Present Day


Her jacket was on his couch in a messy heap. She had tossed it there carelessly minutes earlier along with her holster. She wouldn't need it now. Kagami's hands were on her shoulders, rubbing circles into her flesh, tracing the pattern of her muscles further down her back.

Sakura felt the sight leave her lips before she knew what she was doing. She bit back the moan and closed her eyes, content to let her former partner use his hands on her body however he saw fit. She trusted him for this, even as his hands edged deeper and deeper.

Her teeth locked onto her lower lip and stayed there, holding back the moan she wanted to let go. This was all she wanted. No more reports, no more work, just…fun.

"That's enough uncle, you're making it gross."

Kagami looked up from Sakura's back and smirked. "You're jealous you don't get these anymore, or do you wish you were the one who actually knew how to perform a halfway decent massage on our favorite Sakura blossom."

Sakura looked up from her folded arms and glared over her shoulder at Kagami. "Who said you could stop? I still have knots."

"As you wish, princess," the older Uchiha laughed before kissing the back of her head.

Shisui scowled, but made room on a spare chair for himself as he resolved to stay with Sakura while his uncle teased him mercilessly. It was so easy to misinterpret those sounds she made from his office and it drove him insane if left up to his imagination.

"You shouldn't even still be here, Sakura," Shisui began, convinced to not make his presence in her room weird. "You've been working double shifts with Sasuke, boy wonder, just because he has issues compensating for something."

Sakura didn't look up from her arms when she replied. "I don't mind."

"I mind. Does he not care what he's doing to your health?"

"Shisui, I'm on the police force, my health is not a primary concern, otherwise I would have been a secretary."

Kagami made a dismissive sound behind her as he found a knot and worked it over. Sakura bit her lip and kept her head down as the pressure turned nearly uncomfortable.

"My most favorite nephew is right, you're overworked. And I know you don't want anyone taking it easy on you because you are a girl, there's only so much you can do with a human body, regardless of sex or gender. You're going to need a break sooner or later."

"Are you lecturing Sasuke like this?"

Shisui snorted. "No one here cares about that prick enough. We're happy enough to let him learn the hard way the importance of taking a rest every now and then. I just don't want to see him drag you down with him. I think even Itachi would kill him if you got hurt because of Sasuke's stubbornness."

"I'm resting and relaxing now, aren't I?"

Kagami huffed angrily, pausing in his work. "A ten minute tune up with me is no such thing. I'm not even using any of my oils or proper treatments. You said you wanted something quick."

"We're getting briefed at noon."

"You just got off the night owl shift."

Sakura yawned into her arms before looking up at Shisui's shocked expression. "Don't look so surprised. I've known you to pull a triple every now and then. Besides, after the brief I'm heading home as soon as Obito gives his presentation."

"Speaking of Sasuke…where is he?" Kagami asked.

Sakura murmured something that sounded like 'I don't know' into her arms before lifting her head. "It's my time to summarize a brief for our team. He went home."

"What the fuck is wrong with him?" Shisui hissed, nearly standing up in his anger. "How does he rate? You were both at the last briefing."

"Yeah, it was his turn, but it was about a case I was angling so I wanted to be there to hear it for myself. He takes the worst notes."

"So, because he does a shit job you end up covering extra slack," Shisui dryly summarized, looking ready to throttle his younger cousin the next time they met.

There were few people that could get Shisui so genuinely annoyed as quickly as Sasuke Uchiha. Not only was he a pretentious child that annoyed Shisui whenever he came over to play with Itachi, but Sasuke also had the stupidly good fortune of securing Sakura freaking Haruno as a partner.

The fact that she had feelings for him was little less than secret as far as eligible Uchiha men were concerned. The fact that Sasuke didn't return the feelings made a lot of other Uchiha feel like Sasuke was making a waste out of his good fate. Shisui was inclined to think something more along the lines of it all being fine in the end. It was Sasuke's choice, and his decision to squander the girl's affection did nothing but make it easier for someone else to come in and look impressive. Since last year's undercover wedding operation it seemed like any potential romance between the two of them was improbable and Shisui felt inclined to not encourage Sakura's feelings any more if Sasuke passed up on indulging her. Thankfully, Sakura seemed to recover with time.

