Hey guys, I understand that this is the same story I had posted years ago. I know a lot of you liked it and I had to take it down for personal reasons, but those reasons no longer exist so I am posting it again! So hope you all are excited to reread (or read for the first time!)
Please note that I have not made any changes from the previous version. IT IS THE SAME STORY AS PREVIOUSLY POSTED!
Blood, Coffee, and Music
"Two divers made a frightening discovery today when they came across what appears to be an underwater graveyard early this morning while fixing an underwater valve off the coast of Yokohama. Authorities have recovered over twenty bodies, all securely wrapped in large garbage bags, but a specific count is still yet to be released…"
Sakura didn't hear the rest of the television announcer as she stood frozen to her spot. Her heart felt like it had stilled in her chest as her grip loosened on her coffee cup. She almost dropped it, but caught it at the last second before she set it on the counter without turning her attention away from the television. She listened carefully as the screen showed police officials continue to pull black bags from the ocean depths and onto the pavement. It was only when her phone went off was she able to tear her eyes away from the shocking sight.
Quickly Sakura flipped her phone open and stared at the caller ID. It was her best friend from high school, Ino. She answered it as she turned off the television and grabbed her car keys. "Hello?"
"Sakura, you need to come in now. Did you see the news? The Superintendent General is calling a meeting with all personnel in the district about the bodies found earlier," Ino said quickly. "He thinks there's a new serial killer."
"Of course there's a new serial killer," Sakura said. She hurriedly locked the door to her rather small apartment before she trotted down a flight of stairs to the main lobby. As she passed the front desk, she gave a small wave before she stepped through the front doors and looked for her car. A small shiver raced up her spine when she walked into the cold morning air. She did her best to ignore the cold as she held her phone up with her shoulder while she fumbled for her the key to open her car. "What's the final body count?"
"Twenty-eight," Ino said as Sakura finally managed to get her car key into the hole.
The pink-haired woman almost dropped her phone in shock. "Twenty-eight? We have more than just a 'serial killer' on our hands," Sakura said as she got into her car and started the engine.
"Yeah, well get here quickly. The Superintendent General is going to start his meeting soon. Use those old field officer driving moves I know you have," Ino said half-playfully before she hung up.
Sakura sighed quietly before she turned up her heater and sped through the early morning Tokyo traffic towards the Tokyo Metro Police Department. Easily she dodged through the busy traffic to get to work, hoping no one would notice her absence; she was already half an hour late.
As she weaved in and out of the lanes in a constant speed that excelled the actual speed limit she couldn't help but reminisce the times long ago when she used to do this every day. She would always drive with her team to a crime scene – she was the best driver out of the four of them – with Hatake Kakashi in the passenger seat and Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke in the back fighting. Sakura used to always blast the stereo to drown them out, which usually ended in a scolding by the Superintendent General for disturbing the crime scene/drivers around them, but he always gave her a small, knowing smirk afterwards. Though that all changed after Sasuke got his promotion to Chief Superintendent. After that, the rest of the team had decided to spilt up and move onto something else.
Kakashi was still the head of his own team and Naruto had moved onto blood splatter analysis, though he sometimes went on missions with their old leader. Sakura, herself, had gone into forensics, the job she had initially gone to college for. It was actually in college when Sakura had first met Sasuke. Back then he had been learning to be a weapons' specialist. Now he was the Chief Superintendent – the lucky bastard – and a weapons' specialist. They both worked in the lab, which usually led to them seeing each other most days of the week. Sometimes they even fought over what music they listened to as they worked. Though, Sasuke always pulled rank – which was low in her opinion – and got his way, but she made up for it by threatening him with the fact that if she ever went back into the field and got injured, she would live with him and use his really nice, really brand new Mazda for her own entertainment. Of course Sasuke didn't seem bothered by it and would just snort and argue that it would never happen so he didn't have to worry about it.
With a soft sigh, Sakura turned down her music and flashed her badge to the gate guard before she pulled into the TMPD parking lot. As quickly as possible, she collected her phone and pile of files – most of them were Ino's – before she sprinted into the building and pressed the up button on the elevator with her elbow as she balanced all her papers. When the doors opened, she carefully did the same for the button to the eighteenth floor before she stepped aside to allow the other occupants to press their own floor.
Impatiently she tapped her foot against the floor as the lift opened and closed to allow people to get in and out. It was a fairly fast trip, but because of Sakura's tardiness she became impatient as she prayed she didn't get in trouble for her lateness. Sasuke had already complained about it a few times.
