(A\N: Yeah. This is what you think it is. An actual update. Be proud. I force-fed myself inspiration after the horrific events of the Naruto manga to give this to you. And trust me when I say they are horrific. Really. I don't understand quite how anyone can enjoy what is going on. Let's just see how much Kishimoto can throw in his love for Sasuke into 17 pages of FAIL. Ugh. Sorry if you like the last few chapters, I've just grown sick of the plot. We're all entitled to our opinions, howver. XD I'm going to try and start updating my other stories as well, but we can't get ahead of ourselves, ok? It should come, but my inspiration for Naruto is waning…and I need to find some way to preserve it. So here you go…enjoy!)


"We have to get this information to Naruto immediately." Sakura stood, turning swiftly towards Shikamaru. "We have to—" She stopped short as several chakra signatures spiked in her senses, and her eyes widened in shock.

"Would you look at that? The pink-haired bitch and the shadow-using fucker from before."


Chapter 19

You Are My Sunshine


Sakura stood, slowly and deliberately, but not so slow that she wouldn't be able to block an attack or run if she needed to. She needed to show that she wasn't afraid. Because she would be damned before she let Hidan or Kakuzu think she was frightened of them.

Even if she was, just a little. Fighting two immortal beings wasn't an easy job.

She looked out of the corner of her eye at Shikamaru. His face was carefully blank, and Sakura knew that look was more dangerous than rage. She preferred it because it meant he had a plan, but the coldness made her shiver.

They were the eyes of someone who was ready to do anything it took to kill.

A true shinobi's eyes.

Hidan and Kakuzu didn't look any different than the last time she'd seen them. She was rather glad that the two hadn't stayed with the other Akatsuki members often. She'd never liked them, and the sight of them before her was already grating on her nerves. and the thought of what they had done to Temari made her blood boil. She could only imagine the extent of Shikamaru's rage at the sight of them.

Hidan gave a manic grin, a curl of his lips as the tip of his tongue rang along his canines. "Itachi's whore and the Sand-bitch's husband…aren't they a cute fucking pair?"

Kakuzu said nothing, but his eyes went from Sakura to Shikamaru calculatingly.

"Shikamaru, plan?" Sakura asked softly, because she didn't want to act without first knowing something. She could usually read his movements and intentions, but Shikamaru was a far better tactician than she was. The only person who could rival him there was Itachi. It was better for her if she had a foundation to base her attacks on.

"Two minutes, three shadows, and a bug."

Sakura smiled softly to herself, nodding resolutely. It was an order from their days in ANBU together. She knew the drill well enough. Now all she needed to know was who to attack first.

Hidan raised an eyebrow in mocking confusion. "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

Kakuzu's eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"Which one?" Sakura looked from Hidan and Kakuzu, getting into a fighting stance, her left foot sinking a bit into the soft mud. She ignored the way it made her socks stick to the bottom of her geta.

Shikamaru's eyes went from Hidan to Kakuzu.

"Him." And he lunged in Hidan's direction. Sakura went for Kakuzu seconds later. She landed in front of her, slamming her fist forward. His image blurred and she knew she'd missed. She ducked, feeling a leg swipe over her head where her back had been.

Kakuzu was the fastest, and the physically strongest. Shikamaru had known that from the beginning, and he knew that he needed to get rid of Hidan as soon as possible and keep him away from Sakura. If Sakura were injured or her blood taken by Hidan, things would get bad.

Also, Sakura had a better chance of killing Kakuzu before he could sew Hidan back together. She knew about his masks and she'd trained with them before so she knew their fighting styles better than Shikamaru did.

Sakura twirled around, slammed her heel into the ground beneath her. It made a squelching sound due to the mud before the earth was torn apart. Kakuzu leapt into the air, and Sakura threw three kunai. He swept them away with his arm.

He was using his earth mask first, eh?

She had two minutes to get Kakuzu into place before she and Shikamaru perfected their plan. She already knew the point to get him to. She and Shikamaru had exchanged the information via a small glance before he'd gone for Hidan.

Actually, she had 1 minute and 32 seconds.

Enough time, if Kakuzu continued the way he was. She leapt into the air after him.

"Wind Release: Pressure Damage."

Sakura quickly began hand signs. "Earth Style: Mud Wall!" The ground in front of her erupted into a wall of oozing mud and rock. The blast from Kakuzu's attack hit it a second later and it shattered.

Kakuzu's eyes narrowed as he looked around as the mud fell back to the ground without its chakra support. Sakura had disappeared…a flicker of movement, near the center of the town. Kakuzu smirked beneath his mask, running in the direction of the chakra source.

