Standard Disclaimer Applied

Finally! An update! So sorry, guys. But the university took most of my mind, and still the grades aren't that good. I didn't fail any subject, but the grades are not that extraordinary.

And when the holiday came, I'm busy with Christmas and New Year. After New Year, I bought about ten novels and refuse to let go of them until they're finished. And then… I played Sims 2 for hours and hours… In between? Because of my grades, I'm studying on holiday. Darn it.

Enough about the rant, enjoy.

XXXXXXXXXX

Chapter 11: Recovery

"I told you I am bloody fine!"

"And I don't believe you. Just let me see the goddamn cut! It would hurt more if you let it infect you."

"Impossible, I can't get hurt."

The pink-haired girl halted, staring at his eyes.

Then suddenly, she kicked his shin.

"Ouch!"

She smirked, and then tore his cloak apart at his moment of weakness. "So, what did you say about cannot getting hurt?"

--------------------------------------------------

Maybe it was then his heart had been stolen. When her lips had tugged upward forming a mischievous grin like a vengeful wood nymph.

Itachi went—stumbled back to the hideout, his mind churned with emotion. For once, his powerful Sharingan couldn't see clearly. He could only see one thing. Her face. Her brows, furrowed with hatred. Her eyes, her lovely eyes, which he had learnt to love so well, were misty with tears. Her lips, thinned and compressed tightly, expressing her sadness and betrayal, that he doubt even his skilful tongue could penetrate.

He didn't know that his heart placed so low in his stomach.

He would like nothing more than gather her in his arms, kissed her tears away, soothing the stern furrow of her brows, and then made love to her until her breath resounded with his name, and only his name.

Itachi was crying.

For the first time in many years, clear liquid generating from his orbs. Running freely down the planes of his cheeks.

Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

Sakura joined Akatsuki might be something she hadn't wanted. It had cost her leaving her beloved village and her faith in humanity.

But it had cost her nothing so dear like her heart.

She was kind and persistent. He had opened his heart just a crack and she had slipped in without much effort. Heck, she hadn't even trying to slip in, but she had managed to penetrate the brick walls he had built around himself with such ease it was sickening.

He had broken many hearts. Literally and figuratively. Maybe this was his payment for all his sins.

Karma sucks.

He was still wallowing in self-pity when he reached for the photo frame of her picture (which he had taken secretly and placed on the secret table in his room).

Just as he touched it, the glass cracked. Like his heart.

His breath constricted. His eyes widened at the bad omen.

Of course he had never believed such things. But if it was her life at the stake… What is the disadvantage, really? Even if she was well, that would not wound him mortally at that.

But if she wasn't… it would.

Sakura… Sakura!

He didn't understand why he did it. Why he dashed with his highest speed while locating where his partner was. Just as he didn't understand how he had fallen in love with her at the first place.

But in what he had learnt these days, love would cost your heart, your pride, your soul, and your entire being. It would not be satisfied until it had you in tatters.

His love had already cost him everything. So what was a little bit more humiliation and rejection? He already had lost his pride, his heart, even his mind. He had nothing to lose now.

Except her.

As he ran, he was thankful that for the hard wind burning his tears before they fell to the ground.

--------------------------------------------------

As he found her, he knew that nothing, nothing could make him forget the sight.

Her body, slumped unconscious on the ground, seemed so fragile and powerless. Trails of blood were trailing from her head to the plane curves of her cheek. Cuts upon cuts upon cuts adorning her fair skin—the skin he had always loved and secretly worshipped—and pretty flesh. Her form was so still it scared him. The utter contrast to the overactive girl he knew and grew to love.

She looked… broken.

She was always small and weak-looking to the eyes of novice. But there had always an air of strength and will and determination accompanying even her smallest move.

But now… it was gone.

Slowly, carefully, he scooped her up into his arms. Strange, that throughout her misery, he had her exactly where he wanted her to be for the rest of their life. His arms.

He raised his gaze to the sky, watching the darkness engulfing and defeating the light. Replacing the warmth of the sun with its merciless cool breeze.

Then, like a wounded animal, he roared to the treacherous sky.

It was the roar telling of how deep the betrayal of fate. Persephone dragged to Hades, never to see the light again. Eve cast out of Eden, bewailing the serpent's treachery.

To his eternal disgust, the roar dissolved into choking sobs. He was clutching her body as tight as he dared. Tears ran unabashedly from his eyes.

