Twilight – an Itachi & Sakura story.
By: Phantomica & MitsukiShiroi
Disclaimer: Naruto and all its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto
A/N: A new ItaSaku story! I'm quite excited!
As for the warnings; this story is AU, so don't expect the usual cast in this story.
Chapter One – Breathless
There was something about blood that made her hate it.
Perhaps it was the way it stained everything that once looked clean and pretty. Maybe it was because she saw too much of it already and was sick of it.
Then again, perhaps it was the way how he seemed to enjoy the scent of blood as he hovered above dead bodies with a disgusting look in his eyes. He would sniff the fresh blood that still streamed from their victim's open wounds and then lick his katana almost clean before sheathing his weapon.
After that little tradition of his, he would look at her as if he tried to tell her that this was the price of betraying him.
Sakura would never betray him though. There was too much at stake and strangely enough, she valued her life—even though she didn't have one since he had stolen it from her.
Still, she loved life. She enjoyed the way the sun turned a deep shade of red as it set, how the rain fell, masking away tears and pain and washing everything away. Perhaps the thing she loved most was twilight.
"Sakura," a soft, deep voice called out, awaking her from her reverie.
As she looked up, she caught a man with light hair and green eyes staring at her. She smiled half-heartedly before standing up, looking over his shoulders to see the mess he had created.
She really hated blood.
"Are we done Kimimaro?" Sakura asked quietly.
Sakura watched silently as Kimimaro's bones retreated into his arm, silently questioning to herself if Kimimaro ever felt pain as they retracted.
As Kimimaro adjusted his light-blue uniform, Sakura turned around. They were two days away from Hakumei's headquarters.
Sakura snorted quietly as she repeated the name in her head.
He had made it up, just to spite and make fun of Akatsuki. Naturally, when Akatsuki found out about his little joke, they weren't too happy and it seemed Akatsuki's leader had declared war against their organization. Sakura didn't mind.
If he died, she would be free. That was the only goal she had in mind.
She would hate it if Kimimaro died though. During her entire time with the organization, Kimimaro was her only friend and the only one who didn't treat her like a personal slave or an insect that needed to be crushed as soon as possible. He was the only real friend she had.
She would rather give her up own life than lose Kimimaro.
"Let's go," Kimimaro said as he put his hand on her shoulder.
"Yeah," Sakura responded.
They accumulated chakra to their feet before jumping on top of a branch, quickly jumping from one tree to another, both a mere blur as they passed from branch to branch, quickly exiting the forest.
Kimimaro was ahead of her and she just watched him absent-mindedly as he moved through the forest with a certain air of grace surrounding his movements. It was as if he was performing an intricate dance whilst avoiding stray branches. Faintly, she wondered if Kimimaro ever thought about the situation they were in and if his life was as complicated as hers was.
As she landed on the wood and quickly jumped further, she took a moment to reflect on the organization, or rather, the man that had taken her away from Konoha. Although it happened years ago, the memory of being torn away from her parents was still vividly embedded in her mind. She would never forget the tears that had streamed freely over her cheeks for hours and the gold eyes with the snake-like pupils that would haunt her dreams for many years to come.
She blinked and looked down at the gold kanji that was sowed into the back of Kimimaro's kimono. The word 'Hakumei' was an eyesore and she wished she could just use a kunai and cut the offending word out of his blue attire.
Hakumei, or 'dusk'… the name of their organization that he had set up. An organization that existed for the sole purpose of taunting the organization called Akatsuki. Formed by a group of elite shinobi, each skilled in basic shinobi skills while having other techniques up their sleeves, they were all taken in by Orochimaru.
Some of them were found, like Kimimaro was. His clan had forced him to fight against Kirigakure, and everybody but him had died during this combat because of their foolish desire to fight until one of the parties was defeated. Kimimaro was the only one who survived and had the tough luck to run into Orochimaru months later.
Although Sakura felt sorry for the Kaguya clan-member, he didn't feel like he was being controlled by Orochimaru in the least and felt more like he was serving a duty because Orochimaru had saved his life.
Some of them were taken from their homes after it was discovered that they had special talents, like Sakura. The pink-haired kunoichi had the extraordinary ability to control her chakra perfectly, which seemed to be good enough for Orochimaru to take her along with him and train her to be a second medic, in case anything ever happened to Kabuto.
"Sakura, watch out," Kimimaro warned in a calm voice as he glanced over his shoulder. "That branch is sticking out."
Hearing the warning too late, her pants got caught in the branch, causing her to topple over and plummet down to the merciless ground. She closed her eyes, preparing for the imminent pain until she realized that she wasn't falling and that Kimimaro had wrapped an arm around her and pulled her to safety in time. Sakura breathed in the faint musky scent that belonged to Kimimaro as she forced her heart to stop racing.
