Crimson rain, a shinobi's sacrifice

For those who have read my stories before, this one is going to have chapters, yay! Also, I always like to keep as close to the plot of Shippuden as possible, and then creating my own version of what happens after a certain event because it's not diverging from Masashi Kishimoto's genius work. I have a lot of ideas so I hope you enjoy the fanfic! Note: I do not own Naruto, also these chapters are named from the lyrics of a song I heard called 'Sacrifice' by tatu so I do not own the song 'Sacrifce' it goes to the creators of the song.

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1: Can you tell me, softly?

One hour. She had been trying to sleep for one hour. That wasn't so unusual now was it? The sun peeled itself away from the sky. 5:00pm.

The moon whispered to the wind. 6:00pm. Sakura opened her eyes. She had just got back from a long and gruelling mission with Naruto and the others. Trying to find Itachi in order to get closer to Sasuke had failed. An Akatsuki member known as Tobi had stopped them from going further and he turned out to be a powerful shinobi. With too many teammates injured they had no choice but to temporarily retreat back to Konoha and heal the wounds before setting off to try again.

3 hours. She had been trying to sleep for 3 hours. Sakura rolled over to face the other side of her room. Not much to look at on this side either. 'Naruto is getting tired of chasing Sasuke with no result. It's like trying to write a book without the pages.' She closed her eyes. No hope. Grunting heavily, she gave up on trying to sleep so early in the evening. Even though Tsunade had ordered that the team coming back from this mission should get some rest or medical treatment, Sakura was fine, save for small cuts and bruises. Nothing that wouldn't heal in a matter of hours. 'Naruto took the worst from that Tobi guy, considering he was so eager to defeat him...' Sakura thought wryly. She would go and visit him and maybe take up a round at the hospital and check up on some patients.

Leaving her apartment, she headed down the pathway, seeing the people heading to their homes or for a night out in Konoha. She smiled, wishing she could be one of them. Just another shinobi, that's what she was. 'If Sasuke were here, we'd probably be heading out to Ichiraku ramen to grab something to eat. The three of us, and maybe even Kakashi.' What did she feel for Sasuke? No one had asked her that question since 3 years ago. They avoided this question. Everyone knew she tried to stop him that night, but did they know what was said? Of course not, that was a secret between her and Sasuke. And if ever they should meet a second time, they would of course pretend he never thanked her for whatever it was he was grateful for, and she would pretend she never loved him more than anything else. 'Hm...that's what we'll do, pretend you never said goodbye and just bring you back home, and you can pretend you're happy.' Reaching the hospital sooner than expected, she went through the doors and across the waiting room. Checking in at the desk, she took the elevator to Naruto's room.

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Sasuke breathed out heavily as he waited. He had been waiting for approximately 37 hours now and still no sign of them. He sighed, he didn't have time to wait for all of them. He would soon have to begin his hunt for Madara. 'I have a feeling he will be more of a challenge than my brother...' He narrowed his eyes as he gazed at the withering sky.

5:00pm. He was suffering from some wounds, mostly burns from the amaterasu, but he had recovered with his own jutsu. After all, the amaterasu took a toll on his brother, therefore it was easy to defeat him.

6:00pm. The door slid open and in came Juugo and Karin, supporting the weight of a seriously wounded Suigetsu. Sasuke averted his eyes to the three figures in the doorway. "You're late."

Karin and Juugo placed Suigetsu on the bed, huffing in exhaustion.

"Well Suigetsu decided he wanted to have a play around with Kisame," Karin declared, brushing her hands off before adjusting her glasses. "Quite stupid if you ask me."

"So he lost?" Sasuke asked with a lack of enthusiasm as he gazed over at his unconscious teammate.

Juugo nodded slowly. "Well, they were equal in their sword skills but Kisame's chakra seemed neverending and Suigetsu had run out before Kisame got even close."

