Chapter 18 – Let's Start Our Forever
She looked around them, eyebrows furrowed with pained confusion and it was obvious with just one look at her features that she was becoming desperate, that she was letting her emotions get the best of her. "I can sense my dad's spirit. It's in this room! But… But he's not here!"
Itachi's eyes instantly swept over to Shisui's, nodding once to him and as soon as he did, the older Uchiha closed his eyes and raised his hand, forming a single hand seal.
Within their clan – no, possibly since Uchiha Madara, Shisui's genjutsu level went unrivalled. During his human life, Shisui had had basic skill in that area, had been not exactly average, but just above it and above everyone else – including Itachi. And in all their years as vampires, he had only become more powerful with genjutsu. The only reason he most likely hadn't immediately detected the use of genjutsu, was because it was Orochimaru's. The witch had many tricks up his sleeve, so would be able to easily disguise it.
And the moment he uttered the release, the moment he cancelled it out with his chakra, two beings were revealed to them, the sight of her parents immediately reducing Sakura to tears as she shot over to them.
They were chained to the walls, bodies hanging limply and heavily against their restraints and their skin was dirty, although not bruised. It seemed Karin's words were true – they had not been harmed. At least, not physically. Something about the looks in their eyes told Sakura something more was going on.
At her father's raspy and slow voice, even though he wasn't looking at her, Sakura quickly nodded and swallowed hard, working on her mother's restraints instead of his. A moment later, however, Itachi was there and helping Kizashi. It was with shaking hands that Sakura clawed at the cuffs around her mother's wrists, tearing them in half with her strength and next, came the anklet cuffs. They were also easily dealt with and as soon as she was released, Mebuki collapsed into her daughter's arms, her own arms too heavy to lift.
Mikoto was by her side in an instant, aiding Sakura in gently lowering Mebuki to the ground, holding the other mother's back so that she didn't fall backwards and hit her head. And when Itachi released Kizashi, Shisui was helping his cousin sit Kizashi down, also.
Sakura made several hand seals, quickly placing her hands over one of her mother's arms, rubbing it up and down rhythmically to try and encourage the blood back into them, to help the circulation. Her arms were on their way to turning a deep shade of purple, a clear indication that the circulation had been cut off, but that wasn't all that told Sakura that. She could sense where the blood was pumping throughout her body, and none was able to get to her arms.
It was difficult focusing on her mother's blood whilst also trying to ignore it. Unlike the lackeys they had encountered, neither of her parents reeked of rotting flesh, although a smell of damp clung to them as well as sweat.
"How is he?" Sakura asked Itachi, though was unable to look at her father herself.
After a moment of watching him, Itachi glanced away from Kizashi and to Sakura. "He appears to be in shock."
"No…" Shisui frowned and activated his Sharingan. "Their chakra is disturbed."
"Every living thing has chakra, Sakura–san," he told her patiently. "Just because humans can no longer summon it, it does not mean they do not have it." Sighing, he placed one hand on Kizashi's forehead, the other being gently placed onto Mebuki's, before he was once more murmuring the release.
Carefully, Sakura allowed the green glow of her chakra to fade away into nothing, her hand slowly raising and cupping her mother's cheek.
Only to pull it away when the woman flinched.
"I–I'm sorry." Sakura frowned, averting her eyes.
From behind Mebuki, Mikoto's eyes saddened. They should have warned Sakura somehow that it may not be a pleasant experience being reunited with her parents, especially under the current circumstances. No doubt her parents were on edge and terrified beyond belief – and with good reason! They had been kidnapped out of their own home and dumped into this… As Mikoto's eyes scanned the cell, she found that she could not use words to describe how horrific the cell appeared.
It looked more like a torture chamber, one dating back many centuries ago. Built to do nothing but intimidate the prisoners, the victims, since most of the equipment seemed unusable now. Orochimaru most likely kept them for show, to terrify his prey. It sickened the Uchiha matriarch. It always had. However, it never sickened her to the extent that it did right at that moment in time, while she was holding one of his victims in her arms, feeling how the woman was trembling with fear. These people… They were so innocent, yet had been caught up in their world.
No amount of apologising would ever make things right.
"Sakura?" Kizashi gasped as he looked over to her, only for his fear to double when he saw his daughter kneeling in front of Mebuki sadly. "Not you, too!"
She quickly shook her head, swallowing hard. "No, I… I came back for you both."
Slowly, Mebuki's heavy eyes met hers, green clashing with green. It pained Sakura how the once bright eyes of her mother were now dull and at the sight of them, her lower lip began trembling.
"I'm so sorry!"
It was instinctively how Mebuki reacted to her daughter's pain, shrugging out of Mikoto's hold and embracing Sakura tightly, pulling her head to her chest and stroking her hair. And part of Sakura couldn't help but think that it was probably the first time since she was a toddler that Mebuki had held her, though did not voice those thoughts in case she ruined the moment. Instead, she held onto her mother as tightly as she could without hurting her, crying into her chest.
"You have nothing to be sorry for," Mebuki's voice was low and croaky, like she hadn't had a drink in quite a while and her throat was dry as a result.
But she did. The words had almost left her lips before Sakura silenced herself and gently pulled away, locking eyes with her mother. In the darkness of the cell, her parents' human eyes did not take in the difference of Sakura's appearance, which she was thankful for. "They didn't… hurt you, did they?"
Oh Gods the thought of her parents being tortured made her feel sick, but the thought of them being assaulted in the same way she had been, made her feel even sicker.
After a pause, Kizashi shook his head for them both, silently saying no, they had not been abused. "I had this awful dream, though," he muttered after a few moments, rubbing at his arms and when he did, Sakura moved over to him and helped out. The circulation appeared to have been temporarily cut off for him, also. Thankfully, neither were at risk of losing any limbs as far as she could tell. "It was that man! The one who hisses when he talks. He kept telling us that he needed his 'vessel' and that the time was coming for his 'vessel' to come to him." Frowning, he watched Sakura's expression. "And in the dream, I was forced to watch some sort of cannibal over and over again as it ate people!"
Not for the first time, Sakura swallowed hard and closed her eyes, trying her best not to breathe in either of their scents. And, when her eyes opened and briefly met Itachi's, they both knew that that 'cannibal' had been a vampire. The only reason she knew it wasn't actually her he had seen, was because he didn't recognise the 'cannibal' – well, Kizashi hadn't mentioned if he did or not.
"Mebuki–san," Mikoto spoke softly as she carefully turned the woman to the side, so that she could see her eyes, "I must go and meet with my husband, will you be okay with the others?"
The only reason she was asking was because now that Sakura had moved over to her father, Mebuki was gripping a tight hold of Mikoto, unknowingly seeking comfort from the other woman. And realising what she was doing, Mebuki took a deep breath and nodded once, releasing Mikoto.
"Thank you, uh…"
"Mikoto." The Uchiha gave her a gentle smile. "Uchiha Mikoto."
Something flashed in her parents' eyes, something that looked so very much like suspicion and disbelief, before Kizashi was turning his head to the side and narrowing his eyes on Shisui, easily recognising the man as the officer who had been in charge of Sakura's disappearance case. However, just as he opened his mouth, Mikoto placed a soothing hand on Mebuki's shoulder and spoke, taking the attention away from Shisui.
