Author's Note: I don't even know where this came from. But here it is, written entirely in English ― this one isn't translated, and I expect that makes a difference. Texts are different and you notice if they're written on the language you're reading it or if they've been translated. It's an AU ― sort of. Still, I did my best to keep the characters, well, in character. You know what I mean. And, in case you are still wondering, "Tsubasa" means "Wings".
This was meant to be a one-shot. It didn't work as a one-shot. So this is the first part. I'm working pretty fast on this idea, since I've been dreaming about it for weeks and I need to get it out of my head. I don't think it will be very long ― three or four chapters maximum.
Reviews, as always, are really appreciated.
"I don't need you anymore,"
"I would do anything, I swear!"
That day, when they first met, she had been allured by him.
They were fifteen ― well, at least she was fifteen, and he didn't look much older. She had instantly deduced he was a shinobi, those sharp and keen eyes, those clothes and those boots, and those calloused hands said so. She hadn't actually met any shinobi before, there weren't any in that area, though she did know shinobi were responsible of many deaths among the villagers, of an enormous fire that killed half, if not more, the population of her little village, including her parents and uncles.
She was around eight, perhaps nine years old by then, and she had promised that one day, she would become a shinobi (kunoichi, that's what female ninja were called, as someone told her later) so that she had the ability, the power to protect her precious people, to prevent these kind of disasters from happening ever again. Her dream had faded quickly, of course, after she found out her parents were dead and gone and she was on her own, with no one to protect anymore ― with no one to protect her. No precious people anymore. It hurt a little, sometimes, but she managed. She always managed.
They were quietly staring at each other, and she realized he was beautiful. She was astonished ― shinobi were not supposed to be beautiful; they were murderers, they should look like such, with evil smirks and blood stains.
The boy was still staring, and she was starting to feel a little self-conscious ― her forehead was too wide, she was much shorter than him and her hair was pink. She truly believed she should be afraid and start to run, but she did not, she held his gaze and opened her mouth to say something but suddenly (oh so suddenly), someone was behind her, laying a hand on her waist and the other one on her mouth, shutting it. She felt like screaming, but decided against it, so she just widened her eyes, surprised; truly scared of what they would do to her.
She felt the sharp breath against her throat, as he said, "Oi, Sasuke, what should we do with her?"
Then, two more materialized in front of her, next to the man who was called Sasuke ― a red haired girl with black glasses and a well-built man, much taller than the other two. She had heard stories about shinobi being fast, but she would have never imagined she wouldn't be able to even see them moving.
And even though she was afraid, she could feel that distant hope, when a long time ago she had dreamt of weapons and fires and guarding her village. She had never known shinobi, and if she had, she did not remember. Now she felt like that forgotten dream was becoming true, but it was better not to hope, never hope. So she frowned and narrowed her eyes, wary of their movements, though she knew it was useless, they were too fast for her eyes.
The boy, Sasuke, she recalled once again; ignored the question, looking at her in the eyes ― through her eyes. "Your name," he said. It wasn't even a question. The boy behind her swiftly took his hand off her mouth and grabbed her wrists.
"Fuck you," she answered.
And Sasuke smirked.
"Let go of her, Suigetsu," he ordered. "Where do you live?"
"I don't quite get why I should answer that," she replied after a few seconds. She cursed inwardly ― why was this happening to her? It wasn't fair. She had never left the village, and the first time she does, this. She cursed at her recklessness; she should have stayed home and forgot about travelling. Now she was going to die and it was all her fault.
The red haired girl chuckled, "Aw, the little bitch wants to die?" She frowned, so did Sasuke. "Be quiet, Karin," he said, severely, and the girl named Karin glared at her but kept silent.
"Because," Suigetsu said, answering Sakura, "we might kill'ya within seconds."
It's not like she cared anymore, so she said nothing.
"I have business to do in a nearby village," Sasuke elaborated. "Are you from that village?"
"Who the hell do you think you are?" she blurted out. The nerve of this guy, asking all this stuff…
"You are," he stated, as it were a matter of fact.
"I'm not," she replied instantly, defensively.
"You are," he said again, "I need a place to stay." She realized he didn't speak too much. Just the necessary words left his mouth, efficiently enough to make himself understood.
