A/N: This has been influenced by Yellow Mask's fic: Ripples. It's a very awesome story that influenced me to write this. Although this is very similar to Ripples in so many ways, I've tried my best to make most of it original. The plot is altered starting from when Naruto leaves Konoha with Jiraiya for 2 years.

空の絆:Bonds of the Sky
CH 1: Captured

What the hell was happening?

Haruno Sakura, a fourteen-year-old Leaf kunoichi, was simply sitting near a small waterfall taking a short break from a mission, soaking her long, pink hair. But her peaceful moment was interrupted by an ambush. She was rushed by an enemy's water-based technique, unable to quickly process that she was being attacked.

Missiles of water were being shot at her direction, but Sakura was able to dodge them in time.

"Who are you?" Sakura exclaimed. Instead of an answer, she received a flood that was ten times the size of her height. "Oh, shit!" She attempted to escape the towering wave, but it washed her away downstream. Her head slightly poked out of the river, evaluating her situation.

"Where is she?" Another voice shouted from her original location. A few seconds passed. "You worthless piece of…!" But the last word was cut off, and the sound of a painful yelp replaced it. "Damn it!" Then, she heard rushing footsteps. She immediately gathered as much air as possible in her lungs and ducked underwater. Sakura found a small bridge above her and hid below it. Her head poked out of the water again, sensing that her enemy disappeared and finally relaxed.

"What was that?" she thought. She cleared her head of her instincts screaming at her to go after the enemy. "No, that'd be too hasty. It's probably better if I head off somewhere else…" Sakura knew that there would've been another ambush if she returned to her original location. As much as she didn't want to take time away from her team, she had to disguise herself and go back the opposite way. But if she was captured, just a regular transformation technique wouldn't last long, so she scanned through her medical knowledge.

She came to a technique that would let her last through a transformation as long as wants, but she would have to bear the negative side effects. Medical ninjas were taught techniques to alter their genes for transformations that would be needed to last as long as they need, but because the side effects were too negative, they were highly recommended not to use it unless as a last resort.

Her idea of disguising as a boy didn't really surprise her, but disguising as a little girl would've been more convenient. A little girl wouldn't be as vulnerable to attacks as a teenage girl or boy – let alone a little boy! As she heard a shout nearby, she quickly took a mental image of her mother but younger.

Sakura performed the sign of a transformation, and she became a little girl. Her appearance and height was that of a six-year-old, her hair was waist-length with a lilac shade, her face looked more innocent, and her clothes were slipping off her body. "Damn, what am I gonna do?" Her newfound voice was quite high.

She thought for a moment and came up with an idea. Fortunately, she was carrying her bag on her shoulder, which contained her kunai knife. She set it down on a grassy area and took out a kunai. "I'm just gonna have to go with this…" She cut her skirt up to her hips, revealing her loose dark green pants. Panicking, Sakura quickly ripped a strip of her cut skirt and tied it around her waist, then cutting her pants to her thighs. She took off her large shoes and worked barefoot.

She threw the remaining scraps of clothes, her shoes, her headband, and the kunai into a dirt pit. As quickly as possible, she took out a hairband with an embedded Konoha sign (from her childhood) and wore it on her head.

"Hey, you!"

Startled, Sakura turned around to see her enemy rushing to her. Her eyes widened when she saw the Sound Village's sign. The man before her raised a kunai, threatening to hurt her if she didn't answer truthfully. "Did you see a woman with pink hair around here?"

Sakura gave a small gesture of shaking her head, acting as if she was frightened to death.

The Sound Nin hissed under his breath.

"Are you guys… Sound Nin?" she blurted out. "Shit."

Dark and narrow eyes averted their ominous glare toward her, a flicker of murderous intent flashing in his eyes. Now that she identified them, Sakura knew she was going to be captured. Before running, she performed the signs of the technique that would alter her genes. Then, she was being chased again, but being a little girl, he would surely be able to catch up to her in an instant. Her hypothesis was correct.

Sakura's wrist was grabbed by a powerful grip and was lifted into the air. "Hey, let me go!" she exclaimed, squirming.

"You're coming with me!" The Sound Nin cuffed her with metal shackles. Sakura suddenly felt exhausted, and then… Everything went black.


A sheltered wagon was being dragged along a road surrounded by thick trees. There were Sound ninjas surrounding it.

Sakura's eyes snapped open from her head hitting something wooden. "Ow…" She sat up, her hand moving to her head. But something prevented her from doing so. "What the…?"

