A/N: After 7 years, I decided to go back and finish the story. As such, a lot of things have changed in the Naruto-verse, and this story can now be officially classified as an AU. Plus, the break gave me some additional ideas for the story, hence, I had to extend it to more than two chapters.
Enjoy, and again, my heartfelt gratitude for the people who reviewed and encouraged me to finish writing this.
Homebound: The Second Chapter
For everyone who waited for the conclusion.
Uchiha Sasuke silently withdrew his blade, just as his opponent's chest trembled in painful desperation. Blood trickled down from the man's wound, mixing with an ugly shade of green and violet fluid that dripped from his sword's edge.
The fluid was a marriage of the venoms of Sound Country's most feared snakes. Like a serpent, it was vicious as it was efficient; the Uchiha's onyx eyes coldly watched his victim's rapid, lurching movements and the violent rise and fall of the man's chest. Tetany was starting to settle in, but it was only the beginning. At this moment, he knew that the venom was working its sadistic measures on the man's cardiac system: it would only be a matter of time before the man's heart will commence its last frenzied waltz that would culminate in an abrupt, complete cessation of movement.
A death literally caused by a heart that stopped beating.
He turned his back on the man, who choked out names he was not interested in. The scene was like a replica of the many other deaths he caused (and with a deplorable mix of viciousness and kindness, witnessed, too), and he once again noted that the names were always family members and loved ones who they would only remember at death's door.
Moans of pain erupted from the man's throat; his movements became more erratic.
It was only a few minutes ago when the man stood by Haruno Sakura's doorway, wearing a triumphant smile. As Sasuke watched from the shadows, the said man cockily bragged how during one of his routine rounds around the Godaime's residence, he inadvertently saw the Godaime's prided protégée let an ANBU into the house.
The malicious smile on the Konoha's guard widened as he gleefully recounted how he became privy to the seemingly reserved and glacial kunoichi's clandestine wantonly ways in bed. The man then proceeded to offer the rose-haired kunoichi two methods to seal the secret between just the two of them.
One was to pay him a kingly sum that a lifetime's worth of honest work could never produce. Yet, the guard explained that Haruno Sakura was as close as anyone could get to the village treasury.
The other option was for her to sleep with him for one night. The lusty man had the gall to tell the medical nin that she should consider herself privileged to be worth the kingly sum he was asking for.
"But conquering Konoha's Haruno Sakura in her most private world, one where only a few men could gain access to, nothing can make me prouder," said the male, cackling.
Haruno Sakura reacted with detached interest. She told the man to do whatever he wanted with his knowledge, and she would just have to react accordingly. Then she shut the door on the man's face.
The man left hastily, cursing. Wordlessly, Sasuke followed him, until they ended up in the isolated fields between the Godaime's land and the training forest for genin students.
The man's final shudder rung in Sasuke's ears. Satisfied, he placed his sakkat back on his head and prepared to slip away.
As he pivoted, his vision doubled. He staggered, nearly tripping over the corpse's worn shawl. His vision blurred while his throat felt it wanted to burn.
He muttered profanities under his breath. Ever since he left Haruno Sakura that fateful day, he started experiencing these symptoms. He chalked it up initially to fatigue from the exhausting foot journey he made to locate the Godaime's residence.
Yet despite a day's worth of recovery, his symptoms persisted.
His instincts told him he might have been poisoned by the woman, though he was careful not to touch any food or drink in her residence. While Orochimaru had gifted him with immunity to poison, he adhered to rigid precautionary measures when dealing with enemies. He was only willing to abandon life once he faces Uzumaki Naruto in the battlefield again. He would then make sure to thrust the man personally to Izanami-no-kami's lap.
"Damn it…" He trudged away from the scene, sensing a group of people coming this way.
"Snake bite, probably."
"I feel sorry for his wife and kids, too. Kiwako-san's eldest son is only four years of age. How will they survive?"
Haruno Sakura's chest tightened with the conversation she overheard. Yet the only sign she showed the news affected her was the flicker of pain in her emerald eyes. Her arms and fingers never shook a bit—years of training with the Godaime herself ensured that her best weapons would not waver at pressure.
