Asphyxiation – an Itachi & Sakura story.

By: MitsukiShiroi

Disclaimer: Naruto and all its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto

A/N: My first fiction with a nice Itachi! I promised myself not to make this too long. It might end with just this one chapter, it might grow longer in a while. We'll see.

Spoilers for the recent Naruto chapters (400+)

Chapter One

Her breathing was harsh, almost embarrassingly so as his long, calloused fingers trailed over her sweaty body.

He was a predator, white teeth gleaming in the soft light of the morning moon as crimson eyes roved over her skin. His deep breathing increased ever so slightly as his fingers moved down her back, tracing her spine with deliberate touches. His long raven hair often brushed against her over-heated body, sending shivers down her spine.

"Itachi…" she whispered, nearly moaned, as his fingers moved up and down her thighs.

She was his prey, completely lost in a world of her own. It only took one look to whisk her away from everything logical. She was betraying her village and friends by being with him, but Haruno Sakura couldn't care less as his hands were doing things to her body that drove her over the edge.

In order to stifle her harsh moans, Sakura bit into his shoulder, tasting the salt of his sweat on her tongue. Nails scraped over his muscular back, breaths mingled together as they lost themselves in each other.

Sakura wasn't sure where she ended and where he started, all she knew now was that she was close to him, but she always longed to be closer.

She pressed against Itachi when it was over, during the few precious moments he left his guard down and wrapped his arms around her briefly. After the exhilaration and heat of the moment passed, Itachi let go of her.

Itachi leaned back against dilapidated sofa that stood in the inn they were spending the night in. The fire they had started was still going on, she realized, as the reddish glow of the crackling fire reached Itachi's face. His usually blood-red eyes were closed, his lashes casting long shadows on his cheeks.

His raven hair was drenched with sweat. As she watched, he reached over and pushed a few of the strands that sticked to his face away. He seemed almost relaxed as he tilted his head backwards. Itachi's full, thin lips opened momentarily, allowing him to exhale softly. His bare chest rose up and down in a steady pace as he regulated his breathing again.

Finally, he opened his eyes and looked at her. There was nothing in his eyes but the usual blank look.

With a sigh, Sakura stood up. She sighed involuntarily as he slid out of her, her last connection to him now broken. Deliberately, she placed her hand against his chest, pretending to seeking something to hold on to as she straightened herself.

Itachi was following her every move with his crimson stare. The intensity of his gaze sent chills down her spine, raising the small hairs in her neck with anticipation, though she knew he wouldn't do anything anymore.

She stepped over him, trying her hardest to ignore his poignant gaze and moved into the bathroom. Sakura leaned against the door, closed it and turned the lock before finally exhaling.

It had become normal now. Something they just usually did at the end of a week. She would come back from Konoha's hospital, worn out and tired as she stepped into her house. And then there would be a message from him.

How it got there or how Itachi managed to get into the village in the first place would always be a mystery to her. But he would visit during daytime, while everybody was at work or working on missions, write down the name and location of the inn he would be in for the weekend as he supposedly worked on Akatsuki missions and the time he would be expecting her.

And she, like the foolish little girl she was, always showed up.

It never occurred to her that she should show the messages to the Hokage, or alert anyone else about him. He was her drug. Without these short moments that they could be together, Sakura would go insane. Even now she longed to touch him again and to feel his warm body pressed up against hers as he moaned quietly in her ear.

Sakura shook her head and strode towards the shower, turning on the shower until it was freezing cold. Stepping underneath the waterfall of icy water, she was finally ready to wash away the musky scent of his that clung to her skin.

Apparently Itachi was too stealthy as even her sharp, trained ears didn't hear him come in and leave. But he had been there. As Sakura stepped out of the shower, her clothes were placed in a neatly placed stack on the floor directly in front of the shower.

Hastily, she dressed herself and opened up the door that led to the bedroom again, only to find that Itachi was moving towards her. His clothing slung over his arm, Itachi walked calmly passed her, wearing only his black pants.

"Itachi…" she said, whispering softly. "I have to go soon."

