As always, thank you so much to everybody who was kind enough to review. :) Haha, sorry about this not being up in the 'very' early hours of 2009 – I fell asleep. Oh well, better late than never, right?
Part two of two.
"Sasuke!" Sakura shrieks, into her innocent and much-wronged hot pink Katana. "I hate you!"
"…Sakura, please, you say this to Naruto and I at least once every week. What is it this time?"
"I don't know what to wear!" Sakura hisses, scandalized, as she rummages through her closet for at least the fifth time of the entire day.
Silence. And then, "Damn it, Sakura, isn't this why you're friends with Ino and Tenten and all of…them?"
Sakura growls her frustration as she tosses aside several old pairs of jeans. "They said that they couldn't help me unless they knew where Itachi's taking me out! Dressing up for dinner at like…McDonalds or something is so different from dressing up for dinner at Olive Garden!"
Sasuke sighs deeply, and over the phone, it sounds like a rush of static. "Don't worry, Itachi won't take you to McDonalds – he hates the freaky clown just as much as I do. Anyway, hold on."
Sakura looks at several different dressy tops with something approaching panic in her eyes until Sasuke finally appears back on the line. "It's some fancy café…thing. He won't say what it is exactly, which leads me to believe that the entrees may constitute freaky stuff like marinated rodent innards in a stew of—"
She can almost hear Sasuke smirking over the phone. "Kidding, kidding. But it is a fancy café-thing."
"Thanks," she beams, before hanging up, and turning to face her closet with a new amount of resolve.
She can do fancy café-thing.
One and a half hours later, at six-thirty exactly, Sakura Haruno is dressed and styled to perfection, in tight black, slightly flared jeans, black stiletto heels, and the crimson silk off-shoulder top that Ino had given her for her last birthday. She glares at her reflection in the mirror, before sighing, flopping down on her bed, and getting ready to give herself her usual mental pre-date pep talk.
First and foremost, I will not under any circumstances…make an ass out of myself.
Second: Itachi Uchiha may be really freaking hot, but he is also a police officer who is legally obligated to uphold the…law. So, that means no talking about the various crazy things that myself, Sasuke, and Naruto do on an almost daily basis. So, no mentions of the Junior Year Graffiti Incident, the Freshman Food Fight, or the Sophomore McDonalds Vandalism Scandal…
Sakura pauses a moment to think.
And, above all, no matter what the (considerable) temptations are – do not pull any weird seductive stuff in order to go along with Sasuke and Naruto's crazy plan to have Itachi arrest himself for inappropriate behavior with a minor. Is that clear?
…However, if you want to pull any weird seductive stuff for your own, personal reasons that have nothing to do with Sasuke and Naruto's crackheaded plot…then, fine, go right ahead.
Sakura promptly looks horrorstruck at this unwelcome manifestation of her subconscious desires. Thankfully, a distraction soon presents itself in the form of her phone – it beeps, indicating a new voicemail, and she frowns, before flipping it open and pressing the requisite buttons. Play message? Yes.
The voicemail flares into life, featuring a disturbingly familiar voice:
-giggle- Hey, Sakura, it's me, your best friend in the entire world, Naruto –muffled giggle- I just called to say hi and to tell you to have fun on your date with the Antichrist – uh, sorry, I meant Itachi…and uh, yeah, don't forget to be on your best behavior! And by best, I mean most sexy and seductive and likely to drive even the most conscientious police officer crazy with desire for you. And, um, Sasuke called too, and he wants me to tell you that he says to remember one word: Jailbait. Anyway, cheers!
Sakura stares at her phone disbelievingly for all of three seconds.
Then she pelts it across the room with a snarl of rage, and the innocent Katana collides with her beanbag and plops sadly to the ground, while Sakura herself flops down facedown on her bed and punches her pillow as violently as possible, while imagining her two best friends' faces as substitutes.
Her little anger management exercise is suddenly interrupted by the distant sound of the doorbell, and cursing and throwing one last appraising glance at herself in the mirror, Sakura rushes downstairs as fast as she safely can. Her mother is out visiting with her best friend Mrs. Yamanaka today, which means…
The heel of Sakura's stiletto catches on the rug that is at the base of the stairs, and the bewildered teenager shrieks and falls forward, nearly impaling herself on the doorknob. Breathing heavily and trying to modulate her flow of profanities, Sakura flings the door open. "Yes?"
Law Enforcement Agent Itachi Uchiha, last seen attempting to apprehend her for the intentional and wanton defacement and theft of state property, raises an eyebrow, before casually handing her a large, bright yellow sunflower. "Hello, Sakura."
Sakura only stares for a moment, before reaching forward and tentatively accepting the flower. "How did you—"
"Sasuke told me that they were your favorite," Itachi completes wryly, watching the girl fairly bury her nose in the sunflower. "Normally I am rather skeptical of the things that come out of my foolish little brother's mouth, but I decided to trust him on this one."
"He's not foolish," Sakura defends automatically, although she tempers her words with a smile, as she locks the house up after her, and steps out into the evening with him. "But thank you for the flower, anyway."
Itachi sniffs aristocratically. "That would be a matter of perspective, I believe." He gives her a slightly uncertain look out of the corner of his eye, noticing how unusually…unsteady…her step is, perhaps because of her ridiculously impractical footwear.
The usually stoic police officer hesitates once, and then again, before clearing his throat abruptly. "You…look nice."
