Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Haruno Sakura felt everything with icy clarity: the dry, freezing wind against her arms, the fee of her feet against the concrete floor, the shifting leaves in the aged tree. She inhaled, breathing in the smell of dew and grass, the scent coating her tongue; thick as syrup.
The cold air made everything sharper, more crisp. The sound of the basketball thumping in the distance, the rough friction of her long hair in the wind, the steady leak of water in the drain, the approaching footsteps of a human…
Immediately, her eyes tightened. Her nostrils flared and her mind reeled, planning out every possible angle of the murder, flashing her image after image of instructions. Her fingers jerked; nails harder and sharper for an easy swipe. Her teeth filled with venom in anticipation.
Her breath came in short pants, to properly assess the scent and distance of the prey. North, 5 meters, came the information.
Sakura curled her fingers into a fist and remain staring at the basketball court. She would not give in to her carnal desires, not today.
"Sakura-san," the female, her classmate, greeted. Sakura's eyes flashed up to her face, and then, to her neck. She forced her eyes back up her face.
"Why aren't you joining us? For PE, I mean," the girl's voice shook with nervousness. Her eyes were a watery shade of brown, her left eye bigger than her right. She had uneven teeth, slightly yellowing. Her skin stretched over her face, dotted with unrefined pores.
Sakura's eyes involuntarily picked out every flaw of her prey, digesting information, recording flaws. Flaws to be manipulated for a more efficient hunt, for the highest possible success rate.
Her eyes darted more urgently around the girl's body. A slight imp in her left leg. Flabby flesh—this girl was not an athlete.
Information after information spilled in her mind, and Sakura's lip curled at the slightest of tremble in her knees. The girl was afraid of her.
But of course. Her primitive instincts were probably telling her to run and never look back.
Sakura pressed her fist against her stomach in an attempt to restrain herself from pouncing and feasting on the girl right then and there.
She has family, her rational side hissed. Think of her family!
And Sakura did. She imagined brown haired, brown-eyed brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers.
Yes, she's human, not food, her rationality reminded her. Not food.
Sakura forced her eyes back to the basketball court, where the boys played. It was easier to restrain hunger when she didn't make eye contact. "I'm albino," her voice was soft and muted.
If the prey couldn't hear, they'd lean in closer, therefore exposing more neck and shortening proximity.
Very effective, and very convenient for the kill.
"The sun. It's not well for me."
The girl flushed, blood rushing to her face. Sakura could almost see the red liquid pulse under that thin membrane of a skin.
"Oh! Um…but your hair…" She made a vague gesture towards Sakura's pink locks. "Dyed?"
"Dyed," Sakura repeated quietly.
"Your eyes are green, though," the girl seemed to grow more confident, happily attempting to make small talk. A very, very bad choice. "Contacts?"
"Contacts," Sakura confirmed again, a slight edge to her tone. She flashed those predator-hungry eyes at the girl aggressively. Her mind trashed uncontrollably, flashing image after image of violent corpses. Corpses of this naïve, brown-haired brown-eyed girl. Every muscle in her body tensed, ready to attack.
Run, her mind hissed cruelly at the prey. I love a human who gives chase.
"Um, r-right," the girl stuttered, her voice laced with fear. Sakura smelt the sweat breaking out in her palm; a sign of nervousness. "I'll just… um, go now. See you around?"
She hurried away quickly, her feet shuffling quickly across the blades of slick-wet grass. Sakura's sub-conscious trashed, angry at the sight of the fast escaping prey. She swallowed, trying to calm her desires.
"She's so scary!" the girl complained to her friends, out of earshot but definitely not out of Sakura's hearing range. "I was choking on air!"
Her friends nodded. "I think she's scary, too. I wonder why, though…"
"Yeah, she's always alone. I wonder if she has a boyfriend outside the school or something? With a face like that, no way she's single!"
Sakura tuned their shallow chatter out, focusing again on the basketball court. The reason she was here, in this school, was on the court. The reason of her existence was there, dribbling the ball and jumping to slam the ball into the hoop.
The boy straightened, pale skin and raven hair.
Her eyes narrowed, zeroing in on his face.
When she woke up, everything was a blur. She couldn't see clearly, it was as if somebody had put a plastic film directly across her lens. She was vaguely aware of the warm blood across her neck, and the smell of it. To her surprise, she wasn't disgusted at all.
The scent was actually quite yummy, once she thought about it. She inhaled deeply, longingly. So delicious! More delicious than freshly-baked bread, more delicious than anything she had ever smelt; more tempting than any forbidden apple, more inviting than any caviar or wine.
