A/N 1: Hey everyone, so still the same story here. Basic time travel with a twist - Sakura doesn't end up in her own body. Things go wonky from there.
A/N 2: Re-written and reposted on 08/11/2015
Warnings: Completely AU from the get go. Rough approximation of canon up until the Fourth Shinobi War then diverges. There will be romance, but not conventional romance. I play around with pairings a bit.
Chapter 1 - Pianissimo
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone;
Tell me, where it is I lie.
Death was inevitable. Sakura had always known as much. How could she not, living the lifestyle she did? Yet, the idea of dying never plagued her. She had faced death countless times and won, persevered where others would have fallen short enough times that dying would probably be boring. Thus she had never given her death much thought and its happening sat as a blank page, with a single, dark, splotch.
Sakura – like most people, nowadays – died far away from home. Though exactly where home was could not be properly defined at this point in time. She did know that it was wet, and whatever she was dying on was muddy – much like her home when it had been definable – but the air was thicker and everything smelt off. Then again they had been burning bodies only yesterday, so perhaps she was closer to home than she realised.
She concluded that dying of blood loss wasn't the worst way to go. She pictured Iruka's mutilated corpse, hung across Naruto's doorway mere months ago. Split open between the ribcage, vital organs untouched. The medics present had said it had taken him hours to succumb to the wounds.
Of course since she was dying, her mind – traitorous thing that it was – had decided to remind her of every little thing she had done wrong in her lifetime, and left her replaying scenes from her genin days. Time with the original Team 7 and all the moments she had just stood there quaking in her boots while her wonderful, amazing teammates did all of the work.
The waves of resentment that washed over her at those memories nearly made her scream.
Instead she coughed, throat burning and blood spilling out of the corner of her mouth. A stomach wound – nothing more than kunai – and even as a medic (once Tsunade's apprentice, lauded as medic extraordinaire) she could do nothing. No chakra to speak of. And her yin seal? Well, if she felt like hurrying along her death she could always attempt to release it again. After the last time…
Kakashi, Naruto, Sasuke, the Chuunin Exams. Completely useless, a sitting duck under the meagre shelter that tree had provided. From the resentment rose fear, spreading ice from her heart, and the wound became numb. She had stopped applying pressure to it long ago, seeing it as a pointless exercise. Honestly, death was not being very accommodating of her right now.
The final stage, Sasuke's abandonment of the village, Naruto leaving with Jiraiya. Memories engraving themselves on her soul. Wanting to haunt her even as her life trickled away. A hoarse, "Stop," wrenched itself from her lips, but it was of no use. Tsunade then, strict and hard, but warm all at once. Shizune, so kind and quiet and there for Sakura when she needed it. ANBU, those cold hard nights with Yῡgao, and then not with Yῡgao. Pein, destruction.
Her memories whirled, spinning faster as she sucked in a pained breath. Somewhere in the distance someone screamed in agony. It echoed against a similar scream in Sakura's head.
Naruto, still out there fighting because he always had the courage she lacked and the pig-headedness she wished he didn't have. Sasuke, with his lack of direction and sheer talent, helping them save the world for whatever twisted ideal he had latched onto next. Kakashi, so plagued by old ghosts that he'd seen himself in Team 7, going out there to avenge his teammates who deserved so much better.
She wasn't surprised that she was the first one to die. It was logical, really. She had always been the weakest link, and thus had been struck first. Still a toppler though, essential to the rickety tower of pencils that was Naruto's life (and maybe, just maybe, Sasuke's as well). She felt like laughing, but even breathing had stopped being impossible without excruciating pain a few seconds ago and as much as she wanted death to just take her to whatever was after this, she still wanted to say her goodbyes. Just a few apologies and maybe a hug if she was feeling particularly masochistic.
She felt herself slipping away at last when a pair of oh so familiar blue eyes appeared above her own. Naruto? Everything sounded like static and her mouth felt as if it had been stuffed with cotton balls. He was saying something, something important, as tears streamed down his face. Sasuke was there as well, sitting just inside her peripheral vision, fist clenched and face scrunched up in fury. He muttered something under his breath before trying to get Naruto up. She attempted a smile.
Don't stop now. You still have a war to win.
Naruto ignored him and held her face in his hands, touching their foreheads together lightly. She wanted to comfort him, but couldn't move at all.
Her eyes started slipping closed and Naruto moved to sob into her chest. Sakura turned her eyes skyward, and the last thing she saw was the fleeting vision of a bird before her eyes closed and her heart stopped.
And as Sakura floated for that handful of seconds in a world unreachable to us, the figure of the Kyuubi stretched into the bloody sky.
It was quiet. There was a faint sound of shuffling feet and soft chatter but they were too far away for Sakura to distinguish. Her first coherent thought was one of confusion. She had not a single weapon on her person, something that hadn't happened since she had graduated from the academy. The bed she lay on was comfortable, the first she'd slept on since the invasion. She reached out her senses, testing the space, trying to tell where the hell she was and why her eyes refused to open.
Her chakra curled softly around the signature of another, though it wasn't familiar at all. She didn't panic. If Naruto had somehow managed to transport her to a medic camp there was bound to be unfamiliar medics around. Had it been Orochimaru who had collected her she would be underground somewhere, if not dead. Sakura kept her breathing even as a precaution, careful not to alert the people around her to the fact that she was awake.
A breeze blew into the room, telling Sakura where a possible escape route lay, and the scent was fresh with rain and growth. It had been so long since she had last breathed clean air that she nearly took a lungful. Footsteps paused nearby, a doorknob turned, and the chakra signature that Sakura's had been tracking stepped straight into the room. Sakura tensed slightly, but not visibly, allowing her eyelashes to flutter softly and give her a view of things she could use to attack if it was necessary. She saw nothing but darkness, and a tiny thrum of panic started up in her veins. She ignored it.
Instead she allowed more of her chakra to saturate the air. A hospital room, as she had guessed – one that felt so much like the old one's in Konoha that it puzzled her. There was an intravenous needle in her arm, which could always be used in an emergency, but more tempting was the innocently left out scalpel sitting on her bedside table. Perfect.
"Sakura-san? Are you awake?" A soft, warm voice asked. She froze, letting out a few expletives in her head at being so easily caught. It took her two seconds (slower than she as used to, slower than she should be) to be up, arms around the woman's neck with the scalpel pressed to her carotid artery. The intravenous needle had torn from her arm when she'd leapt. The woman's gasp alerted Sakura to a potential screamer, and she was quick to wrap a hand (smaller than it should be, too small) around the woman's mouth.
"If you scream I'll cut. You know as well as I do that you'll be dead in a few seconds if I do," Sakura said. Her voice came out in a pitch much higher than her own. What had they done to her? The woman nodded feverishly, and Sakura moved her hand. No words were said for a few seconds, "Where am I and why can't I see?" Sakura asked.
"Konoha Hospital," the woman – nurse – gasped out, "Your eyes were operated on. I don't have the clearance to know why!" Sakura tightened her hold unconsciously, feeling something a little like hysteria welling up in her chest. Konoha? Konoha was gone, no doubt. She had pulled co-workers out of the hospital rubble herself. The woman was lying obviously. Right?
