Warning: Rated 'M' for a reason.

This is the sequel to Who Said Anything About Love?

So This Is Love
Rise of the Blossom

Chapter 1 - Shaking Things Up A Little

Sakura sucked in a deep breath as her entire body jolted awake, as her eyes snapped open and stared up at the ceiling.

Something wasn't right.

She turned, glancing at her slumbering boyfriend.

But something wasn't right.

Sakura sat up, the covers falling to her hips and she wiped at her eyes tiredly, rubbing the sleep from them. This was her new routine. Every night now for the past seven months, she awoke to the feeling of something being out of place. Her eyes immediately moved to the French doors that led out to the balcony – something she did every damn night.


There was always nothing out there.

The bed dipped and the covers shifted as her movements woke Itachi and he sighed.

"I will go and check, just as I do every night, but the results will be the same as always, Sakura," he murmured softly without opening his eyes. "He is not out there."

Then where was he?

After that night seven months ago, where Itachi had told her everything about his mission of assassinating Hidan, they had received a phone call in the early hours of the morning from a member of the 'clean up' squad.

There was no body to be found.

It had thrown her into a fit of panic. Visions plagued her mind, forcing Sakura to watch as Hidan returned for them one by one, torturing Itachi by taking out his loved ones before finally coming for him. Was Sakura scared for herself? Sure. Who wouldn't be? But her greatest concern was her boyfriend. Her greatest fear was something happening to him.

"Go back to sleep," she told him, turning and brushing the hair from his face as she leaned down and pressed a tender kiss to his forehead. "You have your first exam tomorrow – I'm sorry for waking you."

As expected of him, Itachi excelled at university. He was at the top of his class, completing his assignments with weeks (once even a month) to spare and was even elected as the student rep. It was hard for him to keep up with university studies and work, but Sakura was so proud of her boyfriend for how well he was holding up, considering everything that had been happening around them. They were even saving up for their own place. It was within the same building as their current apartment – couple of floors below it, in fact.

ANBU had offered to pay for the apartment, to buy it for them so they wouldn't have to pay monthly rent, but Itachi had outright refused the offer and Sakura was grateful for that. She didn't want him to owe anything to that organisation, or for them to have anything to hold over his head. If they were going to move out, to move in together as a couple, then they would do it with their own earnings.

"Only if you join me," he whispered.

She smiled and shook her head, leaving a lingering kiss on his lips before leaving the bed. It was chilly out and in response, she grabbed the robe from the back of the chair at her desk, covering herself. When in bed, a camisole and shorts was perfectly acceptable. Anywhere else, when in the winter season, and you were going to freeze to death.

Things with Itachi hadn't been easy. After the assassination – or attempted assassination – Sakura had found it difficult to… Well, be intimate with him. It wasn't his fault, not entirely. Every time they tried, she would be reminded of how he had left her the last time and everything that happened afterwards, of the fact that Hidan was still out there alive somehow.

It physically wasn't possible for him to be alive. Itachi had told them, plain and simple, that he had pierced his heart, leaving him to bleed out on the floor. He had watched him die. So unless Hidan had someone on standby, waiting for the opportunity to do surgery on him, to do a heart transplant, then Sakura just couldn't see how he had survived.

There was no actual evidence that he was alive, but ANBU (according to Itachi) were adamant that he was. Somebody had gone into Hidan's apartment and saved his life. But for what reason? Why would somebody save a person like Hidan?


She turned, giving him a smile. "I'm going to get a hot chocolate. It might help me sleep." Tilting her head to the side, she asked, "Want one?"

Once again, he sighed and shook his head. "No, thank you."

Sakura left the room without another word, quietly shutting the door behind herself.

Things had been easier over the past three months or so, but until then, it had been shaky to say the least. At one stage, it had even gotten to the point where Itachi offered to stay at Shisui's for a short while. They tried it, to see if it helped her adjust better, but after a week or two they discovered it didn't work and in the end, she ended up missing him too much and asking him to come home. It wasn't easier without him, it was harder. They wouldn't get through their problems by being apart.

The apartment wasn't as dark as the bedroom and she found it simple to navigate, making her way straight to the kitchen.

