Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Slight AU warning.
Don't forget to review when you're finished reading!

XXX

Unknown Deceit

Bolded lines are Inner Sakura. Italicized lines are regular thoughts from anybody. Bolded italicized lines are flashbacks or dreams.

Chapter 13 – Can't Stop Crying

Rain was beating down hard on the window frames of Sasuke's secluded home. The sun had just started to rise, but the sky looked still like the dead of night. It was silent in the sleeping house, except for the soft pitter-patter of raindrops against the roof and windows. A door creaked open and someone slipped out of their room very, very quietly.

Sakura tried to muffle the sound of her naked footsteps against the floor with chakra, but she was barely to the front door before someone was standing in front of it. She growled. "Get out of my way!"

"Trying to sneak out? It's raining and with the nightgown you're wearing you'll catch cold, and spread erections everywhere you go," the man in front of the door, Sasuke, said tiredly. He wore nothing but a baggy pair of grey boxer shorts, and by the tent in his pants she could see he was happy to see her.

"...You're disgusting."

"I actually woke up with this. You've lived with guys for how long and you've never heard of morning wood? It's annoying but I'd rather you see my pecker poking out of my pants then being too embarrassed and letting you run out in the rain to go find Itachi and getting killed." He took her arm gently. "Back to bed with you."

"Sasuke, please let me go," she said. "I want to find him."

He sighed and scratched his head, hair sticking out in every which way from sleep. "I'm not really good at this but...please don't make me have to tie you down. My skills have dropped light a rock in water and it'll probably be an actual problem to fight you."

Sakura folded her arms. "Are you telling me that you've gotten weak enough so I can take you now? That's insulting!" She punched him playfully. "Come on, where's the man I used to love?"

"Ow," he said miserably. "Thanks for giving me a bruise. Well, at least you're in good spirits."

He led Sakura into the kitchen and plopped her down at the table while he made some breakfast. She watched him, fascinated. In her entire life she had never seen Sasuke do normal things like cooking breakfast or washing clothes. It was like he was only ever there for fighting.

So he acknowledged his drop in skills. He sure looked weaker than he used to. She could compare his new demeanor to Kakashi, a sort of laid-back cheerfulness to him. Funny thing was she liked it on him, even if he wasn't that strong anymore. He couldn't be her knight in shining armor. That was Itachi's job now.

The first time she saw Itachi, a few years ago, she couldn't help but see the similarity between the brothers. The Sharingan eyes, the cold look, the pale skin, the similar jaw shape—it was kind of funny she never really realized the connection between them.

Now, they were vastly different. Itachi maintained his look, but also threw in a slight softness that made him all the more attractive. Sasuke however was scrawnier, kind of like how Naruto had been before he began training.

Naruto...she had seen him. Even though it hadn't been a separation like Sasuke's defection, it was still so shocking. He looked older, more mature...and more like a stranger. It brought tears to her eyes to think of it. Ino too. They had gone from being the closest to her to the friends behind Akatsuki. Deidara and Kisame had taken their place. They were back with Tobi and Kakuzu.

Sasuke plated breakfast and set it on the table—simple sunny-side up eggs and chestnut muffins with buttered toast, and a glass of tomato juice as the drink. They ate in silence. Sakura thought of yesterday's events over and over while Sasuke pondered the condition of his brother.

Itachi was a very strong person, but his skills, like Sasuke, had wavered. After he began to devote more attention to finding a seal-breaker for Sakura, he neglected training. It wasn't apparent by appearance, like Sasuke's neglect was, but soon it would be. This just worried his brother more. If he ran into too much conflict, he was bound to be hurt.

Sakura, on the other hand, had grown more capable than ever. Her strength had gone up and her chakra levels had risen exponentially. Sasuke couldn't help but wonder if her sudden skill growth was partly due to the seal. It wanted to be as secure as possible, and the stronger its host, the better.

Breakfast was finished quickly. Sasuke stood up and collected the plates, dumping them into the sink. Sakura had half a mind to try and escape, but she didn't want to put Sasuke in potential danger as well. Instead she headed over to the sink, grabbing soap and a sponge and starting to clean the plates.

