Title: An Odd Twist of Fate
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
Summary: Itachi was gay but when he finally did manage to fall in love, his object of affections turned out to be a girl. An energetic, blonde vixen of a girl, but a girl nonetheless.
Warnings: Female Naruto, AU, a bit of OOC.
Pairings: Itachi/Naruto, slight Itachi/Kakashi, slight Sasuke/Haku.
The room was dark. The smell of cigarettes lingered in the air as the pale light of the moon illuminated the figure on a large bed. Itachi stared thoughtfully at the sky, leaning against the railing while his lover looked at him lazily from the bed. "What's got you all bothered?"
Itachi glanced at Kakashi before turning his attention back to the orb that dominated the night sky. "I'm not bothered."
There was a light scoff as Kakashi stretched lazily and leaned back, gazing thoughtfully at the ceiling. "You're not usually this thoughtful." He stated, combing his fingers through his silvery hair. "I hardly think that its work bothering you and the only person who you pensively think about is Sasuke. What has the brat done this time?"
Itachi's lips twitched in amusement. 'He has brought an intriguing puzzle into my life.' He thought to himself before replying. "What do you know of Momochi Haku, Kakashi?"
The journalist arched a brow. "The fashion designer?"
Itachi inclined his head. "And Sasuke's soon to be husband."
There was a pause before Kakashi chuckled. "Ah." He murmured, "Big brother instincts." He looked at Itachi's back in amusement. "Nothing noteworthy, if you're digging for dirt." He smirked, "All I know that he's the adopted son of Momochi Zabuza. It's known that he was the sole survivor of the Yanagi family tragedy."
Itachi looked at Kakashi sharply, "He's the Yanagi heir?"
Kakashi nodded. "Indeed he is. As you know, they are very big in the fashion industry and Haku is their principle designer. He actually runs the business but most only know of his skills as a designer. I won't ask how Sasuke, our Sasuke, stumbled upon such a character."
Itachi hummed. "He is rather different."
Kakashi chuckled, "The prim and proper pianist, Sasuke and the eccentric designer Haku." He arched a brow, "That'd make headlines."
Liquid ebony eyes glanced at Kakashi slowly, "Not a word out of your mouth until everything is official, Kakashi. If I hear a peep of this in the news, consider yourself without a career."
Kakashi raised his hands in defense. "I won't say a word."
Itachi hummed before turning his attention back to the night sky.
"Is there another reason why you're standing there, looking so pensive?" Kakashi asked, "You've been oddly detached for two weeks now."
Itachi glanced at him, "Shall I shower you with attention then?"
Kakashi raised a brow, looking at him keenly. A slow smirk formed on the older man's lips. "Someone finally caught your interest, Itachi?"
"I don't know what you are talking about." The reply came swiftly. Too swiftly.
Kakashi chuckled and sat up. "This is the first time I've thought of you as cute." He waved of Itachi's sharp glare as though it was nothing. "Your protest was too swift and too strong, my dear Uchiha." He stated with a teasing smirk on his lips. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're worried about injuring my feelings, don't be. Neither of us considers this thing between us to be anything serious."
Itachi paused for a moment. "It's about Sasuke's best friend."
Kakashi hummed. "Who is he?"
"She." Itachi corrected, "Namikaze Noriko."
For the first time during the night, Kakashi lost his composure. He started in surprise, looking at Itachi with slightly wide eyes. "Namikaze Noriko? The Namikaze Noriko?" he shook his head, "Your brother sure does make friends in high places. She was recently rated to be one of Japan's most successful women."
Itachi arched a brow, "I'm well aware of that, Kakashi." He crossed his arms and leaned against the railing with a thoughtful frown, "I was simply surprised to see how fond my entire family is of her. Mother dotes over her at every turn and father…" Itachi looked faintly puzzled, "She has my father wrapped around her finger."
Kakashi shrugged. "I can't tell you much about her. She's very smart, tends to stay out of the spotlight." Kakashi leaned back leisurely, "A straight, down-to-earth woman. Attends very few parties, hasn't been involved in any controversy. She charms everyone who has spoken to her. And…" Kakashi looked at Itachi slyly, "She's considered to be very beautiful… a bit unusual perhaps, with her blonde hair and blue eyes…"
Itachi nodded, "Her grandmother wasn't Japanese. Somehow, both she and her father inherited her grandmother's coloring."
Kakashi chuckled, "Don't be so bland, Itachi. I've a feeling you are attracted to her."
Itachi arched at brow before turning to look pointedly at him. "I think your sore behind will disagree with that assessment."
"Ohh. You developed a sense of humor! I've got to meet this woman who was able to bring such a change in you." Kakashi stated with a wide smirk. He snickered at Itachi's icy glare, waving it off once again. "You're the first person I've met who's questioning his sexuality twelve years after admitting that he's gay."
"You're just making assumptions, Kakashi." Itachi answered bluntly. "However," he paused, turning away from his lover and looking into the night sky with a faint frown, "There's some merit to your thoughts. This may be mere curiosity but I can't deny that she has lingered on my mind for the past two weeks."
