A/N: Haha. Uhh, yeah so it turned into a full-blown NaruSaku and is approximately four months late. Sorry. I'm a flaker and I'm so bad at connecting the first half of the story to the second so I just don't do it. Totally does not correlate with Over The Phone so in other words, this can be read as a separate piece but it also means that OTP is completed.
She wanted to cry. Not only did she not get the satisfaction of beating Sasuke up, Naruto had found out about her feelings—the ones she's kept closed up for almost two years. Sasuke was such an asshole. She dug the heels of her palm deeper into her eyes and groaned in frustration. What the fuck was wrong with her? She lifted her hands away from her face and glared at the man in front of her. He was what was wrong!
"I'll kill you!" She hissed, jumping to her feet. She made a lunge for him, arms outstretched, ready to choke the life out of the Uchiha.
Sasuke rolled his eyes and grabbed her hands as she sloppily threw a punch at him, more out of irritation than anger. Her angry punch would have made contact. He shoved her back on the bed. "Relax." He then flicked her forehead. "Naruto's meeting us right now. He thinks I'm joking."
Sakura face lit up. She knew she'd come to love Naruto's idiocy one day. Sasuke stared at his teammate and then crouched to her level. "He thinks I'm joking but he knows I'm not lying."
The girl's breath hitched. What was that even supposed to mean? "Knock me out." She requested, dead serious.
Sasuke did a double-take. "What?"
"Knock. Me. Out." Sakura grabbed his hand and brought two fingers to the base of her neck. "Please!"
He blinked and shook her off, withdrawing his fingers. "You can knock yourself out, medic." A scowl emitted from his lips when the kunoichi was actually considering it. "Stop it." He scowled and nudged her foot. "Come on, we're meeting him at the tower."
"And what? Let me face my doom?" She glared at him. Sasuke had no compassion for girls. Didn't he know that she liked to suffer alone? He enjoyed watching her squirm because she never did anymore. This was definitely his revenge for her coming over so late at night.
Sasule rolled his eyes. "No, idiot. We have a mission."
She perked up. "A mission?" Jumping to her feet, Sasuke can practically see the bounce in her words. "What kind?" All problems aside, a mission was exactly what she needed so she can punch some rocks, heal some bones, kick some ass. Preferably Sasuke's.
"That's for the briefing. Let's go."
Sakura frowned but she didn't need to be told twice. This was her way out, her freedom. But wasn't Sasuke a bit edgy? She pursed her lip and said nothing as he led her out of the door.
"Hey." Naruto greeted them and Sakura forgot to breathe until Sasuke knocked his elbow against her back.
"Hi." She breathed. "Uhm, so—yeah mission!" She awkwardly sputtered then proceeded to shove herself between the small gap of the doubled-door entrance to her shishou's headquarters.
The blonde quirked an eyebrow and turned his gaze questioningly to Sasuke, who was too tired to roll his eyes and opted to shrug instead, opening the door fully to Tsunade's office.
Sakura was already seated in one of the three chairs. Except she wasn't sitting in her chair, she always sat in her chair and that was always between the two of them. It was practically written with her name on it. Naruto frowned. What was wrong with her? He came by and sat in the middle ignoring the glare being thrown around his head at Sasuke. He stared at the kunoichi blatantly. There was no reason the hide the fact that he was genuinely concerned for her.
Naruto inwardly pouted and opened his mouth to ask what was going on when the look Sasuke tossed him told him to shut up and be quiet. He hardly would have taken the hint but a glance at his female teammate also told him that she was not going to talk about it in the office.
The Hokage cleared her throat to grab their attention. "Alright you brats." She dismissed the dirty look Sasuke threw her. Apparently his aim switched from his teammates to her. The older woman narrowed her eyes and her fingers traveled to the crevice of her chest, scratching a few thin lines across it. She caught the Uchiha blanching at the sight and the blonde's expression altered between retching his breakfast or poking his eyes out.
God, they had no respect these days. Only Sakura remained nonchalant about her mentor but she couldn't hide the mirth in her eyes. Tsunade crossed her fingers in front of her and leaned forward. "You've been lazing around the village too much." She heard a murmur of "since when was that our fault?" from a grumbling Naruto and she would have snapped his neck in half if it weren't for her apprentice who pulled on his ear, earning herself a yelp from the Kyuubi vessel.
