Ok, this started as humorous one shot. Many people asked for more so it turned into a weird little story that's probably more drama than humor. It went from one chapter to four…well, maybe five chapters, so whatever happens, expect the unexpected. I tried to get this out faster but I keep changing my mind on what to do and then I got into my other stories and…yeah, you know. I'm kinda busy.
And one more thing—way over 7k here—long chapter—blood, sweat & tears—so please review—your thoughts could still effect the rest of the story as it's undecided.
And let me remind you that although there are some rather, ahem, warm scenes, this story is not classified under romance, so I wouldn't expect an ending like and they lived happily ever after.
I personally feel like Itachi is pretty darn ooc in this story but—eh? You'd rather have hot, naughty Itachi, ne?
I thought so.
Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.
Chapter 3—Chances Are
Don't you remember the day
That you went away—and left me?
I was lonely, prayed for you only, my love.
"What the fuck?"
Sasuke never thought to find his brother at a place like this…doing that. When he neared the onsen, he recognized his brother's chakra immediately and came straight for him, only to find this.
'Impossible. Could this be genjutsu?'
His cruel, emotionless brother was bent over a woman's body on the edge of the pool in the dark of night. Itachi's long hair covered their faces, but he could clearly see them.
Itachi lay half-naked over the woman in the towel. Their skin glowed as steam rose off their bodies, curling and twisting around them before dissipating into the chill air. Her hands lay flat against his chest. Itachi whispered something to her and drew her body up to his. Sasuke tensed when she cried out—the woman sounded frightened—maybe things weren't exactly as they seemed.
Sasuke was certain this was his brother, but Itachi's actions seemed foreign to his nature. He called out to him in challenge.
Sasuke watched wide-eyed as he saw the shadow of his brother's face through the curtain of his hair. Itachi leaned down and kissed the woman. She gasped.
"Gomen, otouto. I'm afraid I can't play with you today. As you can see, I'm on a seduction mission."
The woman screamed and they both vanished.
Unexpectedly, Sasuke experienced the first moment of panic that he'd felt in years.
That girl under Itachi—he knew her!
"Sakura?" he asked the empty space where they had been.
Her cry echoed through his memory. He heard that same voice begging, pleading with him not to leave her alone, to take her with him, pledging to do anything to help him get his revenge.
What the hell was Sakura doing with Itachi!
He pulled Kusanagi from its scabbard and swung. A half dozen bamboo trees split in two—the rustle and crack of falling branches jarred his conflicting thoughts.
Doubt rang through him. 'Is Sakura still trying to assist me in my quest for vengeance by attempting to kill Itachi? Is he playing some kind of game, using her as bait? Or is she planning to betray me?'
He wasn't about to wait to find out.
"Karin," he growled at the girl hiding in the woods.
"Yes, Sasuke-kun," she simpered, running to him and clinging to his arm. She cringed at the way his aura burned with jealousy.
He brushed her off. "Where are they?"
"Who?" Karin pretended he hadn't just said they. "Itachi? Oh, yes. I'll find him for you, Sasuke-kun!" Her hands slipped through the hand signs for her Kagura Shingan. She gasped at what she found—her cheeks flushed red.
"Where are they?"
"The woods—that way," she said, pointing. "About eight miles. Ah, Sasuke-kun? He took that girl with him and they're—"
Sasuke was already on his way.
"What do the hell you think you're doing?" Sakura hissed hysterically, struggling to free herself. Itachi held her down on the soft grass by lying atop her, his hands gripping her forearms over her head—he was somehow blocking her chakra through the pulse points there. "Get off me!"
"Did you miss me, Sakura?" His low tenor gave her shivers and his lips tickled her skin as he grazed her neck with his teeth. "I can feel your pulse racing, set to burst." The tip of his tongue caressed the edge of her ear and he chuckled at her sharp intake of breath. "I know I excite you." He ground his hips into hers as his hard body settled suggestively atop hers. "Have you been thinking of my offer to make you a woman?"
He ignored her demand. "I've thought about it, Sakura. In fact, the idea hasn't left my mind since I let you escape my bed."
She groaned in frustration and felt him smirk against the side of her neck.
"Why won't you leave me alone?" She twisted, trying to escape, but that only made her more aware of the sparse amount of fabric separating their bare skin and how loose it was becoming.
"You had the sword."
"Had! Past tense!"
"Did you bring my cloak with you, too, Sakura?" He spoke directly into her ear and the puff of air sent shivers down her spine.
"The cloak?" she gasped. "You want the cloak?"
