Beginning notes: New story! I can't seem to come up with anything for Blind Vision, so I just had to pour this new idea out before I lost it. I hope to make it longer than my recent works. Hope you enjoy it more than Pianissimo!
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Naruto.
Scroll One: A Simple Command
"Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will." - Jawaharlal Nehru
Uchiha Itachi's light footsteps swiftly carried him through the thick canopy of trees, his eyes glinting like liquid obsidian and his ears absorbing every sound, every whisper of the leaves that he passed. The air rustled slightly as he leapt from branch to branch, and he could feel it getting colder as the day passed into early evening. The leaves were painted with a golden light as the sun set behind him; he was heading east toward Fire Country. He was trying to find a certain Jinchuuriki that had been able to escape his grasp for years now, and Itachi was getting impatient with failure. He hated failure.
His black robe billowed in the breeze as he went deeper into the heart of the forest which continued to grow darker in the autumn evening. Suddenly, his keen sense of smell picked up a familiar smell: death. It hung heavily in the air like a sickening perfume as it permeated through all of the missing nin's senses, and it triggered vague memories of a massacre and a little boy begging for his life.
The scent of death grew stronger as he kept his direction eastward, and his senses twitched in hungry anticipation. Perhaps there would be something worth to test his insatiable potential. Itachi could now feel the coppery stench of blood in the surrounding ambiance, but now he took greater caution as he approached the site of death. He would not be disappointed.
There was a small clearing of trees where several bloodied bodies lay scattered like a child's marble game, and blood painted the trees in a vicious crimson hue. There were more bodies around the area in the bushes which ironically contained healing properties. Itachi gazed disinterestedly at the lack of movement around him but with the alertness of a hawk, but there was hardly a sign of chakra around him.
But there definitely was a glimmer of chakra somewhere.
Curious, the Uchiha followed the trail of chakra to a small bush, and his lips almost twitched with strong urge to smirk in bemusement at the pathetic attempt to hide from him, the ultimate master of genjutsu. He reached out with a manicured hand—his nails were painted a deep violet color—to touch the convincing green leaves.
Before he could lay his hand on it, it suddenly disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving the true form of the genjutsu caster, a girl in her early twenties. Odd, pink hair was matted around her humble face, and the most striking emerald eyes glared at him with a confused jumble of fear and hatred. The forehead protector on her head bore the signature of Konoha much like his own, maybe without the scratch across the symbol. She was desperately injured in both legs but she dragged her broken body away from him with her arms while clutching a kunai in one hand. She looked like an injured animal, ready to lash out at anything that seemed to threaten her weakened, vulnerable state.
Her hair was the first thing that stood out to his memories, and being a genius, he could recall the time when he had seen the same color on a little girl. "I have seen you before." Itachi said in a monotone while measuring his words carefully in his head. Something told him that it was imperative that he know who she was. Strange, his hand did not even reach for his kunai.
The girl bared her white teeth in what seemed to be a grimace. "You're Uchiha Itachi."
Oh, so she knew him. Did his name strike fear into her heart like the rest of the pathetic excuses for shinobi? "What is your name?" He asked, pretending to ignore her comment.
She gripped her weapon tighter, as if she knew that it was the only thing between her and him, the notorious Uchiha Itachi. "Haruno Sakura." Her voice was quiet and he could hear a slight tremor in it.
Itachi could now place her face with her name. He liked the sound of it; Sakura, cherry blossoms. They were his favorite in the spring. "The Godaime's apprentice." He had once met her before a long time ago, standing beside the Jinchuuriki and the Copy Ninja, the fool who could precariously wield the Uchiha bloodline limit to some effect. She had been a young, and now her hair had grown longer than he remembered. But those eyes had not changed; still as sharp as a blade and glittering as if they were comprised of millions of tiny emeralds.
He had heard of her, this Haruno Sakura. Her skills as a medic was notable and her chakra control distinctly perfect. She was trained by Konoha's fifth Hokage, thus the title of apprentice was added to her long list of credentials. However, the most important fact that he knew about her was that she was the closest friend of Uzumaki Naruto. The Uchiha now slowly raked his eyes over her battered body, noting the many injuries but also the soft curves under her ANBU uniform. Sakura pulled her arms closer to her chest, but he did not move. He watched her grow restless and nervous under his gaze.
"What are you doing here?" She spat bitterly. She stared fiercely into his blank eyes.
You must not show your fear. You must not show your fear.
Itachi smelled the fear radiating from her, along with her sweat and blood. "You sound anxious to die."
"I'm not afraid to die." She said stiffly as her body tensed at the calm drawl of his rich voice.
"But you are afraid of me." He stepped closer and she backed away further on her hands. "You are afraid of what I can do to you, just like what I did to your sensei."