But then, why was she so short? Why were her reactions delayed? Her chakra felt smaller, though no less controllable, and her hands were tiny. What if?
Pain throbbed from behind her eyes, sharp and sudden. Her grip on the scalpel loosened for a second, but it was enough for the nurse to take advantage. Her shout for help startled Sakura, and she felt herself being flung backwards, landing awkwardly on the bed she had sat on before. Footsteps rushed in, and her arms were held down for long enough for her to feel a prick at the crook of her elbow. Sedatives.
She quickly succumbed.
When she came to again, about half an hour later, someone else was in the room. Her chakra eagerly reached out for theirs, and Sakura was comforted by the presence. This one was a shinobi, definitely. Before Sakura could even utter a word a sudden panic - not unlike before - seized her out of nowhere, and she quickly found herself making a suicidal dash to attack the other person. The room was once again flooded by medical staff. Someone shouted out something to do with amnesia, and Sakura latched onto that conversation. It was hushed, even as people shouted and Sakura herself was being strapped back to the hospital bed.
"-sometimes caused by traumas that have a deep effe-"
"-long will it la-"
"-ay for sure but could be a lo-"
Sakura calmed her breath, despite the lingering want to run away as far as she could. She had no idea what was happening to her. Calm, cool, level-headed – Sakura never attacked unless there was legitimate reason. And yet her body had made the decision for her. At this rate she was likely to be shipped off to a mental institution. Still, trauma? Sakura had been through a hell of a lot in her lifetime. What trauma were they talking about?
Okay Sakura, there's a reason you're on good terms with Intelligence. Put the puzzle pieces together. She thought about everything she'd heard since she'd last seen Naruto. She was in a hospital – Konoha Hospital, if that nurse was telling the truth – and had had a recent operation on her eyes. The pain could attest that there was a serious problem. Judging by the pain's location… maybe they had shifted in the sockets? What else? That boy had seemed odd. And the way Sakura's chakra had latched onto him was too weird to pass up. Coupled with her tiny body and high voice, Sakura was starting to see a worrying pattern.
The medical staff seemed to clear out as Sakura's eyes closed; after her having basically been attacked by one doctor with a wave of chakra meant to calm her. She was barely lucid now, but strained to hear what was going on. She must have gone under for a little while, because when she resurfaced, she was alone with the boy again.
"Sakura? Stop pretending you're asleep," He said, a touch of both worry and comfort in his deep voice. He had one of her hands clasped in his – she could feel that his hand was a lot bigger than hers was.
"Who are you?" She asked, voice raspy from lack of water. The boy stilled.
"Your brother, imouto," He answered grimly. Sakura's brain whirred into motion. Imouto? She had no brothers, older or not. He had sounded sincere, so it wasn't a joke. What had happened to her? She was supposed to be dead for Kami's sake!
A few memories – not her own – flashed before her eyelids. The sharp edge of a kunai against her face, dark rumbling laughter, ugly smiles watching her as she screamed and thrashed. It was as if someone had dumped a bucket of water over her head as she realised what had happened. She was not herself any longer.
She'd heard of jutsu like this. Experimental things, ways to send someone back to a time they didn't belong in. They had never worked, and many had died in the process of testing. Such jutsu had been labelled forbidden for years. And for good reason. Going back to the past had too many potential repercussions. Far too many to try it.
And yet here she lay in a body too small for her, with a person who called her sister. Her name was still Sakura, somehow. A sigh passed her lips and she pushed herself up off of the bed, turning her head towards where the voice had come from. Jumbled feelings – some her own, others that were not – made their way into her voice. "My brother?" She whispered.
Strong arms wrapped around her thin shoulders and Sakura had to fight back both the urge to sink into the hug and the urge to pull back and run away. He smelt like Naruto. "Yes, imouto. I'm here now. You have nothing to fear," He answered, trying to sound brave. Sakura's body responded in kind and hugged him back, the boy's name flashing into her mind at the familiar touch. Shisui. She'd heard it before.
A throb of pain hit her eyes again and she whimpered. Shisui pulled back in concern. "Do your eyes still hurt, Sakura-chan?" He asked.
"Hai," She took a breath, "Are the bad people gone?" She asked. She meant the ones with the ugly smiles. Shisui caught on quickly.
"They're gone." He confirmed. They're dead, he meant. Sakura nodded. Many a shinobi family killed for the sake of their kin. It was not uncommon for a family member's attacker to die. Shisui let out a breath, before picking Sakura up easily. It was clear that she was lighter than he'd expected when he picked her up. A small part of Sakura wondered how long it was that this girl (herself, now. She had to remember that) had been missing – how little her captors had fed her.
The nurse she had earlier assaulted came into the room. She looked over at the 'family' scene with what she assumed was a pitying smile. Despite how much Sakura hated pity, she wasn't going to voice it.
"I apologise for attacking you earlier," Sakura spoke up, her voice still horribly small, "I thought you were…" She trailed off. The nurse seemed to get the message. Sakura knew what it was like working with shinobi in hospitals. Most of them hated it. All nurses and doctors alike knew to keep sedatives on hand in case of the shinobi becoming violent. It was an everyday occurrence, especially for those that had just woken up after going down on a mission. Most still thought they were out in the field.
"It happens," The nurse said, "I take it that you're her brother?" She had obviously not come in again when Sakura had attacked the boy.
"Yes. May I take her home?" Shisui asked.
"There are a few things that need to be filled out, but her mother or father can come later in the day. Be careful with her and change the bandages once a day. If you have trouble we'll send someone up to the compound to help. She's due back here in two weeks for a check-up," The nurse said amiably. The scratchings of a pen on paper sounded for a moment, "Also, the other issue we'll inform you of later. Take care little one. I'm sure that you'll be fine in no time." These words were addressed to Sakura, and she couldn't help but be surprised. Even after being attacked by her, the nurse still worried after Sakura's safety.
"Arigato Gozaimasu, nurse-san." Sakura said, and Shisui thanked her as well before walking to the other side of the room and jumping through the window.
Warm air and familiar smells hit her all at once, and Sakura became limp in the boy – her brother's – arms. She was home. Home after so many years, so much fighting, so much struggling to stay alive. She was not herself, no, but she was still there. That was enough for now.
How she wished she could open her eyes and see her village again. But she couldn't. And she still knew not why. She didn't dare ask, too scared that they would figure out the truth about her. Ninja villages were notoriously pernickety. She had no doubt that she would be hauled off to Intelligence, likely to never emerge. Still, maybe if she played her cards right she could glean some information from Shisui. How far back had she gone? A year? Fifty? There was no way of telling yet.
"Tell me about yourself, aniki," She said.
"I'm Shisui," his voice was light and warm, "Your amazing, talented, super handsome older brother." He said, completely serious. Sakura giggled, "You and I are pretty good siblings. When you aren't stealing my kunai all the time." He added that good-naturedly.
"Well, super handsome older brother, would you mind no running so fast? I don't want you to drop me," She grinned.
"How little faith you have in me imouto! The great Shisui would never drop a fair damsel such as yourself!"
His theatrics made them both laugh, and for a moment Sakura almost felt like she had found a small connection to her old world – even in the turbulence that was already throwing her around in this situation she was in. She deliberated as to what to ask next.
