Hello my lovely readers and reviewers, quick announcement…
This will be the last chapter, and just for you awesome readers, consider this a few chapters put together so it's longer…hopefully. The longest chapter so far was Chapter 13 reaching 7,000 words and so far, this is my longest story.
Also, Hebi will not appear in this story…thanks for the help though I was leaning more toward NOT putting them in. It's for the best I think.
Enjoy! …and enjoy the SasuSaku fluff!
Ch 17: For the Better
Sakura was observing Sasuke closely. Ever since he paid her and her girlfriends lunch and massages two days ago, the medic watched everything he did. What her friends had said was true. The emotionless, cold and incredibly hot Sasuke Uchiha was sticking to her like glue.
It was annoying and sweet at the same time.
The kunoichi often wondered what was going through his head as he pretty much never let her out of his sight. Unfortunately, Sakura could only come up with the thought that Sasuke was only watching because she might be Itachi's target if he shows up.
Sighing, the pink haired teen dismissed the thought that would be Sasuke's only reason to do such things. It wasn't because he cared for her – maybe a little – but not a lot.
Currently, she was sitting on a chair at her kitchen table, watching Sasuke make breakfast.
Surprisingly he volunteered…
It was early morning, their miniature companions still in bed. This was the first time Sasuke made a meal and it was a relief he would do that for her, even if it was just once, clad in only black sweatpants. Sipping on her coffee, she examined the way his back muscles flexed and she could see the scars that lingered on his pale skin, one that was visible on his front and back, clean through his flesh on his left shoulder too close to his heart in Sakura's opinion. It looked more like a 'T'. The Uchiha continued to shuffle about her kitchen, gathering ingredients, muscles becoming taut with each movement. Sasuke had always had a great body and she knew God knew how to create since he was so fine.
Shifting her gaze away as she gave a sigh, knowing her thoughts crossed a line.
Many women were after this man's attention, the man who already had captured her heart. He would – if he ever decided to partake in a relationship, his choice would most certainly not be her. He had already brushed off her confession years ago as if it were nothing, she figured he'd forgotten of the little 'crush' she had on him and never realize it was something much more, that she had meant what she had said that fateful night he left.
Orochimaru's former apprentice couldn't see that what she felt for him was real, when Itachi who had only had a brief meeting with her could tell she loved him in only a short conversation.
A plate was suddenly placed in front of her and the hand holding it retreated. "Here," said her monotonous companion, whom was already eating by the time she looked up.
'This looks good,' she thought and quickly prepared herself a bite, savoring it as it hit her tongue. "I've never thought you'd be such a great cook Sasuke."
Sparing her a glance, "Thanks." Sasuke watched his old teammate take another bite, but he could see there was something lingering on her mind. He called her name as he was preparing their plates and when she hadn't answered him, he glanced over his shoulder to see her staring at her coffee cup, her eyes indicating she was lost in her mind. Calling her two more times but still received no answer. She only responded when he had put her meal in front of her. Whatever was on her mind, had to be important – to her anyway.
Continuing with his breakfast he started thinking what could have caused her to space out like she did. Nothing seemed plausible, more so to have her so oblivious to her surroundings.
As they were finishing their breakfast, Sakura stood up and gathered the dishes; since Sasuke cooked she'd clean.
The kunoichi could feel the loitering gaze of two very beautiful obsidian eyes watching her as she ran hot water in the sink. Once she was half way through washing, the ever attentive feeling of being watched disappeared when she heard a chair scrape across the floor and light footsteps approaching.
He was too close; she could feel his body heat and she felt his warm breath fan against the top of her head. Her movements slowed but didn't stop; she wouldn't show him that his proximity unnerved her. What would he think? She was still a fan-girl?
Then he did the unexpected, he leaned in closer, his bare chest pressed to her back lightly and she could feel the planes he had acquired through vigorous training. She kept her face forward, a deep crimson color and hoped he wouldn't try to get her attention. His right arm moved from his side and he gently placed his coffee cup in the sink before he pulled back—sounds of small feet pitter-pattering closer as he did so. He was a decent distance away when the two mini members of Team Seven appeared.
"Wamen!" cried Naruto, before he started singing. "Wamen! Wamen! I want my wamen!"
At this Kakashi sighed, scratching his head, "Please tell me ramen is not on the menu."
Later that day, Sasuke and Sakura took Naruto and Kakashi to the park. Naruto was so into playing he dragged Kakashi with him to the slide.
Watching them, it was only then the Uchiha remembered that this was his best friend and former sensei turned child. He never had a childhood like that, a happy one, well he did, but it was taken away when he was eight and he was forced to grow up when his clan was murdered. The only reason he had to live was to avenge them and start a new clan.
The avenger realized he cast a glance at his pink haired companion, he thought back to earlier that morning, when Sakura informed him she'd start breakfast, and he shocked himself to tell her that he'd do it. He had felt her eyes staring at him while he cooked, could she have been thinking about him that had her so deep in thought. Also recalling when she was washing dishes how he came up behind her, he could smell the vanilla scent of her shampoo from when she showered the night before. His senses were starting to get the better of him and the light and heavy footsteps of the boys had snapped him from his thoughts that moment and pulled back – keeping him from doing something awkward.
Ever since Itachi had kidnapped his former teammates, he'd been paying close attention to them, 'Mostly Sakura.' He instantly thought.
Seeing what she was doing at the corner of his eye, they were sitting next to each other on a bench; she was watching the boys and telling them to be careful, which was ignored at Naruto's booming laugh. Her eyes were on their every move, much like a mother would be. She seemed cautious and observing every surrounding.
Sasuke came to realize that he'd been close to losing them, close to losing them by Itachi, the same man he'd lost his family to. The thought scared him, though he'd die before admitting it. Sakura was the first one he had seen, and when that mad man who was his brother held her in his arms, Sasuke was furious. Itachi was a cruel man and he would do anything to get Sasuke to come after him, but the bonds he thought he severed were still intact and still strong, Itachi knew this. He felt fear, the first time in a very long time when Sakura was in the arms of the Uchiha clan's murderer. For a moment he thought she was dead, and he felt his heart ache for some unknown reason, but passed it off as loss.
