AijinMegami: Hm... what to say about this chapter? Well, I guess it does reveal some things and is needed... but it may be considered boring to some.

Sorry ya'll, I'm busy with hw and everything. Im kinda afraid of what next year might be since this year is hectic enough. ; - ;

Confucius: When embarking on a journey of revenge, make sure to dig two graves.

Confucius: Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.

I don't own Naruto!

Dedicated: To blackbelt-chan who always cheers me up and is so patient with me. I'm sorry I'm not sending you chapters right now!

"Where were you Itachi-san?" Kisame asked, leaning against the cold walls of the cave. His dangerously jagged teeth seemed to gleam lethally against the burning flames of the fire before him. "You were gone all day yesterday."

One would think that Kisame was concerned for Itachi, but to think that way would be a big mistake. Akatsuki did not care for one another. They used one another for their own uses and they had their own agendas to follow. The only time they would comply with one another is when their goals are the same.

That was how the Akatsuki functioned, that is how it survives.

There was only one reason Kisame would ask where Itachi had been. Without Itachi around, he would require a new partner and Kisame didn't want to go through the shit of getting accustomed to someone new. Getting all cautious and weary of the newbie would probably end up with Kisame driving a kunai up that guy's ass.

Itachi said nothing, but sat down before Kisame. Even though Kisame wasn't the best at analyzing chakra, his senses were good enough for him to realize that Itachi had recently used his chakra for some purpose. What the reason was, Kisame didn't know and he didn't care.

Itachi ignored Kisame. He didn't have time for such trivialities. Since Kisame wasn't the smartest fish –no pun intended– within the Akatsuki, it was up to Itachi to make up the plans. He would have to devise a strategy that would allow them to travel within Konoha without Anbu on their tail.

The other Akatsuki members had a slight advantage over Itachi and Kisame in that department. Konoha shinobis didn't know how the rest of Akatsuki looked like. Because of the fiasco after the Chuunin Exam, the Konoha elite shinobi were on a strict look out for Kisame and Itachi.

If they were to walk through the gates of Konoha, they would be instantly recognized. Not to mention, their cloaks were now recognized everyone throughout the shinobi world. If anyone was wearing black cloaks with red clouds etched onto them, the immediate assumption would be that they were an Akatsuki shinobi.


Itachi's sharingan eyes stared at the burning flames. They could probably bypass that strict regulation if one of Konoha's own trusted shinobi was to say that they were a friend. If they could find someone who would vouch for them, saying that they weren't Akatsuki, it would be a cinch to be able to travel throughout Konoha without being accused.

There was a chance that they would be followed as a precaution, but it was better than being unable to enter a foot into Konoha territory. But was there someone who would actually do this?

Vibrant pink hair and big emerald eyes flashed through his mind.

Unconsciously, Itachi's lips curled into a smirk.

Yes, there was one who would work perfectly.

"Sakura-chan... are you awake?" there was a soft knock from the door. Sakura's eyes flickered towards it. She knew who was behind it by the sound of the voice. Hinata was probably here to check on her.

"She is awake, Hinata-sama." Sakura sat up quickly at the sound of that particular voice.

What the hell was Neji doing here? With a loud squeak, she fell from the side of her bed, caused by her haste of getting off of the bed. Groaning, Sakura rubbed her sore bottom with a scowl.

Graceful kunoichi her pain filled ass!

"Sakura-chan!" Hinata cried out in concern. The door was slammed open, probably by Neji, breaking the lock. Sakura grumbled darkly underneath her breath. He was going to pay for that, she would make sure of it.

Sakura raised her hand from the floor, revealing her position. "I'm over here Hinata-chan." She said wearily.

"Are you okay?" Hinata asked, rushing towards Sakura. In her haste, she forgot all about her shyness. Instead, she peered down at Sakura with her silver lilac eyes, showering Sakura with near-tear concerns.