"Why didn't Tou-san or Kaa-san come fetch me?"
Shisui was silent for a moment.
"Tou-san is very busy at the moment. He and Fugaku-sama have been busy with the regular clan meeting, along with the other leaders. Kaa-san is returning from a mission this evening. I'm sure that both of them wanted to come fetch you but Uchiha traditions are important," He answered, "You do understand, right?"
Sakura nodded as her heart skipped a beat. Fate had never liked her very much, but this was ridiculous. An Uchiha? Of all the possibilities. She felt sick to her stomach at the thought of attempting to survive that clan. She could die again tomorrow for all she knew. Escaping the massacre as a child was nigh impossible. Especially in the state she was in now. Worse, she didn't know anyone whom she was related too or how to act like a typical Uchiha child. Or if she was a typical Uchiha child at all.
One last jump and the brother and sister pair landed softly on the ground. A few greeting shouts were thrown their way and creaking metal could be heard as what Sakura assumed was a gate swung open. Shisui let her down gently, and she was happy to find that her legs still worked, at least. Her hand remained firmly encased in his, more for her general comfort than anything else. She could already tell that he would defend her if need be, and that was enough for Sakura for now.
She followed along silently, feeling as if she was being watched constantly. She wondered of that was something she would have to get used to in the Uchiha family. If I survive long enough to get used to it.
A little warm feeling tugged at her subconscious, becoming brighter. Sakura turned her head in the direction she thought the feeling came from (she had complete respect for blind people now. Not seeing anything was difficult to cope with) and soon long footsteps accompanied it.
"Shisui-san! Shisui-san! Guess what I did! I was throwing my kunai and it hit the target! I really did it Shisui-san!" Someone shouted.
Sakura stopped breathing for a moment and her heart sputtered in her chest. She hoped it wasn't kind enough not to mention it. The footsteps came to an abrupt stop right in front of her.
"Well done, Sasuke-kun. You're getting better every day." Shisui said.
"One day I'll be gooder than aniki, just you watch!" Sasuke declared happily. Sakura couldn't help but smile widely at this. She seemed to catch Sasuke's notice, "Ne, Shisui-san, who's that?" He asked curiously.
"You don't remember my imouto, Sasuke-kun? It's Sakura-chan." Shisui said.
Sasuke tilted his head inquisitively, "Oh," He said, "Well I'm Uchiha Sasuke! And my aniki is the best aniki in the whole wide world!" Sasuke planted his hands firmly on his hips.
Sakura could only smile wider. How adorable little Sasuke was. She just wanted to cuddle him to death. "Well I think you're wrong about one thing, Sasuke-kun. My aniki is the best aniki in the world!" She laughed.
Sasuke pout was audible as he argued against her, but she could sense no malice coming from him either. It seemed as if Sasuke was a genuinely great person before everything bad happened to him. She felt the desire to keep him this way for good.
Sasuke grabbed her hand and Sakura realised just how small the child was in comparison to herself, who only reached Shisui's elbow, "Itachi-nii promised that he would help me throw shuriken today after he gets back from the academy and training with Tou-san. I can show you how good I am a'ready so long if you want Sakura-chan!" Sasuke said in a single breath. Sakura hear Shisui laugh behind her.
"Sasuke, Sakura can't see anything, remember? I'm afraid you'll have to wait until she's all healed up. So long why don't you two go to the lake and spend some time together? I'm supposed to go meet up to train with Itachi today," Shisui said and Sakura felt herself droop a little bit. She was being shoved off on a (admittedly adorable) child instead of being allowed to find answers. She did her very best to pout.
"But aniki-" Sakura started. Shisui cut her off by bending down to kiss her forehead before patting her on the back.
"I'll be back soon imouto. Sasuke, I'm entrusting you with a very important mission. Your job is to protect young Sakura-hime from any danger that might befall her. Do you accept this dangerous task?" Shisui asked. Sasuke bounced and gripped Sakura's hand tighter.
"Well off you go then."
Sakura could practically hear Shisui's smirk when she was unceremoniously dragged away by Sasuke.
As she and Sasuke sat by the lake making daisy chains (which lake was entirely unknown to her, the Uchiha district was large enough to have several training grounds to themselves) she let herself drift away to muddle through thoughts.
Now Sakura had always been a logical person. She was used to piecing together fragmented puzzle pieces and finding a clear picture but currently she wasn't dealing with fragments. She was dealing with two completely different puzzles and had one piece of each in her possession.
First of all she wasn't dead. That was ultimately the strangest thing about all of this. She had died on that battlefield, of that she was absolutely sure. When Naruto and Sasuke had found her they were already a litre of blood too late to do anything for her. She could understand space-time warping jutsu, having dealt with her sensei's Kamui in the past. But this couldn't have been regular space-time jutsu, because she had landed up in another body, another life and there were no jutsu in the world that could achieve all of that at the same time when the person in question was once hundred percent fit and healthy (much less more than half-dead).
What she wouldn't do to have Shikamaru Nara to help her now.
"Hey Sakura-hime? Can you really not see or are you just pretendin'?" Sasuke asked, snapping her out of her thoughts. She turned her head in his direction and winced. His reminder of the pain made it come back in all its throbbing glory.
"I really cannot see Sasuke-kun. I want to play with you, really I do, but I would probably end up falling into the water by accident and I wouldn't want to risk my eyes." She answered.
"So whaddaya wanna do then?" He asked. Sakura thought about it and grinned. Just because she could see didn't mean than she couldn't test her new body.
"How about we do some special training?" Sakura asked with a smile.
"What kind of special training? Are we going to do super cool jutsu?" He asked excitedly. Sakura shook her head and held out a leaf to Sasule. A few seconds passed before he took the leaf and Sakura could imagine a miniature frown on his chubby face. She remembered how fat faced Sasuke had been, back before the massacre.
"Time for a short lesson, Sasuke-kun. You know what chakra is right?"
"Well all you gotta do is find your chakra. It should be right here," she said, poking his stomach and making him giggle, "Then when your tummy feels all fuzzy and warm try and move that feeling to your hand. If you can do that then the next part is easy."
Sakura held up her hand to demonstrate. A warm, familiar feeling enveloped it and Sasuke gasped softly, scooting closer to have a better look. "You can stick the leaf to your hand with chakra, like this," she said, plucking a leaf from the ground and holding it in from of her palm. It was drawn to the chakra like a magnet and stuck on fast, "Too much chakra and the leaf'll burn. Too little and it'll fall off. Ready to give it a try?"
"Yeah!" Sasuke quickly set about doing the task. Sakura had never envisioned that Sasuke had been a happy child, but seeing him as he was had changed her opinion very quickly. Her dim memories of Sasuke as a child included him eating tomatoes as if they were apples and talking about his brother. Sakura wondered when it was that she would meet this brother whom she had been taught to fear her whole life.
Sakura left the boy to his own devices, hearing little cries of both success and disappointment at regular intervals. Meanwhile she had traipsed down to the water edge and grabbed a couple of stones. They were tiny, sitting in her palm, and Sakura concentrated softly so that one of them hovered an inch above her skin. It was a slightly more difficult exercise than water-walking was, and less likely to be thought of as strange if someone happened to see her do it. Especially considering her approximated age. She guided the rock in a spiralling motion around her arm and through her fingers slowly at first and then faster, adding a couple each time. It was almost like juggling but not quite.