'That's what this was about,' she thought, relieved—although, both she and Ibiki had checked and found nothing in the robe's pockets. Ibiki returned it to her before she left Konoha, chuckling indulgently about her escapade, telling her it would make a great housecoat—sure to frighten off even the most persistent door-to-door salesmen.
"You can have it back," she told him, panting, squirming, trying to avoid looking in his deep red eyes—eyes that could render her helpless in between the space of a moment. "It's in my apartment. I'll go get it for you right now."
"What's your hurry?" Itachi held her down firmly when she tried to get up. "I warned you that when next we met, I would not be honor-bound by some silly bet and could do to you…as…I…please." He punctuated each word with a kiss down her neck to her collarbone, dangerously close to her cleavage.
"Besides, it amuses me to see my little brother so upset when you respond to me." His head dipped and Itachi sucked at her pulse point until she moaned involuntarily from the sinful sensations running through her body—whatever he had done to her wrists made the strength in her arms melt and her chakra system go haywire.
Itachi took both her hands in his one hand, freeing his other to roam freely. He paused to tug her towel loose before smoothly grazing his hand along the side of her breast. His fingers slipped into the gap where the cloth had fallen open near her thigh. She closed her eyes and gasped at the electric contact of his palm against her naked hip.
'How is it,' she thought wildly, trying to make sense of this senseless situation, 'that one brother can be so dangerous and fiery, and the other so protective and cold—yet they're both so beautiful and deadly?'
"You are so responsive to me, Sakura," he hummed. "I enjoy that, but Sasuke didn't seem too happy." He chuckled when a small frown marred her features at the name of his otouto. "The jealous look on his face makes me wonder if Sasuke finds you as interesting as I do."
'Sasuke-kun? Jealous?' Sakura's Inner voice shouted. 'You did not just say that!'
Suddenly, Itachi wasn't quite so daunting. He didn't know Sasuke as well as he thought. He had no idea of what they'd been through—how she could never give Sasuke what he'd needed no matter how hard she'd tried—of the miles of pain between them. She realized then, he was just using her to get on Sasuke's nerves—the idiot.
A bitter bark of laughter broke from her.
"The only feeling Sasuke has for me is contempt, you bastard!" She grit her teeth, suppressing a moan as his hand did something that felt so amazing yet so wrong. "I won't take part in your games. Using me to hurt him won't work. He doesn't care about—eek!"
"I don't play games, Sakura." Itachi promised, pinching her tender skin. Under the towel, his hand smoothed up from her waist to ghost across her breast and Sakura's body betrayed her as she closed her eyes and nearly arched into his touch—even as her mind reeled, screaming danger at her. "My hunger for you has nothing to do with him."
"No," she protested faintly. He's lying! It couldn't be true. She closed her eyes in concentration, trying to disturb her chakra system because, surely, something this unbelievable must be genjutsu.
Her breath caught as he kissed her. His tongue swept past her lips to coax and tease, setting a blaze that burned through her mind, numbing it to all else. His warm hand traced a trail of fire, sliding down her leg to her knee, bending it and slowly drawing it up. Sakura was sure that any second now her heart would burst.
"You fascinate me, Sakura."
Her eyes opened in surprise, and she was immediately lost in lucid red pools.
'Game over,' she thought fleetingly, feeling her consciousness slipping away, 'I lost.'
A branch broke with a purposefully loud crack and the spiky-haired shadow of her former teammate strode into the moonlit clearing. His red eyes glared at them both.
Sakura snapped back the instant before she was brought fully under Itachi's Sharingan. In a daze, she stared at the odd look of irritation on her captor's face.
"Did it look like I needed your help, little brother? Rest assured, I can handle her by myself. I won't be sharing my toy with you."
"T-toy!" Sakura sputtered.
"Sakura, if you don't want to die, then leave," Sasuke ordered.
"You say that like I chose to be here!" Sakura hissed furiously from beneath Sasuke's brother.
Itachi shook his head at her. "Cute, Sakura-chan, but I'm afraid I'll have to postpone our little reunion."
"Till never sounds good to me," she said, once again angrily struggling unsuccessfully to get out from under him. Sasuke could see the line that lay open in the towel, exposing her from her chest down her side, to her long, lovely leg, where his brother's hand was wrapped around her thigh.
Ignoring her opinion, Itachi bent to crush her swollen lips with his and she yelped as his body suddenly exploded into a murder of crows and disappeared.
Black feathers rained down while Sakura cautiously sat up, shaking off the after affects of Itachi's attempted genjutsu and rubbing her sore wrists to get the circulation back through her chakra system. Her chakra glowed green while she unblocked her chakra points. Sasuke glared at her as she sat in the moonlight, hair mussed, eyes bright, cheeks flushed—looking completely ravished—in only a towel.