"You okay?" he queried softly as she reopened her eyes.
"Yes," she answered, embarrassed. "I wasn't paying attention, sorry."
The white-haired man let go of her and stepped back. "Watch out. Some of these branches are traitorous and you don't have enough chakra left to heal yourself."
The kunoichi nodded in agreement and watched Kimimaro as he leaped away before following him. "So where are we going?"
"There's a small village nearby," he said softly. "We'll stay there for the night and we'll resume our path to headquarters in the morning."
She nodded again even though she knew he couldn't see her. The remaining road to the village was quiet, apart from the sounds of the rustling leaves and the sounds of their feet hitting the wood.
By the time they had arrived in the small town called Kyou, both Kimimaro and Sakura were exhausted and drenched. It had started to rain incessantly just mere hours after they had started their long journey and there was no option but to continue.
They passed a small wooden gate and looked around to see if they could see any civilians, but most of them were probably in their houses, seeking shelter from the rain. Two small children peeked out of the doorway as they passed by, obviously scared and intimidated. The pink haired kunoichi tried to smile at them, but the children quickly moved out of sight.
Eyes downcast, she focused on the road in front of her and the mud-stained sandals of Kimimaro as he seemingly dragged himself forward. It was as if he were walking by sheer willpower alone.
Her gaze wandered to his back and moved up until she could see the outline of his jaw. Silently, she wondered whether he was doing okay, but before she could even assure herself that nothing would happen to her incredibly powerful companion, Kimimaro staggered, started coughing and dropped down on his knees.
Kimimaro coughed violently, and even though he was covering his mouth with his hand, she could still see crimson liquid dripping down to the muddy ground, mingling with the rain that was still falling down relentlessly.
Momentarily stunned, she watched as he doubled over before hastily making her way over to him. She dropped down next to him, one hand on his shoulder, supporting him silently as he coughed again. "Are you alright?" she asked, at a loss of words as she tried to help him up after his coughing fits subsided.
He just glanced at her, his green eyes blank as he scrutinized her. His hair was sticking to his face and small streams of blood dribbled from his lips to his chin, mixing with the water. "I'll be alright," he said slowly, weakly as Sakura wrapped an arm around his waist and maneuvered his arm around her neck. "I just need to lie down."
She sighed, helping him as he feebly took a few steps while leaning on her. "There's probably an inn nearby, can you hold on while we search for one?"
Kimimaro exhaled, muttered a silent "yes" and Sakura helped him take another few steps. As they turned a corner, a large building loomed up in front of them. The paint was peeling and the windows looked dirty, but Kimimaro needed to lie down and she wasn't sure how far she could take him. The inn in front of her had to do.
The Kaguya clan member straightened himself with tremendous effort, gaining an inquiring look from Sakura as she observed Kimimaro's movements. "We don't want to wake the impression that we're weak. Missing-nin stop by this village, so it might be dangerous."
She stepped away from him, allowing him to straighten up. "Let's go inside quickly," she whispered, watching him closely as he wiped away the remaining blood from his chin. "If you catch a cold, you'll be in trouble."
At this, he raised his eyebrows and almost looked like he was holding back a faint smile before he inhaled and walked towards the building, his shoulders straightened and his stride graceful. She couldn't help but admire his sheer determination as he strode towards the building, looked around, beckoned for her and stepped inside of the building. Every move must have hurt, but he never showed any signs of pain.
Sakura smiled as she looked up to the sky, letting the rain fall on her face for a moment and enjoying the sound of the pouring rain before she followed Kimimaro.
It was still raining after she had brought Kimimaro to a room and tended to his lungs. Although they still had no idea what illness was plaguing Kimimaro, it was clear that it was centered in the lungs, as he continued to cough up blood.
Afterwards, she walked out of the room and sat down on the porch.
The inn, although shabby, was actually a pretty cozy and traditional Japanese inn. All of the rooms were simply decorated with a few tatami mats, a table, a futon and a closet. Better yet, and all around the building, there was a porch where you could sit down and look outside through the glass doors.
Yawning, she watched the rain as it fell down, recalling the memories of the day that her mom took her to the park in Konoha. She had only been seven or eight-years-old and she begged her mother to go to the park, even though the sky looked ominous and her mother warned her that it would rain.
Sure enough, a few minutes after they reached the park, it started to rain and most children ran home, but Sakura couldn't care less. Although her mom had warned her and told her that it was best that they go home because she'd get sick, she carelessly ran around in the rain, enjoying it as it washed away everything.
If she closed her eyes, she could still envision her mother yelling at her with a worried look in her eyes.
