Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

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desperaux

Chapter 3.

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Soft footsteps. The unfolding of wings. The unmistakable menthol scent of a Special.

Anko watched the two newest rookies walk through the gate, grinning. She nudged Kakashi and jerked her chin towards them.

"Is that seriously okay with you, old man?" she smirked, baring her sharp triangular teeth. "Your little Childe has a Childe of her own, and she's gonna forget about you sooner or later."

Kakashi glanced at Anko, unimpressed.

"She's not my Childe to claim," Kakashi said.

Anko ignored him.

"You only fed her a mouthful of your blood," she licked her lips. "The thinning admiration she has for you is only logical."

Kakashi's gaze slid reluctantly back to the two figures.

They were walking. They were talking. They were… happy.

"I kind of pity her," Anko continued, obviously having fun pushing his buttons. "You totally ignored her as a newborn. That's like throwing a baby into a pond. If not worse. "

Silence hung in the air.

Anko twitched. "All you have to do is feed her one drop of your blood again, to make her yours. And maybe tell her you're actually her Sire. She'll come running back to you on her hands and feet."

"In fact, lets go down and say hi," she curled her hands around Kakashi's, her nails digging into his flesh so hard it hurt. Anko put one foot against the ledge of the 10th floor window, and pushed.

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Kakashi never did like pelting down towards Earth at breakneck speed. It tended to mess up his stylish hair.

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Instead of flying, they opted for walking. Sakura's feet left no footprints in the snow, and neither did Sasuke's.

The Academy was always covered in snow. Specials liked snow—it was very cooling, and very calming to the senses.

Hollowed bones. They were both too light.

Sakura kicked a fluff of white, watching it fall back to the ground in a shower of sparkles and dust. "Specials are often associated with winter," she remarked off-handedly to him, remembering that she was supposed to fill him in on their kind as much as possible.

"Touch us too long and you'll get frostbite," she laughed. "They call people like us vicious and carved out of ice."

Sasuke glanced at her. "I can see why," he said flatly.

Sakura frowned at him, knowing it was a jab at her messy kill earlier. "I'm telling you, you're supposed to kill messy. It instills fear in your enemies, and fear gives you an upper hand."

"We don't need an upper hand," Sasuke pointed out.

Which was true.

Specials took the term elitist to a whole new level. Everything that was average, not-special, automatically equals weak. Like toothpicks waiting to be crushed, as fragile as an ant's life. So easy to just wipe away.

Discriminating against every other species on Earth would be their downfall, but it was just so hard not to discriminate. Everything else was just so... slow. So clumsy. So pathetic.

"Its still good to have one," Sakura muttered, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

Sakura smirked at her knowingly. "You're so cute when you're wrong," he breathed into her hair.

Sssss…

Both of them heard the other's arrival two seconds before it happened. The whistling, the sharp unshaven sound of a body flying through the air, the growing scent of more Specials…

Fwoosh. They landed against the snow on the ground, hair slightly messed from all the wind.

Sakura sucked in her breath. She hadn't seen Kakashi for a long time, and suddenly here he was.

Sasuke stepped in front of her immediately, shielding her. Natural instinct—Childes were overprotective of their Sires.

Anko waved her hand. "Who's this spiffy hottie, Sakura-chan?" she chirped cheerfully, feigning ignorance. "A new recruit?"

"Yeah," Sakura nodded. "He's with me."

Anko's grin widened and she nudged Kakashi. "Did ya hear that? She's with him."

Kakashi looked bored. Not surprising, Kakashi always looked bored.

"I'm tired of entertaining you and your teenage attitude, Anko," he grounded out, his voice strong. He stepped forward and past Sasuke, casually reaching out to ruffle her hair…

Sasuke caught his hand in a death-grip, and glared.

Oh, right. Kakashi's brow creased slightly. He forgot she had a Childe now.

Old habits die hard.

"Your name?" Sasuke's voice rumbled, low and dangerous. He squeezed Kakashi's hand harder, almost warningly. I don't trust you.

Surprising. Usually new recruits steered clear of veteran Specials. They could sense the gap of power between them.

"Hatake Kakashi," Kakashi glanced up to meet his eyes lazily. He clenched a fist in Sasuke's death grip. I don't trust you either.

