Sakura nearly jerks with the weight of the hand on her shoulder, but she's too tired, and Obito knows that. "You should go home, these files will still be here when you wake up. You're doing no good going over them again like this."
Sakura swallows a yawn and turns around in her chair to face the older officer. Obito was pleasant enough, he was always kind, especially to her, but it was odd to see him in her division at such an hour. Sure, they worked on the same force and yeah, she had been Sasuke's friend since before they could both walk, but Obito rarely sought her out like this.
"Do I really look that bad?" she asks in a tired whisper.
Obito winces. "Some of the others are too scared to say anything about it, though. You know we all think you're beautiful, but you're starting to look like death warmed over. When was the last time you slept?" Ask he asks his question, his eyes drift over to the waste bin under her desk where half a dozen styrofoam coffee cups lay crumpled. There was an additional one half full next to her computer.
"Quit judging me with your eyes."
"You're not going to find any new leads at the bottom of your coffee. You need sleep."
"I took a nap in the lounge this morning."
"What time was 'morning?'" Obito asks with air quotes around the word 'morning.'
Sakura mentally winces. "About two."
"Blood and hell," he sighs, shaking his head at her. "We already know you're an amazing cop. You don't have to kill yourself to prove it by solving impossible cases."
"They're not impossible, and that sort of attitude is exactly the reason why I'm down here in the first place," Sakura almost snaps, sitting up and glaring at her superior. She's tired, but there is fire back in her eyes.
Obito chuckles. "Not when it comes to you, there aren't. But seriously, we have a whole team assigned to nap Kabuto, and he's one of the guys we really want to pin down. We'll get him. It's just a matter of time."
"But time is costly," Sakura sighs, eyes drifting back to the computer screen where all the photos hide under layers of web pages. All she has to do is click and they're brought back to the forefront in grisly detail. Kabuto doesn't rest. And while each mess he leaves behind brings them closer to him, each mess costs another human life. Too many girls have had to pay the price of time.
"Then don't waste it with half fueled efforts. Go home, get to bed early, eat a good meal, and come back ready to work. I'll let Sasuke know you took off."
Sakura scowls at the implication, but she can't deny that her partner is a royal pain in the ass when he worries. He could have done so many other things with his life, but he insisted on sticking close to her because for as long as they've known each other, she's been as close as family to him, maybe closer, and he's told her before that loosing her is not an option. He's made himself a reckoning in the past when she's been sent out on her own or when she's forgotten to text him she's safe after a day out with someone else. People knew to be weary of overprotective Sasuke.
"I'll text him. You talk to him and he'll just freak out," Sakura says, pulling out her phone and opening the messenger app.
While family, Obito and Sasuke weren't the picture of perfect harmony. In fact, aside from his idol older brother and mother, Sasuke got along poorly with the whole of the Uchiha clan. It was a sad fate considering the Uchiha nearly owned the police force in Konaha. It was no small secret that getting the favor of the Uchiha clan was necessary for even being considered for admission to the police force. Still, Obito was one of the older Uchiha and traveled in a different circle. He didn't interact with Sasuke or Sakura much, and that was fine.
She sends Sasuke a quick text and then moves to put her phone away when Obito grunts. Her cheeks redden as she stares up at him in question. "What?" She asks sharply.
He eyes her phone and the unspoken request is there. She's not pouting, she's not pouting, she is not a child and she it not pouting. With a huff she opens the messenger app back up and shows the screen to Obito until he hums in approval. "Better," he says. "You're good to go home. Come back when you're rested."
"Yes, sir," Sakura cheekily snaps, rolling her eyes as she pockets the phone.
When she stands she can feel her bones groan. She stretches her arms out in front of her, twisting them so her back cracks. Obito winces at the sound, but nods his goodbye to her before leaving for his own devision. He's been too good of an Uchiha for too many years to not become someone worth noting in the force.
Sakura takes what is left of her coffee to the sink in the break room and dumps it down the sink, taking one last sip to help her power through the train ride home. Sasuke left with Itachi, but he might need the cruiser they share, so she leaves it behind. A walk might help her untangle the mess her mind has fallen into.