A towel that, at the moment, was not covering nearly enough of her.
"What the fuck were you doing with him, Sakura?" Sasuke stood over her menacingly, his hand on his sword's pommel, fingers clenching and unclenching.
Karin waited in the shadows, aghast at the protective note in Sasuke's voice when he spoke to that woman. He had never so much as put one ounce of emotion in anything he'd said to her.
She was livid.
"You think that I wanted to do that?" Grasping the towel to herself, Sakura got up and shoved her ex-teammate away. "You asshole!"
"Don't talk like that to my Sasuke-kun!" Karin jumped between Sasuke and Sakura, shoving the pink-haired slut back.
Sasuke pushed Karin out of his way and took another threatening step toward Sakura.
Sakura glared at the redhead. "God damn it. I don't need this," she growled.
'I've got to get that sword back!' she thought, looking around the clearing, trying to get her bearings from Itachi's confusing displacement jutsu.
"If you don't tell me what you were doing with him, I'll kill you right now," Sasuke threatened, roughly taking a hold of her arm.
Karin got an idea. If Sasuke became angry enough at this slut cavorting with Itachi then he would kill her and then she could comfort him.
"Just kill her, Sasuke-kun!" Karin urged from behind him. "I saw them. They were having sex! She's obviously Itachi's lover!"
Sakura's face blazed red. "That's not true! I was not…doing that with him!" Sakura hissed, stomping her bare foot.
"Shut up, Karin," Sasuke cut the redhead short when her mouth opened again. "Just figure out where Itachi went."
He let go of Sakura's arm and watched her adjust the loose towel around herself securely as she attempted to compose herself. Her hands were trembling—the only outward sign that she was shaken up by what happened.
It seemed likely that Itachi was just using her to taunt him because he knew that Sakura used to be on his genin team. The thought that she would even look at his brother bothered the hell out of him, much less be doing what Itachi and now Karin wanted him to believe they were doing. The fact that Sakura wasn't defending Itachi and that his brother had left her alone with him told him the truth.
"Sasuke-kun, I can't sense him. His chakra is completely blocked and he's too far away." Karin lied boldly while she glared at Sakura.
'How dare that pink bitch touch or curse at my Sasuke-kun? Why in the world would he be jealous over that girl?' The way Sasuke was looking at her made Karin want to scratch her eyes out. She deserved to die! Karin pouted at Sasuke. "Can't we just kill her and go…please?"
Sakura chuckled ironically. "She's helping you find Itachi?" She snorted in derision. "She can't seem to find him and I can't seem to get away from the bastard."
Sakura stopped laughing. "She couldn't find her own ass with two hands and a map."
Karin gasped indignantly while a third ninja started laughing in the bushes. Sakura took a defensive stance as Suigetsu, and then Juugo walked out to join them. Suigetsu grinned at the interesting view. Sasuke stood between an irate Karin and a nearly-naked, pretty girl—the Akatsuki they'd been chasing were nowhere in sight.
"Did you find Itachi?"
"He's gone," Sasuke informed him.
"No, he's not."
Sasuke looked at Sakura suspiciously, fingering his sword pommel.
"You're lying! She's trying to trick you, Sasuke-kun. Kill her," Karin cried. She couldn't backpedal now and tell Sasuke she had fibbed to get him to kill that man-stealing wench!
"Go ahead. Kill me, Sasuke-kun," Sakura mimicked her, lifting one chakra-lined fist. "Go ahead and try."
"How can you find them when she can't?" His thumb pointed back over his shoulder. Sakura relaxed her fighting stance.
"Before I left Konoha, I put a charm on Samehada in case I was intercepted on the way to deliver it."
"You had the Sharkskin!" Suigetsu moaned loudly slapping his hands over his face and bending as if she'd slugged him in the stomach. "Ten minutes sooner and it would have been mine—along with the girl." He peeked through his fingers and grinned at her.
"Fat chance, you twit!" she scolded the white-haired boy. "And I wouldn't have given you the sword either!" She scowled. "Tch," she scoffed. "I can't stand here and argue. I've got to get that sword back." She began the hand signs for a transportation jutsu.
Sasuke grabbed her hand, stopping her. "I'm going with you," he insisted.
"Me, too!" Suigetsu added.
"No!" both she and Karin cried out at the same time.
"Sakura," he warned, ignoring the other woman simpering at his shoulder.