"Goodness, you're awake, darling! Are you alright?" An elderly woman's voice echoed through her clouded mind. She jerked her head to the voice and was staring at worried eyes.

"Yes, I'm fine, but who are you?" Sakura became surprised at her high voice, but recalled that she used a transformation jutsu to disguise herself as a little girl.

Before answering her, the elderly woman held her finger to her lips, gesturing her to lower her voice. "I am Kaori." The woman slightly bowed her head, then giving Sakura sympathetic eyes. "You've been captured by the Sound ninjas, sweetie."

"What?" Sakura silently hissed. Then, she looked around her. There were other people beside her and Kaori. Their eyes seemed paranoid, concerned, or just outright frightened to death. She was gaping at all the kidnapped victims around her. "Wait, Sound ninjas?"

"Yeah. If you're wondering what's gonna happen to you, try not to think about it." Another voice sounded behind her. It was coming from a boy, just about a few years older than her, whose eyes seemed distant. "All I can say is that it's not gonna be pretty."

"That is my grandson, Rei. He was captured by the Sound-"

Kaori was interrupted by Rei, "Obaa-san, I told you not to tell anyone." He looked away from his grandmother, his hands clenching into fists.

"But, Rei…"

"Just don't, Obaa-san." Rei's voice sharpened to such a tone that Kaori stopped talking to Sakura.

She took that as a gesture of dismissal and observed her surroundings. "I need to get out of here… fast!" She tried to gather her chakra to break open her shackles, but there wasn't enough to unleash her superhuman strength. "Why can't I gather my chakra?"

"If you're trying to escape using a chakra method, then you'll only tire yourself," Rei whispered. "These are chakra-draining shackles; very effective. These can quickly drain you of your chakra until an exhausting amount."

"Damn it…" she quietly cursed under her breath. "Wait, how did you know that I have chakra?"

Rei was silent for a moment, but gave in. "I used to be a shinobi, so I can sense that you have the amounts of a genin's," Rei elaborated. Sakura nodded, and he gulped and exhaled heavily. "If they find out that you have large amounts of chakra, then you're going to be trapped in that place until death."

"How do you know that?"

"I don't want you to know, but I want you to be cautious."

Sakura had no option but to admit defeat. It was hard for her to accept, but she'd rather be conscious and shackled than fight her way out. She once again observed the prisoners' frames, until she came across a particular face. "You!" She rushed to a man in the corner, also shackled. "You're that guy who used the water-based jutsu on m… m-my cousin!" she whispered harshly.

"I'm sorry! I – I deeply apologize!" the man quietly exclaimed. He cowered, whimpering apologies. "Please spare me! I didn't mean to attack her!"

"Oh really?" Sakura was having difficulties with her temper problem, for she was starting to get carried away with being a six-year-old. "Tell me why you did."

"It… it was on orders of my m-master!" he whimpered. "He ordered me to attack the pink-haired kunoichi after observing her!"

"Orders? Master? What are you talking about?"

"I'm sorry, but that's all I can tell you! Please spare my life, please!" Now the man was kneeling at her feet, apologizing repeatedly. Sakura sighed, realizing that the man must've gone through mental and emotional pain if he was actually kneeling at her feet. "Please don't hurt me!"

"I won't. I'm sure you didn't mean to do it intentionally…" Sakura patted the man's shoulder. "Sorry, I didn't mean to yell at you." With that, the man jerked his head up, his eyes gleaming with relief.

"Thank you, thank you!" Sakura gave him a short nod and walked away. She sat in her original seat, beginning to strategize her escape once they arrived to their destination.

"Hey, what's your name?" Rei interrupted her train of thoughts.

"Sa…" Sakura abruptly stopped, thinking of any name that may fit her appearance. "A-Ayame*."

"Ayame, huh?" Rei nodded, acknowledging her name. "Try not to become an experiment or be thrown in a dungeon. It's better to be a slave than any of those two positions, in your age of course."

"Experiments and dungeons are something I would definitely understand, but s-slaves?"

"Yeah, that Orochimaru is gathering slaves for his subordinates," Rei muttered darkly. "Even that gopher apprentice of his, Uchiha Sasuke." Sakura's eyes jerked their stare to Rei. "What?"

