Author's Notes: Hello again everyone! I am so thrilled to be able to give you this brand new story. The plot has been rolling around in my mind for almost a year, so I'm really excited to see it come to fruition. Admittedly, I was a teensy bit inspired by the Royal Wedding in Britain, though you won't really see any similarities in this story except for the fact that Sasuke is just a figurehead as a Prince. Trust me, though, this will not be one of your typical Prince Sasuke stories, I assure you! Now, without any further ado, I present Love and in War.
Title: Love and in War
Rating: T (or PG-13)
Summary: [SasuSaku] The first time I met Prince Sasuke was the night he saved my life. I never thought I would see him again, and I certainly never expected to fall in love with him.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Chapter 1: Once Upon A Time
The news that the Prince of Konohagakure was coming had been the most exciting announcement since the end of the war. The gossip spread like wildfire and no one was immune. The first I'd heard of it had been due to the televisions at the bar I worked at, which were always tuned to either news or sports. Since the start of the war, the news had been popular. Now that the war was over, I was slowly getting back my knowledge of which football teams were going into the semi-finals.
I'd first seen him on that screen. He had been walking along the army base with his Captain, who was a lanky man with silver hair. The Prince was in full military uniform looking as polite as he could having a camera follow his movements, but I could detect a subtle agitation in his eyes. Seeing him for the first time, I nearly spilled a pitcher of beer all over a table of college frat boys. I hadn't grown up with a television, so the most I'd heard about the Konoha Royal Family had been word of mouth. They said he was handsome, I just didn't expect obsidian pools to be able to pull me in across a television set of all things. I could only imagine what meeting him in person would be like. The thought alone makes me shudder.
Of course, living in an all-girls dorm makes me all too aware of when he is visiting. I have seen girls get their hair cut, their nails done, and their legs waxed just in case they happen to meet the Prince. There was no solace in my own room since my roommate was practically obsessed with him. In fact, he was coming so that he could be given medals for his bravery in the war, and Tayuya was already planning to be outside the ceremony hall if she somehow couldn't sneak in. I have even seen her skip classes while she goes shopping for new clothes. I want to tell her she's being silly, that there will be tons of security around him since he's in a foreign country, but she will probably say something nasty and I would like to avoid that particular conflict.
Prince Sasuke had already arrived in the country, so she was constantly online trying to see where he was staying. I rolled my eyes at her when she wasn't looking. Personally, I thought the whole obsession was a little stupid. He is just a human, no matter what title he has. He may be royalty, but that doesn't really mean that his life is worth more than anyone else's. I'll give him my respect—I figure he's earned it since he's actually fighting in wars as opposed to being pampered all the time—but I won't treat him like some god.
Of course, that was before I'd seen him the first time. I'll admit that I didn't expect to feel the magnetic pull of attraction—I thought I was above all those other girls—but I could see why they were so obsessed. Still, my mind reasoned, he's just a person. No matter how attractive he is.
Behind the bar's usual weekday chatter, I listened to the local football team lose while hefting a pint of beer and chilled glasses on a tray. Hidden Sound was the only place I could get a job. I figured this was because my exotic colorings would likely bring more customers, which it did and my supervisor had been thrilled. Truthfully, I would rather work anywhere but here, since the fact that people thought I was foreign got me hit on twice as much. I was sick and tired of restraining myself from smashing dinner plates over customers who got a little too hands on. Though admittedly, this was one of the cleanest bars in Oto that I could work at. If possible, the rest of them seemed even seedier.
The first thing that I was going to do when I had money was to leave the Land of Rice Fields for good. I really wanted to go to Konoha, but anywhere else would be fine. The air in Oto was stale and smelled like prison. But I would be stuck here for a while. After I got my undergrad degree in Biology, it was off to Otogakure University's med school. OU wasn't my first choice, but it was the only one that I could afford with my own wages and the money I'd inherited when my parents died.
I forced out a smile as I took orders from the next table, my fingers twitching when a hand purposely brushed mine when the customer handed me his menu. This job doesn't pay enough, I thought.
I clocked out of Hidden Sound at nine, stretching a little when I felt the bonds of work release me. I walked out of the side entrance and breathed in a little of the fresh air, wincing as I smelled the taint of the city along with it. Nothing could ever compare to the crisp air of the country, but since I wasn't returning to my hometown I'd better get used to it.
