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.
The lights flooded her penthouse in a bright, warm glow as Chopin's Raindrop Prelude floated through the black speakers in her living room. A canvas stood in front of her, the beginnings of an Egyptian landscape painted on its smooth surface.
Her phone rang and wiping her hands on her paint strewn jeans, Sakura made her way over to the fiber optic screen.
Soft pink tendrils escaped her messy bun as a smile curved her lips. "Hey yourself, stranger."
Genma shot her a smile, a little sheepish but more roguish than anything. "I've been swamped with orders lately. Everyone wants customization nowadays."
"Leaving your signature is catching up with the masses I see."
He nodded and held up a couple packages. "They're finally ready. Sorry about the delay."
"Don't worry about it. I've been out anyway."
Her weapons customizer suddenly got serious though and he leaned forward, his image becoming larger on the screen.
"While I'd like to hope you were off somewhere beautiful and serene practicing that painting hobby of yours, it wouldn't have anything to do with the syndicates now would it?"
Sakura raised a brow. "Why?"
"A couple of guys have been asking around for info about a pink haired, green eyed freelancer. I only know one woman who fits that description and I'm looking at her."
"You've got details for me?" She asked.
Genma threw two images on the screen. "Sound and Akatsuki. Wanna tell me what the hell you got yourself into, sweetheart?"
"This is what I get when I try to pay back a lifelong debt." She answered, already feeling the uncontrollable swell of irritation in her chest.
"You were the one who took out Akasuna Sasori and old man Ebizo weren't you?"
"And if I was?"
"Then you've just caught the worst possible attention ever. That—" He pointed to the top picture. "Is Uchiha Sasuke from Sound. And this—" He proceeded to the one below it, "Is his older brother, Uchiha Itachi with one Iwa Deidara, both members of the Akatsuki Syndicate."
"They were in Cairo."
"And I might've pointed my gun at them…and shot at them." She elaborated offhandedly.
Genma released an almost painful sigh. "No wonder they're looking for you."
"Uchiha Sasuke was after Kakashi and his team the night my apartment blew up. He recognized me in Cairo during a gun fight with the Akatsuki, which drew their interest."
"You're not exactly hard to remember, Sakura. Try and lay low for a while. Wait until everything blows over."
She was doing just that. It'd been almost a week since Ebizo's death by her hands. "You know I don't like being hunted Genma."
His eyes narrowed and Sakura was pretty sure had he been here he would've attempted to throttle her.
"And you're not getting involved."
"No." But her hard look soon softened and she offered him whatever reassurance she could. "I'll be fine. I always am. Can you have Kotetsu drop those off?"
Sighing in resignation and knowing no matter what he said wouldn't change a damn thing, he nodded. "I'll see you then." Be safe were the other words he didn't bother to say, useless as they were when spoken to a woman like her.
The call ended and the screen went blank.
She was left to ruminate over this annoying development for all of thirty seconds before her phone once again began to shrill. The name of her caller flashed across the fiber optic, prompting a slightly surprised reaction as she hit the receive button on the small touch screen embedded in her wall.
"It's been a while, Anko."
The dark haired older woman grinned in what could almost pass as sweet if Sakura didn't already know how ruthless and cunning she could be.
"So what exactly has the infinity network knocking on my door?"
"Can't an old friend call up another old friend just to say hello?"
Sakura raised an incredulous brow. "Not you, Anko. What has Jiraiya gotten himself into now?"
"The old perv has been pretty sedate lately, believe it or not."
Sedate as in just visiting the red light district every couple of days, no doubt. His little 'information gathering' excursions however, always did yield bountiful amounts of intel, even if half of it was useless.
"Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, it's not about him this time. It's something much more damaging." Anko said before throwing up three images of a red haired woman, all from different angles.
"She's got intel she isn't suppose to have."
"Asaka, Karin. She's been with us for about a month."
"Not very smart." Sakura commented, coming around the pulse caviar sectional to get a better look at the red head.
Anko snorted. "The bitch is sneaky though. We had some guys tail her. They ended up never coming back. Her movements have been more erratic so it's harder to track her now."
"I thought the network screened their agents pretty damn well?"
"She came out clean."
Sakura nodded. Nothing was foolproof, not even the highly regarded infinity network. "What kind of intel was stolen?"