"Pay attention." Sakura whispered harshly at her teammate. Naruto squinted his eyes and let out a whine or at least what should have been one. Sakura hadn't noticed how deep his voice had gotten when the noise resembled something like a grumble instead.
The Fifth cocked her head at the two but proceeded to introduce their new mission to them. "There have been some weird movements towards the Southwest border near the River Country. Suna had reported suspicious movements in their Northeastern area. We're expecting it to be the same problem." The woman quickly snapped open a scroll where a map was shown. "Right here." She pointed to a specific spot that signified River Country and then drew an invisible circle around it with her finger several times. "Investigate it." She paused. "Whatever IT is then get rid of it."
Sakura shifted in her seat. Naruto might not have been aware of it but she was sure Sasuke was. Her eyes drifted to the dark-haired man and she can see that he understood the implication of where the movements were.
"What is it, Sakura?" It was just like her mentor to catch even her slightest discomfort.
"I'm just curious but we don't have any information at all on what this suspicious thing might be? Like what makes it suspicious?"
Tsunade leaned back against her chair and rolled her neck, popping a few bones. "You know that Akatsuki made Kawa no Kuni as a temporary base for their operations but that should have been destroyed years ago." She gave Naruto a pointed look. "You know that Suna is preparing for the Chuunin Exams in a few months so they're more focused on getting that set up than something that can only be a hoax." Here, the leader pursed her lips tightly together. "But we can't risk it since many of our shinobi will be out of the country for the next few months helping out Suna."
The younger medic-nin knitted her eyebrows. "Tsunade-shishou?" She asked uncertainly.
"We have no evidence to believe it but just in case, I'm afraid that someone might try to revive an organization like Akatsuki." The Hokage rolled the scroll back up. "If it were such a simple recon mission, I wouldn't be sending you guys but because it has the potential to be dangerous…" She trailed off.
"We get it." It was the first time Sasuke spoke up since the deliberation started. "You want us to take them out before it grows anymore."
The Fifth nodded her head. "I don't think they'll be as powerful as before because I doubt they have any real objectives but they are a mock-threat and during a time as the Chuunin Exam is when we are most vulnerable to attacks."
Sakura's eyes worked their way over to Naruto and then to Sasuke who was more rigid than usual. She refrained from the urge to rub her temples. She'd come back to her problems later, there were bigger things she had to deal with now.
They had decided it was best to split as they covered more land that way. Just observe, collect and don't engage until they understood what was really happening. Sakura had tossed around the idea that it was nothing more than a flux only on the basis that she didn't want to have to deal with mock-Akatsuki members during this time.
Sasuke had frowned at the idea of splitting up but nonetheless thought it was the best choice as well. Sakura punched him playfully in the arm as Naruto teased how attached the Uchiha had grown to his team. Naruto took South as Sakura and Sasuke took East and West respectively. The deal was to meet at the rendezvous point after covering the land for two hours and then they'd go shinobi hunting together.
She should have known it'd be her who was caught with the bad luck. She stumbled upon them by pure chance, not expecting to see twelve kids causing a riot near the cave she had destructed over three years ago. They'd ambush her and no matter how legendary she was in skill, being outnumbered was being outnumbered—especially by twelve bratty kids. They had cheer successfully when one of the arrayed kunai had nicked her skin.
She hadn't even noticed until a snot-nosed kid who reminded her of Udon pointed it out to her. Then she went on a rampage. Sakura merely stomped her foot against the dirt ground with a slight alteration of her chakra and instantly the ground shifted and rumbled. The kids had no idea what hit them.
Now, as she rubbed her face and stared down impassively at the dozen of kids lined before her with their heads bowed, she couldn't help but groan. Seriously, this was the reason why they had to travel for almost two days worth? "I'm going to have to inform the daimyo about this." She muttered loud enough for the young teens to hear. She noted that they were fresh out of the academy, possibly a few months at most.
"We don't go by orders of the daimyo!" One of the kids shouted.
"Oh? Then who do you go by?"
"Sayo-sama!" They replied in unison.
Sakura blinked. When did River Country decide to split powers? Unless, someone had planned a coup d'état with…kids. The medic scoffed at the idea. What could possibly reign from gathering all the Genin kids to overthrow the daimyo and what could twelve kids possibly do to two of the most powerful ninja countries? This Sayo person was insane.
