Hooded Lies

Disclaimer: Me no own!

PART ONE

-.:Marry for the right reasons:.-

The Desperation

The ominous quilt of night shrouded the city with unrelenting snow and gloomy mist one particular winter night. The warning of an incoming snowstorm was evident in the heavy howls of the winter wind. Low-hanging vapors leaked of the white substance of snow which were accompanied by the wind and blended with the acrid smoke that rose from the towering chimneys where warm fires were stirred and stoked at the hearth to ward away the bone-chilling cold before falling to the surface to build up the familiar white blankets.

A fleeing wagon careened through the narrow streets of a city unwelcome, masked by the miserable night, as if it fled from some disastrous dilemma. It lurched and stumbled unsteadily on the pavement, skidding through the slippery path, unmindful of the mud and snow it splattered by its high wheels along the way.

The driver, portentously huge and covered in black, heaved and beat at the reins that held the relentless mare. His bellows of oaths and commands lost in the harmony of pounding hooves and stirring wheels. The din of the ride echoed throughout the chilling night, though drowned by the insisted howling of the wind and snow. Flickering lights led the way through the road, offering meager light to the travelers, shadows accompanying the journey.

Rosette colored locks flew with the unsure swish of the wind as the young lass gripped her black cloak closer to her person and pushed back into the wagon seat as she braced herself on the breakneck ride her friend had set for them. She felt little concern for the cold that threatened to break past her protective swathe, or of anything else for that matter, other than her thoughts.

A look of doubt flashed through her visage, her jaded green orbs containing no warmth but a sliver of hesitation…something that occurred rarely since Sakura Haruno was one damsel who didn't acknowledge distress, but rather, faced it head-on, no qualms or questions asked.

And this ride she was taking with her friend was doing so. Facing her distress head-on, that is.

However, this time, she wasn't so sure about the having no qualms or questions asked part. What she was doing was big. Bigger than what she had been doing for the past year with her friends…which was something that wasn't entirely legal…but you get the drift.

Why do these things always happen to me? She cursed—and whined—silently under her breath…not that it made much difference under the howling snowstorm as her mind raced with the rapid velocity of their wagon. If I was as blessed as what the old people tell me back home, I wouldn't be in this predicament! Damn that skeletal disgusting old mouse! If I wasn't so poor, I'd toss out that intolerable and awful perverted swine out of my house and send him off with a knuckle sandwich or two!

She wanted to tear her hair out from the irony of it all. Poor as she was, many people had declared her beautiful. Inside and out. But even her beauty wasn't much to her advantage. In fact, it will most probably be the cause of her own demise.

Living in the province at the far side of the country where drought had settled upon her lands for more than a year now, you'd think she'd live a, though not entirely luxurious one, peaceful life with her friends and family…but alas, it wasn't to be.

Actually, peaceful was what it used to really be.

Keyword: Used to.

That is, until Count Gin Inari came into the picture.

The pompous little bastard of a skeleton was as greedy with having her for a wife as he was with his riches. And being arranged to be the tax collector of their little hamlet for the Crown, he took full advantage of his power…especially when it came to his marriage proposals.

He would increase the taxes every time she refused him making it impossible for Sakura to pay considering the low production of her lands due to the drought. Though the money part had been taken care of for the most part, much to the count's chagrin, Sakura's continued refusal of him and her lack of alarm to his threats had led him to a desperate alternative.

An ultimatum.

It had begun simple enough. On one of his untimely visits to her manor he had once again tried his less than tempting proposals.

"My dear, Sakura, surely you can't refuse my offer of luxury again and again. I can shower you with jewels and all the comforts in the world, if you'll be mine."

Though huge words for such a tiny man, his words had nipped at Sakura's pride being the independent girl that she was, and she had to stop herself from punching the man's lights out and break every bone in his body.

Oh no, don't get her wrong. She wasn't some dainty lady. Far from it, actually. She could even take on three men twice her size and still come out the victor. And having the ability to do some major damage into the disgusting carcass of the man was too damn tempting. Too bad the idea of murder didn't sit too well with her though. So all she could do right then was glare at him with her jaded orbs wishing desperately that looks could kill.

It would've saved her the trouble! Really.

And no one would blame her.

Damned bastard!

"Riches that could rival the king's could lay at your feet, my dear…" Heedless of the resentment evidently shown in the pinkette's features, he had continued gaily as if his offer was the most tempting thing in the world. To Sakura, however, the only thing tempting about the man was getting a hold of those skinny twigs he called bones just begging to be broken!