I walked out of the small alley and onto a street that would lead to the main road, tugging the white fitted shirt of my uniform to cover more of my body as I did so. This street was quiet, much quieter than it ever is on the weekends. Downtown Oto was miserable on the weekends, as college kids and businessmen all took the time to drink and party. It was actually safer walking around on those nights, because the police were always around looking for disorderly conduct. On a Wednesday night though, the streets were quiet as most of the businesses closed for the night. I had to walk with my head high and ignore the human shadows lurking in the corners, steeling myself to look like I wouldn't be afraid to fight back if need be. No one would be around to hear me scream. Of course, the citizens of Oto tended to turn a deaf ear onto cries of help.
Suddenly, a hand grabbed by arm and forced my back against the side of a brick building. My teeth rattled and I forced my head forward so that it couldn't bounce off the wall and possibly give me a concussion. The pressure on my arm eased a little and I finally snapped open my eyes to look at my attacker. Or rather attackers, as I found out. There were three of them and it wasn't really hard to place them. They were known well enough that even I knew of them, and that was purely by the rumors that floated around.
Their leader, Abumi Zaku, stood in the middle with a smirk on his face. One hand was on his hip and the other had just let go of my arm. His dark eyes regarded me with wicked amusement, like someone taking glee out of torturing a bird in a cage. His two favorite lackeys stood on either side of him. Dosu wrapped in bandages as usual and Kin looking like she had better places to be.
The Abumi gang…
Of course, ask any of the aristocracy and they'd tell you that Abumi Zaku and his friends had just formed a group. Not a gang, just a group of friends who hung out together in the city. Ask anyone else and they'd tell you that the Abumi gang was a deadly force to be reckoned with, and it was better not to cross them if you valued all of your body parts. They all wore light jackets, which was surprising for the exceptionally warm weather. Though when I finally saw the gun bulges under those jackets, I was surprised behind a wall of cold chills. They were known for hand to hand fighting, specifically their viciousness during the fights. I'd never heard of them carrying guns before. Not that they ever got caught. The Abumi family was well connected, with Zaku's own father being a Councilman with friendly ties to the Otokage.
"Look what we caught on our turf, guys." Zaku said, grinning wickedly. "Poor little girlie must be lost."
"Ugh. Just take her money and let's go." Kin said, more interested in her nails than she was in me.
"Don't be like that, Kin." He said and the woman shot him a glare. "Fine, fine." He reached for the pockets of my black shorts and I slapped his hands away once he got uncomfortably close.
"I don't have any money." I told him. It was the truth, since everyone knew it was just stupid to carry a purse or wallet downtown. Pickpockets were everywhere, and you couldn't even cross the street without someone trying to steal money from you. I never brought any with me, since I didn't need it. I went straight to work from my dorm and then straight back to my dorm after work. I didn't need money. I kept my ID in my back pocket and buttoned the pocket, but that was all.
Kin regarded me with disgust, but Zaku only worked harder. "No money? I guess we'll have to teach you what happens to people who don't pay up."
His hand reached for me again, but higher this time, grabbing the hem of my shirt and lifting. I gasped in surprise, struggling, and Zaku clamped a hand over my mouth. I struggled harder, digging my nails into Zaku's wrist before Dosu grabbed both of my arms and pinned them above my head. Zaku gave me an, "Ah ah ah. No screaming now" and lifted my shirt higher.
I took a deep breath through my nose to steel myself for what I was about to do. I opened my mouth as much as I could, biting down on whatever skin I could reach. Zaku retracted his hand with a wince and a "bitch!" I didn't waste any time and kicked him in the groin. I watched with satisfaction as he fell to his knees cupping his privates. Dosu was watching his friend in sympathetic pain, and I'd felt him flinch after the initial hit. I took advantage of his distraction and wrenched my hands out of his, elbowing him in the cheek.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kin's fist pulled back, so I kicked her at the most vulnerable part of her pelvic bone. She doubled over and I turned back around to see Dosu coming at me again. I thrust the heel of my hand upwards into his nose—or where his nose should be, I can't really see for all the bandages—hearing the crack I was aiming for. Zaku was slowly getting up again, and I kicked the small of his back, sending him sprawling forwards.