Sakura sighed heavily. She was wasting time here arguing with Sasuke, that weird fan-girl and the pervert with the creepy smile and she didn't even have proper clothing to chase after the Akatsuki with her sword. Her eyes glided over her former teammate's determined face, wishing that this reunion had happened in a completely different manner.
"Fine. Then give me your shirt."
Sasuke narrowed his eyes at her.
"No way!" Karin shrieked. "You can't have anything of his."
"I need something to wear that I can run in." she told Sasuke honestly, trying to ignore the woman screeching at her. She didn't understand how Sasuke put up with that meddlesome harpy.
"Take Suigetsu's shirt!" Karin yelled.
"She can't take mine. It's made of water, remember?"
"She could fit her whole body into the sleeve." Suigetsu snickered. "Why not give her your shirt, Karin? It's not like you've got anything worth covering up."
Karin screamed at him in a fit of rage until Sasuke's dark look made her shut up.
"Your shirt wouldn't fit her anyway, cause she's got—" Suigetsu cupped his hands in front of his chest in the shape of boobs and laughed hysterically until Karin started to strangle him. When her hands pushed straight through the water nin she got a face full of water and squealed and sputtered while he laughed all the more.
"Hn," Sasuke growled at his team's antics before turning back to Sakura, who looked like she was ready to chase after the Akatsuki in nothing but that damn towel. During the argument between Karin and Suigetsu, she'd already slipped half a dozen steps away from him.
"Fine," Sasuke growled, stripping off his shirt as he caught up to her in three long strides, cutting off her escape route. "Just hurry up."
He stood facing Sakura holding it out, using his body to block the others while she slipped her arms into the long sleeved garment. She dropped her towel and tied the gi's inside strings tightly. It was too big. She still had room to wrap the shirt almost twice around her slim body and the sleeves hung down over her hands.
"Come here," Sasuke ordered menacingly as he untwisted the rope from his waist.
"No!" Her eyes went wide and she stumbled back. Were both Uchiha brothers' depraved perverts, she wondered. He caught her arm.
"Why were you with him?" He tugged her close enough so he could grab her waist, pulling her within arm's reach.
"I wasn't," she insisted.
"You're playing a dangerous game, Sakura." He said, slowly reaching behind her, wrapping the rope around her thrice while she turned her face up his and looked untrustingly into his infinitely dark eyes.
"It's no game, Sasuke-kun." Sakura swallowed her uneasiness at being so close to the man who'd left her alone so long ago. The air between them felt so charged, it would not have shocked her to see actual sparks igniting when they touched. In her mind she could hear her owns words echoing between them—when she swore her undying love to him forever. High color blazed on her cheeks.
"Sasuke-kun." She licked her lips. "If I tell you where he is, I—I want you to help me, too. I'm taking the sword back."
He didn't give her an answer. Sasuke watched her closely while he tied the belt tight. Her eyes were wide open and vigilant, the same vivid green as the last time he'd been this close to her. His eyes darted to her lips, where her tongue flicked out, wetting them and making them shine alluringly. His gaze was drawn further down to where the moonlight played on the jut of her smooth collarbone and her uncovered cleavage. The length of his shirt fell to the mid-thigh on her, but because there were no buttons, the front dipped far too low, inadvertently exposing a generous amount of her attributes. Without thinking his hand reached over, grasping the material to tug it closed. She gasped and slapped his hand away. She stepped back, fixing it herself.
Suigetsu wolf whistled when she stepped out from behind Sasuke.
"Sasuke, I'll admit you're a handsome man, but your shirt never looked this good on you. Hey, pretty lady, when you're done dating Sasuke's evil brother, you can look me up." He leered lustily at her.
Sakura almost lost her temper at his teasing. "I'm not doing anything with Ita—" She put her hand up, stopping herself from arguing with a stranger about ridiculous things. "Forget it. Thanks for the shirt, Sasuke-kun. I have to hurry. If they get too far away, I'll lose the power to sense the charm." She made ready to run, fully expecting Sasuke to follow her to his brother, whether he helped her or not.
"I'll take you." His sclera turned inky as black flames began to lick up the side of Sasuke's body and across his face until two great, hand-like wings sprouted from his back.
"What the hell?" Sakura took several quick steps back in fear until her back connected solidly with a tree trunk, knocking the air from her lungs. Her arms spread to keep her balance when her knees grew weak at the sight of the creature in front of her. She searched frantically for the best escape route. She'd never seen the second level of Sasuke's Cursed Seal form and it scared the hell out of her. It put her in mind of when she'd first seen Naruto turn into the kyuubi demon against Orochimaru—when he'd attacked her.
"Come here, Sakura," he said, stalking toward her forebodingly.
