Title: This is my way as a ninja
Characters/Pairing: Haruno Sakura and Uchiha Itachi
Type: One-shot (Complete)
Word Count: 4884
Theme: LJ Community, 50-shinobi theme #01, "This is my way as a ninja"
Rating: T (Contains content not suitable for children)
Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto-san.
Summary: To protect her most precious person, Sakura would willingly give her life. Itachi wasn't about to let her die, though.
Chapter Last Revised on: 04/01/08
"You are a fool."
Dull emerald eyes stared blankly into wildly swirling, bloody crimson.
Raw. Vicious. Rage.
Once upon a time, she would have flinched and cowered away from that harsh look of savage fury that twisted his emotionless face into something so much more sinister and darker-looking but not anymore. Time and experience had taught her that Uchiha Itachi was nothing like the calm, seemingly uncaring façade that he liked to put on for the rest of the world to see. Underneath that elegantly tranquil surface hid a waiting disaster; a living time bomb that was made of nothing but a black writhing, roiling pit of malevolent, venomous emotions and dark insanity.
Once upon a time, just the sight of him had terrified her.
Once upon a time, she would have feared for her life at that unstable glint in his eyes.
Once upon a time, Haruno Sakura had been so sure that her hate for Uchiha Itachi was like nothing she had ever felt before.
Now, everything had changed.
Now, the sight of him; the proud arrogant features, icy countenance and intense scarlet eyes made her heart slam against her ribcage for an entirely different reason.
Now, her fear of him was mostly gone, no longer that of a blind, mind numbing terror; it was now a healthy dose of wary respect for a powerful being, a powerful being who could easily crush her to pieces if he so wished.
Now, Sakura was not at all sure of what to make of this strange emotion that she felt whenever he was around. It was as if there were a million little winglets fluttering within her stomach whenever he curled around her in bed, it was as if he could control her ability to breathe with just a single long look, it was as if all the rays of the sun had flooded into her chest whenever he brushed against her accidentally…
It was as if she had found a little piece of heaven when she wasn't even looking for one, and it was as if home was by his side.
The pink-haired kunoichi would not deny it; her wayward feelings for this Uchiha panicked her. Badly. It wasn't supposed to happen, it was forbidden, it was all wrong and she had known from the very beginning that there was going to be terrible repercussions for her heart's weakness.
She was right.
Now here she was, currently slumped weakly against an aged oak tree in the middle of nowhere, trying her best to recuperate from her extensive injuries. Fresh blood seeped continuously from the large wound that severely incapacitated her and to make things worse, she was just too low on chakra to even attempt healing herself. Her breathing was awkward and heavy thanks to the two cracked ribs on her side as well as the severe internal injuries that she had sustained and there were bruises everywhere she looked. Sakura forced herself to take a deep, shuddering breath all the same, fatigue weighing heavily on her haggard frame and it was all she could do not to succumb to the comforting embrace of sleep.
She was almost running completely out of strength and if she let herself fall unconscious now, she would probably never wake again.
Oh, but the urge was so strong though. Her physical agony was almost unbearable as it was but it was certainly nothing compared to what she was feeling inside. If she just closed her eyes and allowed herself to quietly drift away, would her heart stop feeling as if it had just been ripped into pieces? Would everything be back to how it used to be when she woke up again?
The early memories of Team Seven; Naruto's happy grin, Sasuke's cocky smirk, Kakashi's smile. The love from her precious people; her shishou's gruff affection, Shizune's sisterly concern, Ino's sunny laughter, her parents' joy and pride at her accomplishments. Beloved, beloved Konoha; the rolling, rich hills that was her home, the peaceful trees around her, shading her, sheltering her as she grew up amongst those great boughs and strong protecting branches.
Glazed emerald eyes quickly became unseeing as Sakura nearly choked on her grief.
Today, she had betrayed everything she had fought for her entire life. Today, she had turned her back on her important people, defended against those whom she was supposed to protect.
