Promise to Break
By: Vampire Toy
Disclaimer: Me no own (sadness)
Summary: He made a promise to a little pink haired girl and nine years later he's ready to fulfill it but now she's not so eager to let him. Follow up to 'Call Me Daddy' and 'Like a Drug'
A/N: ….loooong one-shot thingy er….yeah, naturally it wont be as good as 'call me daddy' or 'like a drug' but the sequel to the sequel rarely is right?
The warm sun washed over her face and she had to squint at first to see where she was going. The young Jounin brushed back a few strands of pink hair, lowering her eyes to the sandy road ahead of her. The mission was a simple one, deliver a scroll to the Hidden Sand. Of course the mission was a Jounin mission, therefore she was expecting danger, perhaps surprise attackers or traps. To her surprise, however, she was almost in the Hidden Sand and she had yet to break a sweat from anything besides the scorching sun.
No attackers or traps, no assassins or flying kunai; the journey was almost peaceful with a thick gritty breeze blowing by every now and then to announce the cool night was still too far away to bring relief. She was half pleased and half disappointed. The reason for her taking the mission was to let out some anger and steam so she could gain composure. On the other hand, despite the intense heat that only became fiercer, the journey itself had calmed her down a little as she trudged through the sand. She brushed more strands of hair behind her ears and wiped her forehead with the back of her gloved hand, petting her bag to make sure the scroll was still inside.
She took the mission alone as she had been doing so often lately save for a few with Shikamaru. Her attitude towards people was becoming distant and almost bitter; their happiness through what was going on around them made her sick. She didn't like to think that she didn't want her friends to be happy, especially since the recent glimpse at Sasuke was so foreboding, but she wished that she could have someone to be depressed with.
Hinata had finally revealed her feelings to Naruto after spending a lot more time with him on Jounin missions and since then they'd been dating.
(Whenever I see them they're always so happy, holding onto each other and just smiling) she sighed and wiped her forehead again; the afternoon was becoming even muggier the further into the desert she went. She took in a deep breath and flopped down against a rock to take a break; no trees or greenery anywhere insight.
Shikamaru wanted to come with her on this mission so he could see Temari, but after Sakura almost dropped on her knees begging him to let her go by herself, he told her that she owed him and let her go.
(That's the trouble with long distance romance; it's limited) she sighed.
Her face was wet with sweat and her hair stuck to her face awkwardly as well as her clothes, but she ignored it.
Instead she thought over all the other romances going on around her; it wasn't so much that she wanted romance for herself, she had grown out of the longing for affection a while back. But while others were swept up in their little fantasies-come-true, Sakura was left alone; Naruto no longer going on missions with her but with Hinata and her other friends too occupied with their partners to notice their friend needing company.
Sakura couldn't understand why it hurt her so much to see her friends happy, or why they had all fallen in love practically at once. Seeing Sasuke again didn't make things any better for her, Sakura's former crush was anything but what he had been when she'd known him a few years back. He came for reasons unknown but they'd run into each other while she was on a nighttime stroll and she couldn't believe what she'd seen.
His hair had grown out and was loosely trailing down his back. His face was covered in scratches and cuts as she assumed the rest of his body was. He didn't wear the custom Orochimaru clothing line she'd become so used to picturing him in, and for a moment she thought that maybe he had left…or escaped. She reached out to grab him, maybe just look at him a moment longer or say something meaningful, but Sasuke almost seemed not to recognize her and he disappeared from her grasp before she could blink. She knew he hadn't been back to the Hidden Leaf since and she had a feeling that he hadn't come back to redeem himself.
(For someone who hates their brother so much, he sure took a liking to his style) she thought with a tired spark of sarcasm as she pictured Sasuke in an Akatsuki coat with his hair in a ponytail and his scarred face hidden half way by the coat's giant collar.
(He'd look a lot like Itachi, but his eyes are a lot different) she paused a moment in her thought and sighed.
(But he is still like him, so much like the person he doesn't want to be, I don't understand Sasuke….why are you so stupid?)
She pulled up her knees and rested her forehead on her knees as her arms dangled beside her, letting them come to rest in the warm sand.
(Your both the same in almost everything…..your looks, your origins, your attitudes….your need for something better…..that's why you left isn't it? Why you both left; you can never be satisfied with what you had)
Thinking about Sasuke or Itachi was only depressing her further but she decided to get all her thoughts straightened out and get rid of as much excess depression as she could before she went into the Hidden Sand.
(Then again I wasn't very satisfied either, I wanted to go with you….Itachi…Sasuke…but you wouldn't let me…)
She furrowed her eyebrows in disappointment and felt warm tears gather in the corners of her eyes.
(I know why Sasuke left me….but why did Itachi leave me?)
She closed her eyes tight and let the overflow of tears slide aimlessly down her cheeks.
(I shouldn't be thinking this way about someone as evil as him)
She blamed Itachi as much as Sasuke blamed him; she blamed him for making Sasuke the way he was. She blamed him for the deaths of his innocent clan and for the death of Sasuke's innocence, for the death of her own.
Her body shook as her crying became harder but she refused to hold back; at least with no one around she could let it out and not make a scene….make a scene in front of those she loved and cared about…those who shouldn't be worrying about her when they'd finally found their happiness.
When it happened she was still young, it was so hard for her to understand what Itachi had done; it confused her and angered her, so she never thought about it, never tried to explain it to herself even when she got older. She only pointed out how he'd lied to her and hurt Sasuke so much. She wouldn't let herself think of how much he'd meant to her or how kind he had been to her when no one else would be.
(He's completely insane; a killing machine)
She sat back and took in a few shaky breaths.
(I should get going) she sighed and stood up wearily beginning her trudge to the Sand Village, but two strong arms grabbed her from behind, locking her arms together and making her unable to perform any sort of replacement jutsu. The stranger jerked her body up off the ground and let her hang in confusion. She never even had a chance to make any noise of surprise and instead snapped her head around as far as she could to see who her attacker was.