Her eyes opened impossibly wide as she stared at him. "No, ah, that's ok." She found her legs again and began to move swiftly away. "I think I'll wal—" Sasuke pounced and swept her up in his arms, at the same time lifting off into the air.
Stunned, she simply pointed one shaking finger and tried not to think about being held to her crush's naked chest so tightly or the huge, horrible wings he now sported. A sickening chill ran through her at the feel of his clawed hands stretched around her waist and curled around her thigh.
'What did Orochimaru's experimenting do to him?' she worried uneasily. The thought left her brain when Sakura was pushed up further against his chest as his strange wings gave a great heave and they surged forward. She placed her hands on his chest between them to push herself back upright.
She looked down and the trees below grew smaller and smaller as they climbed impossibly high into the sky.
"Oh my god!" Her stomach dropped and she closed her eyes tight. 'What if he drops me?' Instead of pushing away from him, her arms unconsciously snaked up around his neck and held on so tight that even if he let her go, she wouldn't fall.
She felt uneasy as they flew across the sky. But unlike the fear of being hunted by Itachi, in Sasuke's arms, even though he looked like a fearsome monster, she slowly realized that she still felt protected. He wasn't trying to grope her, she thought as she hugged him close. Sasuke held her firmly just like he used to when they were genin. And just like old times, her heart still raced at his nearness. No matter how he looked, in her heart he was still Sasuke-kun.
'He did not just chuckle,' she insisted to herself while her face turned bright red. 'He coughed.'
Secretly, Sasuke was amused by Sakura's startled reaction when he left the earth and lifted her into the air. As he flew higher, he became aware of the girl-turned-woman he held in his arms and how much she had both changed and remained the same from when they were younger. Her hot breath tickled the side of his neck and her soft lips rested against his skin as she hid her face and clung to him—not because she was some rabid fan-girl, but because she was frightened that she might fall from a great height. He glanced down and saw only inches from his face, the milk-white curves of her pale breasts peeking from beneath his shirt. And directly in front of his face, the dark red kiss mark that was already beginning to bruise her fair skin.
'Damn Itachi. He did that on purpose. He's playing games with me, trying to use Sakura as bait.' He wondered how Sakura got involved in all this. And what was she doing out on a mission alone with one of the Swords of the Seven? That was far different from the girl he knew—the girl who always needed his protection when they were children.
'She never liked heights,' he remembered now as she cringed against him when they hit a particularly strong updraft.
Her silken hair brushed against his cheek. She was still small, almost childlike, save for how her slim frame had filled out into soft, eye-pleasing curves. She smelled like warm spice and honey. It reminded him of a distant memory—something from his childhood that he couldn't quite put his finger on.
"Look out here. I won't drop you, Sakura." He squeezed her waist a little and nudged her head up with his chin. "I need you to show me where he is."
Sasuke's deep voice startled her. She cautiously opened her eyes to see where they were.
It was odd—being so high in the sky, besides the rush of air in her ears, there was very little sound. The silence of the flight, plus being so far from the ground, not to mention the fact that it was Sasuke holding her, conspired to make her very nervous. And when she was nervous, she fell back into old habits—like talking too much.
"Sasuke-kun…What you saw back there…you didn't see, um, er…he didn't—I wasn't," she took an exasperated breath, "I did not invite Itachi on my mission. He, uh, ambushed me in the hot spring. It had to be some kind of prank, I think, to get the sword from me. I've never— ah." She paled. "He's not my lov—er, boyfr—uhg! He's not my anything."
He grunted in irritation. "How does he know you?"
"Team Seven fought his clone in Suna when the Akatsuki snatched the One-Tail." She looked into his eyes for a moment, hoping to find some flicker of curiosity at the mention of his old team, but then she turned away. "And then…a few weeks ago, I ran into him and Hoshigaki while I was coming back from a solo mission through Grass and…" Her skin flushed to match her hair. "And…I, he, ah, it's complicated." She couldn't meet his dark gaze. "He claims I have something he wants."
"What?" Sasuke's voice became dangerous and his fingers clutched her hard enough to bruise her thigh—later she would find the dark imprint of his hand.
Her blush deepened and Sasuke felt her shiver against him. "I…I'm not sure, Sasuke-kun," she said softly. "But that doesn't really matter right now. I've got to get that sword back. I'm supposed to deliver it to the Mizukage tomorrow morning"
"How are you going to do that?"
"I have a plan." She said, her face set with fresh confidence. "But I can't take them both on. I can't fight against the Sharingan; just keep Itachi busy if he tries to stop me. You can leave Fishface to me."
