looking around. "So, why am I here again? As I recall, I have not yet done most of my duties for the day. I wouldn't want to be slaughtered the minute our master comes back, you know."
Master. Meaning Humoki Kane, most probably.
Kakashi wondered where the leader was.
He wasn't about to ask.
"This will only be for a minute, Renshou-san," Yasuo assured. "I just want your...valuable opinion."
There was something in the words that had Kakashi thinking there was more meaning behind it—most of which were deadly, and probably dangerous as hell. It didn't help that the sudden glint in Renshou's eyes was more than malicious now, more than predatory, before the man tamped it down with effective, deliberate control. Before Kakashi could contemplate any of this, the side curtain parted again, revealing Tesa carrying more teacups, one for Kakashi and the other for Renshou.
Casually, Kakashi picked his up, pretending to drink. It wasn't like he thought there was poison there or anything...but no harm done in being extra cautious, right?
Before Tesa could go back to her so-called hiding place, the curtain parted again—and at the sight of the familiar woman clad in a sexy ensemble, Kakashi nearly widened his eyes in surprise. He remained calm, however, and simply looked on lazily.
Karin eyed him back, almost politely. She didn't eye the other two, but bowed at them. He noticed the collar on her neck—it was better-looking than Sakura's—and wondered how long she'd been a slave here. No matter.
At least she didn't recognize him, with his mask now gone.
Something Yasuo had insisted upon in the middle of their little chat earlier.
"She's ready, Master Yasuo, Master Renshou...Master Kashi," Karin stated, voice soft and seductive.
Renshou grinned, the energy barely contained in him now.
"Well, hurry up," he said impatiently. "Bring her out now."
It took Kakashi a moment to remember what Yasuo had said earlier. With an inward sigh, he tried not to think about how mad Sakura was going to be after this event was over. She was probably going to pound him until he bled. Not that it was scary, considering her chakra was now gone, and it probably wasn't going to be as painful as before and—
The curtain parted once more, as Karin dragged an arm inside, until Sakura came in view, her eyes fixed on him for a fleeting moment—one no one probably noticed, given how short and subtle it was—before furiously looking down.
Kakashi merely stared in shock. Not at her expression, no—but at what she was wearing.
His teacup nearly dropped at the sight.
a/n: I'm back. Really back! All of the schoolwork and projects and exams are done, thank goodness. I'm graduating this March. :) Yay. I'm sorry for being gone so long, guys. Thanks for the concern and some of the nice pm's. I'm so glad to finally be able to write again, after that nasty bout of writer's block. Anyway, after this I'll update "In Nine Days".
Next Slave Driver chapter title: Sexual Pleasures. The plot outline's already being made, and it's going to have...lots of surprises.
Review if you can, please? I would appreciate it. Thank you. :)