It was so quiet nowadays. For once, Naruto was putting his head down and studying. Sakura couldn't stress more how much of a good influence Hinata was, but it wasn't entirely down to her. He didn't want to be left behind. Why? It was because of Sasuke. The younger Uchiha had done exactly what his brother wished for him: he'd gotten out.

He saw what his father forced upon Itachi and wanted no part of it and the chances of being forced into a future he wanted nothing to do with were too high. It was a risk he didn't want to take. So, even though he'd had second thoughts about the money Itachi had saved for him (he'd even called it blood money, at one point), Sasuke had gotten himself out of the Uchiha home. Out of Konoha.

They saw him often, as he was always travelling home during holidays and staying with them, though Sakura had to admit that she worried about him from time to time. Was he making friends? Was he keeping on top of his work? Was he causing any fights? In order to keep himself from being isolated from his fellow students, Sasuke had even decided to stay on campus with other students. It saved him a bit of extra money to live on, too.

That meant Naruto missed him something awful, though. Even if he wouldn't admit it, they all knew it to be true – and vice versa. On weekends, Sakura would wake during the night and go to grab a drink, only to look into the living room and see the blond playing on that stupid games console, talking to Sasuke via a headset. It was almost like he was there, though. She could just imagine what he would be responding with.

Itachi was so proud of him, despite missing him, too. They would talk whenever they got the chance, determined on keeping in touch and refusing to allow distance to create a rift between them again.

As for herself?

Sakura sighed and gripped the counter, lowering her head. Her dreams of becoming a successful, respected doctor had never felt so far away. She wasn't like her boyfriend. She found it stressful working and keeping up with her studies. It was why they'd cut back on her hours, but now that they were going to be living together in their own apartment… She knew she needed to pull her weight and help with the income.

It all felt like too much, though.


Her head snapped up, heart racing but soon calming down once she noticed Itachi standing in the doorway.

Even though they'd all seen what he looked like beneath his shirt, he still felt more comfortable keeping his torso covered. Naruto had the tendency to stare at things that weren't deemed as normal in society's terms. It was kind of sad that he felt that way, but Sakura understood in a way. Unlike mental illnesses or emotional pain, it was impossible to hide his scars unless fully clothed. It was out in the open and everybody could see them.

"You should be sleeping," she tried to scold him, but sighed when he closed the distance between them, bringing her close.

"You should be more open," he accused gently.

Perhaps she could have argued that that wasn't fair, but it was. Not long after Hidan's supposed assassination, they had both agreed to be more open with one another. It was the only way they could bounce back from something like that.

"I'm tired," Sakura murmured and shut her eyes, pressing her forehead to his chest. She hoped they would always stay at their current sizes, because it felt like such a perfect fit.

Itachi's hand came to the back of her head, running through her hair. "I know."

He was the one who woke up with her every night, after all. The second she began to move to get out of bed, the movement would shake the bed and wake him.

Her head lifted when he tilted it upwards, but she responded to the kiss he suddenly pressed against her lips all by herself.

"Come back to bed," he whispered against her lips.

"You have an exam tomorrow…"

The only reply was a sigh before he reached down and hooked his hands around her thighs, lifting her. To stop him from having complete control, however, she held onto the back of his neck, putting all her weight into leaning back and grinning when Itachi had to find his balance once more, one hand leaving her thigh and pressing flat against the cupboard above them.

He raised an eyebrow at her, lips mere millimetres from hers. "Do you remember Kakashi-san's rules, Sakura?"

Yes, actually, she did. Having him interrupting one of their make out sessions had been embarrassing to say the least. But oh did Sakura miss those days. That was the day after she had given herself to Itachi, the day after their first time together. They had so little to care about because everything had seemed so straightforward and simple. It had been so easy.

Green eyes slid shut and Sakura leaned her forehead against his. "Kakashi is working."


"Sleeping like a baby."

Itachi pulled back fractionally and she could tell he was trying to read her expression. "What is it, Sakura?" he asked softly. "This isn't like you."

And it made her feel so damn boring to hear him say such a thing. Had they already gotten to the stage where sex was predictable for them? Sure, it had been a difficult seven months and sure, they hadn't had much sex, but…

What was wrong with trying something new? Something more… risky and adventurous?