"We're not sure. It could be anything from private client information down to our sources. This is fucking serious Sakura. If I could kill the bitch right now I would but the network's been swamped with assignments so I can't exactly take the time to hunt her down."
"Any idea as to who the other party is?"
"The Sound Syndicate."
"As tempting as that may sound—"
Sakura shot the laughing older woman a not so serious glare and took a moment to think things over.
"Before you even ask, the answer is yes. Sound and Akatsuki have both been asking around for info about a pink haired contract killer. What the hell did you do Sakura to garner that much unwanted attention?"
"Genma asked the same thing." She said humorlessly.
"Shit, don't even tell me you had something to do with that Konoha and Sound fireworks show? Where the apartment…it was your fucking apartment wasn't it?"
"Maybe." Sakura answered vaguely.
Anko quickly put everything together though, not liking it one bit. "Akasuna Sasori, the shootings. One of our informants was killed in Cairo before he could make it back for an intel sweep. Damn it girl, you're fucking lucky he didn't know shit about you except—"
"One of my aliases—Ishihara, Yukiko."
"And old man Ebizo?"
"A personal request."
"Akatsuki and Sound were after my target too. We all had a very nice, friendly little confrontation."
Anko rolled her eyes at the younger woman's sarcasm. "Yeah, my left ass cheek you did." Releasing a long suffering sigh, very much like Genma's in fact, she regarded the young freelancer with critical eyes.
"You already know what I'm going to ask Sakura. The infinity network cannot afford duplicity. I need Asaka Karin dead."
"What about the chip?"
"She found a way to remove it. Otherwise, we wouldn't be having this conversation and I'd be grilling you about all this syndicate shit you're ass deep in."
"Blame it on Kakashi." Sakura grumbled irritably.
"As much as I would like to, you're the one who opened the door for him."
She sighed, threading her fingers through her pink hair. "I'm beginning to think I shouldn't have."
"You would've and if you had to do it all over again, you wouldn't change a damn thing. It's over and done with Sakura. Stop fucking moping about the past and deal with it like the contract killer you are."
At times like this, Sakura appreciated Anko's sharp and edgy candor. "I hate you."
"Love you too." The older woman smirked before getting serious once more. "I need an answer. Yes or no?"
"You don't even have to ask. You know what I need."
Anko nodded. "I'll be in touch."
The infinity network, headed by Jiraiya, was the dying world's go-to organization for all that hard to get intel. They were the info gatherers. The ordinary faces no one would think twice to look at. Yet come tomorrow those same faces would be extraordinary, hauntingly seductive and compelling. They were experts in acquiring the near impossible, groomed to lurk with a trained ear and if it came down to it, forcefully extract the information itself from the targeted source.
Jiraiya made it an effort to recruit beautiful women, sometimes beautiful men. Mitarashi Anko made it her business to kick his ass into shape. She enforced the ways of the infinity network, personally oversaw and groomed all the new recruits the old man brought in.
For two years Sakura had been her protégé, learning the ins and outs of the network, how to track and how to listen. She'd learned that people loved to talk and given the right opportunity and feeling that sliver of trust, that stroke of their ego, they could go on for hours not even realizing what they were actually revealing.
But like everything, it came with a price.
The network's informants were all embedded with an intel sweeping chip. At the end of an assignment, the informant's mind was wiped clean of all crucial information, giving the network its safety cushion and confidentiality. If the worse happened, the chip would be activated and the informant killed before anything could be leaked.
Looking over the extensive dossier Anko had sent over, Sakura stored away important bits and pieces. It was no small feat that this Asaka Karin had managed to remove the chip placed just above the cervical spine. Whoever removed it had to have had some measure of very precise skill that was for sure. But this red head had moved too soon in her deception and apparently underestimated the vigilance of Anko and Jiraiya. A very foolish move.
No one betrayed the infinity network and lived to tell about it. Sakura was its personal executioner after all.
"Hair: Violet. Eyes: Gold."
"Please proceed into the chamber, Sakura-san."
The glass door slid open and Sakura stepped in. Within moments, she was being scanned and her hair and eye color changed. After her failed attempt at a disguise in Cairo, she wanted to make sure everything stayed as it should this time around and every other time after. And with the Syndicates playing nosy bastards, she needed to limit her chances of being recognized, thus the large investment in the newest transfiguration technology.