"Sakura Haruno, doing housework for me," the dark-haired boy observed, "it's like a dream come true."

"I'm trying to distract myself. You're not helping." She worked particularly hard at a bit of egg refusing to detach from a plate.

Sasuke went into his room to change. He stepped out of his boxers. Catching a reflection of himself in the mirror hanging by his bed, he looked all over his body, from his pale scrawny chest to his length to his skinny legs. He got himself into a baggy black shirt and some green shorts, attaching his kunai pouch from years ago around his thigh. He ran a comb through his hair and scrubbed his face with some soap and water, all the time wishing he hadn't stopped training.

Walking back into the kitchen, he noticed the absence of Sakura and worried for a minute, darting to the door and poking his head outside.

"You really don't trust me do you?" he heard the female say from behind him.

He sighed in relief. "Well your little display earlier sure doesn't help." The man turned and saw a freshened-up Sakura, her shorts clinging tight to her legs and her shirt her usual maroon color. Her hair was put up in a bun and all her weapons were attached to her body in some way, shape, or form.

"You look ready to fight someone." Sasuke closed the door.

"...Just in case," she muttered.

They lounged around the house for a few hours. Sakura was very vigilant, always checking outside as if Itachi would pop up randomly, yearning for her company. Sasuke preoccupied himself with sudoku, one of the comforts in his lonely existence. Truthfully, the uproar from the hideout burning down and Itachi's disappearance excited him. He was bored with his quiet life, but he wouldn't go back to Konoha until everything was put right.

The rain had let up, and the skies were finally starting to turn afternoon blue. The clouds bleached from grey to white and the sun shone through the cracks of the clouds, hitting the surrounding trees in a glorious manner. Dew coated the outside grass and insects crawled warily around the wet jungle.

There was a beating on the door. Sakura shot up from the sill in a second and Sasuke put down his sudoku calmly. She opened the door, face shining with hope that maybe the older Uchiha was waiting for her.

It was not so. Deidara and Sasori stood outside, dripping wet from the rain. Blood mixed with water ran down Deidara's arm which had been severely slashed up, and Sasori was missing three fingers from his wooden appendages. Deidara held a battered cloak, soaked with blood.

It was Itachi's size.

Without a word, her emerald eyes fixed themselves on the cloak and she blanked out, like a robot. She turned around and went further into the house and sunk onto a chair, staring at the ground emotionlessly. Deidara and Sasori cast her looks of remorse. Sasuke approached them.

"Where'd you find it?"

"About three miles from the hideout. It had been impaled on a tree branch. We tried to follow the blood trail, but the rain washed it away, yeah."

"There was a blood trail," Sakura said quietly. Tears welled in her eyes and Deidara gave Sasuke a grave look.

"I'll take care of this, yeah."

"You're injured. I'll get you some remedies." Sasuke took the cloak and folded it up in a laundry basket. He didn't want to look at it. Itachi would have only left the cloak if it became a burden on him. That meant he must have been too weak to lug it along. It had gained several pounds from the amount of blood it soaked up.

Deidara was hugging Sakura and speaking words of comfort to which she was unreceptive. Sasori left the house to take a piece of wood from the side of Sasuke's house and promptly came back in with it, setting it on the table and beginning to carve three new fingers with a curved kunai. He wasn't good with emotional things. Deidara could take care of it.

"That much blood means he had to kill someone, I know it," Sakura sobbed, "but he'd never kill someone unless he had to. Why did he have to run off?! What purpose did it serve?"

"...I dunno," Deidara spoke truthfully. "I think he wanted to create a diversion so you wouldn't get caught, yeah. He'd die for you, you know."

"He died for me. He would never kill anyone. He died for me! All that blood...why does this have to happen this way? Why can't the prince be valiant and save the princess and no one has to die?" She wiped her eyes.

"Itachi's not dead. He's not the kind of person who dies so easily. He was determined to protect you, and that notebook, yeah."

