Story note: There are major spoilers from chapter 344 onwards. This story takes place before chapter 419 and disregards any of the events after that point. Sakura, Sasuke and Naruto are still fifteen.
"Sasuke's heart is still a blank canvas. The right person could paint it whatever colour he wanted. And if that happened, would you be able to stop him?"
- Uchiha Itachi, Chapter 403
The first thing Sakura saw when she opened her eyes was a forest. Only, it was upside down.
The next thing that registered was that she was being dragged across the floor by somebody or something, she tried to move her head to get a better look but couldn't.
Alarmed, she tried to move her hands. They didn't budge. She tried moving her legs, her fingers, her arms, her toes but nothing happened. She felt so tired, she had been heavily drugged and she didn't know who by or why.
Sakura came to an abrupt stop and heard a loud, distinctly feminine voice.
Out of the corner of her eye, Sakura saw the end of a black cloak embroidered with small red clouds approach her with a swish. She was unceremoniously pushed onto her stomach by a black stiletto and there was a loud rip.
"God damn it, I hate this!" the voice exploded.
Karin tried unsuccessfully to remove Sakura's shirt from where it had snagged on a sharp rock in the ground, but it only tore further. Karin swore and yanked the shirt impatiently, indifferent to the huge gaping hole in the back of Sakura's red shirt. Karin pushed Sakura with her foot onto her back and dragged her by her ankle again.
"Not that I care or anything, but don't you think Sasuke will get angry if the kunoichi dies on the way there?" a loud cynical voice questioned.
Karin glared at Suigetsu who had just caught up with them after finishing a battle. His shirt was crimson with blood- none of it his own. He stepped over Sakura who only saw a flash of silver and he fell into step with Karin as they walked through the forest.
"Did you do your job?" Karin snapped at him irritably.
Suigetsu shrugged and began to wipe the blood off his sword with his already ruined shirt. "Of course. The Konoha ninjas are dead, but they're probably sending reinforcements now."
"Then get back there and kill the reinforcements!"
"Gah, I hate the sound of your voice. We're not far away from the meeting place and Juugo can handle it on his own-"
She shrieked "You left Juugo on his own?! Are you that stupid? If the Kyuubi kid comes, Juugo will try to kill him and then Sasuke-kun will kill us-"
"What the hell did you do to her?" Suigetsu demanded and Karin swore, rifling through her pouch for her needle and syringe.
The drug was wearing off and Sakura could feel everything now. She wished she couldn't. Pain was ripping through every last part of her body, her vision was white with the intensity of it and she still couldn't move. All she could do was scream and scream and scream as her punctured stomach released acid that burned through her skin, as dirt aggravated the wound on her arm that was deep enough to reveal white bone, as the blood in her lungs made it nearly impossible to breathe-
"Fuck, she's dying!" Suigetsu shouted.
"She's not," Karin insisted as she began to fill the syringe with the drug.
Sakura began to writhe in pain as movement returned to her, vomiting blood and pressing a hand against her stomach to try to heal herself. Her hand glowed as she tried to heal herself, knitting together stomach and lung tissue, healing blood vessels.
She threw her head back and screamed again, Suigetsu instinctively held her down and pinned both of her hands to the ground. She couldn't heal herself and Sakura moaned as her stomach ripped open again.
Sakura's arm flailed as it slipped out of Suigetsu's grip and accidentally slapped Karin's hand. The glass syringe filled with the drug flew out of her grip and smashed against the bark of a tree, breaking upon contact.
"Need to heal – dying -" Sakura gasped, her lips stained with her own blood.
She was punched in the face by Karin who shouted, "Shut up and stop moving!"
"Karin, fuck, if she dies now-"
A new voice spoke. "Give her to me."
Karin and Suigetsu winced as a dark, powerful chakra began to surround them and fill the area with its choking presence. Instinctively, Karin stepped away from Sakura and Suigetsu hesitated as Sakura let out another ear splitting scream.
In the next second, Suigetsu was thrown into a tree. It cracked under his weight and a fissure formed in the wood, his entire body crackling with blue electricity. Karin froze as the tall alabaster man approached her, her eyes wide with fear.
She began, "Sasuke-kun, I-"
"You and Suigetsu will go back and get Juugo. Do it quickly," his voice was clear and heavy with anger.
Karin swallowed thickly and left as quickly as possible, Suigetsu disappearing after her. Sakura fought to bring herself back from the brink of death, hands trembling with vivid green chakra. There was a whisper of cloth as Sasuke approached her and he stared down at her through expressionless onyx eyes.