"Please, you both must try to relax. All questions you have will be answered later by your daughter, but until then, we must focus on getting out of here. Now, if you will excuse me," She stood up gracefully, hands folded neatly in front of her, "I must meet with my husband."
With that, she disappeared through the door they just entered from, going to Fugaku.
"Itachi?" Kizashi repeated his daughter's words, turning to face the tall man with a frown. "What happened to the one you were travelling with, Sakura? The one called Dai?"
Dai? Sakura's eyes went wide at the name, only just remembering the lie she and Itachi had told. Using a very low–level henge jutsu, Itachi had changed a few things about his appearance and then had gone on to using the name 'Dai', so that Kizashi didn't get suspicious, so that there were no connections to the Uchiha clan. How could she have forgotten something like that? Sure, the past couple of days had been stressful and sure, there had been nothing but her parents on her mind, but…
A hand pressed to the small of her back, making Sakura jolt ever so slightly before taking a deep, calming breath. Having people touching her back was still rather unnerving, but sensing Itachi beside her, knowing that it was only him, she breathed out a sigh of relief.
"As my mother said, Kizashi–san: it will be best to leave all questions until later. I promise you, they will be answered."
Mebuki frowned, slowly shuffling closer to her husband and taking his hand, holding it tightly. "Sakura?"
She looked away, unable to look at their hopeful expressions. "Itachi…"
He glanced up at his cousin, who nodded once in response.
"Mokuton: Sashiki no Jutsu!"
Obito shot forward, his feet digging into the ground as his chakra caused the air around them to tremble, causing each of his steps to leave craters and as his hand shot out from the protection of his cloak's sleeve, a sturdy piece of wood seemed to appear out of nowhere. It was launched with terrifying speed and strength, slamming into a witch and knocking him into other witches. As soon as he made contact with the witches, Obito made a single seal, his one eye widening with rage as the piece of wood multiplied, all but exploding and capturing the other two witches with the fatal blow.
They had all known that this battle would be deadly. In his opinion, witches were disgusting and deceitful beings, ones who were incredibly sly and would use anything they could against their opponents. Battles against witches were not fair in the least and an example of that would be the fact they were targeting Rin, since it was obvious that she was the weakest.
He would not allow that to happen.
Skidding to a halt in front of his mate, Obito stood before her protectively, bracing himself for his next attack. He would not allow Rin to be harmed and he most definitely would not allow her to die. Once already she had almost left him alone in this world and that was one time too many. It couldn't happen. It just couldn't. The loss of her would destroy him.
Channelling his chakra and breathing deeply, Obito held back his shout of pain as his wood element shot out of the right side of his body in spikes, startling the woman behind him as she took a quick step back. There were many things Obito disliked about Uchiha Madara, but he was grateful for two things. The first being the transformation because without it, Rin would have died and the second was the way he had healed Obito before changing him. Something strange had happened and there was no denying it because while he was still human, he hadn't been able to use the wood element. After the transformation, he could.
"What the hell is that guy?" He heard one of the witches screaming.
Just as they threw their weapons at him, Obito used his Kamui technique, effectively allowing the weapons to pass straight through him and straight past Rin, who had thankfully taken a step back the moment she saw Obito's wood element.
"I won't allow you…" His breathing was heavy, body shaking with rage at the thought of the witches targeting his mate. "…to touch Rin!"
And with the same ground shaking, ground crumbling speed as before, Obito shot forward once more, growling angrily from deep within his chest as he did so.
Sand burst from the ground beneath them, snaking around the witches standing before them so very easily and when Gaara raised his hand, making a hand seal with the other, he narrowed his eyes and squeezed the raised hand into a fist.
Piercing screams sounded through the air, drawing the attention from those around them, but Gaara was too lost in the battle to care. The lackeys before him were not important and had chosen their fates the day they met Orochimaru. To him, they weren't even people and in a battle between vampires and witches, they were weak and irrelevant. Pathetic, even.
As soon as they had reached the cave, Orochimaru's lackeys had dashed out into the open, meeting them head on and clashing with the vampires. Some of the attacks were effective, Gaara wasn't going to lie. Once or twice now, he had had to use his sand to protect his siblings, to stop the deadly attacks headed their way. On him, however, their mind tricks would not work. No matter what they tried on him, the sand automatically protected Gaara and stopped all attacks from reaching him.
Folding his arms over his chest, he watched the witches through narrowed eyes and was able to see not only his siblings, but also Obito's clan battling out of the corner of his eye. It seemed Obito was going all out in an effort to protect his mate, being driven by the bond completely, whereas Kakashi was more laid back in his battle, seeming almost bored as he disposed of one lackey after another. At one point, his hand even itched to reach for the pouch that held his precious book.
There was no doubt in his mind that Kakashi was ahead of the witches mentally. After all, he was the one who had trained Sasuke at one point, so obviously he would have to be a genius (any less would not be good enough for the arrogant, proud Uchiha). He was most likely reciting all the books he'd read in his mind, keeping his mind from being read. It certainly would explain why one or two of the witches he was battling were blushing.
Suddenly, three others were joining the battle and Gaara whirled around, his sand raising around him and threatening to lash out at any second.
"Stop, Gaara." Temari dropped in front of him, holding one of her arms out to the side. "Remember what Uchiha Itachi said: one of these hunters is a friend of Sakura's."
The mentioning of her name had the three hunters stopping, had a dark haired male stepping forward. Each of them were coated in blood and Gaara's sensitive nose could pick up on the fact that it was a mixture of different scents. As well as this, they were all injured by the looks of things, but not fatally.
"Where is Sakura? Has she managed to find her parents?"
"Sai–taichou, please stand back. We cannot continue to fight without back up any longer. Things are escalating too quickly for us," a purple haired woman explained to the man named Sai. "This is no longer helping out an old friend, Taichou. This is a war between two supernatural kinds. We have no hope in surviving."
Sai's eyes never left Gaara's. "Has she managed to save her parents?"
The sound of his blood was mesmerising. All of them were. Adrenaline was rushing through their veins, their breathing was heavy and sounding more like pants and sweat was running down their temples. His sand wrapped around Kankuro's wrist when he stepped towards the hunters, turning his back on his enemies. It seemed he was also feeling the powerful, indescribable urge to hunt.
"We have yet to hear from them," replied Temari. Sai's eyes instantly snapped to hers. "The rest of her clan should have met with her by now, but we can't be sure."
"I know, Tenzo–senpai," the dark haired man stated, glancing at the brunet out of the corner of his eye. "It is as you and Azarni have told me, however. After this battle is over, we will go back to being enemies. I don't expect either of you to understand, but I know that Sakura is still herself."
"We didn't know Sakura when she was human," Gaara muttered, his icy blue eyes narrowing a fraction. This man was Sakura's precious person and right at that moment in time, he was still fighting for her. He was still trying to protect her despite the fact he was supposed to be hunting her. "However, from the time we have spent together, I can assure you all now that Sakura is not like ourselves."