Itachi never stopped striding. "You're free to leave whenever you want, Sakura."

She knew that. She always had a choice.

"Would you like an update?" she asked, hoping to stretch the moment for a little longer. He stopped midstride and turned around.

His lips quirked ever so slightly into a small smile. "I know about the latest developments in Konoha."

"I wasn't about to tell you about that," Sakura said, annoyed somewhat. "I kept my eyes on Koharu and Homaru as you requested. And they're doing nothing out of the ordinary."

Itachi looked back and forth between her eyes, stepping closer. "What about Danzou?"

"Root has been on the move much. But that's all I can say. It doesn't seem like they're doing anything out of the ordinary."

Itachi nodded almost imperceptibly. He turned and stepped into the shower. Seconds later, the water started. It was over. Time for her to go home now and pretend to be a loyal and faithful kunoichi.

She stared at the shower cabin for a moment, then whirled around and strode away from the S-Class missing ninja that stood there under the shower, away from the bedroom where they spent so many hours together and out of the inn.

It wasn't until she stood outside that she could finally breathe again.

--

War was brewing.

It was almost tangible; the air was thick with tension and stress. Nobody aside from the children that were too young to comprehend was calm anymore. Everybody only went out on the streets whenever they needed something, hoping that the large groups of shinobi all around town would protect them in event of sudden attacks.

Uzumaki Naruto watched as everybody continued living their daily lives. Some of the women looked around frantically if they heard someone yell, some of the men looked distraught and the entire atmosphere that made him love Konoha so much was nearly completely faded.

It scared him to see how Konoha was slowly changing.

Someone was rapidly moving towards him. Interested, he turned around halfway, his electric-blue eyes focused on a small figure that came closer and closer until he identified her as Sakura.

"Hey Sakura-chan!" he called out, grinning brightly.

"Naruto," she replied, smiling gently as she landed beside him. "No missions today?"

"No," Naruto said, shaking his head. "I was just observing everybody in town. Everybody is really tense these days."

"It's too be expected," Sakura said, shrugging. "War is a part of our life. As long as we've got rivaling villages and organizations, wars will loom on horizons."

"It's different this time," Naruto said, his smile completely faded. "Even I'm scared this time."

Acting on impulse, Sakura reached out and patted his head. Naruto's cerulean eyes grew wider as he regarded Sakura for a moment. He apparently noticed her wet hair and backpack as he observed them for a moment. Uncharacteristically though, Naruto said nothing about the both of them.

He wasn't twelve anymore. Naruto was now a twenty-year old man who was matured beyond believes. He probably realized that it was not something she wanted to talk about in the months that her relationship with Itachi had been going on. During the beginning of it all, he teased her often about having a secret boyfriend, but after a while, he dropped the subject.

Perhaps part of him knew that whoever she was seeing, it was the wrong kind of person.

Naruto leaned in closer, sniffing experimentally. "You smell… tangy."

"I had to use tangy soap," Sakura defended herself, leaning back.

He grinned. "I wonder why?" he teased, sticking out his tongue a little, but quickly retracted it as the first drop of rain of that particular afternoon landed on it. Both of them looked up simultaneously, noticing the dark clouds that had appeared in the sky. A flash seared through the sky, closely followed by a ear-shattering crack and the immense downpour of rain started within a few mere seconds.

Naruto cussed profusely under his breath, grabbed Sakura's hand and jumped off the roof they were standing on. They landed on the street and quickly hid underneath the roof of a particular clothing shop.

"Seems like my shower was unnecessary," Sakura said, wringing out her skirt.

Naruto was looking towards the sky, but turned as he heard her remark, laughing out loud.

She smiled at him. During these moments, Naruto was still a child. He was grown and learned about so many things and had to go through all kinds of pain. But a small downpour and his best friend drenched could make him laugh like he was still the twelve year old boy who had seen far less than the twenty year old that stood in front of her.

"I'm not sure if I would like you smelling like man," Naruto teased, a lopsided smirk adorning his lips.

