Naruto © Masashi Kishimoto
Two weeks passed without incident. Sakura was beginning to plan the twins' birthday party, while Itachi made plans to keep his family from following the rest of Akatsuki to a base in Ame.
Every time Pein brought it up, the dreams that had plagued Itachi for months flashed before his eyes.
The glint of a blade as it swung down-
Itachi grimaced. He was putting together a plan. One that would get him out of the Akatsuki and back into Konoha, with his family. The first step was the easiest: Getting them back to Konoha.
The twins were going to turn one year old in just over a week. He had put in his request to take his family home, so that Sakura's friends could be part of Mai and Shin's birthday party. While Itachi felt somewhat guilty using them as a scapegoat, so to speak, he was going to use any excuse he could in order to avoid taking his family to that base.
Now, it was just a waiting game. Leader still hadn't given him an answer, but Itachi planned on going either way. Hearing Sakura call for him, Itachi shook away thoughts of plans and contingency plans, determined to keep Sakura from seeing the worry hidden in his gaze.
Walking into the nursery, Itachi gazed down at his family, caught in musings of how big they were getting. Shin could now walk, while Mai was beginning to take those first steps. The two were amazingly in sync, knowing without fail where the other was at any given moment. To test this, Itachi took Mai into one of the room on the far side of the base, with Sakura and Shin in the newly-built nursery. Even after spinning around a few times, Shin, when asked where his sister was, unerringly pointed in her direction. Kisame quipped that they should have known about that when Shin was abducted. Sakura politely blackened his eye.
Itachi was slowly becoming more expressive around Sakura. His smiles were a bit wider, his face not as expressionless. If someone walked in on the small moments, he immediately shut down once again; the habit was too deeply ingrained to let just anybody see his walls come down.
Soon after their honeymoon, the Akatsuki men built a new room just past Sakura and Itachi's room for a nursery, and another room down the hall. Kisame had been sharing a room with Tobi, until he revealed himself to be Madara. Now, the new room was Kisame's, and Tobi's old room was essentially a guest room, silently understood to be on of the twins' when they were old enough not to share a room, since it was closest to the other two rooms.
The older the twins got, the more they became attuned to each other. They were beginning to speak, garbled phrases interspersed with actual words. It didn't take long for everyone to realize that the two had their own sort of language. When they began to flare chakra when they were mad, Itachi and Sakura realized that they were going to have a very hard time as Mai and Shin got older.
Sakura was beginning to train with Itachi, her own skills growing as he took her under his proverbial wing. She, in turn, helped him expand on his impromptu use of her fighting style while fighting Madara. Together, they became a rather formidable force to reckon with. Without Naruto to base her own growth on, she realized that she had seriously cut herself short for years. It took having a serious talk with Itachi to realize that she had been unfairly stacking herself against them. Naruto with his Jinchuuriki capabilities, Sasuke and Kakashi with their Sharingan, Sai with his RooT training; they had all started out somewhat ahead. Sakura had fought tooth and nail to get where she was now: holding her own in a sparring match with an Akatsuki member.
Before she began training with Tsunade, Sakura's stamina had never been very high. Kakashi had been too focused on the prodigy and the fox boy to put her through more than the most basic of training. Looking back, Sakura supposed Kakashi wasn't a very good sensei, at least until Sasuke had left. Only then had he begun paying attention to the kunoichi he had dismissed as weak. Then, she had demanded to be Tsunade's apprentice. Her shishou had very odd training, but it had been effective in honing Sakura's speed and evasiveness.
Those skills were coming in handy now as she and Itachi danced the way only shinobi can. Fists and kunai, boots and swords, red eyes blazing against pink, the two moved so fast they could hardly be seen. Hidan, Kisame, Deidara, and the twins watched in awe as the the two fought using only the most basic of skills. Mai and Shin, now nearly a year old, watched with fascination as their parents fought. Almost as one, they pushed themselves to their feet and attempted to mimic what they were seeing.
Kisame gaped at the babies. Hidan blinked and called out, "Hey, your runts are playing ninja."