"Riches that you stole from my people, Count Inari?" She had raised an eyebrow down at him, her cool disdain for him made into words making his face twitch and she could only guess that the last of his patience with her had worn off…something she had lost for him many months ago! Finally!

"My dear, Sakura," he had started through gritted teeth trying to maintain his repulsively pathetic sweet-talking, "I can give you lands richer than—"

"I'd sooner see my lands rot and barren than to see myself at a chapel with you waiting at the altar, you damned cheating shrimp!" had been her bitten remark feeling insulted and was unable to contain her bitterness toward the man, her eyes with outrage.

Red-faced, the count had looked ready to combust. He had glared at her through his thickly rimmed spectacles, his thin whitish hair stood on ends. "You're a stubborn girl, Sakura! If I have anything to say about it, you will marry me!"

"Too bad you don't! When will you get it through your bare skull?! I will not—I repeat—will not and will never marry you! Do I need to record it for you? Because I'd sound like a broken one if you don't get it soon!" She had given him a derisive snort worthy of a mountain man. She smiled sardonically down at him. "Now, Count Inari. Thank you for your visit, but I think you already know where the door is. I'd appreciate it if you'd show yourself out!"

At her command, the count had stood abruptly, his beady eyes glued to the fine features of the rosette haired female. "Mark my words, Miss Sakura Haruno! I will have you! One way or the other!"

"In your dreams bub!"

"Then perhaps, it's time to make my dreams a reality."

"Is that supposed to be a threat?" She had retorted not missing a beat as she stood up, towering the scrawny chap a good head taller.

"Why, no my dear." He had then smiled at her shrewdly, the very essence of evil twinkling in his repulsive beads of eyes making the girl shiver at the wickedness it harbored. "Hear me well, Miss Haruno. I will be leaving on a business trip for at least three months, and unless you want your oh-so precious lands confiscated from you, you'd best marry me when I return. If you still refuse me, you will no doubt find all that belongs to you in the government's, or rather to put it simply, in my keeping. I give you my word!"

"You wouldn't dare…"

"I'm a man of my word, Miss Haruno."

And with a sinking heart, Sakura knew that he was.

Inari wasn't beyond lying and scheming. He was stealing from them through the overpriced taxes under the government's nose, wasn't he?

It came to no surprise to her that he'd made such a desperate move with her…and having no other choice in the matter, she had to make her own desperate move as well…

Her lands, though nearly barren, was the only possession and the only remaining keepsake she had left of her deceased parents ever since they died when she was five. She couldn't bear to lose it! And especially not to a man whose bones would break with the wind if it was strong enough and still has the muck to lust after her!

The bloody bastard! I'll damn him to hell! And when I'm through with him, even hell would seem like heaven to him! She continued to string curses and repulsive names to the conniving oaf, barely aware that the wagon she was riding on was slowly skidding to a halt.

"Um…Sakura?" A familiar voice cut though her hostile sequence of curses, bringing her back to earth and fully aware of her surroundings. The chilly wind, the incoming fierce snowstorm, the dimly lit road…and most importantly, the place she found herself situated in front of. She shuddered as her senses went into overdrive before she let her gaze inspect the structure before her.

Her heart thudded against her chest heavily, afraid that it would burst right out of her ribcage as her eyes rested on the huge gray and heavy walled building of a prison complex. She licked her dry lips nervously, unconsciously clutching her cloak tighter against her chest even though she felt little of the cold considering the fact that she was already numb all over.

God, I hope I know what I'm doing… She closed her eyes briefly heaving a dragging, calming sigh. Her heart was stuck in her throat and it was hard for her to breath.

This…was probably the stupidest thing she's done in her entire life!

Not to mention the most desperate. She added a little sourly. She knew full well this was against everything she believed in. Everything she stood for. This was a huge sacrifice for her and her pride. And it was far from easy.

"Sakura?"

Sea foam orbs opened and wearily settled on her longtime comrade.

"Are you sure about this?" He glanced worriedly at the ominous complex. Suddenly, he wasn't so sure of her idea anymore…It was bad enough that they crossed the country to unwanted territory…

Smiling hesitantly at her friend, she gave him a stiff nod. "It's not like we have any other choice Chouji…"

Chouji, a big young man with a soft spot for food, was gentle in nature despite the fact that he could break a man in two with his oversized shins and take on at least five armed men. He glanced at her apprehensively. "You sure?"

