A/N: Happy Valentine's Day! :D
Fingers clenched the blanket tightly as she held it closer to her body. Her eyes were halfway closed and a bit glossy while gazing at the back of her partner.
"I told you it was fine, but…"
Her eyelids blocked her vision as she curled herself up into a ball.
"Sasuke…" she bit her lower lip before burying her face deeper onto the pillow. "Stop keeping things to yourself, stop refusing help…"
He never got too far, in fact, he just stopped all of a sudden.
"Please… I want to help you, in any way that I can…"
He was hunched over, white polo discarded, leaving his black shirt and pants on. His wrist bands were long gone, revealing what he hid on his wrists.
There was a seal on each of them, and she wondered what they were for, and if it had a story like the one she had on her neck.
Come to think of it, he only stopped when he pulled off her forehead protector, stopped after he had kissed her neck.
"Sasuke." She said, a little louder.
He lifted his head slightly at the sound of her voice calling his name.
"Sometimes, I question your gender." She mumbled out.
A snort came from him, and she found herself smiling slightly when she heard him laugh a bit.
Chapter 8: Sakura's Secret
Now that she thought about it, he was right in stopping himself from going further.
It would have been awkward if they woke up the next day completely naked and aware of what had happened, of how they let their emotions get the best of them.
"But..." she twitched as she glared at her partner who sat next to her in the ramen stand. "That was a great opportunity, damn it."
"You're acting like a kid again."
"Oh shut up!" She snarled. "How can you be a normal boy?"
"I'm surprised you know the definition of normal."
"I mean, what kind of a guy would actually refuse an opportunity to have sex with a girl?"
Sasuke quirked a brow at Sakura, while the older man who was running the ramen stand had gawked at her with a very red face.
"A decent guy." Sasuke answered. "And…" he turned back to his ramen. "Who would actually go for a girl with a small bust size and short height?"
Sakura gaped, and soon, she felt everything around her explode.
"YOU TAKE THAT BACK YOU CHICKEN ASS HAIRED BASTARD!"
"…How original." He raised his left arm when he heard his falcon screech.
"OH YOU ARE SO ANNOYING!"
"Then what would you call yourself if I'm annoying?" He removed the small piece of paper attached on the falcon's right leg.
"Why you- GAH!"
"Hn." He read the contents and furrowed his brows slightly.
"Hn." He smirked after reading the note Tazuna had replied to him. The falcon just really loved pecking the old man at times.
"You're just such a jerk!"
"Hn." The bird disappeared later after Sasuke had given it a treat.
She huffed and wolfed down her ramen, afterwards, looked up at the man who was staring at her.
"One more." She said, and grinned in satisfaction when Sasuke flinched upon realizing that he was going to pay for their meal.
"So he really is related to her."
"And did you kill him yet?"
"He's not alone."
"Ah, right, Haruno Sakura." He mumbled. "Any information on her?"
"Just that her father is dead and her mother is in a coma in the hospital of Konoha." He read the file he held in his hand. "Haruno Sakura is the only ninja of her family, no known relative who is alive."
"…Haruno." He mumbled, before snapping his fingers. "Of course! How could I forget?" He chuckled. "It should have been obvious, given who her current partner is."
"Sir, I don't get it."
"Don't you know about that girl, Aoi?" He smirked. "She's not just any Jounin."
"She's… been under Tsunade's tutelage?"
"Aside from that." He grumbled. "She has it."
Aoi's eyes widened. "You can't be serious. How can that girl…"
"Because she's a Haruno, she and her mother being the last ones that carry the bloodline - if that file is reliable." He smirked. "And Uchiha is the only one who can stop her from losing control."
"...Because he's an Uchiha."
"Yes." He bit his thumb. "But we can't let that happen – we can't let that brat interfere."
The weather was cloudy, but it didn't rain.
Sakura found it calming, actually, and she even went as far as comparing the weather to her partner who sat next to her on the bench, staring up ahead.
They haven't done much today that was related to their mission, and being at the park surrounded by couples made it feel like they're on a date – even if it wasn't, or so he says.
Still, it's a lot better than feeling awkward around each other after her sudden confession last night.
"I still don't get how we can save Wave from the Kokuzoku." Sakura mumbled. "Is that even supposed to really be a mission just for us?"
Sasuke shook his head. "We're not here to deal with the Kokuzoku, my brother and his teammates are already handling the other members."
"...Does he... know about your mother?"
She was wary about asking him, so when she saw him clench his fists, she decided to ask another question.
"Why the heck did the Hokage send us here if your brother is already dealing with the Kokuzoku?"
He was thankful for the change of topic, and he let himself calm down. "He'll be busy with the Kokuzoku, so while he's striking, we'll need to head for the boss himself."
She sighed and absently ran her fingers through her hair. "And how do you propose we do that?"
He just smirked.
"Okay, not exactly what I had in mind but… what the heck!" She tried to remain calm as the two men who stood on-guard eyed her warily.