"Not exactly in any condition to be out here by yourself." Shikamaru told her with a smirk as he set her back down.
"What are you doing here?" Sakura readjusted her clothes and crossed her arms angrily at the lazy Jounin.
"I knew you'd be completely out of it, so I've been following behind you to make sure everything goes ok." he replied casually putting his hands in his pockets.
"Right, so you won't be too upset knowing that we only have enough time to drop off the scroll and leave?"
Shikamaru gave his infamous pout of annoyance and shrugged off the comment coolly.
"We're ninja's, we do what we have to." He replied walking ahead. Sakura huffed and ran after him; if it wasn't someone's complete obsession over their lover it was their attempt at denial for her sake and both were equally irritating.
"You baka, don't act so nonchalant! That is most definitely the only reason you came!"
"So I'm right!"
"No, idiot." Shikamaru yawned.
"So what is it?"
"I was bored."
"I'm so sure."
"Besides….you should've seen yourself when you left; you looked a wreck." He said looking at her out of the corner of his eyes.
"Whatever." Sakura muttered, still unconvinced of his intentions.
"You're very suspicious all the time, lighten up, can't you deal with the fact that I thought you were incompetent so I followed you?"
"I don't like either reason." Sakura mumbled walking beside him.
"Why are you always so depressing?" Shikamaru asked raising an eyebrow in a slightly annoyed fashion, "You make it a drag to be around you."
Sakura bit her lip to keep from blurting out something stupid or angry and thought over her response for a moment.
(Might as well tell him if he doesn't know it already)
"I'm jealous." She replied finally when she couldn't think of anything creative or witty.
"You act that way."
"How!" Sakura asked slightly shocked and embarrassed that her attitude could be so obvious to her friends.
"Little things you do…and the fact that you're my mission partner most of the time when you choose to have one."
"That proves nothing." Sakura muttered.
"Kinda seems like everyone has a girlfriend or a boyfriend doesn't it?"
"So of course they want to go on missions with their crushes."
"My girlfriend is in the Hidden Sand so I also have no one to pair up with back home and the only way I'd have someone to go on missions with is if they had a boyfriend or girlfriend somewhere else…or had no one."
"Is this supposed to cheer me up? Because it's not."
Shikamaru grinned and shook his head; "It's understandable the way you act. How long since you and Naruto have been on a mission together?"
"I don't know….but….do I act jealous all the time? Is it really that obvious?" Sakura asked turning timidly to face her comrade. He watched her for a moment and shook his head solemnly.
"I only notice because I'm with you more than the others."
"Oh." She sighed looking down at her feet.
(Well, that figures)
"But…you should try cheer up."
Sakura gave a sarcastic smirk and eyed Shikamaru tartly; "Gee I wish I could talk to someone who wasn't infatuated with their boyfriend or girlfriend, maybe they'd be able to cheer me up?"
Shikamaru gave her a 'if-you-weren't-a-girl-and-if-I-weren't-so-lazy-I'd-hit-you' look; "You've been single for a long time so you shouldn't let something like this get to you now…."
"I've been single ALL my life! That can't be normal and it's embarrassing to watch people coo and suck face during the few get together we have!" Sakura growled.
"I don't get to see Temari often either, stop whining! The way you act you'll get yourself killed."
"Right; at least you HAVE a girlfriend, long distance love is not the same as watching everyone in love while you feel nothing for no one." Sakura crossed her arms angrily.
Shikamaru muttered something and took in a deep breath; "I saved your life three times."
"While I was following you, you were attacked three times and I saved you."
"Why didn't you just let me handle it!"
"Because they would have killed you! You weren't paying attention to anything except other people's love lives! You can't let something like that completely take you over; there are many people who have never fallen in love."
Sakura blinked in surprise and hung her head with a sigh. All her self-pitying DID distract her from things around her; she should have been able to sense Shikamaru the moment he began following her.
"It's not that." she mumbled meekly.
Shikamaru's anger dwindled slightly as he listened to see if her comment would force him to start yelling again.
"I think I've been in love, but the person I loved ran away a long time ago."
Shikamaru's expression was funny to watch as he tried to decide whether or not Sakura's statement was a stupid one.
"Are you talking about Sasuke?" he asked making an exasperated face.
"No." she replied softly. The lazy ninja was caught off guard by her answer but quickly regained himself and put his hands behind his head casually.
"Care to share?" he asked after a few minutes of silence.
Sakura's expression turned almost worried as she struggled for an answer. She couldn't really tell Shikamaru and still look sane and she didn't want to explain her reasons for her strange decision, so she kept silent, and to her relief Shikamaru didn't press any further.
"Ino broke up with her latest boyfriend and managed to find another one ten minutes later." Shikamaru mumbled changing the subject.
"I can hardly keep up with her date list." Sakura giggled softly.
"No one can; I doubt even SHE has kept up with everyone."
Sakura smiled lightly and stopped at the edge of the Hidden Sand.
"Go on ahead, I need to get something to eat first." Sakura said lightly patting her stomach. Shikamaru chuckled and gave a casual salute to her, disappearing in a poof and leaving Sakura to walk into the city alone.
She knew he was right, she couldn't let this become an obsession; in reality the only reason it bothered her was because of Sasuke and because of Itachi. Both had left her to lose themselves in power; Sakura continued to fear deep inside, that she wouldn't be able to ever love again. That was her real fear; she had been in love before, but she didn't know if she'd be able to muster the affection for someone else. All her energy always went into trying to make the person she loved happy and when he would suddenly disappear she wouldn't know what to do with herself.
Of course she'd been without a crush for a few years now, having given up on Sasuke and hating Itachi. When she would allow herself to think about the two Uchiha brothers she would always muse on how her relationship with both were so similar. Both had always taken care of her or protected her and both had left her in pursuit of power.
