Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. I want to.

Pairings: ItaSaku, slight NaruHina / Suika, SasuSaku

Inspired by: "Swing Life Away:", Rise Against

Well...not much to say except I was having a severe withdrawl of angst and couldn't seem to make headway with any of my other fics. Slight manga spoilers, let me know by clicking that cute little review button. Nothing is coincidence, and neither is the placement of such a button. :) No longer a oneshot.

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The Murderer and I

The Severed Grapevine

Fireflies.

Twinkling in the silky folds of ebony that effectively shrouded all, even the moon on this quiet night. Tiny glimmers in the unknown, lighting a wanderer's way with good intentions, whether the ones that stumbled and prowled in the darkness deserved it or not. I shiver. Why could some higher being not help me as they watched me struggle and fail and lose my life, the will inside me pouring onto the ground as if emptying a trough full of rainwater; why? A waste of space and an attraction to the unwanted, the unneeded.

Was that all I was...standing water?

Fireflies–

Are all I have left to look at as I let him go. Breezes rustling and whistling through thin, late–autumn foliage and singing a desperate song, the cry of a wounded animal, for everyone and anyone to hear. I never realized I possessed so many beautiful memories; they play, the endless movie reel in front of my eyes, pasted and forever to stay as I fall apart. As he

takes–

me–

apart.

His motives, unclear, his enjoyment, almost certain. Playing with my emotions and my body like a myriad of scattered tinkertoys, strewn across a carpet and displayed in such vibrant colors. Pieces of every shape and size, with some to touch and finger and some to admire–

And some to break

I don't make a sound, for he stole my voice quite a long time ago through a staccato warning and a ravaging tongue. With calloused hands that twitch with the eagerness of the kill, the grip of a man whom has never let his prey escape for any reason, and while retreating from a few choice brawls, once he has something in his clutches...

If I ever live to tell this tale, I'll tell them to just do what I did.

Stare. Stare at the fireflies and cloud your mind and just...don't struggle...

He lifted me easily as a wet rag doll, limp and pathetic, and tossed me flat on my back in the dust, knocking the wind out of me. I choked and clutched at my throat, plastered with long, pink locks soaked in crimson, like tape to a sweater. Coppery scents made my head reel with nausea as I let the numbing sensation spread through every fiber, saturate every tissue with the obliteration of the pain. So relieving. I'm welcoming the unconsciousness that seeps into my mind, threatening to shut the rest of my body down and stop the mental beating that I can't seem to stop reliving. For so many hours, seventy-two, endless fucking hours he played my mind and my body like a sturdy child's toy, meant to be tossed around outside and bounced on the ground and stepped on and kicked and punched–

And that's not what I am. He said it too. I'm something pretty and innocent, meant to sit primly on a shelf and not speak, a porcelain doll with painted rosy cheeks and only, forever and always, a curiosity and a plaything. Not a person.

I'm too weak to be considered anything but.

Where is the concussion and exhaustion when I need it?

Damn the fireflies...they sparkle and seem to wink down at me, mocking me, and that's when I begin to lose it, that's when I am beyond caring.

"Let...me be..."

Fingernails, stained black and cut to the quick drag down my bloody, flushed face and I remember, I can feel the stimulation affecting my skin just like before...

Except it's just my mind illustrating what he already had done. I can't feel it anyway, I'm numb.

"Let us see if you live to tell this tale," he purred softly, watching me through narrowed eyes. Such pale skin, flushed with physical excitement as his high collar stroked his face teasingly in the breeze that I could not feel. It was unbuttoned...and so were other things.

Reality and fantasy and genjutsu and delirium all smash into one another, as if hurling something large and made of glass upon a concrete floor. And on impact they radiate out, pieces skittering underneath furniture and feet and no one will ever find them all, even when they crawl on knees and look between small spaces, no. There is always one that will be missing, forever condemned, which will leave me forever incomplete.

I can't find this piece of me, I can't take it back.

I can't turn back time.

And every time I sleep I remember his weight against mine, satisfying a twisted vision that was never mine. While I was unconscious for much of the brutality and assault, he made sure to keep me awake for the very worst parts, so I could never forget. Eternally etched in the cerebellum, to pull out and cringe over like less than welcoming photo albums.

