Story: Kunoichi

Author: MizukiYukiko

Rated: T

Pairing: ItachiXSakura

Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply. I don't own Naruto.

Summary: For the first time in his life, Uchiha Itachi was called an idiot. To his face.

Notes: 50-shinobi theme 21. "BAKA!" (stupid, idiot).

I should explain this one-shot:

- It is going to be the first in a series of one-shots, which I will call kunoichi!verse. I will not be posting to this story when I update with the next installment. There are a few reasons why I am doing this as a series of one shots instead of a multi-chaptered story. 1. There's less pressure to update on a one shot series, and if you guys follow my work, you know that I already have enough trouble keeping up with my chaptered stories. 2. There will be larger time gaps between the stories that wouldn't flow on a multi-chaptered story.

- You will see that the Team 7 dynamic is very different in this story than many others, especially in my own stories. That's all I'll say.

- This will eventually become an ItachiXSakura romance, but for now, their buildup into a relationship will be slow. Sorry if you're hoping for fluff and kissing and naughtiness all in the first installment.

- My theme for this series of one-shots will be TED talks. If you don't watch TED talks, google it and watch them. All of them.


Kunoichi


"The problem with these stories is that they show what the data shows: women systematically underestimate their own abilities…men attribute their success to themselves, and women attribute it to other external factors Why does this matter? Boy, it matters a lot. Because no one gets to the corner office by sitting on the side, not at the table, and no one gets the promotion if they don't think they deserve their success, or they don't even understand their own success."

- Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook


"They got to his eyes."

Warmth enveloped his face and his eyes, seeping into his skin and soothing his aching body. His head was throbbing mercilessly behind his eyes, and as he slowly began to regain some of his faculties, Itachi began feeling adrenaline rush into his body. Memories of an ambush, a fight, falling to his knees, came back to him slowly, making his skin crawl as he registered hands all over him. These could be enemies.

"His femur is broken – almost snapped in half," said another voice. It was soft, feminine, and vaguely familiar, but it didn't matter. Hatred for the unknown began to seep deeply within him. There was a warm chakra enveloping his leg, and he felt a sharp pain before soothing warmth swathed the appendage. He felt the bone mend, and although he knew that someone was healing him, Itachi's body reacted instinctually to the unknown hands all over him.

Lunging up, he sent his weakened fist out in a punch, but it landed in midair.

"Uchiha-san!" a female voice shrieked. "Calm down. We are allies!"

Itachi ignored the warning and reached blindly for the voice. He shot his eyes open, but his vision was blurry and his head pounded ruthlessly the moment he cracked his heavy lids. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and he grabbed the small wrist, wrapping his long fingers in a vice like grip and securing it tightly into his grasp. He heard a gasp from the attacker, and the small wrist jerked, trying to get him to release him.

"Damn it! Uchiha-san, calm down."

He heard a sharp, angry command and then felt a stronger hand on his other shoulder. When he went to confront the new attacker, he felt chakra surge into the palm and force him down. His head collided with stone on the ground and two strong hands were then on his shoulders, infusing chakra into them to pin him to the ground. Strong legs straddled his thighs, one of which was still very sore from where it had been broken not too long ago. His hands came up to grab the forearms, and he clenched the thin arms in a stronger grip than he knew he could muster. The strong grip pinning him to the stone floor did not waiver, however.

"Shizune-senpai, his adrenal gland," said the same strong voice from just above him, seemingly coming from clenched teeth. There was a slight poke into his abdomen and calming chakra soothed his system. Against his will, he began to calm down as the chakra that halted the production of his adrenaline began to grind to a halt. His grip around the deceptively frail wrists loosened as he stopped thrashing and began to settle onto the ground. The tiny hands never let up on his shoulders. "Soothe his eyes."

When he felt feather light fingers over his eyes, Itachi began thrashing against his captors again. "Uchiha-san, stop."

