It's been too long since I updated, and once again I am very very sorry.

I suggest that you re-read the previous chapters before starting this once since it's been a while. Even I had to go back for a quick refresher before writing this one.

Many thanks to those of you who're still reading and reviewing ;)

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"You… You… You're his brother?" Was the sentence uttered by Sakura, as her battered mind attempted to reconcile a whole lot of information and reach a bundle of conclusions in mere seconds.

"Yes, my brother." The young Uchiha said snidely, trying to get Sakura to bring her eyes to him and away from his brother. There was something in the way she was unabashedly looking at him, that made Sasuke very irritated. His brother was to be feared, respected, admired, imitated, not ogled shamelessly by a hopeless twerp. "Why are you here?" He questioned coldly.

For her part, Sakura hesitantly shifted her eyes away from the guy who up until that point only had a home in a surreal castle that stood tall in her dreams.

Resolving on addressing each one of her mental debacles at a time, Sakura decided to deal with the Sasuke thing first. It wasn't like his so called brother appeared to be in a talkative mood or anything. He just stood there looking at her with those inexpressive eyes, and said absolutely nothing.

"I came to see you, Sasuke-kun." She said after pausing to reorder her thoughts.

"Showing up at my house unannounced is rude and unacceptable." The young Uchiha replied icily, before his eyes cut away from her as if he expected this to be the end of the conversation.

"I am sorry." She enunciated bluntly, taking a step forward in a forceful display of the fact that she wasn't done yet. In fact, she hadn't even started. "Sasuke-kun, this is important. I am here to talk to you about our team….."

"There is nothing to talk abo…"

"Yes, there is. I know you feel as if I am an annoying useless little brat." She declared evenly. "And you have every right to." She added honestly, and had she not decided to completely ignore Itachi until she was done with Sasuke, Sakura would have seen a very peculiar look cross his otherwise impassive features.

Sasuke was silent. But he wasn't walking away. Sakura took this to mean that she succeeded in capturing his attention.

"I'll say it again. You have every right to think whatever you want about me. Because, up until very recently I too believed that I am a useless, incompetent, person. I can't blame you for thinking something of me that even I was convinced of. But I don't think so anymore. I am still very weak, don't get me wrong, but I now believe that I can be more. I am not uselessness or incapable as long as I don't allow myself to be. So from now on, I promise you Sasuke-kun that I will be a far better teammate than I ever were. I'll work hard to be someone who stands on par with you and Naruto and I will support the two of you as much as I can."

Silence greeted her words for seconds before Sasuke replied, "You will support me." He repeated in a bored voice. His words were uttered without much emotion, yet the fact that he found her assertion completely absurd was made abundantly clear.

Sakura stood her ground and refused to allow him to threaten or goad her into a fight.

"I understand that you might find this hard to believe, but I promise I will get better." The girl said honestly. "And it is not just about me, Sasuke-kun. It's about us, about team seven."

Sasuke gave her a haughty look. "Team seven." He repeated, once again seemingly ready to walk away. "I thought I made it clear that I no longer wish to be part of that team…"

"Nonsense," She almost shouted, but she quickly regained her composure when she saw that his plans for walking away were once more abandoned in favor of diverting his attention to her. "You might say that but I know it's not true." She declared fervently. "You want everyone to believe that you don't care but I know you do."

He gave her a derisive look as if to say that he found it absolutely ridiculous to continue a conversation with someone like her, and this time he actually turned away and started towards the door of his house.

Sakura however, flew forwards and grabbed his wrist with both of her hands.

Sasuke gave a small start at her rather forward action. However, he quickly hid it, and leveled her with a bored look.

Sakura maintained a firm grip on his hand.

"I know you care, Sasuke-kun. I was there with the two of you during the Chunin exams. We were a team then. But even before that, we have once and again fought side by side, you trusted us with your life Sasuke-kun and we trusted you with ours. We knew that we could trust you, and Naruto and me…. We….. We can't trust anyone but you." She declared heatedly.