"Sa-Sasuke-kun?" Her heart was screaming that it was definitely the Uchiha Sasuke she knew. But she also knew that she had to make it creditable that Ayame didn't know the mentioned name. "Uchiha Sasuke? Who's that?"

"They say he's the last survivor of the Uchiha massacre. All I know is that he is power-hungry and an idiot."

Had Sakura been 12 she'd be fussing over that remark, but she was now fourteen. She had to get over him someday. "What do you mean?"

"He used to live in your village, but left. I heard that he has a goal, but it doesn't seem positive since he went to that snake-creep," Rei elaborated. "I never liked that guy. Not only does he treat others like they don't exist, he doesn't have any interest in girls." Sakura felt something hot in her chest, but held it back. "I wonder if he has any problems with his hormones…"

Sakura giggled. "Hormones? That's pretty hilarious."

Rei looked at Sakura, a small smirk working its way across his frame. The wagon suddenly came to a stop as a Sound Nin opened the curtains of the wagon. Everyone took this as a sign to exit the wagon. Once everyone was out, they were guided to an underground hideout. "Oh, how typical of that snake 'god'," he mumbled. Sakura rolled her eyes in a smug way, smirking.

The prisoners were guided to a room, which looked more like a training ground. "Line up!" a Sound Nin barked. The prisoners obeyed the order and lined up, fidgeting with their eyes darting back and forth. Sakura was at the last of the line. The Sound Nin walked to another entrance, addressing someone hidden behind the shadows. Sakura tried to read his lips. "Orochimaru-sama, the prisoners have lined up."

Sakura felt like she had been frozen by an icy wind the moment Orochimaru replied, "Very well done. I will take it from here." With that, the ninja took a bow and stood guard next to the entrance. Orochimaru entered the room with Kabuto. Behind Kabuto came in the person Sakura expected: Uchiha Sasuke. "Well, Sasuke-kun, they are your choice."

"Look, I don't need anyone assisting me," Sasuke snapped. "Why would I need one?"

"Well, you shouldn't be so hasty with your goal, Sasuke-kun," Orochimaru stated. "Certainly a servant may fulfill whatever you need." He scanned the prisoners. "Take a pick, Sasuke-kun. We seem to have more prisoners that seem fit for certain purposes."

"Hn," Sasuke turned his head away, but his eyes were scanning the line of prisoners. When his eyes came to Sakura, he stared at her for a period of time. "Why is there a kid here?" He raised his head, walking towards Sakura.

As she saw him approaching toward her direction, she felt her legs twitch. Rei's finger was nudged her arm, reassuring her that he was here. When Sasuke stepped in front of her, she looked up at him without hesitation, her emerald green eyes devoid of any fear or shock. It was rather more of an innocent and curious expression. "Hello, I'm Ayame." Sakura felt slightly intimidated by his towering height compared to hers.

Sasuke gave her his usual distant expression, but Sakura didn't care about that anymore. She was a prisoner as a little girl, dammit! He blinked, a few questions appearing in his head. "How old are you?"

Although it was quite childish of her, she raised her hands showing six fingers. "I'm six!" Sasuke was quite surprised that she was captured at this young age.

"Who captured her?" Sasuke's voice echoed throughout the room. The man who captured Sakura approached Sasuke. "What's your reason of capturing her?"

"She immediately found out that I was a Sound Nin, and she is from the Hidden Leaf Village." The spy pointed to Sakura's head, which had Konoha's hairband around it. Sasuke's eyes became clouded, a flame of memories threatening to flood his head. "She already knew that much, so I had to capture her."

Sasuke stared at Sakura again, knowing it was too late for her to go back to her home village. Strangely, he noticed something flickering in her eyes, no matter how bright and innocent they appeared: Loneliness and a hint of relief. He deeply desired no servants to serve him, but it was better to choose her than letting her become another's servant, putting her in the dungeons, or worse, become an experiment for Orochimaru.

Sakura stared at Sasuke's eyes, which seemed to debate over something difficult. "Ano… Are you okay?" When Sasuke didn't answer, Sakura couldn't help the hilarious urge to ask this one question. "Are you constipated?" Sasuke appeared expressionless, but she knew he was asking the most bizarre questions to himself. She felt Rei chuckling, because his hand was trembling in an upbeat way.

Sasuke did not believe what the little girl asked him, but overcame it. "Orochimaru, I'll be taking her." Sakura's eyes widened at Sasuke's declaration.

