I'm only going to do this once, so listen up please!
⋆ The main couple here is ItaSaku.
⋆ Hinted Konan and Nagato coupling
⋆ This story is updated every Sunday
⋆ This is rated T mainly for cuss words. I don't use the F-bomb in my stories but Hidan is particularly fond of cuss words so I use it (sparingly) when writing about him. I also don't used honorifics (-chan, -san, -kun) unless it's being used in a mocking way (again, usually Hidan).
⋆ This is the second version of this story. The other one has a slightly different picture and a nearly identical title (it's simply "cherry blossom's compromise"). I left it up as a reminder to myself and to show how much I and this story have grown. I won't harp about why I had to rewrite the old one (I did that enough already) but if you have questions, contact me.
⋆ All of the titles are song lyrics that fit what is happening in the chapter or how a character is feeling.
⋆ Characters in this story are alive when they shouldn't be in the show. If I kill someone who isn't supposed to die or vice versa, just go with it. Please.
⋆ I do use elements from both the manga and the anime.
⋆ There are MASSIVE spoilers in here if you aren't SOMEWHAT up-to-date on Shippuden. Don't blame me if I ruin something for you!
⋆ I don't want to hear crap about pairings from the show. If you like a couple in the anime and are angry that I didn't include them, please don't comment.
⋆ Be CONSTRUCTIVE with your criticism. Don't comment to be negative. If you're going to be negative, please try to be informative. Let me know why you don't like it.
Alright, all done.
I'll shut up now.
I hope you enjoy the NEW and (hopefully) improved Cherry Blossom's Compromise :)
Chapter 1: "You've twenty seconds to comply."
― Let go by Frou Frou
Itachi's soft rhythmical footfalls lulled him into a peaceful state of mind as he stared out ahead blankly. He only snapped out of his trance when he noticed two men off in the distance. As Itachi and Kisame walked closer, Itachi's blurry eyes recognized their fellow Akatsuki members Hidan and Kakuzu.
"Look who it is," Kisame chuckled and put a hand to his hip.
Hidan glanced over his shoulder at the sound of the shark man's voice and smirked, "Yo."
Kisame crossed his arms over his broad chest as he flashed his sharp-toothed grin. "I see you did well, Kakuzu."
At the mention of his name, the bounty hunter paused in counting his money, "We did. Kazumi paid well to have those Leaf Village brats killed off."
Kisame pointed to the girl over Hidan's shoulder. "If they're supposed to be dead, then what is that?"
"Just someone who got in our way," Kakuzu mumbled as he went back to thumbing through his money.
"She was bringing the Genin brats cookies," Hidan elaborated. "She didn't even see our attack coming."
"You shouldn't have eaten those cookies," Kakuzu growled.
"Were you going to sell them!?" Hidan shot back hotly. "Are you a friggin' Girl Scout now!?"
"Why'd you bring the girl alive?" Itachi interrupted in an attempt to prevent one of the all-too-common Zombie Duo rampages.
Hidan jerked a thumb at Kakuzu. "He said we should bring her back for interrogation. He wouldn't let me sacrifice her right away."
"You can sacrifice her after," Kakuzu grumbled.
The silver-haired man rolled his eyes and muttered something about ignorant atheists.
"Well"—Kisame cracked his neck—"I need a soak. I'll see you guys inside."
With that, the shark man disappeared inside. Itachi followed his partner into the hideout but couldn't help glancing at the unmoving girl over Hidan's shoulder. Her face was hidden by her hair and her skin was bruised and cut; blood still dripped from a particularly deep gash on her arm.
Itachi tore his gaze from the unnamed kunoichi and stepped up into the hideout.
"I'm surprised she's held out this long," Kisame commented as the girl's screams died down.
No one responded in the room even though the thought was echoing through all of their minds. Itachi glanced around the room; members of the Akatsuki had crammed themselves in a small room to watch the captured Leaf Ninja's torture through a two-way mirror. Even Leader had made an appearance tonight. The only one not there was the illusive "God's Angel" – Konan.
The Uchiha's gaze moved to the room through the two-way mirror. The pink-haired girl was dressed in a tattered grey gown that barely reached down to her shoulders. She was confined to a rickety wooden chair by rope around her wrists, ankles, and chest that tore into her skin. Her shuddering frame was barely visible in the candle-lit interrogation room; the wax had already burnt through half of its mass from the passing hours of the girl's torture.