His words rang in her ears. The notebook! Itachi had it on his person. "Sasuke, check the pockets of his cloak!"

Sasuke did so, and found nothing. "He must still be holding the notebook."

"You see?" Deidara pressed. "Itachi wouldn't die before he found a way to heal you. I bet you he's out there right now reading the shit outta that notebook, yeah."

"...I want to find him. I can't sit here. I don't feel right." Sakura writhed in her seat, antsy.

The blond shook his head. "You gotta be patient, yeah."

XxXxXx

Kakashi enjoyed the view of Konoha through the window. The day was nice, the sky a periwinkle blue and the breeze just cool enough to feel pleasurable against the skin. He reached his hand through the bars set in hard, chakra-draining metal on the window and felt the air.

A couple walking by looked up at his hand and glared at him, disgusted. They rushed on and he sighed, plopping back into the cold cell. He sat on the stone slab that they called a bed and stared at the reinforced wall in front of him in disdain.

He hadn't been able to escape the Konoha-nin. The library was completely ransacked in an attempt to cut him off and he was buried under shelves and shelves until they fished him out, putting him under the most powerful genjutsu possible. Now he was shut out from the world with no idea on how Sakura and Itachi were and if they still had the notebook, or if his efforts were in vain and Konoha had apprehended the notebook and they were both dead.

The ANBU captain shivered at the thought.

He heard the sound of rusted metal being moved. The door to his cell block opened. Footsteps echoed throughout the near-empty hall and Tsunade appeared, alone, in front of his cell door. He watched her with a lazy eye.

"...I trusted you," she said. "I thought you understood my position."

"I did, at one point," Kakashi spoke after a minute of silence, "but as soon as one of my ex-students caught the seal I knew I'd have to drop all loyalty to you and go with Sakura. I'm tired of covering up everything for you. You know the Third was a son of a bitch, even if he loved Konoha, what he did was too much."

Tsunade couldn't think of anything to say. The truth spilled out of her lips. "I'm afraid of the seal."

"I'm not surprised. Fuck, everyone's afraid of that thing." Kakashi shook his head. "But to do this to your former student..."

"I can't betray Konoha and go with her." The Hokage leaned against the bars. "I can't. I knew all about the Akatsuki. I wanted her to go with them, to get out of Konoha. I tried to bring her to them partly, but another part of me hoped that the ANBU would complete their job and she'd be dead, along with the seal, so we wouldn't have any future problems. I look towards the future of Konoha and Sakura wasn't a part of it."

Kakashi looked up at the ceiling and saw Sakura's face, smiling. "...She's very hurt. It took a long time for her to get used to everything, to realize the betrayals she's been put through." When Tsunade didn't reply, he continued. "What about the notebook?"

"...My men pursued Itachi Uchiha for miles. He was relentless on giving it up, but we wounded him during the pursuit. Needless to say, he still has possession of the item he stole."

"That's the notebook of the Fourth," Kakashi acclaimed. "It's all about the seal. Maybe Itachi will find some way to cure Sakura. You have to stop the pursuit. Leave everyone alone. Let nature take its course. If Itachi can find something on the seal, then let him try it. If he can't, someone will have to kill Sakura before the seal unlocks."

"...For someone who cares about her so much, you sure seem ready to stab her," Tsunade observed.

Kakashi stood up. He spoke seriously. "I'm not ready at all. In a way, I'm like you. I'd rather have her dead than the world. But I'm doing this; I'm helping them because it's what a virtuous Konoha would do. Not this cowardly one. I follow the Fourth's, my sensei's, policy more than anyone else's."

She didn't pursue the subject further. "We detained Tobi. He's turned into quite a handsome man, you know."

It was Kakashi's turn. "I don't want to talk about this."

"Really? Just like old times?"

"Shut up."

"...Do you want to see him?"

Kakashi glared at her. "Don't act like that's an honor. I saw him every day before I was captured."