Sasuke's expression became one of utter surprise for a second, however, he quickly threw a look towards his brother to make sure that this show of emotion wasn't noticed. When he realized that Itachi was watching the exchange with apparent interest, Sasuke's expression quickly hardened, as he snatched his arm away from the girl.

"Listen," His steely voice hissed. "I already told you, I only needed to be part of this team until I pass the chunin exams. Now I have no need for you or for this team." The young Uchiha announced. "You have been nothing but burdens to me all this time. And now I no longer need to carry you around. From this point on we are rivals, and if you stand in my way, I will go through you."

Sakura paled. Such harsh words coming from someone she both trusted and cared about were rather painful for her to hear.

Instead of raging like Sasuke expected her to, Sakura's voice actually came soft and compassionate, which managed to give the Uchiha yet another shock. "You can't do this alone." She said kindly. "You can't fight the world alone Sasuke-kun, you can't prove yourself or achieve your goals alone. Whether it's on or off the battlefield you need those who will stand by your side and support you unconditionally. We are your friends, and we will do that, we will be by your side and we will be loyal to you, and support you, no matter what." She finished with a smile.

A few seconds passed as Sasuke reconciled himself with the fact that this girl was indeed different from the one he knew. She was no longer the love-struck one-dimensional fool who followed him around. Now she was more….. Sasuke struggled to find a word to describe her. As a matter of fact he was struggling in order not to admit that the only word that could describe her was 'confident,' and he hated it.

"I do not know how you convinced yourself that we were friends, but I barely tolerated you for the last few years, and now I no longer have to do it." He finally spoke with the composure that he wished to display. "I can achieve what I wish for on my own, especially now that I do not have you to hold me back."

Sakura reeled at the impact of such heavy blows.

It took everything she had not to break into tears at that moment, but she pushed through, she wanted her team back, she wanted to prove herself to him and make him regret these words, and she knew that if she let him walk away now she would never have the chance to do that.

And so she spoke, "You are an idiot." She said calmly and this time Sasuke gave an unmistakable start before glaring murderously at the uncouth girl. "If you think that you could navigate life on your own, then you are much stupider than you claim to be." She accused, her expression turning menacing enough to freeze Sasuke in disbelief, as he wondered who this person was. "You need a team, you need us. We are shinobi, we are constantly surrounded by dangers and forever about to go to war. If you believe that you can face such a life alone then you are a freakin moron." She accused.

And turning her attention towards the guy that was now identified as Sasuke's brother, she decided to make one more move to drive Sasuke's stupidity home. She was gonna get the support of his brother. Brother or not, Sakura figured, this guy was actually someone who helped her, someone who gave her hope, he stood by her side when she needed it and now she might actually be able to get him to help her one more time.

"Please tell him that he is a moron." Sakura said, addressing Itachi.

Sasuke gave her an incredulous look for presuming to address his brother. However, much to his surprise, Itachi didn't brush her off or level her with one of those empty looks that made people feel lower than scum. Instead, the Uchiha heir actually did something that left Sasuke rather dumbstruck, he smirked.

Sasuke's eyes widened, and before he knew it, he was speaking at a volume higher than he has ever used in his life.

"He would never say such a thing." Itachi's younger brother declared bringing Sakura's attention back to him. "He knows that what I am doing is the right thing."

Sakura raised an eyebrow at him.

"Sasuke-kun, I am sure your brother knows that what you are doing is stupid. Now give him a chance to reply and he will tell you that himself." The girl challenged.

Sasuke's temper flared to an un-Sasuke like level. "You are a worthless idiot." He said venomously. "As a matter of fact, it was my brother who told me to leave your team." Sasuke declared.

"What are you talking about… Of course he didn't…."

"What do you know!" Sasuke accused. "Where do you get off thinking that you know what he would say or not! It was him who told me to leave that team. He told me that the two of you were useless. That Naruto was mere brawn without brains and that you were a subdued nobody who lacked potential."

Sakura gawked at the young Uchiha, completely freezing in her spot for a long moment, as her mind screamed that this just couldn't be true.

