A Trade of Gifts

by: Sakuranime

Words can't describe how SORRY I am at posting this story so late! Please forgive me? Sabaku no Myth, I am so sorry for the lateness of this fict! I hope that the length of it would suffice for the tardiness? (bow)

This fict is entirely dedicated to Sabaku no Myth, a fellow fanfiction acquaintance and reviewer! I hope you enjoy this! And again, I humbly and deeply apoligize!

"Speech"

Thoughts/Actions

(( Flashbacks ))

-

I never imagined

that the gift you gave me

would be so precious

as you are as well

-

The lone figure walked away from the Uchiha compound as his little brother's screaming reverberated into the night. Without turning back, Uchiha Itachi continued away from his clan's territory. His home.

His false home.

Anbu gear still on, Itachi had draped a large black cloth over his shoulders as a makeshift cloak. It billowed like the dark sky, the moonlight giving him a demonic aura.

He had taken it from a dead Uchiha.

One that he had killed, with his own hands.

It felt so absurd; the idea of one Uchiha massacring his entire clan in a single night save for one was ludicrous. But Itachi seemed unfazed by it. He had done it and felt nothing. No regret, no shame…no pain. As if the fact that his blood-related relatives were gone forever was simply an Anbu mission, dealt by him. Sure, he didn't feel content but neither did he feel pain. Just…

Nothing.

The road on which Itachi walked would lead him to the gates of Konoha. It was his gateway out of this retched village; away from the weak he was surrounded by all his life.

Dirt and the occasional rock crunching softly beneath his feet, Itachi strode silently onward, his Sharingan still on. The Uchiha continued to gaze emotionlessly on the path when it suddenly changed to grass. Looking up, Itachi found himself passing the Konoha Academy's playground.

The familiar swings, slides, a sandbox, and other sorts of things a playground would contain brought black-and-white memories of the past when he attended the ninja academy. The thought brought the tiniest hint of a smirk. Scoffing, Itachi shook his head and few strands of black long hair fell loose from his hair band.

Picking up from where he stopped, Itachi continued onward, his face slipping back into his mask of indifference. He was almost past the park but a sound caused him to halt his journey to the gates.

Sniffle.

Sniffle.

Even with all of his years as captain of the Anbu, Itachi couldn't place what the sound was. It was so foreign, so different, so new. Far from the usual sounds he heard in the Uchiha clan's compound, which was screaming, yelling, hissing, cursing, and painful cries. Occasional laughter and jokes were tolerated in the Uchiha household. Whimpering and any other forms of cries for help were not.

Sniffle.

For some reason even the genius Uchiha Itachi couldn't understand, he turned around and walked to the source of the noise: the swings. The grass beneath his feet did not make a sound, so the huddled mass of a pink-haired girl didn't notice Itachi as he walked up to her. The Uchiha looked down at her fragile form as the girl sniffled again.

Suddenly, as if noticing his presence, her head lifted and Itachi was met the widest emerald orbs he had ever seen. Eyes that was as green as fresh grass and filled with so much innocence Itachi had to look away. The skin surrounding her eyes were red and puffy, her lower lip quivered, a couple strands of short pale pink hair covered the sides of her face, and her cheek glistened with stray tears.

Itachi expected her to be frightened, since he had that affect on most people. He had yet to learn that she wasn't like most people.

"Why are you crying?" Itachi asked, his voice silky smooth but neutral. He looked surprised at himself for asking such a question at a time like this but inwardly shrugged. It was too late to take back his words.

The girl continued to stare at him with wide, green eyes but not a word left her mouth. Finally, she replied timidly, "Because…I have no friends…" The girl cast her eyes down at the ground.

The Uchiha blinked. Was that all that made this little girl so miserable? Itachi lifted an eyebrow.

Kids these days cry about the strangest of things… His eyes flashed upon remembrance at his younger brother's dejected form. …so weak.

