Ricochet

By Leanne Ash

Summary: It was unexpected that Sasuke would've cared at all as he reached forward and angrily grabbed Sakura's arm. "Why?" he demanded, as he glared into the single sharingan within her right eye. "Why do YOU have it?" AU SasuSaku

Disclaimer: I don't own any of Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto characters. I'm not that clever. Not even close.


Red.

Then black.

Then red again.

"Sakura?" the raspy male voice repeated from outside her washroom door. "Did you hear what I said?"

Around and around the pinwheel spun as Sakura Haruno gripped the marble countertop of her small, windowless washroom. The weapon, it was called by some. The blessing, it was called by others.

Her teammate Naruto Uzumaki, a boisterous blue-eyed blonde, pounded excitedly at the door. The voice barely registers.

"I said he's back! Sasuke's back!"

Sasuke.

"I brought him in. He's being questioned in the detention area right now, but head to Tsunade's office!" the voice drifted as Naruto began to run from the room. "This is awesome! I can't wait to beat his ass concave!"

She stared into her washroom mirror, speaking forcibly in her head to the black and red manifestation in her right eye. The implant. The ultimate weapon. It had activated in response to Sakura's panic at hearing what she thought she would never hear again.

Sasuke was back. He was back after five years. He was back after deciding to abandon the society that raised him in favor of gaining power from another mentor.

The single sharingan spun, letting her know she couldn't fool herself so easily.

Sakura was the first and only female since Tsunade to have had the sharingan successfully implanted. She had no idea why; maybe it had to do with strength, maybe it had to do with resolve… maybe because through it all, she would NOT allow the possibility of failure.

The sharingan was the single most deadly tool unique to the Hidden Leaf, a private black ops squad beneath the city. The sharingan allowed users to see in the dark, to discover a weakness and to see beyond the normal range of any normal human being. After years of development, the implant was created in the operation's underground lab and testing had begun well before Sakura was first brought to the Hidden Leaf at ten years old.

She was an orphan.

They were all orphans.

They were the convenient choice because they'd accept what appeared to be their only choice. They were kids with nothing to lose.

The Hidden Leaf kept tabs on all orphans; if they stood out in some way, if they were stronger, smarter or faster, they were given the proposition to do something outstanding with their lives.

Sakura had always been too smart for her own good, but it wasn't just her above-average intelligence the squad saw potential in: Sakura's appearance was above-average …unique. Her light pink hair and deep green eyes were a visual anomaly.

"She's too distracting," the recruiting council had argued. "Far too memorable."

"No one ever remembers us anyway," Tsunade, the Hidden Leaf's leader, reminded. Tsunade was the most powerful, influential woman in the operation. "Sakura will be a key distraction when she's older. If it means a wig once in a while, then so be it. You'd be surprised at how often beauty gets you in a tough spot."

Sakura sighed at the conversation she had awkwardly sat through when she was a child. Ok, maybe looks had gotten her a place here as much as her intelligence, but there was more to her than a mere distraction factor. The deadly spin of the wheel in her right eye could attest to that.

Though she had been accepted and trained as a child, her place quickly fell into line with the other orphans who couldn't keep pace, who cracked from the intense constant pressure. Who, after being monitored during their first years of training and schooling, Tsunade could predict would fail to pull the trigger.

It didn't mean that these children would be kicked out. It simply meant that they were given missions with low risk factors or handed jobs within the operation that assisted the Hidden Leaf in other ways. But it also meant they were denied the sharingan.

Sakura, now nineteen years of age, had become wary of being used as the distraction during missions that required one. Recalling her previous role in the hospital sector with fondness, she had begun refining this skill with earnest. She could distract, sure, but now she could heal. She wanted nothing more than to become a valuable medical asset during missions; to go beyond getting the mark's attention with her sweet, feminine wiles and then being pushed aside while her teammates did the real work.

And she had done it. Through months of testing and psychological preparation, Sakura was finally given permission to have the surgery done. Or attempted, some would argue.

She knew, like the short list of female members before her, that the risks were dangerously and severely high. If she didn't die on the operating table or go blind from the implant, she would most surely go mad the second her brain registered the scalding power that dug deep for a connection.

But she signed the papers. She took heed the warnings. She watched as the head of a needle buzzed forward into her eye socket with paralyzing fear, but unwavering determination.

