Memento – An Itachi & Sakura story.
By: Mitsuki Shiroi
Disclaimer: Naruto and all its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto.
A/N: Overall warnings for the story; spoilers up till manga 296. The story is canon to the anime up till pre-time skip, after that, it has changed. Uchiha Itachi x Haruno Sakura pairing, so don't read if you don't like. This is a repost from Memento last year. Enjoy the story!
Chapter One – Fated Ones
When she woke up, everything hurt. Glaring lights blinded her as she weakly opened her eyes. Immediately, strong, female hands pushed her down back to the bed as she unconsciously tried to get up. Hissing softly as her body started to thrum again with pain, she momentarily closed her eyes in an effort to protect them from the light before she tried to focus on the female shinobi next to her.
"Calm down Sakura," her mentor's voice sounded far away. "You have a severe wound on your back. If you move too much, you might open it again."
As she carefully listened to Tsunade's explanation, her mind tried to puzzle everything together. She had been on a mission with Naruto and Sasuke to escort someone from Cloud back to his hometown in the north, but before they realized it, the three of them were attacked by some shinobi from Stone. The shinobi that attacked them were strong; almost too strong for her to handle.
The worst thing about it all was that the shinobi had succeeded in their mission. The one they were assigned to protect was killed before they could even lift a finger to save him and the look that he shot into her reaction would forever haunt her mind. It was almost accusing and raised the hairs on her arms and neck while thinking about it.
"Naruto… Sasuke…?" She groaned as she felt the wound on her back beginning to bleed again, soaking her scarlet shirt a deeper shade of red.
"They're alright, Shizune is with them," Tsunade reassured her quickly as she stroked Sakura's forehead in an attempt to soothe her. "Sakura, we need to turn you around, bear with us for a while."
Nodding her head almost imperceptibly, she could hear Tsunade barking orders to the medics around her, before several hands held her sides and flipped her over on the soft bed. Moments later, she could feel chakra entering her body, healing the jagged cut diligently. Sakura tried to open her eyes, but found herself unable to lift her heavy eyelids. Within seconds, she was unconscious again.
"Your wound healed nicely," Shizune commented as she inspected Sakura's scar. Pulling down Sakura's shirt, she flashed Sakura a sincere smile. "Naruto and Sasuke are in room 203; you can visit them if you want."
Sakura nodded dully before brushing some stray strands of hair from her eyes. It started so simply; retrieve the scroll from the enemy camps and report back to the Hokage. Little did they know what a disaster it would be. If Naruto wasn't there, she was sure that Sasuke would have died, and she would've too.
She owed her life to the blonde.
She groaned softly as she pushed herself up from the hospital bed before bowing slightly to Shizune. She padded towards the door, having troubles keeping her balance as she was bed-ridden for several days. Mentally cursing herself for not wearing any slippers as her toes nearly froze, she finally reached the room where Naruto and Sasuke resided.
Without even so much as a knock, Sakura opened the door and smiled softly at the nurse who looked up.
"I'm looking for Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke," she mouthed, noticing that the patient the nurse was checking on was asleep.
The nurse smiled back before pointing towards the two beds on the other side of the room. Sakura nodded slowly before walking towards the beds. As she reached them, she could clearly see Naruto's blonde hair. His sky-blue eyes were closed to the world and he seemed peaceful, a soft smile adorning his lips.
In the bed next to him was Sasuke, but unlike Naruto, the Uchiha was wide awake. He held his hand up in acknowledgement as she waved at him, but said nothing. Taking a deep breath, Sakura walked towards Sasuke, grabbing the chair that stood next to Naruto's bed.
"How are you, Sasuke-kun?" she whispered, unwilling to disrupt Naruto's peaceful sleep.
"Fine," he whispered back before creasing his brows. Clearly, he was brooding over something as he sat up straight in his bed, adjusting his pillow before facing Sakura with a serious expression. "Naruto has been asleep for three days now but his wounds were completely healed hours after he was brought in."
