Wasurenai na Ai
Moshi atashi ga houkiboshi ni nareta naraba (If maybe, just maybe, I had the chance to become a shooting star)
Sora kakenuke tonde iku kitto (I would surely rush to fall from the sky)
Kanarazu todoku kono isshun no hikari de (Beyond a doubt, I would reach you on this moment's light)
Anata no IMA terashi sora wo megurou (Let's wrap your "now" around the shining sky)
Atashi ga houkiboshi ni nareta naraba (If I'd gotten the chance to be a shooting star)
Kitto soba ni ite ageru donna toki mo (I'd definitely be by your side for all time)
-Houkiboshi (Shooting Star) by Younha. I like this song so much that it's not even funny.Chapter 10
Sakura bit her lip. This kind of situation was happening much too often for her liking, and it was getting old. The dainty scrap of cloth Rin had just given her was what she was supposed to wear.
"And exactly where am I supposed to hide my weapons?" she demanded.
"Be creative," the woman replied evasively. Sakura fought down the urge to throttle the shinobi standing before her, and held it up.
It was beautifully sewn, and the material was soft and finely woven, but there was just so little of it! At least it was in a color that suited her– a dyed maroon, dark as dried blood. It was thin, and Sakura had no doubt that she would have to search out a sweater to wear over it. The skirt ended before her fingertips, and it was strapless and backless.
"And this, when you get that dirty," Rin added, handing her a folded stack of clothing. Sakura's cheek muscle twitched as she picked up the topmost piece. It was more like underwear than proper clothing, and the bottom was equally as bad. The kunoichi refolded it, sucking in air through her mouth deeply, and faced her superior.
Rin's eyebrows went upwards, almost touching her hairline. The reddish brown stripes on her face stretched. Sakura's beryl eyes steeled against her.
"I won't wear that. And I won't wear that dress either." Sakura said firmly. The woman's face cracked into a smirk.
"It's about time you stood up for yourself." She turned to rummage in another wardrobe, bringing out another stack of clothing. "Now, these are your real clothes for this mission."
Itachi stood, hefting his pack over his shoulder when a knock sounded at the door.
"Come in," he ordered. Sakura's head emerged from beyond the threshold.
"I'm ready," she murmured, a bit timidly. As Rin had taken her away to 'outfit her properly', Itachi had been forced to delay their departure time, and as a result, they were behind schedule. She wasn't sure if that would make him irritable or not.
Sakura was dressed in a simple yet stylish snowy dress, with roseate cherry blossom petals trailing around the edges randomly, matching her hair perfectly. The skirt ended three inches above her kneecap, flaring out and swirling delicately when she moved, and the bodice hugged her slender frame neatly. Her cerise locks were combed out and neatly arranged to frame her face, and her ruined hitai-ate was nowhere in sight. She held a pair of delicate fawn sandals in her hand, and was currently trying to stuff them into her pack. For now, her footwear was a pair of practical boots, suitable for the running they were going have to do through the treetops.
Somehow, they made it in time to the appointment, and Sakura even had time to duck behind a tree, neaten up and change her shoes. When she emerged from her concealed niche, the two strange men facing Itachi were startled by her sudden appearance
"Is this the one, Inji-san?" the taller one asked interestedly. Itachi nodded silently, Sharingan whirling ominously. In accordance with Rin's wishes, he would bear another name on the mission to prevent identification: Satou Inji. "Excellent. Well then, Shingo-san, our contract ends here."
He turned to the shorter samurai beside him, and shook hands courteously. Without a single word, the mercenary turned and vanished into the surrounding trees with surprising ease. The man turned and smiled at Sakura.
"I am Ubike Hiroshi. Let's get along well." He held out a hand, and Sakura took it, making sure to exert a little strength in that handshake, signifying that she was not an ordinary kunoichi.
"Heishin Mitsuko. Pleased to make your acquaintance." Sakura, too, had to bear another moniker, although she was not as infamous as her partner. While they exchanged polite courtesies, Itachi took the opportunity to disappear and change. While on the road, they would be disguised. Sakura would be Hiroshi's consort, and Itachi would be a common soldier whom Hiroshi had engaged temporarily.
Unlike Sakura, Itachi was dressed very plainly, perhaps even a little shabbily. He wore a plain cotton shirt under a fraying leather vest which served as his armor, gray pants, and blue sandals. His eyes were black, and his hair was left free to fly as it wished.
Hiroshi smiled politely at Itachi, who didn't bother with the pleasantry.
"Shall we go now?" he suggested, offering an arm to his new female counterpart. She smiled, and obliged him.
