Chapter 28: Snake In The Grass
Fearlessly, Sasuke pulled the heavy door open and entered the huge room. His expression blanched when he saw the huge chair in the center of the room. It looked as if this was a throne room. Next to the throne there was a hand carved from stone, which had a ring on its finger, the same ring Itachi had worn until the day he died too. It was the akatsuki ring.
The door fell shut and Sasuke took a few steps towards the throne.
"I didn't expect you to come here so soon, Sasuke-kun," a husky voice said, echoing through the room. Orochimaru definitely had a weakness for grand entrances. He appeared out of thin air and took a step towards Sasuke.
"I'm not afraid of you, Orochimaru."
The green eyes of the sannin stared at him angrily for a moment, and then he regained his composure and calmly said, "Are you here to accept my offer?"
"For some time, your offer really tempted me. Nevertheless, I have to decline it. I only came here to tell you that I will never come to you on my own will."
"I won't let you go."
Sasuke smiled. "Yes you will. I know you were the one who sent the sound-nin to kill Sakura. And I also know that you're planning to do it again, even though now I know that you were behind it."
"Well, I'd rather have you come here to kill me than not come to me at all," Orochimaru admitted.
"I didn't come to avenge her," Sasuke replied. "She survived. I just came here to let you know that you'll never have me, no matter what you do. If you kill Sakura, I'll kill you."
Orochimaru laughed, "That's what I wanted to hear."
With a calmness that seemed to confuse the sannin, Sasuke rolled up his right sleeve to reveal a tattoo on his wrist. Orochimaru stared at it in disbelief and Sasuke smiled. "You recognize it, don't you? After all, you were the one who invented this forbidden jutsu." Orochimaru identified the tattoo jutsu as one he had taught to Anko years before, she must have showed him the forbidden technique.
The legendary sannin was shocked. "You- you wouldn't do that!"
Sasuke nodded triumphantly. "Oh yes I would. You know what this sign means. Nobody can remove it.A simple hand seal and some chakra will be enough to activate it."
"If you do this, you'll die too."
"I know. And the Sharingan will disappear irretrievably too. With just one hand seal I can destroy everything within a radius of several kilometers, but you know it better than I do, right? After all, there is a reason why this jutsu is forbidden."
Orochimaru's face faltered for a second, before the sannin forced a grin on his lips. "So you came to sacrifice your life and kill me?"
"No," Sasuke stared at Orochimaru to convince him that he was dead serious. "I just came to show you, that I am serious. If you kill Sakura, I'll find you. And I'll kill myself to destroy you once and for all." The hatred in his voice scared even Orochimaru, who had believed the Uchiha to be bluffing until then. "No matter what you do, this is the guarantee, that you won't get my body or the Sharingan. And I'm ready to die here to protect Sakura from you. Do you understand?"
The sannin didn't say a word; he just stared at Sasuke in utter disbelief. Sasuke turned away from him, attempting to leave the room. Quickly, Orochimaru appeared in front of him and Sasuke stopped. He had expected this. Orochimaru needed a little more convincing that he was dead serious.
"You are not leaving, Sasuke-kun! I have been waiting for far too long to give you up now," Orochimaru hissed.
"Are you trying to test my determination? If you don't get out of my way, I'll use the kinjutsu and I'll kill us both."
Orochimaru made no attempt to step aside.
Still completely calm, Sasuke made the solitary hand seal. They both fell silent. Orochimaru might believe that this was a bluff, but Sasuke was determined to go through with this if it meant keeping Sakura safe. The sannin realized that he had lost. If he didn't let Sasuke go, the young man would kill them both. And if he let him go, he would lose him forever. If he killed Sakura, Sasuke would come back and, at best, kill himself and take the secret of the Sharingan to the grave, or, at worst, he, Orochimaru, would lose his life too.
After deliberating the scenarios, Orochimaru yielded and gave up. He took a step aside, "You win, Sasuke-kun. That was a clever move."
Without looking back, Sasuke left Orochimaru's throne room, assured that he and Sakura would be safe from now on. He had defeated the legendary Sannin.
Exhausted, Sasuke closed the door behind him and slipped out of his shoes while he threw his backpack in the corner. A loving voice said: "Welcome home." He looked over at his wife, who was standing by the bedroom door, looking sleepy. She came over to him, embracing him. "Where have you been?"
"Were you afraid, that I wouldn't come back?" he asked instead of replying.