"Speaking of that, we burned down your hideout." Tsunade saw the surprise register in his face. "Clever genjutsu you had. Unfortunately, your friends couldn't hold it up. Apparently Naruto Uzumaki and Ino Yamanaka led the ANBU right to their front step—literally." She smiled at his bewildered reaction. "Yes, one student you're trying to protect while the other messes up your entire plan. I haven't told Naruto about your deception yet; but he shall learn in time."

His fists clenched tightly. "For god's sake Tsunade! Try and think of the consequences of what you're doing. If you try to destroy the ones who are trying to help then you'll be left with nothing to do but kill the rest. I know you don't really want to kill Sakura. None of us do! The only difference is that you acted with the suggestion of execution instead of thinking it through logically. The move of a coward that altered Sakura's life forever."

"Don't think they're safe just yet. We need to destroy the seal at least. It's a good chance Itachi's dead with those wounds we gave him, and that means the notebook is lost. We'll be paying a visit to see Sasuke soon."

"Sasuke?!" Another familiar name rung through the air. Kakashi knew Itachi and Sasuke kept in touch, but he hadn't seen the younger Uchiha in several years. Sasuke left Konoha after learning about the bombs, and while trying to live in solitude, this entire time Tsunade knew where he lived?

"Konoha really isn't ignorant enough to think that Sasuke Uchiha dropped off the face of the planet. We have advanced tracking systems and we made sure we knew where he went, just in case he decided to betray us again."

"If your tracking systems are so amazing then you should've found Sakura months ago," Kakashi muttered.

Tsunade shook her head. "We got to her eventually."

"You're ruining everyone's lives," the teacher growled. "We want peace, that's all. You aren't even giving us that right. In the end, everyone's aiming for the good thing."

"Don't you see where it's left you, though?" Tsunade asked. "How many months does that seal have left? What will you do if the reading isn't accurate? Cutting a corner tight can result in death, and so can this. I'm thinking more about Konoha here—everyone else will suffer too."

Kakashi didn't speak anymore. She left him, sealing everything tightly, and crossed the hall into the lighter security cells, where Tobi was sitting, staring out the window with his exposed face. His white eye rolled around to look at Tsunade in instinct, even though nothing but white registered. "Didja have fun trying to question Kakashi?"

"Spare me the sarcasm, Obito."

He tutted. "Come on, don't call me that."

"Hate thinking about the past?" Tsunade asked. "Seems like everything's being uncovered all at once, hmm Obito? Turns out the information you and Rin secretly researched with the Fourth really will prove useful."

"...Kakashi's probably pissed because the Fourth didn't trust him." Tobi shrugged. "How am I supposed to know?" He looked out the window. "Konoha will get what's coming to them."

XxXxXx

Sasuke added some saffron to the chicken steaming on plates in his kitchen. He arranged the vegetables neatly so they didn't spill on the mashed potatoes. He began to chop tomato slices for himself when Deidara came into the kitchen.

"I smell something delicious. Oooh, lookit that piece of art," Deidara's mouth watered. "It's my firm belief art should be fleeting and soon that'll be gone, in my mouth."

"Wait like everyone else. No special privileges for you. How's your arm?" Sasuke asked.

"Could be worse. Hey, who's the fourth plate for, yeah?"

"Sasori."

"Sasori can't eat," Deidara reminded him. "He's made out of wood, remember, yeah?"

"Oh. Shit."

"I'll eat it for him, yeah?"

Sasuke tensed. His fingers gripped the carving knife tightly. Strange auras were approaching from far away. Their chakra patterns weren't familiar to him. He cast a glance at Deidara. He nodded and whistled.

Sasori and Sakura appeared a second later, silently. Sasuke spoke an incantation softly and the fridge moved, a small hiding hole available for the three to hide in. They climbed in.

"Sasuke," Sakura began, but he shook his head and held his finger to his lips.

Once the fridge was back in place, he continued making dinner like it was nothing, spilling the three other plates into the garbage and promptly setting it all on fire. He watched the garbage burn when he heard the door being busted open. Several ANBU were present and were drawn to the fire.

Like moths to the flame, he thought mockingly. He dumped water on the fire and turned to look at them with a homely smile on his face. "Hello. I'd prefer a knock."

