Sorry for the late update. :)
Ignore canon. Ignore Kishi… focus on me… lol. But seriously, I started writing this story LONG before the revelation on Obito (I'm ignoring other recent events too…). So pretend it's really Madara, k? ;) Enjoy! ^_^
Chapter 8 – Wonderful Life.
"Questions without answers are best not uttered in the first place."
An inexplicably light breeze swept through the room, but he couldn't feel it.
Even if they weren't underground, he still wouldn't.
It should've been impossible.
But shards of light, much like one would expect in a variegated, softly illuminated area, permeated his senses regardless, and he wondered briefly if his painless form would know if he'd died. He couldn't feel a thing. His body moved without his permission, rocking, sliding, and twisting, and still he felt nothing. There was no tell-tale shudder of a final breath to hint that he was hovering between life and death.
Warm hands always brought him back, leaving him to wonder if he was truly dead to begin with.
And the tears never came, ever, not since he'd turned his back on everything that had caused them. Something inside of him was bound to snap eventually, and he considered just giving in, letting the fates have their way and just waiting to die. No, he didn't think he deserved to, no matter what those idiots said or thought. But now everything he'd fought for was gone, his family, his revenge, his purpose in life.
Sasuke Uchiha was officially a nobody.
He might as well just die.
And surprisingly, seeing Itachi roaming around unshackled no longer boiled his blood. It had been days, and he supposed he was just getting tired of the questions clogging up his brain (that and being ignored when he voiced them). What was his mass murdering older brother doing free and healthy, why did he look like he was intimately involved with Sakura of all people, and what the fuck was she doing free and healthy? Sasuke had seen her before of course, but after that fleeting contact, he had convinced himself she was just an illusion. It was impossible for her to be alive, walking around and trying to kill him.
His Eternal Tsukuyomi was too powerful for her. She was weak. She was pathetic.
But Itachi was still alive…
Sasuke lifted his head slightly, expecting pain when Ibiki moved toward him. His mind had drifted of its own accord, and he had gotten good, since falling prey to the twisted man's interrogation, to block out his physical awareness for the duration of Ibiki's "fun". His efforts had paid off; only now that his mind was returning to his predicament did he feel the razor blade running down his body. There was no tactile contact, just an impression, like a ghost sensation. And just like globules of sweat, the pain trickled over his form; he'd cause this pain to others, so he was more aware of the cause than he should be under the proverbial knife. There was something familiar about it.
But the sting faded as a blurry image protruded through his peripherals – it was a medic. No, not Sakura; his thoughts had gone to her first, but everything about this woman was different. Her scent was more citrus than strawberry. She moved like a civilian, so he guessed she spent most of her time at the hospital, and had never known battle. And her hair was blonde, almost ash-like in colour. She was a nobody, just like him.
He found that he didn't mind her warm hands on him. She was healing his physical wounds, and her chakra was calming. Unlike someone who might've had a personal history with him, this medic worked dispassionately however, every move clinical; there was no need to get personal, after all. And she wouldn't look directly at him. There was no fear in her eyes, no hesitation in her resolve, and her hands didn't tremble: she just didn't seem to see him as important past her job.
Sasuke jerked his head slightly, watching in amusement as she continued without missing a heartbeat. Ibiki shifted slightly, as though afraid his prisoner might suddenly break free and kill the woman healing him, but really, he should've known better. Even if Sasuke had shown any violent tendencies since his incarceration (which he had not), attacking a medic in front of his torturer would be tantamount to suicide. Ibiki could not read his mind and see that he didn't care anymore. If they executed him, he would die. What did it matter?
The medic lowered her hands from his arm to his midsection, like a good little automaton and the Uchiha watched her intently. He inhaled deeply, letting the breath out in ragged bursts, before making the pointless attempt to activate his chakra, knowing it wouldn't work. But when the woman's eyes flickered up to his momentarily in response, he smirked, having elicited the response he had been looking for. Well, any response would've been fine.