Something flashed in Sai's eyes. "Uchiha Sasuke mentioned something along those lines earlier. She refuses to hunt humans and feels impossibly strong emotions for a being that is supposed to be frozen."
Frozen? No emotions? Gaara resisted the urge to scoff. It seemed hunters had very little knowledge on vampires, although they seemed very aware of witches. All they really knew about vampires was that fire killed them and they drank blood. That was all. Then again, it wasn't all that surprising. Whenever hunters and vampires clashed, either all of the hunters would die, or all of the vampires would die – and when vampires died, their bodies were completely incinerated, which meant the hunters could gather no information about them. It was much too dangerous and risky to capture a vampire, also.
The truth was, was that they all experienced emotions, but like humans, every vampire was unique. Take a look at Sakura! She experienced more human emotions than the rest of them and seemed to truly empathise with everyone she crossed paths with. Then take a look at himself and Naruto. The pair of them had much more refined, animalistic senses than the others, like there was a beast residing within them and it boosted their senses.
Now was not the time to be going into a debate, or to be listing off how different and unique vampires could be, though. Right now, they needed to dispose of Orochimaru's lackeys.
Sniffing the air for a moment, Gaara turned his head to the left, regarding the opening of the cave.
Temari glanced over her shoulder at him. "Who? Sakura?"
He nodded once. "And her parents. I can smell them."
She turned around fully, watching her youngest brother warily. "If you can smell them already, then that means–"
"It means nothing, Temari," Gaara said patiently, even though he wasn't feeling all that patient. "Everybody around here is covered in the same rotting flesh stench. Sakura and her parents are not. That is why I can smell them so clearly."
Humans all had a powerful smell. The three before him, the hunters covered in both their own blood and their enemies, each had a scent that called to him. That was simply how things worked. Some humans had a barely even noticeable scent, whilst others had an unforgettable, impossible to ignore scent. According to Mikoto's story long ago, Sakura's human scent had been unbearable to them all and at one point, Sasuke had even had to leave the home. The only reason she and Fugaku hadn't was because of Itachi. He'd been so very possessive and protective of his mate and would allow no harm to come to her. He would be capable of stopping them should they even think about hunting.
Scents had nothing to do with what family the person was from or who their ancestors were. It was about who the person was. For example, his older sister: Temari's human scent had been obnoxious and demanding. It had been strong and almost enough to drive Gaara insane during the first few months of his new life. That was because of who she was as a person. The weaker a person was, the less fight they had in them and the less powerful their emotions were, the weaker their scent was.
Gaara had discovered that in the first few months of being a vampire. The differences in his siblings' blood had confused him for a while, long enough for him to hold back on killing them both and instead studying them. Kankuro was more reserved than Temari and didn't have that same feisty nature. However, because he was a fighter, his scent was noticeable, yet not demandingly so.
From what he'd been told by Sakura, he gathered that she got many traits from her mother. Anger being one of those traits. It certainly explained why he could pick up on her mother's scent from all the way outside. The reason why he knew it was her mother and not her father was because of the slight difference in it, the femininity. Like he and Naruto had noticed back when Obito's clan had been staying in the Uchiha hideout, because of their boosted, animalistic senses, they could pick up on the shift in the blood. They could detect whether the one they could smell was male or female.
He could smell a woman. A woman who had been bathing in her own sweat and who knows what else for the past couple of days. He could smell a woman who had a fiery nature, one who was loud, passionate, demanding and had one hell of an angry streak within her. She was confident, proud and arrogant, yet with her family, she was tender and soft. More often than not, Gaara was guessing the woman argued with people, though not hatefully. The woman had absolutely no hate within her. Just anger.
And then, he picked up on Sakura's scent. As usual, her powerful emotions called to him, like they called to all others. The anger that was residing in the very pit of her stomach, the one that showed every now and then when somebody foolishly angered her, also called to him. Her emotions were so very powerful and all that she felt was incredibly raw. He could sense her passion and her need to protect and heal. The confidence was new, however and most likely from Tsunade's training. What he could pick up much more easily than the other things, the thing that called to him the most, had to be her innocence.
It was a shame she had already found her mate.
His sand lashed out around them, piercing the witches who had been attempting to sneak up on them. Fools. Just because they had masked their own scents, it did not mean that they couldn't smell them. Rotting flesh and damp were strong scents, after all. You would have to be a fool to miss them.
"Where is the other human?" Kankuro questioned after taking a whiff of the air around them. "I can smell another who came with you–"
"Dead," Sai answered tonelessly. "He died when we were battling the witches."
Just as the words left his mouth, colour flashed out of the corner of their eyes a moment before a large group was landing beside them. The two humans clung tightly to Itachi and Shisui, their eyes squeezed shut and bodies shaking. Sakura was in front of them, eyes narrowed and expression determined as she straightened up out of her landing crouch.
"Fugaku–san and Mikoto–san have gone to find Sasuke," she informed them. "There was some kind of shaking inside the cave just before we got out of there."
The humans still wouldn't open their eyes, Gaara noticed. It was like they were refusing to acknowledge anything and mixed with her other emotions, Sakura's mother was feeling terrified. Not just scared like her husband, but actually petrified. Typical. Whenever humans were faced with something of the supernatural kind, they always refused to acknowledge it and tried to brush it off as something different.
"You should take your parents home, Sakura," said Temari. "We'll deal with the rest of them."
There was hesitancy in her eyes, her determined expression cracking for just a moment. "I want Sai and his team to come with me."
Did she really think…?
Her brows furrowed. "Please don't think badly of me. I just… I know how much you all dislike hunters and Sai… He was Ino's most precious person. I can't let anything happen to him or his team."
"You will be enemies again as soon as this is over." Kankuro scowled. "They said that themselves."
Sakura's eyes met with Sai's, a small, sad smile on her lips. "Then after this is over, I'll do what I can to avoid him."
"Don't!" she snapped at Kankuro, glaring viciously at him. "I don't care what any of you think about this. Growing up, Sai and Ino were pretty much my only friends. I'm not letting any of you harm him!"
Noticing the chakra that was beginning to show around her fists, Gaara pulled Kankuro back with the help of his sand before folding his arms over his chest, a clear indication to Sakura that he didn't want to fight with her. "You have my word that my clan will not harm your friend unless he attacks us first. If he attacks us, however, I will not hesitate in killing him."
She nodded once. That was fair enough. "And Sasuke, speaking for his clan, has already promised the same thing."
In response to the eyes that flashed up to his face, Itachi nodded once. As heir to the clan, he could make promises such as those. Sasuke, on the other hand, shouldn't have made such a promise. It was reckless and could have possibly been dangerous, considering they were working with hunters. "The Uchiha Clan will not harm Sai."
Three others appeared by Sakura's side, startling the purple haired hunter. "My clan will not touch him, either," Obito promised her. "As long as he does not threaten us."
Green eyes slid over to the two resting on Shisui's and Itachi's backs. Just before leaving the cave, remembering how the opening had been, Sakura had warned her parents to keep their eyes closed and as soon as they had, she'd nodded to Shisui. He then went on to casting a genjutsu over them both. It was to comfort them and finally, it seemed to be working, for they were both relaxing in the Uchiha men's holds. What did she have Shisui show them? Their wedding day. They could hear and see nothing of the real world.