"Woah Sakura-hime that's so cool!" Sasuke shouted, clattering towards her – nothing like the stoic, silent assassin he was in her time. His voice startled Sakura and one rock shot right past her elbow, thudding dully against something behind her.
"Very cool indeed, Sakura-san. Chakra control like that is hard to come by at our age," A soft voice said. Sakura felt a tiny chill run down her spine but ignored it. She let the stones drop to the ground by her feet.
"Thanks Itachi-san. I'll take that as a compliment." Sakura said, turning to face Itachi.
"A pleasure. Mind pointing me in the direction of that wayward brother of yours?" He asked.
"I believe he went looking for you actually. Best to just wait for him in your usual place. You probably missed each other," She said, "Please tell him that he's mean when you see him." Itachi didn't laugh, but Sakura supposed that by his age most Uchiha had been de-laughitized to help with stoicism in funny situations.
"Will do. Also, well done with your kunai work otouto." He replied before vanishing, chakra signature and all. Sasuke grasped Sakura's hand.
"Woah, I think nii-san's jealous of you Sakura-hime! Isn't that so cool? I wish nii-san was jealous of me." He said, awed. Sakura bent down to hug Sasuke before kissing his cheek.
"There, now your nii-san has plenty to be jealous of. You got kissed by a girl before he did. Now let's go home. Would you mind escorting me to my house, my little shinobi?" Sakura said, grinning.
"'Course, Sakura-hime! This way!" Sasuke said, falling into his role of her 'escort' easily, dragging her along behind him.
Shisui Uchiha was fifteen years old, considered a genius in his clan and severely pissed off.
He had been on a month long espionage mission in Kusagakure, tired, worn out and missing home terribly. He'd received the message two days before his team was scheduled to return to Konoha and as a result he had nearly messed up a month's worth of work.
His little sister had been kidnapped, tortured until her Sharingan activated and then had her eyes stolen. They had recovered her and her stolen eyes within sixteen hours of her being declared missing but she had been on the brink of death with a kunai wound to the stomach and arm, as well as the removal of her eyes. She had been in the hospital when he had returned to Konoha, tiny and pale with her head half-wrapped in bandages and chords sticking out of her everywhere. He had been put on rotational guard duty for the Hokage because of his refusal to leave the village until he was sure Sakura would make it out alive, much to his father's disdain.
As he watched her patter around the room with her eyes still wrapped, occasionally bumping into tables and other objects he yearned to snap the neck of the bastards who had done this to her. Unfortunately his mother had already done so as soon as her daughter had been found, so he hadn't had the chance to take out his anger yet.
His father had made it abundantly clear that since she had awoken her Sharingan at such an early age (the youngest to do so, as far as he knew) she would begin proper training as soon as the bandages came off. Shisui had then directed his anger towards his power-hungry father and his never-ending quest for one-upmanship with Fugaku.
His sister had always been such a quiet and unassuming little girl. She looked exactly like every other Uchiha female – dark hair and dark eyes – and did what she was told to when asked. He knew she wanted to be a shinobi, not a kunoichi as most girls her age did. She had wanted to fight outright and now that she had the familial doujutsu there was no reason for her not to.
But something about how quickly she grasped chakra control and the hand seal system set him on edge. Most Uchiha children progressed faster than their classmates but this was ridiculous. By the end of week one of her out of the hospital she was playing around with minor katon jutsu and walking across the lake as if she had done it her whole life.
Whenever Shisui and Itachi happened to pass her by, Itachi would ask questions. Countless ones, ranging from 'when did you learn that' to 'teach me'. Sakura had been pretty happy to answer at first, but was becoming increasingly defensive and it irked Shisui more than he thought it should.
"Hey Itachi, why are you always asking Sakura so many questions?" He asked, before dropping to th ground and planting a foot in Itachi's stomach. The boy barely avoided it and Shisui used the momentum of the kick to swing himself upwards again and continue his assault.
"I suppose in a way I'm curious, but mostly because she's progressing unnaturally fast," Itachi answered in his usual monotone, thought there was a hint of frustration in there, as he had to block more and more often rather than dodge Shisui's punches, "You saw her Goukakyuu no Jutsu. She shouldn't have the control, much less the chakra capacity to perform a C-rank technique at full power at this age, much less in her current state." Itachi found an opening and took it, his hand blurring in motion as it went strike Shisui's chest. Shisui grinned, and easily twisted out of the way, letting Itachi's momentum carry him forward. Shisui wrapped an arm around the shorter boy's chest and held the kunai to his throat.
"I yield," Itachi said, and Shisui let go of him.
Shisui frowned slightly as he thought about what Itachi had said. Truthfully he had been thinking along the same lines for a while now, but he hadn't wanted to think that way. Now even Itachi was suspicious.
"Aniki! Itachi-san!" Sakura shouted, and Shisui looked up to see her carrying a basket of something (probably food) towards the two of them. He let out a soft smile. Whatever conspiracy theories he could come up with, she was still his little sister. Seeing her now made his heart clench a bit. She had always been small for her age, easily the smallest in her class. But she looked older now, somehow, more experienced and battle weary than a girl who'd never undertaken a mission should.
"Hey Sakura-chan. Finished practicing?" Shisui asked. Sakura jogged the last couple meters and stopped in front of them. She nodded.
"Kaa-san asked that I bring lunch for you two, since she knows you won't go back for food voluntarily," Sakura said, handing him the basket. Clasping her hands together she took a deep breath, something she only ever did when she was nervous, "Itachi-san, you don't trust me do you?"
Shisui froze and Itachi became stiff beside him, eyes narrowing just the slightest. Had she been listening in on their conversations? If she had, she'd concealed her presence so well… No chakra signature, no heartbeat or breathing…
"Well you both know what happened to my eyes, I'm sure, since Fugaku-sama tells Itachi-san everything," She paused, "It was my fault that I was kidnapped." Shisui stared at her in confusion. As far as he knew Sakura had been tucked safely into bed when she'd been kidnapped.
"How was it your fault?" Itachi asked tonelessly. Shisui shot him a glare that he ignored.
"When those people took I was…" She hesitated, turning her head slightly and Shisui got the distinct impression tha she was checking fro any offending chakra signatures, something Itachi hadn't managed yet, "I was practicing on the training grounds. I only ever did it when you were away aniki, so that you wouldn't catch me sneaking out at night. Kaa-san and Shinji-sama were at the clan meeting that night and they told me to stay home but, but I wanted to be strong like you so I left anyway," Her voice was becoming quieter and quieter as Shisui's stomach clenched, "I was practicing Goukakyuu when I was knocked out. I'm sorry aniki." She stood with her head lowered an despite her covered eyes Shisui was sure she was crying.
He wrapped his arms around her small form and she hugged him back tightly. Itachi stood there awkwardly, staring at nothing in particular. Shisui smiled at her even though he knew she couldn't see his smile.
"It's okay imouto, I'm sorry that I haven't been here to help you with training. Maybe once your eyes are better you can train with Itachi and I on a regular basis. How's about that?" Shisui asked.