As the thigh that was no longer being held began to slide down his leg, Sakura shifted, bringing it higher and locking her ankles together, keeping her weight on the counter behind them as she shifted, rolling her hips into his.

"Sakura…" his voice was nothing more than a breathless whisper against her lips and like her own previously had, his eyes shut.

She gazed at his expression, her heart undeniably warming at the sight of him. Had he always been holding back during sex because of her? "Please, Itachi." It felt wrong, like she was begging her own boyfriend to have sex with her. "Right here."

He could only nod before capturing her lips in such a passionately raw kiss that it had her toes curling, had her pushing forward and arching into him, wanting to be closer to him, to feel the heat radiating from his body.

Already, Sakura could feel that he was aroused and she certainly wasn't complaining as he rolled his hips forward to meet hers. She gasped into the kiss, her hands coming up to his face before one fell behind them, gripping at the counter to try and keep her balance as he repeated the motion, grinding against her in slow, rough thrusts.

It wasn't soon enough when he shifted, breaking away from the kiss long enough to loosen his sweatpants, leaving them to hang dangerously low on his hips and instead of lowering her to the floor to remove her shorts, Itachi instead tugged at them over and over, forcibly pulling at the fabric and stretching them enough to gain access to her.

A trembling breath washed over her face as he felt her, as his fingers ran over her, probing to see if she was ready.

Even if she was physically ready, Sakura couldn't help but gasp in shock when he entered her without warning, causing her head to fall back against the cupboard with a thud. She barely even felt it. Previously, there'd always been that question hanging in the air, of him asking her if she was sure and whatnot. This time he was taking complete control.

The hand on her thigh moved upwards, grabbing her hip and bringing her against him roughly.


As soon as her hand came into contact with his face, Itachi caught it with the hand that had been pressed against the cupboard. He held onto her wrist, soon pinning it above them.

Now, instead of it being an option, she had to grip onto the counter behind them to stabilise herself, because Itachi instantly started up an intense rhythm of thrusts that had her biting her lip to stay silent. The hand on the counter gripped a tight hold of his shoulder, moving to his back and her nails dug into his skin.

His lips were back on hers, moving insistently and sending tingles down her spine until she had to break away, panting harshly. It didn't stop him, for he moved his kisses to her neck, surprising her by nibbling at her skin. She was too distracted to worry about marks, however. Just as she was too distracted to worry about all the other bullshit that had caused her to wake up in the first place.

Grinding her hips harshly into his, she had to tighten her thighs around him, had to hold on for dear life when his thrusts increased in speed and the hand pinning hers to the cupboard disappeared, reaching into her hair and grabbing a fistful of it, a low and needy groan escaping through his gritted teeth.

Faintly, her thighs trembled.

Never before had there been that kind of reaction to her body.

It became more of an effort to remain quiet, but as she wrapped an arm under his shoulder and the other around his waist, gripping at his lower back, clinging to him, Sakura found the thought of being caught more erotic than worrying.

He leaned forward more fully, pushing her against the counter completely and the sudden pressure on her body, both behind and in front, had her crying out into his shoulder, for he pressed against her clitoris, rubbing against it with every thrust.

The pressure had her seeing stars.

It felt like her entire body went taut, her back arching and causing delicious friction on her breasts when they were squashed against his chest. Her mouth fell open, a silent cry falling from her lips and for that, she knew she would be grateful – later.

Itachi wasn't far behind her, his hips almost trembling as they slapped into hers a final time, grinding against her tensely.

She felt weak. Physically and emotionally drained.

"Bed," he whispered.

Despite still trying to catch his breath, Itachi pulled his hips back, doing his best to fix his sweatpants with one hand, before turning, keeping Sakura close to him as he carried her back to the bedroom, kissing her tenderly.

Sakura awoke to morning light at its brightest – or as bright as it could be in the middle of winter – and soft kisses littering up and down her spine. It almost tickled and the sensation increased as he got to the top of her back, closer to her neck.

She smiled and turned during the pause in kisses, looking up at her boyfriend with a tender gaze. How long had it been since they felt such peace? It felt like there was absolutely nothing they had to worry about and it made her smile widen, a sight that had her boyfriend pausing, had his eyes warming.