Sasuke continued glaring.

Kakashi stared back.

Sakura blinked at them.

"That's enough," Sakura stepped in between them and wrenched their hands apart with inhumane force. Force even beyond a Special's. For a moment there, Sasuke thought she had pulled his arm out of his socket.

"Sasuke, we need to go," Sakura wrapped her hands around two of his fingers. She had a habit of doing that, holding two or three fingers instead of the whole hand.

Sasuke shrugged it off. Probably because two fingers is easier to break than the whole hand. Specials weren't exactly designed to trust anybody else. She probably didn't even notice that she was doing it.

"Sorry to cut the meeting short, sempai," Sakura bowed respectfully in front of them. "But we need to go. Tsunade-shishou seeks our company."

In a flash, they were gone. It was like they weren't there in the first place. Even the snow left no footprints; Specials had hollowed bones. They were probably too light to even leave footprints.

Anko snickered. "You didn't even get to pat her head."

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Easing the door of the Academy open, they slipped in, footsteps unintentionally quiet. There were a few other Specials lingering in the hall, but they were weaker Specials. Specials that had dimmed abilities after years of neglected training.

Lower-ranked Specials.

B-ranked Specials maybe, from the way they waked and they way they held themselves. They were still dangerous, but not as dangerous as her nor Sasuke.

Not dangerous enough to engage in combat with a Vampire, either.

Specials whose prime had passed… The thought disgusted Sakura. No matter how they trained, they would never be as strong as her again.

The thing about being Special was, once you got contented, you tend to focus less on training. Give in to human emotions you're supposed to erase.

These Specials fell out of the race the moment they decided to be all soft and nice inside. They could never make up for the lost power, it was too late.

Being a strong Special was hard. A lot of maintenance. It wasn't as easy as everybody else imagined.

The B-ranks smiled at her, eyes watery with average happiness. Gone were the cruel edge, the distinct level of danger.

Sakura twisted her lips into a polite smile and walked past them.

Sasuke glanced at them curiously, and didn't smile back. Once out of earshot—meaning once they were in a completely different building altogether—Sakura explained to him why those Specials seemed so weak.

"Its not like they're completely useless though," Sakura was saying. "We can still use them. They're still dangerous. Its just Vampires they can't take."

Sasuke looked at her in dawning understanding. "If the Vampires attack us, its them who will suffer."

"Exactement," Sakura said. She knocked on the door of Tsunade's room, but didn't wait for an answer before going in.

Tsunade looked up sharply, guiltily. She was just about to hide the bottle of Sake.

"Confiscated," Sakura sniffed, snatching the bottle out of her reach.

In a blink of an eye, the bottle was gone from Sakura's hands. "I'll drink them after work," Tsunade promised her, jiggling the bottle in her own protective arms.

Sakura sighed.

Tsunade glanced up again, this time focusing on the man behind her. "Uchiha," she acknowledged.

Sasuke continued staring at her, not bothering to greet her back.

Stupid prick.

"I hear you assassinated two Vampires on your own accord," Tsunade let the polite smile take over her face. "That's very impressive, considering your age and your experience."

"Aa," Sasuke nodded, acknowledging the praise.

Sakura glanced at him. Other Specials would have groveled in front of Tsunade right now.

Tsunade twitched. She took a paper bag out of a drawer and threw it at him.

He caught it effortlessly.

"Being a Special requires a lot of nutrients. Vitamin ABCDE, protein, iron, the works," Tsunade said. "Make sure you eat two pills after every meal. Of each bottle."

"Aa," Sasuke said again.

"Dismissed," Tsunade said, returning to her paperwork. "Sakura, I expect that report by midnight."

"Got it," Sakura called, already leaving.

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Sasuke noticed that Sakura loved physical contact. He wasn't against it, but then again he wasn't exactly the biggest fan of it either.

And it was going to be a big problem if she kept moving around.

Sakura squirmed in his lap, trying to find the proper words to put into her report. She gave a soft "Ah!" of inspiration and continued scribbling, leaning forward and edging her skinny butt closer in front.

Sasuke groaned. "Sakura, stop moving around."