Sakura laughed, knowing that if she started to get defensive or deny it, Naruto would get more suspicious about whoever it was she was seeing. That was one of the major problems when it came to being in this with Itachi: it was too dangerous to let anything slip.

But as she observed Naruto for a minute, guilt quickly overcame her.

It was like she was betraying him over and over again. Every time she decided to go see Itachi, she was betraying Naruto and her village. With every tidbit about Homaru, Koharu and Danzou, however small the bits and pieces she heard may be, it was still a bad idea to continue doing this.

But Itachi had promised not to try and do anything against Konoha.

Even though they had ordered him to kill his own clan.

That was the only part of information of any importance that she had hidden from Itachi. During one of her spying missions, Danzou, Koharu and Homaru had meeted together and talked about the recent developments of Akatsuki. Eventually, Koharu mentioned about handing out the order to Itachi to kill the Uchiha clan, and Itachi had obeyed, out of love for Konoha.

That bit of information had shocked her to her very core. Itachi still hadn't realized that she knew, Naruto had no idea and most of all, Itachi's own brother, Uchiha Sasuke, believed that Itachi was working on his own initiative.

Sasuke was the only one she wanted to talk to when it came to Konoha's order. But knowing Sasuke's vengeful attitude, he'd probably direct all of his anger towards Konoha, rather than his brother. And that's assuming that he'd believe her at all.

She sighed.

It seemed that nobody knew each other. She had spent years with Naruto and Sasuke, trying to learn and understand them more. But how well could one person actually know another one? If Sasuke didn't even realize that Itachi had killed the clan on order of Konoha, while they were close as brothers… how well did one person know another? Even while knowing someone for their entire life, was it possible to completely elude someone else into thinking you were a heartless monster?

Her train of thought came to an abrupt halt as Naruto's hand moved up and down in front of her eyes, demanding her attention.

"Sakura-chan?" he asked, now worried.

Her head snapped up to meet his gaze. "I'm sorry. I got lost in thought."

"I noticed," he said, grinning.

Naruto held up a small umbrella that he had probably just bought as she was lost in thought. He opened it up and held it up for her. She smiled and stepped underneath it, noticing that Naruto didn't fit underneath it with her, his entire right side was drenched in less than a few seconds. But he seemed to be in a chivalrous mood and she wouldn't burst his bubble.

They walked in silence for a while, calmly striding over the wet stones of the pavement. The lights of the shopping district reflected in the darkened stones, their rays gleaming over the wet surfaces of the street. All around them, restaurants opened as night fell, more lights lit up in front of them, illuminating the way completely.

"I talked to Tsunade-baachan today," Naruto started, his voice sullen. "It seems Sasuke is still nowhere to be found."

Sakura sighed softly, listening to the last of the rain dripping down on their umbrella.

Sasuke had left so many years ago, when they were all thirteen years old. They had seen him again when they were sixteen for one brief moment. Then he disappeared and after that, all they heard about him were reports. Reports on how he killed Orochimaru, formed a group and hunted after Akatsuki, still planning his revenge.

And after all this time, Sasuke still didn't know the catalyst of the massacre.

Sakura wondered if Itachi would ever tell Sasuke it was not his fault. Yes, he was the one that killed the clan, but not voluntarily and only because Konoha was on the brink of war, had his father continued his plans.

"Do you think they'll ever find him?" Naruto said, referring to the ANBU teams that were searching Sasuke daily.

Sakura exhaled softly. "I don't think he'll return until after his revenge is complete."

'And when he does return, it'll be to have his revenge on those who rightfully deserve it, no doubt', Sakura thought skeptically, but remained silent. Naruto knew nothing about the real circumstances of the massacre and she wasn't about to inform him. If she did, she'd also have to tell him how she got the information and why she was spying on Danzou in the first place.

The rain finally stopped and Naruto lowered the umbrella. "He won't be the same then," Naruto remarked, glancing at the sky as he made his thoughts clear. "None of us have killed yet. And none of us will kill one of our family members."

