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Monday, January 21, 2013

Eye for an Eye

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any of its characters and make no money from this.

Chapter Nine:

The week it took to reach Ame couldn't have felt shorter to Sakura. She had spent most of it thinking over what strategy she would use against Sasuke. He wouldn't side with them so easily, that much was certain. They had to be able to incapacitate him in battle so that they could drag him back to Kumo. That was going to be troublesome, to say the least. Her only source of information right now was Kakashi. He had a sharingan, so he could help her. But in the end, his best advice stayed to just not look at his eyes.

She needed more than that. She couldn't fight like him and Gai, just watching his feet. She wouldn't be fast enough to decipher it and react well enough. She needed something else. Her mind remained completely blank for nearly the whole week. An idea had sparked in her mind only after the sixth day, she remembered the one piece of information that she soon elaborated in a plan. She wasn't sure if it was going to be enough, but it would have to suffice.

On the day that they reached the outskirts of the border, she thought out the last of the details. She was set on how to battle him, as well as on how to get him to come with them. She felt like a traitor. She wished that it wasnt this way that he would be following them. She didn't love the Uchiha anymore, he had commited too many unforgivable deeds for her to go to him. She just wished he could give up and come back. It would be so simple. She knew that no everyone would easily accept it, but she, Naruto and Kakashi would welcome him with open arms. They were always ready to be his home.

That was, until now. It was Konoha or Sasuke. The choice was easy, she tried to convince herself. She couldn't betray an entire village just for the selfish desire of keeping a friend close to her. A friend who had tried to kill her. To kill her lover. That would destroy everything she stood for. Pain still clawed at her when she thought of it, of how it had all turned out. Soon, it would be over. It had to end. She couldn't let Naruto keep the weight of all the promises he had made. She had to help, to share his burden. It was decided.

"Do whatever it takes for him to side with us.", Sakura stated, pratically out of the blue as she turned to Kakashi. He frowned a little, unsure of what she was planning. She hadn't said a word about her preparations. She had refused to. Either because she wanted to be alone or because she had no idea, he was curious.

"What are you planning, Sakura? You need to tell us now.", he replied, stopping and grabbing one of her shoulders to make her face him. She immediately looked away from him, her eyes determined with something he couldn't name.

"Kakashi. Sakura.", a voice sounded, even and calm. Their heaps whipped around to see Sasuke standing about twenty meters away from them. How had he found them so easily? Sakura tried to keep her breath even, readying herself for the fight.

She lost no time. She wasn't ready, she was a ready as she could be. Today, she would show him that she had become a great ninja. A ninja that he couldn't ignore, everyone would realize it. Kakashi had seen her progress, but he hadn't seen it all. She kept her secrets, like he did. It was no good to show everyone all of your little tricks and knowledge.

She ran towards Sasuke, watching his feet as he was supposed to. She needed to engage in a physical fight. He didn't budge. He reacted only when she was pratically an arrm's length away. He sliced the air where her hip had been, but she was already to his side. Her speed had increased drastically, but she wasn't showing all of it yet. He almost knicked her. She would let him believe he had every advantage. Then he could make mistakes and she would get her opening.

He gave a few more hits before she managed to knock the weapon out of his hand with her own. She stayed still for a second, staring at his feet. She couldn't miss. She would win this time. He tried to back away, probably to use one his fire ninjutsus, but she was following him closely, aiming punches she knew would miss. She couldn't injure too much either, he would be useless to them. If she didn't make her hits strong enough, he would suspect something.

She aimed a punch at his feet, creating a small crater where he'd stood just half a second ago. She was open to attack. He was aiming a swift punch to her head while she was low. She felt the air move above her head and it was then or never. Her hand flew to his fist, grabbing it and forcing her fingers to entangle with his. Her palm was against his. She felt nostalgia tug at her heart. How many times she had wanted to hold his hand.

She felt his large hand twich. It worked. Now was her chance. Her needle had pierced his skin and the liquid in the tiny vial cleverly hidden between her palms had emptied into his bloodstream. His reactions would be slowed for the next few seconds. She had been lucky enough to come across a plant that was used as a paralyzer in their travel to Ame. There hadn't been enough to use successfully even on a rabbit, but it would be enough to make him slow. Just for a few seconds. Her head whipped up as she freed her hand and pressed both of them against his eyes. She breathed out, focusing her chakra to her palms as she silent wished for it to work.