"Wait a minute I never agreed to that-" Itachi started.
"Okay! Thank you aniki! I'll go practice really hard now so that I'll be a good enough challenge for you and Itachi-san!" Sakura exclaimed, before hurrying off. Itachi kept his face passive but Shisui grinned. It was obvious he wasn't pleased by the arrangement.
"Oi Itachi, why do you dislike my sister so much?" Shisui asked good-naturedly. Itachi fixed him with his trademark blank look.
"Hn, she's annoying."
Sakura stretched and yawned, turning her head towards where she knew a window was. It was her last day of having the bandages on yesterday and today Misori-san would take her to the hospital to have them removed and her eyes checked over. When she had first arrived at her 'home' Sakura had panicked thoroughly, keeping her head down and being as quiet as possible.
Her 'father' hadn't even asked how she was doing, something she had a feeling he was want to do with anyone he considered unworthy of his attention. At least her 'mother' had seemed concerned for her well-being and had taken care of her. It pained her how much Misori reminded her of her real mother, who was long dead.
Sakura had gone to bed early her first night, careful to be polite, and had drifted into a restless sleep quickly. Nightmares had plagued her, images from the war ingrained into her mind, playing over in perfect clarity. She had woken at the crack of dawn, covered in sweat with a new set of memories flickering in the back of her head.
She found herself acting on instinct more often than not for the first three days of her tentative new existence. The unfamiliar stature was annoying her to no end. It was one thing to grow up, but another thing altogether to suddenly shrink. Growing up was gradual, but this was akin to taking a shower just as the hot water ran out. Being a seventeen year old stuck in the body of a six year old was not fun in any kind of way. She had to be led around by a servant girl named Miya who barely talked and seemed terrified of her for no visible reason (pun intended).
Her only bright spot had been Sasuke, who was brilliantly smart for a three year old. He was always more than happy to relieve Miya of her duty and to take Sakura on adventures around the district. Apparently after the kidnapping incident security around the Uchiha had been tightened and anyone who was not yet a genin or under the age of twelve had to have adult supervision when leaving the district. Still, Sasuke had more than enough imagination to keep the two of them suitably occupied. And Sasuke insisted on calling her Sakura-hime in every game, despite how much she had told him not to. It was slightly surreal to see what Sasuke might have been had the massacre not happened.
Another one of her many worries was the massacre itself. Having had been sent into the past she had to change it – make sure things wold never have the chance to happen. First things first, she had to make sure that Naruto didn't have so awful a childhood, then she would move onto bigger things. Getting Sasuke to befriend the boy would be her top priority.
It was no secret that the Uchiha weren't very welcoming of the topic of the Jinchuuriki. It would be an uphill battle to get Naruto to accept Sasuke's friendship and to get Sasuke to do the same. But she would try. It would hopefully work out in the end. Though with her luck she wasn't expecting very much.
Her new body's full set of memories had returned after four days and she wasn't surprised to see the pattern of paternal neglect in this Sakura's life. From a young age she had set out to be as impressive as Shisui but had always escaped her father's attention and acknowledgement. Having Itachi around hadn't helped much either as her father was pre-occupied with setting up the friendship between Shisui and Itachi. Eventually she had decided to take matters into her own hands, practicing at night when her brother was away and watching his and Itachi's training sessions when he wasn't. Then just as she was really starting to get the hang of it all she had to up and get herself kidnapped and nearly murdered for her eyes.
At least this Sakura's dream of being noticed by her father had come true after the incident. She had sensed his presence near her as she practiced what she could without use of her eyes. Mostly chakra control and taijutsu in good weather. Perhaps she pleased him with her progress, she couldn't tell.
She took a deep breath and left her bed, moving towards the window to open it. The fresh air calmed her and helped her think properly. Today she would finally see again and then she could start the promised training with Shisui and Itachi. It was strange how quickly she had grown attached to her 'family'. Shisui was a wonderful big brother when he was around and Sakura found herself genuinely feeling protective of him. Misori was a lovely women and Sakura found that she missed the touch of a mother immensely whenever she was around her.
And having Sasuke as her adorable younger cousin was more than a little bit disorientating. She enjoyed his company immensely though and he was so nice to her that she always found herself smiling in his presence. They weren't exactly cousins, but being as close to clan head as Shinji was they may as well be. The resemblance did nothing to stymy this.
Sakura unlatched and pushed open the window leaning out to feel the breeze across her face. She knew Miya would appear soon to help her get ready for the day but she was feeling a bit useless and decided to get ready by herself. Clothing was always set out for her in any case and thankfully Miya had ceded to her request for training clothes. She didn't bother doing anything elaborate with her hair and instead just yanked a brush through it before opening her door and bumping into someone.
"Oh! Gomenesai Shinji-sama." Sakura said, bowing quickly and awaiting her father's words.
"Hn, your mother is waiting for you in the kitchen. Do not forget your training with Shisui and Itachi today." He said. He stopped and she was about to answer when he continued, "How was it that you were able to tell who I was? Shisui is the same height as I." He said. Sakura swallowed and looked up at him nervously.
"I was able to tell by your chakra signature Shinji-sama. It is similar to Shisui-nii's but not the same." She offered. She awaited his answer impatiently, wanting to go and have her bandages removed as soon as possible. As used to not using her eyes as she was she was still anxious to have her sight back after such a long time.
"You are improving very much, musume." He answered. Nothing more was said and he moved away. Sakura ignored the coldness of his words and hurried herself to her mother. Miya met her halfway and helped her clear the last step. She had missed it once and crashed face-first to the ground.
"Kaa-san, may we leave for the hospital after breakfast? Shisui-nii promised to help me with training after I got my bandages off and Itachi-san will be angry if his training time is shortened." She called out. Sakura was genuinely excited about training with Shisui and Itachi. She wanted to see just how good the kid was at this age.
"Yes yes, calm down musume. We can leave as soon as you've eaten. It's bad to train without eating after all. How is your stomach?" Misori replied from the kitchen. Sakura grinned and sat herself down carefully.
"It's doing okay. It doesn't hurt when I stretch anymore. Could I go and visit the library tomorrow morning? Nii-san has patrols until lunch and Itachi-san never really talks to me much." Sakura said. Misori came from the kitchen and sat down for her own breakfast.
"Why doesn't he talk to you?" Misori asked curiously. Sakura heard the clack of chopsticks as her mother ate.
"I think he's upset that I get to spend more time with Sasuke-kun than he does. Or maybe it's just that he's jealous of my chakra control. Shisui-nii says that Itachi is not used to people his age being better at stuff than him." Sakura said, just a little bit smug. Misori laughed a little bit. Wait until Mikoto heard that.
"Well us women have always been better with chakra control than men. I'm sure Itachi-san will get over it soon. Besides you will be in the same Academy class when school starts up again won't you?" Misori asked. Sakura shook her head.
"Itachi-san is too good for our baby classes. He'll probably be put in the advanced class or something. And then Fugaku-sama will say he should be working more and Shisui-nii will have to make his training even harder." Sakura said. Misori hmmed as she finished up her breakfast. Sakura picked herself up and took her plate to the kitchen, using the wall as guidance.