Sakura and Itachi immediately stopped, eyes searching for their children. The two were standing and throwing fists at each other, nowhere close to contact, but attempting nonetheless. Sakura's Sharingan noted how closely Shin's stance resembled her own, while Mai's was more that of her father's. Itachi wrapped an arm around his kunoichi and tugged her closer. "I believe we're going to have our hands full in a few years. They're already trying to use chakra."
Sakura groaned. "Why couldn't you have been stupid? Then we wouldn't have two abnormally advanced genius children who will likely take over the world one day."
Itachi smirked. "I'm not the only parent with above-average intelligence. What makes me the dumb one?"
Sakura glanced up at him, mirth dancing in her eyes. "Well, if you insist on being the smart one, I guess I'm the one they get their looks from."
By this time, the kids had tired themselves out and plopped back onto the ground. Deidara grinned as he thought of something. "Can I teach them about art, yeah?"
As one, every person in the yard agreed with a resounding, "No!"
Deidara slumped. Sakura grinned and placated him. "Maybe you can teach them sculpting. With no chakra."
The Iwa nuke-nin smiled and said, "I think I can do that, yeah."
Sakura bent down to pick up her son, groaning as muscles protested after the intense workout she and her husband had given each other. A smirk crossed her face as she remembered once again that Itachi was her husband. She felt silly, but it hit her at the oddest times, making her grin like a moron.
Itachi lifted Mai, tossing her into the air and making her screech with laughter. Sakura winced as Shin began squirming, wanting to be tossed, as well. "Kisame, play with Shin. I'm too tired."
The shark man grinned as he levered himself from the ground and lumbered over. "Pansy. Come here, runt." Tossing the boy into the air, he was rewarded with Shin's infectious laughter. Sakura smiled and ducked into the building, wanting to get a shower before she started on supper.
As she stirred the vegetables in the frying pan, she felt a wave of nausea. Pushing it to the back of her mind, she added the rest of the ingredients for the meal she had planned. Leaning down slightly to get a whiff of the usually-pleasant aroma, she froze as the nausea returned with a vengeance. Deidara walked into the kitchen only to have a spoon shoved at him as Sakura ran past. He stared after her for a moment before looking at the spoon in his hands and then to the stove.
"Oh!" he breathed as he jumped to stir the food.
Sakura knelt in front of the toilet, groaning as she lost what little food had been in her stomach. Groaning again as her eyes watered, she coughed as the burning in the back of her throat became noticeable. Pulling herself up, she hobbled unsteadily to the sink to grab a washcloth to wet it and wash her face. She brushed her teeth to get rid of the taste before taking a deep breath and leaving the bathroom.
Out in the hall, she ran into Kisame, still carrying Shin. The baby smiled and happily called to his mama.
Sakura smiled and reached out to her son, only to feel the sickness rise again as she smelled the food from the kitchen down the hall. Kisame, noticing her grimace, raised an eyebrow at her. "You still sore, pinky?"
Sakura rolled her eyes at the nickname, one Kisame only rarely used, thankfully. "No, I must be coming down with something. I keep feeling sick."
Kisame snorted. "As much as you two go at it like rabbits, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a new little runt in the oven there." His prediction delivered, he sauntered away, whistling as he went.
Sakura felt her blood run cold, thinking that she might possibly be pregnant again. "Surely not. We use protection...except for on the honeymoon. Oh, my god. What if I am pregnant?" Shin whimpered and Sakura realized she had been holding her son a little too tightly. "Sorry, baby. Mommy wasn't paying attention. Want to get some supper?" She smiled as her son nodded his head and laughed.
All through supper, she worried about the possibility. "It wouldn't be so bad. I just don't want to raise a full squad of ultra-smart shinobi kids."
Itachi noticed his wife's lack of attention, but said nothing, choosing instead to distract the twins. Whatever she had on her mind, she would bring it up to him eventually. For now, he had enough on his mind.
Later that night, as they lay in bed, Itachi felt Sakura's jittery movements as she struggled to find the words to tell him what was on her mind.