Sakura almost felt that all the love she could summon would never stop either of them, which meant that all her love wasn't enough. Her heart grew heavy again at her thoughts but she only let a smile slide across her face.
If she couldn't stop either of them, what's to stop anyone else she loves from leaving? She almost believed she could have handled it better if it had only been Sasuke who'd left; he had never made her promises or shown much interest in her to begin with. Itachi on the other hand, had gotten her hopes up and had taken care of her; he actually seemed to love her in return. After hearing about his clan, however, she wasn't sure if he'd meant anything he'd told her and she meekly pointed out to herself that Itachi had been slightly pedophilic towards her.
(Someone so messed up can't love) she thought frowning. Her heart began beating faster when she tried to rethink that statement to try ease her pain, but the more she said it in her mind the worse she felt and the quicker her heart would beat. Her hopes of belittling Itachi's memory, as she had Sasuke's, were fading quickly and she only ended up thinking more about him. Her mind timidly recovered a few pleasant memories she'd made with Itachi and she found her heart aching for the missing nin.
She quickly shook it from her mind, however, when she saw the building where she needed to drop off the scroll; she couldn't walk in while thinking about him, it would only make her look shattered and inadequate.
She stood calmly outside the building and took in a few deep breaths, almost coughing out the sandy air before it could even reach her lungs.
(Ok, no more poise breaths)
She breathed in again but kept her mouth closed and tried not to inhale when a large gust of wind would blow by.
(Good, I am calm) she stepped into the large official building, brushing off her clothes and watching as a decent amount of sand tumble down to her feet. She looked up and saw the secretary giving her an irritated glare and Sakura tried to casually walk away form the pile of sand, pretending she didn't know what exactly the woman was upset about.
"I have a scroll to deliver to the Kazekage." She said, buffering her voice to sound more refined than her entrance had been.
"Hnn, your name?" the secretary mumbled.
"Haruno Sakura; Jounin of the Hidden Leaf; Stationed in Konoha." She recited as she had done many times before.
"Hmm, alright…you can go in, but you'll need to go through security first."
"Alright." Sakura didn't really mind the tedious check ups and tests that the Hidden Sand would perform every time she delivered a message; no matter where in the village she went to deliver it, she would always be forced to go through a rigorous check up. She lifted her arms and let one of the ANBU cuff lightly down her sides in search of anything that could harm the Kazekage.
The Hidden Leaf would do the exact same to the Sand Nins. It wasn't so much their suspicion of betrayal, but their suspicion of interference. After an incident where a Sound Nin impersonated a messenger and a war almost broke out, neither village would stand for anything less than clarity and certainty.
Sakura passed the test as she always had did and followed the ANBU down the long marble corridors to the Kazekage's office. The ANBU knocked and mumbled something Sakura couldn't hear and the door opened, the ANBU stepping aside to let Sakura in first. She strode in, her confidence restored in the walk through the building; her proficient demeanor replacing any sadness or childlike immaturities she'd felt moments earlier. The seriousness of what the scroll carried made it crucial for her and everyone involved to be completely attentive and alert. She stood, taking a quick examination of the room and finding it to be a lavishly decorated office; the centerpiece of the room being the large oak desk and the man behind it.
"Sakura." The Kazekage's deep voice greeted the pink haired Jounin with a slight nod.
"Gaara-sama…Kazekage; the most recent plans have been carefully planned out on this scroll." Sakura handed the scroll to the red head behind the desk. He took it, his face, as well as Sakura's, remaining serious. He looked over the scroll and waved over one of the two men that stood on either side of him. The man surveyed the scroll and gave a nod, mumbling something before stepping back in place.
"It seems like it could work…how many of my nins would be required?" Gaara asked rolling the scroll back up.
"Numbers have not been exactly specified but seeing as our enemy has revealed very little about itself since the last large fight, we believe it would be better to be safe with around a thousand each." Sakura replied.
Gaara leaned back and let out an unreadable sigh.
"They have no weaknesses?"
"Not many major one's that we could expand to our benefit."
"Our spies have been found? How many?" Gaara asked referring to the Leaf Nins that had attempted to infiltrate Orochimaru's plans and whereabouts. Sakura inwardly grinned with pride at hearing the stern looking boy refer to the Leaf as 'our' spies. The Sand and Leaf were known to be the strongest allies of any other villages allied. Many of the Leaf and Sand Nins had begun working together in smaller groups due to a large attack Orochimaru had made three years earlier on a dual Sand and Leaf hideout. Many of the best Nins had been lost in that attack and Sakura could remember people from the Sand and Leaf taking in the few wounded survivors. Because the hideout had been in between the Sand and Leaf in the Hidden Grass, villagers from both sides had to come and retrieve the wounded, but they were never picky about who they took back with them, as long as there was a chance they could live.
Now there were many Sand Nins living in the Leaf and vice versa. Sakura felt that in all the turmoil it could only be a positive sign of things to come.
"Most of them; only two remain alive that we are aware of." Sakura said slightly dejected. It was a long fall they'd taken from that large army of ninjas to the few nins scattered around and fighting for their lives.
"We will arrange the best route; expect a messenger soon." Gaara said as his sand devoured the scroll.
"We will be waiting…" Sakura said slowly and paused a moment, "You…wouldn't happen to know where Shikamaru is?"
"Lazy-ass? Probably with Temari outside." Gaara muttered with a hint of annoyance in his voice. Sakura chuckled and smiled at the overworked Kazekage.
"Your doing very well." She said told him softly before turning and leaving to find the lazy genius.
Sakura looked around for hours but couldn't find Shikamaru OR Temari. She gave a frustrated grunt and crossed her arms, leaning against the side of a building to catch her breath.
