History has a tendency to repeat itself, whether intentional or not.
It is not something a mortal could control, and it certainly isn't what anyone would have expected. But sometimes, it is the unexpected which makes life so full of stories worthy of telling.
Seeing her face enlarged and carved onto the side of the Hokage monument was not something she needed or wanted to see, ever. The magnification of her visage publicly displayed in the open with eyes that made her look as if she was blind and a stern look on her face; it was almost alien to her. But those were not the worse aspects, oh no, with only a trail of bangs off to the right side, it left her forehead quite visible and also quite noticeable to the public eye.
'Great, when I said I'll stop hiding my forehead all those years ago, I never thought I would ever regret it…' Sakura sighed as she tore her green eyes away from the window and back into the office of the Hokage. It had taken her a long time to finally accept her newly appointed role after Tsunade-sama resigned, claiming to have caught up with her age and needed to be liberated from all the responsibilities. But it couldn't have been further from the truth, for Sakura knew what had caused her mentor to finally loose her spirit and step down.
Naruto was dead, as was Shizune. It seemed that an Anbu team, led by Shizune, had finally managed to track down the elusive Kyubi host, locked in battle with the snake who wore the skin of their former teammate. Sasuke was no more, his mind long been destroyed for the sake of Orichimaru's goals. And it pissed Naruto off until he lost all sense of control.
And then there was nothing left.
The released Kyubi was more than capable of destroying their enemy, and then some. The tragic battle ended with 13 more names carved into the black depth of the memorial, and the cursed corpse of Shizune who sacrificed herself to seal what remained of the Kyubi.
A tragic end to a tragic beginning, but it wasn't something Sakura hadn't foreseen. There was never an ounce of hope to begin with, so she wasn't about to loose too much sleep over it.
Yes, she shed tears.
Yes, she lost touch with reality for a few days.
And yes, she wondered if she could continue on with her life after such a tragic event.
But the pain was all too familiar to her already that the confirmation of Naruto and Sasuke's deaths didn't hurt as much as people expected of her. Having lived her own life for the last ten years without seeing either of the two males, Sakura had more than enough time to worry, miss, and cry about them. And ten years was more than enough for any girl to waste on someone she never saw and would never see again. In a way, the news of their deaths set her free of the whispered questions lingering in the back of her mind. No longer would she wonder if either of them was still alive, and no longer would she have to be hopeful whenever a messenger came bearing news of sighting the two former Konoha shinobi.
They were no more, and Sakura was able to bid her last goodbye at their memorial. She cried that day, but the rain was kind enough to masque her tears. She knew internally that those would be the last tears she would shed for their sakes.
The council elders of Konoha came knocking on her apartment door the following day, informing her of Tsunade-sama's desire to resign. And that her wish was for Sakura to succeed the position.
She agreed without hesitation, simply because she needed to move on with her life. And what could provide better distraction than busying herself with the task of a Hokage?
"It seems that Konoha got a new Hokage," Kisame informed his partner as he carelessly tossed his soaked straw hat to a corner of the room before laying down his Samehada against the cheap plaster wall. Hearing no comment from the quiet Uchiha standing near the window, the Akatsuki continued with his report of what he saw near the forest of Konoha.
"Seemed to be another medic chick, that pupil of Tsunade's." That seemed to catch the Uchiha's attention as the shark man felt a pair of eyes boring into his back. Chuckling softly to himself, Kisame wondered if this had something to do with the Uchiha returning to headquarters a few years back in bloodied robes but no wound.
"You know her?" Kisame asked as he turned around, catching the swirling pool of the Sharingan in the other man's eyes. If he hadn't been partners with the man for so long, he would have trembled when the Uchiha narrowed his eyes on him. But seeing as how long he'd been with Itachi, it only meant that he was right about something from the murderous look in the prodigy's eyes.
"A past lover, perhaps? Kami knows you need a good lay these days," the shark man commented offhandedly, ignoring the silent rage he could feel coming from the other side of the room.
"You will do well to keep to your own business, Kisame." The cold reply chilled the room so suddenly as though someone had dropped a giant block of ice through the roof. Yet the mist missing nin did nothing in response, instead chuckling deeply at the warning. Turning his head slightly to look the Uchiha directly in the eye, which few people in the entire world have the gall to do, Kisame merely lifted the corner of his pale lips into a smirk.