Losing someone he cared about was hard to deal with; he'd lost everyone, even the older brother who was always showing him new techniques, but his brother was dead. The man in his brothers' flesh was a demon.
The Uchiha's face scrunched up in a scowl before it left his face completely.
He didn't want to lose anyone precious again, it had taken him a while after he was back in Konoha to realize, that Team Seven was always a family to him and that they still thought of him as family…even when he pushed them away…Sakura away… When he didn't want them when they first became Genin, they wormed their way into his cold and hollow heart, changing his mind.
Sakura, the annoyingly clingy fan-girl who constantly asked him on dates or was ogling him every second of the day and stood back while he and Naruto did all the dirty work was now a mature, intelligent and dare he say it – beautiful – kunoichi with killer medical skills that make her a valuable asset to the team. She could now pull her own weight on missions, whether it be healing, thinking up strategies or fighting if she had to.
Kakashi, the lazy, calm and collected former sensei who spent most of his time reading Icha Icha Paradise books but could be serious when needed, was still the same.
And lastly, Naruto, the loud mouthed blonde who holds the Kyuubi and has a talent with reaching someone with a cold heart with words that could make you see reason, for someone as dense as he is, he can be smart, but that's a rarity. Self-sacrificing and loyal, Sasuke then wondered what he did to get him off of his execution sentence…
That's when Sasuke remembered, what did the Kyuubi vessel do to get him off the hook?
Tilting his head slightly to look at the girl beside him, "Sakura," his voice instantly drew her attention to him, "do you know how Naruto got me out of that execution sentence?"
He caught the brief flicker of something flash in her eyes before it disappeared; she nodded in silent response and then turned ahead, watching the boys.
"Aren't you going to tell me?" Sasuke asked, indifferent, watching her face carefully.
"You know Naruto, he spent a week talking with the elders, he refused to leave them alone." At the memory she laughed, she could see him following them around and when they entered a room he would cross his arms with a pouting expression and sit on the floor cross-legged. "I think he used the 'I'll annoy you treatment' until they would hear him out otherwise he wouldn't leave them alone and I'm sure you remember his way with words. I spent my time with you, but Tsunade informed me of what transpired, as she was there for all of it."
Sighing, Sakura continued, "They kept bringing up what you had done and that abandoning the village is punishable by death and that the extra offenses you've committed would add on. Naruto wouldn't hear that, they said in the end there will be an execution and nothing can stop it." Sasuke watched as Sakura's eyes flickered again with that emotion.
"…that's when he said he would take your place," a quick flash of shock appeared on the avengers' face before it became blank, but inside he didn't know what he was feeling, "a life for a life. He told them you had a good heart, but someone had to believe in you for you to see that yourself. It took him a few days to convince them to make him responsible for you, Tsunade even tried to dissuade him. He refused. If you betray the village again…Naruto will die in your place."
With that said, Sakura stood up and walked to the boys playing on the slide, the Uchiha watching with a barely there thoughtful expression. Naruto still cared so much for him? Why? After everything he put him through? Everything he put them through? They still cared that much for him? Why?
Only more questions seemed to pop up other than the answers he wanted. His dark orbs shifted as Sakura moved about and played with their teammates. The blonde had a goofy grin on his face and turned to Sasuke, who wore a confused look, the boy grinned again before waving.
Sacrifice. That's instantly what Sasuke knew Naruto would do, but for him? He'd tried to kill him on more than one occasion. He even recalled what Naruto had said when they met up after two and a half years of absence at Orochimaru's hideout. The Kyuubi boy had said he'd become the Hokage after he saved his best friend, but Naruto traded his chances of becoming the great leader of the Leaf Village to be killed should his best friend betray his village again.
So many thought's and inquiries made his head spin, but all Sasuke could do now, was wait for Naruto to become his real age so he could get some answers.
A lone figure moved quickly with precision and delicacy. He only had one chance at this. He had thought long and hard about what a certain kunoichi had said a few weeks prior. Eventually, he realized that she could very much have known the outcome far better than he had expected, well, he expected it, but he wasn't sure what would happen. If everything went as planned, the outcome would turn out well, but nothing goes according to plan.
In his hand, was a document that would be counted as proof to what he was about to expose.
He needed to be quick and precise or this could turn out badly.
Time was crucial.
He prayed, that the kunoichi was right about this, after all – he had thought long and hard about her words.
There was no room for error.
After the two boys were done playing at the park, Sasuke decided they should leave to have lunch. Sakura suggested they go back to her apartment and she could gather stuff for a picnic. Naruto and Kakashi were up for the idea and the Uchiha was thinking how it would be good to eat a homemade meal.
While Sakura was gathering bread and lunchmeat and other ingredients so they could make their own sandwiches and fruit and chips, Sasuke was gathering a large blanket they could sit on and helping the boys gather their swim trunks and some towels, since the picnic was going to be at the lake.
Assembling at the door the kunoichi had a picnic basket on her arm and the male shinobi had a blanket secured in a large bag that lay slung over his shoulder and the other two at his side. "Ready?" he asked Sakura, she nodded with a smile and Sasuke waited for the three to walk ahead of him.
The walk was calming, especially in the warm weather Konoha offered. Summers were long and winters were short, hence the reason the Land of Fire got its name. A slight cool breeze swayed as they neared their destination, the water was looking inviting.
Sasuke set the blanket down under the shade of a large tree, and Sakura placed the wicker basket on it and sat herself, preparing lunch.
"Can we swim before we eat?" Kakashi asked, his child mind coming into play.
"I suppose, but be careful and stay in the shallow area," Sasuke had noticed her tone was more like a mothers; she had that quality about her throughout this whole mission.