The pink-haired girl, not noticing this brief moment of repulsion, stifled a sob caught in her throat and hurriedly brushed her tears with her arm. "Y-You probably t-th-think it's weird…right?" Her voice stammered.

Itachi almost scoffed. "…No." His red eyes swiveled to her face. "What's your name little girl?"

Brushing the remnants of her tears, she replied, "H-Haruno…Sakura…"

Haruno? Vaguely, Itachi recalled the name as one of the elite shinobi clans that were renowned healers. Before he could ponder any longer, the girl asked shyly,

"What's y-your na-name?"

Inside, Itachi debated on telling her who he really was because even a blind man could see his crime would not go unspoken. The news of the massacre would spread like wildfire throughout Konoha. Towering over Sakura and far more skilled than her, he could easily crush her small neck if he wished to do so.

Ah well, my name would be known every soon enough, so what's the point of with-holding my identity to a little girl?

"Uchiha Itachi." He said monotonously.

Upon hearing the surname, Sakura's eyes widened. "Y-you mean…Uchiha Sasuke-kun's…brother?"

Itachi's eyes flickered with anger at the relation. "He's not worth being called my brother." He bit out. Realizing what he did, Itachi's face smoothed any traces of irritation and calmly apologized.

"I spoke harshly…I-…apologize." The end part came gruffly.

Sakura seemed confused at the sudden change in mood but figured it to be regular. Afterall, she didn't know the older brother of Sasuke very much. "It's ok, Itachi-san." Hesitating, she asked, "Do you…hate Uchiha Sasuke-kun…?"

Composing himself, Itachi answered, "No. He's just…spoiled."

At this, young Sakura frowned deeply, creases marring her baby face. "Spoiled? I might not know him much, but he's the most unspoiled person I know!"

Itachi mentally sighed. Why did he bother? I forgot I was talking to a child… Looking up at the sky, by the moon's position he came the conclusion it was around midnight. Wait…

"Sakura, was it?" Itachi asked quizzically.

She nodded, waiting for him to continue.

"Why are you outside at midnight?"

Sakura shrugged nonchalantly, as if it was the norm for her. Judging from the expression on her face, Itachi could tell it pained her. "My parents are still sleeping so I sneak outside a lot." Closing her eyes, her emerald orbs reopened to look into the bright moon above. "And besides…" A smile graced her small lips. "The moon is very pretty at night!"

Emotionlessly, Itachi stared at the gushing girl. Is that all? Amused, he took the empty swing next to her and removed his weapons pack. Dropping it on the floor ungracefully, the pack fell to the ground with a 'clink'.

Snapping out of her reverie, Sakura looked down at the pack and her eyes widened as she looked through the various bloody kunais and shurikens poking their way out. "D-did…you forget to…to clean them?" She asked, still staring at them.

Itachi's shoulders moved in a shrug as a small dangerous smirk entered his lips. "I used them recently." Was all he said.

Out of the corner of his eye, Itachi noticed with satisfaction as the girl's grip on the chains of the swings tightened. She's scared.

A hint of fright in her voice, Sakura asked, "W-what…did you use them for?"

Itachi debated on telling the exact details. Why was he thinking about even revealing his dastardly deeds to anyone, much less a little girl whom he'd never seen before and probably won't again? Plainly simple. She was just a little girl.

"Well," Itachi began. The weird side in him had won out. But he would have to leave the gory details out and revise it. "I had a bit of a family trouble…couldn't make any solutions…so I decided to put them to sleep…forever."

Sakura tilted her head and short pink locks swept her face. Her face was questioning. "I don't really get it, but ok. Why did you…'put them to sleep'?"

Immediately, Itachi answered, staring hard at the ground until he was sure he seared a hole through the grass. "Because they didn't understand me. They always pushed me past my limits for their own twisted humor. Never once did they stop and ask me if I was alright. They never cared about my feelings…only about the clan's honor." He said the words with disgust, his red eyes flashing menacingly. He didn't even think of my as a son.