Sakura stepped out of the chamber and looked into the full length mirror. Cropped bangs and super straight violet hair. Amber gold eyes. Black leather cat suit. She would blend in perfectly at the newest high end techno club her target was frequenting. Compared to some other people she saw during her quick two day recon, this was actually quite subdued.
Satisfied with her appearance, Sakura headed over to the glass kitchen table and admiringly handled her two new silver daggers she had had commissioned. Two packs of customized bullet clips also rested on the clear glass, but for this contract she would be leaving her guns at home.
After tucking a dagger into each of her knee high boots, she pulled on a matching leather jacket, grabbed her motorcycle helmet, and walked out the door.
Ultra was already teeming with people by the time Sakura arrived and with gold eyes hidden behind a pair of dark shades she wasted no time in scoping out her surroundings and pinpointing the exact location of her target.
Black latex seemed like the clothing of choice tonight. From full body suits to barely there outfits, it seemed nearly everyone was donning the shiny material in some form or another. Women and men held whips, others leashes and chains as they gyrated on the dance floor, the sexually charged atmosphere almost tangible. It was an interesting place to say the least, an S&M heaven tucked away in the darker part of a starving Tokyo.
Asaka Karin's red hair wasn't exactly hard to miss. Headed towards the back, Sakura watched her make a beeline for the bathroom. She would wait a little longer though, test out the waters a bit to make sure this place wasn't crawling with Sound Syndicate members who would come running at the first sign of potential trouble.
So as the house music thumped from large speakers and the flashing lights made pretty patterns on the crowded dance floor, Sakura headed over to the circular bar.
An hour later she found herself in the company of two Akatsuki members and wondered if Fate truly did despise her. Granted, they weren't decked out in their colors of black and red and blended in quite well, but with her sharp eyes she was able to catch sight of the ring that hung around one of their necks before he had quickly tucked it away.
Were they spying? Recon maybe?
"Hey, what do you say we have a quick fuck in the bathroom? You're pretty damn hot so I'd let you have a go at Jashin's fucking gift to women."
Sakura stifled the urge to laugh. Was he serious? Him? A gift to women?
"Shut your trap, Hidan. I think you just made her throw up a little."
"Shut the fuck up, Kakuzu."
She caught a flash of red from the corner of her eye and downing the rest of her sake, Sakura swiftly stood up without so much as a word to her two unwanted companions.
"Hey! Oi, what the fuck?"
Sakura flipped him off and disappeared into the throng of dancers, bystanders, and drunks. His pissed off retort of 'fucking bitch, how dare she refuse Jashin's number one disciple' wasn't lost on her and if she wasn't already on a contract, she would've decked the silver haired bastard.
She entered the bathroom, but before she had time to turn around and block her attacker, Sakura was already falling to the ground, vision dimming into darkness.
Anko was right about one thing. Asaka Karin was one sneaky bitch.
"So this is real."
"Is yours?" Sakura smirked before her head was wrenched to the side, her violet locks scrutinized one last time before being roughly released. The back of her neck still ached something fierce, but pain and captivity were nothing new to her.
"Another one of the network's dogs I assume?" Karin spat with thinly veiled disgust.
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Sakura said as she tested out the rope tied around her wrists. A quick look around told her they were in some sort of interrogation room. No windows, stone walls, two chairs, and a square wooden table. A bright light occasionally flickered overhead, but other than that, this place was pretty standard and a whole load of shitty.
With her hands tied behind her back, Sakura shifted in the rusty metal chair and silently thanked whoever was listening for the oversight of her captors. She wondered if all the previous trackers the infinity network had sent had all been amateurs and thus, Karin and her help saw no need to continually check her restraints. She was bound to the chair, but the knots were beginning to loosen and that would soon prove to be a grave mistake on their part. Underestimating an unknown captive was never a wise decision.
Karin leaned in and sneered. "Did I? You mean to tell me you don't work for the infinity network? That you weren't sent here to kill me?" She laughed, harsh and mocking. "And why should I believe you?"
Sakura shrugged. "You have no reason to."
The door opened then and her male accomplice entered the room.
"They'll be here in thirty."
