Summer vacation is finally here!!!!! Now I can dedicate long hours to the computer!!!!! Hahahahaaaaaaa!!!!!!! Okay, now that I've done that, here is not-so-awaited sequel to Allegiances!!!

Disclaimer (happy me, I remembered it!!): If I owned Naruto, it wouldn't be half as good as it is. And Sai wouldn't be so annoying (stupid smile…). And we'd see a heck of a lot more of Itachi. Ha! So, we begin with… dun dun dun… another game of chess!!!

- - -

Jade eyes scanned the chess board, mentally moving pieces and weighing the outcomes as slender fingers tapped the sides of the table. The pink-haired girl to whom they belonged finally reached out and touched her rook, playing with it, frowning, before nudging it forward.

"I understand that we are low on people, Itachi-san," she murmured as she pondered her next move, even though her opponent had not yet moved.

He chuckled, tapping a bishop. "And members, Sakura-chan. We have been short ever since you disposed of Kisame. There must be at least seven in the core."

She flushed but said nothing, only watched his hand move his bishop between the lines of her defense to threaten her queen. In reply, she only shoved a pawn between them – a quick but carefully calculated move.

"I have men outside looking for possible new members or recruits. Most will be injured, however; we will have need for your skills." He glanced at her.

Her green eyes met his orbs of ruby without wavering, and she nodded. "It would be my pleasure to help, Itachi-san."

He smirked, stroking her cheek with the back of his hand. She did not flinch, having gotten used to the contact over the past year. Instead, her eyes darted onto the board and its pieces, because he only touched her during games when he was about to win.

Quickly – but not hastily – identifying his plan, she put her own countering plan into action.

"You need seven, hm? You, Dei-kun, Sasori-san, Zetsu-san, Hidan-san, and Kakuzu-san… I see."

Itachi blocked swiftly with a white knight – Sakura always insisted on playing black.

"It is true that we only need seven members, but having two or three extra is the ideal," he told her. She nodded in comprehension, studying the board.

It soon became clear that the game would end in a stalemate. As Itachi let go of his king, there was urgent knocking on the door.

"Itachi-san! Sakura-chan! They brought one in, but this one's half-dead, un!" Sakura stood, stretching lazily.

"Hang on, Dei-kun!" she called, yawning. They opened the door to see the distressed blonde waiting anxiously for them. His lone blue eye was wide with worry.

"Deidara. Calm down; you look like an idiot," a smooth, deep voice ordered from behind him.

"Sasori-san," Sakura greeted the red-haired puppeteer. He nodded politely in return. "You know, Dei-kun, he's right. You don't have to look so worried."

"They're in the back room," Sasori stated monotonously. Sakura smiled gratefully at him and led Deidara away. Itachi acknowledged his subordinate with a slight inclination of his head. Sasori bowed.

- - -

Sakura arrived in the room with a bag of supplies just as the men who had brought the new person in decided that the wound was so bad that it would be impossible to work with the dirty shirt in the way.

"Yamete!" she cried as one man picked up a pair of scissors. "What are you thinking?!"

"We need to cut the sh-shirt off," the one with the scissors stammered; even after only a year with the Akatsuki, she was his superior.

"In a room full of men?!" she exclaimed in horror. "You idiots…" Taking the scissors from him, she shooed them out of the room. "And stay out until I'm done treating her!" She gave a snort that sounded suspiciously like "Men!" before disappearing back into the room, slamming the door behind her.

"Wh-what?!" Deidara exclaimed, bewildered. Itachi shook his head, hiding a smirk of amusement.

"You mean you couldn't tell that she's a woman?" he asked bluntly. The others –minus Sasori – froze in horror.

"She's a woman?!" Deidara screamed.

"Of course she is!" Sakura called from the inside of the room. "You couldn't tell? That explains a lot about your appearance!" Sasori snickered as Deidara pouted.

Inside the room, Sakura carefully set the stained shirt aside, cleaning the girl's upper body and surveying the damage. She inhaled sharply at the large gash on the girl's stomach.

She took a soft cloth and washed the wound as best she could before smearing a generous amount of medicinal salve onto it. Taking strips of bandage, she wrapped the girl's waist and waited until she stirred.

The hat fell off of the girl's brown hair as she sat up quickly. Sakura pushed her back down firmly.

"Don't move," she instructed calmly. "I'm the only one in the room; you're safe enough for the moment. What's your name?"