The blank look in Kakashi's normally cheery eye, the hurt confusion on Naruto's face, the dark rage burning in Sasuke's Sharingan and the sad disappointment of her beloved shishou were something she would never forget for as long as she lived. Bitterly, the kunoichi almost wished that she had not survived this confrontation, almost wished that Sasuke had did a better job with his Chidori Nagashi, almost wished that Tsunade had not decided to cut her loose.
She wasn't even a nukenin now.
No, as of today Haruno Sakura was officially declared dead to the denizens of Konoha. She would never be allowed to step foot within the Leaf, never be allowed to see her friends and family lest she wanted to be killed on sight.
A part of Sakura's heart broke.
The kunoichi's breath hitched, and bleak verdant eyes darkened further with despair.
Torn. She had been irretrievably torn between two sides. Her heart warring fiercely with her loyalty, her powerful love for one conflicting with the other and it had been slowly killing her. It had been obvious to her from the beginning that she would never be able to have both, but then again never in her wildest imaginations would she have thought that things would degenerate to such a hopeless situation where to lose either one would break her so badly that she would never be able to recovery completely from the experience ever again.
There had been simply no way out for her. She was a creature made for love and laughter; her large heart designed as if solely for her to love unconditionally, to accept, to care for almost everyone whom she came across. She was too soft-hearted for her own good, too empathizing with people whom she should never have tried to approach, too trusting with her affections and could never seem to resist trying to help heal a wounded soul. What had once been her greatest asset as a friend, a fierce protector, and a loyal kunoichi had at last also been the cause for her harsh fall from grace.
Love was such a double-edged sword.
She had known for quite awhile already that she would never be able to fight him properly ever again, never be able to attack him with the intent to kill, never be able to hate him like she was required to and it would be only a matter of time before everyone around her knew of her ugly little secret.
The ugly little secret that made her feel so free, that never failed to bring a soft, faraway look to her eyes, that had her heart beating with so much love that she had almost forgotten how it had felt like until now.
She would never have been able to stand by and watch as they took him down. Similarly, it would kill her inside if he had their blood on his hands, and she had no doubt that he would go down fighting the moment he knew that it had all been an ambush.
She would never be able to protect her precious people if she didn't do anything, and in the end she had decided that her way would be for the best. Since she was hopelessly stuck between her heart and obligation, she might as well act as a buffer between the two.
And no, she was not being particularly self-sacrificing; on the contrary she was being horridly selfish, only thinking of herself, of her own satisfaction in the matter.
Emerald eyes glimmered with resolve and remained steadily affixed to glaring crimson orbs. She had expected that he would be furious when he finally realized that he had been tricked, had mentally prepared herself for his cold rage, his blatant fury.
"I will protect all my precious people with everything that I have." She whispered at last. "This is my way as a ninja."
The Uchiha did not reply to her foolishly sentimental words; he gave her a hard, unwavering stare. Judging from her severely wounded state it was obvious that her 'precious people', namely that foolish little brother of his, had not appreciated her interference any more than he did. Spinning Mangekyo Sharingan eyes narrowed.
What a ridiculous notion. To protect her precious people indeed. Obviously they didn't want nor need her feeble protection. What infuriated the Akatsuki even more was the fact that despite she had been obviously turned upon by her closest friends and country, there was not one hint of anger or hatred in those heartbroken green eyes of her. Was she really so forgiving, so idiotically innocent?
He still remembered the first time he had come across her. She had been such a fierce little thing, emerald eyes glowing with hate, shoulders pulled back with pride as she watched over the backs of her friends while dealing out massive damage of her own. A fierce protector and a savage warrioress all rolled into one. His fascination for her had developed then and the next time their paths crossed again he had not hesitated in taking her with him.
She had fought tooth and nail as predicted, but what he had certainly not expected was for her to eventually, willingly, settle down within the confines of the headquarters; and it was there that he had discovered the true nature that was hidden securely under her seemingly headstrong and stubborn façade. She was highly intelligent but was appallingly innocent about the ways of the world, she cared too much and was too loyal for her own good, she had no sense of self-preservation whatsoever and would do anything to help anyone who required it.
