Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto…but I wish I could own Sasuke!
WARNINGS: Heavy sexual content, strong language, violence
She took it to be random chance.
He believed it an unfortunate coincidence.
What neither of them realized was that this
was something far more complex;
something powerful, everlasting, and beyond their control.
This was fate.
L U C K of the D R A W
The sound of her heart beating erratically along with her gasps for breath were all she could hear. Panic laced through her veins as another burst of adrenaline shot through her body, pushing her forward. Her two-inch tall sandals were doing nothing to help her, but eventually they just broke off from all her non-stop running.
She ducked behind a tree to try to catch her breath. Her sides were screaming in pain and her chest felt like it was being bound tighter and tighter with each breath. She wiped the sweat that was dripping down her forehead as she tried to listen.
A twig snapped just fifty-some yards from her.
She choked down another sob and forced herself to keep running, never looking back.
She gave up calling for help about twenty minutes ago. No one was around to hear her—except for them. And the more she yelled, the easier they could track her.
She cursed under her breath when she stepped on a hard rock that pressed into her already bloody foot. Strands of her sweaty black hair fell into her face but she just brushed them aside, never stopping.
What had she done to deserve this? All she wanted to do was get away for the week and begin writing her novel in the cabin she'd rented in the middle of nowhere. And now where was she?
Running for her life.
A yelp escaped from her mouth as she tripped on a tree root; the trees of the forest around her suddenly swirling out of focus as she fell to the ground. She felt blood trickle down her knee from the force of the fall.
No longer able to get up, she tried to crawl away, but it was too late. She could hear their footsteps now. One of them chuckled. Two more appeared from trees in front of her.
How had they managed to get in front of her? She gasped—they were just toying with her. They purposely wanted to tire her out. She let out a frustrated cry.
"Now don't be like that, beautiful," one said as the other two stood in front of her. They were surrounding her.
"Please don't do this," she whispered pitifully.
This time, all three of them laughed. The world was blurring; it was as if everything was going in slow motion. Suddenly there was a hot pain at the back of her head.
The world went black.
Haruno Sakura sighed as she entered her patient's room. She cocked a hip and stuck her hand on it while one of her pink eyebrows arched.
"What have you gotten yourself into this time?" she asked, stepping in closer.
"Aw don't be like that, Sakura-chan!" the patient said with a grin as he slurped up more of the green gelatin he was currently inhaling.
Sakura glanced down at the clipboard in her hand. "It says here that you fractured three ribs, pulled your left shoulder out of the socket—again, and nearly lost your big toe! Really Naruto, what am I going to tell Hinata-chan the day her boyfriend comes home in a body cast?"
Her blonde best friend shrugged, "I completed the mission?"
She narrowed her emerald eyes at him. "You are unbelievable. You do know that in order to be the next Hokage, you sort of have to be…oh, what's the word…alive?!"
Naruto licked his bowl, trying to get every last flavor of lime-y goodness before setting it aside; ignoring Sakura's comment, "Please, you're nineteen, Naruto!" He licked his lips and started to tug off his shirt when pain shot through his shoulder.
"Careful Naruto!" Sakura said quickly, dropping the clipboard and rushing over to hold his arm down. "You're not fully healed yet—you need to take things slowly. Let me help you."
Together they removed his black T-shirt, revealing tanned skin covering strong muscles. Scars littered his body—something that made Sakura wince at with every ninja patient she saw. Gently as possible, she placed her right hand on his left shoulder and began to flow green chakra into it. Naruto sighed as the healing warmth drifted through his body, centering on his shoulder. Once she was done with the shoulder, the medic-nin shifted her attention to his ribs and lastly his toe.
"Ugh, Naruto!" Sakura cried out indignantly. "Don't you ever wash these things?!" He winked and she scowled as she delicately placed a healing hand on the offending toe. Once the young medic was finished, she promptly washed her hands in the sink next to Naruto's bed. He chuckled as he took a sip of his orange juice.
"Thanks, Sakura-chan. I feel much better now. No more stiffness."
"Happy to help." She smiled at him before jotting some notes down on her clipboard. "Just make sure to keep up those stretches I showed you and let me know immediately of any sharp pains."
"Will do, Doc," Naruto said with a salute.
"Now enough of this medical stuff," Sakura said suddenly; her tone of voice rising a bit. She pulled up a chair and rested her elbows on the table next to Naruto's bed. "Tell me all about the mission—what you can, at least."
