Sakura groaned as she opened her eyes, the brightness of the world around her causing her head to pound. She winced, before opening her eyes again. Panic pitted in her stomach as she looked around her. She was in a room with dirty white walls and an eastern exposure. The sun was pouring through the window, nearly blinding her. She appeared to be on an old, musty mattress, which was the only furniture in the room. She went to sit up and found her wrists and ankles bound. Realization hit her as she remembered her fight with Sasuke.
Suddenly, the dull ache in the back of her head made sense. But what she didn't understand was why she was even alive. She was relieved, yet horrified, unsure what to expect. Surely if Sasuke was keeping her alive, he was planning something terrible. She shuddered as she managed to bring herself to a sitting position. Sakura struggled with the bindings around her wrist, surging chakra to her wrists. The bindings seemed to only suck up her chakra before suddenly tightening. She gasped as the ropes tightened enough to just not break the skin.
"That's a good way to lose your hands, Haruno-san." Sakura looked up hurriedly; fore she had not heard the door open. In the doorway stood one of Sasuke's new teammates, whom she remembered was called Jugo. "Sasuke will be in shortly." He said softly before retreating out the door and shutting it quietly. Sakura struggled to move off the mattress.
"Wait! Why am I here? Let me go!" She cried at the closed door. She rolled off the mattress and struggled to sit up again when the door opened again.
"Sakura, Sakura. How much you never change…" Sasuke drawled as he stepped into the room. Sakura narrowed her eyes at him.
"You're one to talk." She growled back. Sasuke smirked.
"Big words coming from someone tied up." Sakura stuck her nose in the air. She was already tired of his condescending game.
What do you want? Why haven't you killed me already? I know you want to." She demanded. Sasuke chuckled and folded his arms, leaning against the closed door.
"Well, of course I want to kill you, Sakura. But it just so happens I have found a use for you." Sakura was taken aback. Despite the years of pain she had dealt with, all thanks to Sasuke, she couldn't help but feel that familiar flutter in her stomach. After years of yearning for Sasuke's approval, he finally needed her. She knew she shouldn't let it, but the thought comforted her. Even her broken heart seemed to ease a bit. She lowered her nose, her face softening slightly. Even with joy swelling in her chest, she was still suspicious.
"I thought I was weak and useless to you, Sasuke-kun." Her dubious tone in her voice made Sasuke chuckle again. Even after all the years, Sakura still had a soft spot for him. He made his way over to her, kneeling beside her. He still wore a smirk, but there was something about the way he was looking at her that made her shudder.
"Let's just say, this is a second chance. Because, you see, if you prove your worth to me, I can make your dreams finally come true…" He leaned in close, his face only inches from hers, her chin between his fingers. Sakura's face turned to shock before contorting to anger. She turned her face harshly away from him.
"How dare you! I want nothing to do with you anymore! I refuse to help-." Her speech was abruptly stopped when the back of his had hit her hard in the face, knocking her over. He grabbed her roughly by the hair, facing her to look at him. His eyes were burning with rage.
"If you're smart and value your life, you'll do what I say. If not, I'll make sure you wish you never defied me. Your death will be long and painful. Do I make myself clear?" He roared in her face. Sakura could only whimper in reply as he gave her a rough shake. With one last growl, he tossed her back onto the mattress before swiftly leaving the room.
Once the door slammed, Sakura let the tears slide from her eyes.
Several hours later, Sakura was roused by the sound the door opening again. It was dark in the room now and Sakura had to strain her eyes to see who was coming in. She silently hoped it wasn't Sasuke again. Suddenly the scent of steamed rice and soy sauce attacked her nose, causing her stomach to rumble. A figure walked into the room and walked over to the wall across from Sakura. The room was illuminated with a soft glow as a gas lamp was lit. Sakura was relieved to see that it was Jugo who had lit the lamp.
"Haruno-san, I've come to feed you. Sasuke wants your strength up so you can help us." Sakura made a face, trying to ignore her hunger. Jugo kneeled besides Sakura, holding a bowl of rice. He held up a spoonful of rice and Sakura pursed her lips. "Sasuke was very adamant about this." Sakura still refused to open her mouth.
