Chapter 1: Deal Breaker
For Wicked Innuendo
What a set of sad circumstances Sakura found herself in as she managed to lift her heavy and pain ladened head from the stone floor. Was it stone? The cold hardness below her cheek for the last hour screamed yes, in a most ungentle way.
You're a fool, she admonished inwardly.
Her loud groan echoed off the stone walls around her, bouncing back to mock her pain.
"Damn it, damn it."
The irony of it was almost laughable, if laughing wouldn't have hurt her head at that moment. A bargain and her own choices had landed her in the direst situation of her young life. Silently, she prayed that she was trapped in the tsukiyomi of the elder Uchiha's eyes but knew it was foolish to wish that. This was real. It was as real as it gets. The large throbbing goose egg hidden under mounds of short pink locks reminded her over and over that she had made her own bed on this one.
Sakura's stomach hitched as waves of nausea crawled through her, but she wouldn't be sick. God no, I won't be sick in here. Lying back down on her back, the coolness of the hard rough floor was almost a relief as she held the sore side of her head to it. The chill went right through her red shirt and black shorts. Fighting hard to keep the spinning room at bay, she breathed slowly, vainly fighting to convince her insides that this was not the time to lose it.
Lifting her hands up, she took in the bindings around her slender wrists.
It was unusual to bind a ninja's hands in front of them, but this was something special. Useful and calculating in it's design, the restraint was obviously meant for ninja because it bound the hands back to back. The leather straps crisscrossed over the wrists keeping them immobile. There was no way to do any sort of jutsu in this device. Clever. Well, isn't he a good little resourceful Uchiha?
The position she lay in became uncomfortable and her shoulders ached with the strain of her wrist positioning. But, she didn't have much longer to dwell on it as footsteps drew near to the darkened wooden door in front of her. Almost as if it were expected, her heart sped up on cue as a shadow loomed at the crease of light under that wooden barrier between she, and most likely, painful death.
The knob turned and her mind instantly replayed how she came to be here as if it were struggling to change the details to something less frightening.
It was midday, a water filled canyon and many, many black and red coats engaging their group of determined Leaf nins. Kakashi and Gai had taken point, pressing on to try to get to the leader. But Sakura had a different target. He'd been her target for a while since she learned who he was.
There'd been a few defining moments for her since becoming a ninja. The kind of moment that makes everything clear and you almost expect the clouds to part and a ray of light to shine down on such an epiphany. Kakashi's words had sparked one.
"How has your vision been, Itachi?" the silver haired Senpai chided to the deadly Uchiha at their first meeting in the forest.
Blindness was creeping into Uchiha Itachi's life and it suddenly became Sakura's failsafe. As much as she admired Kakashi, Gai and Naruto, and everyone else there to fight, she could think of no one more able to defeat Orochimaru than Itachi.
When the moment came to put her plan into action, she found Itachi among the fray. His blank face looked at hers from just above that wide high collar. There was only animal coldness, like something contemplating how easy it would be to kill you rather than waste time in a pointless fight.
There'd been many times she'd felt fear, many times she'd made it through it, but this time was so much worse. Just say the words, she told herself, let the chips fall where they may.
"I have a proposition for you, Uchiha-san," and with that she let some of the strain of the kunai she held against his wane slightly, accentuating her will.
Itachi felt her let up and immediately he was on her, the tip of his kunai pressed into her throat. The warm line of blood slid down her skin as she waited to see if he would respond or end her life. Such a foolish gamble. Those few seconds seemed like an eternity as her life began to flash before her.
But he just looked at her, cold, impassive, blank.
The compulsion to ask him again was playing in her thoughts, but the kunai pressed to her neck so tightly made her worry that even speaking would slit her throat. She resisted even the urge to swallow. His hand was clamped on the back of her neck as the cold steel lay across the plane of her throat.
The dark Uchiha's face was still unreadable, but for a moment his hand loosened.
"Five seconds," he said in that deep soft voice of his.
"I'm a medic nin, trained by Tsunade. I'm the best you'll meet. I can fix your eyes but in exchange you must help me get Sasuke away from Orochimaru."
Was that longer than five seconds? Her mind shrieked it as her eyes scanned his forehead protector. The line through the steel carved leaf became incredibly interesting to her as she tried so hard not to look into those hauntingly dangerous eyes. The rise of her chest was telling as she began to shake in his grasp. Never before had she felt so close to death.
"Hmph," he smirked. It made her look at his mouth just above that fabric band and she saw a familiar look cross his lips. It had been over two years since she had seen that same Uchiha smirk, but on another man's mouth.
She turned briefly. Kakashi was glancing at her with some strange fear amid his own battle and Naruto seemed to be breaking away from the nins he was fighting. Time was running out.
"Is it a deal?" she breathed out carefully.
Itachi finally let go and took two steps back, his cloak hiding the rapid movements of his feet. "Kisame," was all he said.