"Sasuke Uchiha," one of them declared.

"The one and only. You want my autograph?"

From behind the fridge, Deidara almost laughed. Sasuke was such an ass.

"We are going to search your household. Any attempt to stop us puts you under suspicion of withholding dangerous articles from authorities," one of them spoke.

"Aren't you here because that's what you think I'm doing?" Sasuke asked.

"While we're searching, I will ask you a few questions. Where were you the night of October 15?"

"October 15? It's the middle of the month so I masturbated furiously for three hours. I'm not even kidding. Being a ninja gives you really good stamina. Or that night I might have had a hooker. Guys like me wallow in our self-pity and therefore can't have real lives." He smiled at them.

"Don't be smart with me, boy. Are you not the brother of Itachi Uchiha?"

"I never said I wasn't."

"Have you been keeping in contact with him?"

"I'm supposed to hate the guy. He murdered my clan, so no I don't think we're exchanging Christmas cards. Why?"

"Do you know the whereabouts of Sakura Haruno?"

"She's my old teammate. She loved me, I hated her, then I liked her, then Orochimaru fucked up our chemistry. I know she tried to off Tsunade. If you want to know why I know that it's because I read the paper which I get from the village close here, not from my underground sweatshop."

"We're warning you," the ANBU spoke dangerously, "if you continue to act in that manner we'll have to take you in for questioning."

"You're questioning me already, but the thing about this is that it's so much simpler. You don't have to drag me back to Konoha and go through all this legal shit—nope, just a friendly neighborly chat hmm?" Sasuke grew wary when an ANBU wearing a dragon mask started pawing around the kitchen appliances. He admitted the hiding spot wasn't very fancy but it was all he could do.

Sakura began to lose feeling in her left arm. Alarmed, she started pumping her chakra flow to it so she wouldn't lose her balance.

Meanwhile, Deidara was carefully spying at everyone in the household with his special eye. An ANBU leaned down and opened up the fridge, sticking his head in. He would've laughed from how close he was to touching the blonde.

"We haven't found anything," one of them said.

Sasori twitched, anger rising quickly. "That's..."

Deidara glared at him, mouthing 'shut up'.

The ANBU in the fridge left it, confused. "Did you hear something?"

"...Yeah, probably me talking to your boss," Sasuke spoke sarcastically.

"What's going on?" Sakura whispered from the hiding spot.

"Sasori hates Konoha-nin, and the one in the house right now..." Deidara tried to explain as quietly as possible, but Sasori started growling, his voice growing louder and louder as he started screaming.

"I'LL KILL YOU!" he finally bellowed, tearing out of the hole. The fridge flew across the room and within seconds the ANBU who had been inspecting the fridge was taken down, a spray of blood decorating Sasuke's kitchen.

"No!" Deidara yelled, scrambling from the spot and grabbing Sasori. "That wasn't him! Stop hurting everyone!"

Sakura sat, speechless, in the hiding spot, wide-eyed staring at Sasori. The ANBU all drew their weapons and pointed it at him, watching the blood drip from his wooden limbs.

"Did you honestly think I would just sit there and let the sons of bitches who destroyed me live?" Sasori breathed, glaring at an ANBU.

"Sasori. Experiment number 48," the ANBU replied. "You escaped and joined Akatsuki. I'm surprised you didn't started your bloodbath sooner."

Sasuke buried his face in a hand. All his hard work out the window. "Shit..."

"Sasuke Uchiha, you're a liar. You've committed treason against Konohagakure by harboring three deadly criminals and then lying about it. You're all coming with us to join Kakashi Hatake and your friend Tobi."

"Everyone, leave this to me. You don't want to kill anyone but I do. Get out of here and stay as far away from me as possible. I joined Akatsuki so I could have a reason to live with my miserable existence but I'm done trying to restrain myself. Sakura, I hope you're able to live a long life. I've outlived my years." Sasori eyed everyone in the room.

"No, Sasori...!" Deidara began, but his friend cut him off.

"Shut up, Deidara! I'm going to die today and I don't care. Just leave." He pulled out a kunai and threw it at an ANBU.