"What if I refuse?" She asked venomously. Jugo shook his head, his expression blank as he looked at the woman before him.
"I don't advice that, Haruno-san. Sasuke was quite angered by your defiance already. I do not doubt that he will end you quickly if you continue to refuse to aid us." Sakura scoffed, rolling her eyes.
"And what does it matter if he will kill me whether I help or not? I'm only putting off the inevitable. I'm not stupid." Her attitude made Jugo curious. She looked so defenseless and weak, just as Sasuke had always described. But her spitfire, fearless demeanor made him wonder if it were true that she had inherited the Hokage's super strength.
Haruno-san. You will not refuse when you know of our situation. Your medical obligations will be stronger than defying Sasuke. It's Karin. She needs you. And you are not so heartless that you can let even an enemy suffer. You will find yourself aiding her whether you like it or not."
Sakura sighed, knowing he was right. She opened her mouth obediently and allowed Jugo to feed her.
Three days had passed and for the second day now, Sakura woke up nauseous. She winced as her stomach did a flip. She swallowed thickly, the sick sensation getting worse.
"Is there anybody there?" She called out loudly. "Please hurry!" She tried, more desperately as her stomach lurched.
The door opened and Karin walked in. She looked surprised to see Sakura struggling to get to her feet while still bound.
"Bathroom." Sakura managed out. She was afraid to say more, for she was sure she would vomit the instance her mouth opened for too long. Karin helped her up and out of the room, but Sakura broke free and sprinted to the bathroom. Kneeling harshly on the floor, she wretched into the toilet. Never in her life had she vomited so violently. She slumped back, weak and gasping for air.
Karin stood in the doorway with her arms folded over her very swollen belly. Being in such a rush to relieve herself, Sakura had completely failed to notice that Karin was pregnant. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, staring wide-eyed.
"You're pregnant." She sputtered, wide eye. Karin simply smirked, rubbing her swollen belly.
"How observant. And from the looks of you and how sick you are, I'm going to guess you are too." Karin continued on to explain how she had the worst morning sickness, but Sakura was too stunned by the accusation to care. Pregnant? No way. Gaara and she had been careful. They had used protection every time… except the first time. Panic filled her, but she refused to believe it.
"No." She hissed sternly. "Chances are you guys have been poisoning me or something. It's a much more likely story." Karin rolled her eyes and wrapped her arms around her stomach.
"You make it sound like a bad thing. Being pregnant with Sasuke's baby has been wonderful. I mean, after the morning sickness and heart burn. The little guy has been an angel, really. Keeping quiet and not beating me up from the inside out. He must know mommy doesn't like her bladder constantly being stepped on."
Sakura blinked at those words. Babies were most active later on in the term. What Karin was saying didn't make any sense… She swallowed and tried to continue the conversation.
"So it's a boy? That must make Sasuke very happy. How long has he been quiet now?" She asked, forcing a small smile on her face. She couldn't help herself. She was a medic, first and foremost. Enemy or not, she couldn't ignore this. Much to her dismay, Karin's reaction left her to believe she didn't know that something was wrong.
"Oh, at least two weeks now. Must be getting ready to come out. I'm due like any day now." Sakura stared at the woman before her. It made perfect sense now. Sasuke brought her here to delivery the baby. HIS baby.
A small bout of happiness tickled her. It was nice to know that her former teammate trusted her enough to deliver his son, even if they were enemies now. This meant she had to take interest in this situation if she ever wanted Sasuke's full trust. Sakura would play along now, trying to figure out as much information as she could.
"Mind helping me up? My knees are cramping." She smiled a bit lifting her bound hands. Kari stepped forward and bent slightly to take Sakura's hands. As she moved, the sweater she was wearing slid down her right shoulder, revealing a bright red bite mark. Sakura quickly got to her feet and took Karin's arm in her hands, looking at the mark.
"Karin-san, when did this happen…?" She asked softly. She was aware of Karin's healing jutsu, but it was clear that the way it seemed to work could add extra stress on her body, creating complications.