"Is there a problem?" Her partner asked with a raised brow, a cloth wrapped around his head like some sort of bandana, the knot ending at the nape of his neck where the rest of the cloth hung, hiding the spiky locks that would have given his identity away yet his bangs still drooped over his eyes. He used a basic jutsu to change his eyes to a shade of green just in case the enemy will still recognize him.
This, however, made Sakura fantasize how their son will look like if he inherited Sasuke's hair color and her eye color.
"I doubt this little shrimp is a guy." One of the two guards snorted, pointing at her. "He's a bit too short, and his body is too feminine-like."
Sakura didn't know whether to feel flattered that her physique was praised, or to be insulted that her disguise didn't work.
"I even wore a wig!" She thought, flicking some of the dark brown strands that fell over her hazel colored eyes. "I inherited my mother's height." She said in a low voice in order to sound like a boy.
Sasuke inwardly smirked, relieved that she remembered to change her voice like he told her to.
"Trust me, this guy won't grow any taller." He said, his voice sounding much older than his real age.
"I still don't think he's a guy." The second guard pointed out. "We're going to need solid proof."
Sasuke quirked a brow. Now how could they mistake Sakura as a girl? She was freaking flat!
He looked at Sakura, surprised when she had grabbed his wrist and had his palm press against her chest.
"There, see? If I was a girl, do you think I'd do this?" She said in a calm and low voice. "If you still don't believe me," she grabbed at Sasuke's other hand, the ANBU knowing where exactly she was planning to place it. "Then-"
"Alright already!" He pulled his hands free from her grasp, trying to fight the blush that threatened to stain his cheeks. "You didn't have to go that far!"
"Why are you reacting that way if he's really a boy?"
Sakura inwardly smacked her forehead. "Way to go Sasuke, I risked having my chest groped by you and this happens…"
"He's gay." Sasuke mumbled. "He's been trying to get to me."
She didn't stop her jaw from dropping at what he said.
"I already told you a thousand times that I am perfectly straight and only have interest in women who have a figure of eight."
She just continued gaping at him when he said that in a straight face.
"Uh… so… he's… gay." One of the guards stuttered; he and his ally exchanging nervous glances. "A-Alright, go on in. J-Just d-don't… yeah."
Sakura twitched. "What? Are you homophobic too?"
"JUST GO!" The two exclaimed, stepping aside to let the two 'men' who carried a couple of packages in. "The boss' room is located at the end of the hallway to your left."
As soon as the door closed behind them, Sakura dropped the empty wooden boxes and glared at Sasuke who also lowered the items.
"Hn. Even if I said I was a decent guy, I'm still a guy who has knowledge of the female anatomy."
"Next time you plan on proving others that you're a guy, just say you're gay." He twitched and lifted his right hand, wondering if he'll ever forget what it had touched. "Hn. It was soft, though."
"P-shaw." She scoffed. "You sure looked disappointed a while ago."
He walked on ahead of her. "Any guy would be if they groped a girl's breast that was non-existent."
One of the empty boxes she was carrying earlier met the back of Sasuke's head, but he only turned into a log and reappeared a few steps ahead.
"That won't work on me."
"I can hope."
"Well, it's hopeless."
She just growled.
"Let them be."
"I'd like to see it up-close; I want to know if the legend is true, if their fates are indeed bound together as before."
"In the mean time, Aoi, lead Gato and get that blasted Kaiza."
His subordinate nodded, and then disappeared behind the shadows.
Doto Kazuhana merely smirked and approached the large cork board of the room where various photographs and maps were pinned. He stopped before one snapshot of a young ninja and removed the kunai that was embed on it.
"You probably have no idea yet, Uchiha, but it doesn't matter." He dragged the knife down from the upper left corner all the way to the lower right, repeating it on the other side to make an "X" mark. "I will make sure you're dead when it has been confirmed."
He turned his head to the only door that led to the room, seeing a woman who looked a lot like the ANBU he wanted dead.
"I didn't know you were related to the Uchihas – specifically the brats."
She bowed down for a moment before meeting the man's eyes. "I have long ago cut off my ties from that clan."
"Tell me then, are you of pure blood?"
"I see... then you must have been a distant relative of your deceased husband?"
"So those two also carry within them pure Uchiha blood."
"And what do you know of Haruno Sakura?"
"She too is of pure blood."
"Then that would make her parents related as well."
"Yes – though they are very distant cousins."
"Is she and her mother the last ones?"
"The last pure ones, yes."
"...And what of your former clan?"
She merely shook her head. "Only Sasuke carries the blood potential to be marked."
"Marked – then those tattoos on his wrists aren't..."
"They are seals." She explained. "When he had reached the level of ANBU, he had no idea that everything was planned since the birth of Haruno Sakura and his."
"Why not Itachi then?"
"Itachi lacked the potential to bear the seals."
"Orochimaru... he tried it on Itachi, did he not?"