When she was just a little girl, on her seventh birthday, Sakura could remember a certain song being played on the radio and in response, her father took her hands before he started to spin her around the room. It wasn't the exact dance her parents had danced at their wedding (she knew because she had watched their wedding tape many times), but it was close enough to make Sakura feel so very special and so very loved. The look of absolute adoration on her father's face, of pure love, was a memory she would never be able to forget.
A soft smile graced Sakura's features as she saw that very same look of adoration and love on both Kizashi's and Mebuki's faces.
"I also want to make it known now that nobody is to harm my parents." The smile slipped away and she faced the hunters. "No hunter is to try and use them against me to lure any of the Uchiha clan into an ambush. You are not to use them at all. My parents are going to live long and happy lives and they will put what has happened to them in the past. After this, they will not make contact with the supernatural world again."
Temari's eyes snapped to Sakura's, widening a fraction. "That means you won't–"
"No." She shook her head. "I won't be seeing them again."
It broke her heart, but it was for the best. After everything with Orochimaru, it truly was for the best and Sakura had come to that decision during the desperate journey to this hideout and it was only solidified when she saw her parents chained up to the walls, frightened and crying and–
Sakura swallowed hard. "It's too dangerous for them. Just…" Her eyes met Sai's once more. "Please, don't let any hunter use them against me."
"They will never stop looking for you," replied Sai. "You know they won't."
"I know," she whispered.
"Don't do this to them, Sakura." Sai stepped forward, raising his hand to her. "Don't leave them. We can try and find some kind of cure–"
He was cut off by Sakura shaking her head, by her reining in her emotions and taking a deep breath, standing tall. "I'm not sick, Sai. Itachi changed me because I was mere seconds from dying. Had there been any other choice, he would have taken it without a second thought." Taking a step backwards, she stepped closer to Itachi and further from Sai. "But I'm glad there wasn't any other choice, Sai. Itachi… He saved me, but that's not why I love him. I love him because he's been so patient with me as I was finding my way, because of the many, many things he's done for me since changing me."
Keeping her eyes locked with Sai's, her eyebrows furrowed, giving him a saddened, pained look. "So please don't try to make me choose, because there's no choice to make. It's always going to be Itachi, even if it means I can't be with my parents again."
The hunter sighed and closed his eyes, wishing more than anything that things could have turned out differently. "Ino would want you to be happy. Sakura…" Opening his eyes, he gave her a serious expression, asking, "Are you truly happy?"
She didn't even have to think about it. "More than I could have ever been as a human."
"You never had it easy," he muttered, frowning as he did so. "Itachi–san," Itachi looked away from his mate and down at Sai, who was still frowning, "keep Sakura happy and just know that, should anything happen to her, I will kill you."
Just as Sakura was about to yell at him, just as she took a step forward, Itachi spoke up.
"If I ever fail in keeping her safe and happy, if I ever fail Sakura at all, I will come to you willingly and I won't put up a fight."
She whirled around, eyes wide with horror and her features pained, but Itachi shook his head at her, silently telling her not to argue with him.
"Do not try arguing with me on this, Sakura."
"Looks like you'll have to keep yourself out of trouble, Sakura."
At the new voice, everybody turned to face the latest to join them and as the six vampires joined the group, the hunters took a step back, easily recognising two of them.
"Not here to cause trouble," Tsunade stated with narrowed eyes. "Jiraiya and I are both here for the same reason as everybody else: to help Sakura and her parents."
Another blond shot forward, all but tackling Sakura as he grinned from ear to ear. "You're safe, Sakura–chan!"
"Of course I'm safe," Sakura gritted out, trying her best to shove Naruto's face away from hers without hurting him, "idiot!"
The person who had first spoken glanced up at his brother, feeling so very relieved that he could finally do so without wanting to rip Itachi's throat out. "Aniki."
Something softened in Itachi's eyes and his features relaxed, completely surprising those around them. "You did it."
From behind her youngest son, Mikoto couldn't help but smile and hold a hand to her heart at the sight of the two brothers. It had been way too long since she saw that relaxed look in Sasuke's eyes, since she saw the admiration or the lighting up of his features at the sound of Itachi's name. Seeing those expressions, knowing that there was no longer any hatred brewing inside of him for his older brother, warmed Mikoto's dead heart. It made her want to cry out happily and sob.
How long had it been since they last looked at one another as brothers (or, since Sasuke looked at Itachi like they were brothers)? Centuries. It had been centuries and those centuries felt tortuously longer with all Sasuke's hatred and pain and suffering.
"What happened?" Shisui asked, also unable to deny that seeing the 'old' Sasuke was such a wonderful sight.
It was Naruto who explained, rather excitedly, how the battle went down. He went through Sasuke's taunting speech, trying his best to impersonate the Uchiha by puffing out his chest and straightening his back, holding his head higher than usual and looking so very arrogant as he did so. Then, Naruto got to the actual battle. However, after Sasuke had taken out the many snakes, things got confusing for the blond, no matter how many times the others explained it to him.
Orochimaru had managed to break his way into Sasuke's mind and had been in the process of taking over his body, making Sasuke his next vessel.
"I don't remember it all that clearly," Sasuke recalled, thinking back on what had happened. "I can remember seeing all of his previous vessels, both men and women and there was even a couple of kids in there. They were all covered in the same kind of…. creature."
"Creature?" Itachi questioned.
"They looked and felt like intestines, only they had snake heads. They covered everything, even myself. For a few moments, I had no idea what to do to save myself and stop Orochimaru from taking over my body. I even felt sorry for his victims." For just a split second, Sasuke's eyebrows knitted together and his eyes dropped to the ground before going straight back to Itachi's, like he was speaking only to his big brother. "Then Orochimaru reappeared, merged in with the intestine–looking snakes. He told me about wanting yours more than mine, but that he'd settle for my Sharingan until he was strong enough to take you on, Aniki."
That did not surprise Itachi in the least. "How did you manage to defeat Orochimaru?"
"He kept getting closer and closer and all the while, I tried to come up with a strategy, but for the most part, my mind was blank. Orochimaru was messing with my head and scrambling my thoughts." Closing his eyes, Sasuke sighed. "Somehow, I managed to summon my own chakra and I turned the snakes on Orochimaru. It was his dimension, sure, but before my eyes all of his jutsu were useless."
Shisui regarded the youngest Uchiha with admiration, as did the rest of them. "Your will to survive, to rid yourself of your hatred for Itachi, turned Orochimaru's own dimension against himself. It's what saved you."
Sasuke nodded silently.
"So… He's dead?" Sakura asked, her voice quiet and hopeful. "Orochimaru is really dead?"
Again, Sasuke nodded, though this time he glanced over at the hunters. "If you want his body, settle it with Jiraiya and Tsunade. They will show you where it is."
Sai nodded once. "We will need at least a part of it to make up for allowing so many vampires to go free."
After exchanging a look with Jiraiya, who merely closed his eyes and turned his head away, Tsunade sighed. "I suppose it's a fair exchange. Just know now that his body is not in a human form. As Naruto said: Orochimaru's true self was revealed halfway through the battle. It will take a large summoning scroll to hold it."
