Disclaimer: Naruto does not belong to me.
Tomorrow in Tokyo
Though he guessed that's what he deserved for walking out on his father and that god-forsaken matchmaking ceremony, which in his opinion, had no place in his life. Just because he was born from old money didn't mean he had to follow the same old, archaic traditions of their forefathers. Biting back a growl of frustration, he turned his attention towards his current surroundings.
In hindsight, following the crush of people who seemed to all have a direction might've not been the most sensible thing to do. But what he had wanted was to simply get away, to end up somewhere that wasn't a stuffy, tatami matted floor with a pushy matchmaker, a timid would-be bride, and an overbearing father. Swept along with the crowd, he hadn't realized how far he'd gone until it was much too late. Now here he stood, in a congested night market in the middle of Tokyo, awash with all sorts of bright lights, smells and loud noises. Exhaling, he decided to take a gamble and ventured forward.
"Chouji! Come on! Please? Pleeease?!" She pulled out the saddest puppy eyes she could muster, deep green and watery and oh so big.
Chouji just about wept with her. He was such a sucker it was actually quite pathetic. "Damn it, Sakura! Put that shit away. I'll squeeze you and the idiots in on Saturday night."
She jumped forward and peppered him with quick kisses. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! And don't worry, Rina will be there who I hear someone's been crushing on!" She wiggled her eyebrows before laughing at his sputtering, red face. She waved goodbye and practically skipped away.
Akamichi's was always a hot spot Friday and Saturday nights and if one didn't make reservations months in advance, then one would be shit out of luck. Good thing she knew the Akamichi's and could pull some strings if needed. Maybe Chouji would even get a little action if she had it her way. Oh no, there would be no need to thank her for she owed him plenty already. Though really, it wasn't her fault their friends were shitty planners and always sent her in as the fixer and if she thought about it, she was sorely taken advantage of. Oh, the righteous indignation! It was quickly vaporized however, by the many episodes of how they would all pull together for her during those rough and tumble times.
Having completed her mission for the night and letting the others know, Sakura walked down the bustling outdoor market, one of her favorite places in Tokyo. It was the middle of an unseasonably warm autumn and she was determined to wear out her cute high-waisted shorts as much as possible. Paired with a loose white top, thin jacket and scarf, she made the perfect picture of laid-back chic or so she liked to think. The real truth of the matter was that these were the only clean clothes she had and that huge pile of laundry in the corner of her bedroom was probably going to grow legs and wash itself any day now. That or Sasuke with his OCD tendencies was going to get fed up and wash it himself. She was hoping for the latter.
Looking to her right, she smiled and made her way over to the older woman and her cart of sweet deliciousness.
"Kanako-san, you really need to stop tempting me!"
The older woman laughed, crow's feet crinkling with glee. "I wanted you to test my latest creation."
"Say no more! I'm all yours." Sakura's eyes practically glowed as she watched her deep fry a dango skewer for a few minutes, take it out and place it on a paper plate. She then proceeded to drizzle chocolate (at which point Sakura nearly had a heart attack because who doesn't love chocolate?) followed by a healthy dusting of kinako powder.
Like a kid in a candy store, Sakura eagerly took the offered treat and slowly bit into it, only to find a sweet surprise in the center. Banana? Healthy and sweet? Kami, this was going to be her new addiction. Savoring each bite as if it was her last, she just about cried.
"Ne, Kanako-san, don't ever leave me."
After licking chocolate from her finger, Sakura finally noticed the rather cute guy next to her, his dark eyes amused as he observed her candid love affair with dango. Though maybe cute was an understatement. Debonair? Dark and sultry, maybe? Gorgeous? Yes to all above and damn, if he didn't look mighty fine in a cuffed button up, black pants and loosened skinny tie and so terribly out of place.
"Would you like a taste?" she asked suddenly with a warm smile, offering up her skewer. He blinked, hesitant and a bit owlish. "I'm sure Kanako-san would appreciate your thoughts. Though in my opinion, any kind of dango she makes is simply amazing."