Sakura remained silent after his remark, knowing what Sasuke was about to ask. Naruto hadn't specifically told her to keep quiet about the Kyuubi inside of him, but she knew that he wanted to be the one to tell Sasuke, that is if, Sasuke came back to Konoha.
It was a year ago when he finally did return, found by the Konoha ANBU, and brought in during her hospital shift. He had evidently been fighting as he had several serious wounds and his chakra was completely depleted. It took him several days to recuperate, but ultimately, his body didn't suffer any permanent damage.
He never spoke one word about Orochimaru, or Sound to anyone, with the sole exception of Tsunade. Apparently, his explanation was enough as he had been readmitted into Konoha. He earned his Chuunin status together with Naruto and Team 7 had been reunited with Hatake Kakashi as their leader. They never asked for answers nor did Sasuke offer them. Though both of them were convinced that he would talk when he was ready.
She resisted the urge to sigh as she took in the form of the boy she used to adore. His hair was cut to its usual length - when he had returned, his hair was almost long as Itachi's and when he first glanced at a mirror, he demanded a kunai from Naruto and cut the strands of hair that hung in front of his eyes back to normal length. His midnight eyes were still impassive pools but Sakura could immediately see the horror that resided within him. Reading Sasuke was easy for her, she had been doing it since Team 7 was formed all those years ago.
"Sakura," his steady voice called out to her. Awaking from her reverie, she found Sasuke staring directly at her, a partially concealed concern in his eyes. "How's the cut on your back?"
"Better," she tipped her head slightly as she heard Naruto making some noise. A glance in the direction of the usually obnoxious shinobi made her realize that he was still asleep. "Tsunade-shishou and Shizune-san managed to heal the cut within hours."
He nodded approvingly but never smiled. Sakura fully understood the reason for that, why he laughed and smiled so rarely; Sasuke's entire clan was murdered and when he set out to break bonds with his friends and village to gain power, Orochimaru probably did something terrible and horrifying to him. Sasuke was back – after what she had guessed were some gruesome experiences - but his ambition for revenge had never wavered, he was as determined as he was four years ago.
She nodded before standing up. "I'll come back when Naruto is awake."
He blinked slowly before returning the curt nod. Sakura flashed him her smile before turning around and leaving the room. Although she was a medic-nin, she hated hospitals with a passion. It would always remind her of the time when Sasuke challenged Naruto, right before he left. She would never forget the looks on their faces as they prepared for the final blow, almost forgetting that they were friends. If Kakashi hadn't interjected, ending the fight, who knows how bad it would have become?
She shivered involuntarily as she mused over that incident. The thing that frightened her most was Sasuke. The look of pure frustration when it became clear to him that Naruto was a tough one to beat was haunting. She had instantly realized that he was measuring this fight with Itachi. If he was unable to defeat Naruto easily, he would not stand a chance against his older brother.
Although she knew he would try to leave sooner or later, it shook her to her core as she found out that she was right, and Sasuke tried to leave the village after their little fight. During their last conversation, it became clear to her that he wasn't the same as her. He prioritized revenge above friends and would do anything to obtain absolute power. In a last ditch attempt to stop him – although knowing it was impossible – she confessed her love to him and he told her she was annoying.
Reaching her room, she exhaled sharply as she realized she had been holding her breath since she had left the boys' room. It happened years ago, years ago since Sasuke said his goodbyes, years ago since he left everything behind in order to catch up with his brother but it still affected her deeply.
She walked towards her bed as she held onto the wall for support, feeling her knees buckle as she mentally admonished herself for being such a fool and walking this much while she was still injured and tired. With great effort, she pushed herself back onto the bed, wrapping the unsoiled, white sheets around her frozen legs.
Inevitably, her thoughts flew back to the elder Uchiha. While studying under Tsunade, she had worked hard and earned herself the right to look into the Bingo book and Itachi's personal mission files and reports. Many times, she wondered how a man like Itachi, with a promising future that could even lead to being the Fifth Hokage, could change into a murdering machine who massacred his entire clan – people who raised him – and left his brother to pick up the pieces.