"Come then Sakura-chan, I'm sure you'll be happy to have your sight back once again." Misori said, taking Sakura along and stopping only at the district gates. Sakura greeted the guards with a smile before hurrying after her mother. She was enjoying the warm sunlight ever so much. They passed some strangers in the streets and her mother's grip remained firm. Perhaps she was paranoid in case of another attack.
They reached the hospital in record time and soon Sakura was sitting in a doctor's office, swinging her legs and waiting not-so-patiently for her doctor to arrive. The door opened and she turned her head to the sound, loud footsteps approaching her. She clenched her fingers, wrapped in her mother's hand.
"Ah, Sakura Uchiha. I guess it's time to see if those eyes of yours are fully healed." The doctor said. He sounded soft-spoken and nice enough so Sakura tensed only ever-so-slightly when his cold fingers brushed her face and he undid the bandages. She kept her eyes clenched tightly closed, not wanting to jinx it.
"You can open your eyes now musume." Misori whispered. Sakura opened her eyes slowly, blinking to adjust to the brightness of the room. It was strange how everything seemed to be set on the 'high focus' option. Despite having her eyes closed for two weeks nothing looked even mildly blurred at all. She turned to her mother and gasped at how pretty she was. She had never seen a female Uchiha since before the massacre in her old timeline so it was a bit of a shock to the system. Despite her age Misori Uchiha was breath-takingly beautiful.
"Kaa-san is so pretty. I wish I was pretty like you." Sakura breathed. She didn't know where the thought came from and Misori smiled at her and brushed her bangs out of her eyes.
"Thank you musume but you are far prettier than I. You may want to turn off you Sharingan though; it does put a strain on your chakra." She said. Sakura blinked. She had Sharingan. And I thought I was over this already. She jumped off the hospital bed and rushed to the doctor's desk to grab a mirror and held it up.
I really am a different person altogether. True to Misori's words her eyes glowed red, two tiny tomoe spinning in each of them. It was like staring at a picture of someone else entirely. Her forehead was regularly sized and her nose straight, with her short black hair curling around her ears. She blinked, hoping that the image would disappear and that plain old Sakura would be in its place.
"Um, Kaa-san, how do I turn them off?" She asked. The doctor laughed slightly and pulled out a stack of forms from his desk and began filling out information. Misori came over to her and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Close your eyes and imagine a light switch in your head. Then just flick the switch and you should be good." Misori explained. Sakura did as she was told and when she opened her eyes again everything looked fairly normal, not in the sharp clarity of before. She smiled up at her mom and Misori smiled back.
"Did it work?"
"Hai, musume. Let us go now, I'm sure Shisui and Itachi are waiting for you."
It was strange, walking through a Konoha that was thriving. Due to it being holiday for all the academy students there were kids running around everywhere. She recognized a tiny Neji and Hinata together with an older Hyuuga woman and nearly started crying. They looked so happy. To think, what would happen to them in the years to come?
"Sakura-chan?! Oh my Kami I thought that you were dead!" Someone cried out. Sakura found herself being squeezed half to death by a girl a few inches taller than her with brown hair. Judging by the dogs lapping at her heels she assumed it was an Inuzuka. The name 'Hana' flashed into her head and she hugged the girl back.
"I nearly was. Luckily my mom can kick ass so I'm not. It's good to see you Hana." Sakura said. Kiba's sister lifted her head and grinned, exposing her sharp teeth. She ruffled Sakura's hair and greeted Misori.
"So is it true that you got your Sharingan? Can I see?" She asked, biting her bottom lip in anticipation. Sakura looked to Misori for permission and she nodded. Sakura closed her eyes and when she opened them again Hana's smile widened. She leaned into Sakura and squinted.
"They are so cool! I wish I had swirly red eyes too." Hana exclaimed. Misori tapped Hana's shoulder.
"Perhaps you could accompany Sakura to training one day and see the eyes in action. I'm afraid that her brother is waiting for her right now though so we should get going." Misori said. Hana's face drooped slightly and Sakura found herself feeling slightly sad.
"She can really come watch Kaa-san?" Sakura asked hopefully. Misori nodded and both girls shared a grin before Sakura and Misori left. The rest of the journey back 'home' was uneventful. She didn't see anyone else that she knew in her future. She wondered if Sakura Haruno even existed in this timeline or if Sakura Uchiha's existence cancelled out SH's.
"Ah, Sakura-san. Your eyes are better now I presume?" An Uchiha her new memories registered as Uruchi said, smiling at her kindly, and Sakura returned the gesture.
"Hai, Uruchi-san. I feel much better now. How is the bakery going?" Sakura questioned in return.
"Very good Sakura-san. You should come and visit me more often. I miss you telling me stories." Uruchi said. Sakura nodded and Uruchi and Misori launched into a conversation. Sakura allowed her eyes to wander until she felt a chakra spike. She turned to see it's source, a brooding six year old leaning up against the side of a building. Itachi caught her eye and motioned for her to follow him.
"Thanks for taking me to the hospital Kaa-san! I need to go train now, bye!" Sakura shouted already following after the boy. Itachi wasn't running, more like slinking away as Sakura had seen Sasuke do more than once in her timeline.
"You're late you know. Shisui refused to start training until you showed up, so you've cost both of us valuable time. Your eyes okay?" He asked. Sakura was slightly surprised. She didn't take Itachi for the kind of person to be concerned about anyone other than Sasuke. It was progress!
"They're fine, great actually. Sorry I kept you guys waiting. Hey you know if you frown you'll just give yourself wrinkles right?" Sakura teased, seeing how Itachi face seemed to scrunch up when she'd said her eyes were great. He grumbled as if he had been told that before. Well he already had the pronounced tear tracks so…
"You sure you'll be able to handle our training regime?" Itachi asked as they rounded the second last corner. Sakura huffed. If she could handle Tsunade she could handle anyone.
"Of course. I'm sure I'll do great. I mean, how hard can it be?" She said confidently.
This was going to be a breeze.
"Fuck." Sakura groaned as she threw herself down onto her futon. Her everywhere ached from training, especially her right shoulder where Itachi had managed to land a particularly damaging hit. After three weeks of Shisui's training regime Sakura was ready to just call it a quits and go into the baking business. She was sure Uruchi wouldn't mind taking her on as an apprentice.
Taijutsu days always got her. This body wasn't conditioned the way her old one was and didn't possess enough natural strength for her to do much damage to Itachi or Shisui. On the other hand they could do plenty to her and thus she always ended up in the worst condition after the training sessions.
Ninjutsu was better. She could almost keep up with Itachi and her chakra control remained superior. It surprised and delighted her to know that her chakra pool was quite large for a girl her age. Itachi still had her beat there but she more than made do in terms of her control. She didn't waste a bit of chakra on anything. Shisui was glad to find out that her second nature was wind, like both he and Itachi.
Considering the fact that in her past timeline she was a natural genjutsu type she was happy to find out that it was the same for her here. Even without her Sharingan active she found it very easy to detect and dispel genjutsu. She already knew the intricacies of casting them but never bothered to try on Shisui or Itachi. They could always tell with her.