All three were incapacitated, so I took that as my cue to run for it.
A "get her!" followed me down the street and sent horror and adrenaline racing through my veins. I turned a corner sharply, hoping to make it to the main street where there would be more traffic. I heard footsteps running after me, but it seemed like there was only one pair. They must have split up to cut me off. I tried to quiet my footsteps, but that slowed me down too much. I took another corner, racing off away from my destination. The main street would provide more traffic, but there were fewer places to hide along the streets that led to it.
I ran for what seemed like hours, my frantic mind trying to discern the best way back to civilization. I hadn't ever been to this part of Oto before, but it was closer to the center of the city. The streets were deserted around here, having fewer shops that needed to stay open this late. I couldn't even see a convenience store to get help from. This was just my luck…to be chased into a deserted part of town and not be able to get help. I didn't have a cell phone, and I didn't even have money for a payphone.
Silence surrounded me, so I took this opportunity to lean against the building next to me to rest. I was panting from all the running, and I was trying to keep my heavy breathing as quiet as possible. I was decently in shape, but being on my feet for six hours carrying pints of beer had exhausted me. I didn't hear anything for awhile, and I hoped this meant that they'd given up.
"…can't find her…back to base…" My head snapped to the other end of the street where I head a quiet voice. My body tensed, ready to run again. "Sure…bye."
I heard footsteps, and didn't bother to wait to see whoever it was. I turned and started running, eventually hearing footsteps running after me. They were quiet, which meant that they were still a couple blocks away. That was a small comfort, at least, but not enough. I tried to run faster, picking up speed and putting another block between us, looking at the road ahead and deciding on how I was going to lose them this time.
I turned the corner into a seldom-used side street and immediately crashed into a warm body. An arm came to rest around my waist and I gasped in fear. My eyes screwed shut and my hands instinctively went to his chest—there's no way the wall of muscle I ran into could be a woman—to push him away. I wasn't expecting him to let go of me easily, but I certainly wasn't expecting the arm around me to turn to iron and hold me in place. I was stronger than the other girls I knew, and even some boys, so how could I not make this man loosen his arm even a little?
I opened my eyes and felt them glassy with unshed tears. Please don't let it be someone from Abumi's gang, I thought. Granted, he smelled better than Zaku or his lackeys had, and when my eyes focused I could see that he dressed better too. Without my noticing, my fists had clenched in a navy blue button down shirt. I slowly trailed my eyes up towards his face looking to either see my savior or my enemy. My eyes looked upwards at his pretty features until I came to two onyx orbs that I could drown in. His black hair covered some of his face, but I immediately knew who he was.
I had just run into Prince Sasuke.
He looked amused at first, though I couldn't place why. It was probably because he wasn't used to women trying to tear themselves away from him, since from what I've heard he practically has them throwing themselves at his feet. Of course, he could be more superficial and be laughing at my hair color. It was a strange color, which was one-of-a-kind in Otogakure. Even in Konoha, where the hair colors were a bit more varied with blondes and redheads, it was probably rare. I doubt he'd believe me if I told him it was natural.
I don't know how long we stared at each other, but out of the corner of my eye I saw the smirk slip right off his face. His eyes narrowed and I tried to take a step back, but his damnable arm kept me in place. I sunk my teeth into my lip to avoid letting out a frightened whimper. I had forgotten that he was here for reasons more political than social. If he turned me in to the police, he'd likely get a commendation on top of the medals he was here to receive. Technically, I'd just attacked the son of a Councilman. If he spun it the right way, he could even go so far as to say I'd attacked him. No one would question him despite what my testimony said. They would lock me up in an instant. I guess in the end, it would just come down to if he had a merciful personality or not.
My thoughts were interrupted as I heard running footsteps pounding the pavement from the way I'd come. I flinched at the sound and turned my head towards the main road, knowing that if I didn't move fast Zaku would come around the corner and probably kill me. Not to mention I really didn't want to involve the Prince like this. Sure I didn't know the man, but I didn't want him to come to any harm either. I spun around to face him, pushing on his chest and hoping—praying—he would let me go this time.
