Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.
Title: Canta Per Me
Character(s): Sakura Haruno
Disclaimer: Naruto does not belong to me.
50_shinobi Theme: Theme #6 – Bandage
Summary: AU. In a crumbling Japan ruled by Syndicates and paid for in blood, Haruno Sakura lives behind flying silver bullets and lazy white smoke.
Cigarette smoke languidly rose from between her parted lips as she sat on the windowsill, looking out into midnight and bright neon lights. Cool air blew in, tossed and turned stray locks of soft pink rose and kissed her skin before sighing away in hushed, faded tones.
Another long drag and she found herself lost among daydreams and wishes and infinite stars just out of her reach.
The silver bullet flew straight and true, intercepted the target with slick accuracy to the temple before the men in dark suits erupted in chaos, scrambling like panicked little ants around their dead leader.
Haruno Sakura quickly disassembled her sniper rifle with deft hands, snapped the cover of her black carrying case closed and flew down the fire escape with ease and agility. Swinging over the rickety metal railing, she landed lightly on her feet and rapidly disappeared among the morning rush of bodies.
"We've verified it. The funds have been transferred."
She promptly ended the call and hailed a taxi. Waiting for the dirty yellow cab to come to a stop, she made sure that they indeed had transferred the money to her account. Hearing the robotic voice recite the significantly increased balance, Sakura slipped into the car and gave herself a brief moment of reprieve.
"Where to pretty lady?" The balding Russian cab driver asked.
She closed her eyes, hidden behind the dark shade of her sunglasses. After hearing his 'yes ma'am', she ignored his annoying whistling in favor of trying to catch a few precious moments of sleep in this dying city's loud cacophony.
"What the hell? What's with all the road blocks?" Sakura heard him murmur, a string of curses following.
"Maybe someone died." She offered.
He snorted and turned a different corner. "I wouldn't be surprised. Seems like someone's either gett'in shot or blown to pieces every other day around here."
"Hn." And she wondered, in a city that was already decaying around the edges, if anything even mattered anymore.
She lived in a crumbling Japan, in a spacious and barely noticeable two room apartment in the east side of Tokyo with thick bulletproof glass windows and soft plushy carpet she wished she had more time to admire and feel. But at least it had a lived in feel to it, at least it was a little cozier than what would be expected of someone in her profession.
The door closed behind her, the security locks automatically snapping and beeping into place as she made her way over to the far wall by the fiber optic screen. Pressing a button hidden behind and below her large, neatly trimmed bonsai, the wall let out a slight hiss before spinning around. She placed her black carrying case on one of the empty shelves, joining the two others already there and two silver, fully customized, leaf engraved 1911 handguns. Another press of the button and the wall reverted back to the normal white.
Unzipping her fitted brown leather jacket, Sakura shrugged out of it and threw it on the couch to join other various articles of clothing and kicked off her matching boots. She stripped off her other clothing on the way to her large bathroom, let loose the long braid trailing down her back and turned on the shower. It wasn't long before she finally let herself fully relax under the pressurized water, allowing her shoulders to slump and a long exhale to leave her lips.
Her phone rang and after donning a terry cloth bathrobe, she threw the call onto the fiber optic screen. Her eyebrows rose upon seeing the caller before her green eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"What do you want Hatake?"
"Nice to see you too, muffins. Did you just get out of the shower?"
She rolled her eyes and ran a hand through her still wet hair. "Why do I hear gunshots in the background?"
"I need a favor."
After two years, he was finally calling in the debt she owed him? She watched as he momentarily disappeared, only to pop up again, this time the lighting around him dimmer. She could barely make out her ex-sensei's profile.
"I'm not getting involved with whatever shit you got yourself into."
She heard another male voice but it was too muffled for her to clearly make out what was just said.
"You owe me one Sakura. My team and I need a place to crash for a few days until this blows over."
She gritted her teeth. Damn it. "Fine. But this is it Kakashi. If you bring hell so help me god I will make sure your life becomes it."
He disregarded her empty threat. "See you in fifteen."
The screen went blank just as she heard a gunshot ricochet off something hard.
And as she closed her eyes to keep away the slight twinge of worry, a taunting voice inside her head told her things were on the verge of tipping, whether she wanted them to or not.
After Sakura had quickly punched in the access code, they stumbled in through the doorway, beat up and bleeding with various cuts and bruises.
"You weren't followed were you?" Sakura asked, helping him with his two exhausted teammates.
"Hope not." Kakashi replied, breathing a sigh of relief.
"Very reassuring." She threw him a glare before gently lowering the chocolate haired man onto the makeshift bedding she had created on the floor of her living room. A blond haired man joined him with a grunt and bleary eyes.
