It was another beautiful day on a rather unwanted journey.
"Why did he have to send me?" Uzumaki Karin grumbled to herself. Two days ago, Orochimaru had given Karin a mission to deliver a parcel to his hideout in the Land of Earth, knowing perfectly well that she was in no mood to leave her hideout. Having learned some rather unpleasant news about a week ago, Karin had kept her mind busy by going through Orochimaru's notes and compiling them into cohesive reports. While the work was beneath her, it had definitely kept her mind busy until she was sent off.
As she jumped from tree to tree, she was all but oblivious to the beauty around her. Having been all over the world, she had seen everything there was to see, and this land was no different. Only about a day's journey away from Kusagakure, everything around her was green and blooming. Her mind was too wrapped up in her own thoughts to notice, though.
"At least that bastard, Suigetsu, didn't come along," she mused. His chakra was never calming, and right now, it would only make her more irritable than she already was. There was only one man's chakra that she usually wanted to surround herself with, and right now the mere thought of him made her want to vomit.
It was midday before she stopped to rest and eat. As she sat against the trunk of a rather old, mangled tree eating onigiri, she once again began to play the root of her irritation over in her head.
She sensed him before she saw him. While training her chakra prowess, Karin had felt the beautiful, calming blue chakra entering Orochimaru's hideout. It was purer and brighter than she had ever felt, but there was no mistaking whose it was. She felt another, much darker chakra travelling to greet him, followed by a filthy green-blue chakra. Karin bolted from her position on the floor, and all but ran to join the party.
She came upon the group in a room right off the entrance, and walked through the door to see the three men conversing. And she saw him. He was a pure vision of perfection. His black hair had grown out in the last few years since she had seen him. His face, while still full of arrogant, almost aristocratic beauty, was calmer than it had ever been. His body was consumed by a dark travelling cloak, but she knew there were taut, delicious muscles underneath it. Nothing and no one would ever be as appealing to her as the man that stood before her: Uchiha Sasuke.
"It's been too long, Sasuke" Orochimaru said as she walked in.
"Sasuke-Kun!" Karin shrieked when she entered. Sasuke turned towards her as she spoke and gave her a slight nod as acknowledgement before turning back to Orochimaru.
"I do not intend to stay for longer than necessary" Sasuke's velvety smooth voice retorted. "I come seeking information. Two Konoha jounin have been kidnapped. There have been several teams sent out to find them, with no luck. Seeing as I can search more efficiently than most, I have been tasked with finding them. I came to see if you had any information."
"There are rumors floating around about sightings of Konoha ninja near Iwagakure. That was over two months ago, however."
Sasuke just replied with a curt nod. He didn't need to push the issue any further. He was reconfirming what he already suspected more than discovering anything new.
"Sure you won't stay with us any longer, Sasuke?" Suigetsu asked with a smirk. "We could spar, for old time's sake."
"Oh yes, do stay with us, Sasuke-kun!" Karin encouraged with the most seductive voice she could manage. Her knees were weak from anticipation and joy. Sasuke was back! With her!
"No." Sasuke said simply. "I have a mission, and only stopped for information." He turned at that and was about to walk out the door when Orochimaru spoke.
"I heard you've married, Sasuke."
The room froze. Karin's heart dropped.
"About eight months ago, correct?" Orochimaru continued. He took Sasuke's silence as confirmation, and so he pressed on. "She must be quite special to capture your attention. And I'm sure, she's very pretty."
"You have no idea" Sasuke surprisingly replied, his voice darker than before.
"Who could she be? She couldn't possibly be that girl-" Orochimaru was instantly cut off when Sasuke suddenly appeared in front of him, sharingan activated, with his Kusangi blade drawn and pressing against his throat.
The entire room was silent, save for the sound of Suigetsu sighing.
"Don't come near my wife." Sasuke threatened in possibly the most menacing voice Karin had ever heard. "She is not to ever be touched by any of you. If I find out that you have gone near her, I will kill you."
Orochimaru just smiled at him. "Believe me Sasuke, I have no interest in you or your wife. I was just merely making conversation."
"Hn." Was Sasuke's only reply. He sheathed his sword, deactivated his sharingan, and quickly turned to leave.
"Good luck with your mission." Orochimaru called as Sasuke left the room. "I'm sure there is someone waiting for you."
Karin felt his chakra, darker than when he had come in, quickly leaving. Before she knew it, it was out of her range of perception. Sasuke was gone, in more ways than one.
Feeling waves of unpleasantness and jealousy all over again, Karin could not finish her lunch.
"I guess it's no surprise" she thought to herself. "Sasuke wanted to restore his clan, and it shouldn't surprise me that he has taken a wife. But why couldn't it have been me?"
Karin was roused from her thoughts when she detected a foreign chakra approaching below her. Quickly preparing herself for a fight, Karin studied the chakra. It was new to her, but still seemed familiar. A bright, illustrious yet pale pink, with a hint of gold. It was an unusual color for a ninja to have. Karin pulled a kunai from her pack and prepared herself for whoever was coming. She was well hidden up in the branches, back against the trunk of the tree. She would not attack if the ninja with the strange chakra did not attack first. She would, however, discover who owned this chakra.
