He saw her first.
He knew that for certain. It was an undeniable fact that he'd already started keeping tabs on her even before she realized his very existence.
It wasn't as if he had it planned out from the very start, though. She had taken him off guard, completely, at first. He was supposed to be safe. He was supposed to be in hiding. To her, he was supposed to be gone from the world of the living.
Obviously he was not.
But that still didn't make up for the fact that he was equally as shocked, if not less prepared then the lost kunoichi. She'd apparently strayed a bit too far from home…
He was enjoying his tea, a luxury he didn't get often. The man had simply been savoring the entire situation, pleased with the fact that he was secure in the small teahouse, he was under no threat, he was able to relax—
She flew through the door, bells jingled—sounding like madmen—as she did, and threw her hood down not a moment after. Ethereal pink tresses stuck out at odd places on the girl's head, and he noticed that some parts in the front were completely soaked. Her cheeks were flushed a deep red as she lightly combed a leather-gloved hand through her hair.
He clicked his tongue in distaste.
She looked cold.
Madara glanced outside, while the Leaf kunoichi wandered up towards the front counter.
The world looked cold.
The wind that rushed in with her entrance still circled around the teahouse as a draft. It brushed by slightly, rustling his dark-chocolate, nearly raven-coloured locks as it did. For a moment, he simply ignored the new dilemma in the form of a girl who had just crushed his happy time to pieces. Crimson eyes still contemplated the outside world warily. The wind had picked up since his arrival, causing the snow covering the ground to fly about in whirlwinds as it smashed into trees and the large glass windows of the café.
He'd been planning on staying longer, to enjoy the situation…the pure normalcy of it, if nothing else. That was, of course, until she showed up.
Madara was essentially a very selfish man. He hadn't survived this long by simply being kind to others. So, due to his solitary nature, his decision to stay was accepted because of the fact that it looked like death's touch outside. And he'd had enough close encounters with that to last a lifetime, and then some…
She probably wouldn't even notice him.
The Uchiha returned his gaze back to the pink-haired girl who had unknowingly stumbled upon his whereabouts. She seemed harmless. Looked harmless, acted harmless. But he knew better. Especially after playing the roll of Tobi for so long, he knew that looks could be incredibly deceiving.
The kunoichi twirled a lock of hair around her finger while she chatted animatedly with the boy at the counter, waiting for her order. Madara was able to catch a few snippets of the conversation. She was saying how there was news of an approaching storm. The scarlet eyed man snapped his head away, instantly watching as the snow blew against the window insistently. The storm was already here. From the corner of his eye, Madara saw the young man at the cash hand the pinklette her steaming drink. It read 'hot chocolate' on the side, and he realized that he should've known.
It was when she began angling her body to the dozens of tables and chairs occupying the other half of the café that his attention immediately snapped onto her as his head twisted elsewhere. The sound of a chair being dragged across flat tile caused Madara's body to tense more, although you weren't able to visibly see the change in his demeanor. He was beginning to think that maybe he could have suffered the bitter winter outside as he made his escape…
Regulating his breathing, he moved to glance over his black-clad shoulder, faking as if he meant to check the clock just above her head, but when their eyes met and his clashed epically with brilliant jade he knew he was screw—
She sat up from her chair languidly, and Madara pondered over whether it would be best to dispose of the kunoichi or run from the scene. He would have to get rid of her sometime anyways… It would be infinitely better to not allow her to slip past his fingers and retreat back to her village. He observed her silently, making no move to speak as she reached the side of his table and took the chair across from his own. She seemed docile at the moment, as her eyes raked his features, mindful of the weapon placed conveniently in his eyes. The rosette-haired Leaf-nin took a careful sip of her scolding drink as she regarded him. When she sat back up, still keeping the hot chocolate safely between her hands—he noticed the shudder that moved along her back—, and blinked, he could hear her words even before they left her mouth.
"You're Madara," He tilted his head, eyes focusing with hidden intrigue. Her voice—he took in the fact that it was soft and muted, and otherwise blank—along with herself, seemed out of place in the harsh climate of Snow country. She had strayed incredibly far from her beloved village.
"Yes," She nodded slightly, at his confirmation.
"You should be dead." He was surprised; to say the least, to find that there was no ill intent behind her words. He hardly cared if it was meant to be an observation or something she thought was fact, but he couldn't help the smirk that twisted his lips at the comment. Everyone who had been left dying in the world thought he was dead. With the exception of the pink-haired girl before him, everyone who had been aware of his existence before thought he was dead.