Sasuke did a lot of annoying things, but the worst was how little he seemed to notice Sakura's needs or value the contributions he took for granted from her. He even forgot her birthday last year. They had been practically raised together and he still missed her birthday.

"If you need to, you could always partner up with me again," Kagami chuckled. "I'm sure Obito wouldn't mind the extra company."

"How is Obito doing? I haven't seen him recently. If you think I'm burning the candle at both ends you need to take a second look at that guy."

"Hmm, one of his informants, a PI has been having some pretty nasty breaks. Great for us, terrible for the PI and his six recovering gunshot wounds."

Sakura hissed, reminding herself to send flowers to Kakashi. The old goat refused to die, but she worried nevertheless. Being a former officer, he was a quick wit with minor difficulties in respecting chains of authority. The PI gig was pretty recent.

"Who's in the hallway?" Sakura mumbled.

Kagami paused on her back and Shisui sat up, hearing the running feet as well. Seconds later one of the younger officers staggered in. "The briefing just got moved up, there's been a development!"

"What sort?" Shisui asked, already standing.

The younger officer stammered before reaching into his pocket and pulling out the crumpled sticky note. "Something about a Kabuto sighting."

Kagami felt Sakura jerk under him and wanted nothing more than to force her down and make her sleep, because he knew once she heard that name there was nothing that could hold her back. He held onto her as she sat up and glared like some mythic demon.

"Where?" she demanded in a low growl.

"L-local."

Sakura pushed Kagami off and reached for her holster and jacket. There was no way she was going to rest now that she's heard that name.

Sakura took her vitamins with her coffee, ignoring the glare from Shisui as he leaned against the counter, watching her while waiting for his partner.

Swallowing, Sakura washed it down with dark expression and glared back at Shisui over the rim of her styrofoam. Departure was in ten minutes and she had taken a short nap after the briefing while the squad waited for their target to enter the area. Kabuto was teasingly slow about it.

"You're not coming."

"Your uncle is the chief, not you."

"He's biased and sentimental. He couldn't say no to you if he wanted to, he thinks you're going to end up his daughter in law somehow. Don't tell him Sasuke's queer, he'll shit a brick."

Sakura swallowed everything in her cup, crushed her fingers through it and dropped it into the trash before going after a muffin left behind on the 'free' table. It was stiff but it wasn't old enough to throw out. Sakura stuffed her face before holding up three fingers and waiting for the food in her mouth to be chewed and swallowed before going on.

"First, he has told me no plenty of times on plenty of things. I get to go if I take a nap-which I did- and eat something before the roll out. Second, he knows Sasuke is ace, he just thinks all Uchiha are ace until they get married and then they turn into sex gods. You and Kagami are exceptions to that…and maybe Madara, I don't know. Thirdly, he doesn't think I'm going to be his daughter, he just likes me because everybody likes me." Sakura took a cup of water from the dispenser and filled it before washing down her muffin.

"I am-no, it's…"Shisui struggled to find the right words to lead with as emotions warred on his face. He looked agitated more than anything else, but at times he almost seemed embarrassed. He grabbed a cup for himself and filled it with water, giving his hands something to do. "You're pretty full of yourself."

"I didn't say everyone wants to fuck me, I said I'm likable."

"Not right now you're not."

"You'd still like a run in my pants," Sakura muttered over the rim of her water cup.

Shisui dropped his water cup and the floor turned wet. His face was a mess of red. Oh God, if Itachi heard that he would be in so much trouble. If Madara heard that he would be dead and buried.

"Th-th-that was one time, one time and I was buzzed and I didn't know who I was talking to."

