AN: All right, next chapter!!

Broken Wings Chapter 6: At Death's Door

………

New York

"I can't believe this!" Shikamaru plopped himself onto a chair near Neji's bed. "How the hell do you get shot?!"

Neji scoffed, "The gunman was Kakashi, that's how… Moron." He looked away bitterly. Tenten placed a hand on his shoulder soothingly, but he brushed her off with a growl.

"Why the hell is that man associated with that pixie? How come he had to end up there of all places?!"

"Maybe he's her lover." Shikamaru said nonchalantly.

Tenten shook her head. "Sir Kakashi is a tad old, and besides they seemed more like parent and guardian."

"Still, in our society, you never know…" He replied with a shrug. Neji suddenly got up, but a sharp pain in his leg caused him to collapse.

"Neji!" Tenten wrapped her arms around him. "Why are you trying to walk? You know you can't yet; it's only been a few hours for heaven's sake!" She scolded him. Neji seemed very tiny at the moment, which caused Shikamaru to snicker. The pearl-eyed man glared at his partner.

"So I take it you got shot in the leg?" Shikamaru concluded, "and this somehow proves that the man was Kakashi…?" Neji didn't reply.

"Kakashi and Sakura were exiting the store," Tenten explained, "The original plan was to have Neji place a tracker on her, simply and quickly; however, as Neji approached, Kakashi must've recognized him because he took the girl and ran. He," She referred to Neji, "stupidly decided to pursue them and not try again later. They ran a few blocks and eventually, the man pulled out a gun and shot him in the leg. You do know how hard it is to shoot someone in the leg while they're running don't you?"

"Still, it doesn't prove anything, the man could've been anyone, perhaps even her body guard? He's being paid to hurt someone professionally." Shikamaru suggested.

"How many people do you know have that hair?!" Tenten question him sharply.

"Maybe he started a trend." He suggested again.

"Anyone who has ever seen the guy, besides us, is dead. He wears a mask, but that hair and that 'book' is undeniably Kakashi." She smirked seeing Shikamaru's solemn expression.

"I suppose it could be a possibility. I'm not confirming anything until I see him for myself, but this is going to screw with Uchiha, isn't it?" Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. Both Neji and Tenten nodded grimly. "Well, at least his inner angst will provide me with some sort of decent entertainment for the next few days or so, besides you getting shot, of course, Neji." He let out a small laugh.

Neji limped over and clobbered Shikamaru in the head. "I don't even want to think about how you got into this job."

………

Hinata giggled as she exited the mall with Naruto. She held three bags in her hands, and Naruto left with four, but only one belonged to him. He had decided to buy her a few things in order to make up for the flight. Of course, she declined graciously, but he insisted and picked items off of racks randomly.

So, here she was trying to accept the fact that she was having a good time, and being spoiled too. She hadn't felt this way since she was a little girl. He seemed to bring back that sort of happiness in her.

"Well, we'd better head back," a few moments of silence… "Ne, Hinata-chan," His face grew stern all the sudden, "how come you're here anyway?" She gave him a surprised look.

"I-I'm your medical specialist-."

"Don't take this the wrong way," He continued, "we've never needed a medical specialist ever, and all of our injuries can easily be taken care of by ourselves or in the hospital. I don't think this mission is serious enough anyway…" He scratched the back of his head. Hinata held her breath until he finished his conclusion. She suddenly grew nervous. 'Does he know?'

"Ah, but what the heck," Naruto shrugged, "if this mission wasn't serious, Orochimaru wouldn't send you, right? Maybe I'm just thinking too much…"

The thought of a thinking Naruto caused her to let out another giggle.

"Hey, hey! That's not funny!" He protested. She covered her mouth to hide the smile. 'Perhaps not all these people are so bad after all…'

………

Sakura's Apartment later that night…

An odd chill enveloped Sakura's body. She knew fully that something was wrong after her guardian swiftly left her after their shopping trip, and now she was paranoid. She checked each room in her spacious apartment twice, quickly used the bathroom, turned on security, placed a phone and a baseball bat next to her, dressed in a comfortable night gown (in case she needed to run), and finally hopped into bed. She slept on her back so that she knew exactly what was on either side of her. 'How did it come to this?'

Sakura slapped her forehead and turned to her clock. It was only eight p.m. 'Well, I have to get an early start right?' The more she thought about it, the more she felt her paranoia rise, and could only comprehend two things. 'I am going to die, and I am scared shitless.' A sudden scratch at the window caused her to shriek. Sakura sprang out of bed with the bat in hand. After a few moments of heavy breathing she slowly returned to bed. 'This is silly... I'm just-...'