Her fondness for the rain never went away. While growing up in Hakumei's headquarters, she'd always run outside if it started to rain, wanting to watch it. He never understood why. The rain would clean away the blood and if there was something Orochimaru loved, it was the aroma of blood and its vivid, scarlet color.
A fleeting memory of golden eyes and a malicious grin crossed her mind before she expelled him from her thoughts. It would be another day before she would have to face him once again.
Sakura pushed herself off the ground, determined not to ruin her night.
If she recalled correctly, there was a bar next to the inn. She would go there for a drink before going to bed. The roseate kunoichi certainly needed to warm up a little.
The bar was dark, and saturated with the scent of alcohol and smoke. She could see men sitting at the bar and around the tables, but it was so dark that she could hardly distinguish their faces. Several men looked up as she stepped inside, but she ignored them all and made her way to the bar.
There was one free place and she sat down, ignoring the gaze of the blond man that sat next to her.
"What can I get'cha?" the barkeeper asked, eyeing her suspiciously as he cleaned a glass with a filthy looking rag.
Disdainfully, she looked at the rag before answering. "Something strong."
"Something strong for the pink-haired girl comin' up," he grinned, showing off his bad teeth. She watched him carefully as he grabbed a glass and poured the contents of a grubby-looking bottle into it.
"Want me to pay for that drink?" the blond next to her asked, smirking as he continued his inspection of her.
"Do I look poor to you?" Sakura bit back.
Laughing erupted next to the man. "She's a feisty one!"
"You'll have to excuse us," the barkeeper said as he put down a glass filled with a liquid that looked like sake in front of her. "It's not often that we get to see girls in this bar."
"It's noticeable," Sakura commented wryly, taking a sip of her drink.
"So, where do you come from?" the barkeeper asked, continuing his duty of cleaning the glasses.
"The country of River," she lied easily. "I traveled here to find some rare herbs."
"You're a doctor?"
"Something like that."
He nodded, obviously satisfied with the answer. She downed the remainder of her drink and earned an appreciating smirk as he refilled her glass. "Take it easy, its strong stuff."
"I'll keep that in mind," she said calmly.
Several hours and a few glasses of sake later, the blond man sitting next to her had stood up but then was carried out of the bar, seemingly unable to walk on his own. She resisted the urge to laugh as he proclaimed his need to pee and started pulling his pants off. His two friends looked absolutely disgusted as they quickly helped him outside, apologizing to the barkeep.
A man dressed in black stepped inside, but Sakura turned around. She wasn't particularly interested in any new customers of the bar and certainly didn't want to give that impression to anyone. She drank quietly, ignoring the new man as he sat next to her and ordered something.
From the corners of her eyes, she could tell that he had long hair, tied up in a tie near the base of his skull. Raven hair framed his face, making it almost impossible to see more than his nose. He was dressed in a dark attire, and from the looks of it, it looked like the material was silky. The man was probably one of the more wealthy members of the village as the barkeeper didn't ask him any questions but quickly served him a drink before bowing deeply.
Sakura sighed and stood up; asking the barkeeper how much she owed him before laying the money down on the counter. As she took a step, she found out that walking seemed harder than usual and inwardly cursed herself for drinking too much. She stumbled back and bumped into the man's back.
Hastily, she whirled around to apologize, but when she finally saw the man's face, the words seemed to be stuck in her throat as she could hardly breathe. The sounds of people talking and laughing seemed to disappear as the entire world stopped for a second.
"He looks like…"
Crimson eyes stared at her, unblinking as they revealed no emotions whatsoever. Lines graces his cheeks, making him look older than he probably was. His thin, masculine lips were forming an unreadable line as he inspected her, perhaps waiting for an apology that would be imminent.
Shocked by his resemblance to someone from her past, she stepped back, quickly regaining her composure as she inhaled deeply and bowed. "I apologize for bumping into you."
She raised her head to watch his reaction, but he just gave her another look that seemed impossible to read or show what he was thinking about. He turned around without saying anything else and with that, broke the spell that he had cast upon her.
With much effort, she dragged herself towards the door and stepped outside, closing the door behind her.
She leaned against the wooden door, breathing heavily as she compared the man's face to the face of the man etched in her mind. Sakura could never forget about his crimson eyes and his long, raven hair that was similarly styled to the man in the bar, but short and spiky instead of in a tie.
The pink-haired kunoichi stood there for a few seconds, regulating her breathing as the rain poured on her. Eventually, she stepped away from the door and moved towards the inn, wanting to get some sleep and forget all about the enigmatic man she had just met. It wouldn't do her any good to ponder over the issue any longer.
Her sandals were covered in mud and filth after just a few minutes of walking, but she couldn't care less. As she stepped inside of the inn, she took her boots off out of habit, not wanting to make the floor dirty.
