A/N: Rargh. With the way the manga is going, it's ruining the ideas I've been racking my brain for this story! Ugh. So, let's see… Pein would now be Nagato.

A/N 2: Most of you already know how this would end, but as I've said to some, you'll never really know how my mind works. *evil grin* Anyway, I finally managed to fix the plot to also somewhat fit the manga/anime. Though don't expect fast updates just yet.

A/N 3: Screw the manga/anime! I'm going with how I want this to go.

Ai no Tsubasa

Kakashi looked up when Sasuke and Sakura entered the room.

"Good morning sensei!" Sakura beamed. "What're you watching?"

She and Sasuke sat down next to Kakashi who eyed the television screen.

"There's another rogue Chi-Ten." His eyes narrowed. "And he has an ally that can possess you."

Sakura blinked, so Kakashi explained further.

"Corrupted souls can possess a Chi-Ten, once the master becomes a victim of these souls, they may never return back to normal, and these souls will take charge of the Chi-Ten's Shikai."

"Isn't there a way to prevent this?"

"...It's risky for the Shikai if he or she attempts to save his or her Chi-Ten."

"How risky?" Sakura asked, turning to see Sasuke's brows furrow and head lower all of a sudden while Kakashi contemplated whether to tell her or not. She sensed what these two were thinking, and she narrowed her eyes at them. "Tell me."

"Some other time." Kakashi answered, noting the warning look Sasuke sent him. "Right now," his serious look turned to a grin. "You need to get to school."

Chapter 9: Spirits

"Tell me."

He remained silent and looked away from her.

"That's an order, Sasuke."

"Hime... I... I can't."

"Why not?"

He stopped and turned to her. Sakura was taken aback by his expression, since he looked angry at something, at the same time, his eyes showed that he was worried.

"I just can't."

"After what we did last night," she began. "We should be on a different level right now." She glanced at him. "Our trust towards each other should have evolved. No more secrets Sasuke, I don't want to be left hanging!"

Sasuke narrowed his eyes and looked to the side, refusing to tell her.


"I can't tell you, I'm sorry."

"Even if it's an order?"

"Yes…" he met her eyes. "Even if it's an order."

She looked away, fists clenching tightly, an act he took notice of. "I was told back then by a teacher… that knowing too much can have consequences."

He dared to reach for her hand, but stopped halfway and lowered it back to his side.

"But not knowing anything at all makes me tense and stressed." She turned to him, seeing his expression remaining the same. "I don't know what I'll do if I'm not prepared for it Sasuke."

His gaze softened a bit, though his brows remained knitted together.


"I'm sorry." He pulled her in for an embrace when she finally broke down from the tension. "But I can't tell you."

Her hands that were pressed against his chest clenched the fabric of his vest, and her shoulders began to lightly shake from anxiety.

"I wish I could," he whispered. "…if it could help ease your tension, but I can't."

It took a while for her erratic heartbeat to calm down, and when it finally did, they started to walk towards their school. Sasuke kept an arm around her waist, keeping her closer to him to assure her that everything is going to be fine.

"Kakashi-sensei said… corrupted souls, didn't he?" He looked at her when she spoke. "What kind of souls?"

"Souls that are suffering below." He sighed. "Souls that weren't able to repent for their sinful actions."

"If they possess me…" she murmured. "What will happen to me?"

His grip tightened. "They won't possess you."

"What if they do?" She pressed on. "What will happen?"

He stopped walking, making her stop as well.

Sakura pulled away from him to look at her lover, and he only kept his gaze lowered, the frown evident on his face, and that meant something bad.

"Sasuke, please," she begged. "At least give me a hint."

"If he is unable to save you," a voice answered. "Your soul will burn in hell."

She stiffened, and Sasuke immediately glared at his brother, whose presence he failed to sense due to deep thinking.

Itachi, now wearing a dress shirt, black slacks, and a black tie, did not heed his little brother's look and just eyed Sakura.

"Your soul will replace the soul that has possessed you." He continued while carrying the coat in his arm. "The worst that could happen is… well, you'll remain in hell for eternity."

"Enough." Sasuke warned in a low voice, eyes flickering to red.

"She has to know, Sasuke." Itachi reasoned. "If you can't tell her the risk a Shikai must make, then at least let her know what would happen to her if-"

"Shut up Itachi." He snarled. "She has too many things to worry about right now, and she doesn't need any more problems."