It was all theory. She had never tested it. If it didn't work, then she might die in the following minute. She was pratically on her knees, completely open to any attack as soon as he was free of the poison.

For a split second, her hopes fleeted. She was believing that she would be unable to fight the right chakra paths in his eyes. That she was too weak, too stupid. It was so brief, so small against the next train of thoughts that assaulted her mind. Konoha. Kakashi. Naruto. Sai. Tsunade. Shizune. She was fighting for them. She couldn't be weak. She had to win. She would come back to them, and this time, she would be the one to be celebrated. She would be the one to help everyone.

Her eyes fluttered closed as her precious time was over and Sasuke gripped her wrists painfully, forcing them away form his eyes. She opened them to watch him, eyes wide with fear. With terror. She had never been so scared. If she failed, she was about to experience Tsukuyomi. He would make her feel death over and over again, he would torture her.

Kakashi had watched, tense and ready to jump in, for the whole fight. Even though it felt like forever, he knew it had barely been two minutes. His most dangerous fights had been his shortest. It was the fights where one hit would kill you. It was even odds between who would win. Who would get the only hit in. He had watched in horror when Sakura sunk to the ground, her hands flying to Sasuke's head. Nothing seemed to happen. It was as if time stopped for them, for just a few seconds. He didn't hesitate to go to her, sprinting full speed. He couldn't let Sakura suffer through Tsukuyomi. He knew what it was like, after all.

He faltered just for split second when he heard Sasuke grunt loudly in pain, his hands shooting up to cover his eyes. What had just happened? Sakura seemed just as surprised as he was, though he knew she was completely aware of everything that was going on. She had went in this fight without even knowing if her fucking plan was even feasible. He'd definitely have to talk with her after this. It was dangerous, it was unconscious, stupid... Something he had done several times.

"Kakashi! Now!", she shouted, jumping away from the missing nin. He took the cue, halting a foot away from Sasuke, grabbing his hands and pulling them away from his head so he could look into his eyes. His sharingan started spinning, casting a genjutsu on the young man before him.

They were nowhere. It was pure white, though it didn't hurt the eyes. It was just peaceful. Sasuke attempted many times to attack his former sensei, but it was useless. This was all an illusion. All a trick in his mind. He backed away, glaring at the older man, tense and unable to figure out what they wanted from him. He knew that they had all given up on bringing him back. All but Naruto. That idiot.

"We'll help you.", Kakashi finally declared. The Uchiha watched him suspiciously.

"You wouldn't do such a thing against Konoha.", he spat back, bitterness thick in his voice.

"We need to get Danzo out of the way. You're the only one who he sees as enough of a threat.", he continued, his eyes never leaving his ex-student.

"And after? What if I helped you? You'd kill me? I don't see what's in it for me.", the boy shot back, snickering.

"I'll give you something precious. You'll walk out a free man. You know, weakness and emotions, all that stuff you hate. I can't kill you unless you're trying to kill what I love.", Kakashi threw back in his usual aloof tone, shrugging his shoulders.

"What could you possibly have that I don't, old man?", he replied, full of confidence. Of arrogance.

"A good eye.", the man answered, tapping his left eye. He was fully aware that Sasuke's vision had dimmed. He surely still saw well enough, but he knew the boy overused his sharingan. He would go blind soon enough. Sasuke remained silent for a moment, trying to figure out if it was just a bait or the truth.

"I have a hard time believing you'd let go of it.", he said bluntly, hands on his hips.

"If you accept to spare what's precious to me, then it's nothing.", Kakashi replied truthfully. His sharingan meant nothing if he lost Sakura and Naruto. Sai, and all the other. It was a constant and painful reminder of the mistakes he had done. Its bad karma would fit well with Sasuke.

"It's so easy, then? Kick Danzo out, get a sharingan?", he questionned as if the idea was a game or something.

"I can kill you with or without it. The sharingan isn't what makes me powerful.", Kakashi spoke evenly, with certainty. Even without his eye, he would kill Sasuke if he had to. He had been a jonin before he had received it. People tended to forget who he really was, without the sharingan.