She drew closer. "Come on, live a little," she tempted, waving it in front of his face. "You can watch your girlish figure another day."
With a slight huff, he leaned forward, steadied her hand, and slowly bit into the second piece. His eyes widened, not expecting the sweet surprise in the middle.
Sakura grinned. "I know, it just blew your mind didn't it?" She watched him chew, amusement coloring her bright eyes as he too savored the mesh of flavors.
"Kanako-san, one each of your original and house dango, please." Within minutes, Sakura was thanking the older woman and handing them over to the handsome stranger. "Here, these are even better."
"A woman after my own heart."
Sakura laughed, shaking her head. "I can spot a fellow sweets lover from a mile away."
It had seemingly escaped their notice that they were now both walking side by side, moving with the browsing crowd of shoppers and biting into the sweet, sticky treat.
"I'm Sakura, by the way."
"You're not from around here." It was a statement.
"You can tell?" he asked, glancing at her.
"Mmhmm. Your vibes say it all. You're a little out of your element."
"I'm lost, actually," Itachi stated truthfully.
Sakura bit back a grin as she looked his way. His long hair was tied at the base of his neck. Broad shoulders with a lean, strong build. He seemed more relaxed compared to a few minutes ago at the dango stall. Wouldn't mind waking up to him every day…
"I can show you the way back if you want...you'll just have to give me the address."
He fell into silence, dark gaze wandering towards the various stalls and hanging lanterns. Suddenly, Sakura didn't feel like parting so soon with this mystery man, especially since he seemed adamant to ignore what she had just said. "Or I can give you the best night of your life?"
Itachi couldn't help the smirk as Sakura face palmed, cheeks dusted pink.
"Wow, that sounded really bad, didn't it? Promise this isn't the red light district."
A light, smooth chuckle escaped his lips. "Would you mind? An impromptu tour, that is. But if you already have plans…"
She shook her head before grabbing his wrist and pulling him along. "Come on, the night's still young and there's so much to see!"
Itachi wasn't sure what exactly drove him to throw caution to the wind and accept her invitation. He'd seen her from the corner of his eye when he'd heard the older woman beckon her over and was given a closer look after her approach. If her hair didn't make her stand out, then her beautiful eyes and smile certainly did for in the few minutes he had spent standing next to her, he had been inexplicably drawn to the woman. And then she had turned around, he her sole focus, with a skewer of dango between them, and damn him if he hadn't mentally stumbled a little, if his heart hadn't skipped a few beats.
Her shout brought him out of his thoughts and he looked on curiously.
"Ojii-san! I'll take two of these!"
"On the house, Sakura-chan! Tell your mom thank you, by the way. That remedy she made was a life-saver."
"I will, thank you!" She turned and handed him another piping hot skewer, suppressing the grin at his raised eyebrow.
"Please tell me you know what this is? You are Japanese, right?"
He gave her a deadpan look and this time she did grin. "Yakitori. And yes, I am."
"Oh! Did I mention there's a festival tonight? We should definitely go," Sakura said in between bites. "It's not far from here and they're supposed to have fireworks!"
It was hard not to share in her energy. Her emotions she wore so openly and unlike many other people he knew, Sakura radiated warmth and a passion for life he didn't get the pleasure to experience very often. It made her irresistible. He agreed after dusting off the last of his yakitori and no sooner had he tossed the skewer something else was thrust into his hands.
"Are you trying to feed me to death?" he asked, smirking.
"Maybe. I think one of the best ways to experience life is through food and drink and oh! We have to go there!"
As she tugged him forward, Itachi smiled behind the rim of the paper cup and took a long sip of hot tea.
"So what are you doing in Tokyo?" Sakura asked. "I get the feeling you're far away from home."
There was currently a fresh seafood and farmer's market that had been about a block down from the busy alley of good eats and cart trinkets that sold everything imaginable.
She glanced at him, curiosity in her bright green eyes.
"A matchmaking ceremony," Itachi answered. He had no idea why he decided to divulge.