There were also times that she admired him. He was cold, ruthless and maniacal – at least, that's what she believed – but he was also an ANBU squad leader at the young age of thirteen, calculating, strong and probably the best student in the history of Konoha. Although he had destroyed Sasuke's life and future completely, there was no doubt about it that she found the elder Uchiha intriguing.
Resting her head on top of the cozy pillow, she buried herself underneath the sheets, silently cursing as she kept shivering.
Perhaps talking about a criminal like Uchiha Itachi produces this effect, she thought as she softly smiled before closing her eyes, drifting off in a deep slumber.
"Uchiha Itachi?" a deep voice asked as soon as his comrades fainted. He saw the senbon and had easily dodged them; his teammates were less fortunate however. With a look that hinted annoyance, he looked up and let his Sharingan meet another pair of unique blood-red eyes.
"I've been waiting for you," the voice continued. "Let me make this as short and simple as possible. If I offered you strength and power to become the strongest Shinobi in the world, would you accept the offer? Or will you live the rest of your life here, hidden within the confines of Konoha?"
Itachi closed his eyes for a moment, taking his time to scan the perimeter. As far as he could tell, there was no one else in the vicinity which would mean that this man in front of him was a fool.
"There's no one here," the man in the black and red cloak chuckled darkly before jumping off his branch. "Join my organization in three years and I'll make you stronger."
"Join?" Itachi asked interested. "You want me to leave this village so that I can join your organization?"
Suddenly, Itachi felt like invisible hands were choking him, the chakra intensity around him was menacing and dark. Quickly regaining his composure, his eyes were widened as he looked up to the stranger when the feeling of killing intent died down slightly. This was it; this was the power he wanted, and the man in front of him had shown it to him with only an intention to kill.
"There are five others taking the Chuunin exams at the moment; five other genius shinobi from various villages. They're waiting for an explanation why I picked them and if you come with me, you will have your answers."
For the first time in his life, Itachi stood there speechless as he tried to regain his equanimity. His useless teammates would be out cold for at least another day. He had three more days before the Chuunin exam ended. Making up his mind, Itachi's gaze hardened as he took a step into the mysterious man's direction.
"Follow me," the man chuckled mirthlessly before jumping onto another branch, Itachi following.
Long before the first rays of sunlight entered through his small bedroom window, Itachi was wide awake. The cold laugh of his leader rang through his head as he stared at the village near Akatsuki's headquarters, amused to see daily life starting again.
Eleven years since Leader – as everybody called him – found him. Nine years since he massacred his family in cold blood as he tried to obtain power. Four years since he first saw his Jinchuuriki – the Kyuubi, or Uzumaki Naruto. Three years since he moved into his small apartment in River. Leader had deemed it best for the teams to split up and to let every shinobi find their own house to live in.
Pocketing his hands in a casual matter that was almost unfit for the shinobi, Itachi watched how his neighbors passed the house, sharing a light conversation as they laughed out loud, entering the small café on the other side of the road. Turning around, he sighed softly before picking up the scroll that came directly from his leader. Mild irritation grew as he realized that the scroll was a reminder. To join Akatsuki, one must be strong, strong enough to kill your own clan, but to leave one of them behind, all alone.
Furthermore, the more problematic part of it all was to find someone to share the soul of the demons with. As seen with the current Jinchuuriki, most of them couldn't handle all of the power and Akatsuki's leader had found it prudent for them to find someone to share the soul with. At least until they have found out a way to completely control the souls.
Ironically enough, every single Akatsuki member, with exception of Kisame and Itachi had found those persons. Kisame had a hard time because of his looks; there were hardly any girls that were attracted to him. Itachi's case rested on a few things. He wished for a partner who was intelligent, beautiful but also strong. Amazingly enough, finding such a woman seemed impossible.
Then again, there were few women who were attracted to extremely dangerous shinobi and almost no woman in Konoha would be attracted to the Uchiha clan's murderer. They all know his history; it just was tough luck that he had to find someone in Konoha.
Itachi wasn't worried though; it would be out of character for him to worry about such a trivial thing. However, they were starting the pursuits of the remaining Jinchuuriki soon enough and if he would not find anybody he would be in trouble when they had to transfer the Jinchuuriki into his body.