No. He should not cry. Not when she needed him the most. His tears won't heal her.

He clenched his eyes shut tightly, only opening them when he was sure the tears wouldn't fall anymore.

--------------------------------------------------

First, he got to restore her chakra level to the safer degree. Sakura had taught him how to transfer chakra.

He cradled her body, and then placing her on his lap. He crossed his hands over her chest—the first time without dirty mind—and transferred his chakra slowly to her body.

"Imagine the flow of a river. Steady, slow stream. That's right."

The chakra couldn't quite reach her eyes.

"Don't panic, Itachi-san. Think of something beautiful. The river. Remember the river. Let the chakra flow. Good."

It could reach her eyes, even though not completely. She might have a temporary blindness later. But now, her chakra condition went a bit better.

What was next?

He tried to remember the words that had came out of her bow-shaped lips. He had been too engrossed with her lips to hear her words.

No, no. Not the time, buddy. Focus.

"If the patient was bleeding, clean his body first. Don't let his body had sharp objects or dirt imbedded in him."

He stripped her of her clothes, and then bringing her to the bathroom. He took care of her—washing her, caressing her, and drying her with painstaking worry until she was absolutely clean.

"When you're sure he's clean already, bandage his cuts. The bandage must be clean and sterile."

He took her to her bedroom, and laying her still body on the bed. He rummaged into her medical box to find clean bandages.

"Wrap them tightly. The blood mustn't flow out. It can cause worse case of blood loss."

Step by step, he managed to memorize and redo the training his partner had given him. When he was finished, she was neatly tucked into her bed.

He stared at her, feeling her forehead. The fever was not as fierce anymore, and her breathing seemed easier. Even though her cheeks are still pale, betraying the shade of pink that used to flush her chubby cheeks.

The cheeks that he used to pull, just to play around with her. Joking that no matter how slim she is the baby fat in these would never melt.

And how her eyes narrowed in anger at that comment, further adorning her cheeks with ten shades of red.

Dared he hope that the flush would suffuse back into her body? That her chests would rise once more and breathing with ease? That she would turn her bright green eyes at him again, sparkling with mischief and vengeance?

He should do it. He mustn't lose hope no matter what.

He looked at her again. The colour began to form in her pale face.

He let out breath that he had been unconsciously held back until now.

Tomorrow would be better. Tomorrow…

While he thought of the possibilities, his eyes stung. He wiped them. Tears.

It's just because I'm sleepy… he thought. It doesn't mean anything.

He yawned. I would NOT fall asleep. I would just rest my eyes for a little bit.

He fell asleep.

--------------------------------------------------

He awoke with a start, sweat drenched his body. He then stared at the still form lying at a flower-patterned bed. A disappointed sigh left his lips without him aware of his own action.

He had before hoped that the former night was only a bad dream. That he hadn't seen his love dying.

He felt up her forehead, not too bad. But he couldn't be sure. He needed to be sure. He searched the room for a thermometer, and finally found one.

He gently shoved the device between her lips, and waited for a few seconds for the device to work.

38.23. Not too bad. He just needed to nourish her, and let her take her own medication afterward.

He didn't dare to feed her anything but chicken porridge—if you can call overcooked rice with water a bowl of porridge—and mineral water.

Damn, he sucked at cooking. But he remembered that Sakura had said the most important thing was keeping the patient's metabolism well. Mineral water would do pretty well if his cooking would prove poisonous.

He had never been a God-believer, but he prayed to God that his cooking was edible. He couldn't cook anything but burning meat in the fire for barbeque. He couldn't even make a toast.

And now that her life was in his pathetic hands seemed almost scary. Even for him, who had seen thousands of death.

She depended on him.

He blinked with that realization. She couldn't do anything to him. Couldn't resist him if he kissed her, or even further. Even if she would wake, she would be too weak then to dispute him of his desire.

You can do it, Lust whispered in his mind, kiss her, fuck her, and tuck her in. She will never know. And even if she's conscious, she could never fight you.

She loves you enough not to fight you. You know that. Even if her heart doesn't solely belong to you, you still own some portions of it.

As if on cue—or instinct that she was to be molested—she slowly blinked.

His heart came to a halt as those sleepy green eyes fell on him.

--------------------------------------------------

It took her quite a long time to make out the face in front of her. As the vision grew less blurry and had edges, she croaked, "Is this… heaven?"