Quickly she turned towards the guy standing calmly to the side.

"Did….. Did you…. Did you say that?" She muttered.

This time, Itachi's expression was by no means light. It was as if his face was carved out of steel as he eyed her silently.

"Of course he did….." Sasuke intervened, once again feeling as if she had no right to address his brother like she knew him.

"Did you?" Sakura, repeated.

"I told you….." Sasuke started.

"SHUT UP!" She screamed turning towards Sasuke and stunning him into speechlessness.

"Did you?"

"Yes." Itachi said calmly.

In the aftermath of those words Sakura stood there for what seemed like an eternity.

For his part, Sasuke was brimming with exaltation. The presumptuous girl was put in her place. Now she realized that she had no place attempting to influence or convince him of anything. Not only that, but now she realized just how ridiculous it was for her to talk to his brother as if he was someone who would acknowledge the likes of her. Itachi was Sasuke's brother, his goal, his role model. He trusted in his opinions, he idolized him to end, and he wanted to be like him and even to surpass him more than anything, which is exactly why he didn't need Sakura and Naruto's dead weight holding him back anymore. This is what needed to be done, regardless of how he felt about it, Sasuke needed to make a clean break. It was too late for it to be clean though, so he would just break off all his ties even if he had to leave casualties in his wake.

And as it stood the first causality was standing in front of him, with her once proud head bowed to the floor, and her hands drooping next to her as if gravity was pulling her down much harder than it has ever done. Her hair shielded her face, but Sasuke knew that she was crying her eyes out by now.

A second later, however, when Sakura raised her head Sasuke had to reconsider.

It was true, her eyes were wet, but her face held an expression of utter rage.

Sakura's body no longer succumbed to the force of gravity, instead her eyes glared and her fists were balled, as she screamed, "JERK!"

Sasuke was stunned, more so when he realized that her eyes had designated his brother as the target for this epithet.

She then turned to him as if she was about ready to knock him out cold, "You are all jerks. Jerks who think it is fun to use people whenever it is convenient. But you know what: you are nothing but over entitled bastards who have no merit to your name other than a huge ego. You are all bastards," She roared, eyes overflowing with tears but voice laced with rage. "You are all jerks, a clan of jerks!" She added once again looking at Itachi before turning around and running away at an insane speed.

Sakura just wanted to get away from those people as fast as humanly possible.

"Kami-sama! What happened?" Mikoto's voice echoed after the girl.

"Did someone just call us a clan of jerks?" A male voice that Sakura never heard before sounded.

But Sakura didn't care. She ran past the gate, past the compound, and then she kept on running.

At some point it felt as if she would never stop running.

It felt too scary to stop, because then her thoughts and her feelings might catch up to her and she didn't want that, she never wanted that to happen.

When Sakura finally came to a stop, it was when her legs were no longer able to carry her. She fell to her knees and much to her dismay she had managed to arrive at the very tree where she first confessed to Sasuke….. Where she first met Itachi.

She didn't care though, for she had already decided that she won't let her feelings catch up to her. She won't feel sad, sorry, or upset about what happened. She would forget, she would forget about that stranger and how she had convinced herself that he cared for her.

She would never allow her mind to think of him again. Never.

His name, his face, and everything that happened with him would be taboo.

She'd hate Sasuke for being the bastard that he was, for being the selfish jerk who effectively put an end to team Seven. But she would never think of that other guy. She would never ever think of him again. And if his name were to be spoken in front of her, she'd conjure up an image of a horned devil and move right on.

End of Flashback

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There comes a time in every girl's life when she'd get an overwhelming urge to disappear. That or she'd get the desire to simply step in a time machine, hop out before a certain critical moment and then slap her old self in the face to stop her from doing something entirely stupid. As for Sakura, this feeling was quite common. The first time she felt a need for a time machine was seven years ago when she confessed to Sasuke. The second time was six years back when she went to the Uchiha compound and ended up doing something quite moronic. After that, she had promised herself to think thoroughly before doing or saying anything in order to avoid getting herself in a situation where the only way to escape would be a time machine and a bitch-slap to her former self. Unfortunately, as it stands, Sakura had managed to get herself, once again, into one of these situations.