"Who's the babe Kakashi?"
"Stay still Naruto." Kakashi said, voice tired and strained as he fell back onto the plush couch.
Sakura pinned the blonde with a hard look that immediately shut him up.
"I want names and details. Start talking Hatake." Sakura demanded as she tied her hair into a messy bun and surveyed the damage. "And don't even tell me it's classified."
"Hyuuga Neji and Uzumaki Naruto. Both elite operatives." He hissed softly as he shrugged out of his coat.
A rough hand stopped her wrist when she went to take off his blood soaked collared shirt and she found herself looking into distrusting pearly lavender eyes.
"Calm down Neji. She's fine." Kakashi assured.
After a few moments of intense scrutiny, Sakura pulled her arm away and sifted through her comprehensive first aid kit as she let the man take off his own top.
"Continue." Sakura again commanded, slapping on a pair of latex gloves and pulling out a bottle of alcohol, a sterilized needle and thread, and bandages. After quickly cleaning the wound, she started to stitch up the ugly laceration on his side.
"Ambushed by Sound during reconnaissance. "
"How the hell did that happen?" She ignored the almost inaudible grunt of pain from the man below her as she pulled a little too hard on the thread in her surprise.
"Not sure. Our positions were somehow compromised and before we knew it, bullets were flying." Kakashi replied, almost smiling when he found a bottle of whiskey and a glass sitting on the shelf underneath the coffee table.
"Where?" Sakura quickly finished the stitching and proceeded to bandage him up. She made quick work of his other minor injuries, all the while ignoring the way his eyes followed her every motion.
She heard Kakashi's swallow of bliss, knowing he'd found the alcoholic stash she always kept for moments like these.
"Three miles from here on Tokyo Avenue and Rain."
Sakura moved on to the one named Naruto and saw his curious blue eyes. A hesitant smile crossed his lips and she wondered why the hell he was smiling at a time like this, when a bullet had grazed his shoulder and a large cut on his face was congealing.
"Did you get rid of all of them?" Sakura cleaned the injury on his face and then on his shoulder, paying no mind to his hisses of pain and the rather funny way his lips and eyebrow twitched when the alcohol seeped into his broken skin.
"Most, but there were too many to count. I'm pretty sure we lost them on the way here. Your place isn't exactly easy to find."
Sakura nodded and pulling the black thread one final time, snipped the end and bandaged his now closed wound. Before standing up, she placed a large band-aid over the cut on his cheek.
"Thanks. You're crazy efficient, you know that?" Naruto murmured with a grateful grin, laying back down and feeling his body slowly shut down on him from the overuse.
She offered him a small smile before standing up and making her way over to Kakashi. "You two should rest." Sakura glanced over her shoulder at the other man and saw that he had already closed his eyes, his breathing steady.
It must have been some fight, she thought.
Her vibrant green eyes fell on Kakashi then and noticed the slowly spreading carmine taking over his white collared shirt.
"You got shot didn't you?"
"Sit up before you get blood on my couch."
He did as told, glancing at his ex-student. "I'm sorry."
"You've compromised all of us you know." She whispered, already snipping away at his shirt.
"I know, but I didn't really have a choice. We had nowhere to go."
"I understand." She cleaned around the wound and looked at it closely.
She flicked her eyes up, seeing his shadow of a smile behind the mask. "The same as usual. I just got back from Moscow before your ugly mug called me."
He chuckled, low and dry. "Killing people all by yourself now huh?"
"Ready?" She didn't give him time to respond as she plunged the tweezers into the gun wound to dig out the metal bullet.
Kakashi almost shattered the glass in his hand. "Shit. Warn a man next time you decide to plunge something sharp and metallic into him." He bit out just as Sakura pulled out the collapsed bullet.
She threw him an annoyed glance before patching him up.
"There's still a place—"
"Don't Kakashi. We've been through this before." She stood up and took off the bloody gloves, tossing them into the trash.
The silver haired man conceded, running a hand through his disheveled locks of silver. "Right. The Syndicate sends their love anyway."
"I'm sure." She turned around, first aid kit in hand and disappeared into the short hallway that led to the rarely used second bathroom and guestroom.
Sakura returned a few moments later, three blankets in her arms to find a dozing ex-sensei. Shaking her head, she quietly placed one coverlet over each of the men, stopping for just a heartbeat longer to stare at this Neji Hyuuga with the opalescent eyes.
Tearing herself away, she took a deep breath and proceeded to check her security cameras and locks. Finding everything in place, she dimmed the lights and questioned her sanity for letting three members of the Konoha Syndicate into her home.
She would give them two days before she kicked them out. Two days and that was it.