"That's the life of a Chi-Ten." The older Uchiha snorted. "Also, I'd like you two to come with me."

"We have school." Sasuke grunted, looking elsewhere as his eyes returned back to normal.

"This is much more important than school." And with a jerk of his head, he walked to another direction.

Sasuke held onto his Chi-Ten's hand and gripped it lightly. He gave a thug to awaken her from her stupor, and she blinked a few times before looking up at him.

"I won't let that happen." He told her, and she felt his fingers intertwine with hers. "I promise."

Somehow, she felt relieved - even if it was just a little bit of comfort, she appreciated it.

"What is this place?" Sasuke asked, head turning from right to left in order to scan the area.

There was a house in the middle of the wide yellow field, and it looked pretty much abandoned. The small hut-like structure wasn't huge, but it wasn't too small either; it looked more like a farmhouse, actually, minus the animals. He spotted a dog lying on the front porch, as if guarding the entrance to the house's interior, since it lifted its head up upon hearing them fast approaching.

Itachi bent down and clicked his tongue a few times while coaxing the dog to go to him. The mongrel stood up and walked over to the older Uchiha's spot, its nose sniffing his outstretched fingers, and Sakura saw its tail wag lightly, apparently recognizing him.

"We're good to go." He told the two teens with a brief glance, and he went inside the house, the dog entering first to lead them to who knows where. "Sasuke, don't… well, don't be harsh, alright?"


"I know you lost your memories, but try to at least act like you didn't." He sounded desperate, and Sakura had a feeling where they were, and who lived here. "Okay?"

He didn't answer for a moment as he searched his brother's eyes for any particular reason to his request, but he nodded none the less as the dog barked a few times to catch their attention.

Once more, Itachi motioned for them to follow, so they did, and they were led to the back door.

Sakura spotted a tall tree yet held no leaves, and a lone figure seated underneath the branches.

"Itachi-san," Sakura called out. "That person…"

"Uchiha…" he answered. "Fugaku." He glanced at the two. "My father, as well as Sasuke's."

Sakura felt her Shikai's hold on her hand tightened, and she looked at him to see his eyes widen and staring at where Fugaku stood, still unaware of their presence despite the dog's barking.

"When mother took you with her, he felt like the world ended, and I had no choice but to learn the ways of a Chi-Ten on my own." Itachi explained. "When Akatsuki came for me, my father didn't want me to leave, but I knew they were dangerous so I told him that I'd come back from time to time, that I won't leave him completely and he eventually agreed."

He walked forward, and Sakura had to pull onto Sasuke's hand a few times before the young Shikai moved from his spot.

"Father always feels happy when I visit, even if he is no longer the strong Chi-Ten he once was." His eyes softened as they drew nearer and nearer to Fugaku. "My last visit was about a week ago, and I told him about you, about Sakura, about everything; he was happy I was no longer with Akatsuki." He paused to glance at his little brother, seeing him still staring at their father. "He couldn't wait to see you again, as well as to meet your Chi-Ten, so I promised him I'd take you both here someday when the time is right."

Sakura stopped. "When the time is right..?"

Itachi gave a small smile. "When Sasuke has finally overcome his demonic urges, when you two are finally one, just like when he and our mother became one."

The pink-haired girl blushed when she recalled last night's activities with Sasuke.

"More importantly," his smile was replaced with a blank look. "When Hidan would make his move."

"Hidan?" Sasuke echoed, finally able to respond properly. "Who's Hidan?"

"Another Akatsuki member, though quite inactive, until now." He explained. "He is an ex-monk, which is why he is able to make use of corrupted souls to do his bidding and follow his every command."

"So why wait for him to be active?" Sakura asked. "He sounds dangerous."

Itachi stopped when they were just a few feet away from Fugaku. "My father wants to train you, Sakura."

And just as the words left his lips, Fugaku stood and turned around to face them.

Sasuke felt himself stiffen once more when the older man's gaze fell on him.

"Father," Itachi bowed down a bit, Sakura doing the same. "This is Haruno Sakura, the Chi-Ten I was telling you about; the Chi-Ten whom your youngest son is serving." He glanced at his brother. "Sasuke." He called the teen's attention. "Pay your respects to father, please."