Naruto grinned, tucking his arms back behind his head. "Well it took us about an hour to get to our location. Of course, we were outnumbered so I—"
"Ah, Sakura-sama?" A blonde nurse peeked her head into Naruto's room. "Tsunade-sama would like to meet with you in her office once you are finished with Uzumaki-san."
Sakura turned to Naruto, who waved his hand. "Go on; we'll finish this over dinner at Ichiraku's sometime this week."
"Great. Thanks Naruto!" She leaned forward to kiss his forehead. "Stay out of trouble. I'll be back later today."
She hurried down the hall and to the front entrance of the hospital. It was a beautiful May day—nearly June. The weather was warming up and birds were chirping happily as they built their nests. The children of Konoha were looking forward to spending their days playing in the streets and going to the beach.
The pink-haired medic entered the air conditioned Hokage building, nodding a greeting to two ANBU walking into an office. She climbed the stairs to her shishou's office, tucking her pink hair behind her ears before she knocked.
She slowly walked in the office, shutting the door quietly behind her. "Ah, Sakura-chan, come sit down."
Scratching the back of her neck, Sakura complied. Tsunade smiled somewhat nervously at her apprentice as she sat on the edge of her desk.
"I have…a mission for you."
"Oh? What kind?"
Tsunade bit her lip—Sakura could easily tell that this would be either a very dangerous or very unpleasant mission…most likely both. She sat up straighter, waiting to her what her mentor had in store for her.
"It's somewhat of a rescue mission. You need to shut down an operation and rescue the…well the people involved."
Tsunade let out a puff of air, clearly struggling. She walked around her desk, trying to decide the easiest way to get it out. "Basically, this will be one of the hardest missions you have ever been on," she began. "It's a solo mission. A…mature mission."
"Oh. One of those? Tsunade-shishou, I've been on seduction missions before, I think I can—"
Tsunade slammed her fist on her desk, creating a crack down the center. "No listen to me, Sakura! This is not like any mission you've ever been on. I've heard of these kinds, but I never hoped to have to hand out one! Not to you especially, but you're the only one qualified for it."
"W-What do you mean?"
The Hokage rubbed the bridge of her nose, sitting down in her chair. "At the border between Fire Country and Water Country is a brothel called Tenshi. It's in Water Country, but they take girls from Fire Country."
"What do you mean 'take'?"
"Kidnap. They kidnap girls who are alone and…force them into…submission."
"Submission? As in—"
"It's a brothel, Sakura. Anyway, they're taking girls only from Fire Country and Water Country isn't doing anything about it. It's up to us to save the girls. You need to find out who's running it, take them down, and get the girls back home safely."
"Hinata is far too shy for such a task, Tenten is already on a mission, and Ino is still in physical therapy from her mission in April," Tsunade explained.
"What about an ANBU girl? I'm sure some of them are qualified. Himura Naomi definitely knows how to flaunt it—"
"Sakura, enough. I need someone who is skilled in strategy, strength, and intelligence. You're my apprentice, I know you can do this." The blonde got up again and began to pace.
The pink haired medic-nin bit her lip as she wondered what her next move would be. She knew she had the option of turning it down, being such a qualified medic and—while she hated to say it this way—such an asset to Konoha. She could easily refuse and say she was far too busy at the hospital and continue on with life. She would forget this conversation had ever happened.
Yet still, a part in the back of her mind, a very small, nearly forgotten spot, remembered a twelve year old girl waking up on a bench and vowing that she would prove herself to him. There was a high chance that he would never know about all the dangerous missions she'd been on, but that small thought alone made her decision.
"Alright," she looked up, determination settling on her face. "I'll do it."
Tsunade turned to her young apprentice with a mother's gaze. Her face was crumpled in worry and her eyes showed how much the Hokage didn't want Sakura to do this. But both women knew that there was only one ninja who could do the job—and she was sitting in the Hokage's office, waiting for orders.
"Very well." The blonde nodded her head somberly. She pulled out a manila folder and handed it to Sakura. "This is everything you need to know. This is who you need to become."
Sakura scanned the top paper quickly; she would study it further once she got back to her apartment. She was surprised at how similar it was to all the other missions she'd been on where she'd gone undercover.