Softly, he spoke, "Sakura, you don't have to tell me, whatever it is. I can tell there's a lot on your mind, but I don't have to be privy to everything. You're allowed some privacy, you know."
Sakura rolled over and smiled at him. "You are amazing, Itachi. Naruto would be bouncing off the walls right now, begging me to tell him, and Sasuke...well, he would pout and glare until I gave in." Sakura winced inwardly, unsure how Itachi would react to the first mention of his now-deceased brother.
He would be lying if he said it didn't hurt, that casual mention of her former teammate. He regretted having pushed his brother so far down the path he had traveled. He could say that it was all Madara's fault, but he had acted somewhat on his own, if only to push Sasuke to train harder, be better. Since Itachi hadn't been able to defeat Madara, he wanted Sasuke to be able to.
Itachi sighed softly. So many things gone wrong. But, he thought as he glanced at his wife, so many things gone right. There was no guarantee that he would have ended up with Sakura if things hadn't played out how they had, no matter how much he wished he could take back things he had done and allowed.
Sakura's huff brought him back to the present. He smiled as he noticed her fidget more before finally sitting up and turning to look at him seriously. Itachi waited patiently for her to find her words. When she did, he kind of wished she hadn't.
"Itachi, I might be pregnant again."
Now, Itachi found himself struggling for words. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Sakura bit her lip as her hands fisted in the covers. "Itachi, say something."
Finally, he found his tongue again. "What makes you think that?"
Sakura grimaced. "I got really sick today cooking, and you know I usually love the smell of food. Well," she said with a small laugh, "my food. I'm not sure that what Deidara and Kisame cooks can be labeled as food."
Itachi smiled slightly in agreement before slipping his hand onto Sakura's thigh. "Would it be so bad if you were?"
Biting her lip again, Sakura answered, "No, but I don't want to have another baby so soon. Or two. Mai and Shin are enough of a handful, and that's only going to get worse as they get older."
Itachi rubbed his hand over her thigh before asking, "Is it too early to tell with your medical chakra?"
His wife smacked her forehead with her palm. "I'm such a moron." Rolling her eyes at her own mental lapse, she scooted around to lay flat on the bed before sending chakra to her hand. Bracing herself, she laid her hand over her abdomen, sending the tendril of warmth to her womb.
After a minute or so, she sighed softly and released her hold on the chakra. "Negative, Mister Uchiha. Two's the limit for now." Rolling over to look at said Uchiha, she smiled. "Let's say we try to be more careful in the future, okay? The honeymoon was amazing, but we should have thought more about protection."
Nodding his head in agreement, Itachi wrapped an arm around his wife and pulled her closer to whisper lowly, "We have plenty of protection in the nightstand." His lips trailed from her ear to her neck, kissing and lightly nipping as he went. His hand crept under her shirt to reach up and cup her breast, thumb trailing across her nipple as she gasped softly. Her own hand came up to tangle in his hair as he moved to cover her with his larger frame, bracing himself with the arm that wasn't currently up her shirt.
Finally, his lips met hers in a more tender kiss than she could remember ever having received. Her free hand moved to his back, trying to pull him closer as their tongues met and began to battle for dominance. Her legs moved apart to welcome the thrust of his lower body, making heat race through her at the press of his obviously-aroused member. Sakura moaned, grinding her hips into Itachi's. The Uchiha ducked his head to latch his lips onto Sakura's neck, muffling his groan as he hardened even further. Sakura gently pushed Itachi away, earning her a quizzical look. That expression quickly turned back to lust as the kunoichi stripped her top, quickly followed by the bindings she still wore out of habit.
Itachi took the hint and pulled his own shirt over his head, then his fingers trailed down his wife's body, pausing to tease in places, until he was brushing the elastic waistband of her shorts. He kissed a trail to meet his fingers, only to pull the shorts off in a flash as his mouth continued downwards. His blazing red eyes met her bright jade ones, both lit from the inside with a hunger that couldn't be contained. Itachi swiped his tongue across the wet folds of Sakura's sex, only to come back with a vengeance as he began to tease and torture.