Without a flicker of emotion, he picked up his Akatsuki robes before exiting the house.
Failure was not an option.
"Sakura-chan!" a loud and boisterous voice called out to her. She could right away identify the voice to the owner and looked up from her work, half agitated, half smiling.
"Naruto," she warned him as she tried her best to look angry. "This is a hospital; you can't go and scream around in the hallways."
"I'm sorry Sakura-chan," Naruto bowed his head slightly in apology. She let out a sigh as her anger made place for a smile.
"Don't worry about it," she smiled before putting her pen down. "What is it?"
"Kakashi-sensei wants a team meeting," Naruto smiled brightly. "He even requested a B-Rank mission for Sasuke and me!"
She raised her eyebrows. "Sasuke and you? What about me?" Although she tried to hide the hurt look in her eyes, she couldn't help but feel hurt. If Kakashi wanted to reunite Team 7, the least he could do was invite her as well. She was a part of the team too.
"Eh… About that," Naruto's smile faded and made place for a serious look. "Since Sasuke isn't telling us about Orochimaru and what happened during those years, Kakashi thought it would be a good idea for me to go on a mission with Sasuke, to try and coax something out of him."
Sakura nodded as she took a sip from her water. "If he is sending only the two of you on a mission, why is he asking for a team meeting, since I'm going to be left here," she answered bitterly, but, immediately, she regretted her words. She had though she had put this pettiness behind her!
"Don't worry about it," she smiled. "I'm a little overworked and I'm getting slightly edgy because of it. It's great that you're going on a mission with Sasuke, I hope you can get something out of him!"
"Right," Naruto nodded in agreement as a smile bloomed back on his lips. "He wants us at the bridge at eight o'clock tonight… But knowing him, it'll be ten before he finally arrives," he added as an afterthought. His grin widened as he heard Sakura chuckle.
"Well then, see you tonight," he waved and disappeared seconds later.
"See you," she whispered softly, the smile still apparent on her lips.
"Yo gentleman," Kakashi said as he appeared with a poof, right hand raised as a greeting. "Sorry I'm late, I saw a turtle on the streets and I had to help the poor thing out so I ran to the sea and back. He actually thanked me afterwards."
"You liar!" Naruto and Sakura both yelled at the same time, raising their fists.
Kakashi's visible eye creased in pleasure as he walked towards his former students. All three of them were Chuunin now and it pleased him to no end to know that the three of them were reunited again after Sasuke's little escapade to Sound, which actually lasted three years. Thankfully he came back just before Orochimaru could transfer his mind to Sasuke's body.
"So, Kakashi-sensei," Naruto strode towards his former mentor. "Where are we going?"
"I was thinking of Ichiraku…" Kakashi started, tipping his head in mock consideration. "But I guessed the three of you were sick ramen, so I'm taking to out to eat some healthy food."
He chuckled softly as Naruto ecstatic expression changed to one of utter disgust. Even if Naruto was four years older than the last time he offered the blonde some vegetables, it was clear to anybody that Naruto still thoroughly disliked healthy food and preferred ramen.
"Just kidding," Kakashi laughed light-heartedly. "We'll go to Ichiraku, but only if Sasuke and Sakura agree."
"Really?" Naruto cheered before turning around, his eyes pleading. "Please, Sakura-chan, Sasuke?"
"Sure," Sasuke sighed tiredly. If he would go against Naruto's wishes, he was sure that they would still be standing there until midnight, bickering over a place to eat. So he took the easy way out and agreed with the kitsune.
"Let's go," Sakura nodded in agreement. She laughed as Naruto jogged towards her, giving her a chaste hug before slapping Sasuke on the shoulder, earning a patent Uchiha death glare. Naruto was unimpressed though as he stuck out his tongue childishly before leading the way to his favorite restaurant.
"He's impossible," Sasuke muttered as he fell into step next to Sakura. "Why is it that he's always happy?"