She was such a strange, alien creature to him and even now, after five months of having her by his side, there were still things about her that he has yet to discover.
Crimson eyes hardened. And he would never discover them. Her role in his plan had already been played out; there was no longer the need to keep her around anymore. She had been a wildcard from the very beginning, using her to lure out his little brother and the Kyuubi Jinchuriki had been a calculated risk that he had taken and it was now obvious to him that he had underestimated her.
For the plan had failed.
She was supposed to be only a pawn for him to manipulate and direct as he wished; she was not supposed to possess independent thoughts and actions.
And most importantly of all, she was not supposed to betray him.
But she had, ran off at the very first chance she could seize, flying back as if on winged feet to her beloved Konoha, to protect her precious Sasuke.
Itachi's face was now expressionless again, but the violent rage in his eyes never cooled.
He really should kill her now. Watch her writhe in agony as her life bled from her, as the light in her anguished eyes slowly faded away to nothingness, as he bathed in her blood with sadistic pleasure.
The soft breeze that brushed across his senses sounded so much like the recriminating tone of his father that he flinched involuntarily.
"…you are going to kill me now, huh?" Her soft voice distracted him from his own inner contempt. After all these years, after all he had done to rid himself of his family he was still being controlled by the ghosts of his past. Itachi looked into her weary eyes. Once more, there were no recriminations in that brilliant emerald gaze, no fear and no hate whatsoever, but so much sadness.
Because he had them hidden within his cloak, she did not get to see him clench his fists, did not get to see his nails draw blood.
"No." He said brusquely at last, and she was so surprised that she just stared at him in a blank stupor. Then a small sliver of hope filled her eyes and he snarled inwardly at that look. Schooling his face into a semblance of completely indifference, he proceeded to cruelly rip her heart out and stomp it into pieces.
"You are not worth my effort. My business with you is finished."
When she continued staring at him with confusion, he decided with a maliciously vindictive streak that he was going to enjoy hurting her as much as he could muster, because when it came to her; emotional pain was as close as he could accomplish to drawing blood.
What an annoyance. Perhaps he should get Kisame to finish what he could not.
"You were just a means to an end and you have served your purpose. Naruto-kun will definitely come to me now because of you, kunoichi."
He refrained from addressing her by name despite the fact that it had been on his lips so frequently for the past months that he had already gotten used to it. However, familiarity breeds contempt, after all, and he was about done with her. He didn't want anything to do with someone who had such conflicting loyalties, who was uncertainly sitting on the fence as she watched both sides. A double agent if you may, but this double agent had just proved to him this day just which side had held her loyalty better.
And it wasn't him.
Itachi never cared to be betrayed; he trusted too little as it was and she was going to learn what it would be like to cross him.
Despite her heavy blood loss, Sakura was still lucid enough to garner what he was saying. He had used her. Rather than killing her on sight and delivering her defiled and mutilated body back to Konoha, it would definitely drive the Kyuubi vessel to a greater height of fury and recklessness if she was the one who had been willingly led away from her friends. Dazed emerald eyes widened with quiet realization. It had been his plan from the very moment he had laid eyes on her.
If Sakura was heartbroken earlier, she was beyond devastated now.
Suddenly the kunoichi found it so hard to breathe and tears blurred her eyes as the painful truth finally revealed itself to her. She had never tried to delude herself that her love may be returned but this was almost too much. He had taken her affection, something so pure and precious to her and had used it for something so ugly and dishonorable. Tears of dark despair filled her eyes. Of course it made perfect sense that he had secured her affection not because he had desired it, but because it was all part of the big picture. Sakura felt the remaining pieces of her heart start to wither and die. Itachi was wrong when he said that he couldn't kill her. He was slowly but surely strangling her to death. Badly shaken, the kunoichi closed her eyes to shut out the sight of him and turned her head away in an effort to compose herself but he was not allowing her even that little bit of relief.
The tall Uchiha bent down to her level and caressed her tear-streaked cheek so tenderly that she shuddered. Unable to help herself, she opened her eyes to stare straight into his.