The pink-haired girl's voice from the swing next to him pulled him out of his thoughts. "You mean your parents didn't…hug you, or kiss you goodnight or tuck you to bed?" Her wide eyes and funny way of putting his dilemma was too much. A strange sound emitted from Itachi's throat.

He shocked himself by laughing. THE Uchiha Itachi, the cold-blooded murderer of the soon-to-be known as 'one-Uchiha clan'.

Sakura looked so surprised. Even if she only knew him for a short while, the pink-haired girl got the impression he was a man of few laughter.

It's not like a Naruto-laugh, like Naruto-baka laughs… it's like…calm but still laughing…it's like Sasuke-kun's laughing!

A slow childish smile crept on her lips before she replaced it with a pout. "What's so funny?" She tried to pull an angry look but, Sakura being Sakura, it looked quite cute.

…causing the Uchiha to continue laughing.

Itachi stopped, calming himself. How unlike myself to openly laugh like that… Clearing his throat, he said, "You're a weird young one." He stated, the remnants of the laugh still on his lips.

Sakura scrunched her face in confusion. "So…I'm different from everyone?"

"Yes." Itachi answered.

Her face became solemn and she stared at the ground, her short pink hair shielding her face from view. Itachi frowned as he felt her bubbly presence diminishing.

Did I say something wrong?

"What's wrong?" Itachi asked, curiously, if nothing else. He heard the beginning sounds of a sniffle emitted from behind the pink curtains as the girl struggled to answer.

Her head quivered. "You…y-you said…I-I'm dif-different…"

"Isn't that a good thing?" Itachi asked, still puzzled. Where had the little happy pink-haired girl whom he only knew for a short period of time gone?

Hastily, Sakura shook her head, whipping her hair to and fro. "E-everyone hates me b-b-because I-I…"

"Yes?" Itachi coaxed gently, urging for her to continue. Wait—Gentle? Who knew he had it in him?

"I…I…I have a big forehead…" She confessed.

If it was possible to suspend a glob of water ten times its normal size next to a head, it would be called a sweatdrop. And that's exactly what Itachi had on his head. A sweatdrop.

"That's…it...?" Itachi asked, trying with all his might not to twitch.

Sakura sniffled loudly. "I knew you wouldn't understand!" …and now, came the tears.

"Uhh…stop crying." Itachi ordered, but to no avail. Ah, why him? I was never good at these things… A vision of when his younger brother got a cut on his knee appeared in his mind. Brushing it aside, he turned to the younger girl.

"Little girl, uhh…" He paused, clearing his throat. Why was he having such difficulty settling a child down? Uchiha Itachi, he who faced countless of bloody battles with numerous enemies, couldn't even console a child! Such a jest. "Sakura. Stop crying." Hesistantly, Itachi added softly, "Please."

When the girl still continued to sob, a frustrated growl emitted from his throat. Hastily, he reached to the swing next to him and awkwardly wrapped his armor-covered arms around the girl's tiny shoulders. Itachi's arms felt stiff from this new use…usually, he threw projectile weapons with them; uses of death and destruction for his needs. But it seemed like there were more uses for his hands…to stop a crying girl's tears.

"Sakura. Stop crying now, please."

Slowly, the crying gradually became a sporadic shuddering of the shoulders, but nothing more. Sakura sniffled and reached up to wipe her tears. "Th-Thank y-you…I-I-I-I…I-Ita…-Ita…It-a…" Hiccups intruded between her words, stopping her from saying anything. "Ita- Hic."

Sighing, Itachi muttered, "Just call me 'Ita'." Once he was sure the hiccups and the crying were gone, he let the girl go. The swing chains clinked as it wobbled the girl back to her previous spot.

"I'm OK now…" Sakura said quietly, gathering her bearings…however small they may be. Looking up to the older Uchiha, she smiled brightly, "Thanks, Ita-kun!"