Sasuke nodded. As expected from Kisame. "Kisame has the most chakra compared to all the Akatsuki members." Sasuke took a seat on the window ledge and gazed at the pale moon now slipping from the shadows in the sky.

"Sasuke, you're injured!" Karin exclaimed, noticing the burns on him as the moonlight washed his body in light. She was about to rush to him when he placed a hand in front of him.

"It's nothing." His hand returned to his lap. "Itachi's jutsu was powerful, but I overcame it, I'm fine."

Karin sighed in annoyance as she gingerly took a step backwards. "So, why are we meeting back here anyway?"

Sasuke smirked. "I'm after Madara Uchiha."

Karin and Juugo looked up.

"We'll start looking for him the moment I get information on his whereabouts..." Sasuke blinked slowly. "Karin, you should start healing Suigetsu. He needs to recover quickly."

Karin hesitated before giving a small nod.

Juugo went to Sasuke's side and gazed at the silent scenery before him. "Where will you get this information?"

"I asked Itachi where to find him before I killed him. He said to ask the konoha shinobi currently in pursuit of me...which means..."

"We're going after konoha shinobi?" Juugo asked, concern fluttering across his face.

Sasuke would not be keen on this reunion with his former team again...but he had no choice. "No need...knowing Naruto, they'll find us first..."

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Naruto clenched his fists, the blanket creasing under his grasp. He sat up, feeling the pain throb in his head. He had fought with all his might against that Akatsuki member. Why was it that he was so weak compared to him? 'I fought so hard...yet he beat me down, he was beating everyone down. How could someone do that? Just who was that guy?'

"Komban-wa, Naruto-kun," Sakura said, opening the door. She knew he was awake. Naruto would not sleep after this mission.

"Hey Sakura-chan," Naruto answered dully, his head lowered. She felt Sakura flick him on the nose playfully. He widened his eyes slightly as he gazed up at his friend. Her eyes were closed and she was smiling. 'She's putting on a brave face so I won't feel guilty about failing to find Sasuke...' "Hey I'm fine! No need to give me one of those reassuring smiles Sakura-chan, I don't go back on my word!" He gave her a thumbs up. Now his eyes were closed and he was grinning.

"Aha...the pose...my smile gets that thumbs up. I'm glad." She turned to the window. The night was dark. Standing, she was about to close the curtains, when she realised the sky was lit with stars. "Hey, Naruto-kun...look."

Naruto climbed out of his bed and stood beside his friend. Gazing out the window, he admired the orbs of light sparkling in the blackness. "Never seen them so clear in a long time."

"Mm..." Sakura answered, turning around.

"What's bothering you Sakura-chan?" He turned around also, trying to catch a glimpse of the emotion now showing in her face, but before he could, she suddenly smiled.

"We'll get him this time. This time, It's going to be just you and me, Sai and Kakashi. Alright?" Sakura said, her jade eyes glistening with forgotten memories.

Naruto gave a nod and half smile. "Alright."

There was a knock on the door. Before anyone answered, Tsunade and Sai walked in, much to Naruto and Sakura's surprise.

"You should be resting," Tsunade told them, hands on hips. "But, it's just as well you're here Sakura. Over there Sai, there's something I need to tell you lot once Kakashi gets here."

Sakura and Naruto exchanged glances as Sai stood beside them.

"Tsunade-sama, what's going on?" Sakura asked before Naruto could.

Tsunade sighed. "I want your team to hear about this before anyone else. I believe this concerns you greatly considering..."

"Hey I'm here," Kakashi said suddenly, hopping through the window, holding his book lazily in his hand. "Sorry I'm a little late."

Tsunade gave a nod before clearing her throat. "Itachi Uchiha is dead."

There was a long silence. Almost like a sudden illness spreading amongst team 7 that kept their lips from uttering a sound.

Sakura glanced at Naruto, who's deep blue eyes were swimming with questions. "He killed him..."

Tsunade nodded once again. "Hai."

