Chapter 42

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Imagine waking up on your wedding day tied to a metal pole with chains in a dark, vast, empty room.

There were so many forms of death that Sakura felt at that moment.

Suffocation. Drowning. Burning. A blow to the head. Knife to the back. Knife to the chest. Being buried alive. She somehow felt all of these and none of these at the same time- living, but not living. Dying, but not dying.

In other words, she felt like she was in a living hell.

Eyes unable to squeeze out even one tear, voice unable to be used to even whisper, cuts on her arms from thrashing against the chains and legs partly paralyzed from lack of movement.

Just the entire time, she had been thinking one thing-

If only.

If only she had agreed to Sasuke's conditions and shared his bed before the wedding. If only she hadn't interacted with so many people at the ball. If only she could have recognized the scent of the sleeping weed before being drugged...

So many things that she could have done to prevent this horror, yet she did none.

The person came from time to time. Asked if she needed anything, in that horrible slick, calming voice that drove her insane.

Crow.

Why? She had been so kind to him during and before the ball, assisted to every need, laughing and danced with him- what exactly did he want? Why was he doing this?

She would have screamed this out at the top of her lungs every time that he came, but by the third time he visited she was too tired to even lift her head to look at him.

Who, speaking of, just came in through the nonexistent door.

"Miss Sakura," he said, slinking over to her. "I brought your food." Sakura took a disgusted glance at the wonderfully prepared food in front of her- pancakes with syrup, freshly washed berries and scrambled eggs, small sausages on the side of the plate.

She turned her head around, indicated that she was refusing to eat. "Please, do eat," Crow said as he squatted to take a piece of scrambled egg and popped it in his mouth. "I honestly don't want anything bad happening to you, Miss Sakura."

"That's the funniest thing I've heard in my life," Sakura tried to shoot back, but her voice was reduced to a mere throaty rasp. "How do I know you don't want to kill me? Those berries could be poisoned, for all I know."

Crow sighed as he took a small berry and placed it in his mouth, pointing so that Sakura could see. She watched as he bit down and swallowed. "See? Not poisoned," he proclaimed, pushing the plate towards her.

"What do you want me to do?" she tried asking. "How can I get myself free?"

Crow's gaze was almost burning- the cold eyes somehow igniting something fiery inside her in her weakened state. "That is simple. All I need is for your fiance to come rescue you."

Sakura turned her head. "Why him? Why Sasuke? He has done nothing wrong!" Her voice cracked.

"Perhaps," he said mildly as he ate a part of pancake. "But I may be doing him a favor by kidnapping you. Like I have said many times, I do not wish to harm you at all."

Sakura glared at him. "Look at my wrists. My legs. My voice... how is this not harming me?"

Crow stared up at her. "Your own physical harm is only due to your neglect and lack of reasoning. Have I told you to clash against the chains? Stay sitting down or standing up? Scream like there's no tomorrow? I've been trying to take good care of you- giving you the food you rightfully deserve, asking if you need to go anywhere- but it is you that is refusing my hospitality."

"Go away," she said miserably. "I can't bear to look at your face, Crow."

He sighed. "You keep calling me that. How many times must I tell you? My name is not Crow- it is Itachi."

Sakura's blood ran cold yet again at the chilling name. "I'd like to call you Crow, if you don't mind," she squeaked out. She could see him shrug in the dimly-lit room as he said, "Fine. It doesn't really matter to me."

He turned around. "Give me a shout if you need anything... if you can still shout, that is."

He left.

A dry sob racked her body as Sakura looked around for the umpteenth time, hoping and praying that there was something there for her to signal to Sasuke- to make a sign that she was here, she was alive, she could be free.

A small breeze lifted her bangs as she got a clear shot of the room.

But her hopes sank again as all that she saw was a dead rat in the farthest corner of the room. She couldn't even reach over to grab the stinker to throw it out the window.

Wait, the window...?

If there was a breeze inside this place, it meant that there had to be a window somewhere- which meant that if she got to somehow get out of the chains, she could escape.

Her eyes brightened for the first time in hours.


It was time to get cracking.

-

-

-

As it turned out, bringing Shikaku and Shikamaru was useless.

"We don't know what Itachi can do," they said. "If we had some intel on him, we could devise a plan-" Sasuke waved them away before they could finish their sentences.

"How useless," he grumbled under his breath as Tsunade sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "So even our two smartest brains were useless in this situation," Naruto mumbled as he flopped on Sasuke's bed. "Get off," Sasuke jerked away from him.

Tsunade threw her hands up. "Is there absolutely nothing we know about Itachi?" she said angrily. "Uchiha! You're his brother. Was there anything that you knew seven years ago?"

There was. There really was. However...

"No," he lied.

They would only get in the way.

Naruto glanced over at him, eyes unusually studious. "Are you sure there isn't anything on him? You are his brother, Sasuke." Sasuke felt a chill. "No, I don't know anything about him," he said.

Tsunade sighed. "How is there absolutely nothing? Uchiha, Sakura's life is in danger. Please share whatever you can share, and we can help you out-"

"I SAID THERE'S NOTHING I KNOW ABOUT HIM!" he roared as the room fell silent immediately.

Naruto spoke up. "Grandma, if Sasuke said that there's nothing he knows about Itachi, there's nothing. We'll work with what we already have."

Tsunade hesitated.

"...Alright."

He was relieved- of course he should be, Naruto just pulled him away from the burning-hot fire- but why...

Why did he feel guilty?  

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