Like A Lamb

Everyday, he hates her a little bit more.

When he returns to his room after training, Sakura is waiting for him. Her green eyes narrow as she scrutinizes his every movement. He pretends she doesn't exist, carelessly shrugging out of his training gear and collapsing on his worn futon. He laces his fingers behind his head and frowns at the ceiling. She stares at him for a few more moments before she turns away with a huff, setting her chin on a palm and fixing her gaze on the opposite wall.

This has been their ritual every day for three weeks.

She is a willing prisoner, and Sasuke hates her for it.

In like a lamb

He doesn't know why she chooses to stay with him. He barely looks at her and makes no effort to make her comfortable. He asks once, on the first day she is brought underground.

"Because I love you," she says honestly.

They do not speak after that.

He finds out that she was kidnapped and brought to Sound against her will, although it seems that she has not put up much of a struggle. Orochimaru seems to treat her kindly enough, even letting her choose with whom she wanted to stay. Of course she would choose him.

When he discovers this, he hates her even more because she has always been and will always be so damned weak.

It is late and he stumbles into his room. Sakura is waiting. She takes one look at him clutching his bleeding arm and then rises swiftly. She comes close and takes him by the elbow, guiding him to the bed. He wants to bat her away but doesn't want to take the pressure away from his throbbing wound.

To his surprise, she doesn't coo or make a fuss. Instead, she simply crosses her palms over his injury. The torn flesh glows green and then suddenly it is not torn anymore. He raises his eyebrows.

Sakura takes a few faltering steps backwards and collapses into her chair, her eyes closing as she falls into a drained sleep.

He frowns. She'd used that much chakra to heal such a small wound? She is still so weak. He shrugs and lies down, turning on his side so he can stare at the wall instead of at her. If she wants to waste the pathetic amount of chakra she has on him, why should he care?

Out like a lion

The next day, Sasuke finishes a mission early and decides to retire to his room instead of beginning a training session. When he turns the corner of the hall, he is just in time to see two Sound ninjas dragging a nearly unconscious girl by the armpits. Her pink hair is matted with blood and her feet trail behind them. With a few choice words, the ninjas heave her through his door. Her body crumples across the threshold and she weakly pulls herself through. One of the ninjas laughs and delivers a swift kick to her abdomen.

The sound his neck makes as Sasuke breaks it is not nearly satisfying enough. Even so, he is not in the mood to waste time, so he carves his displeasure in to the other man so quickly that he doesn't have time to scream before his body falls to the floor in pieces. Sasuke sniffs, disgusted. Scowling, he kicks a limb out of the way before stepping into his room, shutting the door behind him. Their bodies will be found eventually and thrown out; they are trash, nothing but expendable bodies.

"You didn't have to kill them."

It is Sakura who is speaking, her eyes half-lidded as she pulls herself into a sitting position, her back against the wall. Sasuke folds his arms across his chest and silently watches her take a few labored breaths.

"It's none of your concern."

He glares at her pale face as her eyelids drop closed. One arm hangs limp from the shoulder. It must be fractured or dislocated.

"What did you do?" He demands, staring down at her.

"Nothing." She tries to swallow and her breathing hitches. "Absolutely nothing." Her blood-caked hand immediately goes to her side and he supposes that her ribs are broken as well.

"Then why did they beat you?"

Sakura manages a weak smile and he can't help but notice the blood on her face.

"Oh Sasuke-kun," she says tiredly – and it is the first time he has heard her say his name in ages, "Are you really that dense?"

She laces her fingers together. With a soft hiss of pain, she pulls her hands up to her chest and holds them there, steepling her index fingers. Sasuke watches as a green glow spreads from her fingertips, slowing smoothing over her battered body.

In a few moments, she stands up wearily. Her injuries have disappeared. She takes two steps and then sinks into the chair he has seen her in every day. He wonders why she has not fainted.

He thinks he understands but he asks any way. She pretends not to hear.

