I kinda died when I read Naruto Gaiden. I'm sorry, I just can't... ugh.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.


Sakura loved him.

She had loved him since they were children, when his onyx eyes glared at her for the first time.

She thought that he was lonely. He would usually sit in the corner away from the other kids, opting to keep to himself instead of mingling. He had this aura around him that warned the other kids to leave him alone and she, being the shy and ugly girl with the big forehead, naturally kept her distance. But despite that setback, that didn't stop her from running to Ino and the other girls (who tolerated little Sakura because of the popular and pretty Ino) and announce to them that she finally found the person she liked.

Imagine the surprise she felt when she discovered that the boy with the angry eyes was the most popular boy in the academy and that Ino (pretty, pretty Ino) liked him too.

Sakura's childish heart sank when she heard that. Who was she, the daughter of two low-ranked ninja, to compete with someone like her blond best friend who came from a prestigious clan? At that (sad, sad) moment, Sakura knew that she didn't stand a chance. It only brought her down further when she discovered that the (sad, sad but oh-so pretty) boy was from the Uchiha clan and her tiny chances dwindled into nothing.

So Sakura shrugged. It was just a crush, she tried to convince herself, and besides, he didn't even know who she was. Sure, she once asked him his name and asked to sit beside him. And sure, he didn't respond to her, but he didn't tell her to get lost either.

That small interaction would never stay in his mind. Being as popular as he was, girls like her must throw themselves to him all the time so who was she to feel special? She was nothing special.

She was just Haruno Sakura, and he was the Uchiha Sasuke.

As the years went by, she unintentionally kept the memory of the boy with the sad eyes to the back of her mind as her perception of him was covered by a curtain of superficial love for his looks and status. When Sakura realized that, she decided to make her move.

The pink-haired girl wanted to be special. She wanted to be acknowledged, to stand on her own two feet. She started hiding in Ino's shadow but that didn't mean she wanted to stay there forever. The knowledge that the blond female also liked Sasuke sparked something inside of Sakura and despite the gnawing guilt inside of her; she would hit two birds with one stone.

Ending her friendship with Ino had been hard and she spent more than a few nights crying over the lost bond that she treasured. She knew that breaking something as beautiful as what she and Ino had over a boy was one of the worst things that a girl could have done but she had to do it. Sakura needed a reason to step out of Ino's protective cover and their feelings for Sasuke were the most convenient thing to use as a reason. Her want - need - to prove herself outweighed her want to make Sasuke notice her, ignoring the voice that said that proving her worth was hand in hand with Sasuke's acknowledgement.

But she promised herself that she would be the best kunoichi to Sasuke, for Ino, but most importantly, for herself.

When Iruka-sensei announced the teams, she was ecstatic that Sasuke was on hers and despite the drawback of having Naruto there as well, nothing could dampen her spirits.

She thought that if they were on the same team, she would have the chance to make him fall in love with her, but her heart was crushed when he bluntly told her that he would never see her as anything more than an annoying fangirl.

"You should practice instead of doing such useless things," he said, his eyes hard and unforgiving, "besides, I don't like you."

If her heart hadn t broken before, it had crashed and burned with Sasuke's uncaring statement coupled with the harsh reality that almost swallowed her whole.

But because she was Haruno Sakura, weak and insignificant Sakura, she took it all with a smile. Because someone like her wasn't special enough to break down and cry. Only the main protagonists had the right, and she was just a convenient extra for the ones who had.

Sakura, Ino's bestfriend.

Sakura, Sasuke's fangirl.

Sakura, Naruto's crush.

Her name was always connected to another. There wasn't a time when there was just Sakura. She wasn't worthy enough to stand on her own.

But Sakura was Sakura, and Sakura had a (shattered) heart overflowing with love and an inner strength that kept her going through each day that passed.

She pretended nothing happened. She still acted as if Sasuke didn't just cruelly reject her and continued to worry for him (Are you alright, Sasuke-kun?), support him (I know you can do it, Sasuke-kun!), and offer him all the affection an extra like her could give (I really like you, Sasuke-kun.), because even a side character like her could help no matter how tiny it could be.

If Sasuke noticed her stubborn will to ignore his harsh words, he didn't once comment on it. Like her, he went on his days like normal. His schedule was the same, Go to training, eat during the designated meal time, and then go home where his family waited for him. It would only diverge when there was a mission to be done, but missions were scarce. It seemed the civilians had nothing to worry about these days.

Then something unexpected happened. Konoha was invaded but Oto and Suna both, and out of all the casualties, the death of Sarutobi Hiruzen was what impacted the most. Without a Hokage, Konoha would fall, so the Council decided to find one as fast as was possible.

Tsunade was chosen after careful deliberation and Sakura's ears perked up when rumors started to fly that before the blond woman was chosen, Jiraiya was next in line after the Sandaime. But that wasn't what interested Sakura. She also heard that Uchiha Itachi was a nominee for Hokage and she couldn't help but feel proud for Sasuke for having such an amazing brother like him.