"Where the hell are you Hatake?"
His eye crinkled in a fake smile. "Safe. The reconnaissance was leaked and we were attacked by Sound."
Tsunade growled her irritation. "Safe? And where exactly is safe?"
"Somewhere. Naruto and Neji are fine by the way, suffering only a few minor injuries that were easily treated."
The blonde leader of the Konoha Syndicate sighed in exasperation. "When can I expect you back?"
"A few days at most."
"Fine. I expect a full report upon your arrival."
"Of course Tsunade-sama."
Kakashi ended the visual call, watching as the fiber optic glass went back to being crystal clear. She didn't need to know they were currently at Sakura's place. Knowing her, she'd probably send out the whole syndicate in search for them and the last thing he wanted was to piss off his once and former student.
Heaving a sigh, he walked back into the living room, sunlight streaming in through the small opening of the curtain. He'd awoken to no Sakura in sight, a snoring blonde and the sound of the shower running. Seeing no Neji, he had figured the younger man was the one in the bathroom and wishing to save himself a verbal ass whooping from Tsunade, proceeded to call her right away.
But as he came up from his musings, he found himself on the other end of an expectant look.
"Who is she?" Neji questioned, wearing one of the three outfits he'd found folded on the shelves in the bathroom.
"I'd like to know that too Kakashi." Naruto said as he emerged from the short hallway, freshly clean and clothed.
"An old friend." He responded vaguely.
"Can she be trusted?"
Kakashi glanced at the Hyuuga. "I'd trust her with my life if that's what you mean."
Naruto continued to dry his hair with the towel and sent Neji a reassuring grin. "She patched us up good didn't she? Relax Hyuuga, she seems harmless enough."
Neji raised a dark brow and shook his head. Didn't they know that it was the harmless looking ones that they had to watch out for? They were the most dangerous ones of all. But nevertheless he conceded, knowing enough to trust Hatake Kakashi and his judgments. The silver haired man had managed to save their lives after all.
"Get all the rest you can today. We head out tomorrow before dawn." And with a dismissive wave, Kakashi headed to the bathroom for his own shower.
An hour later, Sakura walked through the door of her apartment and instinctively her hand went to the silver 9mm handgun strapped to the bottom of the small table beside her. But the noises weren't threats and she had to remind herself that there were three men currently doing god knows what in her home.
She quickly hung up her keys, shifted the brown paper grocery bag in her arms, and sauntered further into her apartment. She felt three pairs of eyes instantly land on her and then heard the collective sigh of relief. She raised a brow, amusement flickering across her emerald eyes as she took off her sunglasses and scarf.
Placing the grocery bag on the counter that overlooked the living room, she took off her favorite fitted leather jacket and draped it on the back of one of the counter height stools. To say it wasn't uncomfortable to be subjected to curious and intense gazes would be a lie. She wasn't used to having company in her home and because of this, she found herself slightly on edge.
And maybe Kakashi knew this because he suddenly spoke up, breaking the awkward atmosphere. "Shopping?"
"I figured I should be a good host and feed you guys." She glanced at her once and former sensei, seeing that he had found the set of clothes she left him. Her eyes then darted to the other two males and mentally patted herself on the back for guessing their correct sizes.
Naruto bounded over to the kitchen and proceeded to help her out. "Thanks again. For you know…saving our asses yesterday." He threw her a genuine grin and it was ridiculously contagious that she found a smile tugging at her own lips.
"Don't mention it." She turned around only to almost run into the chocolate haired man who'd somehow managed to make it into the kitchen without her notice. She quickly sidestepped to avoid running face first into his chest.
She looked up and was met with those pearly eyes of his.
"You have my…thanks, Haruno-san."
Sakura held back an amused laugh at how stiff he sounded. This Neji Hyuuga was definitely not used to thanking people. He probably had an even tougher time apologizing.
"Too formal. Call me Sakura." She skirted around him to get to the empty fridge, strangely unsettled by his curious look.
"Mind moving for me Neji? You're blocking the way." Naruto gently shoved him aside so he too could get to the fridge and it wasn't long before the blonde engaged the pinkette in light conversation about various dishes they could cook up.
But as the Hyuuga leaned against the counter, quietly observing and a little annoyed, he knew there was more to her. Anyone connected to Hatake Kakashi had a complex story. And anyone with reflexes and an effortless grace like hers was hiding something, whether intentional or not. He saw it in the way she handled them yesterday and saw it just moments before when she easily avoided colliding into him. He wouldn't deceive himself and say he wasn't intrigued. But as a Hyuuga and elite member of the Konoha Syndicate, finding time to quench that intrigue still remained in the dark.