"Yes." She nodded.

"You know we could always go with Kiba's idea…" he shrugged, offering nervously as he lumbered down the wagon. He sent her a pleading look. "It's not too late to change your plans, Sakura…"

Sakura tilted her head under the heavy black cloak the shrouded her entire visage and unusual hair into the shadows and looked back down at Chouji dubiously as he helped her down. "What? You mean breaking the count like the helpless toothpick he is?"

Chouji smiled lightly at her attempt in humor, his brows were still drawn together in obvious uncertainty. He knew what a risky person Sakura was…but this?

This was just plain…madness!

It didn't take a genius to realize it.

The girl adjusted her heavy wrap around her…whether for comfort from the uneasy foreboding feeling she felt as she made her way toward the complex or for the simple warmth it provided, she didn't know. She was numb inside. She barely felt anything actually. Walking to the building was like walking into her own grave…a feeling she could really live without.

Heaving out another calming sigh, she tried to appear nonchalant, for her apprehensive friend's sake. She knew Chouji was a worrywart. Always has been. She's been friends with him since childhood after all. And dragging him out in the middle of a building snowstorm wasn't probably such a good idea. It was the only way she could offer her thanks and solace to him.

"You know very well we can't just freely kill the man, no matter how tempting the idea is. Being charged with murder is the last thing we need, considering how in deep shit we already are with the authorities."

The big man nodded his doubtful agreement; his troubled gaze still glued up front his pudgy features. "I guess you're right…"

The pinkette nodded vigorously, more to reassure herself than her friend, as they ascended the cobble steps of the prison complex. "Yeah…"

When they reached to front of the building, Chouji rapped at the door. The sound of scuffling from the inside was the only hint the duo had that life was still at work around the place. No matter how dreadfully dismal the said place was. A moment later, the huge steel portals swung open revealing a man in his mid-twenties garbed in a guard's uniform.

If her heart was participating in some race, Sakura didn't doubt for one second that hers would've won. She gulped pushing down her anxiety and with all her might, managed to clear her throat, gaining the guard's attention.

She couldn't back down now.

"We…we have business with the gaoler."

The guard blinked at her small form. "What?"

"The gaoler. He's expecting us." She said a little more firmly knowing that if she displayed even the slightest weakness, all her plots were going to go awry. And she couldn't allow that. Every one was counting on her to do this right.

Her own fate counted on this.

Mistakes weren't an option.

Not right now.

Chouji shifted uncomfortably beside Sakura causing the guard's attention to shift towards him. His eyes widened at the impressive bulk that met his gaze.

"O-of course!" He stuttered out fearfully.

Sakura raised a fine eyebrow up at him, her features still hidden in the shadows of her cloak, before shifting her green gaze to Chouji who was just as befuddled as she was. She heaved out a silent sigh.

Turns out the sight of her friend's obvious structure was proof of business enough for the guard, because not a second was wasted before he stumbled back, straightened himself up as if to gain some composure…which wasn't actually saying much, and turned to show them the way.

Sometimes, having a friend the size of Big Foot has its advantages… She thought with an amused shake of her head at the irony. She knew that underneath all those hard, huge muscles was a heart as soft as the most expensive satin silk ever displayed on the market. Maybe even softer…but who knows. She sure hasn't felt the softest satin silk before.

She couldn't afford it.

"Sak…?"

She braced herself to enter the complex.

"Yes, Chouji." She answered not bothering to turn to face him but fixed her eyes on the long dark hallway that led to the sealing of her fate.

This is it. It's now or never…

Sure sparkling emerald pools looked directly up at the big lug's worry-filled orbs. "We're going in."

-XxxxX-

The turnkey was a pudgy man.

Okay, so maybe pudgy was an understatement.

Hell he was even bigger the Chouji. And her friend wasn't even at all entirely filled with fat whereas the turnkey…was.

He was a grotesquely obese male. Now, while Count Inari looked to contain only of dried bones under his skin one would be scared they'd break, the turnkey didn't look he had any at all.

Bones, that is.

He was like…

An overstuffed…pig…gone wrong. It was the first impression Sakura had on the man.

At their entry, the large turnkey struggle to his feet from the chair he was sitting on with an eagerness born of greed that, Sakura knew, ran as deep as even beyond his bottomless stomach. She didn't know whether she was thankful that he was, because if he were otherwise, she wouldn't be there, making a deal with him.

