Disclaimer: Honey, I don't need to own Naruto to write fanfiction.

Penname: LiveLoveLaugh

FanFiction Story: Playing Hard to Get

Summary: (Such Sweet Sorrow sidefic, or not) Her heart was broken. Tragedies had easily interfered into her life. Death of loved ones. People changed. She changed. Time was cruel. Sakura was given the chance to start all over again…she took that chance.

Author's Note: I had to delete my original plot to Playing Hard to Get, I got sick of coming up with ideas for that pathetic Mary-Sue story. I still can't believe I wrote that story. So I'm keeping the title, and making up a new plot. This was supposed to be in the later parts of the story Such Sweet Sorrow, until it kept bugging me over and over again. It came to a time of desperation when I began to think that someone might take my idea, so I needed to jot down out all my ideas before it happens. It's a sister story to SSS, so it tells what happens when Sakura couldn't take it anymore. The breakup with Sasuke, the fight with her parents, so on and so forth the tragedies that began to come at her will arise to a state when she would take everything and start all over again.

Listen to There's No Solution – Sum 41, it really sets the mood. (Laughs) Have a good read.


Prologue: In Short Details


"Come visit me," she whispered, her childish smile widened, "Tell them—tell them you are visiting one of the old people."

"I-I can't do that, the Hidden Sand needs assistance," the medic-nin just wanted to run away.

"I am an old person," the patient beamed, caressing her own face, "Look at my wrinkles. You are visiting me. So it becomes true. Not a sin. Not a lie. No hell. You see? Go inside, then walk out through the backdoor to the top Tower corridors. The others—they are always spying on me so that I—did you know my children were also locked up?" the old woman interrupted herself, a bitter sadness dwelled in her old eyes, "It's like a line, don't you think?"

The other woman looked scared, panicked. The clipboard in her shaking hands almost slipped off.

"My hubby killed someone, so he had to be locked up. My son and daughter-in-law had leprosy, so they had to be locked up. My grandkid Rini and I had to be locked up too because we saw something—something bad, I think," She looked frustrated, trying to remember, "We can't leave the premises."

It was the thrill of the moment that had her blood pumping, her headaches came back that had driven her wild with this craziness. Perhaps, maybe she was wrong (or right), that this craziness came from the same brittle lithe body of the old psycho who clasped her hand with her own that was adorned with the many bottle cap rings that twinkled light after illumination from the underground skylights. Her pale brown eyes glared up at her own green ones, her mischievous smile full of false teeth. The frightened kunoichi smelled the scent of ginger and chlorine coming from her when the finely wrinkled face was pushed close to her young one.

The old woman was dressed in a white hospital gown had shown that she had escaped from her room, yet again.

"I'm not crazy," she murmured, her gray hairs seemed to have twisted and teased tighter and tighter.

Then, why do they lock you away? Why are you always escaping?

"You're not crazy," the girl murmured back stunningly, her green eyes were wide.

"Anda-san!" the traveling voices coming from around the corners, had the smile widen on the woman's face like bird's wings in flight, "Anda-san! You need to come back!"

"Come and visit me!" the old woman whispered urgently, clasping onto her wrist tighter.

"Don't be foolish, Joben Anda!" the medics cried.

The scent had increased when the girl felt the rough hand pressed against her cheek, her breath hitched. The psycho pushed a finger onto her cracked lips, her bottle cap rings glimmered like they were real jewels. It was all the younger woman could have done not to speak a single word. The shadows of the Sand medics was coming closer and closer, cornering them.

Anda brought Sakura close to her, that she spoke nothing but wild wisdom.

"Keep escaping."

She wanted to say no, go away. Stop. "Always keep escaping." Shut up. You're crazy. "As long as you keep escaping," Anda whispered. No. Shut up. Look. They got you, they're going to lock you up forever. It's over!

"They will never get you."

Fool. Crone. Psycho. Mental. Retard. Go away.

"Even if they think they do."

Psycho. Psycho.

It was then her entire masqueraded world had already fallen apart.

Too late.


Sakura couldn't take it anymore, speaking out immediately, "Tobio…y-you don't need to do this!"

"Sakura-san…" the once boyish-face had twisted into something so passive and so still, this person next to her wasn't the same clumsy foolish rookie she knew half a year ago. He stared at her intensively with clouded dark eyes, his voice was hoarse, sounding unlike his effervescent joyful voice, "Please…"

"It wasn't your fault," Sakura muttered, her voice was urgent as if this would have to convince him. She only wanted the old Tobio back, "Tobio, you didn't mean to…"

"Just…don't," Tobio waved her away, his head turned back to the map laid out on the dirt.