"Please." I said, struggling. "You have to let me go. They'll—"
As soon as I implied other people, I saw his face go absolutely cold. Those obsidian pools that were his eyes hardened to black ice, and he lifted his face to someone who was standing off to his side. I had noticed another presence earlier, seeing a white shirt briefly as I turned the corner. At first, I ignored him to deal with the threat of the man who had me trapped in his arms. After the Prince and I started our staring contest, I had forgotten him entirely, too entranced by black pools and spiked hair.
"Hyuuga." Prince Sasuke said shortly. The one word reverberated throughout his chest and I tried unsuccessfully to repress a shudder when I felt the vibrations. I turned my head to look at the other man. He was considerably tall with longer hair than I would have suspected. It was tied low in the back and was a deep chocolate brown. His bangs hid his eyes from view, but through the gaps I could see that his irises were white. I thought this was a little strange, but it's not like I can talk about strange colorings.
The man nodded, but before he could react to do anything I saw Dosu turn the corner.
I didn't even realize what happened next until it was over. The Prince pivoted with me still in his arms and bared his back to Dosu. Somehow he'd managed to turn me around so that my back was to his chest and he bent over me so that I was completely shielded. I heard a bang and then a grunt. Two more gunshots went off before I heard retreating footsteps, and then there was silence.
This all happened in less than five seconds.
The Prince loosened his grip and I wrenched myself out of his arms to see the damage. The other man—Hyuu-something—was standing with his stance a little wider than normal, both arms to his side and his shoulders slumped over. Without him turning around I could already tell he'd been hit at least once.
Suddenly, his shoulders straightened and he turned around with his head held in an authoritative manner. I winced as I saw a dark stain blooming under his ribcage. Without warning, his eyes rolled into the back of his skull and he listed forwards.
Prince Sasuke was there in an instant, catching his friend and putting his arm from his uninjured side around his shoulders. I looked around and saw a small alcove with a rusted metal door that was used as a back entrance to one of the businesses. All the businesses were closed, so we wouldn't get any help there, but it would at least be somewhere to hide. I walked to the Prince and helped to support the longhaired man from the other side.
"They'll probably be back soon with reinforcements. We can hide there—" I nodded at the alcove "—until the police arrive." The Prince nodded and we dragged his friend over to the alcove, and I only relaxed a little when there was brick surrounding us on three sides. We laid the wounded man on the ground and I checked his pulse. The Prince took the gun that was still in the injured man's fingers and went to the opening of the alcove, looking ready to shoot at any sign of a threat.
Sometimes it was easy to forget that even though he was a Prince and had a pretty face, he was still a deadly force.
The man had a pulse, and his breathing was a little ragged but I didn't suspect the bullet hit a lung. I've never dissected a body before but I think the bullet was too low to have hit his lung. I also didn't think it had hit any major organs, and definitely no arteries, so that was a good sign. Still, I frowned, he was losing a lot of blood. Nearly a quarter of his shirt was soaked with crimson. True bullet wounds were bad, but he shouldn't be bleeding this much if the wound was far away from any arteries. Something wasn't adding up.
I grabbed both sides of his shirt and pulled harshly, buttons flying in all directions and some ripping being heard. After I pushed that away, I ripped his undershirt in half to reveal the bullet wound. If I had been less frantic about the whole situation, I would have noticed that I was looking at one of the finest physiques I'd ever seen. I had nothing to compare them to except for the men on Tayuya's soap opera shows, but I think this guy took the prize.
The wound was closer to the center of his body than I thought. There was an artery there, because we just had a lecture on this in my Intro to Human Anatomy class. It was the…it starts with an R. Ru…Ri…Re…Ren…Renal! His renal artery. I inwardly smiled as my intellect came through for me again.
But then my mood dampened as I realized my intellect wasn't really going to help me much here. He was bleeding too much. I needed to apply pressure to the wound with something that absorbed liquid. I wasn't about to move an injured man to get to his shirt, and I wasn't about to ask the Prince for anything, so I crossed my arms and grabbed the hem of my shirt. I had gotten it halfway up my body when I realized there was another person besides the injured man and myself. I snapped my head towards the Prince who was looking at me with a curious but very interested expression. I flushed horribly.
"Don't judge me." Which was more of a plea than an order. I just hoped he didn't return to the Royal Palace in Konoha and mention the slut that had gotten his friend—bodyguard?—shot.
