Summary: When a very pregnant Sakura is kidnapped, Sasuke must journey not only through the obstacles to find her but also his own memories.
"How do you know you're going to find her?"
"She's my wife."
To the dear readers,
This story contains many a flashback, journeying from the present, where Sakura is kidnapped, to the reaches of Sasuke's memory. The flashbacks will be indicated with words, but keep an eye out for them. Just know that most of this fic will take place in flashback.
Origins of the New Uchiha
Sakura's eyes slowly cracked then widened, her senses coming to her as the remains of sleep clung to her briefly before falling from her eyes with the brush of her smooth fingers. She yawned, looking out one of the closed windows at the airy moon, bright and pale enough to light the inner corners of her bedroom. The walls were a plain but soft white, cloaked in an eerie blue gauze with the light of the moon, and them were lined bits of modest, functional furniture, no more than a few pictures adorning them. The door along the far wall remained slid shut, though it shuddered slightly with the wind, which howled outside in a low moan. On the floor, Sakura curled her toes in the fabric of the white futon spread over her body, noting with a small hint of satisfaction how her belly seemed to be growing daily.
She rubbed it with a great amount of affection before slowly getting to her feet, being extra careful not to wake her sleeping husband.
Sasuke Uchiha, for once, did not stir at her leaving the bed, and Sakura knew he must be entirely exhausted. He'd returned that afternoon from one of his longer missions, covered head to toe in red and black earth, a far away look in his eyes. She'd noted with relief how he'd let her remove his clothes, place him in a warm bath, then massage his back until he'd settled into a very deep sleep that even her moving in the middle of the night could not stir.
Sakura made sure not to touch him or make a sound as she tip-toed around the futon and to the door, using all her ninja ability to slide the thing to the side then shut it with absolute silence.
Waking in the middle of the night had started as a normal habit for Sakura when she first became pregnant. Often times she would only sleep a handful of hours before somehow waking in the middle of the night, refreshed and ready for action no matter how much she had done the previous day. Lady Tsunade explained it as Sakura's ninja training coupled with a mother's natural instinct to keep her child safe that kept Sakura up. A lioness, her teacher had said, for instance, would become very territorial and dominating during her pregnancy to ensure her own safety along with her cubs. Sakura's sleep deprivation was very similar, though at first it had bothered Sasuke to no end. He didn't like the idea of his pregnant wife wandering around in the middle of the night, also becoming over-protective of Sakura now that there was a baby on the way. Needless to say, as Sakura grew bigger and more and more pregnant, her coordination as well as her balance suffered tremendously so that Sasuke always seemed to be more or less on his toes around her, waking with her whenever she wanted to walk around. Tonight, however, was different. He did not stir.
She made her way through their house. The structure in all was shaped like a giant, elegant square, with a rather large courtyard in the center and the house surrounding it like fortress walls. The dark wooden floors felt smooth and cool under her swelling feet and even the chilly, somewhat malignant wind only served to help her body cool down. She slid another door open, leading to the courtyard in the center, a place Sakura loved the most in her home. The courtyard itself was vast, stretching fifty meters squared, elegant and soft green grass padding the earth, while in the center lay a bubbling fountain that leaked into a koi pond. Next to the koi pond, and swaying slightly in the breeze, was a lovely cherry blossom tree, just beginning to bud with the approach of spring.
Sakura pulled in a deep breath and very carefully lowered herself to sit beside the koi pond, her back against the tree. As the wind blew, cherry blossoms, still white with youth, flew through the air and danced in tiny incandescent circles before landing at Sakura's feet and in her hair.
She was able to disconnect the little bits that had flown into her pink locks, but as for the petals on and around her feet, she had no hope of reaching. It was one of the many difficulties of the enormous belly she'd obtained.
Though, she thought with another smile, having Sasuke's child was certainly worth it.
Sasuke had slowly changed over the years with her. Where he had been taciturn and aloof to her in their childhood, as married adults, he was kind and attentive. Sasuke had returned to the Uchiha district of Konoha, a place long since abandoned for years, and rebuilt his old home, crafting the structure filled with memories of a haunted past into one where new memories could be made. A place for a whole new line of Uchiha.
