Part 1

With purposeful strides, the raven-haired man pushed through the mass of swaying bodies, rocking and shaking to an exotic beat, as a heady scent of sweat, smoke and alcohol invaded his nostrils behind the porcelain mask. His crimson eyes keen and searching through the crowded bar. The corners of his dry lips turned downward at the premise of wandering around a bar, all the while his teammate lay bleeding at the sterile floor of the hospital.

Uchiha Itachi and his team had barged through the gates of Konoha General Hospital, battered, blood-soaked and carrying an unconscious Genma, after what should have been a non-combative reconnaissance mission to Tsuchi no Kuni. ANBU Team One had ran into a rowdy group of mercenaries, and while the battle had been non-too challenging, a poisoned senbon had pierced through the lower back of an armour-clad Genma, leaving him heaving and unconscious a few minutes later.

Itachi had carried Genma, while leading his sub-ordinates through the desolate, rocky deserts. In record time, they were fleeing from the gates of Konohagakure to the Hospital, where nurses had prompted to squabble over Genma's body, like clucking chickens, much to Itachi's dismay. An uttered "get Haruno-sama" was all he needed before setting on finding the medic.

As his glowing eyes surveyed the packed room, he saw, rather than felt his growing agitation seeping around him in waves of thunderous, burly chakra, as those lucid enough scurried from his path. His eyes landed finally on an unmistakable shock of pink, in a small booth at the back of the establishment. His agile body stalked in the direction of rosette curls, hanging loosely on the back of a black-clad woman.

As he neared the pink-headed medic, his sharp eyes caught the minute tensing of her bare shoulders and emerald eyes snapped to him. He saw her regard him for a full five seconds, before scrambling from her seat, peachy drink and gaping-mouthed friends forgotten. She seemed to have understood his intention of being here and with a nodded "ANBU-san" came before him. Itachi wasted no time in placing a hand on her arm and some seconds later, a blurry dark void gave way to the white, antiseptic-scented walls of the hospital.

His gloved hand tightened around her arm, when he felt her wavering and his frown deepened. Was she going to heal Shiranui while intoxicated? The sheer incredulity of the thought must have shown through his chakra, for she turned to him after regaining balance, gem-like eyes sharp and determined, button nose held high and red lips pursed.

"I have had only one drink and have already started speeding up alcohol breakdown in my liver. Do not worry ANBU-san. I assure you I will do everything in my power to save him. Trust me" He regarded her for a mere second, before nodding and releasing her arm. She hurried from him immediately, kneeling over Genma's body, as the nurses made room and began filling her in. She cut through the layers of his armour, and ran chakra-infused hands over his torso and back. It took only a minute, before she spoke.

"The poison is an alkaloid coniine. It has spread to his stomach and we'll have to perform a nasogastric aspiration before it impaires his nervous system. Do we have room?" Sakura asked one of the nurses.

"Room 2 is free, Haruno-sama"

"Take him to 2. Give him a LR saline drip. Ayame-san, get the X-ray ready."

Itachi watched the young petite medic order her nurses around, in a strange sense of perplexity. He had heard in passing from Sasuke, the pinkette had taken over Konoha's Hospital a few weeks prior and had recently began quite a frightful training program of the Emergency Department. He knew little of Haruno Sakura, however. His otouto's teammate. The Hokage's apprentice. Exceptional healer. And as he watched the nurses scattering to carry out her orders, and saw Sakura remove her shoes hastily, before disappearing behind the walls, barefoot, he felt intrigued.

It was after a few moments, in the now empty room, that Itachi looked down, a pair of elegant shoes in her wake. High-heeled and fiery red. He knew little of Haruno Sakura, but he felt compelled to know more.

Not knowing how long, but intending to wait and hear of the surgery, Uchiha Itachi sat on a hospital chair, long past midnight. Occasionally, nurses and medics would pass along the room, carefully regarding the dark, looming figure of Uchiha Itachi. A pair of red heels in hand.