"Sayo-sama is the best!" A girl with two pig-tails shouted. Sakura had to wonder why they were so obedient. She hadn't confined them to anything and yet here they were still sitting in front of her. "He plans to endorse us for the Chuunin Exam and that's when—" She was promptly cut off the boy to her right whispered sharply for her to shut up before she revealed their "plan".
Sakura raised an eyebrow. She had managed to get out a "What?" before she narrowly dodged a critical kick to the abdomen. Twisting her foot to gain balance, her hands shot out and grabbed the offending object, tightening her hold on it when the leg moved to jerk out of the way. She can hear the numerous of gasps behind her and the incredulity of some of them when they saw her grab the foot.
The kunoichi narrowed her eyes at the man, who couldn't have been older than Kakashi. "Who are you?" She asked stiffly.
"Is that something a shinobi of the Leaf should be asking a Kawa-nin?" He flipped backwards and Sakura was forced to relinquish her hold on him.
She had been so intent on focusing on the man in front of her she hadn't even noticed the kids surrounding her. Sakura sighed. The last thing she wanted to do was fight some brats and some random person. She was only supposed to be collecting information, not engaging. But it seemed they wouldn't let her go without a fight.
So, she engaged.
Naruto had a feeling when he got back to their meeting point that something as amiss. He had been ready to greet his female teammate when he was stopped short by Sasuke's face. That was so not the beauty he was about to say hi to. "Ugh." The blonde turned away from the other man, feigning a slight disgust. "You're not Sakura-chan." That earned him a smack to the back of his head. He growled and was about to make a lunge for his friend when something struck him odd. "Where is the little shrimp anyways?"
Sasuke shrugged and leaned against a nearby tree. "Probably on her way back." He muttered, as he bent down to rest in a better posture.
They had a rule whenever they met up with each other after the allotted time during a mission. They would wait twenty minutes and if one comrade didn't show up, they would start the search. The two men hadn't even waited for ten before Sasuke caught the concerned look Naruto tossed him. The Uchiha was surprised that he was feeling a bit miffed at their missing teammate as well.
It might have been a rule but through out all the missions Team 7 had done together, Sakura had never been late to an appointed time.
She was just not having a good day. The blow to the back of her head had completely caught her off guard. She couldn't sense it coming at all until she felt the impact. That was one advantage they had over her. The kids weren't trained to give off a killing intent. The knock to her skull wasn't bad per se, but it left her disoriented for just a few seconds for the Sayo guy to come in with chakra strings and a knee to the stomach.
River Country might not be known for their shinobi but their known for their resourced and weapons. She could tell by the way the chakra strings were slowly sapping away at her chakra. Not only did it bind her but the more she struggled the tighter it got and the more energy it tore away from her. She was also completely at the mercy of her opponent.
Naruto and Sasuke would be livid if they caught her like this.
"We've always been looked down upon by the Fire and Wind country." The man Sayo was saying. "But the current daimyo had claimed that we were having a good relationship with the countries and stirring anything would leave us in tight spot." He waved his hand in dismissal of the idea. "So I decided to form a coup. Without informing my superior, of course and what better way than to use the Akatsuki base as a threat. I didn't think Leaf would fall bait to it and I especially didn't think they'd send the Hokage's apprentice to deal with this." He licked his lips and trailed a finger down her jaw.
Sakura jerked back on instinct and she growled. "Don't touch me."
That only made his grip on her chin tightened as he lifted her head to meet with his eyes. "Don't underestimate me. I may be a River ninja but I was once part of Suna's elite squad."
"What?" Her mind was whirling with information. What the hell was going on?
Sayo could see the confusion in her eyes. He leaned closer and Sakura bristled at the contact of his chest against hers. "I was part of Suna's ANBU before the Yondaime Kazekage died. I refused to be led by that monster they have as the Kazekage now so I fled. It's a perfect time to get revenge on him during the Chuunin Exams with the kids I picked up here."
The pink-haired woman could feel her anger rolling in waves around her. This man was pathetic. As the man descended his mouth against the junction of her collarbone, Sakura lurched forward and bit his ear enough to draw blood. Sayo hissed and pulled away from her. The medic wasted no time and with a speed that shocked the man, Sakura delivered a head-butt against him.
