(MAJOR) RANT: Okay, so I wanted to explain why I write ItaSaku pairing and SasuNaru as sorta side pairing. It's not because I ship canon ItaSaku, it's not. I like Itachi as one of the male characters, his complexity and layers, just like Nagato, Obito, Madara, Sasuke, Jiraiya, Kakashi, etc. Similarly, as one of the female characters, I like Sakura. I have read extensively about Sakura, SasuSaku, Hinata, NaruHina, with the hope of trying to understand how the various readers and viewers interpret them as individuals and in pairing (both hate and love for them). Now, the thing is, if I was forced to give the 3 main characters heteronormative relationships in future, and if I dissect them really closely, then I am able to convince myself that they do make sense at some level. HOWEVER, if I were asked to pair the main 3 characters, in any type of relationship, then I would definitely go with SasuNaru. I realise that they are portayed as spiritual brothers in canon, I still feel that there are quite some romantic and sexual undertones that can be interpreted to fit one's desire – which I did. Other than that, their respective journeys as representations of yin and yang is downright phenomenal. I absolutely do enjoy SasuNaru. Their chemistry – in whatever interpretation, shape, form – is simply a treat to witness.

Now, back to ItaSaku. As I said, I do not personally ship the canon versions of them – I only like them individually, and I believe that I understand hetero-relationships enough to write about them in depth. I think that I need some more experience and insights to truly do justice to SasuNaru as the focal pairing in my stories. Since I've grown up watching hetero-relationships, I'm able to perceive the underlying themes and explore them somewhat. I just do not have enough personal experience (or confidence) to write a proper non-hetero of any kind.

P.S.: This is my opinion. Of course, everyone is entitled to theirs, and no opinion is wrong opinion per se, and I don't wish to begin some sort of debate. I felt the need to explain why this and my previous story (The Nightingales) have ItaSaku as focal pairing. Also, why my characters do have considerable amount of OOC. I mean no offense to the canon.

Disclaimer: Deals with some controversial topics of today.

Enjoy the chapter! :)


CHAPTER 5

Izumi leaves for her Paris weekend trip on Friday evening. Itachi visits her house to see her off, and by the time he returns home, he feels strung out. Izumi's mother is a little overbearing. The entire time, she hounds Itachi with all kinds of questions about school, studies, his parents, Sasuke, classes, goals in life, college options, and what not. The worst part is that this wasn't his first time meeting Izumi's mother, either. Every time Itachi pays a visit, it's as though time has reset itself and he has to go through the motions all over again. He feels a little bad for Izumi because the girl stays with that woman.

When he's having dinner with his family, Mikoto asks him about her.

"It's been a year now," she says. "I'm assuming that it's serious?"

Itachi swallows his food before responding. "It's going well, mom. I don't know about it being serious. It's been the same as always."

Mikoto frowns with disapproval. "Are you simply dating her for the sake of it? Itachi, the relation has to move forward – or backward. It can't stay static for long."

"What am I to do? I can't force it going either way."

"No, you can't," she concedes. "But it usually does. If it's static, then it's already lost."

"You want me to break up with her?" he asks, surprised.

"Is it helping you?" she counters. "Being with her – is it adding anything to your life?"

Itachi averts his gaze to his food instead. He hasn't thought of it in this way until now. When Izumi began pursuing him, Itachi found her to be a pretty and strong-willed person. She told him about her mother, and how she grew up feeling like a trophy child. Izumi doesn't have a father, so her mother took it upon herself to play both the roles in Izumi's life. Yes, it didn't exactly pan out well for Izumi because her mother ended up micro-managing many aspects of Izumi's life – still, Itachi thinks that it doesn't really deter him.

However, a few months into dating Izumi, Itachi began to notice certain characteristics that he hadn't expected. Izumi started to rely on him heavily to the point where he now has to take her to every outing with his group of friends. Izumi's own group of friends were forgotten. At first, Itachi felt it to be alright when Izumi would come to him to vent out – her mother can truly be annoying. But it snowballed to the point where now Izumi isn't the strong-willed person he thought she was – she just sounds catty and whiny.