And that was all very well to the Uchiha. The world was dead to him—why shouldn't it give back the feeling? Life was only ever just give and take.
Madara blinked slowly. It was ironic in a way, that he was thinking such things when it was obvious the Leaf-nin herself had been through hell and back. Upon further observation, he discovered a near invisible scar slicing over her throat. To anyone other then himself, it would be impossible to see. His bloodline limit was truly amazing. "That isn't the first time I've heard that." He mused lightly. His eyes locked with hers, and he pushed back his surprise when she didn't flinch away. "And I doubt it shall be the last…"
The pinklette across from him raised an eyebrow. "You don't think your lovely eyes will roll back anytime soon? I doubt anyone really thinks their about to die when they die," She pointed out airily. Madara raised a brow in turn. The way she spoke about his Sharingan didn't escaped him, though. She seemed extremely… defensive, so suddenly. And just as sudden, he could almost see the thoughts wrecking havoc in her head. At some point she had glanced down, staring aimlessly into the swirling brown and white of her drink. She dipped her finger into the cream on top before sticking it in her mouth.
Madara watched the action intently. "It seems unlikely, kunoichi."
And then she glanced up, eyes blazing fire as she considered him silently. "Oh?" She leaned forward, almost unconsciously as she glanced at the contents of his cup. "What if I poisoned your tea?" She cocked her head to the side, a dangerous smile playing with the edges of her lips. "There could be a poison running through your body as we speak." She mused. "I could have added a chemical to the compound that mainly targets your more…" She sent him a playful smile. "Essential organs."
Although in any other circumstance, the long-haired Uchiha would have returned the snide comment with a glare—usually resulting with his deadly Sharingan, and then death, he decided against it. The pinklette before him was oddly entertaining. And then there was the fact that she was teasing him. Creating playful banter with him as if he hadn't been the criminal to seemingly shatter her world—home, village, friends—to unidentifiable pieces, because he had. And when he'd caused such terrible destruction, he'd enjoyed it.
But that was still beside the point of her teasing him. Had he not been the man that he was, a lop-sided grin might've overtaken his face. She really was far too sweet for her own good…
"Your theory is flawed." The rosette-haired kunoichi blinked in perplexity.
She did this very interesting thing with her eyes, Madara noted absentmindedly as vibrant green flashed again. And as he moved to prop his head up with his palm so that they were both at eye-level now, he couldn't have been more pleased to see how her lips parted slightly in response. She was becoming very intriguing. He titled his head to the side more, once again taking notice how her eyes searched his features as she thought he was temporarily distracted. "I don't believe I caught your name."
In the background, Madara slid his gaze off her to watch as the only other people in the café—a young couple—moved from their seats towards the door, coat already hugging their shoulders nicely as they stopped right before the exit. Casually throwing their hoods over their heads, laughing as they did so, they left. Automatically, an icy gust spilled in from the cold outside. Pink hair flew up with the power of the small mind, followed shortly after by the shudder that ran along the kunoichi's back.
She was smiling bemusedly at him when his attention was pulled back to her features. And he could smell her hair. Strawberries and spring. "Sakura," She all but purred. "And," She started, eyes shifting into something that he had never really seen before. "I must admit, that you are the most amazing"—she rolled the word off her tongue—"company I've had for months."
Although her comment had been heard—it had nearly made him smile in delight—he was still staring shamelessly at her hair. "Sakura," His eyes locked with hers again, before he glanced back to ethereal pink locks surrounding her face. "Really?" It was all very comical, to him, at least. But, when he roved his eyes back to her own he could barely contain his surprise at her scowl.
"You honestly have no idea how many times I've heard that." She clicked her tongue. "How disappointingly uncreative." Her aggravation was near tangible, but the Uchiha couldn't find the decency to take offense.
Madara blinked at her innocently. "I suppose we're even then." But he couldn't help it. Crimson orbs landed back onto her name-sake coloured hair. "And I suppose your parents thought they were being incredibly witty when they decided that."
Her mood lightened instantly. Her laughter filled the small between them. "Yea," She sighed out. "Something like that…" He smirked at her response. Playing coy, he chuckled darkly. He opened his mouth to say something else when Sakura cut him off. "But as I was saying," She licked her lips before tapping the rim of her Styrofoam cup lightly. "You're amazing," He waited for the addition of 'company', but it never came. "But you keep changing the subject."
Madara could hardly believe his ears. First, she felt it necessary to make sly little innuendoes, and then catch him in his very game. Not that he really had anything to hide, quite the opposite in fact, now that he'd been discovered. But she was just so devious.