Too damn long. That was how long it had been.

"It's been a while since you have smiled like that," he commented.

"I'm sorry," replied Sakura quietly and her hand came up, brushing his long hair behind his ear. "Things… They're going to change."

But Itachi shook his head faintly. "You don't have to change, Sakura. I want you to be happy."

"That's why I need to change." Her smile dimmed minutely. "So I can make myself happy and in the long run make us happy."

The only reply was a slow kiss, one that felt heavy with emotion and as their lips moved against one another's, Sakura's hand in Itachi's hair slackened, coming down to his jaw and down his neck, soon slipping to his hand. She entwined their fingers sweetly.

"Thank you," she whispered between the chaste kisses, "for being so patient with me."

His lips sealed over hers once more before lifting their joined hands to his mouth, kissing it tenderly. "Thank you for not giving up on our relationship."

It had been touch and go for a while and it devastated her to admit such a thing. However, that was what a real relationship was all about, wasn't it? Hardships and endurance. Granted, it wasn't every day that your boyfriend came home, black and blue and covered in blood, confessing that he'd just assassinated your ex-boyfriend, but still.

Deep down, Sakura had always known that Itachi had a past. She knew of his involvement in ANBU and while that didn't necessarily mean she knew for a fact that he'd killed people, it would be a lie if she said the thought hadn't entered her mind from time to time. ANBU was a shady organisation that worked from the shadows. That said it all, really.

"You should go and get ready, Sakura," he told her. "We overslept."

Sakura's peacefully shut eyes snapped open in panic, but she soon settled when she saw the clock. They had overslept by five freaking minutes. Why her boyfriend thought that it was the worst thing in the world, she'd never understand. Though she supposed she was grateful for his way of thinking, because she had yet to be late to anything since he moved in with them.

Her eyes swept over his features, taking them in and she smiled at the content she found there.

In the beginning of January, they would each receive their student loans and since they worked and could get by on that income, they had agreed together that they would save their loans. She received a little more than he did, but that was only due to her circumstances.

Still, together, they had decided to open a savings account, placing their student loans into it and any spare money that they didn't need. In January, once they received their next payments, they were going to pay for the first few months' worth of rent on their apartment, buying the furniture with the change. With the way Itachi had explained it and helped her plan it all, they had enough to make the apartment liveable and would buy decorations and personal touches along the way.

Sakura wasn't going to lie… It made her kind of nervous. The thought of living with her boyfriend – alone – in an apartment they could call home, where they could be themselves and not have to worry about making anyone else uncomfortable… It was both exciting and nerve-racking. The apartment was two floors below Kakashi's, which she was grateful for, just in case they needed help one day. Plus, they both knew the building. They knew all of the safety mechanisms and whatnot.

Sucked that the elevator was out of use, though.

They already had the bedroom furniture and the apartment was two bedrooms – like a lot of the apartments in the building. The building was literally half and half. On the side of the building that Kakashi's home was on, they were all three bedrooms. On the other, they were all two bedrooms.

What they were going to do with the second bedroom was undecided as of yet, but Itachi had asked if they could perhaps use it as a spare bedroom. That way, when he came home from university every now and then, Sasuke could stay with them. Also, when he finished, instead of having to live with his parents again, he could live with them. Or with Kakashi and Naruto. Whichever he was most comfortable with.

Speaking of which…

"Have you heard anything from them?" It was a risky question, one that could utterly shatter their mood, but she had to ask.

Itachi sighed and shook his head.

Unbelievable, Sakura inwardly growled. In two weeks, the Uchiha family (now down to just two, by the way) would be hosting their annual party – The White Party. Last year, she and Itachi had attended together, though not as a couple.

This year they hadn't even sent him an invitation.

Oh, don't even get her started on how badly shit hit the fan when Fugaku found out about Sasuke's safety net. When the younger brother mentioned that he wouldn't be attending the university in Konoha like all other Uchiha had, their father had thrown a fit and said he had no choice, for he would not pay for any other university fees. Not only that, but he would do them proud, since they had been so terribly shamed by their eldest son.