"Right, right," she said distractedly, but still continued swinging her legs from under the table.

Sasuke gave an annoyed hiss and clamped Sakura's legs together forcefully, stopping her swing. "If you keep moving, I'll get off," he warned. "And you'll have to sit on this hard, splintery wooden chair by yourself."

Sakura didn't turn around, but he could tell she was smirking.

"Like you can," came her reply.

She had stopped writing. The report was signed. It was finished.

She leaned back against his chest—her own personal chair!—and gave a breathy, fluttering sigh. "Finally done."

"Good. Now get off," Sasuke growled, shoving her (gently) out of his lap.

Sakura pouted on her spot on the floor. "I thought we were having fun."

Sasuke rolled his eyes. "Think again."

Sakura rolled her own eyes at him.

The clock blinked 9PM. There was still time. Time to shower, time to freshen up before meeting Tsunade.

"I'm taking a shower," she said. "Guard my door."

Sasuke sat up properly. "Its not like anybody would dare attack us, of all pairs."

"Au contraire. We're expecting Orochimaru's attack any day now."

Sasuke's eyes steeled. "Got it."

XXX

Sakura sat in the bathtub, scrubbing her skin carefully. Water pooled around her waist, inching higher ever second. She had twisted all four faucets on.

Bathing was a very long process for Specials. Dry and dead skin cells didn't flake off on their own, so they had to scrub it off themselves.

It had a lot of pros, really, this sticking dead skin cell thing. For one, you left no evidence after killing somebody. For two, your skin was always pore-free and pretty after you scrubbed off the old layer.

Fssssshh…

Water spluttered and bubbled all around her, drowning everything else out like waves crashing against a rock in the sea. Steam misted around her, thick with humidity.

Her skin still felt cold, even in water as warm as this.

That was okay, though. She liked the coolness.

She glanced up at her own reflection in the mirror. Her hair was long; long and thick and a little wavy. It made her look like a doll. Those pretty little things little kids played with; those pretty little things that were so easy to break.

Throb.

She winced. What was that? That sudden pain in her head.

Throb.

Water splashed. Her fingers flew to her head, rubbing her temple in circles.

Throb.

A scream. From where? More violent splashing.

Darkness.

"Sa—"

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"—kura. She's a pretty thing, isn't she? Flowery-like, somehow…"

Sakura's lips were moving on their own. She was in a room. A dark room. She was looking at Kakashi. It was like she was a passenger in somebody's point of view.

Kakashi looked up from his book sharply. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm here because I want to know why you fed her your blood, Kakashi."

Kakashi avoided the question. He put the book down on the table. "Why are you here?"

"To warn you." She moved forward, her legs gliding and taking her to a stand next to Kakashi. She leaned down and whispered, "I don't like it when people interfere."

Her voice was raspy. Feminine, yet impossibly male.

Kakashi clenched his hands into fists.

"Plan to fight me?" she laughed in that slimy husky voice again. That disgusting voice. She sauntered over to where he put his book and lifted it up, casually flicking through the contents.

Pornographic pictures. How boring they were, how mundane, how childish. Her eyes rested on a busty blonde.

How tasteless.

"She is my Childe," her eyes flashed at Kakashi, her murder intent flaring. "And a Childe will always follow her true Sire's order. Did I make myself clear, Kakashi?"

Kakashi. His name was mockery on her lips. Who was she? She wasn't this slimy person. This slimy person who mocked Kakashi.

Thunder roared overhead, lightning flashing across a window. She looked up.

There was water splattering against the glass. Raindrops sliding off the surface.

She smiled at her own reflection.

She had pale skin. She had a long elegant neck. She had an abnormally large smile, one that stretched across her face so much that it was inhuman.

She recognized that face. She could recognize it anywhere, had seen it before, had seen it dozens of times before—

Her smile was knowing.

Sakura screamed.

Orochimaru!


A/N: I'm not dead.

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Like it? Hate it? I'm open to all kinds of comments.

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Oh, and I'm on my holiday now, so I'm open to all e-mail replying! Got a question/confused? Review with your e-mail and I'll do my best to reply.

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Too tired to proof-read, feh. Any volunteers out there?

I'll draw you multiple pictures with my tablet as a reward. -grins-