A/N: This fic takes place after chapter 507, and as I write this, 507 just came out. Most likely, this will not be canon. Although, at this point, who really cares what is canon anymore? Also made Sakura and the other people a bit older. Why? Well, come on, even on the path of a shinobi, no fifteen year old should have that much power.
Sakura had been cleaning up Konoha with the other villagers when she heard someone call out her name. When she looked up, Neji greeted her briefly. "Sakura-san, they are bringing in an Akatsuki prisoner."
Her brows furrowed, her expression bemused as she rose from her task. "A prisoner? You mean someone actually caught one of them... alive?"
"Alive, but unconscious. They want to make sure he stays that way for a while. Tsunade-sama is still in recovery, and Shizune is unable to tend to this. That leaves you. They asked me to send for you, to keep the prisoner unconscious for as long as they require."
An errant strand of hair was shoved aside from her eyes, thoughts going through all of the formulas she knew off hand. "That shouldn't be overly difficult. If you can find me an assistant to locate any ingredients around here..." Her eyes turned to gaze at the destruction around her. "Never mind. If we can't find ingredients, I can induce unconsciousness using my chakra. Who is the prisoner?"
"I only heard his name. Hoshigake Kisame."
She paused, thinking over what she already knew of Akatsuki. Strange, she didn't know much about this one. Then, it came to her. "I remember now. Itachi's partner, right?" When Neji supplied a nod, she recalled everything. "Right, the one with sharklike features. That shouldn't interfere with my medical techniques much. I'll follow you."
The unfinished collection of debris was left behind in the dust, her feet guiding her over fallen beams and around rubble. Konoha was like a maze now, the familiar streets turned into a hodge-podge of clutter and wooden supports. All around, people were picking up the pieces of what they had once loved. It was from this that she had to tear her eyes away. There was work to be done. Ahead, where Yamato had gotten a head start on reconstructing buildings, most of the structures had been taken over as emergency treatment centers and lodging for the critically injured. This was also where the prisoner would be kept, she assumed. One of those buildings may well have to be converted for interrogation. The mere thought made her cringe.
A small crowd clustered around someone, and Yamato was in the center of it. He efficiently cleared everyone away from the scene, looking over heads until he spotted her. Waving his arms, he directed her over to where the heavily beaten shark man lay at his feet. "Sakura-chan... you're just in time." He was out of breath, collapsing to a sitting position on the ground as soon as she neared. "You'll need to be quick. He's showing signs of waking up already."
"Right." Next to her, Neji left the scene quickly, no doubt on other errands. She focused on the task at hand, kneeling next to Kisame's barely breathing body. Whoever had defeated him had done so with a great amount of blunt force trauma. No time for an exam yet, though. A warm flood of chakra filled her hands, her fingers delicately resting on the man's temples as she flooded his mind. Considering his size, weight and unnatural nature, she increased the pressure of her chakra, searching out the center for sleep in the brain. She probed at it cautiously, seeing how much it took to get his breathing to lengthen, his muscles to relax and thoughts to fade away. That should do it. Sitting back with a sigh, she looked up into Yamato's anxious expression. "He should be out for at least a few hours now, if not longer. I will need to do a full physical assessment before any sort of interrogation is done on him. We need a whole hostage, after all."
"Yes... As I'm sure Neji informed you, neither Tsunade or Shizune are in any condition to do this. I hope you don't mind taking this on alone. You're the next best medic in Konoha."
"No, it's alright. If I can take any burden off my master and Shizune, I'll gladly do it." Her lips twisted in a small frown as she stared down at the shark's calm visage. "I'd even do the interrogation if it was necessary. This man was partnered with Itachi. He has to know something about Sasuke. Even if he doesn't, his knowledge about the organization in general might lead us to him. I know how invaluable our time is."
"Alright. I can get you set up in this building here. There's already a pallet set up, you can put him there until we can find an examination table. If there are any left."