"Yes, but the ritual wasn't completed – for Itachi did not handle it well."
"Yet Sasuke managed?"
"It was a close call – but even the elders of the clan had sensed something in him that was close to that of Uchiha Madara's."
"The founder – I heard he still lives."
"Merely descendants – some think that Sasuke is a reincarnation."
"Itachi had witnessed the awakening of Sasuke's sharingan – Sasuke was only seven years old at that time, a year younger than when Itachi had awakened his."
"Which made those two the candidates for protecting the Haruno heiress."
"Yes. Itachi may have been the obvious choice, but he tried to convince us that Sasuke would be a better guard. However, after much persuasion from Fugaku and the elders, he let Orochimaru perform the jutsu on him."
"Yet it failed to complete, which meant that he was not the right one."
"How come no one protected Haruno Sakura's parents?"
"There were assigned Uchihas but the Harunos had been lying low for a while, if the girl hadn't decided to become a ninja, it would have been harder to locate her."
"Why doesn't Sasuke know, or does he?"
"He doesn't." She said. "Sasuke has no idea that his partner is the girl he has to protect with his life, yet Sarutobi and Orochimaru knows, and so do the rest of the teachers in Oto and Konoha." She explained. "Sakura wasn't located until recently, and there wasn't enough time to explain everything to Sasuke. All he knows is that those seals on his wrist are important, and he'll just know if it's time to use them."
"If that's the case, let us go and meet them then." He gave a smirk and led the way out the door, pressing a finger against the communicator attached to his ear in order to inform the rest of his men what to do. "Prepare one of our built-in warehouses."
Her hand instantly went to her neck, making Sasuke stop to look over at her.
"Y-yeah." She murmurs, her fingers tracing the metal part of her forehead protector around her neck.
Sasuke eyed the headband that hid the tattoo on her neck. "Where... what is it for?"
"...I'm... I don't really know."
"Have you seen it before?"
He shook his head and turned his back to her before proceeding to walk. "Something about it just... it's nothing."
Sakura tilted her head to side a bit before deciding to just drop it and follow him.
"Do you know where we're going?"
"I'm trying to trace the faint chakra I picked up when we got here."
"...What if it's a trap?"
"We'll find out sooner or later."
"Do you have a back-up plan?"
"...I'm trying to come up with one."
Silence engulfed them after that, with only their light footsteps making a sound. By the time they reached the end of the hallway, they looked towards their right and then their left.
"So... which one?"
"Those guys said left, right?"
Sakura nodded and started walking towards the left hall. "Any ideas yet?"
"No, I'm still drawing a blank."
"We should have planned thoroughly first."
"Well why don't you help me out instead of asking?"
"You're more experienced than I am."
"You could at least try."
"Your comebacks are getting lamer – are you sick?" She looked at him. "Sasuke?"
He was eyeing her in a peculiar way, and she wondered if it was because of what she said.
"You're kind of... freaking me out here Uchiha."
His eyes narrowed slightly before lowering to her neck, recalling what the seal had looked like. It was almost identical to the ones on his wrists – which followed the pattern of the sharingan, only it had additional curves which branched outward of the circle that kept the commas contained within it.
"Show me that seal."
He walked over to her and pulled off the forehead protector, making Sakura yelp as he tugged at the collar of her dress shirt.
"What the hell, Sasuke?"
His eyes narrowed further when he felt his pulse quicken at the sight of the cursive marks on the lower left of her neck near the collarbone.
"We have to get out of here."
"What?" She gaped.
He took a hold of her hand and made a mad dash back to where they came from.
"Sasuke, seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?"
He didn't reply and only quickened his pace when he had sensed a large amount of chakra headed for them.
"Just shut up!"
She closed her mouth at his outburst, noting how his eyes had glared up ahead, and she followed his line of vision to see a couple of men blocking their path.
He just pulled off several kunai with his other hand and threw them towards the men, afterwards, let her hand go and did a few hand seals to perform a fire jutsu.
The attack had caused the two men to step back, and he used this to his advantage as he kicked one and kneed the other once the fire had died down. When the two men were out cold, he held Sakura's wrist again and began running once more.
By the time they were nearing their exit, a few men charged at him and he had to step back to avoid getting a cut. He held one arm out in front of Sakura while keeping his glare at the men.
"Sasuke, I can-"
"Don't fight." He repeated, slower and much louder. "I mean it."
"Just don't." He pleaded, meeting her gaze. "I don't know what it is, but just... just listen to me."
She held his eyes for a few moments before nodding once and looking back at the men standing in their way.
"How do we get out of here?"
The two turned behind them, seeing Doto approaching them with Sasuke's mother following behind him wordlessly.
Sasuke's eyes instantly narrow at this.
"You've grown, Sasuke." She greeted when her eyes took in the form of her youngest son. "Both in strength and physical appearances."
"Why did you..." he trailed off, choosing to not ask for fear that his emotions might betray him, and at this point, he can't lose his cool.