Sasuke snapped from his stupor and bowed down, not straightening back up as a million thoughts ran in his mind. Would he address this man as father too, even if he doesn't recall meeting him? How would he act? How should he respond?

Fugaku took a step closer to Sasuke, and the Shikai chose this time to look back at him.

"I am aware," he spoke while eyeing his son. "That you no longer have memories of me," his gaze softened, and Sasuke felt something odd. "You don't remember how I first carried you when you were born, or how I always grabbed you whenever you would run around the house, laughing."

He studied how much the used-to-be five year old Sasuke had grown, and he couldn't help the small smile on his lips.

"You're taller than me now too." He raised a hand to place on the boy's shoulder, and he felt the teenager stiffen from the touch. "You don't remember how you always pleaded me to tuck you in, or even run to me when there's a thunderstorm, or when you have nightmares of Kaiten."

Sakura's eyes watered, so she wiped the tears away and had a smile on her lips as she listened to Fugaku speak. She remembered her own father, remembered how he carried her on his shoulders all the time whenever they would go out, and she remembered how he would always buy her ice cream when he'd pick her up from school.

Itachi set a comforting hand on her back, and she gave a grateful smile to her brother-to-be, as what Sasori and the rest have been joking about.

Sasuke opened his mouth slightly, but no words came out. He wanted to try calling him father, but he couldn't seem to form the word to say it. He wanted to say something, but he didn't know what.

His fists clenched in frustration, and he hung his head in order to shield his eyes from view. He gritted his teeth in annoyance for not having anything to say to his father. He doesn't remember Fugaku, yet he could feel that he has known this man for so long, he can feel the connection – just like when he first met Itachi, but he didn't heed those feelings out of worry for Sakura. But now, he could clearly identify the turmoil he was having – his past self and present self are in conflict, making his head hurt, making images from various times become blurry.

"Son," Fugaku called out. "Please, don't force yourself to remember."

Both Itachi and Sakura were surprised when Sasuke just choked all of a sudden, and upon closer inspection, they saw something trickle down his cheek – tears.

"You'll only hurt yourself," Fugaku said, closing his eyes when he himself felt how watery they've become. "And I don't want that," he shook his head. "Don't even try to remember those days."

Sakura covered her mouth to silence her own sobs as she let Itachi pull her back a bit for a comforting half-embrace. Her Shikai's feelings – she could feel them too; was this what Kakashi meant about being one? Was this what Sasuke always felt when she was in pain?

"So, please…" Fugaku's eyes opened, and tears came out. "Stop causing yourself so much grief and pain."

"I want to remember…" he thought without raising his head, refusing to let anyone see how much this meeting with his father had affected him. "I want to recall having a family."

No matter how hard he'd try to come up with images from Itachi's story or Fugaku's, he can't bring himself to reminisce what happened, but can only come up with an illusion – close to reality, but not real.

"…Make this pain go away…" he didn't know what made his body move to embrace his father. "Please… make it go away…"

"That's it."

His voice seemed so tired and hoarse as he closed his eyes and gave a low groan.

"Yes, that's it."

A body fell limp just as a suffering entity had devoured its soul, and soon possessed the hollow shell.

"Ah." He nodded at the spirit he had summoned that now had a shape to take, a body to control. "It will do." He said, placing a hand against the cheek of a young woman who had dark brown hair and light blue eyes. "Barely hit puberty, but her face will easily deceive anyone."

He pulled his hand back and turned around.

"Innocence is the key." He smirked. "Come then; we have more to send to hell if you ever want your soul to cease suffering."

She followed wordlessly, the current intruder of her body not caring if the original owner's soul now burned in the fiery pits of hell.

"I hope you're hungry for more; you're in for a treat." He snickered. "A Chi-Ten's soul is a delicious delicacy if I do say so myself."

His smirk widened when the eyes of the possessed body following him had glinted maliciously.

"Watch out little Chi-Ten, I'm coming for you."

Right behind him was not only one body but ten more, all posses by different souls, all wordlessly following him in hopes of devouring a Chi-Ten.

"Focus a bit more."

"O-Okay." She nodded and shut her eyes tight while distributing her ki to different parts of her body equally.

"You were right." Fugaku murmured to Itachi who stood next to him. "She has abnormal chakra."

"What do you think is the reason for it?" He glanced over at his younger brother who looked like any normal human playing with a dog.

"She's… unique." The older man commented. "Just as rare as Sasuke's breed is."