Sakura flickered into sight a few feet from him, just as he saw Hidan chasing the Nara boy in the same direction. Hah, they'd get them both with one hit. At least they wouldn't have to chase the other one down after they finished one.

There was no point in using a mask. Hidan would just bitch at him if he got hurt and it was easier to asses if someone was dead if there were remains to look at. He moved and caught Hidan's eye. Hidan grinned manically and nodded, his scythe at the ready.

He slashed, just as Shikamaru was three feet from Sakura. The third scythe blade sliced the back of Shikamaru's vest, but there was no blood. He hadn't cut deep enough. But Shikamaru stumbled, and Sakura caught him, ducking into a crouch, just as Kakuzu slammed his hands into the ground.

They erupted right by her feet, locking her in place.

"Dammit!" She tried to force chakra into her feet, but she was unable to in time, just as Hidan's scythe came down, cutting through both her and Shikamaru.

"Che. Too damn easy." Hidan hissed. "Why didn't I get to at least sacrifice one?"

And that was when Sakura's body disappeared in a puff of smoke to reveal a gigantic slug sitting in her place.

"Huh?" Hidan blinked, and tried to turn to looked around him, "They're still out there—fuck!" He couldn't move.

Kakuzu knew that it was useless for him to try and move either. The Nara child had used his shadow possession in him, making the shadow travel through the earth from where he'd used his arms to capture Sakura.

Two minutes. They'd used two minutes because that was when the setting sun would get passed a certain set of trees on the other side of the village and hit the spot they'd been lured to. Three shadows. One for him, one for Hidan, and the shadow of 'Sakura' and 'Shikamaru' to bind them.

And the bug.

"It's actually not a bug, Shikamaru." Sakura murmured from where she stood on one of the few rooftops that hadn't been completely destroyed during the massacre.

"Yeah, well slug is a bit easy to understand. Everyone knows Tsunade's apprentice summons them." Shikamaru muttered absently. "Just do it."

"Got it." Sakura nodded. "Kimoi, acid submergence!"

The slug seemed to take a deep breath and began swelling. It continued growing. Growing bigger and bigger. Kakuzu's apprehension grew along with it.

"Oh fuck it…" Hidan hissed. "Oh fuck it what the hell is that thing doing?"

"Dammit." Kakuzu snarled. He'd underestimated them.

The slug continued to grow until it was three times the size it should have been. It made an odd squelching sound—and then exploded, showering the entire area around them in acid.

Sakura watched as the few buildings caught in the cross fire began to disintegrate. Her Sharingan-filled gaze remained on their bodies. She heard Hidan cursing and screaming as his skin began melting, flesh sliding off of bone.

Kakuzu's stone armor was holding up, but she watched as it was slowly eroded layer by layer. It wouldn't be long now.

The screams faded away to silence.

"Do you think Hidan can die from that?" Shikamaru asked softly.

"I don't know." Sakura whispered. "He's immortal, but he doesn't have a body anymore, so I don't think—"

A large wall of fire and rushing wind suddenly loomed above them.

"Shikamaru!" Sakura screamed, leaping backwards and seeing that she wasn't going to make it to the man in time. Shikamaru had been weakened from using the shadow possession jutsu on Kakuzu and Hidan and holding them in place for so long. And the shadows were disappearing and weakening as night began to fall.

Shikamaru quickly did a substitution at the same time Sakura switched her own body with a small rock statue she'd seen at the front of the central square entrance. She let out a cough as ash and smoke erupted in the air, filling her nose and clogging her lungs.

"Shikamaru?"

Coughing to her right, and Shikamaru let out a small groan. "The whiplash of the wind got me." Sakura saw a chunk of wood sticking out of his shoulder. She crawled over to him and began healing it, trying to hold onto her chakra reserves. They would need them now, it seemed.

"That was Kakuzu's technique. It means one of them is alive, if not both."

"Let's just hope it's only one." Shikamaru winced.

"Heh, you wish." A taunting voice echoed through the smoke.

Sakura's eyes widened in horror, and she turned to see Shikamaru staring in a mixture of fear, despair, and unparalleled fury.

Hidan grinned sadistically, propping up the item of their horror on his shoulder. "Looks like that Sand-bitch was good for something. I'm fucking hot and this fan works wonders." He turned to where Kakuzu was slowly stepping out from behind a surviving building, "You should get one."

"Shut up and let's kill them."

Temari's fan. Hidan had Temari's fan. Sakura swallowed, and she saw Shikamaru trembling beside her. Fear or rage? She couldn't see, because she had to keep her eyes trained on the two Akatsuki members in front of her.

"Let's make this quick." Kakuzu grumbled, "I have things to do."