The boys shed their shirts and ran toward the water, shouting all the while. Laughing quietly, Sakura pulled out a black digital camera. "To think Kakashi would act like this, when he's mostly reading his Icha Icha Paradise." She recorded Naruto and Kakashi, "Kakashi won't believe it unless we have proof." They were splashing around and then working on their chakra control, which surprised Sakura. During this mission, neither miniature males had tapped into their chakra, so seeing them suddenly walking on water as if they were their true age. Naruto had a brief moment where he almost sunk in the water before he righted himself.
Finally having a few minutes of footage on her camera she decided it was time to eat, she glanced at Sasuke to see he was already eating the sandwich he made. She was in the mood for a turkey and ham sandwich.
Listening to the sound of the children laughing and having fun made Sakura smile. "How much longer do you think it will be until they will return to their real age?"
Sasuke shrugged, "I was expecting them to be by now." He turned his dark gaze to her now, she felt her heart speed up and she redirected her attention to the boys.
The avenger being as sharp-eyed as ever noticed she couldn't look at him. He wondered what was going through her head in that moment when she did. Did he look at her the wrong way?
"But this mission could last longer than I originally thought it would," he continued, watching as she took her first bite out of her sandwich. It was then he grabbed a tomato, considerate of Sakura to pack something else for him. He also realized she spoiled him while he was on this mission with her. She'd think of him when she went grocery shopping and bought whatever he wanted, mainly tomatoes. They'd gotten to know each other better because of it and Sasuke had seen her green orbs brighten as he told her some things he hadn't told anyone, he distinctly remembered when she said 'Thank you, Sasuke, for telling me."
He had come to enjoy her company and friendship; he never would have thought it could have been this pleasurable. He was wrong about her, but he learned she had grown up.
The feeling was there again, Sakura felt her heart flutter every time he looked at her, accidentally brushed up against her, or was in the same room. All this attention he gave her, made her comfortable in his presence, but once this mission was over – she feared it would go away, at least the friendship she now believed she had with him. Would he act like nothing happened? This was the first time, since they were Genin and since he came back, that they'd actually 'hung out' so to speak. He told her things, and she done the same.
This would be in the past, the only time the closed Uchiha had ever opened up. Sasuke then lay down on his back, arms under his head and closed his eyes, dozing off in a light slumber. He looked so serene, when he slept Sakura could see the fine lines of his face and body relax, but knew he would wake to the slightest movement, usually. Glancing at him every now and then, Sakura watched as the gentle gust of wind swayed some of his dark locks, sweeping softly against his eyelids. His breath was shallow.
Sighing in defeat, the medical kunoichi pulled her thoughts from her dark haired shinobi to the boys who were having fun being children again; she wished love could be so simple.
Naruto and Kakashi, after an hour of playing in the water, decided they were hungry and rushed to the blanket, causing Sasuke to stir. He now lay awake but with his eyes closed, listening to his friends. Sakura's voice was low; Kakashi's was much like his older self, but slightly more high pitched while Naruto's was just loud.
Once they had their lunch made by Sakura, she decided she'd take a dip in the water but not before telling the boys they couldn't go in until an hour after eating.
There was a slight upturn at the corner of the lips when Sasuke heard the groans of the two boys.
"No, you have to let your stomachs settle or you'll get cramps and could drown." Sakura was –again— using that stern motherly tone. Sasuke couldn't deny that she could lay down the rules, as the boys grumbled and ate their sandwiches when their stomachs growled.
Finally tired of lying down, Sasuke sat himself up just as Sakura dunked herself in the water and resurfaced moments later, her hair now a tad darker shade when wet, he realized.
The silver haired boy had been eyeing his former dark haired pupil and came to the conclusion that Sasuke didn't comprehend that he was staring at Sakura intently…ok it was more like ogling. His jaw had slackened in the tiniest of movements; his dark orbs had yet to blink and shifted with each stroke Sakura took. When she disappeared underwater, he'd wait for her to pop back up and his eyes darted toward her again.
'I should have a camera.' Looking around the miniature copy-nin found a camera and slipped away unnoticed, and began recording his avenger-crazy-will-restore-my-clan-when-done apprentice. 'Sakura must be that lucky girl…I knew it! Sasuke digs her!'
Sasuke was spending so much time ogling Sakura he didn't see Kakashi finish the recording and hiding it. As Sakura was getting out of the water Sasuke looked away seeing what Naruto was doing. He couldn't have her know he was staring at her as she amused herself in the lake. Said blonde was taking a nap, for once not snoring, at least at the moment. To his surprise their mini-sensei was sleeping too, how long had they been here?
"They look worn out, we should head back." He looked up to see the pink haired girl smile at the two.
"Yeah." Sasuke stood and helped gather the things they had brought. The sun was setting and the sky was orange and red, signaling they had been out all day, but it was a fun recreation. Sakura had the basket and the lightly snoring blonde and Sasuke the bag with the blanket and towels and Kakashi in his arms and silently and contently they both walked home, side by side.
It was time to call it a day.
After putting the boys in bed, Sakura would give them a bath and clean the sheets tomorrow, and a clean shower the medic walked out of the bathroom with steam billowing out behind her. It was at this moment, she remembered on the second day of the assignment she had taken a shower and forgot to bring her clothes in the bathroom, and there were no towels in the small cupboard they were usually in. Sasuke was out there and she had no choice but to cast a jutsu that created thousands of cherry blossom petals to dance around her, covering her just as a towel would have and just a little higher and lower, heaven forbid the guy she cared about saw her naked.
And just to her luck, he appeared and stopped in his tracks, arching an eyebrow. She huffed annoyed and dashed into her room, completely missing the slightly amused smirk that graced his lips.
Sakura walked out now completely dressed and went to Sasuke, who was occupying his time with the television. "The bathrooms yours." She said strolled into the kitchen to clean the few dishes they dirtied on their picnic. Sasuke turned off the television, the only source of noise in the small apartment.