Getting up from the ground, Sakura smiled. "I'm just fine!"

"Why were you on the floor?"

"Uh..." Sakura's face flushed. How could she tell Hinata that she was so surprised that Neji was here that she fell of the bed because she was trying to get up quickly? Neji grinned and Sakura glowered. That genius-bastard probably knew why she was on the floor! "...I tripped..."

Was... Was Neji sniggering in the background?!

No, no, he was only twitching.

"Shut up Neji-san!" she hissed. "It's not funny!"

"I do not know what you are talking about." Neji said coolly. Hinata was oblivious to the fact that Neji was laughing like a maniac mentally, but Sakura see through his act clearly. She had been around a certain stick-up-his-ass-ice-bitch for so long that she could now clearly read most so-called-badass-genius from their usual nonchalant façade.

"Whatever," she grumbled, running her hand through her messy hair. Damn, she remembered that she had been sleeping before these two had come. She pointed at the door, staring straight into Neji's silver eyes. "Get out."

"Excuse me?" he asked with narrowed eyes.

"I need to get dress and I have no intention of giving anyone a free show." Sakura said, placing her hands on her hips. "I don't mind Hinata-chan cause she's a girl, but you're a guy so be a good little boy and stay in the living room."

"Yes, yes," he said impatiently, brushing off her words. "It's not like there's anything to see anyways."

"WHAT?" Sakura screamed. "YOU BA-!"

The door was slammed shut before she could finish her sentence.

"...annoying little booger." Sakura began to throttle an invisible neck, feeling a vein twitching on her head. "Wait till we train together. Don't think I've been playing around this whole time while you were on your mission! I'll kick your ass to the Lightening Country!"

Behind, Hinata couldn't help but giggle and Sakura's antics. Neji seemed to notice that Sakura was easy to rile up and took advantage of that whenever he could. Though not much noticed it, Sakura seemed to forget about her sadness concerning her team whenever he pissed her off. Hinata's eyes softened as sadness seeped into them. It was also probably because he understood what it was like to be left behind with no sudden warning.

Though Naruto and her father had healed him slightly, the wounds concerning the death of his father were still tender.

"What's wrong Hinata-chan?" Sakura asked.

"Uh! I-It's nothing!" she stammered out.

Sakura frowned, but didn't press her. Instead, she opened her closet and began to rummage through her clothes. "Thanks for checking up on me Hinata-chan."

Truth be told, Sakura was really touched. Now that she was teamless, there wasn't really anyone who had her back. She was on her own, occasionally joining hands with others, but departing early before bonds could be formed. There was Tsunade, but it wasn't the same. She was the Hokage. She couldn't be around Sakura most of the time. There was a bond, it just wasn't flaring as brightly as the bond she had with Naruto and Sasuke...

Sakura hid her face from Hinata. She didn't want Hinata to worry by seeing her worry.

Did she really have a bond with them? Sometimes, it felt as if Naruto and Sasuke were in their little world, a world she wasn't a part of. Every time she tried to near, the world seemed to slip away from her grasp.

"Sakura-chan," Naruto looked at her grimly, his angered blue eyes were unwilling to look up at her. She couldn't tell if he was angry at her or the fact that Kakashi interrupted his fight with Sasuke. Not knowing what to say, the only thing she could do was wait. "Don't ever interfere again."

Those words echoed every night before she went to sleep.

"Don't ever interfere again."

It was a three cell team!

"Don't ever interfere again."

They were a team!

"Don't ever interfere again."

Wasn't she a part of that team?

"Don't ever interfere again."

Her grip on the closet door tightened. Behind, Hinata looked at Sakura carefully. Though she couldn't see Sakura's face, there seemed to be some powerful emotions flowing through from her. Hinata could actually feel the dark emotions flowing out from Sakura, despite the distance that they had between each other.

"Sa-Sakura-chan?" she asked hesitantly.