Name: Akiyama Rei
Occupation: (Citizen) Student. Works in family store. Studies dance.
This girl seemed so…normal. As if it were actually some girl's biography she was reading. Tsunade made sure to give highly detailed background information she would have to learn. Sakura guessed it was because she would be there for a while and would need to know everything about this girl.
"Why seventeen?" she asked. "I just turned nineteen."
Tsunade turned around from the window she was looking out. "Nineteen is too old."
Her apprentice tilted her head. "What do you mean?"
"At seventeen, you're still underage," a male voice said behind her. "More appeal for the buyers."
Sakura turned around. "Jiraya. I'm not surprised that you have knowledge on brothels…"
Jiraya sneered at her as he sat back on a couch next to one of Tsunade's bookshelves. "For your information, Tsunade-sama asked for my help."
"He can help us come up with a look for you," Tsunade explained. "He'll know what they…what they'll like."
Sakura's heart skipped a beat. She felt the bile rising in her throat as her stomach seemed to be somersaulting. Suddenly this mission didn't seem like such a good idea.
"Okay, come over here." Jiraya pointed to the floor length mirror behind one of the doors in the Hokage's office. Reluctantly, the medic-nin got up from her seat, followed by her mentor.
"Let's start with the hair," Tsunade suggested. "Color?"
Sakura felt Jiraya's gaze travel from the top of her head down to her toes and back up again, yet she was surprised when she saw that his face was not at all lecherous like she was used to, but serious. He pursed his lips and squinted his eyes as he looked at her face.
Sakura did a quick concealment jutsu and suddenly her hair was a midnight black. She winced when she looked in the mirror—she'd been imagining someone else's hair in order to get the look and accidentally took the hair of the man that haunted her dreams.
All three were silent. With nearly identical skin tones and now identical hair, all Sakura had to do was darken her eye color and she would look like the female counterpart to Uchiha Sasuke. She swallowed heavily.
Jiraya recovered first. "No," he shook his head slowly as he tapped his mouth with his forefinger. "That's not right. Try dark brown."
Again Sakura changed her hair color, happy to rid herself of the painful memories. She didn't like the way she looked with brown hair. She frowned and turned to the pair standing to her left.
"I don't like brown."
"Well," Tsunade said. "We can't have you as a blonde. And red hair won't do. We'll just have to work with the black until we find a shade we like…"
They tried every shade they could think of, from raven blue to the darkest of browns—always avoiding that deep night sky black. Eventually Tsunade sighed and walked to her back cabinet for a bottle of sake. Jiraya relaxed on the couch again as Sakura sat on a window ledge, holding a few strands of her now bluish-black hair between her fingers.
A child laughed and she glanced out the window. She stood up quickly, leaning so her forehead was pressed up against the glass. Jiraya joined her by the window and looked at the little girl's dark hair as well. They looked at each other and Sakura felt a wave of chakra rush through her as she once again adjusted the concealment jutsu.
The moment of truth. Sakura stepped up to the mirror and her eyes widened at what she saw. Her hair was a rich ebony shade with a hint of deep purple. She heard a gasp behind her as she turned to see Tsunade standing in the doorway.
"It's perfect," she murmured. Sakura changed her eye color to a light blue that matched her hair and skin tone perfectly. For a moment she considered making this new look permanent, but then she realized that her name would have less meaning to it if she had a much darker appearance.
Jiraya smirked as he turned to the women. "Now for the wardrobe."
Sakura growled as she threw the white hat she was wearing on the ground. "Jiraya! I've tried everything from yellow dresses to pink skirts to jean shorts to purple shirts! There is nothing else! You have to make a decision!"
Tsunade downed a glass of sake before turning to the man. "What do you think isn't working? What do you suggest she wear?"
The old man took on a lecherous smirk as he turned to the medic-nin in question. "Well if you want my advice, I say she not wear anything at all—"
"JIRAYA!" two voices rang in unison.
"Okay, okay! Sheesh…" He mumbled to himself as he walked over to the clothing racks Tsunade had ordered into her office. He tossed various articles of clothing behind him, pausing with some but then deciding against it after several seconds.
Eventually, all of the clothing was in a big pile behind him. Sakura sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose. She stood up and faced the two older people in the room.
"Look, why don't I figure this part out? I'll go to a civilian store and see what I can find. I'll come back once I'm done," she suggested, straightening out her red tank top, running a hand down the silver zipper line to flatten it against her stomach.