"It's hard," Sakura said, biting her lip. "It's so very hard, because when he returns, he won't be the Sasuke we know. That might be the hardest thing about it all."

"We'll have to be there for him then," Naruto flashed a small smile, but deep inside, Sakura knew that Naruto realizes just as well that Sasuke will never be able to return to the person he once was. Perhaps it was a lost cause and perhaps it was better that Sasuke died so that he would never have to kill his own brother.

She shook her head involuntarily. "I know that in the end, he'll make the right decision," she said, a white lie to cheer Naruto up somewhat. "He'll realize what the right way is."

The slight smile on Naruto's face told her he didn't believe her. "Yeah."

They reached a crossing point and Naruto turned towards her. "I'll be going to Ichiraku. Iruka-sensei is waiting for me there," he grinned widely. "And he'd better pay for it too because I'm broke."

"What happened to your money?" Sakura asked, her eyebrows arching. "You usually spend it well."

"It was her birthday," he said nonchalantly. "Had to buy her some presents."

Sakura grinned. A couple of years ago, they had a mission to the hidden village of Mist and there Naruto had fallen for a girl named Yuki with long red hair and bright green eyes. She was tomboyish and cute at the same time, her temper easily matching Naruto's. "Oh, I see," Sakura teased. "You had to go all out huh?"

"Very funny," Naruto grinned, the telltale stripes on his cheeks stretching as his smile broadened. "What about you? When is your boyfriend's birthday?"

Though it was meant as a joke, it was a slap to the face for Sakura. Her eyes widened as she realized that she didn't even knew his birthday. Naruto was staring at her with interest, obviously not noticing the shock on her face. She quickly composed herself and made up a date from the top of her head. "June 9."

"That's soon," Naruto calculated the days. "Three weeks from now. Any ideas on what to buy him?"

She wanted to laugh hysterically. The mere thought of her buying anything for Itachi was preposterous. Even more so because Naruto was actually mulling over options in his head, obviously in an attempt to help her out.

What to buy an S-Class criminal?

"Not yet actually. He doesn't like presents."

Naruto gazed at her incredulously. "Odd guy."

Sakura shrugged non-commitedly. "He's an enigma, even to me."

'At least you're honest about that,' said a voice in her head.

Naruto was still looking at her, watching her as he pondered over something. It was too easy to read Naruto's mind. He was thinking of how to formulate his words and whether it would be bad to broach the subject. Eventually, he made up his mind.

"Does he have a name?" Naruto asked, trying his hardest to sound indifferent.

'You could have seen that one coming,' warned inner Sakura as all kinds of profanities crossed her mind.

"… Shigeru," she said calmly, eyeing Naruto. She could hit herself for coming up with such a name, but it was out now and Naruto seemed to buy it. He noticed her troubled face and dropped the subject.

"Well, I'll be going then," Naruto said, smiling. "Can you make it home on your own?"

"Yes daddy," she teased, hugging him quickly. "The moon is full so I have enough light to find my way home."

He nodded. "See you."

"Bye."

She watched him as he walked away, striding calmly with his hands in the pockets of his dark-blue Chuunin uniform. She still had to get used to seeing him in dark colors. In her mind, he was always the boy that wore those horrible orange outfits with the white or black collars. Even though he was wearing Konoha's colors for more than two years now, it still looked out of place on him.

--

Back home she took another shower, this one almost steaming. The hot water sprayed down on her sore muscles and warmed her chill skin. She washed herself twice trying to get off the last of the scent of the tangy soap she had used in the inn, attempting to remove every trace of her encounter with Itachi.

Wrapping one of her towels around her, she walked towards her mirror, wiping away the steam with one hand as she leaned in closer to inspect the dark circles under her eyes.

Ever since her weekly meetings with Itachi started, she had been getting less and less sleep until she practically slept four hours a day. Her mind would mull over Itachi and the Uchiha slaughtering, about Sasuke in the wildernis somewhere with three other people, about the war that brewed with Akatsuki, about Naruto and the imminent danger that still existed.

The older you got, the harder it got being a ninja.