There was a flurry of weapons and soon everyone had pounced on Sasori. Sakura left her spot and jumped out of the hole in the wall caused from the fridge and Sasuke grabbed Deidara, who persisted on staying, but finally gave up the struggle and let himself be dragged outside quietly. Soon he was able to get on his own feet and glide through the forest to the village, trailing very far behind the two ex-teammates.

At the village, they sat outside the boundaries and Sakura sighed with relief. "I think we've lost them for awhile."

Deidara glared at her. "The hell's wrong with you, yeah? Sasori's going to die! Why did you leave him alone?"

"Don't complain. You heard him, and I don't blame him. His body's dead already, and his soul is tired of living. He's doing us all a favor by putting up a fight and we shouldn't complain. I didn't know him well so I'm sorry, I'm not really sad."

"...I can't agree with you on that," the kunoichi said, sadness falling over her. "Sasori was my friend. He's not really a sociable person, but I got to know him. You may not be losing anyone but I'm losing a friend. Still...I can't cry."

Deidara's face was stained with tears. "H-Heh, Sakura you're such a great girl, yeah. I don't even care that you can't cry c-cuz you got Itachi to worry about at the moment. Just let me cry for both of you."

Sakura held him close to her and he wept on her shoulder. It was then that she realized if Deidara had been the one to sacrifice himself, then she'd cry. That would set her tears in motion.

An hour later, they saw the very same ANBU approaching the village, blood splattered all over themselves. Deidara, who had managed to calm down, growled and threw himself away from them, behind a house. "I can't fight them. I don't wanna do the same thing as Sasori, yeah."

Sakura held a kunai up in the air. "If they want a piece of us, then they'll have to come take it."

"Sakura!" someone yelled.

The voice made Sakura cringe. It was Ino. She didn't want to face her at the moment. Unfortunately, the ANBU heard what the girl yelled and they sped up their pace.

There was no time to relax. Sakura pulled out a bomb and looked at Ino. "Leave me alone."

Ino approached her. "Why the hell should I?"

Naruto appeared beside her friend. "We want to know what's going on."

"You're not the only ones," Sakura retorted. "I don't have time for you, just leave."

Ino grew red with anger. She slapped Sakura across the face. Deidara tensed.

"You don't have time for us? Why? What happened to you that made us suddenly not be your friends anymore? We're going to be here for you because frankly I can't believe what anyone said you did. I just can't. But you're throwing away people who care and soon with all this fighting there will be no one left for you to run to." A tear ran down her face. "So please...damnit, just let me cry on your shoulder like old times. It's all we got left."

Sakura stared at her. She watched the tears, the clear, small tear drip down her pale cheek and it made her smile sadly. "It seems like everyone's been crying today," she said quietly.

"...We've all got a reason to cry. I heard sensei's in prison," Naruto murmured. "For helping you. Everyone I know's a criminal all of a sudden."

Sasuke stepped forward. "...I'm still safe for the most part." He laughed. "Though right now I'm wanted for treason."

Naruto gazed at Sasuke silently for a minute, taking in his figure. "...Sasuke?" His best friend looked so different.

"Naruto. You grew. No longer a midget. You're definitely more impressive to look at than me."

The kyuubi-boy merely plodded over to him, slowly and quietly. The raven-haired boy watched him, amazed, when suddenly Naruto collapsed on him, crying and embracing him.

"Where the hell have you been all this time, you son of a bitch?" he sobbed.

Awkwardly, Sasuke patted him on the back. "Closer than you think, my friend."

"...Even more tears," Sakura said. "We have company. I promise I'll explain everything to you later, once we're safe."

The ANBU were nearly on top of them when Naruto and Ino exchanged grins and jumped away from the group. They jumped in the air. Naruto moved towards Ino who grabbed him, chakra flowing into her arms and making her muscles glow. She did a three-sixty, holding him, and threw him down at the ANBU at top speed.

"Uzumaki Combo Beta!" he yelled, splitting into two hundred clones who all closed in on the ANBU, all using different taijutsu moves all ending with them kicking the enemy in the face.