"Wha-?" Sakura didn't want to become a servant for Sasuke, but nor did she want to become an experiment or be thrown into the dungeons! She either had to go with either those two or become a servant for Sasuke. Clearly, it was a no-win situation, but she decided to be Sasuke's servant with a sigh of defeat.

"I do respect your decisions, Sasuke-kun, but why that child out of everyone?" Kabuto asked. "Is it because she's a Leaf villager?"

Sasuke glared at Kabuto, receiving a flinch.

Orochimaru chuckled. "Now that we're done here, we will be leaving." With that, Orochimaru left with Kabuto following close behind him. The room was silent and Sasuke was staring at the entrance Orochimaru and Kabuto disappeared to.

Rei bent down to her, giving her a relieved smile. "You're better off with him than any of those two positions, Ayame-chan." Sakura knew that he was happy for her, but she couldn't bear to see Rei and the others being tortured as slaves, experiments, or thrown into the dungeons. She bit her lip, fighting off tears.

She had cried enough over her two years with Team 7, back when Sasuke was with them. Suddenly, Sakura was pushed by a guard, gesturing her to follow Sasuke. She obeyed with hesitation, and followed Sasuke about five steps away from him. She looked back to where the other prisoners were looking down, their hope dying in their eyes. Rei still held strong, and gave her a small wave.

"You will be wearing these from now on." Someone in a lab coat wrapped a leather collar, with the Uchiha emblem, around her neck. "This is ensuring that you are Sasuke-sama's servant." Sakura placed her hands on the collar. It was locked tight enough to let her breathe, but there were no openings to reassure her that this could be taken off.

Sakura was having a mental fight with herself.

"You stupid Sakura! You just had to put on that wristband! Not only that, you even acted like a little kid there, acting all innocent!" Sakura held down the urge to smack her forehead. "But I did not want to be Orochimaru's experiment or get thrown into the dungeons!" She rolled her eyes at the last remark. They arrived to Sasuke's room, which was quite larger than the others.

"Whoa… You sleep here alone?" Sakura exclaimed. "This place is huge!"

Sasuke sat at the edge of his bed. He was observing Sakura and her wristband, which was wrapped around her leg. "What's your name?"

"Ayame." Sakura took Sasuke's silence as an acknowledgement of her name. "Now that you took me here, what am I supposed to do?"

Sasuke's eyes averted their gaze to Sakura. "What?"

"I'm your "slave" now, aren't I?" Sakura hissed. "And you're now my master, right, bastard?"

Sasuke's eyes slightly widened at the last word. "What did you call me?"

Sakura rolled her eyes, repeating, "Bas-tard." She crossed her arms. "And do you have any thoughts of letting me go?" Instead of an answer, Sasuke stayed silent. "Hey! Answer me, idiot!" She couldn't believe the words that were escaping out of her mouth. Sure, she had not yet accepted Sasuke's betrayal, but it felt like she just wanted to release all the grief bundled up in her heart.

"Stay here."

"I don't want to! I want to go back home!"

"That's… impossible," Sasuke stated. Although he wanted to take her back to Konoha, it was risky, for Orochimaru would suspect something behind his actions.

Sakura was grinding her teeth, impatient. She crossed her arms, angry. "Fine… But someday, I'm going to escape!" After that, Sasuke left, leaving Sakura alone in the room. "How nice, Sasuke-kun. You're leaving a child alone in a dark room." Now, Sakura was trying to pry the collar off her neck. "Damn it, why can't I break this thing?" She was attempting to use her superhuman strength, but it also seemed like the collar was draining her chakra once more. "Did they find out about my chakra amounts?"

After many attempts, Sakura's situation wasn't changing. She was growing more and more exhausted until she was near the brim of unconsciousness. She was scanning through the negative symptoms of the extra technique she added to her transformation. "There was… exhaustion, chakra depletion, the constant switching of appearances – I'm gonna have to be careful with that one – dizzy and fainting spells, numbness, temporary paralysis, and the worst of all is that I'm stuck like this until some other force counters it." She only had to be cautious of revealing her identity.

Luckily, the chances of her identity being revealed depended on how much she disclosed her personality. In terms of symptoms, it rarely happened to the user.

Right now, she couldn't think any longer, for exhaustion was catching up to her. Her head lowered and she immediately fell into a deep sleep.

An hour had passed, and Sasuke was finishing his training in a dojo, practicing a variation of his chidori. So far, he had made good progress. He was able to channel his chidori through his body, causing electricity to envelop his body. With that variation, an enemy wouldn't even be as close as to attacking him without injuring themselves.

