Evolution – An Itachi & Sakura story.
By: F.M. Wrights

Chapter Ten – Until We Meet Again

A soft sob next to him quickly woke him up; midnight eyes stared at the ceiling before realizing that Sakura was crying. Turning around softly, he watched her shaking back as she continued weeping, oblivious to the fact that Itachi had just woken up.

Vaguely, he could hear her whisper Deidara's name.

He watched her for several moments before turning around softly, arm propped under his head. She stopped her crying momentarily; finally noticing that Itachi was awake as well. She shifted slightly before snaking her arm around his waist, pulling herself closer to Itachi.

Spooning herself against Itachi's warm body, she clenched his black shirt in her hand as she fought the tears that were coming. Even before she had even asked Itachi to stay, she knew that this would be a sleepless night. She tried to act tough around the other Akatsuki members, but the truth was that Deidara's death had cut her deeply and it felt like her heart was torn out.

The fact that she was leaving Itachi the next day didn't make it any easier.

But she had to do it. Sasuke was her teammate and she would never try to betray him. No matter how much she hoped and wished that he would be happy to find out that she had found love, even if it was with his older brother, she knew they were just pretty lies to cover up the truth.

The other reason for leaving the Akatsuki members was simple; she didn't want any of the Akatsuki members she knew to die. And if Tooya and Kira were hunting her, she would make sure that they'd never find her together with Akatsuki again. If she had to lose another one of her friends, it would kill her.

"…That was the day I fell in love."

His deep voice still resounded in her ears and it felt as if he could barge in any moment now, warning both Itachi and Sakura that hunter-nins that were coming. She wanted to believe that he would still be there forever, but wasn't that foolish? Hadn't she learned her lesson after seeing how battered he was after Orochimaru's assassination?

But he was still alive then…

Unconsciously, she pressed herself harder against Itachi, wanting any kind of comfort, whatever he could give her. It didn't matter; he would never be Naruto who pressed her against him before earning a smack in his face. Itachi would never be Kakashi who gave her an affectionate stroke through her hair as he smiled at her. He could never be Sasuke who offered only words as a comfort and that would be enough.

Itachi could never be like Deidara, who had the magic to smile and make everything better.

But Itachi comforted her in another way. Just being there, lying completely still as she cried against his back would have to be good enough. He couldn't give her anymore than what he was giving her now.

And then he turned around.

It happened before she could even pull her hands off him. He had turned around and stared at her with his exquisite eyes. Sakura's hand was still on his abdomen but he didn't seem to mind.

Rather than the usual cold look in his eyes, he seemed slightly confused as if he was a child who needed guidance. But like every momentary emotion in Itachi's eyes, it quickly disappeared and she found herself looking him in the eye as he gazed back.

Slowly, tenderly, his arm moved up and rested on her side, hand pressing against her back. It wasn't the first time that he had touched her back, he had done it often as they shared kisses, but this time, he tried to comfort her in his own, unique manner.

Understanding this, Sakura moved closer towards him, mimicking his gesture as she wrapped her arm around him, touching his back as she felt him tense for a moment, but he soon relaxed under her touch. Burying her head in the warm spot between his shoulder and neck, she soon felt herself drifting off to sleep as Itachi stroked her back almost lovingly.

It was still very early when she woke up. Shifting a little in her bed, she quickly realized that there was someone else there. It took her a few moments to understand that she was still sleeping in Itachi's arms.

Looking up, she noticed that his breathing was steady and deep, although that meant nothing. Itachi was good enough of a shinobi to just fake his sleeping. Taking in his closed eyes and his long lashes that caressed the tops of his cheek, she smiled softly. No matter how many times she saw him asleep, she would always be astounded to see how peaceful he looked.

Caught in the moment, Sakura moved her hand up to cup his cheek before pressing her lips against his, enjoying the feeling of his soft, velvety lips against hers. Itachi's eyes opened briefly as he pulled back slightly, watching how the roseate kunoichi smiled sadly at him.

"Good morning," she whispered as her hand moved over his hair before touching his long, soft hair.

"Good morning," Itachi said before leaning towards her, capturing her lips with his own.

The kiss was soft and chaste but as Itachi leaned back, Sakura found that she was unable to stop and wrapped her arms around him, instigating another kiss. Boldly, her tongue swept over his lips and as access was granted, Sakura moaned into his mouth when he kissed her back with passion and tenderness.