"Relax, Uchiha," he motioned his head slightly in the direction of the window, "it's Christmas."
Itachi said nothing as he turned back to his original position of looking out the window, deliberately ignoring the shark man who he knew had drunk one too many sake prior to returning. Staring out the window into the darkness that is the night, the silent prodigy mused to himself on the coincidence of him being so near Konoha at this time of the year. Words such as destiny and fate meant little to him, yet the significance of him being near his home village during this time was not lost on him.
Something white caught his attention out of the corner of his eyes, and he lifted his head slightly to see what it was.
It was snowing… Just like last time when he spent the night at her home.
If he had to admit to himself, he had been slightly surprised that the next in line Hokage would be appointed to someone like her. Perhaps her relation with Tsunade was what made her the next candidate in the first place, but he doubted that it was entirely based on association. She was anything but weak, that much he would give her. And her attitude spoke volumes about the trials she had faced and the horrors she had been through. She wasn't inadequate, no.
It just didn't sit well with him to see her on the pedestal, seemingly changed from the girl he had met a few years ago. But he was knocked out of her musing when a loud grunt came from the section where Kisame occupied. Turning his head briefly to watch the shark man, he raised a brow and the man proceeded to dress himself once again before grabbing his sword.
"I'm going out, the silence is killing me," was all he said before the wooden door crashed shut behind him.
Left on his own again, Itachi merely turned back to the window, watching idly as the white flakes continue to fall across the dark expanse. It was peaceful all around him, but there was a sense of restlessness within him that he couldn't pinpoint. He simply hoped that it'll go away soon.
Large mess of hot air expelled from his opened mouth as the renowned shark of Akatsuki sauntered down the empty street. It was already late into the night, and most shops had already closed for the winter holiday. Kisame sighed loudly into the cold air as he wiped away the snow that had gathered on his person. A slight crouching sound alerted him to the presence of chakra behind him, and he thanked the jolly old man for giving him some poor soul to victimize on the joyous day of Christmas.
Reaching behind him to unbind the Samehada, he grasped the sword tightly in his hand before turning around to look at his opponent. He had expected it to be one or two of the Konoha guards who was on watch, only it wasn't. Kisame chuckled loudly into the night air, his eyes taking on a predatory glint.
"Well well well, if it isn't Konoha's new little Hokage," the wide smirk on his face did nothing to hide the sharp fangs behind. Yet the girl remained unfazed and simply lifted a brow after she took a minute to examine him.
"Are you… drunk?" She asked with an incredulous look. Scoffing loudly, the shark Akatsuki merely rolled his eyes at the woman.
"Just shut up and fight, little girl," he added as an afterthought, "unless you're too afraid to do it."
It was Sakura's turn to roll her eyes as she took her stance in the middle of the dark street. Normally she would have ignored any form of mocking in favor of resolving in a peaceful way, but lately there was unease underneath her very skin. An itch she hopes would be clenched after a good fight. Besides, this was an Akatsuki she was dealing with here, despite it being an intoxicated one.
"Now, let's see how long you can last." The blade was turned to line up with her head as shark man bared his teeth. Sighing under her breath, Sakura lifted her gloved hands into a defensive position.
"Akatsuki and their bloodlusts on Christmas…" she muttered underneath her breath, making the shark raise a brow at the odd comment. It seemed that his assumption had been correct when he teased the cold Uchiha about the woman who was now the sixth Hokage, there must be some connection between the two of them. So perhaps he wouldn't kill the girl after all, but it doesn't mean he won't ruffle her up a bit just for the fun of it.
And with that, he charged.
He had been deep in meditation on the floor when the thumping of feet against the ground registered in his ear. Recognizing it to be Kisame, he simply ignored the noise until the wooden door to the room slammed open. The sight that greeted him was unexpected to say the least, for the shark man looked as though he had gotten into a fight with a rabid squirrel…many rabid squirrels. The Akatsuki's robes were torn in several spots, some parts even look scorched. He was wet from head to toe, but Itachi guess it was due to the heavy snow currently falling outside. Yet what caught his attention the most was the large purple bruise on the shark man's left eye. The ugly wound looked even worse on his pale blue skin, and spanned almost half way on the face.
