It was dark…so dark.

Sakura trembled against the stone wall, shivering in the complete darkness. Her shorts and the sleeveless top she had been wearing when she had been captured were not doing her any good. She might as well have been naked.

The door opened, and she looked up as an unrecognizable man came in. One couldn't say he was not handsome, since he was well-built, and his piercing blue eyes and reddish-brown hair was tied into a high ponytail. Looking at his eyes, Sakura was suddenly struck with an incredible feeling of sorrow, since his eyes reminded her so much of Naruto.

"Orochimaru-sama caught a pretty one," the man's voice was almost like a child, taunting and somewhat cynically gleeful. "Here's your food for the day. I suggest you take care in not eating too much, since you won't be getting another visit from me in 24 hours."

Sakura shrunk into the wall as far as she could. Were all of Orochimaru's men that sadistic?

He cackled, and the door reopened, leaving Sakura all alone once again, alone in the dark.

XXXXXXXXXX

Sasuke was pacing furiously around his room, though his face remained void of any emotion.

She seems different from before.

No, she's still that pathetic girl she was two years ago.

She was able to dent a steel door.

She was stupid enough to get captured by Kabuto

There was a sudden knock on his door, interrupting his inner debate.

He stopped pacing, and said, "What?" his voice monotone.

"Sasuke-sama," an arrogant male's voice was heard outside the door. Sasuke sneered, oh god, it was that fool Hayubi wasn't it? The stupid idiot was always trying to impress Orochimaru and he was always trying to make Sasuke look bad, even though the Uchiha boy surpassed his skills with ease. "Orochimaru-sama calls for you."

The door was opened, and Sasuke faced the boy, who was only two years older than he, but acted as though he owned the world.

"You can leave now." He regarded the boy calmly.

Hayubi let out a sneer, seemingly unaware of the danger he could put himself into by annoying the short-tempered Uchiha. "Uchiha-sama, Orochimaru sama called for me too."

With a grunt of indifference, Sasuke brushed past the boy and headed to Orochimaru's meeting room. He had to resist the urge to glance at the lone steel door that stood closed at the end of the prisoner's hall. Inside, there lay an old teammate and a past admirer. He would not look.

Hayubi, on the other hand, was being blatantly obvious of his glances at the cell. "The prisoner in there, I've heard rumors you know her."

Sasuke made no remark, though his eyes creased slightly in anger when Hayubi referred to her as a 'one sexy thing.'

XXXXXXXXXX

"Orochimaru," the obsidian-haired greeted the man curtly.

Orochimaru looked at the Uchiha, and then at Hayubi. "Hayubi, Sasuke-kun," he hissed out. "You have a mission."

Sasuke shrugged inwardly. This wasn't anything new, receiving a mission. He found it funny that feudal lords would even offer the Hidden Village of Sound any missions, since it was known that the ninjas in Sound were corrupt, though of course, most of the lords that offered the jobs were corrupt themselves.

"The daimyo of the Cloud Country, wants two ninjas to assassinate one of his advisors, who is supposedly forming a rebellion against him. He could charge treason and execute the advisor himself, but he fears that would just a greater unsettlement against his people. Here is a picture, and you are to leave as soon as possible."

Sasuke took the picture, stared at it briefly, and wordlessly walked out. He vaguely heard fragments of what Orochimaru was saying to Hayubi.

"Sasuke-kun…partner…a lot…money…don't mess up…"

Sasuke growled. So this blockhead was going to be his partner. It would only slow him down, and Sasuke didn't like the extra burden.

XXXXXXXXX

"Naruto," the 5th hokage asked the blonde-haired chuunin for the twentieth time. "Are you sure you don't remember anything?"