"Yeah yeah, shut the fuck up." Hidan argued back, his eyes never leaving Sakura. "I bet this bitch's blood tastes sweet. I never got a taste because of that fucking Uchiha."

"Quick and easy is nice." Came a voice from behind Sakura and Shikamaru. "So we'll step in. We don't have time to deal with you either."

Sakura let out a disbelieving laugh. "….Asuma-san…?" She and Shikamaru turned to see Asuma, Ino, and Chouji standing behind them.

"Mikomi is with Itachi, Sakura. You need to head back to the village now." Ino nodded at her seriously, her face twisting between rage and sadness at the sight of Temari's murderers. Chouji was shaking with anger, and Asuma seemed like the only one who wasn't affected, but Sakura knew that Asuma was just better at hiding it than the others.

"Right." Sakura whispered. "Can you heal Shikamaru, Ino?"

"I'm still a medic-nin, Sakura." Ino shot back. "I can heal something that simple."

Sakura nodded, before leaping backwards and heading into the trees.

Shikamaru stared at Asuma. "Sensei…I…"

"Can you stand?"

Shikamaru nodded.

"You and Ino will get Hidan. Chouji and I will take Kakuzu."

Another nod.

"War has broken out on all of the borders. We have to act fast and get this over with before this area is overwhelmed with Stone and Cloud forces."


"Kakashi, what the heck is going on?" Obito asked excitedly, running after his silver-haired friend. Beside him was Sasuke, silent and composed. Naruto had sent the three of them to secure their troops at the Western end of the village.

An ANBU team followed behind Sasuke, and several other Jonin surrounded their small group. They'd meet up with the rest of the shinobi when they got to the designated spot. Sasuke had argued with Naruto about leaving the Hokage alone. It wasn't like Naruto was without protection—Gaara was with him, after all—but Sasuke had seen himself as Naruto's chief bodyguard for years, so the act of leaving him alone was odd for him.

Kakashi didn't answer right away, and he didn't turn around as the group rushed through the forest. "Stone has attacked from this area. We have to hold the line until the Kazekage can come and fight the Tsuchikage."

Obito frowned. "But…why am I…?" Because he really remembered very little of his time 'asleep' and so his shinobi training wasn't as complete as it should have been. Would his instincts kick in from his time under Uchiha Madara's control?

"You have the Sharingan." Sasuke murmured from beside him, his own bloodline burning a deep crimson as they burst from the tree line. "That's all that's needed."

Obito frowned, but he didn't say anything else. Sasuke didn't look like the type of person he could yell at, even if Obito was technically older. But just having the Sharingan couldn't help him too much, could it? He didn't get the chance to think on it too much, because as they exited the tree line they came upon the battlefield.

The war had already begun.

Stone–nin and Konoha shinobi were locked in combat everywhere, kunai and the heavy feeling of chakra permeating the air.

"Do you see any Akatsuki?" Sasuke asked calmly as he landed beside Kakashi.

Kakashi scanned the battlefield. "Not yet."

Sasuke nodded, turning back to the ANBU. "Get all of the injured you can back to the medic-nin. It looks like they're located in the southeastern section of the encampment, at the base of the eastern tree line."

"Yes sir!"

Kakashi smiled behind his mask. Sasuke had come a long way since his genin days, and it made Kakashi's heart lift a bit. He hadn't failed, it seemed. Not with any of his students.

They'd all grown up to be fine shinobi indeed.

Suddenly a shiver ran down Obito's spine. At first he thought it was the adrenaline pumping through his body—this battlefield brought him back to his first days as a member of their old Genin team, when the war with Stone had just begun—but then he noticed a dark shadow walking through the carnage. His heart stuck in his throat, and it became hard to breath as his head throbbed and his vision blurred.

"Obito!" Kakashi was beside him in an instant, holding him steady as he began to sway.

"…he's here…"

"Who?" Sasuke asked sharply, scanning the crowd sharply.

"Madara."


Sakura was glad it was no longer raining when she arrived back at the Uchiha Compound. As she'd run through the streets, shinobi had been rushing past her in all directions, shouting out orders and calls to their squads. Genin were leading civilians to the hidden safe places within the Hokage cliff side.

It reminded Sakura of the attack by Sound during the Chuunin Exams, when she'd been a young Genin terrified out of her mind at the war going on around her. The only difference was that she was a little older, a little wiser, and a little more skilled. She still felt a twinge of fear at the shouts and screams and smoke, but she hid it well behind a calm face.

She landed in front of their home completely winded. She'd run all the way from the Valley of the End and her chakra reserves were lower than what she would have liked. She stumbled into the house, heaving a bit. "Itachi?"

