Chapter 1: Leading

Sakura leaned against Naruto's wall and sighed. It had been forever since he'd come home, because he was either constantly on missions or running errands that Tsunade asked of him. It was odd for Sakura, because it was almost as if she and Naruto were a newly wed couple. She would make meals and clean house and do stuff that wives would do, because Tsunade refused to give her any missions after the incident 6 months ago with Itachi and Kisame. Naruto was constantly out working, and he would come home eat, and talk with Sakura and Sakura found more that they had in common than before.

Of course, they didn't sleep in the same bed…not even in the same room for that matter, but it still felt like it.

It had indeed been 6 months since she had last seen Itachi, and she started to think about him less and less, but it was as if his memory was slipping through her fingers, no matter how desperately she tried to catch it. 4 weeks is not enough time to get to know anyone, but with Uchiha, Itachi it seems to be 5 times harder.

Itachi was cold and distant and difficult to read, the only emotions being shown with his eyes but when he wanted to he could mask them, which Sakura hated the most. He also didn't speak hardly at all, even to his team partner Kisame, who made fun of Sakura, and who Sakura despised with all the spite and hatred her soul offered.

She was also sometimes haunted with fake images of Itachi. Whether he be walking down a street, watching her sleep or standing besides her, she always saw him. She knew she would never see him again…besides, like all her affairs with the Uchihas, it was always a one-sided love, which she wasn't even sure if it WAS love she felt for the eldest Uchiha brother.

That's when she decided to forget him.

With Sasuke, it had been different. With Sasuke, she was young and naive, and having something like a love walk away from her was new to her. But with Itachi…it had happened before. The one-sided love, the separating, the images of the person in every room. And she was too mature to dwell on it. So she let the memories slip from her, she made herself not think about him, and day by day as she noticed with satisfaction, his image slowly began to disappear.

Sakura knocked on the 5th Hokage's door. She heard Tsunade's voice from behind it, beckoning her in and she walked in, the first thing she noticed being Naruto in the room as well.

"Hey, Sakura-chan!" Naruto said and waved, Sakura returning the wave and looking at Tsunade. Tsunade smiled at her.

"Sakura-chan, I've been speaking to Naruto…and well, we've both decided it would be best for you if you received a little break. So I'm assigning you a mission." Tsunade said, and Sakura smiled broadly.

"I shall be overly excited to receive it, Tsunade-sama." Sakura said, her voice shaking in anticipation. 6 months of the same routine could drive a person crazy.

"You and Naruto shall be co-leaders on this mission. You will be leading two groups of Genin to the Sound country...there seems to be a small group there trying to resurrect Orochimaru's army. We need you and your shinobi to investigate and attack if necessary…this is a D-ranked mission, and we know that the two of you will do your best." Tsunade finished, and nodded, dismissing the two.

-Walking Home-

"Thank you, Naruto, for giving me a chance to get out of the house." Sakura said, and smiled at him. Naruto grinned and slung his arm over her shoulders.

"It was no big deal, Sakura-chan…anything for you." And he winked as Sakura rolled her eyes and knocked his arm off. Naruto grinned again and put his hands behind his head, looking at her.

"So Sakura-chan, what's for dinner tonight, I'm starving." Naruto groaned and Sakura poked his ribs.

"First we pack for tomorrow. I'm going to be ready no matter what. I've already failed one mission and I'm not going to fail another as important as this. We can have dinner if we have time." Sakura said, unlocking the door to the apartment and walking inside, shivering at the brisk air inside.

Naruto groaned. "Fine fine fine but I'm packing super fast i'm craving ramen…" Naruto complained and Sakura twitched, annoyed.

"You're always hungry for Ramen, what are you talking about? I'll pass on Ramen we had enough of that when I was with…" she trailed off and Naruto looked down, knowing that just recently Sakura had come to him with a request that if it could be avoided, don't talk about her mission with Itachi.

Naruto had been extremely worried after Sakura had said that. He was paranoid about the situation, always asking her what had happened like if Itachi had raped her or something. Sakura had looked very surprised the first time he had suggested it; even had laughed at it, but she denied it. Naruto had finally given up asking, and it pained him to see the look on her face as she remembered.

"Why don't we have something else then…I could make something." Naruto said, changing the subject and Sakura looked up at him shaking her head profusely.

"No WAY…last time I ate your cooking I seriously got sick. I'd like to actually like to eat AND keep it in my stomach tonight, thank you very little." Sakura said, sticking out her tongue and running to her room, starting to pack her things for tomorrows mission exuberantly. Finally, a chance to get out of the hell hole of extreme boredom.