He regarded her silently.
And she waited. Simply sat there, staring at him pleasantly as he considered her. Once again, dipping her finger into the cream slowly melting onto the top of her hot chocolate, Sakura pulled her finger to her lips and licked it clean. And, once again, Madara followed her every move.
"Yes," He smiled happily across the table at her, head still resting comfortably in his palm as he brought his tea to his lips. His eyebrows furrowed as he realized it had gone cold. Pushing the mug away he couldn't hide his annoyance. Sakura glanced at his drink, staring at the dark brown liquid in curiosity.
Before taking it in her hand and bringing in to rest just under her nose.
Strangely enough, he wasn't annoyed anymore.
"The conversation did sway a little, I suppose…" Sakura merely blinked, while setting his tea back down near his elbow.
"Indeed," She nodded slowly, in agreement.
"It is flawed"—he barely paused, and Sakura barely caught it—"because it was only theoretical." Sakura lips twisted involuntarily, as a low growl erupted from her throat.
He hadn't planned on getting her angered again, so soon. "Well apparently," She hissed out. "But if it was true—"
"If it was true," Madara tapped his temple with his index before continuing. "Then I still would've seen it. And you'd be dead already." He could see her on the verge of smiling, and willed it to happen before she visibly tensed—as if just realizing something.
"… Be dead already? You mean you're—"
"But these," He leaned forward, abruptly stopping her in her train of thought as his eyes spun malevolently. He knew she knew to look away, but yet she stared at him in wonder. Madara blinked, efficiently stopping whatever jutsu he'd been about to create. When his eyes fluttered open again, Madara couldn't be more pleased as the pinklette gasped quite blissfully at seeing eyes the colour of the darkest night. "Would've caught your lie." It was good; he didn't want her thinking such horrible things when they only had so much time left.
"You switch them on and off with chakra, right?" He watched as Sakura's fists clenched the edge of the table, he presumed to keep her seated. The excitement was bubbling up in her voice and he could tell she was trying to hide it. "And—" She stopped herself, narrowing her eyes at him as she leaned closer, observing him intently. Madara might have thought just a little too intently. "And you don't get the migraines, either…"
Her comment unnerved him and he tensed in response. It was ridiculous, he knew. He could kill her with a glance and she had somehow managed to get him on edge. And she had pink hair.
Coming back to himself, Madara sent her an odd look. Sakura didn't seem to notice as she continued to stare intently into dark eyes. They seemed endless… "Migraines?" He prodded inquisitively.
It was apparent that she was only half listening, if she was listening at all. "Konoha knew of Itachi's deteriorating eyesight. Migraines were just a part of the package." Sakura released her hands from around the edge of the table to hold them over the hard surface. She began cracking her knuckles methodically. "The skin around your eyes is fairly relaxed." Sakura explained. "Tensed eye muscles would indicate some sort of internal pain in that region of your head." Finished cracking the abused knuckles on her right hand, Sakura began on her left. At the same time, she tilted her head to the side playfully, flashing him a cheeky smile. "So it's obvious you don't get any of those messed up symptoms."
It couldn't possibly be that obvious.
Madara blinked leisurely. The fact that he was dealing with someone of skill had never really been a conclusion to his companies' wit. She looked delicate and fragile and everything a girl with pink hair should be. He had never heard of someone with such a blossoming reputation with strawberry-scented pink locks—
Wait. The Uchiha narrowed his eyes unknowingly at the kunoichi before him. Sakura refrained from tensing. And then he realized that yes, Sakura did sound familiar, and so did the title of—
"You're a medic." The pinklette smiled crookedly at the man across from her. It was heart wrenching to see the sadness hidden behind the gesture, however.
And then, without even missing a beat, the Leaf-nin nodded. "I was trained by the Fifth Hokage."
"Ah," It was slightly unappealing to think that he hadn't even recognized the young apprentice of the Godaime. "So you're the Konoha cherry blossom I've heard so much about…" How he hadn't been able to identify her was indeed unpleasant. Especially since the kunoichi had single handedly taken down the inhuman Akatsuka no Sasori. The redhead had been one of his favorite members…
He hadn't noticed when Sakura hadn't started laughing sweetly. "And the hair wasn't enough?" She was teasing him, and Madara knew that, but he still felt the need to explain himself. He would've been incredibly insulted had the roles been switched. She hadn't just smashed the puppet master to pieces, but two other members as well.
