Author's note, December 2015: I have finished Uneasy Coexistence. It has been almost 10 years since this story was initially published. It will come as no surprise that I found it in dire need of revision when I started working on it again this year. I have left as-is my cute first attempt at plotting a story with its myriad of clichés; my main goal in my revision was to stabilize the narrative voice, which swung in too many different directions after years of sporadic updating, as well as correct elements of overly blatant OOCness and other small things that bothered me. UC still opens leaning very heavily on the fourth wall, and still very much does not take itself seriously, and still has countless flaws. But, you know – I now consider it done. Thank you – so much – to those of you who have stuck around all these years. It's thanks to you that I finished this, with your relentlessly hopeful PMs and reviews that would occasionally show up in my inbox and brighten my days.

Cover art: by Saniika, used with permission.

Contextual note: Sakura is a 21 year old medic in this fic. Kisame is the blue shark dude who needs some loving in a form other than the mascara-abusing Itachi. Samehada is Kisame's huge chakra-eating sword. (I need a compensation joke or three.)


Chapter 1

Northeast Konoha, early evening.

Our story today begins with the timeless eloquence of the following words:

"Well, fuck."

They were spoken by a very disoriented, very angry, very scared Sakura when she returned to consciousness and, after having groggily stared at a flapping piece of red and black material near her face, she realized that she was currently trussed up like a prize turkey, slung across the shoulder of a member of the Akatsuki and being carried through a forest at high speed.

For the benefit of the reader, Sakura indulged briefly in the kind of reminiscing that would supply all with a suitable back-story to explain this situation.

We note that this reminiscing took the form of flashbacks and thus our rendition of her recollection will be fragmentary at best and liberally peppered with dashes:

Sakura had been out on a routine mission with Kakashi and Naruto in the Konoha forest when two well-known Akatsuki members revealed themselves suddenly – a confusion of shouts and blasts of chakra had ensued – Itachi's insidious genjutsus had made everyone vacillate in and out of reality – Kakashi had taken Kisame on one-on-one while Itachi recited dark poetry – Leaf reinforcements had arrived in the form of Team Gai shouting about youth – and then all had gone black.

This was sufficient recollecting for Sakura to narrow down the result of her current predicament to one of two possible outcomes: either she was being carried by Itachi, which would mean that she was going to be seduced by him and then be slain very dramatically while she thought profound thoughts about how much he looked like Sasuke, or she was being carried by Kisame, which would mean that she was about to be raped, killed and eaten, and not necessarily in that order.

As she watched the forest below her fly by with each powerful leap of her captor, Sakura decided that an escape attempt was probably in order since she was getting major vertigo, and so she tried to reach her weapons pouch to grab a kunai or a shuriken or a chainsaw or some other item that was good to sever heads with.

After having strained uselessly at her bonds for a few minutes, Sakura was forced to take note of the fact she was not, in fact, Chris Angel, and all she could reach when she really wriggled her fingers was a kleenex in one of her pockets which wasn't going to be of much use for severing heads and that was when Sakura said, "well, fuck."

And now our story really begins without further digression into such trivial, unimportant things as exposition and the establishment of narrative direction.

When Sakura said "well, fuck," a voice responded in the form of "awake, little kunoichi?"

Then they started moving downwards, down, down, limb by limb until the undergrowth rustled under the feet of Sakura's captor and Sakura was dropped unceremoniously onto the thick undergrowth from a height of approximately six and a half feet, which hurt.

"Ouch," said Sakura to the pair of feet in front of her face. "That was unnecessary."

"I have been carrying you for fifteen hours," said the owner of the feet, "if anything, you owe me a back rub."

And then Sakura rolled over and took a good look at the Akatsuki and woe was upon her because there in the quasi-dark of evening stood Kisame with his blue skin and his pale eyes and his too many teeth and his gigantic sword(s). Sakura felt ripped off because even if Itachi was completely deranged, at least he was cute.

"What do you want me for?" asked Sakura in the dumb way that kidnap victims have of expecting a straight answer.

"Live bait," said Kisame in the cryptic way kidnappers have because they are very deep and mysterious and also because he liked the fishing imagery involved since he had the shark thing going on.

"Live bait?" said Sakura with growing disappointment because she could see where this was going.

"For getting the Kyuubi where we want him, when we want him," said Kisame, and then he planted his sword into the ground inches from Sakura's face, squatted next to it and gave her a horribly toothy grin.

Sakura felt very sad because that plan, coupled with kidnap, made for a depressingly unoriginal adventure and she wanted her money back.

"Listen, gills –" started Sakura.

"Listen, cupcake –" started Kisame at the same time.

"It's Sakura," said Sakura.

"It's Kisame," said Kisame.

They glared at each other for a while at this point because the nicknames which they had imposed upon one another were rather undignified.

Then, since introductory matters had been taken care of so satisfactorily, Kisame got up and started making camp and Sakura moped about like a pink-haired trussed-up turkey and mused about the alarming frequency with which she was abducted.