"He is happy to have friends who care about him, that's all," Sakura answered, smiling as she heard her blonde friend having a heated argument with Kakashi about which kind of ramen was best. "He's not that hard to understand. He just hates to be alone," Sakura added.
Sasuke nodded slowly as if he tried to digest the information. Sakura inhaled deeply before looking up. She loved to go star-gazing at night; everything seemed so peaceful after a long day when watching the stars. A warm breeze passed by, messing up her hair slightly. Sighing, she casually brushed away the pink bangs that hung in front of her sea-foam green eyes.
"Sasuke," she whispered as she straightened her hair.
"Hm?" his reply came.
"I want to take the Jounin exam… Do you think I can make it?" she queried softly.
There was a long pause after that and although it was getting on Sakura's nerves, she knew that she shouldn't rush Sasuke. He would tell her what he honestly thought; if she even stood a chance in the Jounin exams, he would tell her so. But he would also tell her if he thought she was unfit to become a Jounin. That was part of the reason why she asked Sasuke. The other part was to see if he finally acknowledged her as a good shinobi.
She fell out of love with him long ago and now only saw him as a friend she cared deeply about, but his opinion would always matter to her. Just like Naruto's opinion and Kakashi's opinion. They were the most important men in her life.
"Take it," Sasuke replied quietly. "You've become a good kunoichi Sakura, so take the exam."
She swallowed hard as she tried to fight the tears away. For him to tell her to take the Jounin exam would be good enough, but to hear that he respected her was unexpected, yet not entirely unpleasant.
"Thank you," she whispered quietly as she smiled brightly. She watched how Sasuke turned around to glance at her, his arrogant yet familiar grin on his lips as he turned around. He nodded slowly before pocketing his hands and followed Kakashi and Naruto into Ichiraku.
Ironically enough, that single gesture, that smirk; it all reminded her of the night he left. He was dressed exactly the same, only his blue backpack was missing and this time, he wore his hitae-ate with pride and dignity. Sasuke was back.
Brushing away some of the tears that made their way down her cheek and towards her jaw line, she smiled happily. Team 7 was reunited and there was nothing that could rip them apart again- no Orochimaru and no cursed seals as Sasuke had sworn never to use it again, except for his fight with Itachi. They were a team again, nothing could ever change that.
Happiness was overflowing as she stepped inside the small bar called Ichiraku, taking her place between Kakashi and Sasuke. Sasuke was glancing at her eyes, obviously noticing that she had been crying. Sakura flashed him a genuine smile, showing him that she was alright, before grabbing her chopsticks to eat her ramen.
"Itadakimasu!" Naruto exclaimed as he started eating in an abnormal pace.
"I'm stuffed," Naruto sighed contently as he rubbed his stomach. He grinned as he watched Kakashi counting his money. Sakura giggled, feeling sorry for their teacher, but he should have known better and just let Naruto pay for his own food.
"I'd better go," Naruto yawned widely. "Sasuke, the mission starts at one o'clock in the morning. Let's meet up at the gate, okay?"
"Hn," the Uchiha nodded in response.
"See you!" Naruto grinned before disappearing into thin air. After muttering goodbye, Kakashi followed, leaving the both of them behind.
"I'm going too," Sakura stifled a yawn behind her hand. "It's been a long day."
Before she could even say goodbye, Sasuke brushed passed her and kept on walking for a while, before turning around. "Are you coming?"
Sakura's jaw dropped. "You… You don't have to take me home you know, Sasuke, I can get back myself."
"Your house is on my way home anyway," Sasuke sighed, indicating that he didn't wish to argue this matter. "I have a mission tomorrow Sakura, so let's go." Turning around, he started walking again, resisting the urge to grin as he heard Sakura running towards him, trying to fall into step beside him.
"Thank you, Sasuke," she said.
Her apartment was only a few blocks away from Ichiraku; it was a small building that didn't stand out like the huge Uchiha complex where Sasuke lived, or the crooked building where Naruto lived. Her mother had died of a disease two years prior to Sasuke's return and she had never known her father, so she was living alone at the moment. A discomforting thought at times, especially after she had been so angry with her mother at times that she wished her away when she was a child. Now, she just wanted her mother back and she understood exactly what Sasuke meant when he had told her she was annoying during their first real conversation. The pain of losing someone close to you was so painful, it could take your breath away and even after two years, it still stung her.