Sakura moaned as her fingers latched into Itachi's hair, pulling him closer as she felt herself working towards a release. Just as she was getting close, Itachi jerked himself away. Sakura blinked and looked at him, only to smirk when she saw his fingers struggling with the enclosures on his pants. Standing on wobbly legs, she stepped in front of him and pushed his hands out of the way and knelt in front of him. Her almost-steady fingers made quick work of the ties and she pushed the material down his legs. Itachi brushed his hand over Sakura's hair as she took his cock in hand and licked the tip.
Without warning, she engulfed the head and moved to take in as much of his hardness as she could. For a second, Itachi went cross-eyed as the sensations wracked his body. The warm, wet slide of her mouth, tongue teasing his flesh, brought him to the brink within minutes. Finally, he pushed Sakura away and swept her up in his arms, dropping her on the bed as he reached for a condom in the nightstand.
Moving over his wife once again, he pressed against her wetness, teasing them both. Sakura moaned, "Itachi, please."
Dipping his head down to brush his lips against her ear, he whispered, "Please, what, Sakura?"
Another press of his hips, his length sliding along her folds, had her arching her back in pleasure and frustration. "Fuck...me," she grunted.
Half a second later, her body had accepted all of his. They held each other closely, relishing the feeling of completeness. Sakura's inner muscles fluttered around his invading flesh, finally driving Itachi to move. With every thrust, he jarred Sakura's body with the force as the tip of his cock brushed her cervix. When she cried out in more pain than pleasure at a particularly deep thrust, he adjusted his hips and pressed slowly back inside her warm body. Now, he was bumping that spot inside that made her toes curl and her back arch.
Soon, Itachi had the perfect angle and speed that would bring them to climax within moments of each other. Each slide of his body pressed against all the right spots, and every fluttering of her walls had him gritting his teeth to keep from coming early.
Finally, when the Uchiha couldn't take it anymore, he slipped a hand down to stimulate her clit. He smashed his lips to hers to muffle her scream as she came around his cock, stimulating him to his own release. With one final thrust, he held himself lodged deep inside her as the spurts of cum filled the condom. He collapsed gently on top of his gasping wife and kissed her neck. She smiled and dipped her head to press a soft kiss to his shoulder. Long minutes later, Itachi finally managed to make his muscles move and made his way to the bathroom to clean himself up.
Slipping back into bed, he slid an arm around his petite wife and pressed himself against her back. He closed his eyes and slept.
For about two seconds.
"Pregnant. Again." Those two words echoed in his head as his eyes snapped open. Mild panic attempted to flow through his veins, but Itachi held himself in tight reign until the urge to panic passed. The fight tired him out and he melted back into the bed, closing his eyes as he let himself think more about what could have happened.
They would have been able to go back to Konoha, for a while at least, without suspicion.
But the family he already had was more than enough leverage for an enemy to exploit, as evidenced by Madara. Adding more children would be like asking for some bounty hunter to come after Sakura or the children to get at him.
Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Itachi silently promised Sakura to do what it took to keep their family safe. Even if it meant preventing expanding it. For a while, anyways. A smirk tilted the corners of his lips as he imagined a house full of Uchiha children, back in Konoha.
Sometimes, he missed the village so much it ached.
But he had done his duty, ten fold. Nothing could take away the nag of horror in the back of his mind from what he had done, though his little family was helping. If he could bring his children up in the village, teach them to honor the Hokage as their leader instead of a figurehead to be done away with, maybe he could atone.
Mentally scoffing, Itachi rolled over to face Sakura. His wife was the main reason he wanted to go back to the village. He knew she missed her friends and family. His own wants had little to do with it.
He would do anything it took to keep his family safe. The Sharingan flared in his eyes as his emotions surged. Sakura stirred as the wash of chakra hit her, but settled back into sleep when Itachi wrapped his arms around her. Tamping his emotions back down to a bearable level, he settled beside his wife and slept.
