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Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any other characters that belong to Misashi Kishimoto.

Measureless

Chapter 1

Mission

As the sun began its descent into the west it bathed the land in a warm orange glow. The Konoha streets were eerily deserted except for a few late night stragglers. While most families were sitting down to a hot meal, there were a few who remained alone. Either working or their families and friends were away on missions, it was a depressing sort of loneliness. But for one kunoichi, she felt pushed aside by her family and friends.

Haruno Sakura dropped her head into her palms, massaging her throbbing temples. It had been another long day at the hospital, mostly spent filing and sorting papers. She felt reluctant to return home to an empty house.

Being eighteen had its advantages for the young medic-nin, but romance wasn't one of them. Her infatuation, as she referred to her obsession with the cold-hearted Uchiha, had crumbled her naïve dreams to dust. She still held fantasies of grandeur and soul-searing romance, but these dreams were beginning to die as well. The furthest Sakura had ever gone with a man was a few innocent kisses, those of which became a means to an end. She was not willing to delve deeper because she hadn't found that special person yet.

So she stuck with what she knew, medicine and healing with a little fighting on the side. It was an escape from her monotonous and empty life. Team 7 had disbanded and went their separate ways after Sasuke's rescue. Naruto was well on his way to becoming the next Kage as well as being the captain of his ANBU team. Sasuke was in the same position though he now specialized in interrogation alongside Morino Ibiki. Sakura herself was the fourth ranked medic-nin in all of Konoha at the status of Chunin. As to their fourth member, Hatake Kakashi, he had remained Jounin minus teaching Genins. He had sworn never to teach another group after Team 7.

Out of all the original Team, Kakashi was still the most mysterious. He had nearly vanished from all of their lives without so much as a goodbye. This despondency had hurt Sakura the most, but she was unwilling to admit it, even to herself. If she were lucky she would pass Kakashi once a week in the streets. But every time they passed Sakura would grow sadder, feeling as if she were invisible when he would only hold up his hand and say 'yo.' It was his ever-present smut novel that he has his nose buried in that would always infuriate her. She just couldn't help feeling inept and useless when no one seemed to care about her, especially Kakashi.

Sakura stretched her limbs above her head as she glanced at the clock on the wall. It was nearing nine o' clock and she still had a pile of medical profiles to organize. She downed the rest of her herbal tea that had grown cold before she bent over the papers on her desk. The clock ticked steadily as the darkness outside swallowed the village.

One hour later and the pile of folders on Sakura's desk diminished until only two remained. As she opened the next one a knock sounded on the closed door, jarring Sakura's thoughts. Slowly advancing towards the door she turned the brass knob and stuck her head out into the hall.

"Haruno Sakura?" A dark haired Chunin asked from the hall. He stood a few inches above Sakura with an air of authority around him.

"Yes?" Sakura inquired with a raised eyebrow as she crossed her arms over her chest.

"Tsunade-sama requests your presence." After a momentary pause and Sakura still hadn't moved he said, "Immediately."

Sakura watched the man become smaller and smaller down the hall until he rounded a corner and was lost to sight. She closed her door with a loud bang before she shuffled around her desk and slipped on her white lab-coat. She opened one of her large windows behind her desk before she slipped out into the night, unnoticed like any true shinobi. She concentrated chakra to the souls of her sandals as she skidded over the tiled rooftops, arriving in minutes at the Hokage tower.

Not bothering to knock at this late hour Sakura walked in the room. She froze for an instant as she turned from the door, but soon stood in front of Tsunade with her arms dangling by her sides. "You wished to see me Tsuande-shishou?" Sakura's eyes flickered momentarily towards the man leaning against the wall beside her before focusing on the Gondaime's words.

"Do you know anything about seduction?" Tsunade asked as she steeped her fingers and looked up at her apprentice with raised brows.

Sakura was caught off guard by the question, a small blush surfacing on her cheeks. "I took a class in the academy when I was ten years old, Tsunade-sensei."

"But you haven't had any real experience?"

"No. I have never had a mission to use that particular practice," Sakura answered truthfully with a frown, wondering what Tsunade had called her here for.

"Would you deem yourself capable of such a mission?"

"Yes. I am a shinobi first and foremost and I always complete missions assigned to me," Sakura stated tonelessly.

Tsunade sighed. "I figured you would say that," she said as she leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. "I'm asking these private questions because I want you to go on a mission that will need an experienced medic, but…"

"I accept," Sakura interrupted. She had wanted to get out of the hospital for a long time now and she wasn't going to walk away from this one.

"Are you postiv…"

"Yes. What rank is it?" Sakura interrupted again.

Tsunade sent her apprentice a dark glare. "A-class, possibly higher. Before you interrupt me again I'm going to tell you the mission details." She extracted a picture from one of her desk drawers and held it up for Sakura's view. The man in black and white was dressed in a traditional kimono with a sword strapped to his back. His dark eyes stared out mockingly as his long dark hair framed his angled face. His nose was crooked, possibly from being broken. His thin lips were smirking deviously.