(That idiot, when I gave him time with Temari I didn't mean this long and he knew that! I'm gonna rip his ponytail out and feed it to him…) she grit her teeth angrily as she started up her walk again. Gaara had said they were outside but Sakura had looked everywhere she could outside and knew she'd have to look INSIDE now which meant if he didn't show up soon she'd have to find a hotel and search again tomorrow! It was getting late and she needed rest for the journey back to the Leaf Village.
By the time ten o'clock rolled around Sakura became more worried than angry; it wasn't like Shikamaru to completely ignore the rules. He was late sometimes but not by hours and not during such an important mission. She ran quickly back to the Kazekage's home and ran through without bothering to speak to the secretary. None of the ANBU stopped her because they were all running around almost frantically. Sakura made it to Gaara's office and knocked only once before rushing inside.
He turned to acknowledge her but turned back to talk to an ANBU who soon after disappeared in a poof of smoke.
"I'm busy now, this will have to wait." Gaara said, frustration obvious in his face.
"Shikamaru is missing!" Sakura said trying to hide her uneasiness at seeing even the Kazekage acting frantic.
"Temari as well." He mumbled. Sakura figured that much by the way everyone was running around. Should everything have been calm when she entered, she would have known that both were safe, but for Gaara to be worried meant that something had indeed happened to them.
"D-do you know what could-" Sakura tried.
"In all likelihood, they are both dead."
Gaara didn't respond but handed her a piece of paper, which Sakura read over abruptly.
"WHAT?" She shrieked again, "No! How! Why them?"
"Your guess is as good as mine, but it could be they were the easiest targets. I don't believe either of them were on alert when it happened." Gaara murmured slightly uncomfortable with the thought of his sister being a target.
"T-they…but it says in the note that they've been captured! They…might not be dead!" Sakura blurt, her composure gone.
"The Sound does not take prisoners." Gaara replied dryly. Sakura's heart twisted violently and she grabbed at her chest as her heart began beating loudly in her ears.
"W-who could have….what…"
"There was one witness, she is dead now, but she managed to tell us a little about what happened."
Sakura almost couldn't hear Gaara through the pounding in her ears; she hated how slowly he was explaining this to her, it was as if he didn't want to tell her at all….because he knew she wouldn't like the answer.
"Who took them?" she asked barely above a whisper as she tried to keep her body from shaking. Gaara was silent a moment, his expressionless face showing frustration once more.
"WHO TOOK THEM!" She shrieked and immediately she felt sand wrap around her and cover her mouth; not too tight, but enough to shock her and quiet her down.
"Someone who looked very similar to Sasuke." He replied wearily; Gaara speak for 'Sasuke, that bastard'. Sakura only nodded solemnly as the sand let go of her again.
"What….what will we do?" she asked softly reading over the note again.
By now you will probably have received news that your sister, Temari, and her companion, Shikamaru, have been captured….
Gaara was silent, his back to her as he looked out the window of his office. Sakura felt like she should comfort him, but she also felt like she was collapsing in on herself.
If you ever want to see them alive again, you will pull out of the Hidden Sound….
"They are most likely already dead." He repeated softly and mostly to himself. Sakura understood what he was trying to do…trying to comfort himself and maybe her. If he pulled out of the Hidden Sound, then he knew he would still only receive her dead body; the Sound took no prisoners. Sakura couldn't fathom how hard a decision he was faced with; but should they both already be dead then there would be no decision to make.You only have until twelve tonight…
Sakura looked up at the clock desperately; eleven o'clock. Her beating heart was beginning to hurt her head and she couldn't stop herself from shivering. She hated herself for succumbing to her emotions once more and she hated herself for getting so angry at Shikamaru, she hated herself for not being more strict with him, she hated herself for not being able to pull herself together before she left for the mission.
She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself, biting her lip to keep from crying.
(I have to try…to do something…)
She suddenly sprint out of the room, running down the hall and out of the building as quickly as she could. She had no idea where Sasuke was, or Temari, or Shikamaru, but she ran anyway. No specific plan or direction made its way into her mind but her legs strained to run faster as if knowing the way to go. In her mind she knew she would never get wherever 'there' was in time; assuming that her two comrades weren't already gone, but her heart told her if she could only try harder that she could maybe make it.
Everything around her stood still, no sound would reach her ears, she felt as though she wasn't even touching the ground anymore.
(Not like this, I won't let it end like this)
She was out of the Sand Village now, she glanced down at her watch; eleven thirty.
(Not like this)
An image of Kakashi flashed in her mind; one of the many whom were killed at the hideout in the Hidden Grass. She remembered hearing about the attack and trying to reach the Hidden Grass; her and Naruto rushing to find their former sensei but they could never run fast enough, they couldn't ever reach it soon enough. Even though he had been dead long before they heard of the attack, Sakura felt that somehow she could have done something to help if she could have only arrived sooner.
Her heart ached and her legs began burning at the amount of distance she was trying to cover in such a short time. She was in a forest area again, she wasn't sure where, but she continued to run until she felt one of her legs slip out from under her and she went tumbling to the ground, skidding to a stop on her knees as tears ran unknowingly down her face.
She continued to cry, wrapping her arms around herself again, and lowering her head to the ground; she was always her only comfort.
The Sound did not give them back the bodies and despite how important it was to those who had known the couple, they knew that it would have to wait. Shikamaru and Temari had memorials constructed for them in both the Sand and Leaf. Sakura visited them everyday for a month as she had done with her sensei' and numerous others, but soon she did what she now did with Kakashi's memorial, she avoided it.
No one was given time to mourn; the attack had almost seemed random seeing as the Sound had been low on activity for about a year or two, and now everyone had to prepare for another attack. It was strange how the Sound went about their destruction; always picking off a disgustingly large number of people then a smaller attack closer to home, or reverse the process to disrupt the pattern, and always afterwards the Sound would go dormant another few years. During the time when Kakashi had been killed, the smaller attack had taken the lives of Shino and Kurenai. It was still during the time when most everyone was still a Chunin, save for Shikamaru, and when it happened their team hadn't even been on a mission. Kiba was asleep under a tree with Akamaru by his side, Hinata was at lunch with Naruto, and Kurenai and Shino had been discussing some new training exercises. Sakura would never forget the looks on everyone's faces when they heard the news, especially Asuma's.
