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Naruto was silent as they walked through the streets of Kumogakure. He was in deep thought.

"So Sakura is Pein's daughter…Maybe it was all planned. Maybe the mission Tsunade-baachan gave was all planned. Akatsuki wants Sakura. Pein wants Sakura."

Naruto looked down as they walked.

"Naruto, you seem in deep thought." Ino noticed.

"That's new." Sasuke smirked.

"I was just thinking," Naruto crossed his arms. "What if Sakura really planned on joining the Akatsuki even years ago? What if she knew that she was Pein's daughter? What if the mission was just an excuse for her to leave?" Naruto asked.

"You have a point, Naruto." Kakashi nodded.

"Well, what if Killer Bee had the wrong info?" Ino suggested.

Naruto shrugged. "I don't care. I'm gonna save Sakura-chan no matter what."

"I'll help too! I am so gonna beat up that forehead-girl when we meet!" Ino grinned.

The sun was setting and the orange sky was relaxing. Kakashi and his team arrived at the gates when they felt a familiar chakra.

"Sshh…" Kakashi said as they stopped and he opened his sharingan eye. Sasuke followed.

"Deidara." Sasuke whispered. "And…"

"Kabuto?" Ino raised an eyebrow as she felt the chakra.

Kakashi signalled for them to hide. Kakashi and Ino hid behind a tree while the other two hid on top of a leafy tree. Just a few meters past the gates and off the path to the right were indeed Deidara and Kabuto.

"Pein-sama requests for the lost statue. Orochimaru once had it and it was never heard of ever since." Deidara spoke.

"Ah yes, that statue of the apocalyptic beast. Orochimaru always brought it with him whenever we had to transfer bases." Kabuto grinned.

Naruto looked at Sasuke as if asking if he knew something about what they were talking about but Sasuke ignored his stare and continued listening.

"So do you still have it?" Deidara asked.

"Maybe. I still have Orochimaru's stuff in our last base. I don't know if it's still there. I doubt Sasuke and his team knows about the statue's powers." Kabuto said.

Sasuke looked down. "A statue? I haven't really noticed any statue when I was with the snake…"

Deidara summoned his giant clay bird and jumped on its back.

"Sakura might visit you in a few days. She needs to check Orochimaru's last base so don't attack or do anything stupid when you see her." Deidara told Kabuto.

"I don't care. I don't live in that filthy base anymore. So it is true that the pink-haired freak is with the Akatsuki now, eh?" Kabuto fixed his glasses.

Deidara nodded. "I might be seeing you again soon depending on the outcome of Sakura's mission."

With that, Deidara flew high and Kabuto disappeared in a puff of smoke. Kakashi and his team got out from hiding and regrouped.

"Sakura! Sakura's going to the base!" Naruto looked at Sasuke. "You know where it is right?"

Sasuke nodded. "Just a few miles outside the Sound village."

"Kakashi-sensei! We need to go there now!" Naruto growled.

"Deidara said she'll be there in a few days not now!" Ino reminded Naruto.

"But we don't know when so we better stay there until she shows up!" Naruto yelled.

"We have to report to the Hokage, Naruto. We'll tell Tsunade-sama what we heard and then ask her to let us-" Kakashi was cut off when Naruto started running.

"LET'S GO!!! HURRY!!!"

Kakashi shook his head as he followed Naruto with Sasuke and Ino behind him.



We were sent into missions again. It turns out that my father is getting impatient with the last scroll and the nine-tailed fox. I was sitting in the library waiting for orders. I looked down with Naruto scattered all over in my brain. They will need to capture him then extract the fox out of his body. Will it hurt? Of course it will. But… who am I to care? I decided long ago that I wouldn't care about them.

"Protecting Konoha is useless…"

I want to but Tobi was right. I shouldn't care about Konoha anymore. They didn't care about me. They didn't even send search parties for me. Sasuke was lucky Konoha wanted him back.

But somewhere inside me still wants to protect that village. Maybe because half of my life revolved around Konoha. Itachi wanted to protect it to, somehow. He doesn't want Sasuke destroying it. Is he still thinking about it?

I stood up from my seat. I decided to walk around. Missions are slow today. When I left the library, I immediately bumped into Kisame.

"Ow…" I said, rubbing my forehead.

"Yer large forehead bumped me!" Kisame laughed.

I rolled my eyes. "Well, sorry."

"Naw it's okay!" Kisame grinned. "Pein wants to see you."

I took a deep breath. FINALLY.

I quickly headed for Pein's office. I knocked and he let me enter. Pein was sitting behind his desk, writing something on a scroll. Itachi was standing in the far right of the room, reading two scrolls in his hands while Konan sat on the sofa to the left, writing something as well.

"You wanted to see me?" I asked as I approached the desk.

"Yeah." Pein didn't look up.

"You three seem busy." I said.

I crossed my arms and stared at them for a whole minute before he finally said something.

"Go to the basement and enter the doorway to the left. Someone wants to talk to you."

I nodded. "Alright."

I left the office immediately and headed for the stairs. I've never been to the basement before. As I reached the bottom level since the stairs stopped, I looked around. The walls are made of rock and torches lit the area. It looked like a cave. I walked around more and noticed three doors.

"Door to the left." I repeated as I entered the metal door.

The room was the same except that the room I entered had a table and a few dozen scrolls scattered everywhere.

"Um… anyone here?" I called.

I walked around the room more and I realized that it was small as my room. I picked up a random scroll and read its contents. It was about the rinnegan. I wanted to read it but I felt a presence behind me. Tobi's presence.

"Tobi what are you-" I turned around but who I saw surprised me. The scroll in my hand fell on the floor.