When the doors to the floor finally opened, Sakura's jaw fell when she saw just how many people were rushing around the floor. The eighteenth floor was usually busy, seeing as it was where the Superintendent General's office was located, but this was just madness. There was no way she was going to make it through here without spilling all her papers all over the floor or tripping and making an ass of herself. She had enough trouble walking with a pile of papers in her hands normally. How was she going to do it with this many obstacles?
Taking a deep breath, Sakura stepped into the rushing madness of bodies and pushed her way through the walkways towards Ino's desk. She saw the blonde sitting behind her computer typing away and just as Sakura was about to reach her, someone stepped out in front of her and threw her off balance. The pink-haired woman stumbled forward and accidentally dumped all of her files over her best friend's desk in her attempt to catch herself from falling.
"What the fuck?" Ino screeched, catching the attention of more than half a dozen investigators. Her head snapped around to cuss at the person who dared dump all their papers all over her desk, but quickly relaxed when she saw who it was. "Sakura, what the hell?"
Sakura smiled sheepishly but made no move to clean up Ino's desk and instead took a seat on the edge. "Sorry. The madhouse tripped me."
Ino glared at her and lazily threw the files into a messy stack before she continued with her earlier work. "You broke your record."
Sakura's expression became confused at her friend's words, but she didn't look away from her computer as a picture of a 3-D brain came onto the screen. The purple and yellow colors didn't mean anything to her, but Ino seemed extremely interested in whatever it meant.
"You made it to work forty-five minutes after you were supposed to be here," Ino said casually.
"Yes, where were you, Haruno?" someone asked.
Both females looked up at the sound of the newcomer and stared at Sasuke with a slightly surprised expression. He returned their gazes with that same impassive one Sakura first saw years ago when she met the Uchiha her freshman year in college. Unfortunately for him, the cold, hard look he'd used no longer fazed her.
In fact, nothing about Sasuke had really changed during the spans of their six-year friendship. He was still tall – about a half a foot taller than her – and his same broody aura still surrounded him. Through his black suit, Sakura could see the muscle and well-build body girls used to drool over in college. His dark eyes still looked cold and distant, and his hair was still in the same spiky style from all those years ago. She half wondered if his high school pictures had the same look.
"I had some things to attend to, Chief Superintendent," Sakura replied casually. The tone she used made his title sound condescending.
"Care to elaborate?" he asked, a hint of annoyance breaking through his usual calm tone.
Sakura stared at Sasuke for a long time, trying to understand how she got under his skin so quickly. One glance and she immediately saw the slight bags under his eyes, blemishing his usually flawless face. Even if she hadn't been in med school for two years, she could tell he hadn't slept through the night, probably due to the discovery early this morning. She guessed he was running on a constant flow of coffee and caffeine to keep him awake, and from the cup she just noticed in his hand she knew she was right.
"I woke up late, sorry," Sakura finally said.
Sasuke's glare was half-hearted. "Make sure it doesn't happen again."
Sakura opened her mouth to respond, but stopped when Ino shushed her quiet. The pink-haired woman turned to retort, but she noticed the noise level in the room had dropped drastically. Slowly she turned her eyes to where her best friend was staring and realized what the big hush was about. Immediately Sakura stared at the Superintendent General with her undivided attention.
At the front of the room, Sasuke's older brother and the head of the police department stood with his head high and his shoulders back. Uchiha Itachi was the youngest Superintendent General in the history of all of Japan's police force. Sakura had learned over the years he was generally a good person to work for. He was extremely polite and excelled at what he did, but his only downfall was he was distant and unsociable. The first time she held a real conversation with him, his distant demeanor and emotionless expression had been such a shock to her that she thought she had done something wrong. Luckily for her, Sasuke had explained to her that was just how his older brother was and Itachi only really got upset or annoyed when his officers showed stupidity or insubordination; it was times like those when his frosty attitude reared its ugly head.
Sakura had only witnessed his darker side once and thankfully it hadn't been direct at her. She could still remember the look on the policewoman's face as she walked out of Itachi's office with tears in her eyes and her head down as if afraid if she looked at anyone. Sasuke had told her later that she had quit the very same day and no one had seen her since, which wasn't technically a bad thing. According to the other officers, she wasn't very adept at doing her job.
Though despite his young age, Itachi was extremely bright and had solved more than a dozen cold cases that were written off as inconclusive. It hadn't taken him long to earn the respect of his subordinates and Sakura was no exception.
His second-in-command, Uchiha Shisui, on the other hand was a whole other story.