"Tsuque Yamare, an S-class criminal. He's known for capturing young women and selling them for their bodies. Before he sells them they are brutally raped and divested of any morale. He was a Rock-nin, but was cast from the village because of his unusual tastes. He's currently residing in Grass where he lives in a large mansion with his followers. He's dangerous and cunning. We do not know how many followers he has nor do we know where he will strike next. If you take this mission then you will need to acquire as much information as you can and possibly free any girls he has."

Sakura nodded as she took all of this information in. The prospect of seducing such a man was very intimidating and possibly hopeless for her. But she wasn't going to back out now and seem like the same pathetic girl that she used to be. One thing that was oddly wrong though was the man in the room who had been watching her intently for the past few minutes. "Why is he here?" Sakura inquired suspiciously as she nodded towards the man bathed in shadows.

"This is an A-class mission, Sakura. And even though you are an excellent shinobi you are still a Chunin…"

"I understand, but why him?" Sakura asked bluntly.

"He is the best suited for this mission and you know each others abilities fairly well. You shouldn't have a problem working together, right?" Tsunade asked suspiciously as she scowled.

"Right."

"You will leave early tomorrow. Kakashi is the leader in this mission, but you Sakura will be doing most of the work." Tsunade paused. "There is one more thing…You will be going as fiancées."

Sakura gaped in astonishment as she glanced over at Kakashi who had rose from his position against the wall and was walking towards her. She quickly regained her demeanor, but not before a dark blush covered her cheeks and neck.

Tsunade smirked. "This arrangement, of course, will be forgotten once you resume your duties in Konoha. Unless you want otherwise…"

Sakura's blush deepened. "Tsunade-sensei!"

Kakashi suddenly cleared his throat. "The mission scroll?"

"Oh yes…As I was saying your client is Tsuki Shina. Her daughter, Misaki, was kidnapped. Mrs. Shina identified Tsuque. She runs a kimono shop in Suya Village. Once you reach Suya you are to go to Mrs. Shina and see if she knows anything else. I leave the rest up to you. I expect this to be done in two weeks or less. Am I understood?"

Sakura and Kakashi nodded in the affirmative. Kakashi stepped forward to retrieve the mission scroll from Tsunade before resuming his place beside Sakura.

"You are dismissed. Sakura, I need a word with you."

Sakura stayed behind as Kakashi left through the door. Once the door closed Tsunade pulled out a small vial from a hidden pocket inside her coat. She slid it across the desk before Sakura picked it up, studying the clear liquid.

Sakura put the vial in her medic skirt. "Birth control?"

"Yes. It may not get that far, but I don't want to take any chances. I hope you know what you're doing, Sakura. I don't want you to do something that will ruin you."

Sakura smiled softly. "Don't worry. I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself."

Tsunade clicked her tongue. "That's what I'm afraid of. Okay. You may leave. I expect a full report when you return."

"Hai!" Sakura exited the room, a small smile lingering on her face. When she turned back from closing the door she was startled to find Kakashi still there. He was watching her with his hooded eye; something Sakura had never been able to read. Kakashi stood up from his slouched position on the wall and came to stand in front of Sakura.

Sakura had to look up at Kakashi for he was still about a foot taller than her five-six. "I didn't think I would be paired up with you," Sakura said.

Kakashi shifted his weight onto his other foot. "Me either. Has work at the hospital been going well?" Kakashi asked as he began walking down the deserted hallway.

Sakura arched a brow before she hurried after him. "It's been fine. Tsunade works me to the bone, but it's worth it when I can save people's lives. What about you? Still the same old bachelor taking S-ranked missions constantly?"

Kakashi chuckled lightly. "Actually Tsunade made me take a break. It's been a week since I've been on a mission."

"Really? I never took you for the obedient type," Sakura joked with a laugh.

Kakashi ruffled Sakura's pink hair, making her scowl in annoyance. "I didn't take you for the annoying type, Sakura-chan."

Sakura huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. "Don't call me that! You sound just like Naruto."

Kakashi shrugged. "You started it."

They were silent for a while until they stepped out from the Hokage Tower. Sakura stopped and turned to Kakashi. "So why are you still here? I would have figured you'd have teleported out of here by now."

Kakashi tilted his head up to look at the star covered sky. "I'll meet you at the front gates by seven. Pack civilian clothing and conceal your weapons. We travel light. I want to be in Grass in two days."

Sakura nodded. "Anything else, captain?"

Kakashi looked down at Sakura. His eye drilled into her own. "Are you sure you want to go through with this?"

Sakura turned her head to the side, avoiding his gaze. She suddenly felt small beside this man. "Yes."

Kakashi sighed. "I'll see you tomorrow then."

Sakura waited until Kakashi had teleported from the area before releasing her pent up breath. Who did he think he was questioning her decisions? Sakura kicked a loose stone on the ground before she began her long trek home. She needed time to think about the mission the next day. She wondered what it would be like working with Kakashi. It was nice being with someone who she had always looked up to. It was too bad that all of Team 7 couldn't go on this mission together. But as Sasuke's name surfaced to her mind she cringed before she sprinted the last few blocks to her house.

This mission was going to be a long one…

0o0o0o

I think this story is off to a good start. This is a trade for ZipperRabbit on She inspired me to write another fic and I think this one is going to be as good as Unexpected Love. Thanks for those who have read. Please Comment:D