Sasuke had shrugged – actually shrugged – and told him he didn't care what he thought. He would be attending the university of his choice (he and Itachi had spent hours researching which one would best facilitate his needs and give him the best education) and he was in it for no one but himself (and Itachi, but he hadn't told Fugaku that).

It was actually Itachi who had informed their parents that he was the one funding Sasuke's education when Fugaku threatened to take away his money, trying to stop the disobedience while he still could.

What did his father think of that?

Well, it was easier to say that Itachi hadn't received any birthday wishes. His twenty-third birthday and his father didn't even send him a card.

To give credit where it was due, Mikoto left something at Shisui's place for her eldest son, asking her nephew to give it to him. However, Sakura still believed that that was not enough. She should have wished him happy birthday in person. Who cared about presents or money? It was nothing in comparison. Sasuke had managed to find the time to fly home and visit his brother, spending the entire day with him before returning to university. He hadn't even been able to stay the night, yet he still found the time to be with his brother on his birthday. That had cheered Itachi up immensely, much to her happiness.

"I know it's not the point," Sakura stated softly, "but at least you don't have to get all dressed up again and sit at a party with people you couldn't care less about."

He smirked and kissed her forehead. "Up, Sakura. You don't want to be late."

It seemed she would have to make a call to Sasuke later that day, to see if there was anything they could do. Combined, Itachi had no hopes in resisting their efforts to cheer him up.

Her class was filled with a variety of people. Some of them she liked, some of them she didn't like. Only a handful of them had actually tried to start a conversation with her, but the rest kept to themselves.

Much to her surprise, when she first started her course, she found that Nara Shikamaru had also joined them. With him was Ino, but that hadn't surprised her in the least, since she and the blonde had always talked about becoming doctors. One of their sillier dreams was to run their own hospital together.

The Nara and Yamanaka families were close and she could see in the way they acted with one another that they saw each other as cousins, perhaps even siblings. It was comfortable and friendly, yet Ino often acted like an annoying sister who, in Shikamaru's words, nagged at him constantly and gave him headaches.

The lesson itself could be difficult to follow at times and after the first few weeks, Sakura found herself bringing in a recorder so that she could play everything back, just in case she missed anything.

"Good afternoon, Sakura-chan."

She looked up at the silver haired man and smiled politely. "Good afternoon, Kabuto-san."

He was kind of strange and quiet, but friendly enough and had actually helped her a few times when he noticed Sakura struggling with a couple of the assignments. Since Shikamaru and Ino were always with her, however, they rarely spoke and he sat a few rows behind them.

"How are you doing with the latest assignment?" he asked, pushing his glasses up his nose. That was something he always did and she always had the urge to tell him to get them tightened. "Any luck, yet?"

Up until last week, she'd been finding it painfully difficult to even begin the assignment, let alone make any serious headway with it. But, they still had plenty of time and she had managed to come up with a plan on how she was going to tackle it.

"Yeah, actually." She smiled more enthusiastically this time. "I've gone over the notes about a dozen times and it just clicked last Friday."

He nodded in agreement, as it had actually been his method. "I'm glad. You're a capable girl, Sakura-chan, you simply let yourself get distracted."


Speaking of distractions… Sakura glanced over her shoulder at the approaching blonde and then turned to smile up at Kabuto. "Thank you for checking up on me."

She'd stopped telling him by now that he didn't have to do such a thing. It was actually something he did for a lot of the students in the class. After the first month, an unbelievable amount began dropping out, finding it all too hard and after the ninth person left the course, he decided to offer the other students tutoring. Kabuto was also their student rep.

"Just let me know if you need any help."

He waved goodbye and turned, nodding his head in acknowledgement to Ino and Shikamaru, who in return acknowledged him.

Ino placed her tray of food down first, followed by the Nara. As always, he tuned out of their conversation once the blonde got started, settling on eating his lunch as peacefully as he could before he was inevitably dragged into it.

"Sai asked me if I want to go on holiday with him in January!"

Sakura raised an eyebrow, stunned. "With your loans? Can you both afford it?"

According to her best friend, Sai lived on his own, though didn't rely completely on his student loans to pay the bills and put food on the table. He had a part-time job and was always squeezing in extra hours whenever he possibly could.

