Mission: Backup

A/N: Story written because I wanted to bring Sasuke and Sakura back together in some sort of almost logical way. First fanfic, so please tell me how I did. Enjoy! :D

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

Team Kakashi is sent on back-up mission involving a Hidden Village peace ambassador threatened by Akatsuki. Team Hebi kidnapped Sakura and Hidden Village ambassador's son to bait Itachi Uchiha. But a new enemy catches up to Sasuke and Sakura…

Chapter one: The "risky" backup mission

The low, orange sun was setting behind the Hidden Village of the Leaves as Sakura was summoned to the Hokage's office. She arrived to find Tsunade glaring at a growling Naruto, his fist on the edges of her wooden desk.

"This is a B-rank mission!" Tsunade shouted back. "So shut it, Naruto!"

"Backup?! What kind of a lame mission is that?! Come on, Granny, it's been over months since you gave us any tough missions!" The blond boy whined. Then, he brightened as he turned and noticed Sakura standing at the doorway.

"Sakura-chan!" He grinned.

"Hey, Naruto." She smiled back. "Is it a new mission, Tsunade-sama?" She inquired, glad for the chance to do something outside the village. It wasn't that she didn't like working at the hospital, but she felt she needed to do something more exciting lately.

Lady Hokage leaned back in her seat, looking relieved at the arrival of Sakura to shut Naruto up. "Correct. I'm just waiting for Kakashi and Sai now, since Yamato is on currently on an ANBU mission." She explained calmly, and then glanced at the door behind the pink haired kunoichi. "Come in!"

"Naruto, Sakura," Kakashi greeted them the instant he opened the door, followed closely by Sai, their pale faced teammate. "It's been a while, eh?"

Sai smiled at them, recollecting his bruise the last time he saw Sakura.

"Kakashi Hatake, Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno and Sai, I hereby order you on back-up mission for the ANBU escort team sent to accompany Harushi Otamake, peace ambassador from the Hidden Mist Village, and his son, Katin Otamake." Her hazel eyes glinted seriously behind her folded hands in front of her face.

"Hai!" The nins answered in unison, Naruto a little dejectedly, before patiently awaiting additional information, since the Hokage made no move to dismiss them.

The blond woman's eyes were still serious. Then she suddenly sighed, closing her eyes briefly. "It has been a while since he left, hasn't it? Was it two years?"

Sakura blinked, then stiffened, and her jaw clenched. Naruto's bright blue eyes dulled as he balled his fists. Sai remained expressionless, but Tsunade thought she saw Kakashi's eyes narrow slightly. There was no doubt whom she was talking about. The boy who betrayed Konoha two years ago, who used to be part of the former Team 7: Sasuke Uchiha. A sore topic around what was left of the three-man cell and their sensei.

"We've just received evidence Harushi Otamake could be a target to the Akatsuki for some unknown reason, though there's a hint it's in relation to his son, Katin."

Naruto's head shot up, but he had a confused look on his face. "Huh?"

Sakura made the connections quickly. "If the Akatsuki was involved, that meant Itachi Uchiha is likely in it too. And since Sasuke-kun was always chasing after his older brother, there was a chance they would encounter each other. And us."

A small, hopeful bubbled tugged at the edge of her thoughts. "So there is a chance for Sasuke's retrieval in this mission?" But quickly, another worry took over. She frowned. "But if it's the Akatsuki, wouldn't Naruto…?" She glanced tentatively at the whiskered boy.

"Aw, come on! We can take them!" He punched the air, shouting, "Believe it!" They saw a crowd of birds take off into the sky from the room's window.

Sakura rolled her eyes. "Naruto! Shut up."

The blond boy quickly dropped his arm. "Hai, Sakura-chan." He smiled weakly, knowing first hand the force of Sakura's punches once she got annoyed.

Tsunade sighed wearily and rubbed her temples. "Of Sasuke, there is a chance, but around 5 percent. As for the Akatsuki, I've already talked it over with Kakashi, and it seems the situation is quite benign. This could very likely be a prankster, since the Akatsuki does not usually send notes warning their subject they are about to hunt them down. Besides, there are three ANBU black ops in addition to Team Kakashi sent on the mission at first, even though they're quite new." A thought crossed her face, but passed instantly. "Besides, most other chunin squads and jounin are currently all unavailable right now. If you encounter him, don't be rash." Her gaze was directed at Naruto. "He is a missing nin right now, and was strong enough to kill Orochimaru."

