Author: cutecrazyice PM
On a warm, sunny day, Sasuke finds the one person he never expected to see again. But things are not what they seem. SasuSakuRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Sasuke U. & Sakura H. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 14,617 - Reviews: 349 - Favs: 242 - Follows: 297 - Updated: 01-14-12 - Published: 10-03-11 - id: 7433279
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
a/n: HI. So sorry it took so long. HI. :D
. . .
When Sakura was fifteen, she'd been assigned her first solo mission. She was to escort a blind lord to a village at which there was a very important trade fair of ancient relics – a B-ranked mission that was only supposed to take a day or two of travel, tops.
Of course, she had anticipated being followed by thieves who wanted the lord's relics and would do a nything to obtain them. The chase, for the most part, had been thrilling – the kind that made her adrenaline surge as she carried the man on her back, feeling the wind rush through her hair and seeing her surroundings blur into a snowy film. Her mind was focused on one goal, one task: escape, escape, escape.
She'd never considered the frustration of the blind man she was carrying, never contemplated that the only thought running through his mind was this: he was prey, and the predators were coming.
Now, she understood.
For the past hour, they'd tried to throw off their pursuers who seemed keen on blowing up whatever obstacle came their way – a testament to their recklessness and fearsomeness. It wasn't enough that Sasuke had taken the most complicated paths – they were being chased, and chased hard.
Even from afar, Sakura could feel the thirst of the predators about to catch their prey – it was like watching vultures circle their victim. Anticipating. Hungrily waiting. She was the dying mouse, the meal they wanted to have.
They were closing in.
Sasuke hadn't talked to her at all, opting to concentrate on the task at hand. He was fast, faster than she'd ever remembered – a shinobi of lightning speed and agility, despite the burden on his back. A bomb exploding near them made the ground shake and she instinctually gripped him tighter, pressing herself closer and not wanting every second of it. He faltered at her movement, but otherwise kept going.
"You're fast. Who trained you?" Flashbacks of Orochimaru came to mind, of the betrayal…
She mentally erased it.
"Don't talk. I'm concentrating," he said.
She knew he could talk – she knew he could run and carry her and talk all at the same time. He just opted not to do the latter.
Another explosion rocked the ground below them, but there was no chakra to identify the attacker. There was nothing except the sound of wind and bombs, terrifying and exhilarating.
Another hour, and it was raining. The cold weather seeped through her soaked dress and she shivered as she clung to him. Her eyes throbbed – a consistent pain that she knew would never go away now. It was her own fault for dropping that pouch.
"The village's near," Sasuke said. "We'll head—"
Sakura interrupted instantly. "No. We can't go to the village. They'll just attack the civilians. I know their type – they won't stop for innocent people. They won't—"
"Like I was saying, we'll head north. Find a place to hide you."
Half an hour later, they passed the village. The attacks had stopped, but the rain was falling harder – it blocked any sound except their breathing, coating them like a frozen threat.
The cave, inconspicuous and cold, was like salvation. Sasuke set her on her feet and maneuvered her forward. She felt him behind her, hands on her shoulders as he guided her toward the wall until her cheek touched the icy, smooth surface. His body molded with her back, and she stifled a shudder. There was complete silence, save for the rain, as his chakra surged slightly before quieting down, surrounding them both – then, the rain could no longer be heard as well.
Sakura could feel his breath on her skin – she knew he was only staying as near her as possible to conserve the chakra he was using to camouflage them both. His warmth seeped into her skin, blocking the cold and shivers that the rainy weather brought on.
"I'll be back," Sasuke murmured in her ear. Then the warmth was gone and the sound of the rain returned.
Turning from the wall, Sakura stood absolutely still, ears straining to hear something – anything. There was the usual thunder and the patter of rain and—
Another blast. Very faint.
The wait was agonizing.
She didn't know how long she stood there – it felt like hours. Anxiety started to consume her, so she took a step forward, only to stumble and nearly fall down. Fear backed her up against the wall once more where she tried not to think, tried not to feel, tried not to—
A hand clamped on her mouth and the panic came. The urge to scream was vicious, but she refrained from doing so by fisting her hands. Then she smelled his scent – strong and familiar. She also smelled the suffocating scent of blood – just as strong, just as familiar.