It must be Heaven, she thinks. If it wasn't, how could it be his face that appeared before her eyes? After what she had said the last time, he wouldn't want to see her face again. Much less save her from the mercy of darkness.

"I'm sorry, Sakura. But you haven't escaped the life with me yet."

"Itachi…?" she blinked in disbelief.

"Unfortunately for you, yes."

"I… But… Why?"

He didn't answer. He moved briskly toward the hearth to shove the logs so the temperature was kept warm.

She closed her eyes, instinctively knew that he wouldn't answer her. On the other hand, her mind was also too fuddled to speculate her partner's motive.

"I would understand, you know," rasped Sakura hoarsely, "if you didn't come to save me."

His gaze strained at her, demanding elaboration. A signal Sakura knew only too well after living with him for months.

"I did say some things… Some unforgivable things… Even so… I'm sorry."

The hearth crackled, filling the spacious silence between her sentences.

"What I said… was unforgivable. But you also did something stupid too. God knows how tainted my name is now in the Konohagakure.

"You… broke your promise." Her words are ended with a cough. Her shoulders shook, shifting her floral-patterned cover. Now that she realized that she didn't wear a stitch.

The pink-haired Akatsuki then checked her body quickly, running a slight chakra all over her body. "You… did well. The first aid treatment… was almost perfect."

She felt her chakra didn't quite reach her eyes. Her vision was still blurry even though she was awake for quite a long time.

As if sensing her discomfiture, he informed her with no-nonsense tone. "Your vision wouldn't be as clear as it used to be. Whoever attacked you, he managed to get your optic nerves in disarray.

"I… didn't remember… Sasuke-kun did anything like that. Must be the… sharingan… then."

"Sasuke…?" His tone changed, tinged with dark anger and murderous intent.

She stiffened, realizing her mistake.

"Doesn't… matter. I would be able… to heal them completely with enough rest." Desperately trying to change the subject, she steered the conversation to her current state of health. Not that he would care, she thought bitterly.

"Sasuke… did this?" Itachi demanded, grabbing her chin and force the unfocused emerald orbs to meet her fiery red ones.

When she didn't answer, he put his doujutsu into action, searching her memories, seeing the battle, the reasons, and to her eternal mortification, her tender declaration of love.

He went through the scene with disbelief, every word they had exchanged, every thought they had shared… etched to his mind and wouldn't let go.

"You have to kill me first to get to him."

"Have you told him that you love him?"

"Nothing you do or say would change my mind."

"I love him."

"I love Uchiha Itachi."

"I'm sorry," he said as he pulled back for her mind, his fingers wet from her tears of mortification. She squeezed her eyes even harder as he said those two words, immediately assuming the worst. That he didn't love her anymore, that he couldn't forgive what she had said, that she had made him hate her through her actions, her decision…

She didn't see her raising his hand to see her tears and worshipped them with his gaze as if they were the most precious jewels. She didn't see his tongue tenderly licked them one by one with such ardour that it was almost scary. But she did feel his arms gathering her still weak body into his embrace.

"…for what I have done to Konoha… and for what I will do to you," said the dark ninja, making her eyelids opened as her reaction. But before she could ask what he meant by those words, her lips are covered by his hungry one.

XXXXXXXXXX

Another cliffhanger!

Even though I can't promise to update fast, but I can certainly promise your reviews would speed the update up. So… all praises and critics are welcomed.

And… for the ones who want to flame, either you put an ID or email, or you point out exactly where my fic is, and I quote, 'i should send a virus to you, ths story has TONS of spelling errors & sentences that make NO SENSE AT ALL!'

All right. If you want to flame me about spelling errors, check your own spelling errors.

And I want to ask, do you other guys feel the same way, if you do, I'll find a beta. My betas are pretty hard to contact this time, and I took such a long time to update, so I didn't bother, but if my sentences don't make sense, I'll go get them.

No to be arrogant, but I don't think I have spelling errors. I re-check with spellchecker and dictionary. If I did make that mistake, please point out where I made that mistake.

I don't mind flames or critics, but I do mind if I'm falsely accused. I certainly would like it if the review has elaboration, though. (I like this part "…"… but this part is lacking… because…)

But I think only an English major student would do that. My friend in English major does that (for assignment) all the time, and I really feel bad for her.

Thanks,
£exy The Thief