Karin nodded as Sakura began her internal countdown. Thirty minutes wasn't much time, but it was enough to do what needed to be done and then get the hell out of here. She moved her legs to glean whether or not they'd found and confiscated her hidden daggers and when the tip of one of the blades glided against her ankle, Sakura quickly ran through her list of back up plans.
The red head turned towards her and leaned against the table, arms crossed and looking smug.
"I know Mitarashi wants me and it pisses her off that Kabuto got the chip out and I'm now running loose with all this precious information on the network."
Sakura didn't respond, merely looked at her target quietly and let her talk, making sure to store away every shred of information. Karin placed both palms on the table and sneered distastefully.
"Do you know how many of you I've killed?" She asked rhetorically. "Five and all of them begged for their lives before they died. The infinity network can send all the trackers they want, but at the end of the day, they'll all end up dead."
Karin pulled out two micros and smirked, her dark eyes glinting with victorious satisfaction. "Orochimaru and Sasuske-kun will be more than pleased with the info I have. Sources and agents, clients and contractors…" She ticked off all the confidential intel she had managed to obtain as a small flood of relief washed over Sakura.
So she hadn't been able to report it all to Sound yet, having been lying low these past few days to avoid the network's dogs as she had put it. Sakura watched her as she gingerly touched the left micro.
"Everything I have is in here." She whispered. "And pretty soon Sound will have the upper hand in this damn syndicate war." She swiped them up and deposited them back into her pocket.
Karin looked at her then, eyes narrowing. "I don't give a shit whether or not you're really a part of the network, but like they say, better safe than sorry right?"
She pulled out a black Glock 18 and just as she pointed the automatic pistol at her, ready to pull the trigger, Sakura wrenched her legs from the ties which bound her and quickly tipped the chair back. Her leg came up and she pulled out her dagger, rolling to the side when gunshots ricocheted off the stone walls. It was only a matter of moments before her hands were free and she was jumping up, throwing her blade at Karin's arm in order to disarm her.
The gun flew out of her hand and Karin shouted in pain as her male accomplice dove into action after recovering from his stupor. But Sakura was already swinging the rusty metal chair at him, the sickening crunch as it collided with his skull bringing him to the ground, a river of blood already flowing down his face. Sakura let her fist fly, breaking his nose and then followed through with a harsh kick to the face after. He grunted and promptly knocked out.
But before Sakura could counter Karin's oncoming blow, she was already hitting the stone wall, the breath knocked out of her.
"Stupid bitch!" Karin shrieked as she cradled her bloody hand, advancing on her opponent with a vengeance.
She grabbed her violet hair and pulled back, but Sakura twisted around and kicked her in the stomach. It sent her sailing and she crashed into the table, blood spilling from her mouth. With a scream of fury, Karin blindly charged forward and quickly pulled out her own knife, swinging it wildly in front of her. Sakura dodged and dropped low, her hand rapidly pulling out her other dagger and just in the nick of time, she blocked a downward strike from her red haired target.
Gripping the hilt, the violet haired assassin swung the shiny silver blade outward, narrowly missing her contract's throat. Karin came forward like lightening and managed a shallow cut across Sakura's left bicep. She smiled and lunged forward again, only to spring back when Sakura slashed her across the cheek. Blood slowly wept from the cut as her red eyes flared with anger.
"I'm going to kill you!" She hissed, lunging again.
Sakura deflected the attack and punched her in the face, sending her to the ground. Karin's knife flew out of her hand and clinked against the wall. Legs sweeping out, she knocked Sakura's legs out from under her and jumped on top of her former captive, hands immediately grasping her neck and squeezing.
White dots erupted in her vision as Sakura grabbed the other woman's wrists and sharply twisted them. Sick and tired of this insane woman and knowing that time wasn't on her side she clipped Karin under the chin and threw a right hook. Head snapping to the side, Karin tumbled off, cradling her bruising jaw and bleeding mouth with one hand as her other groped for her knife.
Scrambling to her feet, Sakura felt a sharp pain suddenly explode in her right side and when she glanced down, Karin's knife was buried in her flesh. Without another thought, Sakura ripped it out and sent it sailing across the room before delivering a harsh blow to Karin's middle. The red head stumbled against the table, her breathing harsh and blood dribbling down her chin. Grabbing onto the end, she attempted to swing it around and take her violet haired opponent down, but Sakura had already grabbed her daggers and was on her before she could attempt anything further.