I took off my t-shirt, revealing the white camisole that I wore underneath. Some of the other waitresses didn't mind that patrons could see their bras and bellybuttons since it got them better tips. I was too much of a prude for that. Even now I was regretting the action as my upper half tingled and my face flushed in embarrassment. I knew the Prince was probably looking at my bare shoulders and the uncomfortably low neckline that was the most modest I could find, but I was not about to look at him to confirm my suspicions.
I balled up my shirt and put it on the wound, leaning over the man's body so I could apply pressure to the wound with the weight from the upper half of my body. Even though he was unconscious, I saw the man wince, and I winced in sympathetic response. "Sorry." I whispered to him.
I swallowed hard. "I'm sorry." I said a little louder so the Prince could hear me. I stared at the ground though, determined not to look at him. "I didn't mean to get anyone else caught up in this."
"Why were they chasing you?" The Prince's voice rumbled. I tentatively looked at him. He was sitting now by the opening looking out at the street with one of his legs was propped up. He had one arm resting on his knee while the other rested on the ground, holding the gun loosely. His posture looked lazy, but I had no doubt he could probably be active in about half a second.
"They cornered me earlier and I damaged their pride and…um…a bit more than that." I watched the Prince smirk and I felt my heart flutter for a moment. "I didn't expect them to have guns. The gang they run with usually doesn't use them."
The Prince's eyebrows furrowed. "People know about them and yet nothing has been done?" He sounded a little incredulous. I didn't know what the crime rate was in the Fire Country, but I guarantee it was lower than in Rice Fields.
"Their leader is a Councilman's son and the Otokage's godson. It's their word against anyone else's."
There was a pause. "So your Kage knows about this?"
"Probably, but case you haven't noticed, Orochimaru is an asshole." I gasped, my eyes widening. If word got around that I said such a thing, especially in the heart of the capitol, I could be thrown in jail. It wasn't such an issue in the rural areas of Rice Fields. There, it was just unpatriotic. It was a different story in the capitol, though. The people of Oto were protective of their Kage. Even if he were the most horrible man in the world they would still fight for his honor. And the Prince was meeting with him soon to accept medals from him; he'd have every chance in the world to tell the Kage of my words. "Please don't tell him I said that."
"Why would I say anything? It's your opinion."
"It's treasonous! I could be thrown in prison!"
All this time, the Prince had kept one eye on the street outside and one eye on his friend and me. Now his head was turned fully towards me and he leveled a stare at me. "That's ridiculous. No one should be punished for having an opinion."
I ducked my head and stared at the ground, knowing it wasn't his intention but feeling chastised all the same. I'd only known the man for less than five minutes and I had probably given him a horrible bias against the Land of Rice Fields. Not that this was new, I suppose. Rice Fields wasn't exactly a major power in the world and was generally looked at as "third-world" in most of the country except the capitol. I suppose that was why the standard of education was so high. Orochimaru had to push people so they could give the country a better name. Meanwhile, Fire Country had everything to boast about. A little criticism to the Hokage would just be brushed aside with a list of all the good he's done for the country. Of course the Hokage had been known to listen to criticism and take it constructively while Orochimaru just didn't want to hear any of it.
"Sorry." I said softly, still not looking at him. "I guess things are just different in Fire Country."
We lapsed into an uncomfortable silence. I didn't know why I felt so bad. I'd never considered Rice Fields to be my country, since I've never been particularly attached to anything here. The only thing that was here for me were my parent's graves, and even those were hundreds of miles away in a place that I doubt I'll ever return to. I intend to leave when I have enough money, but working a minimum wage job and having a university suck my earnings and my inheritance away from me, that time was long in coming. I'd already calculated it and my funds won't last me through graduation, let alone through med school. I was going to have to get another job or quit school, and I wanted to be a doctor too much to do the latter.
The Prince cleared his throat. "Not that anyone else has to know," he said, and I looked at him again. He wasn't staring at me, but instead at the wall in front of him, looking a little unsure. "I think he's an asshole too." He shifted his gaze over to me and his face was a little softer than I'd ever seen it. I got the feeling he didn't smile much, but that's what I was going to interpret this as. I looked surprised for a moment at his choice of words and then broke out into my own toothy smile. It's been a long time since I've had a reason to smile at all.