He smirked at me then sighed.

"Do you know me, Sakura?" He asked.

"Y-Yes." I was scared out of my wits. "Y-You're supposed to be dead."

He crossed his arms. "Yet here I am… alive and still strong."

"Uchiha Madara." The name escaped my lips unconsciously.

"Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you. I only want to talk to you." He said as she walked pass me and took a seat on one of the two chairs in the room.

I nodded. I grabbed the other chair and sat a good distance across him. He seem amused.

"Now… Tsunade isn't the only one who could use the technique to change appearance." He started.

"I figured that and I've been thinking as to why you are still alive and I think I got it." I told him. I felt more comfortable now but I still didn't let my guard down.

"Really now?"

I nodded. "Your sharingan. From what I've studied, the last stage of the mangekyou or eternal mangekyou, grants the user eternal life but I didn't really think it was real."

Madara smiled. "Pein was right. You are intelligent."

I looked at him. "Why did you want to talk to me?"

He nodded. "Ah, straight to the point."

"Well… I'm just curious." I admitted.

"I wanted to tell you about the truth on the Uchiha Massacre." He said.

"Itachi told me it was Konoha's orders but please do tell more." I felt excited.

Madara crossed his arms then looked away from me. He looked like he was in deep thought. Probably thinking on where to start.

"You see, Itachi was ordered to kill every single Uchiha but he didn't kill Sasuke."

"Why…?" I asked.

"Sasuke's life meant more than anything else to Itachi." Madara explained.

"Itachi told me that Sasuke knows the truth now. Why does he still want to kill Itachi?" I'm confused.

"Still for revenge, I'm guessing but I really can't see through Sasuke sometimes. It's hard to read what he's planning. He still wants to kill Itachi and destroy your precious Konoha." He sighed.

"But why does Itachi want to get killed? Before, he told me that he wouldn't let his brother kill him and destroy Konoha. It's really confusing me." I confessed.

"Yes, Itachi wants Sasuke to kill him." Madara nodded. "It was the original plan for Sasuke to kill him and gain the mangekyou and become a hero that killed Konoha's traitor but Sasuke had learned the truth sooner that we thought. Orochimaru must've known something and told him."

I looked down.

"Itachi joined the Akatsuki after being banished from the village but never once did he forget about Sasuke or Konoha. He would always ask Pein to send him to Konoha when Pein needs to check up on you. Itachi wanted to make sure that Sasuke stayed in Konoha."

"But he left." I said.

"Yes but Itachi still stuck with the plan. He thought that after Sasuke had defeated him, he would come back to Konoha but after learning about the truth and we learned that he's planning on destroying Konoha, Itachi had thought of other plans."

I nodded. "Yes, he told me once that he would kill Sasuke because of what become of him."

Madara stood up and walked back and forth in front of me.

"What?" I asked.

"Itachi's plans are unclear now." He spoke. "He wants to protect the village and not kill his brother but I think that's just impossible."

"Then why is he always saying that I should take his eyes?"

Everything was really confusing.

"Maybe because he's taking a chance on if Sasuke kills him, Sasuke might stop his nonsense and besides, you don't know how the guilt is slowly eating up Itachi. The guilt of killing his own family. Maybe dying in Sasuke's hands will lighten him and finally set him free."

I looked down again. So Itachi's gonna do suicide.

"Let him go if that's what he wants." Madara sat back down.

"O-Oh." I closed my eyes.

"But do tell me…" Madara spoke again. "Are you really willing to save Konoha?"

I looked at him. "Yes."

Madara stood up and he motioned me to stand up as well.

"Pein has asked me to awaken your rinnegan." He said.

"But we're not sure if I inherited it." I said.

"You are Pein's daughter. All of his techniques are surely passed on to you."

I just nodded.

"Listen to my offer, Sakura." He said. "I will train you. I will help you protect the village that I once called my home. You will be my apprentice instead of Sasuke."

I gasped but quickly had my mind working. "What's the catch?"

He smirked. "You must kill one of your closest friends or family. It's needed to awaken your rinnegan."

My eyes were wide as saucers. Kill someone close to me? Who? Naruto? Sasuke? Kakashi-sensei? Tsunade-sama? I wouldn't stand a chance against any of them and besides, I won't kill any of them without all of them joining.

"I won't stand a chance against my whole team." I sighed.

"How about that blonde girl you were always with." He suggested.

"INO?!" I gasped. "N-No… There must be someone else."

Madara shook his head. "Think about it, Sakura. I'm offering you something no one else can give. Your father is weak and he won't stay in this world for long. That's reality. You are to be the Akatsuki's next leader. You need great power."

I shook my head. "Is there any other way?"

Madara crossed his arms and looked at me.

"I'm sure there's another way… I-I'll think of something."

I left the room and silently headed back up. My eyes blurred as it adjusted to the sudden bright lights. As I was passing by the kitchen, Hidan called me.

"Where have you been???" He asked.

"Oh, I was… never mind." I shook my head. "What's up?"

"I've been lookin' for you everywhere!" Hidan whined.

"Why?" I asked.

"You look less cheerful than normal." Kakuzu said.

I looked away. "Why were you looking for me?" I returned to the topic.

"Pein wants to bring you on a mission with us." Hidan explained. "Tobi comes too!"

I flinched at Tobi's name. "O-Oh. Alright. Where to?"

"Village of sound." Kakuzu answered. "Itachi was supposed to be with us but Pein insisted on Tobi since Itachi's working on something."

I didn't answer anymore. Somehow, I have a gut feeling on what's Itachi's working on.

"Sakura… are you…"

And that gut feeling just...