So Sasuke indulged himself; his body jerked slightly at his command, and he stared intently at her. She didn't respond at first, but after a few minutes, when she was almost done, her fingers accidentally brushed him when he twitched, and she pulled away automatically, like a frightened animal. It lasted only a few seconds, as Ibiki had seen Sasuke's silent torment and roused on him, forcing the girl to return to healing him.
Her touch did not burn. His skin had healed. Sasuke didn't really care about that.
The girl glanced at him, her light brown eyes hardened and annoyed, and Sasuke couldn't help but smirk inwardly at that. She didn't storm out, just retreated from her patient with an air of solemnity, and nodded politely to Ibiki as she left. The interrogator was frowning at Sasuke, but he didn't care. That was the first time since waking up in this hellhole that he'd had any kind of control, and it was oddly liberating, even in this dismal place. He wanted more, craved more, and decided he would get just that.
The Hokage had been in to see him that morning ‒ something about orders from the council being overruled and Naruto and Kakashi becoming responsible for him ‒ and he was eager to be let out. If all went well, he would never smell the stench of this cesspit ever again. He'd hit rock bottom, hoping on that knucklehead to get him released; even though he doubted they'd give him access to his chakra, it was at least better than being here.
Ibiki shifted, clearly uncomfortable, before grunting and leaving the room, slamming the door behind him. Sasuke had heard the stories about that man, how he was so professional and terrifying. He was clearly a force to be reckoned with when it came to interrogations, but his emotions were clear as day to the Uchiha. He was angry most of the time, which was probably just a reflection of having to deal with what everyone was calling "the traitor", and yet took great pleasure in his work ‒ to the point of insatiable sadism.
Sasuke lowered his head, his throat clenching even as he coughed. That medic had only healed him as necessary, leaving minor injuries and soft tissue damage to heal naturally. She knew how to be dutiful and vindictive, it seemed. His father had married such a woman: cultured, obedient, beautiful, and indifferent to the concerns of others, this medic would've made for the perfect Uchiha bride.
Time passed in rapid succession; the days came and went faster than he'd anticipated, since he had so few things to do, even when Sakura wasn't pressured by her Hokage to spend some time with friends. Left alone in the apartment, Itachi read up on the scrolls and books the pinkette had gathered for him, bored in between completed reading materials and missing her. He wanted out.
It was a week on from his discussion with Sakura over allowing Sasuke to be released (though under chakra restraints), that he was finally given permission himself, for some semblance of freedom ‒ free of the ANBU as well. Kakashi had offered to spar with him, since Sakura was still treating him like he was made of glass, but Itachi declined. He saw the copy ninja's feelings for Sakura, despite her insistence that they were just friends, and had his own history with the man (of a non-romantic nature, of course). Later, when he was more sure of his own abilities, he intended on taking Kakashi up on his offer of training, but for now, he did need to take things easy.
Sakura came home every day with more ideas on how to treat his condition. She was determined to prove it wasn't mitral stenosis, though the Hokage's diagnosis was clear. She believed that it was the eyes themselves poisoning the rest of his body, augmented by chakra burn. She wanted to surgically remove his eyes, but he wouldn't allow it. With everything that was going to happen soon, Madara and whatnot, he would not be useless and blind when he felt he could do something to help stop the long lived Uchiha.
Sakura yelling and complaining about "stubborn arseholes" wasn't going to change that.
Itachi trained alone, with Sakura supervising like the overbearing medic she was, and in a training ground he was still familiar with ‒ number thirty-one. It had been his favourite. Several more days passed before Sakura reluctantly admitted that Sasuke was being released. The paperwork had been perused by the daimyo, which was what took so long, and the elders were excluded from that decision making process after blowing up at the news.
Not that it mattered anymore.
Itachi fell asleep waiting for Sakura, the night before he would see his otouto again.
She found him lying on her side of their bed, his body turned away from the window, and looking deceptively happy. She knew he wasn't, no matter what he said. Sakura had a quick shower to get the stench of the hospital off of her, and climbed under the sheets naked, intent on robbing him of his only to find he'd already done that.
