I don't own Naruto

Chapter 57

Waking up wrapped around an Uchiha is not a part of my typical day. We've slept back to back before. Heck, we've cuddled up for warmth in the Land of Snow before, but this? This is new.

This could turn awkward, especially when said Uchiha is wide awake. Underneath my ear I can hear the steady thumping of his heart and feel the rise and fall of his calm breathing.

Cracking open an eye I see the black expanse of his t-shirt and a bit of the arm he has tucked behind his head. His other arm is wrapped around me with his hand resting on my hip, tapping a gentle rhythm.

That must be what woke me up.

A deep rumble draws my attention and I look up.

He's laughing! Well more like quietly snickering, but still! I turn a little red as I meet his eyes.

Oh My God! Please tell me we didn't drool!

I bolt upright and his hand lazily falls away. He tucks it behind his head with the other and observes me with humor in his eyes.

"Sleep well?" His deep baritone is clear in the early morning, free from any of the last vestiges of sleep, unlike mine. Not trusting my voice at the moment I just grunt an answer and look around the room to avoid his entertained orbs. "Our employer is currently awake and moving around. We should be as well."

Despite his words neither of us move. I can feel his leg touching mine, from hip to foot, and the warmth provided makes me want to curl back up. Thoughts of last night and the information gleaned puts those thoughts away, but I still don't make a move to get up.

"Your chakra was swirling around all night, so I'm assuming you have no hangover?" Mentally I take stock of my body.

I actually feel pretty good. The alcohol put me into a deep sleep and with Itachi's signature so close I let down my guard. I got more restful sleep last night than I have in a month. But no way am I telling him that!

"I'm fine," I grumble out as I run a hand through my tangled hair. Mid-way through my hand gets caught in a snag and I set about detangling it. My head must look like a bird's nest.

Suddenly our door bursts open and I have a kunai in hand before I even register where I pulled it from.

Itachi's holster.

Why is he wearing his holster in bed?

Why are you in bed with him?

Don't make it sound like that!

Waltzing in the door like he owns the place is the snake himself flanked on either side by his mysterious ANBU.

I mean really, where do those suckers keep disappearing to?

"Well aren't you two close." His voice drips with malice and I'm immediately on alert. All the good vibes from my quiet morning in bed are gone. I tighten my grip on my weapon. Beside me I can feel Itachi tense and ready for action.

"I believe we have something to talk about." His words are directed towards me and me alone. In response to the threat Itachi slowly sits up behind me. I can feel his chakra almost growling and I can only imagine the look on his face right now, but I don't dare take my eyes off the Sannin.

"Now, now I'll return your master in one piece. Down Dog!" The command only serves to cause my anger to rise. In the blink of an eye Itachi leaves the bed and stands in front of me protectively. "Disobedient dogs get put down, you better tame your puppy girl."

I can hear the promise in his words. If Itachi doesn't stand down this could get ugly.

Orochimaru meets my eyes and I see the barely restrained fury. I can sense his chakra, as oily as it is, lashing around fitfully.

He's pissed about something.

Yeah, but what? He had to have found out something. We have so many secrets it could be any of them and—

They could all spell our death.

I stand just as one of the ANBU begins to make a move. "Tame? But I'm just as wild as he and you know what they say about taunting wild animals, they bite." A strange glint enters the golden orbs I'm so focused on.

"Yes, but they also say to not bite the hand that feeds you."

A battle of wills ensues as our eyes stay locked. His chakra leaks out and begins to push against me. My own rises to my defense and soon a battle is waged between us.

Invisible electricity crackles in the air as our energy battles.

Slowly a pleased grin forms on the pale face before me. As if just noticing the silent clash between Orochimaru and I, Itachi steps partially in front of me. This finally breaks our eye contact and we both suck our chakra back into our bodies.

We can't win against this guy. No matter how we look at it there is no way to beat him. If we team up against him with Itachi there's a chance we could kill him, but not without heavy casualties of our own.