"Such a pity that my little brother does not appreciate what you have done for him." He whispered with a quiet sneer. She shook badly, utterly hurt by the contempt in his silky tenor and the tears fell even harder than before. "But then again, Sasuke-kun has always been such a fussy child, and he would never want anything that his aniki had already touched."
She flinched visibly at his cruel insinuation and tried to curl within herself and away from him. The pain from her heart was so overwhelming that she had to fight to keep from clutching her chest and whimpering from the anguish. This was nobody's fault but hers. This was the man whom she had chosen to entrust her heart with, this was the man whom she had chosen to give her trust to. She was the one who had fallen in love with him; fallen in love with his beautiful voice and wonderful scent, fallen in love with the way he could make her feel so breathless and at the same time make her so furious sometimes, fallen in love with the way his body felt fitted perfectly against hers whenever they made love… She could see so easily that he was so much more than he knew, and she had fallen irrevocably in love with the man that he is; the man he could have been.
But it was all over now though. Or rather, it was all ending soon.
Crimson eyes turned cold, emotionless once more as Itachi stood up and stepped away from her pathetic form. She was already reduced to a shuddering mess huddling desperately against the tree for protection against him, and a small part of him took malicious joy in her obvious misery. The rest of him though, did not feel satisfaction at all as he watched her breakdown before him. Instead, he only felt grim and even more disillusioned than he already was.
It was over.
Resolute in his decision to put this incident firmly behind him and to forget about silky pink hair and laughing green eyes, the Uchiha started to stride away from the clearing.
Then she spoke.
Sakura did not know why she did it. Maybe she was a glutton for pain but when he turned his back on her and made as if to disappear from her life forever, something within her broke.
Her time was rapidly running out; this she knew, and she had to tell him before it was too late.
"You are wrong, Itachi." Her voice was so soft that he almost missed it. "I didn't do it for Sasuke."
Bright green eyes stared longingly into the broad back of the male standing so far away from her, willing with all her might for him to turn around and face her once more. Their positions were so ironic—and so very true. He was always so far away. No matter how hard she tried, no matter how she strained to reach for him it was as if there would always be a distance between them. Sakura's face crumpled with silent anguish.
"I did it for you."
Her quiet, aching whisper had him halting abruptly in his tracks but he didn't turn around. He was just curious about her answer; this didn't mean anything.
He was not looking at her still but he was definitely listening. Encouraged, Sakura forced her body to resist going into shock from the massive blood loss until she could finish telling him everything she wanted him to know.
"Your organization wasn't the only one that was planning. Why else was I all alone on a failing mission and near your vicinity that day five months ago?"
Itachi stiffened. He could not help himself; the Akatsuki turned around and faced the female at last. The look in his eyes was cold and forbidding, and they pierced so sharply into her soul that she trembled.
"Explain." One word, and commanded so harshly that for a moment a small glint of humor sparked in those dull emerald eyes. Why did she always fall for such arrogant men?
"It was a well known fact that I was the weakest link in Team Seven. It had been a risky plan but we had hoped that you might use me as an emotional blackmail for Naruto. And that was exactly what you did. The duel that was supposed to happen between yourself and Sasuke today had been in the planning for nearly a year already. I was supposed to play into your hands exactly the way you expected and lead you into believing that you had the upper hand all the while and…" Sakura trailed off slightly before resuming her explanation quickly, the pain in her eyes as obvious as the heartache in her voice. "And they were supposed to ambush you midway during the fight. You were supposed to die today."
Emerald eyes were so faraway by now, as if reliving the inner turmoil and the confusion that she had felt for the past few days. She was so very tired of being stuck in the middle. Love and duty. Of course she had known from the beginning that he was using her, but the heart follows no logic but that of its own and hearing his callous admittance had hurt so damn much.
She wasn't hoping for an outright confession of love from him but she had hoped, had wished sometimes even, that maybe he could learn to care for her just a little. She would have been contented with that little bit of affection but obviously she was just daydreaming as usual. He had nothing to gain by giving her affection, nothing to gain other than her love and her heart, and what good were they? He was always craving to be stronger, to become more powerful and her affections for him would only make him weak.