"So how old are you Sakura?" Naruto asked as he leaned back in the chair, stomach full and happy to have a real meal for once.
"And what do you do?"
"I'm a nurse." She lied easily. "And what do you do, Naruto?"
He jerked his thumb in Neji and Kakashi's direction. "We try to clean up the city. The Sound and Akatsuki Syndicates are always causing trouble for us."
It was the first time she heard of a syndicate being referred to as something positive. The three largest and deadliest organizations didn't try to clean up the city. They fought and died for it, had ridiculous skirmishes and bloody wars for it. But the more she talked to the blonde, the more she was beginning to understand how optimistic he could be. Tokyo was crumbling and dying, just like all the other cities around the world. And yet here he was, trying to save it all. She didn't know whether to consider him an idiot or a man on a genuine mission.
"We fight for what is ours." Neji said and that was more of the answer she was looking for.
"As we all do." Sakura commented, catching his eyes for a brief moment before looking away.
They were in her study, the orange red sun drowning in the distance.
"We're leaving before dawn." Kakashi told her.
She nodded, loose pink hair spilling over her shoulders. "Good. I was going to kick you three out tomorrow anyway."
He heard the slight tease in her tone. "After this—"
"No more. My debt's paid Kakashi."
He laughed one of his rare laughs. "You've become such a hard ass these past few years."
She smirked. "It comes with the business."
The sudden red blink of the fiber optic screen told her she had an urgent incoming call. She felt dread creep into her bones as she rushed past Kakashi and touched the screen.
"Miss Ume! I couldn't stop them! Please get out!" Blood suddenly danced across the screen and then the line went dead.
"I'm going to kick your ass after this is done Hatake." She looked him straight in his mismatched eyes and he thought maybe his heart broke a little for bringing the syndicate's problems into her life and her home, into this beautiful castle she had built all by herself.
"That's if we make it out alive."
She glared at him as they ran out the room. "You better hope we don't."
"What's going on?" Naruto asked, confusion in his features.
"You guys were tailed and now we need get the hell out of here." Sakura replied as she pulled her fitted leather jacket over her white tank.
"Kakashi, there's a button behind Mr. Ukki." He immediately understood and ran over to the dying plant, felt around and just like that the wall swung open to reveal five rows of different weaponry.
"What the—" Naruto felt his mouth hang open. "I thought you were a nurse!"
"Shut up and hurry Naruto! We've got exactly five minutes before they blow that door straight to hell!" Sakura shouted as the other wall swung around. She quickly grabbed her silver engraved 1911 handguns and the black pack on the top shelf that housed her favorite sniper rifle.
"Begin self destruct." And as she saw the countdown flicker to life, she pulled out the straps and secured it around her shoulders before turning around.
"Who are you?" Neji asked, looking hard into her bright green eyes.
"Maybe I'll tell you if we live." She answered before heading over to another wall by the door. It swung open to reveal a hidden stairwell just as she heard the helicopter and the rain of bullets against her bulletproof windows.
"This is now the only way out. It leads to my personal garage," She grabbed the keys and threw it to Kakashi. "If I don't make it in five, leave."
"Not without you Sakura." Kakashi argued.
"You don't have a choice." She glanced hard at Neji and Naruto. "And neither do the both of you."
And then the windows erupted and collapsed under the strain of constant firepower and as glass flew through the air, she shoved them towards the stairs and covered them.
Sakura didn't have time to lament the destruction of her apartment as she pulled the triggers of her twin 1911's. Her bullets flew true and deadly as they hit and killed the man in the helicopter. Another two shots and the pilot slumped over in a bloody mess before the helicopter spun out of control and collided with the adjacent building. And if that wasn't enough, she nearly got her head blown off when the door to her home exploded in a mix of plaster and steel.
She rolled out of the way, reloaded her guns and opened fire on the incoming men. But they kept on piling in, a seemingly endless stream of Sound puppets not afraid to die, or maybe just too stupid to know better. Sakura caught the glint of sharp metal to her left and avoided the wakizashi strike. Like quicksilver, she brought her right arm around, aimed it at his chest and pulled the trigger. She didn't have time for another thought as she deftly evaded a right hook, her leg kicking out to connect with a body and in the next second she was reloading the last of her bullets and dodging a barrage of them.
Sakura hissed when one grazed her thigh, but she didn't have time to worry about it as she kicked up her kitchen table to serve as a temporary shield. Distantly, she realized that Mr. Ukki was officially dead and that her poor bonsai lay in ruins.
A swell of anger ripped through her and spotting the audio remote, she quickly swiped it up. One press of the on button and her surround sound immediately blared to life. That split second of distraction was all she needed as she swept up, long luminescent pink hair fluttering all around her, and rained silver engraved bullets on the mindless men.