And days later, when Sakura tentatively opened her eyes, she saw red.

It had only been successful in one eye, but if that was the one fated complication she suffered, she'd consider herself lucky.

She had the sharingan now. She had worked hard in the years following Sasuke's departure because she knew, deep down, that they would someday cross paths in the ugliest of circumstances. And she would need to be ready.

Her eyes winced to a close as she tried to barricade her heart from her last memory of Sasuke Uchiha. The stoic, spikey-headed boy with black hair and dark midnight eyes to match. He had been the council's favorite: the child prodigy. The best investment the Hidden Leaf had ever made. It didn't matter what weapon he was given, a sniper rifle, a samurai sword, or if he was given no weapon at all; Sasuke proved the victor.

Every high ranking mission had always been assigned to the prodigy. While she was doing what she could in the hospital, he had been ahead of his time. At twelve, Sasuke had successfully received the sharingan implant: both eyes, zero complications, as if he was born to have them. At thirteen, he held his rank amongst Hidden Leaf members in their twenties. At fifteen, Sasuke had surpassed almost everyone with a quiet knowing sneer.

And it was at fifteen that Sasuke Uchiha became frustrated with his progress. There was a secret hidden deep inside him that craved the advancement of power. He had come into contact with a man who had heard stories of him, the legendary Uchiha child. The man was a rogue member of the Hidden Leaf, a serpent from hell, so powerful and deadly the council saw fit to exile him once he became unstable. An assassination attempt failed. The man could not be defeated. This would be the man Sasuke sought to become.

And he left; seduced by the man's promise of unparalleled strength.

And Sakura had followed.

Because she loved him.

Because she loved him so much the broken heartstrings pulled like a jagged claw to her ribcage.

She begged him to stay. She begged him not to leave her. She confessed, in a choked barely there whisper, that she loved him. That she loved him so much. That she wouldn't know what to do with herself if he weren't there.

And her world shattered. Fragile, forgotten pieces bled to the ground as Sasuke turned to acknowledge her for the first time with that achingly handsome face.

"That's kind of pathetic."

She opened her eyes. A shield of emerald green had washed back over the iris. She breathed a sigh of relief as her demonic counterpart vanished. The sharingan had only been implanted a month ago, and according to Tsunade, it could take several more before she had full control of how it activated and deactivated.

Of course, Sasuke had learned to control it within the hour. Naruto followed close behind; learning in less than a week.

Sakura left her bathroom and paused to consider appearances at her full length mirror. Hurried footsteps and excited whispers could be heard outside in the hallway. News of Sasuke's return was spreading fast.

Having just returned from a mission, she was clad in black tights and a black quarter-sleeved top: the standard color of choice in this modern-day ninja world she lived in. Pink, some had scoffed, was the complete opposite of practicality and her hair was considered obscenely ridiculous. Her long pink locks were currently pulled into a neat conservative pony tail, thin bangs framing her porcelain face. Tsunade had told her never to dye it, never to change what made her special, so she ignored what everyone else had to say on the matter.

The footsteps in the hall continued.

Knowing her presence was needed in Tsunade's office, she threw on a thin, black leather jacket and pushed the sleeves to her elbows. She glanced at the mirror once more to make sure her right eye was still green.

It was.

Stay… she commanded silently, as she entered the hallway and fell into step with the other scurrying members of the Hidden Leaf.

"Gorgeous!" a voice called from behind.

"Hey, Kiba," Sakura answered distractedly.

Kiba Inuzuka was another successful recipient of the sharingan. Tall, brown-haired excitable Kiba with distinct red fangs tattooed down the sides of his angular face. Along with Sakura's pink hair, Kiba's tattoos also served to ruffle some of the more conservative feathers in the area.

"I guess you heard, huh?"

"Hard not to."

"Are you ok? I mean, I know you guys were close…"

"Sasuke and I weren't close, Kiba," she corrected quickly. "I was assigned as his bedside nurse a few times, but that's it."

"Oh, c'mon, Sakura! You guys hung out more than that!"

"Only because of Naruto! He wanted us to be friends, but Sasuke only saw me as another annoying fan girl…"

"Are you saying you weren't?"

"Oh," she laughed humorlessly, "I was the worst of them."

"Give yourself credit. He acknowledged you more than any of the other rabid fan girls here."