Naruto, who was currently sitting on a chair in front of Tsunade's desk, cried out in frustration, and attempted to pull all of his hair out of his head. "Tsuande-baa chan, all I remember is talking to Sakura and then everything faded away! Gaaaa, what if she's being tortured right now! It's all my fault! If only I hadn't been so stupid! We've got to go rescue her! What are we supposed to d-"

"Naruto!" Tsunade cut off the panicked boy. "I'm sure Sakura can take care of herself. There's no trace of who took her, and I've already sent an ANBU team out to go search for her. It may take a long time, since we have no idea where to begin. Meanwhile, I'm sorry to say that you can't go looking for her also. You already have a mission, that's already been postponed a day because of the sudden kidnap of Sakura. You'll be leaving with the other chuunins tomorrow to infiltrate Orochimaru's lair. Okay?"

"But," he began to protest. "Tsunade-baa chan! Sakura needs me right no-"

"NO!" Tsunade was losing her patience. "I trust the ANBU to locate her and bring her back safely. Naruto, you need to concentrate on bringing Uchiha Sasuke back. I have a feeling that you'll be the only one that can persuade him. And besides, don't I recall a promise you made to Sakura? The promise of a lifetime?"

Naruto looked away. He knew it was his duty to go rescue Sasuke, but he wanted to rescue Sakura, too. He had to believe in the strength of the ANBU, as Tsunade had told him.

With a sigh, he bowed slightly to the hokage, before walking out the door.

Sakura… wherever you are… please be alright.

XXXXXXXXXX

Sakura stared at the food. She had been doing that for the last hour. The man had told her to save her food, and Sakura was finding that part particularly easy. She hadn't eaten a bite, in fear that it may be contaminated. Not to mention the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach that told her she would throw up if she swallowed anything.

A few hours earlier, Kabuto had come in, and stuck a weird looking needle into her arm. He told her that he needed to drain more of her chakra after her close escape. Now, with only about an eighth of her chakra left, Sakura felt once again weak and helpless. Why was it that whenever in the Uchiha's prescence, she was always the weak pathetic girl?

She didn't know how much time had passed, but she was beginning to feel claustrophobic, and she resisted the urge to open her mouth and scream her lungs out until she could no longer speak.

God, she wanted to go home.

Bringing up her knees and wrapping her arms around them, she lay her head down. For some odd reason, her eyes remained dry and no tears would come, no matter how much she willed herself to cry.

Perhaps she had no more tears left to spill, since all of them were already used in the past.

XXXXXXXXXX

Sasuke stood impatiently at the doorway leading to the outside world. Had he not informed that Hayubi fool that he was to be here at precisely dawn?

There were footsteps heard, and soon the figure of Hayubi appeared. "Sasuke, I have to go feed the cherry blossom before we go. You can wait a few more mintues."

Sasuke stared after him as he went, his insides boiling with fury. If not for Orochimaru's order, the fool would have been long dead before.

Wait a second…cherry blossom?…Sakura!

With a curse, he darted after the boy. There was no way on earth that Uchiha Sasuke was about to trust Hayubi alone with Sakura.

XXXXXXXXXX

Sakura stared blankly at the door as it opened and the man from before stepped in. He stared at her for a long time, and Sakura didn't like the look in his eyes.

She could feel those creepy blue eyes sweeping over her body, examining every curve and every little detail. She tried to make herself shrink into the wall.

"My dear little cherry blossom," he drawled out.

She shivered involuntarily.

Footsteps were heard, and Sakura realized someone was running her direction. Moments later, a composed looking Uchiha Sasuke walked into the room. If not for the loud footsteps, Sakura had heard, she would have never thought the man had been running at all.

"Sasuke," Sakura noticed the man's tone was of disdain. "You couldn't even wait a few minutes?"

Ignoring his question, Sasuke turned his gaze onto Sakura. "When were you assigned to feeding her?" he asked, not even bothering to look at the boy he was addressing.

Sakura watched with somewhat interest as the man's fists clenched, and his eyes grew darker. "Sasuke," he practically spat out. "Why are you so interested in knowing that?"