This time the situation came in the form of a tall, dark and ridiculously handsome young Hokage, who was currently standing in the middle of the room and allowing his dangerous onyx eyes to pierce through the nervous, half naked girl as he waited for her to return his greeting.

Jotting down a mental note to get very angry at herself later, the girl valiantly attempted to gather her courage.

*Fake it until you make it.* She chanted in her head, having decided to pretend like she was so utterly confident and unaffected by this situation, so much so, that she'd end up convincing not only herself, but also the man standing in front of her, that everything was fine.

This was a serious mental undertaking, since she would have to reschedule the freak-out and the mental breakdown that she was supposed to have the minute she moved the curtain and saw him standing calmly in front of the bed.

Resolving on freaking out later, Sakura spoke, "Good morning, Hokage-sama." She said forcing her voice to come out calm and unaffected, as she gathered her towel about her just a little too tight and mentally cursed it for being too short.

The man in front of her just stood calmly by, and Sakura's eyes had a second to scan him. He was taller and she could tell that his bound hair has been allowed to grow just a tad bit longer, but other than that he was the same, the same guy who once occupied every corner of her mind. The same guy who she had valiantly struggled to forget. She even banned her thoughts from uttering his name, and other than in dreams, she completely avoided thinking about him. And yet he was standing in front of her, and for the life of her she couldn't stop the waves of nostalgia that washed upon her. Maybe preventing herself from thinking about him for so long wasn't such a good idea. Because now that she was faced with the real thing, she was in shock at how flawless he appeared. He was perfect, just too perfect and yet she knew better; she understood just how evil, warped and manipulative that man was.

She hadn't seen him in almost six years. And the last time she saw him it was catastrophic. Does he still remember what happened? Does he still hold a grudge against her for saying what she said? *Oh Kami.*

But how was she supposed to find out any of that. Just looking at his expression one would get absolutely nothing. His face was a blank. You'd get more of an idea about the feelings that a stone is undergoing, by looking at its surface.

"Haruno-san," His voice finally echoed snapping her out of her stone-filled thoughts.

Sakura's eyes cut to his face with a start.

*He looks calm…. Way too calm…. Damn him.*

"Why are you naked?" He questioned, voice devoid of any discernable emotion.

Sakura gulped. Who knew that this would be the first thing he'd say to her after so long. *Damn it.*

"I…..I…." She stuttered, before reminding herself to stand strong. She shouldn't forget her reasons for avoiding this man for so long. She was angry, she was livid, she hated him. And so she shouldn't let him have the upper hand. Never.

Breathing in a calming lungful of air, she spoke in a light tenor, "I was showering."

"I see." He uttered thoughtfully. "And do you make a habit of showering in the Hokage's quarters?" He questioned, and much to Sakura's horror, he took a few steps towards her, coming to a stop just within arm's length of the girl.

It took a lot of courage for Sakura not to step back. Not that she had much wiggle room what with the wall being right behind her and all.

She calmed her thoughts yet again.

"Well, I won't say I make it a habit of showering here, but Tsunade-Shishou lets me use her shower. I have her permission." She replied, silently congratulating herself for sounding so confident and unfazed.

"I am sure you understand, Haruno-san, that these are now my quarters," His deep voice intoned. "My shower." He added, face still impassive.

The girl's eyes widened at that one. Many things were throwing her off at the moment, the least of them was her own nakedness. She was even more confused though, by the fact that she had no idea whether he was angry, upset or merely stating a fact. However, what was upsetting Sakura to no end was that he referred to her as 'Haruno-san.'

Sakura inhaled deeply, mentally reprimanding herself for being upset at such a thing. It has been years, so what if he called her 'Haruno-san.' It's not like they were close or anything, this man was just toying with her. And it was her who wanted to put some distance between them.

Sakura shook her head, once again resolving on out-calming the Ice-prince.