She couldn't imagine how Sasuke felt when he lost his entire clan in one night. It must have felt like his soul was ripped out.
Fumbling in her pockets for the keys, she was surprised to find Sasuke still behind her, thinking that he might have just gone home without even saying goodbye. Apparently, he wanted to check everything out before leaving, it was a habit of his to make sure that the vicinity was safe.
Opening the door, she clicked on the lights and immediately noticed the fact that there were numerous scrolls scattered throughout the hallway. Her mother's favorite painting had a large slash through the canvas, pictures were torn from the wall and her desk was almost completely destroyed. Shocked, she inhaled deeply as she felt Sasuke pass her by, clicking on the lights as he entered her house. She closed the door behind her before taking her sandals off, entering the living room as she prepared herself for the worst.
It was even worse than she had expected.
Her apartment was completely ransacked; couches were destroyed, the TV had been thrown onto the ground, there were tears in the expensive tatami mats her mother had bought and cherished years ago. Fighting back the tears that welled in the corners of her eyes, she ran upstairs, Sasuke following her wordlessly as she opened the door that lead to her mothers' bedroom.
"Pigs," she could hear Sasuke mutter next to her as she tentatively took a step into the pastel-pink colored room. Her mothers' bed was completely destroyed just like her closet. Tears dotted her cheeks as she crouched down on the ground, picking up shattered glass that used to be a mirror. She flinched as she accidentally cut her finger open, and molded chakra to close the wound again.
"How could they…" she whispered sadly as she stood up and brushed past Sasuke towards her own bedroom. As she neared the door, she could immediately smell the stench of paint. Blinded by her tears and blind fury, she kicked the door open with her immense strength, the door falling out of its hinges because of the brute force.
Of all the rooms in the house, hers was worst. Her bed was cut open and it seemed like somebody actually attempted to throw the entire mattress filling on the ground. Her scroll that hung on the wall was covered in thick, red paint, just like her pictures with Ino, Team 7 and Naruto.
As much as she tried to hold it all in, she started to sob as she let herself drop down on her knees when she read the sentence that was splattered all over her wall.
Watch your back bitch.
Pressing her palms against her face, her hair covered her face as she tried to stop herself from crying in front of Sasuke. He had just told her that she was a strong shinobi; she needed to prove that and be as emotionless as she could possibly muster at the moment. She could hear him move behind her and faintly realized that he stood in front of her, crouching down as he put his hand on her shoulder in a faint attempt of comfort.
"You can stay in my house tonight Sakura," his deep voice drifted to her, calming her down slightly as she stopped sobbing.
"No, I want to stay here," she wiped away her tears as she tipped her head to face him.
Wordlessly, he grabbed her wrist before helping her up. "Come on," he said in a tone that didn't leave any place for arguments. His firm manner briefly set her mind straight and she silently agreed with Sasuke that it was for the best if she stayed in the Uchiha complex for the night. She would clear the mess in the morning.
Then again, Sasuke had never even invited any of their team members to his home so she couldn't help but feel slightly uncomfortable as he led her away from the mess that was her home. All the way, he held her wrist in his hand, the heat of his body pleasantly warm against her wrist.
It didn't take them long to reach the compound but for Sakura it felt like it took them ages to get there. Her house was still on her mind, just like the insults on her wall but her train of thoughts soon left her as Sasuke pushed the gates that led to the Uchiha complex open and signaled her to go inside.
As soon as she stepped inside, she gasped softly. Houses on each side of a huge road, the Uchiha emblem on every house and every lantern in the district. But the houses were dark and empty. A small café was situated on her right, but the glass was shattered, dust was gathering on the tables and it almost seemed like it had been snowing inside.
A gently push on her back from Sasuke urged her to walk forward, allowing him to lead the way towards his own house. As they passed the empty houses, Sakura couldn't help but feel sad for Sasuke. He had been living with this for years already, coming home to the reminder that his entire clan was wiped out and he was the only one left. He would come home to see the dust gathering inside of every house, come home to the complete silence. There would be nobody to greet him, to make dinners for him or to even talk to him.