Lies, lies, oh sweet pretty lies. He knew exactly what she was remembering and how not intoxicated he wasn't and he knew exactly who he was talking to back in college. She had been a freshmen at their university and still hung up on Sasuke. He thought he could be a better distraction.

Sakura hummed, emptying her water cup while Shisui bent down to wipe up the water. His Kevlar vest made it a stiff endeavor. It was only more embarrassing when Sakura slid down the counter to stand behind him and smirk. If she opened her mouth he knew she would make some crude comment about his ass the way Kagami taught her to.

"Could you just do me a solid and forget that ever happened?" Shisui whined, ducking his head as he mopped the rest of the water with a rag.

"What happened?"

Both looked up to see Itachi in the door. Shisui went pale.

"Your cousin was trying to be a show off and ended up cleaning the floor with his trick. We ready?"

Itachi nodded, thankfully never looking away from her face to notice Shisui's relief or fear. "Target is on the move. We're cleared to go."

Sakura didn't look back to see Shisui follow. The three of them seeped out of the room like a band of ghosts, joining the larger unit all heading into the garage. Nervous energy made things sharp as Sakura climbed into the back of the van and sat between Itachi and Shisui, not minding or caring that she broke up the partners on their bench. She knew neither would mind and she was right.

"Holding up fine?" Itachi asked, voice soft for her as he stared down into his helmet. He held it by the straps, straightening it out before it put it on.

"I had a nap."

"I meant about Kabuto. That's the only reason you're here right now. Chief wanted to keep you behind because of your back to backs, but Kabuto is one of your cases."

Sakura snorted. "You mean your dad. Yeah, no, he just wanted to see his son acting so determined in place of me. Kabuto is Sasuke's case too."

It was Itachi's turn to almost snort, but Uchiha don't snort, they just make that sort of funny 'hn' sound with their breath. For Sakura there was a bonus smile. "Kabuto is your case."

Sakura didn't argue a second time. It was true that both her and Sasuke were partners and her cases were his and his cases were hers, but there were some that Sakura was more invested in and some Sasuke was more invested in. Kabuto was Sakura's priority for more than just professional reasons.

"I'll be fine. I just don't want to be disappointed. The intel was odd with the details on his activities."

"Does it matter if we find him?" Shisui asked, butting into their conversation with his helmet already in place. "We'll just beat it out of him before that happens."

"What did you think was off?" Itachi asked, leaning in.

Sakura shrugged as the van rattled along. "It didn't…feel like Kabuto."

"It fit the MO," Shisui said.

"Yeah, but that's what worries me. Kabuto is an enigma that evolves. He doesn't do things the same way twice, not exactly. He has patterns, but he's changing. I track him by trying to think like him, get into his head and see what's next. This deal feels like something he's already done. He's either altered it in a way we don't know of yet, or this is a copycat."

"Can't bee, Kabuto was spotted."

Shisui flinched when Itachi glared over Sakura's head at him. 'Be nicer.'

"It could be any number of things," Itachi evenly replied, looking back down at Sakura. "I trust your gut. When we capture Kabuto we can get the details from him."

Banging from the front had them all suiting up. They were five minutes from the site would be expected to move into position on foot a block from the designated drop zone. It was during operations such as these that Sakura questioned her sanity in choosing a career in the Uchiha police force, a branch all unto their own with more danger and riot gear than any police force should have need for.

She adjusted the visor on her helmet, noting the scratches and wear.

"Dropping out."

She moved with the rest of the unit like black fog through the streets.

The fire wasn't typical. Sakura could smell the chemical compounds that ignited and fed the flames. She was with a unit of three trying to navigate out of the building.

It had been a trap all along and while it didn't look like they had sustained heavy losses, Sakura knew this was going to set a whole new precedent for how her force regarded Kabuto. The kid was so screwed unless he really was working with Orochimaru, which Sakura suspected. Arson wasn't his style.

Sakura smelled it before it happened, and reached for the nearest officer to throw him to the ground and cover him. The third guy follows her lead just in time to miss the brunt of impact as another crate of chemicals exploded. Sakura felt her ears bleed and knew her world was turning, but she was the only one getting up.