The strange ninja passed below her, but Karin was still unable to see her. There were too many leaves on this old tree, so she would have to move to the next tree in order to see whoever was below. Stealthily, she did just that. She looked down to see a lovely young woman, with hair as pink as a sakura blossom. Her wide eyes were bright green, and in the middle of her forehead was a small, lavender diamond. She recognized the face and the chakra, but could not remember her name.
"She was Sasuke's teammate!" Karin's head screamed. "What is SHE doing here?"
Karin moved down another branch to examine the girl more carefully. She had on a deep crimson traveling cloak. Her short hair had a small headband in it the same color as the cloak. The girl seemed deep in thought, and focused heavily on the road in front of her. As the girl traveled forward into the forest, Karin followed. She was travelling towards Karin's destination, anyways. After following the girl for about 5 minutes, the pink-haired kunoichi stopped abruptly.
"I know you've been following me for the last 5 minutes and 37 seconds." She said. "You'd better show yourself now, and state your intentions."
"Damn it!" Karin cursed in her head. "I shouldn't have followed. But, I really didn't have a choice. I guess there's no harm in meeting her. It's not like she can hurt me". Karin snorted at the idea, before gracefully descending to the ground. Her eyes locked onto the girl's immediately, before shocked recognition flew through those green orbs.
"K-Karin?" The girl said.
"Shit", Karin thought. "She knows my name and I don't know hers."
"Why are you following me?" She pressed.
"I'm simply on my way to the Land of Earth for a mission. You happened to be travelling this way." Karin pushed up her glasses and looked at the young woman.
"Oh," the girl said, biting her lip. "I'm on my way there as well. Perhaps we could walk together some?" She said, looking hopeful. How naïve was this girl? Just asking any stranger to walk with her? Not only that, but Karin knew the girl held a special place in her heart for Sasuke.
"I know it must sound odd, because we've never formally spoken before, or even introduced ourselves." The girl continued. "But I know you were a friend of Sasuke's, so I feel as though we should know each other. It's also just nice to have some company, especially since I've been searching alone for two weeks."
"What a chatterbox. Maybe I could travel with her for a little while." Karin thought, before making a decision.
"I'm Karin. Uzumaki Karin." She said with a slight smile. Maybe they could be friends.
The pink-haired girl's face lit up like it was Christmas morning. Her eyes were full of genuine, innocent pleasure. "I'm Sakura," she returned. "Uchiha Sakura."
Karin's heart stopped. "This pink-haired girl, the same one he tried to kill, the same one he grew up with, is THE Mrs. Uchiha?" Karin wanted to scream. She did not, however.
"I'm Sasuke's wife," Sakura continued. "And I'm trying to find him as soon as possible. It's actually an amazing coincidence that I ran into you. I need help tracking him. While my chakra control is immense, my sensory perception is not. Sasuke has told me that you specialize in that."
Sasuke had told Sakura about her? He had actually divulged information voluntarily to another human being?
"It's quite urgent, actually." Sakura chattered on, her chakra dimming a little. "I must find him as soon as possible."
"W-why?" was all Karin could muster out, too dumbfounded to say much more.
"Well, you see…" Sakura began to blush before raising her hand from her side and placing it on her stomach. "You see, I'm…we're…"
Karin gasped. "You…you and Sasuke…"
"We're pregnant" Sakura almost whispered. "That's why I must find him. He does not know, and I'll be damned if he isn't there to see his child born." Sakura's eyes flashed with determination and pride. She was proud to be his wife, proud to be carrying his child, and proud to be his lover.
Karin swallowed. As if her heart wasn't already broken at the thought of Sasuke being married, it was made worse by discovering he was going to be a father, before he even knew.
"Since we're both going towards Iwagakure, I would feel better if maybe we traveled together." Sakura said with a smile. "I want to learn so much about you. I've heard you're quite strong, and I already respect you as a kuinoichi."
Karin simply nodded. She didn't understand. "Why did Sasuke choose her? Why is this girl the special one for him? Why did he marry her? Why did he impregnate her? Curse Orochimaru for sending me on this damned mission." Sakura was completely silent, as if waiting for a response from Karin. "Well, if you are travelling to the same place, you may as well go with her. Then you can figure out WHY Sasuke chose her." Making up her mind, Karin threw her hair back and flashed the most realistic looking smile she could at Sakura.
"I will travel with you, Sakura." She said confidently. "I will get you to Sasuke safely."
"Thank you, Karin!" Sakura beamed at her. "I know we'll be friends."
"Don't count on it," Karin wanted to retort. Instead, she just smiled. "There has to be something about her that's beneficial for restoring Sasuke's clan."
"Are you able to travel through the trees right now?" Karin asked Sakura as she fixed her shirt.
"Yes, I'm only two months along at the moment," Sakura replied, smiling.
"Good then." Karin grimaced to herself. She hoped this wouldn't be too torturous. "Let's go."