The first time Sakura met Shisui it had been during her first week working at the TMPD. The first words out of Shisui's mouth had been something about how nice her ass was, which had only ended in a bloody nose and a loud string of curses on his part. Ever since then, Shisui had made sure to stay a good few feet away from her and keep their relationship strictly professional, or at least he attempted to keep their relationship strictly professional.
Sakura grinned to herself at the memory.
The best part was when she had accidentally eavesdropped on one of his conversations and overheard him say she had a deceptively strong swing. The whole ordeal had taught Sakura's colleagues not to mess with her inappropriately and sometimes Kakashi would even ask her to accompany him in the field, reminding her he could make use of her deadly left hook, though she always denied him.
"As you may have all heard," Itachi said, drawing Sakura out of her reminiscing, "twenty-eight bodies were discovered early this morning on the coast of Yokohama. Many officers are still at the crime scene collecting evidence and the remaining bodies, but the majority of the victims are already in the morgue with Chief Medical Officer Hyuuga."
Itachi's gaze roamed around the fifty-some officers as Shisui spoke: "Hyuuga has determined that all the bodies were murdered in the same way: stabbed and bled dry."
A few murmurs broke out and Shisui paused as he waited for everyone to fall silent again. It took a few seconds, but when the whispering finally died out Shisui didn't speak. He sent a glance at his younger cousin, but the Superintendent General didn't return it. Instead, he focused his gaze on all the officers around the room.
"As many of you may have already guessed, I will clarify it for you," he said calmly. "We have a new serial killer."
Those words sent a cold chill up Sakura's spine as he confirmed what she had been thinking earlier. Sure, she and Ino had talked about it and Sakura had already known it was a serial killer, but to hear the words come directly from her boss's lips made it real.
"Which is why I have chosen a select few to help in this investigation," Itachi continued, stopping all conversation before it could even start.
Out of the corner of her eye, Sakura saw Ino sit up straighter in her seat as Itachi glanced around the room. There was a sudden shift in the atmosphere and as Sakura looked around, she caught sight of everyone in the room sitting or standing up a little bit straighter. The sudden sense of importance that fell over the room made everyone react in a way that Sakura found amusing; like their posture would decide if they made the team or not.
"Nara," Shisui spoke, "you have one of the most ingenious minds to ever be in the Tokyo Metro Police Department. We're going to need you to fill in the gaps of the mystery."
A loud, audible groan was heard from the back and Sakura couldn't help but smile in amusement at his annoyance. Out of everyone, he was the one police officer that didn't want to get on the case. Unfortunately for him, once officers were chosen for hard cases they were stuck unless something more important came up and that was highly unlikely to happen this time.
Sakura hardly listened as Shisui named off more names. She vaguely watched as all called officers bowed in acceptance before sitting down once more. It was only when Ino stood did she tune in again.
"Yamanaka, you're going to be responsible for talking to the media. You'll be coordinating with me, Sasuke, and Itachi about what to say and what to keep to ourselves," Shisui said seriously.
Ino immediately jumped to her feet and bowed. When she sat back down, her eyes were absolutely sparkling with excitement. Sakura stared at her with an amused look but Ino was too excited to even notice Sakura's teasing. By the time she did, Sakura distantly heard the Uchihas dismiss everyone. Ino opened her mouth to ask what was wrong, but someone approached them before she could.
Slowly Sakura pulled her eyes away from her best friend to find the Superintendent General standing in front of her. Immediately she jumped to her feet and bowed respectfully. "Sir," she greeted.
Itachi nodded in reply before he motioned for her to follow him. Obediently Sakura tailed after him and threw a backwards glance at Ino. Her blonde friend shrugged in response, not understanding why Itachi would need to talk to her alone, before Sakura returned her gaze in front of her. He stopped a few feet from his office before he turned to her.
As usual, his expression was carefully impassive, but his eyes were watching her with an intense look he always held when speaking to someone one-on-one. It was at that moment Sakura realized – not for the first time – how attractive he really was. His stoic face was unnaturally handsome with high cheekbones, a sharp nose, and thin, soft-looking lips. His long raven hair was tied neatly at the nape of his neck, falling loosely over his shoulder in smooth, straight strands. His black suit did nothing but compliment his well-toned body and even with the material in the way, she could see the muscles in his arms and torso.
Then there were his eyes. Those beautiful eyes gifted to all the Uchiha working in the building. It didn't matter what mood they were in, those to-die-for obsidian eyes never failed to capture her attention and make her lose her train of thought. The way Sasuke's shined when he was angry, and how clear they were when Shisui was in a good mood, and – Sakura's personal favorite – the depth of Itachi's when he calculated and observed every move everyone made; the same look he was using on her now. It made her warm at the intensity of it.