Sasori moved away from the girl and dropped a drained syringe onto a silver tray to pick up another one. The bulky man turned back to his prisoner and jabbed the needle through her sickly pale skin without announcement. As he emptied the green liquid into her body the girl shivered. Her shoulders hunched and her head lolled forward. Her hair was matted to her sweating face. Her legs trembled and her hands twitched in their restraints.
"There's no way she'll withstand it much longer," Deidara stated unsympathetically with a look of boredom plastered on his young face. The blond extremist casually leaned with his back against the glass of the mirror.
"You said that two days ago," Kisame teased with a grin.
Deidara's face twisted in a scowl but he said nothing back.
Attention returned back to the prisoner as her sharp scream pierced the air. Fresh blood gushed from a wound along the side of her neck. Sasori yanked up the hem of her gown and the battered girl threw back her head as Sasori's scalpel tore through the flesh along her exposed thigh. A stream of crimson flowed from the deep cut. She clenched her jaw tightly to keep from screaming and her nostrils flared as her chest heaved.
Sasori grabbed her face and asked her a question. Like she'd done since the day her imprisonment had begun, the girl remained silent. She didn't even insult her torturer. When Sasori released her face, the girl's chin dropped to her chest. Sasori tossed the syringe and moved out of the room.
"Stubborn child!" the grumpy man huffed as he shuffled into the dark room filled with his fellow Akatsuki members.
"Having some trouble, Sasori?" Deidara jabbed.
Sasori's blood-shot eyes stared murderously at the blond. "Shut your mouth!"
"I'm just saying—"
"Don't say anything, Deidara," Leader ordered.
Silence fell as Leader rose from his chair; his unusual eyes never moved away from the girl in the next room. Minutes ticked by silently until, finally, Leader spoke up again, "Itachi, it's your turn. Break her."
Itachi kept his dismay internalized and glanced back at the trembling pink-haired girl in the other room. He hadn't wanted to torture her. This whole time, he'd secretly hoped she'd snap so it wouldn't come to this. His Sharingan was suited to all types of mental torture making him the perfect choice to break a stubborn girl but Itachi's heart was never in it. He wouldn't enjoy this.
"You're dismissed," Leader announced as he moved out of the room.
The others disappeared immediately and left Itachi to absently stare at his next victim.
Itachi opened the door to the interrogation room and cautiously glanced at the two-way mirror. There was no one behind it but that didn't shake off his unease. He stepped inside and the girl's head snapped up. Slightly startled, Itachi hesitated before moving forward; he had thought she was asleep. Her dazed eyes focused on him and a roaring fire flared up in the female's green eyes.
Itachi met her unfaltering gaze. He assumed it was from ignorance that she didn't advert her gaze; maybe she knew nothing about the Sharingan and it's powers. He bit back his sudden dread and conjured up a simple Genjutsu. Before it could flourish, however, the girl had dispelled it. Itachi's eyes widened with shock.
The imprisoned kunoichi sat bound in her chair looking like a miserable wreck but her green eyes flashed with victory. She knew exactly what the Sharingan did. She just didn't care.
Itachi tested his theory by throwing out another simple Genjutsu and, again, the girl immediately shattered it. Itachi crossed his arms and admiration replaced pity as he looked at the girl. It was true. She did know about the Sharingan. She was beaten and drugged but still dared to fight back. In her condition, she shouldn't be able to fight back. No wonder Sasori was having such a difficult time breaking her.
Itachi met her gaze again but didn't call up a Genjutsu. The girl's brow furrowed with concentration as she awaited the mental attack that never came. She was momentarily confused by this but the fire returned to her eyes almost immediately.
That fire, Itachi noted with slight nostalgia, is this the Will of Fire?
He bowed his head as shame crept over him. Have I been away so long that I've forgotten what that looks like?
When he looked at her again, Itachi felt the heaviness in his chest grow as he realized that he missed that fire. The girl was physically weak but none of that mattered as long as she had that spark in her eyes; as long as the Will of Fire burned within her, she would not break.
Itachi stepped forward and the kunoichi flinched. She was stunned when he did not hurt her immediately and waited patiently for whatever blow would come next. Instead of harming her, however, Itachi knelt before her to carefully undo the bonds around her ankles. This only seemed to shock the girl more and her eyes narrowed in suspicion.