No wonder Sasuke was so grownup for his age, he was forced to act like one since his clan was murdered.
Not for the first time, she felt contempt for the elder Uchiha. He had single-handedly destroyed his entire clan, leaving only his brother for what? To teach Sasuke how to cook? How to wash things? How to clean out the house when he wasn't on duty?
She grinded her teeth before realizing that Sasuke had stopped. He relinquished his hold on her wrist before sliding the dark shoji screen open. Glancing at the small nameplate on the wall, she could barely read the bold kanji on the metal.
Uchiha Fugaku, Mikoto & Sasuke
Another name was impossible to read as there were numerous slashes through the name, but she could already guess whose name was once there. Saddened by the thought of a young Sasuke scratching his brother's name from his memories with a kunai, Sakura followed Sasuke into his house, politely removing her sandals as he clicked the lights on.
He led her to another room before sliding the shoji screen open. She stepped outside, admiring the small garden and the bamboo fountain that was next to the house. Without saying a word, she followed Sasuke, understanding how hard it must be for him to see another human being in his house after such a long time.
Sasuke took her into another room where a small table was situated, together with a refrigerator and a sink. A small picture stood on the table, with Sasuke and his two parents, but he tore away his brother from the picture. She resisted the urge to cry as she realized that the Sasuke in the picture still had hopes and dreams. His smile was radiating and infectious, almost mirroring the one in his mother's features. She was beautiful with long dark hair and the same midnight blue eyes as Sasuke possessed. His father on the other hand looked stern but she could see the underlying pride in his eyes.
Itachi was missing from any other picture that she had seen and she felt somewhat disappointed for she had really wanted to see how he looked, just once. She had always been wondering if he looked like a cruel killer, or just like Sasuke.
"You can sleep in the room next to this one," Sasuke said mutely as he pointed to another room, awaking her from her thoughts. "I don't recommend going into the room opposite to that one and I wouldn't like the thought of you entering there."
He made his point clear; she had heard from several people that his parents – the clan leaders – were killed in their own house. She immediately understood the need to keep that room from others. She nodded in understanding before bowing politely. "Thank you Sasuke," she answered as softly as him. For some reason, she felt the need to speak quietly as if she tried to respect those who had died so many years ago.
It felt like she was standing in the middle of a mass grave.
She padded towards the room which he had pointed out and softly opened the shoji screen before nodding once more to Sasuke. He nodded back and raised his hand as a goodbye. Sakura returned the gesture and closed the door behind her.
She sighed deeply as she glanced at the futon on the ground, faintly wondering who slept in it last before shaking those thoughts away. Sasuke was giving her a place to stay; it was a sign of trust. She quickly disposed of her red Haruno shirt, silently praising herself because she hadn't forgotten the white tank top underneath. Eyeing the futon a little warily, she closed her eyes to calm herself down and crawled underneath the blankets.
Before long, her eyelids started to feel heavy and her breathing started to slow as she fell asleep in the warm confines of the Uchiha futon.
"Sasuke," the blonde shinobi exclaimed. "You're late!"
"Hn," Sasuke replied as he strode towards Naruto in a calm manner. Last night had become extra late as he couldn't fall asleep, knowing that there was someone else in the house. His bedroom was two rooms away from hers but he could hear her move every so often and whenever that happened, he shot awake, kunai in his hands in case Itachi came back to finish the job.
"Have you seen Sakura-chan?" Naruto's grin disappeared for a moment. "I tried to visit her this morning to say goodbye but she wasn't there. Ino hadn't seen her either."
"She slept in my house tonight," Sasuke said simply, ignoring the look of shock and anger on Naruto's face. "It's not what you think, somebody ransacked her apartment and she needed a place to sleep."
Naruto's angry look made place for a shocked one as he dropped his scroll. "What did they do?"