Not even a minute later, Sakura could hear the water turn on and at the corner of her eye she had seen a shadow. She jumped, and a hand covered her mouth from behind to keep her from getting Sasuke's attention or get into a fighting stance. "Don't scream Sakura." She blinked, recognizing the voice. Any other time she would have been ready to fight him, even if she knew she wouldn't be able to last long against him, but the tone of his voice was nothing like what she had heard before.
Slowly the hand was removed and Sakura turned around to face the intruder, "I know we've only had a decent conversation once, but you're still considered a threat to this village and my talking to you could get me charged of treason. Why are you here Itachi? Sasuke will try to kill you and accuse me of betraying him."
"You may have thought this out better than I had, Sasuke will learn the truth from me, and not from another source." The elder Uchiha said, his voice monotone.
"It won't be easy to get him to believe you." Sakura stated.
Lifting a scroll he said, "This is all the proof I need and maybe the genjutsu I showed you."
"Do you think this will work, Sasuke does many things for the sake of his…your clan, he may still try to kill you."
"It's worth a chance."
The air became tense; knowing that when Sasuke appeared the rage he held for this man would blind him. Not even half a minute had passed before Itachi narrowly avoided a shuriken to the head and Sasuke was suddenly between his brother and Sakura, the kunoichi was squished between him and the wall.
"I knew you'd come back," Sasuke sneered, his eyes crimson, Kusanagi in hand. Bare chest muscles flexing again.
"Sasuke stop," Sakura told him from behind, the teen tilted his head toward her but his eyes still on the enemy. "He didn't come here to fight you, he came to talk—"
"Talk!" Sasuke growled out, "Talk about how he murdered my family! Talk about how he was planning to kill you too! I don't want to hear anything he has to say, just the gasps he tries to take as he breathes his last breath, that's all I want to hear."
"Sasu—" she grabbed his arm but he shrugged it off.
"Shut up Sakura, this doesn't concern you!" Sasuke demanded.
As he tensed to charge, Sakura was suddenly between both brothers; Itachi was trying to think of words that his short-tempered brother would listen to. "Sasuke just listen to him, please." She pled. "I told you once revenge won't make anyone happy, especially you Sasuke. Please trust me on this." Tears were beginning to form in her orbs and her voice was starting to crack.
Sasuke seeing this, had done two things, made him want her to stop crying and the other for her to get out of his way and stop protecting Itachi…his Sharingan eyes darkened. "You're defending Itachi again." His voice again held malice. "I shouldn't have listened to you after I rescued you from him; I shouldn't have even felt sorry for thinking you'd betray me. You're—" before he could say more she slapped him, hard, her emerald eyes still holding silver droplets of water and holding so much emotion.
"There's a reason he murdered your clan and perhaps you should hear it before you regret killing him and being more alone than you are. Even after this mission you still don't know me…" her voice finally broke and she disappeared in a whirlwind of cherry blossoms, leaving the room silent and awkward.
"Read this and if you continue to doubt me I have other proof." The Akatsuki member said lowly holding a scroll up for Sasuke to take and reluctantly he did so, but kept his guard up.
Unsealing the seal, Sasuke read its contents.
"Is all of this a joke?" Sasuke shouted. "Like you had ever cared!"
"It's all true Sasuke," the older brother said calmly and regretfully. Sighing, "Whether you believe me or not, it's true. I didn't kill them because I wanted to test my power."
The avenger scowled angrily crumpling up the paper and threw it down. "Why?" his question was toward so many things, Itachi could see all the bent up emotions swirling in his eyes, trying to figure it all out.
Nearly an hour later, Sasuke was exhausted, in body, mind and spirit. It was too much to take in. He was hunched over on the floor, a look of utter defeat and sorrow clearly visible.
The atmosphere had changed but both brothers were unused to being together in a happy manner, so they kept their distance, sitting at opposite walls. Most of the time was spent in silence until Itachi decided it needed to be broken, "You should trust Sakura more…" he whispered, "you're lucky she's put up with you for so long."
"Hn," Sasuke answered, but he knew he was right. This was the second time he'd snapped at her, and broke her all over again.
"You need to make things right, her faith in you is waning." The chidori user looked to his elder sibling. "Mother once told me a woman can only take so much heart break. You mean a lot to her. When she was in my company, I could see that you did when she spoke of you, but she also believes she means nothing to you. You're lucky she's tolerated your behavior. I like her Sasuke, if it wasn't for her, I would have let you kill me."
Itachi met his gaze, "She thought of you first, that you could become even worse if you killed me and someone else told you my reason for killing the clan. She loves you Sasuke, far more than you know."
If Sasuke was surprised he didn't show it, he looked away knowing he had blown it this time.
When Sakura came back it was early dawn, a whole night had gone by, but she refused to look at Sasuke and instead looked at the feared Akatsuki member. "What will you do now?" she asked. "You could become a Konoha shinobi again if wish, Lady Tsunade will listen to if I am present and you bring whatever will prove your case."
"How can you assure such things?" he asked lowly.
"I know her very well, she doesn't accuse without evidence. And I'll be there to defend you." When he remained quiet she said, "Wouldn't it be better if you were no longer seen as the villain?" her voice held remorse and respect, "I wouldn't be able to do what you did, and I don't know how you kept it up for as long as you did being called a heartless monster...besides, you two need each other." At this she cast a glimpse to Sasuke seeing he was watching her again.
Itachi shifted, standing up. "Very well, we will see the Hokage." His eyes landed to Sasuke, seeing as he pulled himself to his feet.
"I'm going," he said.
"I'll wake up the others," Sakura quickly left the room; avoiding the stares she could feel burning into her back.
Sasuke sighed, defeated, before going to find a shirt.
Minutes later Sakura emerged with a dressed Naruto and Kakashi, both stiffening when seeing the Uchiha clans' murderer and the silver haired one wondered why Sasuke wasn't attacking.