He didn't know what made him actually listen to the command. Perhaps it was the lack of adrenaline or his quietly fatiguing body, but he stopped fighting against the hands that bound him to the ground. Once the touch left his eyelids, the skittered to his temples and with another light injection of soothing chakra, his headache was alleviated.

"Uchiha-san, open your eyes slowly, and make sure to blink." Itachi lifted his heavy lids. Vibrant colors were obscured and blurry in front of a dark, opaque backdrop. He blinked once and then twice, and the colors began to materialize into a person. Two verdant eyes were staring down at him under a clenched, concentrated brow. Bright pink hair fell over strong shoulders that led down to the hands that were pressed tightly against his shoulders. "My name is Haruno Sakura, Uchiha-san. Do you know who I am?"

Itachi nodded his head warily before blinking again – the Hokage's apprentice and his otouto's former teammate. More of her strong, concerned features began to clear and come into focus for the disoriented Uchiha. She spoke again, his eyes following her thinning mouth speaking quickly and clearly.

"Do you understand I'm not a threat?" she asked. Itachi nodded again. "Okay, Uchiha-san. Your eyes were badly damaged in the attack. You have many injuries, and I need you to lay as still as possible. You also cannot use chakra, don't try to stand up, and do not activate your Sharingan. Do you understand?"

Itachi nodded a third time, so Sakura slowly lifted her chakra-filled hands from his shoulders and pulled off of his sore leg. Another face appeared into his vision, and he immediately recognized Shizune, the Hokage's other apprentice. She lifted her glowing hands to his head and eased more of the pain behind his eyes. Looking down, he saw Sakura's hands on his abdomen and then her steady fingers went to his legs.

He said nothing as the two medics worked on him for several minutes. They were on a small rock platform that was completely incased in a thick grove of trees, creating a sort of cave out of the branches. It was almost odd and out of place for the branches to be shaped quite like this, he thought to himself vaguely as the two medics continued to work over him. The humid air from the border hung thick around them.

After several minutes, he heard shifting in the leaves and his body tensed perceptively.

"It's Yamato-san and Hyuuga Norimoto-san, Uchiha-san. They are the members of our squad," Shizune soothed. He looked at Sakura, who turned and smiled and the two shinobi walking into the thick branches. Yamato's arrival explained the odd shape of the tree cavern. Hyuuga Norimoto, a member of the branch Hyuuga family, was a special jounin who was rather soft spoken and kind for the likes of a ninja, but he was a fierce opponent on the battlefield and a well-rounded shinobi.

"Where—"

He tried to speak, but a fit of coughing from his dry, sore throat stopped him. Sakura handed Shizune her canteen, and the medic lifted his head enough to dribble water down his parched throat. The dryness alleviated, and he coughed a bit more. Shizune silently persisted, trying to get him to drink more. It wasn't until he drained a good portion of the canteen that she lifted it away and handed the canteen back to Sakura.

"Where are we?" he asked with a raspy voice. "How'd you find me?"

"We are near the border of Fire Country and Hot Springs Country. You were about twenty kilometers west, closer to the border or Rice Fields Country, when we felt chakras flaring rapidly, indicative of a large fight. We went to investigate when none of us recognized the chakra signatures." Sakura was speaking to him in a calm, clear voice as she finished his healing and leaned back against a thick, sturdy tree while wiping sweat from her brow.

"There were twelve Black-Ops members from three small villages attacking you. We arrived just in time to see you fall to the ground. They were over your body in an instant, and they were ripping of your mask and going at your eyes with a kunai. The enemies were dispatched immediately. We were able to seal two bodies before they could be destroyed by their ANBU seals, so we will examine them when we return to the village," Sakura finished.

Itachi watched inquisitively as she leaned against the tree and wiped her brow, throwing her head back and gulping down her water greedily. He rarely listened to Konoha gossip, but he had heard snippets of information about Tsunade-sama's younger apprentice. She had excellent chakra control, was a celebrated medic, and had tiny fists that could bring down mountains. This was in sharp contrast to Sasuke's complaining about the lone female on Genin Team 7. His otouto had told him that she cried a lot, was weak, and had a monstrous sized crush on him.