"Kis..?" Sakura began to say, but a crash rang through her head and body bringing everything to darkness.
Now, as the door swung fully open ahead of her, casting the yellow glow of man made light across the floor, she squinted at the shadow brushing towards her. The long cloak swayed with his movements as he approached until he was right in front of her prone, straining form on the stone floor.
Sakura raised her bound hands to her face, hoping to thwart the blow she half expected him to give her. That cold nothingness filled Itachi's face as he bent to look at her.
"It's a bargain, Kunoichi, but if you don't heal my eyes or you break our deal, I'll kill you."
"I believe you," she whispered, trying to hide the obvious fear trickling along her body and glowering in her green eyes.
"That makes things much easier," he seemed to smile, but it wasn't friendly. It didn't touch those deep red eyes.
Another shadow passed through the door and Itachi stood and turned away from her, giving his attention to the other man.
"You hit her too hard," he said quietly, no tone of anger, just indifference. "She's damaged. Look at her eyes."
"If she's a medic, she'll heal. Aren't you curious how well she can heal? You can't just take her word for it." Kisame growled low and gravelly. A grunting laugh followed his observation.
"Yes," Itachi began, "I am curious. I'll be returning in two days. We'll see how well she does."
Even in the dim half-light of the open doorway, Sakura could see the sharkman's sickly sadistic grin bending the gray flesh around his mouth. What had she gotten herself into? The question seemed to ring over and over in her mind as she watched the conversation end and the two men leave.
Now, the pain began to free her from her mental burden for a little longer as the darkness overcame her once again.
As her eyes cracked open this time, it was light in the small cell she was in. The walls and floors were gray, hard and dull. The door was indeed wooden and had no window. It appeared to have a slot at the bottom on hinges, likely for pushing food in and out of the room. There was a wire-framed bed, typical of a jail cell, with rusty springs. A striped bedroll was rolled up on it and she hoped that it was clean. A small oil lamp burned on the wall near the door. There was a sink and a toilet, and a drain in the floor. For what, she couldn't be sure. Maybe it was to wash away the gore after a messy execution?
That isn't helping, she told herself.
Managing to sit up, Sakura was startled by the figure at the other side of the room, which she hadn't taken in yet. The tall ninja sat on the floor, unmoving. His gray-blue epidermis was tinged a muted skin tone in the orange glow of the lamp fire. His black soulless eyes watched her every movement and that same dark smile was on his mouth as if it was still there from the last moment she looked at him.
"I've been waiting for you to wake up. It's been another twenty four hours, Kunoichi."
Another twenty-four hours? The fear shook through her body again. She was gone for over two days and no one had come to get her? Obviously this little personal prison was somewhere Naruto and Kakashi couldn't find her, and that worried her more than it had previously. Before, she hadn't wanted to be found, but now…now, she wanted to wipe the last couple of days from existence.
"Wh…why?" she whispered. Why was he sitting here staring at her? Without any ability to control it, she began to shiver as if the floor had turned to ice. Maybe it was infection fever? Maybe it was blinding fear, who knew? If they'd made a deal, then this man wouldn't be here to kill her, would he? He would have killed her in her sleep, right? Maybe it wasn't as fun, she cringed inwardly as the sadism spread across his shark-like face.
That isn't helping, she reminded herself again.
"So, Medic, I'm curious about your healing abilities. The Uchiha genius seems to think you're capable but I'm not convinced." He chuckled his delight at having such a play toy in his grasp.
"I'm not here to aid you," she managed in an audible tone while swallowing down her fear.
His laughter filled the stone room, bouncing off the walls and invading her skin, creating painful ripples of fear. He must have seen it on her face because he laughed harder.
"I love your fear, Medic. No, you aren't here to help me, but I'm curious for a demonstration." His tone turned softer, but no less deadly.
Her eyes snapped to his dark menacing glare and she began to shake her head in understanding of what he meant to do.
Standing up in a fluid simple motion, Kisame approached Sakura slowly, enjoying the way she tried to shrink into herself to avoid his incoming grasp. His strong leathery hands grabbed her red shirtfront and pulled her to her feet. The pain filled her body from being immobile on the stone floor for almost two days. Such a sudden shift in positions made her wince more loudly than she would have liked.
"Itachi returns tomorrow. I expect you to be healed by then." His gruff intonation was so nonchalant it was almost humorous. He grinned as his hand cocked back and flew towards her face. In that split second before the heavy blow would take away consciousness again, only one thing ran through her mind.
Let it be a dream, just a horrible nightmare I'll wake up from when that door opens, she prayed silently. Lying frigid and in extreme pain, Sakura tried, in vain, to shift her body. Every movement caused shocks of anguish to ride through her. Bastard, she gritted her teeth as she thought of his pointless beating. Just once. He'd hit her just once and she'd been knocked out cold.