Sakura shook out her head and wrote a few words down on paper before glancing back at the scroll she was studying.
(Stop thinking of depressing things)
"Sakura, it's late, go home." Tsuanade told the pink haired girl. Sakura looked up slightly and smiled wearily when she saw her former teacher walk into the room.
"That's alright Tsuanade-sama, I need to finish this real quick."
The blonde Hokage gave the girl a somber smile.
"Sakura, you don't have to finish it, you are no longer my student." She gave the girls head an affectionate pat.
"I know Tsuanade-sama, but you asked me to look over this, so I am."
"I asked you to look over it, not study every detail of it."
"You need sleep." The Hokage told her, rolling up the scroll much to Sakura's dismay.
"It's an order." Tsuanade smiled. Sakura sighed and stood up slowly, stretching out her arms and legs.
"I'll finish tomorrow I promise." Sakura told her.
"No, take tomorrow off too, please; go have some fun, or relax."
"No, there's too much work to do!" Sakura whined.
"Sakura, please, the staff is full and there hasn't been another attack; please take the day off before I turn it into another order."
Sakura frowned and sighed, nodding lightly and Tsuanade gave her a smile before Sakura trotted out the door.
(Full staff huh? So why did you ask me to do anything anyway?) Sakura thought almost bitterly as she stepped into the dark afternoon. It had been raining a lot lately and the air that evening was thick with an oncoming shower.
Sakura usually didn't like the rain; it only made her feel alone and overwhelmed, but that evening it was almost soothing; the only thing she could count on. She walked drearily through puddles from previous rainstorms and ignored the feel of the freezing water between her toes and soaking into her sandals. The rain started drizzling down lightly at first and Sakura had a feeling she wouldn't make it back home before the rain caught her.
She was right and moments later she was completely soaked. She gave a wearied sigh and continued along the road to her home; looking around at the mostly empty streets of the village as people scampered inside hurriedly.
She thought she heard someone behind her but found it only to be another person running to get out of the rain. She was home a few minutes later, almost positive that she had a cold and would be sick on her day off. She went inside and took off her wet shoes and clothes by the door, walking naked through her hall into the bathroom for a warm shower.
She had no need to be embarrassed with no one home; her parents had passed away a few years back on a mission and she had no siblings. The warm shower lifted her mood a little and she put on a warm wool robe, tying the sash lightly around her waist to keep the robe closed.
(Hmm, I bet some hot chocolate would make me feel even better) she thought with a smile, but her smile quickly turned into an annoyed frown when she remembered her wet clothes by the door. She walked over and gave a frustrated sigh when she saw she hadn't even closed her door completely. She picked up her wet clothes and shut the door, locking it and tuning to look at the floor; her wet feet had left little puddles of water, she was sure, but when she looked she saw muddy steps leading down her hall. Her heart began beating faster and she put her wet clothes down again, walking slowly next to the footprints. They weren't hers, only her shoes had mud on them her feet had simply been wet and aside form that, the footsteps were much too large to be her own.
(Who could it be? Who would just come into my house….did they see me undress? That's embarrassing...)
The thought of someone catching a free show sent a blush over her cheeks as she followed the steps past the bathroom and towards her room. Despite her parents being gone and Sakura inheriting the house; she never moved into the bigger room that they'd had, it only became a place where she would put things if she had no where else to put them.
She saw the tracks ended in front of her closed door, she grabbed the hems of her robe, holding the top closed to less expose herself and meekly putting her hand on the wet doorknob and flung it open. No one; the door hit the wall and bounced back, almost closing but stopping short when Sakura put her foot in the way.
She stepped inside and flicked on her lights but found nothing out of the ordinary, no more footsteps inside the room and everything was as she'd left it.
She went back out and looked down to find the footsteps gone. She stared in shock for only a second before the slapping of her bare feet against the wooden floor signaled her trek to the front door once more. She looked around and saw no more footsteps, but she did see another pair of shoes; muddy sandals that were obviously not her own.
(They put their shoes by the door? I-it must be someone I know then!)
Her self-comfort didn't help her pounding heart as it continued to scream in her ears. She stood in silence trying to sense any presence around her and saw a large black object out of the corner of her eye. She went into the living room calmly and flicked on the light, letting out a small gasp at the sight the light laid out for her. An Akatsuki coat was neatly draped over one of the chairs and her eyes immediately darted around the room as a cold chill rolled down her back. She couldn't see anyone but now she could feel a presence and she knew the only reason she felt it was because whoever it was, wanted her to know they were there.
"I apologize." Came a smooth voice behind Sakura. She spun around but saw no one and turned back to the living room only to find a tall figure looming in front of her. She let out a startled cry and tried to step back but her heel caught the bottom hem of her robe and she stumbled awkwardly instead. The figure caught her quickly and pulled her lightly to her feet again.
"I apologize, I made a mess of your floor." The voice continued.
"I-Itachi…" Sakura stuttered staring up at the calm killer.
"Sakura-chan." he responded, a slight hint of affection in his voice.
"Stay back!" she cried, her voice wavering and her hands flying into a defense position as she sprung back away from the missing nin. His expression remained the same despite her outburst; calm and serene.
"I expected this reaction." He said mostly to himself. Sakura stood, her body beginning to shiver as she watched the unmoving Itachi ponder out loud. With his jacket on the chair he left his rather thin yet muscular body for Sakura's examination. He wore a meshed shirt with a strange necklace and black pants. She noticed he was barefoot and thought back the shoes at the front door.
"I will not harm you." He said; his voice was strangely exotic despite its monotony and Sakura tried her best not to let herself get distracted by his words and appearance.