So far her plans of improving the future were going pretty well. She had managed to get Sasuke to accompany her to the library and during their little excursion they had met a Naruto running through the village. The boys had been wary of each other, quite obviously but ultimately did what all young kids are want to do and made thirty minute friends. Sakura had promised Sasuke that they would go and see Naruto again when they had the time. So far no such opportunity had arisen, due to Shinji-sama being highly invested in her training.
Sakura hated having to learn such basic techniques all over again. Simple things like throwing shuriken and kunai were a lot harder when your hands were small and she found herself constantly misjudging her reach in taijutsu spars. After three weeks of being beat into the dirt she was just about ready to channel chakra into her punches and break Itachi's nose. At least her ability to focus chakra into her limbs was still available to her, despite the fact that she had to put a conscious effort into doing so.
But she was improving, slowly but surely. Conditioning this body was a lot easier than conditioning her old one. It was naturally built for battle, something she guessed was shinobi clan genetics, so it took to the strength and speed training a lot easier. It was odd, using katon instead of doton, and futon instead of suiton. Luckily SU's memories pulled her through pretty well and despite the lack of muscle memory this body had for hand seals she had gotten her seals up to scratch relatively quickly.
She had used the library trip to her advantage, checking out numerous medical texts. She didn't really need to study them as she had completed the basic medic training years ago but she didn't want anyone to be overly suspicious of her improvement. So she diligently spent her evenings studying medical techniques in her bedroom. Well, when she could move. Her mother was more than happy to buy her supplementary texts from the village.
Sakura wasn't sure when she had begun to call SU's family her own but it had become permanent only recently. Shisui was exactly like the older brother she had never had and always wished for. He made a point to defend her and teach her whatever he could and she always made him swear to come back at the beginning of every mission.
Misori was such a wonderful mother, much like her own. The best part of having her around was that she understood that when her daughter came back from training she would look horrible. She understood that she wasn't dressing to look pretty but to be comfortable. It was a concept her own mother never really grasped. The fact that her child could die at any turn.
Shinji-sama was another story entirely. She hated him thoroughly and cursed the man for what he had put his daughter through for all those years. It was his fault that she had gotten kidnapped. If her had just show a bit more approval of her, some attention. A lot could have been avoided and maybe this girl would still have her life, instead of Sakura.
She had researched multiple theories as to how and why she had ended up in the body she had and why in the world she had gotten sent back in time in the first place. Her most likely conclusion was shaky at best but made the most sense in the long run. When she had died her spirit must have been thrown backwards with some sort of space-time jutsu and latched onto the nearest dead body when she'd gotten there. And the nearest freshly dead body just so happened to be the one of Sakura Uchiha, her eyes just removed.
In her original timeline Sakura Uchiha was long dead by the time the massacre rolled around. Shisui would have mourned her death and blamed himself, that much she could tell. She just wondered exactly who it was that had attempted to steal her eyes that night. If her hunches went anywhere it would be Danzo Shimura. That was someone she had to get rid of as soon as possible. He was responsible for a large chunk of the disaster set to fall upon the village in the future.
"What's with that face imouto? You look like you want to kill someone." Shisui said amusedly. Sakura's eyes snapped up to the form of her brother in the doorway. He looked freshly showered and had an easy grin on his face. She shifted slightly and groaned, spreading herself out further.
"Maybe the person I wanna kill is you aniki." Sakura countered. Shisui laughed as he hauled her up from the bed. She dimly noted that she smelt of stale sweat and dirt. She really needed a shower. Shisui grimaced when he caught a whiff of her.
"Kami you smell awful. Go take a shower, Clan Head's visiting tonight."
The message to look as good as possible and impress Fugaku was received.
Shisui left her to get ready and Sakura found herself scrambling around for scrubs. She showered quickly but thoroughly and emerged pinker than she had entered with her hair lying limp against her neck. She knew she didn't have much time and just pulled her hair up into a towel before changing into the kimono Miya had laid out for her.
"Musume, are you ready yet? Fugaku-sama is nearly here." Misori called, popping her head around the door, and Sakura glanced at her as she finished tying her obi. Her kimono was soft and dark, making her look even more pale than usual.
"Nearly. Kaa-san would you mind pinning up my hair for me?" Sakura asked. Misori smiled and came into the room. She took a handful of plain pins and pulled the towel off Sakura's head before getting to work. Sakura watched wide-eyed as her mother transformed her hair. A small sakura blossom accessory was placed near her ear and Misori hummed in appreciation.
"There you go, oh I think they're here, I should go and greet them, come along Sakura." Misori said with a smile. Sakura got up carefully and smoothed down the fabric of her kimono, following her mother to the main room. She kept her back up straight and her expression blank. Shisui fell into step with her as they made their way down the corridor.
"You ready imouto?" Shisui asked.
"As ready as I'll ever be aniki." Sakura whispered.
They turned into the main room and were greeted by the entire Uchiha main family, along with their own parents. Sasuke hid behind Itachi until he caught a glimpse of Sakura and before she knew it he was hugging her enthusiastically.
"Sakura-hime! I missed you. Your mom is really pretty. Can you take me to the playground tomorrow? Pretty please, my aniki always wants to train and now he's stolen you from me and we never spend any time together anymore." Sasuke managed all in one breath. While Misori and Mikoto looked on fondly at the scene Fugaku looked thoroughly disgusted. Shinji kept a blank face though his disapproval was obvious. Sakura bent down and placed a kiss on Sasuke's forehead.
"Tomorrow I have my first day at the academy for this year but maybe this weekend I can take you with me to the library and we can stop at the playground on the way back. How does that sound?" Sakura asked. Sasuke pouted for a moment before smiling again.
"Okay Nee-chan!" He said. She smoothed his hair and got up, facing her father and Fugaku. She bowed to him politely and folded her hands in front of her.
"Fugaku-sama. It is a pleasure to have you visit us. I do hope you enjoy the evening." Sakura said. Shinji seemed pleased with her greeting and Fugaku turned his attention away from Sasuke and onto her.
"So you are the girl who has been training with Itachi?" Fugaku inquired. Sakura nodded.
"Hai, Fugaku-sama. Your son is very hard-working." She responded.
"You say hard-working instead of talented, why is that?" He asked. A question in every sentence. It was obvious that he was trying to unnerve her.
"I admit that talent is an important factor in the growth of a shinobi but hard work must be acknowledged. One cannot reach their talent's full potential without hard work." She said. He seemed mildly satisfied with her answer and turned to Shisui, questioning him on his training and missions as a Chuunin. Sakura exhaled once she was out of the immediate spotlight and her mother smiled at her.
"Sakura-chan, would you mind taking Itachi-san to get some refreshments. He said that he is thirsty." Misori whispered. Sakura nodded and looked to Itachi who had his usual passive expression. They moved out of the room quietly, deigning not to speak. She wondered why it was she and not Miya who had to escort Itachi. Poor Sasuke was being left alone in the room of adults and she had yet to be introduced to Mikoto.
"My father dislikes you." Itachi admitted. He startled her and Sakura gave him a confused look.
"Your father dislikes me, yeah. Why do you think that?" She asked, confused. Itachi shot her a look as they came to a halt in the dark corridor.