"So you now know," Doto says as he shifts his gaze from Sasuke to Sakura. "It would explain why you would suddenly want to leave."
He glared. "What are you talking about?"
"...Well, maybe not everything." Doto chuckled. "It's best you just come quietly, Uchiha."
Sasuke glanced at the men on the other side, and then back at Doto and his mother. He could take them on right now, but he had no information about Doto Kazuhana, nor does he know what his mother may do. Besides that, something told him that Sakura can't use her chakra right now, so he lowered the arm that prevented Sakura from moving and nodded once to Doto.
He gave her a quick look, and she just went with it.
Doto Kazuhana then led the way to one of the many warehouses that the group owned.
"Seal the doors." He ordered the men, who complied and locked the only way to get in and out of the large place.
Sasuke watched as the rest surrounded them in a circle, with him and Sakura in the middle.
"Have you ever heard of your partner's family history?"
Sasuke glanced at Sakura who furrowed her brows in confusion.
"Ah, sorry, I was asking you, Uchiha." Doto paused. "Though it can also work for her."
"Just get to the point." Sasuke snarled.
"In that case..." He smirked. "Your clan and hers have... what you would call a master and servant relationship." He started to pace around. "You see, the Uchiha clan are a long line of ninjas, correct? And for years, have kept the blood pure, which is why marriage within the clan was the top priority, and the same goes for the Haruno lineage – except..." he stopped and looked at Sakura. "Her line is of the nobles."
"What?" The two exclaimed.
"Those seals..." He murmured. "The ones on your wrists – your teacher never did say what they were for exactly." He looked at Sakura. "And the one on your neck – you thought it was a birthmark, yet why were you told to hide it?"
"...I... I was..."
"They said it was considered a taboo, or an omen." Doto continued. "That's what you were raised to believe, your family went into hiding because they did not want anymore of the Uchihas to die protecting their kin, however, the Uchihas themselves were persistent – they still tried their hardest to locate the members of the Haruno clan."
Sakura and Sasuke exchanged looks, asking the other if they knew of this.
"It's been years since an Uchiha was assigned to protect a Haruno, so it isn't a surprise that neither of you know of it."
"...You knew though." Sasuke stated, looking at Mikoto. "You and the rest knew."
"Of course she knew." Doto said. "Only the two of you and your colleagues had no idea."
"Why tell us now?" Sakura asked, clenching her fists. "Then my father... mother..."
"They would have lived if they didn't feel guilty of their own guards' possible deaths."
Sasuke narrowed his eyes. "My father was one of them."
"You catch on quite fast." Doto snickered. "Uchiha Fugaku was responsible for the safety of Haruno Ikichi, however, Ikichi did not want anymore ties with the Uchiha clan – he wanted to end the master-slave relationship, he wanted to free the Uchihas from the ties they're bound to."
"That led to my family... moving far away from the rest of my kin..." Sakura whispered. "We were originally from Oto?"
"That's right, dear princess." Doto chuckled. "Don't be surprised of the title, you are a pure-blooded Haruno, the last heiress at that."
"Of course. Your father's decision to free the Uchihas led to many deaths of your kin. Sasuke's clan did not want the freedom, but they were ordered by their respective masters, and an order from a Haruno is absolute."
Sakura almost snorted. "Doesn't seem so with Sasuke and I."
"Only because the contract has yet to be done." Doto took a step towards Sakura, and Sasuke, whether by instinct or because of the new found information, blocked his path. "It's inevitable Uchiha."
Sasuke quickly turned around when he heard Sakura yelp, and Doto took advantage of this by taking him in a tight headlock.
"Fucking-" his eyes narrowed and shifted to red as he concentrated his chakra in his body and released a good amount of electricity, forcing Doto to let him go. He quickly charged at the two men who had held Sakura down, freeing her when he sent out senbon needles made out of his chidori.
He positioned Sakura behind him, eyes wary of any movement from his opponents.
"Sasuke, I have to fight."
"No." He told her. "You can't let that seal activate."
"I've been fighting my whole life and not once did it-"
"It's set to go off – don't ask how I know, I just do."
"Just trust me."
"Heh..." Doto recovered from the numbness he suffered from earlier and looked at the couple. "You may not have been aware of it, yet you recognize her as your master."
"What do you want from her?" Sasuke glared, his sharingan still in place.
"Her power is unique – as expected from a pure Haruno."
"...You mean untouched." He hissed. "Otherwise, you would have gotten her mother."
Doto smirked. "You tried to touch her, didn't you?"
Sakura flushed but Sasuke kept his face impassive.
"Something pulled you back after you made contact with her seal – that had made you aware of her, no matter how faint the recognition." He chuckled. "It's illegal for an Uchiha and a Haruno to be together after all."
Sakura's eyes widened at that and she looked towards Sasuke who still looked unaffected.
"You wanted to, but couldn't." Doto continued. "You kept telling yourself that it's because of your training as a shinobi, but deep down, you knew you just can't, but you would have if you could."
