... right. I would like to say that this story is a landmark for me, because it's the first story that is written with the purpose of not just being what everyone wants to read.
Or then again, it might not be true.
This story was entirely inspired by a single piece of fanart (named "Dangerous") by Arriku (on DeviantArt) – my first reaction to it was mafia, like whoa. That, or it was that looks so cool. And every other idea just after that.
In the urban decay of Konohagakure, an unwanted meeting finds Haruno Sakura tangled into the dangerous company of two certain criminals of the Akatsuki. While the sinister web of the underground organization may throw her reality into an odd imbalance, it is those who pursue them that threaten Sakura's life. And somewhere between avoiding the inevitable and kissing chaos, Sakura finds it's becoming harder to disengage herself from the blonde enigma of an artist and his partner.
DISCLAIMER: ... let's... not go into the details of ownership, because I see the lawyers coming after me already...
He had walked up to her on one sultry spring weekend, obviously undeterred by teenagers sporting pastel pink hair – natural, she insisted, and definitely not a fashion trend – who crouched in the shadow of huge statues in market squares, and that was what she always thought as the weird thing. He came up to her and then everything had just started off from that simple conversation: every moment, every turning point, everything happened because of that afternoon and sometimes, she wasn't sure if that catalytic meeting was a curse or a blessing (it brought danger, but it brought him along too). Or was that because he was, metaphorically, danger?
But when she first met him, she didn't really think much about it. No suspicion, no remarks on his odd dress fashion (had a leather fetish that one, even on an oddly warm day) and certainly no questionable twist in her stomach that she would later reflect on.
The only thing Sakura thought was hey, I thought Ino went to buy ice cream, but dispelled the thought immediately because Ino, in her right mind, would never consider wearing a leather bomber jacket. And it – he – was definitely male; although his hairstyle definitely suggested otherwise, he was bold enough to casually shrug off his tinted-red (expensive and most likely Armani) sunglasses, flash her a toothy grin and she swore that there was a cocky, confident glint in his eyes.
He greeted her with a simple, but engaging smile, no 'hey, you there' or 'missy', or any other salutations that would be a waste of time, and then nonchalantly pulled out a wrinkled scrap of paper from inside his jacket, "You wouldn't know if I could find any place like this," he said, as if it was completely normal to ask teenagers crouched at the foot of statues, and who also bewilderedly stared at him, directions, "around here, would you, un?"
He talked weird, but Sakura ignored it, dismissed it as another weird 'foreigner' trait and he was, wasn't he? Everyone in Konoha knew well enough to not to wear leather in a place infamous for its fires and unexpected heat waves.
But at that time, he was ordinary enough, showing her a scrap of paper that turned out to be a piece of the roadmap, most likely one with a page viciously torn out, and then the hardly identifiable Polaroid of a shadowed red Kawasaki motorcycle stapled to it suddenly meant otherwise. As unrevealed as the object was, Sakura could recognise it as the trademark symbol of a certain infamous garage in her area.
Who seriously didn't know Yamamoto's 'repair shop' around here?
She shrugged and frowned. "Why would you want to go there?"
He had a certain shine in his eyes (that's a really nice blue, Sakura noted) and grinned knowingly to himself. "That's for me to know, un."
She shrugged and brushed away a clump of hair sticking to her sweaty forehead, wondered where the hell Ino was. "Suit yourself then. That motorcycle's basically the sign for Yamamoto's garage-thingy," she started, "and if you really want to go there..." she stood up, gesturing to the main road left of her for the stranger's convenience, "... well, you go down there, turn left at the street just before the Seven-and-I-Holdings and go down that road – keep going straight, and ignore the alleys – until you reach some sort of... battered old sign and it should have directions to the repair shop."
He nodded his thanks and was about to tuck his map away, when Sakura added, "And oh; Yamamoto charges a lot for the guys who wear leather and think they're 'all that'."
To that, the stranger laughed – it was nicely odd laugh – and reached over to scuffle her hair lightly. "Thanks, un."
In the five seconds she used to neaten her hair again, he had disappeared, lost in the busy crowd of ecstatic teenagers and weekend shoppers. Ino however, came back almost immediately to fill in the vacant position, with two cones in hand and pointedly nudged her in the ribs, "I can't believe you let that one go." Sakura only laughed and licked at her ice cream absently, and added that he was looking for Yamamoto's garage. It was an unspoken rule in her part of Konoha that almost anyone going to that place was usually trouble.
Half-disappointed (her parents would kill her if she ever mixed with anyone like that), Ino left it at that, before Sakura took it upon herself to describe exactly how the stranger had looked like her blonde friend – "–he had your hairstyle too!" – and started about how nice the blue of his eyes were.
She didn't think anything of it later.
Two days later, just before homeroom started, Kiba crashed his way inside the room and whirled upon Sakura, who was the only one he knew would willingly listen to his rambling, and who, by reflex, shrunk away from him.
"You have no idea," he began, plunking down on the seat next to her, "how close I was to getting here late–" because nobody ever was late to Ibiki-sensei's homeroom, "because y'know, my bike just kicked it just two days ago and I just thought 'hey, if I leave it at Yamamoto's garage, with a load of cash, maybe it'd be fixed by Monday', so I went last night and he wasn't there, right?"
I'm listening– no, wait. You left it at Yamamoto's place?
"Yeah, so he wasn't there, but that... assistant of his was – what's his name? Ka-what? Kanna? Kane? – anyway, so I left it there and said I'd pay him later once it was done and that I'd come back this morning to get it."
... and then?
"So. I get there this morning and there's... well... like, a roadblock cutting the whole thing off. Damned if I know why–" Kiba leant towards her, an imploring look on his face and jokingly clasped her hands in his, "–so, since you live so nearby, Sakura, can you please, please go and check up on it? Please?"