"Well, I'm going to drag that bastard back even if it takes me my life! I've gotten stronger too!" Naruto growled, clenching his fists. "No way I'm giving up!"

Sakura nodded as she took a step closer to her blond friend. "I'm with Naruto. If there is a chance, we will try our best to bring him back, perhaps by force if necessary." Her face was hard with barely concealed pain. So that's why she sent us on a B-rank mission, whereas we are fully qualified for an A-rank or higher. Sasuke retrieval.

Tsunade seemed satisfied. "Remember, mission comes first above all as your duty to the village." She reminded them, then smirked. "But good luck anyways. Dismissed."

"Hai." The four man squad bowed in unison, and filed to go outside. Sakura, the last to leave, paused at the doorway, a dark gloved hand resting on the wooden frame. "Thank you."

Back inside the office, the Hokage smiled.

The four silent nin hopped nimbly from branch to branch, their speed leaving blurs of silver, black, yellow and pink on the dark, uneven trunks. They were all wordlessly sunk into their own thoughts. Naruto was going over all the jutsus he had learned in the past two years, while Sai was thinking about something he read from a textbook about friendship.

Kakashi was thinking about the contents of his little orange book Icha Icha Paradise. I wonder what happens after Mikosu arrives at Kashimaru's house just to find—Uh, this isn't really appropriate for the public audience, is it? I—Hey, you can't narrate my thoughts!

Uh, it's not like I'd really like to hear them, anyways. Moving on…

Sakura's thoughts were deep too, ranging from being worried to anger. Would Sasuke still look the same? She knew Naruto hadn't changed that much after his two year trip except get unbelievably taller, and she herself didn't notice any significant changes in her own face, but then again. How would they know it's him?

Is he still blindly set on revenge on his brother? If they meet, will he kill them in cold blood? What would happen?! Her mind was in frenzy, analysing possibilities, turning facts over in her mind. Stop it, Sakura, she scolded herself. You're not going to be facing him alone, and you may not even meet him at all. Tsunade-sama said it was only 5 percent chance, right?

Fate. The word echoed in her mind. What is fate? She wondered bitterly. Betraying your village for some fifty-year-old creep? Your only goal in life being killing your sibling? Never able to forget the past and grasp the future? Would that be fate? Does he know how much we are suffering? How much our friends are suffering?

Kakashi threw out an arm suddenly, and the other three stopped instantly.

"Blood." Sai, the least occupied, noted quickly with a frown.

They hopped down nimbly to witness a bloody scene. It was set in a clearing surrounded by trees and thick, green undergrowth. A tall ANBU with brown hair had blood steadily trickling out of a deep chest wound. His mask was cracked down the middle, and smeared with blood. His right arm seemed to serve as a kunai dartboard. Sakura winced as she rushed forward to heal them. Her hands blazed with green chakra as she placed her palms flat on the man's chest.

Another ANBU, directly across from the first, was practically nailed to a tree with shurikens. The clearing seemed empty except for the two unfortunate, bleeding ninjas.

However, there was also another source of chakra coming from behind a bush. The team drew their kunai and hovered in a half circle around Sakura, who was rapidly healing the first ANBU.

"Who's there?" Kakashi asked calmly.

The tension was tangible as no one replied. In the distance, a flock of birds flew into the air. Then, a small boy with large black eyes and a spiky mass of black hair glanced out from under the bush. Noting their Leaf Village headbands, he crept out cautiously. He was wearing a scowl topped with a suspicious expression.

"Who are you?" He demanded, back hunched and hands balled into furious little fists.

"Ninjas from the Leaf Village." Kakashi replied with a faint smile, replacing his kunai as the rest did the same. "What's your name?"

The small, short boy was silent for a moment, suspicion still written all over his face, before breaking into a faint smile himself. "My name is..." He paused as a slight frown creased his forehead. "Shikamaru Nara." He said finally, "Nice to meet you."

"Nice try, kid." Kakashi said with his arms crossed, now positively grinning.

Naruto squinted, then shouted as jumped up and pointed he pointed a finger at him. "No, you're not! You're not Shikamaru!" Then, he peered at his face, confused. "Wait, are you?"

Kakashi sweat dropped. I thought I just made it clear it was a test.

The nervous boy laughed in relief as he relaxed visibly. "Nope. So you're really from the Leaf Village, then." He grinned sheepishly. "Sorry, that was the only name I could remember. I'm Katin Otamake, son of Harushi, who hired Konoha ninja a few days ago for the escort mission. Pleased to meet you."

