Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of the characters portrayed here.
Finally, an update!! I know, it's been way too long, but I have no plans to abandon this story. However, looking back on it makes me cringe still. Oh well, I'm still in the process of cleaning it up and whatnot. Never again will I be using OC's like this. Do let me know if I'm giving them too much of a part, although I don't think that Riza will make an appearance until after the next chapter.
The sun was beginning to set by the time they found another village to take rest in. They'd been traveling since having been attacked, and Sakura was in utter joy at seeing a place to rest. Her feet were starting to become sore, even with the bursts of chakra she sent to her muscles to try and relieve a bit of the aches.
Although she had started to become at ease in the silence during the time she'd spent with the elder Uchiha, she was still a rather social creature that needed to be able to communicate. Unfortunately, Itachi was the only one that she knew of for miles considering that the new area they had arrived in spoke a completely different and unintelligible language. And the few that could make out words in her language carried a heavy accent; reminiscent to what she had heard in some the northern nations.
Thus, as they walked through the streets, her emerald eyes kept flitting to the side, looking at her companion with hesitation. Venders and shops were then starting to switch on dull lights that flickered over them as they passed. She wanted so very much to make conversation with anyone, even Itachi at this point. It wasn't that she was apprehensive around him as she once was, which she had thankfully overcome her fright whenever he would merely make a glance at her, but it would be foolish to think that he'd engage in casual vocal communication.
"As I have mentioned, if you have something to say, then I'd prefer you to voice it," a cool voice commented before adding with, what looked like to her, a smug smirk, "Sakura."
The aforementioned girl jumped, quickly jerking her head to look at him. Whether it was out of alarm that he actually spoke, because that itself was a rare occasion, or that he had discovered her fidgeting, she wasn't sure, but either way something about it irked her.
She tilted her head, biting her lip slightly, "It's nothing," she drawled in a tone that clearly stated that it wasn't nothing as she claimed.
Obviously, Itachi caught it, and would have none of that.
Back to general titles it was then. She would have to guess that he was not very pleased.
"I don't like the silence," she admitted, quick to blurt it out. It was then, the way his face barely changed but practically radiated of superiority, arrogance, and perhaps even amusement, that she frowned but quickly forced a smile to hide the way her blood was boiling.
Sakura had a feeling that by now, even though she tried her best to remain the calm and sweet girl she was taught to be, both she and Itachi knew she was bluffing. He'd seen her show her true colors, how quickly irritable and violent she was. At this point, she was fooling no one by merely acting out of habit for show and politeness.
Silence hung between them, while noises of the night and natives filled the void instead. Idly, Sakura observed that they were very loud people and that when they spoke it sounded like they were choking on something rather unpleasant. Otherwise, she noticed that instead of the shops closing at that time of night, several seemed to be opening and preparing for the night life.
She felt his gaze return to her and she involuntarily shivered. It was just the chilly air, of course, she convinced herself, not that his eyes were that piercing. She sniffed and wrapped her arms around herself as if to confirm that.
"You will be working on my sight tonight, correct?"
It sounded more like a statement than a question, but she nodded nonetheless, "That's what I had planned to do. I'll need to analyze the damage, but we have the entire night so I can possibly begin the healing as well."
Before she let herself continue, she paused abruptly in realization that she was indeed rambling. It felt so relieving and familiar to speak again, even in the confines of business, that she couldn't help it. Only a moment later did it dawn on her that her quiet companion had started the conversation. Was it for her sake? She did mention that she didn't like the silence. Her eyes softened, holding back a genuine smile that would surely make her look foolish at the small act of kindness.
While regaining her composure, the pinkette looked over to see him nodding. His eyes were looking at something far away, most likely in thought. That one sentence was enough for her; she wouldn't push him to say anything more and trotted beside him with a lighter air. Her mood had considerably brightened, which he seemed to take slight notice to but didn't particularly acknowledge.
It was more comfortable between them until they stopped at a decent looking inn. She was nearly reluctant to ruin the peace between them, but let Itachi step forward and drop a rather large sum of money on the desk.