It wasn't much but it helped waiver her anger by a slight margin. "Gaara is NOT a monster." She all but snarled at him. Head-butting someone was a double-edge sword. She could feel the impact on her forehead as well and the line of blood that dripped from her temple down to her chin. "He would give up his life to save his village in a heartbeat!"
The man rubbed his forehead and casted a withering glare at the kunoichi but Sakura was hardly affected. Until the backhand that came. It was hard enough to get her to spit out the blood as his hand made contact with her cheek. The walls of her mouth had cut into her teeth and Sakura could already taste the metallic iron.
She sneered at him but before she could retaliate—she hadn't known was she was going to do but she was not about to just take someone bitch slapping her around—she felt Naruto's chakra radiate. And boy, was he angry.
The blonde cursed as he shook off a handful of kids who clung on to him. Sasuke, refusing to be touched at all, had stringed them all to a tree before the teens had even known about their presence. The Uchiha casted his blonde teammate a bored glance.
"Hurry up, dobe. Sakura's waiting."
Naruto's attention was snapped back to his real objective and before he could take off running with the kids clinging on to him, a boy to his right had scoffed. "The pink lady? She's as good as dead now. Sayo-sama got to her."
"Sayo?" Sasuke muttered to himself and was suddenly alarmed at the chakra that spiked in front of him. Naruto had taken what the kid said to heart. The dark-haired man knew better than to let what the kid said get to him, he knew Sakura could take care of herself but he didn't even have enough time to register Naruto sprinting off as he caught one of the kids who were thrown back by the blonde's chakra alone. "Naruto!" Sasuke groaned and looked down at the kid who was bewildered and disheveled at having been thrown off by an unknown force.
Sasuke had to give Naruto some credit—even without a clear head the blonde hadn't tapped into the Kyuubi's chakra.
Naruto let a feral growl escape his throat as he witness whoever the fuck this person was rub on Sakura. He didn't think twice before leaping at the man. Clawed hands wrapped around the bastard's throat and the blonde turned his furious red, glinting eyes at the victim under his claws. "What did you do to her?"
Sakura could tell that if Naruto didn't loosen his hold on Sayo, the man would be unconscious if not dead within a few minutes. And that would just screw up everything because they were in River's territory. It went against all treaty to attack a ninja within their own country unless branded a missing-nin. "Naruto!" She shouted, struggling against the ropes against her wrist. She winced when they tightened, practically biting into her skin. "Naruto!" This time his name was followed by a short gasp as the chakra strings actually cut into her skin and fairly deeply at that.
The blonde turned at the source of voice and his eyes registered his teammate, sitting prone against a tree. He dropped everything and ran towards her, eyes worried and already searching for injuries before he reached. "Sasuke." He called out and turned his head to find the man as he gathered Sakura into his arms. It turned out he didn't need to tell his friend what to do as he found the man already knocking some sense into this Sayo person, also binding his appendages by chakra strings. Naruto glanced around and was mildly impressed by his teammate.
Sakura followed Naruto's line of vision and saw the dozen of kids who tried to attack her (and one sort of succeeding at that) all tied to a few trees. She stifled a laugh which morphed into a cough instead, instantly bringing Naruto's attention to her. She could tell that he was not happy by the way his brows dipped and the lock of his jaw.
Sasuke had dragged Sayo to where Naruto was trying to take off the ropes binding his other teammate. He heard her yelp and then suck in a breath from the pain. What an idiot.
Naruto wrenched his fingers away from her wrist when he heard her sharp intake of breath. "Sorry." He muttered and the medic could tell that he was genuinely sorry but still upset about the whole ordeal. She didn't know what exactly he was angry about but she had an inkling it was because she had done what they agreed specifically not to do. Sasuke dropped down next to them and smacked the blonde on the forehead for good measures. He silently worked to take off the ropes without harming the woman and Sakura sent him a thankful smile but faltered with the look on his face.
"Hi?" She provided meekly.
And then it set in. "What were you thinking, engaging in a battle?" She could see the flash of red in Naruto's eyes and forced herself not to turn away from his grim expression. "We said to collect information and report back." The blonde leaned in so close that she could feel his breath fanning across her face. She relished the feeling. "Why do you only do stupid stuff when we're not around?" He growled.