As her scrutinizing gaze moved down her own body, she realized her towel was crimson.

Sakura discarded it immediately, opting for another towel, this one yellow. Every little thing in her house now reminded him of her. Even his scent seemed to linger in the corridor as she walked towards the living room of her apartment, cursing the day she let Itachi waltz into her life.

As she glanced around her small house, Sakura wondered what Itachi had been doing there, other than writing her the note. Had he been looking at her collection of scrolls, or perhaps looked at her collection of music? Perhaps he had seen the pictures of her team and the snapshots starring Sasuke that stood on a shelf in her bedroom?

Then again, perhaps he was so bold that he had tried out the bed.

Frustrated with herself, Sakura walked into the kitchen to get something to drink as she wrapped her towel more closely around her. But as she stepped inside, she halted with a sudden shock, her eyes on the still figure that sat on her windowframe.

His crimson eyes were clear as he looked outside, one knee propped up, his arm casually leaning on it as he stared outside contemplatively, face hidden from the outside world by her canary yellow curtains.

Suddenly, the air became heavy as it became increasingly harder to breathe. He hadn't yet turned towards her, didn't even acknowledge the fact that she was there and for one glorious moment, she had hoped that he was a mere illusion that she had conjured.

But as she clicked on the lights, he was still there, now turning towards her with that familiar blank look in his eyes.

This wasn't what was supposed to happen. This didn't fit into their schedule. They saw each other once a week, every Friday night. She would spend the night with him in some shabby inn and make her way back to Konoha.

Itachi hadn't visited her once after they got together in the seventeen weeks that it had been going on.

"Why… Why are you here?" she croaked, voice hoarse.

He didn't answer, just stared at her with his depthless eyes.

"Get out," she whispered, moving closer towards him. "Get out, get out, get out. You're not supposed to be here. This isn't the plan."

"What is the plan, Sakura?" he said finally, softly.

She stopped midstride, eyes wide. "What?"

"You talk about a plan. What is the plan?"

"We continue whatever it was that we had."

"I'm afraid that won't work anymore." His voice was emotionless.

"Why not?" she questioned earnestly. "Why can't we?"

He stood up from his place on the windowframe and strode towards her in three short steps.

Her throat was thick with anticipation, her hands sweaty as he leaned in closer until he met her eyes. The crimson of his eyes melted into the darkest color of blue she had ever seen.

Itachi had always kept his Sharingan on, even while they slept together.

What had changed?

He leaned in even closer, until his lips faintly brushed her ear. She felt his voice rather than heard it, but each one of his words cut deeply into her until she was incapable of standing. He held her close with one arm around her waist, leaning back to assess her reaction.

"You're… about to die?" she said, her eyes searching his for answers she so desperately wanted.

For the first time since she met him did Itachi smile. It was short, but it was there and it wasn't filled with malice this time, or mockery. It made him look young and so much more like the man he would have been hadn't he been ordered to kill his entire family.

"W-Why…?" she whispered, leaning in closer.

"I'm ending the game. It's over," Itachi said simply, his deep, masculine voice cutting through the thick tension that hung in the air.

"Game?" Sakura asked in a small voice.

"Sasuke."

Suddenly everything made sense.

After hearing Danzou talking to the village elders, the only question that had bugged her was why Itachi hadn't killed Sasuke. Why Itachi had allowed Sasuke to live with the pain of his family's massacre and why Itachi had always stimulated Sasuke to have his revenge. Suddenly everything fit and the last piece of the puzzle had been filled.

"No," she said firmly, shaking her head. "No, Itachi."

He smiled again. This time serenely, as though he had already accepted his fate.

Of course he had.

This was his plan since the day he got the assignment. This was how he amended. He killed his family and in order to protect his little brother from the truth, from who actually gave him the order, Itachi would place all the blame on him. Sasuke will kill him and would never know the truth about his older brother.

"You can't-" she breathed out, completely distressed. "You can't let him kill you Itachi. He doesn't know! He'll never forgive himself."