She cursed and kicked, prodding her two companions out of their impact curls. They had to keep moving before another one went off. It was hard to breath and it was only getting harder. Her lungs burned with more than just smoke. It sucked they were so deep into the building.

Sakura was glad Sasuke wasn't here.

"This is taking too long," she shouted, reaching a wall and looking around for a door that wasn't showing up.

The doors had all been locked or bolted when they got inside and Sakura suspected it was the same on this floor. Kabuto had planned his trap too well for it to be a spur of the moment thing. Sakura saw days and weeks of work everywhere she turned. This wall was just another one of them. There were walls without doors between rooms making the building more of a maze than anything else.

Sakura calmed herself long enough to pull off her glove and spread her fingers over the plaster. On the other side there was less fire, the wall was cool enough to tell her that.

"Units five and six are out. It's just us," Ibis called behind her. He was doing a good job of keeping them updated.

"Stand back." Sakura heaved the ax she had pulled from a crate earlier and split through the wall. It came away the way easy plaster does. Sakura didn't relent until it was big enough for the three of them to get through. She couldn't feel her body anymore, not enough sleep made her rely on her adrenalin, a sloppy, scary thing. She was a body of frazzled forces as she screamed and cursed for the other two Uchiha to move. They were slow, heavy with smoke in their lungs. Sakura couldn't feel her lungs.

The next room was nearly breathable, but that was soon changing. They found windows and Sakura smashed through one while the other two cleared out the area. There were no stairs but enough debris the cushion their fall. The two men went first and caught Sakura when she jumped last.

Seconds later as they were jogging through the alley their windows screamed and shattered as green fire took over the room. Seconds later and that would have been them too. The rest of the building was going up in angry fire and Sakura started to feel it in her chest.

"Damn," Ibis muttered.

Sakura turned to the other Uchiha, a younger kid named Ryuu. He hadn't said much of anything and she was worried. She tugged him by the wrist, heading towards the ring of lights and firetrucks. When he coughed she felt it through their contact.

"Medic," she screamed as a pair of Uchiha officers rushed to greet them.

They were already out of their armor and helping Ibis with his. Men in white rushed over to them and Sakura dragged Ryuu to their ambulance where a stretcher was already rolled out. Several other Uchiha were strapped down and many were being given oxygen.

The boy collapsed as soon as he was touched and the treatment began in earnest.

Sakura staggered back, feeling her back hit a metal surface as she slid down the side of the ambulance. She could feel it in her chest. Her lungs were burning still. Unclasping her helmet she tossed it angrily away and let her hair fall free and loose. Her face was a sooty, dark mess except for the trails where tears ran clean. She coughed, feeling blood in her mouth.

All the units had made it out, but it wasn't clear how bad the damage was. If there were chemicals in those boxes that caught on fire there was no telling how bad their lungs would be. A good chunk of the force would be on medical leave by the looks of things.

Was this the point of the ambush? To weaken the Uchiha before something bigger? Sakura's gut told her to look underneath the underneath and she didn't like what she saw there.

A woman in white came over to Sakura and started administering a breathing treatment. She was talking but Sakura couldn't hear the woman rightly. She was lifted and carried off the ground towards a cot but she struggled and the woman compromised by sitting Sakura down on the edge of a fire truck.

She was asked questions and Sakura tried her best to answer them as she began to strip her armor. It was too tight and too hot to wear.

"Damn it!" Sakura looked up when she heard the sound and saw Obito, face twisted in pain, jogging towards her. "You weren't supposed to be here, what the hell were you doing in that building?"

Sakura glared, getting ready to verbally castrate him when he dropped onto her in a shivering hug. Sakura's anger melted and she relented, closing her eyes and leaning into his embrace.

"I'm sorry, I should have been here. I'm so sorry, I didn't know."

"You're not my partner, and you're not my parent. Stop acting like a mom."