There have been times in recent months, though, when Itachi would stare at his phone screen blankly with no idea what to say to her. Or how to speak with her. Or how to behave. It feels as though he's going through the motions of being a boyfriend simply because he still remembers when Izumi first approached him and said Have you ever felt caged?

And Itachi had said, "Not really. Why do you ask?"

Izumi smiled this secretive smile, and said, "Let me tell you about my mother."

Listening to her life made Izumi appear to be different than the other girls. Where they loved to shop and show off, Izumi would say how it's tiring to be your own mother's guinea pig. Where they loved to tell Itachi about their broken nails, Izumi would roll her eyes and talk about broken dreams. It all had been refreshing for Itachi at the transition between fifteen and sixteen. He was so used to girls being a certain way that Izumi entered like a breath of fresh air.

And when she said that they should just date already, it felt like the most natural thing to do.

Things had been absolutely fine for the first few months. Itachi was happy, Izumi was happy, everyone welcomed her with open arms, and all was well. Until one day, Konan posed a question to Itachi when they were lounging in pool chairs under the hot summer sun.

It was just the two of them – the others having given up on sunbathing and dived into the cool water – and Konan pushed her large sunglasses up on her hair, turned to Itachi and said –

"Does she make you happy?"

Of course, Itachi answered quickly, confused at the question.

"Really?" Konan titled her head. "Because, to me, it looks like she found a boy to pine after so that she can escape her suffocating life."

And then things went downhill. Sasuke's smiles felt forced, Kisame would stick with Zetsu, Yahiko and Nagato disagreed with her more and more, and Konan would make faces when Izumi wasn't looking.

When Kisame said that Izumi cheated on him, Itachi didn't care. He knew that Izumi wasn't going anywhere, and she'd just come back to him eventually. He never paused to think if he wanted her to come back.

After dinner, when Sasuke is reading his book on the couch, Itachi pillows his head on his arms, stares at his ceiling, and tells him what Kisame had said – that they can't survive outside of their money.

"Why would you want to?" Sasuke questions.

"I'm not saying that I want to. I'm just wondering if he's right."

"Of course, he's right," Sasuke says. "I can't believe that I'm agreeing with Kisame of all people, but what he said makes sense."

"So why are you hanging out with the Namikaze kid?" Itachi retorts.

"He's cool to talk to," Sasuke replies. "I mean, we kind of began on the wrong footing and things went to shit. But he's smart. No wonder he got a scholarship."

"What about the entire money thing? If you're friends now, surely, he'll accompany you everywhere. Will you leave him behind when he can't afford the tickets to the Louvre?"

"I doubt he'd be interested in the Louvre," Sasuke snorts.

"You know what I mean. Forget international trips. Even if you go out to eat, what then?"

"I don't know," Sasuke admits. "It's fine for now because all we do is hang out during school hours."

"Things won't be as smooth sailing."

"I know. And I have a feeling that he'll throw a tantrum if I offer to pay for anything."

Itachi snickers. "He's Kitsune, all right." There's a brief moment of silence, before Itachi picks up the conversation sombrely. "I always enjoyed this. Having everything that I ever wanted. I still do. I can't imagine driving to a nearby town to buy a dress, as Kisame puts it."

"Me, too," Sasuke says sheepishly.

"What do you think of Izumi?" Itachi asks, eyes still trained to the ceiling.

"Why do you ask?" Sasuke asks slowly and carefully. "Is everything fine between you two?"

"I think so," Itachi says. "Just that – I'm thinking about what mom said. Do you think she's right?"

"Are you guys static?" Sasuke counters.

Itachi realises instantly that Sasuke is trying to deflect – either because he thinks his honesty will not be appreciated, or that he doesn't have a clue what to say. It's mostly the former, because Sasuke has something to say on everything. He's very opinionated like that. Maybe the Namikaze kid and his brother bonded over this trait. The blonde boy is nicknamed Kitsune because even though he was teased and troubled the moment he set foot in their school, Naruto was far from shy or submissive. He would burst out in heated speeches everywhere, until the troublemakers were too irritated or annoyed and they'd leave him alone.