"And you do know," Itachi said amusedly. "That's why I'm here."

Sakura furrowed her brow in frustration. "What do you mean by that?"

"Sasuke will return to Konoha afterwards," Itachi mused calmly. "He will be satisfied with his revenge now settled. You wouldn't want to tell him the truth, would you?"

"Please don't ask me to lie," Sakura said softly, barely harder than a whisper.

"I'm asking you not to say anything. Those are two whole other things."

Sakura shook her head. "He deserves to know Itachi. You're his last relative."

"Sakura," he whispered, his warm breath fanning over her face. "You don't know the entire story. Listen to my instructions. Don't tell Sasuke. Let him live here, happily, with you and Naruto."

His instructions made sense, no matter how hard she tried to fight it. It would be best if Sasuke returned to Konoha after Itachi's death, so that both Naruto and her could re-start the process of fixing him until he would be fine again. If Sasuke found out about Konoha's role in the massacre, Konoha would be facing war from two sides then: both Akatsuki and Sasuke would be plotting against them then.

"You're supposed to be a bastard," Sakura said severely. "You're a clankiller, a pig who doesn't care for anyone but himself. You're a selfish human being who killed a whole clan to test his own capacity."

Itachi said nothing, his expression didn't change.

"I wish I hadn't found out about the instructions," Sakura said softly. "I wish I still believed that the world would be a better place without you."

The Uchiha still said nothing, holding her close for a minute longer until he let go of her. His eyes bled crimson again as he disengaged himself completely and turned around to leave. But both weren't prepared for Sakura's reaction as her hand shot out to grab his arm.

"Don't go…" she whispered to him, enjoying the feel of steel muscle under the soft skin of his forearm. "Go in the morning if you have to, but don't leave now."

He seemed to deliberate that for a moment.

If he left now, the next time she would see him would be whenever Konoha discovered his body. If they would discover it in the first place.

But the fact of the matter was that he could get caught in the morning. During the evening, he had the cloak of darkness so that he could move around the city surreptitiously, but by morning, guards would have increased again and it would be a lot harder for him to move about.

Sakura was preparing for the quick 'no' that was sure to ensue, but Itachi turned around completely and pressed his thin lips against her forehead.

For some reason unbeknownst to her, he accepted her invitation.

Her towel fell to the ground, the yellow fabric pooling around her legs.

All she could hear was his breathing. She could feel his white-hot touch trailing over her body and the soft words he occasionally mumbled in her ear. His calloused hands stroked her, turned her blood into liquid fire. Usually he was quick and mindblowing.

This time he was attentive and tender as he moved on top of her, his hard body pressing against her. He set her on fire numerous times and he could bring her so fast with his hands alone that she often had to pause to catch her breath. Afterwards, she would beg him to do it again and again, until they were both sated.

Eventually, she fell asleep, his head resting in the curve of her neck, his warm breath caressing her shoulder with every breath he took.

--

When she woke, he was gone.

No sunlight penetrated through the dark clouds outside. It seemed fitting for this day.

She lay still in bed for a moment longer, trying to block away Itachi from her mind. But his scent was everywhere, latched onto the pillow he used. If she closed her eyes, she could still feel his tender touches and hear his voice whispering things in her head.

Eventually she slid out of her bed and wrapped the bathrobe that hung over her chair around her.

Every step felt heavy to her as she stepped into the living room, noticing the yellow towel folded up neatly on top of her table. The window was opened a little now, the cool morning air streaming inside.

Sakura stepped towards the window and closed it after touching the windowframe. Then she sat down in exactly the same position as Itachi had just a few hours before her. She stared at the gate of Konoha, knowing that in a few hours or days, Uchiha Sasuke would step inside of Konoha again.

Her fingers caressed the cool glass as she leaned with her head against the glass.

And she waited.

--

A/N: Like I said, I'm not sure if I'll ever continue this or not, so for now, just treat it like a one-shot and don't count on an update. :)

Shigeru is a Japanese name which means 'excellent'.

Hope you enjoyed this!

-- MitsukiShiroi