However, when Sasuke had left the village for two years when he was 13 to train with Kakashi after their first disastrous chuunin exams (in which the snake Orochimaru attempted to kidnap Sasuke so he could be his vessel) and Naruto was off on his own adventures with Jiraiya-sama, Sakura left Team 7 in favor of training with Tsunade.

She even passed the chuunin exams the next year with another team, and now, judging from the red swirling patch wrapped around her upper arm, she had been promoted to jounin. Ninja who did not wear the standard flak jacket for whatever reason were issued a thick, black ribbon with a red swirling patch sewn onto it to wear, marking their rank. Sasuke, at seventeen, was still a chuunin along with his boisterous blonde friend.

The Hokage had told his father, who was very disgruntled by his son's lack of vertical motion through the shinobi ranks, that Sasuke was strong enough to be a jounin but lacked maturity and the ability to take orders. It slightly amused Itachi that his otouto was considered immature because he was constantly trying to personify a cool, stoic demeanor like his aniki. His blonde teammate seemed to have the same problem, but the two were slated to be tested for jounin within six months.

Who would have guessed that the kunoichi no one thought would make it would surpass her two prodigious teammates?

"Uchiha-san, do you know why they attacked you?" Yamato asked.

Itachi shook his head. "I was returning from a solo mission when I was attacked."

"They were from Fang Country, Swamp Country, and Demon Country," Sakura mentioned. "At least that's what their headbands marked them as. Those are all southern countries. What were they doing at the northern border of Fire Country…especially between here and Sound?"

The hypothetical question hung heavily between the group of five shinobi.

"You four are on a mission?" Itachi asked quietly, breaking the thick silence.

Shizune nodded her head. "There is a severe flu outbreak in Snow Country, and their medical system is young, underdeveloped and overwhelmed. We are trying to strengthen diplomatic relations with the country, so Sakura and I are going to help them. Yamato-san is going to help build better structures with more insulation, and Norimoto-san is going to meet with the Daimyo and his family to help strengthen bonds."

"Ah," Itachi said. Feeling some of his strength returning, Itachi tried to push himself up. Shizune tucked her hand under his shoulder and supported him as she guided him up. He scooted back so he was resting against another large tree trunk.

"We have contacted Konoha. They are sending a team to retrieve the scrolls with the bodies sealed. They will also help you home, as you will not be able to move with full motion or be able to defend yourself if another attack happens," Yamato explained. Itachi inwardly scoffed at the implication that he needed a team of babysitters to help him home, but he nodded his head regardless. He would not disobey orders.

Several hours passed in relative quiet. The Hyuuga jounin passed out field rations so they could stay nourished. Sakura left once to get water from a nearby river, but other than that, there was relative quiet.

It was into the third hour when they all sensed it. Slowly, Norimoto's head peeked up from where he had been lounging. Activating his Byakugan, Itachi watched warily as the man searched the surrounding area. Sakura stood up suddenly and Shizune followed. Yamato put his hands together and the thicket they were hiding in grew slightly denser.

"They have found us. Eight of them, two squads," Norimoto whispered. Sakura nodded and sent a silent signal to Yamato, who nodded approval of her silently communicated plan. Sakura did a few quick hand signs, and Itachi watched as she sunk into the stone platform where they were perched, disappearing from view completely in the matter of a few seconds. Yamato did something similar, except he disappeared into the trees without the foliage budging an inch.

There were long moments of apprehension when there was a loud crack from not too far away. The earth rumbled beneath them as they sat in silence. Norimoto kept his Byakugan activated, and Itachi disliked feeling so utterly helpless at that moment. Without the use of his Sharingan and with his chakra running so low, there was little he could do besides sit there and feel the earth shutter underneath them while a battle raged outside.