There is a muffled sound over her shoulder and Sakura looks to the opening to see Kagami in the doorway, bowing his head and turning back around with a coffee mug, muttering something about 'forgetting his work' or something like that. It was hard to believe Kagami's younger brother was Itachi's infamous partner, Shisui. The brother seemed so dissimilar in the most un-Uchiha of ways. Kagmi was too soft spoken around women for an Uchiha, and Kagami was too loud and energetic for one. But they both do their jobs extraordinarily well and leave no room for complaint on their character or continuance.
She leaves soon after that and takes the afternoon train home, catching it just before the line gets too crowded with men and women commuting home after a long day. When she gets off, the streets are just starting to get busy, but by the time she walks back to her apartment, there is a stretch of silence for her brain to work in. She can remember and see things more clearly in her memory the more she moves. She should have just done this earlier. How long had she stayed at that desk?
The key fits easily and Sakura walks into her apartment with a better sorted mind only to freeze on the threshold and hold that position. With a baited breath, she moved her hand to her holster and eased the door shut behind her. She levels the gun out in front of her face and moves through the hallway, eyes wide and alert. She lives alone, and leaves her apartment sometimes for days at a time, so there really shouldn't be the smell of Chinese takeout coming from the kitchen.
Rounding the corner Sakura sees the bag and the note and sweeps the rest of the room. She doesn't stop to read or inspect the note, but moves on to the bedroom and bathroom. Her apartment is too small and too open for her to have anywhere else to hide. A quick sweep tells her she's clear, and she eases up a bit before looking into the closets. Those are empty too. Her intruder broke in, left her warm take out, and made off all before she could come home. Sakura goes back to the kitchen and feels the cartons. They're all warm. She must have just missed him.
Sakura reaches for the note with her fingernails, leaving her gun out on the counter in case she needs it quick. As expected, the script is familiar.
'Heard you weren't eating. I love you. Stay healthy, Madara.'
Sakura drops the note into the garbage and puts away her gun. He won't be back, but she's tempted to at least throw away his food as a way to spite him. But when she checks, her fridge is nearly bare and her stomach has been empty for too long, so she deadbolts the doors and checks all the locks on the windows before changing out of her uniform and into her sleeping shirt.
Dinner is from her favorite Chinese place, the one she can almost never afford, and there's enough of it that she's able to eat half and save the rest for the next time she comes home hungry. She's halfway through when Sasuke texts, asking her if she made it and if she's free to talk now. He must have just gotten back from wherever he was with Itachi.
"Hey," she says once the dial tone clicks and she hears him pick up. "How was your day."
"You went home early, you okay?"
Sakura hums, moving her food around with her chopsticks. Her voice is overly sweet when she responds, just the way he hates it. He complains that she sounds like his mother when she talks to him like that. "Sasuke kun, I'm worried about your eyes. They're not deteriorating, are they? I'm pretty sure I texted you earlier saying exactly that."
"You said not to worry so of course I worried. I left before you yesterday too. Did you really not go home?"
Sakura catches a piece of chicken in the rice and chews on the end of it before biting it in half. Her words are a bit crowded in her mouth when she speaks. "Yeah, like you've never slept overnight in the lounge. Itachi even has a sofa in his room for exactly that reason. I haven't done that in a while."
"Are you eating?"
"I'm taking care of myself."
"No, I mean is that actual food, like chewing food?"
Sakura huffs. "Really? You're asking me that. I do own things other than protein shakes. Every now and than I can get take out."
"But you never do." There's a moment of silence before he asks. "Who got it for you? Was it Shisui? Did that asshole try and take advantage of you when you were weak by offering food?"
Sakura rolls her eyes, but then winces when she remembers how much worse the situation is. Yeah, and Uchiha did bring her food, but it wasn't Sasuke's idiot cousin, it was Sasuke's crazy criminal uncle who left the police force at the height of his career to foster an international crime ring that rivaled anything they'd ever seen. Sakura remembered Madara before that all came to light, when she would stay over at Sasuke's and get candy from the teenager with success stamped clear across his forehead.