That kid sounds...almost grownup. Sakura mused for a second as she glanced up from her patient.

"Yes, we know about that. We were sent by the Fifth Hokage to continue to escort you to your destination." Kakashi said. "I'm Kakashi, and these are my students, Naruto, Sai and Sakura. Tell us what happened. Where's your father?" He asked.

"He was carried off by—" Katin stiffened. "Two scary men. Father told me to hide in the bush, so they didn't find me. One had black hair, one white-ish hair." He recollected uncertainly. "But I'm not sure." He added unhelpfully.

Kakashi nodded grimly, a slight theory forming in his mind. It was not a pleasant one. "Anything remarkable about the one with black hair?" He inquired.

Katin frowned, then his eyes widened. "He had red eyes with little creepy triangles. And he was really scary. He said something like, 'Kill him, so we can leave.' In a really creepy voice."

Naruto choked. On air. Sai smacked him sympathetically on the back. Though it only made it worse. "No…way…he…would…Ow…" Naruto coughed out.

The ambassador's son looked at Naruto like he was stupid. "What kind of a ninja are you?" He asked in disgust, crossing his arms in disdain.

Naruto glared underneath his yellow flop of hair. "The kind that can kick your little butt!" He managed to choke out. His face was turning red.

"What did you say?! How dare you!" Katin shrieked, jumping to his feet.

Kakashi smiled apologetically as he reached to cover Naruto's loud mouth. "Nothing. He said…uh, I really, really like your haircut!"

Sai was trying to help. "You should calm down… shortie." He advised the boy.

The furious boy jumped back up. "I am not short!" He shouted, still jumping up and down. "Take that back!"

Sai sighed. "Never mind." Maybe characteristics are not so friendly after all. That would be strike three, after Naruto and Sakura.

"Is this some sort of sick joke, kidnapping my father and killing my escorts to replace them with some random weirdoes?" The brown haired boy shouted, still in tantrum mode.

Kakashi faced him with an embarrassed smile. "I can assure you we can accomplish missions well." He calmed the still hopping boy. "Where's the third ANBU?" He asked suddenly.

Katin froze in mid-tantrum. He looked mystified, then confused as he dropped down on the grass. "I don't know… He left before the two ninjas came, I think!"

Naruto had quieted down by now, and Sakura had moved on to the next ANBU, only half listening to their conversations.

"What did he look like?" Sai asked intently.

"Uh, he had a mask, so I'm not so sure, but green eyes, brown hair, I'd say. With a long scar on his left arm, from shoulder to elbow."

Sai was quiet for a moment, his face emotionless and smooth. However, they could sense he was struggling with a decision inside. Finally, his mouth muttered two words. "Definitely Root."

Kakashi frowned, narrowing the eye that wasn't covered by his headband. I remember the Hokage saying something about that. This is bad. Does this mean Danzou's involved?

"Naruto, Sai, you will follow me. It'll be suspicious if he arrives without his team, so it's likely he would be heading in the opposite direction of Konoha now. Sai, send word to Lady Hokage about this, tell her what we found out and that we need a medic team to retrieve these two. Wait for the medic team, Sakura, and leave Katin for them to bring back to Konoha. When that's done, follow our trail. Careful, everyone. This is now an A-rank mission." Kakashi ordered.

Naruto punched the air enthusiastically. "All right! Bring it!"

Sai returned a second later. He left before the others had noticed. "Word sent." He reported.

The silver-haired man turned back to Sakura. "Be careful, Sakura." He advised, before leaping into the trees.

Sakura nodded curtly beside the second ANBU. "Hai."

Sai smiled and waved as he followed Kakashi into the thick vegetation.

"Take care, Sakura-chan!" Naruto yelled back, waving a hand before following Sai. Then, he turned back and waved again.

Sakura smiled. "We'll be fine, Naruto. Just get going." She told him. After they disappeared, she stood up and wiped her forehead on her arm.

A/N: (Bouncing up and down excitedly) So what do you think? :) This is my first fanfic, as I said before, so I am hoping it will turn out well. I...am fairly satisfied about how this first chapter turned out, I would say, but you are the real judge here. :) Hope you enjoyed. Chapter 2 is underway currently. Please preview and have a great day. (Well, have a great day either way, really, but just have a...greater day if you preview!) Thanks.