The man behind it, whom she presumed to be the inn keeper, was a short and bald old man wearing a something purple that might have been a yukata. He eyed it skeptically, picking up a coin and examining it for a brief moment before nodding and handing him a key in return.
Apparently, their money was different from that region's, but at least it hadn't been rejected.
Sakura followed Itachi to their room, who had taken off as soon as the key was in hand. She flinched when the wood creaked under her steps, wondering if it was really as nice as she had imagined it to be. It was a more traditional building, and an older one at that. However, she was pleased when she saw the room. It wasn't dirty or trashed, although it was simple.
The floors were wooden and a bit worn, while the walls were a plain white. There was only one bed and a small table beside it of the same light colored wood as the floor. On the farthest wall was a window with a nice view of the town. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it would do for the night. Shinobi didn't need extravagant quarters anyways, she reminded herself.
"You don't seem to be bothered by there being one bed," Itachi said in that low, observing tone of his.
Sakura shrugged; surprised that he had even pointed that out, "I don't really care at this point. We're partners, right?"
She watched him nod again, his eyes seeming to be ever calculating and thinking over this new piece of information. He was constantly plotting and evaluating her actions, she had realized this already. She was becoming used to his habits and attitude though, so she wasn't bothered by it as much.
When the medic had looked up again, her eyes were caught not in the crimson pools he had become accustomed to, but in smoldering black orbs watching her every movement. He had already taken a seat on the bed, unusually stiff and strained. His eyes twitched, as if holding back a pained expression.
Although her breath had caught in her throat, momentarily mesmerized by the sheer appearance of him without his deadly Sharingan, she managed to move forward and accompany him on the bed. Gently, her hand moved to rest on his temple, not shying away when he flinched at the contact. Her gaze was soft, the medic in her showing in her apathetic movements.
"It hurts, doesn't it?" she asked quietly. It was odd to her to think he was living with that excruciating pain every day without her really taking notice to it. He had always simply been Itachi, whom she had that odd relationship with. This made her wonder, what really did he feel and think? She wanted to know him, how he perceived the world and handled the weight of his eyes deteriorating and the Akatsuki all in one.
"Yes," he bit out through gritted teeth.
It was time to do her job, to be the medic who saved countless lives. She would rescue him from this pain, she told herself. "Is it as bad with your Sharingan on?"
He shook his head, "The pain is dulled when I have my Sharingan activated, one of the reasons it I rarely allow it to fade away."
Furrowing her brows, she nodded, storing away this data mentally. Basically, what she was getting was that to bear the pain he had to use his Sharingan which in turn damaged his sight even more. Either way, he would lose.
"I'm going to send in some chakra now, ok?" she told him as she did so, "It should help the pain, and I'll be able to see what's going on."
Throughout her career, she had often been told that her chakra was like a soothing trickling of water, erasing any source of discomfort as it passed. This proved true as she felt the Uchiha relax under her touch as she eased away the pain.
A scowl came to her face as she took in the damage. It was worse than she had thought; a complete mess in there really. She wondered how he was still able to see anything at this point. There were damaged nerves and cells everywhere, with his chakra connections faintly beginning to fray.
"Turn on your Sharingan for me," she instructed. When he did so, she was completely intrigued. It was so interesting, to see firsthand how it all worked. The chakra sparked to life, traveling through damaged pathways and strained nerves. She could see that not all of it was getting to the destination though, and was spouting off in chaos. He was being destroyed from the inside.
Frowning, she pushed a little more chakra in, "Turn it off for me now."
Everything calmed down once he complied, and she prodded around with her chakra for further inspection a little while longer. After a good half and hour of observations on her part, she removed her hands, prepared to share the results.
"You're going blind," she stated, although she knew that he was already well aware of this, "I can fix your Sharingan and fix the pain, however," she trailed off quietly, "You're optical nerves have already been severely damaged, and not even I can restore them back fully. It'll be better, but your vision isn't going to be perfect."
He nodded, a hesitant air surrounding them, "Very well."
Did he feel disappointment, she wondered, was he hiding it?