Karin screamed when the small razor sharp blade pierced the center of her left palm, effectively pinning her on top of the wooden table.
Sakura grasped her red hair and yanked back, her other dagger pressed firmly against Karin's throat. She could hear the distant echo of footsteps and knew her thirty minutes were nearly gone.
Karin laughed, but it was tinged with pain and false bravado. "You'll never get out of here alive."
Sakura's golden eyes hardened before she ruthlessly tore out the blade buried in Karin's palm. "Watch me." And wrenching her head up by her red hair, Sakura whispered into her ear, the sharp edge of her dagger breaking skin. "The infinity network sends their regards."
Sakura snapped Karin's neck, the disturbing sound of her spinal cord breaking and a last, sharp inhale resonating throughout the room. Her dead body fell against the table and with no time to linger as the footsteps drew nearer, Sakura quickly reached into Karin's pocket and extracted the two micros, dropping them into her jacket's inner compartment. Climbing off the dead woman, she grabbed her daggers, placed them back into her boots, and just in case, picked up the Glock 18.
Without another moment's delay, Sakura opened the door and hurried down the opposite side of the hall. Just as she rounded the corner, she heard an angry yell and couldn't help the smirk which crossed her lips. Surprise.
There was no doubt in her mind that she would soon have pursuers on her ass so even though her body hurt like all hell, she ignored the pain and swiftly searched for a way out.
Sasuke surveyed the scene with critical eyes. Karin was clearly dead and after a quick search of her body, no micros were found, which meant whoever they'd captured had to have been sent by the infinity network to retrieve the data. He walked over to the syndicate member who was slowly gaining consciousness.
Grasping his blonde locks, Sasuke pulled his head up. "Who did this?"
Eyes still bleary, he mumbled, "A woman. Violet hair…gold eyes."
Sasuke released him and stood, facing the leader of the Sound Syndicate.
Orochimaru sneered at the scene before turning around. "She couldn't have gotten far. Find her and bring her to me."
Sakura bolted down the stairs, her hand applying pressure to her side in order to stem the flow of blood. Kicking open a door, she ran through and was relieved to smell fresh air mixed with salt. So they were by the shoreline, which meant east of home.
Shouts and running footsteps told her she had precious little time. Gunshots suddenly split the air around her and ducking, she pressed against the wall of the warehouse and looked around. And then her gold eyes alighted on her saving grace.
Sakura booked it to the two motorcycles flanking a black sedan as bullets hit the ground around her feet. The driver she hadn't noticed earlier clambered out of the car, hand going for the gun at his side, but Sakura was too quick. She hit him hard across the face with the Glock 18 and as he fell from the blow, she kicked closed the open car door, crushing his body and the side of his face.
Sakura then slid across the hood of the black car and crouched on the other side, glad for some cover as she proceeded to hotwire the sleek ebony motorcycle. After a few tries, the engine purred to life and it wasn't long before she was swinging her leg over the seat and aiming the black automatic.
Sasuke burst through the door right as Sakura pulled the trigger. Lead bullets bit into the side of the car and the other motorcycle; punctured the rubber tires of both. She turned around, gold eyes falling on the familiar looking man by the warehouse.
"Uchiha, Sasuke." She murmured his name as she stared him straight in the eyes. From the looks of it, it seemed he'd also figured out who she was. Sakura wasn't very surprised though. They had seen each other often enough that disguises no longer worked. The movement of body, the handling of a gun could give one away just as much as physical appearance.
From the corner of her eye, she saw another man walk out and figured he had to be Orochimaru, the leader of the Sound Syndicate. He looked disturbingly scary enough with his almost serpentine features and flowing black hair.
However, more shots soon rang out and Sakura knew she had to get the hell out of here before she was digging bullets out of her body. Tossing the automatic over her shoulder, she revved the engine and took off under the rain of hot lead; Asaka Karin dead and the infinity network no longer compromised.
Sakura placed the micros on the messy desk before walking over to the old loveseat in the corner and sinking down. A grimace crossed her lips as she peeled away the black leather jacket, followed by the top of her matching cat suit. Reaching under the couch, she hauled out the first aid kit and checked out the knife wound.