Sakura, for her part, also worked hard, improving herself as a medical and field ninja to the point where her skill rivaled both Lady Tsunade's and most of the jounin ninja as well. Sakura had grown out of her crying and weak stage with the slow passing of time, taking on high level missions until she was promoted to an ANBU black ops position, a position she had excelled at before her unexpected pregnancy. It was then that she had to take a leave of the black ops, at the demanding of both Sasuke and Naruto, who was currently training to replace Lady Tsunade as the sixth Hokage. Needless to say, Sakura's protestation in the face of resigning had been unanimously overruled.
She, despite having been married over two years, had simply not seen a baby coming. And now she was over eight months pregnant, a baby practically bursting from her body, and her husband lay comfortably in their bedroom, sleeping. She felt, in a word, at peace.
A snapping twig sent her body rigid, and (though slower than she would have liked) she sprang to her feet. She had no weapons on her, the comfort and security she felt in her own home preventing such a measure, but abruptly she wished she'd lived a bit more paranoid. The hairs on the back of her neck stood slowly on end, as if they could detect a presence that none of her other senses could comprehend. But she trusted this sixth sense with her life. It had saved her on more than one occasion. Currently, it was telling her there was someone in the house, maybe watching her.
She suddenly felt very weak, a sentiment she'd learned to hate over the years, but with her stomach churning uncomfortably and the extra kilos of a baby weighing hevily on her body, she felt sluggish and unable to move. Even if she could move, she thought with a wave of fear, she wouldn't be able to for the sake of the baby's health. She hoped then fervently that she was just being paranoid. That there was no one in the house. Because if there was, the baby would be in danger.
Another movement out of the corner of Sakura's eye caught her attention and she spun, but it was too late. A sharp crack across the skull and a blinding white flash sunk her into a gloom of pitch black.
Sasuke hadn't felt her leave, which immediately put him on edge. It was only his arms and body, searching on their own for the warmth Sakura usually provided from her side of the bed, that had allerted him to her lack of presence. His eyes snapped open and he pulled himself up, looking in the darkness for any sign of his wife. With gritting teeth, he realized she must be on one of her nightly walks, excursions he did not care for. Period.
But he could feel her presence still in the house, her chakra spilling out in calm pools from the courtyard, and that put him at ease. He could still feel her. It was like being in the same room. He slowly lowered himself back down onto the futon, keeping a part of his mind fixated on her chakra, while the rest wandered freely.
He didn't remember coming home that day. He remembered turning a report into the Hokage, he remembered farther back to the mission, an assassination of a six-man rougue-ninja squad and how it had drained him body and soul. Sasuke never liked returning home covered in blood and dirt, but the desire to see his wife outranked the desire to prevent her from seeing his filth, and the next thing he knew, he was waking up and it was night.
She must have washed him, because he felt and smelt clean, a fresh robe hanging from his shoulders and a warm bed beneath him. Even his back felt stretched and relieved, free of pain, and that in itself was a gift. He marveled at how well she took care of him, how bright her smiles were, and how she didn't mind how quiet he was. She had changed over the years from a ridiculous and spastic little girl into a calm and happy young woman.
He stretched his toes luxuriously and allowed himself a low grunt of satisfaction, which was short-lived because he suddenly desired to see her. His mission had been almost three weeks long. He'd journeyed to one of the farther, northern countries, tracked his quarry and disposed of them single-handedly. He hadn't minded long missions before he'd gotten married, he mused quietly to himself, but now he found himself despising them, longing for the comfort of his home and his wife.
Sasuke was by definition a man brought up in the ways of family and tradition. He loved the big house, promising to be filled with children and relatives, he found joy in wearing traditional clothing, the same style of yukata his father had worn. Sakura's meals were delicious, and her attention to detail and her fastidious ability to quickly pick up the traditions practiced by his family made her invaluable.
And now he was cold. And Sakura would more than likely become a more agreeable source of heat than the layers of bedding.