His inspection was interrupted when Kisame dumped a large bag to the ground, the red velvet cloth looking oddly out of place beside the Akatsuki. Raising a brow, Itachi pinned his partner with a menacing glare that clearly read 'What-did-you-do-now-and-you-better-hope-the-explaination-is-good.' But Kisame merely grunted before reaching up a hand to feel the bruise still forming on his left eye.
"Merry Christmas," was all he said before turning around to head out the door again. Pausing just as he was about to leave, Kisame turned back slightly to smirk at the Uchiha.
"Careful, she's a feisty one."
Waving a hand carelessly in the air, Kisame disappeared from the room as the door closed in his wake. Left alone for the third time on Christmas Eve, Itachi wondered what unfortunate victim had met the wrath of the shark Akatsuki this time. From his position, he could clearly see an outline of a body within the bag, yet he found it odd that Kisame would give him a dead body for Christmas, least of all gives him anything. For a while, Itachi merely remained on the ground, pondering what he should do with the so called "Christmas Gift."
It wasn't until that the bag seemingly twitched that the prodigy finally noticed something. Whatever was inside, it was still alive.
Heaving a sigh upon realizing that Kisame didn't even finish the victim off, Itachi raised himself gracefully from the ground before walking over to the large bag. Pulling out a kunai from within his robe, the Uchiha reached out a hand to pull off the rope which tied the bag close. The string slowly fell as the fabric was brushed aside to reveal the face of a woman, but not just any woman. The Hokage of Fire Country, Haruno Sakura.
His eyes met the woman's surprised emerald orbs before he noticed that she was both gagged and bound with a rope, her hands tied behind her. Without realizing it, his hands had already reached out to pull off the gag from between her full red lips. He watched her with patient eyes as the woman took in a large breath before regulating her breathing once again. Her eyes met his when she was done, curiosity and surprise reining the depth of the bright orbs.
"Uchiha Itachi…" She whispered into the air, uncertain of what to expect from the prodigy she had only seen so long ago.
The monotonous answer brought a smile to Sakura's face.
'So different, yet so alike…' she mused to herself before feeling a hardened gaze on her face. Turning around, she caught the slight raise in the Uchiha's brow as he opened his pale lips to speak quietly into the silent room.
"Is something humorous to you?" There was no malice, no hatred in his voice, only slight curiosity. It surprised her greatly that the infamous prodigy would be speaking so civilly to her, but she was not about to make the situation worse than it was by shooting off her mouth. Rather, she'd try to get some answers while the Uchiha seemed to be in a melancholy mood.
"No, not really," she replied, "just curious as to what Akatsuki would want with me, especially on Christmas Eve."
Emerald eyes locked with the swirling Sharingan before the red glow faded into their original onyx. Letting a small sigh escape his lips, Itachi merely reached out a hand to reach out for the rope tying the woman's wrists together.
"Your kidnap is not part of our orders," he spoke as his elegant fingers pulled free the knot, "merely an amusement to my partner."
As the last strand of rope fell away, Sakura brought her tired arms to her chest as she slowly rubbed feelings back into the abused appendage.
"Should I be relieved or insulted?" She quirked a smile.
The corner of his lips lifted before he could stop it, and Itachi found himself relaxing more in the woman's presence, strange how he could feel at ease conversing with an odd creature like her. He caught the kunoichi's slight shivering form in the corner of his eyes, and finally took notice of the ruffled clothing she wore.
It seemed the fight did her no better than it did Kisame, for the girl too had her attire in shreds. What used to be a red top now revealed her pale skin underneath, the fabric torn with few drops of blood staining the fabric. Her skirt bore the same fate as the white material now fell only below her thigh, barely considered appropriate for a proper young woman. Upon closer examination, it seemed that there was little to no wounds on the woman, only her clothes suffered the worse of the blows. He could only hope that this was not all a part of the shark's plan, whatever it was. Realizing that he had been staring at the girl's body for the past few minutes, Itachi quickly removed his eyes, only to catch the embarrassed look on the kunoichi's face.