The door swung open then, Anko storming in with a slightly worried expression on her face. She glanced around her office, eyes quickly falling on the still violet haired Sakura.
"What the hell?!" The door slammed shut before Anko stomped her way over.
Sakura raised her head to glance at the now fuming woman. "Yes?"
"Look at you!"
"I am. Now if you would quit hollering, I could clean up this mess." Sakura said stiffly before taking an alcohol wipe and swiping it across her injury multiple times. "All I need is a mending H bath and I'll be fine."
Anko took a deep breath, trying to calm her fraying nerves. "Is it deep?"
"Just a flesh wound."
She snorted and bending down, inspected the slowly bleeding injury. "Flesh wound? I don't think so."
"I've had worse." Taking the gauze, she wrapped it tightly around her middle and then cleaned the laceration on her bicep.
"I'll have the bath drawn up for you."
"Thanks." Sakura whispered.
She noticed the pack of cigarettes on the rectangular coffee table in front of her and helped herself. White smoke soon curled up and around as she let herself lean back and her strained muscles relax.
"Asaka Karin is dead and the micros are sitting on your desk. No intel was leaked. Curious as to how she got the chip out?"
Anko didn't bother to hide the look of murder on her face. "Orochimaru's right hand man. So he's also a skilled doctor, I see." She grunted, mentally putting him on her list of people to kill. "From the looks of things, I'm guessing you ran into Sound?"
Sakura suppressed a growl of exasperation before taking a long drag. Just the thought of syndicates made her want to break something. "The crazy bitch had someone with her and he knocked me out. They took me to some warehouse by the shoreline, were about to kill me but I got loose, took her out, and shot up their transports. I saw them though, Orochimaru and Sasuke Uchiha. He knew it was me. I could see it in his eyes."
"And the motorcycle?"
Anko nodded. "Jiraiya's currently out of the country, but he sends his love and thanks." Standing up, she turned on the fiber optic screen, dragged some windows up, and tapped a few buttons.
"Hey…I made it out didn't I?"
The older woman released a pent up sigh. "You know I never worry, Sakura. But when any of the syndicates are involved, it's a whole different game."
"I'm starting to see that. I've been shot at more times than I can count within the last month."
"And it'll only get worse if you continue to press your luck."
"It's a little late to be raising white flags. We're way beyond that now and I have no intention of backing down just so they can shoot me in the back, which might I add Sound's already done."
"And you're planning to take on all three syndicates?" Anko pressed further, her voice growing louder as she watched her former protégé battle with her pent up frustration. "Are you fucking insane? They're not your average kills Sakura. They're just as highly trained as you are, if not better."
"You don't think I realize this? I grew up in the Konoha Syndicate, Anko. I know how ruthless they can be. But if you think I'm just going to lie around and let them track me down, then you're sorely mistaken." Sakura retorted, her voice edged in steel as she repeatedly crushed her half smoked cigarette in the dirty ashtray.
"I didn't ask for this, Anko. All I did was help out Kakashi and look where it got me? Everywhere I go I run into them. They're all like fucking shadows I can't get rid of and it pisses the hell out of me because now I can't go back to how things used to be."
"You mean that lonely void you called a life?"
"It's a hell of a lot better than having my apartment blown up and being shot at by syndicate bastards!"
"Why not go back to Konoha, Sakura?"
She laughed, but it was bitter and humorless. "And end up like my parents? No, thank you. As much as I loved and hated them, I have no desire to walk their path."
"You seem awfully close to it."
Sakura furrowed her brows in irritation. "Who are you? My therapist?"
Anko smiled. "No. You just looked like you needed to get some shit off your chest. Feel better?"
Sakura couldn't help the reluctant smile and shaking her head, took a deep long breath and finally let herself relax. "So what do you have for me?"
"Leverage." Anko replied, satisfied that Sakura was no longer as tense and bothered. She threw two images of the Uchiha brothers onto the glass screen along with a brief profile on each.
"Itachi and Sasuke Uchiha. The former a part of Akatsuki and the latter, Sound." She grinned then, as if she had the answer to all of Sakura's problems. "And get this, both are undercover."