He became mentally satisfied that he had finally mastered that variation, and so was his mentor. Sasuke, now done with his training, shuffled past the sannin, heading to his room. "You seem to be preoccupied today, Sasuke-kun," Orochimaru stated. "Is there something bothering you?"

The Uchiha stopped walking, his back now facing the sannin. "It's nothing." With that, he resumed his path to his room. But Orochimaru was right; he was preoccupied with something: Ayame. His head was filled with questions related to her capture. What was she doing in such a remote area away from Konoha? Who was with her? How did she figure out a Sound Nin's identity? Why wasn't she scared when she was captured?

It was strange for a child her age to be calm in her situation, but then again, she was six years old. Sasuke cleared his head of questions and entered his room. His eyes scanned his room, finding Ayame curled at the foot of his bed. Her bag was set down between her and the wall. He walked over to her, shaking Ayame's shoulder. She stirred, but showed no signs of waking up.

"Hey." He shook her a little more, but no signs of awakening yet. Sasuke sighed. Sakura murmured something in her sleep and leaned her head on the wall. "Hey!"

Small eyelids fluttered half-open, green eyes staring at Sasuke. "Oh you're back?" There was a small speck of disappointment in her tone… which Sasuke tried to ignore. "What do you want?"

"If you're going to sleep, at least get a futon," Sasuke replied. He pointed to a closet next to his bed.

"Oh, there's a futon? That would've been nice to mention earlier…" Sakura drawled as she rubbed her neck. "And now my neck is all sore!"

Sasuke stood back up not even giving her a plain remark. "Hn." He lied down on his bed, staring at the ceiling. Sakura was opening the closet, where an old futon was laid folded on a shelf. Below it were Sasuke's weapons. She blinked, ignoring the stored bladed weapons. She tried to take the futon out, but she was much too short. She climbed to the shelf where Sasuke's kunais were stored in.

"Ugh… I still can't reach…" Sakura murmured. She reached her arm out as much as possible, trying to grab the futon. The shelf she was standing on suddenly tilted, causing her to lose her balance. "Ah!" She jumped, grabbing the corner of the mattress. Her feet were now dangling in mid-air, while her hand was preoccupied with the shelf they were grabbing on. "Um…"

Sasuke's eyes moved to Sakura's body dangling from a shelf.

"How can I get down from here?"

He walked to his closet, seating Sakura on one arm, while the other set down the futon. Turning his head to little Sakura's eyes, he raised a brow at her. "You could've asked for help earlier."

"Nah, 'cause I'm sure you had trust in your little "slave" that she can get the futon all on her own," she sarcastically insisted. "Also, can you please set me down?" Sasuke lowered himself, letting Sakura get off his arm. She dusted the futon and sat down on it. "Ooh, this is comfy and plushy!" she exclaimed, giggling.

Sasuke leaned on the wall this time, watching Sakura set her futon next to Sasuke's bed. "You're going to sleep there?"

"Why? Is that bad?"

"Do whatever you want," Sasuke answered, his eyes staring at the door.

"And by the way, would it kill you to have a window in here? I can't even tell the time!" Sakura pouted. "I wanna go outside…!"

But Sasuke hasn't answered, remaining silent.


He gave Sakura a small glare, seemingly gesturing her to silence herself.

When she did, she heard footsteps and a presence near his room. "Oh, why didn't you tell me earlier?" she mouthed. All she got was a short shrug. Then, the presence faded away into oblivion. "Tch, you could've just gave me a gesture than a glare, moron."

Sasuke stood up, heading to his door.

"Are you going to leave me alone again?" Sakura asked. She cupped her mouth. Why did she say that? She did not know, but she felt like there was a part of her heart that didn't want him to leave her again. "It looks like I really can't hate him deep in my heart…" Sakura had to admit, but she knew there was some good in him.

"Didn't you want to go outside?"

Sakura perked up, her eyes gleaming with hope. She nodded, scrambling up to her feet. "We're really going outside?"

"Yes," Sasuke verified plainly. With that, Sakura caught up to Sasuke, walking beside him.

"Maybe I'll get used to this lifestyle… As long as nothing too bad happens," Sakura thought. "Maybe Sasuke-kun won't notice… until the time's right. He'll probably feel so awkward if I reveal my identity." She smiled to herself, strangely happy that she was with Sasuke again. (Yes, it was quite a sudden change in mood and thoughts.)


