A/N: ItaSaku. This is the SEQUEL to my one-shot "Her Dark Angel". I highly recommend you read it first, if you haven't already. This picks up right where the one-shot left off… basically.
In "Her Dark Angel", Naruto didn't know about Itachi's sacrifice, even though the Kage summit was over and done with, Team Taka was still together, Danzou is still alive, certain Akatsuki members are still alive, and debating on whether or not to follow Madara (his survival is not common knowledge). Itachi had a "crisis of faith" in his plans for Sasuke, he also wiped out the Uchiha clan singlehandedly…
Now, Naruto, Hinata, and Tsunade all know about Itachi and Sakura, while only a select few others also know that it was Itachi who saved her in HDA. It isn't common knowledge.
Also, for the purpose of this fic, the order to wipe out the Uchiha clan had come from Danzou alone.
Sakura is 17, while Itachi is 22.
Chapter 1 – Healing Touch.
"If there is someone for everyone, a soul for every soul, then why are people afraid to follow their hearts?"
The trees near the Fuuin Jutsu that isolated the Uchiha district from the rest of Konoha were dense and unkempt as people usually avoided this area. They never used to before the sealing jutsu had been put up, the intrigue surrounding the place where hundreds of people had lost their lives in one night drawing the occasional glance, side trip or detour while the person or people in question made their way elsewhere. Except for the incident surrounding those missing kids back when placing a sealing jutsu had become necessary, people didn't hover here, even when they used to pass by.
Jumping from branch to branch, Itachi Uchiha gripped his side, trying to ignore the pain. Finally, he landed on the branch of a tree not too far from the sealing jutsu around his former home, inside Konoha. After the attack by Pein, the security in the leaf had increased, but both because Itachi used to be an elite ANBU, and because he'd made regular trips back here for years without being noticed, he knew his presence had gone unnoticed.
Of course, he'd never told Pein how to get in unnoticed; not even Madara knew – the passage had been created after the true Akatsuki leader had left the village, eighty years ago. Itachi had never truly trusted the long lived Uchiha. For years, he'd only trusted master Jiraiya. And the old man's death had hit him harder than he was willing to admit.
Itachi groaned inwardly, his hand going to his wounds again. He could hardly believe he was still moving around. He had just battled his otouto, after all. Originally, he'd planned to let Sasuke kill him, putting up a good fight of course; he was never one to go down easily. But after running into Sakura Haruno, it seemed all his delicately laid plans had unravelled and he'd found a reason to live, at least to continue his existence in some shape or form. But what future could they possibly have? There was no going back to the leaf, no hope that the elders would let him run free again, even if they had his chakra network cut off and ANBU following his every move, day and night.
There was no future alongside Sakura he could logically envision, and he so wanted it to happen.
Itachi drew his fingers away from his wound to observe the blood. It was seeping out of him now, but he desperately needed to see Sakura, even if she couldn't heal him. That fight had taken a lot out of him. And despite what Sasuke had turned into, that rage fuelled psychopath, he couldn't help but feel proud that he had come so far, so fast. Yeah, that was a little twisted, but he couldn't help how he felt. He could still remember the days when his brother's face would turn a distinct shade of pink when he told Sasuke about the latest girl he liked. Itachi never shared his inner thoughts with people, but every once and while, he liked to make Sasuke blush just for the hell of it.
But that blushing child had disappeared over night of course, and as far as Itachi could tell, Sasuke seemingly had no interest in women. He just hoped he didn't go the other way. He still had hope the Uchiha clan could be revived, even now.
Itachi narrowed his eyes, resisting the urge to activate his Sharingan, knowing that would only hinder him in his current condition. A figure was approaching the main gate into the Uchiha compound. Who would be coming straight here, of all places? His question was answered a moment later by the revelation that this person had short pink hair. He felt his face shift, his lips parting slightly, and forming a smile; his heart started to race.
There was no missing that hair, those green eyes, or that figure… She looked so sad, so withdrawn, it tugged at him, and he felt an irresistible urge jump down from the tree, hold her close and rain kissed down upon her. His body moved before he had time to think it through, and her name escaped his lips.
X X X
She had forgotten what it was like to be loved, to be accepted wholly and completely. Days and nights were spent alone and crying, some more painful than others, and she had given up on Kami having her best interest at heart. There was no future for her. Everyone else had their lives to be getting on with, while she was rigid, not moving, not seeing and never having the same drive to move forward. So she dedicated her time to her duties and healing the pain of others, all awhile ignoring her own.