Sakura then glanced over at Kakashi. His one visible eye was glued to the ground.

"And now what?" Naruto asked.

"You go find Sasuke...he's strong now, clearly," Tsunade said. "However, I can't have you three looking for him all the time like this. It wastes energy and frankly, I'm already giving Sasuke too much leeway as it is."

Sakura bit her lip.

"If you can't bring him back...then I have no choice...he is an S class criminal now, despite him killing Itachi and Orochimaru...he has given out secret information to the Sound village and has close ties with some of Orochimaru's experiments and subordinates..."

"What are you saying?" Naruto exclaimed, his tanned face paling at the words the hokage was using.

"Your mission, you may choose to take it," Tsunade began. "I only say this because I know how important Sasuke is to you and you are the only people that have a chance of bringing him back more than anyone...but...you either bring him back alive, or dead."

Sakura and Naruto widened their eyes, Kakashi merely closed his.

"B-but Tsunade-sama!" Sakura protested, raising her clenched fists to her chest. "Sasuke is an Uchiha! If he dies there will be no one left! How could you consider it?"

"I have no choice Sakura," Tsunade said. "He is a criminal, it is against the laws of this village to suddenly go against them because Sasuke happens to be different. He is a rogue ninja...and if push comes to shove...you may have to kill him."

Sai said nothing to this. He had heard this before on previous missions. But he could understand what it must be like for Naruto and Sakura. Sadness, he figured.

Naruto shook his head. "No matter if he stabs me, burns me, drowns me, I could never kill him! He's like a brother to me...I'll bring him back, with all the strength I have, and I'll bring him back alive."

Sakura smiled at her teammate. He was right. "I agree with Naruto. We'll bring him back alive Tsunade-sama."

Tsunade looked over to Kakashi who merely gave a simple nod to say he agreed with this also. "Very well, if you believe you can bring the Uchiha back alive then do so. But I can't afford to take too many chances anymore. He killed Itachi. That fight will have changed him. He will be falling into darkness even more."

"We'll knock some sense into him!" Naruto said, punching the air. "I'm not giving up on him, granny Tsunade."

"Stop calling me that," Tsunade snapped. She gave a smirk. "Alright, I guess the mission brief is over. The moment you are healed you can start your search. Kakashi, keep me posted along the way, alright?"

"Will do lady hokage," Kakashi answered.

"I expect you back within the month or so. Good luck team 7. Remember, I'm entrusting this mission to you five and you five alone. You know Sasuke better than anyone, so don't disappoint me." Tsunade left the room with a slam of the door.

Sakura breathed out. "Well Naruto, it seems we-" she widened her eyes at her blonde friend. He was shaking, his lip was trembling. "What is it?"

"I was always afraid it would come down to this..." Naruto said. "Us fighting each other till one of us ends up dead. It was a close call that day, three years ago. I don't want that to ever happen again...which is why, this time, we really need to give it our all!"

Sai nodded. "Yes Naruto."

Sakura smiled. "Hai."

"Alright, well Naruto, Sai, once your injuries are healed we can begin our mission. But for now, I think it's best for all of us if we get some rest," Kakashi said. He looked up at Sakura and realised her jade eyes were deep in thought. "Sakura, will you come out here for a moment?"

Sakura nodded as she followed her previous sensei out into the corridor.

"Sakura, what were you thinking about just then? I can understand this must be hard for you to hear this, considering you l-"

"I love him as much as Naruto does, that's true," Sakura interrupted him, her eyes following down to the floor. "I'm not a 12 year old girl anymore. I'm not smitten with Sasuke. He's my comrade and it's all about the mission. A shinobi will take a mission and accept the sacrifices that come with it. If he becomes a threat and it's impossible to bring him back, then we will act in our shinobi ways..." Her voice was becoming quieter, until she said very softly so that only Kakashi could hear..."And kill him."

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That's chapter one, hope you liked it. Please review!