When Sasuke blatantly stated that I was only ever attractive with long hair, I responded with a sweet smile before I knocked him on his ass. When he damn near insisted I stopped cutting my hair two months later, going to extent—with the help of our rambunctious best friend, Naruto—to steal all my scissors and made it so I never got to any of my hair appointments, I ripped both him and Naruto a new one. However, I did "reconsider" his "compliment" and began growing my hair out, just to entertain him and give into my own curiosity.
The Uchihas were never the one to give out compliments freely. It most likely stemmed from their inferiority-complex where even acknowledging another's outstanding quality makes them feel, well, inferior in comparison. That or they genuinely, and delusionally, believe their compliments were equivalent to that of the gods and, thus, no one was every worthy of such half-ass praises. On the very rare occasion that you may spot an Uchiha complimenting someone who didn't originate from their clan, it was probably be at a fancy, business-related dinner party where they had preplanned to manipulate and butter you up because there was something qualifying about you that they wanted. To put short, if you ever find yourself unfortunate enough to be pinned after by any of those egotistic bastards, run like hell. They do not take kindly to "no."
Now just because Sasuke was the youngest—therefore, the least tainted—amongst the Uchiha clansmen and had been my best friend since we were in diapers does not exclude him from this fact. No, his compliment may have been rudely worded, but it was a compliment nonetheless. There was something to gain from the length of my locks, and I was curious to find out what.
Lucky for me, the answer came a year and a half later on a rainy October morning, after I had sprouted ten more inches of hair from my original collarbone length.
It was drizzling when I arrived back home from my usual morning run and instead of the usual empty driveway which rounded the old, dirty fountain that hadn't been used in ages, there was Sasuke's black car and a shiny black SUV parked right behind it. Sasuke's black car sitting in my driveway was nothing unusual. It was easy for him to come and go as he pleased since the security had grown used to letting him in and out of the property for the previous six years. The black SUV, however, was a different story.
Any normal person would walk through the gates, up the driveway, and greet the owner of the mysterious black SUV and ask their business. But I would consider myself to be anything but the "normal person." The only logical thought that ran through my peculiar mind was "this is a motherfucking hostage situation" and I needed to react accordingly to that. It would've been a poorly set hostage situation, I will admit, because why tip me off with an unfamiliar vehicle? But I learned from my few years of experience that it was better to be safe than sorry and to underestimate someone for their rookie mistake.
Ducking behind the stone wall that surrounded my property, I peered over the side and through the not-so golden gates to inspect the situation. The two cars blocked my view of the doorway, so it was difficult, if not impossible, for me to plan out my next move from there.
"Did you see who was in the black van?" I asked the guard who, by then, was used to my antics—if not appreciated them because I made his job a lot easier and saved his life once or twice.
"It was Uchiha Itachi, Haruno-sama." He answered dutifully, jolting aback when I nearly snapped my head off from the speed of which I turned to stare at him in disbelief. In his defense, a small part of me wanted to lash out of him for letting the older bastard in and I'm sure he sensed that from the way my eyes burned into his face. But the more sensible side of me knew it would be rude to deny the older bastard access when Sasuke came and went as he pleased and was probably the one who invited him along.
Now why would Sasuke do that to me? Because he's my best friends. And what do best friends do? Conspire against one another and jumped at every chance you ruin each other's lives.
"The hell does he want." I murmured more to myself than anybody else, climbing the gate to get a better look for myself, a part of me hoping Shizune had dismissed them and was sending them on their merry way.
Although it definitely wasn't a hostage situation, I knew there was a chance the situation arising could get hostile. The last person on earth whom I ever expected to see in my doorway was Uchiha Itachi, Sasuke's older bastard of a brother. I may have personally known the Uchihas since I was a little girl, but that does not mean the relationship we developed has been all sunshine and rainbows.
To further prove that point, "Mr." Uchiha Itachi had 300lbs of pure muscle standing right beside him with a gun in his holster. The guy was a good two heads taller than the older bastard and the bastard was already a good two heads taller than me! Now, I liked a good fight as much as the next guy (girl), but I didn't feel like testing my luck with a guy who was paid to eliminate every and all threats made towards the Uchiha—not yet, anyways. So, I did the responsible thing and made a mental note to postpone the death match.