"We need to stay here for a few hours. There's still two left."
"How many did you kill?"
There was no answer.
Instead, he quietly told her he would be sealing off the cave entrance and they would have to wait it out. She didn't respond.
Where was Shikamaru?
The thought that he was dead and only Itachi was alive crossed her mind before she dismissed it. No. Tsunade was not stupid. Neither was Shikamaru.
Angry at being so helpless, she quietly sank to the ground, hoping this mission would soon be over.
. . .
She'd been silent for the past hour now, opting to stay in her corner and hide in the darkness – only her face illuminated. The last time Sakura spoke to him was when he'd sealed off the cave with his chakra, making its entrance, as well as their presence, undetectable. He would have been fine with the silence, really. He was used to this - preferred it, even.
However, Sasuke couldn't ignore the fact that on the opposite side of the small cave, her face shone clearly – and he could see her wince every now and then. She kept rubbing her temples, then rubbing her eyes – then, as if realizing she wasn't supposed to do that, she'd fist her hands and resolutely place them on her lap.
A few minutes later, she winced again and bit her lower lip.
"Are you okay?" he asked reluctantly.
It was as if his voice – which he still tried to disguise, despite the henge disappearing – was some sort of trigger. Her wince disappeared and she put on the blandest expression she could, nodding her head slightly at him.
"Yeah. Just a headache," she replied, hands twitching on her lap.
Yet, a few minutes later, a pained expression crossed her face. She stifled it by pulling her legs up and placing her head on her knees, her hands crumpling her skirt.
Sasuke's hand moved of its own accord toward her, almost reaching out for Sakura. Then, as if she sensed the movement, her head snapped up from her knees and—
He froze. Stared.
Green eyes stared back, unseeing.
He didn't know where the white film went. Why were her eyes so green and clear now? Her head moved to the left, to the right, then back in his direction. Sasuke realized she wasn't looking at him – her pupils had no reaction to the changing light.
His hand dropped back to his lap. Relief coursed through him at not being recognized – an injury from the last blast caused him to drop his physical disguise. There was also some other feeling coursing through him alongside the relief and, after a moment's deliberation, he decided it was just restlessness from all the running – and the things that still needed to be done.
He heard her sigh then, with a rustle, lie down on the cold floor.
It's damp, he almost said.
He clamped his mouth shut and tried to ignore her.
The bleeding from the left side of his stomach had stopped. He'd only managed to infuse a small amount of healing chakra into it before he and Sakura started running. Then he was fighting off nin after nin, faces he couldn't recognize, trying to find the one person he wanted to see – wanting proof that the chakra he'd felt earlier was really from the person who was supposed to be dead.
He knew Deidara was around, too – he couldn't risk fighting anymore. So he covered their tracks and ducked back inside the cave, sealing it off as fast as possible. His wound would have to wait, and the blood…
Sasuke remembered Sakura's expression when she asked how many he'd killed.
She had none.
He felt vaguely unsettled.
Who was this girl?
He shook his head and realized parts of his wound were still bleeding, but he knew it would stop if he didn't move. So he stayed where he was, back against the damp wall, hand over his stained clothes, pressing against his skin and ignoring the slight pain it caused – this would help, in the end.
Sasuke closed his eyes, allowing himself a moment of rest as he let everything else fade – the sound of her breathing, the sound of his, the smell of blood. Everything vanished except for the visions in his head.
Itachi's smile during his brother's dying moments.
Sakura's pink hair paling in the glow of his deadly Chidori.
Something warm touched his arm and he stiffened, his kunai coming up and lodging into something soft before he could stop his hand. Eyes snapping open, he found Sakura in front of him, trying not to move as the tip of his kunai lingered on her throat. But she didn't move her hand away, either.
"I can smell the blood from here," she murmured quietly. "Is it yours?"
It wasn't just his, but he chose not to reply. Instead, he removed the weapon from her neck, watching as she frowned, her lips pale and dry.
"Let me heal you," she said.
"I can heal you."
He shook his head, then remembered that she couldn't see the movement. "You can't use chakra. They'll detect us."
"I have other ways."
