Chapter 4: Akatsuki
Three exhausting days later, they finally reached the pass over the mountain. Sasuke left the path and led her along a small forest track. And, unexpetedly, in the middle of the forest, there was a village. Sakura was astonished. "What is this?"
"Don't ask any questions for now. You aren't supposed to be here."
They walked along the village's protective barrier and Sakura whispered: "We're being watched."
He nodded. "They noticed us already. They're suspicious. Don't do anything that could look like an attack." He led her to an entrance and much to her surprise there seemed to be no one to guard it. They entered the village and Sakura started to feel even more uncomfortable. The village was small, but what was bothering her was that it seemed as if it was abandoned. There were no people on the streets. But Sasuke didn't seem to care, so she stayed silent and followed him. He headed for the largest house in the middle of the village and opened the door. Two men were waiting inside.
"It's forbidden to bring civilists", one of them said. "Who is she?"
"She wants to be one of us", Sasuke replied. "Is Kin-san here? I need to talk to him."
One of them nodded and they stepped aside. Sasuke turned around and told Sakura: "Wait here and don't move. They won't hurt you."
Obediently she stayed and watched him leave the room, hoping that he'd come back soon. She had a bad feeling about this, this room, this place was… frightening. Something was wrong with it and she would have preferred to leave this village right there and then and never come back again.
Curtly, Sasuke explained how he had met Sakura. Kin was listening quietly, and Sasuke added: "She doesn't want to give up being a Shinobi. I know her, she is strong, she could be helpful for us. She has nowhere else to go. Her hatred for the Hidden Leaf Village could come in handy and I'll take full responsibility for her. She won't tell anyone about this."
"This doesn't sound right to me. Are you sure it was a coincidence that you met her? Maybe she is a spy or an assassin."
"I considered that too, but if the Hokage really wanted kill one of us or send us a spy, they wouldn't have chosen her. We used to be… friends. I can read her easily. If she was planning something, I would have seen through it immediately."
"Very well", the head of the village said. "If she really wants to become one of us, she could be useful indeed. The Kyuubi is still at the Hidden Leaf Village. She might provide us with essential information. But I want proof that she isn't a spy. I'll send someone to make sure she was banned from the Hidden Leaf Village. And meanwhile, you two will go out on a mission. You will watch over her and make sure she kills the target herself. If she betrays us… kill her."
Slowly he nodded. "Alright."
"You're leaving tomorrow. You'll receive information about the mission later."
Sasuke turned to the door, but before he could open it, Kin added: "You're taking a great risk, Sasuke. If she is a spy, we're in danger. I hope you are aware that you're indeed responsible for her. If she causes us any trouble before we make sure she is trustworthy, you'll pay with your life."
When Sasuke returned, he seemed even more serious than usual. "What did he say?", Sakura asked, worried.
"We'll talk about it when we're alone." He pulled her along and together they left the building.
Sakura followed him through the village until a small house, which door was unlocked. "We'll stay here. You'll get new clothes soon, but so far there is no other place to stay for you." They entered and he locked the door behind them. He made sure that there was no one in the house and then he said: "Okay, Sakura. They decided to give you a chance."
"But there is a catch, right?"
"Well, sort of. Tomorrow, we are going to leave for a mission. They want you to kill someone."
"This is some kind of test, right? They want me to prove my loyalty", she said and he nodded. "Alright. I want to know who these people are and what they're doing. I can't kill for someone I don't even know."
"We're part of the Akatsuki. We search the shinobi nations for powerful beings and strong bloodlines, and…"
"W-wait a second!", she interrupted him. "Akatsuki? Are you telling me…"
"Yeah", he replied. "It's the organisation Itachi is a part of."
Sakura wanted to say something, but she was too surprised. But this actually made sense. That was the reason why Sasuke was working for these weird people. To be able to meet his brother. That was why Sasuke had done all these horrible things since he had left the Hidden Leaf Village. He was known as a ruthless killer and she had always wondered how he could have become someone like that. Now she knew, she should have known from the start. Itachi. Revenge. "Have you found him already?", she asked hoarsely. "Your brother, I mean."
"No. He is one of the nine, they hardly ever show up at our hideouts. And whenever he showed up, he was already gone when I arrived. Itachi is like a phantom, you cannot find him if he doesn't want to be found."
"That means you are a member of this… organisation to find him."
He nodded and said: "Don't ever say that out loud. I don't know if Itachi is even aware that I'm here. They have lots of hideouts in all shinobi nations with thousands of men working for them. I was recruited after I left Orochimaru. Since no one ever asked, I guess they don't even know that I want to kill him."
"This doesn't sound right. Maybe Itachi knows about all of this. Aren't you afraid that this is just his way to keep an eye on you?"
"Maybe it is. But to me, it's a way to find him, eventually. And to become stronger."
Sakura sighed. This was even worse than she had expected. She had met Itachi only once, but he was neither stupid nor careless. But when it came to Itachi, Sasuke wasn't reasonable. It was no use to try and talk to him. Instead she said: "Okay. Tell me more."
"Okay. I suppose you know that the actual akatsuki consist only of nine members, including Itachi. They want more power, currently they are trying to find and capture monsters like the kyuubi banned into human bodies. They recruit people like us to search for powerful beings and bloodlines, to gather information and do all the stuff they don't want to do themselves. It's most important for them to keep the akatsuki organisation a secret, that's why they want to test you. They need absolute loyalty."
"How does murder prove anything about my loyalty?"
"Believe me, that's not all they're going to do to make sure that you aren't a spy. But everyone has to pass this first test, just to make sure one is willing to kill for the organisation."
"I see… so, are you going to come with me?"
"Yeah. But I'm only supposed to support you. You have to kill him."
Oh my, I'm so sorry I didn't update for such a long time. I was a little worried, since this thing about the Akatsuki turned out to be so wrong… I know you guys can be very critical and didn't know if it would be a good idea to post this. But I guess it can't be helped, this is essential for the story so it has to stay that way. I also don't remember if this chapter has been seen by my beta-reader yet (sorry, it's been so long…). I didn't want to bother him with something he probably already saw through so I'm gonna post this just as it is cause it looks fine to me. Well… sorry again, everyone.