But from all sides, Sound continued to converge upon her and when she ran out of hot silver, she felt the point of a gun on the back of her head and she stilled, chest heaving.
"Where are they?" It was an icy smooth tenor that breathed into her ear.
"Go to hell."
Strong fingers suddenly gripped her hair and Sakura soon found herself staring up into black pools of liquid steel.
He peered at her closely. "Who are you?"
She smirked. It seemed that was the question of the day. "Just another pretty face."
"Countdown completed. Self destruct in three, two, one."
His eyes widened as the first of the explosions went off and sent them to her once pristine carpet. Sakura tore out of his hold and clambered to her feet. The second explosion was too close for comfort as she made a mad dash to the hidden stairs, shoving her 1911's under the waist of her dark pants and jumping over her fallen furniture.
But Sakura supposed she shouldn't have been surprised to see Neji emerge, expertly wielding his own guns to give her some much needed cover.
"You were supposed to be gone by now!" She shouted, the third and final explosion dangerously rocking her apartment. She could feel the heat of the blasts almost kiss her skin goodnight.
"Consider us even." Neji grunted as he grabbed her outstretched hand and pulled her to him. He almost missed her sharp inhalation but thought nothing of it as they raced down the dimly lit stairwell and into the garage.
Kakashi and Naruto both heaved a sigh of relief when they saw them and as soon as Neji jumped into the black convertible, closely followed by a stumbling Sakura, the silver haired man took off, the sound of screeching tires a distant echo as they tore through the shadowy streets.
Gritting her teeth, pain wracking her body, Sakura unzipped her jacket and took in the damage. "Shit."
Immediately Neji's opalescent eyes saw the gunshot wound marring her left side and realized the dangerous amount of blood she was losing.
"Shit Sakura!" Naruto's blue eyes widened and he instantly began to dig through the glove compartment for a first aid kit, eyes clouding over with worry when he found nothing.
Kakashi glanced behind him, veered around a corner as he pressed down on the gas pedal. "Your pretty ass better not die."
"Shut up Hatake. This is all your damn fault." She hissed when Neji applied pressure, vision swimming as she found it harder and harder to breathe.
"You were supposed to evade the bullets!" Kakashi bit back, worry flashing across his eye. "Didn't you learn anything?"
"I'm not a fucking super hero!" She shouted back and almost lost it as sharp agony ripped through her.
"Careless woman." Neji reprimanded, holding her glare with his own as he tried to stem the flow of her blood.
"Here, wrap this around her!" Naruto handed the Hyuuga a long strip of cloth, realizing that the blonde had ripped his own shirt.
Neji propped her up against his body, hands quickly wrapping the cloth tightly around her bleeding middle to create a makeshift bandage. Sakura arched her body in pain, gasping for air as the edges of her vision slowly dimmed.
"Sakura?" Neji held her, lightly slapping her face to keep her awake.
"Fucking syndicates…" She rasped, fingers clenching his shirt front. "I swear to god if I make it through this…I'm shooting one of you."
But her grip was slackening and her eyes were closing and Neji didn't know what else to do for the pink haired woman fading in his arms.
"Stay with me woman." He ordered, squeezing her blood stained hand.
Sakura managed a sarcastic smirk. "That was almost romantic and sweet, Hyuuga." Another sharp hiss tore from her lips as her eyes fluttered shut. "You know, you're pretty cute for a syndicate guy, but that doesn't mean I like you."
"It's a start." He gave her a smirk of his own and noticed the makeshift bandage had already completely bled through.
"Sakura, I won't let you die! I still don't know who you are and until I do, you're not fucking dying!" Naruto shouted, smacking Kakashi on the shoulder and yelling at him to go the hell faster. The older man resisted the urge to pummel the blonde as he veered sharply around another corner and into their territory.
A wry smile touched her lips as she slowly succumbed to the siren call of darkness. "Haruno Sakura…contract killer."
He picked himself up from the rubble of the once intact apartment, brushing off bits of plaster and glass from his dusty suit. And as his dark eyes flared, almost red with anger and no small amount of irritation, he quickly surveyed the broken surroundings and the dead men at his feet. A flash of the pink haired woman danced across his mind, fierce and completely unafraid while she rained bullets like hellfire and dodged them with practiced ease.
He'd never seen her before and a woman of her skill would be hard to forget. So that left him with the nagging questions of who exactly was she and what was her connection to the Konoha Syndicate. Sirens in the distance told him the police were on their way and a look around gave him nothing as to the identity of this woman. She had certainly covered her tracks well.