Sakura looks up at him, pleasantly surprised - especially as he looks excessively handsome, in dark pants, a dark blue dress shirt, a jacket, and a black silk tie. "Thank you."
Itachi frowns at her slightly, before removing his sleek black jacket and lightly throwing it at her. "… Too nice. Put that on."
Sakura's jaw drops, before she recovers quickly and, egged on by voices in her head that sound suspiciously like Sasuke and Naruto, gives Itachi a coy look. "What's wrong? Am I too young to look this nice?"
"Yes, actually," Itachi replies, sounding completely serious, before opening the passenger door for her.
Sakura makes a face at him as she slips into the black Jaguar; it is a mirror image of Sasuke's car, and that is the only thing that saves her from gaping at it openly. Still, it is easily the most luxurious vehicle that she has ever been in, and Sakura can't help but feel herself relax into the leather upholstery.
Itachi slips into the driver's seat, and with one quick turn of the keys in the ignition, the expensive engine practically purrs into life, before he easily guides it out of the base of her driveway and onto the street. Sakura blinks as she watches him drive, absolutely hating her strange propensity to think it's just so unbearably sexy when a guy can drive that well…
The silence is surprisingly comfortable, considering their slightly less than conventional circumstances – but then again, out of Sasuke's little trio, Itachi always has liked Sakura the most, even though he would rather arrest himself than admit it. After a few minutes of silence, though, Sakura's natural curiosity surfaces, and she leans across, pressing the 'play' button on the music display, just to see what kind of music Itachi listens to, of course…
Just her luck, the volume happens to be cranked up to the absolute highest, and Sakura actually jumps in her seat when the top-notch stereo system flares into life. "Oh, my god! What is this?" she yells, over the very loud, chaotic guitar riffs and death growls.
Itachi smirks at her reaction, before turning the volume quite a bit lower. "It's called death metal, Sakura. Not your cup of tea?"
Sakura wrinkles her nose, which has the joint effect of making her look much younger than she is…and absolutely adorable, as well, although Itachi chides himself for noticing such a trivial and inconsequential thing. "This is gross," she pouts. "I mean, you can't understand a single thing that they're saying! It's just…snarls and growls…"
Itachi gives her an amused look. "You can, as a matter of fact – you're just not listening hard enough. You may put the radio on, though, if it bothers you that much."
Sighing her relief, Sakura quickly presses various buttons until she reaches her second-favorite radio station, and the Jaguar is soon filled with pleasant and generally inoffensive Top Forty music. Itachi smirks again, even as he easily switches lanes and accelerates, while staying well within the speed limit. "You haven't changed all that much from when you were a freshman, have you?" he observes absentmindedly.
"What?" Sakura yelps indignantly – hell, her forehead was big and her limbs were too long when she was a freshman, and she would really like to think that she's filled out since then. Especially considering that, due to unforeseen circumstances, she is now on an official date with the hot yet totally unattainable guy she had crushed on for a good majority of the ninth grade. "I have too changed!"
"You still listen to annoying music," Itachi points out evenly. "You have continued your association with my foolish little brother and Naruto, you're still surprisingly fierce when angered, you predominantly wear red and black more than most other colors, because you believe that anything else runs the risk of clashing with your hair…and if gambling were not illegal, I would be willing to bet that you continue to spend more time in math class passing notes with your loud blonde friend than actually paying attention." He pauses his lengthy listing in order to smirk at her again. "Although the propensity for violating the law is a new development, at least, as far as I know."
Sakura blinks, stunned and horrified to realize that, aside from some aspects of her physical appearance, she really hasn't changed. "Ugh, you're actually right."
"Always the tone of surprise," Itachi says dryly.
"Sorry," Sakura smirks back at him. "I'm just used to hanging out with Naruto and Sasuke."
Itachi rolls his eyes minutely. "Ah, the infamous and ever-illustrious duo. By the way, Shisui told me to inform you that he apologizes for indirectly calling you an idiot and a cretin. No such apologies were extended to my foolish little brother or Naruto, but he liked you."
Sakura can't help but giggle at the thought of the friendly police officer. "It's alright."
Itachi glances at her, looking somewhat intrigued. "Despite your abysmal grades during the entirety of Honors Geometry, you never struck me as the type to do…idiotic or moronic things."
Sakura blinks. "Thanks, I think? And," – she sighs – "is now the part why you ask me why Sasuke, Naruto, and I were engaging in the idiotic and moronic activity of illegally chopping down a pine tree off the side of the Interstate?"
"Yes, actually," Itachi allows – despite being fully engaged in their conversation, he still manages to navigate the crowded town streets with ease. "After all, it is hardly a normal sort of Friday-night activity."
To his surprise, Sakura laughs at him, tossing her hair back. "Well, I thought it was stupid, too, and I punched Naruto about ten times when he told us—"
"Aggravated assault, I see," Itachi smirks, but Sakura has been best friends with Sasuke for long enough to know that, in Uchiha-speak, this is as close as he can get to gently teasing her. "You're developing quite the criminal record here, Sakura."
"Yeah," Sakura rolls her eyes exaggeratedly. "I'm on my way to becoming a regular juvenile delinquent, as a matter of fact. Anyway, Sasuke and I tried to talk Naruto out of it, but, um…then we had to pull over…"
Itachi raises an eyebrow at her. "I suppose I shouldn't ask why?"
"No," Sakura replies sheepishly.