"Sasuke's… that type of Shikai?"

"It would explain why he was summoned by a Chi-Ten like Sakura; if they are able to tap their hidden powers, they have enough potential to destroy this country." He closed his eyes as his mind went back in time. "You do remember how he dreamt of her being his future master as a child."

"Hn." Itachi snorted. "So they can destroy a country, but not the world."

"The Heavens show mercy at times."

"Right." Itachi kept his eyes on the different elements that circled Sakura – varying from flames to leaves, from water to air, and even from shadows to nothing. "Because she and Sasuke have become one, her ki level has jumped to a higher enhancement rate."

"She even has Lightning – an element not too many Chi-Ten can use, an element few Shikai can control."

Blue Lightning crackled all over Sakura's body, acting like a second skin or barrier of some sort.

"It's only fitting," Itachi mused. "Since Sasuke protects her, his element does as well."

"It would explain Hidan's interest to become active once more."

"That pathetic excuse of a monk is just too damn power-hungry." He shook his head. "Nothing is ever enough for him."

"He wants to ascend; he wants to be like a god, to have no limits, no restrictions…" Fugaku sighed. "It's a wonder why people like him still exist to distort this world."

Itachi had to agree to that; he often questioned God about the existence of evil, of men who proceed to live and act as if they are far more superior than others.

"If there is such a God…" he lifted his head to stare at the darkening skies, the clouds heavy and threatening to let rain fall. "Why can't I feel His mercy?"


Both Fugaku and Itachi took a quick glance at where Sasuke was, seeing the young Shikai smiling softly at his Solaris. The enthusiastic ball of fluff circled around Sasuke a couple of times before settling itself on his left shoulder, happily crying out its name while the dog stared curiously at the creature.

"You could at least let me know if you're skipping school."

"Kakashi-san." Sasuke nodded in greeting.

The silver-haired man narrowed his gaze upon sensing Sakura's chi, afterwards, looked back at the raven-haired Shikai. "It is not a good idea to be doing this."

"Why?" Sasuke asked in a look of confusion. "My brother only took me here to meet my father, and he wants to train Sakura in controlling her powers."

"Not when Hidan is out there." Kakashi seethed, turning to look at Itachi who had decided to approach them. "What were you thinking?"

"This is a remote area, Kakashi, I doubt Hidan would be able to find us here."

"You should know better, you were once a part of Akatsuki."

Itachi's eyes narrowed; he still didn't like it when he was reminded of his previous "alliance" with the said group.

"Sakura," Kakashi turned from the two brothers and walked over to the pink-haired Chi-Ten. "That's enough, we're going home."


"I insist." He turned to meet Fugaku's gaze. "What did you plan on accomplishing by making her leak out this much energy? Hidan will surely be able to track her down this way."

Fugaku shook his head. "He will only get here if he's gathered enough souls to do his bidding."

"Have you even read the news this morning? Or seen it?" Kakashi didn't sneer, but for now, he'd make an exception. "Some people have been missing, some were spotted to act like walking corpses – mindless."

That caused a frown on the aged man's face, and he did not waste any more time in moving towards the house.

"Father?" Itachi questioned.

"Get out of here, fast." He told his two sons as he passed them. "And hide."


He stopped to turn to Sasuke, looking at him for a few seconds before placing a hand on his shoulder. "You have a duty to fulfill to your Chi-Ten." And as he pulled his hand back, moans caused their heads to turn.

"Are you… really supposed to be a handful?"

Sasuke's eyes instantly shifted to red while Kakashi approached Sakura and kept her behind him. Fugaku and Itachi stood next to each other, preparing for a battle.

"This is too easy."

The famed ex-monk of Akatsuki had arrived with two dozen possessed bodies. Their eyes were directed at Sakura's form as Hidan lifted his scythe and pointed it towards her.

"Hand her over, and nobody else will get hurt."

"Leave." Sasuke warned, his Solaris immediately changing his attire when his wings came out. "Now."

"So be it." Hidan closed his eyes, and in a second, had charged at Sasuke who quickly jumped back and raised both arms up to make the earth rise and stop Hidan. The controlled bodies instantly sprang into action, all charging towards Sakura without any second thoughts.


Sakura looked up and lifted her right hand to her Shikai when he reached for hers, attempting to take her away from danger by keeping her close to him.