"Like. Hell." After thinking over his words, she realized what he was trying to say. "No way," and she struggled with Suigetsu. "Let me go!"
"Do you have parents?" He asked as he blinked, so slowly that for a moment she thought he was asleep.
"None of your business," But she had flinched, and she was sure he had seen it. She was so screwed. She spoke up quickly so as to cover her mistake, "if you want a place to stay, why don't you go get an inn or something? I have no intention of going back there."
His face remained stoic and void of emotion. "There are no inns in that village."
She widened her eyes and parted her lips, speechless. "What would you have to do in such a small village? And why would I agree to have all of you in my house?"
…not your house anymore.
"None of your business, as regards the first question," he answered, using her own previous words. She frowned. He wasn't being diplomatic or helpful. "I offer you protection from whatever it is you're running away from, and it would be just me."
The other three glanced at him curiously, but said nothing. She widened her eyes slightly, considering the offer, and wondering if she was being that obvious. She felt persuaded, but after a few seconds she realized that hardly anyone could help her, let alone a stranger ― a shinobi ― like him. She had to leave, run away from that place and never, ever come back before she went insane. She felt the urge to yell at him, who the hell did he think he was, and why did he think someone like him could help her?
Then, she also realized she hadn't thought about what she'd do with herself, and once again, that dream of protecting people rang in her ears like a soft whisper. She swallowed.
"So?" She was doubting, she hated doubting, and he was still expecting an answer. How she wanted him to go away, to leave her alone; because she didn't want to return to that place, but no one ever promised her such a thing, and even if they had, she wouldn't have believed them ― there was no way out ― but those eyes made her believe. Believe so hard it hurt.
So in spite of herself, she said, "…deal."
And Sasuke smirked once again, nodding to Suigetsu, "Let her go."
"But, Sasuke," Karin started, "what are we supposed to do? What are you planning?"
"You must keep looking for Uchiha Itachi," he answered, and turned again towards Suigetsu, "if you betray me, consider yourselves dead."
"Hey! Don't look at me like that!"
"Brief me every three weeks, either personally or any way you want," he ordered. "Go."
And just like that, the three of them disappeared. She felt a little safer now that Suigetsu wasn't behind her, and she couldn't help but to step back a little.
"Let's go," he said coldly, and started walking back the path she had been walking for days. She bit her lip and rushed to follow him, walking side by side.
She looked up at him, he was looking ahead. She looked down, toying with the straps of her backpack, feeling bad because she had walked so much for nothing. She was starving, she had planned to get an easy job in the next town, eat something, and then continue travelling to nowhere; but now all of that was completely overruled. She wondered if Sasuke had money, because she did not. But she was curious of a lot of things as well.
"Now that they're gone," she said, looking up to the horizon, "will you tell me what your issues could be in a small town like that?"
"Wrong," he said, smirking, "but nice try. They're not completely gone."
She widened her eyes for a second, "…oh," and looked down once again. "Why me? What if I wasn't there at the right time?"
"You were," he answered plainly.
"I know," she said rolling her eyes, and he raised a brow, "but what if I wasn't?"
"I would have found another place or blackmailed someone else,"
"You didn't blackmail me," she replied.
"Because it wasn't necessary." In some way, it sounded like he could do horrible things to her.
And just like that, silence invaded them both. She was so tired, and the sight didn't help – night was falling and constantly reminding her that it wouldn't be long before it was too dark to walk like they were. Then again, Sasuke was a ninja, and he was probably used to darkness unlike her – and he obviously knew how to handle thieves and that kind of stuff. For some reason, however, she didn't feel much safer. After half an hour, she felt courageous enough to speak up.
"…it's getting dark," she said quietly, "Aren't you hungry or something?" He just shook his head slightly. "Well it's dangerous to walk this late," she offered. "Would you mind staying in some place for tonight? I'm pretty sure there was an inn nearby… I stayed there last night, and it wasn't bad." A few seconds, and he said nothing. "…so?"
"You talk too much," he said, plainly. She moved her lips, like she said 'fuck you'. He smirked. She pouted and crossed her arms on her chest. "Get on my back."
