Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto nor will I ever.
Summary: "Haruno Sakura, you have been ordered to guard the prisoner Uzumaki Naruto." After a strict order from the Hokage, Sakura has been forced to conquer her greatest fear—the rumored beast of Konoha. The tragedy is slowly revealed, piece-by-piece.
Pairing: Naruto X Sakura
Edited as of March 2009
01. Down and Up, Down and Up
Did it ever occur to you how death might be?
"Haruno Sakura, you are to guard the prisoner Uzumaki Naruto."
What? This was definitely not what she expected when Tsunade had casually ordered her to the Hokage Tower. Uzumaki was the reason so many people had died seventeen years ago. He was dangerous, someone that Sakura definitely did not want to be in contact with. Was her sensei finally going to kill her? By assigning her to a guard a murderer of hundreds of innocent people?
"Take this folder," commanded Tsunade, "It contains all the information on Naruto you will need. I expeect you to not abuse that information. Do not show it to anyone else."
"Yes, Tsunade-sama," said Sakura, bowing. She glanced briefly at the contents of the folder, gazing briefly on Uzumaki's photo. The first trait that caught her eyes was his blond hair. It looked bright, like the sun. She laughed inwardly. How ironic for a murderer to have such a bright colored hair. She'd expect black, but she'd be insulting Sasuke. She closed the folder. Normally, only the Hokage was allowed to view a ninja's file. Only those classified as dangerous or missing had their profiles aviailable. Even then, only the ones trusted by the Hokage could even think of gazing into the secret contents. After all, it was important information. People, especially ninjas, were not to be trusted.
With that, Sakura turned to leave, cursing at her luck when the door unexpectedly opened.
"Danzo-sama," her eyes turned to the ground. She bowed quickly, clearly disgusted at the man's presence. "Excuse me," she said using the courtesy she was taught, despite the fact that she felt that this man was the last person she wanted to be polite to.
A slimy hand snaked around her shoulder.
"Wait." Danzo looked at her with a sneer, "From what the council said…the Hokage has entrusted you with the task of dealing with the monster the Yondaime brewed. Make sure you guard it well, Haruno, or there'll be consequences."
Sakura's eyes flickered for a moment to Tsunade and Danzo. She had no problem seeing why Tsunade was the one sitting on the Hokage's seat and not Danzo.
The pink-haired girl shivered, quite a bit. The jail rooms were below temperature. She knew all about it, of coures. It was made to torture the prisoners, to show the wrong that they committed. All Danzo's idea. In Sakura's opinion, it was bad enough to stay in a place like this, a place built on Danzo's imagination. The place was void of windows, for fear of the prisoners escaping. The cells were also moved regularly so that the tenants wouldn't get used to their cell. The tenant would be moved down, to the lower cells, but never up.
At least this place was sympathetic in that aspect. It gave no false hope.
Her sandals scratched loudly against the dry cement floor, the sound echoing loudly; there was no other sound Sakura could use to compare. It didn't help that Sakura thought of the stairs as a downward spiral that traveled endlessly down to hell.
"Uzumaki Naruto," she pronounced the name slowly and took out his picture she had got from his profile. "Uzu-maki Na-ru-to." She practiced the name again, trying her best to pronouce it without any fear.
The keys around her wrists clacked wildly as she continued her descent. The sandals never ceased its scratching. She examined the picture of Uzumaki closedly, capting the little details as she did. She saw now that even though his hair was blond, there were faint shades of dark yellow at certain areas. And his eyes were a bright cerulean, almost as bright as his blond hair. She flipped over the small portrait and found the words she wanted: Cell 999.
She blinked. Cell 999 was the lowest cell possible. It looked like Naruto had spent a good time living here.
Sakura reexamined the picture of the smiling foolish blond. Did he know that he would be captured when he took his picture? How did he feel? Was he a murderer then?
Maybe. She had seen this boy, not too long ago, when she was only seven or six. It had been during a festival. There had been a huge crowd gathered at one of the sections. Curious, she had went and checked.
"Don't look at it!"
"Stay away, don't come close!"
What had the villagers meant by those words back then? Did they know of his acts of murder? She scolded herself for not reading the rest of Uzumaki's files. After Danzo left, Tsunade had immediately ordered Sakura to pick up Uzumaki Naruto from his cell. According to the mission, Sakura was supposed to be watching him by living with him for a few months to make sure he didn't break any more rules.
It never occurred to her what rules he broke or if he broke any.