His fists clenched tightly at his sides.
"Admit it Sasuke, admit your feelings."
Sakura didn't know how to react to that – she didn't know how to take it either. Did that mean that Sasuke also returned the same feelings she has for him, or did it mean something else?
"You don't know anything." Sasuke seethed. "And you won't have Sakura."
"Then I guess we'll have to kill you first."
"If you can." Sasuke taunted, his left arm produced blue chakra that crackled like lightning, and Sakura almost thought she heard a thousand birds. "Even if the contract hasn't been done, I'll still protect her."
She didn't want this – she didn't want the feeling of standing by and not doing anything. She disliked the idea of someone else fighting for her sake. She became a ninja to avoid those feelings, so why now..? Why did it happen now?
One by one, the men fell either numbed or dead, and she could see and witness everything as she stood there, watching how her partner – now guard – attacked the thugs and prevented them from getting nearer. There were a lot of them, nothing he can't handle but there were still so many of them that she wouldn't be surprised if this was what Doto Kazuhana had planned.
"Why aren't you fighting?"
She almost thought it was she who was asked, but rather, it was her who had voiced out the question while keeping her gaze on Doto.
His smirk only made her eyes widen, and she turned to see Sasuke done with majority of the men, and while he still had more in him, she could see that he was already breathing hard – they were slow pants, but heavy none the less.
"Doto Kazuhana planned this." She thought, taking a step back to lean against Sasuke's stance. "Sasuke, we need a plan."
"I know." He told her in a lower and softer voice so that only she could hear. "But right now, I can't come up with anything – not when there's not a single window in sight."
"So our only way out is that large door."
"We'll have to break through it."
"But to do so, we'll need these guys out of the way."
"Let me fight – I can fight without using my chakra."
He hesitated, but the way his teeth clenched made her know that he knew it would be better if she helped him out.
"No chakra." He told her firmly.
"Okay." She nodded and took out some kunai and shuriken. "No chakra."
"Get rid of the guys..."
She nodded. "And head for the door."
He gave her one more look before leaving her in the middle to engage in close combat with the rest, using less than half of what his jutsu are worth in order to save his own chakra for later emergencies.
Sakura made sure all her weapons had hit a vital spot in order to not waste them, all the while dodging a few punches and kicks directed at her while using plain taijutsu. She kept reminding herself not to use chakra even though it would have made things easier – and a few minutes later, she found her back pressed up against Sasuke's.
"Not working out as I had hoped." She breathed, growing tired from the endless amount of men who had come at them. "How's that back-up plan coming along?"
"Not too good." He admitted, also breathing heavily. "I only have a few chakra left in me to create a strong jutsu that may get us out."
"We have to move fast, and also time everything properly."
"Okay genius, what do you propose?"
"Chidori burst – ever heard of it?"
"That's because I only came up with it now." He formed a hand seal. "Once I activate it, the electric current will numb these guys and buy us some time to escape."
"And the doors..?"
"Explosive tag – you have one?"
"Throw it as soon as I bend over to activate the chidori burst."
"Got it." She wrapped the tag on a Kunai as he created a few hand seals, the chidori coming to life as the rest of the men had stepped back to avoid the current.
"Now." and when he slammed the blue ball of electricity on the ground to send it flowing through the area, Sakura threw the kunai and it landed at the middle of the door.
"Explosive tag!" One man yelled, and when the doors gave way, Sasuke grabbed Sakura's wrist and made a run for it.
"Mikoto!" Doto yelled when he struggled to get back on his feet after Sasuke's jutsu.
As soon as Sasuke and Sakura stepped onto a few men's back to leap into the air and get out, strings shot out and wrapped around their ankles, and they felt a strong tug – forcing them back and landing on the ground.
"Hold them down!" Doto ordered as a couple of men forced the two shinobi's arms on their backs and pressed their heads to the floor. "That was close..." he mumbled as he stepped up to the two. "Clever of you, Uchiha."
Sasuke glared at him and then at his mother who remained impassive.
"Now that you're held down and out of chakra, you're no longer a threat." He looked towards Sakura, nodding his head at the man who got off of her and pulled her up, still holding her arms back.
Doto Kazuhana grabbed her chin and lifted her head up to get a good look at her face.
"You can use your chakra to break free, princess." He sneered. "So use that super strength of yours that I've heard so much about."
"Don't do it!"
Sakura glanced at Sasuke who tried to break free from his restraints before meeting the older man's eyes.
"What are the chances of that seal activating right now if it didn't before?"
"...Sasuke said that it was set to go off, so I'll take his word for it and not give you the satisfaction."
"How does he know then?"
"He's Sasuke." Sakura simply stated. "He just knows."
He scoffed and let her chin go. "Such trust." He proceeded to Sasuke, nodding at the one who held him down. The man got up and made the ANBU stand on his feet yet still restrained his arms. Doto soon held a kunai to his neck and met Sakura's eyes.