Sakura winced at the sound of her voice and sealed her lips. When Obito pulled away she knew she sounded worse to his ears. "You sound terrible."

"Itachi…Shisui…?" She didn't say more.

"They're fine. Itachi's asking for you and was up looking earlier when they made him sit down again and almost had to strap him. He inhaled a lot, he's coughing up blood too, but Shisui's okay. They weren't together."

Sakura remembered how they were split up. Both Shisui and Itachi were made squad heads. Sakura had been put under Ibis, mostly as a support unit. She wasn't supposed to see any of the action, which was why they were so far back in the building. In the end, that turned out to be the worst thing for them.

"Tell him…I'm okay?"

"Don't talk so much, you sound shredded. They're taking care of you, but I want you to go in one of the the ambulances for admittance." He started to wave someone down. "You can even ride with me. They took Itachi already."

Sakura wanted to protest but there was a knot in her lungs. When she coughed more blood came up and it scared Obito enough to make him start screaming. She saw somewhere in the mess of people Shisui, standing still and looking lost as he watched them pull her up and lay her down onto a cot. She felt boneless and could only imagine what she looked like.

'It's cause I'm tired. I didn't get enough sleep,' she wanted to say, but she was drifting in and out.

The ambulance rushed along and made only one stop before the hospital. Sakura heard the back doors open and someone new climb in beside Obito that made the Uchiha curse.

"I swear, she wasn't supposed to be there. I didn't know He let her one until-"

"Shut up, now ."

Sakura tried to open her eyes because she had never heard that voice before, even though she knew she knew who it was. The person in the back of the ambulance with her was someone she knew, just more angry than she's ever heard them. She knew a moment later when she felt him take her hand. She squeezed it, wanting him to know she was fine, she was okay.

She heard sounds and couldn't make them out. She felt Madara pull her towards him, careful of the mask on her face, cradling her as soft as a wounded fawn in his arms. He called her sweet things and stroked her face, wiping away the soot with his fingers. She heard him tell her not to cry, but she didn't feel herself crying. It was just the soot caught in her lashes.

"I'm going to kill him," Madara admitted, sounding broken and lost. He wasn't angry in that moment, but desperate for a way to make things right. She felt his hands in her hair.

She tried to say his name but there was blood far back in her throat making her cough. It came out on a ripped apart breath, staining her lips read and splattering against the plastic of the breathing mask. It smelled terrible.

She heard his strangled groans as he struggled to help, failing to do anything more than hold her. "Shh, love, shh, don't speak, I'm going to make this right for us. I'm going to fix this. It's going to be okay. You're going to be okay. Shhh, Sakura, love, shhh, you're going to be just fine."

"Madara," Obito called, sounding tentative and afraid. "The hospital is coming up. You need to go. They'll see you."

Madara hissed, hands around her tense and shaking. He didn't want to let go, he didn't want to give her up, but she coughed again and he knew he had to. He had doctors, but they couldn't treat like a gunshot wound, maybe, but Sakura needed the best.

"I'm going to kill him for this. I'm going to put him in the ground." He leaned in and kissed her hair, brushed it out of her eyes and then kissed those too. "I'm going to make this right, love. You're going to be okay. I won't let anything else happen to you. You're going to be alright. I love you. I love you."

He was a criminal and Sakura suspected he knew about what Kabuto had been planning He was a murderer all on his own, but he was also Madara Uchiha. He was a criminal but he was also the man who called her favorite. He was the boy she made paper flowers for and told all her secrets to.

Her eyes were heavy and her brain was foggy, but Sakura squeezed his hand.

She heard Madara's staggered whisper of a breath before he kissed her again. His tears fell on her face and his lips trembled.

"I love you, Sakura. I'm going to make this right. Just rest. Most precious girl, you silly, brave, wonderful creature. I love you, more than anyone. I love you."

"Madara."

"I love you. I love you, be safe. Sakura."

He kissed her again and she heard him curse as the ambulance pulled up. Obito helped Madara out and Sakura felt herself fall the rest of the way asleep.