They flew on in silence for another few minutes, Sakura guiding him as she felt the pull of the charm become stronger. She became bolder with the belief that she was secure in his strong, sure embrace, turning and viewing the grandiose scenery both above and below them. The stars shone overhead unimpeded by clouds. It seemed she could almost reach out and touch them. Wonder shone in her eyes as he watched her, the moonlight reflected on her straight, pale hair.
She could smell the sharp tang of saltwater on the air. They were high enough now to see the ocean beyond the forest and it was beautiful—glittering, nearly black with the moon shining down on the unending expanse of white-capped waves. They were getting close now, she knew, but she almost regretted it—it had been years since she felt this—Sasuke's protective embrace. Before they had to come back down from their unanticipated flight her curiosity about him got the best of her.
"Sasuke-kun?" she whispered.
"Hn?" His chest rumbled against her where their bodies touched.
"Will you come home…after?"
He sighed. Knowing her, he wondered when she might ask this question, but he just didn't know. He shrugged and her heart fell.
"You can, you know…come home." Her glimmering green eyes dropped to her lap. "We miss you. Your friends—Team Seven." Her hands pressed down warmly on his cold shoulders for a brief instant. "I…I miss you, Sasuke-kun."
Sasuke didn't have an answer for her. There were just too many variables right now. Suddenly, he felt the second stage of the curse mark receding and found he had to refocus and redouble his effort to maintain his transformation. 'That's odd,' he thought, recalling the only other time it receded without his control—during the Chunin exams when Sakura hugged him, begging him not to kill Kinuta Dosu. Maybe Itachi had some knowledge of that and was using Sakura to throw him off.
'It won't work, aniki. I'm going to kill you no matter what you do.' Today would be the day when he would end Itachi's hold over him.
"We're nearly there," he told her.
"Oh." She became conscious of the world around her once more and looked around, trying to shake off her unexpected inattentiveness. She put aside her worry for Sasuke—it wouldn't help either of them. She also had an important mission to finish.
"Let's meet them on the ground," she suggested and had to quell the urge to cry out when Sasuke took a sudden dip toward the trees. She held her breath and clung to him tightly as vertigo hit her. Just above the treetops, he pulled up and landed lightly on a thick tree limb. He set her down gently and kept hold of her arm to steady her for a second until her she could stand on her own.
"What's your plan?" he asked as his curse seal reversed and he returned to normal while she straightened her shirt.
"Let me go in first, Sasuke."
His eyebrow rose at her boldness.
"I'll attack Hoshigaki and activate the charm. If Itachi interferes again, you can step in or else, please, just wait until I've secured Samehada. Once I have the sword, maybe you can create a diversion. I am going to retreat fast. I'm sure that Hoshigaki will pursue me. I'm sorry that I can't stick around to help you with Itachi."
Of course, she knew he wouldn't appreciate her interference when it came to his revenge, but she wished she could stay to help heal him after their fight. She had faith that he was strong enough to take on his brother. At least Hoshigaki wouldn't stick around to help Itachi—he would be after her once she stole the sword back. "I was hoping that you could distract them for a few minutes after I succeed—just long enough for me to get a head start on Kisame."
He scoffed at her suggestion. "You think it will be so easy? These men are assassins, Sakura."
She smiled brilliantly at him and he was reminded of his days on Team Seven and the dobe's infinitely upbeat attitude. "Believe it, Sasuke-kun," she said warmly then reached out and softly touched his forearm. "I won't die. Have a little faith in me."
He stared at her for a moment and then acquiesced, taking two kunai from his pouch and holding them out to her.
She looked at the knives and then looked into his eyes a final time, not trying to hide the unshed tears in hers. She took a calming breath to solidify her courage. She wasn't afraid to let him see her feelings. She knew they didn't make her weak. She moved forward suddenly and hugged him close, burying her face in his neck while he stood frozen—warmth bloomed in his chest.
"Please come home soon, Sasuke-kun," she said softly and her lips brushed his cheek. Sakura slid her hands down his arms as she backed off, taking the kunai he offered before she turned away.
She darted out into the woods and his Sharingan activated as he watched her graceful movements, jumping from limb to limb before she hit the ground running. For the first time in a long time, he wondered what he'd missed by not being there to watch her progression. Regret? No, but…he felt something as he watched the Uchiha symbol on her back growing smaller the further she drew away from him. Then he remembered what she was running toward, shook off his memories and followed—he had his own mission—one far more important.
He was surprised at her courage—or stupidity, depending on how you looked at it. She was walking into a deathtrap. The Akatsuki were all ruthless murderers. He shook his head in chagrin. "Just like old times, eh?" he muttered. "Sakura getting into trouble and me having to step in and save her."