Sakura spent what felt like forever just staring out her bedroom window, not thinking; the moonlight filtering through the glass, unencumbered by the drawn shades, only added to the cold of her skin. She couldn't bring the jumbled mess that was her thought process into that light, so she just let it all fall away. She had no need to overthink it, or anything else ever again. She didn't register the sight before her as a small bird fluttered nearby; in the back of her mind, she knew it had a nest nearby, but again, these things weren't really registering to her conscious mind. It was unimportant.
Itachi shifted slightly and she smiled, his arm moving to hug her from behind.
"You're awake." She wasn't asking, just noting.
"When you came out of the shower," he said softly, not opening his eyes.
Itachi's hand glided over her hip, barely brushing her skin and she leant into his touch, closing her eyes. She wanted him to hold her, to run his hands all over her, and satiate the heat pooling between her thighs. Coming back into this apartment, she always hesitated on the threshold, terrified at the thought that he wasn't going to be around much longer. An image of him on her bed, unmoving, freaked her out.
Sakura rolled over, facing Itachi, and looked up into his eyes, brushing hair away from his face. "I'm not going to let you die, you know."
"I know." Itachi snaked his hand around her thigh, cupping her bottom and lacing her leg over his hip. He was more exhausted than he was letting on, and they both knew it. He wanted to make love to her, to feel the familiar fire in his loins as she shuddered beneath him, but he didn't have the energy. Instead, he brought up the subject of his otouto, knowing that Sakura too, was not remotely inclined to leave the bed.
"Tomorrow will be difficult."
Sakura sighed, closing her eyes. "I know. I'm not looking forward to working alongside Sasuke."
"Will you attack him again?"
Her eyes snapped open; dark obsidian orbs stared curiously back at her. "I will never not hate him," she said, curling her fingers over his open palm. "I'm sorry, but I can't let it go."
He really didn't expect her to. Unlike her friends, he had seen the effects of his otouto's jutsu, and could at least, on some level, imagine what she'd gone through. It wasn't something one did to an enemy, former teammate or not ‒ nobody deserved that.
Itachi closed his eyes; pulling Sakura tightly to his chest, he hummed his response, knowing she'd understand. That was something he'd never had outside of other Uchiha ‒ the silent understanding.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you." She was drifting off, her breathing deepening, and evening as she listened to his heartbeat. "I love you so much."
"It's okay, I love you too." He kissed the crown of her head. "Get some sleep."
Sakura had yelled, sobbed and cursed until her throat was hoarse, after he'd stopped her from killing his brother, and he honestly didn't know what to do with a crying woman. Seeing her upset had upset him more than he was willing to admit.
– Flashback –
He wanted to raise his voice, despite the fact that the act itself bore no interest for him, but she wore him down with her tears.
He hated to see her cry. She was sobbing into his shirt, gripping harder than necessary, and telling him she couldn't live without him. Itachi just held her, kissing the crown of her head as she begged him not to die. If he loved her, he wouldn't die… her words became incessant rambling and he just held her as she let it all out.
His defence of his brother didn't come. He didn't think it wise to upset her further. But the next words out of his mouth did just that anyway.
"Don't you dare!" She screamed. "Don't you dare stand there and tell me you have nothing left to live for!"
"I did everything I'd planned," he said back, his voice barely louder than a whisper. "I wasn't supposed to live this long in the first place."
And then she screamed again, this time without the tears, as anger fuelled her fire. Itachi bore the brunt of it, waiting patiently as she exploded, berating him. When she finally went quiet and started to sniffle instead, he bent to pick her up, carrying her bridal style to the bed they were sharing, and was surprised when she turned away from him.
Itachi stroked her despite this, running his fingers through the thick strands of pink, and pulling her back against his chest. She gave no protest as he waited on her to fall asleep, thinking about their time in that shack – it felt like a lifetime ago, but he could remember everything: from the first, terrified look on her face at his presence, to that last, sensual moan from her as he came inside her for the first time.