"How is he?" The Prince asked. Apparently he decided the road was clear and quiet enough because he moved more inside the alcove to monitor his friend.
"He'll be fine. In fact, the bleeding will probably stop in a few more minutes." The amount of red soaking into my shirt wasn't nearly as much as before. "It didn't hit anything major."
"Are you a doctor?" He asked. I figured I could take this question one of two ways. He was either asking out of curiosity or he was asking if I was qualified enough to do what I was doing. I took it to mean the former, since he hadn't asked me about my qualifications when I first started, so it was probably just curiosity on his part. I mentally gave him props for not being sexist and asking if I was a nurse.
"No." I told him. "Pre-Med student."
"Second." I told him. He seemed a little surprised. "I skipped seventh grade."
"Ah." He said. It was strange to think that if I was going to school in the Fire Country I'd still be a Freshman. "Are you…looking to go to Konoha's med school?"
I smiled sadly. "I wish I could." Which was the honest truth, because Konoha had the best med school in the world. Some of the brightest and most famous doctors had graduated there and I wanted to be among their ranks. My personal idol, Tsunade, graduated there however many years ago and she was considered to be the best doctor in modern times and probably in history. I didn't pay for many things that weren't essential to surviving, but I would pay whatever to read her publications in scientific journals. I wanted to go to the Konoha School of Medicine to be more like her. There was no chance of that happening unless a miracle occurred, though. "But there's no way I could afford it."
"If it's not meant to happen then it's just not meant to happen, I guess."
I saw a black boot come into the alcove's limited view followed by the signature black and white pants of the Abumi gang. How did he sneak up on us? Why did I distract Prince Sasuke? My hands were starting to shake again. Zaku appeared, gun in hand, with a sinister smile on his face. He did look surprised to see the Prince of Konoha with me, but he became no less threatening. His gun raised a few inches.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't—"
I don't know when I'd done it, when I try to remember my train of thought or reasoning it's just a blur. I dove for Prince Sasuke's gun and raised it to Zaku, firing off three rounds into the man's chest before he could even finish his sentence.
His mouth opened in shock. The gun dropped from his hands and clattered to the ground noisily. Zaku's knees gave way and he fell to the ground, with no effort to catch his fall or to keep his head from cracking into the cement. I could do nothing but stare at him, unblinking. I've just…I've just killed a man! My body was shaking and I willed it still in vain. I've spent most of my life wanting to save lives and I've just taken a life away! Why couldn't he just leave me alone?
I still had a white-knuckled grip on the gun, which I finally noticed was being gently pried from my hands. I tried to ease my grip but my fingers wouldn't respond. I finally felt its weight disappear from my hand and someone pulling me to my feet. I wanted to be relieved the gun was gone, but I found only unease in the fact that I had nothing to protect myself with now. What if Dosu or Kin came and saw his body and I had nothing to defend myself with? If they shot me, would we be even? Would I feel better about myself? I couldn't imagine ever feeling good about myself ever again, seeing Zaku's bleeding body on the ground.
He was a threat, my mind whispered.
He didn't deserve to be shot, no one did. No one deserved to lay on the cement dying because someone thought he was too much of a threat. What if he wasn't really going to pull the trigger? And I'd shot him three times! Three! Why couldn't I just shoot him in the leg or something? There was no way either of us was that lucky that at least one bullet hadn't pierced an organ or an artery. Why?
A navy blue shirt blocked my view of Zaku's body. I couldn't look him in the face. He killed to protect his country, I was a murderer! I—!
"Hey," he said softly. I still wouldn't look at him. A finger under my chin tilted my face upwards until I was looking at him in the eyes. "Are you okay?"
I nodded a few times just out of reflex and paused. Who was I kidding? My body was shaking, my eyes were glassy, and I probably looked like…well, like I'd just killed a man. I probably couldn't fool him if I tried. My gaze dropped back to the ground and I shook my head vigorously.
His hands came to rest on my shoulders and I expected a pat on the head and an "I'm sorry you just had to kill a guy." I certainly wasn't expecting him to suddenly draw me closer to him and wrap his arms around me, or to lower his head so that his temple rested against mine.
"I'm sorry." I whimpered against his shirt.