She had met a lot of pervs who asked her to do a lot of things – and she had given them a beautiful punch in their faces – but none of them had ever asked her that.
"I don't intend to stop tonight," he said, "and you're slow." A short pause. "So get on my back."
Well, he certainly had a good point. She had seen him – actually, she hadn't but you get it – moving. So she sighed, defeated, and got on his back, feeling a bit awkward and biting her lip. She noticed he had hesitated a bit before holding her legs, and smiled knowingly, leaning her head against his shoulder.
"You don't offer this kind of things to everyone, do you?"
"...of course not."
A weird silence. And.
"If I didn't know you, I'd think you're flirting with me."
"You don't know me," he said.
Sasuke had trouble believing this girl had really fallen asleep on his back. He was a ninja, for crying out loud, and she was just a young villager who didn't know anything. Either she was as naïve as a four-year-old child, or she just wasn't afraid of dying ― wasn't afraid of him. He couldn't help but to wonder what could have happened to her that made her scared of nothing, but he immediately reprimanded himself because it obviously had nothing to do with him, and therefore he shouldn't care. He did not care.
Yet, her being asleep actually made him feel a little more comfortable as he ran as fast as he could towards her village. It was dark, so dark he could barely see without his Sharingan; so he activated his kekkei-genkai now and then in order to confirm they were on the right path, in the right direction. Every time he'd encounter another traveler, shinobi or not, he would go further into the forest and out of the dirt path; as a precaution. He didn't want to be seen with that girl at any circumstances.
The sun had risen a few hours ago, he noticed, so he must have been travelling for ten or twelve hours non-stop by then. He calculated it should be seven in the morning, but he didn't need to measure his hunger – he was starving, yet reluctant to stop until they got to the girl's house.
He felt her chakra – because yes, she had some chakra, despite being a mere civilian – flicker; and he knew she was about to wake up. During the trip, he had also felt her breathing agitate and then calm down, and a while later it would agitate again; hinting she was suffering from some sort of nightmares.
She sighed heavily, relieved. Once again, it was just a bad dream, and luckily this time she wasn't screaming or something. What she first realized was that she had fallen asleep – on Sasuke's back. She gaped and tried to hide her face on his shirt. What had she been thinking? He could have raped her or assault her or stolen her backpack. She was such a moron.
"What's wrong?" he couldn't help asking, and slapped himself inwardly as the words left his lips – asking those kind of things just wasn't like him, but he could feel she was upset and he didn't want her to be upset, he wanted her to be cooperative above all.
"Nothing, just... nothing," she said, her voice trailing off as she spoke with her face still hidden. He waited. "I just can't believe I fell asleep on your back! 'Cause you're a complete stranger, you know, and girls like me aren't supposed to sleep on a stranger's back, am I right?!"
"Let alone shinobi," Sasuke added quietly.
"Let alone shinobi, yeah!" she seconded. "Crap, just ― crap. I think I'll die young after all."
This was such an annoying, stupid girl.
"You think I'm stupid and annoying, don't you?" she said suddenly, quietly. She sounded almost ―almost― sad, and he wondered if she was telepathic, or just weird. He was positive someone like her couldn't possibly be telepathic –he was sure he would have noticed; plus, he didn't believe in those things, despite he could pull electricity out of his hand― so he just assumed the obvious: she was weird, annoying and stupid. "Well you can go to hell, just ―wait, we're almost there!" she exclaimed, then sighed, then closed her eyes and then she sighed again. "We got here so fast, you must be so tired, Sasuke. It took me a week to get to where we met."
"I'm not tired," he denied. Just hungry. So fucking hungry.
"Very well, then you must be hungry."
...that was so weird.
"At least I am, okay? I don't even remember if I left any food at all. I wasn't thinking on coming back, you know, so I threw everything, or sold it. So you better don't complain."
"You talk too much," he said evenly.
"I know," she said immediately, "I know. I'm sorry." Why did she take that so seriously? She wasn't even half as loud as his team Hebi was. "Anyways, would you like to go to the market with me?" she offered, smiling again, "once we get there, that is,"
Thirty minutes later, it being ten to eight in the morning, they were just a few kilometers away from the entrance, and Sakura started to feel anxious. The villagers didn't need to know Sasuke was a shinobi, did they? Moreover, walking in on a stranger's back just didn't seem right. "Could you slow down a bit?" she asked, her voice trembling a little.