He makes a slight sound of amusement in the back of his throat. "I will infer that it had something to do with that mostly-empty bottle of eggnog that I found under Naruto's seat."
"A wise inference," Sakura says evasively. "Anyway. Due to circumstances purely beyond our control, we ended up on the side of the interstate for an hour with nothing to do."
"And it is a widely acknowledged fact that defacing and stealing state property is the universal cure for boredom," Itachi retorts, although he tempers his words with a smirk.
"Yes, actually," Sakura glares at him playfully. "And…um…we also happened to be carrying the means to chop down a pine tree in the back of Naruto's truck…"
It takes all of Itachi's considerable willpower to avoid slamming down on the brakes when he hears this latest revelation. Instead, he just sighs, looking at his recalcitrant pink-haired date. "In reflection, I find it shocking that last night was the first time you three almost got arrested."
For some reason that is probably best for him not to know, Sakura finds this extremely amusing. "Oh, you have no idea. Anyway, we stuck the tree in the back of Naruto's truck, and we were on the way home when," – she sighs – "…well, you know the rest." But she brightens again, her eyes sparkling with happiness. "It was definitely worth it, though!"
"How so?" Itachi asks, genuinely curious.
In response, Sakura gives him an expression normally reserved for regarding the village idiot. "It was fun. And, oh god, don't pull some trademark weird Itachi statement on me and go like, fun? What is this fun you speak of?"
Itachi pulls into a parking space in front of the café, before turning the car off and staring at her, a downright scandalized expression on his normally impassive features. "Did you just imply that I have weird Itachi statements?"
Sakura taps her chin thoughtfully with one elegantly manicured silver fingernail, and then smiles at him mischievously. "I didn't imply that you have weird Itachi statements – I'm pretty sure I told you that you have weird Itachi statements."
For his part, Itachi just blinks at the strange little female.
"Look," Sakura says defensively. "If I had said 'it was fun', and then not said anything else after it, would you have been likely to respond with some variation of 'fun? What is this fun you speak of?'"
Itachi averts his eyes quickly. "Yes, well—"
Sakura smirks at him, before poking him firmly in the chest. "Yeah, that's what I thought."
Itachi actually rolls his eyes at her, in the kind of age-appropriate gesture that she hardly ever sees from him, before getting out of the car and walking across to open her door and help her out. Of course, Sakura is very much capable of doing these things for herself, but honestly, what seventeen-year-old guy that she knows would be so…courteous? It's a bit of a refreshing change from the males of her age group, really.
Much to Itachi's dismay, as soon as Sakura steps out to stand beside him, a crowd of teenaged males across the street, loitering in front of a music store, immediately start clapping and whistling at her. Sakura glares at them, as she tries her best to avoid stumbling on the pavement, and wonders if flicking them off, even in front of a technically off-duty police officer, could earn her a citation for vulgar behavior and disturbing the peace. God knows that she would do a hell of a lot worse than that if it had just been Sasuke and Naruto accompanying her…
Meanwhile, Itachi throws several of his most intimidating and deathly glares over at the crowd of teenagers. "I could book them for sexual harassment," he murmurs under his breath, as he reaches out a hand to steady Sakura.
Sakura can't help but smile at him, even as the leader of the group calls out a series of very lewd remarks. "That won't be necessary."
Fairly glowering in his displeasure, Itachi curses the need for desperate measures, and wraps an arm around her slender waist, pulling her closer to him in an obviously possessive gesture, and predictably enough, the catcalls from across the street die down abruptly. Sakura smirks over at them, before deciding to enjoy herself a little. Leaning closer into his light hold, she runs a few fingers down his spine. "Oh, Itachi," Sakura purrs, looking up at him flirtatiously. "You're giving me ideas. Stop it."
If the look that he had given her in his car earlier had been scandalized, then this expression is downright horrorstruck, as he looks down as his foolish little brother's best friend, who is definitely far too young to know how to do those kinds of things with her voice and eyes… "Sakura."
Sakura dissolves in a fit of giggles. "Sorry, sorry. It was too good to pass up."
Irritably, Itachi reflects that in the unlikely event that he ceases studying to be a forensic pathologist and follows in his father's footsteps as the town's police chief, he will illegalize overtly flirtatious behavior by pink-haired girls who are definitely under the age of consent. Or subtly flirtatious behavior. Or…any flirtatious behavior whatsoever. Yes. That would definitely prove to be the best course of action.
Still, he steps ahead of her to open the door to the café, and the two of them step inside. Sakura admires the tasteful, simple yet elegant décor immediately; it is absolutely beautiful, and completely lit up with icicle-style Christmas lights and various other forms of seasonal memorabilia. However, despite the fact that it is a lot warmer in here than it had been outside, of course, Sakura can't hide her slight frown of displeasure when Itachi slips his arm from around her waist.
"Table for two, please?" he inquires of the elderly hostess sleekly, and the grandmotherly woman fairly beams at them, before leading the couple to a secluded corner table near a miniature fountain.
Sakura slips into her seat across from Itachi, before batting her eyelids at him coyly. "So."
Itachi actually considers lifting his menu to shield his gaze from her apparent advances. "…Yes?"
Sakura gives him one of her irrepressible smiles. "I told you stuff about the criminal activities that I've been up to lately…which means that it's now your turn."