"Where am I?"

Sakura grinned. "Not until you answer my question."

The girl grimaced. "Tenten. Now where am I? And who are you?"

Again, Sakura smiled. "Hajimemashite, Tenten-san. Welcome to Akatsuki headquarters. Haruno Sakura desu." Peeling the bandages away from Tenten's body, she nodded in approval at the newly-healed skin. She tossed Tenten a clean shirt, and once it was one, she walked to the door.

"She's decent! You can come in now!" she called, stepping out of the way as the door flew open. "Dei-kun! Watch it!"

"Gomen, un," Deidara mumbled, looking sheepishly at Tenten. "I thought you were a guy… Anata wa…?"

Sakura bonked him on the head. "Introduce yourself first, idiot!"

Rubbing his head, he grumbled, "Gomen, Sakura-chan, un. Hajimemashite, Deidara desu. Anata wa…?"

"I'm Tenten," the brunette replied curtly. "Why am I here?"

"Where are the other guys?" Sakura asked Itachi quietly. He shrugged.

"They ran."

"Ah. Why don't you tell Tenten-san why she's here?" she suggested. Tenten's eyes widened as Itachi stepped into the light.

"You – you're – Uchiha Itachi!"

"So it would seem," he answered dryly. "Now, why you are here… To put it bluntly, we need more members, and we were hoping you would join us."

Tenten stiffened. "And if I refuse?" she asked quietly.

"Then," he replied just as softly, "we will be forced to keep you from leaving here."

"I see. I would like to think this over."

Itachi inclined his head. "Certainly. You will have to be somewhat quarantined, but Sakura-chan will stay with you. Please remove all of your weapons."
Sakura glanced mischievously at Deidara, who had gone strangely pale, as Tenten pulled weapon after weapon out of her clothes – including wire worked into her buns. When Tenten looked at him, she raised an eyebrow.

"What's wrong with him?"

Sakura grinned. "Nothing," she replied. "Nothing at all."

"I beg to differ, un," Deidara choked, retreating behind his partner. "Sasori-danna, save me from these weapon-loving girls!"

Itachi chuckled, opening the door. "History tends to repeat itself, Deidara. Sakura-chan, would you mind sharing your room for a while?"

She beamed. "Not at all, Itachi-san! C'mon, Tenten-san!" Tenten followed obediently to Sakura's room.

"My wound… Did you heal it?" she asked hesitantly. Sakura paused in her bouncing and nodded.

"That's why I'm here," she said proudly. "You were a good choice; Akatsuki could use a good knife-fighter."

Tenten looked up, startled. "How did you - ?" she demanded. Sakura shrugged, opening the door and leading the way into the colorfully painted room.

"Your weapons consist mostly of knives and swords, and you've got scars all over you body from different knives. Plus, that gigantic wound was from various knives, right? That's all," she assured the other girl.

"I see."

"Are you going to join?" Sakura asked softly. "You'll be treated well here, and I could use female companionship, but it requires your full commitment."

Tenten stared at the ground, sitting in the chair Sakura offered. "I don't know," she muttered. "You saved me, and I don't have anywhere else to go, but… this is Akatsuki!"

After a while of sitting in silence, she asked about Deidara's reaction to her weapons, which resulted in Sakura retelling the whole story of how she'd been captured. Tenten didn't play chess, but Sakura explained the basics, so that she would follow their game.

They amused themselves and each other with stories from their childhoods (most of Sakura's involving Naruto), and when Itachi came for Tenten's answer, her mind was firmly made up. She stayed.

- - -

After dinner, Sakura challenged Itachi to another game, with Tenten and Sasori watching. Once again, Deidara burst into the room. Only this time –

"Sakura-chan! They found another girl, but she looks just like me, un! She keeps saying your name! And I think I've seen her before!"

Sakura stood abruptly, knowing exactly who he was talking about. She strode to the back room again and threw open the door, to find the face she was expecting staring back at her. Her lips tightened at the wound on the blonde's side.


- - -

Cliffhanger!!! Muahahahaa!!! Tenten arrives!! I was going to put in some InoxKisame (because they'd look so… I dunno… cute…? arguing and annoying the fiery inferno of the Underworld out of each other. I can just imagine it…), but then I remembered that, well… It's kinda hard to have a romance when they've never really met and one's kinda dead. So… heheheh… We'll see what happens. And no, I am notgoing to bring him back from the dead. So there. Until next time!!!