"Did he say what he wanted?" I asked again, looking down to find my two gate guards in position to catch me in case I did something as stupid as fall.
Before they could answer, a high pitch screech in the sound of my name caused all three of us to wince, and the two guards to return to their posts. I mentally cursed myself for being reckless enough to be spotted while debating if it was still too late to pretend I hadn't heard her. I really could turn around and walk the other way, but I didn't want to starve for the next week.
Shizune stood in the space of my double door-way, looking prim and proper in her pretty dress with such a sweet smile on her face that you wouldn't think she had just cried out my name with a promise of death. Clearly, she wasn't too happy to have men double her size hovering over her when it was obviously my problem to handle—because who else would they stop by to see? Her dissatisfaction with the situation probably only increased when she spotted my pink little head on top of the gates, accessing the situation with half the mind to turn around and run in the other direction.
Uchihas, as a whole, were not the type of people I liked dealing with. Sasuke, I could handle because of intimate contacts and relationships—and years of experience. The other Uchihas were equivalent to distant relatives you hadn't talked to in years who like to come by every now and then and pick at all your flaws and mistakes, acting as if they were a tier above you. Geez, I wonder why we don't invite you to any of our events, Carol.
"These gentlemen are here for you." She hollered, her smile changing into one of those 'I want to keep up a good image while I shout at you, but what the hell did you do this time you brat' kind of smiles in her obvious demand that I get down and get over there to relieve her from the stress of dealing with said "gentlemen."
"If you'll climb down, Haruno-sama, I can open—" I landed on the other side before the guard could finish his sentence.
The only reason I could think of for Uchiha Itachi to come here in person was to send the official notice from his mother that I keep away from their precious little Sasuke-kun. Seeing that Fukagu wouldn't agree to it since he was the only person aside from Sasuke in the entire clan who liked me—and the second Uchiha I could say I actually liked in return—what was better than to send the next in line to send the notice, or threat, behind his back? It was an easy guess as to why Muscles came along with him. What were words compared to an obvious and physical threat?
Lord knows Mama Uchiha had being trying to separate Sasuke and I for years.
"Uchiha, Older Uchiha, and Muscles," I greeted after dragging myself up the driveway, the once innocent drizzle having soaked me to the bone from all the time I spent lingering at the front gates. I made an obvious effort to look pleasant and pleased to see them hovering over my caretaker, though my smile soured when I turned to look at Sasuke who immediately adverted my gaze. "What can I do for you on this cold, rainy morning?"
The fact that I was aware of how I stunk didn't do much for my mood or self-esteem, but the way Sasuke's brother had the nerves to size me up when I turned back from Sasuke made me want to slam the door on his pretty face without giving him the chance to explain himself. I had to give it to myself for maintaining my smile though, as I squeezed passed them to stand in the door—just in case the urge became too unbearable to deny.
You think I'd be used to it by now, taking into account my life-long friendship with Sasuke. But let me tell you that Itachi was on a whole new level of bastard that I had only been fortunate enough to encounter a handful of times. I talked to him enough to know that one, he doesn't talk very much, and two, he doesn't feel very much. I mean, I was fairly confident that if you combined all our conversations since I met the guy leading to that very moment, he may have spoken a total of only 60 words to me—and half of those being "hn." Furthermore, the closest thing to any emotions I had ever seen on his stoic face was that time he half-smirked, half-wanted-to-laugh because I punched Sasuke into his birthday cake at his sixteenth birthday celebration because he got buzzed off of the alcohol one of Itachi's friends bought and tried to bust a move on poor lil' ol' me.
So, feeling surprised, confused, and enraged was perfectly normal, considering I was almost shaking in my sneakers while he stood tall and emotionless in his freshly polished dress shoes with a pretty umbrella over his perfectly combed, brushed, and styled head.
"Haruno-san," Itachi greeted, the deep rumble in his voice taking me aback. Sounded to me like our last, one-sided conversation was a long, long time ago. Far too long that it gave his hormones enough time to act up and drop his voice a second time since he's been off to school.