"You haven't seen me up close for a while; do you think I've changed much? You've changed." He mused softly.
Sakura didn't let her arms down from her defensive position and sought to keep the small distance between them as long as possible.
(This can't be happening)
He looked so calm, so natural; as if waiting for her to ask him how his day had been or something casual that one would say to someone they'd known their entire lives.
But she wouldn't; she couldn't believe he was there for any reason but to kill her or bring her some harm. It was what she'd been training her mind to think for nine years and up until this moment, it had always been neatly embedded in her subconscious.
"You are really afraid of me." He said quietly, "Why is that? Tell me, is it because Sasuke is afraid of me?"
Sakura's nerve was hit and she nearly snarled at him; "Sasuke is not afraid of you….I'm not…." Her confidence faded quickly with her voice; her mind swarming in confusion. He had not attacked her and if that were why he was at her home then he would have done it first thing. She also knew that her defense of Sasuke held only emptiness behind it and Itachi could hear it. Sasuke was a coward, she knew that now, but she couldn't help but silently accuse Itachi of the same weakness.
"I see, that must be why he hasn't killed me yet." Itachi reflected, taking a step forward only to watch Sakura instinctively step back.
The green eyed girl fumed silently at the comment but she wasn't sure if she was angry in Sasuke's defense or using him as an excuse to be angry.
"You're a coward." she muttered as her muscles loosened slightly with Itachi keeping his distance.
"I was." He replied calmly, "Come sit." He turned and walked into the living room, his ponytail bouncing behind him lightly.
Sakura gave an almost exasperated sigh; she knew from the moment that she saw his coat, that he wouldn't hurt her. It didn't stop the fear that she'd so delicately implanted in herself; at first glance he was still the monster that tore Sasuke apart, though she wasn't sure exactly what other view she could have of him.
Her bare feet pattered after Itachi over the wooden flooring into the living room. She saw him sit in the chair where he'd draped his coat and she chose the couch the furthest away from him to sit, still slightly tensed.
"What do you want?" she asked in almost a hiss. Itachi watched her for a moment; seemingly studying her body from head to foot and back again. Sakura couldn't help but shiver at the intense flare of his ruby eyes as she tried to keep up her air of confidence.
"You." He replied leaning back and crossing on of his legs casually over the other. The pink haired Jounin hugged herself, pulling the robe tighter around her body.
(So now he wants to take me away?)
I won't go
(He's insane; he's a monster….)
I can't go
"I sense unwillingness." He said almost mockingly. Sakura felt slightly lightheaded at the situation; her mind still amuck with thoughts and memories that were triggered by his presence at that very moment. She felt fear the most clearly out of the haze of emotions she'd let into her thoughts, but her fear was one she had tried to suppress for years. She was almost comfortable around him, she assumed, because her anger was threatening to unravel in a way similar to a her attitude around Naruto. The comfort he brought was what gave her fear.
"You remember my promise to you, don't you?" Itachi asked when a period of silence passed.
Sakura's heart began beating quickly again in a mixture of dread and joy. She knew that perhaps she didn't love Sasuke the way she wanted herself to, but she had never been sure of Itachi. Though she never took time to think over her feelings because her memories were only painful; especially the ones involving Itachi and Sasuke.
When she'd first met Itachi and danced with him at her school, she was attacked the next day for her choice of dates.
"My dad said that Itachi's insane."
"You know what that means right?"
"He doesn't really like you!"
"He can't like someone like you, who would?"
"I bet he felt sorry for you!"
She had no good comebacks as she never did, but the one thing she did say was her downfall from then on.
"He does like me! He said so, he said he loved me."
And she had loved him, more than anything in the world; she looked up to him and cared about him. He had always cared about her, he always took it upon himself to make her happy and feel loved; the same things that a parent should do, the same things that her parents were always so burdened by.
But Sakura reminded herself that she was also naive, more so than other children because her parents were never around to explain things to her. The girls who hurt her so much were told by their fathers and mothers how wrong Itachi's actions were and because of that Sakura was even more a freak. She went along with him and they'd told her that even if he believed he loved her that it would never be real because of his insanity.
In some way they almost tried to warn her that he was dangerous. After the Uchiha clan was destroyed the girls would get angry at her for ever liking someone who could hurt Sasuke so much. She wanted them to be wrong, she didn't want them to think that she would ever hurt Sasuke. She tried so hard to make Sasuke happy but he was never easy to please and she always felt that maybe it was her fault for the way he was. She wanted to make it up to him by giving all her love to him but Sasuke could never fathom enough of an attention span to notice.
She silently blamed Itachi, she blamed him for reasons different from Sasuke's but she felt that her hate would help Sasuke not feel alone. Though she never could tell the younger Uchiha that she hated Itachi too; she wasn't even sure if Sasuke ever noticed the interaction between her and Itachi.
"Your promise didn't hold up." she muttered when she could gather words. Itachi gave a light nod but his expression was always the same.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sakura asked trying to hold back the anger in her voice.
"I knew you'd be upset with me."
"So why did you do it then?" she asked clenching the hem of the robe tighter.
"What? Kill my clan? To test my strength." He shrugged.
"Don't lie! I'm not little anymore! I know when you're lying!" she yelled, then stopped herself; her childish fear catching her again and she leaned back trying to calm down.
"You can tell when I'm lying." He repeated, "Of course, you're the only one who can; don't you think that's interesting?"
Sakura made a confused face, scrunching up her nose curiously; "What are you talking about?"
"You read me well, even after all this time, wouldn't you say?"
Sakura was silent.
"This is rather impersonal." Itachi sighed before he disappeared and Sakura could feel someone behind her.
"Better." Itachi mumbled in her ear. She turned in shock to find herself sitting in his lap and began squirming frantically to get out.
"Let me go!" she hissed.
"Hear me out this once and I'll leave you forever."