Hidan saw through this and threw his scythe at the space between their hands, preventing them from reaching each other.

The scythe's sharp end embed itself onto a tree's trunk, and Sasuke had to pull up when the ex-monk had launched at him.

Sakura took this as a time to call out her water dragon and have it as a barrier to at least not be a burden to the others. She was surprised when it was larger than its original size, and she thought it had something to do with being one with her Shikai – and that caused her to turn red upon recalling last night's events.

"Focus Sakura, focus." She shook her head and had a glare on her face when a couple of bodies had made it pass the three men who tried to keep them away from her – heck, even the dog was helping out. "Wipe-out time."

The red-eyed water dragon had wrapped around her and swung its tail towards the two bodies, sending them as far away from Sakura as possible.

The female Chi-Ten glanced at her Shikai, seeing Sasuke remaining calm and dodging Hidan's swings.

From what she could see, the scythe could inflict wounds despite not touching Sasuke, and she figured that Wind must have been Hidan's controlled element, or perhaps he molded his chi to act as an extension of his blade.

With these in mind, she made a few quick hand seals and swung her arms alternately at Hidan's direction, sending wind waves towards the Akatsuki member to aid Sasuke in the fight.

The sooner the battle was over, the sooner they can relax and proceed with training.

"Fugaku-san is quite the skilled Chi-Ten," she thought as she sent a few more waves. "In just a matter of minutes, my ki-flow has greatly improved, and my control is better than ever."

It wasn't like Kakashi wasn't a good trainer, he was. He just stuck to the basic more, whereas Fugaku had decided upon teaching her something easier yet advanced.

"But…" she lowered her arms and panted slightly, also taking note of how her water dragon had grew thinner. "I still need more training if ever I want to last longer in a battle."

She snapped her gaze towards an incoming body which launched itself in the air. The dragon quickly swung at it, sending it back a few meters.

"Just what I was hoping for."

Her glare met Hidan's smirk, and she sent a few more waves to him when he was close to injuring her Shikai.

"Oh I didn't forget about you." Hidan slashed at the waves and twisted his body to deliver a kick to Sasuke's chest, before using him as leverage to head towards Sakura. "You should take better care of your Shikai!"

The dragon met Hidan halfway, giving Sakura enough time to get away from her spot.

"Sasuke!" She turned to her Shikai, wondering what was wrong and what Hidan had meant.

"You naïve little girl." Hidan landed back on solid ground and approached her. "Did you honestly think your strength came from your own energy?"

"W-What…" Sakura studied how Sasuke moved a bit slower than usual when he charged at Hidan. "Don't tell me that I've been using his ki and not mine..!"

"Foolish girl." Hidan grunted when he got hit by Sasuke's kick. "You've barely mastered controlling your energy."

"Sasuke…" Sakura knew she was breathing heavily, but she didn't think her Shikai would too.

"You're bound to him, remember? If you go overboard with your powers, you will eventually take his without being aware of it." Hidan smirked at Sasuke when he had fallen down on one knee. "I think your Shikai here has no complaints when it comes to you."

"Ch." He stood back up and staggered a bit before glaring at Hidan with dark red eyes. "Don't talk as if you know everything." His arms began to emit blue crackling light, and soon, his whole body was covered in electricity.

Hidan's eyes narrowed for a split second before he ran towards the Shikai with his scythe ready to kill.

Sasuke gathered the electric energy into his palms before shoving Hidan back – the impact had sent the ex-monk flying more than thirty feet away from his previous position, and when he rolled to a stop, his body was twitching from the effect of Sasuke's lightning.

"Charge huh?" Hidan coughed, trying to get back up. "It's to be expected of his breed, and with Lightning being his main element, he can recover from chi loss, especially now that he is one with his hime."

He used his scythe to aid him in getting back up.

"Time to use that then."

Wind began to pick up as the thunder roared from above.

Hidan tugged at his cloak, removing the item off of him and revealing intricate patterns tattoed on his body.

He tightly gripped his scythe and brought the pointed end down at the ground before him, afterwards, spun around to created a circle on the earth.

"Awaken." He spoke as he raised his right hand to the air, gathering the wind which slashed at the circle he had made, forming a twelve-pointed star with him standing in the middle. "Awaken now."