A slight smirk tugs at the corners of his mouth. "Hm. I do not engage in criminal activities, but recently, my time has been fully engaged between my preparations to become a forensic pathologist and my duties with the State Patrol."
Sakura's eyes widen to an almost alarming degree. "Oh, so that's what you want to do!"
Itachi raises an eyebrow at her. "Once again, the tone of surprise."
Sakura laughs nervously, brushing her bangs out of her eyes. "Well. I don't remember exactly how, but you came up in conversation this one time when Naruto, Sasuke, and I were talking about college and stuff…and all Sasuke would tell us about your intended profession was that it was some weird necrophilia thing."
Itachi discreetly chokes on his icy water. "What?"
"His words, not mine," Sakura adds hastily.
Itachi's left eye twitches dangerously.
Sakura observes his distressed expression with a slight smile hovering at the edges of her mouth. "…Just so you know, Sasuke totally freaked out and almost cried during the scene in Spider-Man when Tobey McGuire or Peter Parker or whoever got bitten by the freaky radioactive spider," she mentions casually. "Make what you will of it."
Upon receiving this valuable tidbit of information, Itachi looks at her with an even higher degree of interest, remembering a long-forgotten childhood incident where their family had taken a trip to the zoo and the eight-year-old Sasuke had point-blank refused to go into the arachnid room with himself and their father. "Indeed?"
"Yeah, but you didn't hear it from me," Sakura smiles, before scanning her menu.
"Interesting," Itachi considers this for a few moments, and purely by chance, his eyes light on a small, nearly transleuscent scar on her hand. It runs nearly the entire length of her right thumb, and for a moment, he is surprised that he hadn't noticed it earlier.
Sakura feels the weight of his eyes on her, and she glances up, surprised. Itachi nods down at her hand, after a few moments of hesitation. "May I?"
Sakura, of course, completely misinterprets this, and her inner squealing teenage girl goes into paroxysms of glee at the prospect of having Sasuke's totally sexy older – even if he is far too law-abiding for her tastes – brother asking to hold her hand. "Of course," she manages to respond, in a relatively normal tone.
To her surprise, Itachi reaches out and runs the tip of his finger lightly down her scar, and it takes all of Sakura's willpower not to slam her forehead against the table in frustration. Of course it had to be the damn scar. "How did this happen?" Itachi asks quietly.
Sakura winces at the memory. "A slight mishap involving my first time really using a scalpel. You know that I'm kind of like an intern at the hospital, right? Aunt Tsunade appointed me at the beginning of senior year, because it's valuable experience for getting into medical school…anyway, I was practicing how to use the scalpel before I could actually participate in any surgeries, and I don't know how, but, yeah. I pretty much sliced my thumb open and bled everywhere."
Itachi looks at the scar again, before hastily remembering to withdraw his hand, which he does. Sakura pouts with dismay, even as she returns to looking at her menu. "So, Itachi," she remarks offhandedly. "I showed you mine, so…"
She trails off purposely, green eyes glittering wickedly, and it takes Itachi a few moments to cotton on to her meaning. He rolls his eyes minutely, even as he not-seriously curses the wiles of playfully flirtatious teenage girls. Due to his general aura of icy inapproachability, which has gained him a rather large degree of infamy around the small town, he actually never receives – attention – of this particular nature; females tend to flock to his more open and genial cousin Shisui…which makes dealing with Sakura quite a bit harder than would be expected.
"I don't have any scars," Itachi deadpans, at last.
Sakura gives him an appropriately shocked look. "No way. You're a police officer; don't you deal with unstable, crazy, and armed and dangerous psychos on a regular basis? I mean, it isn't like the crime rate around here is bad enough to make CSI: Forks, or anything, but still…"
Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a waiter, and the two of them order – Itachi sticks with a basic sort of meal of grilled chicken with lemon herb and slow-cooked noodles, while Sakura orders the strangest and most outlandish-sounding item on the menu, which the waiter informs her may or may not include deep-fried baby snails. To Itachi's horror, Sakura waves her hand cheerfully and informs the waiter that it is quite alright.
In response to Itachi's obvious disbelieving stare, Sakura smirks at him as their waiter departs. "Come on; live a little."
"If your standards of living include flagrant disobedience of the law and ingesting deep-fried baby snails, then I would rather not," Itachi drawls sardonically.
Sakura gives him her most winning smile. "You'll try one of my snails, won't you?"
"I will do no such thing."
Sakura pouts outrageously, before channeling her inner deep reserves of sheer, unparalleled nerve, and reaching out to twine her fingers with Itachi's. He actually jumps at the sudden physical contact, and she can't help but think, amused, that if he weren't a Uchiha and therefore too cool for things like blushing, then Itachi would be turning all kinds of red right now. "Sakura," he chokes out, looking as if he is being strangled by his tie.
Sakura tilts her head to the side and flutters her eyelashes even more. "Please try a snail?"
Now, Itachi knows that unless he acquiesces to the outrageous request, Sakura will keep holding his hand or, heaven forbid, do god knows what else to his innocent person. "…Fine," he murmurs grudgingly. "I will try a snail."
Sakura cheers, before pulling her hand back and giving him another one of those way-too-disarming smiles that really ought to be made illegal…
As if she knows the dangerous direction that his thoughts are wandering in, Sakura smirks at him slightly, before seemingly-casually adjusting her long, pink locks so that they fully expose her delicate, bare shoulders…
When Itachi catches his gaze following the seemingly innocent movement, he mentally curses in five different languages.