When she tried to punch him, he caught her fist without even batting an eyelid. There was a loud satisfying crack as she broke two of his fingers but he didn't seem to be in any pain at all. Then, her chest constricted and metallic blood rose up in the back of the throat. She gasped and fell to her knees, her hands lunged out for the ground as support. Her fingers curled around the wet dirt.
"Heal yourself," he ordered her.
She glared up at him and he was surprised not to see the once seemingly unconditional love she held for him in her eyes. All that remained there was raw anger and her chakra suddenly spiked, filled with killing intent.
"Fuck you, Sasuke," she snarled at him.
His foot came down so fast on her hand she didn't have a chance to blink. She bit down viciously on her lip as he broke most of her fingers and the bones in her hand.
"You only need one hand to heal yourself. Do it now."
It was then that Sasuke's eyes glowed hellish crimson. She had made the mistake of looking into them and even though she was inwardly screaming at herself to look away, she couldn't. The Sharingan wheels began to spin and so did her world as she fell to the floor, unconscious.
He lifted her into his arms effortlessly. All of her wounds had closed but blood was continuing to trickle from her mouth- even though she was bleeding internally, she would live. The leaves rustled, testimony to their presence as all that remained of them was a small scrap of red cloth, trapped against a rock like a prisoner.
Kakashi and Sai could barely hold Naruto back as he began to lose control and the red, blood red chakra began to change his eyes. The blue morphed into red and back again, red and back again and he let out a frustrated scream that was more animalistic than human.
"Where's Yamato-taichou?" Sai managed through his teeth as every last muscle in his body tensed as he strained to keep Naruto back.
Kakashi's voice was equally as tense and he answered, "He's on his way."
"Let me go! We need to get Sakura and you saw her, she was dying!" Naruto shouted, his teeth growing as he writhed against the iron grip that held him.
And even though it hurt Kakashi to hear those words, even though he wanted nothing more to go and bring Sakura back, he knew better.
"Naruto, Akatsuki probably took her because they knew you'd act like this. If you go now, you'll be running into their trap and they'll be ready for you. You know what it means for Konoha if they get their hands on you," Kakashi tried to reason with his student.
Naruto snarled, "So you're going to leave her to die?"
"They won't kill her as long as they know they can use her to get to you. We can come up with a plan to rescue her," Sai pointed out.
But Naruto couldn't wait, he could never wait when it came to her. He needed her like he needed air to breathe, like he needed water to live, she was his most precious person and the strongest tie he had to Team 7. He'd be damned if he let that slip through his fingers like Sasuke was beginning to.
He was beyond reason and the crimson chakra began to engulf him, changing him and feeding on his anger. Naruto threw his head back and let out another guttural scream of frustration as he tried to throw Kakashi and Sai off him with renewed force- Kakashi wasn't sure how much longer they'd be able to contain him.
It was then that five wooden stakes rose from the trembling earth, surrounding Naruto. Yamato had finally come. Kakashi and Sai exchanged a look and released Naruto, darting out of the circle as Yamato activated the seal. Naruto threw his head back and screamed a mangled, painful version of Sakura's name before falling unconscious.
The scream affected Kakashi more than it should have.
Yamato approached them, shuddering with the aftershock of the jutsu. He looked at Kakashi who nodded grimly, and then at Sai who was quietly looking at Naruto's still form.
"The council want to lock him up so that he doesn't go after Sakura. An ANBU unit is coming to retrieve him now," Yamato informed them in an undertone, as though Naruto could hear them even though he was knocked out.
Sai asked, "What about Tsunade-sama? Didn't she fight against them?"
"You know what she's like, she'd never let the council do that," Kakashi told him, his single exposed eye darkening.
Yamato's face was grave and he explained, "They've overruled her this time. They've argued that if Naruto isn't locked up, he'll inevitably go after Sakura-san on his own. They've got more than enough evidence to back it up as well, counting the number of times Naruto's disregarded orders to go after Sasuke. It would become a level one emergency if Naruto fell into Akatsuki's hands."
"It's a flawless argument," Sai murmured.
Kakashi closed his eyes to blink and when he opened them again, ANBU members had surrounded the four of them. One of the members bent down to pick up Naruto and slung him over his shoulder carelessly. He nodded to Yamato and Kakashi's jaw tightened as he gritted his teeth.
There was nothing he could do for any of his students right now.
When Madara laid eyes upon the girl, the urge to laugh in surprise nearly overwhelmed him. This child was the healing prodigy who had killed Sasori? She looked too innocent to be a ninja, she looked like a civilian. He waited patiently as Sasuke walked towards him, Sakura held in his arms like something vulnerable and breakable.