Itachi instinctively threw up his Ignoring-Walls as the scream of 'fangirls!' raced across his mind. Then he stopped. He mentally shook his head clear; this was a little child he was thinking about! Itachi looked at Sakura- her glittering emerald eyes full of so much happiness he turned away. And for what reason? He himself didn't know.

"What?" He asked, mentally berating himself for not paying attention.

Sakura repeated without hesitation. "What are YOU doing in the early morning?"

Itachi blinked. Morning. Ah yes. The events of the night came back, flooding him with unpleasant feelings. Wait—UNPLEASANT? Shaking his head, he arrived to one conclusion: this girl was getting to him. "Just taking a stroll." He replied conversationally.

The expression on her baby face told him she didn't believe him but didn't pursue the matter. Itachi was glad she didn't. It would have been a shame if he had to kill her.

After a few minutes of comfortable silence of just staring at the moon, Sakura breathed deeply, taking in the nightly/morning scent. A pleasant smile crossed her features as she closed her eyes.

She opened her eyes and turned to give a cute smile to the confused Itachi. Blushing slightly, she explained, "The air smells like after raining…it smells really nice." The smile of no worries was back on her face. "And the night sky is pretty…painted with stars…and the moon…" Her eyes lit up with such childish innocence that Itachi felt contaminated. Unworthy even.

She turned her patient but wondering gaze to him. "Don't you think it's pretty?"

Outside, Itachi wore a mask of stoicism but inside, he was in a swirl of questions. What made this girl so happy? How could she notice the little things in life when so many deaths happened each day? WHY was she happy? He thought about his own life, and how twisted and full of malice it was compared to Sakura's. Itachi was confused. In the beginning, he thought he made the right choice in killing the ones who imprisoned him in a mental cage of power. But now…he wasn't so sure. Was he not doing the right thing?

Numbly, he replied, "Yes."

The ends of Sakura's lips curved. "I have an idea!" Itachi didn't think he liked where this was going. "How about we share one happy memory?"

Quirking an eyebrow, he asked, "Why on earth would I do such a pointless thing like that?" The slightly hurt look on Sakura's face caused him to quickly say, "But I will nonetheless."

Smiling brightly, Sakura began first. "My happiest memory is when Naruto-baka, me, and Sasuke went to get ice cream together after school was over!" Itachi's eyebrows rose. His younger brother went to get ice cream with his rival and a girl? He shook his head. This girl must be mistaken

"What's yours?" Sakura asked, gaining courage to speak her mind to this stranger.

"My happiest memory was when…" Come on, happy memory, happy memory, happy memory…God, you can't think of ONE? Itachi thought frantically, sifting through one memory and another. "…I went on my first Anbu mission."

Sakura's face fell. Itachi frowned. Why am I so good at bringing out that reaction?

"What's wrong?" He asked the crestfallen girl in genuine confusion.

Shrugging her tiny shoulders, Sakura replied, "It's nothing really…just that…you don't have a memory about your family? Friend? Brother?"

Itachi's face darkened with each category.

Family…

(( "Uchiha Itachi, you are not allowed to go outside with your friends." Itachi's father reprimanded the 10-year-old boy. "Why waste time frolicking in the fields when you can be training and upholding the clan's name?" ))

friends…

(( "Itachi?" Uchiha Shisui walked to the bridge. Frowning, he called out again, "Itachi?" A whisper of clothes caused him to turn around, brandishing a kunai. For a reason unknown, Shisui felt a rising danger…something telling to run…

"Itachi? Is that you?" He asked cautiously. Though he trusted the other Uchiha, one could never be too sure. Before his mind could even register what happened, a splitting pain ripped through his side. Shisui yelled in pain as he fell to the ground. A pool of red liquid quickly formed by his side.

"I thought you weren't going to come…" A voice drawled dangerously.