Karin stared at Sakura for a minute, trying to figure out her sudden interest for her. She opened her mouth to answer, but her hands flew to her mouth, her eyes widening in fright. The connection Sakura had been hinting to, had just been made.
"Oh my gods. My baby! Haruno-san, my baby! Is he going to be okay?" She cried, tears stinging her eyes as panic over took her body. Sakura held out her bound wrists.
"I need you to untie me. I promise I won't leave. You need me too much. And so does the little guy." She met Karin's eyes, channeling all her seriousness to her look, trying to convince the other woman. "Please. For your baby."
Karin didn't hesitate for a moment more. As soon as Sakura's hands were free, she produced a healing chakra and went over Karin's belly with it. Sakura looked up suddenly.
"I have a heartbeat. But it's weak. We need to induce you right away, but I need supplies. Gather your teammates. We have a lot of work to do."
"Push Karin!" Sakura coached, as the woman before her squatted, keeping her balance by holding onto the dining room table behind her. Sasuke stood besides her, watching in silent horror. Sakura bit back a bitter smile. After all the merciless killing he'd done, there's nothing quite like childbirth. "Come on, Karin, you're doing well!"
Karin cried out, and stopped pushing to catch her breath. Sweat matted her hair and dripped down her face. Sakura gave Sasuke a sharp look, causing him to obediently wipe Karin's brow with a cool rag. Sakura was starting to worry. It was taking a long time and there was blood, more blood than there should be.
"Come on! Just one more good push and we should have crowning!" Karin moaned. She was sickly pale and clearly exhausted already. But she pushed with the next contraction, wailing with both pain and frustration. Tears were now streaming down her cheeks. This was taking so long. She could just feel it. Something was wrong.
"Damn it!" Sakura swore. "Help her onto the table, Sasuke-kun. The baby is breach and we don't have much time." Sakura commanded, sternly. She was trying to keep her cool. She couldn't afford to lose this baby. She helped move Karin onto the table and then lifter her dress over her stomach. She gave the woman a wistful look.
"I'm sorry, Karin. This is going to hurt." Karin trembled, but gave Sakura a weak smile.
"Save the baby…" She whispered. Sakura nodded and turned to her stomach. She focused chakra into her finger tip and began to slice through the skin of her under belly. Karin screamed as her flesh was cut, blood flowing out of her. She grasped for Sasuke's hand, her scream turning silent. She clenched her jaw, rolling her head back and forth.
Sasuke watched Sakura work as he gripped Karin's hand. Her grasp on him was weakening. He did his best to mask his emotions, but both worry and awe plagued his face. He couldn't recall seeing Sakura so focused on a task as she was now, fighting to save his child. It was when Karin went completely limp that panic found its way on Sakura's face.
"No, no, no, no, no!" She yelled, her hands covered in Karin's blood. "Damn it, Karin! Stay with us!" Tears were forming in the pink haired women's eyes. But she worked steadily, until she pulled the small infant from Karin's womb.
Both Sasuke and Sakura stared in horror as the infant made no sound. The child was a sickening grayish-blue with the umbilical chord wrapped around its neck. Sakura moved quickly, cutting the chord and cleaning out the baby's airways. She vigorously wiped the baby with a towel, hoping to jerk the baby into breathing, but nothing. The baby lay silent next to his dying mother on the table.
Tears ran down Sakura's cheeks as she wrapped the stillborn infant in the towel, lovingly. She picked up the bundle and handed it to Sasuke. Sasuke took it numbly, no emotion on his face.
"I'm so sorry, Sasuke…" She sobbed. As if that was the slap he needed to be reawakened, Sasuke's eyes began to burn with rage. He held his dead son in one arm and reached for a Kunai, hidden in his clothing.
"You're useless! Absolutely useless! I'll kill you! You are nothing to me!" He screamed at her, pulling back to strike her down. Sakura stood her ground, wiping her streaming eyes with bloody hands. She had failed Sasuke and Karin. Two lives had been lost that were counting on her. She welcomed death for her failure.