"We shouldn't go walking around in the village or you'll be attacked." Sasuke stated calmly, his façade seeming like they were friends and had never had a blood feud between them at all.
Suddenly the five of them were in the Hokage Tower standing outside of Tsunade's office. Sakura boldly knocked. "Come in!"
"I believe we just woke her up," the young woman sighed opening the door and Tsunade was buried under mountains of paperwork, all that could be seen were her hands as they furiously grabbed papers and you heard her slam down a stamp and saw the other arm move the paper to the 'completed' pile.
"I'm working Shizune and I expect a hefty amount of sake for my hard work," the blonde woman said grudgingly.
"Lady Tsunade, we have a special guest." Sakura replied entering with the others in tow and the door shutting for privacy in this matter.
"I'm very bus—" the female Sanin stopped when she had seen Team Seven plus Itachi Uchiha, "—sy…"
In fact, she had one thing in mind…
"Am I drunk?" she asked.
The small group exchanged a glance, minus the two Uchiha.
"I'm asking because we have an S-class criminal standing before me, a snot nosed Uchiha who hasn't brought me the head of his elder brother and chard body and dismembered limbs. Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on?"
"Lady Tsunade," Sakura started, "this is an important matter that you should know about."
Said woman huffed, aggravated, "I expect a lot of sake for this…"
"Lady Hokage," Itachi stated, eyes dull and face expressionless. He stepped forward to stand beside Sakura; the Hokage then arched an eyebrow as he set a crumbled scroll on her already full desk.
Her eyebrows furrowed and a frown marred her facial features, "I hate paper," she bitterly unrolled the bundle and read its interior. The group watched as her brows scrunched together and pull it closer to her face. When finished she looked at the elder Uchiha and then to the younger before looking back and forth before turning to the oldest. "You want to be a member of this village again I take it and pardoned for your title of S-class criminal?"
"That's it?" Sakura asked, "You're not going to question if it's fake?"
At this the Sanin sighed, closing her eyes. "This is a true document. The third Hokage, who was my sensei, would not lie about something like this. He also created a jutsu that would not allow his signature and a document of this importance to be forged. But what I don't understand is why he would have you do this to your own kin. The elders I understand, those stupid old bats, would do anything to get rid of powerful clans whenever they felt threatened…" She looked at the long haired man before turning to Sasuke. "Now that you know…this do you want him to return to this village?"
Sasuke shared a glance with Itachi and nodded to the Hokage.
"I will have to inform everyone why you are no longer a threat to this village…and that you were ordered to…" she then said lowly, "destroy your clan."
"Whatever it takes," Itachi said.
"Very well, I will see to it that you are pardoned immediately and before you undergo missions you will need a physical, Sakura here will perform it. Tomorrow."
"Before anything else is discussed, I have other things to inform you," the older Uchiha continued to surprise everyone, removing his Akatsuki cloak. "The powder Naruto and Kakashi have ingested will wear off if they have a shot—"
"A shot! I hate shots!" Kakashi started going berserk. "Have any of you seen Sakura with a needle? She's scary with a syringe, the last time I had to get a Hepatitis shot, I requested her…and that was a mistake…she came up to me with an evil gleam in her eyes and then she said in a sweet voice 'I'll take good care of you Kakashi, don't you trust your former student'. And then she had a couple nurses hold me down and then I started having hallucinations and—Ahh!"
While the miniature Jonin was exaggerating Itachi had told Sakura the cure and she 'poof'ed to the hospital for two syringes and returned to stick Kakashi first then Naruto and almost immediately they returned to their normal age.
The silver haired man then held his head as everything happened so fast. "Whoa…" he said dizzily, swaying on his feet. "My life flashed before my eye…" finally he looked up, "What happened…?"
"Let's just say you were in touch with your inner-child." Sakura said, "And I gathered you were deprived."
"And I missed something if he's here…" he then pointed to the other Sharingan wielder.
"We'll explain that in a moment," Lady Hokage replied.
Everyone then heard a groan and found Naruto hunched over, "Ooh, I don't feel so good."
Ignoring him, "I would also like to speak with you and Sasuke alone if that's alright Lady Hokage," Itachi stated and Sakura decided she should take her other teammates out of the room while the three of them discussed some issues that Sakura had no business knowing.
"C'mon Naruto," she pushed Kakashi out the door and returned to retrieve the still sick blonde, "let's go get some ramen."
"Ooh, ramen sounds good," he grumbled still in pain but enthusiasm leaking through before the door closed.
"What did you need to discuss Itachi," Tsunade then asked.
"Have you ever heard of Madara Uchiha…?"
Then the conversation began.
Every Leaf Village shinobi and civilian had gathered around the Hokage Tower to hear an important announcement the Hokage herself had ordered everyone had to attend, the only exception were those who were on missions or guarding the village walls – the elders didn't even know what Tsunade had called this for.
The three who were eating ramen were down below; nearly three hours after Itachi and Sasuke were with Sakura's sensei and everyone in the village knew Kakashi and Naruto were back to their normal age, and Naruto flung himself to a fainting Hinata Hyuuga. Tsunade stood just behind the railing, the two brothers behind in the shadows, her eyes staring into the large crowd that had gathered to hear what she has summoned them for.
The elders were on a balcony elsewhere, the man they had wronged invisible to their eyes, faces hard for not knowing why they were here and why she had called such an assembly without their permission or consultancy.
In the back, Sasuke turned to his elder brother, "Are you sure about this?"
"Of course," he said, glancing at his younger sibling.
Sasuke couldn't think of anything else to say as he cast his eyes forward as Tsunade began speaking.