"What for?" he questioned. He saw no reason – the quicker they reached her place, the better.
"I don't know, just... Put me down, will you? We'll walk from here." He ignored her. They were close, just a few minutes away, and he could stand running a bit more. "Please, Sasuke!"
She sounded so distressed that he had to stop in the middle of the dirt road, and then she immediately got down. He stretched his back –he hadn't even noticed it was so sore- and glanced at her. She looked troubled, biting her lip, not meeting his eyes. Something was off, that much was obvious; and he wondered, bewildered, what her problem was with that village. They started to walk, and her hands were trembling, her steps were clumsy. Now, instead of twenty minutes, they had two hours left.
He didn't say anything, of course. There wasn't anything to say. He could tell her they would be there faster if she let him carry her, he could tell her he was tired and wished to arrive as soon as possible; but he knew hardly anything he said would help it. She seemed so despaired, and somehow, he managed to believe she really didn't want to go back.
They started to walk silently. She was embarrassed, she should be able to control her body and keep it from shaking like a crybaby by now. She took a deep breath, trying to calm down, but it didn't work, so she took another one. It wasn't that bad, was it? Within a few minutes, she was a little more relaxed. Okay fine, she wasn't relaxed, but at least her hands were lying still by her sides.
"Will you tell me why you want to go to that town, now?" she asked quietly, her eyes on his.
He hesitated for a few seconds, and decided that she would find out sooner or later, as they were to live together. He took a moment to search for any chakra signatures there might be close, and when he find none, "I need time," he said, "to plan a strategy. There is someone I must kill."
"Uchiha Itachi?" she said, hesitantly, remembering the orders he had given to his team. Sasuke nodded. "I don't understand."
"Why I want to kill him?" he guessed. He was a little uncomfortable ― almost everybody knew about the Uchiha massacre, so he didn't ever need to explain his desire for vengeance. Everyone understood ― and at the same time, they understood nothing at all.
"No, not that," she replied, sighing. Then he understood. She knew nothing. She didn't even know he was his brother, and that was probably why she wasn't asking about that. "I mean, I'm sure you must have your reasons and from your face I can tell this is some really serious shit, but ―" she paused, and Sasuke raised an eyebrow, "why would you choose that specific town? I'm telling you, there's nothing interesting in there."
"It's well-located," he answered, "near the border with the Fire Country and Amegakure at the same time. It's small; it doesn't appear in common maps. It's a good place to hide while I train and work on that strategy.
"I see," she said. It made sense, now that she thought about it. That was probably the reason he separated from his team, too. He wanted to be left alone and to take advantage of the quietness of the town. However, wait a minute, something wasn't right. "You wanna go to Amegakure?" she wondered why she wasn't surprised.
"Okay, you're insane," she blurted out, "people there are crazy, you know that? It's very dangerous,"
"I know," he answered, blankly.
"Akatsuki's main base is in there," she tried.
"I know," he repeated, rolling his eyes.
"I met one of them once, you know," she said after a few minutes. Sasuke stared at her, bewildered. "Of course, I didn't know they were from Akatsuki, by then. I found out months later... And almost had a heart attack when I did."
"How did you survive?"
"I don't know; but in actuality, they were quite polite," she went on, "my parents had just died and I was hungry, but none of my neighbors would buy me something to eat or teach me how to cook, so I was crying on a bench near the entrance, a few meters from here, actually;" she said, pointing ahead of them with her index finger. She was rather proud she was really managing to talk about that with a sober voice. "And suddenly, a big guy appeared with his big sword, and made fun of me. He said he would kill me, but I had done nothing to him!" she exclaimed, indignant. "And you won't' believe this! His skin," she looked at him in the eyes, "was blue."
"And what did you do?" he asked, truly interested.
"I spit in his face, of course,"
He chuckled. He could imagine Kisame's face, that motherfucker.
"Hey, don't you laugh! I was scared!"