A small gasp of surprise sounded from Norimoto just before the trees and leaves began to rescind, falling back and light filtered through them at an alarmingly fast rate. "They've found us," he warned just before another squad of foreign ninja jumped into the cave.

Itachi pulled out a weapon to defend himself the best he could without chakra and in a weakened body. However, Norimoto quickly jumped up from his perch and took on two of the attackers, while Shizune was quick to deflect the other two from her patient. Not one to stand by idly, Itachi followed the two Konoha shinobi out of the small rock and forest cave and watched as they took the battle into a slightly more open area. They were still in a forest, but it was better than being backed into a small cave.

Never had Itachi felt so useless. There had never been a time in his life that he had been forced to sit on the sidelines and watch as others defended his life, but because of his newly mended body and lack of chakra from his previous battle, he knew that he would barely be able to defend himself if someone did attack him.

He would not go down without a fight. No, he was Uchiha Itachi – Konoha's ultimate weapon, ANBU captain since the age of thirteen, clan heir, and accomplished shinobi, feared by every nation just by the whisper of his name. He would not allow some random Black-Ops member from a village he barely knew to come and take his life. He would not go down with so much dishonor.

In the distance, Itachi could see the pink haired kunoichi fighting down the last of her opponents from what seemed to be a squad from Demon Country. Yamato was having a more difficult time with another squad from Swamp Country, though. Their water attacks were bogging down his wood-based jutsu. Itachi's mind whirled at the implications at such a heavy enemy force near Konoha, but he could not think of that at the moment.

Right now, he watched as Shizune was quickly taken down by the two shinobi she had been fighting. The two brutes of men had been able to slip behind her, and as one held her down, the other was going in for a fatal blow. When Itachi went to help the medic-nin, he noticed a flash of pink in his vision. The young pinkette medic had already arrived to aid Shizune, quickly landing a chakra-infused punch to the base of the skull of the man who was about to impale her senpai with a long sword.

The man who had been holding Shizune down went to snap her neck once his remaining comrade had been killed by the other kunoichi, but it was too late for him as well. Sakura jumped hard from the lifeless body of her victim, performing a flip in midair and landing in a handstand on top of the man's shoulders. She twisted around and fell to his shoulders, her legs wrapping around his neck, cutting off his oxygen. Sakura's strong arms came around his head, and Itachi watched as she twisted his neck around at a 180 degree angle. Shizune pulled herself from the limp, lifeless arm of her attacker just as Sakura jumped off his shoulders, using her legs to push the body to the ground. This all happened in a matter of seconds.

A needle slid into Sakura's fingers that she had pulled out of her medic pouch, and she went to jab it into the body of the man who she had just killed, but the upper portion of his arm was already lighting up blue from where his village's ANBU tattoo would be. In a matter of moments, the man's body was engulfed in a light blue flame.

"Damn it!" Sakura cursed loudly, but her attention was quickly drawn elsewhere. Shizune had gone to help a struggling Yamato with three men who were still overwhelming him. Sakura turned to aid Norimoto, but Itachi saw something out of the corner of his eye. Another squad was arriving, but these ninja were from Sound if the outfits were anything to go by, and they were heading straight from Sakura's back.

His Sharingan activated out of instinct, and Itachi was momentarily blinded by a searing pain behind his eyes. Black dots danced across his vision, but after a few blinks, it was clearing considerably. Time slowed for his Sharingan while each individual move that the attacking shinobi was seen in crisp, fine detail. His hands were making the signs and his body was calling forth the chakra that he barely had before he could think of the ramifications of his actions.

To his standards, the fireball the size of a small cabin or home was tiny, but it was large enough and fast enough to catch the attacking Sound shinobi by surprise. A shocked Sakura whipped around to see the fire eating at her unannounced attackers. She flung several kunai from her holster to finish the shinobi off, and their bodies dropped to the forest floor with a series of thumps. This time, she was able to inject one of the enemies with her syringe of purple liquid after she had put out the fire on his lifeless body.