Taking my hand in his, he bent down to kiss it in a way that made my heart drop to my stomach. That move smacked the smile right off my face and, in an instant, I jerked my hand back like he had tried to burn me, looking up at him with half-disbelief and half-disgust. I then looked at Sasuke, who was also horrified at his brother trying to also bust a move, with a promise that once we were done with this circus act, I was going to give him the time of his twenty-one year old life.
I wasn't sure what kind of girl he took me for—ignorant, shallow, naive, or all three—but I made clear that his bullshit facade of chivalry and civility was not going to work on me and all the buttering up that the Uchihas (okay, only two) had been using to get something from me was not going to work. Sasuke, it wasn't so threatening, but Uchiha Itachi does not go kissing hands of any passerby with a vagina to have a casual conversation. He wanted something. I wasn't sure I wanted to know what so whole-heartedly, but I was more incline to test my chances than to deal with anymore hand-kissing.
"What do you want?" The way I paused between each word made me seem more threatening than I intended to be, more so that it caused Muscles to straighten his back and he regard me through his dark sunglasses with some sort of seriousness—although his lip did quirk up into a smirk. Uchiha Itachi, however, wasn't fazed and the only noticeable difference in him was the way his dark eyes hardened as he dared to stare directly into mine.
"There is...something I would like to discuss with you, Haruno-san." He said, his eyes following my hands as I reached up to undo the hair tie.
I smirked as I twirled the hair-tie around my wrist, looking up at him with a glint of amusement in my eyes before asking, in a mocking tone may I add "is your mother trying to get rid of me again, Sasuke-kun?"
Sasuke winced, knowing fairly well that when that particular suffix is used, he was in for a painful experience following suit.
"I assure you that this has nothing to do with my mother, Haruno-san." There was a sternness to Itachi's voice which should've frightened me—should've—but instead I simply nodded unconvinced while I waited to hear the rest of his explanation. Uchiha men were particularly close to their mothers. He glanced behind him to the empty dirt road which led down the forested slop to the freeway, likely keeping an eye out for the paparazzi who had or hadn't followed him here. "Perhaps it would be better to speak inside. This won't be a quick conversation."
I looked from Sasuke to Muscles and back at Itachi, debating with myself about whether I should simply slam the door in his face or truly consider engaging in an actual conversation with him. I could practically feel Shizune's nervous energy rolling off of her as she stood behind me, willing me to not do anything reckless and make me more enemies than I already already accumulated over the years.
"What's with Muscles?" I gestured to the bodyguard with my chin before I crossed my arms over my chest and started older Uchiha in the eyes. "If this really is just a matter of speaking, surely you wouldn't need 300lbs of muscle and a gun with you."
He smirked, that's right smirked, as he exchanged knowing looks with Muscles before looking back at me. "You have quite a reputation, Haruno-san. You must forgive me for wanting to be careful."
I grunted in response before stepping back and letting the three of them in. The rest was up to Shizune who show them to the dinner hall and prepare tea while I went upstairs to dry off and change. I had contemplated bringing Sasuke with me. Away from Muscles, I could proceed with my plan to beat him within an inch of his life before returning him to his brother's side. In the end I argued against it, deciding I could do that later and my priority now was to find out what the Uchihas wanted from me and get him the hell out of here.
The best I was willing to give him was black skinny jeans and a white, long-sleeved, v-neck shirt. It was casual, until I slipped on a pair of black heels on my way out of my bedroom, then it just became classy without all the try-hard effects. Sasuke's eyebrows hitting the ceiling was approval enough as I walked into the large dinner hall, once famous for hosting celebrations and dinners when my mother had been in her youth, but was now an empty white hall, borderline grey from all the dust that collected over the years. There wasn't much need for it lately. No one came out here as often as they once had and I saw no reason to invite them.
I sat down in front of Itachi instead of the head of the table like I suspected he expected me to, all the while running a towel through my hair to dry it from the rain. I poured myself tea and another for Muscles, who only eyed it when I slid it across the table to where he stood. I take it he wasn't used to being offered tea when guarding his client. How sad.
"Alright, Uchiha. What do you want?" I asked him from behind my tea cup, narrowing my eyes over the rim. He regarded me with an eyebrow quirk, and I guess something in my face gave away that I wanted to harm his person because that bodyguard of his shifted at the tension between us.