Sakura turned around and smiled sweetly at Hinata. Her emerald eyes were spewing with unlimited happiness. She had chosen her clothes, a red vest with her trademark family insignia and loose comfortable slacks that came to her knees, and she was now ready to go.

"Thanks for checking up on my Hinata-chan!" grabbing her pack, Sakura opened the door. "C'mon, Neji-san owes me a day of training. I'm going to show that jerk that I'm no weakling!"

Hinata was silent. Since Sakura wasn't facing Hinata, she couldn't see the sadness in Hinata's lilac eyes. Hinata raised her hand as if she was going to reach out for Sakura. She hesitated before lowering her hand, opting to look away instead.

"I'm going to go downstairs first, 'kay?" Sakura said with a giggle, her back still facing Hinata. "You never know what Neji-san is doing."

The door was gently closed behind Sakura, but Hinata's attention wasn't on the door. Instead, she was staring at the shelf where Sakura normally kept her picture of Team Seven. Though she hadn't been here often, Hinata knew where it was since the sight of Naruto glaring at Sasuke made her smile...

The picture wasn't there.

"Sakura-chan," she murmured. "Why do you always hide what you're truly feeling?"

Meanwhile, Sakura hummed, walking down the stairs. Opening the door to her living room, she scowled when she saw Neji looking at the pictures were framed around the room. Yelling obscene words, Sakura threatened to shove a kunai up somewhere unpleasant. The only answer Neji gave was a smirk.

"People say you're so emotional..." Hinata said, feeling tears slipping from her eyes. "But... is someone who is always wearing a mask considered emotional?"

Sakura rarely cried in front of anyone these days.

How many times did she cry by herself in this room?

Hinata didn't bother to wipe away the tears.

Sakura no longer wished to be weak.

She no long wished to cry

So Hinata would cry for her instead...

"Someone please help Sakura-chan before she loses herself." Hinata whispered to herself, clasping her hands together.

Sakura was trudging down a path where she would do anything to prove herself, to show that she was strong. No longer would she be the smiling girl who cared for others with all her heart. With each day passing, she would slowly turn herself into a killing machine... a true tool of Konoha.

"Please..." the flow of tears grew. "Someone... help her..."

Itachi stared at Konoha passively. His black cloudless cloak bellowed in an intimidating manner with the aid of the wind. His conical hat was gone, having left it with Kisame back at the cave.

The village appeared innocently before his gaze. The foolishness of the village disgusted him. Despite having endured a full blown attack from both Oto and Suna, the village was still lax in their security system. Didn't these people learn from the past mistakes? It was joke that they were hailed as the most powerful village in the Shinobi World.

So weak...

So frail...

Like that foolish girl who had aided him.

"Kisame," he murmured.

As if planned, Kisame appeared from behind the trees. There was a feral grin on his face as he sauntered towards Itachi. As always, his Samehada was wrapped and attached to the strap behind his back. Unlike Itachi, though, he wore a black cloak with red clouds etched onto them.

"You seriously think you'll be fine there by yourself?" Kisame knew that despite all of the Uchiha's power, instinct, and intellect, it would all be deemed useless if he were to go against all of Konoha by himself... then again, he did kill almost all of the Uchiha Clan without any strain.

"Hn," it was the typical Uchiha answer.

"Leader-sama won't like it if you got yourself killed during this mission." Kisame said nonchalantly. "After all, you're the golden boy of Akatsuki."

"Nothing will go wrong." Itachi said without even tearing his eyes away from the village below him.

"Everything always goes wrong."

He gave no reply to that.

"How long will you be gone?" Kisame asked.

"...I will send you a message near the end of this mission."

The time limit was indefinite.

Itachi could still smell her scent, enveloping him in a comforting lull of security. He brushed it away, though. His only objective was his mission.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

Without another word, he jumped off the cliff and descended upon the road that would lead towards the gate of Konoha.

AijinMegami: Dun, Dun, Dun! What will happen next?