TITLE: Torikoshi Kurou (see Author's Notes)

PAIRING: itachiXsakura

TIMELINE/SPOILERS: AU. Itachi isn't an Akatsuki member, or any criminal of some sort. I guess it's no use to keep it a secret for this chapter, so yes, he's a ninja in Konoha. As a result of this, Sasuke is still at Konoha, and the whole Uchiha Clan isn't obliterated. Set when Sakura's around 17 or 18. Spoiler... Sakura here is, obviously, time-skip Sakura. No other too big spoiler, I think.

DISCLAIMER: Masashi Kishimoto owns Naruto and all related characters, etc etc etc.

SUMMARY: "Haruno." The leader said once more. "Were you followed on the way here?"

Chapter 01

'You are a Medic-nin, and thus should be the last member of a team to go down. You are sent out to increase a team's survival rate, and if you go down before your team members, you are not worthy of your job.'

Sakura Haruno gritted her teeth. The gash wounds on her stomach and back were horribly painful, and she was sure there was no spot in her uniform that wasn't drenched with blood. Focusing what's left of her chakra on her feet, she hurried on through the forest, keeping a sharp look-out for any enemies. With grim determination, she traveled non-stop, stopping only to grab whatever fruit was near and drinking water from streams she came across with.

'Hell yeah I'm the last member.' Sakura thought bitterly to herself. 'It'll be a matter of time and bad luck for me to go down, though.'

On her third night of traveling, she had picked up several nins following her, and whether or not they were of strong rank, she was sure she wouldn't survive if she was attacked. Doing her best to not let panic grip her, she hastened her pace, but it was futile. The group was already coming in closer, and there was no chance she could escape, not with her chakra already on its lowest level ever.

Gritting her teeth once more, Sakura quickly took out the two remaining round fruits with her and flicked them to her sides, not bothering to check if they hit their marks or not. She wasn't stupid enough to face several perfectly healthy ninjas all by herself. At least, not in her current condition.

Jumping from tree branch to tree branch, she desperately tried thinking of tactics to get out of the situation when she suddenly collided heavily straight into something— or someone— and she soundly fell on the ground below, causing her stomach wounds to bleed once more.

Scrambling for her remaining weapon— a lone kunai— Sakura found that she didn't need to rely on strong senses to determine her enemies' position. Though her sight was already blurry from lack of sleep and nourishment, she was sure that the four people surrounding her were ANBU. However, despite their much-welcomed presence, she was also wary that they may also be impostors.

Sakura crouched lower on the ground, ready to attack if her small suspicion was right. The group's leader, whose weasel porcelain mask was gleaming in the few shards of moonlight that seeped through the forest, walked forward. He didn't bother to take out any weapon, which was a sore testament that Sakura had no chance of defending herself if need be.

"Haruno Sakura."

Said girl only looked back with her still present frown, weapon poised readily infront of her. The voice behind the mask sounded familiar, although she couldn't quite place where she had heard it.

"We were sent for a retrieval mission for the remaining members of your team." The leader spoke once more. "Are you the only remaining member of Team Meisai?"

Sakura silently nodded, and an ANBU on her left whistled. She was carrying on of the fruits that Sakura had thrown earlier.

"Right. No wonder Hokage-sama sent for us." She said, making Sakura scowl.

"Our team is capable of completing our mission." Sakura said, gripping her kunai tighter.

It had only been a simple information-gathering mission at Kirigakure, and although it was dangerous at the same time, they weren't ordered to infiltrate the village, but rather meet someone up and retrieve a scroll for the Hokage. It was only unfortunate that complications had arisen when two members of the Seven Shinobi Swordsmen of the Mist had come across them, whether by chance or as a mission, and the members of Team Meisai was almost obliterated completely in less than five minutes.

"Hey, don't get angry." The woman said once more, raising her free hand. "I meant it as an understanding of the situation."

"Haruno." The leader said once more. "Were you followed on the way here?"