Sasuke turned calmly towards the man, and suddenly, the air in the room seemed colder, as if that was possible, and the tenseness in the air was suffocating. Sakura wanted to speak up, but the new Sasuke scared her slightly. His words sounded nonchalant and care-free, but even as he spoke them out, there was an underlying threat in his voice. "If you weren't so busy ogling her, you may have noticed she hasn't touched her food. Should I tell Orochimaru that you are failing to accomplish your orders of taking care of her?"

Hayubi turned absolutely red with fury, but Sasuke just stared impassively at the boy.

He turned his gaze towards her once again, and calmly walked towards her. "Sakura," he said. "You have to eat."

She lifted her head to meet his eyes, and stared hard at him. "It's poisoned."

He regarded her response with a stoic face. "No, its not."

Inner Sakura was practically screaming her head off. Why didn't he react at all!

She slumped back into the wall. Though Sasuke had changed, she still felt safer in his presence than anyone else's in the building. "Prove it."

A flash of annoyance crossed his face. He swiped his hand down, ripped off a piece of bread, and tossed it into his mouth, not even bothering to chew before swallowing it down completely.

She stared at him for a few seconds, and when nothing happened, he picked up the plate and shoved it into her hands. "Eat." It was not a request, but a demand. "I expect this to be finished when I return."

Her eyes were wide, as though she had been slapped. He brusquely got up and brushed past Hayubi.

"Hey!" Hayubi called after him. "It's my job to take care of her!"

When the Uchiha boy turned around, Sakura and Hayubi froze. His eyes were a piercing red, and three red comma like swirls surrounded the pupils. Uchiha Sasuke had activated his Sharingan.

"It's my job now," he replied. "We've wasted enough time as it is. If you can't keep up, I'm leaving you behind."

He closed his eyes, and vanished in a cloud of smoke. Hayubi was muttering imprecations as he too disappeared.

Sakura stared at the plate in front of her. What would Sasuke do to her if she didn't eat? She was terrified to find out.

XXXXXXXXXX

"I didn't know you were so merciless," Hayubi muttered as he stared down at the body.

Sasuke was already getting ready to leave the advisor's mansion. It wouldn't be too long before the guards would arrive. He stared emotionlessly down at the bloodied advisor. He had planned to make it a quick kill, but his stupid 'partner' had charged in without a plan in head. The advisor had been awakened with the commotion, and had actually put up a fight to Hayubi.

Uchiha Sasuke then had to assassinate the advisor without killing his partner in the process, though that didn't necessarily seem like a bad idea. "Let's go." He muttered.

Hayubi stared at the Uchiha jumping into the shadows, a scowl on his face. Just one day Uchiha. He thought, wicked thoughts popping into his head. I'll show you.

XXXXXXXXXX

Sakura watched the door open and a figure walked in.

"Sasuk-"she began, but then was slightly disappointed to see that it was not Sasuke, but Kabuto.

"I hope you're enjoying your stay, Sakura-san," the gray haired man replied in that fake friendly tone. "Orochimaru would like to know if you've made your choice."

"Go to hell," she spat out in reply, and turned her head away.

His laugh was mirthless. "Sakura-san, I really don't think you understand the danger of the situation you will be putting your friends in if you decline this offer. We would like to have no casualties."

"I believe in them." Sakura said, her voice filled with pride. "They'll beat whoever you send at them."

Kabuto's eyes darkened. "I guess we will see, Sakura-san. If that is the way its going to be."

He started walking for the door. "Oh, Sakura-san? Orachimaru-sama has allowed you to roam around. But don't even think about escaping. The needle I injected inside of you not only drained your chakra, but it filled your body with a poison that will take affect in exactly 7 days. Only we have the antidote Sakura-san, so if you escape, you'll die.

Not to mention, in your state, with almost no chakra, you wouldn't even be able to win a fight against our weakest. If you were to try to escape, you would no longer have the privilege of wandering around on your free will. I hope you will change your mind about helping Orochimaru-sama, since he is being such a wonderful host to you."

He left, leaving the door open for Sakura to walk around.

She stood up slowly, and her legs collapsed beneath her, sending her tumbling down to the floor in a tangled mess.