The next morning, he decides to skip training. He lies in his bed, staring at the ceiling. Sakura seems perturbed by this change of routine and keeps asking when he is going to leave. He tells her it's none of her business. She stands, pacing the room.

A brisk knock at the door seems to surprise them both. Sakura's eyes go wide. After a moment, she scurries to the door to open it. Sasuke sits up, swinging his legs off the bed and leaning his elbows on his knees.

He can only see Sakura's back as she has almost stepped out of the room. Hands grab her shoulders and shake her violently. The nameless man's hand cracks against her cheekbone and she crashes into the doorframe.

He is moving before he knows it. Sakura spins around to see him looming behind her, his mouth set in a thin, angry line. He sets a tightly clenched fist against the door jamb above her head and leans forward, his eyes fixed on the man cowering against the wall.

"Sasuke-sama," the man is saying as he tries not to shake, "You were supposed to be training."


The man immediately knows that he has just said the wrong thing and shrinks back even further, as if the wall could swallow him whole.


His eyes slide down. Sakura grabs his wrist with her thin, small fingers. She won't look up.

"Sasuke-kun," she begins again, carefully, "Let it go. It's none of your business."

With that, she turns and marches away. The pitiful ninja hurries after her, throwing worried looks over his shoulder. But Sasuke is momentarily stunned by her words and can only watch her back as she walks briskly out of sight.

And so, fueled by curiosity, Sasuke follows.

Even though Orochimaru love to watch, he is growing less and less amused by the day.

He barks a single word and the group of ninjas step back, exposing the crumpled form of the girl. She is on her hands and knees, her breaths heavy with pain. Orochimaru stoops to her level and leans in close, his lips at her ear.

"It will stop," he whispers, "As soon as you give me what I want."

Despite the heavy bruising on her face, Sakura manages a weak smirk.

"Go to hell," she pants.

Orochimaru's beautiful face twists into an ugly snarl. Tsunade's little miracle apprentice seems to have grown a backbone of steel underneath all her silly simpering and cooing over teammates.

"You will die here," he says coldly as he steps back.

Sakura laughs. "You have said that every day since I got here."

From an unseen corner, Sasuke's eyes widen as the pieces fall into place. Every day since I got here. The words ring in his ears and he finally understands why she has always seemed so weak, why she drained her chakra healing a small wound of his.

He barely notices that Orochimaru has spun on his heel and left the room. All he hears is the sick crunch of bone and the metallic smell of blood as the Sound-nin resume their work.

He doubts they even have time to be surprised as he flashes from his hiding place and destroys them. He does not smile, does not blink as he kills them. He is only efficient.

When he is finished, he crouches to gather Sakura's broken body into his arms. He speeds through the dank underground maze until he bursts into the sunlight. Without the shadows to hide her injuries, she looks even worse. He takes to the trees, leaping from branch to branch until he is far enough that he knows even the fastest Sound-nin won't be able to catch up for a time.

He sets her down gently and she groans. With one hand supporting her back, Sasuke gently helps her to form a healing hand seal with her broken fingers. She grimaces but does not cry, does not even whimper.

And then Sasuke understands that she is not weak, has never been weak.

Even while clasping fractured fingers together in a tight seal; even while her ribs split while she breathes, Sakura does not give up. As if fueled by her will alone, the green healing flames flare and encircle her.

How long, he wonders, how long has she suffered in silence?

Suddenly, the glow seems to wane and recede. Sakura's eyes close tightly as she struggles to maintain the flow of chakra. Gritting her teeth, she barely represses a cry of pain as she tightens the hand seal.

And then, without a word of warning, she feels the cool of Sasuke's hands on hers. His grave black eyes meet hers as he begins to channel his strength into her body. Slowly, ever so slowly, she draws on him and the healing begins. A few minutes later, they slump together, drained of energy.

"I came for you," she says, so quietly it is barely a whisper, "I waited for you."

He hears the words she doesn't say; he now knows the sacrifices she made silently.

"Why?" The question slips from his lips as he gathers her into his arms.

"Because I love you," she says honestly.

Hidden by her hair, Sasuke smiles.