"If you think so, old man. Alrighty then, I'll take care of your problem and you give me that eye. I'm sure you'll go through with it, can't let Sakura down, hm?", he scoffed, smirking. He knew what was between them. How was a mystery, but it didn't matter. He couldn't take the chance of losing Sakura. It was an honest deal

He dispelled the genjutsu down, watching as Sasuke fell to his knees, disoriented for a brief moment. Everyone was on edge. Sai, who had been watching quietly, as Kakashi had ordered him to do, was starting to get annoyed. He wanted in on the action, too. Plus, he didn't get a thing of what was happening. He got the gist of it. He wanted to know the details now. What had Sakura done to Sasuke to cause him such pain? Why was Kakashi casting a genjutsu on him? He sighed in exasperation.
Kakashi was somewhat relaxed. That meant things were okay.

Sakura had been incredibly anxious as she waited for Kakashi to get through to Sasuke. She didn't know if he'd succeed. That part of her plan was entirely up to him. She trusted he'd come up with something. He knew how to manipulate people perfectly, better than her. She had no idea what had happened, in the same way they had been clueless to what she had done to Sasuke in the first place.

The answer was simple. Her complete plan, for her part, was to disable Sasuke's sharingan. She did so with the poison, then, thanks to her experience as a medic, she injected her own chakra in his eyes, to block his own from accessing them. She had discovered while healing Kakashi's sharingan that it reacted badly a foreign chakra. Leaving some of her chakra in his eyes made it impossible for Sasuke to his it, both because of the excruciating pain and the fact that it served as a barrage against his own chakra. She assumed that if he could keep going through the pain that he'd break it down after a while, though. They didn't have forever with such an advantage on him.

The trip back to Kumo was awkward and tense, to say the least. Was it even possible for it be any better when you had a missing nin in tow? He refused to speak another word to them, except for a quick agreement between himself and Kakashi that the others weren't to know what he offered him in exchange for his help. If he did, he wouldn't receive the sharingan.

Kakashi had a new kind of resentment towards the Uchiha. The whole trip, Sakura had barely stayed by his side. It was as if she wanted to avoid showing him that they were more than friends now. It annoyed him. Did she still feel for the boy? He was pretty sure she didn't, but you never knew with her. Maybe she was just being nostalgic. Whatever it was, he was itching to know.

As soon as they were sighted outside the outskirts of the village, nearly every shinobi who wasn't on duty had gathered to the entrance. It wasn't everyday that you saw the last Uchiha. Or a missing nin, even, but they roamed freely every day here anyway. Everyone had remained so silent. It was creepy. It was obvious why. Naruto was looking at his old friend straight in the eyes, trying to evaluate him. The black-haired boy didn't react, he ignored him and glanced at everyone who was there. Most of them he didn't have to fear, but he was sure the rest would be willing to kill him in his sleep. He'd have to be on guard.

"Sasuke.", the blonde called softly, frowning.

"Naruto.", the other answered, evenly an without feeling. There was a long pause after their greeting. Sakura was wondering if she should hover her hand above her kunai, just in case. She assumed that there was nothing much to fear right now, though. They were well surrounded, he'd be crazy to try and kill anyone right now.

"It's nice to see you again, man.", the jinchuriki added, scratching the back of his head as he approached his ex-teammate. He held his hand out for him to shake. It made the girl's eyes soften. It was heartbreaking to see their reunion, because she knew that it wouldn't go as her best friend had wished. He would be disappointed.

"Leave me alone. I'm not here to make friends with you, I have a deal with Kakashi and that's it.", he replied as he turned to glance at the older male. Naruto's hand went back down to his side hesitantly.

His head lowered to stare at the ground. Sakura could tell he was about to speak again, fight what Sasuke had become to try and salvage what he had once been. It was useless. Orochimaru was the perfect example. He'd been so obsessed with knowledge that it had been hopeless for the other two Sannin to try to geat their teammate back. He died a traitor, a friend that few had the compassion to wish he had turned out differently.

"We'll head for his new living quarters. You two will have time to catch up tonight.", Kakashi cut before he started leading his team deeper in the village. The last thing he wanted was for the two of them to start fighting.

The rest of the evening was rather quiet. Sasuke had refused to come out of their shared room to see everyone, so they preferred to stay there. They couldn't let him out of their sight. The medic feared that if they did, he would either run away and scare some other poor medic into curing the state of his eyes, or that he'd try and kill Naruto to bully her into reversing it. She had to admit she was getting a bit tired of staring at the wall besides Kakashi, trying to ignore the other male in the room. His presence was omnious, to say the least.

