ch. o5 : Fatalities

Madara has been to Sakura's apartment more times than he cares to count. He knows every book on her bookcase and has seen every picture on her bedroom wall. Today he walks in and looks around, knowing immediately she isn't home. The apartment is too silent, too dead; there is no radio playing softly in the kitchen, no clinking of pots, no flipping of textbook pages. He walks into the kitchen and makes himself tea, picks up the paperback on the counter, and sits in the armchair facing the door. He passes his time in this way, waiting.


Sakura opens her door at eleven in the morning, and her apron is stained and there are bags under her eyes. She kicks off her heels and reaches for the light before she realizes it is already on. Madara is watching her from the chair, and in his hand is her newest romance novel. He's smirking. She pauses for the shortest of moment, watching him warily. He gestures after a few moment of silence. "There is tea."

She nods tensely and escapes his gaze to the kitchen, pouring a cup of tea. Her hands are shaking, and she sets down the cup with a clink of porcelain. He's in my house again, she thinks to herself. The thought if accompanied by a flash of red-hot anger. She hears him turn another page. She picks up the tea and goes to sit on the couch, watching him over the steam of the tea. Madara takes a few moments to finish his page, and then closes the book and sets it on his knee. "It's quite an interesting book, Sakura-chan."

She hates it when he calls her that. Its too familiar, too friendly. And the smirk on his face makes her bristle. She forces calm and takes a sip of her tea. "What are you doing here?" The question is blank, empty, because she knows this is only one of his sick mind games. She knows he's fucking with her, but she tells herself that he'll leave soon enough.

"What is happening at the hospital?" He asks conversationally, glancing down at her apron. She looks down, sees the smeared blood and winces.

"Hiroku Samochi," she remembers dully, "he was six. His mother brought him in. He was unconscious. We operated on him for three hours, trying to keep his heart going."She looks away and feels her heart breaking all over again. "He didn't make it. It was the fifth unsolved death this week."

Madara is watching her; he hasn't moved since she walked in. His mask is gone and both Sharingan spin lazily as he decides on how to respond. "...a shame," he finally admits, fingers flexing dismissively. "..but sacrifices are to be made, I suppose."

It takes her seconds to register what he's saying, and when she does the cup in her hand cracks under the pressure of her fist. " know what's causing this?"

"Of course." There is no pleasure in his voice, but he watches her with a slow smirk, "I know everything that happens in this village." He seems to relish in the fact that she's trying her best to stay calm as she sets down her cracked cup.

"What is it?" she asks slowly, watching him. He stands and puts the paperback on her bookcase, then turns to face her.

"It is my jutsu. Weak minds succumb to it easily, especially those of children. The genjutsu is designed to make people submit. Those who are not trained against it-unfortunately-are driven mad. Its quite...interesting, and I'd like you to figure out why it happens." He pauses, and seems thoughtful. "If it is not solved, there may not be much of a chance for this village to survive."

Sakura feels her breath come in short gasps of burning anger. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"

"I wasn't sure if that was the reason-now, I am. Sakura," he says and gestures to the sky outside her window, "your mission is to find out why this is happening and fix it. I can't rule if there is no village." He smirks at her.

She tries for patience and hardly succeeds. "If you release the genjutsu...people will stop dying, won't they?"

"Yes," he nods, "but that is not an option, I'm afraid. I want an alternate solution within the month, Sakura. Do not disappoint me."

She stares at him for a long time, thinking. She thinks of how this all happened. She remembers when she gave up. She remembers when her hope died. She wonders where Naruto is now, wonders if he'll even return. I wouldn't. Immediately she is ashamed of herself and lowers her eyes to the dirty carpet. Madara takes this as a sign of submission and nods in appreciation. "Then you have one month. Do not make the mistake of running out of time, Sakura-chan." There is a small noise, and Sakura looks up just in time to see Madara's Sharingan spiraling out of view.

Alright, there it is! Reviews would be awesome. :)