Hesitantly, I brought my arms around him, too. But I didn't really know what to do. Is it appropriate to hug him? If I hold him tighter, will he think I'm being clingy? We haven't even known each other for more than ten minutes. All of these thoughts flew out of my mind when I gave my first uncontrollable sob. I buried my face in his chest and gripped the back of his shirt, suddenly not caring what he thought of me. We were never going to see each other after this anyway.
I stayed in his arms, shivering with horror and adrenaline. I bit my lip to keep from letting out noise. I thought I was stronger than this, but my emotions were breaking in front of me and it was all I could do to keep from falling apart. I never liked people seeing me cry. It was…weak. I probably only thought that way because of teasing I endured when I was little and cried all the time. My parents never condoned me crying, but I'd always felt a little guilty for making them worry so much. I sobbed as I realized they were probably looking on in the afterlife, not exactly calling me a murderer but reprimanding me for what I'd done all the same. My parents hadn't ever liked violence, which is why being drafted into the war had been so hard on my father, but wasn't shooting a man who was about to kill you justified? Isn't it okay to defend yourself?
There were no tears and I was surprised. Didn't Zaku deserve them? My heart felt a little lighter as I realized that no, he didn't. Even though I'll regret killing him, I won't regret doing what I thought was right. He had a gun, one of his friends shot the Prince's bodyguard, he was obviously out for revenge for me injuring him earlier. It…was the right thing to do.
My ragged breathing became a little bit more stable and my fists weren't tightly clenched in his shirt anymore. I had them clasped at the small of his back, and if I'd been a bit clearer headed I would have snatched them away immediately. Now I couldn't focus or care enough to do so. My body was coming out of a hyper-anxious state and I was a little exhausted to be honest. I laid my cheek against the Prince's shoulder and let out a shudder. The trembling wasn't entirely gone yet, but it was down to the point where I only shivered every little bit or so.
I was still glad he was still blocking my view of the body. I wasn't ready for that yet.
Prince Sasuke hadn't moved.
"I'm…okay now." I said, slightly regretting it since it meant he'd probably stop holding me. I've never really hugged anyone except for my parents, and the few friends I've had weren't really the touchy-feely kind. I made no move to move away though, and neither did the Prince. "I'm still sorry I had to shoot him but…I did what I thought I needed to, and I stand by that."
"It was self-defense." He reasoned. "Not to mention you saved my life and Neji's." I jumped and looked to my patient on the floor, having forgotten all about him. It looked like the bleeding had completely stopped now, and I could see the beginnings of a clot forming around the wound. I smiled a little. "I suppose we both owe you now."
I looked back at the Prince and frowned. "Neither of you owe me anything, that's silly."
"You just saved our lives." He prodded. I guess he was the kind of guy that didn't like to leave a debt unpaid.
"I didn't do it so that you would owe me. I didn't even mean to do it." He still looked a little put out, and I realized I was going to have to come up with something. "If anything you both saved me tonight. If I hadn't run into you, Zaku would have eventually found me by myself and—" I stopped talking. I didn't even want to think about what would have happened if he or Dosu found me before the Prince and Neji. "The point is," I began again, "you're both in this because of me and I guess if you would just forgive me for that we could…call it even?" I hadn't realized my eyes had drifted down until I had to drag them back up again to meet his eyes. He looked a little surprised. I guess he was used to people asking him for a lot more. I could have asked for money, I guess, but it would have felt wrong taking money when he didn't really owe me in the first place. His friend was shot because of me, the Prince himself shielded me from bullets with his own body. That kind of bravery makes me wonder if I still owe them.
"You're…forgiven." He said, although he sounded as if that still wasn't enough.
There was a grunt from below us telling me that Neji had woken. I looked down at him again. "You're awake." I said in relief. He was trying to sit up a little, and I wanted to go over and help him but the Prince's arms were like forged steel.
"You'll damage his pride helping him now." He whispered to me. "Let him sit up on his own and then check on him."
I bit my lip in hesitation but nodded all the same. "You didn't let me go earlier, either. Why is that?"
"I wanted to see what kind of person could get past him." He nodded in Neji's direction. "He's not really easy to sneak past."
I lowered my voice. "Probably shouldn't remind him of that though. His ego's been bruised quite enough for one night, I think."
The Prince lowered his voice, too. "But it will be so fun teasing him about it until he recovers."