She was summoned by the Konoha soldiers earlier after a group of children chanced upon the man's corpse. While inspecting the body, she realized that it was the same man who threatened to spill her carnal tryst with an unnamed man.
Yet she spoke to no one about it. She gently placed a white blanket on top of the cadaver and proceeded to provide the Konoha guards an official report of the man's death. She prayed Shizune-san would not elect to skim this specific report, or they would find out that she made some erroneous claims in an effort to throw off suspicions.
The man, indeed, died of snake venom, but not because of a snake bite. Her eyes scanned the foliage surrounding them. The puncture was made by a blade, not by a serpent's fang.
She had an idea how it happened.
Karin lifted the hem of her robe back on her slender shoulders again. Beside her, Uchiha Sasuke sat quietly, eyes shut. He seemed to have recovered from his illness, at least for the moment.
"Would you like some tea?" she asked, tone half-mocking him.
"I need to go," he replied curtly, moving from his seat.
"Wham, bam, thank you, Ma'am," the woman said sarcastically, pushing the bridge of her eyeglasses back up. "Sometimes I wonder why I even let you into my house. Konoha has been really nice to me, yet here I am acting like a cheating wife—"
"Get me that tea then," he interrupted.
She gave him an incredulous look, though her mouth twitched. "My pleasure, Your Excellency." She headed for the kitchen, and a few seconds later, he could hear the sound of ceramics being taken out of the storage shelves.
"Sasuke-dono," the syrupy voice of the woman emanated from the kitchen, to his annoyance. "Maybe doing the deed with someone you love is dangerous to your health. Stick to your whores, I say."
He suddenly wished his former subordinate was in front of him, where he could activate his Sharingan and give her a nightmare to remember.
"But in any case, you have to go back to her." Karin emerged from the kitchen, carrying a tray. "If she really did cause your sickness, then she's the only one who can cure you, too." She placed the tray down and relaxed to a seat next to him. "I refuse to act like a dog toy you can nibble on every time the need arises—unless we can practice it mutually."
He glared at her, and then reached for the cup.
"How surprising!" One eyebrow arched perfectly on Karin's face. "Won't you check it for little love charms or wayward ginseng strands? Oh, I forgot. Your only aphrodisiac is a certain cotton candy-haired woman who won't tell you where your ex-best friend lives."
"Stop acting like a jealous dead wife," he said dully as he sipped the drink.
Her nose crinkled. "A jealous dead wife. How unromantic." But they both knew it was apt. She hated him ever since he showed patent disregard for her life during Sasuke's battle with Danzo, and it would be life's most delicious treat for her to see him die in agony. Yet she would more likely die first before letting anyone get so intimately close to him as to make that fatal blow that would claim his life.
"I am no medic, but I am sure you can't survive very long with only my powers," she said after a while. "You have to go back to her, no matter how it scares you." Her voice sounded thoughtful, almost pained. Once again, she crossed the very thin line of hatred, and she sounded like the wistful, infatuated girl he once knew.
He placed his mug down. "I'm off."
The smirk returned on her face. "Good luck. Lock the door on your way out."
Haruno Sakura was in her apartment, smilingly reading a letter while she rested on her bed. It was a tiring day, and she wanted nothing else but to sleep. Yet here she was, picking up an ink bottle and a stash of papers so she could write back to her friends who left Konoha for various reasons—missions, marriages, destiny…
Her eyes softened. It seemed she would be the only person in the famed Konoha Eleven to stay in the village for the remaining part of her life, after all.
She abruptly stopped short of picking up a pen. Hastily, she dove and rolled to the corner of her room, just as her bedside lamp exploded. Panting, she looked at her bedroom window and found Uchiha Sasuke crouched on the pane, a taunting smirk on his face.
She picked herself up from the floor, and then gazed at him wanly. "You do realize that in a few seconds, people will be rushing to my room to check on the explosion and see if I'm okay."
"And I will kill them all if they dare interfere," he said matter-of-factly.
She sighed and shook her head from side to side. "You are quite the troublemaker, Sasuke-kun."
"Sakura-dono! Are you alright!" Rattled voices came from the other side of the door. "Answer us!"
She headed to the door and opened it slightly, just enough for her head to peek in and give the crowd that gathered an apologetic and reassuring smile. "I'm sorry, everyone! I tripped and broke my lamp, but I'm alright."