"Undercover? For who?"
"The Konoha Syndicate."
"Don't play with me, Anko."
"Does it look like I am?" She said, pointing to her most serious expression.
Sakura sat back and rubbed her temples, her mind on overdrive and steadily getting lost in her thoughts. "Damn Kakashi…I bet he knew all along and that whole fiasco at my apartment, the so called 'recon' on Sound… Sasuke was probably meeting them and then something went wrong so they had to cover it up somehow. What better way than a gunfight between rival syndicates? And what happened in Cairo…" She clenched her fists in annoyance as stray pieces clicked into place. "I knew something was off the moment I saw the brothers exchange looks at the café."
Anko confirmed her ramblings by opening another image on the fiber optic screen. Sasuke, Itachi, Kakashi, Naruto, and Neji all stood together in the shadows of a parking garage and Sakura instantly felt her blood boil. Granted, she couldn't really hold it against Kakashi for not telling her, but the fact that she got dragged into all of this because they weren't being discreet enough wasn't lost on her.
"Those fucking pricks."
Amusement flashed in Anko's eyes. "It wasn't easy getting this surveillance photo. We had to hack Konoha's security systems and you know what a bitch that is?"
"I can imagine."
"They've done a damn good job in covering themselves though. Sasuke's under the guise of wanting to kill his older brother for some family related reason, which is why he joined Sound. Itachi then perpetuates the situation, skillfully feeding the pretense they've created in order to keep their cover intact. The Uchiha name isn't taken lightly in syndicate circles though. You never heard of them while you were still a part of Konoha?"
Sakura shook her head. "Most of the time I was training with Kakashi. I never really made friends and couldn't have cared less about the people there. I left before I got in too deep."
"A damn good thing you did too. According to our inside agent only a select few know about this—those three in the photo and Tsunade."
"And now me."
"So what will you do?" Anko asked curiously.
Sakura looked at the ceiling, a contemplative expression on her features. "I'm not sure, but it's only a matter of time before they figure out who I am. The question now is how long until they're knocking down my door?"
Anko exhaled, knowing there was only so much she could do for the green eyed contract killer. "Seriously woman, why in the hell did you have to go and get mixed up with the syndicates?"
A wry smile touched Sakura's lips. "I was running…thinking I had finally lost them, but I was wrong. You never run from the syndicate Anko because they always have a way of catching up."
"Ishihara, Yukiko. Real name: Haruno, Sakura."
The dimly lit room went painfully silent as its five occupants felt the gravity of that one elusive name.
Naruto coughed; the silence much too heavy for him to stand. He began to pace, wanting to say something, but like the others here—with the exception of Kakashi—he didn't know shit about her. He glanced at Neji only to find the Hyuuga as expressionless as ever. The only sign that he wasn't a marble statue was the way his shoulders seemed more tense than usual. Hearing her name must've affected him also.
Itachi stepped forward, dark eyes trained on Kakashi, who at the moment stood against the wall of the rundown hotel room in Konoha territory as calm as ever.
"You know who she is."
"It'd be convenient if you told us." Sasuke said. "I ran into her two nights ago as Orochimaru and I were about to retrieve micros from Sound's mole in the infinity network. We found Asaka Karin dead and the micros gone. She then shot up our transports and managed to escape."
Naruto whistled in admiration. "Wouldn't expect any less from her, especially after she rocked you and Sound at her apartment."
Sasuke threw the blonde a dirty look, which was reciprocated with a cheeky grin.
"She drew much attention in Cairo Kakashi and all I have is a name." Itachi said, exhibiting a similar calm and composed attitude as his fellow silver haired syndicate member.
"What do you want to know?"
Kakashi shook his head. "I can tell you that she was once a part of Konoha. That she grew up in the syndicate—"
"What!" Naruto spun around, mouth agape in surprise. "She was a part of us?"
"That's what he just said, teme." Sasuke growled, annoyed at his interruption.
"Shut it, dobe!"
As if he hadn't just been interrupted, Kakashi continued the very abridged version of Sakura's past. "She then decided to leave and as you all already know, became a contract killer."
"Tsunade is aware of all this?" Neji asked.
Kakashi nodded. "When Sakura left she took everything with her. It's why you've never heard of her in the syndicate. Her connection to us was completely erased."