Her eyes widened. "Are you serious? I thought they did away with those things ages ago!" And then a thought occurred to her and she gave him a narrowed, pointed stare. "Please don't tell me you're actually some lost prince shirking his duties and there's currently some secret service men looking for you right now?"
His too dark eyes sparkled playfully and her heart decided right then and there to beat harder and faster.
"Originally from Japan but my family and I have lived in London for the past ten years. We do come back often, but more so to Kyoto than Tokyo. And you? What's your story?"
She picked up a small ripe apricot, had the seller split it and handed him one half. "Originally from Okinawa, lived in the States when I was younger, but Mom and I moved here after Dad passed away and haven't left since. She likes the fast pace of Tokyo." Sakura replied before licking her lips and relishing the sweetness. "Mmmm…"
To say he wasn't drawn to the action would've been a lie. It was certainly sweet. "Aya-san has the best fruit."
"You come here often."
Sakura nodded and then shoved something green and fragrant under his nose. "What does this smell like?"
She snorted and smacked him on the shoulder with it. "It's basil! Food involves all the senses, my dear Itachi."
"Apparently I have much to learn."
Sakura nodded solemnly even as her eyes danced. "Yes, yes you do young grasshopper."
A few minutes later, he was staring at iced dead tuna and all manner of seafood.
"The boats just came in this morning. Here, try this."
A plate of samples was presented to him. "It's still moving," he pointed out.
"Nothing like living on the edge."
When Itachi actually picked up a small squirming octopus tentacle, put it in his mouth, chewed and slowly swallowed with some difficulty, she tried to bite back her laughter, but failed miserably. "I can't believe you just ate that!"
His eyes widened before darkening and oh shit, she was in trouble. She bolted away before he could force a wriggling piece down her throat.
"It's perfectly safe, but tastes much better during Korean barbecue!" she shouted over her shoulder as she fled.
The little minx. Though he really didn't mind so much since it had given him a great view of her long, lean legs in those sinfully short shorts she wore. Acquaintances they might be, but she was still a beautiful female and he a virile male who appreciated the fairer sex.
"Tasted like chicken."
She was reduced to giggles in between catching her breath. "Your face showed a much different story." Jogging over to a stall, she grabbed two cups.
"I am not eating anything else that isn't dead and cooked."
"Peace offering. I promise you'll like it this time."
She tipped the cup back and almost as if daring him to follow, chewed and swallowed its contents as he did the same.
"Sweetened tofu." Sakura winked, silently laughing at his relieved expression. "So, how old are you, Itachi?"
"Are we continuing our game of twenty questions?"
She shrugged. "I think it's only fair we get to know each other."
"I'll take that as a yes and just to make things even easier, I'll start. I'm twenty-five."
He decided to indulge for a change. "Twenty-nine."
"Ah, the omiai makes sense now. You're just entering the prime of your life or something silly like that."
Truth was, he often felt decidedly older than his twenty-nine years. They continued their stroll side by side, neither in a rush or with any particular destination in mind.
"What do you do, Sakura?"
"Besides eat?" she joked. "I just started my residency at Tokyo U Hospital."
She nodded, flashing him a smile. "Like mother, like daughter. And what do you do, Itachi?"
"I'll eventually succeed my father and run his private business."
It wasn't terribly hard to see the underlying conflict. There wasn't much excitement in his voice and if anything, it seemed like a burden too great for just one man to shoulder.
Turning to lighter subjects, she asked, "What's your favorite color?"
"Pink." He couldn't resist lightly pulling on her messy fishtail braid, appreciative of her change in subject. A certain sense of male satisfaction swelled within him when she blushed at his comment and he couldn't help but wonder how it would feel like to comb his fingers through her free flowing, silky tresses.
"Smooth son of a bitch," she muttered, forcing her face to cool down. She knew he heard, if only by the smug lift of his very kissable lips.
"What's your favorite food?" he asked.
"That's totally a snack," she countered.
"Onigiri then," he obliged.
She smiled. Simple. "Favorite music?"
"I tend to listen to classical, but I'm willing to tolerate most genres. Yours?"