Sasuke rose from the bed, stretching lazily before lifting his hand to slide the door to the side, planning to venture into the courtyard to fetch Sakura, but there was an abrupt pulse of chakra. It wasn't Sakura's. It was a stranger's.
Sasuke's nerves immediately went on end, chakra surging about him as he grabbed his sword and sent his body flying through the air before a milisecond passed, but another spike in chakra sent an icy hand of fear down his throat and into his stomach. Sakura, aware of the intruder, had pulsed with chakra, ready for battle, but was almost immediately silenced, disappearing from his senses.
Sasuke let out a roar and brought himself down in the courtyard of his home, landing and noting in a single glance it was empty. It was empty except for a splatter of blood coating the green grass and the cherry tree he'd planted two years ago because it had reminded him of Sakura.
He didn't think, only moved with the speed and agility enough practice and his superior birth granted. Sakura's chakra was faint, flickering in front of his senses like a dull lamp and with her he felt three attackers. They would surely pay with their lives.
Sasuke caught up to them quickly, translating across the expanse of fifty huge trees to land right in front of them, sending one of the perpetrators flying with a swift kick to the teeth. The other two were too close to Sakura. But they stopped before him.
Their clothes were pure black, no faces showing, not even a forehead protector. They were either rogue or the country that sent them had no intention of being identified, which was just as well because Sasuke was going to make a complete bloody mess of all of them. Sakura, in the arms of one of the taller ninja, lay limp, a trail of blood dripping from behind her ear. Sasuke, however, did not look at her for more than a moment. He couldn't be clouded with fear while facing adversaries.
"Shit," he heard one of them mutter, the one he had kicked, while he got slowly to his feet. "He's faster than expected."
Sasuke was in no mood to converse. Unsheathing his sword, he stood before them, ready to spring into action. But at the sound of his own blade ringing in the air, another of the ninja took out a hefty katana of his own, flattening it against Sakura's neck, a little bit of blood dribbling on the cool steel edge. This man was the leader, Sasuke thought.
"Let us pass," the leader said, his voice deep and vicious. He had no qualms about slitting a pregnant woman's throat. "Now."
Sasuke grit his teeth in frustration, wishing for the first time that Sakura wasn't pregnant. If she hadn't been in her weakened state, she would have never been captured, they would have fought the intruders off in their house. Then gone back to sleep in that warm bed on the floor...
Sasuke forcibly snapped his mind to the present and not to past regrets. He hated admitting it, but he was at an impass. He would have to let these men, ruthless and wicked, carry off his wounded wife and unborn child. He grit his teeth harder, but stepped very slowly to the side.
"Very good." The leader sounded satisfied, his victorious grin bleeding through the words. "Don't follow."
They leaped into the trees.
"Fuck that." Sasuke darted like an arrow after them, making sure to heavily cloak his presence, not letting an ounce of chakra flare or his feet to slip for a second. If he could catch just one of them, he would won. Catching one meant that even if they got away, Sasuke could use his Sharingan on the captured enemy and ascertain where they were taking Sakura. But the border of the village, looming not more than a few kilometers ahead, was coming fast. He could not pass that border.
He picked up his pace, already the ninja slowly coming into view.
"Move faster!" the leader shouted, roughly taking Sakura from one of his partners and slinging her over his shoulder. Sasuke cringed. "If we make it past the border we're safe!"
Sasuke's eyes widened.
"Safe?" one of them asked. "No way! He's going to kill us!"
"Sasuke Uchiha is incapable of passing the Konoha border," the leader said with a wicked gleam in his eyes. "He's still suffering from his rogue days."
Sasuke almost bellowed at the rage clenching up in his soul. He acted quickly and decisively, catching one of the ninja by the back of the leg with his arm and slinging him unceremoniously into a nearby tree. The man let out a yell of surprise, alerting the other ninja. The leader turned back around, Sakura laying limply on his shoulder, and slung a couple shuriken in Sasuke's direction, which he easily dodged. But Sasuke realized in the next second, the shuriken were not for him. A glance behind him confirmed that the tree he had thrown the other man into was covered in blood. The leader had killed his own comrade.