"And that was why she was able to escape HQ so easily. She already knew her way around." Neji mused out loud as the pieces came together.
"So what now?" Naruto asked, both curious and anxious.
"Her whereabouts." Itachi stated.
That was one thing among many that even Kakashi didn't know. "Sorry to say, but I have absolutely no idea."
"Yeah, someone just had to go and make her blow up her apartment." Naruto sent an accusing look at the younger Uchiha.
"My cover demanded that I pursue you. How was I to know you three were staying with a woman like her?"
A dreamy look suddenly crossed the blonde's face. "Sakura is something else though, isn't she?"
"Enough." Itachi cut in, voice razor sharp. "Is there a way to establish contact?"
He was met however with an almost knowing smile that didn't quite reach the older man's eyes. "She's a contract killer with ties to the infinity network. Knowing Sakura, she probably already knows about you and Sasuke and is at this very moment, plotting out ways to use this information to her advantage. Be careful where you all tread because Sakura doesn't like to be hunted."
"And you know this how?" Naruto queried.
"How do you think she learned how to handle all those guns?"
"She was your former student." It was more a statement than a question.
Kakashi glanced at the older Uchiha. "But I wasn't her only teacher."
Naruto's blue eyes were still clouded with incredulity. "I can't believe you taught her…"
"Maybe a little too well." The silver haired man mumbled to himself.
"So how should we proceed?" Neji inquired.
They couldn't very well turn all of Tokyo upside down looking for her. All three syndicates were already at war over territory and power. And now, maybe even an elusive contract killer who was just too intriguing and damn dangerous to ignore.
Kakashi realized the gravity of the situation, and perhaps felt a little responsible for it also. He had after all made the call to Sakura, which, unexpectedly, had led to her getting involved. She was only supposed to have been a secret haven for a day or so, but rarely did things ever turn out as planned.
And now, Itachi and Sasuke's cover hung in the balance as did the Konoha Syndicate and all they had worked to obtain in the last few years. If Sound and Akatsuki discovered this duplicitous plot, all hell would break loose, resulting in a syndicate free for all and countless lives lost. All he really hoped for now was that if everything went to hell, Sakura chose their side.
But admittedly, even that was wishful thinking. She swore loyalty to none, took no sides, and fought for no one but herself.
"If you really want to find her, just wait. She'll come to you, but be prepared because you won't know how and you won't know when."
Her optic screen blinked to life as soon as she closed the door to her twenty second floor penthouse. Placing the bag of groceries down on the island counter—she found going to the local, rundown corner market where the homeless loitered and the prostitutes propositioned gave her some semblance of normalcy in her otherwise unconventional life—Sakura grabbed an apple and trekked over to the fine, glass piece of technology.
A female hologram materialized, impeccable in her white suit and long chocolate brown hair.
"Good morning, Yukiko-san." An extensive profile appeared on the screen. "We have an important contract for you if you are willing to accept. The target's current location is Yakushima. Deadline for elimination is seven days from today with payment of 800 million yen upon completion."
Green eyes critically scanned the information, the reason why the target was worth so much crystal clear. "Danzo…" It was a name not to be taken lightly.
"Do you accept, Yukiko-san?"
Sakura lapsed into silence as she analyzed the full scope of the contract. It wouldn't be easy, this she already knew. Danzo was a ruthless man bent on his own ideals and definitions. It wasn't uncommon to hear about his own feuds with the syndicates in the power struggle to conquer all of Tokyo. His own organization, The Foundation, wasn't exactly made up of trigger happy morons either. It would be a difficult contract, but not impossible.
And besides, she needed more time to think about her own precarious situation involving the three syndicates. If they'd already discovered her true identity, there wasn't any doubt that Kakashi would've already warned the Uchiha brothers to stay off her back, given they were double agents for Konoha. She held too much precious intel for them to risk pissing her off and so she was counting on him to give her just a little more time to sort things out.
Decision made, Sakura glanced at the hologram and nodded. "Contract accepted." She placed her hand on the fiber optic screen and it quickly scanned her prints before phasing out.
"Confirmed. Further information will be forwarded within the hour."
Ayame's hologram faded, leaving Sakura with a mind already busy making plans and an uneaten apple.
…to be continued…