Alright. I'm typing a little intro her on this first chapter, and it's going to throw off the word count which annoys me, so I'll make it short.
This here is a Sasuke/Sakura pairing, and it's got some pretty graphic content, so be warned. Usually, I hate this pairing, and people often don't write it well anyway, but here I am writing it. Why Well so I hope it's good enough for Sasuke/sakura fans out there. If you're wondering what my favorite pairing is... you don't want to know anyway... hahahaha.
fanfiction.net has been cutting off the scene breaks between bits, please put up with this until i find a way to fix it.
I'm crazy and I believe I have every right to these characters, sue me all you want but I'm not getting any money for this anyway, and I'll get off on the twinkie defense...
This should not be read by anyone who doesn't like it... that and, there's a lot of violence and adult-like situations.
A long and weary journey ends, but another one is only beginning.Sakura returned to the village on her nineteenth birthday. She had been away for all of three years, and although for a kunoichi, the job had been relatively short, It had been long, and far more difficult than anything she had ever done. It could be said that in those three years, she had finally become an adult.
Although she had studied endlessly in school, nothing really specific had come up on the rules or conduct of kunoichi as compared to ninja, and even though they had put her in a six month training course beforehand, she had not truly been prepared with what she would be required to do.
Yet it had been her choice, and she didn't regret the service she had done for Konoha. It wasn't something she wanted to dwell on much though, and she brushed her musings off as she walked into the village without so much as a sigh.
She wanted to see Sasuke.
Of course she knew exactly where he was at the moment, so there was no need to be impatient. A slight smile teased her face at the thought of being patient when it came to Sasuke. Now that was something she would never have believed to be a possible thought a few years ago. But it was no time to give into whims, she still had some business to take care of.
And as proof of the importance of that business, Kakashi showed up on time for once.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sasuke stood in front of his family monolith, staring at all the names carved in the stone. He had no need to pay attention to how many there were, or who they were because he knew one simple fact. He was not one of them. And neither was the only name that should be there by now. Uchiha Itachi.
It frustrated him to think that he still wasn't strong enough to take Itachi on. Yes he'd improved vastly since the last encounter, but Itachi had just the same amount of time to improve as well. And Itachi was the genius of the family, despite what the current generation of Konoha ninjas thought. They'd never known. He'd reached the level Itachi had been at, now, but there was no saying his older brother would wait for him.
In fact he was positive the traitorous sibling had not. It constantly ran through his mind, why had he been left alive, why had Itachi not killed him even their last meeting. And still, as it had even over ten years ago, the same answer came to him.
Itachi wanted to be killed. He wanted someone to avenge the injustice he'd done to his own family. Sasuke raised a hand to the mark on his neck, a seal that lay dormant, now that Orochimaru was out of the picture. Yet he could still feel it at times. He could still remember the dark pull, and the lustful feeling of power he had barely even wanted to fight off.
Would he have improved faster or slower had it never been put there.... a worrisome thought that was pointless to dwell on. Sasuke was an expert on dwelling. Nothing escaped the overactive grasp of self blame.
Sasuke slid his Anbu mask down to cover his face as he turned away from the morbid monolith. Ready or not, Aniki, he thought acridly, here I come. His eyes glowed red, even through the fox-like mask. His brother had been playing hide and seek too long.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Wow Sakura, you look hell of different!" The boisterous voice of Naruto spoke up as they met at the ramen shop. Sakura had promised Naruto a bowl of ramen on her return and her business with Kakashi concluding her mission was complete. She still hadn't seen Sasuke.
"You haven't changed much, except in height I see" Sakura returned with a smile. It was a lie. Naruto was older and a lot more handsome. It could be commented that he looked similar to the fourth. Yet she still had no feelings for him at all. Even after all he'd done to bring Sasuke back that one time, she couldn't be more than just grateful.
She still couldn't drop her feelings for the Uchiha. Even if she wasn't exactly hopeful of any returned feelings.
"Did your mission go well?" Naruto asked as he broke apart his chopsticks and started to dig in. "They wouldn't tell us any details about it at all" he said with ramen in his mouth. sakura winced at the mess he was making.
"Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to say anything. Suffice that I'm returned, alive and well, that should tell you something I suppose" She rested her head on her hand and waited for her order. Naruto had gotten his faster since they usually knew exactly what he wanted, and he'd arrived before her.
"Hmmmmmm" Naruto replied, thinking about it. His eyes were just as squinty as usual, and the expression he made reminded Sakura a lot of their younger days. He looked like the boy she knew once more.
"And what have you been doing in my absence?" Sakura asked him only with a polite curiosity. Naruto looked at her, though she still had yet to figure out how he could see through those fox-slit eyes. His face was a little too serious for a moment, but shortly, it broke into a grin.
"Training!" He said as he pointed his chopsticks at her dramatically. She rolled her eyes.
"Are you ever doing anything else?" Sakura asked, not because she didn't already know the answer, but as a matter of sarcasm.
"Well I go on missions all the time, but I'm training there too. In fact, I get to go on a suuuuper long mission with Ero-senin again next week."
"You're leaving?" Sakura asked, surprised. Naruto nodded
"I'll be back but I don't know how long I'll be gone." he said, turning to his ramen again. Sakura looked at him for a long moment.
"Good luck" She said finally, a little quietly. Naruto opened an eye to look at her mid slurp. He turned back to his ramen and just nodded again.
"Thank you" he said after they'd finished their meals, and they both headed their opposite ways.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Kakashi looked a little sheepish as he stood next to his two students. Sakura looked serious, and Sasuke looked relaxed. It was usually the other way around, and Kakashi was weirded out by the entire situation to begin with. It was highly unusual to say the least.
"Now I don't usually deal with anbu matters personally," Tsunade said to Sasuke in particular, confirming Kakashi's opinion that this was a strange occurrence in more than one way. "but this is a delicate situation." She said as she rested an arm on the table before her.
"We've been having to deal with a lot of volatile situations lately, especially with the investigations underway on the members of the pending peace treaty. We don't want the same thing to happen that occurred the last time we made a similar treaty. There are a lot of suspicions flying about both sides, but I'm sure you two already know that." she nodded towards Sakura
"It's thanks to your work that things are going as well as they are currently" she said to the pink haired ninja. "I haven't had a chance to say thank you, and I don't like having to send you back out again so soon, but you two are the only ones that fit this mission's specifications." she finished with a slight sigh. She waved a hand at Kakashi, giving him the signal to pick up where she left off.
"Ah well it's true that you two are the only ones that just happen to fit, but it's more coincidence than anything else. You see, we need two ninjas that have been on the same team, which itself isn't too hard to find, but there are other things too."
"We're after a missing nin. This is absolutely anbu work, and only anbu work. We need someone with the experience and skill to pull hunting off. That's where your part is obligatory, Sasuke." Kakashi paused a moment, looking up in his normal lazy manner. He looked back down, tilting his eye towards Sakura.
"And on the other hand, this is in 'hostile' territory, so we need someone to blend in, someone with specific skills in subterfuge and spy- work. That is defiantly where you fit in." He smiled at her, though you could only really tell by that one eye. it was sometimes a little silly. He spread his hands out in a slight mock-shrug.
"We really need two people who are already used to working together, any mishaps at all in familiarity other than strait personality flaws will be detected right away. We already have a cover for you, if you decide to accept this, which I have no reason to believe you two won't." He looked at each of them in turn as if waiting for an answer, but went on.
"But don't worry about making a decision now. I've still got a lot more to explain on the situation. I can't explain everything, because it is classified, but I can't rightly ask you two to accept without at least giving you an Idea of what we're up against."
"It's no Orochimaru though, that's for sure, that was one of a kind. Sasuke I already know your answer, for two reasons. One, as an anbu it's already your job, and two," he paused for a moment, looking at Sasuke meaningfully "Itachi may be involved in some way, though we have no definite confirmation." Sasuke, as Kakashi expected, looked at him sharply, his eyes dilating into sharingan red from their usual pitch black. Kakashi just nodded at him.
"So it's really up to you, Sakura" He smiled at her again before going on. She answered before he could.
"It would be a privilege" Sakura spoke "To work with my former teammate, and now anbu. It's not a chance I get everyday." She said sincerely, in a slight monotone. "I have no need of further details before accepting, you may fill us in as you see fit."