"You never needed to come with us, and I—"

"Godaime-sama had given me this mission to complete immediately," Tobio smiled sadly, an odd sourness rested in his tone.

Sakura looked too desperate, trying to send him packing. At least, from away from any killing tonight, "Tobio…"

"Don't," the once bad luck ninja said sternly, "Make this any harder. Some things…just happen…"

"Is there something wrong?" Neji asked bluntly.

"…no," he replied, zipping up his white duffel.

"Yes there is!" Sakura cried rapidly hushed, the evening moon crooning over their heads. She pushed Tobio's thin shoulder, making him fall over and lose his steps, "I can't believe you would still be able to ignore the things that had occurred! How can you! I know you never meant to, but to lock yourself in your apartment and just come back out instantly like nothing happened!"

Tobio looked utterly hurt, even though he had put on an excellent apathetic face, "I can't help it sometimes. Call it a 'vacation'."

"Vacation!" Sakura spat, her fingers dug into her palms, "You totally ditched on us! This team!"

"Haruno, shut your trap," the white-eyed captain advanced to her, his exterior was frightening and irritated.

"Oh, look who's talking!" the only kunoichi quietly sneered.

He flinched then glared dangerously, but had no effect on the stubborn girl.

"You're a Jounin, now act like it," Neji barked, his knuckles were white, "Whatever happened in the Grass Country is none of my business," the two subordinates cringed, "But you have to know what it means to be in a real mission again. You will die someday. You will be killed. Understand that."

The girl looked exhilarated, as if the breath she longed to let out had been caught within her wouldn't let go, "But—"

"Understand that!" Neji ordered, his voice became rough, "If not for your death, at least do it for your teammates. All of us," he looked up and down them with disgust, "If you two ever act like that again, if you two ever bitch like stupid children again, I will personally make sure that not only would your enemy have the chance to murder you on this fucking holiday."

After a moment of struggling, Sakura scowled, "Fine."

"Yes…" the smaller man shook.

"Good. Listen up. The jutsu specialist is a dangerous figure, he will kill you if he has the chance—don't give him that chance," he whispered tensely, the corner of his mouth twitched. His white eyes were gleaming behind the thin sheen of fog, "He likes to work alone, so there are not so many of his subordinates you will have to kill." His eyes looked away as he glanced down on the map, tracing his finger over the fine map, "The four of us will lead our way through his headquarters, and infiltrate into the corridors, where the main heart of his insane project will be held. If any of us are trapped in one of his jutsu, make sure to break through and join us later."

The young man standing next to her turned slowly to the captain, "What's that supposed to mean…?"

The Hyuuga looked up with definite honesty, "Unless you are trapped within his jutsu, there's…not that much you can do."

"I see," Tobio whispered his eyes dull.

Hyuuga turned to a figure with sunglasses, standing off to the side with his black lens stuck on one undefined direction.

"Aburame, you will send your Kikai insects and penetrate inside to his inner headquarters. Cover his lots and tear apart the talismans and explosive tags on the way. I will guide you with my Byakugen, as I will guide the two of you. We must not separate. Take these and wear them."

He reached in his knapsack, pulling apart the leather ropes from the opening, before pulling out several wireless communication devices with neck braces and collar tags. Their hands each took one. "It's essential, that we are able to contact one another," Neji murmured, attaching his around his neck and placed the transmission piece in his ear, strapping up his pack again before throwing it over his shoulders.

Sakura saw that he was again avoiding eyes with her, she nearly broke the neck brace in her shaking hand.

"We have about two hours to do so, by the moment we reach his circle. Something's going on within the laboratory, data shows that the jutsu specialist must be using human sacrifices and stolen forbidden items to pull something off like this. We must kill him."

Danno Tobio looked unconvinced about something, "Killing on New Year's is bad luck…"

"We're shinobi, we don't care about such premonitions," the Hyuuga growled, "If the jutsu specialist succeeds his experiment, then it will be a tremendous horror for the rest of us. Do you understand, Danno, how much I also hate to waste my holiday for this damn mission? How much I would have also wanted others to do it instead…? That I rather also be at home celebrating, than standing in the cold planning assassination with you?"