Jiraya and Tsunade looked at each other before nodding and letting her go. It was obvious that the two needed to take a break as well. They gave her an hour to come back with something.
Sakura adjusted the strap of her purse so it sat on her other shoulder as she walked slowly through one of Konoha's department stores. Light music was playing in the background and the sound of hangers sliding against the clothing rack could be heard. People all over walked in small clusters, speaking in hushed voices as they discussed what they thought of different articles of clothing.
Occasionally someone would stare at her, because of her unusual pink hair, or because she was known as Tsunade-sama's apprentice, some even seemed to stare at what she was wearing. The medic glanced down at her outfit—red tank top with the Haruno symbol on the back, tan skirt over her black shorts, knee high boots. In the ninja world, this was an ideal outfit, however in the civilian world, Sakura had to admit that it was a somewhat strange sight. But hey, at least she wasn't wearing her thigh holster or her black gloves. Now that would just be overkill.
Okay, she thought to herself. Time to focus. She sat down on a bench, letting all the sounds and smells of the store overwhelm her. She thought about the girl she was going to play for however long this mission would take. If she were actually this girl—Rei—what would she look for in the mall?
Sakura hadn't been able to read through the mission report when she first got it. Now she pulled it out and scanned over the personal background. The girl was a dancer and a student in high school.
A dancer, huh, she thought, seeing a pair of jean capris that were torn in various places along the thigh. The cuffs at the bottom were also torn and ragged, as if the jeans were really several years old. She'd want to show off her dancer legs then… Sakura glanced down at her legs, while she was somewhat on the short side, her legs looked muscular enough to belong to a dancer. She just hoped she wouldn't be expected to perform anything, that could be trouble.
She found an outfit that seemed suitable and hurried home to change. She hopped across the rooftops of Konoha to get to get to the Hokage tower. Sakura decided not to change her hair until she reached her mentor's office, that way no one would be confused.
Before knocking on the door, she muttered the concealment jutsu, changing her hair and eye color. A command to enter was heard from the other side, so she opened the door, taking a breath as she walked inside the office.
Jiraya and Tsunade looked up and both of their mouths dropped as they took in Sakura's appearance. She did a slow turn so they could take the whole thing in.
"Sakura, you look perfect," Tsunade said with a smile.
Jiraya, on the other hand, had other ideas. "Is it going to be revealing enough? You want to catch their attention."
"But she doesn't want to be too appealing—they might decide to make her a specialty otherwise. That's why we encouraged more basic features for her," Tsunade countered.
"Well," Sakura interrupted. "I'm thinking Rei wanted to get away to practice her dance routine. So she takes a walk in the woods to clear her mind and give her some privacy. It's a bit chilly when she starts out, but after she gets walking she'll warm up, so she can take off her sweatshirt and…"
Sakura was wearing a gray, short-sleeved zip-up sweatshirt. She pulled it off to reveal a tight red halter top, exposing just a bit of midriff. Jiraya nodded approvingly.
"Good. A little sex appeal, but it doesn't seem like you're flaunting it."
"You look like you didn't expect to see anyone out there," Tsunade agreed. "And the shoes will be comfortable for you, too. Very normal looking."
Sakura glanced down at her feet. Black sneakers. Plain—plain was good. Any normal teenage girl would wear them. Sakura's next plan would be to beat up the clothes a bit so they didn't look brand new.
"One last thing before you go home, Sakura-chan," Tsunade said as Jiraya was leaving. Sakura turned around and faced her mentor. "I'm going to place a special seal on you, to…protect you."
"Seal? What kind?"
A flash of worry crossed Tsunade's eyes. "It's a contraception jutsu. It stops ovulation. In case you…well, just in case."
Sakura swallowed hard. Her heart skipped a beat at the thought. She hoped that there would be no need for it. Tsunade motioned her closer and lifted the girl's shirt a bit higher than her navel.
"It'll look like a tattoo around your belly button," she explained. "No one will think anything of it." She placed a gentle hand on Sakura's tense stomach, beginning to create the seal.
Sakura nodded, looking out the window, trying to focus on anything else. She had no idea what would happen on this mission, but she hoped everything would turn out alright.
Eh, so it's an alright start. More action to come! Next chapter, the bait is laid for the kidnapping…