"I have a proposition for you, Haruno-san." He said evenly, staring me down with this intensity that almost shouted that he'd burn me alive if I refuse. I was starting to wonder if Mr. Muscles was actually a bodyguard or a hitman right about then.
"Of course," I set my tea down and furrowed my eyebrows at him, showing my obvious dislike for his formal language. "Go ahead and propose."
From the way Sasuke nervously looked between us, I already knew I wasn't going to be a fan of his older brother's proposition. They were a family of wealth and power, whereas all I had was pure sass and hard work. We lived in two different worlds which once clashed when my mother worked as a famous doctor and business was booming for her medical company, but it had been years since then and our relationship had severely strain since the decline—amongst many other reasons.
There were many rich and powerful families living in and around Konoha city. The Uchihas were and still are one of those said families, while we, the Harunos, were the has-beens. But, we had been long enough to be recognized on the streets, and therefore, we were still considered to be one of those families. It also didn't hurt that all the children of those families—the current generation rich people—were all friends. Rumor had it that the families planned the pregnancies to be around the same time in order for their children to be friends and strengthen company relations without all the old-fashion arranged marriages, which evidently worked.
The Harunos also didn't really fall into that category of contraception. I hadn't been conceived around the same time as Naruto, Sasuke, Kiba, or the others, but more along the lines of adoption. I figured I was probably chosen for my age, but mama said it was because of my 'unique' hair colour and dazzling green eyes. I believe that because of that choice there had already been a rift between us and them from the very beginning.
Uchiha Itachi watched my face carefully as he spoke. "I would like for you to pretend to be my lover."
At that, in the most unlady-like way, I choked on my tea.
He had got to be shitting with me. That thought, which I had originally planned to echo through my head, managed to slip it's way off my tongue because as I was recovering from my near death experience, I heard him say, "I most definitely am not."
I was at a loss for words. Actually, a loss for words was the understatement of the century and I probably would've stayed there and stared at him for a good hour trying to convince myself I heard wrong had he and his bodyguard not jump when they saw Tonton scramble into the room. Muscles had reached for his gun and I nearly threw the teapot of him after yelling at him not to "fucking think about it" which ultimately knocked me out of my heart-stopping astonishment.
The piglet, after hearing the distress and anger in voice, made a point to distance herself away from the giant and quickly into my arms. She cheerfully oinked about her adventures outside in the rain—or so I like pretend she did—as well as about the bath Shizune had given her subsequently. I humoured her, of course, nodding and smiling while I pet her and stole glances at Itachi's composed look of horror, which consisted of slightly larger eyes and a clenched strong, and sittable jaw.
If I had to be unwillingly, brutally honest, Itachi was a handsome man who could get any woman if he set his mind to it. Actually, from what I read in the papers, he was one of the most sought after bachelor. So, you couldn't really blame me fore being curious about why he would need someone to play pretend house with him when there were so many girls eager for the real deal.
"I'm sorry, but I don't follow." I told him, still attending to Tonton who was now silently enjoying her ear scratches.
"What is there not to follow? I've been fairly blunt with you, Haruno-san."
My eyes narrowed and my jaw clenched at the obvious insult. Trying to keep a leveled head, I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing and the feel of Tonton's short fur. The last thing this house needed was a fresh coat of blood splatted on the wall. Shizune would no doubt decapitate me from the mess. Sasuke eyed his brother carefully, somewhere in his dark eyes willing his kin to watch his ton and check himself for the obvious insult.
"Listen, Uchiha. Why does a guy like you need a girl to pose as his girlfriend for when it's clear he can take any girl he likes off the streets?"
You also can't blame a girl for thinking he could be gay, right?
"I do not associate with pro—"
"You know what I mean. Now answer me before I throw you and your bodyguard out of my house and mutilate Sasuke!"
That finally got Sasuke to turn his head and look at me, but whether it was because I threatened his existence of raised my voice at his aniki was debatable. But seizing the moment, I gave the dirtiest glare I could muster up; one that promised I'd make his life hell even when we're pruny, sprouting grey hair, and in wheel chairs—if we live that long, that is.
The older bastard stared at me in silence, and I hoped it was because he was rethinking his decision to propose something as stupid as that.
He really had to be shitting me.