"You're taking away from my training time by being there apparently. He doesn't think you're worth training with." Itachi said. He made no move to indicate whether he felt the same way or not. Sakura scowled.
"Well he can take that thought and shove it-" Sakura started. Itachi's eyes widened and Sakura was unexpectedly pulled into a darkened alcove with a hand over her mouth. She instinctively extinguished her chakra signature and moved Itachi's hand off her mouth. She sensed the muted chakra moving closer to them, accompanied by a steady heartbeat. She focused her chakra into a ball in her chest, concealing her own heartbeat and allowed more of it to do the same for Itachi. The presence retreated into the kitchen and the other chakra signatures remained in the main room.
Itachi tugged at her hand, nodding his head towards the open window. They pulled themselves onto the roof before dropping down into the garden. Sakura dusted herself off and fixed her hair. Itachi looked around the small enclosed area.
"Okay, what was that all about?" Sakura asked.
"That was your servant girl who would have overheard your blatant disrespect and informed my father of it immediately, furthering his dislike of you and potentially getting you severe punishment." Itachi answered. Sakura blinked at him. He looked even paler than usual in the moonlight.
"You were looking out for me." Sakura murmured, The idea was so very foreign to her that Sakura was actually having trouble wrapping her head around it. "Even though I insulted your father." She added. She took a tentative step towards him. "Thanks, Itachi-san."
"Hn." Light illuminated the garden as the dinner party entered the dining room. Sakura and Itachi turned to see Mikoto at the doorway leading out to the garden. Sasuke poked his head out at them from the edge of screen.
"Aniki! Why'd you steal Sakura-hime again?" Sasuke said, sounding hurt.
"Misori is about to serve dinner. You two should come in now." Mikoto said, ruffling her little boy's hair.
Dinner was a relatively quiet affair, Sasuke being the only one who was really talking. Fugaku kept sending Sakura looks and she wished that she could tell him how rude he was being.
"So Sakura-san, I've heard that you have impeccable chakra control. Is that true?" Fugaku asked. Sakura paused, rice-ball halfway to her mouth.
"Well that depends who you ask, Fugaku-sama. I believe that it is always best to see for one's self the abilities of another. Word of mouth is terribly untrustworthy at times." She confessed.
"Aah, but what is your opinion of your own control?" Fugaku asked slyly. He sounded so sure that he had caught her that time. Sakura allowed her bangs to shield her smile for a moment.
"I am an aspiring frontline medic-nin Fugaku-sama. For that I need perfect chakra control. Considering that I am still only six it would be unreasonable for me to have such skills but for my age I have been told that my chakra control is pleasing. In my own mind I have yet far to go, if that answers your question." Sakura volunteered. Shisui snorted quietly next to her and Sakura allowed herself to finish her rice-ball. Itachi looked at her with a raised eyebrow and she was sure that her father was looking at her disapprovingly.
"A frontline medic-nin? Unheard of." Fugaku simpered. She caught the underlying tone of hostility.
"Aah, besides our own village's Tsunade Senju. Surely you have heard of the Legendary Sannin Fugaku-sama? Lady Tsunade is my inspiration, a goal so to speak. One I fully intend to reach." Sakura added. If Uchihas were so inclined to do so she was sure Fugaku would be sputtering at the head of the table. As it was he simply glared at her.
"And would you forsake your clan for such a goal?" He said smoothly. Thrown her under a cart. That was the correct terminology for what Uchiha Fugaku had just done. If Sakura was to be honest her response to said question would have been a resounding yes. It was always village first, unless it was Naruto or Ino.
"Gomenesai Fugaku-sama, but it seems as if you are implying that my loyalties are in question. I can assure you that I am loyal to my clan and to my village only."
"Aah, but that was not the question. I was asking if you would leave your clan to achieve your goals in life."
"No. I would not. As it stands I am sure that there is no need for me to do so, but should the need arise in the future I shall stand with my clan, not abandon it for my own selfish reasons." Sakura said. Shinji seemed satisfied enough with her answer but Fugaku still looked unsure of her. Mikoto and Misori shared a look while Shisui tried not to gape and Itachi attempted to remain passive.
"Tou-san, why would Sakura-hime leave us? She said that she likes me so I don't think-" Sasuke piped up.
"Be quiet Sasuke. Do not involve yourself in this discussion." Mikoto said sharply. Sasuke shrunk back at Mikoto's words.
"Don't worry Mikoto, the discussion is over. Let us finish our meal." Fugaku said. They ate in complete silence. Sasuke didn't dare make another comment and no one else offered up anything.
Once dinner was over Miya came in to clear the plates. It was awkward sitting there without anything to do. Sakura felt like getting up and excusing herself if only to get away from the room's tension.
"Mikoto, Misori-san, please go and help the servant girl in the kitchen. Sasuke, you may accompany them. I would like to have a chat with Shisui, Itachi and Sakura." Fugaku ordered. The three in question shared a look as Mikoto, Misori and Sasuke took leave. When they were gone and their chakra signatures were far from the room Fugaku turned to Shisui.
"I expect you to keep your focus on training Itachi, do I make myself clear? He is to be clan head after me and as such has needs for immediate training. There is no need to waste resources on lost causes. Shinji-san, I expect you to keep your daughter in line. She must know her place." Fugaku declared.
"I apologise Fugaku-sama, perhaps I have been too lenient on her." Shinji said.
"Hn, just make sure such blatant disrespect stops. Itachi, Sakura," Fugaku turned his glare on her and Sakura didn't even flinch. "You are not to interact with each other unless it is at a dinner such as this. You shall no longer train together. Sakura, if you want to continue on with this pitiful dream of yours you must do so of your own volition. I will not squander precious resources any longer." Fugaku said harshly.
Listening to Fugaku made Sakura understand, if only a tiny bit, how Itachi had managed to betray his whole clan. The man was quite obviously insane and not fit to be leading a clan. It was then that Sakura resolved to make sure Itachi lived long enough to succeed his father and perhaps lead the clan into a brighter future. This could not continue.
"Hai, Fugaku-sama." Sakura acquiesced. Nothing more, nothing less. She was not going to give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry or look upset. She didn't go so far as to smile, she didn't have a death wish, but she kept her face calm and free of emotion. They were dismissed and Itachi left without a word. Shinji sent her and Shisui to their rooms.
As she lay in her bed staring at the ceiling she wondered how things would go from here. Fugaku had made no mention of her staying away from Sasuke, only Itachi. She would treat it as a loophole and keep to her promise of taking him out to see Naruto. She would have to find a new teacher then, if she couldn't manage to sneak around with Shisui as her trainer. Solo-training wasn't strange for her. The three years without Naruto left her with a Kakashi who refused to acknowledge her existence and an immense need to prove herself. She would make do with the physical aspects of training but she was rather unfamiliar with katon and futon jutsus. Nothing a trip to the library can't fix.
She fell asleep and dreamt of the past and future all at once.
A/N 3: Things that changed - Hospital scnene one completely redone. Itachi and Sakura aren't at odds with one another at all. Sakura isn't stupid enough to go and walk on water after suffering grievous injuries. A chunk is gone from the middle. Little bit more actual training shown. Itachi is simply curious about Sakura and not hostile.