Next, he undid the rope around her chest and the girl fell forward in her seat with exhaustion. Itachi gently held her upright just in time to see her eyelids droop. She struggled to remain conscious and her eyelids fluttered sporadically. A tightness began to replace the heaviness in Itachi's chest. Her unfocused eyes momentarily met his and she whispered feebly, "Sasuke."
Her voice was weak and rough from underuse.
The corners of the her lips trembled as if she were going to smile but exhaustion finally claimed her. The girl's head lolled forward and her body slumped in her seat. Itachi kept her from slipping out of the chair and scooped her into his arms. The girl was cold and barely weighed anything. As he stared down at the sleeping ninja Itachi reached a conclusion; if anyone had to extinguish that fire within the girl, it wouldn't be him.
The frigid stone floor had numbed her body entirely and, in doing so, had thankfully taken away some of the agonizing pain she felt every time she moved her aching limbs. Even the small act of curling her toes brought tears to her eyes. Movement itself was limited – the bindings around her wrists and ankles made sure of that.
Her temple throbbed against the hard stone and her core body temperature was lowering at an alarming rate. She wouldn't survive the night if she didn't get warm – that's if the dehydration didn't kill her first.
Her body convulsed from the cold and she inhaled raggedly as searing pain pulsated throughout her being. She squeezed her eyes shut against the inky darkness that had been her only companion for days now. Her foggy mind sifted through painful memories and Sakura shuddered as images of the bulky man with bloodshot eyes came back to her with vivid recollection. The man had filled her with drugs and nearly drained her system of blood; Sakura felt her skin flare as she recalled the sensation of the scalpel on her flesh. She wanted to curl up into a ball and weep but she was too exhausted to do either.
An image of menacing red eyes shot past Sakura's vision and her eyes flew open wide with terror. She felt her heart thunder in her chest as a cold sweat made her skin crawl. The owner of those eyes—Itachi Uchiha—had barely begun his interrogation. What would he do to her in the future? He'd only used small Genjutsu on her yesterday; she was terrified of what he would try in the near future.
A slim strip of light fell across her face and Sakura's panic reached a maddening peak. She blinked rapidly as tears formed in her light-sensitive eyes. She wiggled backward despite her body's cry of protest. As her eyes adjusted she could see a pair of crimson eyes staring at her from outside of her cell door. The owner of those eyes didn't speak; he only watched her from the narrow horizontal slit in the metal door. Sakura didn't even attempt to speak for fear that her voice would betray her frailty and stared back for several agonizing moments. Both the Uchiha and the kunoichi watched the other silently with indifference in their eyes until finally the metal door opened with a jarring groan.
Every cell in Sakura's body screamed at her to move back toward the wall as muted light flooded the room but fear had rendered her limbs immobile. Itachi approached rather casually; the expression on his stoic face was as blank as a sheet of paper. He crouched before her and his intense eyes bored down into hers searchingly. His lips parted and he called out to her in a deceivingly calm voice, "Kunoichi."
It almost sounded like a greeting.
Sakura didn't return it.
She continued to meet his gaze without flinching and the Akatsuki tilted his head to the side with dull amusement. Without another word, Itachi slid his astonishingly warm hand under her arm and dragged her to her feet. The sounds of her body scrapping against the stone echoed around the small room aggravating Sakura's headache. Dots flashed across her eyes just before her vision tunneled. She dropped to her knees momentarily blinded. When her vision flickered back to life, she saw the elder Uchiha steadying her with a single hand and patiently waiting for her to gain her bearings.
Sakura glared down at the pale, painted fingers coiled around her upper arm and, with renewed vigor, rejecting Itachi's assistance despite the agony that brought tears to her eyes. Her chin tilted upward the slightest as Itachi stared at her—a flicker of amusement resided in his crimson gaze.
The pinkette ground her teeth together to keep back her angry comment which would have undoubtedly earning her a good beating. The male ninja turned his back to Sakura but kept his light grip on her arm. Silently, Itachi led her through the doorway of her cell and brought her out into the torch-lit hallway. Her eyes had grown accustomed to the shifting firelight and could scan ahead a few feet. The hallway was incredibly long with doors of every kind along both walls. Not a single sound came from the damp dungeon—that's what Sakura assumed it was—except for the drifting echo of Itachi and his prisoner's footsteps.