"Well," she sighed, "we're booking it next month, but it sounds better when I say it my way. Anyway," Ino suddenly asked, "how's he doing?"

They always kept each other up to date with how their boyfriends were doing. They were best friends and a major role in each other's lives and it just so happened that now, they had boyfriends who were equally as important. It would be uncomfortable if they didn't at least try to show an interest.

"I just text him, wishing him luck on his exam-"

Ino's hand suddenly reached out, grabbing Sakura's phone and before the latter could protest, she was turning, holding said phone up with the camera already switched on.

"Oi, Shikamaru, get your lazy ass into the shot."

"Ino, I'm sure Itachi-san doesn't-"


Instead of arguing, because they both knew it would only give them headaches, Sakura and Shikamaru leaned into the shot, the former smiling and making the victory sign, while Shikamaru sighed and gave a small smile. Ino waited patiently, already having found her pose and when she was certain they also looked good, she snapped the picture and turned to face them once more, typing away on the phone until she handed it back with a smile.

Sakura looked down, only to roll her eyes. "You're lucky sending picture messages is a part of my plan, Ino-Pig."

The picture was a nice one, she decided, so saved it to her phone. They were all smiling and underneath, she had typed out 'good luck and kick ass, Itachi'.

In the beginning, Sakura knew for a fact that Ino hadn't liked Itachi, especially when the she began spending the majority of her time with him. After a few months, however, Ino made an effort in getting to know him, if only for Sakura's sake. They weren't exactly friends, but they were kind to each other.

"He said 'thank you'," Sakura informed them when her phone buzzed.

"He doesn't even know me," Shikamaru sighed and continued eating.

"That's not the point, idiot!" Ino snapped in return.

Poor guy, she silently chuckled.

She breathed in deeply, inhaling the tantalising aroma that drifted from the kitchen and, in an almost daze-like state, dropped her bags to the ground, slipped off her dolly shoes and threw her jacket onto a hook, not caring whether or not it was hers.

It smelled like heaven!

Following the heavenly scent, Sakura smiled when she entered the kitchen. Kakashi was cooking – she should have known. Even though he didn't seem to be the type, he was actually rather talented in the kitchen and she loved it when he was the one cooking dinner. However, there was always a catch…

"What's the occasion?" asked Sakura as she peered through the gap between his arm and body, grinning when she noticed what dish it was.

It wasn't her favourite, but it was his and he cooked it to perfection because of that.

Just as he was about to reply, the front door opened and she stuck her head out of the archway before making her way over to the door.

"How did it go?" she asked.

Dark eyes warmed as they locked with hers and Sakura's heart skipped a beat. "Well." Then, he looked in the direction of the kitchen, his interest piqued. "Kakashi-san is cooking?"

She couldn't even take offence to the fact that he preferred Kakashi's cooking to hers. "Yeah."

"What is the special occasion?"

"I was just asking that myself…"

"The special occasion," came Kakashi's lazy drawl and he stepped into the hallway, leaning against the wall and crossing his ankles. In his hand was an envelope, one he waved casually. "The special occasion is this."

Sakura's eyes went wide and her breath caught. "Is that…?"

He nodded once, his eyes creasing with a smile.

For a moment, she couldn't quite figure out what she wanted to do with herself, but then decided to run over to Kakashi, accepting the envelope once it was handed over to her. She waited until Itachi was standing behind her to open it, excitement causing her to rush through it, yet still take care of the fancy paper.

She squealed with excitement and, much to her surprise, there was a 'whoop' in return as Naruto entered the apartment and shut the door behind himself, only to pause.

"Wait, why am I whooping?" He frowned and scratched his cheek.

Sakura waved the envelope excitedly, unable to keep still and behind her, Itachi smiled. "I hope you're not busy on May twelfth!"

"May twelfth?" The frown deepened as he went into deep thought and she held back the sudden urge to hit him. "Why? What've you got there?"

"This…" She grinned. "Is Obito and Rin-san's wedding invitation, Naruto and we're all invited."

A/N - I wasn't planning on posting this just yet, but I had a job interview today and got a call back less than an hour later, saying that I got it and welcome to the team! :-D

I'm not sure how often I'll be posting these chapters, but it will be as often as possible, promise.