Sasuke, who was seated calmly on her bed, watched in amusement as she further assured the kibitzers that she was unharmed. When she was finally done, she shut the door and turned to him, her expression testy. "Good evening to you, too. To whom do I owe the honor of this nocturnal visit from a dead man?"
"Well, my little witch, you left me with a nasty treat, so think of the bombs as my thank-you gift," he murmured, his tone at once soft and vicious. It was enough to send a small shiver down Sakura's spine. She unconsciously embraced herself in response.
Sasuke saw her movement and had to smile secretly at that. He continued. "I am immune to all poisons known to mankind, but apparently, what you left me was different."
"It is," she affirmed smugly.
"And so," he drew closer to her, leaving just a breath of proximity between their faces. "You will tell me how to cure this poison, or I will kill you."
"Hopefully in less amateurish ways like how you disposed of the Konoha-nin this morning," she shot back.
"Oh, you will not be disappointed." Despite himself, he felt his hand move towards her chin, where it lingered. His eyes glowed in lust as he took in her ethereal features, bathed lovingly by the moonlight. He saw her quiver slightly under his scrutiny.
Reluctantly, he drew away from her. "Let's go."
"Where?" she asked, snapping out of her daze.
Instead of replying, his arms secured her shoulders and waist. A second later, he was carrying her in his arms.
"Sasuke-kun!" She grew alarmed as he eased them out of her bedroom window.
"Hold tight," he instructed.
Then they both disappeared in the darkness of the night.
He carefully placed her down on his makeshift bunk, and she rolled away from his grasp. Her alert jade eyes scanned the Spartan surroundings of his hideout while he calmly fixed the sleeves of his robe.
She finally turned to him. "Why did you bring me here?"
"You were too smug, so I thought I'd knock off a peg or two from you." But taking her out of her comfort zone was not his only purpose, he thought as his eyes scanned her trembling form quietly. Even in flannel and grandmotherly bloomers, Haruno Sakura could still elicit feverish white-hot desire within him. And he could not risk anyone seeing them again when he planned to take her again.
Her eyes met him challengingly. "If you're planning to intimidate me—oh!" Her green eyes widened in shock when he suddenly bent down to kiss her. His hand found its way to her nape and nudged her even closer to him. As their kiss deepened, his other hand proceeded to make little sensual trails all over her lithe body. He felt her shudder in pleasure from beneath him, making him smile.
She must have sensed it, for she pulled back from him. Her gaze locked on him. "Sasuke-kun…"
"Do not deny me, Sakura," he meant it as a command, yet to his ears it was more beseeching. He silently cursed himself for it.
It was her turn to smile—the gentle smile that reminded him of his own mother. It was one memory he sought to repress, yet returned in full force when he met Haruno Sakura in the Academy decades ago.
"I will not," she replied, voice brimming with affection he never imagined he would hear from her again. "How can I do that, Sasuke-kun, when I waited for this all my life?" Her mouth met his, silencing him effectively.
Tonight was different.
As Sakura nested herself in Sasuke's embrace, she recalled the way he loved her just moments ago. His defeated sigh as he finally helped her down on his bunk. His impatient tug on her clothes as her equally anxious fingers slid beneath his robes. Then the slow, tender, careful way he entered her, the small pain eventually giving way to ecstasy as immense pleasure rippled from her womb to her entire body. It was a far cry from their last encounter; this time he seemed to want to erase from her the painful memories of becoming one with him, which he left her the last time.
His hands and tongue expertly patiently prodded her to freedom, right until the final shudder when she thought she hit the highest roof of intangible madness. Seconds later, she felt him reach the apex, too, and then he fell on top of her, sweating and panting.
She raised her chin to look up at him, her eyes welling up with tears. She was beyond pretenses. "I will always love you, Sasuke-kun," she murmured to the sleeping man beside her. She cupped his face, intent to memorize the angelic innocence of his face.
It had been years since Uchiha Sasuke dreamt of something other than blood and death. But his dream at the moment consisted of a cherryblossom tree, where his twelve-year-old self and his teammate Uzumaki Naruto ate riceballs while waiting for their punctual-as-usual teacher, Hatake Kakashi.