Her mouth opened to taste the delicious liquid, but there was something pressed across it. Something salty. Sakura sniffed the air, still blind with the plastic film across her eyes.
Sakura smiled. Oh well.
Everything was so mellow. So dreamy. Like somebody had thrown her into water, and now she was suspended in it, ethereal and beautiful and mellow and dreamy. She felt like a faerie in a fairytale, like the whole word loved her and she loved the world.
But then the bubble of happiness broke.
She felt pressure. Somebody was pressing something against her arm. She sighed blissfully, unable to draw the strength to care. She felt the pressure puncture her skin. A needle, perhaps?
Whatever it was injected something in her bloodstream, and instantly her mind jerked away from the warmth and dreaminess, like a drowning man who had been violently thrown out of the water and repeatedly beaten with a rock to cough out the water in his lungt. Her body was on fire! Her eyes flew open, jerking to every point of her body to locate the flame.
But there was none. No fire, no flame.
NO! her mind roared, hysterical and mad with pain. Surely there is!
The fire, it was burning into her skin now, like white hot flame-rods pressed into her veins. Her blood was like petroleum, and the fire spread through it with frighteningly fast speed. Her skin crawled at the strange sensation, it was like worms had been placed under her skin and was crawling on her bones.
It made the hands on her arm stand and the bones of her spine shiver.
The hand across her mouth pressed harder. An arm was wrapped around her waist, though it did little to help the violent trashing of her legs. She was in somebody's hands.
The thought occurred to her, but didn't sink in because the fire was reaching its peak, its brightest, its hottest, its most painful climax.
Tears slid down her cheeks and her mouth opened so wide, she could feel the painful stretch of skin near the corner of her lips.
The cafeteria was alive with chatter, students bustling in and out of line for greasy food and sugary confectionary. She eyed a tray of French fries somebody carried. It looked disgusting to her—how could people eat stuff like that?
She shook her head. Humans were so weird.
She returned her gaze to the boy in the center of the cafeteria, tuning everybody and everything out.
Uchiha Sasuke always sat alone in the same table, in the same seat, in the same spot of the cafeteria every recess at approximately 10:00AM sharp. He was always scowling, always unhappy, and he always brought the same bag of food.
Onigiri—Japanese rice balls.
Sakura inwardly approved of his choice. It was healthy, not greasy, not sugary, and not salty. She had gotten curious and tried it once, buying a single piece at a Japanese restaurant in the mall. It tasted less like dirt, and less disgusting than those French fries, but still disgusting and very much like dirt all the same.
Sakura watched him chew a mouthful of rice 25 times before swallowing. He took another bite, and this time only chewed 17. He brought something else today, though: a single tomato, fresh and a bright orange-red.
She watched curiously as he bit down on it, watching the juice trickle down the side of his lips. He made food look delicious, and she made a mental note to try tomatoes when she had the chance as well, just to see if it was healthy and not greasy and the like.
It would not suit her if Uchiha Sasuke suffered from physical illness of any kind, no matter how dangerous or how un-dangerous said illness was.
She was getting stares from people in the cafeteria for wearing sunglasses, but she could care less. All that mattered was Uchiha Sasuke.
She didn't know how long she screamed, or even how long she remained in that man's grasp, or even when the tears stopped, but she was doubled over on the floor now, mouth open in a silent scream, tears flowing uncontrollably from her eyes, hair matted with sweat on her forehead.
I want to die, was the first thought that occurred to her, once she had come to her senses. I want to die so much, it hurts.
She didn't know who she was. She didn't know where she was. All she knew was that one sole sentence, repeated in her head like a mantra (I want to die I want todie I wannadie Iwannadie die die diediedie—), and the unmerciful fire in her blood.
The arm around her waist slithered up then, gently brushing away her hair on her sweaty forehead. Whoever it was had very cold lips, and those lips had touched her forehead in a kiss. She pressed her cheek against his unrelentingly, sobbing uncontrollably. She had whispered those words in his ear, I want to die, she had told him. I want to die.
Shh, was all he said, brushing his lips against her hair, hands still brushing away hair from her face. It's all going to be okay soon.
And then the darkness came again.
Sakura tensed angrily when a boy, hunch-backed and snot-nosed, somebody from music class—Dosu Kinuta—leaned forward to talk to Sasuke. Sasuke ignored him, but Sakura couldn't help but feel the rising anger and panic in her.
Dosu, one of Orochimaru's men. Dosu was talking to Sasuke.