Tsunade was so frustrating sometimes. Why had she insisted on having her be in the mission? She hated it. Hadn't Tsunade-sama heard the rumors of Uzumaki capable of killing an army or two? Hadn't Tsunade-sama heard of Uzumaki's unstable personality and lust for blood?
He was a monster and she was stuck watching after him.
Room 990. Nine more before her very doom appeared before her.
What would the Uzumaki do if he saw her? Would he kill her? Would he torture her?
Room 997. Two more. Her pace slowed while her heart pounded.
Beads of sweat formed around Sakura's skin, but she brushed them off with her hand. Her breaths grew short, and she noticed that there was no enough ear to fully circulate through her lungs. The heart in her chest started beating louder and louder, until it reached her eardrums.
It was her destination.
Shaking, the medic grabbed her keys, clumsily jamming the key into the rusty keyhole.
The door opened with a loud creak…
She had expected to find a monster wanting to claw her apart. An inhuman creature with blood slit eyes. She had expected his cell to be dyed in a crimson layer of blood, a cell full of dark and despair. Instead she found a person sitting silently on cold cement with warmth in his eyes and a smile warm enough to heat up the entire dungeon.
"Who are you?" were the first words muttered out of his mouth. It didn't sound rusty and dry, like how one would sound after not talking for a few years. It sounded like a teenager, like a person of her age.
He wore an orange and black jacket like the ones in the picture. His pants were a full orange. Red spirals could be clearly seen on both his jacket and pants.
"H-Haruno Sakura," she choked out. Her voice refused to obey. She had meant to sound more commanding.
"Why the hell is someone like you doing here?" he eyed her questioningly.
'Is he mad?' She wanted to slam the cell door and run out immediately. But, she stayed. There was something about the way he asked his question that prevented her from leaving. Perhaps, she thought, she was simply scared stiff.
"I mean it's not everyday I see someone like you in this dump," he chuckled, scratching the back of his head. "Don't tell me that you got sentenced to live here too? You sound pretty nice..."
"Eh…it's not that," said Sakura, a slight taken back by the blond's eagerness. So he wasn't trying to kill her, yet.
"Did…they decide to get rid of me?" he asked bitterly. Sakura winced at his words. Was he getting angry?
"No, I'm here to take you out of here by order of the fifth Hokage, Tsunade-sama," she stated, the same tone she used when she talked to her elders.
"The old hag's not trying to break me out again, right?" His face went to an uneasy smile, "Tell her…it's alright. I'm fine staying here. At least I get a free meal three times a day."
Sakura whacked him lightly on the head, a gesture that surprised both of them especially Naruto who flinched.
"I'm technically supposed to be guarding you."
"Oh," his face showed understanding, "Here to see how handsome I look up close, right?" He winked suggestively. "Sorry you have to spend time at the jail because of me." She heard a forced laugh.
Sakura sighed. Uzumaki was acting dense. Didn't he understand he was out of here? To show her point, Sakura walked over to his manacles and unlocked them.
It clattered and fell to the ground in a heap of dust and debris. Somehow, it spread a smile across her lips, like she was doing something right.
"You're coming back out, Uzumaki," she sighed, feeling slightly irritated at Uzumaki's listening skills. She wondered if he would believe her words. She supposed it would be hard to believe in the first place, especially when he had been locked here for so long. It was a wonder that he didn't go crazy already. At least, for her, she might have gone crazy already if she had to endure for so long.
"R-really?" For a second she spotted the little doubt in his eyes. Then it was gone, replaced with genuine gratitude and happiness in his eyes, "Thanks, Sakura-chan!" He didn't seem to notice how her eyes slightly widened at the mention of the added suffix. Then they became normal again, as if nothing had happened.
The only people that added 'chan' to her name were…no one actually. It seemed strange that a murderer of Uzumaki's degree would use that. They talked a bit on their way up the stairs, which was faster than it was down. Sakura supposed it was because she wanted to get out as fast as she could so she might have quickened the pace. During that time, she noticed how childish Uzumaki seemed…but still, she could not erase the feeling she had felt when she saw the hesitation in his eyes back at the cell.
It was natural of course. It was like someone revealing their deepest secrets to someone that they had just met. What were the chances of that?
When they finally exited the place, Uzumaki stuck out his tongue at the jail and said 'in your face!' earning a questioningly look from Sakura. Perhaps he was one of those crazy murderers that acted immature when they weren't on a killing spree. The sun blinded Sakura's eyes when they finally got out. Twice she looked towards Naruto, wondering if he would be bothered by its light. She had only been in there for a few minutes and already, her eyes had already grown accustomed to the dark light. She figured that he would be severely bothered, but for some reason, he wasn't. As they continued to walk across Konoha, Sakura couldn't help but steal more glances at Uzumaki. He was strolling around like he had never suffered in jail. In fact, he looked like he was never in misery and that he had never even gone to jail.