Kakashi nodded at her, as he thought, she had matured quite a bit on the last mission. But he was realistic, and knew quite well that the maturity she held, likely had cost quite a hefty price of suffering and experience on both the lighter and darker sides of life. From her cool and calculated speech, he speculated it was more of the latter.
And then there was her relationship with Sasuke, or lack thereof. When he had started training them, it had been his opinion that it was a childish crush, but as he had grown in his knowledge of them, he realized Sakura was a lot deeper than she seemed.
Team seven had gone through a lot, and through it the level of her feelings for Sasuke were only further strengthened. Kakashi thought himself fortunate to be one that watched those three learn and grow. Passing them was never something he regretted once. Yet Sakura was still the most often overlooked.
Sakura ad not a charmed childhood, though in comparison to Sasuke or Naruto it could be viewed as blessed. She had been forced to conform to the people around her to even establish the slight amount of respect she had barely gained. She was in top shape when it came to books, but her skills in ninjitsu could only be deemed mediocre, maybe even bland.
Even when she was energetic, it was often easy to pay little notice to her. Considering the company she was surrounded by, it was a wonder anyone ever saw her at all. Sasuke and Naruto just emanated presence, yet there was something subtle about her Aura.
Which was why, four years ago, he had nominated her as the kunoichi for that ever so delicate job that she did.
She was always following rules by the book, and already could easily be expected to act appropriately in most any situation. Except when her comrades got in the way. Kakashi could easily understand this, he was about as protective about partners as she was.
it hadn't surprised him when she returned one hundred percent successful in what had been a job with only a ten percent chance of success. If she had stood out even the slightest too much, it would have been all over. In fact, they had to send in decoys to make it so she could even get in.
But with all that, and the fact that three years ago, she had still been closely attached to her feelings to Sasuke, Kakashi was worried.
She hadn't even said hello to him yet, and she'd been in town again, for a week.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sakura visited the graveyard before she left. She didn't personally know anyone who had died, but that last year she had sworn to visit first thing when she came back. It had been a silent promise, a covenant with death to keep her alive, and he had played his part, so now it was her turn.
She ran her fingers across the monument of the town's 'heros.' All martyred in the line of duty, and not in just any capacity, but in order for the mission to succeed. She would never be listed here. Not because she was confident she wouldn't die, but on any mission she would have in the future, if she died, it failed.
Kunoichi had no pride, nor hesitation. No life, no identity. She was a vessel, the seed of hope in winter. Sitting patiently waiting for spring to come. Hoping that neither the weather nor a hungry creature would uproot her. Praying she wouldn't decay.
No, Sakura was a changed person, she looked at her hand on the monument. No glory for this one.
"Sasuke" she said to the open air, speaking the thought her mind dared not touch. Desire. She shook her head slowly at her voice falling into the wind. This mission was not a chance to get closer to him. She had no right. They would succeed, and she'd be damned if either of them would even think of dying. She had to make it clear to Sasuke how important success was. Her hand turned white with the force it gripped the monument.
He didn't know the state of things, Konoha was in worse condition than it pretended to be, enemies at all sides, and one slip-up threatening to bring it all down around their ears.
He had always been the more serious one, but she wondered if it would be enough this time. The second part of the mission would be simple for him, but would he be able to pull off the first? He was good at hiding, leaving no trace.
But they needed someone who could hide in plain sight.
Would he object to the proximity he'd have to keep with her during the mission? He hadn't made any indication of it, but Sasuke rarely let his feelings known, not in front of 'superiors'. When she saw him, he likely wouldn't hesitate to tell her his feelings.
She felt the pangs n her heart from the last time they'd been alone. it had been the day he had decided to leave, she poured her heart out to him then. He hadn't quite spit in her face, but his denial had been devastating. She would have done anything for him, but he hadn't wanted it.
Now her loyalties lie with Konoha, it had asked for her when she had lost her way. She had found direction in sacrifice, where none had been accepted before. She knew though, if the day came where she was needed, she would throw away the scars on her heart and sacrifice everything for Sasuke. The dark avenger she loved so dearly.