"Still won't do it, princess?"
"Don't." Sasuke told her, eyes narrowed and reverted back to black. "No matter what happens, don't."
She felt a drop of sweat trickle from her forehead, all the way down to her cheek and chin until it dropped to the floor.
"Are you sure, Haruno Sakura?" He pressed the kunai deeper onto Sasuke's skin, drawing out blood.
"If he kills me, he has nothing else to provoke you with." Sasuke said.
"Don't talk like that!" Sakura told him. "Damn it don't..." she shook her head. "...Sasuke, I'm sorry."
"Sakura, don't." He said again. "You'll kill a lot more lives if you do."
She bit her lower lip.
"I can kill your mother afterwards."
"He can't." Sasuke spoke, ignoring how Doto pressed the kunai depper. "Your mother is in Konoha, no place is safer."
"What will happen if I... unleash this power?" Sakura asked, looking down.
"Nothing, really." Doto answered, pressing the kunai depper onto Sasuke's throat to prevent him from speaking. "The worst that could happen is you being out of control, but that's why Sasuke's here – he can stop you."
"Then... you can't kill him."
"If you kill him, I can't be stopped. And if you kill him, I'll make sure I won't use this power."
Doto sneered. "I don't care much if you can't be stopped, however, you did say you won't use it when I kill Sasuke." He lowered the kunai. "But perhaps torturing him might give you some incentive." and he immediately stabbed Sasuke's left shoulder, causing blood to spill.
Sakura heard him cry out yet try to hold back as he glared at Doto and clenched his teeth.
"ANBU are used to pain," Doto said. "But how far till he breaks?"
He pulled out the kunai and stabbed his right thigh, making him buckle to his knees as he kept his mouth shut, refusing to let out a painful yell.
"He won't need a leg or an arm to live, heck he won't even need to see to live."
"Don't..." Sakura's voice cracked. "Don't do... don't!"
"Of course, the Uchiha clan's sharingan is everything," he knelt down to Sasuke's level, not intimidated by the glare the shinobi threw him. "But he can live without them." He tapped the tip of the knife at the side of Sasuke's head lightly. "I'll drag it across his eyes slowly."
Sakura clenched her fists and tried to read Sasuke's eyes, find it hard to decipher what was on his mind.
"...Stop it." She told Doto. "Or I'll really keep this power unused and sealed."
"Will you really?" He dug the tip deeper,causing a drop of blood to trickle from the skin of the young shinobi. "Now that I think about it, torturing Uchiha is like a consolation prize for me, and then maybe, I'll kill him afterwards." He smirked. "It's not like you ca hold back forever, Haruno Sakura."
He could feel his heart beating faster than normal, and inwardly, yes, he admitted her was fearing what would come, but he was still a shinobi, he was still an Uchiha. So he kept the act, he kept the impassive face and strong facade, he kept his honor.
And when he felt the kunai being dragged from the side of his head all the way towards his eyes, he merely clenched his fists to prepare for the pain.
"You fucking bastard!"
He ended up looking towards Sakura just as Doto Kazuhana had stopped to also look at her. Sasuke's eyes widened when Sakura yelled and hit the guy behind her with the back of her head, afterwards, punched the ground when her arms were free, focusing a large amount of chakra on it which caused the earth to shakre.
It threw most of the men that were still standing off balance, including Doto and Mikoto.
Sasuke watched as his partner was bursting with green chakra, and how the mark on her neck had started to glow.
"I'll kill you all..." She hissed out, glaring at Doto. "Starting with you."
She moved too fast for his eyes to follow, and she could hear a few bones cracking and a cry of pain from the leader of Kokuzoku.
He looked towards the direction of where Sakura had the man against the wall as she punched continuously, from the face to the chest, and then the stomach and back up again.
"Sak..." he lifted a hand to his throat, the shallow cut making it hard for him to speak properly. "Damn it."
He sensed a large man come up from behind him, and he immediately bent forward and swiped his leg around to trip him, afterwards, twisted his body to land a powerful kick on the man's torso, forcing him deeper onto the crack floor.
"Ch..." he flinched when some of his wounds alerted his brain of pain. He could barely move due to the stabs he received on his shoulder and leg, and the cut on his neck had to be taken care of properly or it might open a bit more and that could prove to be fatal.
He was shocked when his mother knelt down next to him and held him steady, afterwards, placed a palm over his neck and healed it.
"What are you-"
"No time to explain right now." She said as she finished healing his wound and moved to his leg. "I need you to stop Sakura."
"This is wrong of me to say, but trust me right now." She pleaded, meeting her gaze. "She may be mad at Doto Kazuhana and these men, but she is not the type to kill someone."
"And if this keeps up, she'll target others – you're the only one who can stop her, you're the only one she won't kill."
"...You better elaborate on that later." He said with narrowed eyes, before turning to Sakura when his mother had finished healing him.