"Dammit," Sasuke muttered, pursuing the men further into the trees, spreading chakra to each of his limbs. But he could feel the border approaching. They were less than a kilometer from it. Sasuke had to move now.
But the leader, that damn leader, was cunning. Sasuke moved like a lightning flash, intending to impale the man with his chakra-charged sword, but the leader, at the last moment, moved himself behind his other companion. Sasuke's sword impaled the man through the chest, blood splattering on Sasuke's face and body, dripping into his eyes for a brief second.
The second was all it took for the Konoha border to come rushing up, a line marked with ancient letters and curses that only he could see. Sasuke slammed into it like it was a brick wall, energy and chakra flowing into his arms and legs painfully fast until he had to stumble backward to escape the agony.
Sasuke fell to his knees, the chakra completely drained from his bodyr. The leader stopped not three feet from where Sasuke knelt, his eyes behind the mask alight with a taunt. "What's wrong?" he asked, knowing the border protected him from Sasuke's wrath. "Can't move? Not strong enough to save your wife?"
Sasuke's jaw clenched so hard he thought he might shatter his own teeth. Sakura, on the man's shoulder, stirred slightly.
"Oh, look at this," he said. "Wake up, dear." He moved a rough hand over Sakura's hair, pushing it out of her eyes, an action which sent Sasuke to his feet, overrought with pure rage and hatred. This man dared to touch her. Sasuke would kill him and bathe in his blood.
Sakura's eyes, dim and tired, slowly cracked open. Sasuke was acutely reminded of all the times he'd watched her wake up next to him, naked and glowing in the light of a warm summer sun. He could hardly look at her as she slowly registered him, blinking slowly while another trail of blood flowed from her forehead down her nose.
"You'll have time to find out where I am," the man holding her said, whispering his words into Sakura's ear as well as to Sasuke. Sasuke was forced to tear his eyes from Sakura and look up at her kidnapper. "When you do, come quickly. And come alone. She'll remain the exact way she is until you arrive." He gave Sakura a little lick on the side of her cheek.
Sasuke lunged to his feet in pure revulsion and possesivity, but the Hidden Lead border forced him back down. "You have no reason to take her if you want me," he spat in rage.
"Well, you can't pass this border, remember?" the man said with a grin. "You'll have to get clearance from your Hokage. I'm sure we'll be seeing each other very soon."
He laughed. Practically in Sasuke's face, the man laughed, hefting Sakura none too gently onto his shoulder and leaping into the darkness.
Sasuke let out an enraged bellow, throwing his body after them. Again the border inhibited him, sending painful and powerful shocks of charka through Sasuke's body. Sasuke could physically see the border rear its ugly head, a blue and yellow force field rising out of the ground and high into the air. It was harder than cement and as painful as electrocution.
Sasuke felt the last shards of consciousness fade as he slowly fell back to his knees then face down on the ground.
Six years previously, in the land hidden in the leaves.
Sasuke's eyes did not for a second lower below his horizon line. He made sure of this wherever he went, never bending his head, never appearing contrite or lowly. His pride as an Uchiha would not allow anything else. Sasuke clearly heard the other mutters of the villagers, felt the frightened if not angry eyes follow him as he made his rounds, bought food, practiced ninjutsu. It was to be expected, naturally. Sasuke had returned to the village, a traitor and a prisoner of Naruto Uzumaki. However, in his time as a renegade Sasuke had succeeded in not only destroying Orochimaru but Itachi as well, and with Naruto's unflinching support, Sasuke had avoided execution. He'd been imprisoned in a maximum security facility for almost an entire year before he'd been allowed to finally venture outside, first under heavy guard then with a light guard, then with none at all. The process had been slow, humiliating and sometimes trecherous to his health (there had been MANY angry villagers), but Sasuke was determined to start his life anew, finding strength in his demoted status. There was nowhere to go up from the damned of society.