"Ladies and gentlemen, both civilian and shinobi, I appreciate you coming so quickly. I have an important announcement and it should be brought to each and every one of your attention, and brought to each and every village. You have been lied to, I have been lied to." At this there were murmurs, but she continued, lifting the scroll Itachi handed her. "I have a document that proves this; it will be posted around the village for you to read yourselves. The Uchiha clan as you know was massacred nearly ten years ago, some of you remember this better than others, the assailant was Itachi Uchiha, who is now proven innocent by this document that was signed of the Third Hokage Sarutobi."
Sasuke stepped up with Itachi to Tsunade's side, all listening the gasps and murmurs of the crowd. The blond medic looked to the elders and had seen their faces, usually so indifferent now startled with surprise, their eyes meet the cold onyx of the Uchiha they hadn't seen in years.
"The elders had sent this man, Itachi Uchiha, to massacre his own clan because they didn't want a war to occur within the Leaf Village. Itachi Uchiha is now pardoned from the title of S-class criminal and is reinstated as a Leaf Shinobi. Details are in this scroll that will be posted around the village. No harm will come to him and if any of you have a problem with that, tough, I'm busy. Sakura!"
Instantly Sakura was standing on the railing in front of the three. "See to it that these duplicates are posted."
"Of course," she jumped down and landed into the crowd who gathered around her and she had to push passed everyone, when that failed she punched the ground knocking everyone off their feet once the citizens stood up they ran after her to see the scrolls contents, few however, remained to stare up at the former Akatsuki member, an expression of loathing and other emotions visible.
Tsunade sighed, turning to the brothers, "You may not have everyone's acceptance yet, give it time and don't let their actions get to you. I will see to it you have a new headband and everything you need as a reinstated shinobi of this village. I'll also send word to the other nations."
"Thank you, Lady Hokage." He said.
"Don't go getting soft on me now." She waved it off, noticing the elders approaching; "Now I have to deal with those old farts who got you in this mess."
"Lady Tsunade, a word with you," the woman, Koharu Utatane demanded.
"I'd rather not." She looked to Sasuke, "I think Sasuke can also be off of his probation, I'll see to it you have a new headband as well, Sasuke."
"Now Lady Hokage," the man, Homura Mitokado growled.
"I'm busy; I have paperwork that needs to get done, now if you'll excuse me." With that, she was followed by the elders who were telling her what she did was inacceptable; she just brushed them off with witty comments.
The former avenger had realized that the Sanin had done a lot that had benefited him, fought to keep him from being executed – though Naruto was the one who succeeded and convinced her and she helped the blonde boy plead his case, allowed him to go after Sakura and the others, and let Itachi become a part of his life again.
"Let's go Sasuke," Itachi pulled him from his thoughts and once they were on the street, Naruto and Kakashi greeted them and they walked around the village, showing that at least three people weren't afraid to walk with the man who was an S-class criminal.
The Kyuubi vessel was surprisingly quiet and then when the group of four were in a secluded area of the village Sasuke asked. "Naruto," this stopped the others, right now Sasuke didn't care if he asked this in front of anyone else, but he had to ask, "why did you tell the elders you'd take my place if I had done anything to betray the village?"
The blonde placed both of his hand behind his head, in a leisurely way before he sighed as he turned to him, "Sakura must have told you, to answer that question, I already told you once – which I would have thought you'd remember by now: It's not worth becoming Hokage if I lose the only person I've called brother." He caught a slight change in Sasuke's expression, "You were one of the first people to accept me, I couldn't just give up on you…that and Itachi and I had a talk a while back…" He glanced at the other Uchiha present, who remained quiet as Sasuke looked at him.
"We should get somewhere that would be better to talk without eavesdroppers," the Copy-nin suggested.
"Sakura's apartment since she has ramen," Naruto threw his arms in the air and sped off without the others and by the time they entered the door three cups of cup ramen was prepared.
Sitting in the living room, the youngest dark haired man asked, "When do we leave for this 'mission'?"
"When the villages and nations know that I no longer associate with Akatsuki, and it will give us time to strategize."
Just then the door opened and in came a grimacing Sakura, "If Ino shows up I'm not here." She growled and vanished into her bathroom, slamming the door.
"Uh oh," Naruto said, "sounds like Ino said something to make Sakura mad…not that that's new or anything. Sasuke can I speak with you?"
This was getting weird but he stood up none the less and followed the said blonde into the kitchen where they spoke in hushed voices. The kunoichi came out and sat on the couch beside her former sensei, her expression annoyed. "What happened?" he asked after a few long moments thinking if he should ask.
She recoiled and snapped quickly, "I don't want to talk about it." Whatever it was had her furious…and she wasn't looking at Itachi, so the two older men had a feeling it was about him.
"Uh, Sakura, can I have my Icha Icha Paradise books back?"
Suddenly Sasuke was lying on the floor and Naruto's fist extended and a large goofy grin in place. "What are you doing?" she inquired irritated, trying to hold her anger.
"Just punching Sasuke because he actually said something right," he continued to grin and held out a hand for said teen to grab.
"Tch, idiot," Sasuke was pulled up by his best friend.
"You'd better do it, and soon." Naruto whispered in Sasuke's ear.
"Is anyone hungry other than Naruto?" Sakura asked, disappearing into the kitchen walking passed Sasuke without a glance.
He caught Itachi's eye briefly, which clearly told him to make things right, and Sasuke knew that's what he had to do.
By the time it was early evening, Sasuke was constantly thinking of how he could make it up to Sakura…again. She had volunteered to house both Uchiha, seemingly forgetting that Sasuke had a place he and Itachi could stay, but the elder Uchiha agreed so he could send glares at his younger brother. It was weird, it was like they were the best of siblings again, with history past them and moving on they could be in each others' lives again.
Currently Sakura and the two Uchiha were watching Forensic Files on TruTV, Kakashi had things to attend to and Naruto had a long awaited date with Hinata, when Sasuke decided it was now or never, "Sakura," her attention flickered to him, "would come with me for a moment?" she just looked at him, no sign of moving, "Please?"
Well since he said please.