Which she supposed was a good thing…right?

"Milady! I 'ad thought ye 'ad changed yer mind," The turnkey, Mister Kuma chortled making his way toward her with his short massive legs. They were so huge he had to walk with both of his legs wide apart making his gait settle in an amusing rolling motion. And even with his great weight, he was short, barely matching Sakura's much less Chouji's who towered the pinkette by a head. With wheezing breaths due to the immense exertion he had applied just to saunter over to her, he reached out, took her hand in his and bestowed a kiss upon it.

Sakura had to battle an unpleasant shiver to run down her spine when his lips touch her fingers, and she took it away just quickly enough before he could touch her any further.

She wasn't entirely a snob. She sympathized with people more unfortunate than she was, and she's helped them in a lot of ways, but the guy was just so…disgusting. And knowing that he was every bit as mean and greedy didn't help her opinion of him at all. Hell, she doubted she could even pass as a lady. Acting like one was part of her plan, and all the parcel that came along with it, with the bowing and the hand-kissing and the curtsying and everything.

She shuddered.

Though she was doing this for a good cause, she was still sickened with how she's sunk so low as to make a deal with a man like him, a man who was no less sinister and greedy as Inari, but she was desperate!

After all, it was a choice between this or…the count. And it was plainly obvious which of the two Sakura thought was the lesser of evils.

Its better this way…She began to reason out as she fought the impulse to just turn tail and make her way back home where she could be safe of this torment, her conscience prickling at her aware consciousness. It's better to choose this kind of madness than to marry a man I loath…because I know there'd be hell to pay! And for the safety of my friends and family, letting hell loose isn't the best of ideas right now…

And this is? A betraying voice rang through all the corners of her mind.

YES! She cried mentally, desperate, wanting to be free of the building guilt inside her.

Life had never been fair to her. And it was up to her to make it fair. It always had. That was how she made it in life…and settling the battleground was one of her methods of making it fair. She knew that.

It wasn't entirely wrong…

Is it? The voice cynically interjected. It's not wrong but does it make it right? Using a man?

Grinding her teeth together, she fought the urge to slap herself silly. Will you just shut up?!

She's made up her mind! This was the way it's supposed to be! There was no turning back! Inari was coming back in two weeks! She was running out of time!

She clenched her hands into tight fists, pushing her conscience, which badly made a good point by the way, but wasn't entirely helping her situation, down into the deepest corners of her mind where it wouldn't bother her for the time being before turning her attention to the gaoler, all the while trying to block out the unpleasant aroma of stale rum and fish that enveloped the room.

Wow. Talk about inner battles.

"I'm here, as I said I would be, Mister Kuma." She tried to sound snobby and stern, like the real aristocratic females she knew far little about. She gestured to a certain path down the hall. "Please let me see the man so we can get on with the arrangements."

The fat gaoler paused, stroking his chin thoughtfully, wondering if there was someway he could sway the heavily cloaked lady into throwing in some more of her money for him.

The last time she was there had been at least two weeks ago, and she was heavily disguised too. It had piqued his curiosity as to what her reasons were to collaborate with a condemned man whose fate was to become a hanging corpse up at the gallows.

At first he had been suspicious. His way of life wasn't exactly a safe one being around criminals and two-faced fellows all the time, but when they had offered him a considerable sum, he had eagerly fetched the book of names containing the men who were bound for the triple tree and handed it over to the humungous, also heavily garbed, man who had also been at her side at that time. He could only guess that she was no pauper with the way she held herself, although there was no way to tell for sure, since her black cloak had covered every part of her save for the lower part of her face that wasn't shrouded in shadows.

But whether she was rich or not, he wasn't above wheedling his way into another hefty purse. Although as to how…he wasn't really sure. He didn't dare ask questions with the huge manservant at her side, and he never seemed to leave it, her side.

"Mister Kuma, I'm waiting…"

"We'll 'ave to see him in his cell." Mister Kuma heaved a heavy sigh, and then abruptly snorted. He snatched a ring of keys from his belt turning toward the hall where the prisoner he had learned to hate was being held. "'E 'as been kept away from the others or 'e likely woulda 'ave the whole lot 'o 'em risin' agin us."

"Oh? Why's that?" came Sakura's question, slightly intrigued.

