“This is not a conversation I want to have here.” Sakura wiped the pineapple juice up with the cloth Itachi had thrown to her from the other end of the table, eyes emotionless and closed off, much like the features of the rest of his face as he watched her with those dark fathomless eyes.
“Sakura.” Madara laid his hand over her arm. It was warm. It felt like suffocation.
“Please Madara. I’ll...talk to Mikoto about it. I already promised Sasuke I would speak to Ka San.” Sakura lifted her eyes from her lap to meet Madara’s dead on before rising from her seat and leaving the room, her plate untouched.
‘Brave girl’, he said to himself as he watched her leave the room. ‘Strong’, he continued to look at the door Sakura had walked through, even though she was no longer there.
“I’ll take this to her in her room Ka San.” Sasuke reached out and took Sakura’s plate, leaving the room just as quietly as Sakura had a moment ago.
Naruto looked around the room, his eyes cast downward at his plate. Sakura had told them that it wasn’t that bad, that nothing had happened and that they didn’t need to worry about her. She had lied. Clearly, it had either affected her more than she was willing to admit, or there was more to the story than she was telling them.
Madara gave Obito an eye, the man nodded in silent understanding, rose from the table and left the room. No one asked where he was going...that was the rule.
“Eat, eat.” Mikoto smiled, as she looked around the table clapping her hands, pushing for normalcy.
...and as though a button had been pushed, time resumed.
“Could you please pass the fish?” Naruto asked Itachi, who reached out for the fish platter and handed it to Naruto without a word.
Sasuke nudged the door to Sakura’s bedroom open and set her plate on the edge of her desk, her chopsticks on the side.
“Eat if you can.” He pet her once on the head, his fingers trailing through her hair in a brotherly way before leaving her room, closing the door behind him.
Cold teal eyes followed his Uncle’s figure as he walked back and forth, the heel of his dress shoe clicking a steady tattoo atop the raw, hardened clay floor. A colorful display of varying hues ran like water and oil toward the drain in the middle of the room. Those liquids too light to collect or too little in volume to accumulate splashed like swept rain against the walls.
Gaara had taken time to admire the artistic value of the display many times before, however, now was not one of those times. His ears heard what his eyes could plainly see. The drip, drip, drip of dark blood, nearly black in the bright light, as it fell from the man’s fingers before him. A steady beat, like the beating of a heart. A deafening scream drew Gaara’s eyes to the face of the man, grotesque, bulbous and bleeding.
He had no care, nor clue what the man had originally looked like before he had fallen prey to the whims of his Uncle Sasori, but he barely looked human now. A shell of what once was. Gaara could see it, that dull despair. His Uncle had broken him.
Of course there had never been any question as to the outcome. No one could last long against his Uncle. There simply wasn’t anyone strong enough, well, perhaps one.... Society had grown lax, one generation to the next raising the privileged for the vain. Shells of what should be, of what could be...of what will never be ...ever...again. A cruel smile full of wicked pleasure broke out across the normally stoic bland face of the dark bloodred head.
His Uncle, had picked up his scalpel. Gaara leaned forward in eager anticipation. This was his favorite part. There was always so much blood.
“Graduated Konoha Medical University in 1998, top of your class. I hired you into my Research and Development Department right out of med school, did I not Mr. Hamayoshi?” Sasori’s bored drawl filled the emptiness of the seemingly hollow room.
“Ye yes, Mr. Akasuna Sa Sama.” Mr. Hamayoshi gasped for breath that wouldn’t come, through the pain in his lungs and the burning in his throat.
“Yes.” Sasori twirled the scalpel through his fingers, his tone light as though he were in a board meeting, not a rarely used basement room of his business headquarters just inside of Konoha’s main Medical District.
Sasori fixed his narrowed eyes on Mr. Hamayoshi’s. “Twenty two years Mr. Hamayoshi, that’s how long you have been enjoying my generosity. Twenty two years.”
“Mr. Akasuna Sa Sama, please I, you don’t understand I…” Mr. Hamayoshi screamed as Sasori sliced through the cartilage of his ear severing it from his body.
Gaara frowned. That wasn’t enough blood.
“Do not interrupt me Mr. Hamayoshi. Do you understand?” Sasori raised and arched his left eyebrow at the man impatiently.
Mr. Hamayoshi nodded his head in a jerky compliance as blood pooled under his severed ear.
“Very good. As I was saying Mr. Hamayoshi. You’ve enjoyed my generosity for Twenty two years now, so you can imagine my most sincere disappointment when I was informed of your...betrayal.” Sasori hissed the last word from between nearly closed, pressed lips.
“Such a disgusting thing, betrayal. Wouldn’t you agree Mr. Hamayoshi?” Sasori looked down at the man with bored indifference.
Contrary to what most of his family thought, he didn’t enjoy doing these things. There was no art to it, he derived absolutely no pleasure from it. It was crass, it was brutal...it was his nephew Gaara’s favorite part of the job. Sasori’s preferences were more...refined.
It was however, part of the job.
“Selling secrets to our competition...will not be tolerated. Uchiha Industries, has no doubt already benefited from your weakness.”
Sasori paused to lift his hand and push back the sleeve of his suit coat. He would need to hurry if he was to catch the train. With a flick of his wrist that brought his nephew to his side, he looked back to the table.
“It is my understanding that you did this to put your child through college and the two children of your sister's through college as well. Is that correct Mr. Hamayoshi?” Sasori demanded, even though he already knew the answer, he wanted Mr. Hamayoshi to be in no doubt what his betrayal had cost him...had cost those he had hoped to help.
Mr. Hamayoshi was beyond speech, his jerking motions indicated he had gone into shock.
“Weak.” Sasori wrinkled his nose at the disgusting smell. Putrid. They were all putrid in his eyes. “They will suffer now Mr. Hamayoshi, your daughter, your wife, your sister and her brats...all because you stole from me. Me, Akasuna no Sasori. They are all dead now...because...of...you.”
Mr. Hamayoshi roared and scrambled from the table only to be knocked back down by Gaara’s swift fist. Sasori took one measured step back, turning to the C-cart beside the table that held Gaara’s…’tools’, and picked up a plain manila folder.
“Do not play with him for too long. He is a family man Gaara, he will be missed. Kill him swiftly, then his family.” Sasori paused for momentary contemplation. “Start with...his wife, then his daughter. You may kill his sister and her children in whichever order you wish. I must go, I have a train to catch. Call me when it is completed. Do not take more than the night.”
Sasori bowed to Mr. Hamayoshi in mock respect. “Goodbye, Mr. Hamayoshi.”
Sasori’s dress shoes clicked steadily across the clay of the floor toward the elevator. Nimble fingers punched the code into the lock pad and the door opened. Sasori ‘tsked’, he had almost forgotten. Shifting the manila folder to his other hand, he twirled the scalpel once more.
“Gaara.” He called to his nephew who looked up from Mr. Hamayoshi’s now broken rib cage, blood splattered liberally across his flawless countenance. “My scalpel.”
Sasori flicked the scalpel through the closing doors of the elevator, watched as Gaara plucked it from the air and slammed it down, in one fluid, beautifully graceful, motion into the jugular of the now, former Mr. Hamayoshi.