There is no way he would fight fairly either. With his ANBU we are outnumbered and who knows what kind of 'enhancements' he gave them. We may have to cave in this time. See what he wants at least. Maybe find out what he knows.

Tell that to the Captain.

Itachi is strung tighter than Guy's jumpsuit and I see no sign of him backing down. I doubt Orochimaru will actually kill him if he doesn't back off, but—

Let's not take a chance.

"Alright enough, it's too early for this." I start to move around my partner but his hand lashes out to stop me. Without looking at him I brush past and start walking towards the enemy. The triumphant smirk that steals over the Snake's face makes me want to punch him, but I hold myself, and Inner, back.

Orochimaru backs out the door and turns towards his own room. His ANBU don't follow us, but neither does Itachi. He must know this is our only choice right now, even if he doesn't like it. We can only defy this man so much before we blow our cover.

A sense of dread fills me as I step over the threshold of the Otokage's rooms.

A millisecond after the door closes I sense a barrier go up. I quickly turn in the direction of the barrier's source to find one of the councilors sitting cross-legged on the floor deep in meditation to hold up the cage.

The other councilor, the one who really doesn't like me, is standing on the other side of the room smirking.

"What is this?" I demand to know what is going on.

"This? Why we are simply talking my dear." A chill goes down my spine but I don't let it show.

"About what Boss?" The word boss is so filled with sarcasm and contempt I'm surprised at myself. Hyosuke, the councilor, takes an angry step forward with his arm raised but before he gets the chance to slap me Orochimaru is there.

A hand goes around my neck and lifts me up to stare into the burning gold eyes of a Sanin. My feet dangle a good foot and a half above the ground as I begin to struggle. My hands scrabble at my capturer and my feet kick out.

I sense the chakra filled hand seconds before it slams into my chest.





My chakra spirals to the site of impact and disappears? Wait—No—a seal? A seal has been put into place to block my chakra!


Suddenly I feel very cold.

The hand around my neck tightens and I lose the little oxygen access I had.

That bastard!

"You will speak to me with respect Dog!" Orochimaru has finally lost his temper with me.

"Yes, you little traitor. Orochimaru-Sama deserves the utmost respect and—" Orochimaru cuts off his little minion's speech with a glare.

Traitor? Why does he think we are a traitor? Does he know we work for Konoha?

"Now tell me, my little pet, where were you last night?" My mind blanks for a moment as the lack of oxygen torments me. With a look of disgust Orochimaru squeezes once last time before throwing me to the floor.

Greedily I gasp in precious air.

A sharp kick to the side reminds me to speak. With a raspy voice I say, "What do you mean?"

Obviously the wrong thing to say.

Another kick, this time catching me under the chin, connects and sends me sprawling once more.

"I must say I was very surprised to find you in bed with your partner this morning. What with your dalliance into Ame's hall last night. You even had the audacity to bring one of them back to your room. Yang doesn't seem the type to share."

Huh? Wait, he's talking about my visit with Deidara and Kisame.

"Now care to tell me why you were all the way over there?"

I can't help it, with blood dribbling down my chin, I laugh. "What I was doing over there is obviously not what you're thinking." I had almost made it back to my feet, but a thick boot to the back puts me back down.

"Enlighten me then."

"Drinking away my sorrows." I can barely breathe with the foot holding me down but I manage to put some bite into my words.

"Likely story, I bet you were plotting with the Akatsuki behind Orochimaru-Sama's back! With their history—" Hyosuke is cut off again, this time with the band of his master's hand.

You hear that? Orochimaru has some sort of history with the elite of Ame.

"I'm going to ask you again. What went on between you and Ame!" The boot is removed from my back and I scramble to get to my feet.

"I don't have to answer to you! I'm not Oto! You are not my Kage!" I only partially regret my words as the fist comes flying at my face. I feel my lip spilt but Inner keeps me on my feet.

I'll kill him if it's the last thing I do!

Not yet…we can't defeat him. Not without any chakra.

Hands grasp at my shirt collar and slams me into the nearest wall. He holds me there, several inches off the ground. "Is Pein your Kage?"