Sakura was still tense and reluctant but she nod; upsetting an S class criminal wasn't the best idea at the moment.
"Didn't you ever want to know why I didn't come back for you?"
"No." she said immediately.
"You're lying… I can tell when you lie Sakura-chan." he said leaning his head lightly on the back of her slightly exposed shoulder.
His breath as he spoke tickled her skin and sent shivers down her spine but whether it was out of fear or wanting, she couldn't tell.
"Your life has been a spiral of tragic events ever since I've left hasn't it?"
"So you admit it's your fault?" she muttered.
"Is it? I simply meant you missed me."
She let out a snort and began to chuckle, she wasn't sure what she found funny but his words almost tickled her mind.
"Your life has only been this way because you chose it."
"Yes, I chose misery and death." She said sarcastically.
Sakura grit her teeth to keep from blurting anything stupid and took in a deep breath to sedate herself. She hated how he spoke in riddles, at the rate he was going she wouldn't get his point until a week after he'd explained everything.
"My original intent was NOT to leave you behind." He said after she refused to speak, "You were still young and you could easily move on as if I'd never existed; you would not have endured a pleasant existence should I have lugged you around while killing."
"I still wouldn't." she added.
"Perhaps, but you've seen so much death and caused so much of it, that it shouldn't bother you any longer."
The pink haired girl lowered her gaze to the Uchiha's arms around her waist as she sat in his lap. She shifted in an attempt to make herself more comfortable but only caused Itachi to hold her tighter.
"There was one thing my mother said to me that ever made sense, she told me… 'Your hurting her though you can't see it right now'."
Sakura paused and tried to remember where she'd heard a similar saying before and she nearly let out a sarcastic laugh when she recalled Itachi using it to get her to leave with him.
"But now everything and everyone is hurting you, I can make that go away." He continued.
"How?" she murmured curiously, her sarcasm fading lightly.
"I can love you."
Her heart snapped in grief at his last statement and she turned to him in surprise. His face was as it had been since he'd arrived at her home; emotionless, but as she continued to stare at him she also saw frustration and pain.
(You're not the only one who was hurt) she thought meekly.
"You…. You're insane." She told him softly. Itachi flipped Sakura around in his lap so she'd have to look at him.
"Depends on your point of view." He replied.
"No….you can't…" her words were strangled, she didn't want to say it out loud….she didn't want to tell him he couldn't love, she didn't want it to be true.
(Everything those girls would say to me…)
"Can you disprove it?" Itachi asked.
"No." she murmured, twisting her face to keep from crying.
"Why would that be so bad?"
"Because….I can't prove it either." Her voice was quivering and she silently cursed herself for being so weak and open towards such a criminal. No matter what she did or thought, she would never be afraid of him enough to hate him and that's why she feared him.
Itachi leaned his head into the crevice of her neck, receiving an empty giggle from Sakura when his hair tickled her throat.
"I tried to give you everything." He murmured. She blinked curiously but said nothing.
"Sasuke was too spoiled, I thought perhaps…taking everything away from him would make him realize what I already knew."
"Hatred and anger?" Sakura asked softly.
"I wanted him to see that he should never take anything precious he has for granted." Itachi let out a heavy sigh and Sakura shivered. She felt him smile into her neck at her reaction.
"I left you to be with him." He said plainly.
"What?" she asked in confusion.
"I left you to be with him and I left him to be with you. I aimed to create perfection for you both."
Sakura's mind swarmed with questions and bewilderment but she couldn't put together what he was trying to say.
"You were so lonely Sakura, both of us were…but Sasuke was not. If I had stayed I know I would have hurt you somehow, I would have kept you for myself. My life was planned out from the beginning and you were not supposed to be in it, therefore it would have hurt you. Sasuke, however….he wasn't so much burdened by the extremities of being a prodigy."
Sakura's heartbeat had become faster the more Itachi was revealing; somehow in her mind she found Sasuke to be the antagonist in the story.
"Simply leaving wouldn't have done me any good to ensure his attitude change. My father would have jumped to him, the next in line. He would have tried to make out of Sasuke what he'd made out of me. Everyone in the village would have, I suppose, as it's a clan's priority to find the strongest among themselves." The older Uchiha murmured, "I thought he would protect you and love you when he'd lost all else. I gave him what I wanted and he still took it for granted."
Sakura's green eyes were almost frozen in a wide, shocked, stare; if she was interpreting his words correctly, then Itachi killed his clan to make two people happy, Sasuke and herself.
"I missed you, but I could be content without so many restrictions. I could be content to know that you and Sasuke would make the clan better. Now I suppose it's too late for him."
"He…." Sakura paused in her response when she felt Itachi's attention focus on her; "He only did what you told him…" Sakura murmured.
"I admit, it had a somewhat different effect on him than I had planned, but I had thought out every outcome. I had hoped he would try become stronger….I had hoped he'd try kill me." Itachi told her, his eyes locked onto hers. The pink haired girl trembled slightly at the intensity but forced herself to focus on his words.
"You wanted him to try kill you….so you could watch him suffer? So you could kill him while he was confident?" though her words were harsh, there was no real emotion behind them other than curiosity.
"No, I contemplated everything carefully. He would either live for you or live to kill me; either way you would be safe."
"Do I have to keep asking what you mean by everything you say? Will you just tell me what you mean? What outcome did you predict?" Sakura asked, her voice a little stronger with irritation.
"My apologies. Sasuke and my life are very tightly intertwined. Depending on his course of chosen action, my life would be affected as well. If he were to forget me enough to love you then I would keep myself away. In this case, he chose to come after me THEN revive the clan; in doing this he forces me to be near you." Itachi explained, "I had hoped by now he'd be strong enough to kill me but I doubt his understanding will ever mature enough to let him. This makes me a threat to you."
"How?" Sakura asked biting the inside of her cheek to keep quite and let Itachi finish.
"I'd thought many times to come and take you." He said bluntly. Sakura blinked in surprise and felt slightly flustered at his comment.