"Aye! 'At Kiyoshi feller is a troublemaker, I'm tellin' ye milady! It even took 'alf a dozen guards to put 'im down when we they caught 'im." The gaoler said holding out his lantern for the strangers. And he, for one, knew how true that was. He had experienced first hand Kiyoshi's fist against his cheek. It severed the savage man right to be hanged! Although a slower end for the man would've been more to Kuma's liking, if you ask him.

"Really? I'll have to see it for my self then. He might meet my needs perfectly, after all…Besides, my good friend, here, will make sure Mister Kiyoshi will be at his best behavior while I'm there. You don't need to worry Mister Kuma." Sakura, on the other hand, wasn't swayed by the man's attempt to frighten her. She was a troublemaker, herself. Knew Kiyoshi and Kuma's kind of scum well. Perhaps she and Mister Kiyoshi would even get along just fine…

She just hoped this Kiyoshi person would quietly cooperate with her after all the trouble she's gone through. She didn't want to see all that hard earned money go to waste. It was bad enough that they had to spend the amount of money that could've last them a full month just for this escapade.

The smile on Kuma's face faded finding no other pothole to bend his way to a heavier purse. He shrugged it off, basically content that at least he had his share, proceeding into a gloomy dingy room through the heavy iron doors and into a dimly lit walkway with his peculiar rolling walk.

Silence held the place. The only thing that seemed to resonate through the gray walls was their eerie footsteps and the occasional groans, moans and muffled weeping of prisoners. Throughout the creepy crossing, Sakura held her ground, summoning all the courage she had left inside her.

Oh yeah. This was the stupidest, most insane and idiotic idea she's ever made!

Dear god, why are you so cruel?! She, herself, wanted to weep.

"How long has Mister Kiyoshi been here?" Chouji asked the master gaoler, uneasily trying to avert his attention from the creepy room.

Kuma shrugged. "'Bout three weeks now."

"Three weeks? I thought you said he was just condemned. How can that be?"

"The magistrate didn't really know what to do with the lad. With a name like Kiyoshi being all powerful an' all, 'e 'as to be really careful an' make sure just 'oo 'e's 'anging. The Kiyoshi name isn't som'ing to take on lightly. Even the magistrate was reluctant to take on the job. But then 'bout three days ago, 'e gave the word—'hang him," the gaoler shrug of his heavy shoulders, his rolling gait still…well…rolling. "I don't entirely know much 'bout the bloke, but I gots my instructions from the magistrate that the Kiyoshis won't 'ear no nothin' 'bout the deed, an' being the clever man that I am, I figured, when they let me 'andle the matter, that Mister Kiyoshi is the one ye be needing." He stopped in front of an iron door. "Ye said ye wanted a man bound for the gallows, and I couldn't give 'im to ye until I gots the word from the magistrate."

"Oh…I see…" was Sakura's only reply trying not to sound too grateful. It was as if life was suddenly on her side, making up for all the misfortune it had brought her.

Now all she needed was the man's approval…

Sakura swapped a quick glance with Chouji when Kuma thrust a key into the iron door and, with a loud squeak from its rusty hinges, swung the portal open.

Her breath caught in her throat.

This was the moment of truth. It was the moment they had so patiently waited for.

And it all lay in the hands of a convicted man named Jiro Kiyoshi.

He alone held the future of her plan.

Is it its end? Or its beginning?

It was all up to him now…

Mister Kuma lifted the lantern a little higher making the light dance a little deeper into the darkened cell. Sakura's gaze fell on the man lying on a narrow cot with a threadbare blanket raised to his up to his chin in an effort to ward away the bone-chilling cold. He stirred and covered his eyes when the candle's light presented its illumination to him.

"What do you want, Kuma?" He dragged out coldly, weakly trying to sit up.

"Get on yer feet, ye curl! 'Ere's a liedy to grace His Highness's presence." The rotund man sneered sarcastically, remembering what Kiyoshi told him when he was brought in.

"A lady?" The prisoner strained to see another figure through the lantern. But all he saw was darkness beyond the paltry light.

His voice came deep and smooth to Sakura's ears. She couldn't detect a slur that was usually found in rowdy men. It even sounded—dare she say it—pleasant. But, though his voice was more clipped and refined than what she was used to, there was something else there too.

A hint of foreboding, perhaps…and a touch of mysteriousness encased his smooth speech that seemed to freeze anyone's blood in their veins.

Cold. Dangerous.

Well, at least, Kuma's been telling the truth about one thing. She sighed to herself dismally. Jiro Kiyoshi was a dangerous man, indeed.