Time once against passed by. Sakura's life went into a standstill, like stagnant water without even a ripple across its surface. All was the same with Naruto's eternal energy, Sasuke's continuous disdain for her, and Sakura's... well, she didn't know what she was doing. At least the boys were improving in leaps and bounds while Sakura was just there. A steady presence neither needed nor wanted. Sometimes she wondered if they would notice if she just upped and disappeared. Probably not.

And did she want that?

Sakura bitterly smiled.

The next time she was seen, she had been reviving fished with a stern Godaime by her side and carefully watching her progress.

In the four years that flew by, Sakura was proud to say that she was starting to become someone, a someone needed and admired by many. She found her calling as a medic-nin and she absolutely loved it. Everything was starting to look up and her life was steadily coming together piece by piece. She was friends with Ino again. Naruto was gradually becoming into one of her most trusted and precious people, and even Sasuke had started to allow her into his life.

Everything was perfect once more and nothing could change that. She was Haruno Sakura, renowned medical ninja, member of Team Seven, and a loyal disciple of the Godaime Hokage. She was famous, she was loved. For her, nothing could go wrong.

She later realized that she shouldn't have believed those famous last words.

Sakura was called to the Hokage's office happy as a bee until she caught sight of the expression on Tsunade's face. She warily entered and stopped dead when she noticed her parents present, distress and resignation etched on their countenance. Sakura tried to smile but she knew it came out as a forced grimace more than anything.

"Tsunade-shishou?" she didn't know what to say. It was not every day she met up with her mentor with her mother and father there, "is something wrong? Okaa-san? Otou-san?"

Tsunade watched her with a stern eye but remained silent. Sakura turned to her parents and was shocked when Mebuki released a choked sob and she almost gaped. Her mother was one of the strongest women she knew emotionally and she rarely cried in public, but now...

"Okaa-san?" Sakura was starting to get paranoid and she whirled around to face the Hokage with clenched fists, "Shishou?!"

With a heavy sigh, Tsunade opened her mouth to speak.

When Sakura met up with her team on their weekly dinners, she gave them a (fake, fake) smile and casually snapped her chopsticks apart.

"I'm getting married."

Amidst Kakashi's wide-eyed surprise and Naruto's shocked sputtering, her eyes automatically sought Sasuke's. His features were blank, as if he wasn't interested in the least, but the telltale clenching of his jaw was there and Sakura couldn't help the tiniest twinge of hope in her heart.

"To whom, Sakura?"

Kakashi's voice snapped her out from her wishful thinking and her (fake, fake) smile almost faltered.

"Itachi."

The silence was palpable and they didn't know what surprised them the most; the name of her soon-to-be husband or the fact that Sasuke was the one who spoke.

Sakura stared, feeling her heart stop. Breathing was starting to become difficult and tears were starting to well up in her eyes.

He knew? Sasuke knew of her impending engagement to his older brother?

And he didn't stop it?

Sasuke had unknowingly dealt the final blow to her already fragile heart, smashing the beating organ with his indifference towards what was happening. She would rather he hated her than this carelessness towards her situation. At least that meant that she made him feel something, even if it wasn't love.

Indifference meant that he just. Didn't. Care.

So what if Sakura married Itachi? At least it wasn't him. That was probably what he was thinking right now, and Sakura swallowed the lump stuck in her throat and did what she did best.

She smiled.

"Yes Sasuke-kun," she mentally congratulated herself for not allowing her voice to waver, "we're going to be siblings now."

"Why did you accept, Sakura-chan?" Naruto demanded, slamming a fist on the table with such force that their bowls of ramen rattled, "You could've easily said no!"

"It's alright Naruto," she nonchalantly shrugged despite her want to cry out that no, she did not want this, "Tsunade-shishou said this is for the good of the village. The Uchiha clan wants someone worthy to be the wife of their heir. They say it's an honor to be chosen as that someone."

Sakura turned to them with her smile widening, "I'm so lucky, right?"

"Sakura," Kakashi placed a hand on her shoulder as Naruto stared at her, unable to say anything for once. Sakura flinched at his touch but remained silent, "are you sure?"

She nodded eagerly and she vaguely wondered if her excitement was too forced out, "Of course. If I could be of use, I would do anything."

"At the cost of your own happiness?" Naruto all but bellowed making the other patrons in the stand to snap their heads towards him in worry.

Sakura was about to answer when the sound of a stool being harshly pushed back caught her attention and they looked up to see Sasuke throwing money on the table. He then turned his back and started to walk away.

Sakura couldn't help but call him, "Sasuke-kun, where-"

"Home. I'm not interested in this." he paused just long enough to reply before making his way out.

Sakura didn't hear Naruto's angry yells at the Uchiha for being a bastard and she didn't feel the pitying glances Kakashi was giving her. She sat back down and watched as drops of liquid fell into her food, but her smile remained the same.

