Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.

Chapter 3…

Life and Death

10 Years Prior

Sakura leaned back against the stiff wall of the orphanage, absently playing with the crumbs on the floor. She threw a quick nervous glance at Ino, who continued sitting calmly. They both sat guard in front of the entrance to the dorm room Naruto slept in. Sakura watched Ino carefully. Her blond hair fell in thin strands around her shoulders, as her pale blue eyes sat unfocused on tiled floor.

If you'd met them on the street you would have automatically assumed they were perfect strangers instead of lovers. Sakura was only five foot three with short pink hair (she'd dyed it in high school and hadn't stopped since) thrown into a messy pony tail. Her tanned skin and almond shaped emerald eyes hidden under long dark lashes always gave her an exotic look.

Ino was the exact opposite. She had soft blue eyes that had a milky glaze over them. She was extremely thin and tall standing at a proud five foot eight. She was pale with bleach blond hair. Her nose was long and straight and was accompanied by a full mouth that she was pressing together.

"Is something wrong?" Ino asked breaking the comfortable silence they had settled into.

Sakura frowned down at her hands. Though Ino couldn't see it, she could sense Sakura's distress.

"There's something you're not telling me," Sakura said.

Ino's long pale fingers flexed. She sighed, knowing she wouldn't have been able to keep it from her for long.

"The reason we got this mission was because…." Ino hesitated, biting the corner of her mouth. "The Order is planning on killing Naruto."

Ino heard Sakura's surprised gasp. For the first time since she had lost her eyesight Ino was glad she didn't have to look into the disbelieving jade eyes.

"But…" Sakura began searching Ino's face for some sort of indication she was just joking. She only received a blank stare.

"Kakashi contacted me this morning. Apparently they think if Naruto masters his power he'll be unstoppable and possibly dangerous," she said quietly. Ino reached for Sakura's hand. The pink haired girl was surprised by the gesture but took the offered hand. "Someone else was going to be sent but Kakashi convinced The Order to send us."

"I know what you're thinking but we must concentrate on the mission." Ino continued, using the strict tone she had adopted from her late father. "Naruto comes first. We'll worry about the rest of it after we get him to safety."

Sakura nodded numbly, and then realizing Ino couldn't see it she said, "Okay."

Ino's head snapped up.

"Someone's here," she hissed.

They both immediately stood up. Sakura froze as she felt the intruder's magic. How could she not? It felt like she was being prickled by a thousand needles.

"Watch over Naruto, I'm going to greet our guest," Ino said.

Sakura was about to protest but Ino had already ran in the direction of the entrance.

The silence was almost defending as Sakura stood guard in front of the main entrance that led into the boy's dorms. She fingered the Katana that was strapped to her waist when she heard the clash of weapons and Ino's loud battle cry.

'This wasn't supposed to happen' she thought. 'How did they find us so fast?'

Unable to hold in her nervousness, she turned around and pushed through the double doors. She froze when she noticed Naruto standing there rubbing his eyes.

"I told you to stay in bed, what are you doing up?" Sakura scolded, unable to keep the nervousness out of her voice. Naruto stared at her with his large impossibly blue eyes, almost making her regret scolding him.

"I don't want to stay here anymore," Naruto whimpered.

Sakura winced when she heard a loud crash that sounded a lot like a window breaking.

"Not now Naruto," Ino cut in. Sakura whirled around, not having heard the door opening.

"Where is he?" Sakura asked frightfully. She looked for any sign of the intruder but found none.

"He's busy," Ino said walking past Sakura.

Sakura watched as Ino walked away slightly limping.

"Hurry up, it won't take long before he brakes free," she called making her way down the moon-lit hallway.

Sakura took Naruto's hand, following her.

"What exactly did you do to keep him…busy?" Sakura asked throwing worried glances behind her.

Naruto's hold on her hand tightened. She gave him a reassuring smile that made him relax a little.

There was a slight pause from Ino, which made Sakura worry.

"I…handcuffed-him-to-the-furnace," Ino mumbled incoherently not turning around.

"I'm sorry what?" Sakura asked a little louder than intended.

"I handcuffed him to the furnace," Ino said louder.

"You – How? Where did you get – You handcuffed an S-class sorcerer to a furnace?" Sakura asked incredulously.

Ino rolled her eyes, turning slightly to give Sakura an annoyed look. "Well I don't see you coming up with any brilliant ideas."

Sakura was about to respond but was interrupted by a loud banging noise. Both girls turned around in unison. Naruto let out a gasp and pressed himself next to Sakura who protectively pulled him behind her. Itachi stood not far from them, his face completely blank and his eyes flashing red.

Ino automatically ran towards Itachi at top speed but all Itachi did was smirk before landing a punch directly in the blonde's stomach. Ino doubled over as the breath knocked out of her. She stumbled forward and then fell to her knees. It hadn't been an ordinary punch. Ino cried out wrapping her arms around herself as a needle like pain shot through her muscles paralyzing every last one. He must have mumbled a spell without her hearing it. Itachi glared down at her, fisting her hair in his hands he lifted her head so he could stare into her eyes.

"Didn't Kakashi teach you better than that?" he asked in a cold monotone voice."You shouldn't charge right in."

"F-fuck you," Ino whispered shakily.

"Stand," he ordered.