If you really had to consider this request without any judgement for the reason behind it, you were still left with the question of: why me? Me, Haruno Sakura, whom is known all around town with such an unpleasant reputation vs. the many other lovely, lady-like women or even those just from wealthy families who would not mind making any business deals with the Uchihas. To marry their daughters in to one of, if not the largest, security corp would be a blessing sent from heaven.
"The reason behind my request will remain a secret until you cooperation is of certain."
I snorted again. He sure had a way of convincing me, didn't he. "Should I call a lawyer to read over the contract your hiding in the pants pocket of Mr. Muscles over there?"
Said muscular specimen shifted and smirked lightly at the compliment towards his sexual appendage.
"That won't be necessary. The contact is a single-page, one sided, and written simply for easy comprehension."
I bit my tongue to keep myself from lashing out at him for his blunt insult, and I tilted to my head to one side and blinked in a way to asked him if he wanted to try that again. And because I couldn't make use of my threat just yet—out of sheer curiosity—I growled, "You sound so confident that I'm willing you agree."
"I'm confident you will."
Trust an Uchiha to radiate arrogance. Too bad for me I forgot to wear my anti-Uchiha sunglasses.
A folded piece of paper slipped out of his inner pocket and in front of me, stating the terms and condition of the agreement, were I to agree to it. The whole time I had been hoping Shizune would give me some kind of sign to tell me if she thought I should even waste my time discussing this or just throw the man out. Sadly, she looked a little bewildered to give me a straight answer.
Judging from my reputation that has indeed made its way to the countryside, the fact that Itachi was willing to suggest such a thing sounded almost suicidal. I couldn't tell you if everything people had said about me was true, or whether or not having this reputation was a bad thing. All I could say was that Shizune was either questioning the intelligence level of a man who asked to be let into the lion's den or wondering about how close enough of a relationship I had with him that rumors about me didn't faze him enough to keep him away.
In the end I just blamed it on Sasuke. I mean, he knew half the things they said about me were over-dramatized, but his brother didn't have to know that. If Itachi did, he wouldn't have gone out of his way to see me, no less offer to make me his girlfriend!
"Twenty grand a month, if you agree." He said casually, linking his fingers together and leaning his chin forward just as I was reaching that part of the agreement.
Trying my best to remain impassive about the large sum of money, refusing to let him know that such amount swayed my decision, I shifted in my seat and took a sip of my tea to give me something to do. I had nearly forgotten how powerful the Uchiha family were, but spending my days with Sasuke who somehow loses his money to Naruto in these ridiculous bets and competition does that to a person overtime, I guess.
"Twenty grand a month as easy as that?" I whispered to myself, trying to organize my thoughts and figure out where any of this could possible go wrong.
Sasuke gave me this look of horror when he heard me, like he couldn't believe I was even considering this. Well, what did chicken-ass expect when he lets his brother waltz in here with twenty grand a month at his disposal? Twenty grand was a lot to come by, especially in a month for people like myself and he knew that.
"You will undergo training until I deem you acceptable. We will be spotted together by the paparazzi where you will make your debut in society as my girlfriend. I will bring you home to meet my parents and after a year of courting, I will propose. You will accept and if the situation calls for it, we will marry but divorce after I inherit the company." He said it like it was nothing, like this elaborate, thought out plan was a simply as ABC. He simplified it to "we will date, we will marry, and we will divorce." God bless the soul of the woman he does marry for all the right reasons in the future. "This project should take no more than three years."
Oh, like three years isn't a long time? Three years before this I was a high school senior with big dreams. By the end of his so called "project" I would be a close to half way through my twenties. Did I really want to gonna go through the next three years single—aside from my pretend boyfriend come husband?
"You will refrain from courting anyone else during that time. If news leaks that you were unfaithful to me, our plan would be put in jeopardy." He said coolly, pausing to stare into the depths of my soul. "In addition, no one must—"
"—know of our agreement. I will not tell anyone and I must deny all accusations that this relationship isn't genuine. Failure to do so is a violation and will result in a lawsuit. Got it." I finished, hurrying along to real questions. I stared back down at the paper before looking up at him, setting it aside as I took my turn to negotiate. "What does this training consist of?"
"You will be conditioned to act appropriately to compliment my public image and reputation. That means altering the way you walk, speak, eat, and present yourself to the public and my family."