"Azarni–san is gifted with summoning scrolls," Tenzo replied with a smile. Then, his head tilted to the side and he regarded Obito. "I couldn't help but notice earlier that you're a user of the wood element." Many eyes snapped to Obito's. "Are you a descendent of Senju Hashirama's?"
Tsunade narrowed her eyes a fraction. "I can assure you now, I am the only remaining Senju. All others died out only a century after my transformation. Unless Obito is secretly a descendant of mine, I very much doubt he's my grandfather's descendent." Her eyes slid over to Obito's, narrowing further and making him gulp. "You and I have a lot to talk about, Uchiha Obito."
The hunter, Tenzo, raised his hands and chuckled sheepishly. "I didn't mean to get Obito–san into any trouble. I was merely asking as I myself am a wood user."
Honey brown eyes widened, her head whipping round to face Tenzo. "T–That's impossible! My grandfather–"
The sheepishness of Tenzo's expression and tone died down, leaving him to appear serious once more. "I am an experiment of Orochimaru's. If I recall correctly, I am the only one to have survived the experimentation, although Orochimaru had been close to exterminating me when he believed I was a failure. The reason why I was so quick to agree with teaming up and making a truce was because, honestly, I wished to know more about my past."
Jiraiya finally looked back to them all and frowned. "You don't know your own past?"
He shook his head. "No. All I can remember is being locked in a container filled with a special kind of water, one that somehow had Senju Hashirama's DNA mixed into it. It was being pumped into me, of that I am aware. I was also aware of the other experiments failing, dying right before my eyes. However, just before my own extermination, that is where I fail to remember correctly. All I can remember is a flash of silver before everything went dark. Several days later, I woke up in Konoha hospital, where nurses informed me that a man had saved my life, though he didn't stick around."
It was with a sigh that Kakashi stepped forward, offering Tenzo an eye crease as he smiled down at the man. "I thought I recognised you."
Dark eyes went wide. "Y–You…?"
Kakashi scratched the back of his head and chuckled sheepishly. "You were just a child. I couldn't leave you to die, could I?" When all Tenzo was capable of doing was staring at him in shock, Kakashi once more sighed and patted his shoulder. "I was keeping an eye on Orochimaru for Jiraiya-sama at the time when I came across you. How about I fill you in on everything that happened later, though? I believe you have something you need to collect first."
He nodded gratefully. "Thank you."
They had all gone their separate ways once Orochimaru's lackeys were dealt with.
Despite Sakura's wishes of hearing them out, of listening to their stories, the others had still taken them out without a shred of hesitancy or regret. These people were not innocent, Temari had told her quietly. They weren't good people who were forced to do bad things. No, most of them willingly chose that life because they wanted more power while the others simply wanted to work for Orochimaru.
And once they were defeated, the clans broke off and left. First, was Gaara's clan. The redhead had shared a few words with Naruto before approaching Sakura, murmuring his apologies for things not turning out the way she wanted them to. However, he had said quietly, it was necessary. If Sakura wished for her parents to be truly safe, then none of Orochimaru's henchmen could survive. There was no telling how many of them had seen her parents, which put them at a huge risk.
Next to leave was Obito's clan and with them, the hunters. They would be escorting the three hunters back to Konoha and during the journey, Kakashi had promised Tenzo that he would explain what happened back when the brunet was just a child. When she noticed that they were one man down in their team, Sakura had immediately wanted to help, to see if she could bring the man back to life, but Tsunade had silenced her with an extremely stern glare.
Right. It would be stupid to tell everyone of her 'ability', especially with hunters around and especially considering the fact it hadn't been truly worked on yet. In fact, it would be like putting a huge, loud target right above her head.
Jiraiya had disappeared at one point, only to return around half an hour later. He wasn't on foot like he had been when he left. No, Jiraiya returned in a car, one that had blacked out windows.
"Here." He tossed the keys to Sakura since Itachi had his hands full and she instinctively caught them. "Somebody owed me a favour and I decided to cash in on it. Make sure your parents get home safely."
She nodded her thanks and quickly opened the back door, biting her lip nervously as she helped Itachi lower Mebuki from his back. When the woman was leaning against Sakura, he picked her up once more, cradling the back of her head to make sure she didn't hit it as he put her in the car. Standing back, Sakura watched as Itachi fastened the seatbelt around Mebuki securely, tugging on it a couple of times just to make sure she would be safe.
And when Mebuki was safely inside of the car, they shut the door, but just as they were about to help Shisui, they found that Mikoto was already there. It was amusing seeing her holding such a large man, carrying him like he weighed absolutely nothing. After all, Mikoto was rather petite weight–wise. Not as small as herself, but still quite thin.
As soon as they were both strapped in, Sakura handed Itachi the keys.
"We will return to the cabin once Sakura has spoken to her parents," Itachi informed them all.
The drive was silent. Her parents had been brought out of Shisui's genjutsu not long into the journey, but they both stayed quiet and fortunately, due to the blacked out windows, not a lot could be seen inside of the car. Well, not by humans, anyway. They could still see Sakura and Itachi, of course. They could still see their features if they turned their heads to the side to face each other, but other than that, nothing. It was all dull and difficult to make out.
Sensing her building dread, one of Itachi's hands left the steering wheel and took Sakura's, holding it tightly and comfortingly and in response, she sighed and eased back into her seat, closing her eyes tiredly.
Kizashi glanced down at his wife, neither of them missing the interaction or the way that their daughter seemed to immediately relax when the man touched her.
"Where are we going?" Kizashi asked after a moment, his suspicious eyes fixed on the back of Itachi's headrest.
"Back to Konoha," Sakura replied without looking at them, the twisting in her stomach increasing painfully.
Her mother instantly perked up and hope filled her eyes. "Home?"
Never before had she ever heard her mother sounding so vulnerable. Tears filled her eyes, though they didn't fall. "…Yeah."
"And you're coming with us."
When Sakura didn't reply, Kizashi frowned. "Sakura?"
"Sakura, do not ignore your parents," Itachi chided her gently, swiftly turning onto a highway. "They are asking you a question."
But if she kept talking to them, interacting with them, then leaving them both would be so much harder than what it already was. It already felt like she would be losing part of herself by never seeing her parents again, so Sakura would do whatever she had to, to keep that pain from becoming worse.
"No." She swallowed hard and kept her eyes shut. "I'm not coming home. Only dropping you off."
"B–But… But why not?" her father demanded, his features pained. "Sakura–"
"I'll explain everything when we're back in Konoha. Just…" She sighed, tilting her head towards the window and tightening her hold on Itachi's hand. "Just please be quiet until we get there."
If she was never going to see them again, the least they deserved was a full and proper explanation, one that went right back to the very beginning, to the night Itachi had saved her life. She needed to have a good think about what she was going to say to them, about how much she was going to share.
Telling them that she was a vampire was out of the question. It would be way too dangerous to do such a thing. Sure, Sakura knew she could trust her parents, but it was still was too risky. Despite Sai's agreement to not allow any harm to come to her parents, there were still many other hunters out there who would do anything to rid the world of the supernatural kind, even if it meant innocent people got caught in the crossfire.