At the sudden mention of Kakashi Hatake, the wounded animal fired up again, her eyes burning with a spirit that diminished her fear. "Don't talk about my sensei like you know him."
The Uchiha's eyes rested on her broken legs. The gruesome sight did not affect him in the slightest. "What was your mission? This," he lightly gestured to the massacre in the forest, "does not seem fit for what an ANBU does."
Sakura felt her legs sear with pain when she shifted her body the wrong way. She let out a gasp but answered him all the same. "An ANBU does what she is told."
Itachi's dark eyes darkened as the sky above them dimmed. "That was why I hated Konoha, with all of its rules of being a shinobi. Our gifts are not meant for the conformity of the rest…Sakura-chan." He watched her flinch involuntarily to the intimate suffix added after her name.
The dying hope flickered even weaker.
The fire in her eyes seemed to die away at his words. He sensed that her body was starting to shut down in order to avoid the intense pain throughout her body. Her chakra, depleted and almost gone, futilely tried to revive her body. Itachi guessed that she had been assigned a mission with a team, but she had been separated from the others, and had run into the rogue nin later.
You must not show your fear.
Itachi looked at the slumped form of the young woman on the ground. Her chakra levels were ominously low; she had battled the rogue nins with a self-sacrificing ferocity. An interesting character. He was amused at her attempts to show bravery in the face of Death himself. However, the prospect of discovering the Godaime's own apprentice could be beneficial to him. There was not enough chakra in her to heal those badly broken bones, so he would have to set them in place if there were to be any hope in her walking again.
Gathering up the lithe form of the kunoichi in his arms, Itachi continued his journey east toward Fire Country. He calculated that she would have to sleep for at least two days in order for her body to fully recover to its normal levels, and the nearest shelter was about a day's travel away. Easily, he picked up speed and paced himself continuously until the sun again rose to its highest point of the day.
The forest was less dense in the area, and there was a small village that was isolated for there was not another town for another day's worth of travel in all directions. It was a cozy, settled place, its buildings modest and without much decoration to them. The inn was fittingly called "The Inn and Pub" but business was slow due to harvest time in the fields, so Itachi got a room virtually unnoticed by nosy villagers.
Their room was clean and humble, a futon and some tacky blankets folded neatly in a corner. The hardwood floor was another nice convenience; blood was easier to clean on the wood floor than carpet. The silent Uchiha temporarily put her down in order to spread the futon on the floor.
"Why have you brought me here?" A slightly groggy voice asked him.
Itachi turned to face her with the same unreadable look in his eyes. "Go back to sleep."
Sakura squinted at him with a half-conscious look that told him that she was having difficulty focusing. There was a silence as they locked gazes.
The command was blunt enough, but Itachi still blinked at her words. The two words put together did not form a request or a suggestion, but rather a mandate. Sakura's tone, though slightly slurred and mumbled, was strong enough to suggest that she knew exactly what she was saying to the dangerous S-Class missing-nin.
She was still crazy though.
"Train me." It was louder, stronger this time. She emphasized her meaning by accenting the "r" and the "m". The clarity of her demand almost made Itachi want to smile.
"I command you."
Command? That triggered something in his mind and, instinctively, he reached out to grab her by the throat and pin her against the wall of the little room. It echoed with a dull thud at the impact. His eyes spun wildly and a look of madness passed over his face before he wiped it off to leave it as blank as it was before.
"No one commands me." He breathed, only to watch her delicate lips form a half-sneer, and her eyes drooped half-open as they seemed unable to focus well.
"Not even your Akatsuki leader?"
Itachi felt the anger die away as he realized what she was talking about. He leaned down closer to put his mouth right next to her delicate ear and whispered, "There are many horrible things I can do to your mind, Sakura-chan. Training you would mean the end of your humanity."
He watched the words take their effect, but she seemed resilient to his threats. His stomach shuddered in a curious curiosity.
"If I can bring Sasuke-kun back, then I can let it end."
He pulled away—his body protested against moving from her warm one—and let her sit up on her hands. "Foolish girl." He said softly before he unzipped his robe and discarded it on the floor beside him. Briefly closing his eyes, he opened them again to reveal their bloody depths, forcing her to instantly fall asleep. Itachi picked her up and lay her down on the futon.
Next, he turned his attention back to her broken legs. Applying chakra, he pushed the bones back into place and set them accordingly. He easily cast a paralyzing jutsu on her body so that she could not move. His mind distantly acknowledged that she would be uncomfortable, but he dismissed the thought as insignificant.
The Uchiha sat against the wall near the door and observed the sleeping kunoichi. He would have to go find Kisame before she woke up; he could watch her while Itachi thought about what to do next. It was a rare chance to be able to have the Godaime's apprentice at the Akatsuki's mercy, and it was an opportunity that the cunning Uchiha was not willing to miss. There were many advantages now that he thought about it: influence, power, and perhaps an answer to his failing eyesight.