Hiroshi and Sakura walked together, chatting politely about the weather, about the political situation, about anything that came to Sakura's mind. He was surprisingly well educated about the arts and literature, and Sakura's intellect proved to be a match for his. The two debated for a while on whether abortion should be banned, Sakura arguing for, and Hiroshi against. Itachi walked ahead silently, using his Katon to burn out a path when the trees and bushes grew too thick to penetrate easily. Hearing the animated discussion behind him, something stirred within his chest, a dull ache which he banished with sheer force of will.
"Abortion is a woman's right! If she chooses not to carry the child to term for reasons of her own, she should be allowed to. Would you rather that the child be born and suffer all its life if the mother cannot care for it, or that the baby never experience hardship?" Sakura shot, fired up about the issue at hand.
"A life is a life, Sakura, no matter how young or small it may be. To do what you have said would be like killing a young puppy because it was ugly, or perhaps because it was not needed. Even if the child has not emerged into this world yet, it has a right to live. A right to experience life, hardship and joy both. It has a right to survive," Hiroshi responded passionately.
The argument was running on, back and forth, back and forth, and had anyone asked, Itachi probably would've blatantly complained that they were wearing his ears out. Couldn't they at least pick a subject he wouldn't mind listening to? The latest reports of military movements, new alliances broken alliances, wars, something of interest! Anything! He focused on the forest around him, trying to get his attention off the incessant chatter behind him.
"Hiroshi-sama, you only say that because you are a lord. You have everything you'll ever need. You don't know what it feels like to be abandoned, to feel lost, to not know what you are looking for in life. It's not a pleasant experience, you know. My teammate can attest to that. But he is unusual, and no one can ever hope to emulate him. That's why I say, if the woman decides not to carry her child, it is her choice." Sakura ended the argument firmly, leaving no room for more debate. Itachi's mind relaxed.
Sasori lowered Sasuke onto the ground, using his energy to activate two pairs of short chakra-absorbing chains. He locked the cuffs around the unconscious Sasuke's feet and wrists, and stood back to admire his work. Just in case the chains were unable to deal with the boy's chakra, Kisame would come by once a day to drain him. With the restraints on, he would be unable to move far.
"Is he okay, danna?" Deidara's voice echoed faintly down the corridor.
"Yes. Bring the bandages and ointment."
Deidara brought over a small bottle of green paste and a handful of linen cloths. The nin of the Red Sand smeared the ointment over their captive's various cuts roughly, tied the bandages on excessively tight; it was a wonder Sasuke's blood circulation was able to continue.
"We're done now." Sasori dusted off his hands and rose to his feet, gesturing for Deidara to move out of the room. When he pulled the door shut behind him, it was revealed that the inner side of the door had no knob.
They had been walking for hours, and Hiroshi was getting noticeably tired, although Sakura and Itachi were almost as fresh as they had begun.
"Can you continue on, Hiroshi-sama?" Sakura asked politely. Hiroshi waved an arm dismissively.
"Are we camping for the night, or have you arranged to stay with someone?" Itachi asked, his voice, as always, deadpan emotionless.
"My friend, Yuushi Satsuko, has agreed to put us up tonight. The two of you have been welcomed to stay, as well. Her house is about half a mile away," Hiroshi replied.
Their hostess, Yuushi Sateru, was a friendly lady with three children at her heels. Evidently, her husband was away on business, and the three were shown to a pair of connecting rooms, one with two single beds, and another with a double bed.
"You and I will take the two single beds," Sakura told Hiroshi. He nodded in agreement.
"No. I will share a room with him," Itachi cut in, looking as bored as usual. Sakura moved a few meters away, and Itachi joined her at her furious gesture.
"Do you think that I am unable to guard one person for the night?" she hissed under her breath, aware that Hiroshi was trying to overhear her conversation with the infuriating man before her.
"Yes." Itachi's answer was as blunt as usual.
Sakura's eyes narrowed.
"Good night, Hiroshi-sama," she almost snapped at him.
Stalking stiff-legged into the next room, she slammed the door in between closed. The click of the lock turning sounded loud in the silence which fell over the two men.
A/N: Ah, many apologies for the delay! My beta reader, Iyakon Sobek, was busy and I forgot to bother her for the chapter, so… XD.
That aside, I've created a writing journal at Livejournal, under the username 'flarium'. Feel free to see what else I write there, I post more there than I do here. Unknown to most people here, I also write yaoi and yuri, most of which is not posted on Fanfiction(dot)Net.
Sorry for the delay again!