And then for some reason, Itachi suddenly seemed very intimidating. Sakura's mouth went dry and slowly she dragged her eyes back up to Itachi's face, mentally chastising herself for openly ogling her superior. The look in his eyes made Sakura realize he knew what she was doing and a small blush tinted her cheeks in embarrassment. Oops.
"Yes, sir?" Sakura asked as calmly as she could.
Itachi stared at her for a long moment. "You are going to be working on this case."
Sakura's brows shot straight up in surprise, but he didn't pause to give her the chance to recover. "You have skill in more than one area and I need an agent that can do multiple competences. I have taken the liberty of reassigning some of your incomplete cases so you can arrange your schedule accordingly."
"Arrange my schedule, sir?" Sakura asked confused.
Itachi nodded once. "I'm going to need you ready at a moment's notice to analyze any evidence we find necessary."
Sakura's expression became thoughtful, though her body was almost trembling in excitement. "Do you have anything for me right now?"
He nodded in reply. "Everything is all ready in the lab. Sasuke will be continuously checking on you to be sure everything is in order."
Sakura opened her mouth to reply but was cut off short by someone calling her angrily. She snapped her head around and found Sasuke was standing near the elevator with an annoyed expression. His arms were crossed and he was tapping his foot impatiently against the white tiled floor in a gesture of aggravation.
"Uh," Sakura started. "I should go before his head explodes."
Itachi's lips lifted in a small smirk before he nodded in agreement. "That would probably be a good idea."
He nodded her dismissal before he turned to enter his office. She waited for him to walk through the door before she took a deep breath and mentally prepared herself for the hellish day she was about to be thrown into.
By the time Sakura had finally finished getting all the DNA samples from all twenty-eight victims she was tired as hell. Sasuke hadn't been much help, seeing as all he did for most of the day was breathe down her neck to be sure she did her job correctly, which only helped in raising her stress levels which were already off the charts at being the head forensic scientist on the case. Not to mention the fact that they only had DNA matches for five victims and she knew the Superintendent General was expecting more than just that. She was not looking forward to reporting her finds tomorrow morning. She hoped with all her might there would be more matches when she checked in the morning.
A small frown etched itself onto Sakura's lips when she turned off her desk light and realized she had to return to her small, empty apartment. The thought of going home to no one had never really bothered Sakura before but since Ino had moved in with Shikamaru a couple of weeks ago the loneliness was really starting to affect her. She was used to her blonde friend being there when she returned home late from work with some cheap, microwavable dinner and a dumb movie she had picked up from the store. Now there was nothing but a cold living room and some cheap cable TV.
With a soft sigh, Sakura picked up her bag and headed towards the elevator. She reached out to press the up button, but before her fingers could even touch the glowing green arrow, the doors open and the department's new officer, Aburame Shino, walked out. His face was blank, but the small cease in his brow gave away his nervousness. "I need you to analyze these," he said, holding up two bags with a gun and an old-fashion camera.
Even from the distance, Sakura could see the blood spatter on them and carefully she took them. "I'll do it tomorrow when-."
"I need the results by tomorrow morning," Shino interrupted.
Sakura stared at him for a long moment. She opened her mouth to yell at him about not giving her evidence so late, but decided against it; he was a rookie after all. Instead she sighed loudly and gave him a hard look. "I believe I've told you before not to give me evidence at the last minute, Aburame."
Shino nodded slightly. "I got sidetracked."
Sakura shook her head. "That's not an excuse. I'll do it this time, but if you do this again you're going to have to find someone else. Am I understood?"
The rookie nodded slightly. "Yes."
Then he stepped back into the elevator and the doors closed shut. Sakura stared at her blurred reflection in the metal doors for a long moment before she finally turned and reentered her shared lab. Carelessly she dumped her bag on the ground and placed the evidence on the counter before she glanced at the clock helplessly. It was about seven, which means she wouldn't be leaving tonight. Hell, she probably wasn't going to be able to leave until late tomorrow morning at the very earliest.
Quietly she let out a small huff of frustration and glared at the evidence before her intense expression faded. "Coffee and my iPod and I'll be fine," she murmured as she headed into the backroom.
A soft click echoed through the floor as Itachi shut and locked his office door for the night. One glance around the room told him everyone had left for the night to get some much needed rest for the coming morning. It was already well past ten and he knew only a skeleton crew was on the lower floors in case of an emergency.
Silently the Uchiha made for the elevator, deciding to check on the DNA identification. Last he heard from Sasuke, they had positively identified three victims and he wanted to know how many more names they had come up with. The more backgrounds they had, the easier it would be to find a pattern in the killings.