She guessed it must have been part of his unstable personality as a dangerous weapon of Konoha.
"Konoha sure has changed! I can hear more people! And it smells more and more like ramen!" he exclaimed.
"Naruto!" he insisted.
"Naruto…how long have you stayed in…there?" she asked.
A silence. Uzumaki did not speak for a while.
"Um…never mind!" she shook her hands in front of her, "You don't-
"I think five or four years," Naruto squinted, as if he was trying to remember, "Don't really remember." He cracked a laugh, seeming to understand her awkward position. "It's nothing, you can ask me any questions you like!"
"Um…okay," she nodded her head, smiling a small smile. She didn't feel the need to tell him that she could potentially find out about him with the profile Tsunade had handed her.
"Oh, I almost forgot!" Sakura paused, "Tsunade-sama told me that the two of us had a mission today."
"She's letting me do missions, as in get out of Konoha kind or in Konoha?" he asked.
"Of course we're probably getting out of Konoha," retorted Sakura with an all knowing face, "I'm not going to do any D-Rank mission! Besides, there was once this idiot-" she froze, noticing her rambling. Uzumaki did not care about her past missions as a Genin.
"This idiot?" Naruto tilted his head in curiosity, urging her to go on. "What what what!"
"Well," Sakura looked uneasy, "There was this stupid idiot that ruined the faces on the Hokage Monument. My team had to stay extra late that day to clean it all up because they couldn't catch the culprit. I remembered that I was REALLY tired when I was finished. My arms went limp and I had to be carried back by my sensei. It was embarassing."
Uzumaki scratched his cheek, "Did…you ever find him?"
"The culprit?" Sakura shook her head, "We never found-
Sakura blinked, "Why did you call the culprit 'him'?"
Naruto looked from side to side and shrugged quickly, "I just assumed it was a he. I'm probably wrong!" he laughed.
"I see…" Sakura trailed off, not wanting to pressure Uzumaki any further. "Anyways, back to the mission. Since I am currently in charge of guarding you, you probably won't get a lot of missions to do unless I am ordered to go."
"How come?" asked Naruto, jumping over a small hole in the road.
"I'm a medic-nin," she declared, "I mostly work at the Hospital."
"Really?" asked Naruto, his eyes widening a bit, "I never saw you there."
"I just became a medic-nin two years ago," stated Sakura, "Plus, I just started to work at the Hospital recently."
"Cool!" grinned Naruto, "I get a chick and a medic!"
Sakura grinned, her fake smile twitching. If he weren't classified as dangerous, his head would probably have been detached from his body by now.
The pink haired medic stood next to Uzumaki, awaiting the Hokage's orders.
"Still using chakra to lie about your age, eh old hag?" smirked Naruto, cracking a laugh. Sakura furrowed her brows. Tsunade-sama was not someone to be messed with… Still, Uzumaki himself was someone not to be messed with.
In an instant, Tsunade had leaned over her chair and punched Naruto straight in the face, "Still rude as usual, Naruto," she sighed, shaking her head. Naruto got up from the pile of rubble caused by the little explosion he had made at the floor.
"Ow…" he groaned, rubbing his head. Sakura noticed that he didn't appear harmed by Tsunade's powerful punch.
"Anyways," said Tsunade, reshuffling her papers, "This is an urgent mission. The Village of the Sand has their Kazekage captured and an wounded ninja that is the older brother of the Kazekage."
"I have already sent Gai's team after the Kazekage," stated Tsunade. "Haruno Sakura and Uzumaki Naruto, as your first assignment as a team, your mission will be to heal the wounded ninja Kankurou."
"Can't we go after the Kazekage?" whined Naruto, "It seems more important…"
"Naruto," Tsunade twitched her eyebrow, "Being a ninja is not about having fun. It's about-
"Being able to help your village prosper. I know," he said.
"So get going," ordered Tsunade dangerously.
Naruto opened his mouth to speak but closed it instead and nodded.
"But Naruto, stay in after, I need a word with you. Sakura, go on first."
"Yes, Tsunade-sama," she nodded briefly and exited the room. She glanced at the two.
What was Tsunade going to tell Naruto?
Sakura sighed, walking down the stairs. It had been a long day.
Uzumaki Naruto…she had noticed it when he looked at her…the way his eyes were unfocused...
…he was blind.