Beginning notes: I couldn't sleep, so I decided to write another chapter. Hope it's good! Thank you so much for the reviews! I love how you are all writing something more than just "update soon" or "good job!" Those are appreciated, but I love reading long reviews, be it simply constructive or filled with compliments! Thanks again!
Scroll Six: Wicked Irony
Itachi stared at the message for a long time. He felt his eyes burn from staring at those words for long, but then his brain clicked into its business mode. What the leader said was true: there was no longer any need to keep her around. Why hadn't he thought of that before?
His body almost moved on his own and it calmly stepped to the door and opened it. When he did, his eyes met a pair soulful green of jade, staring at him with curiosity and brightness. He froze, and they stared at each other for what seemed like a piece of eternity.
Her voice struck him like a million kunai and he imagined himself launching at her in the narrow corridor of the inn, throwing her against the wall by the neck, making her scream, making her bleed—
Itachi made a conscious effort to force his mind out of its dangerous daze and carefully controlled his face into its emotionless mask. Haruno Sakura looked at him perplexedly, but he paid no attention.
Before the air became heavy, he stepped past her, keeping his eyes off of her. "I will bring back food. Wait here with Kisame."
"Don't forget the sake." His partner growled.
The Uchiha walked slowly through the streets, his mind calculating the leader's words and the two simple decisions that he would have to make: Where would he kill her? How would he kill her?
He bought several bottles of sake and some food and headed back towards the inn. His footsteps were steady and calm as they took him towards his future victim. A shame, he thought, since he was planning to see the psychological disaster when Sakura saw his brother again. His hand was on the doorknob.
"You better not walk in without sake bottles in your hands." A voice called from the other side.
Itachi smirked and opened the door. He set the bag of sake and food on the floor before he took off his sandals. The first person he saw was his partner. Kisame sat on the floor with his legs crossed while their captive sat against the wall with a thin book. She appeared to be in deep concentration, her brows furrowed and lips pursed.
The sight struck him as oddly pretty, but he cleared it from his mind before it was able to take root. Itachi stepped into the room and handed the bag to Kisame who greedily took out his precious bottle of spirits.
"We haven't had a drink together in a while. Drink up." He invited in a half good-natured way.
Usually, Itachi did not drink. Alcohol made him bloodthirsty. And for a person who conducted murder like business that was bad news.
However, without another word of persuasion, he gracefully sat down in front of his Akatsuki associate. His calmness was unnerving even to him. His stomach felt like an invisible leech was draining him of every emotion possible. Perhaps alcohol could shake off the vengeful leech.
If Kisame was surprised at Itachi's uncommon willingness to drink sake, he didn't show it. Instead, glad to be drinking with someone else, he poured his partner some sake first before serving himself. Itachi held up his shallow cup, staring at the clear liquid that reflected the crimson of his eyes.
And he raised the cup to his lips and tipped it back, letting the cool sake slithered down his throat like liquid fire, and he could feel its effects almost immediately. His mother was never much of a drinker.
He thought he blinked, but then felt like he didn't. The color of the room became darker and darker into a shade of red. His mind started to travel faster and faster, his memories coming back to him, over and over again; his mother, his father, his brother…he didn't want to remember. He hated all of them, hated them and the color red. Blood, his parents' blood, and the blood running through his own veins colored his life, and anger took hold in a crimson pool.
The quiet smile of his mother haunted his dreams, the deep, resonate voice of his father echoed in his ears, and the light weight of his baby brother on his back felt like a sack of boulders on his shoulders. The look of shock frozen on his best friend's face as he floated, horribly lifeless, in the river also swam in his mind. The inexplicable fury pent up inside of him when he had to bow on his knees to the three, defeated clan members, and the immense sense of relief that had flooded into his soul when he slaughtered each man, woman, and child, one by one, returned to him all at once.
The sight of their blood painted on the walls, the floors, and the streets was the only color that he ever saw when he closed his eyes, and its fresh, metallic scent was all he could taste and smell when he ate. He drank to their cursed memories, and drank to his achievement of reaching a higher potential. Uchiha Itachi never regretted it. Never regretted the decimation of his despised clan, but what was this feeling?
This strange feeling of wanting to go back and change something. As if he would have done something different if given the chance again.
Itachi kept drinking the alcohol, drinking the elixir of madness, and allowed him to feel that secret anger that burned like his throat, his eyes, and he gripped his cup with an intensity that matched his power. It shattered in his hand—the pieces flew everywhere, making tiny cuts on his hand—and stained it a light shade of red as they bled.