He could easily manipulate that particular kunoichi since she had poor control over her emotions. It was a simple matter of playing all of his cards right, and his trump was Sasuke. Itachi had not predicted this minor twist in fate—never could he have guessed that his foolish little brother would actually become useful to him even after he killed off Orochimaru—but he saw too many benefits to pass up the chance to further his own potential.
There were not too many things that Uchiha Itachi left alive, but then again, it was better to be dead than to be alive in his ruthless hands.
It was late afternoon, and while the kunoichi slept, Itachi went out to look for his partner in the forest. Pulsing out his chakra in small amounts throughout the woods not unlike a radar, he waited for another discreet response. The chakra pulses could travel for miles on end, and it was an effective way to communicate to his partner. Only Kisame could notice the signature after being with Itachi for so long.
He waited. If Kisame was far away, it would take him time to arrive. However, Kisame had not been far away; after he was done massacring a group of jounin, he had also been traveling east to Fire Country where they had agreed to regroup. Within a couple of hours, his large, cloaked form could be seen as he quickly approached the ever patient Uchiha.
"You got something?"
No time for greetings.
Itachi nodded. "It seems we have a new development. Come." He led the way back to the inn room.
Upon opening the door, several kunai were launched at Itachi's head, and he successfully dodged all of them, but the last one nicked his pale cheek. He did not flinch. The Uchiha lazily moved his eyes so that they were upon the awakened kunoichi, and he felt a dull sense of surprise register in his system. She was awake.
"You broke the jutsu?"
Sakura was still unable to move due to her legs, but she was sitting up on the futon, her eyes clear and bright as they stared at him in determined defiance. "It wasn't a high level paralyzing jutsu."
Itachi stepped into the room and Kisame followed, whose presence seemed to fill up the entire confines of the room. Emerald eyes widened at the familiar sight of his enormous sword and the bluish face with jagged, white teeth.
"You best get out of those clothes. A lady was kind enough to lend a dress that belonged to her daughter." Itachi threw a white bundle in her direction. She caught it; unable to hide her surprise at his generosity, but surprise quickly gave way into stubborn pride and indignation, which caused her to cross her arms in front of her chest and turn her head away.
He stared at her childishness with a mixed feeling of annoyance and amusement and he almost sighed. "You will do as I say."
The Uchiha watched her eye the dress in with longing but also contempt. "Then you will excuse me. I would like some privacy." She said curtly.
He nodded and back out of the room with Kisame in tow. The latter scoffed. "What the hell? Who the hell is that?"
Kisame was silent as he tried to remember the name. It sounded familiar enough. "Oh, I've heard of her in Mist Village. She saved fifty people from some kind of poison a couple of months ago."
"So her reputation does precede her."
The shark-like shinobi growled deep in his throat. "I guess, but why is she with you?"
"Interestingly enough, I stumbled upon her after she fought about twenty-five rogue nins. Broken legs, possibly some fractures." He exhaled slowly. "She wants me to train her."
There was a stunned silence. "She wants training?" Kisame let out a derisive laugh. "She's crazier than I thought. I figured as much when she threw those kunais at you, but she's really asking for it."
"I think we should indulge her for the time being. The leader should be pleased. She could be a valuable asset."
"How? The leader won't appreciate interruption. We still haven't got the Kyuubi yet, and the leader's getting impatient." Kisame twisted his ugly face into a grimace.
Itachi put his hand on the door and said very quietly and simply, "She is our key to Naruto-kun."
The duo entered the room again to find Sakura in the white dress that pleasantly showed off her shoulders. She restlessly fidgeted with the hem of her dress and there was a menacing silence that filled the room. With a final burst of courage, her bright eyes met his red eyes.
"Train me, Uchiha Itachi."
Kisame was mildly surprised at the firmness of her determined tone, and he glanced at the impassive man standing next to him warily. Another silence passed.
"Why do you want me to train you?" Itachi was trying to determine what was going on in her thoughts as he looked into her eyes. Was it a trap? Was she planning something? But her eyes were innocent of all blame or fault, and his curiosity intensified.
Sakura started to fidget with her dress again. Her expression was uneasy while his remained emotionless.
"I need to get stronger. Maybe then, I can bring Sasuke back home."
"I see, and then what?"
The silence was at its highest tension now.
"I don't know." She breathed out in a defeated manner.
The Uchiha gave her time to think about it. "You have no ultimate goal; therefore, getting stronger is of no use to you."
Sakura glared at him. "My goal is Sasuke. That's all I need. He's reason enough to get stronger."
"You seek help from the most hated person in his life. I made him into what he is now. Do you understand?"
The rosy-haired kunoichi shook her head vigorously, denying his claim. "No, that's not true. You didn't make Sasuke."