"No." Sakura let go of him and accompanied him to the bedroom. He undressed and she noticed the tattoo on his wrist. "What's that?" she asked, astonished.
He sat down on the bed next to her and she took his hand. With her fingertips she touched the tattoo. "That's the guarantee for your safety," he replied.
"You went to Orochimaru's, didn't you?"
He nodded. "I made sure that he'll leave you alone from now on."
"Tsunade is going to kill you," she said. "She was really angry that you left the village without permission again." He shrugged and laid down on the bed. Sakura stretched out next to him and rested her head on his chest. He closed his eyes and heard her say, "You'll stay with me forever, right?"
Slowly, he opened his eyes. She stared at him expectantly. "Yes." He placed a hand on her cheek," If you still want it, that is."
With an almost sad smile she answered, "What do you think? Don't leave me alone, ever again. That's what I want."
He couldn't help but remember how he had treated her since their wedding. He had hurt her so many times and she had accepted it all and still loved him. Why had he been so stupid not to notice what a wonderful woman she was?
"Sakura," he said. Curiously, she sat up and looked at him. He pulled the necklace over his head. Currently, there were two rings on it; he hadn't had the chance to give the wedding ring back to her. He opened the necklace and took the smaller ring from it. He took her hand and attempted to just put it on her finger, when he remembered that he was probably supposed to say something. "You know... I'm not good with words; I don't have much to say. But, I want you to know that I'm sorry for everything I did to you. I gave you this ring for the wrong reasons." He put it on her finger and even though this was a pitiful gesture to make up for a lousy wedding and an emotionless proposal, but she had tears in her eyes nonetheless. "Let's start over, Sakura."
She just nodded, unable to say anything. This was uncharacteristic for her; he had come to realize that his wife usually had a reply. Her head dropped and, unexpectedly, tears were dripping onto the sheets.
Sasuke didn't know that people could cry when they were happy, too. Worried, he grabbed her shoulders and asked: "Sakura? Are you alright?"
She wiped her face and tried to smile. "I'm just happy."
Relieved, he embraced her and said, "I made you cry again." It was still a little strange to have her this close to him, but it felt good to have her in his arms. She was his true weakness, but he was willing to accept a weakness if it made him feel so... warm and comforted.
"Sasuke?" he heard her say.
"Could you say it again?"
"You've only ever told me that you love me once," she replied. "When you found me in our apartment."
"I thought you were going to die in my arms," he said. He didn't even know why, but to say 'I love you' was still hard for him.
She sighed. "Alright, it's okay. I'm glad you said it once."
He didn't respond. A lot of things had happened and she had changed him, whether he wanted to admit it or not. But he still couldn't help it; he hadn't used the word 'love' in years. To him, it left a bad taste in his mouth. He would say it again, but not just yet.
Carefully, Sasuke checked on his uniform and the weapons he was planning to take with him. Today he was wearing the typical Anbu Uniform. Sakura loved when he was wearing the skin-tight black suit, he felt rather silly in it, but at the moment he didn't want to provoke Tsunade. She hadn't been very pleased about his 'trip' to see Orochimaru and had not assigned him to any missions for the past three weeks. But now, Anbu couldn't do without him any longer, he mused. Grinning, he reached for the mask.
The bedroom door opened and his wife stood by the door. She was wearing only a shirt, his shirt, to be exact, and at that sight he wished back the past three weeks which had been like vacation for both of them. Sakura smiled, "You're leaving this early? I guess it's an important mission."
"And you'll probably risk your life once again, right?"
He nodded once, "I guess so, yes."
She walked over to him and embraced him. "No matter how many missions you accomplish, I will never stop worrying about you. Take care and come home safely."
He kissed her and replied: "Don't worry." Hesitantly, she let go of him and he walked over to the door. As always, she went to stand by the window, to be able to see him on the street before he left. He felt an unexpected warmth at the sight of his wife. It felt good to have someone who worried about him and wished for his safe return. He smiled. This was the freedom Itachi had wanted for him. It felt so good. He left the apartment and before he closed the door, he said softly: "I love you..."
So this fic is finally over! I hope you all enjoyed it! Please review and keep in mind that I started another SasuSaku Fanfic called "Omae". Thank you all for all the lovely reviews and special thanks to my beta-reader Shanna. Without you, I wouldn't have finished this story. Thank you so much!