Shisui's voice caught in his throat as his breathing became labored. He gasped for breath. "I-I…ta…chi…?" He turned his face to his attacker. Indeed, it was him. Itachi held his Anbu sword, the thin blade hovering in the air. The gloved hands tightened around the hilt of the sword.

In one swift movement, Itachi swiped the blade across his friend's neck.

"…nice to see you too…Shisui." ))

brother.

(( The quivering mass of Sasuke's body disgusted Itachi to no end. "Why?" He demanded, the words spilling from his mouth, fueled by unparalleled anger. "WHY DID YOU KILL THEM?"

"To ascertain your capacity, I continued acting as the elder brother you desired, and I became your companion to see if that potential lies hidden." Itachi's voice dripped with concealed venom, causing Sasuke to shiver.

"Wha…? You killed them all…to test…to test…" Sasuke's eyes widened. "THAT'S your fucking reason? YOU BASTARD!" He stood up and began to charge in blind fury.

Itachi closed his eyes and tsked his younger brother. "Such impatience…" He opened his eyes and stared at Sasuke. He froze in his tracks, paralyzed, his mind focused on one thing: the Mangekyou Sharingan. The red orbs with three black commas joined with the pupil…the ultimate form.

Sasuke screamed.

The color red filled his mind. ))

"Itachi? Yoo-hoo? Anyone there?" Sakura's waving hand in front of Itachi's face broke him out of his reverie. "Ita-kun? Are you ALIVE?"

Blinking the memories away, he smoothly replied, "What is it?"

The pink-haired girl looked funnily at him. "You went to dreamland on me…what were you thinking about?"

"Stuff."

"Stuff?"

"Stuff."

"Stuff?"

"STUFF."

"Stuff?"

"Sakura." Itachi warned.

The girl smiled innocently. "That's my name!" Giggling, Sakura held onto the swing tightly and leaned back. Kicking her legs out, she folded them back under her as the swing went backward. After a few moments of repeating this process, Sakura was pretty high up in the air, a blissful smile on her cherub face. Itachi stared in silence.

Closing her eyes, Sakura let out a deep, contented sigh. She ceased her swinging and slowly came to a stop next to her companion. The little girl reopened her eyes and flashed Itachi a breath-taking smile.

Itachi blinked in surprise. He felt…light inside his chest…a bit weird but…happy…?

How can she be so happy? Sure, she's a bit young but sooner or later, her parents ought to tell her the truth behind the world…that people die each day on futile missions…pointlessly and swiftly. Itachi's eyebrows knit in thought. Before he could have a chance to think, the words flew out of his mouth.

"Why are you so happy? How can you, with the knowledge of people dying in wars, missions, and even in their homes. Does-?" Itachi stopped and berated himself. How can he ask such a mystical question, much less to a young girl who doesn't know the art of killing? "…does it not bother you?"

Startled, Sakura stared at him with wide eyes. "Why…am I happy?" She looked down, her eyebrows furrowed in thought as she wracked her brain for a reasonable answer. "Uhh…because…" Her eyes lit up as an answer came to her. "Because I have a family! And even though I might not have any girl friends, Naruto and Sasuke-kun occasionally talk to me!" She looked up to him and saw his face void of emotions. Frowning, Sakura tried again.

"A-and…and-! And Iruka-sensei from the Academy helped me a lot when I was having a hard time on a taijutsu assignment!" Sakura was a bit proud of her answer but when she still saw not even a miniscule amount of change in Itachi's eyes, she thought harder. Eyes lighting up again, Sakura's mouth spread into a wide smile. Looking straight into Itachi's eyes (which surprised him because even his relatives were nervous at looking at the Sharingan dead-on), she answered in absolute honesty and security.

"And I met you."