"How can you say that I won't be happy, Naruto?"

She softly said as she sipped her ramen.

It tasted like tears and she almost laughed at the thought that she would probably taste it for the rest of her life.

Sakura formally met her husband-to-be when she was invited to a dinner with the Uchiha family. She wore her best kimono, agreed to let Ino do her hair, and even practiced her way of moving as despite her grace as a kunoichi in the battlefield, she was a klutz when nervous.

Ino told her to calm down and relax, soothing her nerves by speaking of all the reasons why the Uchiha clan was the one who was in luck to have her and Sakura was thankful. Her confidence grew, and it was because of her bestfriend.

Unexpectedly and fortunately, dinner wasn't awkward at all. Sakura had heard from her teammate himself that Uchiha Mikoto was warm and open to non-clan members, and it showed with how true she was when urging Sakura to talk freely and complimenting the pink-haired kunoichi with sincerity in her actions.

The patriarch was stern and strict, only speaking when needed, but his way of addressing her wasn't demeaning in the slightest. His questions for her were direct and straight to the point so she answered in a concise manner, inwardly smiling when she saw him nod at her in approval.

Even Itachi wasn't what she expected. Sakura thought that he was as emotionally stunted as his younger brother, maybe even more so, but she was pleasantly surprised when he actually smiled at her when she first stepped into their home and gently led her into the dining room. She was struck speechless and visibly gaped at him before realizing that she was making herself look like an idiot when his smile turned into an amused smirk. It was just a tiny tilt of his lips and she marveled at how alike he and Sasuke were.

Then the pain came back and she averted her eyes.

Sasuke didn't even acknowledge her when she arrived. He gave her his usual grunt when he was chided for his rude display in front of a guest but all in all, he ignored her throughout the meal. Although Sakura conditioned herself to get used to the idea that she was just a speck of dirt in Sasuke's life, it didn't make it less agonizing.

After dinner, Itachi led her to the garden in the back and Sakura marveled at the blooms that grew all around the expanse. It was beautiful and she said so, making the male beside her chuckle.

They sat down on the floor overlooking the scenery and nobody spoke for a while yet the silence wasn't suffocating at all. Unlike with Sasuke, she somehow felt at ease with Itachi and she wondered at that. She was content with just staying like this when Itachi spoke.

"Why did you agree to this Sakura?"

She was surprised but she gathered her wits quickly before sighing and continued looking at the softly dancing flowers.

"Tsunade-shishou told me the truth. That your family wanted something solid as proof of loyalties from both sides," she said, "by tying the Uchiha heir and the Hokage's apprentice together..."

She saw Itachi tilt his head in a semblance of a nod, "And you are alright with this arrangement?"

"What about you, Itachi-san? Are you alright with this?"

"I was never interested in marriage," Itachi admitted, "but if my marriage could help Konoha, I will not hesitate to give up anything, even at the cost of my freedom."

"We are the same in that regard, Itachi-san." Sakura spoke with conviction, clenching her fists as she lightly glared at the ground, "I will do everything for Konoha, even at the cost of my own life."

"Even at the cost of your love?"

Her head almost snapped from the whiplash as she stared at the male. His dark eyes were knowing, and she visibly shivered at its intensity.

Attraction.

She tried to dispel the heat that was quickly traveling to her stomach but it proved difficult when Itachi reached a hand out to thread long fingers into her head of pink.

"I saw the way you looked at my otouto, Sakura," he whispered as he slowly closed the distance between them so that only an inch remained between their lips, "you are in love with Sasuke."

Sakura's breathing became labored as she unconsciously leaned forward. Their breaths were mingling and she couldn't help but notice how his eyes were one of the most beautiful things that she had ever seen, a deep grey that somehow managed to make her drown in them.

Like how Sasuke managed to make her feel every time his eyes trained on her.

In the blink of an eye, Itachi's features lightly softened, his soft black hair darkened and his gentle grey eyes turned into intense onyx.

"I love Sasuke-kun," she muttered before pressing her lips to his in a chaste kiss.

Sakura allowed herself to be gathered into Itachi's arms as he wrapped them around her, wanting to feel genuine affection from the male who was soon to be her spouse. Sasuke was unreachable, could not be attained, but Itachi was there and he seemed to be willing to have her despite knowing that she loved his younger brother and that it was inevitable that she would pretend that Itachi was Sasuke.

Raising both her hands to cup Itachi's face in her palms, she closed her eyes and deepened the kiss, surrendering herself to the onslaught of mixed emotions.

Sadness, because Sasuke didn't love her.

Hurt, because Sasuke didn't want her.

And acceptance, because Sasuke didn't need her.

A small rustle of clothing and the sound of heavy footsteps fading in the distance were not heard by her as she was consumed in the unfamiliar bout of passion, but Itachi wasn't as careless as she. His eyes glinted in the moonlight before he closed them.

In the darkness of his room, Uchiha Sasuke bit his lip until it bled.


Sequel?