"I'll keep the others busy." She said, turning to face the men who had prepared to attack them. "Now that my cover's blown."
He took a quick look at his mother before turning to Sakura, flinching at the sight of Doto's mangled body. The guy was unconscious and close to be dead, yet Sakura still did not stop, even when she was already straddling the guy.
She lifted her right fist up, gathering as much chakra as she could in that one fist. "This will kill you." She seethed, ready to crack his skull. When she was about to send it down, she felt someone kneeling behind her and grip her wrist, and soon an arm was around her shoulder and she was pulled back.
Sakura felt a forehead rest on her left shoulder, and from the corner of her eyes, she saw black spiked up hair.
"Enough..." he said in a soft voice. "...That's enough..."
Her narrowed eyes turned to shock when she got a good look at Doto's current form, and then at her bloody self.
"It's enough..." He repeated, the seal on his left wrist pressed up against the one on her neck, causing both marks to sting a bit. "Come back Sakura..." He proceeded to speak before closing his eyes. "I want you... to come back."
Her body grew slack, and when he lifted his gaze to meet her tired ones, he knew she had lost a good deal of chakra. "Sasuke..."
He gave a small smile. "Hn. Cherry."
"...Jerk." She murmured in a weaker tone, yet managed a small smile.
"Get some rest." He told her, sitting back and pulling her into his arms. "I'll protect you."
She lay there and slipped into unconsciusness, with him holding her closer and looking at Doto's body.
"Now I know why I always end up doing things for her..." he looked down at Sakura. "Why I felt more protective of you, why I have an unspoken attraction for you." He smirked. "Makes sense now."
He looked up to see his mother approaching him, the rest of the men already down. He was about to speak but another chakra had caught his attention.
The silver-haired jounin of Konoha approached him with his hands pocketed, his lone eye crinkling in amusement to see one of his former students.
"Yo. So you're aware of... yeah."
"Why am I the only one who could stop her?"
"Ahaha... always direct to the point." Kakashi chuckled. "Well, besides being the selected Uchiha to protect her, you're, in a way, bound by blood."
Kakashi looked at Mikoto who nodded and turned to tie down the unconscious forms of the men.
"First thing's first, your mother was on an undercover mission to spy the Kokuzoku, but to do so, she must put up a front of betraying her clan. To make it believable, only your father and a handful of ninja in Konoha and Oto know of it."
"Yeah, you figured that part out I see." He mumbled. "Anyway, we've heard from her about Doto Kazuhana wanting the Haruno secret, or curse as some would call it. It causes the person to release an extreme amount of chakra, and that energy source makes the host unable to control it, and will only recognize the chakra of the person responsible for protecting and sealing it away – in this case, you."
"Which makes me immune to her power."
"Correct." Kakashi nodded. "So let's skip the history of the two clans; during the ritual where Orochimaru performed the seals on you, you remember a drop of blood being -well, dropped onto your shallow-slit wrists?"
"And that that blood entered your body?"
"...Are you telling me that was Sakura's?"
"Yeah, it was from Sarutobi-sama." He explained. "You were the chosen Uchiha to protect the last Haruno heiress, blah blah blah." he waved it off. "Thus, the whole student exchange thing."
"There's more to it, huh?"
"Of course!" Kakashi exclaimed. "But I'll cut it short for you. You have a drop of Sakura's blood merged within you, so your body and chakra somehow recognizes her even if you yourself don't. It would explain your uncharacteristic sudden caring for her and all that shit." He mumbled. "Now, for your closeness to her, well, we can't avoid that can we?" He mused. "It's not like we can prevent you two from developing feelings for each other-"
"Are you fucking serious?"
"Yes Uchiha, I'm fucking dead serious."
He looked at Kakashi, and then back at Sakura's unconscious form in his arms.
"If I was lying," the silver-haired Jounin spoke. "She would still be on a rampage."
"What the hell do you mean by feelings?"
Kakashi sighed. "Can't blame you for being emotionally stupid."
"Kakashi." He hissed.
"The seals on your wrists – they normally take longer to work against her seal; or so history states. However, since you have romantic feelings for dear little Sakura-chan, and vice versa, the seals are in mutual understanding to put it simply, thus, yours calms down hers, and hers gives in."
"That does not explain everything."
"Don't be in denial."
"I'm not." He sighed. "I mean..." He looked at Sakura and his gaze softened yet remained narrowed. "I... I do feel for her... just... it doesn't..."
"You're an idiot when it comes to feelings Sasuke." Kakashi stated bluntly. "But hey, you're an ANBU from Oto, I can't blame you."
He held Sakura closer and even went as far as leaning his head on hers. "Damn it I can't." He sighed. "I can't... we can't..."
"I know." Kakashi nodded. "Not illegally at least."
"Don't be a damn pervert right now."
Kakashi chuckled. "What I meant was – you're both unofficial yet. So if you want those kisses coming without your mind nagging at you, you'll have to court her. She's a noble after all." He smiled. "It's not entirely illegal for and Uchiha and a Haruno to fall for each other."