"Well, technically Hokage-sama, these are not your quarters yet. You are yet to finish the final paper work, and until then, this room has no owner." The girl said evenly. She was Haruno Sakura damn it and she wasn't about to balk.

Haruno Sakura, however, was only vaguely aware of how audacious her statement was.

She only realized that she has pretty much just sassed the stoic man, when his unanimated face, actually came to life: onyx eyes shifting slightly, as his eyebrow rose.

"Hn." He uttered taking one more step towards the girl. "Am I to assume that you believe that your current behavior is acceptable, Haruno-san?" He questioned.

*Trap… Trap…. Trap!* A panic-y voice in her head pointed out.

Ignoring the voice, Sakura answered, "Yes. I believe that this is perfectly acceptable, given that the room's previous owner gave me permission to use it and the room currently has no owner." The girl declared feigning confidence. Yup, her 'fake it until you make it' plan was working like a charm now.

"If it is acceptable then why were you hiding behind the curtain?"

Haruno Sakura actually balked at that one. *Lie…. Lie through your teeth.* She reminded herself.

"I was merely surprised when I heard you enter. I wasn't really hiding or anything." She stated matter of factly. *Congratulations on the worst told lie ever.* A voice in her voice mocked.

"I see." The new Hokage asserted. "In that case, I must offer my apologies," He started and paused to watch Sakura's eyes widen in shock before she hid her surprise behind a thoughtful look.

"Your apologies for what?"

"For assuming that this situation was rather unnatural." He supplied.

Her brows furrowed in confusion, as a voice in her head continued to scream at her to be careful.

"Nope." She said in an almost playful tenor. "This is perfectly natural." She added with a wide smile.

Much to the girl's surprise, Uchiha Itachi chose to answer her smile with a slow smirk that caused her blood to run cold. *What did I just walk into?* She pondered in terror, as the Uchiha's heir leaned in closer and rested his hand on the wall behind her, bringing his face down to her eye level.

Sakura's heart drummed out a frantic melody, as her mind struggled to understand the situation unfolding before it.

Itachi was close, way too close now, his expression was no longer impassive and reserved, hell, all the professionalism and decorum that he was previously displaying were gone. In their place a look of dark amusement adorned his handsome face as he closed in on his prey.

"H….. Hokage-sama….." Sakura managed before his answering smirk cut her right off.

"Hai, Haruno-san?" He questioned, and even his voice was slightly altered. His velvety smooth tone was no longer devoid of feeling and much to Sakura's chagrin, it somehow sounded much more dangerous.

"What are you doing?" She questioned, trying her best to hide how flustered she was. *Too close…. Way too close….* She could actually feel his breath on her face.

"Let me ask you once again, do you still believe that this is alright?" He breathed.

Sakura gulped.

*No…. No… No…* She mentally exclaimed.

"Hai. Totally alright." She asserted stubbornly.

Itachi leaned in further so that his nose was almost touching hers.

"This is fine." He said.

"Yes."

"Using the shower is acceptable."

"Hai."

"Your current state of undress is normal."

"H… Hai."

"And you do not regret any of it."

"No….. I don't."

"Well, in that case Haruno-san," He whispered ominously, "Allow me to say that I have been told rather reassuring things about you, and I am rather happy to have you on board." He muttered huskily.

Sakura's confusion went through the roof.

He was too close, speaking in a tone that Sakura could only describe as suggestive. His entire demeanor was one of attempting to seduce, and yet he was speaking rather professionally.

Instead of recoiling, though, Sakura soldiered through, "I am glad to hear it Hokage-sama." She replied. "I am rather honored to be working with you and I hope to be up to your expectations." She added. This line had been rehearsed over and over again in her mind in order to impress the new Hokage, who knew she'd be saying it to Itachi, and in such a situation.

The man towering above her gave a small smirk, and Sakura had to stifle a gasp when the back of his right hand languidly brushed against her cheek. "I believe you have just exceeded all my expectations, Haruno-san." He whispered, and this sentence was spoken in a manner that made it abundantly clear that there was no professional thought in his mind at the moment.