"I don't know," Itachi admits. "I never really gave it any thought. Izumi is Izumi. What else is there to think?"

"Don't you think that you should map out how you feel about her? I mean, you've been dating her this whole time. What's the point, then?"

Itachi sits up. Sasuke has bookmarked the page with his finger, and is dutifully giving his full attention to Itachi.

"Tell me what you think," Itachi holds his brother's eyes. They're the same. Same shape, same colour, same size. Moments like these – when he's truly focused on Sasuke – Itachi realises how similar they are in appearance. Granted that they are technically fraternal twins, but they have the same silky black hair, the same fair skin tone, the same height, similar build, same pointed chin, same long nose, same thin lips. The only feature that differentiates them is their overall facial structure – the cheekbones don't match, Itachi has pronounced tear troughs, and Sasuke prefers to keep his hair short.

"About Izumi?" Sasuke clarifies, and Itachi nods. "I think she's holding you back. I think she doesn't realise it herself, but she's becoming her mother day by day. And I think you deserve better than that."


On Saturday, Itachi is out with his friends at a bowling alley. It's one of their favourite activities, and Sasuke and his little gang – along with Naruto – join them.

They split into two teams with Itachi, Konan, Sasuke, Kisame, and Yahiko on one side, while Naruto, Zetsu, Hinata, Suigetsu, and Nagato are on the other side. Half an hour into their game, they realise that Naruto is a natural at it. He's wiping the floor off of them, and even Kisame rises to the challenge with more zest than Itachi had ever seen in the man. Nagato is cheering loudly "Go Kitsune!" and Sasuke looks ready to hit him. Suigetsu is clapping Naruto on the shoulder, telling him that he's going to pay for Naruto throughout the night, come what may.

After the rather heated match, Sasuke suggests going to Kamui, and Naruto positively beams at him, saying, "Yes! I can meet Sakura, too!"

No one bothers asking who Sakura is. They file into their cars and rendezvous in the lobby. Kakashi and Kimimaro are back to their acts of trying to be discreet. Obito tells them that there's waiting since there are no rooms available at the moment.

"It's a Saturday night," he says apologetically. "Why don't you wait in the backrooms and I'll come fetch you as soon as one of them clears away? I can't have teenagers standing around here."

Itachi hasn't spoken with Sakura since their chat. Feeling a little peeved, he follows Obito through the double doors that's marked For Staff Only, and Obito dumps them near the storage rooms. Before his uncle leaves, Naruto quickly asks him if he could speak with Sakura.

"I'll let her know you've come," Obito says. "Don't go wandering off."

"Since when does Namikaze know your uncle?" Yahiko asks Itachi and Sasuke.

"Since Sakura started working here," Naruto replies. "She's a friend of mine."

Now, everyone is glancing between the three of them. Itachi and Sasuke stay silent, and Naruto doesn't understand what the confusion is about. He's whistling a random tune, completely at ease.

Sakura arrives before Obito does with a cleared table. She's in her uniform, hair in a high ponytail, and beaming at Naruto. He quickly bounds over to hug her.

"You should have told me you were coming!" she scolds, pulling back from him.

"Last minute thing," Naruto smiles sheepishly. "I went bowling with these guys, and we just sort of decided to come here. Do you have time to stay?"

Sakura hasn't noticed Itachi yet, and Itachi is almost glad for it.

"Actually, I'm off for the night," she replies. "I was about to change and leave."

"Join us, then!" he says excitedly. "Use your staff discount!"

Sakura giggles. "Even with it, I doubt I'd be able to afford it. Have you never seen the prices here?"

"I've never been here before," Naruto admits, rubbing the back of his neck. "I mean, I'm only here now because Sasuke gets free entry, isn't it?"

As soon as the words leave his lips, Sakura's eyes swivel to the group finally. Her gaze first lands on Sasuke and then Itachi, who is standing beside Konan, and she immediately smiles and gives a short wave.