He pretended not to, but he was astonished. This girl had survived an encounter with Hoshigaki Kisame? Impossible. He cleared his throat, "you said they were polite,"
"Okay, that one wasn't," he stopped. She went on, talking out loud, "but the other one, he was a lot nicer!" Akatsuki members moved in couples, and Kisame's partner was ― "he gave me an onigiri he had somewhere inside his cloak, and reprimanded the blue guy for threatening me."
"Then, when the other one wasn't looking, he smiled and poked me in my forehead."
This was a nightmare, right? He couldn't possibly be everywhere.
...but he was, he was always there to torture him. How he hated him, oh gods, how he hated him.
"I can't remember his face, but you know what? I do remember he had bright, red eyes. They were beautiful," she sighed. He shivered, but tried to hide it.
"You don't what you're talking about," he hissed.
"Yeah, I probably don't," she shrugged, ignoring the severe tone of his voice. "The thing is, luckily, I haven't encountered any Akatsuki members since then." She glanced at him, and decided to drop the topic as he looked a little upset with it.
She realized the short conversation had distracted her from her anxiety, and that she was feeling better. Indeed, it felt good to have someone to talk to, instead of just talking out loud to herself in order to not feel so lonely. She bit her lip and wrapped her hands around the straps of her backpack. She was thankful; perhaps he could really protect her after all.
When the first small houses started to appear at each side of the road, she wished the journey had never ended. She could feel she was walking rigidly and unnaturally, but she was sure she wouldn't be able to relax until she reached her home and rested on her own bed.
Sasuke could hear the villagers' gossip, and though he couldn't care less about them, he could guess that was why she was walking faster and faster, like she was running away from them. Then he realized ― she had been running away from them all along, since the very beginning.
"We're lucky I kept the key," she whispered, "I thought of burying it or throwing it to the river, but that would have been way too drastic," she smiled, but it quickly faded. "We should hurry up, the gossip has already started."
The house was located downtown, but only because the village was too small to have suburbs, Sasuke noted. It wasn't in the main street, but two blocks to the right, and when she noticed they were just one block away, she started to search for her keys into her backpack while walking. "Oh, here they are," she grinned, showing him the single gold key.
As soon as they were inside, she ran to the kitchen. Sasuke silently followed, though she didn't say a word. He found her checking the cupboards. The room was small, there were a square wooden table and four wooden chairs, the floor was white and clean. Everything was pretty clean, he noticed, and he liked that. The stove and refrigerator were also flawlessly clean, and there was a window above the sink, from where all the sunlight came from ― once she opened the shutters, of course, which she did after searching the cupboards and the refrigerator. She sighed and sat down on the wooden table, swinging her legs and staring out the window. He looked out too, and noticed there also was a small garden with one big tree ― an orange tree, he guessed.
He turned to her and found she was staring at him now. She smiled dumbly. "I really like that tree, you know," she told him. "I've watched it grow since it was a little, little lovely tree." He stared at her like she was insane. She blinked. "Anyways, as I thought, I actually left behind some non-perishable food ― in other words, lots of rice; and there is some canned tuna in the refrigerator that is still edible. However, I'm out of fruit and vegetables, so I should go to the market today, if possible."
"Huh? Um, no, no tomatoes."
He nodded slowly, and took a step towards the living-room ― that couch seemed pretty comfortable and he needed a nap. Then, he stopped and turned to her once again.
"Why would you leave food behind? You were not coming back," he said, thoughtfully.
"In case some homeless guy wanted to live in here," she answered.
He raised a brow, stared at her silently and walked out of the kitchen.
She decided not to tell him she had a little orchard outside, since the local market wasn't very nice ― apart from being expensive. She had tomatoes, but they weren't fully grown yet. Still, she grabbed the little money she had and the key. They also needed milk and flour and coffee ― she would bet anything Sasuke loved coffee.
The main door was in the living-room, a few steps away from the kitchen. He was sitting on the couch, his eyes closed, but she thought she should let him know she was going.
"I'll be back in a bit," she said in a low voice. He nodded, surprisingly ― she thought he was asleep. "Would you like anything in particular?"
"Tomatoes," he answered.
"Right… Um, listen," she started, and he opened his eyes and looked at her. "This town isn't big, you know; so the market isn't big as well. The keepers are assholes, for that matter; and they don't have vegetables or fruits," she said, and he sighed. He should have known. "But ― I can tell you this: wait for a week or so, and I will have nice juicy tomatoes for you, okay?"