He didn't need her love.
Well, it didn't matter anymore now. Everything was going to be over soon. Her color was getting paler than ever, she had long since stopped trying to halt the flow of blood from her wound and in the place of her heart was nothing but an empty, despairing hole. She was like a puppet with her strings cut; there was no more will within her to fight to live. Her love had been brutally extinguished and she felt so cold, both internally and externally.
Sakura figured that she owed him a decent explanation at the least, and then when she had accomplished her one last obligation, maybe she could finally slip away peacefully.
"Evidently I could not do it." The pink-haired female smiled a wry, bittersweet smile, now slightly blue-tinged lips curving sadly. "I left today to inform them of my decision. As you said yourself, Sasuke didn't take it too well."
Unseeing emerald eyes looked through the Uchiha who had wandered closer. Tears started to slip down her cheeks again.
"Hokage-sama let me go, but I'm as good as dead to them now." Her breathing was erratic as she rasped a most horrible sound of laughter. "But I'm dying anyway, so it makes no difference, right?"
He didn't say anything and she continued speaking, the words tumbling out from her faster and faster even as her eyes seemed to slowly focus back on him again. The brilliant shade of emerald met crimson for what might be the last time.
"Please give up on Naruto; you can't fight them all, Itachi, and I know that they are going to be more determined than ever to hunt you down after this." By now, he had to strain to hear her fading whisper.
It took all her strength to lift up a deadened hand, her fingers twitching slightly as she raised it up towards him.
He was still too far away, and she could not reach him. He was always as unreachable as the stars to her, and it didn't surprise her that she wasn't even allowed to feel him one last time. Still, she had to try. She would always try to go to him no matter what happened, no matter the things that he did or said to her. Such was the way her heart operated, and until it stopped beating she would always try to return to where she belonged, to where she was needed.
Time was running out quickly however, and before he could react to her unspoken request, her arm dropped back down, flopping listlessly onto the ground. It was obvious that the action tired her greatly but the brilliant verdant hues of her eyes never faded. If anything they started to shine with such intensity that he would not have been able to take his eyes off of her even if he tried. There was so much raw emotion in her expressive gaze that he wondered if she was using all that was left of her energy to channel her feelings to him.
"Somehow, it has become very important to me that you remain alive." She spoke quietly. It was getting so hard to keep her eyes open, but that was alright. She was almost done here anyway. Sakura smiled gently at this tall Akatsuki crouching silently before her; how odd that fate had given her a second chance at love and it was him who had made her heart beat and sing again. Even if it was only for a little while, Sakura was grateful—and contented. She could honestly say that she had died trying to protect someone she loved and even though he might not reciprocate her affection, that was alright as well. He was not someone who would love easily and she understood that.
It was really just as well that things ended this way.
"Why." His question didn't take long to carry to her; he was now so near that she could feel the waves of comforting heat that rolled of him. They warmed her cold body and she shivered slightly.
He would probably never understand why, at least certainly not in this lifetime and she smiled again, a smile so brave and heartbreaking that his eyes narrowed with inward incomprehension.
"Because I will protect all my precious people with everything that I have, and you, Itachi, you are my most precious person."
Itachi froze at her admission.
For a supposed genius it had taken her direct admission before he realized what she had meant.
It wasn't for Sasuke when she had left for Konoha.
It was for him.
And now she was paying the price—by sparing his life she had as much as offered her own as replacement.
As he continued staring at her in a state of suspended animation, she grimaced suddenly and stiffened with discomfort, chest heaving desperately for air as she did so. Her internal organs were starting to fail from the lack of blood and she shook violently.
"…so cold…" Her whisper was broken and by now the tears on her face had stopped flowing. Her system was slowly shutting down and in a little while more those emerald eyes that had entranced him so many a times would close one last time and never open again. At the sobering thought, Itachi's mind started to work once more. What was he supposed to do? What did he want to do?