The smaller man closed his eyes silently, not able to answer or even retort to the insult. What he said was true.

"Haruno," Sakura looked up from the map with small anger in her eyes, when she glanced only very slightly at Neji.

"I understand you have a grudge with this jutsu specialist…"

She widened her eyes.

Neji continued nonchalantly, "Don't let your emotions get in the way."

She had unknowingly stared at him longer than usual, before nodding, "Alright…"

Shino turned only a small fraction to the only female subordinate at his side. He saw beyond his sunglasses, at the team he was placed in six long months ago. He knew there were good times, and the bad times. Many things had happened then, though he didn't know what had occurred in many times. He didn't see what they saw sometimes. She was cringing about something, something he wasn't able to know about. And he looked around the group as he saw two strangled glares coming from both the younger comrades, both Tobio and Sakura were staring apprehensively at Neji, who was putting away his map in his backpack and ignoring all looks.

His eyes faltered ever so slightly, there were so much a person can take. So much a person would know of.

Ever since the mission as a team in the Hidden Mist, when their girl was taken into abduction, after they rescued her, she spent two weeks in her apartment unable to talk to anyone until her best friend Naruto coaxed her out of that state. He didn't understand what she was talking about, demonic mirrors and whatnot. Ever since the mission with only three members, the one he didn't go to, in Sand Village when medic assistance was desperately needed, after the deaths of two meager villagers he had heard about from Tobio, Sakura had only been acting more strangely than ever before. Perhaps it were the closeness between her and the leader of that village? Maybe. Ever since the team went to rescue the abducted redhead sister of the daimyo, Sakura seemed to have healed from her awkward behavior but she began to become quieter. Ever since Tobio and Sakura went on their mission to Grass Country, Danno came back without the urge to fight anymore.

Sakura kept something she knew about Tobio's mysterious case. Something horrible.

Ever since Kakashi and Sasuke had come back with another woman, in his recollection, Sakura tried avoiding them also by making up excuses. Could it have been the woman? Maybe. Ever since that unspecific funeral, Sakura was absolutely mortified. He didn't want to remember who died, because Sakura had cried so devastatingly, and after he left, he never knew what had happened after the ceremony. It was surprising and shocking to the entire village, that Sasuke had skipped on becoming Anbu and had instead went back onto one of his escapades from Hidden Leaf, coming back every so seldom but stayed longer for the wedding to happen. Ever since the Nara-Yamanaka wedding and the Hyuuga-Uzumaki incident had happened, Sakura had become nearer to Neji, something Shino had never known about.

But now, two weeks later after all that, on New Year's Eve, Tobio was forced into this last minute mission after three months of not being able to fight, he went back on his feet doing missions with his Jounin team or with his old Genin teammates. His jinx spell was almost untraceable, as if he had never possessed those boyish charms and adorable clumsiness. His natural speed had increased, his traps were menacing, and his strength and jutsu focuses had doubled substantially. Something within his eyes…had changed. But he seemed to be gifted with a split personality disorder, from being cowardly to rage to sadistic, and so forth. Even the Hokage doubted he could come out alive from several missions because of this behavior, but he always somehow did. His friends had missed those old traits, unable to be comfortable around the new traps specialist.

His Jounin captain was just a few steps closer into becoming a full-fledged Anbu member, perhaps a captain. Though the months of trainings and missions, he seen that he had become lonelier, colder, distant like Tobio, even though it was somehow comical and ironic to how Neji had always parted himself in any way that was in comparison with the team jinx. Hyuuga Neji was someone who has a past Shino didn't really care about, but he respected him nonetheless. Partially because some things aren't his business, but sometimes, Shino finds himself doubting the elite Jounin whenever they were on those missions now. Something in his mind never seemed to click right.

His hidden eyes glanced towards the back of the pink-haired kunoichi who was leaning against the boulder behind hidden bushes, and talking silently with Tobio, encouraging him. She had somehow become his number one concern in the team. He understands that females are more into their emotions than men are, but in some way, he knows she must be carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders—

"Aburame," his sunglasses glinted in the direction of the Hyuuga, "Let's go."

He nodded tonelessly. In an instance, the four Jounin members disappeared.