The beaten kunoichi constantly stumbled along their trek, much to her humiliation. Itachi, however, didn't look back once no matter how much she stumbled over her own feet. He didn't even pause when Sakura tripped, crashed into a wall, and knocked a torch that hung there to the ground. Embers and ash spilt across the floor at Sakura's feet and the wood clattered loudly against the solid ground. She stepped over the mess cautiously as Itachi pulled her along.
She wanted to interrogate the mute man but instead decided to glare daggers into his back and bide her time. Her thoughts turned dark as the Akatsuki man continued on without speaking. She should struggle. She should try to escape. He was leading her back to that candle-lit room where he would reach into her mind and shatter her completely to get access to privileged information on Konoha. She couldn't let that happen. She'd been able to withstand the bulky man's physical torture—she had suffered worse through training with Tsunade—but she wouldn't be able to stand against Itachi's mental attacks.
Unfortunately, her body was already trembling with weakness. Even the thought of fighting made her head droop with weariness. She ground her teeth together with helpless anger. She was the Akatsuki's prisoner and there was nothing she could do about any of it.
While she had been conjuring up such negative ideas, Itachi had led her down another hallway and stopped before a steel door. She was only aware of this when he told her to step inside.
The girl stared into the gloomy room before her. It wasn't the same one she had been tortured in before. There was no giant mirror nor was there a plethora of flicking candles. Also, there were no torture devices scattered about on a metal tray. Sakura didn't have time to feel relieved, however, as Itachi nudged her forward. The weakened girl tumbled and crashed to the flood in a heap on her stomach. The door closed behind Itachi and Sakura's eyes narrowed. She rolled onto her back to see Itachi reaching inside of his robe.
What the hell is he doing? she thought frantically.
Sweat beaded on the girl's forehead and her breath caught in her throat. She couldn't let Itachi snap her mind and glean the information there. She opened her mouth and prayed that she had enough strength to bite through her tongue. Before she could snap her jaw shut, however, Itachi stuffed an apple between her lips; her teeth sunk into the soft skin of the bright fruit and juice oozed from the wound. An unreal and animalistic hunger took over her and she chewed apart the apple ravenously. It was only after she was done that humiliation washed over her. Like a dog, she had eaten from the hand of her supposed master and she felt disgusted with herself.
Itachi placed the pad of his thumb against one corner of Sakura's mouth to gently swipe away the trickle of juice that dribbled down her chin.
Anger and embarrassment had washed away Sakura's common sense and the apple had given her a falsely renewed sense of strength. She squared her shoulders and looked her captor dead in the eye. "What do you want?" she demanded.
A glimpse of amusement flared to life in his bloody eyes once more, striking a match of ire in Sakura's chest. She didn't think he'd reply to her question at all, but after several long moments he said, "Do you love Konoha?"
"Of course I do," she answered with disbelief. How could he ask her such an idiotic question?
"Do you love its people?"
Sakura opened her mouth to repeat her previous response but paused as she met Itachi's gaze. Something in those intense eyes of his told her to consider her words carefully. She pondered his query and his reasons behind asking such a strange line of questions.
After some consideration, she replied, "What does it matter?"
He ignored her own question and continued on with his strange interrogation, "Aren't ninjas only supposed to love their people and hate all others?"
Why were they having this discussion? Sakura wondered as she carefully chose her next response, "It's not about love or hate necessarily."
"Do you have to hate to kill?" Dancing shadows drifted across the man's pale face which made his question seem all the more mysterious.
Sakura pursed her lips and shook her head from side to side.
This seemed to pacify him and he moved toward a hidden compartment that resided in the shadows. Sakura's muscles clenched as he pried open the wooden door and stepped inside. She expected him to come back out with devices to torture her with but when he returned, he held a bowl in one hand and a white cloth in the other.
He dipped the rag in the water and gently dabbed it against Sakura's cheeks. The raven-haired man looked as if he wanted to speak but had no intentions of doing so. Cool water trailed down the pink-haired girl's face but brought minimal comfort to her sore body. As he continued to swipe the drenched rag across her face, Sakura felt the familiar pull of sleep tug at the fraying corners of her mind.