The rain, or perhaps seeing that man, seemed to have sobered her up as she walked over the porch towards her room, carefully walking past Kimimaro's room, knowing how fast he would rouse if he heard a sound. She turned around the corner and to her surprise, the man from the bar stood there, thumbs hooked in his pockets in a very casual fashion, although it struck her as odd for a moment. He was watching the rain as it fell down and streamed over the soiled stones that lay on the ground.
He obviously heard her approach as he glanced at her, scrutinizing her as she gazed back, determined not to let him get the best out of her. Sakura had lost her composure in front of him once before; she would not make the same mistake again.
"So we meet again," she said, as cool and collected as she could possibly be at that time.
This time, he turned around to face her, his hands still in his pockets as he stared at her. "You act as if we have met before," the man said, in a deep, smooth voice.
"We have met before," Sakura responded simply. "I bumped into you in the bar."
He made a sound that resembled an "ah," but never averted his eyes. "I trust you are sober now?"
"I'm not," the kunoichi answered truthfully. "Half-sober perhaps."
He finally broke the eye contact by turning back to face the gardens and continued watching the scenery, seemingly ignoring her now. She watched him for a few more seconds, contemplating whether to leave him alone, but decided against it in the end.
She stepped towards him. "You remind me of someone."
He didn't respond.
Agitated, she took another step into his reaction. "I'm trying to start a conversation here."
The man remained quiet.
Somewhere, deep inside, Sakura knew not to anger this man. Even her alcohol-induced mind knew that she was playing with fire and that the man in front of her was more dangerous, more vicious than the average man. But she couldn't care less at the moment. All she wanted was just one answer and go to bed to forget about this entire ordeal.
"You could answer, you know?" she pressed on, determined to get an answer.
"How would you like me to answer?" he asked quietly, sounding somewhat amused by her antics.
"You could ask me who resembles you," she was almost grinning by now, most satisfied by the fact that she had pressured him into answering her, and even more satisfied that he actually showed a faint hint of emotion.
"Tell me," he answered softly.
"Someone from my past."
He didn't answer her, but she hadn't expected him to either. Why she told him that he reminded her of someone was beyond her. She blamed it on the alcohol and took a few steps towards her room before halting, realizing that there was another thing she wanted to ask him. "Do you like the rain?"
"Yes," the man answered after a short pause, as if he had to think about his answer.
Sakura smiled, inwardly thinking about how he wasn't as bad as she first assumed. Alcohol was definitely messing with her brain. Perhaps he was just the silent but strong kind of guy and gave off the vibes that he wanted to be alone.
She touched his back, tempted by his muscular-looking back and the silky shirt that hugged him beautifully. He tensed up underneath her touch and she quickly realized that she was right. He was definitely a shinobi.
Although it was raining outside, it had been warm inside. Yet, the warmth in the room quickly disappeared after she touched him, making room for an icy chill and pure bloodlust. Quickly, she removed her hand from his back. "I'm sorry," she hastily said. "I don't know why I did that."
As soon as it came up, it went away again and she found it easier to breathe as his intention to kill seemed to disappear.
The small, white tie around his hair was coming undone, but she was too afraid to point it out. He probably felt it as his hand moved towards his hair and pulled it free from its restraint, causing it to fall down around his back and shoulders.
As he turned around, her breathing became increasingly heavy as her eyes grew wider and fear was clearly written all over her face.
The handsome features of the man were changing into the white skin that belonged to her worst nightmare. The lines disappeared and made place for hollow cheeks and prominent cheekbones. His eyes changed from crimson to gold and a malevolent smile formed on his lips.
She stood there, watching him in fear before she pushed him away roughly, blinked, and turned everything back to normal.
Orochimaru didn't stand there, it was the man; his hair had greatly resembled Orochimaru's. The man looked up, with a look that spoke of both interest and perhaps even surprise as he observed her while she backed up against the wall, inhaling deeply as she tried to calm herself down.
Every time she tried to look at him and apologize for her behavior, she was reminded of Orochimaru and rewarded with flashbacks and horrifying memories before she finally had enough. She closed her eyes and pushed herself away from the wall as she started running towards her room, leaving the man behind.
It wasn't until she closed the door behind her that she calmed down a little. With a ragged inhale, she sat down on the bed and buried her face in her hands to quell the tears that were threatening to spill.
A/N: After this chapter, Phantomica stopped writing and so I'm on my own now for this story, which means the updates will take longer, but I'll try my best to make it worth it!
Hakumei is the Japanese word for 'dusk', while Akatsuki is the Japanese word for 'dawn'. We chose the name because it's a good parallel.
Hope you enjoyed it and see you next time!
-- Phantomica & MitsukiShiroi