He shifted slightly before lying on top of her, the warmth of his body scorching through her clothing. His hand was touching her shoulders, caressing it with his knuckles as she moved her arms around his waist, letting her hands rest on top of his back, admiring the way his muscles flexed underneath her fingertips.

Itachi broke the kiss before moving down to the supple skin of her neck, kissing ever so tenderly while his hands roamed down her sides, making Sakura shiver in sheer delight.

Her hands yanked his silky shirt up as far as she could, nails raking over his defined muscles and down towards the faint trail of dark hair on his lower abdomen.

She was leaving in a few hours but she needed this. Silently apologizing to Sasuke, she tried to remove Itachi's shirt but he just glanced at her, a questioning look in his eyes.

"Are you sure?" he asked softly, knowing where this would lead to. The kunoichi was a virgin, he was certain of that. Watching her as she nodded silently, he complied and pulled his shirt off before leaning in for another kiss.

Tucking his fingers underneath her shirt, she raised her arms to help him remove it as she sat up straight, Itachi on his knees in front of her. The way he was looking at her was enchanting, there were no false pretenses there, no cold looks. He gave her what he could and right now, he was looking at her with so much desire that it made her feel as if her heart might pop out of her chest.

As her tongue slid out of her parted lips in an attempt to moisten her dry lips, she inadvertently drew Itachi's attention. She grabbed one of his hands, nuzzling it with her lips before smiling at him. He didn't return the smile though, but looked at her as if she was an instrument and he was learning how to play it. His hand stretched out towards her side, sliding down until it was resting on the crest of her hip.

Sakura moved closer towards him until one of his knees was between her parted legs and she could feel the heat of his body searing hers. As he stroked her arms she shivered before bending towards him, raining kisses on his jaw. In return, Itachi nipped her earlobe softly, his hands moving towards her shoulders.

Fingertips touching the soft material of her simple, pink bra, he looked at her one more time. Itachi could be called many things, but he would never force himself on a woman, much less a woman who was as exquisite as Sakura was.

"I'll ask you one more time," Itachi whispered in her ear. "Do you want this?"

Sakura remained quiet for a while before wrapping her arms around his waist, pressing herself against his chest. "Yes."

"Damn light," she swore softly as she lifted her hand to block out the bright sunlight that streamed in through the small window. Thoroughly enjoying the heat that came from the warm body next to her, Sakura smiled before moving backwards, pressing herself against Itachi's chest.

His arm rested around her waist, stroking her stomach softly as his warm breath fanned around her ear. "You're awake," his deep voice remarked.

"Hmm," she answered before turning around. Itachi lied down on his back, eyes squinting ever so slightly as he tried to block out the sunlight with his hand. Sakura smiled as she rested her head on his shoulder, her hand stretching out as well. Touching his hand, she linked her hand with his before bringing it down, kissing his knuckles softly.

Although she tried to deny it, she knew she had deep feelings for Itachi, perhaps even loved him. But telling him so would result in nothing so she kept it to herself. However, she was having second thoughts about leaving him after what they had just done hours before. She knew she had to though; she would put Akatsuki in danger if she didn't leave. The last thing she wanted was another Akatsuki member dying…

As she tipped her head slightly to face Itachi, he was looking at her, his usual blank look in his eyes. His mouth was an unreadable line as she moved up, pressing her lips against his. When he didn't respond, she laid her head on his chest, wondering why he had fallen still all of the sudden.

"Are you having second thoughts?" she whispered onto his chest as her fingertips touched his clavicle.

"No," he simply response.

"Will you tell me what's bothering you then?" Sakura probed carefully, afraid to ruin this small moment of peace.

Itachi didn't answer and Sakura dropped the subject. If Itachi wanted to share what was going on in that brilliant mind of his, he would share it with her. But for now, it seemed that he was reluctant to give her any information. Perhaps he thought he had given her enough already.

"It's raining," Itachi remarked quietly and sure enough, as Sakura looked through the small window, she noticed that the sun had disappeared and was replaced with the rain.

How fitting, Sakura thought bitterly as she caressed Itachi's chest absentmindedly. I'm leaving and it has to rain...

"Itachi…" she said quietly as she mentally prepared for what she wanted to say to him.

"Do you wish me to bring you to the border?" Itachi interrupted, his deep voice leaving goose bumps on her skin.

"…No," she whispered.