"Itachi, Leader-sama wants to see you," Kisame called as the Uchiha stepped into the noisy kitchen.
Sakura had taken to cooking breakfast for everyone, and it became a madhouse as everyone tried to get their food without someone else taking it first.
In answer to Kisame's message, Itachi nodded his head. He glanced over at Sakura and saw her staring at him worriedly, the eggs in front of her forgotten. He flashed to her side to whisper in her ear before kissing her cheek and disappearing. She shook her head and turned back to the food.
Itachi reappeared outside the door that led to Pein's office. Knocking, he waited for the orange-haired man to call out before slowly opening the door and making his way inside.
Pein sat at the desk with papers strewn around him. His cloak was off, but the Rinnegan was ever-present. He sat back at Itachi's approach. "Ah, Itachi. I was wondering when you would finally turn up."
The figure-head of Akatsuki shuffled papers around until he found the one he was looking for. Glancing up at the stoic Uchiha, he smirked. "I know you have ulterior motives for wanting to return to Konoha, but as the reason you stated in your request is at least partially valid, I'll let it slide." When Itachi's expression didn't waver, Pein continued. "When you go to Konoha, I want you to take these papers to the Godaime. Do not look inside the scroll they'll be sealed in."
"Hai, Leader-sama. We will leave the same day everyone else leaves for Ame."
"Hai, hai. You may go." As Itachi reached for the door handle, Pein called out, "And Itachi, I expect you and your family at the Ame base in three months."
A swift nod from the silent ninja was the only reply he got, but the dents in the door handle from the death grip Itachi had had on it amused him even as part of him felt sorry for the other man. "You can't escape, Itachi. None of us can."
Less than a week later, the base was cleaned out and ready to be abandoned for another year. Amusingly, everyone was fussing over the twins as they said goodbye. Leader and Konan stood to the side, waiting rather impatiently for things to wrap up. Itachi, also ready to get on the way, tilted his head at Sakura. She smirked at the silent communication as she patted Deidara's hand away from Mai and brought Shin up higher on her hip.
Itachi held his hands out to Mai, who clapped her hands and reached readily for her dad. He strapped her to the carrier on his chest as Sakura did the same with Shin. Saying one final goodbye, the two groups went their separate ways.
Itachi led the way, pushing their speed as fast as Sakura could handle. Traveling from Earth Country would take them close to a week, even at a greater speed. In the long run, though, it was best to get away from Iwa as soon as possible. Sakura's unmistakable pink hair made her a target in most of the countries opposing Konoha.
Sakura smirked as Itachi slowed their pace a fraction. At the next branch, she shot past Itachi, smirking as she went by. The twins giggled and waved at each other. Sakura joined in the giggles as Itachi flickered out of sight, only to reappear some yards away. He glanced back with an answering smirk. Sakura's smile widened as she readily accepted the unspoken challenge.
All through Tsuchi and most of the way through Kusa, the two played shinobi tag, breaking for rests at night and to regain chakra during the day. As they neared the border to the Land of Fire, they slowed and kept on guard for ANBU patrol. Itachi turned his cloak inside out to avoid immediate attack, though he had little hope that it would work.
As they finally crossed the border into Fire, they once again increased their speed. Closer to Konoha, they stopped for the night, both taking pains to cloak the small camp with high-level genjutsu and taking turns keeping watch through the night. The next morning, they began the last few hours' worth of travel before reaching the village. Three miles from the Northern Gate, they stopped and dropped to the forest floor. Another mile, and they stopped again, this time surrounded by ANBU.
Sakura stepped forward to speak to the eagle-faced ANBU in front of them. She recognized him, but knew better than to say his name out loud. "ANBU-san, what's the problem?"
"The Uchiha is to be executed on sight. The apprentice of the Godaime Hokage is to be apprehended and taken to Interrogation. Danzou-sama's orders." The last was said with bitterness and sarcasm.
Sakura's eyes widened. "W-what? What happened to Tsunade? What happened to my shishou?!"
The eagle mask turned away. "Tsunade-sama has reportedly been assassinated."