But every day since that night on the park bench, Sakura Haruno had been hoping that Sasuke Uchiha would remember her promise and once he'd gotten his revenge, he would return to Konoha and she would welcome him back with open arms. Naruto Uzumaki would be bouncing all over the place, shouting his happiness to the world, never tiring, and never giving up: his persistence and loyalty paying off. Then Team Seven would reform and things would go back to what it had once been, before the darkness had claimed their team mate. They would forget the pain and Sasuke would shower her with love and make the years spent alone and waiting for him seem worthwhile. They would marry, revive the Uchiha clan together and she would get her happy ending after all.
'What a stupid, fucked up dream.'
She realised this now. There was no good left in Sasuke Uchiha. There was only hate and anger, and that hereditary desire for power. It had wormed its way into him and he'd welcomed it without question. It was all he was good for in the end. Did she care? Of course, she cared that she had lost a friend to the darkness. And with him, a part of her had died that day. But he was gone, even if his body remained, moving and killing as though the humanity hadn't actually been cut out of him. But there was only one saving grace for him now, one reason he might yet survive.
Sakura was in love with the older brother. She knew it. She had hated him for years, seeing what he had done to Sasuke and Naruto. She had believed the rumours, the conjectures, the facts stated so clearly in the bingo book. But then she'd actually met the man, spent time in his company and realised who he really was. Sure, he'd slaughtered his clan, and tormented Sasuke that same night. Yeah, he'd returned years later to continue the torture, pushing Sasuke to hate him even more, as though there was even more depths either Uchiha could plummet to. And of course, Naruto was afraid of him and the things the Akatsuki had planned for him. That was even more fuel for the part of Sakura that had fantasised about the death of Itachi Uchiha.
But dammit, Sakura was in love with him!
That was all that mattered to her, that and the truth of his suffering, the anguish he had willingly showed her. He had brought her back from the brink of insanity and the death that Sasuke had pushed her toward. A part of her had died when Sasuke left that night, right? He seemed to have thought that wasn't enough though, and it was Itachi of all people who had lifted her out of her own darkness.
"Sakura, please, I need your help."
Itachi stood in front of her now, having dropped down from the tree he'd been crouching on, watching as she examined the Fuuin Jutsu that had long since sealed off the Uchiha estate. The mere sight of him took her breath away, the smile on her face widening as he walked up to her. She barely registered his words as she pulled him toward her, to prove to herself that he was real, and not some twisted genjutsu. He was real, he was solid, and she thanked Kami as he wrapped his arms around her.
"You're alive," she whispered.
"Sakura, what did I tell you? Don't go counting me out yet."
She moaned expectantly and he chuckled softly. It was him alright. Then she registered what he had said and pulled away from him.
"Are you hurt?"
"I will heal."
She parted the Akatsuki cloak which he still wore and examined his torso with her chakra. He was torn, bloodied and clearly in pain. How had he made it back here like this? He shouldn't even be able to stand right now. She pried the cloak off of him, ignoring it as it fell to the ground silently and focused on healing his wounds, not looking up at him the entire time.
Itachi was looking down at her with wonder in his eyes, unable to hide this emotion, even though she didn't notice. He had heard that her medical skills now far outstripped Lady Tsunade's, but had not thought on this the entire time she was in the safe house she had spent the last two and a half months recuperating in. The moment her hands touched him, the pain faded and all he could feel was her chakra surging through him, mending him.
Somehow he doubted even Tsunade could accomplish that.
"Wait," he said, "I need your help –"
"What do you think I'm doing?" She asked, not bothering to hide the impatience in her voice.
"– with Sasuke."
Sakura stopped, not finished with what she was doing. He was mostly healed, though. But instead of giving her a heart attack, he really should be resting up. Somehow, she doubted he would agree with her though.
He nodded. "Please Sakura."
She didn't want to do it. She didn't want to heal the fiend that had tormented her and left her to die in the worst way she could imagine.
'No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!'
Why was he asking this of her? Sakura looked up into that placid expression, her eyes raking over his handsome features, those lines on his cheeks that made him look older than his age; the tear troughs drawing her attention, she wanted desperately to run her forefingers along them and watch the reaction in his eyes. His face was calm, those dark grey eyes surveying her patiently. Did he believe she would not deny him? He had healed her, saved her from the torment inflicted on her by his brother, and what had she done for him? She owed him, she knew this, but to heal the very same person who had made her so weak, so hurt, how could she ever explain that away to Konoha?
'Wait, if I heal him and take him to Tsunade…'
The thought had merit.
But she needed to bring Itachi in with her as well. If they went to the council and told them everything about Itachi, then they'd reintegrate him and…
'There I go, dreaming the impossible again.'