Kakashi stood and dusted his pants. "Oh and... your mission's done." He peered at Doto Kazuhana. "I doubt the Kokuzoku will still be a threat."
"What about Gato?"
"Took care of him the moment you sent that falcon." He chuckled. "Quite the fast bird."
"He and his family are safe, why not go see them before we depart?"
"Ah right, I almost forgot. I met him while up against Gato and a handful of Kokuzoku, told me he'd see you in Konoha."
"Well, you'll head back to Oto in a few weeks, but before that, Sarutobi-sama has something prepared for the school."
"We'll leave tomorrow at dawn, so until then, get some rest, work things out with Sakura, go see Tazuna and company, etc."
The soft sheets and mattress beneath her body made her moan in contentment, yet after suddenly recalling everything, she instantly opened her eyes and sat up, her eyes scanning the area only to find that she had no idea where she was.
"Where's..." she felt her left hand being held loosely by long and slender fingers, and she lowered her gaze to see her hand held by someone. Blinking, she spotted the all-too familiar black wrist band on that hand, and she trailed the pale arm to see a mop of messy raven hair. Her cheeks turned red when she saw his sleeping face – looking so calm and serene that she wouldn't have thought of him as a ninja if she didn't know him.
"Poor kid could barely carry you, not like he wanted anyone else to take you from him."
She turned to her right to see an old man with a young boy sleeping on his lap.
"Tazuna-san." She croaked, her voice hoarse.
"Ah, water's on the desk next to the bed."
She picked up the glass, not pulling her hand away from her partner's grip when she felt his fingers tighten a bit when she tried to pull away.
"Tazuna-san," she spoke after downing the contents of the glass. "Where am I?"
"Our home, of course." He grinned. "Better than that inn you two stayed in, eh?"
"It's homey." She smiled.
"I tried convincing that kid, but he went on about safety and stuff." He grunted. "With the Kokuzoku out of the way, well, it's safer."
"What happened when I was out?"
"Your teacher, Kakashi, he came after I told Sasuke about the Kokuzoku's hideout. Said it would be better if you two stayed somewhere else, so I offered our place."
"How long had I been out?"
"About a day and a half." He shrugged. "You were supposed to leave yesterday, but since you still hadn't awakened, Kakashi said that you two just stay until you wake up."
Sakura looked over at Sasuke.
"As for him, well, he finally gave in to sleep just a few moments ago."
They turned to the door as Tsunami came in carrying a blanket. She greeted Sakura with a smile before placing the cloth over Sasuke. "Chakra exhaustion?"
Tazuna nodded. "You know how he is."
"Well, it is Sakura after all." Tsunami smiled. "Add to that your family ties with his."
Her head lowered. "I can understand why my father wanted our clan to part from his."
"And look what happened." Tazuna deadpanned. "Anyway," he stood up, careful not to wake his grandson before carrying the boy and smiling at Sakura. "You go and continue recovering."
Tsunami nodded. "I'll bring you both your meals once they're ready."
"Wave owes you this much." She insisted, before following her father out of the door.
Sakura turned her attention to Sasuke and gave a small smile. "I think they owe you more though." Her other hand instinctively went to brush off the strands of hair on his face, the action and touch causing him to stir a bit before he slowly opened his eyes.
He blinked a couple of times to adjust to the sudden intrusion of light before he moved his head a bit to look at Sakura, not once lifting it off of the soft mattress.
"Sorry, I didn't think you'd wake up."
"...Hn." He sat up and rubbed an eye with his other hand, barely aware of their own joint hands. "How are you feeling?"
"A bit... better." She shrugged, only noting now that he had discarded his white button-up shirt. She then lowered her gaze to her own uniform, seeing the tie and vest missing.
"You were covered in blood, Tsunami-san had it them washed for you."
"So... this uniform I'm wearing?"
"The spare one you brought." He scratched the back of his head and lowered his head back on the mattress, their hands catching his eyes.
"Same goes for you then?"
"Aa." He closed his eyes and let his fingers intertwine with hers, causing her to blush and look at him.
"I can't believe I fell for you."
To be continued...
Next on Genjutsu: Chapter 9: Sealed
"You have got to be kidding me!"
Ino merely laughed and wrapped an arm around her. "Oh Sakura, now that the secret is out about you being the noble Princess, those who have always wanted you, want you more."
"So, anyone else up for the challenge?" Sarutobi asked as he took his eyes off from the five male shinobi who were fired up in winning to claim the prize. "Who else wants to join?"
"I do." The crowd erupted into gasps and murmurs as another shinobi stepped up and walked towards Sarutobi calmly. "So I have to defeat these guys to get them off of her back?" He smirked. "Sounds easy enough."
Kakashi pocketed his book and chuckled. "Now it gets interesting."
A/N: Guess whose brain just died? Yep, mine. XD