"N-never met him." I hate the stutter in my voice but I can't stop it. Orochimaru seems to sense the truth in my words for he lets up a little.

I continue as my feet finally touch the ground. "I had a few too many with Hoshigaki last night and the blonde one took me to my room. We discussed the late Ameyuri Ringo." Blood trickles down my chin and drips onto Orochimaru's hands.

He SEEMS to believe us. At least a little.

"That would explain why you smell like a bar." I take little offense at that statement for the snake finally lets go. "Alright I'll choose to believe you this time."

Oh go suck a—

Inner gets cut off by the violent punch that lands a millimeter away from our head. "Don't give me reason to doubt you again Yin-chan." Slowly the snake brings up his arm, the one I bled on, and drags his outrageously long tongue through the red liquid. He brings the other hand to my shoulder, pinning me to the wall, and a spike of unexpected pain lances through me.

Orochimaru looks surprised at my flinch as well, surprised but pleased. "Weak shoulder Yin-chan?" He's teasing as he pulls away and I see the look of a predator in his eyes. I know I must look like his prey to an outsider.

Not as long as I live! We will repay him for this.

Yes, but not now. Luckily he couldn't sense that it was his Mark that hurt me.

The barrier is lifted, and I am dismissed with the parting words: why don't you let everyone see your beautiful necklace at today's meeting.

Meaning don't heal the fingermarks he left.

When I step back into my and Itachi's room I'm met with an odd site. The ANBU are on the completely opposite side of the room as my partner. However, Itachi has a black eye and one of the ANBU's mask is cracked. The other ANBU has had his uniform torn somehow.

They obviously got into a fight.

The ANBU leave as I enter so soon it is just my partner and I.

"Did he hurt you?" Immediately fingers race over my split lip, touch on the purple ring I know must be around my neck. "Where is your chakra? Are you okay?"

A low burning has begun in my throat so I just nod and brush away his fingers as he gathers chakra to no doubt try to heal me.

I feel cold, so very cold. And numb. And—

I run towards the bathroom as fast as I can. I barely find time to slam the door behind me before I'm emptying the contents of my stomach into the toilet. The retching stretches my throat uncomfortably and the smell makes my eyes water.

A knock on the door.

"Tell me what happened." I don't answer.

"What did he do?" Still no answer.

"—Sakura." It's barely a whisper but my true name motivates me. I quickly flush and then open the door to let him in. Turning towards the sink I wash out my mouth.

Slowly I turn towards Itachi, bloody water dripping down my front.

His eyes are furious. The rage behind the demon-like red of the Sharingan isn't directed at me but I shiver anyway.

I shiver again.

—and again.

I'm so cold I can't stop.

The red spins for a second and suddenly I'm in the Tsukuyomi. The desolate landscape is comforting in the weirdest way.

—But this time feels different. I feel adrift, disconnected even.

"Where's Inner?" My voice comes out raspy, but she doesn't appear. I can still feel her in my head, she's cursing, but it doesn't seem like she can manifest really well with the chakra blocker on.

Itachi stalks forward and without a word demands to know what happened.

This time I relent and tell him everything. The beating, the threat, the information I managed to gather.

"This mission just got even more dangerous."

He doesn't tell me about his encounter with the ANBU, but then again I don't ask.

We hash out a quick plan to inform the Hokage about the recent developments and then return to the real world to lick our wounds.

It takes a half hour of intense concentration to break the seal on my chakra. I'm sure the entire compound felt the chakra surge when I finally got it to release its hold over me.

Finally, his seal is much stronger than Itachi's was.

"Today's meeting has already commenced."

"Well looks like we'll make a dramatic entrance!"

Hell Yeah! Can't keep us down!

Okay got this one out fast. Before anyone asks, the chakra seal didn't seal Inner away, but she can't do her thing as well without any chakra available. Even if she doesn't use up Sakura's chakra all the time, a tiny amount is used to mess with the Tsukuyomi.