It took well over seventeen hours to return to Konoha and it would have taken longer had Itachi not pushed the car to its limits, taking back roads whenever they were off the highway. Not once were they pulled over and they only had to stop for gas a couple of times. During those breaks, her parents were able to use the bathroom and Itachi had purchased them some food and water, understanding that they were probably hungry after being held captive for who knows how long.
Eventually, when they returned to Konoha, it was dark and the streets were empty. Itachi slowed down considerably as he drove to the Haruno home, not needing to ask for directions since Sakura had shown him the way once before. Street lights lit up the road for them and when they got out of the car, she kept her head down, hair veiling her features. It was dark, yes, but she'd rather not get into an argument with her father once more (especially in the street) when he discovered that she hadn't actually had cosmetic surgery.
The house was just as quiet and just as dark as the street and Sakura immediately made her way to the living room, sitting with her back to the doorway. A moment later and Itachi was joining her with a sigh.
"You will regret pushing them away one day, Sakura," he told her seriously. "Think about what you're doing."
He shook his head, sadness in his dark eyes. "You don't have to do this. You can still keep in contact with them."
"I'll be tracked and they'll be targeted–"
"You can always change your appearance and mask your chakra." When her eyes widened, realisation striking her, he gave a soft smirk and cupped her cheek. "Remind me to teach you how to use a henge."
She nodded and sighed when he pulled away, her parents entering the living room a moment later.
"You could have switched the lights on, Sakura. You know where they are." Mebuki sighed, feeling the wall for the light switch before flipping it, smiling to herself as the lights came on. That smile faltered at the sight of her living room. "Look at this mess!"
It wasn't that messy, Sakura almost argued. That had always been the first thing she said when her mother stated such a thing. And it was honestly the truth! Sure, there were several sheets of paper littering the floor and one of the photo frames had been dropped from the fireplace, but it really wasn't as bad as her mother made it out to be.
Kizashi sat down on the old, worn out sofa opposite theirs, his eyes glued to Sakura's features just as they had been the night she approached him after her change. He still looked incredibly suspicious and pained by the changes he could see in his daughter. And once Mebuki had gathered the pieces of paper (which turned out to be old letters of Sakura's, ones that stated what school she had gone to and other things such as that) and picked up the photo frame, she placed them onto the coffee table and sat beside her husband.
Her eyes narrowed when they met Sakura's, taking in the changes for herself.
She swallowed hard.
"Your father told me that you'd changed, but… This isn't cosmetic surgery," Mebuki murmured, examining her daughter properly now that they were in better light. "You told me what kind you wanted and this… This wasn't it. You look… so different. You didn't want that much done."
Sakura's lower lip trembled.
"Sakura…" Kizashi whispered, his voice sounding breathless. "What happened to you? Please don't continue lying to us – not after the past few days."
"On the night that you both believed I went missing…" Their intense gazes made her stomach flip anxiously. "I died."
They both swallowed hard and it was only because of what had happened with Orochimaru that they didn't immediately yell at her and reprimand her about making up such absurd stories. Instead, they listened patiently, her mother's hand reaching out and holding onto Kizashi's tightly.
"On my way to the hospital, I was attacked by three men, who then left me for dead after assaulting me."
Her father paled to the point where he looked as though he was about to pass out, whilst her mother actually gagged. Itachi silently grabbed the small bin sitting beside him, handing it over to the woman who gratefully accepted it, holding it in front of her. She was now just as pale as Kizashi.
There was a faint pause. "They didn't…?"
Sakura closed her eyes and took a deep breath before whispering, "…They did."
The sounds of her mother throwing up reached her sensitive ears, the smell hitting her at the same time. It hurt her, made her feel low about herself, having her own mother throwing up after hearing she'd been raped, but Sakura couldn't blame her. Instead, she slowly opened her eyes and kept them on the ground, not looking at either of them.
It wasn't until Kizashi reached out and took her hand that she finally looked up at him.
"I'm sorry that I couldn't protect you like a father should," he whispered, tears slipping down his cheeks. "I'm so sorry, Sakura. You must've been so scared."
A sob left her before she could stop it and Sakura quickly nodded. "I–I was."
Kizashi was on his knees and in front of her within an instant, bringing her close to him in a tight embrace. It was the sort of comfort that only a father could give and she couldn't stop herself from clinging tightly to him. This was what she had been aching for all along. Her father. Her mother. Their support. Yes, Sakura was so very grateful for Itachi and everything he'd done for her and no, the comfort he gave to her could never be compared to another's. However, Sakura found that the moment she was being held by her father, all her problems seemed so very little. She felt like a little girl again, one who was carefree and safe.
It wasn't until he wheezed slightly that she eased up, reluctantly loosening her hold on him.
"No, you don't have to," he told her quietly, rubbing her back soothingly. "If this is who you are now… Don't hold back. You're my daughter, Sakura. I'm just so glad you're here, no matter what you are."
Mebuki nodded shakily, the bin slowly being placed down before she joined the two of them, also falling to her knees like Kizashi had. "Please forgive me," she whispered brokenly. "Please forgive me for not protecting you!"
"You're my daughter!" she sobbed. "Despite all our arguments, you're still my Sakura. What those vile men did to you… It doesn't… Nothing will ever change the fact you're my daughter."
They still accepted her.
"You said you would be leaving again, but, please, stay for the night," Mebuki begged her daughter, gripping her hands tightly in her own. "Just one night. I–I'll make a wonderful dinner and we can talk about normal, every day things."
"I think you should, Sakura," Itachi cut her off, raising an eyebrow at her. "It gives you some time with your parents before we continue travelling."
"Your friend is also welcome!" the mother added quickly. "The both of you are. I'd like so much more time with you, but I'll be happy with just one more night. Please, Sakura."
Her eyes saddened at the desperation on her mother's features. "He's… Itachi isn't my friend, mom. We're more than that."
Kizashi leaned back on his knees, regarding Itachi once more. "You're Dai, right?"
Itachi nodded once.
"I could tell. The way Sakura looks at you is… I know my daughter and her heart is definitely not fickle. That look was in her eyes the last time, although not nearly as strongly as it is now. It was obvious she cared for Dai, but… She loves you."
Something softened in Itachi's eyes. "And I, her."
Sakura's head snapped in his direction, eyes widening. "You love me?"
Did she really need to ask? Instead of replying verbally, Itachi allowed their bond to speak for him, revealing not for the first time how he felt when around her or merely thinking of her. There was rarely a moment when he wouldn't be thinking of her. Her safety, her beauty, her happiness or simply her in general. Everything he had done, since catching her scent, had been for Sakura and not for a single second would Itachi change that.
She had changed him for the better.
She made living for an eternity seem like it wasn't nearly enough time to spend with her.
"You said you're continuing travelling…" Kizashi broke the connection between them, gaining both of their attentions once more. "How do we know for sure that that's what you're really doing?"
"Or that you're safe?" Mebuki added, her bottom lip trembling. "Or warm? Or well fed? How do we know that you're happy, Sakura?"
"You'll probably never really know for sure," she replied honestly, her eyebrows furrowing. "But just trust me. I promise you both that I'll take care of myself."
"And you'll visit."