And despite his words, he really was desperate to keep experiencing that feeling. He wanted to lay next to her for the rest of both of their lives.
– End Flashback –
Itachi held her close, kissing her forehead. "I won't let anyone hurt you ever again, I promise."
There was no justice in the world; it was as simple as that. And Sasuke hated them all for it. Itachi killed his family, and was now roaming free, unshackled and unmarred. Danzou ordered the deaths of the Uchiha clan and yet despite being found guilty of crimes against his village, was still breathing. He did not doubt that Ibiki had not gone near the fucker. And then there was him.
Sasuke was guilty of war crimes, and yes, he'd been tortured for information when he refused to give it freely, but here he was… standing unshackled and being granted his freedom. It wasn't freedom in the purest meaning of the word, but it would do for now.
His wrists bore the tell-tale signs that Ibiki enjoyed his job a little too much, and that medic (who he'd learnt was called Nurse Yuko) was nowhere to be seen. In fact, the only medic in the room was the Hokage, and she did not look eager to heal him. Not that he'd let her touch him long enough to do so. He'd rather suffer in silence, and in the darkest recess of his mind than ask her to help him.
And he'd rather drown in a pool of his own blood than see Sakura again, even if only one last time. But that resolve wasn't as resolute, as he knew that seeing Itachi again would mean Sakura would be there, and that was an annoyance he really was willing to bear to see his aniki. He could handle one weak, insignificant Kunoichi ‒ hell he could handle them all. If he had access to his chakra, she wouldn't even get to see him before writhing in agony and dying the slowest and most painful way he could think of.
Sasuke sighed softly, refraining from becoming audible to his self-appointed guards, at the approach of his only former team mate who would gladly watch him die. He felt the weight of the pinkette's glare before he spotted her next to his aniki. His brother gave him an impassive, acknowledgement in the form of a slight head nod, as expected, and they both pretended to not hear the snort Sakura made before crossing her arms over her chest.
Sasuke didn't bother to apologise to Sakura. Her death glares were enough to make him realise she would just use the words as an excuse to try killing him again. That and the anger rolling off of her was clearly a volatile defence mechanism for her. He'd thought a lot about what he'd done to her. The state he'd left her in. He wasn't above doing the same thing again, not really, but despite everything, he wasn't as angry or consumed by his own hatred anymore. For so long he'd blamed Itachi for everything that had gone wrong in his life, not knowing the truth, not knowing how wrong he really was.
But Sasuke couldn't let go of the darkness inside himself. It was so strong inside of him, such a powerful entity that he'd given himself over to. It scared him: it never used to, which only served to worry him further. Being back in the leaf had dredged up concerns he thought were long behind him.
They were gathered in what Ibiki was fondly calling the War Room ‒ Sasuke had no idea if it was a new addition after the war or not. There were eight ninja present (Tsunade, Inoichi, Ibiki, Sasuke, Sakura, Itachi, Kakashi and Naruto), and Sasuke wondered briefly if the elders were now disallowed from future endeavours. He wanted to ask or demand to know when and how that freak, Danzou, would be executed, but a strange, tightening sensation in the pit of his stomach kept him silent.
Funny how he was feeling like a lost sheep amongst wolves ‒ he hated this feeling.
The room in the Hokage's building was empty but for a large table and eight chairs, giving everyone present the option of sitting, but Sasuke remained standing, ignoring Naruto, who had been talking happily non-stop since the moment he'd come to get him. Overnight, he'd been taken from the prison to an apartment that he guessed was Kakashi's (he'd never been in the man's home before, so what did it really matter?), and was clean for the first time in weeks. He'd never gone so long without bathing, even back when he still spent nights in trees or lowland forestry to avoid whatever enemy it was that had marked him for death at the time.