Itachi's eyes widened a fraction. Me…? NO ONE, not even his own family, ever said that. Ever. And THAT meant something, no matter how small it was, to the cold-blooded demon of the Uchiha clan. He searched the girl's emerald eyes, looking for any sign of betrayal but to his surprise, he found none. Growing up in the Uchiha clan surrounded him with lies and deceit so it was no surprise that Itachi would be prejudice to the outside world. He thought the world was exactly like the wooden walls of the Uchiha compound: cold, stiff, and unfeeling. The world held many uncovered mysteries.

And I met you.

The words struck a chord in his heart, deeply resonating in rich tones that reverberated throughout his whole mind.

An iron curtain was drawn between the two, each engulfed in their own thoughts. Itachi, still contemplating on the girl's words and Sakura, wondering if she had said something that offended her Uchiha friend.

Finally, she decided to break the peaceful yet unnerving silence.

"Isn't the moon so pretty?" Sakura asked quietly, once again looking up at the night sky in amazement and wonder. "And the stars too…" She reached a small hand out, as if to touch one of the twinkling heavenly bodies. "I wish I could have one…" She whispered wistfully, all attention on the stars.

And I met you.

Turning his gaze toward the sky, Itachi took in the night sky: small, silver stars coating the black and blue night sky like sprinkles on an ice cream and the pale enchanting body of the moon, shining its face on the world. Itachi's expression melted from his hard gaze to a soft one. The night was wonderfully innocent.

And I met you.

"You want a star?" The Uchiha asked quietly. A few strands of dark hair danced in the wind, caressing his face. Never taking her eyes off the moon, Sakura nodded, a soft smile gracing her lips.

And I met you.

Noiselessly, Itachi leaned down and reached into his pack. After a few seconds of rummaging around (and being careful to avoid stabbing himself), he finally produced a silver shuriken. It was entirely made out of silver, the edges dull for it was not to be used as a weapon. More like a good luck charm of sorts, given to him by a smith whom he saved on a mission once. Though he wasn't a man who believed in good luck charms, Itachi had to admit it was a work of art. Intricate details were engraved on the regular-sized shuriken throwing star with the kanji for 'luck' on it.

Sakura gasped in surprise. "It's…beautiful…" She breathed, clutching the swings with her small hands.

"Here." Itachi said monotonously, holding the shuriken star toward the young girl. "It's not a star…but think of it as one."

And I met you.

The pink-haired girl looked up at him in wonder, awe, and…thankfulness? "For…for me…?" She couldn't contain her excitement as Itachi nodded. Sakura gingerly took the shuriken and held it in her hands, watching in glee as the moonlight caught the charm. Turning to him, Sakura's expression was that of a child getting a delightful Christmas present. The smile on her face was bigger than ever. Itachi felt a swell of happiness in him for an odd reason.

Without warning, Sakura jumped out of the swing and wrapped her arms around the startled Anbu, burying her face into his chest.

"Thank you so much, Ita-kun!"

And I met you.

Itachi sat on the swing, shocked beyond all feelings. Slowly but surely, the ends of his lips turned upward into an iota of a smile. "Your welcome."

Sakura looked up at him, tears of happiness streaming down. Opening her mouth, she said, "I'll never forget this gift-"

Suddenly, an alarm sounded off, ruining the happy moment.

Itachi snapped his attention to the direction of his former home and cursed, his expression turning dark. More alarms sounded off and shouting could be heard. Someone had found the dealings of his work a bit too early for his liking.

"I have to go." Itachi said reluctantly, regret laced in his words. Grasping his bag, he lugged it over his shoulders and onto his back. He stood up, looking down at the young girl.

"What?" Sakura asked, alarmed and a pained expression on her face. "Why?"

Itachi hesitated. No, he can't go and ruin the small, however frail friendship he had managed to sew with the girl. "I can't explain. You should go home too." Itachi started toward the gates once more but was stopped by the dreaded words he didn't want to answer.

"Will I ever see you again?" Sakura asked quietly, clutching the silver shuriken to her heart.

Itachi lowered his head, his dark bangs shielding his eyes. Turning his head a bit, Itachi answered truthfully, "I don't know."