But unfortunately there were things to take care of right now, police to be hushed and dead bodies to get rid of. Pulling out his phone, he quickly made the call.
"Targets got away. I need a clean up crew at the apartment."
"You failed to apprehend them again Sasuke-kun? Tsk, tsk. I'm sure Orochimaru will be—"
"Shut the hell up Kabuto. Cleanup crew. Now." He hung up on the smug bastard and pocketed his phone.
One last look around and a few overturned pieces of plaster later, still nothing.
A barely perceptible smirk crossed his lips. Hide and seek it is then.
Sakura wondered if she was dead and had gone to hell. Funny though, she had always thought hell would smell like smoke and burning flesh or maybe rotting dead carcasses and that demons with red slits for eyes would have horrible in-need-of-some-serious-brushing-and-mouthwash breath as they hovered over her forsaken soul before promptly devouring her whole.
Apparently the movies got it all wrong because it sure as hell didn't smell like that. It smelled like a damn hospital. That sterile, antiseptic smell with the faintest trace of metallic blood. She didn't necessarily hate it but she wasn't fond of it either.
A part of her considered the possibility that she may still very well be alive. But the darkness had felt so comforting and oh so real and she had been bleeding all over the place. Bastards had shot her clean and she knew, well was pretty sure anyway, that she'd bled to death.
So what was up with everything brightening all around her? As if the sun had just decided to shine through a lucky window?
Okay, so maybe she wasn't dead after all.
And that was a good thing. She'd at least get to shoot some syndicate asshole for effectively ruining her relatively peaceful life. And her plants. She missed Mr. Ukki and Ms. Bonsai already. Not to mention her apartment with the lived in feel to it and her nice comfortable bed.
Damn it all to hell.
And as Sakura stirred from the depths of sleep, she hoped her guns were nearby so she could attempt to shoot someone in the leg or maybe the foot.
The sunshine nearly blinded her and she had to close her eyes, burrow further into the white pillow with a slight groan of pain. Several blinks and pathetic tries later, she finally managed to make the black dots go away and dizziness dissipate to a tolerable level.
After a few moments of soaking in her white and clean surroundings, everything clicked and Sakura knew exactly where she was. The Konoha Syndicate's very own HQ medical wing. Fucking wonderful.
Sakura resisted the urge to throw a random temper tantrum and instead did a quick sweep of her body's injuries. Her middle was wrapped with clean fresh bandages and other than a few cuts and bruises here and there, she wasn't in bad shape.
She slowly sat up, careful not to reopen her gunshot wound and risk even more time in a place she had no desire to be in. Taking a deep breath, she glanced around for her twin silver 1911 guns and saw them sitting on the bedside table along with her black pack. She reached over and really now, she wasn't the least bit surprised to find them empty. A quick look inside the pack and of course, the bullets had all been confiscated.
Resigning herself to her current predicament, she set aside her things and leaned her head back against the headboard. How long had she been out? A day or two? Maybe three? She hoped not too long, for her clients' sakes anyway. And perhaps her own.
Verdant eyes wandered to the window where sunlight streamed in, the clock on the wall telling her it was a little past two in the afternoon.
She heard the door quietly open along with a soft gasp of surprise.
It took a bit of effort not to roll her eyes and shoot the young nurse an irritated glare. She had to remind herself not to take out her aggression on those undeserving and very fortunate souls. They weren't the ones she had a problem with.
The nurse, who looked to be around eighteen or nineteen, shuffled forward, her nervousness apparent in the way she bit her lip and the shiftiness of her brown eyes. "Is there anything you'd like Haruno-san?"
'Bullets and a damn way out.' She thought. "How long have I been asleep?" Her voice was croaky, dry from not being used.
"Four days." The shy young nurse replied as she went to another table on the far side of the room and poured a glass of water. She walked back and handed it to Sakura, who took it gratefully.
After a few swallows, the pink haired woman sighed and placed the cup down on the small bedside table, next to her shiny guns.
Silence trickled by, the only sound being that of a pen scratching across paper. The nurse piped up, unable to take the quiet any longer.
"You were very lucky Haruno-san. Three more inches to the right and you would've sustained irreparable damage. You lost a lot of blood though, but thanks to Hatake-san's quick driving, he got you here just in time. You should heal up like new, maybe a scar but it won't be noticeable. Shizune-san is an excellent medic after all. "
"Thanks." Sakura murmured, running a hand through her loose pink hair. "So when can I leave?"
"Not anytime soon."
"Oh, Hatake-san!" The nurse started as she clutched the clipboard to her chest.
"Could you give us some private time Moegi?"
"Of course." She nodded and quickly left.
Sakura, not in a very pleasant mood, proceeded to shoot Kakashi a verdant glare. "You suck."