"Go and have a chat with Ino or something.", the jonin finally let out, certainly not oblivious to her state.

"Okay.", she replied without hesitation. She knew Kakashi would be able to deal with the missing nin should anything happen. Without his sharingan, Sasuke wasn't as fearsome. He didn't wasn't to be taken lightly, but she had a feeling that their deal would keep Kakashi safe. She didn't know what it was yet, but it had to be something out of the ordinary to keep their ex-teammate this docile.

She hadn't taken long to reach Ino's room, it was just a few doors down the hall. The Raikage had built this complex to house their newcomers, offering them a large room each with common kitchens and washrooms. It wasn't all that bad, really. It wasn't an appartment, but you didn't spit on generosity. He had been nice enough to welcome them when wherever else they would have been handed on a silver platter to the Hokage.

Ino had opened her door to her right after the third knock, as if she'd known she was coming. She welcomed her in immediately, stepping to the side to allow her the space. Her room was quite sober, which bothered Sakura. Her friend was outgoing and cheerful, it wasn't like her to have such a normal living space. She assumed that she simply didn't have the money to afford such frivolities. In times like this, you didn't care much about what your living space looked like. She had spent so many nights in horrible inns that smelled like sewers. They couldn't afford better.

"You have to tell me what's going with Kakashi! You refused to last time, but now I won't let you get away with it, Forehead!", she exclaimed, the second the door was closed, her arms flailing wildly at her sides. Ino and gossip. She should have known better.

"I-I don't know, just what do you want me to tell you, Pig?", she replied, unsure, as she sat down on her bed. Her hand folded together in her lap, though she fidgeted a little. She really didn't know what to answer. They were a couple, she guessed. It just sounded so weird. Unnatural.

"Well, are you two together or what?", she added, hands on her hips as she bent down to Sakura's level.

"Yeah, I guess so.", was her simple answer. He had said he would marry and give her children if he could, right? She felt deeply for him, felt like a life with him was definitely possible, should things stabilize and get back to normal.

"Spill it, girl! Did he pop your cherry yet?", she questionned insistenly, wide smirk on her face.

"Pig! That's none of your business!", the girl replied, her face now the same color as her hair. Ino's smirk widened even more, if that was possible.

"Oh, you did it! I can't believe my little Sakura has finally blossomed.", she added between snickers.

"How was he? Was it nice? When was it anyway?", she continued, wanting to know every detail. Sakura had long given up on trying to avoid Ino's interrogations. It never went well, because her friend never let go. It was like some sort of unending cycle of life between them. Nothing would stay under silence.

"Yeah, it was great. I think. I mean, we've only done it once like two weeks ago. It was the day we came back here.", the kunoichi replied, frowning and looking at Ino as if searching for answers.

"What? You guys have been all alone for three years, and you've done it just last week? What the hell, Forehead!", the blonde shrieked, looking her way as if she was some sort of alien.

"Pig! Keep the volume down a little, for Kami's sake!", she hissed back, throwing her hands up in slight desperation. She didn't know what to answer her. She didn't want to give every little detail of their romance. It was theirs. She wanted to talk about it, but she didn't like giving every little detail of their intimacy. "We've been really close all along, it just got more... Official then, if you want to call it that. I don't even know what kind of relationship we have anyway."

"So, does that mean that Kakashi is free to roam and sample other girls? You're okay with that?", her friend asked, an eyebrow arched high. It made her pause and think a little. Did it mean that? Did they even need to tell each other not to visit anyone else's bed? To her, it had been somewhat automatic when he'd admitted to liking her a little to much that they should be loyal to one another. Maybe Kakashi didn't see it that way.

"I don't think so. I mean, he sort of said he'd marry me so it would be weird if he thought he could go around and bed any woman he wanted...", she replied, staring at her feet. She didn't feel comfortable having to talk to Kakashi about this. She wished it was simpler, really. As much as she liked him, she didn't want their relationship to become complicated with such engagements. She just wanted to be with him. He seemed to want to be with her. It should end there. Some day if nature wanted it, she might get pregnant.