He didn't answer, but he lowered the guard of his genjutsu so that she could feel his chakra fluctuation. She headed to Mikomi's room. She opened the door as quietly as possible and stopped. Itachi was standing beside Mikomi's bed, watching their daughter sleep. He looked up when she entered and gave a nod.

Sakura nodded back, walking up to him, trying to calm her breathing. Mikomi looked oddly peaceful.

"I placed a genjutsu on her so she'll sleep." Itachi explained, and Sakura was thankful he'd done so. Usually he wouldn't have deigned the need to do so, but she could tell that something was bothering him.

"I can feel Pein out there." Sakura whispered softly.

"Hn." He'd sensed his chakra as well.

Sakura swallowed, because her mouth and throat were dry. "I should…we should…we're the only ones who can deal with him."

"What about your Hokage?" The same nonchalant monotone. 'Yours' instead of 'ours', a distinction, a separation. As if he were still a criminal of Konoha and not its savior. But Sakura wondered if anyone would ever know the truth.

"Naruto doesn't have the Kyuubi in him any longer, he has a large amount of chakra but not the infinite amount he needs. Even Jiraiya in his Sage Mode cannot defeat Pein. They can't interpret his bodies' movements as well as we can with the Sharingan."

Itachi nodded, but whether he was agreeing with that she said or with the idea to fight Pein she wasn't sure.

"Naruto will have his hands full with the Raikage. He and Gaara are planning on taking out the leaders. If they can do that, the armies should scatter and all we'll have to deal with will be the Akatsuki."

"A sound plan." A compliment from Itachi? Sakura would have to tell Naruto about it later. He'd be on Cloud-9 for weeks. Sasuke would be jealous. Or would he? Probably not. Sakura wasn't sure about Sasuke and Itachi's relationship these days.

"We should leave soon. But who will stay with Mikomi?" Sakura whispered, staring down at her daughter. Tears stuck in her throat at the sight of her sleeping so peacefully. As if nothing were wrong with the world.

"Kisame is taking her and the Nara child with the others. He has been put in charge of guarding a large contingent of civilians, along with a group of Konoha and Sand shinobi."

Sakura nodded. She had expected that Kisame wouldn't be trusted with the civilians alone, but it was good to know that Naruto had thought ahead to making use of him. Kisame wouldn't have taken well to being left out of a fight. She figured that Kisame was currently with Karura, waiting for them to say goodbye to Mikomi before taking the two to safety.

Say goodbye.

Why did it sound so forboding?

Sakura knelt next to the bed, reaching out to brush a few strands of raven-black hair from Mikomi's forehead. Mikomi twitched a bit, but didn't awaken because of the genjutsu.

"Mommy loves you, Miko-chan…" Sakura swallowed back tears. "Ne…want mommy to sing?"

No response, but she hadn't expected one from a sleeping child. But Mikomi had always enjoyed hearing her mother's voice. And Sakura felt like just saying goodbye wouldn't be fitting.

"You are my sunshine,

my only sunshine…"

Itachi looked over to where Sakura stood, clutching Mikomi to her almost desperately as she sang softly. If Mikomi hadn't been under the genjutsu she would have awoken at the movement. As it were, she remained limp in her mother's arms.

"You make me happy,

When skies are grey…"

Her voice wavered a bit, and Itachi knew she was afraid. She kissed the top of Mikomi's head.

"You don't know dear,

How much I love you…"

Her eyes were closed, and Itachi saw two tears escape from behind her tightly clenched eyelids.

"So please don't take…my sunshine away…"

Itachi wrapped an arm around her waist--to comfort, and a way to tell her it was time to go--bringing her and Mikomi closer to him. It was a simple gesture, but Sakura took courage from his determination and confidence. He bent down, his lips almost brushing against the black curls atop Mikomi's head, before he took her from Sakura and placed her down on the bed once more. He'd hesitated at the last second, and Sakura knew why. He just couldn't let himself show that much affection. It was too much for him and even while Mikomi slept, he couldn't allow himself to be so vulnerable.

"Kisame will watch over her while we are gone." A confirmation, as if he were trying to convince himself just as much as he was trying to alleviate Sakura's worries.

Sakura nodded, her eyes never leaving Mikomi's sleeping form. She brushed a finger tentatively across one chubby cheek, giving a trembling smile. "Goodbye for now, Miko-chan…be good ok?"

Itachi bade farewell to his daughter silently, merely memorizing every line and contour of her body, embedding it into his mind forever. He turned to Sakura, and for a moment, he let himself do the same thing.

Then he turned toward the doorway, "Let's go."

Sakura followed.


(A\N: Enjoyed it? Well I hope so. :) I don't know when the next chapter is but...it shouldn't take as long as the wait for this one, lol.

Sincerely,

Lady Hanaka)