Around the same time, Shizune and Yamato finished off the rest of their enemies. Norimoto had run off into the forest to go after his last retreating opponent.

"You BAKA!"

Itachi blinked. What did she just call him?

Sakura scowled, stomping up to him now that the coast was clear. Yamato took one look at Shizune, pointed at Sakura, and then smiled slyly. He jumped into the forest to help Norimoto, while a rather perturbed looking Shizune was left to deal with her temperamental heart's sister.

"Ne, Sakura-chan…" she warned.

Sakura ignored her in favor of landing in front of Itachi with an impressive scowl on her face. Her eyebrows were knit together over angry emerald eyes. Mouth twisted into an imposing frown, she stopped her approach a hairsbreadth away from him and glared up fiercely into his impassive face.

"What did I tell you?" Sakura bit out hypothetically. Not waiting for an answer, she continued her tirade. "I told you not to stand up, not to use chakra, and not to activate your Sharingan. Do you want to blind yourself permanently? Do you want to cause irreparable damage to your internal organs by burning them with chakra? Because that's what you could have done if your chakra system hasn't stabilized yet!"

Itachi blinked again, rather perplexed. Did she really call him an idiot?

Sakura's thin finger poked Itachi roughly in the chest. "We spent a lot of time and a lot of chakra saving and then healing you, Uchiha-san, and I'm more than happy we did that and I'd do it again. But when I tell you not to do something, it's not a suggestion!"

Itachi blinked again, getting rather perturbed by the implications of her statement. Haruno Sakura called him an idiot, and then she berated him.

"You are welcomed, Haruno-san," he said. Sakura stared at him owlishly for a moment in shock, while Shizune danced behind them, tittering nervously as two forces of wills began to battle it out.

"I'M WELCOME?!" Sakura practically screeched. It was rather unwise, seeing as they had just been attacked by sixteen shinobi from enemy nations all within Konoha borders. Sakura sputtered incoherently for a moment.

"I risked my eyes and my life to save you. You are welcome," Itachi repeated rather slowly. Sakura's mouth hung limp as she gaped at him openly. Blinking a few times, she straightened. Itachi veiled his amusement at her rather odd antics.

She let out along breath and then blinked a few more times, as if she was quietly taking in everything he had said. Then, to his utter bemusement, she turned on her heel and walked away quickly, jumping into the forest with the exclamation of a rather crude expletive. Shizune was in front of him in an instant, insistent medic hands on his chest and stomach.

"She was right, you know," Shizune muttered quietly to herself. "You burned some of your organs forcing that much chakra through it so quickly when your body was already weak."

"She…" Itachi trailed off. The Uchiha was quiet and stoic, if not a little emotionally stunted and socially awkward. However, he was not a cruel or mean person by any means, and he certainly was not an idiot. "She called me an idiot."

Shizune let out a little laugh as her hands went up to Itachi's eyes. His kneejerk reaction was to pull away from anybody going near his Sharingan, but he quelled it. Soothing chakra dissipated the headache, and he let out a small breath in contentment.

"Yes," she replied after a moment in a rather amused voice, "I suppose she did. "

Another long moment of silence passed between the two. To be honest, Itachi was rather perplexed. Why had the kunoichi called him such a name? He may have risked his life to save hers, but that was what comrades did for one and other. It hardly seemed idiotic to him.

"I've never been called an idiot before."

"Maybe not to your face!"

Itachi blinked in confusion at the distinctly feminine voice that yelled from beyond the tree line. Shizune couldn't help it – she laughed heartily. The poor Uchiha heir looked like a healthy mix between offended and downright confused.

"Don't listen to her, Uchiha-san," Shizune comforted lightly. "She has a mouth on her to match Hokage-sama."

There was an exasperated huff from somewhere higher in the trees, a few meters from view. Itachi settled against a rock nearby while Shizune went to calm down the rather irate pinkette. Yamato and Norimoto arrived back, panting from their long chase, but successful in killing the remainder of the enemies who had tried to retreat and scouting the area for any more. They were relatively confident that there were no more in the immediate vicinity.