The moment the doors opened for the lab, Itachi's head snapped up at the loud music. He stood frozen in surprise for a long moment, trying to understand where that horrid sound was coming from. Only when the elevator doors began the close again was he able to move again. Quickly he shot his arm out to stop the doors before he stepped out and walked into the lab.
Immediately he spotted Haruno Sakura leaning over her examining desk as she pulled some blood samples off an archaic camera. Her hair was pulled up in a messy bun and she was wearing a pair of glasses Itachi had no idea she needed. His eyes watched the way her lips moved with the lyrics of the song she was listening to from the iPod plugged into her personal computer. A full pot of coffee was next to it with a coffee mug; both were still steaming.
Silently Itachi walked to her iPod and hit the pause button, catching the last few notes Sakura's sang before her voice cut off. Her reaction was immediate. She jumped in surprise and spun around with wide eyes. Her lips parted as she let out a heavy breath and the tense set to her shoulders relaxed when she realized who it was. "Sir," she bowed slightly, her eyes still big in bewilderment. "I didn't realize you were still here. Forgive me for not noticing you earlier."
Itachi waved her off. "Why are you still here, Haruno?"
She looked away briefly before her attention turned back to him with an expression that told him it should be obvious. "Uh, blood testing," she replied lamely, holding up the camera. "Aburame asked me to analyze these."
He raised an eye brow. "This late at night?"
She shook her head, successfully freeing a few strands of hair from her bun. "He came to me a few hours ago; right before I left." She paused. "The bastard."
The last part had been barely audible, but Itachi caught it. He stared at Sakura for a long moment before he glanced at her computer screens. "I came to check on the victims."
Understanding dawned on Sakura's face and she nodded. Fluently she set the camera in her hands down before she pulled her gloves off and threw them away. She walked to a computer on the back wall before she punched in a few keys and brought up a list with a few names accompanied by some pictures. Her eyes shifted back and forth as she enlarged the photos and names, her attention completely fixed on what she was doing.
Itachi hadn't noticed until a few months ago just how beautiful Sakura was. He had seen some quite attractive people in his life, but only a few were as original-looking as her. She wasn't like the Barbie dolls who all looked the same. Her heart-shaped face was always bright and cheerful with pale, porcelain skin and pink, full lips. Her green eyes were always changing with her mood, ranging from a hard jade when she was mad or stressed to a deep emerald when she was happy or excited. Though, his favorite feature had to be her pink hair. It was always so nice and well-kept; the style always changed with how active she was. Itachi had learned the first week she started working with them that if she was feeling motivated it would be curls and if she didn't even want to roll out of bed it would fall to the middle of her back, in waving locks.
He also loved her strength. Before Sakura had joined the TMPD it was rather boring. He was constantly dealing with Sasuke and his best friend, Uzumaki Naruto's incessant fighting, but since she stepped into the picture she had made sure to separate them before a war could break out. Though the first time he had ever seen her real strength had been when she came to work wearing a simple pair of jeans and a tank top. Shisui had made a comment on her ass, which was overstepping the line, but Sakura had stood her ground and acted on instinct, punching him hard in the face with a strong, left hook. Immediately afterwards Shisui had turned to Itachi, but he turned his back and acted as if he hadn't seen anything. It was time someone put Shisui in his place. Not only that, but it was great blackmail, ignoring the fact that it's illegal.
"Here, we are," Sakura said, pulling Itachi back to the present. "We haven't been able to identify very many victims."
"How many?" he asked.
"Uh, six," Sakura said hesitantly. "I'm guessing most haven't been put in the data base and I'm going to have to match their DNA by hand to find out who exactly they are."
Itachi nodded. "Very well. I'll have Sato Karin come in and help you tomorrow."
The Uchiha felt the shift in Sakura's mood instantly. Her content aura changed completely to one of unease and she shifted from her left foot to her right restlessly. Itachi slid his gaze over to her face to find it was completely blank, even her usually expressive eyes were an impassive forest green. Only her aura alerted him to her discomfort.
"Is there a problem?" Itachi asked calmly.
She glanced at him and smiled unconvincingly. "No, sir."
He nodded, knowing she was professional enough for her dislike of Karin to not get in the way of the job. He respected her for that and knew a 'friendly' banter would probably be the end result, but nothing they couldn't handle. It wasn't a secret to even someone as unobservant as Naruto to know that the two females hated one another, though as to why Itachi still had no idea.
"Very well," he said. "We have a meeting at eight tomorrow morning in conference room one. Make sure you're there."
"Good night, Haruno," he said before he pressed the play button for her iPod once more.