Sakura sent a cautious glance at her companion and Chouji could only nod in return, indicating that he had her back before she stepped out of the shadows, all the while studying Jiro through the scanty glow of the lantern.

His clothes were ragged and tattered. It was barely enough to cover his slender, well muscled torso and long lithe legs. Bruises and dried blood covered his sculpted upper body and his rippled upper arms.

At the sight of his well-muscled and supple body, despite the fact that he was a deprived prisoner, it made Sakura thankful she was used to seeing guys naked to the waist. If she wasn't, she'd probably stutter and blush like the vestal virgin she really was…because…as much as she hated to admit it, his sinuous built was, by far, the most god-like structure she's seen in…well, her entire life…

Shaking the thoughts side, she raised her gaze to his face…which was…mostly obscured with his growing beard. She could only guess that he wasn't allowed to touch a razor seeing as how fearful Kuma seemed to be of the man.

But at least he isn't the beast I imagined him to be. That, at least, is a bright side… She mused silently, her eyes still fixed on the subject of her mission.

Through his disheveled and tossed dark hair, his deep eyes remained alert, his own gaze gazing on her own form…which wasn't much to look at thanks to the cloak she wore. And she couldn't be any more thankful.

His eyes were like piercing arrows—searing, calculating and searching.

Silence regained its grip around them as the duo stared at each other, as if assessing each other into their systems.

Jiro remained silent.

And then…

"Mister Kuma, leave us alone now. I wish to speak to Mister Kiyoshi in private." The melody of Sakura's voice was a command in itself. Quiet but firm.

Kuma hesitated. "But, milady—"

"Now."

"But 'e'll wring yer ne—"

Sakura smiled beneath the shadows of her hood knowing where the greedy turnkey was heading. He wasn't afraid for her safety. He was afraid for the safety of his money…Something Sakura hasn't given him yet—and perhaps still a little stingy at giving it away.

Money didn't grow on tree, after all.

"You needn't worry, Mister Kuma. It's my neck I'm risking. You will still be paid as agreed for your services."

Guilty as charged, Kuma turned a dangerous shade of red…almost purple. Sakura could only smile at the pathetic creature, feeling no pity for the man at all. Greedy people are so predictable. She mentally shook her head at the thought.

"Be careful, milady. He's a fast one." He nodded toward the captive before exiting the dank chamber muttering sourly to himself, but left the lantern behind for the occupants left in the room.

Emerald orbs met concerned russet pools.

"You too, Chouji."

Jiro's gaze fell to the enormous man by the lantern as if he had just seen him there. He watched the strangers' exchange in silence.

Under the big man's hood, the lines of worry present on his visage deepened. "But Sa—"

"I can handle it."

The knowing smile Chouji was familiar with was reassurance enough. Sakura was by-far not the girl to mess around with, he knew. She could protect herself…but…

He shifted his gaze to the prisoner. The man looked able to take her on…The finely sculpted sinews that adorned him told Chouji enough that he was no lousy, drunk lout.

His eyes met Sakrua's again. "Are…you sure…?"

At his friend's sure nod, he tentatively departed the cell, closing the door behind him and placed himself before the door to guard it from any possible eavesdroppers to do what they do best.

Eavesdrop.

A long pause a followed the huge man's wake; Jiro settled his gaze back to the heavily cloaked figure, unable to draw any possible explanation as to why they were there. He certainly hasn't seen them before.

Well, not that he could actually see the under the weighty warps draped around them anyway…

"Are sure you want your escort way out there, my lady?" Jiro finally said in the deep monotone timbre of his voice, drawing Sakura away from her thoughts just in time to see him tilt his head to the door where Chouji's back was visible through the small window.

Swallowing the hard lump that settled in her throat, she managed to send him a slow small smile. "Yes. I can take care of myself…" was her only answer before walking up to Jiro Kiyoshi, walking and surveying around him as if she was examining a prized animal.

Each deliberate movement she took was followed by the captive's patiently alert, slightly suspicious and yet somehow amused eyes.

"Who are you?" The monotone of his voice shook the silence in the room away.

Moving away from him, Sakura stood before him just out of his reach. "My name doesn't really matter."

His dark eyes narrowed.

"But yours does."

A/n: So, I decided to rewrite this before I continue on with chapter five mainly because I need to get a feel of this story again. I haven't updated this in almost a year and a little trip down memory lane is in order. Sorry again for the delay guys! I'll put up chappie numero cinco soon! Ciao!