Beside him, a presence of chakra fluctuated, and Sasuke felt the familiar warmth of Naruto's energy as the seventeen-year old blonde translated to Sasuke's side, placing a hand on his shoulder in the next second. Sasuke flinched, but only in pain not in surprise.
Naruto quickly lifted his hand. "Oh, sorry, buddy. I forgot..."
Sasuke looked down to his covered arms and noted as he moved them how they stung. Around his forearms, shoulders, and legs were black seals, scribbled writings and incantations. They were a violent midnight black now, but in time they would fade into his skin, like Naruto's seal mark on his stomach, and only appear when Sasuke's chakra was heightened. Now, however, they were quite painful, fresh and raw in his skin.
"Did it hurt?" Naruto asked, and Sasuke noted how hollow his friend's voice sounded. Naruto had been against the procedure from the beginning, as usual putting his utmost faith into Sasuke that he would never abandon the village again. But Sasuke had wanted to be assigned missions more than anything. The Hokage had consented to give him that freedom but only if he had seals, binding seals, placed around his body so that he could be incapacitated instantly by the right person. They also prevented him from leaving the village without permission. Sasuke had consented without flinching and had endured the procedure "with a ridiculous amount of control," as Lady Tsunade had put it.
"It's nothing," Sasuke said, ever terse, but he had intentionally softened his voice for Naruto. It was all Sasuke could do to convey his honest brotherly love for the blonde boy. Naruto had knocked sense into him, brought him back home. More than anything, Naruto trusted him. Sasuke had once asked Naruto why he had gone so far for his sake. When Sasuke returned to Konoha with Naruto, he had finally understood Naruto's feelings. Sasuke knew he would go just as far for his friend.
"You're first mission's comin' up soon!" Naruto said happily, changing the subject. "Don't die, alright? That would be a fucking waste!"
Sasuke allowed himself one of his rare smiles.
"Oh, hey I got some good news too!"
Sasuke turned, raising an eyebrow, expectant.
"I got a girlfriend!"
Sasuke's eyebrow rose further.
"Aw, that's it? You're not even surprised?"
"The Hyuga girl, correct?" Sasuke asked, just to make sure.
Naruto let a wide, sloppy grin steal over his face.
"You've been watching her for awhile. Finally grew a backbone?"
Naruto laughed and scratched the back of his head. "I kind of ran into her, and everything fell out... But I'm really happy! She's... she's like me but not like me... you know?"
"You're talking in circles."
An exasperated sigh. "You've never loved someone like that, so I know you don't get it."
Sasuke bristled at practically being called ignorant but let it slide. Naruto was right after all...
Back to the present, the Hokage's office and personal resting area.
Ocular abilities came first, not surprisingly given who he was and what bloodline trait he possessed, but Sasuke felt his wits return to him before his other senses could get themselves into place, and he felt as if he would die from waiting. Above him Naruto hovered, blood and dirt on his hands, a red smudge over his face. His mouth was moving rapidly, but Sasuke couldn't yet make out the words. Naruto was talking to Lady Tsunade, whose hands, Sasuke finally realized, were over his arms and legs, healing him. Blood was on her hands as well.
Hearing abilities arrived.
"I went as far north as I could, but the trail ran cold," Naruto bit through clenched teeth. "Whoever took her was good. Goddammit, I knew these fucking restraints would blow up in our faces later! Now they've got Sakura..."
"Shut up, brat!" Tsunade spat back, and Sasuke saw her eyes were red, probably from held back tears of frustration.
Abruptly his tactical senses arrived in a flash, shooting waves of pain throughout his arms and legs so violently that he screamed, literally screamed, in agony.
"Put him under!" Naruto bellowed.
"Shit, he wasn't supposed to wake up yet!" Tsunade said, folding seals furiously before slamming her hands down on Sasuke's chest.
Unconsciousness rushed up to greet him.
Chapter 1 end.
Well, welcome to the new story! It's quite good if I do say so myself. To those of you who are waiting for new Dauntless Core (my other fic) chapters, I'm not done yet with the story! I just started this one because it demanded to be written!
Thanks so much!