She followed him to the door and put her sandals on when he started to place his own on, realizing he intended they were going on a walk.
Once the door had closed, a slightly smirking Itachi was silently hoping for the best.
Outside, Sasuke led Sakura and she followed quietly – wondering what he wanted to talk about. She couldn't deny that she wasn't still upset about Sasuke's actions the night before when he didn't trust her words, but when she came home the next morning and had seen that he hadn't killed the Akatsuki member, she was relieved, but still saddened that Sasuke was still his old self.
The ever non-talkative Uchiha, however, was thinking of things he could say to make amends, and for snapping at her for the second time. He really needed to learn to control his temper.
By the time they arrived to the Hokage faces; they both sat down, neither speaking a word, the air uncomfortable between them. The stars were now held high in the sky and the moon shining brightly with its pale glow.
It was a good thirty minutes before either of them had the courage to say something.
"Thank you…" was the only thing Sasuke could think of to say and he cursed himself for saying something so bad to start a conversation. If it had reminded him of that night, then it was mostly likely brought back to her as well, this was a memory he wasn't fond of.
She continued to remain silent, and the male was still trying to think of things to say. He knew it would be harder and it was.
"For opening my eyes," she glanced at him; at least he knew she was listening. "I could have regretted everything I thought I stood for…"
The moments passed between them an eerie quiet and awkward. Sasuke knew he was going to have to talk a lot and he was hoping he wouldn't make things worse, but Sakura's silence made his heart clench for an unknown reason.
"…What will you do now, Sasuke," she finally spoke, voice low, "now that you no longer have to avenge your clan?" Sakura asks.
He chose his words carefully, watching her reaction closely, knowing they would give him the ones he needed to confirm a suspicion. "I will rebuild my clan…after I find a suitable wife, children will come when she and I are ready, I wouldn't want to rush things on her." Sasuke stated. Sakura smiles softly and gives a small laugh. "What?" Sasuke asks her, studying her as she gazed at the sky and noticing the silvery light illuminates her pink hair and figure.
"Nothing. I just see you as the faithful, loyal kind of guy Sasuke. Your wife will be lucky to have you as a husband, one who doesn't sneak around." She gave him one of her heart-stopping smiles, but her eyes told him two things. One—she was happy for him, second—her heart was breaking. "I believe you'll find the right girl though. One who will love you as much as you could her." She looked back to the stars.
What she had said reminded him of a time when his mother had told him something, it was more of a distant memory.
Sasuke heard the mumbles of voices and then the shuffling of feet before his expressionless father appeared from the room he was about to pass. Fugaku sighed and walked wordlessly passed the confused boy.
He heard footsteps coming from the room his father and his mother stood there in the doorway. "Sasuke, are you heading to bed?"
"Yes, mother." He nodded.
She walked up to him and lifted him up and carried him down the hall and to his large bedroom. Navy blue bedspread with an Uchiha fan and others painted on the walls. A white dresser and toy chest overflowing with toys and a rack with a kunai and shuriken pouch hung over it.
Placing the young boy in his bed and brining the covers up around him she knelt down and kissed his forehead before sitting down. "What's wrong mother?" he asked, concerned.
The Uchiha woman sighed, "Sasuke, I want you to promise me something."
He looked at her as he sat up sharply, "Promise you what?"
"When you get older, find only one girl to love," she said, and noticed his face twist at the thought of loving girls. Mikoto laughed lightly, spirit lifting slightly. "I don't mean right now, but Sasuke, there will come a time when you'll be interested in girls, don't play with them."
"You mean we can't play together at the park?" he asked.
She smiled, oh the innocence of children. "You can play with them at the park, but I mean don't play with their hearts, or feelings in other words. Don't have many girls in your life, be faithful to one and it will be rewarding in the long run. I know you don't understand what I'm saying now, but be loyal to her when you find her, and she will be faithful to you in return. Promise?"
She stood up and he lay back down, Mikoto pulled the blankets over her son again and gave him another kiss. "Good night Sasuke, sleep tight and remember what I said. I love you."
They sat their quietly, Sasuke lost in a memory he had forgotten, but had kept.
He had never really understood what his mother had meant until he was old enough to understand that men play with women's hearts and vice versa and they use them to gain something. Or another incident he found an old paper in the Uchiha compound about a clan member sneaking around to another woman other than his wife. Finally it had clicked, what his mother had said in that memory from long ago that had been hidden in the depths of his mind.
There were never any girls in his life that he spent time with, except Sakura and Karin and she had moved on to Suigetsu, thank God. The other girls were all trying to get his attention, with lies and having no idea what they were really saying. Sakura on the other hand, had put up with him, and he still had to apologize for yesterday. "I think I've already found the right girl…" he murmured, watching her from the corner of his eye, she trembled slightly. "And she's proved herself to be loyal to me."
He would never do this, but it had to be done, he slid a little closer to her so their arms were brushing. Face turned to her he said, "I'm sorry…I don't deserve your forgiveness or friendship." She looked at him, "I find myself…drawn to you…but then I want to push you away. I'm not used to someone caring about me, but you, Naruto and Kakashi do, even when I tried to kill you myself. You cared for me when Itachi came…to tell me the truth, I took it out on you…I know you could never betray me, and yet it comes across my mind that it will one day happen, that I really will have no one. But you've always been faithfully by my side when I was so careless with my actions."
A light blush appeared on his face at his confession as he turned away, he couldn't believe he just told her whatever it was that just popped out of his mouth without it even crossing his mind. He didn't plan to talk that much, or say that.
"I shouldn't forgive you so easily, but I find myself doing so." She said lowly. "You've hurt me a lot, but you also make me feel at peace…safe."
"I will work on your trust, I will be better."
The air was still, lights flickered above and below. "Just don't break me again…"
"Thank you," Sasuke said.
"So who is she? The one you're talking about?"