Shouts from Sasuke's other teammates were heard, and the blow she was waiting for never came. Suigetsu burst through the door, paying no mind to the bloody mess he was walking into.
"Sasuke! Konoha ninja are coming this way. We're severely out numbered. We must go now!" Sasuke growled and put the Kunai away. With the baby in hand, he rushed to the door, not before knocking heavily into Sakura. Sakura fell roughly into a puddle of blood, sitting there dazed. She barely understood what had happened. She blinked once, realizing she was alone, covered in blood, her life randomly spared. She blinked again and realized a pair of hands were on her, struggling to pull her back into a standing position. Sakura looked up to see Ino's concerned blue eyes.
"Oh my gods… so much blood… Are you alright, Sakura? Are you injured?" she asked, her hands glowing blue as she checked for signs of bodily harm. Sakura shook her head and watched her friend's face soften with relief. She heard more people entering the house. Shikamaru and Naruto rushed to her side, both looking extremely concerned.
"Sakura-chan!" Are you okay? The teme got away!" Naruto cried, clenching his hand into a fist. His blue eyes burned with anger. "If he hurt you… I swear I'll–" Sakura forced a weak smile.
"Naruto, I'm okay. Really, he didn't hurt me…" She said gently, feeling very weak and tired suddenly. It seemed to calm Naruto down but agitated the normally calm Shikamaru.
"What the hell is going on, Sakura? Why did you leave? You know it was dangerous to go alone! Why didn't you wait for me? For gods sakes, we were leaving in the morning!" Sakura shook her head, not being able to give a good answer. She opened her mouth to say some sort of excuse, but the sight of a certain redhead walking in the door made her stomach and heart jump. The Kazekage himself had come in search of her. Her breathing became erratic as she watched him stalk towards her, his jade orbs burning. She didn't know what to say to him. Hell, she didn't know what to say to anyone yet.
She gave Ino a 'help me' look before collapsing in her friend's arms as dead weight. Ino wasn't completely sure if this was a game or real, so she went into medic mode. Seeing Sakura collapse, Gaara rushed forward, helping the thin blond girl put Sakura on the floor. He looked at Ino, his eyes boring into her. She began to sweat, which irritated her. No man was going to tell her what to do. Even the Kazekage.
"Is she alright? What's wrong with her?" he demanded, looking to each Konoha ninja. Ino pursed her lips and ran a glowing hand over Sakura's head and chest. The three men looked at her expectantly.
"She's just fainted. I don't blame her. Captured for five days with the enemy and then this mess…" She gestured at the Karin's body on the table. She narrowed her eyes at the three men. "And yet, the three of you feel it's your job to interrogate her!" She snapped, causing the men to look down guiltily.
"Now until she is out of my care, no one will be asking her any further questions. Understood?" Naruto and Shikamaru nodded solemnly, leaving the house to regroup with the others. Only Gaara stayed crouched besides Ino, looking over Sakura with concern. He was growing annoyed with the other women for preventing him from speaking to Sakura.
"When may I speak with Haruno-san?" he asked, doing his best to mask his annoyance. Ino shook her head.
"My orders are from the Hokage herself. I'm afraid, unless you have time to come to Konoha; that you will have to contact Sakura at another time, Kazekage-sama." Gaara glowered at the blond. It wasn't her fault that her orders came from another Kage. And there was no way the elders were going to be alright with him being gone for more than a day. They hadn't wanted him to go out and look for Sakura to begin with. Taking more time away from his village at this point would be neglecting his duties. The exact duties he told Sakura he could not violate. So he stood up with a nod and stormed from the house.
Sakura's eyes fluttered open once she was alone with Ino. Ino smirked and shook her head, causing Sakura to smile sheepishly.
"You have some major explaining to do, Forehead…"
A/N: Oh hey! Chapter update! look at that! I apologize for the delay. Life has been... interesting. I have a store now and still do conventions... yeah, it's a long story. Been stressed so picked up writing again.
Sorry it's been so long. But I hope you liked this chapter. Please R&R as usual. I love hearing from you all. Take care. 3