Sometimes she thought perhaps she understood his pain better than he did, though she hadn't known in the beginning. She had to thank him for his cruelty to her, for if not for his brutal bluntness and distain of shallow-minded people, she might not have learned to understand the human soul. But that was part of what she loved about him.
She put her face in her free hand, and fought with herself mentally, emotionally. She still wanted to reach out to him. To touch him, to comfort him, to be by his side, to protect him, to be there no matter what might happen. She fisted her hand and punched herself in the face.
"You must keep your emotions on the inside...." She said to herself quietly "And possess a heart that shows no tears...." She trailed of as tears fell from her eyes onto the monument, spreading into the letters carved in the stone.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Naruto felt like a complete bastard. It had been an accident that he'd stumbled on the scene, just before Sakura started crying. He was about to hail her when she spoke Sasuke's name out loud. Seemingly almost unintentionally from what he could tell.
He felt his blood run cold. He had promised himself, that same moment he'd promised that he'd bring Sasuke back to the village, that he'd give up being a wishful admirer of Sakura and become a friend like never before. But in that moment, when she started crying silently, he hated Sasuke once more, like every-time Sasuke had done something to hurt her and never even realized.
But he wouldn't try for Sakura, no it would be a betrayal of her trust, when she had so openly shown her emotions to him, when she had been so vulnerable. He'd always be the man she could rely on, if nothing else.
But he still felt like a complete bastard. Witnessing the suffering of his teammate who had grown so much, learned so well how to hide behind a wall that Naruto could easily recognize as a kindred spirit. He'd seen through the secret door that had no key, and in that, he'd violated her. He never wanted anyone to see him in his moments of weakness, and at this moment he made another promise to himself. He'd forever keep this secret in his heart as well.
It was not meant to be known, not even to the one who this secret belonged to. He never wanted to see her suffer, even indirectly, for his sake.
He didn't move until long after she'd left.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- They met at the bridge, where so many times, for so many missions, the two had met before, plus the one other and their mentor that composed the team. Sasuke was there first, which was only one of the many differences in this somehow nostalgic meeting.
Sakura approached from the far side of the bridge, opposite of the usual direction she came from. Sasuke glanced over at her, not surprised but there was something about his behavior that suggested he had expected her to come from the opposite direction.
"Running errands?" He queried as she got closer. Sakura shook her head, and Sasuke noticed she'd lost a lot of the girlish mannerisms he used to think were such a waste of energy. Of course it had never been remotely noticeable next to Naruto, class A idiot on overspending energy of every kind.
"No, I came strait from home, I took care of any business yesterday" She said in reply, stopping slightly off to the side. Sasuke noted that she'd also lost the energy to her voice. It wasn't emotionless, or lifeless by far, but it held an obvious preference for monotone that seemed foreign to her, in Sasuke's mind. Yet the most foreign thing, was how casual the many differences he noticed were, as if she'd been like this longer than anyones memory.
He found himself wondering what she'd been doing in those last three years. He found himself also not wanting to know, though there was no cause for him to think her experiences might have been unpleasant.
"I live in an apartment on my own now, not far from where you live in fact." Sakura went on. She'd moved out because she didn't think she could stand being around her family constantly anymore. They were prone to a lot of prying, and were very affectionate. She didn't want to explain the first time she flinched, or reacted violently when someone touched her. it would be too much to have to constantly be on her guard.
"By the market district then." Sasuke said, slightly bothered at the way he felt the need to keep the silence at bay, when usually he'd scoff at the thought of small talk. What was this atmosphere. It wasn't quite uncomfortable, or even unpleasant... it was, distant was the only way he could put it.
Sakura nodded at his deduction, and he almost got annoyed that she didn't continue with a reply. What was wrong with him today. They stood in silence for moments longer, waiting for Kakashi, a task that often proved futile at best.
Sasuke remembered vaguely one time they'd all showed up late, thinking that he wouldn't be there yet. He had been early that day. Or so he said, the only point was he'd arrived before them. Sasuke had been suspicious that he really watched and waited for an hour or more every-time he was late.