"Are you stupid?" taken aback by this Sakura looked at him as he suddenly grabbed both of her shoulders. "She's you," he looked into her eyes, "you are the only one who's ever had any faith in me and loved me for me; you've accepted the things I've done – to others and you – I don't deserve your love and you could do better than me, but I find myself glad that you've still chosen me over any other man you could have and who could love back faster than I could—"
She silenced him, his eyes wide as she kissed him. He made no move to pull back and after a few moments the kunoichi pulled back. "You should stop talking Sasuke, it'll ruin the moment." At this he huffed and turned away. "I was just kidding," pecking him on the lips again. He was still surprised.
A light streaked across the sky and Sakura stared in awe and Sasuke just remained silent but watched her. He stiffened when she then rested her head on his shoulder and grabbed his arm to wrap it around her to keep her warm.
For a while longer, they stayed their enjoying each other's presence.
Seven Months Later
The Hokage had called for another gathering, another one that was unknown to all but a few, only Itachi, Kakashi and Shizune had been informed of what was going on in the sake loving blondes head and they had supported her one hundred percent.
Here Sasuke, Sakura, and Naruto were, standing to her side casting glances at each other in confusion, minus the dark haired male who just remained impassive but curious.
"I assure you all this is good news." The busty blonde proclaimed with a smile etched on her features. "The Akatsuki is no longer a threat to the world – thanks to our brave shinobi and kunoichi whom have returned to us nearly a week ago. However there will be new enemies that will rise up and attempt to spread terror and we need new heroes to help us in such times. And those new heroes I give to you Sakura Haruno, Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha, the new generation of Sanin."
The crowd cheered and the original Team Seven had no idea how to react. Sakura and Naruto were wide eyed and Sasuke was just smirking in a triumphant manner, "Hn, finally." He said, getting the two's attention. "I suspected this would happen, we did happen to destroy what was left of Akatuski." He stated a matter-of-factly.
"Well, I'm not complaining," the blonde teen said, jumping on the rail. "I'm Naruto Uzumaki, the Toad Sanin, the next Hokage! Believe it!" he laughed and jumped down to the large assembly that had gathered for the announcement. Sakura just shook her head and looked at her former sensei.
"How long have you planned this?"
The blonde just continued to smile, "For a while, the three of you have surpassed my teammates and I in strength and jutsu. And we are in need of new Sanin, I am the last after all, and we need younger, stronger Sanin, I'm older than I look and my strength is diminishing. I know the three of you will stay true to your title and our dear Sasuke here won't forsake this village again when everything is going right for him. So no need to worry about that, besides, if he acts out of line you could beat him or deny him children." She smirked when the young medic's face turned crimson.
"Hn," said Uchiha grabbed the hand at her side, "I already to you I wouldn't force anything on you," he looked at the blushing kunoichi he called girlfriend for a few months.
She smiled sheepishly.
"There's going to be a party held in our new Sanin's honor," Itachi appeared behind the couple with Kakashi.
"You knew about this too?" Sakura asked, looking between the two.
"We helped her plan this," the silver haired man replied behind his favorite book, "we did tell her that you were the ones who led the attack on Akatsuki and were our motivation when the going got tough, watched our backs and cared for our wellbeing. Qualities of Sanin, the role of a leader." He finally looked over his book and his lone eye crinkled, a smile could be seen from under his mask.
On Itachi there was a slight upturn of the lips, "You did," he added.
"Let's go party!" Naruto shouted from below, his voice louder than the mass of people. "Ramen!"
The two Sanin females shook their heads, "Also," the older woman said, "don't tell Naruto that he is going to be one of the next Hokage, I'll make sure of that. But for now you should go have fun." With that she walked away.
"So Itachi, how are things going with the villagers?" the pink haired girl asked.
"Everyone seems to be coming along," he glanced at her.
"How are your eyes?"
"Better, I see clearer than I have in a while." When Sakura had given him a check up the day after Tsunade declared him a Leaf shinobi, Sakura discovered he was going blind due to excessive use of his Sharingan, and she scolded him for doing so.
"You're not using it more than you should, are you?" she crossed her arms and looked at him sternly. She swore that men had to be told what to do or they'd do something stupid. She had six men she had to do that to, her boyfriend and his brother, the blonde on her team—when Hinata wasn't there to keep him in line—Kakashi and Sai and Yamato who were on a mission during the whole ordeal she and Sasuke had to go through.
"Why would I go against doctor's orders?" Itachi answered.
"I know you would," Sakura mumbled.
"Forget it Sakura," Sasuke spoke, "if he wants to go blind then let him."
"Sakura, keep your man in line." Itachi mocked.
"Shut up Itachi," Sasuke glared.
"She's got you whipped," the older smirked.
"She does not."
"That's not what it looked like a few days ago…"
Sakura discovered Itachi had a teasing side, mainly to Sasuke or her. She grasped her dark haired Sanin's hand to keep him from jumping his brother, "Sasuke just let it go."
"Like I said, whipped," he made a whipping sound before disappearing.
Sasuke growled, Sharingan flickering, before turning to Sakura, "I'm not whipped," his voice was irritated.
"No, no you're not," Sakura smiled and kissed him gently on his lips and pulled back, "But I want a dance."
"Fine," he said quickly, pouting.
Before I forget, does anyone know what manga chapter Itachi and Naruto talk and Itachi gives Naruto some of his power? I couldn't find it, but I'd appreciate it if someone would tell me so that way I know the details all I remember is the flashback.
Don't forget to review and I also have a new poll regarding my stories, please check it out and it will help me know which ones you want updated, hopefully more frequently. The poll will be open for a little while longer so be quick, so far two stories are really close to a tie.
I love you all and this story is now completed, I can't believe it's over, I had so much fun writing it and I hope you all enjoyed reading it so if you would review and get me passed the 400+, also the story with the most reviews. Criticism is still appreciated.
Thank you all for sticking with me, I also have a few new stories planned, but I want to get some more stories finished before I begin those and I'll keep you posted.