This is how the mighty fall.
Little known fact about Sakura Haruno:
Everything that Sakura needed to know about how to be a good person was, in actuality, learned in kindergarten. Share everything, play fair, don't hit people (okay, fine, so she doesn't follow this particular commandment as much as she should, but still), put things back where you found them, say you're sorry when you hurt somebody, don't take things that aren't yours, and never under any circumstances try to seduce the nice police officer, especially when you yourself are underage and he is a good five years older than you…
Okay, fine. She hadn't learned the last one in kindergarten, but still, she is fairly sure that to some degree, it is basic common sense. Unfortunately, Sakura has always lacked in common sense.
Itachi takes a delicate bite out of his strawberry cheesecake, while absolutely hating the fact that this café offers ice cream as a dessert option. Hell, it is winter in Forks. Daytime temperatures have a high of approximately thirty degrees, and this otherwise very excellent café offers ice cream as a dessert option? There is no logic or method to this madness whatsoever.
While he's at it, Itachi decides to hate the fact that Sakura has decided to support this obvious travesty by ordering ice cream. French vanilla, to be precise. She seems to find her ice cream very, very enjoyable, though, judging from the way that she is…
Itachi promptly forces himself to abandon that train of thought, because it is heading in a very, very illegal direction, and this is absolutely nothing more than a purely platonic and completely friendly dinner date – one that, if he is completely honest with himself, has been an extremely enjoyable experience. Even including this little interlude…oh, wait, he isn't supposed to be even thinking about that…
Sakura nibbles her ice cream, looking intently focused on her pursuit. One drop of vanilla melts off the cone onto her knuckle, though, and she frowns slightly, before bringing it to her mouth and practically kissing it off, before returning to her ice cream.
Itachi straightens his tie in an attempt to give himself something else to focus on.
Stupid, foolish little brother for coming up with this idea in the first place.
And damn Shisui for cooperating with it, too.
As Sakura nibbles tiny bits of her ice cream cone, she can't help but notice Itachi's slightly obsessive-compulsive fidgeting with his tie, and she blushes slightly. She has no doubt that if it had been Kiba or even Shino or Neji; hell, any guy her age, he would have given in by now…but Itachi, of course, has an infinitely higher degree of icy resolve than any of them. Naruto or Sasuke, if they had witnessed this subtle spectacle, would definitely be staring at her with their jaws somewhere on the ground.
But, anyway, this isn't for Naruto or Sasuke or their ludicrous plan of having Itachi arrest himself for 'inappropriate conduct' with her. It sounds selfish, and the circumstances that had brought it about were less than desirable, but in many ways, Itachi had been her first really serious crush, aside from her on-and-off middle school infatuations with the likes Sasuke and Neji, and Sakura really hadn't ever thought that she would ever find herself on an actual date with…Itachi, of all people. And, maybe some people would find it slightly unsettling – including Itachi himself, apparently – but she isn't put off at all by the five years' difference between them. And, in all honesty, Sakura will be damned if she lets this rather extraordinary opportunity pass her by.
She finishes her ice cream, and smiles at him brightly. "How's your cheesecake?"
Itachi twitches slightly; apparently he had been as lost in his thoughts as she had been in hers. "It is rather pleasant." He nudges the plate over to her; there is still a small piece left. "…Would you like the rest?"
Sakura is flattered by the courteous offer, but she shakes her head at him nevertheless. "No, thank you…the ice cream was delicious."
A rather pained expression flits through Itachi's dark eyes for a fraction of a second. "I gathered as much."
The waiter, catching sight of their empty plates, stops by their table on the way to another's in order to drop off the bill. Sakura hastily reaches into her pocket, but Itachi smirks at her, before withdrawing a very shiny and pretty credit card and handing it to the waiter, who thanks him and quickly moves off to the nearby front of the café. "Please, Sakura."
"But—" Sakura protests, pulling out her own debit card and pushing her chair back, before looking toward the waiter.
Itachi just raises an eyebrow at her in a way that brooks no protests, and the girl pockets her card again, makes a face at him, and sits down. The waiter returns with Itachi's card, wishes the two of them a good night, and informs that the café is going to close for the night, and that they should exit through the back.
After the waiter leaves once again, Itachi raises an eyebrow at Sakura. "Shall we?"
Sakura stands up with him, ignoring her brief pang of disappointment – for heaven's sake, it is nearly ten, and she and Itachi had lingered for quite a while at the café just to talk, before ordering dessert, even though both of them had finished their main courses within a reasonable period of time. In all fairness, she can say that it has easily been the best date she has ever been on…and she's been on quite a few. Not an outrageous amount by any means, but enough to make having a 'best date' distinction quite significant.
The back exit is just a simple glass door, leading to an elegant patio with a few other tables and chairs, within easy walking distance of the parking lot. Sakura's sharp gaze quickly catalogues their surroundings, before her eyes narrow in triumph upon locating the exact object that she has been looking for during the entirety of their little…outing. Itachi doesn't notice it, of course; even if he had, it is likely that he wouldn't even recognize what it is, so Sakura doesn't worry about that.
They approach the staircase leading from the patio down to the café's lawn and sidewalk, and Sakura waits for Itachi to place a steadying hand on the small of her back to help her down the stairs. As soon as he does, she hesitates, and he turns back to her curiously. In response, Sakura just nods at the illuminated town that stretches before them. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" she asks, the multicolored lights reflecting in her eyes.