Then it hit him. The difference in the atmosphere. Usually there was an air of discomfort from Sakura, a dislike of the distance Sasuke kept with thought, and action. Usually she nervously tried to fill the silence. Yet this time Sasuke had found himself almost doing that instead.
She seemed perfectly comfortable while it was he that was left with an air of waiting. Was it because he was so used to the routine that he tried to fulfill it subconsciously? He couldn't actually be missing her usual behavior. Or maybe he was.
Sakura stood still next to him, perfectly patient. it would be hard to guess that she was waiting for anyone at all, a passerby might think that it had been in her plans to take a few hours to stare over the bridge. Sasuke wasn't himself sure, whether that was or was not the case.
It was easier this way, Sasuke thought. He himself felt all emotion or contemplation flowing out of his body like a breath of air. He stared slightly upward, his hands in their usual resting place in his pockets as he stood in relaxation. Oblivious to everything around him, paying attention to every detail, every leaf in the wind. A practice in focus. A fundamental skill for a hunter like him.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Kakashi was, as usual, late. Although not as late as he'd been known to be, but not early enough for it to be overly strange. He wanted to emphasize the importance of this mission without overdoing it. He didn't want anybody to get apprehensive or nervous. Though with this pair it shouldn't be much of a problem.
It was sometimes disturbing to think that Sasuke had gotten better than him in skill. The true sharingan was a terrifying tool. But at the same time it was a good thing. He would need it to achieve the goal he wished to, though kakashi still didn't approve of revenge, he could well understand it. Knowing that it was a futile effort was for those that had already experienced it, or a rare few that ran by a rare logic. It required a lot of support not to fall to the side of an avenger.
It was a simple thought, revenge, when all you had was nothing. Destroyed. Everything Sasuke had know as a child had been broken. Kakashi was sure though, that Sasuke had forgotten the feeling of loss that had prompted his desire for revenge.
No in Sasuke's case it was the feeling of betrayal. His brother, who Sasuke had adored and admired above all others had rejected him. Sasuke likely at times felt that he should have died as well that he had not been judged worthy of death.
Kakashi could read people without the help of the sharingan, and his experience told him that the fact that Sasuke believed his brother wished him to be an avenger was to fill the gap in his existence that was reason. He didn't feel he'd have any reason for existing otherwise.
If Sasuke had been older when everything happened. Things would have gone differently. But the reasoning of a child can cary on to adulthood if it has enough meaning behind it. As one grows older, they will keep the same goal, yet create new reasoning new logic that is appropriate to their age of understanding.
Kakashi just hoped Sasuke would live through the trails ahead of him.
And then there was Sakura. She hadn't fallen behind by any means in her training or skill, though hers was all based around the one talent she had that many did not. An all important trait for a Ninja. Innocuousness. She was easily underestimated.
But her skill was consistent even though it often seemed only by miracle that she survived. She could constantly try her best, and do her best. It was in fact, a skill few had. Most people tried too hard or too little, yet she knew her limits and strengths.
She was intelligent, and hard to read, she had mastered the basics, where many just learned only enough to specialize in an art of offense. People always looked for, expected her to do something flashier, something more, and when she did just what they might have easily expected, had they just known she wasn't anything 'special'. She was entirely mediocre, in an age where ninja had forgotten that bloodlines meant nothing. And that was why she was better than even Sasuke in some ways. She was so obvious that no one would ever suspect it.
And now she was good enough to not make mistakes. In battle the first mishap could loose you your life.
Yet, Kakashi had never known Sakura's goals nor feelings well. She had been very obvious when she was younger, but women grew more complicated as they aged, and now the gap he'd had with Sakura as the student he least understood had only grown wider.
He wished that wasn't the case, because he could tell she needed someone to be close to her now. Even if she didn't know it.
He looked at the two of them for five minutes before he spoke. And they did nothing other than return the gaze unabashedly. Kakashi thought that they had grown similar in action while they had been apart. Why was that, he wondered. A question that likely would never be answered.
"Well It's time for your pre-mission debriefing I suppose" he started finally. Sasuke gave a slight nod. Sakura just waited, with relaxed poise.