"He should have killed me by now so I would not hurt you or him, but it's been too long and now that your older I believe you can choose for yourself which option is best. I didn't want to take you earlier because I knew I would do something to hurt you and I wasn't sure if Sasuke still had a chance to become stronger. I wanted to die knowing you were both taken care of and knowing I was no longer a threat…..because…I will admit, sometimes I cannot control myself." A small smirk played on his lips and Sakura turned bright red at feeling his fingers trail lightly over her thighs.
"Pedophile." She muttered.
"But I never hurt you." He replied.
Sakura was silent and bewildered at Itachi's words; everything he'd told her so far was beginning to make him look less evil and more human. What he said made sense in some twisted way. A long silence fell over them as Itachi let Sakura soak in all the information he'd given her.
Suddenly Itachi plopped her up on her feet, standing up behind her and swinging his coat up around his shoulders.
"I will leave you now." He said simply and turned, walking towards her front door.
"W-Wait!" Sakura blinked in surprise as her voice broke free before she could think.
Itachi froze but didn't turn around.
"I….w-where are you going!" she stuttered meekly.
"It is none of your concern anymore, Sakura-chan."
Itachi turned this time and tilted his head in the way he used to do when he was amused, but no smile accompanied his features.
Sakura was silent, trying to find what she was trying to say before Itachi left her forever.
"Sakura, I must be off….think about what you want to say and perhaps if you really wish to see me again, I will come back again. But that will be the last of me, I am still under the command of another and must obey."
Sakura nodded dumbly and watched as Itachi disappeared into the rain. It took a few moments before she could recover her thoughts and she let out a sigh.
(It's still raining)
Weeks went by then months and Sakura found herself only thinking more about the S-Class criminal. She went on with her work as usual, doing what she could when she was asked, but it was coming to a point where very little was being asked of her. People were dying around her almost everyday, but not physically, spiritually. This war of sorts was destroying everyone, even those who had someone to be with. It was almost too much to handle and the rain was a continuous flow that became just enough to soak you but not enough to flood the village despite its persistence. The town was dead, the people were dead, and they were all slowly deteriorating from the inside out.
She hated it, she didn't want this anymore and she wished more than ever that Itachi would come again, if only to put her out of her misery. Slowly they gained victories, but slowly, much slower than what they needed. Even the capture of Sasuke brought no extreme emotion to Sakura, no happiness or anger, just boredom. She didn't even bother to show up to his trial; she saw no need to. She was not needed there and she easily heard the details from Naruto and Hinata, then from Tenten and Lee, and so forth.
He was currently being held in prison and everyone told her to go see him before his punishment was exacted, and Sakura did. She laughed most of the time, inside and out.
(You are so much like your brother…)
He had his head lowered the entire time which Sakura took to be some sign of remorse, though she knew he probably would do it all again if he could.
"Why…" she finally said after a period of silence, "Why would you want to kill someone who wanted so much for you?"
When his face shot up and he looked her in the eyes she could tell he knew whom she was talking about.
"He was here." Sasuke said simply.
Another silence let Sakura look over the longhaired younger Uchiha who was chained to the walls of the cell and looked near death with a lack of chakara. She stood up and walked over to him, kneeling in front of him, taking his face in her hands.
She kissed his forehead and stood, walking to the door and turning once to give him a somber smile.
"Don't be so hopeless….you seem to have a lot more going for you than we do now." Sakura told him walking out.
She silently commended herself for acting so mature around her childhood crush but as the rain began pelting her face and sopping her hair, she knew that letting him go was easy from the beginning; she simply chose to do it now.
"Itachi." She mumbled softly plodding through the puddles, "You're a liar."
"Am I?" a smooth voice asked form behind her. Sakura spun around in surprise and calmed, a slight blush covering her cheeks.
"You thought I wasn't coming back?" Itachi asked, looming over her casually.
"I am here."
The pink haired girl stood silently looking up at the mass murderer, an odd warmth filling her heart the longer she stood and stared at him. Itachi reached out and fingered a strand of her wet hair, brushing it away from her face.
"I'll be off then." He told her.
"Can I go?"
"Hnn?" Itachi asked curiously.
"I want to go…" she told him, "You said you'd take me with you."
"You promised in fact….so…are you going to break your promise again?"
"You can come with me if you wish, good company is hard to come by." Itachi said.
"That's not why." She argued lightly.
The older Uchiha smiled from behind his coat and opened his coat so she could see his face, "What do you mean?"
"Don't play stupid." Sakura smirked, putting her hands on her hips, "I know when you're playing stupid."
Itachi smiled and grabbed Sakura's waist, pulling her face to his with his other hand and kissing her roughly as the rain continued to pour over them.
"Come then Sakura," he told her turning and holding out his arm expectantly, "Let me take you away from these people who hurt you."
"They don't hurt me, I think I might miss them," she told him, taking his arm.
"Oh, they hurt you my dear," he said as they walked away, "You just can't see it."
A/N: Er…I don't know if it's the Hidden Waterfall or Grass that's between the Sand and Leaf so if anyone would like to correct me that would be helpful. This fic took a really weird turn when I got into Shikamaru and Temari's capture, if I didn't tell you it was ItaSaku you wouldn't have known heh? Well I didn't want to rush it…Er….yeah.,……and a crappy ending my GOD, ok, I deeply apologize for that!
Ok, so this was the last part in the little ItaSaku trilogy!
My soundtrack for this fic
Lying from You, Linkin Park
Let Go Frou Frou
Blurry, Puddle of Mud
Sick Cycle Carousel, Lighthouse
Not Gonna Get Us, Tatu
To the Moon and Back, Savage Garden (is in love with this song)
Different Kind of Love Song, Cher
Sick Little Suicide, The Matches
Little Sister, Queens of the Stone Age
Oh the angst XD R and R please, flames welcome