I remember the moon, hovering like a phantasmal spirit above the dust, so stained with blood and saliva and other...unpleasant things.

I remember not being able to speak, which the burning acid lodged in my throat, lips stained with blood.

I remember the frightening rhythm that accompanied the pain. Sadly, I had nothing to hold onto, for I could never touch the repulsive man. Limp beneath him, I'd cried. The beat went on, clashing with my adrenaline–induced heart that raced out of control, off a track that had never had a clear finish line.

I remember hearing my whimpers. My gasps. His groans. Pain. Gasp. Groan. Pain. Gasp. Groan.

It just never–

fucking–

stopped.

I remembered wondering if anyone would be able to help me.

I remembered him saying I was beautiful.

I told him to burn in hell.

I paid for that, in some way, but by then I didn't remember.

I remember gazing up at the trees forming a circle around the monumental clearing, foliage rustling softly as my eyes saw only red, that pain that just couldn't be real. Running shaking fingertips over the others, to have something to call my own, because certainly, it was too late for some things.

Fireflies.

Flitted within the tiniest branches and became the definition of luminescence, and were the only things I could focus on.

'Tiny sparks of hope...' she had said. At that moment in time, I had admired her for such insight.

She was really,

fucking,

stupid.

She had no idea.

In the light they provided, I saw the vines on the thick tree trunks, so resolutely burnt and slashed by our struggle, flecked with crimson like the spots on a robin's egg. Convoluted plant life that bore newfound life and hoped through anything.

Even nature was a blinded fool.

Curse all of those fools:

Fireflies.


Four months later, not one person understood.

He had rushed home in the dark, her battered and bruised body in his shaking arms, sending other members of the search squad ahead as he flew through the foliage. Panicking the entire way. Rushing home so quickly only to drop her to the ground, his own body shaking as his knees gave to lower him in a chair, leaving Tsunade to shout the orders as he went into his own nervous breakdown.

How in the world did the 'sexual abuse' part of it slip through the cracks?

Indefinitely traumatized, and nobody could comprehend. Not being able to touch people, not even to shake a hand. Screaming, raging nightmares that left her scratching at her barely healed skin, falling apart for seemingly 'no reason'.

Such a dramatic weight loss, no respect or love for nature and the little things.

Naive little Naruto. He'd never be able to imagine Sakura–chan that way.

None of them believed her. As if her injuries were all in her mind.

From listening to Tsunade speaking to the head medics, Sakura's mind was the injury.

She could feel his hands on her every single day.

So why did it come as such a shock when the blonde kyuubi vessel cheerfully pushed open her door and said she should wake up, their mission to go find their former teammate was commencing right now, and that he expected her up and about by now. Surely she wanted to find Sasuke–kun now?

It took him a few minutes to realize why her sheets were rumpled, tattered and on the floor, and why her window was shattered, glass littering her spotless floor. Spotless aside, of course, from the glittering, viscid, fresh blood spattered across it as if someone had overturned a full paint bucket. But the handprints on the wall, fresh and dripping down the pale pink walls and creating an ironically fitting combination of colors...those were too real.

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"I didn't touch a thing," Naruto protested, voice shaking as he clutched the armrests, tan countenance pale ashe faced the interrogators, all of whom towered with obvious superiority. Despite the lenience shown for the playful orphan, this was too serious.

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"These fingerprints are hers," Ino commented, pointing a shaking finger at the gleaming prints, so bright against the shade of the wall.

--

People crowded, human nature's sin of curiosity in full swing as they gasped and swooned and let rumors fly from imaginative lips to craving ears. Though this sin wasn't killing the unnoticed cat that purred around legs and was let closer to the action. Slitted pupils took in information from sight and from the words spoken around him. She was intelligent. Listen to the superiors, the important people, the detectives who know what they are talking about.

Satisfied. A full report for his boss, whom would be soon having conniptions galore and may just strangle his newly–formed team.

And branches of the grapevine spread...


To have a game of chess, cards, or something of a similar sort interrupted is fairly irking.

When you are sleeping after a long, difficult morning of slaughtering, it is most likely irritating beyond believe. Nevertheless, the exhausted Uchiha opened his onyx eye just a slit to view his visitor, and he expected a lowly fodder ninja, easy to kill from a lengthy distance. A mere annoyance.

