Chapter 3

She sat on the floor, staring up at the perfect figure in awe. She had heard rumors about the similarity of looks between Sasuke and the infamous Itachi, but this just couldn't be real.

The pale but perfect Itachi Uchiha stood in the doorway peering down on her. His face betrayed no emotions. But behind those onyx eyes of his, she found a mixture of pain, sorrow, regret, and oddly a bit of need. He had Sasuke's jet black hair, but his was much longer and softer as it fell to his lower back freely and unbound. He wore black sweatpants like the others and a navy blue T-shirt. A slim necklace hung just above his collarbone with three small circles attached to it. He didn't say another word to her; he just stood above her staring.

He broke the awkward silence with a question. "Why are you here?" he asked. Straight to the point. Just like Sasuke.

She blinked a few times and tried to clear her head, but she just couldn't bring herself to speak to the man who stood before her. This was Sasuke's brother. The man who slaughtered the entire Uchiha clan to show how strong he was. He was the reason Sasuke had left Konoha, the reason he was the way he was, and in truth, he was the reason she was at the Akatsuki hideout in the first place.

After a few awkward moments, he seemed tired of waiting for an answer, so without another word, he turned and walked out, gone just as suddenly as he had appeared.

She slumped back against the wall and sighed. That was almost as frightening as the Hidan situation. She didn't know what to do next. She felt betrayed by the village and Sasuke. Nobody had even tried to stop him from leaving besides Naruto. Shock and relief both fought for dominance over her emotions at this thought. Naruto. He must feel so alone now, losing both of his team mates and being badly injured and in the hospital. She should have been the one there healing him and comforting him. He needed her to tell him Sasuke would come back and that he would be okay. She needed his upbeat spirit and never-give-up perseverance to convince her that he could actually bring Sasuke back.

A loud crash followed by a black figure with a flash of orange and green flying past the door, pulling her out of her self-loathing. She immediately rose, sensing danger but calmed back down when she heard,

"TOBI! I'm gonna kill you! Those were priceless clay sculptures! Un!" being screamed by Deidara as he ran past the door after Tobi. Distant laughing echoed off the stone walls as Tobi outran the blonde.

This is the Akatsuki after all... she thought. She knew she couldn't just get up and go; she had to think of another plan. Maybe she could earn their trust and then escape? She got up and decided to try and find a weapon of some sort to use. She scanned the messy room quickly, finding nothing lying out in the open. So, the kunoichi searched even further, looking under beds and through dresser drawers until she located a small katana with a beautiful maroon handle. Embossed, highly sharpened steel served as the blade. It wasn't her ideal weapon, but it would have to do.

She peeked out of the door and saw no one there, so feeling safe enough, she made her way towards the end of the long hall, masking her chakra as best she could. Her bare feet padded silently across the floor as her heart pounded in her chest. She knew her plan of ambushing the first person she came upon was crazy, but it was too late to turn back, so summoning up all of her courage, she continued toward the bright light until she came to a large kitchen with an island/bar in the middle. Stainless steel appliances lined the walls and the white tile floor was gleaming. Tobi sat on a stool at the bar holding his arm and sniffling. A charred hole in the sleeve of his shirt appeared to be the problem.

At the sink, woman stood with her back to Tobi. She had on pajama pants and a light blue tank top. When she turned, Sakura gasped at her beauty and almost dropped her weapon. The woman had short blue hair with a white flower that looked delicate, as if it was made from tissue paper. It was placed at the top next to a small bun. She had kind amber eyes with a deep sadness hidden inside of them. They oddly gave Sakura a calm feeling when she looked into them. A small, nervous smile played across the woman's face as she put a wet cloth over Tobi's injury. She had a silver ball piercing under her bottom lip. Sakura noticed she wasn't super skinny, but she wasn't fat at all with a body most women would envy. Even Tobi seemed to be taking glances from behind his odd mask at the woman's ample cleavage coming from the tight shirt she wore. Her face reminded Sakura of Shizune's a little.

The woman turned her attention to the pink-haired girl. "You must be the new one..." she said softly. "You're so much prettier than the rest, and so much younger. How old are you? Fourteen? Fifteen? And what's your name?" the woman asked looking confused, but still kind enough for Sakura to feel obliged to answer.

"Um, hi. I'm Sakura. I just recently turned fourteen." Sakura said quietly, shifting nervously while trying to hide the blade behind her. How could she attack such a pretty and seemingly kind stranger?

"I'm Konan, by the way. And you're fourteen? I said no one under 18 was allowed to be taken and look what he goes and does. Did any of them hurt you or try to have sex with you?" Konan said, seeming angered.

"No, no. Well, actually, the one with the piercings tried to." She answered, noticing the sudden change in Konan's facial expression. "Is he okay?" Sakura said, attempting to change the topic by focusing on Tobi.

Konan tried to take in all the information Sakura had shared before she answered the question. She looked confused and slightly hurt, but her normal, calm expression returned after a few moments. "He's fine. I think Deidara planted a small bomb on him to teach him a lesson. I tried to get Sasori to heal him, but he's in one of his moods. Says he won't treat a little scrape." she rolled her eyes.

After gently slipping the sword onto a low shelf under the counter, Sakura want over to Tobi and started to apply healing chakra to his arm, hoping to use that as a distraction so Konan wouldn't notice the weapon. "Well, I could just do that," she said.

"You... You're a medical kunoichi?" Konan raised her eyebrows in a rare display of shock.

"Um, yes. I am. But I have a question. Who is Sasori?"

"Oh, him," Konan frowned. "He's Deidara's partner. He's from Sunagakure. He's also a medical nin." She said rolling her eyes in obvious dislike of him. "I have to go now, I'll be right back." she concluded, turning to walk away. Before leaving the room, she turned back and went over to the counter Sakura was standing and bent down to retrieve the katana. "A word of advice, don't try anything like this." She said sternly, holding up the sword. "This isn't a genin-level playground. We are all jonin and highly capable of defending ourselves. And if Hidan had known you'd taken his Jashin ritual dagger thingy, let's just say furious isn't even enough to describe how he'd react." she warned, looking down at the beautiful katana. After looking at Tobi and sighing, she exited the room.

Sakura's face burned with nervousness and shock. How did she see that I had a weapon and then remained so calm? She thought. She shook her head, vowing to never try that again and turned to finish healing Tobi. He sat patiently, waiting calmly for her to finish. Once the wound was healed, she smiled at him. "You're all healed up, Tobi. Try not to play so rough…"

"Thank you Sakura-chan!" he said, running out of the room.

She was about to sit and try to think of another escape plan when Konan appeared back in the doorway and waved her over. "I think it's time you, me, and Pein had a talk." She said leading Sakura down yet another long dark hallway. Sakura hoped that hadn't been some clever threat. Konan said it as if Pain might be someone's name. After a short flight of stairs, they arrived at a wooden door. Konan knocked and entered without waiting for a reply.

Piles of papers and scrolls lined the floors. Stacks about four feet high stood in every corner. Ancient scrolls with forbidden jutsu hung from the walls of the large room. A large black desk and a long white couch in front of it were the only furniture in the whole space.

But, behind the desk was a face she had found even scarier than Orochimaru's. The pierced man sat with his hands crossed, peering at the two kunoichi as they entered the room.

"Sakura Haruno…we've finally got you," he said as her and Konan stepped forward.