"Sasuke, please respect my privacy, otherwise I'll redirect this call to the escort service I have on speed dial and they'll give you a boner at work…in front of your brother."
Sasuke hisses into the receiver and Sakura can just picture how frantic he must look as he glances around to make sure no one overheard her threat. Just the idea is enough to already agitate him, and Sakura truly has no great wish to push his buttons and humiliate him (poor kid could not function once the slightest bit of blood is redirected), but Sasuke needs to learn to let her have her space, even if that meant with Shisui. It didn't, but Sasuke doesn't need to know that.
"I'm going to hang up now because I'm tired and my bed is already made up. I'll see you bright and early in the morning. That fine with you?"
"H-Hn," Sasuke grunts in response.
Sakura mummers a final, familial 'love you' before hanging up. It's not much later before she's finally in bed and asleep like she said she would be. She wakes only once in the middle of the night when her phone goes off with a text alert, reaching for the gun on her nightstand, before falling right back asleep.
She wakes early, showers, brushes her hair till it's soft and wavy on her jaw. She forgoes makeup again, too worried about what has happened in the hours since she last slept. At least the bags are gone from under her eyes. She gives herself a final one over in the mirror before heading out the door and making sure to lock it behind her.
Her phone beep a text alert right before she steps onto the car and she finds a hand hold before pulling her phone out to read the message. The number is blocked.
'One car further from the front, love.'
Sakura feels ice in her spine as she pockets her phone and surveys her surroundings. It's the morning rush, but her car feels abnormally packed. Looking to her left, to the car she was directed towards, she see's it's not nearly as crowded. One hand on her holster, she moves past a mother and her teenage daughter with a backpack to cross over. She slides one door open, closes it, and then pauses on the last barrier between her and him. She should have expected this. Madara doesn't give things freely, he trades, and she ate his damn food.
She rolls the door back and steps in, noticing who looks up and who looks away. One or two she recognizes. Madara has a minimum of five other guys in the car with him, and those are just the ones in suits looking menacing.
He's also dressed in a suit, but he gold of his cuff links tells her he's a league above all the others in the car. One leg is casually draped over the other and his finely polished shoes reflect her form as she rolls the door closed behind her and latches it. He doesn't look up, but she does notice how he smiles secretly to himself, near giddy for their encounter. For being nearly nine years older than her, he's more childish than she ever was.
"I thought there was a rule about trash being on trains," Sakura casually remarks before stopping in front of the older Uchiha.
He looks up from beneath his bangs and she notices how his hair is braided back today. He picks up on her stare and smiles wider. Absently, he runs a finger under the loose braid. "You don't like the style? I miss when you used to do my hair for me. It's been too long."
She had been too young to know what a huge mistake she had made when she tried to make a teenage Madara her friend with hairbrushes and cheesy homemade gifts. He will forever tease her about it.
"What do you want from me this time?"
Her answer is flat and quick. "No."
Madara pouts like a child, leaning back in his seat. "You're so cold."
"You're a criminal and one day I'm going to put you away for it."
"You're adorable when you try to be menacing. Tell me something else that will make me shiver, love."
She wants to threaten him again and be angry, but that never works out the way she wants to with him. So instead she swallows her angry words and takes a step back, hand on her hip, posture nonchalant. "Enough games. I have more important things to do and places to be. You have less than eight minutes before I get off so get to the point of it."
He still pouts, but with a nod one of the men around him steps forward to hand off a black folder with dark red ink stamps across the front. When he shifts it, the glare lights up the insignia of his own, personal Sharingan seal, what every Uchiha male gets when they turn of age from the clan elders. "I have a gift for you."
"You never have gifts."
"I'd love for it to be a trade, but really this is payback for something else I owed you."