Kisame growled again at his sword. He was glad to have it back, but it was acting strange—like a lovesick puppy.
"Look here, Sammy, I don't care how sweet her chakra tastes. You're my sword."
The sword made a petitioning whine and Kisame sighed in consternation. "No, she can't come with us. She's the enemy."
Beside him the dark-haired nin chuckled as they maneuvered though the trees.
"You know, I wouldn't have this problem had you just lied in the first place."
"Lied?" Itachi's eyebrow rose.
"In the bar," Kisame reminded him. "You could have just told the girl that I won. I would have done that for you."
"Kisame-san, you were the one who made the outlandish challenge—and lost."
"You like her!" Kisame pointed accusingly at the smirking Uchiha keeping pace beside him. "You let her win because you wanted to keep her for yourself."
Itachi shook his head. "She won fair and square."
"You were snuggling up to her when I woke up. What did she promise you?"
"Nothing. You shouldn't make bets that you can't cover."
"Damn right, thief," a soft voice accused dangerously from behind them.
"Hello, Pinky." He leered at her new sexiness, manifested in Sasuke's gi. "New dress?" His eyebrows wiggled at her. "Me likey."
"Very funny, Fishface." Sakura put her hands on her hips, looking both confident and appealing. She refused to even glance at the man to Kisame's right. "Give Samehada back to me now."
The sword over Kisame's shoulder wriggled and writhed in agreement.
"Sorry, Cherry-chan. I'd like to play with you, but Samehada and I got some work to do."
Sakura pointed a kunai at him. "Let's go, Fishface."
"You and two little knives, against me and Sammy?" He lifted the bandaged sword toward her. "Don't make me laugh, little girl."
"Put the sword down, you asshole. I'll take you on with two knives or even bare-fisted—if you're not scared."
The sword on his shoulder whined and slumped and Kisame growled at it, "Fine. If I win, you will quit whining about her. Deal?"
The sword waggled and grunted in agreement and he set it down on a large rock behind them. Itachi moved to the side to give them room while he watched with great interest as the kunoichi challenged his partner. He smirked when he saw his clan symbol on her back.
"You've ruined my sword, girl. I'm gonna kill you for that," Kisame snarled at her when she took a fighting stance in front of him. Even though her stature was small, she was striking with her hair blowing in the ocean's breeze and her bright, green eyes glaring defiantly. He realized she looked very tempting in the clothing she'd acquired after her run in with Itachi.
"You know, Pinky," Kisame snickered wickedly. "I've changed my mind. If I win, I'm taking you with me. Itachi was wrong. I should have never let you walk out of that bar in Grass with my sword, bet or no bet. A sassy, little smart-mouth like you needs a real man to keep you in your place. Your place is in a nice, soft bed—and I'm just the man for the job."
"When I kill you, I'll make it quick and painful," she promised with a sneer. Her fingers slipped through the hand signs for a jutsu.
"Hana Tatsumaki no Jutsu"
The air filled with a shower of flower petals all around them.
"Flowers?" Kisame guffawed. "Little girl you don't know who you're messing with—"
Suddenly the seemingly innocuous flower petals swirled into a twister all around them—the edge of each blade became razor sharp, slicing the Water nin over every part of his body until he was forced to shield himself to avoid bleeding to death.
"That's it, woman! No more Mr. Nice Guy. Suiton: Bakusui Shōha!"
A giant ball of water began to expand between them, but she'd studied the technique—Neji detailed his team's battle with the Mist ninja. Sakura acted quickly to contain it before Kisame could control the entire battlefield.
"Kaze Senpuu no jutsu!" Kisame's wall of water twirled into a whirlpool when Sakura hit the heel of her foot on the ground, cracking open a deep fissure so the water quickly drained away, leaving behind only a few puddles.
Before he could say another word, she threw both of Sasuke's kunai at him, following behind them, ready to punch with her chakra-loaded fists.
The huge, blue ninja met her fist with his own, both ninja striking each other. Normally, Kisame's punch would be enough to put an ordinary man down, but Sakura's concentrated chakra exploded against his jaw, blasting him away into the forest behind the battlefield.
Sakura wiped the blood from her lip as she watched the place her opponent had disappeared into. She heard a clapping sound coming from the right and behind her. 'Itachi,' she thought. A quick search with her senses told her that Sasuke was on surveillance at her back and Itachi was still watching the fight from the sidelines, but she didn't know how much longer he would stay there. She didn't even need to look over to feel his eyes on her—and she knew he was smiling. She shivered.