"Hey guys."

Sasuke waves back in similar fashion, and Itachi gives a tight-lipped smile. She frowns, her easy smile slipping away.

"What do you say?" Naruto grabs her attention. He hasn't noticed the less-than-enthusiastic greetings. "Stay for a bit. Come on!"

"It's alright." Her smile is awfully fake and her apologetic tone falls flat. "Like I said, I won't be able to afford, anyway."

And before the situation can become even more awkward, she turns to leave.

"Wait," Konan calls out. "You're Naruto's friend?"

Sakura glances once at Itachi, and he wants to cower under the green fire. "Yes."

"Stay," Konan shrugs coolly. "He won the bowling match for his team. Suigetsu, what's another person? Come on, show some sportsmanship, man."

Suigetsu smirks. "I have no problem. You know what, Pinkette? Really do join us. Namikaze has proven himself to be a strong opponent. I'd love to see what his friends are like."

Sakura bites down on her lip, visibly conflicted. Itachi's heart is hammering against his chest. Sasuke has caught his eyes at least ten times in the last two minutes, and Itachi has no idea what to do with it.

"Alright," she eventually agrees. "I've heard quite a bit about you. Suigetsu, right? And you must be Hinata?"

Hinata smiles back. "It's very nice to meet you."

Naruto drags her to the group and begins to introduce the others. "That's Kisame, Zetsu, Yahiko, Nagato, Konan … you already know Itachi and Sasuke. Guys, this is Sakura!"

Kisame is so blank that Itachi wants to snicker. But he doesn't comment. He doesn't even speak. Only Nagato, Konan, and Zetsu greet her in return. Sakura turns to leave saying that she'll join them after changing her clothes. Obito is back before she even has the time to open the doors.

"Sakura, you're off, right? Okay. Guys, go to PR3. I'll send in Hidan. You know the drill."

"Actually, I'll be joining them," Sakura tells him. Obito pauses in surprise. "Is that allowed?"

"Yes, of course." He glances between her and Itachi.

Sakura nods and he disappears just as hurriedly as he'd entered.


Everything is going fine – meaning, Sakura is bonding well with Konan, Hinata, Nagato, Sasuke, Suigetsu, and Naruto, while Itachi, Kisame, Zetsu, and Yahiko are having inane talks at the other end of the table. Itachi tells himself that it's too much of an effort to speak with Sakura because there are too many people between them, and sticks with this justification throughout the night, until –

"So are you guys dating?" Sakura asks Konan at one point.

Their side of table erupts in laughter. "Me and Itachi? Not at all. He's dating Izumi."

Sakura gives an embarrassed smile. "Sorry, my bad. Why isn't she here today?"

And Itachi cuts in, because Izumi is his girlfriend. "She's in Paris for the weekend," he tells Sakura and is acutely aware that this is the first direct communication he's had with her tonight.

Her eyes are melting trees. "Right." In burning snow.

Itachi averts his gaze, and focuses on Kisame instead.

Sakura sticks with beer, he notices. No hard alcohol. She eats a little, but mostly speaks. Itachi pulls out his phone and sends Izumi a quick text.

How's it going?

Her reply is instant. At the house. Bored. What about you?

We're at Kamui. Thought of you.

Aww! 3 I miss you, too! Xxx

Why are you at the house? Paris is a good city to explore.

You know I've been here 10000s of times. It's not exciting anymore. :|

Sakura is laughing at something Suigetsu is regaling with avid facial expressions. Even Konan is clutching at her stomach. She seems to be enjoying herself even after Hidan gave her the cold shoulder earlier when he'd come to take their orders, and then later to serve.

Alright. So what will you do tonight?

We could video call ;)

I'm at the club!

Hahaha I'm kidding.

But call me, anyway. I want to say hi to everyone.

Yahiko is offering Sakura a smoke, and she refuses.

"Have you ever smoked before?" Konan asks, taking one stick out of the pack for herself.

Sakura bites her lip. "Once. Hated it. Besides, it makes my throat all raspy."