"…leave." Despite the fact that she was obviously dying, the steely command behind her request was unmistakable. "…I don't want…you…to see me like…this…"
Like hell he would leave her now. He had never heeded her imperious demands before and he wasn't planning to start now. Even though his head was still pounding fiercely with recriminations like how on earth he could have been blind enough to walk into Konoha's trap another much more important matter was rapidly taking precedence within his list of priorities.
Itachi had absolutely no idea how to react to the kunoichi's startling confession but if there was one thing that he was very sure of right now it was that he definitely wanted to know more about what she was trying to tell him. This was getting complicated. She was supposed to be just a means to an end; she wasn't supposed to mean anything to him but somehow, she did. He just hadn't figured out where she stood in his life. She was dying for him, and no one had ever done that before. The feeling that he was experiencing right now was so foreign that he had no idea what to make of it. She would probably know though; so he was just going to have to demand an explanation out of her.
However, in order for him to be able to do so she definitely had to stay alive.
The powerful Uchiha snapped out of his preoccupation and narrowed crimson eyes on the fatally injured female. Despite her feeble protests he forcefully injected a brief surge of his chakra into her system before picking her limp form into his arms. She didn't fight him, was probably too weakened to do anything now. She was painfully cold to the touch and her head lolled lifelessly against his shoulder in a way that made his insides freeze. Gripping her a little tighter than necessary, the powerful male raced through the forest, silent as a wraith. The strong pulse of his energy within her would hopefully keep her alive until he got her to an appropriate medic.
For now, he was not going to let her die.
And neither was he planning to let her go, after all.
Questions That I Would Like To Answer Before You Ask:
There. This is my first attempt at writing a death fic and I think that I have just failed spectacularly. Sakura didn't die, after all. I just can't let her go, for the life of me. And I know I keep griping about how I suck at angst at all, then why the hell am I still writing it? I really can't help my fingers, that's why. They just fly solo without my brain every time they are within the vicinity of a keyboard. Once again, my apologies to anyone who read this and felt that it had been an utter waste of time.
There are a lot of plot holes in this one shot, I can tell. Itachi was OOC. He shouldn't be so easily fooled but what do you know, that's why fanfiction exist. We writers can bend and twist dimensions and characters everyway we like, and Itachi here is just going to have to be a little less brilliant in this one shot. You know, just so that the plot can develop.
And I know Sakura was OOC too. She would never betray Konoha in canon-verse and even if she had Tsunade would never just let her go and Naruto would definitely insist on bringing back his teammate no matter what. I'm most aware of all these and more, which is why I'm gearing myself up to be flamed by hostile anti-ItaSaku fans who are going to bitch about how this entire pairing is never going to work and how disgusting and stupid the pairing is just because their little heads simply cannot wrap around the notion that this is also known as fanfiction.
Tell you what; I don't really care what you think—or feel. Critique the fic and not the pairing, and give a damn good reason if you don't like it—and maybe I will accept it.
I apologize for my aggressive tone in the above paragraph. That's nothing but me ranting because I had just read a flame about somebody's fic that I thought had been extremely unjust and targeted specifically to damage the confidence of the authoress. It made me most upset for obvious reasons. The flame had went something like this:
um...wow. i don't care if this was pre-massacre. it still doesn't work. sakura is worthless and itachi wouldn't talk to her. itachi would get up and leave. not to mention the "beautiful flower of love". can i please barf? itachi and sakura is the most unrealistic pairing on the face of the entire planet. she would probably burn his eyes with her pink-ness. sorry if i sound like a , i'm just getting really tired of seeing this pairing show up everywhere when it is so irrational.
I absolutely despise people who get their rocks off putting people down with what they think are clever, sarcastic retorts, especially those who seem to love damaging the confidence of fledgling writers. Not everyone is born perfect, and that's why we keep improving ourselves. Reviews are meant to help writers improve their writing, not meant as a tool for venting frustrations on. Maybe those abovementioned people could use their brains once in awhile and reflect about their own appalling actions.
Alright, I'm done ranting. Feel a lot better now too. Cookies, anyone?
Your reviews fuel my passion for writing. So please leave a comment if you like this fic, thank you.