The souls that possessed the bodies Itachi and the rest were fighting had left their shell and gathered in the air, their transparent smoke-like appearance turning into a dark shade of grey, and finally completely black. Soon, it formed glaring eyes and a snarling mouth, the misty being creating fangs to appear more threatening.

Sasuke gritted his teeth and quickly flew towards Sakura when the thing had leapt at the pink-haired Chi-Ten.


Sakura was frozen on the spot, shocked at what she was seeing and what was happening, and before she knew it, twenty-four corrupted souls had taken her very being.

"Sakura!" Kakashi made a move to run towards his fallen pupil, but Hidan's strong wind sent him, Fugaku, and Itachi backwards, and then put pressure onto their bodies to keep them on the ground, even Fugaku's animal companion was not spared from the strong gust.

"Devour her…" Hidan began to chuckle from his position. "Eat her away… taste her delectable being, leave nothing but a hollow shell of her body…"

Sasuke clenched his fists as he eyed her form on the ground; she struggled as if she was being held down by someone else, cried out as if when cuts were being done to her arms, legs, and torso. Those spirits that Hidan had summoned were criminals back when they were still alive – they were not only killers but possibly rapists and sadists – it would explain why Sakura was suffering like this, crying out, begging for what, he wasn't sure, but he had a vague idea that she wanted to yell stop.

Her name left his lips in a soft whisper, and he soon closed his eyes and brought his hands together; he formed one seal at a time, not too fast to not be recognized, but not too slow that it wasted time. He didn't block out her pleas, finding comfort that at least she was still here, and that she can still be saved.

He held the final seal and opened his eyes, the originally dark colored irises turning blood red. His black wings spread out behind him, and it was too late for Hidan to realize what the Shikai intended to do.


Lightning flashed as feathers were pulled out from his wings.


Twelve black feathers defied the wind's pull as they pushed pass the strong zephyr and surrounded Sakura.


Each feather took in two souls, one at a time, freeing Sakura from their tortures.


And as Hidan cursed and ran towards Sasuke, lightning flashed from the sky and struck at the twelve feathers, disintegrating them just as Sakura had sat up to see Sasuke deliver a blue ball of lightning through Hidan's head, the force crashing the ex-monk's skull when Sasuke gripped onto it and lifted the limp body in the air.

The harsh wind gradually turned into a gentle breeze and the other three men were able to get back up again.


She looked up at Itachi when he knelt down before her.

"How are you feeling?"

She blinked a couple of times before looking down, her eyes looking dazed despite staring at the multiple cuts she had, and how badly she was bleeding.

"The aftermath of being possessed is still in effect." Fugaku stated upon nearing his eldest son. "It's not the right term but, she's in shock."

"Stand aside."

Both Itachi and Fugaku stepped away when Sasuke had spoke from his spot and eyed his Chi-Ten. Wind circled around him and plucked out five feathers from his wings, making him wince slightly before turning back to the task at hand. He lifted his palms up and had the black feathers floating atop them as the breeze kept them close together, before sending them towards Sakura's direction.

Her eyes focused on the feathers gathered in front of her as they glowed and turned to small particles which floated around her and gathered near her wounds.

As soon as her injuries were healed, she blinked a few times and regained her senses back.


She met Kakashi's worried gaze.

"Sensei…" she responded, and that caused the three men to sigh in relief. "Sasuke… where's…"

Her ears picked up a thud to her left, and she quickly looked to the source of the sound, eyes widening at the sight of her Shikai looking drained.

"Sasuke!" She rushed to her fallen Shikai and assisted him in getting back up on his feet. "Are you okay?" She asked, her voice laced with concern.

Sasuke managed a small smirk of reassurance. "This is nothing hime." He said, catching his breath as Kakashi approached them, Ryu tailing behind.

"You should know better than to do that Sasuke."

Sakura looked at Kakashi, then at her Shikai who had his eyes narrowed at the silver-haired man.

"Why? What's wrong with what he did?"

Kakashi turned to the pink-haired Chi-Ten, then back at Sasuke.

"Shikai can heal themselves, with or without their Solaris, depending on how much energy they have left. But the Chi-Ten will always have trouble in restoring back to normal. In your case earlier, it took Sasuke five feathers from his wings to heal you back to normal and in tip top shape." She noticed Kakashi's eyes grown stern. "Their wings…" he trailed off, leaving Sakura hanging since Sasuke had glared at Kurenai's Master to shut up.