Kisame removed his sandaled feet from the square, purple footstool and let them hit the floor in mild surprise at the visitor that dared have the nerve to quite literally kick down their door. Never mind the fact that Itachi had not sensed the intruder nor killed them the moment they had passed the threshold. Candlelight flickered and cast shadows and illuminated her glowing face in the accustomed darkness.

Her arms were folded across her chest, abnormally thin frame grotesque in the cruel shadows. He didn't remember her being so thin.

"Who is with you?" Itachi inquired monotonously, staring at her over his high collar.

"So you remember me?" she asked quietly, voice raspy and as flat as his own.

He held her eyes, like the frightening sensation of paralysis.

"There is...no one with me."

Rigid. It can't be.

"I've come to tell you that–well, no, I've come to just tell you some things."

CLINK. Kisame's sword hit the black tiles and he shifted as if was going to stand. "Listen, girl–"

"Quiet."

The expression on Kisame's face was very ugly indeed, not exactly tickled pink at the realization that his partner was holding this girl's words on a pedestal above his.

"You made a really stupid mistake, Uchiha Itachi," she spat, letting her folded, bony arms cross her lower stomach, hiding the barely there bump caused from her unnatural thinness. Tsunade had been warning her about her weight loss, but never thought to investigate the real reasons. "And you have no way out."

"Don't set conditions with me, girl," Itachi replied harshly, the tiny muscles of his eyes contracting to reveal the piercing Mangekyo Sharingan. "You should remember well..."

"I dare you," she hissed, biting her lip. "Do whatever the hell you please."

Kisame rose to his full, towering height and glared at her through fish–like slits, glancing at Itachi every so often to watch his reaction.

"Kisame...why so touchy?"

"She's an annoyance."

Itachi seemed mildly surprised as he locked eyes on his partner, daring him to continue his dramatic interference. "You sound like me. Touching. Sit."

"I'm here to inform you of my decision. I am coming with you, as a third member of your partnership and as a member of the Akatsuki," she spoke slowly and clearly, and not one word held humorous content.

Itachi slowly let his fingers drag off the coveted, stitched material that covered the armrest of his chair and stood silently, letting his arms retreat into the long sleeves of his black and crimson robe. The young girl stood her ground.

"I could kill you."

She swallowed. "I know that."

Kisame interjected: "I could stain this floor with every drop of blood you–"

"Unless you want to take two lives, I suggest you put that down, Kisame," she ordered gently, though her eyes flashed all the same.

The blue–skinned shinobi was utterly confused, yet let his sword fall to the tile, curiosity welling inside of him.

"And unless you want every ANBU and high–level shinobi on your back, perhaps a Sannin, and the kyuubi vessel himself, you'll quell your murderous intent," she told Itachi.

Pause.

"What if I kill you now?"

"Do you really want to take two lives?"

"And if I don't agree to your demands?"

"You didn't answer the question, Uchiha."

"Answer me."

"Then I'll squeal everything I know like a fucking pig. You can count on that."

Silence.

"And I don't think your younger brother needs another excuse to hate you, does he?"

Itachi twitched slightly. "So that is the reason...you want to find him, and you'll use me to do that."

The woman's harsh little laugh, so unbecoming to her looks and her once–possessed grace, echoed coldly in the room, pressing upon all sides. "I could care less about Uchiha Sasuke." No suffix. "I'm only doing this for...well...it's not his fault."

"You're sure it's a–"

"You're speaking to a medic-nin poised on surpassing her Sannin tutor."

That kept the two male shinobi silent as mice.

"So. It's settled."

Without another word, she turned on her heel and began to cross the ebony tiles to the door, her boots tapping cautiously in the cavern.

"Wait a damn minute."

The woman turned and stared over her shoulder curiously as Kisame let his bandaged sword slid to the title with a deafening 'clunk'. He was not sure whether to ask 'who' or 'what' or perhaps 'why', and certainly Itachi, whom had spoken more words than expected in the past five minutes in comparison to five days, wasn't going to give an answer.

"I'd appreciate it if when we aren't on the move, I might have a bed."

"What do you mean, 'we'?" Kisame demanded.

She turned her slow look upon him, as if immobilizing prey; a lioness glittering in the shadows.

"His child."