Well that sounded like a grand ol' time, so much that I wanted to launch my pet pig at him after he said "conditioned." There was no denying that he was trying to turn me into a robotic Mrs. Uchiha, and as I said before, god bless whoever that may actually end up genuinely being.
"Okay, one more question." I said, and at this point, he probably already knew I was going to say yes. "Where do we draw the line in this fake relationship of ours, were I to agree?"
Too proud to admit he didn't know what I was talking about, he just sat there and waited for me to elaborate. I had half the mind to sit there and wait until he asked, but because I knew better than to wait for the day Uchiha men swallowed their pride—which would be the day after never—I gave first.
"I mean, where are our limits? I know what being a couple does require us to hold hand, kiss, and hug, but I want to know where the line is drawn."
While talking, I had the pleasure of occasionally glancing at Sasuke's face and watch it contort from disbelief to horror as the seconds passed. I nearly burst into a fit of giggles while trying to explain myself, my face twitching the whole time I was containing it inside me. For the record I was asking for the sake of my sanity, so I knew what to expect from not-so-feeling Uchiha if he dared try to frickle-frackle with me.
Itachi regarded me seriously, but then, oh my god, his face twisted into a smirk which made every hair on my body stand up. It was and never will be a good thing when any Uchiha smirks, trust me, quote me, write it down in a book and remember me for my famous saying on that.
"Eventually, you will have to move in to my apartment, but as far as intimacy goes, you are not obligated to engage in a sexual relationship with me. However, if such a time comes where the desire is mutual, you aren't restricted from making such advances either."
Did I not say it wasn't a good thing when Uchiha smirks? I had asked for my own safety and self-interest, but because he was an arrogant bastard who enjoyed taking advantage of these types of situations, he decided to make me feel like a pervert for asking such an obvious question. I was just about ready to test my chances with Muscles and launch myself across the table to choke the bastard with his ponytail and ask him to repeat the last part again, but with the blood rushing to my face from frustration and annoyance—not embarrassment, mind you—I didn't want to test my coordination.
So I sat across from him and blushed like a friggin' tomato that I swore if Sasuke wasn't too busy staring at his brother's subtle, flirtatious advances with his mouth wide open, he would've tried to eat my face. But before I could digest the fact that Itachi had flirted with me, he switched back to his usual self and continued to talk about our business boundaries—the real thing I was asking about, may I add.
"With anything company related, I prefer that you knew as little as possible, considering it to be a private matter under every other circumstance. But since you are bound to be asked for your opinions and thoughts by the press as our relationship progress, I will educate you on what you need to know when the time calls for it. However, allow me to make one thing clear: what I do with my spare time and what you do with your spare time is none of your business or of my concern. When it comes to privacy, if it doesn't jeopardize our plan, it is none of each other's business and intrusion is suggested against."
I stared at him blankly, and by blankly, I mean I just sat there, looking in the general direction of his body, and saw nothing. I was stunned, but not disappointed in the least.
"So, in other words, don't come crying to you when shit gets rough and don't go snooping through your life, correct?" I smirked, liking our arrangement thus far. "And I can get high and shitfaced drunk, and even rob a bank all I want to as long as I don't get caught and it doesn't ruin whatever image you're trying to give me? As an example, that is."
He nodded stiffly, tugging a wider smirk out of me as I straightened from leaning on my hand while idly petting Tonton and stuck my hand across the table.
"You've got yourself a girlfriend, Uchiha." I said it with confidence, and maybe he saw it too because as he extended his hand to shake mine, he smiled. I don't mean smirk, but actually smiled, and to be honest, I didn't know which one was creepier. "Congratulations."
A smirk meant the Uchiha was up to no good, but a smile…I think it meant he was pleased that I was agreeing to hell for three years; that it meant they had something terrible, absolutely sinful planned. A smile of a psychopath.
Or that he was just happy that I agreed—and maybe, just maybe, I was a bit over-dramatic with my assumptions.
He handed me the pen to sign my contract and as he tucked with the pen and paper away, he said "perfect, training starts now."
It's been a while since I've written, especially in first person point of view, so I'm a little rusty, haha!
All comments and criticisms are widely accepted and appreciated.