"What?" Suigetsu snorts. "You sing or something?"

Sakura flushes. "No."

Itachi has never heard her lie, but firmly believes that this is what she looks like when she does. His attention is grabbed by his sudden ringing phone. Izumi is calling.

Itachi accepts the call and holds the screen in front of his face. Izumi is sitting on her bed with her hair around her face. She grins at Itachi.

"Hey!"

"Hey. Hang on, let me step outside."

"No, no. I want to see everyone. Come on, I'm bored here!"

Itachi hesitates, before remembering that he has no reason to do so. "Guys," he calls out. "Izumi on call."

He passes the phone to Kisame, who gives a short wave in the camera, before passing it on to Zetsu. This goes on until it reaches Naruto, who has no idea what to do, but ends up beaming in the camera anyway. He hands it to Sakura, but she quickly gives it to Suigetsu.

When the phone returns to Itachi, he repeats that he'll step outside. She doesn't protest this time, and he makes his way near the washrooms where the noise is not very loud and he can hear her clearly. That's what he tells himself, at least. Izumi asks him who the new girl is, and why is the Namikaze kid there? Itachi tells her that they're Sasuke's friends.

"What's wrong with him?" Izumi's face scrunches up. "Have you seen their clothes? The girl looks like she has nothing else to wear, and Namikaze's T-shirt is old enough to use it as a washcloth."

"Sasuke's life is no concern of yours," he tells her icily.

She doesn't budge. "Come on, Itachi! He's your brother. Shouldn't you tell him not to hang out with the likes of them? Hyuuga and Hozuki are bad enough already."

"What?"

She rolls her eyes. "Have you seen the way Hyuuga struts around the school? As though she's in a beauty pageant. And Hozuki insists on acting like a ten year old."

Itachi stares at her, wondering how he's missed this side of her completely until now. Has Izumi always been this jealous?

"Izumi," he begins seriously. "You should know by now that if you keep competing against Sasuke, I will throw you out of my life without a second thought."

It doesn't sit well with her at all. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me. You keep commenting on Sasuke's life as though you have any right to do so. I don't know how I let it continue for so long."

"Itachi," she says angrily, "you're my boyfriend. My boyfriend. You're supposed to take my side, no matter what. I should be the most important person in your life, because you are the most important person in my life. Sasuke might be your brother, but I'm your girlfriend. I deserve your full devotion, at all times! I've tolerated your shit for a really long time now. Don't make me spell it out for you!"

And Itachi feels anger coursing through him like never before. "Do spell it out, Izumi, because you seem to be dying to do so!"

"Fine, then!" she yells in the phone. "Do you have any idea what it feels like to date you? You're never present in the moment, ever! You're always distracted by something or the other, or you're always in your own mind all the time! Trying to get you to talk is like pulling teeth! Not to mention your weird insistence on spending time with Sasuke. I mean, come on! He stays in the same house as you! Why does he get your attention when I'm trying to text? Every night, I feel like an idiot to be wasting my time on you because you seem more interested in what he has to say than me! When do I get your attention?"

A random man in his early twenties passes by him, giving him a sympathetic smile, as though being yelled at by your girlfriend in a corner near the washrooms is an everyday occurrence.

Izumi isn't done, though. "It's like you only see me when you want to screw around. I'm not your toy, you asshole. You can't use me like that! Everything in the world is more important to you than I am, let alone Sasuke! Your piano, your dance, your friends, your life! When I try to get some sympathy from you, you act like the coldest human being in the history of human beings! As if only you matter, and I'm simply a trophy girlfriend to you! What the fuck, Itachi? I get that shit from my mom, I don't need it from you, too!"

The same man from earlier is now exiting the washroom, and he gives another sympathetic smile to Itachi.

"Are you done?" Itachi asks her calmly.

She gets even more furious. "No, I'm not, you jerk! Oh my god, can you act like a fucking human being? It's like you're a freaking robot!" And she begins to cry.

"Why don't we talk later when you've calmed down?" he says.

She cries harder. "Just fuck off!" The call cuts.