"So you can do more than just drink, eh, kid? Kisame pulled himself out of the wreckage of broken trees and cracked his knuckles. "This is going to be fun."
Kisame descended on her. The jutsu fight was over, now that he knew she wasn't weak, he wanted hand-to-hand combat against the girl.
"Too bad you threw away your knives, Cherry-chan." He pulled out a kunai. "Stopping this is gonna hurt."
Sakura blocked his first swing with the long sleeve of her gi. She grasped his arm, twisted it around and flung her other arm around his back. With her chakra scalpels out, she stabbed him in the side and yanked the blade up.
"So you do have a weapon. You keep surprising me, Cherry-chan." He rounded on her but her fists were empty. He felt his side but there was no knife there. he growled.
"Mizu Bunshin no Jutsu!"
A water clone appeared at his side and now Sakura was on the defensive. Ducking, rolling, bending and twisting to avoid two sets of fists. She finally managed to stab the water clone in the neck, dispersing him. She flipped over backwards to give herself some space and drew out her chakra scalpels—this time so he could see them. She jerked to a stop when something grabbed her leg.
A hand reaching out of one of the puddles left from his last jutsu. She turned back to face Kisame while sending chakra to her foot to stomp the one holding her leg.
Too late! The knife was already coming in an underhand arch toward her stomach. She grabbed it, slowing it down but he bulled through, sending the blade in just below her ribs.
As Sasuke watched Sakura fight, a deep sense of satisfaction took hold. Not only was Sakura holding her own, she seemed to have the upper hand. Then in the space of a breath the tables turned. Sasuke only just glanced at Itachi when his brother's smile turned to a scowl. He looked back at Sakura.
"Too bad, Pinky. I was looking forward to teaching you some real tricks." Kisame twisted the knife to scramble her guts and Sakura collapsed to her knees. He let go and stepped back to watch her die.
Sasuke stopped breathing or even thinking. Over the edge of the horizon the first rays of the sun glowed, heralding the beginning of a new day as he watched the red flower of blood bloom through the back of Sakura's shirt just below the symbol of his clan. For one moment his world froze and he heard the echo of a childish scream of a boy who'd found his entire family dead—and then, slowly, she began to fall backwards. He flash-stepped beside her and caught her body before she hit the ground.
"Sasuke-kun." Her voice sounded small and pained. She coughed and warm blood sprayed from her mouth, hitting his bare neck and chest, running down his skin.
"This was your plan?" Sasuke frowned at her, pushing her hair back from her forehead while holding her shivering body close.
She smiled softly. Even if he pretended he didn't care about anything or anyone, Sasuke still came to her in the end. It gave her hope for his future. She brushed his cheek lovingly with the back of her hand.
"You don't have to protect me, Sasuke-kun. I've grown stronger, too. Just believe in me…and come home safe."
Sasuke heard a muted curse and looked up to see Hoshigaki glaring across the far side of the narrow ridge. Standing there above them, daringly holding Samehada against her shoulder was Sakura, unharmed. Sasuke looked down at the girl in his arms. She smile mischievously and disappeared, leaving him holding a handful of delicate pink petals.
Her voice came faintly to them from across chasm.
"Thanks for the distraction, Sasuke-kun!" Then she hauled back and slammed her fist into the ground. The ridge exploded into a huge cloud of debris and dust that rained down on them and clouded their view.
'I suppose if she can give a performance like that then I should do better,' he thought, pulling Kusanagi from its sheath.
Sasuke smirked in admiration of her audaciousness and went to work while she made her escape.
Attention! Remember way back, some time ago, when I said I would try to put up story previews for upcoming chapters? Well, I've started it!
The previews will vary and I'm posting them on my you-tube site.
If you go find it and subscribe, you'll be notified when a new posting comes up. Next week's preview will be either Cat-O-Nine Tails or Finders Keepers. If my link isn't right, my you-tube user name is kaze1y1kiba.
Here's where you need to go: youtube dot com / user / kaze1y1kiba / videos
Please review for this super-long chapter. This story is so twisted. What do you think might happen next?
Things you probably already know:
FYI; A few of these are made-up jutsu.
Hana Tatsumaki no Jutsu-Petal tornado jutsu.
Kaze Senpoo no Jutsu-Whirlwind jutsu.
Suiton: Bakusui Shōha-Water Release: Exploding Water Shock Wave
Mizu Senpuu no Jutsu-Water Whirlwind
Thank you, Sakura's Unicorn for helping me edit and amp up the heat on this crazy story.
Please do not alert or favorite without a review.