Face red, and rather flustered, Sakura pushed the man away on instinct.

Itachi took a step back and regarded the girl with a raised eyebrow.

"Is something the matter, Haruno-san?" He questioned innocently. Well, as innocent as Uchiha Itachi can sound.

*Don't snap at the Hokage…..* She chanted in her head.

"Nope." She said, plastering a sweet smile on her face.

Itachi's eyes darkened with silent amusement.

"I see. Well, in that case, how about we proceed with our first order of business for the day, Haruno-san?"

Sakura blinked. "Hai, we need to get started on the paperwork that Shizune-san has prepared." She said remembering that Itachi was yet to sign the papers that made him officially the Hokage.

Itachi nodded, face once again back to the blank professional mask that it once adopted.

"After you." He intoned, as he gestured towards the door of the room.

"Oh, sure, let's…." Sakura cut herself off at that point, eyes quickly snapping down to the towel that she was still wrapped in. "I'll just go and put on some…" Once again Sakura cut herself off, this time it was because she saw something gleam behind Itachi's onyx eyes and for some reason she completely understood what that annoying gleam was all about.

She said it was normal. She stubbornly asserted that she was completely unfazed by all of this. And now something in her head told her that he was waiting for this moment in particular. She'd say she wanted to put on some clothes and then he'd victoriously announce that she wasn't completely fine with this after all and then attempt to make her apologize. She wasn't apologizing to him damn it! She had no intention of admitting that she was wrong, not to him. She won't give him the satisfaction.

With that thought in mind, her stubbornness went into overdrive, causing the girl to stick her nose in the air and walk confidently towards the door. One of the voices in her head was screaming for her to calm down and think this through. Sadly though, this voice was unceremoniously drowned by a bunch of other voices screaming for her to march through and show no weakness. It was highly unlikely that many people would be around this time of day. She just needed to walk with him to the Hokage's office, which was a short distance away, and then he'd have to go in alone anyway to sign the papers with Tsunade and then she'd have the opportunity to go back and change without having to admit defeat or apologize to him.

Yup, she just needed to get through the hallway unseen by anyone and she'd be alright.

It will all be alright.

With that in mind, and shoving away the voice that was now calling her a damn stubborn idiot, Sakura flung the door open, stopping only to throw a sideway look at Itachi only to find him watching her intently.

Puffing her chest out to convey confidence, she quickly extended her senses to ensure that no one was walking around the corridor.

Assured that they were alone, she launched herself down the hallway bare feet and all.

Itachi followed her, and Sakura could feel his eyes closely monitoring her.

*He expected me to back off and blush and be all girly while asking him to let me change. But no, not me. I am perfectly fine. I don't mind this at all. Chew on that you pervert!*

The corridor was long, and it seemed to extend endlessly, twining and looping like there was no tomorrow.

Sakura wanted to walk faster, as she gradually became aware of her rather peculiar position. Any minute now someone could step out from one of the rooms; a guard might be doing an inspection; a cleaning person might wanna run a mop through the corridor. And then what?

Then she'll be seen, and the moniker towel girl will really stick.

This wasn't only a social thing though. She was being highly unprofessional.

What if Tsunade were to know about that? What if she figured out that the girl she so ardently recommended was walking the hallways in a towel. Not only that, but also accompanied by the new Hokage.

*Damn it!*

How come she didn't consider the big picture before! How could she just rush into something like that!

*It's all his fault. He goaded me into it.* She concluded with mentally balled fists. *Well, actually, it's my fault for being too stubborn, I just didn't wanna admit defeat to him. * She amended, quickly deflating. And now the voice that was warning her against this before, was doing a very provocative striptease while singing 'I told you so!' over and over again to a slow jazzy tune.

Sakura picked up her pace without even thinking.

"Is something wrong, Haruno-san?" A cool voice from behind her echoed.

Sakura blinked.

"No… Not at all."

"I see. If that is the case then please slow down."

"W…. Why?"