Sasuke blinked heavily, realising his mind had drifted. The Hokage was frowning at the interrogator and the youngest Uchiha's eyes drifted to the maps and scrolls on the table. They'd clearly been discussing where to fight Madara, outside the village. He wished he had been paying attention, and mentally berated himself, resolving to forcefully listening in on the dribble coming out of these peoples' mouths.
"We don't have that advantage," Tsunade said to Ibiki, annoyed. "The enemy knows where we are, while we're forced to scour for them. It's the disadvantage to knowing you're marked when you're so easy to find."
True enough, that the ninja villages were "hidden" villages technically, but the only kinds of people who didn't really know how to find a Shinobi village were civilians; it didn't matter what it took, it was always possible.
"Then let's not give Madara an easy target!" Naruto growled out, clenching his fists. "Let's meet him head on before he can even get here."
"You mean a pre-emptive strike?" Ibiki asked, intrigued.
"No, I mean take the fight to him," Naruto said. "We don't know where he is, even with all the intelligence on him, but we know when he'll be coming to us."
"Cut him off before he can get here," the interrogator said slowly, impressed. "I like it."
"The Aburame did that once," the Hokage said. "When the Kamizuru clan moved to attack Konoha a long time ago."
"I know, baa-chan," Naruto said smugly. "Where do you think I got the idea from?"
"No need to get all excited," Kakashi teased, earning himself a glare from the blonde. "We're all going to think you thought this one through."
Itachi interrupted the blonde's comeback, making himself the new target of Naruto's anger. "Knowing Madara, he'll anticipate this; no matter how arrogant he is, he won't underestimate us."
"So we just sit here?" Naruto snapped.
"No, we divide our forces."
"How?" Sakura asked, leaning forward. "Every Sharingan will need to be on Madara, but he'll have the bulk of the force with him anyway, right?"
"Pinky makes an arguable point," Ibiki agreed, grinning when Sakura glared at him. "He'll have another force to try to distract us, for sure. That's what I would do, and I've had the privilege of working alongside Uchiha before."
Sasuke gave him a foul look, narrowing his eyes. Only Itachi noticed.
Inoichi agreed, and Sakura sighed, grateful. No-one paid Sasuke any mind, and he preferred to just listen, in case they said anything important, but after an hour, he still had nothing to add. It surprised him, but he kept quiet anyway. The last thing they needed to talk about however, before leaving, piqued his interest. After they'd agreed they would be splitting up during the battle, it was Inoichi's idea that Itachi be the one to deal with the rest of the former members of Taka.
"No," Sakura said haughtily.
Inoichi groaned. "It'll have to be Itachi, Sasuke's attacks are too well known by his former Taka teammates."
"I don't care," she snapped. "He can just grin and bear it."
"Sakura–" Itachi started.
She rounded on him. "What if your Sharingan fails? You'll be stuck in mid-battle against those idiots and they won't hesitate to kill you."
"I am more than a match for them Sakura," he insisted. "And I promise I won't use my Sharingan unless absolutely necessary."
She argued the toss with him, but he wouldn't budge. In fact, Sakura was the only one who disagreed ‒ she was outnumbered. Sasuke noticed that Kakashi merely went along with it because there was no further flaws with the plan, while Naruto had smirked at the idea of Team Taka taking Itachi's head off. Sasuke glowered in the blonde's direction, and when obsidian met blue, the knucklehead realised his blatant mistake and lost the smug look. Naruto may not like the man, but Sasuke would not tolerate any crap from him about his brother.
That left a problem with Itachi being in the fight.
"I don't like it," Sakura groaned, her arms crossed over her chest. "Your eyes are killing you Itachi, and if you do use your Sharingan, it could very well kill you before you do any good."
Her voice wasn't quavering, but everyone heard the concern in her undertones anyway. She was useless at hiding her feelings.
"Sakura," Itachi said, taking her hands in his. "I know you want me to have mine removed, but there is no alternative‒"
"It's obvious," Sasuke interrupted softly, ignoring the strange looks he was getting now that he'd finally spoken up, and stared at his aniki. "You need new eyes? Then take Madara's."