"There aren't, I already know that much. The buildings you have here and the Hokage mountain are all that's left. What you have in there right now will be enough. He's not in such dire condition that I can't heal him with chakra alone. From what I can tell already, he has remarkably high regenerative properties, much like Naruto. Not quite as fast as him, but faster than ours. How much do you know about this Kisame?"
"He has... many strange techniques. I'm not very familiar with the shinobi of the mist, but his techniques are best described as... bizarre. I've never seen anything like it. He was able to seal himself within his own sword, as if becoming a part of it. He's water-natured, obviously, and he can summon vast amounts of shark demons. His chakra reserves are immense, but he makes a very efficient use of it. Along with that, he is very experienced in battle, and hardly needs his sword to win a fight."
"I see..." She did a quick visual once-over, inspecting a few of the bruises curiously. "This looks like hand to hand work. Gai-sensei?"
"Right, he was there on the island when it happened."
"That's interesting... Wait, didn't he fight Kisame before? Yeah, it was back when I had to fight Sasori... Gai's team fought against Kisame's clone while we fought Itachi's."
"If I remember hearing right, this was their third encounter."
"It seems a bit odd that Gai-sensei would not have mentioned this before. I only know because I was there. Did he mention anything in particular about Kisame?"
Yamato considered that for a minute, leaning back as well. "No. In fact, despite this being their third meeting, he seemed to have no idea who Kisame was. We reminded him, sure, but even then he couldn't remember."
She let out a long sigh. "I respect his skill, but he needs to focus a bit more on remembering what's important. Alright. Could you help me take this big lug in? I'll do a more thorough exam without the gaping crowd."
When Yamato looked up, sure enough they had started to attract a crowd again. He shooed them away briefly before lifting under Kisame's shoulders while she took the feet. They barely managed to get his heavy frame past the doorway, but by some sort of luck they managed to get him situated on the pallet. She brushed a bit of sweat off her brow, nodding one last time. Yamato understood the gesture, leaving her alone with the shark.
Seconds slowly ticked by as she assessed the situation. She was alone with an Akatsuki member. This was far stranger than her encounter with Sasori. He had been able to fight back. Somehow this was oddly disappointing. His clothing was barely recognizeable, his pants the only thing intact enough to cover him. It made things easier for her, though at the same time a bit more... awkward. True, she was accustomed to seeing all sorts of anatomy, but still, seeing someone new was always a bit unnerving. Her hands flew automatically to his chest, checking his vitals. Breathing was normal, given the amount of damage sustained. Blood loss was high, but his heart beat a strong, steady rhythm. Blood pressure seemed normal, though she wasn't sure if someone as altered as he was had the same kind of flow. His heart was a larger size due to his unusual qualities, and she discovered with a bit of shock that the gills on his face were quite functional and linked to his lungs. That was where things got interesting.
Part of his body appeared to be completely inhuman. Retractable fins seemed to be lodged in his back and arms, a larger set of gills stowed away near his collarbone. His bones seemed to be bone, not largely cartilage like a true shark, but she detected a certain softness that would allow him to take a great amount of damage without a long recovery time. Despite these sharklike attributes, he seemed just as well suited to land as to water. Large lungs could take in air straight, the gills retractable. Still, he couldn't have stayed in a place like Suna for too long without water, that much was certain. His injuries were extensive, though not life threatening, so she only healed the most problematic ones. As she worked, she tensed for a moment when his eyes opened. She had immobilized him from the neck down with another jutsu, but she felt his icy eyes pin her with his glare.
Sakura met his gaze fearlessly, rising from her hunched observations. "You won't be able to move until I allow it, so don't bother fighting it."
His eyes blinked rapidly, adjusting to the scene as he sighed lightly. "I know what this is."
"Good. I didn't expect you to wake just yet, but I suppose your recovery is even faster than I expected." Enough pleasantries, she chided herself. There was no need to reassure someone like him. "Where is Uchiha Sasuke?"