"That's a hard one. I listen to everything, but at the moment, we'll go with electronica. Biggest fear?"
"Losing someone I love. Most embarrassing moment?"
"Losing my skirt in front of the whole class when I was fifteen. My idiot friend's stupid prank backfired that day. Luckily, I had on cute panties but I'm still scarred for life." She glanced at him, only to lightly punch him on the shoulder. "It's not that funny!"
And as the night wore on, they continued trading little snippets of their lives, of their likes and dislikes and it wasn't long before they ended up at the park where the festival was just beginning. Itachi grabbed her hand so they wouldn't lose each other, or so that's what he told himself.
"There's a shrine nearby," she gestured ahead of them. "The locals hold this to thank the shrine god for the summer's bountiful harvest and to ask for continued prosperity. Many offer up their wishes for the new season in hopes they'll be granted."
Taiko drums thrummed not too far away as paper lanterns swayed in the light autumn breeze. There were more booths and food stalls here, some manned by high school students from the local academy. They had set up a stage as well where they would hold a few performances and eventually end the festival with a vibrant shower of fireworks.
Walking up the grassy incline, they approached the steps that led up to the shrine. Sakura tugged him along in an effort to speed up their progress, but he would have none of it, content and determined with taking his time and making this night last as long as possible. His phone buzzed and had been buzzing since the moment he left the matchmaker's, knowing that Shisui was trying to stall on his behalf and most likely wondering what his cousin was up to. He ignored it all. When they reached the top, a large stone fountain stood in the middle, an ancient tree at its back. Visitors hovered and flitted across the area, many offering up their thanks and prayers. Sakura placed a coin in the center of Itachi's palm and curled his fingers around it.
"Make a wish."
She then turned towards the rippling water, closed her eyes, and tossed in her own shiny gold offering.
To watch her emotions weave in and out was riveting. He'd always been an observant person, could read people quite easily and knew when to push and pull. With her though, it was remarkably different. A breath of fresh air. A taste of what life could really be like, free and open.
"Nothing..." Itachi glanced away, waiting for the fireworks to begin. From their perch on the arching bridge, it would give them a great view.
"You're not falling for me, are you?" she teased playfully.
"And if I was?"
Booms and bright lights suddenly illuminated the sky, stealing her attention as an excited gasp escaped her lips. The very lips he wanted to kiss.
"To late night dinners and sake!"
Seated at a cozy outdoor table, they clinked their small ceramic cups together and downed the sake before two steaming bowls of ramen were placed in front of them. Sakura had led them to the small stall and like everything else that night, she apparently knew the owners who were more than willing to make room for them.
"You're eating it too properly," she commented before slurping the noodles as loud as she could. "That's how you eat ramen." She did it a second time and then looked at him expectantly.
He was starting to second guess his sanity or maybe the dango had been laced with something. In normal circumstances, he wouldn't be this carefree and lax with someone he had only met. Sakura slurped again, almost choking this time only to fall into a bout of laughter at his incredulous expression. But like most of the night, he gave in to her guileless persuasion and they ended up having a ramen slurping contest. By the end of it, Sakura's stomach hurt so much from laughing she could hardly breathe.
When they had both calmed down, he reached over with a napkin and gently wiped away the remnants of their meal from her cheek. "You missed a spot."
"Thanks…" She forced down the blush, because really, he was just being helpful. Busying her hands, she poured them another round of sake.
They clinked brims again. "To spending nights with strangers."
"I'm beginning to think your innuendos are intentional," Itachi smirked, tossing back the rice wine and savoring how it slid smoothly down his throat.
She almost choked on her sake. "Y-you're such a pervert!"
He laughed, deep and playful and warm. He poured the next round. "To being passionate about life...and for sharing it with strangers at night."
Sakura bit back a smile as she caught the sound of music in the air. "You know what else I'm passionate about?"
He raised a brow.
"Do you dance, Itachi?"
It turned out the high school students had organized an outdoor party after the festival by the small pond. Lights had been strung, a few tables set up and a band was playing. Jazzy notes tickled the air around them and with some effort, she dragged him forward.