Danzou had been the one to personally order Itachi to wipe out his clan in the first place; but there was no way to prove it, not to the close minded idiots on the council. But how was she supposed to be with Itachi and not have to sneak out of the village every time? She couldn't keep up the lies for the rest of her life. Tsunade, Naruto, and Hinata all knew she had slept with Itachi, and that he had reciprocated her feelings, but they were the people she was closest to, as well as Kakashi; she was suddenly worried about lying to the copy ninja any further. Perhaps if she told him in Tsunade's presence? She shook herself.
'First things first.'
Sakura nodded her head to Itachi. "Take me to him."
Itachi bent to pick up his Akatsuki cloak, but didn't put it back on. He didn't take her hand or anything, and she walked alongside him, their hands brushing a few times before she realised where they were headed. The woods surrounding Konoha were actually the result of the Mokuton ability of the first Hokage; this wood jutsu was now only alive in Yamato Sensei, the man experimented upon by Orochimaru. Sakura knew that there were parts of these woods that the Uchiha clan had once upon a time patrolled personally, and for the first time since Itachi had told her days ago about a secret passage into the Uchiha compound, she wondered if the passage had been the reason for those patrols. No-one else would be able to find it if say perhaps, only a Sharingan wielder could detect it.
Suddenly excited, she hastened her pace as Itachi started to walk a little faster. She noted the limp in his walk, though it was only slight. She hadn't finished healing him, and fully intended to put him before working on Sasuke. He had no right to expect her not to, and she was steeling herself for that disagreement when he stopped suddenly, and she almost ran into him. Looking around, she couldn't see anything different about this area of woods. Where was the entrance into the Uchiha district?
Itachi cocked his head to the right and upward. He was indicating to the direction of Konoha and waited for Sakura to realise what was standing right in front of her. It was so cute, the way she scrutinised the trees, the bark and lifted her eyes to the canopy above their heads. There was a genjutsu over this area that the Uchiha elders had built upon every generation, starting from the time Madara had been ostracised from the clan. They hadn't wanted him getting back in. His mere presence spelled trouble.
It didn't surprise Itachi that Sakura didn't see it right away, even though she was rumoured to be highly adept with this type of jutsu. The first reason was that firstly, one had to realise there was an entrance into the Uchiha district here in the first place, and the second was that even though the Sharingan was normally needed to see it, it could otherwise be seen if said person was in the company of someone with the Sharingan.
After all, even when the clan had been around, the number of Uchiha who could actually wield the kekkei genkai was unremarkable. They stood in the minority.
Sakura gasped softly a moment later, her eyes landing on a tree that wasn't a tree. It rested against a wall that she hadn't noticed, and employing the release technique she'd learnt years ago from Kakashi, she could at least see that behind that unreal tree was a door; it looked worn and rusted shut, made from the same material as the wall that had only just appeared, almost invisible itself.
This time, Itachi took Sakura's hand in his, and she was reminded of the genjutsu around the small hut he'd kept her in for the last two and a half months, during her recovery. And true enough, she felt the familiar sensation that something was trying to stop her from entering; this was far stronger than the one around the cabin, as though the spirits of the clan were personally forbidding her entrance.
'Well, too bad,' she thought, reacting in her mind as though they were standing right in front of her.
They walked through the underground passage quickly, quietly and thoughtful. Itachi mused on the quirk of fate that had brought them both here, while Sakura couldn't keep her mind off of his closeness, and the way his fingers had entwined with hers. It was such an affectionate move from him, that she couldn't keep her thoughts straight. She forgot that she was about to heal her tormentor and let Itachi lead her out of the dark tunnel and into the soft light that met their eyes at the end. The sun was high in the sky, not quite at its pinnacle as it was not quite mid-day, and she was surprised at the density of the air.
Sakura had never been inside the Uchiha estate before now of course, and therefore had no memory to compare this to, but somehow, she could feel that this place was different to how it had once been. It wasn't just the deplorable state of the dead shrubbery and trees, as well as broken slabs of cement and wood that were once used in the construction of now derelict buildings and garden fixtures. The sealing jutsu that kept people out seemed to also be keeping something in.
Although it sounded ridiculous, Sakura couldn't help but think it was true.
After a few minutes, she spotted the unconscious form of Sasuke Uchiha. She stopped walking and Itachi indulged her, waiting for her to want to move forward. She stared at Sasuke, gripping Itachi's hand tighter as every instinct shouted at her to turn away and run. She hadn't forgiven him, how could she? But when she thought about it, what had she really expected from Sasuke Uchiha? He had chosen the darker path, so where else was he going to end up? This thought pained her, despite everything.