"Uchiha-san!" Sakura dropped her book at the sound of the glass breaking. She ran to him and grasped his hands with her two tiny ones with a surprising tenderness that added to his strange, accusing anger. His throat tightened, forcing his airway shut. He dared not breathe.
Good. Now that you have informed Konoha, kill her.
Hands reached out and grabbed her by the shoulders and pinned her down to the floor—the commotion knocking the sake bottles all loose—his face was so close to hers that he could feel her startled breathing against his cheek. Confused, chaotic eyes stared into familiar pools of green and then noticed the smooth complexion of her skin, then the beautiful pink of her lips. She struggled—he didn't let her go—but when he merely stared at her, she stopped fighting him and stared straight back.
The black shapes in his eyes melted together to transform into the Mangekyou Sharingan, and Sakura was now held in a strange place, fused with only the colors of red and black. The place was barren, except for a small figure huddled not to far from her. Frightened and scared of the ominous red skies above her, she sought a little companionship from the mysterious form. She started walking towards it, and to her growing surprise, she was staring at the back of a little girl, curled up in a ball with her knees to her chest. She sat unmoving.
Out of curiosity, Sakura approached her, attached a convincing smile on her face, and sat down beside her. For a little bit, she was afraid to look at her face, but she mustered up the courage to take a peek out of the corner of her eye. She did a double take. The girl was actually a boy, albeit a very pretty boy, with familiar grooves that extended diagonally from the sides of the bridge of his nose to the middle of each cheek. Long black lashes rimmed his sad, yet beautiful eyes, and his ebony hair was tied into a little ponytail at the back. She recognized him almost instantly.
"U-Uchiha-san?" She asked timidly.
The little Itachi raised his head from his gathered knees and looked at her with a sad expression. "I wish to be alone please."
Since there was no sign of recognition, Sakura relaxed and offered him a smile. "How old are you?"
He did not look at her again, but he murmured an answer after a little pause. "Seven."
"Wow, you're a big boy. Can I ask you why you look so down?"
He shook his head and refused to answer her. Sakura sighed and mimicked how he was sitting. She rested her chin on her knees and tried to make out what he was staring at into the barren distance.
"This reminds me of the Sand Village." She said to no one in particular.
There was a heavy silence between them. "Me too."
Sakura's heart jumped at the response from the silent boy. "Have you been there?"
He nodded. "For a mission. I killed someone."
The words produced a shock that she did not expect. "But you're so young!"
A thin smile formed on his face, one that reminded her of the present Itachi, sardonic and mocking. "They do not think so. They say I am a prodigy."
"But you're still a child! How could they?"
His sad eyes turned hard and he shot her a glare. "Don't underestimate me because of my age."
Sakura's shock deflated and she returned to a state of calm. "I'm sorry. I just think that little boys like you should just go out and play with other little boys and girls."
"Oba-san says I am different than they are. I am better than they are. It is my duty to protect my village. It is an honor." He said stiffly, like he rehearsed it every day. Something in the way he said it convinced her that he only half-heartedly believed it.
"Indeed, it is an honor." She sighed in defeat. "Doesn't your mom want you to go outside and play?"
He returned to the silence again, his eyes becoming sad once more. "She's too busy taking care of my brother."
She could detect bitterness in his little voice. "That's because he's a little baby. He doesn't know how to take care of himself."
His thin brows contracted towards the middle, and he sniffed. "Oka-san said that I learned to walk when I was only seven months old. Oba-san said I knew how to control chakra when I was two. Other babies can't do that. But Sasuke is already two years old and he can't do anything. Oka-san looks after him constantly. She said that I didn't need as much attention when I was his age."
"You were just special, that's all."
He sniffed again. "Oka-san loves Sasuke more."
Her heart wrenched in pity at his words. "No, that's not true. You are her first son. She loves you just as much. It just doesn't seem like it right now because Sasuke needs a lot of attention."
"I hate Sasuke." He said with hostility that did not suit a seven-year-old child. "I wish he was never born."
"You don't mean that. He's your brother." Sakura said gently.
"I hate all of them. Oba-san, because he doesn't love me as a son; he loves me as his tool to make him better than everyone else. I hate Oka-san because she loves Sasuke more than me. I hate Sasuke for taking her away from me. I hate this village because it makes me kill people for its own good. I'll show them one day. I don't need any of them."