"Because it is rather unbecoming for a Hokage to jog down to his office." He said evenly.

*Shit.* Something in Sakura's mind clicked, as she slowed her pace down to a more formal trot.

Even though this was him, he was still the Hokage. Her boss, the same boss she so desperately hoped to impress.

She has acted stubbornly with him, she has almost challenged him, she didn't apologize even when she knew she was wrong, and she was walking in front of him in a tiny towel. IN FRONT OF HIM!

Sakura stopped, and almost brought her hands back to cover her butt, as she turned quickly to face him.

Even though Sakura came to a rather abrupt stop, the new Hokage didn't look at all surprised, he easily halted his own steps as if he was expecting her to stop.

He eyed her searchingly, but didn't say a word.

"I….. I…." She muttered, before inhaling deeply to steady herself for what she knew she needed to do. "I might have been wrong." She admitted, fixing her eyes on the floor, not out of shyness but in order to avoid any smug or knowing expression that might cross his face.

"Might have been." He parroted in his smooth tenor.

Sakura paused for a long moment.

"I was wrong. I should have apologized once you found me." She once again spoke honestly.

And yet again he remained silent, which prompted her to push on.

"It's just that you…. I mean…. I didn't expect you to be…" She stopped once again her eyes finally finding his. "I didn't expect you to be you." She added earnestly.

Itachi held her gaze. "Is that a problem for you?"

"Isn't it for you?" She reiterated his question.

"When Tsunade-Sama volunteered your services, I readily accepted."

Sakura's eyes widened, as her heart picked up its pace a little, before a thought crossed her mind. She pursed her lips, "You accepted because you wanted the chance to toy with me again, didn't you?" The girl accused.

Itachi raised an eyebrow. "That is one of the reasons, yes." He said easily.

Sakura's eyes widened once more, this time it was from both shock and a pulse of anger.

"YOU!" She started.

"I am your boss, Haruno-san." He reminded her.

And with that, her tirade was summarily circumvented; however, Sakura still eyed him venomously.

That was of course, until he raised an eyebrow, and she had no choice but to huff and look away.

Sakura didn't have time to say anything though, as her ears picked up on the sound of footsteps coming down the hallway.

*No… No… No.* She pondered as she realized that the voices were way too close for her to be able to run down the hall and disappear out of sight before they notice her.

*That's it…. I am doomed.* Were her thoughts as she strived not to look at Itachi, who she knew would be eyeing her victoriously in anticipation of her impending doom.

Itachi, however, seemed to have had a different thought.

Just when the figures were about to round the corner, Sakura found herself flying.

She only realized what happened, when she found herself in one of the locked rooms that bordered the hallway. Pressed against the door by none other than the guy she viewed as evil personified.

Sakura looked up.

"I thought transportation justsu's were banned."

Itachi who still had his arm around her waist, looked down at his petite assistant, his eyes holding a lighter gaze.

Sakura's heart raced once again for some reason. Something in that gaze of his was way too dangerous.

Swiftly the Hokage brought his face to hers.

Sakura froze, completely dumbstruck for a long second, as the Uchiha heir brought his lips to her ear, and breathed, "I am the Hokage, Haruno-san, I can do anything." He spoke huskily, his breath sending shivers down her spine, as she realized the rather suggestive position she was in.

He was too close, way too close that she could feel and see nothing but him.

Sakura held her breath, as she heard the footsteps pass by the door.

Once the footsteps receded, Sakura almost squeaked in shock as Itachi drew her in even closer so that she was leaning almost fully against him, instead of the door.

"Wha…"

"You're still way too defenseless, Sakura." He whispered right in her ear dropping his voice as he uttered her name for the first time in years.

.

"You are kidding!"

"I am not."

"He didn't."

"He did."

"Impossible…. He can't have."

"He did."

"And you didn't…"

"I did…."

"Did not."

"Did too."

"Did not…"

"Will you please stop that, Pig." Sakura snapped at her friend.

