-The Elders were more fearful of Tsunade's growing power than anyone could imagine. In retaliation, Sakura's been forced to become a hunter-nin. They had expected her to die, but what they didn't count on was the fact that she would end up as Orochimaru's prisoner, stuck with her ex-teammate. As if being a hunter-nin wasn't stressful enough, Sakura has got to hide this from Naruto too! What has she gotten herself into?

Okay, it's been a year and almost three months since I last updated this fanfic! Forgive me, my readers! There's no excuses for me, but it's been same old same old: writer's block, school, friends, family, etc, etc. I couldn't think of a way to continue this story, so bear with me if this story seems to have no plot as of now. I developed my other fanfic Road to Sakura, but this one has been suffering. I don't want to put this on hiatus though, so please help me by giving me ideas in your reviews! Thank you, and please enjoy!

Note: I did not like the old summary, so I changed it. But I don't like this one either, so please help me come up with another summary.

Episode Sixteen

~Sakura's reluctance and Hinata's suspicions~

She woke up in a dark room, a wet handkerchief on her forehead. The Hyuga heiress wondered if she were being held captive, but the thought was quickly thrown out when she saw that the room was furnished with pictures of what seemed to be a family. When she tried to sit up, her head throbbed. The next thing she felt was the cold. She was freezing!

What happened to me? Hinata wondered as she wrapped herself in the blankets. Why am I here? She stood up slowly, making sure the room wasn't just a façade and wasn't filled with traps. She took her time, walking to the door, the blanket around her dragging on the floor. Her hand was on the handle when she heard voices.

"I'm sorry to have imposed on you and your family, Inari."

Hinata's eyes widened when she recognized the first speaker. It was Sakura! What was she doing here? Hinata was about to throw the door wide opened, but then the other person spoke.

"Don't worry about it, Sakura!" This person was most likely Inari. "You and Sasuke helped us with Gato, remember? This is the least we could do to repay you! How come Naruto isn't with you guys, though? Did you and Sasuke elope or something?"

Sasuke? He's here, too? Hinata was now confused. Memories of what happened when she had last been awake flooded her mind. She remembered hearing the chidori and Sasuke's voice, but she wasn't sure if he had been the one who saved her or if she had been hallucinating. Now, there was no doubt. Sasuke and Sakura were travelling together. But why? Sakura had told Naruto that she would be visiting family members, but then again Sakura had told Shino and Kiba that she was on a mission to gather information for Tsunade. Had Sakura lied to Naruto so that he wouldn't worry or was there something more to it? Sakura was hiding something, and Hinata wanted to know what.


Sakura laughed at Inari's odd theory. "Elope? Me and him?" She laughed so hard it almost hurt her sides. "Inari, the day that happens is the day he grows a heart!"

"Oh, but I thought you liked him," Inari said.

"Well, I did…" Sakura knew her voice didn't sound convincing at all, but she couldn't help it. Even she herself didn't believe she had gotten over the Uchiha. Maybe I still do like him, but I can't dwell on my feelings or hope for anything. She opened the door to the room she had put her patient in. Right now, what matters is taking care of Hinata.

She saw that the Hyuga was still in bed, but she was now on her side, facing away from the door. That was odd… Had she woken up? The thought almost frightened her. Had Hinata heard anything she and Inari said?

"Hey, Inari," Sakura said to the boy as she took the tray of food from him. "Why don't you go check on the others? I have to examine my friend now." Inari took this as his sign to leave and agreed. Once he was gone, Sakura closed the door behind her and turned on the lights. "I know you're awake, Hinata." She dropped the –chan honorific because she meant business. Despite Hinata being her friend, she needed to do damage control. She didn't want Hinata to pretend she was asleep.

But the Hyuga heiress didn't answer her, but Sakura took this silence as her chance to advance to Hinata's side. She sat down by the futon, waiting for Hinata to turn around to look at her. Sakura didn't know if the silence was a good thing or bad but, at the very least, Hinata wasn't screaming at her to leave. Sakura didn't know what she'd do if that were to happen—she didn't want to resort to Sasuke's idea of using the sharingan to wipe Hinata's memory, but Sakura knew that if using the sharingan was needed then she would allow it because she couldn't risk her cover, not even for Hinata.

"Who are you with, Sakura?"

Sakura was surprised Hinata had broken the silence, and she was surprised at the fact that Hinata, too, dropped the –chan honorific. It was clear that there was animosity between the two of them now—Sakura couldn't help but wonder if this was the result of staying in Oto for so long or if it was the result of Sasuke being her only companion there.

"My cousin, Sanosuke. Though we haven't seen each other for three years, he's been kind to me." It was a semi-lie but if Hinata knew Sasuke was with her then Sakura knew the Hyuga could read between the lines. "I had trouble with a group of bandits, but he came along, and now I'm stuck with him because he thinks I'll get into trouble."

"I think Naruto-kun and I encountered Sanosuke once before," Hinata said as she sat up, making eye contact with the pinkette. "He had a girl with him, but we couldn't see her face. Was that you, Sakura?"

Sakura didn't answer right away. She bit her bottom lip, trying to think of something to say. She stood up, though. Apparently, she was angered by the accusation, though it was true. "Just know that my intentions are always with Konoha's best interests at heart, Hinata. If not for Konoha then all that I do . . . it's for Naruto's sake." And with that, she left the room, the only sound heard was the clicking of her shoes as she walked.

When she was out of Hinata's sight, she combed back her hair and sighed in exasperation. Well, that couldn't have gone better… she chastised herself. She wondered why she had to pretend to be the bad kunoichi. Hinata was her friend. She could have told Hinata anything, she knew she could, but then why did she act so . . . so Sasuke-like?

Come down.

She jumped when she heard the Uchiha's voice. She didn't know where it came from, but it unnerved her. Was she hearing things or was that really Sasuke talking to her?


"We're leaving," Sasuke said as soon as he saw her walk out of the house.

"What?" Sakura didn't have time to think about her reaction. "What do you mean leaving? I haven't even finished healing Hinata, and—"

"It didn't feel like you two were getting along, so it's not much of a loss," the Uchiha retorted. "Don't forget, we have to return to Orochimaru by tonight or he'll send reinforcements. I don't think you want that with Naruto and Kakashi's team nearby."

Sakura didn't argue any further. Sasuke was right. She couldn't risk Naruto and Kakashi finding out about her involvement with Sasuke. Hinata being suspicious was bad enough. She didn't need Naruto and Kakashi to suspect her motives, too. But what did Sasuke mean? "It didn't feel like you two were getting along"? It didn't make sense. How could he feel that when he was outside of the house and a floor down from the room?

"Oh, you're marked, Pinkie?"

"What do you mean?" Sakura asked, glaring at Suigetsu. She didn't like his tone. He was like Naruto but more unlikeable. There was no other way to describe him.

"That,"—Suigetsu pointed to the mark on Sakura's right arm—"you don't know what that is? It's—"

"Enough, Suigetsu," Sasuke almost raised his voice, something that Sakura thought was even stranger. Why wouldn't he let Suigetsu tell her what the mark was? "Get ready to head out." This last command was directed at her too.

But Sakura just couldn't shake off the feeling that there was more to this mark than what there seemed to be. Was this mark the reason why she heard Sasuke's voice before?

Crappy chapter done! I really don't like this chapter, but please don't hate it… It's an odd chapter, but I really don't know where this story is going! I didn't proof-read this either, so bear the mistakes for a while.