Sakura bit her quivering lip as she relentlessly fought the tears threatening to spill. Itachi felt a pang of guilt and anger. Guilt, for leaving Sakura, and anger toward the people who had rudely cut their moment together.

"I'm sorry, Sakura." Itachi said, his voice belying the sadness he felt. It took all of his strength to not rush back to the young girl's side. Instead, he focused on walking toward the gates of Konoha.

He didn't even turn back to see the tears streaming down Sakura's face.

-

Hurried, lithe steps were words that can describe Itachi's pace. He was near Konoha's gates now, about to exit the village from where he was raised from.

Just a few meters now-

"Wait!"

Stopping in his tracks, Itachi turned around to see the least person racing toward him.

Sakura?

"Wait!" Sakura repeated, running as fast as she can toward him. The tears and the sorrow were gone from her face, replaced by happiness. "Wait, Ita-kun…"

She slowed to a stop as she neared him, clutching something over her chest. On the other hand, she held the gift from him. A silver shuriken.

"Sakura…you should be home." Itachi said sternly, red Sharingan eyes gazing at the girl.

Biting her lip, Sakura replied, "I know. But…" Shaking her head, she smiled brightly up toward him. "Ita-kun. I hope we can meet again in the future. It was nice while we talked and I hope you count me as a friend." Opening her hand that clutched the mystery item, she held it toward him, her emerald eyes glittering happiness.

"This is for you." Sakura grinned wryly. "I know it's not much compared to your gift, but…I'll like you to take it with you."

Gently, Itachi stepped towards her and reached for the gift. It was delicate, in its natural beauty. Wonderful to look at, but easily crushed. He carefully closed his hand over it. Itachi looked up to the face of Sakura, the young girl who had miraculously challenged him, in her own small but strange way. Closing his eyes, he willed his Sharingan away and reopened them to the natural onyx.

Itachi kneeled down and embraced the girl, his heart burning with the desire to bring her with him. For the first time in his life, he smiled a genuine smile.

"Thank you, Sakura."

Sakura smiled toothily, returning the hug with her small arms around his neck. A happy tear escaped an emerald eye.

"Your welcome, Ita-kun."

-

Years later

-

Flipping over a page, a man with piercing red eyes and dark black hair sat on a velvet-covered chair. The book on his lap contained the information he needed on his next Akatsuki mission. His eyes scanned over the pages, taking in the maps of the building he was to infiltrate and the names of the targets.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

"Come in." Itachi drawled.

Opening the door, Kisame walked in, donning an Akatsuki cloak and his huge sawing-sword swung over his shoulder.

"Itachi-san, I think it's time we payed a visit to ol' buddy Hyotei-san..." He grinned maliciously, revealing shark-like teeth, his eyes glittering in anticipation.

Itachi stood up gracefully, and flipped the book upside-down on his desk. Taking the black cloak with red swirls, he draped it over his body. He then opened his oak-drawer and pulled out a small, pink object.

Kisame sniffed in suspicion. Was it just him, or did the room suddenly smell like...

"Itachi-san...is that-?"

"Cherry blossoms?" Itachi cut in, a rare smile plastered on his face. He gently placed the flower on the page he was on and laid the book on his desk. "Yes."

"Why on this goddamned earth-"

"-Do I have a flower?" Itachi asked, his voice level and cool. His Sharingan eyes flashed toward his partner.

Kisame nodded warily, eyeing the book.

"Because. I got it from a dear friend."

-

It's ironic

that the gifts we traded

reflect our personality

a shuriken - a weapon of destruction and pain

and a cherry blossom flower – delicate, but always blooming

-

(bows) Thank you all SO SO SO SOOOO VERY MUCH for any reviews, I hope this fanfict is to your liking Sabaku no Myth, and I hope you forgive me!

Reviews are very much welcomed, as input on this fanfict of mine. Questions? Comments? Any mistakes? In the reviews please! (smile)