Psyching herself up, she started walking again, actually pulling on Itachi's hand slightly. They stopped again, just short of Sasuke.
"I'm healing your wounds first," she said, turning to face the former Uchiha heir.
He nodded compliantly, knowing already that she would demand this. Really, she was more predictable than she realised. He felt the familiar warmth of her chakra, and the heat from her touch. He closed his eyes, just enjoying her touch, and snapped his eyelids open the next second, rousing on himself. There were more important things right now then giving in to what he wanted... for now.
Itachi removed her hands from his torso, knowing that she was delaying the inevitable.
"I am fine Sakura."
She nodded her head and reluctantly, turned and knelt down in front of Sasuke. He was obviously still breathing, but there was a clear strain on the rise and fall of his chest. She wondered exactly what Itachi had done to him, but then a moment later, her hands on his skin and the healing chakra getting started, she realised that yes, his wounds were severe, but he was only unconscious because Itachi had knocked him out. It had to be that weird thing he'd done to her, not once but many times during her stay in that small cabin.
She'd have been annoyed with him for doing that so much if most of it had not been about severing that strange Tsukuyomi that Sasuke had put her under in the first place.
Sakura redirected her attention to her "patient", forcing his body to heal itself. She sensed that he would remain unconscious for only a few more hours, so she needed to hurry this up. When he woke up, he would be pissed. Her eyes stayed closed the entire time; she didn't want to look at him. He still occupied a part of her thoughts, though not for the same reasons he used to. And yeah, she could admit it, she still found him attractive. But that had been a lame enough excuse to fall for him in the first place, and she certainly wasn't going to let it control her now.
'Now that I know better.'
Sakura stood, having finished, opened her eyes again, and turned to face Itachi.
"What now?" She asked. "He's healed. Do we send him on his merry way, to pillage and murder some more, or are you going to let me take you both back, right now?"
The sarcasm in her voice was not lost on Itachi, and for the first time since their intimate encounter four days ago, she surprised him. He weighed his words carefully, not wanting her angry at him.
"I can't go back Sakura."
She looked ready to pummel him. "Why?"
"I would not be welcome."
"You can show them what happened," she said, verging on tears now. "You can prove to the council that you're innocent."
"I'm not innocent, Sakura."
"You were ordered to kill your clan!" She snapped, raising her voice as the tears stung in her eyes. "Danzou tricked you!"
He lifted a hand, reached out toward her, and then stopped himself from touching her. He couldn't do that, not when he had to leave. No, he needed to hold her. Itachi pulled her into a deep, sensual kiss. It was a kiss goodbye. She couldn't stop the tears now, as he held her tight, giving into his desire to feel her body against his once more. They both wanted nothing more than to lie down, right now, and give themselves wholly and completely to each other, but they were both very aware of the unconscious body of his brother, only two feet away. Itachi pulled away from her, and pressed their foreheads together, struggling to breathe; for him, it wasn't as obvious, but she was half panting.
"Take Sasuke to the Hokage," he said. "I will see you again Sakura, I promise. But I can't come back to the village."
"Yes you can!" She half sobbed, trying not to sound like the ridiculous idiot who had begged Sasuke to stay almost five years ago. "You can, if you really want to."
She gripped him tightly, but he was stronger than her, faster too. Before she could stop him, he'd stepped away from her and performed a hand sign she didn't recognise. His body dispersed, breaking into a murder; the crows disappeared a moment later. She swallowed heavily. At the last possible moment, before leaving, he'd whispered to her. These were words no-one had ever said to her; words she had hungered for her entire life.
"I love you."
She stood still for a moment, just wishing as hard as she could that he was still standing in front of her. Sakura let out a sob, glaring at Sasuke as the younger Uchiha slept on, unaware. She would hold Itachi to his promise, and even if she had to track him down personally, she was going to see him again. And this time, he was coming back with her! She wiped away her tears, sniffling and forcing herself to calm down. But for now, she was going to do as she was told. She lifted Sasuke over her shoulder, surprised by his light weight, carried him through the secret passage and exited the Uchiha estate. She had no idea how to otherwise circumvent the Fuuin Jutsu.
Sakura walked solemnly as she made her way through the woods, and re-entered the village hidden in the leaves.
X X X
A/N: Okay, testing the waters for this fic.
There's not as much happening in this first chapter as I'd first anticipated, but I decided I wanted it to end on this note. Next chapter is figured out by not typed up, so I can say with all honesty that it has more going on. After all, Sasuke is back in the leaf, and this alone is enough to stir things up! ;D
For now, please review! Love ya, ciao!