"Is that suppose to make me feel better about his betrayal?"

"Of course not," Kiba shrugged. "You shouldn't even give him the time of day."

"I don't plan on it."

The words dragged past her throat like sand paper.

Nobody knew that she had been the last person to see Sasuke leave. She had built a cast around the fragile fourteen year old that so shamelessly put her heart on the line to keep the boy she dreamt of at night. It could not have ended less humiliatingly just as it could not have ended any other way.

It was the devastating consequence of failing to resist an unrequited love.

Vying for a change of topic as they made their way out of the dormitory, Sakura eyed the sniper rifle strapped to Kiba's back.

"You just get back from a mission too?"

"Yep. Quick and dirty. Mob boss. You?"

"The distraction," Sakura sighed. "Slutty bike enthusiast."

"I had that role once. Mission failed horribly."

"That's a surprise, Kiba. You should've had that in the bag."

"Did you get to use the evil eye?"

"Only during the retreat. Naruto planted the microphone and we were done. The client's happy. Easy job."

"Hey, you gotta start somewhere."

"I know. I just thought my distraction days would be over once I got the sharingan."

Kiba laughed. "What do I keep telling you, Gorgeous? Embrace your hotness. It saves the others a lot of time and energy when you're doing your job. Don't forget that."

"I know that. I do. I would just like to be useful in a way that didn't involve showing skin."

"And you will be, but this shit" – he gestured to his eyes – "doesn't get figured out overnight. And you've only got one. That's pretty freaky, sister."

She pushed him playfully with her shoulder. "Asshole."

They were reaching the end of the dormitory hallway. Kiba reached forward to get the handle.

"They'll get you more involved once you've banked more experience on the field," he paused to open and hold the door for Sakura. "Until then, get used to them treating you like the delicate cherry blossom you are, m'lady!"

"Oh, kitten whiskers," Sakura sighed with mock defeat. "Whatever will I do without a big strong man and my basket of flowers?"

"That's the spirit!"

They snickered and she was thankful for the distraction.


"How do we know Sasuke wasn't brought here as a spy for Orochimaru?"

"Of course he's a spy! Orochimaru must be trying to find a way to bring the Hidden Leaf down from the inside!"

The doubtful voices of some of the members grew louder as Sakura and Kiba reached Tsunade's office. Sakura frowned. They were right. It was a definite possibility considering the snake man's exile from the Hidden Leaf.

Of course, Naruto could always be counted upon.

"You didn't see what I saw at the front gates when I found him. Something happened..."

He briefly made eye contact with Sakura as she quietly entered the room.

"I don't know what. But all he wanted was to come home. Here. He knows he made a mistake."

"And were those his exact words, Naruto?" Tsunade asked skeptically from behind her desk.

"That's the rough translation," Naruto insisted. "You remember he wasn't exactly an open book."

Tsunade was considered the strongest member of the operation through both power and presence. She commanded the room with her deep hazel eyes, long blonde hair and surprisingly voluptuous chest. For a woman well into her fifties, she was a ravishing beacon of strength. The first, and thought to be only, female carrier of the sharingan, Tsunade was not a woman to be trifled with as easily as Naruto made it seem.

The room cringed as she began to glare daggers at the rowdy blonde before her.

They continued to argue as Sakura scanned the room. It was currently being occupied by the higher-ranking members, which, she was now proud to say, included herself. They were all sharingan users... and all male it would seem, Sakura thought with a roll of her eyes. Except for Tsunade and herself now, thankfully.

Her eyes kept moving. She was doing well to keep herself distracted from the drama at hand. ANYTHING to keep her thoughts from...

"Sasuke's been passed through security, Tsunade," a member entering the room stated.

Well, it was the reason they were all standing there like idiots.

"Anything incriminating?"

"No, ma'am," the man answered. "Kusangi strapped in plain view. Glock was unloaded. He handed everything over willingly."

Tsunade seemed to contemplate this information, setting her mouth in a thin line as she did so.

Naruto stared at the woman expectantly, an eyebrow raised higher than humanly possible. "C'mon, Grandma...!" he hissed impatiently. Sasuke had been Naruto's best friend - he obviously could not see what was taking so long to figure out.

The room visibly cringed for the second time.

