Hidden Badges

It’s the last third in a grueling triathlon and Sakura is taking a much-needed break at a water stop. The pink-haired athlete isn’t sure where she is in the standings , but if she goes any further without water, she’s going to keel over.

Two more minutes and then she’s on the road again.

A few more cyclists pass her by, and her nerves get the better of her. Screw this. I’ve got enough, Sakura thinks and then she’s racing out to the road. On foot.

Idiot!

She can feel the eyes on her as she turns right around on the pathway, but she can’t let the embarrassment get to her.

I can’t believe I forgot my bike! Unbelievable! The rest of Sakura’s thoughts devolve into a litany of curses as she sprints back to the water stand.

She rounds the bend and nearly trips over in shock.

The path ahead of her is choked with police. Armed and frowning, Konoha’s finest are blocking the way… and they are facing her. Whoa! What the hell?!

“Uh… Hi?” Gravel spitting out from under her runners, Sakura skids to a stop, eyes wide. A random thought drifts across her shocked mind, Have I done anything illegal today?

One of the older men in uniform scowls. “Move!”

But suddenly, there’s a male body plastered to her back, breathing hard. Sakura yelps as a sweaty arm wraps around her body, pinning her arms to her sides.

“Pathetic,” says a voice over her shoulder, and it’s cold and it’s level… and it doesn’t match the racing heartbeat that she can feel through the Lycra. “Can’t even control a crowd of one.”

Sakura starts to twist away, but the man brings around his other arm, and she’s staring at the point of a very sharp-looking switch blade. It’s leveled at her right eye.

Oh my God

“Karasu! Drop the weapon!”

There are men with guns pointing straight at her, but there’s a man at her back with a knife pricking her lower eyelid.

I should have left the bike. I should have just ran…

He takes a breath to reply, but then he jerks.

She bites back a scream as the muscles in his arms tense. The knife! But as his weight abruptly sags against her, the point lifts away and the blade is dropped.

There’s a brief whisper from his lips as shouting men are pulling her from his suddenly lax hold, guns holstered and hands grasping, and she turns to see her assailant.

Long black hair, pale lids closing on inky black eyes, stress lines etched permanently into thin skin… The man slumped to the ground, unresponsive to the world.

There’s a blanket being wrapped around her shoulders and someone is guiding her to a bench to sit down. Whoever it is, she’s crooning low comforting words that Sakura isn’t hearing.

Sirens are blaring, people are yelling, all around her, the colours of the police uniforms are shifting, blurring. But all of that is in the background as Sakura is hearing only one word in her mind, stuck on repeat, murmuring softly, “Sorry.”

-x-

It’s been five months since that accident. Sakura never made it to the end of the race.

Sitting on an uncomfortable wooden bench, the athlete fiddles with a small charm bracelet that adorns her left wrist. It’s in the shape of a police badge.

The blonde woman down at the podium drones on as the audience, in their Sunday best clothing, shift and sigh. Whispers thread through the crowd.

Sakura isn’t caring. She’s not here for anyone else but one man.

Long black hair, silkier than it has any right to be. Inky black eyes, with the blue tints that are visible only from up close. Deep facial stress lines, the results of long nights spent writing reports…

He’s responsible for her being in this wretched room, but she wouldn’t be anywhere else. She’s proud to be here; proud of what he’s accomplished. And she’s glad that at last, he will be publicly acknowledged for what he’s done.

“Uchiha Itachi,” the blonde calls.

The man stands up from the back of the stage and approaches the podium. He’s met with a medal, a handshake, and a nod. There are flashes of light, standing applause. Whistles and cheers. Sakura is as loud as any other.

She sees those dark eyes of his search her out in the crowd. There’s a lift to his lips. That damn signature Uchiha smirk.

For once she doesn’t care, and grins right back at him, before taking a picture with her phone.

About time that idiot got props for undercover work.

-x-

A/N: Had a dream last night. It featured ninjas. I figured, Sure, why not? Typed it out without a care (probably full of mistakes). Enjoy!

Karasu‘ is taken from I Spy, a story by Ariel.

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