"Kakashi-Sensei!" Kiba screeched through the forest. "This is really bad!"

"What's wrong?" Kakashi turned his head from his Icha-Icha Paradise novel.

"Sakura's gone! She might've been captured!"

Shikamaru snapped awake at the word 'captured'. "Captured? By who?"

"I don't know, but I smelled another scent in her last location," Kiba declared. He glanced at the jounin, who closed the novel. "What should we do, Kakashi-Sensei?"

"Well, judging by what you told me, there are two possibilities: She's been captured by an outsider or wandered somewhere in the village," Kakashi hypothesized. "But our first priority is to finish our mission here, and then we will find Sakura."

"But Kakashi-Sensei! Sakura is our teammate and a medic ninja!" Shikamaru objected. "We should be finding her right now!"

"Look, for all we know, she could be somewhere in the village," Kakashi insisted. "We'll be finished with our mission by tomorrow morning, so we'll have the whole day to find her."

"What if we can't find her the whole day?"

"If it that is our result, I'll relay a message to Tsunade-sama that Sakura has gone missing."

"So she's gonna be deemed as a missing nin?" Kiba exclaimed. "Just like Sasuke?"

Akamaru barked in agreement.

A memory of Sasuke tugged at Kakashi's heart. "No, when I mean by 'missing nin', I mean that she will be considered captured." Kiba and Shikamaru sighed in relief. "Until we get more information, we'll have to give her that title." Kakashi looked at the darkening sky. "It's getting dark. We should get some rest for tomorrow."


"Are you satisfied?" Sasuke asked. The two had gone into the center of the forest, where the trees created a crater of their own. There, Sakura was able to see the vast sky clearly.

"Yeah," Sakura replied. She looked up at the boy before her, arching her head all the way just to look at his face. "By the way, what can I call you?" Sasuke glanced at her, raising a brow. "Let me rephrase that: How should I address you: Sasuke-san, Uchiha-kun, Sasuke-s… sama, etcetera?" Sakura swore that she choked when she had tried to say "Sasuke-sama".

"Do whatever you want."

"Fine, then can I address you as "Bastard"?"

"No." Sasuke crossed his arms. "You cannot call me by any words related to that."

"Fine, can I just call you by your first name, if that's okay?" Sakura asked. It was a first-name basis*, but she didn't think Sasuke would care. He'd probably say…

"… Sure."

Sakura looked up. She expected him to say, "Call me however you want." Not that! But she understood and pointed at the sky.

"Look, the sky's so colorful!" she exclaimed, a bubbly laughter escaping her mouth. "Maybe I should start acting like me in my childhood days… when I met Ino: A tough, yet shy little girl." As Sakura reflected back to those days, she remembered the time when she first fell in love with Sasuke. "What the…? That is so irrelevant to my situation right now!"

"It's getting dark," Sasuke stated. "We're going."

"Okay." Sakura followed close behind Sasuke, but her mind was preoccupied with escape plans. "This could be my chance!" But her ninja instincts contradicted her statement. "What if he catches you?" She thought, "I could just say… 'I got lost'?" It was a lame excuse, but for a six-year-old, it wasn't.

Her heart was pounding and a sweat drop rolled down her cheeks. This could mean returning back to her team. This would mean that she can tell her team where Orochimaru's hideout is. This should mean that Sasuke can come back to Konoha! But for the time being, that would mean staying away from Sasuke again. She took a step back and took another one, but the sound of a snapping twig stopped her. She froze when Sasuke turned his head to her.

"Where are you going?" Sasuke asked, his voice having a cold, cautious tone.

Sakura quickly shifted her personality into her younger self's. "I thought I heard something near you and freaked out," Sakura replied. A frog suddenly hopped out from the bushes, right in front of her. Even as a fourteen-year-old, Sakura still didn't like frogs. She shrieked, causing the creature to hop away from fright. Crouching into a ball, she screamed, "I hate frogs!"

Sasuke was not fond of opening his heart to others, but the child seemed to have melted some ice in him. He walked over to the crouching Sakura, picking her up in his arm again. He resumed their path to the hideout.

"Ugh… This is so weird…"

Sasuke averted his eyes to her, staring deeply into her green eyes. Where had he seen them before? He dismissed that question as Sakura waved her hands in front of his face. He suddenly said, "I don't like to have servants."