It scared her to think about such a thing. She was twenty. Many women were settled down and already pregnant at her age. It was much less common among ninjas. It happened later, if at all, like for Kurenai. In the thirties. In Hinata's case, it was an accident. It shouldn't happen. If she was to be pregnant at Kurenai's age... What was it, thirty? Then Kakashi would be nearly forty-five. Was that old to have children? Would he want them sooner? She didn't even know if he wanted them at all. It made her giddy to imagine him as a a father though. It just seemed so unrealistic that it was funny. It was also cute, though. She wondered if he would be a loving father, or one who would stay distant and give praise only when their little ninjas would master a new jutsu.

"He said what? I never imagined Kakashi as the kind to want to settle down. I guess everyone does when they find the right one.", she murmured, eyes looking up in thought. It obviously surprised her, but it left Sakura feeling the same. Ino was forcing to think about all of this far too much for her taste.

Did she love Kakashi? Were they made for one another? She had pratically stopped believing these soul mates things. The thing that nagged her the most was what her lover was thinking of all of this. She highly doubted he saw this as a fling, it was impossible. He wouldn't have told her all these things then. He wouldn't have waited so long to bed her.

The two girls talked for a few more hours, sharing dinner in their room. Ino had updated her on everything that had happened in her life. At least, everything that she hadn't been able to tell her because of the presence of every of their other friends at their previous meetings. She'd had a fling with Kiba, who was apparently quite the beast in bed. The wording, in her opinion, was quite bad, but if her friend was happy, then so be it. She had also been involved for a while with a Kumo nin, but in the end he had called off their affair because he didn't want to be involved with a missing nin. It made sense.

Kakashi and Sasuke hadn't remained silent for long after the girl's departure. The second her footsteps were beyong earshot, the younger male had spoken up.

"When did it start between you and her?", he asked evenly, only glancing at his companion.

"That's none of your business.", the other replied simply, not wishing to take this conversation any further.

"I never thought she would grow out of her infatuation with me. I didn't expect her to shift it over to you. Aren't you a bit old for her?", he continued, still not betraying anything he might feel.

"She did long ago. She's a smart woman. Her choice of partners doesn't concern you.", he shot back. His voice was a little too possessive for his liking, but maybe he would back off soon.

"Possessive, aren't you? She's become quite a fine woman. Maybe I should start considering her to rebuild my clan.", he continued, though this time, he had a small smirk on his face. He was smug, believing that he could get her attention any time he desired. That his Sakura would always love him. His voice was taunting, as if trying to get him to react.

Maybe he wanted a fight. Whatever he wanted, Kakashi wasn't about to give in. He didn't mind the small chat, but it wouldn't go anywhere. As much as he wanted to make it clear that the woman in question was his and no one else's, that he was convinced her mind wouldn't change so easily, it nagged him. They weren't exactly an official couple. He knew that he loved her, that much was clear to him now. It was clearer every day, with every smile that she flashed at him, but he wasn't sure what her feelings were.

She had been distant the whole week it took them to come back to Kumo. Even before, on the way to Ame. She had been so into her thoughts that they had barely spoken to one another. He was starting to wonder if it was really anxiety at having to fight Sasuke that had kept her so withdrawn, or if it was something else. If she still had feelings for the boy, then that might have been bothering her as well. Either could explain her behavior.

"If you lay a finger on her, I'll make sure you can't ever have children. ", the jonin threatened, his voice quiet and even. The other male didn't doubt that he would back his threat, but it didn't scare him in the least.

"I'll have her if I want. She was ready to become a missing nin with me once. I have no doubt I could get her to do it all over again with the right choice of words.", Sasuke said confidently. Kakashi knew he was just riling him up, but it was still getting to him. It reached deep down to these little insecurities he hadn't settled with Sakura.

"I thought you believed her to be too weak and stupid.", Kakashi shot back. His tone didn't let his anger seep through, he was calm and even.

"Don't you think the last fight proved otherwise?", he said matter-of-factly.

It was true. She had surprised him for the first time by injecting him with her concoction back in Konoha so he wouldn't be suspected, and now with this. The whole idea had been quite brilliant. Catching an enemy alive was about the most dangerous thing you could do. They fought to kill while you had to hold your hits. Her plan had been flawless, and Sasuke hadn't seen through it one second. She had been perfect. She was truly an amazing ninja now. She deserved her jonin title every little bit.

It just left him to wonder if she had overcome her love for the Uchiha. Did her heart still ache for him?

Chapter Ten: Click Here

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