"You," Tsuande barked, as she reached across her desk and shoved a palm into Naruto's shoulder. He flew backwards into a nearby chair, baffled yet again by how a woman Tsunade's age could be so monstrously strong. "Sit down and shut up."

She turned her attention back to the messenger. "Bring him in."

Sakura exhaled slowly. She kept her focus straight ahead, giving off the visual of her undivided attention, but not once did she look directly at what everyone else was surely closely following.

The door opened, and in her peripheral strode in that predictable hot mess of black.

Twenty year old Sasuke-fucking-Uchiha.

From what she could tell (by not actually looking, mind you), Sasuke's spiky hair regime had not changed in the slightest as she could make out the sharp midnight angles in all their unfocused glory.

Don't look, her heart warned as it ran circles around her rib cage. Eyes ahead, eyes on the floor, eyes crossed even, woman!

"Why are you here?" Tsunade asking conversationally, though she happily allowed suspicion to soak her banter.

"I can't work for Orochimaru anymore. I'm done."

Sakura's eyes snapped to Sasuke's face. His voice was deep velvet; dark and smooth like some decadent dessert that the universe felt she didn't deserve.

She instantly regretted looking at his face as the details absorbed like a sponge. Though it was just his side profile, it was almost enough to surface all the crippling emotions she had buried deep beneath her toes. The slight imbalance of gravity let her know that those feelings were pushing hard against their coffin lid.

But those nails had been hammered tight. And she breathed a sigh of relief as the rush of seeing Sasuke's handsomely defined face flew in and out with the room's circulating air flow.

If he came back home, the girls would love him more for sure. With that sharp, magazine face, and the way those rippling muscles did little to conceal themselves beneath Sasuke's relaxed black attire, he would surely return to being the rude, hot commodity all the girls went bat-shit for.

Now that they were older, sex would surely be the newest tactic the other girls at the Hidden Leaf would use.

The thought stirred something unpleasant, but Sakura brushed it away. Fine, whatever. Let him come back and deal with all the bat-shit girls he could handle. There were certainly more now working in the area than there had been five years ago when he left.

And at least there would be one less he'd have to worry about now. She would make that promise to herself.

"Why did you think this would concern us?"

The prodigy sneered, black eyes challenging the society's leader. "Because you need me."

"Like a hole in the head..." Sakura heard Kiba mutter to himself.

"The Hidden Leaf's been fine without you, kid," Tsunade smiled mockingly. "Besides, how would we function with a traitor in our midst?"

The room fell silent as a scowl etched Sasuke's appearance.

"He didn't really betray us," Naruto intervened quietly. "He just got bored and wanted to learn new stuff somewhere else."

Sasuke quickly shot his former friend a look, one that seemed thankful, yet warned him against interfering further through the promise of deadly mayhem.

"Then did you get bored apprenticing Orochimaru?"

He seemed to be summoning the strength to be patient with his own trial. "Not exactly. We stopped seeing eye-to-eye on certain matters."

"What matters?"

"Particular matters."

"You aren't willing to divulge?"

"I won't reveal the details of Orochimaru's group just as I wouldn't reveal to him the inner workings of the Hidden Leaf."

"What if it meant the difference between coming home or being killed where you stand?"

Sakura could feel the air stiffen. Wordlessly and motionlessly, she knew every member in the room suddenly had their hand resting on their weapon of choice. At Tsunade's command, they would attempt to kill Sasuke Uchiha despite what they had previously thought of him.

This was the power of the Hidden Leaf's loyalty.

Only Naruto stood to somehow deflect the authority in Tsunade's voice. "Hey, knock it off, Grandma! You've got to admire the integrity at least!"

"I've got this, you moron," Sasuke insisted warily, smug stance showing he had very little regard for the deadly intent surrounding him.

"Who cares what that snakey douchebag's been up to?" Naruto continued. "Look, as long as it's on the need-to-know, like, is he coming to blow up the Hidden Leaf, Sasuke?"

The black-haired boy raised an eyebrow skeptically. "No."

"Does he stay up at night crying about how the Hidden Leaf kicked him out then tried to kill him?"

"...No."

"So he didn't send you in here to kill us all and then steal our televisions?"

"...No."

Naruto smiled at Tsunade triumphantly. "Then we're gravy, Grandma! Let's order a welcome cake from Diary Queen!"

"SIT DOWN, UZUMAKI!" Tsunade practically barked.