A little startled by the sudden observation, Itachi turns nevertheless, observing the lit-up town. He normally does not take the time to notice such mundane things, but now, even he has to admit that it is a pleasing sight. "…It is."
Judging from the sheer expanse of bare shoulders and upper arms revealed by her top, she must be cold, and Sakura moves a little closer to him, biting her lower lip to keep herself from shivering. "Thank you," she murmurs softly. "For…tonight. It was easily the best date that I've ever been on."
Itachi blinks, and backs away one pace, only to find that he has unwittingly cornered himself against the railing. "It was my pleasure," he says, rather awkwardly. "Besides, you have no reason to thank me; in terms of sheer technicality, it was not really a—"
"Still," Sakura interrupts, her voice getting even quieter, and, strangely enough, he notices her gaze flicker upward. "…It's tradition, isn't it?"
For some reason, Itachi isn't at all certain that she is talking about the societal norms of dating protocol any longer. He follows her gaze upward, and when he sees the telltale cluster of green sprigs of leaves, Itachi pales slightly. "…Ah."
Before he even has time to blink, Sakura steps forward, bridging the small gap between them by wrapping her arms around Itachi's shoulders, and then she stretches up, lightly but firmly pressing her lips against his. She shows no signs of removing herself after just a brief moment, though, instead moving a little closer, until she feels his arms gently, tentatively wrapping themselves around her waist, pulling her even more securely against him. Sakura smiles with satisfaction, against his lips, and her eyes slip closed.
…In all honesty, Itachi's heart actually stops the very second that he notices the mistletoe above him, but then Sakura kisses him and it feels damn good, and he doesn't even realize that he is kissing her back until some dazed part of his mind registers that she fits perfectly into his arms, and she tastes sweet, just like vanilla ice cream—
All too soon for her tastes, though, Itachi literally wrenches himself away from her, and Sakura can't help a slight mew of dismay upon the sudden severance of contact. His jaw is tight with displeasure, his dark eyes glittering with anger, and Sakura can't help but gulp, even though she knows that the full force of his emotions aren't directed at her. "Itachi, wait—"
Without looking back at her, Itachi descends the short staircase quickly, before striding over to his nearby car. Sakura follows as fast as she can in her stilettos, her apprehension only growing, as soon as she sees the highly tense set of his strong shoulders. As she watches, slightly bewildered and at a loss for something to say, Itachi flings the passenger door open, before extricating something from a side compartment.
Sakura actually flinches when he throws his car keys at her, before catching the keys with fumbling fingers. "Drive," Itachi orders tersely, and Sakura notices, horrified, that the something that he had extracted from his side compartment is a pair of handcuffs.
"What the hell are you doing?" Sakura nearly yelps, as she lunges forward and attempts to confiscate the restraining equipment from his strong grip – holy shit, she had thought Sasuke and Naruto had been joking when they said that he would arrest himself if he caught himself reciprocating her attentions! Even though she had been the one who had kissed him in the first place…
Itachi tugs himself away from her easily, before putting the front of the car between them, obviously not trusting himself to be within three feet of her. "The transgression that I just allowed myself to engage in with you is a criminal offense," he snaps, still looking obviously unstable.
"Oh, for god's sake!" Sakura lowers her voice, seeing as screeching at him would definitely disturb the peace, before throwing the car keys at his chest, infuriated. "One, you did not just call our kiss a 'transgression.' Two – drop the handcuffs, and get in the car now! I am not driving this thing unless you want it wrapped around some streetlight somewhere!"
To her surprise, Itachi acquiesces, after a few moments of thought, and Sakura joins him, sliding into the passenger seat and already nursing what promises to be a massive headache. "Don't overreact," she snaps, too angry at herself to be more tactful. "We just kissed. It wasn't a criminal offense."
Itachi's left eye twitches slightly, as he slips even further into police officer mode. "Actually, according to state law, namely ordinates twelve and thirteen of the sixth subsector of Sector Seven, which both deal with issues including but not limited to statutory—"
"Okay, fine!" Sakura flails defensively. "So, apparently it was a criminal offense! Look, I…I…" she hesitates, her green eyes glimmering mutinously. "Never mind. I'm not going to apologize for it, because that would imply that I regretted it."
Itachi throws her a patently disbelieving look. "Sakura, you cannot just – rampage about, indiscriminately forcing your affections upon innocent passerby with no regard for the legal ordinates that govern this state."
If possible, this statement only serves to aggravate the petite pink-haired teenager further, and she actually grows a few inches due to anger alone. "What? Oh my god, did you just imply that I'm a whore? First Sasuke, by his stupid act of literally throwing me at you, and now you! Why do both of you hate me so much?"
Upon being faced with this accusation, Itachi looks more horrified than he has all night – which is actually really saying something. "Sakura, no, I most definitely do not hate you and I hardly meant to imply that; I just think that you severely misinterpreted my statement—"
"It doesn't matter if I misinterpreted it!" Sakura yells, now quite beside herself. "Because, still – there are so many screwed-up things about that statement that I don't even want to think about all of them! First of all, Itachi, I don't rampage about kissing people at will! I'm not Godzilla, for heaven's sake; I don't rampage! Even though I trip and fall and make an ass out of myself on occasion, I am still mostly a very delicate and graceful individual!"
…Oh, god, this had not been in the job description, Itachi thinks weakly, even as he nods for the benefit of his irate and obviously very wronged date.