She closed her eyes. Another scratch came at her window. She tightened her eyelids and clutched the blanket closer to her body. 'Stop it Sakura, this is nothing... nothing at all.' She kept convincing herself. A final scratch had her sitting straight up in bed. 'Something's wrong.' Sakura turned her green eyes to the window and noticed the curtain flowing freely from the open window. 'No...' She reached out for the bat and found it gone.

'Click.'

A horrified gasp escaped her lips. 'How could I've been so stupid?!' She screamed at herself mentally as the feeling of cold metal pressed against her forehead. 'No... I should've known!.' Sakura lived near the top floor of the apartment complex where no trees could possibly reach to scratch the glass, and the windows were too high for mischievous children to throw things at. She scolded herself for not remembering sooner. 'I'm going to...'

"Don't move." A voice seethed. She held in a gasp and closed her eyes tightly praying to God she wouldn't die tonight. The metal was pressed even closer to her forehead. A little shriek escaped her lips; she grasped her sheets. "I thought I said—fuck!" He swore abruptly. The lamp near her bed had been knocked over causing a flicker of electricity. Sakura took her chance and crawled ungracefully off the bed, getting tangled in the sheets.

The man quickly grabbed the fabric and pulled. Sakura flipped off of her bed painfully, but she got up and ran out of her room. "Where do I go?" she asked herself in a panic as she ran down the narrow hallway. The man was coming. Her apartment, although spacious, was not a great place to run around feely in. She hopped across the couches in her living room and almost dove into the kitchen. "Ah ha!" She grabbed the knife off of her counter…

But it was quiet. It was as if the man had never been there at all. Sakura dared to peek into her bedroom door from the kitchen where it was visible, but the only thing she could see was darkness. Of course, the place was filled with a little bit of moonlight from the windows… still she expected him to chase after her, or shoot her, or grab her or… something.

She felt like the pretty girl who stereotypically dies a bloody death in a horror movie, standing there shakily with a butcher knife in hand. All she could do was glance around and listen to her own breathing. The best thing she could do now, she thought, was to pick up the phone and call Kakashi, or run out of her apartment like an idiot and scream to her neighbor that there was someone up in her house trying to kill her. Except… her neighbors thought she was slightly disturbed with all the furniture she usually throws around and the mood swings she often has…

Call Kakashi. 'Plain and Simple.' Sakura nodded to herself and picked up the phone across from her on the counter. With the knife in a ready position she took the mere three steps to reach the talking device.

'Click.'

'Damn it.' Sakura cursed mentally when she saw the barrel of the gun in her face once again. Her fingers were on the phone, and the man was sitting daintily on her counter top… with his dirty shoes… She glanced down irritably and the faint specks of dirt illuminated in the moonlight.

A drop of sweat fell from her. The man pressed the gun to her once again. "I'll scream." She threatened.

"Try it." He dared her with a dark voice. Sakura shuddered and opened her mouth to do so. He aimed the gun into her mouth. "Now stay just like that and you won't have anything left in your lungs or your whole damn repertory system to scream with in two seconds, and I'll shoot you so that you're still alive to feel it."

'He's so mean!' Sakura thought. She smacked herself. 'Well, what an odd thought to have when you're about to be murdered! Think of something! Do something!' She closed her mouth, shut her eyes, clutched the knife and swung. 'Thwack!'

"Ah!" The man dropped his gun with a surprised and angry look on his face. He clutched his bleeding hand and growled at her. "Damn it." He reached into his sleeve to get his knife, but when he looked up—

"Don't move." Sakura commanded with a shaking voice. She held the gun he had dropped. 'Ah haha! The tables have turn Mr. Assassin guy!' She congratulated herself. He merely raised an eyebrow, which she saw because the moonlight slightly enlightened his face. Sakura could see the outline of a very good-looking man. 'Is that a good thing? Or a bad thing?'

From the corner of her eye Sakura saw the man's hand moving. Before she could react he smacked the gun out of her hands roughly and swung his foot around on the counter to kick her in the jaw. Surprised and stunned because he dared to hit a girl, she fell back onto the counter behind her and hit her back painfully on the granite surface. Sakura let out a breath of pain. The man then took the knife out of her hand in her dazed state, and aimed the gun once again at her forehead.

"Now you die."

Sasuke smirked triumphantly; his hand tightened on the trigger.

TBC…