Ino grinned unapologetically, "I'm sorry Forehead, but it is too damn hard to imagine that you are that stupid. I mean, I have been calling you an idiot for years. But even I didn't know that you had it in you to be that much of a moron."

Sakura bristled. "You know this all your fault, right. You were in the shower this morning with that guy….."

"Right, so you decided to go do a naked catwalk down the corridor of the Hokage tower. Stellar reasoning, Forehead."

"You're not making me feel any better, Pig." Sakura accused.

"That's because I am specifically not trying to make you feel better, Forehead." Ino retorted proudly.

"I should have smothered you with that pillow when I had the chance." Sakura muttered under her breath, as she stretched on her living room couch.

Ino, who was sitting in front of her on an armchair, made no effort to conceal her mirth at her friend's misfortune.

"So, what happened after he trapped you in that room, anyway?" The blonde questioned.

Sakura sighed.

"Nothing really, the two people walking down the corridor turned out to be Shishou and Shizune-senpai. They were going to check on him in the Hokage's chambers. When they didn't find him they came back down the corridor once again talking loudly about how they can't locate him. So he transported me to the chambers. Greeted me formally and then walked away." Sakura sighed again. "So I got dressed, walked to the office this time fully appreciating the value of my clothed form, and then Shishou introduced me to him formally, and he once again greeted me so completely formally that even I would have believed that this was our first time meeting. Then I sat through the signing of the paperwork, excused myself for the day and ran the hell out of there."

Ino grinned even wider.

"Damn, everyone is terrified of this guy. He's always so serious and so perfect, who knew he had a playful side." The blonde commented.

"You mean, a sadistic side that enjoys toying with other people's feelings, yah who knew." Sakura replied sarcastically. "I am pretty sure that he's gonna try to pay me back for what I said the last time we met. He is nothing but another Uchiha jerk, the number one Uchiha jerk that is."

"Hey… Hey….. I know you hate him, but the number one Uchiha jerk will always be Sasuke." Ino announced.

"Hell no.. He is the devil himself, Sasuke is but a minion." Sakura declared just as confidently. "For years I have done my best not to think of him. When people mentioned his name around me, I was always tempted to put my hands on my ears. And I was successful too, I mean if you had asked me a few days ago who was the biggest jerk in the world I would have said Sasuke, but now that I have seen him I can't ignore those memories anymore." Sakura added, eyes glistening with deranged malice. "He is the devil. I just wish that there was some way I could get back at him for what he did." She asserted.

Ino smirked stretching her arms out, "so what are you gonna do about it?"

Sakura sighed, "there's nothing much to do is there? I mean, I have worked so hard to get to where I am, working for the new Hokage was going to be my big break."

"Even if the new Hokage is him?"

Sakura paused for a second.

"I admit I contemplated walking away. I hate that jerk and his entire family. But, I can't stop here. I know it won't be easy but if I have to become Uchiha Itachi's assistant, then I'll bear with it. What else can I do?"

Ino eyed her friend for a second before grinning mischievously.

"There is something…" She declared.

"What?" Sakura urged.

"Well, if I remember our academy classes correctly, there is a window of opportunity after the appointment of the new Hokage in which his appointment could be contested."

Sakura's eyes widened, "Yes, yes, I remember that. That's why the new Hokage won't be announced for a while; the aim is to give the chance to other competent Shinobi to contest his appointment and challenge him. The identity of the appointed Hokage is kept from the masses in order to ensure that only those who manage to realize that there is a new Hokage would come forth and challenge him."

Ino nodded. "And if the challenger were to beat the chosen Hokage…."

"The challenger becomes the Hokage." Sakura finished.

"What I am saying, Forehead, is that his appointment isn't final yet."

Sakura smiled mischievously, "let's pray for a good challenger. Better yet, starting tomorrow, I'll do everything in my power to find a good challenger."

"Don't you have to start working for your new boss tomorrow?" Ino pointed out.

"Damn you, Ino."

.

Yup, it's not over until the fat lady sings.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter.

For those reading Unholy Matrimony, I'll be updating it in a few hours.

Please review!