Without realizing it, Sakura had wrapped her arms around his tiny frame. "Then you can have me. I'll be your friend."
"I wish I wasn't special. Maybe then, Oka-san would love me more." He whispered against her shoulder.
Uchiha Itachi tore his mind away from her, his bitterness and anger somehow ebbing away. Physically, he was still on top of her, clutching her shoulders while she stared at him, dazed at the experience she had just gone through in his own mind.
Slowly, he shifted his position so that one hand clamped firmly around her slender neck as the other hand reached for a kunai. Its blade glimmered in the fading light as he held it up, positioned to strike. Sakura closed her eyes peacefully, and he looked at her, his impassive face waiting for some sort of signal that would never come—
Suddenly, the kunai was knocked away from his hand, and dull sense of surprise registered in the back part of his mind, and the Uchiha looked up to see who had done it. Kisame stood above him, his hands shoved deep in the pockets of his black pants, as he stared off somewhere to his right, casually refusing to meet the spinning eyes of the Sharingan.
"I figure, if you're hesitating that much to kill her, you're going to regret ever doing it." He growled. "Thank me later. Zetsu was watching you, and he has gone back to the leader. Be ready to fight."
A terrible realization dawned on Itachi, a danger that neither he nor anyone could escape. Akatsuki would be sent to kill him for disobeying orders.
"Uchiha-san…" Sakura whispered, afraid to break the heavy silence that fell upon them like an axe.
Itachi sharply looked down upon his captive, his eyes telling her to be quiet as his mind whirled with various different scenarios. It was then that he also realized that he was still on top of her but with a more relaxed hand on her neck. Her skin was soft under his fingers. He quickly got up silently, and hesitantly offered her a hand to help her stand. With a timid smile, she took it.
"Kisame, you shouldn't have stopped me." He said quietly when he turned to face him.
"Tell me if you ever regret saving her. I'll kill her for you." His partner snapped. "And I'm never asking you to have a drink again. What the hell kind of person goes off on a murderous rage after drinking one bottle? You're a lousy drinking partner."
In a storm of muttering and cursing, Kisame exited the room. He slammed the door shut behind him and let the sound ring in the room where the remaining two people stood in perfect silence.
Itachi moved first. He picked up the abandoned kunai and put it back in his weapon holster. There was a foreign feeling in the pit of his stomach that felt as if he had swallowed several things with wings. He ignored it and felt that the best way to overcome it was to get out of the room.
His name never sounded so innocent and blameless to his own ears before.
Itachi did not turn around to face her, but he waited for her to continue. There was a soft patter of footsteps, and he felt thin arms encircle his torso from behind. It was a gentle hug without an obligation of one in return. "I meant what I said. I will be your friend."
"You will not repeat what you saw." He commanded in a low voice.
He felt her nodded against his back. "As you wish."
Silence reigned again, and Itachi voiced the question that was eating away at his mind. "Do you not wonder why I didn't kill you?"
She shook her head; the sensation almost brought chills down his spine. "I'm sure Uchiha-san had a reason. All I am is grateful."
In truth, even Itachi did not know the answer to his own question.
"The Akatsuki will come soon. Be prepared. Perhaps your training will be applicable soon."
Itachi carefully detached from her arms and looked around the room which had become a disaster in his rage. He slowly picked up the broken pieces of glass, and reorganized the food that he had bought from the market. When he had finished, Sakura pointed to his hand.
"Your hand is a mess."
He looked at his left hand and saw that it was indeed bloody and cut up. She approached him with the same kind of boldness she possessed during training, but her gentleness reminded him almost of a feather, delicate and smooth. Placing both hands on top of his wounded one, she emitted a soft flow of chakra that covered each cut, healing them closed without even the slightest hint of a scar.
Itachi did not utter a word of thanks; he had never said it to anyone before, and he certainly was not about to start now. But instead of waiting for it, she merely sat down on her futon, picked up her book, and resumed reading. She was a strange creature.
The night loomed outside of their little room where they sat in a comfortable, mutual peace. Kisame had not yet returned from his rendezvous. All of the food was eaten and Itachi continued to plan out a strategy. Preparation was to be made. Instantly, he stood up.
"Come, we must get ready."
He left his cloak—he was no longer Akatsuki—and swept out of the room quickly with Sakura trailing behind him. Itachi booby-trapped the entire area around the inn with specialized chakra string that was almost invisible to the naked eye.
"Won't we need an escape route?" Sakura asked to the shadowy figure next to her after they finished wiring the final trap.