"I don't dance."
"And I don't care. Humor me, Itachi."
Sakura lead them over to the other swaying dancers and once she decided on a spot, moved closer to him until their bodies were almost touching. She wound his arms around her waist and then rested her arms around his shoulders, fingers loosely interlocking behind his neck. He wasn't too terribly tall compared to her, in fact, she fit quite neatly just under his chin. She led them to the slow beat, hips swaying with a dreamy smile, perhaps due in part to the sake they had just drank.
"What are you passionate about, Itachi?" Sakura asked, looking up at him with curious eyes...tempting bedroom eyes.
Bringing her even closer, he softly tugged on her braid, pleased when it started to unravel in his hands. It was as silky as he imagined.
"Well?" she prompted.
"Have you told your father?"
There was a pause before he admitted, "No…"
"You should. You'd be a lot happier," she said softly, looking into his midnight eyes that glowed like a steady fire.
A part of him felt oddly touched-and completely taken-that this minx with bewitching emeralds for eyes cared enough, was in tune enough to see through his steel armor. In the span of hours, she had gotten closer, hit deeper than even some of his friends and family he'd known since childhood. To deny the natural chemistry between them would be positively sinful.
He leaned down and whispered into her ear, "Are you falling for me, Sakura?"
"Maybe just a little," she confessed, honest and just a little sheepish. "But don't let it get to your head."
She could feel his smile, the subtle caress of his lips against her temple. His hand fluttered across her lower back as he spun her around and laced his fingers with hers.
"See, you do know how to dance."
"I never said I didn't, just that I don't. But with you…" he brushed aside a strand of her pink hair. "With you, I don't mind."
Itachi spotted Shisui leaning against his car as they descended the small hill and his heart dropped a little. Noticing his attention had strayed, Sakura followed his line of sight and waved back at the ruggedly handsome man with the disheveled hair and equally dark eyes.
"I think your guard has come to get you, Prince," Sakura whispered as she turned towards him, eyes twinkling.
"Will I see you again, tomorrow maybe?"
"It's already tomorrow."
A quick glance at his phone told him she was right. It was nearing two AM. Where had the time gone?
Sakura's phone started vibrating then. Shit, her mother was going to give her hell for ignoring all her calls and texts. She inwardly grimaced. She needed to get home now.
With no small amount of regret, she held out her hand. "It was nice meeting you, Itachi," she said. Though why it felt wrong…Sakura refused to dwell on it.
A rueful smile flitted across his lips before he took her hand in his. "It was nice meeting you too, Sakura."
He watched her disappear in the Tokyo crowd before turning away. Shisui didn't press the issue. He would later though, when Itachi didn't look like someone had just eaten the last stick of dango.
Hours turned into days and days into months. Soon enough, the holidays were upon them and Itachi was finally able to breathe now that everything was in order.
"Okaa-san…" he greeted as he entered the main room. She was decorating the tree like she did every year, having fallen in love with the western tradition. Flitting around, she beckoned him over to help.
"He should be home any minute now. Shisui and maybe a few others are dropping by as well for dinner."
"We're having visitors?"
Mikoto raised a brow. "Clearly you weren't listening yesterday."
She rolled her eyes at the typical Uchiha response and silently prayed for Santa to bring her a future daughter-in-law who could maintain a decent conversation.
They heard the door swing open then, as well as the ensuing ruckus.
"Dobe! What the-" Sasuke just about tumbled in before catching himself.
"Watch your gangly legs, Sasuke-teme!"
"I do not have gangly legs."
"Will the both of you knock it off and get inside? It's freezing!"
"Oh, ho, who do we have here, Sasu-chan?"
"The one and only. I didn't realize we were having special visitors."
"Me neither until this morning."
"It's called a surprise, teme!"
"Who'd want you as a surprise?"
And that was how Mikoto and Itachi found them in the foyer, both trying to put each other in a headlock before getting booted in by a cold, irate female and a chuckling cousin.