Her neighbourhood wasn't the safest place in Konoha and why would she ever go there by herself–
"I'll even come with you!"
... can't argue with that then.
This part of the neighbourhood had always resulted in unfavourable encounters for Sakura; the first time she had decided to wander around and make sure she didn't get lost in the different part of Konoha she was living in, someone decided to take it upon themselves and try to grope (or mug) her. He managed to get away with very sore eyes, but the second person who tried the same thing was less fortunate and any chances of him starting a family (she would pity whoever had a father like that) was immediately extinguished. Sakura herself felt rather guilty, but thankful that she had assisted in improving the gene pool.
And every other time she had ended up at this street, it always kept up its the unkempt appearance, with broken glass bottles strewn about, a stack of throw away boxes tossed about (and the occasional rat burrowing around) and grafitti coloured over the grey, dismal walls. And no homeless people slept on that street, because really, who would do something that stupid and stay here?
It was a good place to hide a drug-dealing, rather criminal garage a street away, but as Kiba had said rather stubbornly himself, Yamamoto definitely knew how to handle motorbikes. Sakura wondered exactly how much he adored his Ninja 500R, to be willingly wading through this filth and muck. On the other hand, she certainly waded – or rather, ran – through the same filth and muck when she took a 'shortcut' on umbrella-less rainy days back to her apartment – not willingly, of course, but rather forced by the wet weather.
This is definitely going to be bad.
Kiba, however, knew the way; Sakura had never actually been there, only seen a beaten-down, rusty sign and wisely avoided the directions. But by the time they had approached the place where the sign had been, it was gone. The plate of metal had been ripped down recently.
"Nah, don't worry. I know where it is," Kiba said, with a shrug, and started off down a side-alley that she would have preferred not to associate herself with. But anything for friends.
"Hey, you're not worried are you?" he asked, without looking back at her, as she tentatively followed him, "Because trust me, I know the way–"
Of course she knew that. Didn't stop her from being a little worried, though. She fidgeted, carefully stepping over a discarded takeaway carton, feeling out of place with her school uniform.
"Hey, we're almost there," he called out, excited, "And seriously, Sakura– HOLY SHIT."
The roadblocks he had said were there in the morning were obviously gone and replacing them was an entire squad of Konoha Police members, swarming around the garage.
Knew I shouldn't have come here.
"It's all evidence, you see," the stern-faced officer said mechanically, "And I apologise, but until we've checked and marked all of them, I don't believe we could–"
Sakura caught the suspicious look directed at Kiba, almost knowing what the man was thinking: we obviously can't trust you, because if you're a customer here, you're probably either a druggie, or a criminal, or an associate of Yamamoto, etcetera, etcetera.
Her friend wasn't saying anything, and by the looks of it, the officer was looking at them, expecting them to leave. Well, she didn't willing go through that street and that alleyway to be turned down.
"Look..." she started, clasping her hands together and smiling sweetly, "ah... officer, my friend dropped it off here only last night and apparently, Yamamoto-san wasn't even around to pick up his bike... you can even ask his assistant to prove it. Surely, we could–"
A glare was directed her way instead. "You can't do anything here. We treat our cases very seriously and besides..." he stopped and stared at Kiba, as if seeing him for the first time, "... pardon me, but did you speak to this assistant of his last night?"
Sakura almost huffed, when she was the one who had pointed out that there was an assistant who picked up Kiba's motorbike yesterday, but was thankful that no more suspicious glances were thrown at her.
"We'll need you to make a statement, of course–"
"Wait, for what?"
He was ignored, while the officer pulled out a notebook and pen, and began to scribble down notes rapidly. "So," he started, not even looking up, "at what time did you enter this garage last night?"
Kiba looked frustrated, but went along, "Around six... six-thirty, I think."
"Co-operate and you may take your bike back without further delays. Did you see this assistant of Yamamoto's upon arrival?"
"Nope, only when I was in the garage."
"And what did you say to him?"
"Where's Yamamoto, can he fix this bike for me, will payment later be alright, and could it be quick job to fix it up?"
"And that's all?"
"... well... I think I asked how much it would cost, and that's it."
The man stopped scribbling and looked up. "Could you... describe this assistant for us?"
Sakura tuned out and looked around at the chaotic scene, at the officers almost tearing the garage apart, searching for evidence and swarming like a mass of–
–wait. Masking tape. Masking tape. What had happened here?
Her gaze flew around, searching, blocked by the figures of police officers standing in her way – but what the hell happened here? Someone suddenly moved out of the way and Sakura caught a glimpse of a border of tape, framing a patch of concrete speckled with blood and–
A tiny fragment of red glass – or was it plastic? – lying among the dried rust-brown dots. And shit, she definitely remembered seeing that mellow crimson shade before–
The officer's words: "Well, let's just say his assistant can't be found either–" suddenly drifted into her ears.
And then Kiba grabbed at her shoulder, shaking her slightly, "Hey, Sakura, what's wrong? Stop spacing out like that!"
Wait, who was it, who was he, what did he even look like again...
Seven-and-I-Holdings is the name for 7-Eleven in Japan.
There's a minor joke about 'improving the gene pool' in there – partially inspired by the Darwin Awards.
Kawasaki is the more commonly known name for a manufacturing Japanese corporation, that's also one of the world's major manufacturers of motorcycles. Everyone's probably heard of it, but what the hey... There is a line of sports bikes under the name of Ninja – the Kawasaki Ninja 500R isn't as top rank as the other models, but it was the cheapest and most practical one I could find and... well, I had to give Kiba a bike with the name 'Ninja'. Who couldn't? (Check Wikipedia for more info.)
I like Armani sunglasses, despite never being able to actually get one.