"You hold her like you love her," he commented indifferently.
Sasuke's mouth twisted into a frown and he stated flatly, "She means nothing to me."
"Good. If we find ourselves in a position where we have to kill her, it will be your duty then," Madara said casually, as though he wasn't talking about something as important as a life.
And Sasuke nearly hesitated.
His voice spilled forth before he could control it. "Naruto will come, he'll do anything to save her. He's headstrong and won't listen to anyone, even if they lock him up, he'll find a way to come to her."
"Didn't he want to be the next Hokage? Surely he'd put the safety of the village above one person," Madara pointed out and his words hung heavily in the thick air.
Sasuke said nothing, his onyx gaze unreadable. Madara felt the smallest smirk pull at the corner of his mouth, he loved screwing with the boy's head. Turning his back to Sasuke, he walked on ahead through the forest towards Amegakure.
Madara stated, "You're going to have to kill the girl eventually. When we have the Kyuubi, we won't have a use for her anymore."
There was no hesitation and no answer back this time from Sasuke, his footfalls were definite and firm as he followed Madara. Sasuke no longer wanted to carry Sakura let alone touch her, her very presence was irritating him.
- fuck you, Sasuke even though she had been forced past her limit, her emerald eyes were dark with hatred and it made him wonder if those were the eyes he had reserved for Itachi up until the end-
"I'm going on ahead," Sasuke announced.
"Wait, Sasuke. She will be your responsibility from now on and will be staying with you at all times. If anything happens to her, there will be consequences," Madara ordered him again.
And this time, Madara could clearly see the anger flicker in Sasuke's eyes. He looked ready to argue but the Mangekyou pinwheel appeared from within Madara's single exposed onyx eye. Sasuke left without another word and flashed through the trees, barely visible.
He was let into Amegakure easily, the guards could tell he was a member of Akatsuki by his cloak and that made him god's disciple. They didn't even look at Sakura, if a disciple was bringing anyone in there was a good chance it was on Pein's orders.
The compound was quiet, all of the members were out. It was extravagant and incredibly luxurious, the lobby was marble floored and a huge dangling chandelier towered over everything in the room. He removed his shoes at the entrance and placed them in a glass shoe case. The ceiling was ridiculously high and carved ethereal beasts followed him with sightless eyes as he walked down a seemingly endless woven indigo carpet in the centre of the lobby towards an ancient oak door.
It reacted to his chakra and swung open as he approached, revealing a combined dining room and living room. He ignored the room as he walked past, pushing open the door that led to his own room.
The white carpet was plush and soft against his feet and the rest of the room was the same pure white colour. The colour bothered him, which was why he always left the curtains to the large window covering an entire wall open, the constant rainfall made the room look grey. He put Sakura on the bed and turned his back on her, walking over to a slender mahogany table.
And he instinctively threw himself to the side as her chakra signature hurtled towards him. There was a loud resounding crack as the table split in half, collapsing in on itself with a loud reluctant groan. Sakura stood before him, her chest heaving painfully, but looking so very alive.
He looked at her in alarm, she shouldn't have woken up from his jutsu for another day at the least.
"When did you wake up?" he demanded.
"Take me back to Konoha," she snarled at him, "Take me back now."
She was purposely avoiding his eyes and stared at his throat instead of his face. He wouldn't be able to use his Sharingan to knock her unconscious again, this just made things infinitely more difficult for him.
"You're still as annoying as ever, I see," Sasuke commented.
He moved as she threw a punch at him angrily, he had learned from two broken fingers that it was probably best not to take a direct hit. Her movements were sluggish and careless with pain and anger, he kicked her in the shoulder. She blocked it with her unbroken hand and with a huge burst of chakra, pushed it away.
He hadn't been expecting that and quickly flipped backwards to regain his balance and put space between them. Her hands suddenly began moving faster than even his Sharingan eyes could properly follow and he knew instinctively that whatever the next jutsu would be her trump card. As she opened her mouth to activate the jutsu, a calloused hand covered it suddenly.
Her teeth bit down viciously on his hand but he refused to let go, even when a bead of blood trickled out from beneath his palm. His arm was wrapped around her stomach tightly to prevent her from moving, then she suddenly coughed.
Her sickeningly warm blood seeped out of his fingers. He released her in disgust and pushed her to the floor as she coughed, struggling for breath.
"You haven't achieved anything in the last four years," he said coldly.
She snarled back sarcastically, "I'm sorry if the rest of us don't have brothers to kill, asshole."