She tried again, using the wall as leverage. Her legs were stiff and sore, and she took one step before she staggered. Who knew that sitting on a hard surface for the past three days could make one so incapable of walking?

Finally, with some practice, her legs adjusted to the extra weight on them, and she was able to walk again.

Even outside her cell, there were no windows.

She walked down the hallways, and was extremely disturbed to see the walls lined with cells full of people of all ages.

Now that she had finally gotten out, she had no idea what she was supposed to do.

She knew she had to escape, but like Kabuto had mentioned, the probability of success in her weakened state was close to zilch.

XXXXXXXXXX

Unconsciously, the first thing Sasuke did after he had returned from his mission and reported to Orochimaru was head towards the pink-haired kunoichi girl's cell.

A bit surprised to see that the door open, his first thought was that she had escaped, but then logic kicked in, and he told himself, that if she had indeed escaped, Kabuto would not have been wandering around the halls aimlessly like he was at the moment.

They let her out? He was slightly confused. Heck, he didn't even know the reason why she was kidnapped in the first place, though he was pretty positive it had something to do with Orochimaru's arms.

He turned around, and there she stood, staring at him with a face painted with a mix between exasperation, confusion, sadness, and…fear? Did Haruno Sakura fear him?

He really didn't know how long they stood there, staring. He was almost tempted to lift his hand and wave slightly in greeting, like old times. But this wasn't old times, and he made a vow long ago that in order to become strong enough to beat his brother, he would cut all ties standing in the way. Sakura was definitely considered a tie, even if a little one.

He grunted, and swept past her, briefly catching the widening of her eyes and the parting of her lips, as though she was about to speak. But when she realized he did not want conversation, her mouth snapped shut, and she continued on her way.

Sasuke forced himself not to look back to see where she was going. This was a challenge, like everything in his life. He had to prove to himself that he was strong enough to not have to depend on and seek comfort from weak little pathetic pink-haired kunoichi.

When her footsteps faded away, Sasuke stopped. He didn't really have a destination to go to.

"Sasuke?" the voice was quiet, and extremely small. He half-turned, almost expecting to see a little girl, but knew who it was.

"What?" he asked, tone emotionless once again.

"Y-you won't kill them will you?" she asked

He frowned only slightly. What was she talking about?

"Y-you won't kill your old friends will you?" Her voice was whisper.

He completely turned around, and discovered that over the years, he had grown a lot taller than her, though she too, had grown a lot. Once at around his eyes, she now only stood at around his upper lip. He didn't satisfy her with a response.

"You wouldn't kill you teammates," her voice wavered, though the tears he had expected to cascade down her cheeks did not come.

"I know of no teammates," he answered calmly, and watched as she stiffened. "The teammates I once had are now all broken ties."

"Broken ties-to become stronger," she was hurt, he could tell. Her eyes reflected her revealed her feelings perfectly. "So you just forgot?"

"It was for the better," he responded. "Things like precious people will only slow one down on the road to gain power."

He watched as a brief flash of anger passed through her eyes. Sakura…getting angry at him? The thought seemed impossible. "Would you eliminate all ties if you had the chance?"

He stared down at her, as she waited for his answer. He didn't hesitate to reply, "Yes."

"And would you…" she paused, as though afraid to say what was on her mind. "Would you eliminate me right now if you could?"

"…Yes."


Yay! Another chapter done.

I'm sorry if people think that Sasuke has changed too much over the course of two and a half years, but for those who have read the manga up to chapter 309, (MANGA SPOILER! DO NOT READ AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN"T READ!) you will know that he was planning to attack Sakura and kill Naruto. (END SPOILER.)

Eh...doesn't seem that realistic to me for Orochimaru letting Sakura wander around. But I really can't have much development if all Sakura does is sit around in a cell all day, right? So bare with me.

Thank you to Yukari Rin (from the SasuSaku twinbells forum) for informing me about my Orochimaru spelling mistake.

Thanks to all those who reviewed. Hope you enjoyed the chapter.

Remember to review!