Naruto smiled at her from the doorway and walked to his room to get his bag ready. Ever since that had happened, he swore that if Itachi tried to come near her again, he would kick his ass and not care what the consequence was. Something awful must have happened to Sakura, or she wouldn't want to keep it a secret.

But seeing her smile while packing made him happy, because she was finally…slowly, but finally returning to the Sakura-chan from before.

Sakura yawned as she dragged a half-asleep Naruto out from the apartment, not even bothering to lock it behind her. Naruto finally had woken up fully when the got to the front gates, looking at the two teams of 5 of genin that stood before them. Of course, they knew none of them, but it was a chance to learn about them.

Sakura took out a sheet of paper with all their information on it and checked out the profiles of each. They were all strong and experienced and Sakura was happy at least she wasn't getting a crappy team like she sometimes…well, she found, almost most of the time…did.

Sakura checked off their names as she went through the list and she introduced herself, as did Naruto, and they were off.

It took Sakura, Naruto and the others a half-week to get to Sound Village, and when they got there, they were all worn out. She had learned more about the people who were in the team in that time, and she had learned to especially like one of them, named Ichigo, a kunoichi like herself. Ichigo had no last name, because she had no family she remembered. She was found outside of the Konoha gates when she was small and was taken in by them, and raised as named Ichigo, the only word she seemed to know.

Ichigo on the outside had a mostly cold exterior, as her hair was black her skin was pale and her eyes were purple and uninviting…but her personality was the opposite. She was much like Sakura, but hyper to the power of twelve and extremely flirtatious, which sometimes annoyed Sakura but she had learned to become best friends.

"Sakura-chan…." Ichigo whined behind her. "Can we PLEASE take a break?" Sakura rolled her eyes. This was the tenth time that Ichigo had asked her.

"No, we can't…" Sakura said and ignored her mumbled protests. "We're almost there…besides I-" Sakura was cut off as a kunai whizzed past her head.

"Watch out!" Sakura yelled. "Spread but try to stick together. And try to catch the culprits!" Sakura added and everyone got out their weapons. Sakura got out a fistful of shurikens, Naruto called forward many shadow clones to help with the search, and Ichigo got out her fan, which always reminded Sakura of temari. The others got out theirs, such as swords and some just as standard as kunai and shurikens.

Several shinobi jumped out of the forest, attacking their group and as more and more came, Sakura realized that they were deeply out numbered. By their forehead protector, she noticed they were Sound nin. These must be the nin that we're hunting. She said, alerting the others.

Sakura fought the shinobi off, killing a couple but decided to feel guilt later. She desperately fought them off as many more came out of the forest, surrounding them. She heard cries from behind her and turned around to see one of their own team members, Yuki, fall to the ground dead. She noticed that many others of their team were injured, some unconscious.

Naruto was doing a pretty good job by himself, but she could see blood lust coming to his eyes and she knew if they didn't defeat them fast, the kyuubi would appear. All thoughts of that disappeared as Naruto was hit in the head from behind. She yelled out his name as he fell, and she threw a kunai through the throat of the shinobi who did it, the shinobi falling on top of Naruto.

Sakura panicked, she and Ichigo and about 4 others were the only ones left. She sighed in relief as many of the sound shinobi fell as well, and she noticed that many of the people who she thought were more shinobi were actually just shadow clones.

Sakura felt the cold metal of a kunai against her throat and she froze, afraid to move. "Hey, little girlie…what are you doing in a place like this?" A hard mocking voice said behind her. She took her foot and stomped his foot, backing up and trying to somehow knee him in the crotch, but stopped when the kunai pressed deeper into her skin, warm blood starting to drip.

"Aw, doll, don' act like that. If you're good I won't do something to terrible to you. To be honest I rather keep you nice and alive while I break you." He said, playing with her hair. "Do you like it soft of rough?" he asked, and licked the side of her face.

She made a disgusted face, but she couldn't stop the fear that crept throughout her body. She shut her eyes as he raised his hand to knock her out when the shinobi collapsed behind her. She looked at the shinobi; he was dead.

She looked around…all the sound ninja were dead, and all of her men were unconscious, with the exception of the one dead ninja. Ichigo stood there, panting and covered in blood. But when she turned her head as she was mesmerized by the eyes of the person who had saved her from the shinobi.

Those deep red eyes that she thought she'd never see again.

-Hides trying to dodge thrown objects- I'm sorry I'm sorry! Either you're throwing objects at me because….A) It sucked or B) I waited two days to get this out. I'm so sorry but this is the first chapter of the second part, named Damaged! Yay, lol. Well please read and review and I shall love you forever! –huggles-