Ino resisted the urge but felt her legs start to tremor and shake as the same pain made her shoot up to her feet. Itachi's cold black eyes snapped to where Sakura and Naruto stood like deer in headlights a few feet away. Seeing the unspoken challenge, Sakura knelt down in front of the frightened boy.

"Naruto listen to me very carefully okay," she cooed stroking his hair. The boy nodded rapidly. "I need you to run as fast as you can."

Naruto whimpered. Itachi pushed Ino's head away and turned towards Sakura. The pink haired girl bit her lip nervously. She could hear him getting closer.

"Listen to me," she said desperately. "It's not safe for you here. I need you to run and find a place to hide okay?"

Naruto shook his head stubbornly. "No, not without you."

Sakura didn't dare look behind her. "Please Naruto."

"Sakura," Ino's voice shook with the warning. She focused all her magic into her muscles, feeling the spell Itachi cast collided with her own magic. She squeezed her eyes shut concentrating with all her might. She felt her energy weaken with each attempt but it would be enough to unbind her.

"Run!" Sakura shouted. The boy looked helplessly at her then he swiftly turned around and ran, his feet soundlessly hitting the tiles. He never looked back.

"He won't get far," Itachi said.

The pink haired girl slowly rose to her feet. She clenched her hands into fists, turning to face him, a deadly glint in her eyes.

"I won't let you have him," she declared confidently. A lot more confidently than she felt.

In a flash Itachi was charging at her. Sakura did back flip, barley missing the sharp dagger that was aiming for her neck. Itachi didn't waste any time and attacked again, this time he slashed through the sword holster around Sakura's waste. She managed to catch it in time before it slipped down her leg, then she threw the sword in her hand in the air.

"Ino!" Sakura shouted.

Ino didn't need to be told twice. The bind broke that same instant, finally freeing her from the needle like pain allowing her to catch the sword right out of the air. With a loud battle cry she charged at Itachi, sword tucked at her side, its sharp edge glistening in the moonlight. Itachi effectively maneuvered out of her way, swerving away from her with each jab.

It was almost like they were doing a dance.

Itachi barley broke a sweat and kept the same uncaring expression on his face. Ino however was having a hard time catching up. The sword was extremely heavy it took all her strength to hold it up. Especially since most of her energy had been used to break the spell Itachi had put on her.

"I don't want to waste my time killing you but you left me no choice." Itachi said lowly.

Ino was just about to strike his side but instead of moving away this time Itachi stood his ground. Ino's eyes widened as she felt Itachi grabbed the sharp sword and pulled it out of her grasp. The blade cut into his hands but he didn't as much as flinch from the pain. Itachi smirked tightened the hold on the sword.

Thinking it was a perfect time to attack while he was distracted, Sakura charged at him, ready to punch the smug look off of his face. Itachi smoothly transferred the sword's hilt into his other hand then turned around to meet Sakura head on. With one swift movement the blade of the sword cut Sakura's head clean off, her headless corpse dropping to the ground with a heavy thud.

It happened so fast Ino hardly had any time to blink before blood sprayed her face.

"Sakura?" Ino called out worriedly.

"Sakura?" Ino's voice cracked as she fought to keep conscious as the last of her energy sputtered and died.


"Sakura!" Ino screamed. She tried to sense Sakura's magical essences, her heart sinking when she found none.

"No," Ino chocked out a tear sliding down her pale cheek.

Itachi took advantage of her moment of shock to plunge the sword into her unguarded body.

"You should have handed him over," Itachi breathed before pushing the sword deeper into her stomach.

Ino doubled over, her mouth opening in a silent scream as pain short through her body. With trembling hands she tried to pry his hands off of the sword's hilt. She found the action impossible since her hands kept slipping from the amount of blood covering them. She was also aware of how heavily she was leaning against him.

Itachi slowly pulled out the blade and stepped away from her.

Ino coughed, sending a trail of blood down her mouth.

Itachi moved away from her, slightly surprised she was still standing.

When she finally fell to the floor she hardly felt it. Her breathing was shallow as shock wave after shock wave of pain tore though her abdomen. As she took another shaky breath one thought went through her head. 'Nauto.'

Naruto bounded down the dirt road away from the abandoned orphanage. His legs ached and his lungs burned but he didn't dare stop. The last shards of moonlight were masked behind thick clouds, making him run blindly through the darkness.

Naruto's eyes widened as two bright lights blinded his vision."W-what?"

He stood frozen as the monster let out a low screech and veered away from him.

Iruka Umino hurried out of his car, his face not masking the terror he felt as he rushed to the stunned boy standing in the middle of the road

"Are you alright?" Iruka asked kneeling down in front of the boy. "You're not hurt are you? Where are your parents? Are you alone? What's your name?"

"Naruto," the boy breathed before passing out in the worried man's arms.

Itachi couldn't stop the tick that formed in his jaw as the nervous looking man picked up Naruto and placed him in the car. His eyes easily bled back to red as he felt the smooth surface of his kunai slip into his hand.

Just when he tensed to run straight towards the man picking up the blond boy he felt a raw and slimy aura, as if someone was running fish guts over his skin.

"What is it?" Itachi said, keeping his eyes trained on the man who was making his way to the driver's seat.

"Deidara has been captured. Kakashi's isn't far from here," Kisame said. "We need to go."

Storing the image of the man's face in his head, Itachi followed Kisame away from the orphanage.