Itachi's earlier words replayed in her mind, telling her that it would be okay to visit them and that there were ways to keep them both safe at the same time. A henge, Sakura was certain he'd called it. He had also used one when they first visited her father not long after being changed. It was possible, he was telling her. It was possible to have both lives and even though she had to take precautions, even though she had to change her appearance and whatever else that came with it, it would be worth it.
She could still see her parents.
"Yeah." Sakura nodded quickly, a bright smile pulling at her lips. "I'll definitely come back and visit."
"I'm so glad." Mebuki sighed, dragging Sakura into another embrace. "And Itachi–san," she glanced over her daughter's shoulder, giving him a hesitant smile, "you are also welcome to come and visit along with Sakura, but on one condition."
They had the same eyes, Itachi realised after just a split second of looking into Mebuki's. They were alight with the same determination, with the same love.
"I want you to protect my daughter."
He nodded once, never breaking eye contact. "No matter the cost."
"Are you sure about this, Sakura?"
Glancing up at the blonde and watching her chewing nervously on her thumbnail, listening to her shallow breathing and sensing the unease in her chakra, Sakura nodded once. There wasn't even anything to think about, really. Tsunade deserved this and she was going to make damn sure that she got her happy ending, too.
There was no hope in reviving her younger brother, Nawaki, just like there was no hope in reviving Ino. Not only did Sakura not know what their spirit looked like, but there was also no body to bring the spirit into. Dan, however… His spirit was entwined with Tsunade's. After focusing hard on it since returning to the cabin nine and half days ago, Sakura had finally been able to pick up on the difference – and not just colour–wise.
It was difficult to explain and even in her own mind, it made no sense. No matter how much Itachi attempted to help Sakura in arranging her thoughts, in finding the right words, nothing truly fit. But that didn't matter, not really. What mattered was that Sakura knew she could do it and as she focused intently on Tsunade's spirit, on the remains of Dan's, she had also been reviving animals as practice.
Starting off with smaller animals, she would take them out and once they were dead, she would heal all wounds she had inflicted. Only then would Sakura drag their spirits back to their bodies. It had been a struggle at first and more than once, she'd slipped in concentration, but it didn't take her all that long to understand.
It couldn't be rushed. What Sakura needed was patience. She had to take it easy and take her time, drifting carefully through the spirits. After all, she didn't want to bring the wrong spirit into Dan's body, especially considering the fact that his body was immortal, was a vampire's body. They would have to set the body on fire to kill the vampire, to rid it of its spirit and if that happened, then there would be no body for Dan's spirit to return to.
They only had one shot.
Jiraiya patted her shoulder and stood, taking a step back. "Good luck."
"What is happening?" Mikoto asked with a frown.
"Just watch, Mother," Itachi murmured, his eyes fixated on his mate.
Beside his mother was his father and with them stood Shisui, Sasuke and Naruto. The first three were wary of what was going on, though had a feeling they knew what was about to happen and at the narrowing of the Uchiha patriarch's eyes, Sasuke smirked and faced forward, watching Sakura. Fugaku had already accepted her as Itachi's mate, his acceptance only increasing when he heard that she was able to wield not just anybody's Gunbai, but Uchiha Madara's Gunbai. That acceptance was going to explode to new heights when he saw her gift for himself and he would have no choice but to respect her.
"Tsunade–shishou, can you–"
Without even waiting for her to continue, the woman slowly stepped forward and knelt on the other side of her deceased lover, refusing to look at his features. Instead, her honey brown eyes stuck to Sakura's, a fraction wider than usual. It was understandable. If anything happened to Itachi, Sakura wasn't sure what she'd do. And then seeing his body? Like it was only hours ago that he had died? It would be impossible for her to deal with.
After returning to the cabin, Jiraiya had ordered Obito to bring him Dan's body, which had apparently been stored away. Where? Wherever it was that Obito and Kakashi disappeared to with the use of their Sharingan. It was the safest place for him to be kept. They'd placed Dan in one of the bedrooms afterwards and once Sakura herself had returned from her parents' home, she had worked on whatever needed repairing, as Tsunade hadn't the stomach to do so herself.
He was a little paler than usual, Tsunade had whispered when she saw her lover for the first time in over a century. Most likely because of the huge blood loss before being changed and the fact that he'd been dead for a couple of weeks before Jiraiya came up with the idea of transforming his body. It should have been impossible, was the next thing she'd whispered.
"What was his smile like, Shishou?" Sakura asked softly, watching the older woman.
Something warmed in those scared eyes and with it, her features brightened ever so slightly, stunning the others in the room. "The most beautiful sight I'd ever seen," she spoke quietly, her voice hoarse. "There aren't any words to describe what it meant to me, but it reminded me of the sunrise. A new start to a new day. It made me feel like…" Tsunade smiled and shook her head, her shaking hand unknowingly reaching out and taking Dan's. "It made me feel like there was more to life than avenging my baby brother, that I had a life of my own to live. It made me realise that Nawaki wouldn't want me moping around and obsessing over his death. He'd want to grasp Dan's love with both hands and fight desperately for it. He'd want me to live a happy life. And I wanted to share that happy life with Dan. Share everything with him."
There he was.
Closing her eyes as she felt Dan's spirit in Tsunade's (as it was always strongest when the blonde spoke of him), Sakura demanded herself to get a lock on it. On the feel, on the colour, on the shape and emotions. It was so light, so warm. Sakura could see why Tsunade had loved Dan so dearly despite the short amount of time they had together.
Once she had a lock on his spirit, she raised her hands over his body and unlocked the gate she had visited regularly over the past nine days. It had been so unnerving when Sakura realised how easy it was for her to open that gate between worlds, how she could easily open and close it. Also, while reviving animals, she'd come to understand that unless the spirits were latched onto her then they could not pass that gate. She had to be the one guiding them and if more than one attempted to join them, then it was easy to push them back in.
Sifting through the spirits in her mind, Sakura furrowed her brows, trying to feel over them all to get a hold of Dan's.
Sensing her difficultly, Itachi asked Tsunade, "How did he make you feel?"
"Safe," she replied, her eyes watching Sakura's features. "He made me feel like I was so fragile, but at the same time, he made me feel untouchable in his arms."
Mikoto's eyes widened a fraction when Sakura's palms began to glow and she leaned forward ever so slightly, her breathing stopping altogether as she sensed a certain spike in the air around them. Glancing down at her arm, she was absolutely stunned to see goosebumps. It had been centuries since such a thing had happened and as she looked at the others, she saw that they were also covered in them.
Minutely, Sakura's hands began to tremble and Itachi tried his best to ignore the feeling of their connection being interfered with. He tried his best to ignore the fact that it felt as though Sakura was leaving him.
He had to be somewhere–
Her spirit approached his, watching how there was a flash of Tsunade's spirit mixed with his. That was definitely Dan. The spirit had the same colour and texture. It had the same emotions and when Tsunade's flashed within it, she could sense her Shishou.
She had him.
Gripping his spirit with her own, Sakura began to quickly retreat from the world of the dead, slamming the gates shut and locking them once more.
And as a bright light passed through her body, as that light slammed down into the body laying motionlessly on the floor, Tsunade's breath caught in her throat and her eyes widened.