"What about their wings?" Sakura asked, looking at Sasuke.

"It's nothing." Sasuke got back up and looked away, refusing to meet his Chi-Ten's gaze.

"It's bad enough that you used twelve to extract those souls," Kakashi lectured. "And to have used five more to heal her…"

"I only did what a Shikai should do!" Sasuke snapped, glaring at Kakashi. "I won't sit back and let my hime suffer."

To anyone, it would have been a sweet reaction, but Sakura knew better.

"A Shikai should also know his or her limits." Kakashi kept his head cool. "A Shikai like you should-"

"Stop telling me how to do my duty!"

Sakura grabbed Sasuke's arm when he began to emit electricity.

"You may know about Shikai, but you don't know everything we're trained and taught to do." He seethed.

Kakashi only resorted to glaring back, deciding that voicing out his thoughts may lead to an unnecessary dispute.

"Such as having their masters killed."

The dog barked and the group had abruptly turned to the new voice, and their eyes widened when they saw a pointed end of a sphere covered in blood.

"Fa…father…" Itachi started to shake when he saw the weapon's sharp end protruding from Fugaku's front chest, and right behind the older Chi-Ten was another Akatsuki member, and had Fugaku's body lifted from the ground.

"But then… he has lost his Shikai long ago, he has lost his wife, he has lost your mother."

And the sphere was harshly pulled out of the man's body.

"K…Kaku…zu…" Itachi gritted his teeth when his father's body had fallen to the ground, the man gurgling blood and choking on it. "Kakuzu!" Itachi charged at his father's killer.

"This is merely a warning." Kakuzu stated calmly. "A warning that we won't stop until we get what we want."

And as soon as Itachi had reached Kakuzu, he had fled.

"Kakuzu get your fucking ass back here and fight!" Itachi cried out. "Kakuzu!"

Sakura and Sasuke ran over to Fugaku while Kakashi held Itachi back from pursuing the Akatsuki member.

Fugaku's pet whined when it saw its master bleeding.

"F-Fugaku-san, hang in there!" Sakura said, carefully turning the man on his back and lifting him up a bit. "Just hang in there!"

He turned to the whining dog and gave it a weak pat.


"It's…" he coughed. "It's alright…" his gaze averted from Sakura to Sasuke. "It's… okay…"

He lifted a bloody hand, and the young Shikai took it in his. "Save your strength…" he told him. "Please just… just…"

Fugaku smiled slightly. "At least…" he gently gripped his youngest son's hand. "At least I met you again…"

"Don't talk anymore…"

"Son…" Fugaku would have gave a soft chuckle if he could. "Don't cry..."

A teardrop fell, and then another, touching the elder man's cheeks, making his eyes shed tears as well.

"Don't… cry…"

Sakura lifted her gaze from Fugaku to Sasuke, her own eyes producing tears when she saw her Shikai's lowered head yet tear-stained cheeks.

"Please don't…" Fugaku's voice grew weaker and weaker, and so did his grip on his son's hand.

Itachi stood behind his brother, unsure of what to do, of what to say.

"…Live… freely…"

The Shikai felt the man's grip loosen, and he turned his eyes to Fugaku's small smile and closed eyes. His chest had stopped heaving up and down, and his breath was no longer felt…

"Fugaku-san…" Sakura tried to call out. "Fugaku-san!"

Kakashi knelt down next to Sakura and placed a hand on her shoulder.


She looked at her teacher and cried when he shook his head at her.

Itachi just clenched his fists and turned away, head hung low as his own shut eyes let out the held back tears.

The wind picked up, and they could smell the coming of rain, and it didn't take long for the droplets to fall.


Kakashi lifted his gaze to Sasuke, seeing the Shikai's head still lowered.

"Why am I…"

Sakura sobbed uncontrollably as she sensed the inner turmoil her Shikai was having.

"Why am I crying when…" he slowly turned to the dark skies. "I don't even remember him..?"

To be continued…

Next on Ai no Tsubasa: Chapter 10: Blinded


Her eyes remained close even when he held her lowering hands.

"I'm so… so… sorry…" he whispered lightly, bowing his head so that his nose could touch her forehead, his lips near the space between her eyes as he gripped her hands and held them closer to his chest. "Please forgive me, Sakura…"

A nod of her head, and he immediately wrapped his arms around her to pull her in for an embrace.