"Destroyed her pictures, furniture, a painting, her room, her mother's room and their bathroom," Sasuke picked up the scroll as he wiped off the fresh mud of its surface. "They even painted the sentence 'watch your back bitch' on her walls."
"You're kidding me!" Naruto was fuming now. "Is she alright?"
"Hn," he replied simply. "She'll be fine."
"I guess…" Naruto grimaced. "I wish I could be there with her to help her clean the mess."
"She still has Ino, Shikamaru, Kakashi and the others to help her out," Sasuke pointed out. "Besides, we have a mission."
"Hm," Naruto replied, brows furring. "Let's go, the Daimyou is expecting us in two hours, and you know how his wife gets whenever shinobi are late."
Sasuke smirked, "The usual speech? Shinobi are no good except to save my sweet baby?"
"And by baby, she means the cat," Naruto returned the smirk. "Poor Daimyou."
"Let's go," Sasuke replied.
"Hn," Naruto mimicked Sasuke's sound of approval and ignored Sasuke's poignant stare as they started running.
"I'll race ya," he shouted to the dark-haired boy.
"Fine with me," Sasuke retorted easily before smirking sadistically. "Dead last."
"We'll see who is last," Naruto stuck out his tongue before doubling his speed.
The sound of someone's footsteps woke her from her light slumber. Groggily, she rubbed her eyes as she tried to adjust them to the bright lights that entered the room through the small window. She was bathing in sweat, roseate strands of hair sticking to her cheeks and her neck.
When she heard the footsteps again, she tensed, Shinobi instinct taking over. Grabbing a kunai from her pouch that was still attached onto her leg, she stood up without making any noise and cautiously walked towards the shoji screen.
The footsteps were too heavy to belong to Sasuke, too light to belong to Kakashi and Naruto never moved with such stealth. Other than the three of them, she couldn't think of anyone else who would enter the Uchiha complex. Readying her kunai, she opened the shoji screen slightly.
Before she could even blink, she was lying face down on the wooden floor, a body pressed against her back and the tip of a kunai pressing into her neck. She breathed harshly, feeling the need to push whoever sat on her off, but resisted the urge to do so. She didn't know how powerful the man on her back was and his kunai was touching a critical point. It would be no problem for the man to kill her if she tried to do anything stupid.
"You've awakened," a deep voice which sounded haughty like Sasuke's said. This voice was slightly different though; it was the same smooth tenor as Sasuke's, but more mature and deeper. Far deeper.
"Who are you?" Sakura relinquished her hold on her kunai, knowing it would be impossible to strike him in the position she was in. But surprisingly, the man stood up and as she looked sideways to see his face, the first thing she saw was a black and red cloak.
As her gaze traveled up his body, she finally saw his face and was unable to stifle a gasp.
But that wasn't the only thing. His dark hair and facial structure oddly reminded her of Sasuke. At first she thought that he might be a surviving clan member but the more she saw of him, the more she realized she was in trouble.
She had seen him once before, when Ino and she were practicing their flower arrangement. Sasuke was practicing just feet away from them and Ino had told her that it would be the perfect opportunity to wow him with her flowers.
Just when she had worked up enough courage to walk towards him, another man came to him, dressed in a Chuunin uniform. His hair was long and he seemed older than Sasuke. He had lines on his face that betrayed his youth and made him look far older than he actually was. At that time, she had thought of him as another Uchiha and didn't pay much attention to him.
But here he was, standing in front of her with a blank look in his eyes and for some reason, she instantly knew. She wanted to see his picture for years, to satisfy her curiosity about Uchiha Itachi, but all the while, she had already seen him. And now she saw him again as he crouched down beside her, kunai still in his hand.
A/N: This is the longest chapter I've ever written in my entire fanfiction career! Wow. Ah well, I hope you liked the start of Memento. There isn't going to be ANY SasuSaku action, just so you're warned. They're good friends, nothing more.
The first part from Itachi's POV is from his first encounter with the Akatsuki Leader, if you hadn't figured it out already. Throughout the story, I'll insert many of these moments until the mystery around Akatsuki is solved!
Thank you Stem for being my favorite beta!
See you next time!