She brushed the thoughts aside, folding her hands neatly in her lap, "It'll take a few weeks of work, and it's a gradual process. And even then, if you continue to use your Sharingan, it'll need to be repaired later in life again."
A moment of silence passed between them. Sakura shifted uncomfortably, lacing her thin fingers together. She couldn't help but wonder if he was disappointed with her, that this would qualify as not keeping up her end of the deal.
"Will you begin healing tonight?"
The pinkette paused, rolling the question around in her mind, "I can," she started, "But you'll need to wait a full day before using it again or else my work will just be undone. I'll need to work every other day like that."
From what she understood, they would be reaching the Stone Village tomorrow where they would find the scroll. Really, it would be best to start the healing as soon as possible, but without Itachi's Sharingan for the main event of their trip, she wondered how that would work out. He was a capable ninja though, she reassured herself, even if he wouldn't be able to see nearly anything.
She took her companion's silence to be an agreement and continued, "Don't expect to see results after just this session. This is mostly prep work, but important all the same."
Placing her hands back on his temples, her touch instinctively gentle as her medical mindset kicked in again, the kunoichi leaned in a bit closer to whisper, "This is going to hurt."
She didn't give him anytime to prepare after her warning, and immediately began forcing her chakra into his nerves. This was much different from the soothing procedure she had done before, that was merely a check up. If she wanted the job done right, she had to do what was necessary which included some painful experiences. These were sensitive areas, and already damaged at that, so it was to be expected.
Itachi grimaced under her touch, his eyes squinting shut. The pain shot through his head as if needles were being sewn into it. He had experienced worse, much worse, and would be able to hold still and bear it.
Sakura continued with this for several hours, her face placid with concentration. Once she deemed her work enough for one night, she wearily removed her fingers. That had drained a decent amount of her chakra, and she was honestly exhausted. Glancing at the Uchiha's face, she wasn't surprised to see signs of fatigue. Enduring the pain must have taken a lot of out of him as well. As good of a shinobi as he was, he was still human.
His eyes slowly reopened; those dark raven eyes of his looking at her with something she couldn't quite place. They weren't warm, still calculating as ever. Even as the gaze sent a shiver down her spine, she still thought that they were beautiful. Long lashes concealed them partly, fluttering like a butterfly's wing after a moment. Traces of strain were still evident, but she knew that she made the pain a little more bearable.
"That's enough for tonight. Don't use your Sharingan until tomorrow evening," she instructed with a soft voice. It came out much more meek than usual, as if it were a calming storm.
Sakura squirmed her way onto a portion of the bed, her back facing him. The pillow was so delightfully comfortable under her head, and she breathed a sigh of contentment. She stretched her muscles, hearing a few pops following before she settled into a position on her side.
She felt the bed dip on the other side, knowing that Itachi was taking his place. There was a good distance between them, and even with that Sakura didn't seem to mind as much. She knew now that he wasn't going to harm her, and that enough made her at ease. Emeralds were concealed as she closed her eyes, her body relaxing. Her mind, however, was still at work. She went over some of the medical information that dealt with his eyes, deciding what would need to be done next. Most the painful procedures were over with, and dealing with the discomfort would need to be done next. Now that she ripped apart and reconnected several things, his eyes were now ready for the actual healing process.
Sleep became heavy on her mind, lulling her softly to a hazy darkness. As a last thought she managed to utter quietly, "Goodnight, Itachi-san."
As her mind fell into the temptations of sleep, she faintly took notice to the smooth voice that responded with a polite goodnight, pausing before adding, "Thank you."
Too far into unconsciousness to really take notice, she didn't respond. Perhaps she would recall it for a later day, but a small smile was the only acknowledgment of the gratitude he showed. It was nice to know that he did value gratitude, and this information was one of the things she was slowly but surely learning about him. If she wasn't mistaken, he seemed like he would rather avoid any unnecessary disputes, which she had precariously judged falsely beforehand.
Maybe Uchiha Itachi just wasn't all that bad.
Thanks for reading and for sticking with me this long! Reviews give me that silly grin for the rest of the day, and honestly are what inspired me to get this finished.