He looks off to the side and there's a faint blush across his cheeks. She's instantly suspicious, but decides to keep her mouth shut until she sees what's in his file folder. Sakura reaches for the folder and lets it open in one hand. The picture on the front, paper clipped to the top, was Kabuto's. Underneath is a packing slip, a map, and a few other files. When she looks up, her eyes are wide.
"We don't have any of this."
"How did you-"
"I'm a criminal, love. I kill people and steal things for a living. I don't need to respect anyone's privacy or anyone's laws but my own. I knew you would never get your hands on this as long as you stayed high and mighty, so I took some liberties." Absently, he twisted a strand of hair between his fingers and then looped it behind his ear. "You were neglecting your health over this, my poor dear. I've always cared about you, always."
Sakura knows he's not lying, because she remembers beaming as Sasuke's successful uncle dotes on her with obvious favoritism during their childhood. She had been a little girl, left for the Uchiha to all but raise alongside Sasuke and Naruto, the former being another ward they took responsibility for when his parents died. Together the three of them would get into so much trouble, but it was always Sakura who got them out of it, or fixed it up for them before anyone could find out. Madara praised her shamelessly for her responsibility while chastising the other boys. Izuna, Madara's brother, had tried to be impartial in how he treated all the younglings, but Madara made no secret about who was his favorite.
That had been a long time ago though. She didn't make him origami animals anymore, or tissue paper roses, or play house with him in the backyard under the tree fort where they were going to live together one day. No, those days were long gone, and between the two of them, was the long wide line of the law keeping them on either sides. Madara said there were no lines, no gates, no walls that could hold him back from her, but Sakura knew she wasn't a little girl anymore, and not all walls were meant to be broken through.
Sakura swallowed. "If I take this into the station they'll know it was you who left it for me, or gave it to me."
Madara waves a hand over his shoulder, eyeing the window behind her as the train approached a platform. "Like I care about any of that. They've been trying for years, but they'll never try hard enough as long as I remain helpful enough to be a lesser priority. No, with this you'll at least be able to cripple Kabuto. Catching him is something I leave up to you."
"You say that like you think I can," Sakura says.
"You're the woman I love. You can do anything." She pretends that doesn't make her chest ache.
Sakura folds the folder closed, but holds it close to her chest. It's too important to turn back now, even if she's already memorized all the highlighted locations on the front page's map of the city. She knows what she holds is worth literal gold to all the families who want justice for the absence of their daughters. Madara is watching her, and she sees her reflection a bit too clearly is his dark black eyes.
"And what does this cost me? You're a criminal, remember? You never do anything for free and everything has a price." Absently, she braces as the train slows and lurches when approaching the platform.
Madara chuckles, standing with fluid ease as if all the surface under his feet wasn't changing and trying to throw him off balance. Madara was never off balance, not even as a teenager. "I'm satisfied with little."
The train halts with harsh breaks and Sakura's knees absorb most of the shift, but she's not fast enough for that and the looming Uchiha who bends down over her to taker her lips with his. She staggers and he pulls her flush against his chest for a kiss that shocks her whole body. She's more than a head shorter than him, but his hold on her is unforgiving as he bends down to reach her and pushes apart her lips on a gasp and leaves her a memory of him across her tongue. He dominates all of her as she pants for breath, thrown off by the suddenness and the fierceness of the kiss.
She is faint when he pulls away, grin rakish. She doesn't know if the train is still moving or if her legs just aren't working anymore, but Madara holds her up and keeps her from falling. She feels him tickle the small of her back before kissing her again once more on the lips. It is a chaste kiss, and then he is gone and they are moving again.
Left all alone, Sakura reaches up to touch her lips, still feeling how they tingle. The car is completely empty, and the file from her hands is on the floor by her feet. She reaches down to pick it up and something loose falls out. When she turns it over she sees its a business sized card for one of the fancy seafood restaurants close to Mizu. On the back is a time and date for their reservation.
Does she go? What do you think?
I wrote this a while ago but never uploaded it here on FF. It's mostly on tumblr where I post new stuff. Also A03, but mostly tumblr.