"…And just for your information, I am very picky about the people I kiss; hardly indiscriminate! I only kiss people that I really, really, really like, so you should feel honored!" Sakura shrieks, outraged, and the occupants of the neighboring car that they have just pulled up next to at a stop sign direct curious looks into the Jaguar.
Itachi blinks, nonplussed, and caught somewhere around the 'really, really, really like' part of her declaration. "What – I mean, I am, or, I do feel, ah, honored, to be precise; it is just that—"
"And I do not force my affections upon people, either!" Sakura continues, now looking quite livid, and her eyes narrow vindictively as she looks back at him. "You liked it, didn't you? I could tell!"
Itachi had been in the middle of executing a right turn, and as soon as he hears this latest outrageous accusation, his grip on the wheel slips, and he almost knocks over a traffic divider. "What?"
"You heard me," Sakura crosses her arms and sulks. "And, you know, that's okay with me. It's perfectly fine – I don't mind the age difference either, regardless of the law. But you didn't have to get all defensive about it and hurt my feelings."
"…" Itachi considers the necessity of pulling over into the nearby Safeway parking lot and slamming his head against the dashboard until he succumbs to blissful unconsciousness.
Sakura brightens, completely misinterpreting his expression, before leaning across and patting him on the arm. "Don't worry, I forgive you." She looks thoughtful for a moment. "My mom's going to be out really late, so we could probably even go down to the beach at La Push and make out for a while, if you wanted to."
Before he can stop himself, Itachi thinks about it. It, being the fact that, for the first time in his life, he has been seriously propositioned by a willing female, and taking her up on that proposition would have been rather tempting, if she were only not five years younger than him, and he doesn't consider doing it, but he envisions what it could be like in his head, and god help him, but he likes what he sees, and upon realizing his horrible mental transgression, he almost turns five different shades of red. "Sakura!" he chokes, narrowly avoiding slamming his Jaguar into a Yield sign.
"I wouldn't tell anybody," she pouts.
Itachi sighs deeply, now combating a massive headache of his own. "Sakura, I will not drive us to La Push and…make out with you."
He says the last four words in a rather hushed tone, as if fearing that his foolish little brother and the rest of his male law enforcement relatives will suddenly pop out of the backseat and attack him with tasers for his earlier inappropriate contemplation, while Sakura blinks, looking as if he had poured a glass of icy water over her head. "…Why?" she asks, obviously wounded. "I thought you liked me."
"I do," Itachi is quick to reassure her, lest she misinterpret his actions again and start crying, or some other such horrible thing. "…As a friend. Maybe even a close friend." There, he said it. 'Close friend' is a distinction only granted to the likes of his cousin Shisui, and his lab partner Kisame Hoshigaki, so the girl should be feeling very, very special right about now, damn it.
Instead, Sakura just continues to stare at him like a kicked puppy.
Itachi sighs again; they have come to the front of her house, and he turns the car's engine off with one flick of the keys in the ignition. "Sakura, I do find you an exceptional sort of individual, but would be illegal for us to have a relationship that is anything more than platonic," he explains quietly. "That is Forks law, and I have absolutely no intention of disobeying it." He hesitates for a moment, deciding to cement his words. "Besides…I have no desire for the distraction from my career and studies that a romantic relationship would provide."
To his dismay, though, the words do not come out as steadily as he had intended them to, and Sakura glances back at him for a moment, although this time, the expression in her clear emerald eyes is inscrutable. Her gaze flickers back to the darkness outside of her window quickly, though. "I don't know if Sasuke's ever mentioned it," she murmurs, "but I turn eighteen in three months. If…if that changes anything."
Itachi blinks – Sasuke hasn't mentioned it. For a few moments, a very, very small part of him is tempted to say that it still doesn't change anything, because five years is a long time, even if she doesn't think so, and the difference between seventeen and twenty-two is identical to the one between eighteen and twenty-three. But…apparently unreasonable as it is, Itachi finds that he cannot bring himself to mind in the least.
"It might," he acknowledges at last, his voice slightly roughened by the strain of the evening.
Both of them know that it is the closest that he will come to an admission – for now, at least, and a slight smile tugs at the corners of Sakura's mouth, brightening her pretty features. "Until then?" she asks softly.
Knowing her playfully flirtatious nature, it probably isn't the best thing to do, but Itachi takes her hands in his for just a moment. "Friends?" he suggests.
In response, Sakura gives him a smile that is nearly blinding in its radiance, before leaning in quickly and kissing his cheek. "The best."
Itachi withdraws his grip, fighting the urge to touch the spot that she had just kissed. "…Friends that do not perform inappropriate sexual advances on each other," he warns dryly.
Sakura laughs at him, before opening her door and slipping out of the car easily – for once, not stumbling in her stiletto heals. "But that's the most fun kind…anyway, good night, Itachi!"
Before he can make a move to follow her, Sakura fairly skips up her driveway and disappears into her front door. Itachi stares after her for a few moments, before blinking once, and shaking his head slightly, to clear it. As he drives back home, his thoughts are dominated by two recurring threads – one, what he has just managed to get himself into, and the second? …The exact number of days until March, of course.
The next three months pass peacefully enough – Itachi is true to his word about being just friends with Sakura, despite the indignities that he suffers to his stoic person during this time – namely, one rumored incidence when Sasuke had sworn he saw Itachi and Sakura at the mall in Port Angeles, with Itachi trailing after Sakura, carrying around a large and fluffy stuffed puppy that Sakura had apparently won in a prize drawing.