Sakura twirled around a lock of bubblegum hair while the destroyer of her village smirked. "I was never aware of your specific age." He murmured out, lashes fluttering slightly as he sighed. "It is incredibly strange to find someone with such power so young in life. I had not taken into account that you could be this young," He paused, voice turning velvety as he added, "Or so beautiful."
Sakura instantly became flustered. "Please," She waved her hand dismissively before glancing away. "You're most likely the strongest shinobi in the entire world. That's not even talking about all your power…" Dark emerald eyes locked onto his again. Madara couldn't help but notice that she seemed a little out of breath. She was also still blushing. "I'm just a naïve little girl compared to that."
Madara smirked at the compliment. She was absolutely lovely company. "Nonsense," His eyes became half lidded as he allowed his gaze to rove over the rosette-haired kunoichi. "You're only what—nineteen, twenty?"
Her blush deepened as her expression turned sheepish. "… Seventeen, actually."
That honestly surprised him. "Only seventeen and already one of the most talented kunoichi in existence,"
Sakura smiled happily at him from across the table. "That blue-haired woman was incredibly hard to defeat." She returned, and he supposed it was meant as another compliment. She had been his pick, after all. It made sense. "It took both my Shishou and I." Madara had heard of that somewhere, though. And if he was correct, his blue-haired pawn had killed the slug-princess before her apprentice had nearly obliterated Konan herself.
"Another amazing feat, you must admit."
Sakura smiled sweetly, despite herself. "Of course," A though struck her abruptly. "She was with the other man, Pein, right?" Although at the mention of the auburn-haired male, Madara's expression darkened, he still nodded regardless. "He nearly killed me before Naruto got him."
Ignoring the way Sakura flinched at the mention of her friend, Madara found displeasure in the fact that the medic might not have been here today. "I heard about that," He would've killed Pein himself, had he known that his plan had been to slaughter the one who crushed his partner to pieces. "The container lost control." In the end though, he found that fact oddly amusing. "It was rather upsetting to hear that my favorite demon-barer died by using the very beast inside of him—"
Madara's jaw instantly clenched. It was safe to say that being cut off by a petit girl who he could kill with a glance was anything but pleasant. His eyes had, subconsciously, bled to crimson. "Watch your tongue, Sakura," Madara noted the way the pinklette's hands clenched and he swore she was close to drawing a kunai. His expression turned malevolent when her fists were encased with a light green chakra. "Or I'll have to rip it off…"
"You corrupt, egomaniacal bastard! First you decided to fuck up Sasuke, and of course he wasn't enough! Destroying Konoha was the only way to have your grand entrance—evolving from a stupid, swirly-faced brat!" Madara stared at the fiery girl blankly. He was beyond seething, but somehow he still found her amusing.
"Are you done?" The medic-nin was still glaring bloody murder at him but had managed to regain some of her self-control.
"I don't know why you felt it necessary to insult me like you did, dear. But," Madara threw his hands into the air, a small smile tugged at his lips as he did. "That's in the past. So let's forget about that, shall we?" The way his Sharingan began to lazily spin as Sakura lashed her hand out to knock over her drink was as unintentional as the way he brought her with him to the torture inside his head.
Cutting her skin repeatedly for what felt like seventy-two pain filled hours was simply his automatic reaction to placing someone under his gen-jutsu. In reality it only lasted around three seconds. That was what usually happened.
It lasted the amount of time it took Sakura to gasp before she slipped from his inner hell, completely unharmed.
Sakura slid forward in her seat, her hands gripped painfully tight against the edge of the table as she fought to remain upright. Madara regarded the kunoichi for a moment before he pushed himself up and dragged his seat noisily over to the spot next to hers. He rested his chin in his palm once again, watching Sakura as she swayed in his direction slightly.
She was absolutely fascinating, he concluded finally.
"No one," Madara stroked her hair back with his free hand, bringing a small lock under his nose as he inhaled the smell of mouthwatering springtime and strawberries again. "Has ever broken free of the Sharingan before."
As if realizing for the first time that he was there, Sakura twisted her head towards him. "Don't," She whispered brokenly, falling towards him the moment later. He didn't stop her as she all but clutched onto his shirt. Madara twirled another lock of pastel pink hair around his finger idly, while he contemplated what to do next.
"I suppose this is proof of my love for sweet things." His lips brushed over the top of her head as the hand he'd previously been leaning on snaked under her warm layers of clothing to trail slow circles along the sensitive skin at the small of her back. "And you, dearest Sakura," Said kunoichi murmured something unintelligible into his chest. Her breathless sigh burning through the fabric of his long-sleeved shirt forced his lips into a dark smile.
"You are definitely sweet…"