The spikey-headed blonde did as he was told, but did little to buff the knowing grin off of his face. If he hadn't been in such good standing with Tsunade for being as skilled as he was, she would've surely ordered Naruto's death right there on the spot.

Mouth slightly hung open in contempt, Sasuke could only stare Naruto down with a slow shake of his head.

"Sasuke Uchiha," the woman began with impatience. "I'll be honest with you. Word has gotten back to the Hidden Leaf's council that you're back and the majority are interested to see what skills you've acquired during your absence."

"Fine," he replied casually.

"However," Tsunade continued, glaring at the boy's carefree response. "Your loyalty and motives are still up for debate. You will be under close and constant surveillance for as long as I see fit. No solo-missions and no leadership roles. If you break rank, your ass is mine."

"Fine," he repeated.

"You will shadow this one," she commanded with a flick of her wrist in Naruto's direction, "for the time being. Don't get in his way. Just assist. Got it?"

"Fine," Sasuke said again, this time through gritted teeth.

"Good. Now get out. I have to discuss the details of your surveillance. Head to the disciplinary sector for retraining."

Sasuke nodded tersely and turned to leave the room. Black eyes darted around quickly, as if committing to memory the faces of those that would later be observing his every move.

He glanced disinterestedly in Sakura's direction, and for a moment she wasn't sure if he even recognized her. This was proven wrong quickly. A split-second, double-take later and Sasuke had reached her with lighting speed, grabbing angrily at her upper arm and pulling her forward from where she stood.

"Why?" he demanded sharply. "Why do YOU have it?"

"Sasuke, what the hell!?" Naruto protested.

Kiba, who had rushed forward to Sakura's defense, grabbed the arm that was gripping Sakura's. "Get the hell off her, man."

"What's your problem...!" Sakura began to hiss, but realization dawned. She followed his line of sight, and quick to follow were red fragments of data that scanned Sasuke's grip for possible weaknesses.

She knew what he was seeing.

One green eye. One red. Deadly. A spiral of manifesting strength.

Sakura blinked in confusion, allowing the single sharingan to disappear. She was unaware that Sasuke's mere presence had alerted the need for a heightened sense. But even if it had activated, so what? It was unexpected that he would have cared at all in the first place.

Impatient with Sakura's stunned lack of response, Sasuke directed his question towards Naruto as the he ran up to grab his shoulder. "Why does SHE have it?"

"It's a long story-" Naruto began, but Sakura abruptly cut him off.

"What's that suppose to mean?"

Sasuke's glare moved back to Sakura's face. A pair of expertly trained sharingan eyes stared her down as they scanned the wide, stoic green ones looking back. She knew he had found only the one active implant. The other in her left remained dormant beneath its shallow, emerald-colored grave. Was that what that look of disgust was for? The fact that she couldn't handle the full sharingan the way he so easily could? Did he think it was wasted on the likes of her?

Would it have been so bad to knee him between the legs since he was already at such close proximity?

"Is there a problem, Uchiha?" Tsunade asked, tone suggesting she had met her quota for bullshit.

Just as quickly as he deactivated his sharingan, Sasuke released Sakura's arm and pushed off both Kiba and Naruto.

"None," he snapped.

Sakura didn't bother to see whatever asshole expression Sasuke had for her as he left the room. Adjusting the collar of her jacket, she shrugged off the questioning looks on Kiba and Naruto's faces as the room silenced to hear Tsunade's next instructions.

"That sure as shit was awkward..." Kiba murmured.

"Yeah, what the hell do you think that was about?" Naruto leaned in to whisper.

Sakura smirked, pleased with her new initial reaction of brushing Sasuke off like he was perpetually yesterday's news. "Whatever. If he's got a problem with my sharingan he can deal with it on his own."


Note: I bought a new laptop to haul with me to coffee shops during my lunch break. Though my everyday profession has very little to do with writing, I find it therapeutic to escape the office just so I can write whatever I want at the Starbucks across the street. Low and behold, I started crafting another SasuSaku fic. I still like reading fan fiction about them, but found very little time to write one myself. I was wrong. I had time. I just spent it in the wrong places. Anyway, hope you like where I'm going with this. Sorry for bad grammar/spelling/all that... I just type like I'm on fire and upload away... Please leave a review and tell me what you think! Or tell me it's garbage. I'm flexible.