"Ano… would you happen to have something I can change into?" The increasing blush on her cheek was quite…adorable, if he had to be honest to himself. Yet he would never admit anything of this nature out loud. Kami forbids that Kisame would be there to poke his head into business that didn't concern him again. Sakura's shuffling brought him back to the current dilemma at hand; there was no spare set of clothes for her.
Akatsuki had never been known to travel with baggage, and living the kind of lives they led allowed no comfort on the road. Given that, he of course had no other clothing save the ones on his back. Furthermore, the cheap hotel room provided only the most basic needs, not including sleeping garments or such. All of this meant that there was only one thing left to do.
Mentally cursing the shark man, Itachi slowly unbuttoned the front of his Akatsuki robe before sliding the big cloak from his shoulders. Standing up and draping the article of clothing over the girl's head, Itachi gestured to the small washroom in the room.
Staring with wide eyes at the fabric in her hand, Sakura could only hope that no one would ever see her donning Akatsuki clothing. She was the Hokage for crying out loud, and despite how bad it would be to wear the particular cloak, she had no other choice. Seeing the lack of luggage and the shabbiness of her current location, she doubted she could find decent clothing here. It was… nice of the Uchiha to offer his cloak for her cover, yet it wouldn't hurt to try…
"Can't I just leave and go home since you don't need me for your evil plans?"
Itachi met her with a bored gaze, before turning around to look out the window. Thinking that the Uchiha was simply ignoring her, Sakura opened her mouth to lash out at the cold man before his quiet voice drifted to her ears.
"It is Christmas." His simple reply meant nothing, yet his eyes spoke volumes. The black depth of his orbs said what the ice cold exterior would never say…
It is Christmas, and I don't want to be alone
Unable to respond to that, Sakura stood dumb funded for a moment before her shoulders dropped slightly. Softened emerald eyes turned towards the window before a wistful smile made it across her lips. It wouldn't be bad to simply stay here for the day, considering there was nothing waiting for her back home. The only thing to greet her would be the dark empty apartment and a lonely dinner by herself. But here… she would at least have someone by her side, just for tonight.
Gripping the dark fabric between her fingers, Sakura made up her mind as all the previous tension fled her body. Smiling impishly at the silent Uchiha, Sakura turned around and headed into the bathroom.
Maybe it wouldn't be such a lonely Christmas after all…
If he had been in the right state of mind at the time, Itachi would have found the situation utterly and completely ridiculous. Here he was, renowned killing machine of Akatsuki, sitting on the ground consuming a liberal amount of sake with the Hokage of Fire Country, who was currently laughing drunkenly beside him. How the woman managed to find such quality sake in the room was beyond him, but something told him it had to do with Kisame. Kami knows what the shark was up to with dumping the Hokage in their hotel room and leaving a generous amount of sake.
Yet hearing the ringing laughter of the intoxicated woman, he had to admit to himself that this wasn't so bad.
A persistent prodding at his side made him turn around to come face to face with the flushed woman. Her cheek colored from consuming the alcohol, and her eyes were half lidded to reveal the darkened jade green of her eyes. While he too had consumed quite a bit of the sake, he was not as far gone as the woman for he still held onto his calm demeanor.
"Yes?" His voice was husky from the liquid.
Small giggles were his reply before the woman held out the half empty bottle in her hand to him.
"Drink up, Ita-kun, you're still too sober!"
He resisted the urge to twitch at the ridiculous version of his name, courtesy of one very wasted Hokage. It seemed that the kunoichi not only inherited the skills of her predecessor, but the alcoholism as well.
Grunting softly in reply, the Uchiha accepted the bottle before bringing it to his mouth. Sakura stared with a goofy smile on her face as the infamous Uchiha downed the remainder of the bottle.
"That's the spirit!" She beamed as she tried to push herself off from the position on the ground, trying to retrieve yet another bottle of the Water Country's highest quality sake. But before she had completely stabilized herself, her legs gave out underneath her and she collapsed back onto the cold hard floor. Fortunately for her, a certain Uchiha was right in the position to cushion her fall.