Sakura gaped, clearly offended by his suggestion. "What!" She cried indignantly. "They caught me—I was, ugh!" She shrieked. What was she supposed to say? Oh, I was outnumbered by a bunch of kids. Or, one of them knocked me in the head from behind and I was ambushed? God, everything sounded so stupid. "Nevermind." She mumbled under her breath weakly. She made an effort to stand up but the blonde at caught her wrist, gently to make sure he wasn't hurting her already wounded hands.
She noticed Sasuke had turned away from the both of them to check on the Genins but not before giving her a satisfied smirk. She hated him. Her attention turned back to Naruto who was caressing the angry red welts that appeared on her wrist. "Sorry." He repeated from earlier, this time the sincerity in his voice clear. "Did he hurt you?"
She smiled softly, "Not anymore than I hurt him." She almost jolted when he brought his lips down and briefly let it touch the already healing lines. It wasn't a kiss but it had made her blush anyways. His lips were cracked and dry, probably from the exposure of the wind but it was soft. She found that she had to tell herself to breathe when a hand came up to cup the side of her face. Sakura could see the relief in his eyes and the concern he couldn't easily wash away. So, she allowed herself to enjoy the feel of his callous fingers against her cheek and leaned in to his touch. "Sorry." She whispered.
His knuckled brushed against her cheek. "Please, don't do that again." The way he said it made her want to kiss him but she closed her eyes and calmly breathed out.
"Sakura." His voice was gruff with warning and she felt his knuckles side along her jaw line.
"No promises." She hummed, firmly set on it. The woman could tell that he was clearly not satisfied with her answer but she had no room for arguments right now. The chakra ropes were finally getting to her and she could feel the soreness around her arms and legs. She couldn't afford to waste chakra and injuries like these were mundane but it didn't exactly help her feel any better.
She hadn't realized how much she was struggling against the strings for it to eat up this much of her chakra. It must have been when Naruto came in. The caressing on her cheek disappeared and she frowned as Naruto tugged her to her feet. Momentarily disheveled, she swayed and reached out to grab onto something.
Naruto instantly wrapped his one of his arm around her waist. "You're tired." He whispered, gingerly brushing his finger against the swelling on her temple. The woman grimaced and pulled away, his fingers were still hot from the Kyuubi's chakra and it burned against her skin but he didn't need to know that. The blonde dropped his hand about to mutter out another apology when Sakura pressed a swift kiss on his jaw line.
"I'm fine." Hands already brought to her forehead to heal the small wound, if Naruto hadn't been observing her, he wouldn't have caught the sliver of flickering in her chakra. It might not seem like a lot but Sakura could tell that her energy was waning from the fight and the fact that her chakra was at least one-fourth gone from the strings.
Naruto grabbed her forearm and lifted her easily onto his back. Sakura opened her mouth to protest that she wasn't all that tired that she needed to be carried when he already cut her words. "Just for now." He said, hooking his arms around her thigh.
The medic sighed but couldn't argue that the feel his back muscle felt amazingly comforting against her front. She hugged him closer to her and pressed a soft kiss below his ear, surprising the both of them. "Thank you." She spoke softly against his neck. His response was to tighten his hold on her as he approached Sasuke who nodded in affirmation that the brats were okay. He even went as far as to kick Sayo which landed him a soft grunt to confirm that the man was alive as well.
"We obviously can't take them all back to the daimyo so I sent a summoning to tell the daimyo of the disruption here. They'll send operatives to deal with them." Sasuke informed them. He turned to acknowledge Sakura. "You okay?" He asked.
Sakura didn't need to be told that there was a smug tone that accompanied his question. "Fine." She bit back at him, sticking out her tongue.
Sasuke walked over to her and poked her forehead. "Try not to worry us so much, idiot."
The pink haired kunoichi found herself swallowing past the lump in her throat. "I love you guys." She muttered as she laid her forehead against the base of Naruto's neck.
There was a pause before the man holding her spoke. "I know you do."
Sakura jerked from her position and Naruto had to harden his grip on her so she wouldn't fall off. She fought down the blush when Sasuke gave her a meaningful look. Well, as meaningful as an I-told-you so would get. "Sakura. Tell him."
"Shut up, Sasuke!" She cried out, embarrassed.
"It's okay, Sakura-chan." Naruto turned his head slightly so she caught a glimpse of his bright eyes. And then she knew why she had fallen for this man. "I know you've had an undying love for me since we were placed on the same team."
Nevermind—she had no idea why she loved him but she was satisfied with the fact that she just did.