"Quite the contrary. His life's purpose is to kill me because I killed his parents."
"Your parents." She said shortly, cuttingly.
He acknowledged her comment with a slight bow of his head forward. "True, but I never truly considered them to be a part of my life. They merely hindered me from my ambition."
Her deep, green eyes shined with an earnestness that he did not understand. "But your mother gave birth to you. You wouldn't exist if it weren't for them."
"They served their purpose."
Sakura outwardly flinched at his monotonous tone and heartless words. Here was a man who believed that his parents were only there to create him and bring him into the world. No love, no emotion, or even respect. They were just beings with a sole purpose of giving him life so that he could take theirs.
Itachi could see the turmoil taking place in her expressive eyes. He stepped closer to her and crouched in order to meet her at an eye level. "If I train you, you will be broken. I will break you. Are you ready for that?"
She gulped and a drop of sweat slid down the side of her face as she felt her skin chill at his dangerous words, and he watched her inner struggle to overcome her fears. She raised her chin to squarely meet his face. "I'm ready."
As if satisfied with her answer, the Uchiha straightened to his full height and glanced at his partner before looking down at her again. "Then, you should get rest and recover. Whenever you have your chakra back, you should heal those legs. "
Itachi sat against the wall again and motioned for Kisame to follow his example. Sakura stared at him with a look of disbelief, but he calmly ignored it. Manipulating her was easier than he thought. She was an easy creature to predict, and he knew how much she wanted to get stronger. He had also felt that urge, that need. It was insatiable, though her reason to get stronger bothered him a little bit. If he agreed to train her, it would be easier to keep her there with them instead of having a complete prisoner situation that could get ugly, considering her reputation as a kunoichi. Things would get simplified, and Itachi did appreciate simplicity sometimes. Without worrying about as hostage, he could instead focus on how to lure the Kyuubi to where they were.
However, something began to nag at his mind; something about her determination to bring Sasuke…
The night presented itself to them; its companion as the moon, and the forest outside was filled with the lazy sounds of the nocturnal animals.
Itachi's mind never truly slept at all. While his body recuperated, his mind then wandered to the prisoner herself. Her strange pink hair, her pale skin, and those animated eyes. He had never quite seen such eyes such as hers. He had looked into the eyes of many of his victims, but they never had such spirit, but maybe that was because they realized that they were going to die. Itachi wondered why Sasuke was so important to her, why she would do anything and everything to bring him back to Konoha. He highly doubted that his little brother would ever go back, but he could not deny that he found her determination admirably loyal.
However, his mind soon turned to draw out the plans for the prisoner that had yet to realize that she was indeed his prisoner. Yes, she was naïve in every sense of the word to believe that she had some kind of control over the situation, to think that she had made the all-powerful Uchiha Itachi bow to her command. But, he would allow such insolent thoughts for now until the time came to break her.
Kisame was snoring lightly beside him, his sword still in his lethal, twitching grasp, and Itachi took the liberty to glance at the sleeping kunoichi again. The moonlight cast a silvery spell on her face, her heavy lashes fluttering lazily and her mouth slightly open as she breathed.
"Don't look at me like that." She whispered with her eyes still closed.
"How long have you been awake?"
Sakura opened her eyes, and the moonlight made them a silvery green now. Striking.
"Only a couple of minutes. Why aren't you sleeping?"
Itachi closed his own eyes. "I don't sleep often."
The young woman sat up, her light blanket slipping from her upper body like rain down a windowpane, and she ran a slender hand through her long tresses. His gaze followed her ever subtle move. "Neither do I. I always have nightmares."
He remained where he was and watched her wince when she tried to move her legs. Her chakra levels were still lagging, and she could not heal her legs yet. However, Itachi was satisfied. She could not leave, she was willing to cooperate, and she was going to lead the Kyuubi right to them. He was going to play all of his cards right to lure the other player, namely Haruno Sakura, into betting against him. But his trump was going to break her whether she knew it or not. He could make his little brother to do anything; he controlled Sasuke's predictable actions. It did not matter that Sasuke had "Hebi" with him because anything Itachi did, Sasuke followed like a blind mouse to the lair of a snake.
He had to balance between his ruthless character and the merciful side to him. He could not risk scaring her away; in fact, he had to do the opposite. Itachi had to draw her to him and gain that naïve trust by whatever means necessary. He had his share of women in his life, all of them witless and pathetic, clinging to every handsome man that had the misfortune of crossing their paths. He was able to charm if it need be, and his charm almost always proved to be as deadly as his eyes.
Sakura lay back down on the futon and she tried to get comfortable. Itachi watched until she dozed again before resting his tired eyes himself.
All the while, Kisame wondered why Itachi did not kill her as soon as he saw her in the forest.
Ending notes: Reviews?