Just as he had finished the bottle, Itachi caught the sight of the girl falling on her own two feet. Instinctively, his hands reached out to take a hold of the woman before she came crashing down. But he only managed to wrap his arms around her waist before the kunoichi fell into his lap, knocking the wind out of him. As his head met the hard wall behind him briefly, he wondered to himself what he did to deserve such a fate on this day.
When he opened his eyes again, he looked down only to see the woman still draped across his lap, yet she made no move to get up. Nudging her with his hand, Itachi managed to turn her face over slightly before noticing her closed eyes and gentle breathing.
She had fallen asleep.
A small sigh made its way out of his lips before he wondered what he should do. Under normal circumstances, he would had been inclined to simply push the woman off and leave her there, but in his current state, he couldn't help but feel how nice she felt lying across his lab. Gently navigating her so that her head rested on his thigh, Itachi leaned back against the wall. Unconsciously, his hand started to thread through her silky pink hair as his eyes closed. The feeling of calm tranquility passed through him as he allowed himself to relax, listening to the woman's sound of slumber.
It didn't take him long to drift into sleep, all previous sense of restlessness gone from his body. And this was the sight that greeted Kisame when he returned in the early morning, in which he simply smirked knowingly before backing out of the room quietly.
Her eyes opened groggily as the persistent sun refused to get out of her face. Setting herself upright on the floor, Sakura rubbed her hand across her eyes to rid herself of the remaining drowsiness. Slowly letting a gentle flow of chakara to enter her head to ease the pounding headache, the kunoichi sighed in contentment when the aftereffect of the sake faded away. Stretched her arms above her head, it was only then that Sakura took notice of her surroundings.
As the memories of last night made their way back into her mind, the pink haired woman could only smile softly before pushing herself against the wall to stand up. Before she stood fully, the slight movement of something falling caught her attention. Moving in reflex to catch the object, her emerald orbs widened in surprise at the small bundle of pink petunia in her hand. The five petal flowers fully blossomed as they sat innocently under the sun's rays.
Tucking the small floral adornment back behind her ears where it first fell from, a happy smile formed on her lips as she turned out the window to look at the rising sun. Raising a hand to take a hold of the long sleeve of the dark robe still adorning her petit form, Sakura smiled into the fabric as she whispered.
"A-choo!" The loud sneeze rang through the clearing as the shark of Akatsuki raised a hand to wipe at his nose. Despite being born in the cold and wet Water Country, being out in the snow covered forest with only his inner shirt and no cloak was still a bad thing. Sending his silent partner a glare for his predicament, all Kisame received was a pointed look from the cold Uchiha, warm and wrapped up in his cloak.
He had thought that the prodigy would be more relaxed after last night, but apparently he was in the wrong.
"Psh, this is the thanks I get for getting you laid…" Kisame muttered to himself as he attempted to warm himself up by rubbing his arms. It was a difficult thing to do since he was cold blooded, the warmth just refusing to remain in his body.
Itachi merely raised a brow at the comment, saying nothing to deny the comment. He cared not what the Akatsuki thought, as long as he was content with the outcome himself. Even after so many years, the girl still remains unchanged in that she could bring him peace despite the circumstances…
A pink bundle offering him understanding with his brother
A young woman offering him hospitality
And a strong-willed Hokage offering him peace
Even with his blood drenched hands, she would still smile at him. The corner of his lips lifted slightly, forming the beginning of a smile. Taking in the scenery around him, Itachi slowly took in the morning winter air.
It was indeed…
A merry Christmas
Petunia; your presence sooths me
AN: Here you go, the last and final part of 'Charmed'. There will be no more of 'Charmed', for I cannot keep going at this without making them go into a romantic relationship. I love the ItaSaku pairing, I just don't feel that the meaning of Christmas reflects that strongly if I made them a couple...besides, with Sakura being the Hokage now, any relationship with an Akatsuki would look bad...This time, I actually manged to rush and finish this piece before Christmas, so this once again will be my present to you all and to wish you all a happy politically correct festive holiday. I'm sorry to say that I did not have time to edit it too much, since I needed to get this out before Christmas, so please forgive me for the errors. Have a Merry Festive Season, and an awesome New Year!