Still, Itachi dutifully fuels her caffeine addiction with Starbucks strawberries and crème frappuccinos on a regular basis, spends every Saturday afternoon in the library with her, helping her study for the SATs, and once even attempts to teach her how to drive properly. This does not end well, due to Itachi nearly having to flee because of the sheer amount of innuendos and advances that Sakura makes on his innocent person, but…still. It is an enjoyable experience nevertheless.
Thankfully, freezing winter eventually melts into a slightly-less-freezing spring, which, of course means…
March 21, 2008
On the early evening of Friday, March the twenty-first, 2008, Itachi signs himself out of the Forks Police Department, before quickly striding through the double glass doors, and down the steep stone staircase. He looks even more elegant than usual in his full police regalia, and he scans the street quickly, looking for his Jaguar – he has somewhere to be, very quickly, and, and…
…what the hell.
A certain very familiar rusty orange excuse for a vehicle, whose driver clearly demonstrates a shocking disregard for basic rules of vehicular safety, skids up to the front of the Forks Police Department, and in the amount of time it takes Itachi to blink, another very familiar pink-haired individual is physically thrown out of the front seat and onto the sidewalk, before the truck and its remaining two occupants go speeding off into the distance, cackling evilly.
Itachi blinks, cursing his foolish little brother and the equally foolish Naruto and their propensity to ruin absolutely everything, including his plans – which were supposed to be a surprise, damn it – regarding this certain individual. The individual in question looks even more devastatingly attractive than usual, in perfectly-fitting dark jeans and a scoop-necked emerald green cashmere sweater that just happens to match the wicked gleam in her eyes perfectly. "Hello," Sakura fairly purrs, clutching her signature strawberries and crème frappuccino in her left hand.
Itachi actually takes a step back, being all too familiar with that look on her, before he belatedly remembers that he doesn't necessarily have to run any longer. "Happy—"
Sakura doesn't even give him the chance to finish; she literally pounces on Itachi, wrapping her arms around his neck, and kisses him as if the world is in danger of ending tomorrow. It is hard and passionate on both of their parts; his hands tangle in her long pink hair, pulling her closer, and she accidentally bites his lip too hard and tastes so strongly of overwhelmingly sweet strawberries and crème that the entire experience becomes a sensory overload in more ways than one, and on top of that, they are probably putting on a Notebook-worthy scene in the middle of the sidewalk, but for once, Itachi doesn't care; he reciprocates wholeheartedly from the very second their lips touch, and his arms wrap around her so tightly that Sakura is actually lifted a few inches off the sidewalk.
Meanwhile, as Shisui Uchiha strolls merrily out of the Forks Police Department, he takes a sip of mocha frappuccino, relishing the mere thought of a blissfully free weekend. As he lowers his cup, though, he sees a very familiar cousin of his, with his arms wrapped around an equally familiar pink-haired girl whom Shisui had last seen after she was involved in an illegal attempt to steal a Christmas tree off the side of the interstate, and she and Itachi are very obviously making out, and, wait, (Shisui quickly does some math in his head); that is so not right…
Shisui promptly chokes on his mocha frappuccino and sprays a liberal amount of it all over his uniform and the stone steps of the police department. "Oh, holy mother of – shame, Itachi, shame!"
The couple finally breaks apart, looking up at him, bewildered, and cursing under his breath, Shisui strides down the steps, pulling out the pair of handcuffs that he keeps in his bag. "Itachi Uchiha – how dare you make me do this you bastard if you just had to do that with her couldn't you have picked a better place than in front of the police department – you are hereby arrested for inappropriate conduct with a minor; under Forks law…"
"Oh, shut up," Sakura sighs dramatically, before flinging herself back against the slightly dazed-looking Itachi, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. "Officer Shisui, do you know what day it is?"
Shisui blinks, nonplussed. "Uh…March twenty-first?"
"Yes," Sakura deadpans. "Otherwise known as my eighteenth birthday."
Shisui blinks again. "…Oh…" and comprehension dawns in his dark eyes. "So, that means…"
"Yeah," Sakura smirks, and stands on her tiptoes to kiss Itachi on the jaw, just for good measure. "Which means that we could probably continue what we were doing right there for the rest of the night, probably, and you couldn't do anything about it."
Itachi clears his throat slightly, looking slightly abashed. "…Ah, Sakura, I'm fairly sure that he could."
"Disturbing the peace, you know," Shisui supplies, trying his best to hide his amusement. "Some advice from a veteran – avoid public places, and you should be fine. Itachi's Jaguar, on the other hand, is totally fair game…"
He trails off mischievously, but the damage has been done; Sakura smiles at him brightly, before grabbing Itachi's hand and dragging him off in the direction of the Jaguar. "Thanks, Shisui!"
Itachi, for his part, merely gives Shisui an evil glare which promises certain death later, before quickening his step to catch up with his newfound girlfriend. Sakura throws him a playful smirk over her shoulder, and Itachi can't help but let his hand tighten around hers, even as he pulls her closer, wrapping one arm around her slender waist.
Yes, Itachi decides, murdering Shisui can wait until later.
Again, happy official New Year's, everybody. :) I hope it's an amazing 2009 for all of you.
Feedback would be very much appreciated!