Itachi stares at his screen for a few seconds, before locking his phone and keeping it in his pocket. He turns around to head back and stops in surprise when he finds Naruto staring at him with an unreadable expression. He clearly heard the conversation.

"Are you eavesdropping?" Itachi asks dryly.

Naruto rolls his eyes. "It's hardly called eavesdropping if the entire club can hear your girlfriend."

Itachi ignores the exaggeration. "So what? You thought it was perfectly fine to stand there and listen?"

The kid ignores the jab, and instead says, "Why does she have a problem with Sasuke?"

"What are you doing here?"

"I came to fucking pee, no shit."

"Then go ahead. Don't stop on my account."

He doesn't move. "Why does she have a problem with Sasuke?"

"How is it any of your business?"

"Come on, man," Naruto groans. "Why are you always so rude to me? What the fuck have I done to you?"

Itachi doesn't respond immediately. "Shouldn't I ask you that? You're the one who made assumptions about me and acted accordingly, when, in fact, I've never done anything to you."

Naruto raises his eyebrows coolly. "Apart from standing and doing nothing when the others harassed me, yes, you're quite right."

"What did you want me to do? Step in and tell everyone to stop teasing you? You're not a child, Namikaze. Fight your own battles."

"No wonder your girlfriend's mad at you, Uchiha," Naruto shoots back. "You are a freaking robot. I don't know what Sasuke sees in you. Fight your own goddamn battles, then."

With that, he pushes past Itachi to go inside the washroom. Itachi stares after him for a bit, before returning to their table. Kisame asks him what the missus wanted, and Itachi gives him a look that shuts him up instantly.

To be honest, Itachi is a little mad. And the thing about being mad is that he always feels rebellious at such times. There are many instances from his life wherein the evidences of this anger are scattered around him, including Sakura. When Itachi got mad at the three boys who tried to harass the girl on the streets for fun, he felt rebellious, and the outcome is Sakura sitting with his friends, drinking beer and laughing at Suigetsu's stories.

And now he wants to do something that Izumi will hate. She did cheat on you, his mind supplies. Itachi had let that go. Now, now, though, he doesn't want to let this go. She never should have compared herself with Sasuke.

Namikaze enters the room, and without a single glance thrown his way, takes his seat beside Sakura. Sakura, meanwhile, is attentively listening to Hinata.

The music in the room is at the level where they can talk to two or three people around them, but the voice doesn't carry farther than that. So Itachi has no idea what's happening on their end of the table anymore. Feeling a little restless, he gets to his feet and makes his way to the glass wall to stare out at the city. He sees Sasuke coming to join him in the reflection.

"What happened?" he asks directly.

"Just an argument," Itachi replies. "I'll deal with it later."

"About what?"

"Some stupid things that I don't even know," Itachi says with clenched teeth. "She said that I don't pay her due attention, and that I see her as a trophy girlfriend."

Sasuke suddenly snorts, then tries to stifle it. "Sorry. Sorry."

Itachi gives a slow smirk, feeling a smug satisfaction settling in his gut.

"What else did she say?"

"That I'm selfish, that I only think about myself."

"I see. What are you going to do?"

Itachi shrugs. "I don't know. I'm a little angry. Maybe I should tell her that. Proof that I'm not a robot."

Sasuke stares at him. "She said that you're a robot?"

"Yeah."

Sasuke doesn't respond. He offers Itachi the glass he's holding. "Drink up."

Itachi does. It's Jägermeister. Sasuke pulls him back to the table, and Itachi ends up beside Konan. Sakura is sitting on Konan's other side.

"Hi," Itachi calls out.

Sakura pauses in her speech to Hinata, surprised at the interruption. "Hi," she says warily.

Konan is serenely smoking between them.

"Are you having fun?" Itachi asks.

Sakura is now looking at him as though he has personally offended her by this inquiry. "Yes," she says stiffly. "Thank you."

"You sing, then?"

Sakura is about to return to Hinata's conversation, but stops at the question. "No."

"Liar." Itachi smirks at her. "Hello, Coco."