Before she could blink, she was pinned to the ground by her throat. Sasuke's crimson eyes bored into hers and she swore inwardly, she had been taken by surprise and couldn't look away. He didn't use the Sharingan on her, but the intensity of his ruthless crimson gaze was enough to hold her in place. His face was an angry, twisted imitation of his usual breathtaking face.
"Don't you dare talk about my brother," he hissed and released her throat.
She instantly recovered and snapped, "Stop underestimating me! I'm not the stupid little genin I was, Sasuke!"
"If that's the case, then why does Naruto still have to come save you?"
She let out a frustrated shout, trying to drown out his words because she had been working too hard for him to bring her down again. She moulded as much chakra as she could to her fist and she lunged for him, her foot outstretched to kick him.
He grabbed her by the ankle and twisted it. She twisted along with it, performing a perfect pencil spin and landed on the palm of her unbroken hand, spinning on it. Her leg swept the floor and he dodged it by leaping into the air, but she had counted on that.
She punched him and he dodged it- or so he thought. At the last second, she moulded her chakra into a fine scalpel and it dug deep into his arm, rendering it useless.
A gruff, abrasive voice stated, "If one of you kills the other, I'm not cleaning up the mess."
Sakura hesitated at the sound of the unfamiliar voice and that was all the time Sasuke needed to deliver a blow to her chest. She flew across the room and hit a bookcase, each of the shelves digging into her back as blood spurted from her mouth.
"God damn it, I was kidding!" Kisame snapped irritably at Sasuke who looked away indifferently.
Sasuke stated, "She's refusing to heal herself."
"Well maybe if you stopped killing her for a second, she'd be able to. I did not join this organization to play babysitter for all of you," he snarled.
Sasuke said nothing, he simply looked at Kisame with expressionless blood red eyes. For a moment, the resemblance to Itachi was striking and it stunned Kisame speechless momentarily. Then his lips curled in anger as he turned away, leaving the room.
The silence that followed was stiff with awkwardness.
Sakura's eyes opened as she fought to control her breathing, trying to prepare herself for the possibility of another fight with Sasuke. He had already taken advantage of her once, she wouldn't put it past him to do it twice. Using the bookshelf for support, she rose to her shaky feet and glared at him challengingly.
Sasuke was not looking at her at all. He turned his back on her and the awkward, awkward silence continued.
Then, as though it pained him to do so, he told her softly, "Heal yourself."
This time, she listened to him.
Next chapter preview : and he looks like a-
"Do you pine over him like you used to do for me? Because I'm telling you, I don't think anybody on earth will ever take you seriously."
"You forgot to scream."
"Any punishment is better than staying with you."
If you want Selandora's autograph, please go to the end of the line. (Ah, I can dream.)
How could Sasuke land a hit on Suigetsu? Wouldn't it just go through him?
It's true that Suigetsu has that weird ability where anything goes straight through him like water, but at some point in Naruto it's revealed he has a weakness to lightning based attacks. Sasuke used a weak version of chidori to hit Suigetsu. (electricity + Suigetsu screwed Suigetsu)
Hey, isn't it kind of stupid that Sasuke left that piece of Sakura's shirt on the rock? Konoha ninjas could follow their trail and come after them!
The point of Akatsuki's plan is to force Naruto to come after them. If they follow Sasuke's trail back to Amegakure, then Konoha will know for sure where Sakura is being held- which makes it easier for Naruto to find her.
Is a level one emergency really that bad?
Um, I think it is. I watched the Naruto fillers with that stupid Sasuke-copy (Sora) and Tsunade announces all the emergency levels. Level one (in this story) is the worst situation for Konoha to be in.
Holy, Madara's a bitch.
Yep, just a bit. I wasn't really sure how to portray him so I'm really just following my instincts here. I am so sure he's screwing around and manipulating Sasuke in Naruto.
Hey, why did Kisame interfere?
Kisame respected Itachi and always seemed to look out for him, so I'd find it natural that he would subconsciously do the same for his brother. Kisame's the oldest guy in Akatsuki, minus Madara of course, so I think he'd be the most mature as well.
Why'd Sakura listen to Sasuke at the end?
Sasuke is so full of snotty Uchiha pride and he hated hearing Kisame tell him that he should just let Sakura heal herself instead of fighting her, even though he knew it was the truth. It was really difficult for him to tell her to heal herself again and when he did, it was probably the closest thing to an apology he could give her. Sakura probably didn't read as deeply into it as I did, but she must have felt something when he said that, yeah?
Selandora (hopes you like the direction this is headed in so far.)
PS. If you have any other questions, drop me a review and I'll answer them in the next chapter.