Dosu was talking to Sasuke!
Time was running out, and her eyes hardened. She had given Sasuke as much freedom as she could afford—a good 2 years and 3 months. But now that Orochimaru was finally acting up…
Her eyes darkened, and her unbeating heart sank at what she was going to do. I'm sorry, her sympathy whispered brokenly at him. I'm sorry you stood out too much. I'm sorry you caught the eye of Orochimaru.
The pain had dulled to a constant throb, and she could move. The hand across her mouth was finally gone, and her vision was clear.
There were four figures in the room, and three of them were beautiful.
Well, won'tcha look at that, a spiky-haired spunky brunette had said. She was dressed to impress, with sexy fishnets and the tiniest of bras. She survived!
Your sadism knows no bounds, Anko, the silver-haired man had dead-panned.
She's a little weak, the bald guy had said, his head scarred with multiple cuts and burns. He was the only one she considered not beautiful, not just because of the scars and burns, but also because of the permanent sneer on his lips. But she will do.
The fourth figure was a very busty blonde. She had been quiet throughout the whole conversation. Three weeks after that faithful day when the fire stopped, she learnt that her name was Tsunade.
They gave her a name, then. They called her Sakura—a plain, not-very-nice, not-very-unique name that she didn't really like. But the her at the time was oblivious, and she had eagerly accepted the name without a second thought.
The silver haired man was named Kakashi, a funny, ironic name for somebody who looked so much like a scarecrow. She wasn't very close with Kakashi, and he seemed to shy away from training her.
He did a poor job both as her trainer and her teacher. She had blamed herself for being too not-special, too ordinary, for his lack of attention on her. If she ever wrote a memoir, she would have labeled this time period as The Great Depression, although it lasted a mere week or two.
Still, for fresh-faced, no-memory little her, it was more than that. It was much, much more—it was her first rejection, her first obstacle in life, and it broke her heart that one of her friends were treating her this way.
But then one day she woke up, and realized that this wasn't the way she should live. If Kakashi didn't want to train her, then fine, she'd find a new teacher. Somebody who was willing, somebody who would take this not-so-special, not-so-shining her into their wing and train her.
The idea of Tsunade being the wing was by complete coincidence and accident. She had been moping around the wide halls of the Academy, the place where they sent "special" people like her to, when Tsunade saw her and asked her what was wrong.
So Sakura had cried and told on Kakashi, and how bad he treated her, and how he didn't see her, and how it broke her heart.
It was as if a cloud had parted and the light had shone through. She looked up then, and asked with a nervous heart and a bitten lower lip, Tsunade-sama, would you train me?
Tsunade had said yes and stroked her hair and said all sorts of nice things into her ear. It reminded her of those darker days, with the fire and the burning, when somebody would hug her and kiss her forehead. She thought of asking Tsunade if that person was her, but decided against it.
Tsunade-sama turned out to be kinder than she thought. She was nice, a good person in general, and very loving towards her. In her world full of dark clouds and festering maybes, Tsunade-sama was her first real friend, and her first umbrella.
Tsunade-sama was the one who gave her clothes and taught her to dress. She was the one who gave her knives and taught her to prey. She was the one who gave her prey and taught her to feed. She was the one who gave her guns and taught her to kill.
Most importantly, she was the one who gave her strength and taught her to stand.
Sasuke stepped out of his car(a sensible Volvo, not too flashy and not too expensive—Again, Sakura approved), and made his way across the road and into the staircase, walking up to his apartment. Sakura herself was swinging her legs happily in childlike mirth as she waited on a stool for him, in his bathroom.
She had already planned out her attack. He would see her, and she would have a good 15–20 seconds worth of a head-start as he froze at the door. She would use the time to quickly run and close every open window and door, to stifle the sound they were both going to make. It would give her a good 10 seconds left, and she'd use that time to push him in and lock the door.
She would bite him, just a quick bite, on his neck, and one of his wrist, and another on his other wrist, to speed the process up. She wouldn't even taste the blood—just a quick sink of teeth and she would pull away.
He would scream, of course, just like how she had when she had turned, complaining and crying about the fire and everything else.
Which was where she came in! She'd offer him whatever cloth and whatever solid he needed to hold onto until the process finished, and then she'd take him to The Academy, where he was safe from Orochimaru.
And then maybe Kakashi would look at her after she finished this S-ranked-mission. And maybe even congratulate her.
So you see, Haruno Sakura had a lot of things to be happy about indeed. Her Uchiha Sasuke-kun was going to be safe, Hatake Kakashi was going to look at her after she succeeded, and Tsunade would congratulate her and pat her on the head like how she did two or three years ago!