There were several things that happened in that moment. But not much else mattered when Sakura looked up to greet Sasuke's mother – who was practically glowing and much too thrilled, or maybe relieved, to see her – only for her eyes to widen when she saw who was standing next to the older woman.
Judging by his expression, he clearly remembered her too and was just as surprised. Not knowing what else to do, she smiled and waved.
"You know my brother…"
"College friends. I was one of the few girls who didn't fall for his aloof, bad boy charms. I told him he looked constipated instead."
Itachi smirked in amusement, glancing at her as they both prepared a tray of appetizers. What were the odds? He'd honestly had had no hope of seeing her again. That their chance meeting one autumn night in Tokyo had simply been that-a chance meeting that he still remembered in vivid detail and thought often of. He felt her touch and looked down at their hands.
"While I'm sure everyone will appreciate how thoroughly you're washing the grape tomatoes, they're meant to be eaten," she grinned before popping one into her mouth.
"I didn't think I'd ever see you again."
She smiled before bumping shoulders. "Small world, huh? I thought you looked strangely familiar that day, but it didn't click that you could've been an Uchiha, let alone Sasuke's most precious 'Nii-san'."
"Hurry up, Sakura-chan! I'm hungry!"
She rolled her eyes. "Naruto's a black hole when it comes to food. Better get back before he starts eating the ornaments."
It didn't take very long for them to become re-acquainted with each other, however, nor did it take very long for everyone else to notice their natural chemistry, as if they were old friends reuniting.
"Have they met before?" Shisui asked Sasuke. He'd been wracking his mind for the past hour, trying to figure it out.
"Not that I know of. Only Mom and Dad have met Sakura and Naruto."
"He's totally into her. Do you see him leaning?"
"Oi, Sasuke!" Naruto hissed as he sidled up to them.
He spared his blond friend a glance.
Shisui laughed as Sasuke just shook his head. He didn't know what the hell was going on anymore.
It wasn't until after dinner when all the pieces of the puzzle came together in Shisui's head. "That's her, isn't it?" he pressed, cornering his cousin in the kitchen.
Itachi didn't give anything away, but Shisui knew him well enough. "Don't let her get away this time or at least get her number."
"I won't make that mistake again."
On the second floor of the House of Uchiha and tucked away in the library, Sakura curled up on the comfy loveseat next to the fire with a book in her lap. Everyone had gone to bed, but she found herself much too awake to call it night just yet. Maybe it was seeing Itachi again that had her all twisted or being in a different place-who was she kidding? It was definitely Itachi and...ugh, she buried her face in the book.
Sakura started before shooting him a glare for scaring the shit out of her. He only smirked and sat beside her.
After a few moments of silence, she moved closer to him. "Did you think about me?" she asked. It was an honest question and she wondered if he would indulge her curiosity.
He brushed a strand of pink away from her face, noticing how it had gotten a little longer but no less soft and silky. "Every day."
"Me too," Sakura admitted. "In hindsight, I should've given you my number."
"Do you normally give your number to strangers at night?"
She slapped him lightly on the shoulder, which earned her a smooth, velvety laugh. "Only the cute ones."
Tangling his fingers in her hair, he gently pulled her closer, now only a breath apart. His dark eyes asked for permission but really, he didn't need to. She'd wanted him to kiss her ever since Tokyo, ever since the bridge under the neon shower of bright lights and as they danced in the early hours of an unforgettable morning. Sakura closed the small distance between them and just about melted when their lips touched. Gentle pulls and playful nips. Soft caresses and lingering heat. Her heart thundered in her ears and really, if they didn't stop now…she pulled away, mouth curving in a teasing smile before she gave him another quick kiss.
"Sakura Haruno. Nice to meet you...again."
She felt his own smile as he placed butterfly kisses along her jaw, on the corner of her lips. "Itachi Uchiha...it's nice to meet you too…"
A/N: I meant to get this out last year, but better late than never, huh? This was inspired by the trailer for Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong. I fell in love with the premise and couldn't help myself. Imaginary cookies to whoever can guess the other rom-com reference. It's a favorite of mine and I may just write an Ita/Saku one-shot based on it.