Itachi gave a simple nod as he played with his ring, turning around as he lost himself in thought. He could feel her touching his necklace, observing the small flowers around his neck.

"How did you get it?" Sakura whispered as she hovered above him, sheets wrapped around her naked body as she admired the trinket.

"Someone gave it to me," Itachi said to her dispassionately. He observed with genuine interest how her eyebrow shot up as she looked him in the eye.

"A girl?" she asked, mentally berating herself for giving him the third degree.

"Yes," Itachi answered, his lips curved just a little shy from a smirk. He fought as hard as he could to keep his face blank when Sakura scowled obviously, a jealous look gleaming in her eyes. "Who gave it to you?"

"My mother," Itachi replied seriously. "Sasuke wanted the same one, he never got it."

"Right," Sakura muttered sarcastically. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to, just don't joke about it."

"Why the sudden interest?" Itachi queried, curiosity taking over.

Sakura turned red as he stared at her inquisitively, an almost imperceptible smirk adorning his lips. "Well… You… You know…"

"You're jealous," Itachi remarked as his hand crept back to the small of her back. She was definitely upset by now, her green eyes were almost smoldering. Pushing herself up, she gave him an insulted look before glancing into the other direction.

"No I'm not."

Itachi laughed softly as she uttered the words, noticing how child-like she was when angered. Sakura turned back towards him with a shocked look in her eyes as she stared at him. Itachi, being the patient man he was, calmly waited until she would speak up.

"…You laughed just now," she pointed out.

"I've noticed," Itachi replied, amusement in his tone. Sakura just stared at him with the same, shocked look in her eyes as she observed the behavior of the usually cold Uchiha. "Who are you and what have you done with Itachi?"

"What do you mean?" Itachi asked as he stroked her back softly.

"You laughed," Sakura replied. "And you're not being… you."

"Tell me then, what is the picture that you have of me?" Itachi replied, interested in her reply as he watched her think it over.

Contemplating what to tell him, Sakura put a finger on her lips as she sunk into deep thoughts. Itachi was an enigma; him asking her to describe her impression of him was too hard to do without even thinking about it. "Cold," she said quietly.

"Cold," Itachi echoed. "Correct, anything else?"

"Mysterious… Distant… Polite," Sakura named as she lied down beside him once more.

"Polite?" Itachi almost laughed again. "Is that a picture you have of me?"

"It's better than the picture I had of you before we even met," Sakura replied resolute. "Before we met, I thought you were a ruthless, impolite and cruel pig who murdered his own family just for the hell of it."

"But I am ruthless," Itachi mused darkly. "And I am cruel. If I understand this correctly, the only thing that has changed is me being polite."

"But you're not as cruel as I had expected you to be," Sakura whispered softly. "Naruto told me about the first time he met you and told me that you were creeping him out since your chakra seemed so powerful to him. Did you know that he even confused you with Sasuke at first?"

"Sasuke?" he asked softly, a grin cast across his face.

"I don't blame him actually, you do look like each other," Sakura defended Naruto. "But then again, you're very different from Sasuke. For instance, your hair is longer, you're taller than Sasuke was… And you have lines on your face."

Itachi said nothing in reply as Sakura observed him for a moment. "What's your picture of me?" she asked as she looked back and forth at his eyes before closing them. She knew she had to leave very soon, but she needed to know this.

Itachi sighed softly, his chest heaving up lightly before falling down as he thought about her question. "You show too much emotion, which makes you weak," Itachi started, ignoring her disgruntled gaze. "You seem to feel right at home here although Akatsuki is a dangerous organization."

"Can you only name negative things?" Sakura looked at Itachi, half-smiling, half-irritated.

"What is it you want me to say?" Itachi replied simply. "I don't know which words you wish to hear."

"What I want you to tell me," Sakura whispered quietly. "Is why you've chosen me? I want you to tell me why you're protecting me, why you know so much about me… Why you want me to stay."

Suddenly, the atmosphere turned from light to very heavy. Neither of them said anything, they just stared at each other. Sakura awaiting an answer that she knew wasn't coming and Itachi was just looking at her as if she was the puzzle here and he couldn't wait to solve it.

Just when Sakura wanted to open her mouth and speak to him, a loud knock on the door made both of them look up.

"Itachi-san," Kisame growled, sounding muffled through the wooden door. "Leader wants you to report."