He went through a few different expressions, most of them thoughtful. "Why should I say anything to you, kunoichi?"
"I might just let you sit up to eat instead of having you laying there all day."
His lips thinned into a line, eyes darting to hers. "Even if I wanted to tell you, I've got nothing to tell. I have no idea where he is now, I was sent off on my mission before he even came around. You probably know more than I do." Eyes glancing from ceiling to her, then back, he let out another small huff of a sigh. "I suppose this is where the interrogation starts."
"No, not yet. I'm not the one doing the interrogation. You might not like who will be, though." She tried to give a satisfied smirk, but it just wouldn't come. Despite him being Akatsuki, she never could bring herself to see interrogation or torture as a justifiable action. Necessary, yes. Warranted, certainly. Palatable? No. "I will be taking care of your physical exam, as well as healing or other instructions from the other staff."
He scoffed, staring intensely at the wooden roof overhead. "They'll get nowhere fast. For all I know, it's not much. It's not like I was in charge of anything."
"Who was, then?"
"Oh no you don't, girly. I'm not about to spill anything to anyone, no matter what happens. Like I said, interrogation or not, you won't get anything from the likes of me. I'm trained to endure this shit."
She didn't say anything, simply slipping into medic mode, investigating everything and taking notes as she went. Someone had been kind enough to leave a clipboard and pad of lined paper behind, and she used it gratefully. The pencil scratched on the tablet repeatedly, pages turning as they were filled, and she couldn't help noticing that his musculature was very peculiar. It looked normal outwardly, but the way it was built piqued her interest. "Reminds me of Zabuza..." Her voice was so soft, she almost didn't realize she said it out loud until he responded.
"Ugh, don't compare me to that guy."
Her lips turned down into a frown, though she kept up her work. "Well, why not? You had a lot in common."
He caught on to her use of the past tense quickly. "So he's dead. Serves the idiot right."
She stared at him with disbelief. "You seriously didn't know he was dead? He was your old comrade, maybe a friend, or at least a fellow team member. It's been years!"
"Didn't care. I was busy with other things."
"I'm sure Akatsuki kept you quite busy, but that still doesn't explain why you had to find out about your own fellow team mate's death so many years after the fact. How could you not care? Even if you weren't fond of him, he was still a part of your group, part of something you knew."
He laughed out loud at that, stopping only when she stared him down. "Oh come on, you're a ninja. You know how it is. Your team members are only your team members until you leave the team, and after that, your only concern is your new team. It doesn't pay to have emotional attachments, we're taught that from day one. All it does is make you go crazy, like Zabuza. Really, what kind of ninja are you? If I hadn't seen you heal like that, I would have thought they brought in a mere village girl."
A long pause followed, extending as she finished one more note. She bit her lip, not looking in his direction, barely focusing her vision on the clipboard. "I used to think like that too. We do things different here. You almost never see a missing ninja from Konoha, and it's for a good reason. Our ways have changed from the old days. We treasure our bonds."
"What a load of crap. It's all a bunch of crap, the ninja system, the relationships, the alliances, all crap. Your bonds won't do you much good if the other villages ever got the initiative to attack."
She had to admit he was right about that, at least. "No, maybe not. But we'll still take them for what they're worth here and now. Even if we didn't have them, we would still lose through attrition. I would rather live as best as I can in the circumstances, and keep searching for the truth."
"The truth, huh... There is no truth left in the shinobi world."
"What do you mean by that?" She looked down at him, but he had turned his head aside, eyes closed and not looking like he would answer. With a small sigh to herself, she returned to her notes. If he wanted to talk, he had the time. Until then, she would be patient. Still... what did he mean? The thoughts troubled her even in her deepest concentration. No, she told herself. Save the thoughts for later. There's work to be done. Her hands glowed green again, her thoughts cast aside as she leaned forward once again. Maybe later.