It felt like time itself stopped when his dark green eyes snapped open.
Slowly, ever so slowly, Dan sat up and looked around himself, frowning as he did so. The confusion he was feeling was almost tangible and in response, Tsunade bit her lip worriedly.
When Itachi suddenly appeared by Sakura's side, catching her just as she began to sway, Dan's eyes snapped to his, narrowing a fraction.
"Uchiha." Glancing over at the others, his eyes continued to narrow. "The entire clan, if I am not mistaken."
And just like that, his attention was stolen from the Uchiha clan and his widened eyes met Tsunade's, who stared back with furrowed brows. It was so strange to witness, Sakura thought tiredly. Her Shishou looked so very vulnerable right at that moment in time. So young and so vulnerable. It was a beautiful sight.
Tears filled her honey brown eyes a moment before they were closing, her head tilting towards the ground. Only seconds later and her bottom lip was trembling.
"I think they deserve some privacy to catch up," Jiraiya suddenly spoke up, dropping his folding arms and turning his back on the reunited couple. "Follow me and I'll answer your questions about Sakura's gift."
"Relax," he told her softly, his hand gently running up and down her spine. The movement caused her skin to tingle. "You are exhausted."
Sakura shook her head stubbornly and pressed a kiss to his collarbone. "Not anymore, I'm not. How long was I out for this time?"
It was always Itachi who was by her side whenever Sakura brought someone back to life, even if it was only an animal. She knew she could trust him one hundred and ten percent. After every session, after every revival, Sakura would be weakened considerably and, depending on how strong the spirit was, she sometimes passed out from using all of her chakra.
"Four days." Itachi sighed and felt so very relieved that his mate was now awake.
"Have you been here the entire time?" Sakura couldn't help but gasp as she quickly leaned up on her elbows, looking down at him with a frown when he nodded in return. "Itachi, you need to hunt."
"I could not leave you alone," he murmured simply, continuing with running his fingers along her spine. "Tsunade–sama's mate is…"
"Dan." Once more, Sakura gasped, her eyes going wide. "How is he doing? How is she doing?"
Realising that Sakura was about to jump out of bed to go and check for herself, Itachi swiftly rolled them over and kept her down by pressing his body against hers, ignoring the old creaky bed as it groaned in protest at their movements. Unlike previously, there was no flicker of fear in her eyes. There was no shaky breathing and wide eyes. Sakura was calm in his presence. She felt safe.
Lowering himself against her more fully, Itachi breathed out another sigh. "Dan–san has had only a small amount of difficulty adjusting to everything and understanding what has happened, but other than that, he and Tsunade–sama haven't left each other's sides."
"I can't sense them." She frowned. "I can't sense anyone. What's going on, Itachi?"
"Tsunade–sama and Dan–san have gone somewhere more private to… reacquaint themselves." Realisation flashed in Sakura's eyes and she looked away shyly. "Jiraiya–sama and Naruto–kun have left to go and train some more. As for our clan," Itachi cupped her cheek, his thumb brushing just underneath her eye, "they left early to give us some privacy."
He smirked, enjoying the shyness that was showing in his little mate's eyes and not for the first time, Itachi found that he wanted to see her blush, even if it was only just the once.
"So… What now?"
His hand slipped away from her cheek, pressing down into the old mattress beside her hip. "Later, we will begin our travelling, like I promised a few months ago." Her eyes lit up and a bright smile pulled at her lips, making Itachi feel so much lighter. "For now, however–"
The words were cut off as Sakura's hand pulled his head down to hers, capturing Itachi's lips in a demanding kiss, one he gladly returned.
"I want to go somewhere hot." She gasped, tugging on his hair when his kisses were moved to her neck. "Tropical."
Nodding, he kissed his way back to her lips, gently parting her legs with his knee. "I know of a place you will like."
It felt as though fire was scorching its way through her veins and meeting up right in the pit of her stomach, growing to great proportions with every brush of his lips against hers. That fire only continued to grow as clothing was shed, dropping to the ground around them until there was nothing left, until they were becoming one beneath the sheets.
Her head fell back against the pillows, tilting and exposing her throat when Itachi started to move and not a second later, more kisses were being littered along her throat, his teeth scraping across her soft skin, but even as he nipped at her neck, it was never hard enough to hurt her. Like their lovemaking, it was gentle and sweet – wary, even. They had yet to explore this side of themselves fully, after all. It was like they were testing the waters, like Itachi was making sure to keep an eye on what was okay and what wasn't. He didn't want to hurt or scare her.
One of her long legs wrapped around his waist, her foot digging into his lower back as she tried to bring him closer to her.
His pace was quickening, causing her nails to scrape across his back, causing Sakura to cry out in such a way that it almost had him faltering in his movements. In response, Itachi's hand slipped beneath her and gripped her ass, pulling her against him with each thrust and causing such a delicious friction that it made her dizzy with pleasure.
It felt like hours had passed before they finally collapsed with exhaustion, Itachi's body pinning hers to the mattress as they both tried to see through the post–coital haze, as they tried to control the pleasurable spasming of their bodies. Even when they were finished, their hips continued to meet in a slow and lazy grind.
A hand tugged on Itachi's long and damp, dark hair, pulling his face up and not long after he was looking at her, Sakura kissed him softly, languidly. The air around them was still hot and humid and the glass windows were fogged up with condensation.
"Sakura…" Itachi breathed against her lips. "I love you, too."
She smiled brightly, kissing him more enthusiastically. "I can't wait to travel the world with you," Sakura whispered to him, though her voice grew slightly louder when she spoke again. "Ino and I always planned on travelling when we were younger, but… I know she'd approve of my choice."
There was no sadness in her tone, only peaceful acceptance. Sakura was truly learning to move on from her best friend's death.
Itachi kissed her one final time before leaning back, smiling gently at her. "Are you ready, Hime?"
"Definitely," she told him without missing a beat.
It was time to start their forever.
A/N - Somebody asked for a bit of biting and drinking each other's blood, I believe. It's kinky, I'm not going to lie, but... Itachi stated in a previous chapter that vampires do not bleed. Their skin can be broken and limbs can be detached, but no blood, I'm afraid!
It took me so long to write this chapter! I kept putting it off because I didn't want it to end and I feel like I created more questions instead of answering them, but I wanted you all to use your imagination with Dan and Tsunade, as well as Kakashi's secret missions for Jiraiya. Basically, with the latter, Kakashi was accepting missions from Jiraiya and keeping an eye on what Orochimaru was doing. One day, he noticed that there was a child who was about to be killed, so he saved the kid and took him to the nearest hospital, which happened to be Konoha's.
I hope you all enjoyed this story! I loved writing it and even though Sakura's gift was a bit sudden, I just want to remind you all that the sharingan is also quite sudden in its own way. None of the Uchiha clan members knew about it until they activated it.
Okay, anyways! I'll most likely have another story out soon, so keep your eyes out for it. However, I don't know whether to post one of my ItaSaku, GaaSaku or my ultimate OTP: Vegeta and Bulma. Hmm... Decisions, decisions...
Edited on: 02/09/2016
Finally finished editing this thing!