"What an asshole," Sakura remarked. "I mean, I knew he wasn't great but I've never seen it first hand." Kisame opened the door and let her in. Itachi didn't seem to be inside so he must have still been searching the building.

"Yeah, well, you're pretty," Kisame pointed out as he pulled his phone out of his pocket to text Itachi that Kuro was home safe and sound. Sakura's flushed face went unnoticed while his attention was diverted. He looked up after he hit send and flashed a sharp toothed grin. "I'm just a big scary guy who looks like a criminal."

"You're not that scary," Sakura said, flopping down on the armchair with Kuro in her lap.

"Really," he retorted, making himself comfortable on the couch opposite her, "So you're telling me you weren't even a little bit scared the first time we met?" There was so much playful doubt in his eyes she wondered if he enjoyed scaring strangers, or if it was just something he had grown accustomed to. Even without all the body modifications she was sure he would still cause most people to be at least a little wary.

Sakura made a big show of her humming and hawing , trying to recall her first impression of Kisame. "Well, lets see... The first time I met you you showed up at my door asking about a cat, took said cat without any explanation, and ignored my questions. I was probably getting ready to fight you." It wasn't completely untrue; sure, maybe there was a bit more trepidation and dread in the idea of having to fight him than she was going to let on.

"You? Fight me?" he scoffed.

"I didn't say it would have been a good idea," Sakura replied, stroking Kuro's back as he purred, "You have to admit: I would have at least caught you off guard."

"Okay, you're right, and with a punch like you landed today you probably would have," he conceded, rubbing the sore spot on his sternum. "I take it back; you could totally take me. With a bit of training you could be a force to be reckoned with."

Sakura beamed. They fell into silence, Kisame fiddling with his phone again. Maybe this was her chance? Maybe she should just say it now that they were alone? It would almost seem natural to tell him now. "Kisame...?" she started tentatively, willing herself to be bold.

"Hmm?" he half-heartedly responded, now typing away on his phone.

"I-" she started, but of course this was the moment Itachi returned. Of course it was. She snapped her head to glare at him, sending him daggers. For a split second Itachi looked terrified, oblivious of what he had done to deserve her ire. She widened her eyes and jerked her head minutly in Kisame's direction, hoping he would understand her meaning and scram. He seemed to get the gist.

"So, Kuro's fine?" he asked nervously, sidling up to peer at him from a safe distance. "The landlord didn't see him?"

"We almost got caught, but we managed to avoid him," Sakura reassured. She kept glaring at him since Kisame couldn't see her face. She mouthed 'leave' at him and he nodded once, fear still in his eyes. He just got back into her good books and didn't want to return to the hell of Sakura's cold shoulder.

"Well, I'm going to bed now," Itachi said awkwardly and hurried out of the living room to escape from the apparent imminent beat down he was about to get.

Kisame looked up from his phone just long enough to see Itachi scamper into his room. "That was weird," he muttered.

"Was it?" Sakura asked innocently, brushing it off. She was kind of impressed that she had so much power over him, but on the other hand she felt a little bit bad about frightening him out of his own living room. She could apologize later; Sakura had a confession to make and she was making it now. "Anyway, I-"

"Sorry, Sakura, I gotta go. Duty calls." Before she could get out more than three words he was practically out the door.

"You have to go into work?" Sakura asked incredulously. She really couldn't catch a break. "Now?"

"Yeah, I called in earlier to tell them that there was an emergency I had to take care of and Hidan said he could handle it alone, and I quote, 'I got your fucking back, bro'," Kisame added with his best Hidan impression while he pulled on his shoes and coat. "He just texted me that the customers are going to start raiding the bar if I don't, and I quote again, 'get my fucking blue ass down there, pronto.' So it looks like I have to go save him." And he was gone. He shouted out a goodbye as he pulled the door shut, leaving Sakura to stare forlornly after him.

"What just happened, Kuro," Sakura asked the cat. He meowed at her, adding nothing to the conversation.

Itachi cautiously crept out of his bedroom when he heard the door shut to see Sakura sitting alone, talking to the cat.

"I'm guessing it didn't go well..." he ventured, keeping his distance. Sakura slowly turned her head; Itachi's throat went dry. When did she become so scary?

"You have horrible timing, you know that?" He very smartly didn't answer that question. "I was this close to telling him." She stood, forcing Kuro to leap from her lap and bolt under the couch. Sakura stomped out of the apartment to sulk.