Sakura grinned happily, and continued swinging her legs.
Of course, there was the small snag of the plan maybe not going as smoothly as she had thought, and the fact that she would technically be murdering him and robbing him of his life, but feh. Details, details!
Tsunade had called out to her one day after practice. I have an S-ranked mission, she had said, and Sakura had beamed and asked her who was the lucky man to get it.
Tsunade's reply was a dead-pan, and a "You."
This didn't sink down immediately, and Sakura had taken a good twenty seconds to register Tsunade's reply.
"What?" She remembered being very surprised. "Why me?"
Which was a very logical question, since she knew a number of people in The Academy who could easily beat her. There was Naruto, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy who could run longer and faster than any world-record holder, and Kakashi, who was good at everything, and Tsunade herself, who could punch harder than Sakura ever could.
Not to mention Lee, Neji, Gaara, Temari, Kankurou…
Tsunade had shook her head at her, and said that they needed a high-school aged girl who could at least moderately stand her ground. "Kakashi said that you were good for the job too," Tsunade had remembered thoughtfully, but refused to elaborate any further beyond that.
Sometimes, Sakura thought Tsunade was only saying that to goad her into taking the mission.
The mission seemed fairly simple, yet fairly complicated—they wanted a boy named Uchiha Sasuke converted into one of them, a Special, and to join their ranks in The Academy, because he apparently had displayed a great much potential in blood and skill, and it was too good to be wasted on a mortal life of paperwork and neckties.
Oh, and also because Orochimaru wanted him and that they should kidnap him before Orochimaru snatched him away and started ruling the world. The only time limit written was, "Before Orochimaru gets him", or something along those lines.
So Sakura had accepted.
Sasuke was the one who surprised her though, because he had opened the door to his apartment and then walked around for a good 50 seconds, and then pushed the door to the bathroom open and pointed a remote at her.
"If you move," he had hissed. "I'll press the alarm."
Sakura had smiled at him then, a little part of her proud that a mere human could sense the presence of another in his apartment, and happy that he had enough brains to threaten her with an alarm instead of something more lethal, like, say, a gun.
See, alarms were way better. Loud noises attracted attention, and attention attracted people, and people scared your average run-of-the-mill murderer and thieves away.
Too bad Sakura wasn't normal.
She had moved anyway, and true to his threat, Sasuke pressed the remote, only to hear silence. Sakura had already unplugged his alarm.
To his credit, Sasuke didn't lose his cool. He had pocketed the remote, and in a very polite and gentlemanly manner, asked what the hell was she doing in his house, and what the bloody hell did she want.
She didn't answer him, instead reaching behind him to lock the door with a click. She pressed her lips against his neck and he had inhaled sharply then, glancing down at her with a mixture of confusion, anger, and horror.
But then this all turned into a blank mask of neutrality as he calmly attempted to pry her away.
Sakura didn't move an inch, which wasn't surprising for a Special. They had strength, reflexes and agility humans could never dream of.
What Specials lacked in number, they made in quality. Up to date, there were only the most minor amount of 300 roaming the Earth.
But then she stopped. Her eyes flashed at her own experience. The pain would be unbearable—he would literally be on the floor begging for heaven to take his life once she sunk her teeth into him. Wouldn't it be better to knock him out first?
So she cupped his face and kissed him instead.
When she was done, she leaned away and wiped her lips with the back of her hand. She kneeled on the floor where his slumped form was, and stared at his face. She frowned. He was still awake!
He frowned back at her, still confused and angry. There was no horror now, though—it was replaced with bewilderment.
Sakura's jaw dropped in both surprise and indignation. She had sucked out all of his life force, his energy, and he was still conscious? He should've been in a coma! He should've been not-conscious! He should've been—
They weren't kidding when they said he had potential in his blood.
Well, whatever. She tried, didn't she?
She narrowed her eyes and straddled his chest, unbuttoning his shirt before pulling it off altogether. She didn't need Ino's mind-reading skills to know what was going on in his mind; It didn't take a genius to know what this scene looked like to a hot-blooded 17-year-old-boy.
"What are you—" he growled, only to be cut off by his own groan as Sakura sunk her teeth into his neck.
She pulled away to hiss against his ear, teeth scraping the flesh there. "Welcome to paradise, mortal," and then, even more quietly, "Welcome to my world."
A/N: Should I continue? I'm writing outside my comfort zone.
Was it too vague? I tried to introduce this AU world as much as I could in one chapter.