Slowly, as if to not startle him, she removed her hand from his arm and stepped back. She hiked the skirt of her dress up slightly and placed her hand underneath. The flash of skin, creamy and white, was enough to have him swiveling his head to the side. A ripping sound made him wonder what the hell was going on.
Only when her hands were back on his arm did he allow himself to look at her. She held a small bottle filled with – he couldn't really see much in the darkness, but it looked purple and thick.
"Can you remove your shirt, Kenji-kun?"
He absorbed the false name from her lips and contemplated before realizing this was Sakura – she'd just nag him about it until he complied, much like Naruto did. The memory was so clear it surprised him. Frowning, he tried to let the memory go and quietly removed his shirt.
"It's done," he said.
Her hand moved again, trailing blindly until she found his hand still pressed against the wound. Gently removing it, she placed the piece of cloth she had ripped from her dress and began to clean the sides before taking his hand once more and asking him to place it against the wound.
A part of him whispered that she shouldn't be allowed to stain her hands with his blood, but he kept that locked away, too. It was a useless thought.
After Sakura opened the bottle and poured the liquid on her palms, she sat down on the ground and crawled closer to Sasuke. She took his hand away again as her fingers skimmed across his stomach before she flattened her hands and applied the salve.
The relief was instantaneous.
She kept rubbing until his skin absorbed the thick liquid, then poured more from the bottle and repeated the process. Soon, the throbbing had completely disappeared and the bottle was empty. He looked down and found the wound had gotten smaller, so small that it was barely a nick, hardly dangerous. He looked up and saw those clear, green eyes focused on his face, though not directly in his eyes.
"Are your eyes hurting you?"
She hesitated before nodding her head.
"You shouldn't have used the whole bottle."
"You needed it more than I do. I'll be fine," she replied. Then she crawled away and sat up with her back against the wall again, but this time, she sat beside him – leaving a good few inches of space between them.
"I'm sleepy," she muttered.
"Go to sleep."
"I'll take first watch. I'll wake you up in an hour or so."
Sakura nodded her head, closed her eyes, and promptly fell asleep. She was breathing so softly that it could barely be heard.
Sasuke's eyes strayed to her hands again, which lay open at her sides – the blood was still damp. Unconsciously, his hands picked up the cloth she'd abandoned, moving to wipe hers.
He stopped himself at the last second. Thought it over.
It was his blood, he decided. He should clean it up.
Sasuke slowly placed the cloth on her palms, one quiet swipe on each until only the dried blood remained. She didn't stir, obviously knocked out from exertion. This was bad for a kunoichi. If he was an enemy, she would be dead already.
He shook his head. Not if. He was an enemy. She just didn't know it yet.
He stared at her face. There had to be something wrong for her not to react to his touch. Her mouth was set down, her eyebrows scrunched. He kept staring until her frown deepened and her forehead wrinkled as she groaned softly.
She'd lied to him about her eyes not being too painful.
Unexpected anger flared and he found himself standing up, not knowing what to do. He still couldn't risk the use of chakra to heal her, and she – she –
She was so stupid.
Sure, he needed to carry her for the rest of their journey and that wouldn't be easy if he was wounded and weak, but…
The anger increased.
Feeling useless for the first time in a long time, he sat back down, knowing there was nothing to do but wait. When they got to the village, he would find a potion to soothe her eyes, just like hers had soothed his wound. He shouldn't owe her anything.
And he should really stop thinking.
Closing his eyes, Sasuke brooded.
. . .
When she woke up a few hours later, Sakura found that the pain in her eyes had receded, and her skin felt comfortable and warm. The darkness overwhelmed her for a second before she slowly let the panic ease off, one hand lifting to see what was causing such warmth.
She found an extra cloth – 'No, a cloak,' she thought – over her dress and deduced that Sasuke must have covered her up in her sleep.
There was no response. There was no sign of chakra or breathing.
The panic spiked again.
Refusing to let fear overtake her, she felt around, easing to the left before remembering that she had fallen asleep with Sasuke on her right. So she crawled that way, dreading the empty space to come, the fear that his camouflage hadn't worked and they were about to die—
She bumped into something solid, and the solid object moved. A hand clamped on her wrist, bringing her closer. She knew what was coming next, already anticipating the kunai even as relief spread through her at the knowledge that he was still alive – that her mission was still underway.