The anger falls apart right in front of him. Sakura's eyes are not burning trees anymore, and she grins a toothed grin, and Itachi finds his own anger at Izumi melting away at the sight of it. Must be the alcohol, he concludes.

"Hello, Pinocchio."

Konan is still smoking away between them.

"I'm going to come on that side," he says and gets to his feet. "Passive smoke."

Sakura nods in understanding, but she gets to her feet, as well. "Passive smoke."

Itachi chuckles. Yahiko is smoking on the other end of the table. On the opposite side, there's Nagato and Suigetsu sharing a stick between them. Sasuke and Naruto are watching Itachi and Sakura in return, and Hinata doesn't know what to do with herself because her conversation partner is suddenly standing. Kisame is hammered, and Zetsu is lounging with his phone as always.

Itachi goes to the music console and lowers the sound. "Can we have all smokers on one side?"

They all groan but shuffle towards one end. Sasuke, Naruto, Hinata, Sakura, Itachi sit on the other side. Kisame and Zetsu don't smoke as such, but they don't care either way.

Itachi sits between Sasuke and Sakura. Naruto is staring at him with the same unreadable expression.

Sasuke strikes up a random conversation, and Sakura and Hinata tune in to him. Itachi is glad. He was honestly at sea as to what to do with the situation. His phone has been beeping for a while now, so he pulls it out to check. Izumi has sent him six back-to-back messages.

You're such an asshole. You didn't even call me back.

Itachi, I'm very pissed at you.

Who am I kidding? You're obviously talking to Sasuke again. Nothing new. I'll just be ignored.

Text me back, you jerk!

Itachi, I swear I won't talk to you if you don't text me back right now.

I mean it.

Itachi gulps down some beer. I told you that I'm at the club.

As always, the reply is instant. So what? Are your friends more important than your angry girlfriend?

You're going to be angry even if I reply later. What's the point in doing it now?

I'm angry because you're not replying NOW!

I told you earlier on the call that we will talk later. Why are you insisting on having a conversation when there are clearly better times to do so?

Moreover, you're not angry because I'm not replying. You're angry because I act like a robot.

Case in point.

Izumi, what do you want me to do? What are you expecting from this fight?

That you understand that I deserve to be treated with respect! Which you have never done!

"Is everything okay?" Sakura asks and Itachi startles a little.

"Yeah," he replies.

"Liar," she smirks.

"Girlfriend issues," he says and doesn't offer more.

"Ooo," she says excitedly. "Tell me."

"Why are you happy?" he asks, puzzled.

She laughs. "I'm not happy. I want to know what kind of girlfriend issues rich people have. Is she mad that you didn't give her a diamond ring?"

Itachi laughs loudly, garnering Sasuke and Naruto's attention. "No."

"Then?"

Itachi is conflicted for a few seconds but the way Sakura is looking at him so expectantly makes him want to spill everything to her. "Normal things. Nothing about diamond rings."

She raises her eyebrows. "Gucci purses?"

"Why does it have to be over merchandise?"

"I don't know. I mean, I can't think of any other issues that she can possibly have with you."

"Really?" he asks, surprised at the faith. "You don't even know me."

Sakura smiles and leans in as though she wants to share a secret. Itachi dutifully lends his ear. "You're considerate, you help random homeless girls by protecting them and giving them jobs so that they don't starve on the streets, you love Beauty and the Beast, you're pretty and rich and smart. To me, it's quite the complete package." She pulls back and winks at him good-naturedly.

Itachi doesn't know how to respond to that, so he doesn't do it immediately. "Are you flirting with me?"

And Sakura laughs, saying, "Why would I flirt with you?" Then she winks again. "I only hit on gay guys."

Itachi grins. "Liar."

His phone beeps again. This is it. I can't take this anymore. I'm breaking up with you. Have a good life.

Itachi's light-hearted warmth seeps out of him as he reads it. Fine by me, he types, sends it, and pockets his phone, ignoring another beep that comes in instantly.


Update cycle is 48 hours. Please review! :)