He didn't seem like he wanted to hurt her for fun, well, not completely. It almost seemed like he was testing her. He hit her face once, and once only. Sadly, that was all it took to break her cheekbone. If she could see in a mirror, she'd imagine that her eye was probably full of blood too. The socket felt damaged and the area around it was swelled and pained enough that it was impossible to touch. There was also a cut down her right arm and two fingers were broken, but she didn't remember how that happened. The way they stuck out at odd angles worried her and she thought that it was perhaps too late to fix them now.
Straining a little, Sakura managed to lift her head from the floor and turn enough to see feet pass in front of the doorway, breaking the small light with it's shadow. Just as it had before, her heart sped up and the adrenaline stole a little of the pain for it's fuel. She couldn't help the small helpless noise that escaped her lips as the doorknob turned and the light began to cut a path over the dark stone floor.Itachi
Damn it. Another day passed, she marveled inwardly. Three days gone, no rescue and it seemed like only blinks of conscious and unconscious as they passed.
This was probably it, her mind screamed; he was coming to kill her. His steps were slow, measured and sure. He came straight towards her and stopped short of a step. One more and he would have kicked her sick stomach. Actually, she waited for the blow to land.
But so far he hadn't acted, he just stood there and she was afraid to look up at his face. Loosely, the open cloak started pooling around his feet as he crouched low in front of her. Reacting to his movement, Sakura's hands lifted, still bound in front of her face for what small protection she could give herself. She knew her hands were shaking but she didn't care. Maybe he wouldn't want to touch her blood? Yeah, right.
Somewhere in her mind, she figured he was going to make good use of that drain in the floor now.
"Look at me, Kunoichi," he said in a low, unreadable tone. It was as emotionless as the creased line that passed for his mouth.
She could only make a small sound of pain as she kept her eyes shut, bound hands shaking above her. It was then that the heat of his hand clung around one forearm, but not harshly, not to hurt her. He lowered her hands away from her face, and he felt like fire against her freezing skin. Another small noise of pain escaped her, but in more of a hiss this time.
A second figure entered the room behind the Uchiha genius, and Sakura could tell by the smell and the way her back straightened, that it was Kisame.
"I told you she couldn't heal," he almost laughed, "It would be my pleasure to kill her for you."
"Look at me, Kunoichi. Now," Itachi said again with a hint of assertiveness, but no malice.
With some curiosity of how she'd managed to live past the first few seconds of his entrance, she lowered her hands to look up at him. Blood coloured sharingan stared down at her. His eyelashes were so long, and the shape of his eyes was something akin to a woman's femininity. For a moment she felt captured, but not taken. He didn't use them on her.
"How much chakra have you drained from her?" Itachi asked Kisame, his eyes still focused on the pained medic.
"I took some every three hours with Samehada, since you left. The fifth Hokage trained her. We don't need her breaking down the wall with her punches."
"You didn't leave her enough to heal with. Her hands are still bound. How could she heal herself, Kisame?"
The tall sharkman stood there staring at the Uchiha's back as if the answer might be written there. Itachi was so calm, so close to a whisper that Sakura was misunderstanding the situation a little bit. Was he angry?
"Are you this ill educated in chakra that you did not understand she would need some energy and her hands to heal herself?"
Oh, I think that one was rhetorical, Sakura warned the sharkman mentally. Something was escalating; she could feel it. Maybe it was Itachi's power because the room seemed filled with his presence, filled with some sort of prickling energy that scared her even more.
"You overestimate her, Itachi. She should be killed," Kisame growled.
"I overestimate you. Shall I kill you too?"
Something strange happened at that moment. Itachi was no longer in front of her, but beside Kisame. The sharkman was doubled over and blood dripped on the floor.
"Get out of my sight, Kisame. I would make the medic heal you, but since you have prevented that, I guess you'll have to suffer. I'll make it her choice when she's able."
Kisame looked up at the Uchiha with a mixed look of something between pain, anger and apology. The last emotion seemed the weakest, of course. Slowly, he hobbled towards the door, a low growl trickling out of his throat. But it wasn't directed at his partner, it was directed at Sakura.
A little more fearful of the growling sharkman, Sakura was also upset that he'd directed the anger at her. It was his mistake, he should own it, but since Itachi was stronger, Kisame would naturally choose to pick on the weakest of their small group. It was survival of the fittest, she supposed.
But the anger died fast as the Uchiha turned back to face her, a bloody kunai held in his hand and an impassive look on his face. He was the sort of man who could stab a 'friend' and not blink twice. The type of man he was became so clear to her in that second when he looked back down on her.
His steps moved him towards her as she struggled to move away.
Maybe this was it? And death was creeping up with quiet feet.
She closed her eyes.
I've got 2 major fics in the works but this little one has really been bugging me. It's not going to be long. I'm going to estimate 4 to 5 chapters and will be fairly quick. It will build on the Hour a little. Thanks for reading.