"I live here," Itachi stated quietly when she was gone.

Sakura glared at her bedroom ceiling. She was too keyed up from almost confessing to sleep. She might have also felt a tiny bit guilty about snapping at Itachi; he was just trying to help and he wasn't the reason she wasn't able to tell Kisame how she felt. It was all on her and her stupid fear of rejection. She let out a frustrated sigh and rolled onto her side. The clock read 1:57. Kisame wouldn't be home for another hour and that would be crazy, right? She should absolutely not wait until he was walking pasted her door to spring out and confess her feelings because that would no doubt frighten him away. And that was the opposite of what she wanted.

Besides, she'd never be able to tell Ino about it. It sounded like something straight out of one of the romance novels she was always reading and she would never hear the end of it.

"How am I supposed to do this without making a fool of myself?" She mused out loud. A few more minutes passed, but all of her pondering did not yield an answer. She grabbed her phone.

'How am I supposed to tell him I like him?' She typed out and sent. Ino replied almost immediately.

'Exactly like that. Just say you like him. Go to sleep.'

'But how do I bring it up?' Sakura pressed. She was still hoping for a work around.

'Sleep. NOW.' Ino, apparently, wasn't going to play along with her indecisiveness at 2:14 in the morning. Sakura couldn't blame her; this was probably the tenth time she had asked this same question with the same answer every time.

"Okay," Sakura said quietly to herself and sat up. "I'm just going to tell him. Tomorrow."

"Kisame," Sakura stated as she closed the door quietly behind herself. She knew for a fact Itachi was at work and wouldn't be home until he evening. There was no way of him ruining it this time short of breaking in through the window. She was kind of disappointed that this wasn't going to happen naturally but sometimes you just can't wait around for the perfect moment.

"What, do you need something?" he replied offhandedly, hardly looking up from the book he was reading. He missed the deep breath she took as she slowly walked towards him. She stopped in front of his armchair.

"I like you."

This time he did look up, one eyebrow raised. "Right," he snickered with a goofy grin, looking back down, "What do you want? I think Itachi just left if you need a ride to the grocery store-"

"No." She took another deep breath; she was just going to say it. "I like you. I didn't know how to bring it up before... So, there." His head jerked back up.While she was talking she could see confusion in his face grow as his eyebrows drew together and his mouth fell slightly open. "I don't want to ruin our friendship, but I- I just had to tell you." When she stopped he seemed frozen, unable to understand what she had just said.

"What?" he asked again slowly. He let his book fell closed on his lap. Maybe third time was the charm?

"I like you, Kisame," Sakura stated clearly with a small smile. She felt like laughing. Ino was right, she felt so much better now that she had said it. It seemed like he still needed some time for it to sink in though. He frowned, and her heart stopped.

"You like me?" he asked tentatively, pointing at himself. She nodded. "Me?" She nodded again. "Are you sure?" More nodding. "Huh," he said, leaning back in the chair and crossed his arms, looking thoughtful, "Well."

That wasn't exactly the answer she expected. Maybe he really didn't feel the same way and Ino and Itachi were wrong. She started to backpedal.

"Okay," She fumbled, looking away. She wasn't going to cry. At least, not in front of him; maybe once she got home and the humiliation really set in, but for now she was going to hold it back. "Well, in that case, I'll always be happy to be your friend and-"

"Wait! No!" he jumped up frantically, "I just never- You're just so- Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure," Sakura huffed. She wasn't totally sure if he was mocking her. "I. Like. You." She punctuated each word with a finger jab to his chest.

"Well," he said again and she almost wanted to punch him, now more annoyed than sad. It was hardly a response, but then he answered. "I... Like you too."

Her heart swelled. This was a rollarcoster of emotion. She should have done this weeks ago; all of that heartache and confusion could have been avoided. Neither of them said anything more and the silence stretched on.

"So," she said, breaking the silence, "What now?" With all of her daydreaming and planning, she had never really gotten farther than the confession.

"How about we start with a date?" He offered.

"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea." She smiled, and he smiled back at her. She felt giddy, and she was blowing her chance to play it cool but she didn't care.

AN: I'm alive! It's been so long, sorry for the wait (again). And would you look at that, they finally confessed to each other! Thank you so much for reading and sticking around for this long delayed update. I haven't quite decided if this is the end (because this seems like a bit of a vague, unsatisfying ending) but I also can't say when the next chapter will be out.