He ignored her, pulled a chair forward and sat down next to the bed as he let the brown pack he carried drop to the floor. "I didn't have a choice and I wasn't going to let you die."
She drew her knees up and rested her head sideways on them, eyes on her former sensei. He wasn't wearing his customary mask today so the scar was prominent against his handsome features, a constant reminder of the sacrifices he had made for the Syndicate. But she refused to make the same ones. She refused to follow in her parents' footsteps because all it would ever get her was six feet under before she was ready.
Sakura felt her anger subside and a rueful smile take its place. "I guess not." Another lengthy sigh escaped her lips. "I'm on lockdown aren't I?"
He gave her a lopsided grin. "Yep, but when has that ever stopped you?"
"True." She whispered, a few strands of long pink hair falling across her vision. She brushed them behind an ear.
"How's Naruto doing? And the Hyuuga?"
Kakashi shrugged. "Alive and well and both worried—Naruto more so than Neji—that you would never wake up again. I'm sure they'll be happy to know you did."
"Hnn." She turned to face the bright window, looking out into the blue sky. "Can you do me a favor Kakashi?"
He leaned against the chair, already knowing what she was going to ask. "I can only give you a few hours. Are you sure?"
"That'll be enough. Tell them I'm sorry."
"They'll look for you. I think you caught Neji's attention and once you have, it's hard to get out of it. Hyuuga's are known for their persistence."
A smile curved her lips as she straightened to look at him. "That's good to know."
Kakashi stood up, came closer and ruffled her hair for old time's sake. "Take care of yourself. If you need anything, you know where to reach me." He gently placed the brown pack in front of her and started to leave.
"Thanks Kakashi and please, don't ever call for shit like this again."
His eye crinkled as he threw a wave over his shoulder. "Next time it'll be coffee. Promise."
Sakura snorted. "Yeah, coffee and flying bullets." She muttered.
"What the hell do you mean she's gone?" Tsunade pounded the desk, the sound thunderous and angry.
Moegi visibly flinched and shrank back. "I-I went to check up on her a few hours after Hatake-san visited and the bed was empty and all her belongings gone."
The blonde woman cursed, clenched her fists as her eyebrow violently twitched. "Kotetsu!"
The door flew open and he appeared immediately. "Yes Tsunade-sama?"
"I want Hatake, Uzumaki, and Hyuuga in my office right now!"
"M-May I be excused Tsunade-sama?" Moegi asked, unable to take the tension so thick in the air.
The leader of the Konoha Syndicate waved her away, eyes closed in thought and barely registering the young nurse's hasty retreat.
It wasn't long before all three were in her office. Tsunade pierced them with a hard look, most especially a certain silver haired man who leaned casually against the wall.
"Where is she?"
"Who?" Naruto asked.
"She's gone?" While Neji's outside appearance remained unfazed, inside he was fighting a losing battle. How the hell had she escaped?
"Without a trace."
Naruto slumped in one of the two chairs in front of Tsunade's desk. "How did that happen? There's security everywhere and she isn't that difficult to miss."
"You tell me."
"Are you presuming we had something to do with this?" Kakashi remarked.
"You know damn well I am!" She snapped. "Especially you Hatake! Three years! Three years I haven't seen or heard anything from Sakura and then out of the blue, you storm in with her. So tell me Hatake, how'd you do it?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Kakashi pulled his eye-crinkling smile out and gifted the irate leader of the Konoha Syndicate with it.
Practically fuming now, Tsunade turned her venomous glare on the other two. "Hyuuga? Uzumaki? Care to talk?"
"How the hell would I know? I wanted her to stay just as much as you, Tsunade-sama." Naruto said, eyes flashing his familiar blue fire.
"How long has she been missing?" Neji asked.
"About three hours."
"Plenty of time to disappear." The Hyuuga stated. "It'd be pointless to try and track her down. She isn't exactly helpless."
"We're probably never going to see her again." Kakashi commented offhandedly.
Naruto slouched, completely deflated. "I can't believe she's gone."
"She's a contract killer, Uzumaki. Vanishing is part of what they do best." Neji didn't mince his words. He understood the nature of the profession perfectly.
Tsunade rubbed her left temple, feeling the beginnings of a massive headache and hearing the whispers of resignation right next to her ear. This was pointless and in no way, shape or form was it going to bring Sakura back. She told Neji and Naruto to get out.
He obliged of course, not really feeling like dodging a flying stapler any time soon.
As soon as the door shut, she leveled a serious look on him as she crossed her arms. "I know she was the one who saved your asses, regardless if you tell me otherwise. And I'm not nearly stupid enough to accept any time soon your lame excuse that you just happened to find her, shot and bleeding, on a random sidewalk."