A female ANBU drew her sword and ran towards Naruto. Ino stepped in front and held out her hand. "I don't think so," she said, sending a burst of chakra out of her hand.

The ANBU fell back and Sakura straddled her, standing up, and grabbed the sword. She held it up. "Piercing Insanity Jutsu," she muttered, throwing the sword aside. The ANBU screamed when she was enveloped in a genjutsu full of swords and kunai.

"We can fight alongside the enemy if the enemy becomes our friend," Ino said, grinning.

Sakura smiled. "Deidara, you gonna stand there or help us?"

"Heh. Come on, give me some time to mourn for Sasori, yeah," he said while throwing a punch at the enemy.

XxXxXx

Tsunade didn't want to hear Kakashi say the right things anymore. She wished he would shut up but she didn't want to hurt him, she really didn't. Each word he uttered left a deeper cut inside her that bled out pain and sorrow. Her mistakes were written all over his words.

"I'm tired of listening to you, please stop," Tsunade said.

"But you know I'm right. You're ruining everyone's happiness when even Naruto and Ino have turned on you, I'm sure they have by now. I hope you're happy with what you've done. You need to do something to make this right, don't you see? You don't want to be hated, do you? Now that Sasori's dead Akatsuki will not be happy but that doesn't mean they'll start killing you." Kakashi watched her through his bars.

"...I don't what to do now," she said. "Is it just me or is everything falling apart?"

"No, everything's starting to come together, but one person's victory means another's failure. I think you're on the failing team." Kakashi stood up and put his hand through the bars, his hands easily bending the bars with taijutsu.

He stepped through the bars. "...Are you going to let me go see the people I've been protecting my whole life?"

"...I'm not going to stop you. I have too much to think about." Tsunade turned away from him. "Just please...try and get me some amnesty from everyone."

"Including me?"

"...Yes."

XxXxXx

Sasuke ducked an ANBU flying in his direction, and he grabbed the guy by the face and smashed him into the ground, spinning around to avoid a shuriken. Naruto behind him nabbed it with his teeth and spit it to the ground. He jumped on Sasuke's shoulders and stood up.

"Cooperation Technique: Okami Dash!" they both yelled.

Sasuke began running, his legs pumped full of chakra. He gracefully avoided all attacks and spun around, Naruto leaping off him and punch-kicking two ANBU.

Sakura and Ino intertwined paths as they run, confusing the enemy by setting off smoke bombs and clones to run everywhere, the clones running into Deidara's clay bomb implants and setting them off where the ANBU were moving towards.

"This taking a long time," Sakura panted. "I didn't think they'd last this long."

"Come on, none of us are as strong as Itachi or nothing, yeah," Deidara spoke. "We gotta just wear them down until we can get away and end everything."

"How can we end this so quickly?" Sakura asked.

Sasuke froze in the middle of his attack, staring into the distance. Naruto paused and looked at his re-claimed friend. "You're...what are you doing?"

"...Itachi."

As soon as the words left Sasuke's lips Sakura stopped all she was doing. The ANBU around her became unimportant and all she could see was the spot Sasuke was staring at. Far away, a figure was approaching, swaying left and right and glowing a slight red against the moon behind him.

"ITACHI!" she screamed, running for him.

Kunai and shuriken littered the ground around her and continued to be thrown as she ignored everyone and ran towards her lover. He looked up, bloody and beaten, the sparkle gone from his eyes and looking awful small without his cloak. He smiled, a pale, thin smile.

A sharp pain filled her as she felt kunai pierce her back. She fell forward, holding her arms out and grabbing Itachi. Against him she stood, until her constant bleeding caused her to slide down. He went down with her, both of them sinking into black.

XxXxXx

Whew, sorry about the delay! Three months, wow. I got a PM asking me where the heck I was so I decided I really should update soon, so here I am! I'm thinking there will be two more chapters to go after this one, and everything's starting to close up so it'll be a good time to end.

It's great to finally update again! I got a lot of reviews in the three months, anyway. That I liked a lot!