"NO!" Sakura yelled. "Neji, please tell me you've finally gained a sense of humor and are joking."
A sigh came from behind the mask before leather-gloved hands came up to remove the porcelain. Hyuuga Neji's solemn face held no humor. "Sakura, I'm sorry. We think Danzou had a hand in it, but we can't prove anything. He's attempting to move into the Hokage's seat, but Naruto is holding him back."
A snort was heard from Sakura's left. Turning, she saw Kiba's grinning face. "He came up with some off-the-wall crap about honoring Tsunade by leaving her chair empty for two months. Said it would show dishonor to replace her so fast. The village agreed, so Danzou's hands are tied. There's a little over a month left to find a way to prove he's the one who..." He broke off at Sakura's tortured expression.
Her head bowed so her hair covered her face, she let a few tears escape as her lips pressed to the top of Shin's head. Her hands curled into tight fists as fire blazed in her eyes, turning them crimson for a split second before it settled into the usual pink. Itachi's own crimson eyes widened. Was his bloodline limit accepting the non-Uchiha kunoichi? He was brought from his surprise by Sakura darting to Neji.
She grabbed the top of his armor as she pulled the taller shinobi down to look him in the eye. "You said reportedly assassinated. Explain."
For the next hour, Neji explained what all had happened in the months that Sakura had been gone while the parents took care of the needs of the twins. Small mishaps at first, there had apparently been attempts at Tsunade's life for months. As time and failures went by, the attempts became more pronounced. The one that finally, reportedly, got the Godaime was a rouge shinobi that hunter-nins had caught weeks before. Due to be executed for treason, the rouge had somehow escaped his cell deep within the Interrogation Unit and made his way to the Hokage's office. Shizune and Tsunade were nowhere to be found, but the blood spattered all over the room had been confirmed as the two women's.
"It is our hope that they escaped. Escape from the Interrogation Unit is unheard of. The rouge must have had help," Neji intoned.
Itachi nodded his head. When the twins had been born, he had been taken to the underground cells that Ibiki had reign over. Every door had a chakra seal, and there were no windows. Unless escorted by a current ANBU or Interrogation Squad member, passing through the seals would result in immediate alarms and painful subjugation.
Sakura smiled. "Shishou is alive. She'll find a way to come back home. But first, we have to make sure it's safe for her to come back. Neji, I need to get into the village."
Neji nodded. Kiba and the other two ANBU agreed. But how to get the very-obvious kunoichi into the village undetected?
Itachi spoke up. "My genjutsu henge is unnoticeable to most, unless trained specifically to look for it. It will do for now."
Sakura nodded. Once into Konoha, she would go to Ino's for her physical disguise. "Guys, you should go back now, so it won't look as suspicious. Don't need Danzou questioning you. Thanks, by the way."
Neji just smirked. "I believe you will owe me one, Haruno."
Sakura blinked. "You...just made a joke." She grinned widely. "Welcome to humanity, finally, Neji."
The Hyuuga simply shook his head as he and Kiba donned their masks. The Inuzuka sneaked in a quick hug and playful lick to Shin's forehead before joining his comrades in the trees.
Itachi stared thoughtfully after them. "Does he not usually have a canine?"
Sakura nodded. "Akamaru doesn't go on all of Kiba's missions, especially ones where anonymity is a must. It broke both of their hearts when Tsunade ordered Akamaru to stay home the first time." Her face tightened at the mention of her shishou. Itachi's arm came up to pull her to him.
"If she is alive, we will find her," he whispered as he held her close. The twins giggled and imitated their parents, arms coming up to sloppily wrap around each other.
Sakura nodded into his chest as she took a deep breath. Stepping back, she clapped her hands together. "Okay, Itachi. Let's get to Konoha. Time to save my village."
Itachi smirked and grabbed her hands to pull her close once again. Their lips met as he corrected her. "Our village."
Holy shit. That took for-effing-ever to get out. I'm sorry guys. I haven't given this up, I promise. Thanks for sticking by me and for all the encouraging reviews. They fuel my fire to write. :)