"It's me," she said simply.
Sakura felt him stiffen, felt the kunai leave her throat.
"You fell asleep," she declared softly.
"Just a doze," Sasuke replied. "We were safe enough."
No, he wasn't just dozing. If he was, he would have woken up at her first call and would have sensed her movement. But he didn't.
"Is your wound okay?"
Maybe fighting off those nin – killing them – had taken most of his strength and chakra. The thought of a weak Sasuke never fit in with what she knew of him, so something must have been up. She frowned, contemplating.
The frown grew deeper as she realized something.
"You infused chakra into my eyes," she stated, almost to herself. "You said yourself it was risky and they might detect us…" Her eyes widened. "So you doubled the camouflage and used the rest to heal my eyes."
The anger slowly seeped in, like a fog creeping up on its unsuspecting victim.
"You just wasted your chakra on something that didn't require it."
"You lied about being in pain," he told her bluntly.
"How would you know that?" she snapped.
"Your expressions are unguarded in your sleep. And you call yourself a kunoichi."
The anger disappeared, to be replaced by surprise. What else did he see? What else did he find out?
"I'm no longer a kunoichi," she bit off, almost cautiously.
He remained silent.
"Thank you, though," she reluctantly said. "But don't do it again."
There was a long silence before—
"Now I don't owe you anything."
There was honestly no proper response to that, Sakura thought.
She felt like this bitter Sasuke was someone she didn't know. Just because his pride made her remember how he was when they were still young, didn't mean the same boy was here.
That boy was gone.
'Well, this is Sasuke now, so you'd better get your act together and stop reacting to whatever he says or does.'
Shaking her head, she took the cloak from her body and handed it to him.
"Keep it," he muttered. "You need to cover those blood stains."
'What about your blood stains?' Sakura wondered.
Almost as if he heard her silent question, he informed her that he had a spare cloak to cover himself up with until they could find decent clothes in the village. Then he instructed her to stay still as he partially removed the camouflage and slipped out to check.
Five minutes later, he came back and gave her the go signal by lightly pushing her forward with his palm. His hands guided her along, letting her position herself on his back once more. As he took off, she shivered from the night wind that blew past them – shivered as his warm skin brushed hers.
There were no words at all.
. . .
Shikamaru observed the older Uchiha from the corner of his eye, mind whirling with a myriad of questions, but hesitant to voice a single one.
"You might as well ask, Nara-san. It's not like I have that many secrets to keep."
The Nara genius doubted that very, very much. But he kept these doubts hidden and nodded his head, thinking that since the offer was out in the open, he might as well be blunt about it.
"Why did you let your chakra leak out on purpose?"
There was silence as they trudged through the thickening trees, trying to find the most inconspicuous path. No sign of chakra could be found anywhere, but that was normal when shinobi were trying to hunt each other down.
Akatsuki were very good at hunting.
After a while, Itachi finally spoke. "I felt Deidara's chakra and wanted to distract him. He's always hated me."
"Did it work?"
"For a while. But it seems they're after Sakura. Or maybe my brother."
"They're after Sakura," Shikamaru intoned, voice certain. "We need to figure out why."
"Figuring out is pointless, Nara-san. We need to kill them before they destroy our mission."
Shikamaru rolled the idea around in his head. He was never one for violence, but it was the only quick option at the moment – they needed to do it before Sakura (or Sasuke and his team, especially Karin) got killed.
He sighed at the prospect of blood being shed too early. This was troublesome.
Might as well get it over with.
"Call me Shikamaru," he said, turning to the Uchiha. "Looks like this mission is going to take longer than expected."
Itachi nodded his head. "Then call me Itachi."
a/n: A million, million thanks to Sakura's Unicorn for beta-ing this. I've learned a lot from her and she is awesome. Seriously. AMAZING WOMAN. Read her fic, you guys, it's just as awesome as she is.
Thanks to the general girl, too, for helping me fix a very stubborn paragraph. And for island hopping with me, Eunhyuk and LMH. 8D
P.S. Any mistakes you see here are purely mine. Yup.