"Then, why did you decide to take me?"

"You're a child," Sasuke stated coldly. "You'd probably not even survive if you were someone else's servant or in the dungeons."

"What's wrong with being someone else's servant?"

"I'm not answering that."

Sakura pouted, crossing her arms. "What about the dungeons? Who's in there?"

"Prisoners that have been experimented on. They can be uncontrollable monsters."

"Oh." Sakura was about to speak again when her stomach interceded with a growl. "Oops…"

Sasuke stared at her blushing frame. "That was a big growl," he murmured.

"I heard that, bakayaro."


They entered the hideout, once again returning to the dark hallways. "Tch, of all the underground places I've been in, this is the worst." She rolled her eyes. "Does Orochimaru tend to make his hideout look that ominous in the inside?"

A smirk formed on Sasuke's frame. Sakura's stomach growled once more.

"What's for dinner?"

"Who knows…?" Sasuke entered his room, standing still at the door. "Do you want to wait until yours arrive or do you want to come with me?"

"I want to come with you. I don't want something that looks edible, yet poisonous brought to me," Sakura replied. Sasuke started walking to the dining rooms. "Seriously, what if dinner is like some weird stew that could contain an ingredient that could paralyze me?"

"If that was so, then we'd all be paralyzed." They entered the dining room, and Sakura expected strange-looking dishes, but they appeared to be normal.

"I stand corrected," Sakura muttered. As Sasuke let her down, she saw different dishes laid out in front of her. Her eyes scanned through each tray as Sasuke picked a bowl of rice and stew, two orange wedges, and a cup of green tea.

"Not eating?"

"I'll just get this one." Sakura grabbed a bun, which was about the size of Sasuke's palm, a thin sheet of glaze coating it. She followed Sasuke to his seat. "You mind if I eat here?" Judging from the Uchiha's silence, she took that as a 'no'. She sat on the floor about to take a bite of her dinner until Orochimaru and Kabuto came in.

"Ah, Sasuke-kun, I see you came here early with the child."

Sasuke didn't say anything, nor did Sakura, but continued to eat.

"Well, enjoy your meal, child." Orochimaru and Kabuto sat down, eating their dinner.

Sakura gave Orochimaru a cautious glance and nodded. "Ugh, Orochimaru still creep me out." She suppressed a shudder and took another bite of her bun. "But I need to be careful around those two. Orochimaru is a sannin, so there's a strong possibility that he'll notice my chakra signature. Kabuto was trained as a medic ninja and could probably reveal my identity if he sees something suspicious." As she ate, she thought of escape plans, but all she would be able to resort to is fight her way out.

"Your name was Ayame, yes?" Kabuto asked. Sakura perked up, nodding sharply. Kabuto nudged his glasses, his face expressionless. "I see. Well, thank you for answering my question." He went back to his meal.

Sasuke finished eating, leaving his plates on the table. A servant picked them up, placing them in a tray she was carrying.

"U-um… E-excuse me…" Sakura excused herself from Orochimaru and Kabuto. She was not finished eating yet, but hurried over to him, holding her unfinished bun. Once she caught up to Sasuke, she resumed eating while walking. "How can you deal with that aura? It's so creepy…"

He smirked. "Get used to it."


It was around midnight, and Sakura was still awake.

"I'd get out of here, but that seems fruitless," Sakura thought. She recalled seeing guards placed at every corner of a hallway and outside. "They'd catch me instantly!" This was becoming more and more difficult for her to escape.

"You're not planning to escape, are you?" Sasuke's voice suddenly called out. Startled, she jumped. "That's going to be pointless. You'd be beaten if they catch you."

"Tch, you weren't asleep?"

"Your breathing constantly spiked up and down, which would mean you're still awake."

Sakura rolled her eyes, sighing. "Fine, I'll sleep." She had to consider her first day a failed attempt. She relaxed, letting her heavy eyelids drop and guide her to sleep.

Sasuke finally heard the even breathing of a sleeping person, so he slipped into unconsciousness.

A/N: What do you think? Please review! ^^

*Ayame = Iris (Sakura's new form has lilac hair, and Irises have different colors. But they mostly come in purple, so yeah. :D)

*First-Name Basis = In Japan, when you're really close in a relationship (Friendship/Love), you call them by first names. Sure, Sakura was close to Sasuke, but Ayame isn't. She's a six-year-old, so she doesn't know about the first-name basis yet.