I laughed. "You're horrible!"
Our conversation was interrupted when flashing white lights came down the street. I sobered up immediately. They'd decided to keep their sirens off, I see.
"The police are here." I told him, and this time he allowed me to step out of his arms. My gaze flickered to where I could see Zaku's body and I swallowed hard, looking nervously back at the Prince. "I…It will be ok, right?" I asked him.
He nodded. "Aa. It will be."
"Freeze! Turn around and hold up your hands!"
I held mine up, but the Prince was a little more reluctant. Even I thought they'd recognize him, but they were probably some of the Department's most idiotic officers, sent to investigate shots fired in the area. There were two of them and they both had their gun barrels leveled in our direction.
"Please," I said. "They need medical attention. Call an ambulance."
"No talking!" One officer said and sighted down his gun, aiming.
"That is Abumi Zaku." I said authoritatively, nodding at Zaku on the ground. "Councilman Abumi's son and the Otokage's godson. How would they react if they knew that Otogakure's finest had been in a situation to help and had done nothing?" The two looked at each other warily. I was bluffing, of course, Zaku was dead, but I would be happy to tell any lie I needed to get Neji to the hospital faster. "Call an ambulance for him and for the man over here, who has also been shot."
One of the officers looked down. "Shit! It's really the Councilman's son!" He reached down and felt for a pulse. "He's barely alive! Call for that ambulance, quick!"
The other officer scrambled for his radio and called for an ambulance and backup.
I was stunned. He's alive? That's wonderful news! That means I didn't kill anyone after all! Despite all of his wrong-doings, I sent a short prayer his way. I smiled and sighed in relief. The Prince and I started to lower our hands but the second we did there were two gun barrels trained on us again.
"You two need to come with us. You're both suspects for the attempted murder of Abumi Zaku." I opened my mouth to close it but snapped it shut, deciding arguing right now would be unwise. "All right, come here one at a time. You first, girl."
I stepped forward and as soon as I was within range one police officer grabbed my upper arm and threw me against the hood of his car. My breath was knocked out of me as my stomach collided with the metal, and I was forced to catch my upper body on my arms or risk meeting the hood with my face. I gasped and coughed a few times to get my breath back.
"Ah ah ah, sir." I heard behind me from the other police officer. "Stay right there until it's your turn. We just have to do a simple check to make sure neither of you are dangerous."
Simple check my ass, I thought. These two were mad and likely no one would care if we were bumped around a bit before arriving at the station. In their eyes, one of us could have possibly shot Zaku, and that was unacceptable.
The officer started at my foot and worked his way patting up my leg. I wanted to growl at him that I was wearing shorts and there was no reason to touch, but that would make the situation worse. My teeth were clenched, though, and I thought my jaw was about to break when he got to my thighs and smoothed his hands around my hips and butt. My hands fisted where they rested on the metal and I shut my eyes and willed this to be over quickly.
Behind me, I heard the Prince growl. It was such a menacing sound and I could almost imagine the murderous look on his face. Even in my predicament I felt myself smile. It was nice to know there was at least one person out there who was willing to stick up for me when I didn't have the confidence to do it myself.
An ambulance turned the corner and I heard the officer patting me down sigh, and then finish rather quickly. "She's clean." He said. He then handcuffed me behind my back and slid me into the back of the police car. Sasuke was next and they slammed him against the car just as hard. I winced when they found the gun I'd shot Zaku with, Sasuke having apparently turned the safety on and stuck it in the waistband of his pants. They put it in an evidence bag, cuffed Sasuke, and put him in the car beside me, shutting the door.
"Hey." I said a little dryly.
"Don't these people know anything?" He growled. "You don't put two accomplices in the same space when you take them in for questioning."
"They're not high enough on the pay grade to know that." I said, and then I grinned at him. "So should we get our story straight?"
He snorted a laugh.
Author's Notes: Whew! Probably the longest first chapter I've ever done…not that anyone minds, of course. I was so excited to start writing this that I just kept writing this chapter and couldn't stop. It seems like our fair Prince and Sakura have gotten themselves in a bit of a bind though. Will they get thrown in jail? Will anyone recognize Sasuke? Stay tuned for chapter 2 and, as always, please review and let me know what you think!