Then Sakura remarked loudly that she needed to pee and it occurred to her that if Kisame untied her to let her go, she could maybe hightail it out of there, which sounded like a good plan.

Unfortunately for Sakura, Kisame was not quite the dumb brute that he appeared to be and he had tied her tightly enough and long enough that, when he sliced open the ropes binding her a few moments later, Sakura's limbs were near-useless and she was not going to be hightailing it, or even lowtailing it, anywhere.

"You have five minutes," Kisame said with a gesture towards some shrubs, "If you're not back by then, I'll fetch you. You're in no condition to get very far."

Sakura had to agree when she found that the best method of propulsion she had access to when she managed to get to her feet was an unstable wobbling walk, and so she wobbled into the undergrowth and relieved herself.

When Sakura returned to where Kisame was, she found to her considerable irritation that he was examining her pack and stripping it of everything remotely sharp and pointy. In front of him was a shiny pile of various weapons including Sakura's collection of kunai, a trick blade that had been concealed in the strap of her pack, the several dozen shuriken that had lined the external pocket, a pocket knife, two tubes of chapstick and a pencil.

"Hey," said Sakura when Kisame pulled out her little pouch of tampons. "That's private."

Kisame snorted in amusement and, in a surprising show of gentlemanly restraint, he did not open Sakura's tampons and fling them around for fun but returned them to the bag. After having rummaged through the remainder of Sakura's belongings in search of other dangerous objects, he returned the pack to her with a smirk. "You can have this back now."

Sakura clutched her pack possessively to her chest and resisted the urge to return Kisame's smirk, because in her little tampon pouch there were eight poisoned senbon and a smokebomb and she would make use of those, and well, make no mistake, so that's what gentlemanly restraint gets you and let this be a lesson. Sakura felt very hardcore and ninjalike at this thought.

Then Kisame looked up suddenly as though he had heard something and he said "stay here, kunoichi" to Sakura and he left the little campsite very quickly.

Watching him go, Sakura massaged her sore ankles and could only assume that Kisame had gone to do horrible things in the forest such as maiming and eating innocent wildlife. In any case his departure gave Sakura the time she needed to assess her situation and determine on a course of action.

Sakura's assessment of her situation was that it sucked pretty hard.

After she had healed herself, and since Kisame had gone and disappeared so handily, Sakura thought this might be an opportunity to take evasive action in the making. She therefore moved sneakily to the edge of the clearing, where she paused, listened and looked.

Then she took one tiny step into the forest just to see what would happen.

What happened was a thump behind her which signaled the landing of a pissy Mist missing nin.

"Going somewhere?" Kisame asked.

"No," said Sakura, who turned to look up at Kisame and felt suddenly very short, "of course not."

"Good," said Kisame, and he watched Sakura make her way very meekly back to the camp.

Sakura plopped herself down and decided to postpone her plan of evasive action until a more suitable time when her legs weren't wobbly and pissy Mist missing nin weren't landing behind her in scary ways.

When Kisame sat across from her, Sakura noticed that his Samehada had two large streaks of fresh blood running down its white bindings and she asked what innocent wildlife he had killed for no reason.

Kisame looked at the blood on his sword and wondered what the hell kind of innocent wildlife could possibly leave such large still-dripping stains of blood, but he said nothing because the blood was in fact that of two members of a Leaf retrieval squad which had minutes ago come very close to catching up with them and which Kisame had made quick work of, but Sakura didn't need to know that.

"Two bunnies," said Kisame, "they annoyed me."

Before Sakura could go PETA on his ass, Kisame began to make some hand seals.

"The usual practice, kunoichi," he said when Sakura began to pull away apprehensively. "Hand."

Sakura absolutely refused to hold out her hand because a moment of heroic resistance seemed to be in order, and a short skirmish ensued wherein Sakura determinedly refused to give Kisame access to either hand and backed away with increasing rapidity while Kisame tried to get a hold of one of her arms. Then Kisame took one large step forward, snatched Sakura up bodily with horrifying ease, grabbed her forearm and made some sort of binding seal which rapidly worked its way up Sakura's arm and through the rest of her body.

"Try to behave yourself," said Kisame impatiently. "Now. This is how the binding seal works," he continued as he tossed an indignant Sakura lightly to the ground a few feet off and took a few steps backwards himself.

Kisame moved his hand and Sakura felt herself being pulled irresistibly towards him.

"I control how much distance you have from me, and how much force this bond pulls you with. Understand?"

"Yes," said Sakura, who found her face squashed in Kisame's chest.

"Good girl. Now go to sleep."

Sakura pulled back and felt the chakra bond loosen as Kisame allowed her to move away.

As she unfolded her bedroll, Sakura reflected that at least Kisame did not smell like putrid fish, which was a definite plus.

When Sakura had quite settled down in her bedroll for the night – notwithstanding the violent murderous fantasies involving blue shark-men that she was entertaining – she turned to where Kisame stood and watched him move towards the forest. She blinked and he was gone, silhouetted against the trees at the other edge of the clearing.