She roughly shoved all thoughts of sleeping away, however, and continued watching the Uchiha suspiciously. She didn't know why he was behaving so strangely and it made her anxiety grow as she waited for the moment when he would toss her into a terrible Genjutsu. The calmness the man radiated was unexpected to say the least. From the stories she'd heard, Itachi was a cold-blooded psychopath with plenty of blood on his hands. However, those hands were now busy cleaning Sakura's dirtied face with great care and gentleness. The wheels in Sakura's head spun madly as she searched for an answer to the questions buzzing around her aching skull but she could come up with nothing.
"How far would you go to protect the lives of the innocent?"
Itachi's question stunned her and Sakura sat for several moments, completely unable to speak.
"Have I misjudged you then?" He asked calmly as he continued to dab the cloth to her skin.
Anger melted away the ice holding Sakura back from answering him, "I would do anything for innocent people."
"Even become an enemy yourself?"
Again stunned by his question, Sakura fumbled to form a single coherent sentence before she squeaked out, "What?"
Itachi didn't answer her and he didn't seem likely to anytime soon. Irked by his riddle-filled questions, Sakura slapped his hand away when he went to stroke the cool rag against her face. Her fiery gaze met his without blinking, "Answer me. What do you mean?"
He annoyingly answered her question with another question, "Does it need explaining?"
"Yes. Yes, it does," Sakura replied forcefully.
He pressed the rag to her swollen bottom lip and she winced visibly, much to her horror. "Can you strike a bargain with someone you despise?"
He rarely spoke but it seemed that every time Itachi did, he managed to shock Sakura into silence.
"What kind of bargain?" She asked warily.
"You can spare the lives of countless innocent people, including your Jinchuriki, if you can throw away everything to join the Akatsuki." Itachi stared at her passively even though his words struck her with enough force to knock the breath from her lungs.
"E-excuse me?" she stuttered completely aghast. Was he threatening her? Was he telling her that if she didn't join the Akatsuki, her friends would die? Why the hell did he want her to join the Akatsuki anyway?
"Your life among the Akatsuki wouldn't be easy and"—he dabbed the wet rag against the tender bruise just below her eye—"you would become an object of hatred for your own people."
Her thoughts moved with difficulty to bring the pieces together. She tried to use all of her intelligence to read the meaning in Itachi's questions but failed miserably. "I don't understand," Sakura finally whispered.
She thought he would be annoyed but he showed no flicker of ire or annoyance in his face at her lack of understanding. He gently placed the cloth back in the depleted bowl of water and asked, "Are you willing to join the Akatsuki?"
"Is that how you get members?" Sakura hissed furiously. "Through threats?"
Itachi's looked at her impassively. "I'm not threatening you. I'm giving you a choice."
"A choice to either betray the people I would die to protect or watch them die safely from the sidelines," she argued.
"Are you thinking clearly?" Itachi's red stare became unbearably intense. "Or are you letting pride cloud your judgement? Do you really live to serve? Or do you live to receive gratification?" His icy words struck Sakura hard.
"By joining the Akatsuki, I would do the opposite of serving them," she hissed vehemently.
"Not if you agree to what I offer you," the raven-haired man insisted.
Sakura's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Why are you willing to make a bargain with me for people you could care less about?"
"Are you in any position to interrogate my motives?"
"I would rather die as a victim of the Akatsuki's merciless behavior than become one of them," Sakura snarled.
"You're no good to your people dead."
Her jaw dropped. He was calling her selfish and questioning her morality. He hadn't said it outright but the underlying meaning was quite obvious. I'm saying I would rather die loyal than die as a traitor! Sakura's breath halted as icy realization crept into her trembling body. A statement that had seemed so profound and devoted before now suddenly sounded callous and selfish. Was he right? Was she adamant about not joining the Akatsuki simply because she wanted her name to go down in the books as a loyal servant of Konoha? Itachi claimed he was offering her a way to save people. She didn't know how that was possible but if there was a way...?
Itachi rose to his feet and returned the bowl and rag to the hidden room. "It appears I was wrong about you."
He moved to the door, planning on leaving Sakura alone in the cell.
"Wait!" she blurted.
Itachi paused; he didn't turn back to look at her but was obviously paying attention to her words.
"I'll do it." Her voice was barely audible even in the still silence.
"I'll do it," Sakura repeated with her head bowed and her hands clenched into fists on her lap. "I'll join the Akakatsuki."
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