Naruto was in his usual element, proudly declaring that he will become the greatest Hokage in Konoha's history. And in his usual silent way, Sasuke believed him. He thought he was above and beyond the boy, yet Naruto threatened him enough to know that the blond's incredible determination and compassionate heart meant that fate was entirely possible, if not inevitable.
They both turned when they saw 12-year-old Haruno Sakura rushing towards them, waving cheerfully. She greeted Naruto with her usual scoffing, then turned to him smilingly. She held her hand out to him.
Let's go home together, Sasuke-kun!
Yeah, Sasuke, let's go! Kakashi-sensei will just have to find us in the ramen shop.
He watched as Naruto jumped to his feet and pointed at the Hokage monument. Get a move on, let's go!
He found himself nodding, suppressing a smile of his own. He reached out to touch Sakura's hand, but the moment their fingers touched, her hand disappeared.
Naruto and Sakura vanished as well. He unsteadily stood up to look for them, just as the cherryblossom tree started to vanish, too. As the surroundings began to fade, he heard an older voice, unmistakably Sakura's.
I will always love you, Sasuke-kun.
When he opened his eyes, it was already morning. He felt groggy, and at the back of his mind he knew he overslept. He cursed under his breath—for someone like him who was a fugitive to many villages, falling into deep slumber was one of the most fatal mistakes he could commit.
His eyes widened. "Sakura!" He scanned the familiar surroundings, looking for the pink-haired woman in flannels, but found none.
His forehead creased. He rose and searched for his clothes. He immediately found them folded neatly on the only chair in the room. Dressing quickly, he left the bedroom to search for her. "Sakura!"
Was she able to escape? Sasuke ventured out of the hut and inspected the foliage for chakra. He sensed nothing.
Moving quickly, he reached for his disguises. He needed to return to Konoha and see her urgently, for reasons he couldn't comprehend at this time. As he reached for the ANBU mask, he saw a vial on the table, along with a handwritten note.
It simply said, "Your antidote."
Sakura was walking back from the village post office when she felt an all-too familiar presence—one she now knew intimately. She sighed. "Isn't my payment for your services last night satisfactory?"
An ANBU emerged from the shadows of a nearby alley. "Don't talk to me like a whore. Dirty talk excites me sometimes."
She eyed him warily. "What else do you want?"
Sasuke smirked from beneath his disguise. "Indulge me. The antidote you gave me does not have any medicinal properties at all."
"Oh?" She looked at him with mild amusement. "What makes you sure of that? You were never good at herbs and medicines back in the Academy."
"I had a friend look at it." Sasuke did not need to mention the humiliation he went through in Karin's hands when she finished inspecting the so-called antidote.
"It's water with strands of ginseng, Sasuke. It will make your endocrine glands happy, but that's it." Karin gave him a look of derision. "Where did you get this stuff from, Sasuke, a quack doctor?"
She allowed a smile on her face. "Because what I gave you is not poison."
He gaped at her, dumbfounded.
"I knew about your poison immunity," she said casually. "But you are not immune from viruses, like every other human being."
She nodded. "The first time we—" Her cheeks flushed. "—copulated, that's how you got infected. It's a particular strain I discovered during my medical studies and took into my body. When by itself it mostly lies dormant, until it sees a certain cell in a host, and that's the time it would become active. I cultivated this cell to locate traits of snakes, you see, which I anticipated you should still have traces of."
"It's pretty harmless," she explained quickly when she noticed how he suddenly grew quiet. "I designed it to give you a scare, so you would go back to me for the cure. But then… " She looked away, cheeks burning. "Well, we did it again, which I think killed the initial strains, so inadvertently, you got cured."
"So what you're telling me," he said, making her pause, "is if we copulate again tonight, I will get the viruses back, and to prevent this from happening, we need to copulate once more and counteract it."
She looked at him, a flabbergasted expression on her face.
He smirked. "Don't tell me you left that ginseng as an innocent gesture of friendship, Sakura."
She gaped at him wordlessly.
He sauntered towards her and placed his hand on her hair. Then to her shock, his hand moved to mess it up, with ill-concealed fondness. Then he started to walk away, waving. "I will see you tonight."
Sakura watched him, a smile creeping on her face, too.
To be continued