Itachi's blank face almost showed an incredulity that matched the feeling inside. "We will fight to the end."
"Even the greatest ninjas know when to retreat."
"They will not let us alone even if we manage to get away. We will finish it here."
Sakura nodded her concurrence. "How many are we expecting?"
It would be most likely that the leader would send a pair. Most of them had equal footing anyway. It would not be a business this fight; it was survival of the fittest: kill or be killed. But, it was a chance for him to fight someone of strength, another rung in the infinite ladder of potential. Who would it be? Tobi? Zetsu? Perhaps even Konan?
Not many of them were left except maybe the strongest. This would be a challenge.
After checking the perimeter, the pair of misfit shinobi went back inside in their inn. It was dark, but neither bothered to turn on the light.
"Uchiha-san, can I ask you how old you are?"
The question mildly surprised him. "I don't remember."
His answer brought out a jingling laugh. "You must be old for you to forget."
"It feels like I've lived an eternity."
"I feel like I've been here with you for an eternity." Itachi saw her shudder a little. "Sometimes, when you and I were training in that forest, I felt like I was back in Konoha. And I thought about what life would be like if none of it ever happened, if all of them were still alive. Would you have still trained me? Would Sasuke have smiled more? Would we have ever known each other more than this moment? Would I…be feeling the same way about you as I do now?"
"What do you feel now?" The question spilled out of his mouth without thought.
"As an enemy, I would spare you." Her voice grew quieter, less courageous, but she continued. "As a friend, I would die for you. As a woman," she paused with nervousness, "I want you."
A smile played on the corner of his lips. "You make yourself vulnerable."
"It's your choice whether or not you want to take advantage of it, Uchiha-san." She whispered.
He got up noiselessly, and walked over to the vulnerable kunoichi who sat on her futon. He reached down and dragged a long finger across her flawless jaw, watching as her body reacted to his light touch. He bent low to meet her face which he lifted with his finger, and smelled the delicious scent of strawberries. Itachi's hair fell over his shoulder and tickled her cheek; he could feel her trembling in anticipation of his next movement.
Sakura's eyes wandered all over his face and then finally met his crimson eyes, determined and fierce, even challenging. His stomach tingled in excitement at her boldness and a slow smile made its way back to his face. He dipped his face to her right ear and blew a gentle stream of air, and she shivered at the chilly sensation that crawled up and down her spine.
"Would you not rather give yourself to my brother?" Itachi whispered into her ear. He kissed the very end of her jaw.
He could feel her cheek widening into a smirk. "He lost his chance."
Her words caused a satisfied jolt in his chest and he kissed the corner of her rosy lips. "Foolish little brother." Itachi breathed, before he descended upon her mouth.
Her slender hands slid around his neck and toyed with his hair as she returned his kiss. He pushed her back gently on the futon and broke their connection. He looked at her with a resolve quite unmatched even on the battlefield, and dared her to object now. His desire grew when she pulled him in for another kiss.
His cunning hands found their way under her shirt, exploring her soft skin and her navel, while his tongue did its own exploration of her mouth. His body grew feverish with want when she moaned softly against his mouth and arched her back against his solid body; never had such desire filled him all at once with the force of lightning.
The night passed on, but the couple paid no heed to its passing. After Sakura's third climax, they lay side-by-side, breathing hard and fast. Itachi waited until she fell asleep before dressing in his pants. He sat cross-legged beside her peaceful form, his flushed skin inviting the cool air of the early morning. He pulled the blanket over her bare, exposed shoulders while confused thoughts drifted into his mind once more, questioning her motives, his emotions, and his own self.
Soon, the Uchiha reassured himself that it was lust; lust after a beautiful woman who offered her body to him. It was a man's reaction. Even he needed something other than just training. There could be no emotional attachment to her. No, there was no emotional attachment to her.
He glanced at Sakura, and a loose strand of her rosy hair fluttered against her lips as she breathed. Instinctively, Itachi reached out and pulled it away from her face, and his hand halted in midair at his own action. But as he watched her sleep, a strange sense of deep, overwhelming satisfaction came from the fact that she was absolutely exhausted from the night, and he smirked.
This kind of satisfaction never came from the battlefield.
Ending notes: Finally an update. Sorry about the long, long wait. Hope this chapter was worth waiting for. Definitely their relationship is picking up, and I've planned a surprise for the next chapter, so please look forward to it! Thank you for the reviews, and I've always got you written in my heart.