"This may be a little hard to believe" he said "But the easiest way to get through is to be someone who obviously doesn't belong" He nodded at Sakura "You probably already know this much" She nodded back. "Well then I'll let you explain for a bit." She gave him an amused look.
"Since we're going into closed, and constantly surveyed territory, they'll be looking for anything that tries to slip through."
"Spies most often come in guises that are covered very well, they'll be looking at anyone who constantly moves in or out, whether they have reasons or not. They also have their own ninjas, so the standard tactics won't work."
"Or so we would assume. Since they know that we'll be looking for a way in, they cover everything. Our best chance would be something obvious, someone who doesn't belong, and doesn't have an excuse to get in."
"In other words, the best plan will be to have no plan, because a plan can be traced. Yet we still can't just go in as ourselves. We'll need a cover. Probably something vague, maybe with obvious holes."
"In general we want them to think that there's no way we could be spies with such a faulty plan or cover. We want to convince them that we're running away from something, but are not a threat." Sakura finished he explanation.
"Right." Kakashi affirmed. "They can only keep people out if it doesn't interfere with civilians. But they are allowed to go to any means to uproot spies. So although you might make it in, you're going to have to maintain your 'cover' as you look for your target. When you find him, it doesn't matter if they find out who you are. Go wild. You'll need it."
"That's the basic gist of it though. I can't tell you how to do it, and when you figure it out, you can't tell me what you're planning. Leaks are not allowable, failure is not an option. That's all, you're free to go." he finished, waving them off with his hand.
Afterwards he disappeared in a stereotypical ninja puff of smoke.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "You seem to have more experience, so I'll let you decide how we're going to do this" Sasuke said as they were left to their own devices. Sakura looked at him for a moment.
"Taking the easy way out, huh?" She asked, but then went on "It's probably better that way, You're right. I have more experience." She smiled a little wickedly. Sasuke glared at her. Sakura wondered why she was acting like this.
She thought she would have held back more, been more silent, more distant. But here she was, picking on him? She didn't even pretend to get it herself. Yet it would be a bad idea to look confused at the moment, so she opted for just going with it.
"Let's get to the point though" She said. "It would be best if we posed as some sort of fugitive duo. I was thinking spies for an allied side with the region we're going. it would give them a reason not to want to refuse us right away."
"We'll leave a lot of loose ends, buy as much time as possible to be there while they trail us and trace us. This would be a lot easier to plan if it were just me, but it wouldn't be smart to go up against that missing nin alone so I've got to figure out what you can do."
"If this is going to work you've got to completely and utterly believe the role you're in, without sacrificing either your mission or your cover. It shouldn't be too hard with this, but I suggest we spend some time practicing. You can opt for either siblings or a couple. Whichever you think might be easier. You don't have to decide now." Sakura said. She was about to continue on.
"Siblings is out of the question." Sasuke said immediately. Sakura gave him an odd look for a moment, but realizing his eyes had shifted into sharingan at the very mention of siblings she nodded.
"Alright." She said "But it may be difficult for you to pretend affection for me. Do you think you can do it?" Sakura asked. Sasuke leaned on the railing of the bridge and connected his hands together in front of his face.
"I'll do whatever is necessary." He said seriously. Sakura believed he would.
"Well don't go overboard. Try to think what you would do if you cared for someone, not what others would do." Sakura smiled slightly for a moment. "I don't want to see any naruto-like enthusiasm coming from you." She leaned against the railing about two feet away from him. Closer than she'd been in years.
"Ahou" Was all Sasuke said in reply, not even glancing in her direction.
"Well, we've got the basic plan then. We want to keep it vague so we can change things when needed. Maybe it would be better if we were in the middle of some kind of disagreement." Sakura pushed away from the railing. "I'll think about it for a while. I need to set some things up..." She said as she walked off. Sasuke sat there for a few moments until she was far enough away that she was fading out of site. He turned to watch her fade off between the buildings.
"She's changed" he murmured to himself as he also turned to leave. They'd meet early the next morning. But this time they'd be leaving, and not waiting for anyone else.
'I don't know if I like or dislike this' sasuke thought to himself. But he couldn't refuse. Not when it was his job, and not when his brother might be involved. He wondered what Itachi would think about his younger brother also becoming an Anbu like he had.