They arrived in thirty minutes, stepping out of the forest grounds, two hours away from midnight, before the New Year. Sakura still loathed the council for selecting her team into this last minute crucial mission, a mission meant for the Anbu, a S-class mission for gathering information or, if possible, assassinate the jutsu specialist. There was a new treaty signing between both Hidden Sand and Hidden Leaf that was taking an entire month, and into New Year's festivities.

The head quarters of the jutsu specialist's, last recorded, was located into the denser forest grounds of the Fire Country. So the Hidden Sand ninjas were unable to come any nearer to a mission held in Fire Country property until the treaty was signed. The Anbu of Hidden Leaf could only do their jobs by protecting over the fairer grounds of their village, and the incoming royalties coming for the treaty signings. So there wasn't much of a choice to apprehend the circumstances of this powerful missing-ninja's evil doings.

That was when the council had selected her team, after a negotiation with the Kazekage and Hokage.

All she had known about the dangerous missing-nin who had no name, was that he was borne into a wealthy family, the last heir to the hefty fortune, she had imagined him to be a maniacal child who pluck the wings off flies and watched them squirm, a moody prodigy teenager who graduated from the Ninja Academy in the Hidden Sand when he was seven, that he possessed remarkable skills that of an elite military officer when he was eleven, he became a elite Jounin by the time he was fifteen, and when he turned twenty, he and his now-dead subordinates had murdered a banker and his family for thieving part of his fortune, and had been a missing-nin ever since.

And the fact, at the age of twenty-one, he had murdered two civilians from Hidden Sand that she had grown to care about.

He will die. He will die.

She looked forward towards a thick clearing of huge bamboo, feeling the moistening fog in her clothes. She glared ahead, not noticing that Tobio was looking at her with definite sympathetic eyes. He knew where her feelings were laid, and he couldn't feel any sorrier for her then now. Sometimes she thought about the revenge, sometimes she glanced at the back of the Hyuuga. Neji couldn't care less as he surveyed the fields with his veined eyes. The black clouds of scattering Kikai were filtering out his coat sleeves as Shino stood and issued orders for the bugs.

He grudgingly turned back to his job, snapping back on his Byakugen eyes. Veins had sprouted on his smooth pale face, his white eyes had dilated where he could see nothing but black and green outlines. He could see all around him, all around he could see his teammates' pumping chakra.

He saw the odd stillness in Tobio, the usual lines of calmness in the Aburame, and the indescribable anger in Sakura.

He saw Shino's Kikai bugs slowly crawling closer and closer to the markings of the jutsu specialist's headquarters, and as usual, Shino was right on schedule as his bugs had already reached the pin points of the front lawn of tall grass and thick massive trees. Shino turned to him, his sunglasses were gleaming gray. It was a signal.

"Go," he ordered, flicking his fingers at his other subordinates.

Tobio and Sakura exploded their feet off the ground, running lightning fast through the thick bamboo groves. Neji ran behind with Shino in the middle. Their arms were dragging behind them as they crouch forward, swinging off branches and leaves in the direction where the Kikai were leading them. The buzzing noises began to start off in their ear pieces, the noisy clattering of Tobio's giant white duffel bag was hitting against his back as he ran far quicker than any of them, placing track marks on each bamboo tree where the bugs could not have reached. Sakura dashed shortly behind, a little slow on her end. It was a long aggravating way towards the Kikai pin points.

They had spotted several red explosive tags taped on several branches of the bamboo where the Kikai was ripping off with their own supply of chakra, leaving clear ways for them to run toward the headquarters. Sakura was getting angrier and agitated when she came nearer.

She could feel it.

Keep escaping. Always keep escaping.

The anxiety. The thirst for vengeance.

Oh God, it felt so wonderful. She could really feel it.

As long as you keep escaping, they'll never get you.

She could almost see the bastard's head on her lap now.

Even if they think they do.


To Be Continued


Ah, nice long juicy fat chapter. I am intending this to be a multi-chapter story. I write as I write along. Give me some feedback on what you think about the start, thanks! The italic part came from a part in the book Stones from the River, by Ursula Hegi, one of my favorite scenes.

Oh, and Danno Tobio is not an OC. He was the one clumsy character in episode three of the Naruto series, when he pushed Naruto and Sasuke into that 'accidental kiss'. I made up the last name. I placed him in a team with Sakura, Neji, and Shino in Such Sweet Sorrow. Even if he's a nothing character in the anime series, he plays an important role in my two incomplete stories.

You guys are also probably wondering who the old lady psycho named Joben Anda is. Hmm, you'll find out.