"If I was, you should have sensed it." Sakura spat, getting more and more annoyed by the second.

She was now sure she was safe, and wanted nothing else but to deliver the scroll to Tsunade, take a good shower as she was dirty as hell, check her wounds for poison and heal them, and lastly, sink into her bed for a much-deserved sleep.

The woman whistled once more at Sakura's rather rude reply.

"Haruno." The leader said once more. "Were you followed on the way here?"

Scowling once more, Sakura did her best to straighten up despite the protests made by her open wounds. Two of the ANBU team stepped back as they saw the two large gashes on her stomach.

"That's nasty." The woman said in a more serious tone. "We should get her back immediately."

"I wasn't followed." Sakura said, keeping her strained temper in check. "Now if you don't mind, I have a scroll to deliver."

The leader refused to move aside, much to Sakura's indignation.

"Move, damn it!"

"Our mission is to retrieve the remaining members of Team Meisai and bring them to Konoha's hospital for immediate treatment."

"I'll deliver the scroll first before going to the hospital. Our team's mission requires us to get back and report to the Hokage right after we have received the scroll. You'll have to kill me first before making me go to the hospital."

Of course, a short trip to the hospital was welcome for Sakura. But she really wanted to take some rest as soon as possible, and that meant checking the mission off her list first. Also, she didn't want doing things that the ANBU leader was telling her to do. She wasn't one to disobey orders from the Hokage, but as the leader was a bastard, she decided to do it her way. Afterall, she wasn't ordered to follow orders from others as part of her mission.

"You will be treated at the hospital."

Before Sakura could react in anger, the leader had disappeared and she fell out of consciousness.

: to be continued :

Author's Notes: I never thought of writing a Naruto fanfic, but when I've read THIS -- redbrunja (dot) livejournal (dot) com (slash) 181858 (dot) html, I was really amazed by Sakura's character (that she chose to be a ninja with no definite reason such as revenge or quest for power or identity but rather to become a ninja who protects her village; that, and the fact that she made this decision when she came from a civilian family). Of course, Kishimoto sucked ass when he first made her (come on, admit it. He, himself, even admitted it.) And then, I remembered what Tsunade had said when she was training Sakura, about medics being able to defend themselves so that they would survive to heal their team members.

From those thoughts, this fanfic came out. I was stuck for a while after the third paragraph (minus the dialogue) because I didn't know who to pair Sakura with. My number 1 Naruto pair is kakashiXsakura, but I wasn't inspired much to write a kakashi fanfic, so I decided on Itachi, which is actually quite weird for me because I am slightly scared of this pairing (all thanks to the fanfic "Dog Days." I forgot who the author was, but just so you know, I still liked that fanfic at some point.) Paws-bells' fanfics saved me from the lingering horror and depression lol (go read her stuff, they're really good)

I'll do my best to keep them as in-character as possible. This may be my first Naruto-verse fanfic, but that isn't enough excuse to make a shabby fanfic. If you noticed that they're getting OOC and I have no explanation as to why, please tell me so. Also, as I have stopped reading Naruto after Sasuke appeared in Part II (yes, I started to dislike the whole shebang after Kishimoto obviously played favorites, and he just had to pick Sasuke.) I know of some things that have happened after that (like Jiraiya's death D: and the Akatsuki business, except for Madara's shit), but I will not be putting much canon-wise stuff in my fanfic.

Erm. If anyone noticed, I've used two Shiina Ringo song titles in the story. Team Meisai came from Meisai, which means 'camouflage'. At least, according to wiki. The title, "Torikoshi Kurou", means 'over-anxiety'. It has no direct relation to the story, other than I've been listening to that song over and over while writing this fanfic, and because I'm really poor and lazy at coming up with titles and names.

Yes, I'm a Shiina Ringo fan. :3

As usual reviews, comments, and corrections are highly welcome and appreciated. :)

Thanks for reading :3