Streaks of lightning illuminated the sky and Itachi couldn't help the small smile from lighting up his face as he stared out at the otherwise darkened night. The lightning reminded him of Sasuke, of the Chidori and the electrifying feeling he'd experienced inside Sakura's mind while trying to break his otouto's Eternal Tsukuyomi. Sasuke had told him the name for it after their meeting and he felt a new, twisted surge of pride at his brother's accomplishment: not the darkness of it, the ingenuity. He would never have thought of a genjutsu that used the target's own chakra to keep it going. It was prodigious.
He said nothing of this to anyone of course, considering what Sasuke had done to Sakura, but a part of him was grateful for at least, the fact that it had brought her to him. He couldn't see where tomorrow, the next day or even the impending battle against Madara and whatever Akatsuki who still aligned themselves with him would bring, but he was glad for these moments of peace. The cool air streaming through the open window and dancing over his naked torso brought a calm and serenity to him he hadn't felt in years.
And then that serenity was again outclassed by the feel of Sakura's equally naked body wrapped around his.
She had been wary about exerting his body, given the givens, but he wore her down; a time tested combination of hormones and sweet, whispered promises, and she was his. He almost laughed out loud at that. He didn't want to be careful ‒ he'd been meticulous and vigilant for years, and now all he wanted to do was take Sakura as many times as she'd let him have her. He wasn't made of glass, not by a long shot.
Sakura shifted in his arms, waking again, and he felt her tremble, prompting him to pull the sheets further over their bodies and rubbing her skin in an attempt to add more heat. She moaned, rolled over to face him, and smiled.
"Gorgeous," she murmured, leaning in to kiss him.
She'd been a rampaging rhinoceros all day, before, during and after that meeting, but having Itachi with her made seeing Sasuke easier, and she realised she could handle that better than expected.
"Itachi," she whispered. "I want you again."
So he shifted, holding her tightly to him as he entered her again, reintroducing himself to the warmth he'd grown accustomed to. As anticipated, Sakura growled, instinctively pushing against him to immediately draw tension through her pelvis, seeking the friction she so desired. Like a well-rehearsed dance that never became dull or tiresome, they moved together.
The storm outside raged, but neither cared. It wasn't natural anyway.
Morning filtered in through the window, shortly after they both finally fell asleep again, the chill of the night was now a warm breeze. A few more hours later, Sakura was the first to stir. Once she got her bearings, rubbed the sleep from her eyes, and remembered a promise she'd made to herself the previous day, she wrapped a gown around her body and left the room. She'd been with Itachi in such a short time, respectively, but things between them were moving so fast. Normally, she would be freaked out by that, since her only other serious relationship had really been more physical for her ‒ looking back at it, she knew she'd had feelings for the man (perhaps she still did), but it hardly compared to how she saw Itachi. This relationship demanded higher stakes.
Sakura headed for the guest bedroom, glancing back at her sleeping lover to make sure he was indeed, still asleep, and gathered what she needed before locking herself in the bathroom.
She hadn't wanted to bother another medic – it wasn't something she was supposed to do herself, not really; rules, regulations, and whatnot. Years of training under her shishou had taught her not to do this on herself. She was supposed to seek out a certified medical practitioner, even though she knew from stories from Shizune that Tsunade had broken the rule herself once upon a time. The few minutes it took to find out if her relationship was indeed spiralling out of control was actually quite calming for her. She wasn't as scared as she should be.
Sakura held the stick tightly to stop her hand from shaking; all her calm suddenly flew out the window. It was a test for civilians, and the distinct, pink lines told her she was indeed pregnant.
X X X
Yeah… don't normally go for the "she gets pregnant" cliché when writing, like, making her pregnant just for the sake of making her pregnant. I will say no more. ;) And again, sorry for the late update. I'll try not to take so long next time. I know this chapter was pretty lax on the whole story front, but next time is when things REALLY begin to heat up. Lotsa love. ^_^