"…alright." It was better than nothing.
"Excellent. Feel free to explore the house while I'm gone ― I'll set you a room when I'm back."
When she shut the door, he took a look at the room. There were no photographs, no flowers, hardly any decorations. He stood up, fighting the urge to lie down and sleep, looking up at the stairs there were against one of the walls. They were wooden and looked nice when taking into account the matt white of the walls.
He decided not to go upstairs, not yet. He made his way to a little corridor ― he had already walked through it, when he followed her to the kitchen, so he already knew where the double doors led to. There were two more doors ― he opened the first one and found a medium-sized toilet, and he pulled open the little cupboard there was above the sink. He was taken aback by the amount of drugs there was in there.
"Oh, good morning, Sakura-chan," the old man greeted her, smiling. "This is odd. I thought you left almost a week ago,"
"Good morning," she said cheerfully. "Well, that's right, I left," the man looked at her expectantly with a plastic bag in his hands, "oh, gimme three milk bottles and two dozens of eggs, please,"
The man turned around and opened the big refrigerator in order to get the milk she had asked for. "So why did you come back? Some people told me you walked in with a handsome young man," he suggested.
She just rolled her eyes, "It's a long story, old man ― I made a bargain with him."
He put the milk on the buffet, "A bargain? Is he your boyfriend or something?"
"No," she replied, indignantly. The old man was so nosy. She didn't care, though ― she could take advantage of that and dispel any rumors that might appear. "And yeah, a bargain," she added, "he needed a place to stay."
"Here?" he asked, truly curious, while pulling out four sets of eggs from below the buffet, six eggs each. "What business could he have in a town like this?"
"I wish he told me," she lied. She was such a good liar.
"I see," he said. "Anything else?"
"Uhm, let me see…" she hesitated. "There's almost nothing home, so I could use some corn flakes. Sugar and toothpaste too, please,"
"Alright… oh, I'm afraid I've run out of sugar," he said apologetically.
"Don't worry ― put some chocolate instead, then,"
The man chuckled, "Ah, Sakura-chan, you've always loved chocolate, haven't you?"
She smiled. "How much is it?"
"Err, let's see… That would be twenty-two,"
She reached for her money and started to count, there were many coins. She hated having to count her money.
"I bet he offered you something really valuable if not money," he said, watching her count, "for your coming back. I know you don't like it here," he added, knowingly.
"…I offer you protection from whatever it is you're running away from…"
She swallowed. "You bet he did," she said, smiling a fake smile. She didn't want to dwell on how she hated that old town.
While walking back to her house, she couldn't stop thinking on what the old man had said. Something really valuable, yes, she was sure that was very valuable. However, her heart sunk as she realized it was impossible as well. She was such a fool ― she had let a stranger into her house, and she had believed in his hopeless words.
Still, she refused to run away. He was a shinobi ― everything she once aimed to be. He could have killed her, but he didn't. He could have let the other guy, Suigetsu, kill her; and yet there she was, walking to her house, alive. He had asked her for a place to live. He would be living with her. He had trusted her. She should trust him as well.
And though she really wanted to believe him, she was still wary of that promise.
"Are you an addict?"
She had found him on the toilet, staring like a moron at the cupboard.
"What?" she exclaimed, indignantly. "Hell no, you idiot."
"Then, what's this for?"
"I'm a nurse," she explained. "I work in the local hospital and do healing at some patients' houses, and sometimes I need those meds,"
"A nurse," he repeated, thoughtfully.
"Yeah," she sighed. "Do you like chocolate?" she asked as she closed the cupboard and headed to the kitchen, "'cause I bought some."
"I don't like sweets," he replied as he followed her.
She turned around and looked at him like he was crazy. "Sweets. You don't like sweets?"
"That's what I said."
"You, my friend, are insane."
"I'm not your friend."
No one is.
"I know, but you got the idea," she answered, and started to unpack the eggs.
A/N: I hope you liked it! I'm a bit self-conscious as regards characterization, specially on Sasuke's part, but well. Thanks a lot for reading! And, reviews are helpful - they keep me going.