"I'll be right there," Itachi answered, the soft tone gone from his voice, replaced by the cold one she was used to. It was astounding to see how Itachi could change from a person who shared light conversations with her to the calculating shinobi that lay next to her in the bed. But the thing that got to her most was the fact that she was probably the only one who saw him like this.

Itachi slid out of the huge bed effortlessly and Sakura quickly turned around as he started to dress himself. Bending her knees slightly, she let her elbows rest on them as she listened to Itachi dressing himself. After a few minutes, Sakura turned around, knowing that he was done. He was adjusting his forehead protector and had his long, black and red Akatsuki cloak draped over his arm.

"I don't think you'll be back tonight, will you?" Sakura asked sadly, knowing that this was the last time she would ever see Itachi. He nodded slowly to confirm her suspicions and watched her as she scrambled out of the bed, the white sheets still wrapped around her body.

Wordlessly, she snaked her arms around Itachi's waist, pressing herself against his warm body for one last time. In return, Itachi cupped her chin gently as he moved her face up so that she could see his face.

His eyes were blood-red once again, Sharingan, as he looked at her leaning towards her. Itachi captured her lips with his and kissed her hard as her hands desperately hold onto his dark shirt, trying to hold on to him.

Letting go was so hard.

By the time he let go of her and backed away, she was crying. Tears streamed over her cheeks as he cast one more glance in her direction before turning around on his heels, leaving the room without even uttering a single word.

"Goodbye Itachi," she whispered before sitting down on the bed, pressing her palms in her face as she tried to stop the crying. She felt sick at the thought of leaving him, leaving Akatsuki and all of this behind, but she knew she had to. Sometimes, she truly cursed her loyalty.

"Sorry Sasuke," she whispered between sobs. "I think I love him…"

As soon as she said the words, she burst into tears, tears flowing freely from her eyes, washing away all the bittersweet feelings away until there were no more feelings left, just emptiness.

Silently, Sakura packed her backpack, folding her Akatsuki clothes into a neat stack before placing them on the bed. Grabbing the picture she had taken with her of Team 7, she wrapped it inside of an old Haruno shirt, afraid that the glass might break during the long journey.

She had made her mind up several hours after Itachi had left. The Country of Tea would be her best solution for now. The people there were friendly, there were no shinobi villages there and nobody would ever think of finding her there. But she had a huge journey ahead of her since she couldn't cross Konoha, it would bring back too many memories, not to mention of trail of hunter-nins. Thus she had to make a huge detour, through Sound, Waterfall, Grass, Rain and a country called River. From River, she had to take the boat to the Tea country and hope that there would be nobody there that recognized her.

She hated the fact that she needed to pass all those countries, especially Sound. Every single one of them, with the exception of River, held memories of both Itachi and Sasuke.

It was hard to believe that she left Konoha three months ago. Even harder to believe that she found Itachi four days after leaving Konoha, just by sheer coincidence.

She had lost Konoha and her friends, yet gained something she had always wanted. Someone who deeply care for her, although he would never admit it.

It was a dark love, something close to a forbidden love, but she didn't care anymore.

It wasn't the puppy-love Naruto could offer her, or the gushy looks that Lee used to give her. Not even the cold looks of Sasuke could weigh up against Itachi anymore. He had become too important for that now.

Kisame had left before she could even say goodbye. Perhaps Itachi never mentioned the fact that she would leave today, perhaps he didn't care. It didn't matter to her anyway. Goodbyes were always hard.

Swinging her backpack over her shoulder, she looked around once more, touching the soft blue pastel walls and the soft, white sheets of her bed. Smiling softly, she whispered.

"Goodbye Deidara…"

Taking in a deep breath, Sakura turned around and left the room, left the house, and left Akatsuki.

In the headquarters of Akatsuki nine shinobi gathered around a large cave, the members obscured by the shadows. The leader looked around, satisfied as he found every member there.

"Itachi, did you propose the deal to the medic?" he asked as he glanced at the shortest member. His blazing Sharingan momentarily looked at him before Itachi nodded almost unnoticeably.

"She refused?" Sasori's soft voice sounded from the shadows. "As expected from the medic. She has a strong sense of loyalty. So she left?"

"Yes," Itachi answered simply. "Are you going after the sanbi?"

"Yes, we are," Sasori chuckled softly. "Isn't that right?"

"Don't be so hasty," another dark shadow answered, before opening his eyes, revealing one blue eye. "The sanbi is mine… yeah."

End of Evolution.
Continued in Salvation