Kakashi didn't flinch when she sent him a death glare. He was far too used to her intimidation tactics by now to be affected.
"But I understand." It was almost painful for her to admit. "But it doesn't mean I like it. You do realize that Sound will be on the outlook for her now and if Akatsuki gets wind of this, they'll be curious and you know how curious they can get. Just tell me she'll be all right Kakashi. "
"I'm sure she'll be fine."
Tsunade would take his word for it then. It was better than nothing.
Sakura took a long drag from her cigarette as she walked down Cloud Boulevard. Crowded with prostitutes, drug dealers and the homeless she deftly weaved a path among them, long pink hair pinned up and hidden beneath a wool mod cap and green eyes covered by large sunglasses.
She turned a sharp corner and walked into a back alley, ignoring the smell of decay and week old garbage before tossing the butt of her cancer stick among the trash. Another turn and she ended up on Plum Avenue, its current state much better than Cloud and definitely cleaner. It was another fifteen minutes before she finally arrived at her destination. But being the cautious and slightly paranoid woman she was, Sakura walked past, crossed the street and blended into the shadows of the neighboring buildings. It seemed eternity dragged by before she deemed everything safe and in order. One could never be too cautious when in her profession.
She walked up to the newly renovated penthouses in the Mizu district of Tokyo, about two hours away from her now completely destroyed apartment, and placed her hand on the scanner. Leaning forward, she looked into the optic camera, heard the electronic hiss and the click afterward.
The hologram of a woman appeared in front of her, a smile on her face. "Welcome back Chiasa-san."
Sakura nodded and pushed open the thick glass door. She took the steel elevator up to the twenty second floor, stepped out and slowly opened the door to her second home, closing it gently behind her. Turning on the lights, she finally let herself relax a little and breathe in the familiarity of her surroundings.
A week later and feeling a little less stiff and a lot more like her usual self, Sakura sat on her pulse caviar sectional, cleaning her silver 1911 handguns and black sniper rifle. Her phone rang and she sent the call to the fiber optic screen in front of her.
"I see you're doing well, Yukiko-san."
She placed the scope of her rifle on the coffee table and leaned forward, elbows resting on her thighs. "To what do I owe the pleasure, Ebizo-sama?"
He smiled, dark shadowy eyes wrinkling at the corners. "I am in need of an assassin Yukiko-san and I find that I do not quite trust anyone other than you to carry out the contract. Name your price."
"Name your target."
"No." Sakura said decisively. She made it a point to deviate from all things syndicate related. Last week had been an exception only because she owed Kakashi. A life for a life.
He raised a gray brow. "He has defected from the Akatsuki Syndicate. My sources tell me he's currently in Cairo, Egypt."
She hid her surprise. "Defected? When?"
"Two weeks ago." He replied. "You know that money is no concern of mine. Reconsider Yukiko-san."
Sakura glanced down at her sniper rifle, running all the possible scenarios, all the pros and cons of taking this contract. It was risky. Insanely risky and probably quite hazardous to her life. The chances of running into other Akatsuki Syndicate members were highly probable and she'd be stupid to assume Akasuna Sasori would be an easy target to take out.
"Fifty million yen."
"Done. I'll have the contract drawn up and all travel arrangements completed by the end of today. I expect you will departing as soon as you are able?"
Sakura nodded. "You know how I operate, old man Ebizo. Is that all?"
He smiled though she could hardly tell if it was real or not. "Yes, Yukiko-san. My agent will be in contact."
Their call ended and in the silence of her living room, Sakura was left questioning if she made the right decision. Sitting back, her hand absently trailed her lightly bandaged gun wound. It was almost fully healed so it wouldn't pose a problem.
But…damn, she still had her doubts about this. Combing fingers through her long pink hair, she sighed and pulled out a cigarette, lit it and inhaled. She wasn't a heavy smoker, but it was nice to have one every now and then. She watched the white smoke lazily bend and curl and disappear, all the while pondering the most effective and quickest ways to eliminate Akasuna Sasori.
She picked up one of her 1911s and stared at the leaf engravings, distantly considered all her aliases and the countless lives she took under the name 'Yukiko'.
"Killing people all by yourself now huh?" Kakashi's voice echoed in her mind.
Sakura smiled, sad and wistful and just a little bittersweet. "You should know Kakashi…it's the only thing I know how to do…"
…to be continued…
Updated A/N: I think this is one of my favorites. There really isn't a set pairing as I plan to more or less focus on Sakura and her relationships with the other characters. I guess you can say she's paired with everyone in some way, shape, or form. Thanks for reading!
It's now a series!