Another hour passed like this when a familiar chakra signature flared from the south, marking the arrival of his escort team back to the village. Shizune flared her own chakra to respond, and Itachi zeroed in on the small band of familiar chakra signatures that were running towards them rapidly now that their exact location was known.

Sakura had returned to them a few minutes later, blatantly avoiding eye contact with him. She had sealed the third body into a scroll so their return team could hand the bodies over to the Hokage for autopsy. Itachi wasn't exactly sure how they had managed to preserve the body of the foreign Black-Ops, but he felt that the purple liquid he had seen her injecting into it earlier halted the immediate self-destructive power.

However, he noticed the young medic stiffen when the approaching chakra signatures revealed themselves as friends. Her mouth pursed as she approached Shizune. She handed her scrolls of the dead bodies over to her. Shizune looked concerned, but Sakura simply shook her head and then, to Itachi's bemusement and slight surprise, she approached him.

He kept his gaze level and eyes impassive as her smaller frame approached him, and he had the passing thought that for how loud and strong she was, she was awfully tiny. Of course, he knew enough to know that if he chose to voice these thoughts, he would likely have to endure another one of her screeching lectures. He certainly did not want to have to do that.

"I'm going ahead, Uchiha-san, to scout the area and affirm it is still safe." The pink-haired medic shifted uncomfortably under his deadpan stare, and his eyes followed her eyes to the ground in front of him, and then he noticed her biting her lip nervously. "I…thank you for saving me, I guess. Although, I still think you're a bit of a bonehead for doing that."

Itachi nodded lightly, ignoring her jab. "You are welcomed, Haruno-san. And thank you."

Sakura nodded again before she reached into her medic pouch and pulled out a small, professional looking white card. "This is my card, Uchiha-san. I have an office in the Konoha Laboratory for when I do research. Your Sharingan is irritating your eyes' chakra pathways and your occipital nerve. Please come see me when I return. I will be able to regenerate some of the nerve and reduce some of the pain. Please do come – I'm sure I can help."

Not sure how to take this recent development, Itachi could only take the card in his hands. It simply had Sakura's name and address with a room number on it. How she could go from a hard working medic, to a destructive force on the battlefield, to an irate kunoichi calling him an idiot, and then rounding off to slightly odd but kind girl was a complete mystery to him.

Sakura jumped off into the trees just as his return team arrived. Itachi turned to look at them.

"Otouto, Naruto-kun, Hatake-san," he greeted. Kakashi gave him a light wave and went to talk with Yamato and Shizune. Itachi watched for a moment as Shizune handed over the scrolls that had the dead bodies of the enemy inside and gave Kakashi instructions. Sasuke and Naruto walked over to him, though.

"You are alright, aniki?" Sasuke asked gruffly. Only after years of being around Sasuke told Itachi that he had actually been worried about him. Sasuke scowled when Itachi poked him in the forehead and nodded slightly.

As their team prepared to go back to Konoha while Yamato's squad planned to continue on their way for their own mission, Itachi wondered the entire time why Sakura would lie about scouting. Judging by the rather knowing look Kakashi was shooting a nearby tree, he also knew that Sakura was simply observing the short meeting from above.


Author's Notes:

Thank you guys for your support and reviews. Please review this story as well. They keep me writing.

On a side note, Hyuuga Norimoto is a concoction of my own imagination. I like to throw in some own OC's because it seems silly to assume the Rookie 9 and Team Gai would work all assignments together.

Questions I'd like to to answer:

- What do you think the situation of Team 7 is? Thoughts, ideas?

- I didn't make Itachi too OOC, ne? I'd like to put him somewhere between arrogant Uchiha and emotionally stunted, socially inept Itachi. Did I do this successfully?

- What do you believe is going on with the small village enemies to the north?