Kakashi leaned back lazily and brought his cigarette to his lips. "You should try to get to know her better. If it's simple curiosity then it'd fade when you know her better. If it's really attraction…" there was a pause as he narrowed his eyes at Itachi, "You'd be a fool to let a woman like that slip."
Itachi hummed, his eyes narrowed and calculating. "Well, she already seems to be a part of the family… it becomes my duty to get to know her better."
Kakashi smirked in response.
Noriko blinked in surprise when her cell phone rang before sighing and hoping that it wasn't a call from the office. She had been tuning her violin, ready to sink into the bliss of music after a hard day's work; she really didn't want to go back to the office.
She glanced at the screen and frowned at the unfamiliar number before flipping the phone open. "Hello?"
"Noriko-san." A vaguely familiar voice greeted her, "This is Uchiha Itachi speaking."
"Itachi-san?" She asked, not having expected the call, "What a pleasant surprise. How are you?"
"I'm well and you? Sasuke said that you've been very busy." He asked casually and Noriko leaned back in her couch comfortably. Itachi really had a very attractive voice.
"Yes. Unfortunately. Our latest client one stubborn bastard and it's an important deal for us so I needed to handle it myself." She sighed and closed her eyes, her tiredness seeping into her voice. "We finally signed the contract this morning and I took the day off. Thank God, I was ready to rip my hair out."
"Well, I'm fortunate then." There was a slight purr in his voice and Noriko's eyes widened when she felt an unexpected shiver race down her spine.
"I was wondering if I could tempt you to join me for dinner this evening." He proposed, "Unless of course, you have other commitments."
Noriko paused, uncertain. The offer certainly took her by surprise. "Er… no, actually…" she answered hesitantly. She wondered briefly if it was rude to ask him why he wanted to meet her. "I'm free this evening…"
"Excellent. Shall I come to pick you up at somewhere around six?" Dear lord, he sounded so confident and here she was, almost on the verge of shuttering. Why was she so unnerved by the older Uchiha? They had interacted comfortably enough during their last meeting.
Was it her imagination or did he sound a tad bit seductive when he whispered her name like that?
"Yes." She answered hurriedly, "That's fine." She quickly gained command of herself. "May I ask where we'll be dining?"
"Have you heard of Hinokizaka?"
Noriko arched a brow. Whom was Itachi trying to impress? "At the Ritz-Carlton?"
"Yes." He sounded a bit amused by her unimpressed tone, "Unfortunately, it's more of a business dinner than anything. I'm meeting an important client, Mr. Tachibana and his wife for dinner. They happen to be quite normal individuals and we're not to discuss business during dinner on his wife's orders."
"Oh?" Noriko asked as she relaxed. Normal meant either boring or annoying and sometimes both in Uchiha speak. She was thankfully in her element since she had been forced to attend similar dinners for the sake of business many times. "You're looking to ruin my evening, Itachi-san?" she asked in amusement.
Itachi chuckled and again, Noriko held her breath when a shiver coursed through her. "I was hoping that we'd save both our evenings by accompanying each other."
She smirked, "You forget that I don't need to attend this dinner engagement. You'd owe me a favor."
"Ah." He breathed and she could hear the smile in his voice, "You may ask me anything in return and I'd do everything in my power to grant you your wish." Noriko was mortified to feel a blush warm her cheeks. "After all, you'll be gracing me with your very charming presence while you'll be unfortunate enough to suffer three, much less pleasing, companions."
"Who's being charming now, Itachi-san? If I didn't know better, I'd say that you are flirting with me." She said with a smile.
"Is that so, Noriko-san?" He purred and Noriko closed her eyes. His voice was maddening, like rich, dark chocolate. "Will you accompany me?" His request was earnest, all traces of his earlier humor gone from his voice.
"Of course." She said seriously, "I thought it was obvious." She smiled a bit, "Should I dress to impress?'
Itachi chuckled, "You'll always impress whether you're dressed for it or not." He murmured with a note of intimacy in his voice and Noriko bit her lip. "To tell you the truth, I wanted to have a private dinner with you sometime soon when this offer from Tachibana-san came." He confessed seriously, "I hope that I've not imposed upon you by inviting you to a business engagement."
Noriko smiled softly, "There's no imposition." She whispered, "I'll make time for you as I do for Sasuke."
"Thank you. I'll see you at six then?"
"Yes, definitely." She answered firmly.
"Well, good day." Itachi murmured finally before disconnecting the call.
Noriko leaned back, gazing at the ceiling in a daze. She hadn't expected Itachi to invite her. In fact, she hadn't expected Itachi to even remember her. She frowned as she replayed the entire conversation in her mind repeatedly. Talking to Itachi wasn't anything like talking to Sasuke. With Sasuke, it was friendly banter, mockery, and affection came from years of solid friendship.
Itachi was different. At their first meeting, he had been amused but distant. She had felt comfortable because interacting with him was like interacting with some distant acquaintance.
However, the conversation that they just had seemed to have an intimate undertone to it that baffled her. She wasn't blind. She found Itachi very attractive but her responses to him during that conversation went beyond what she was accustomed to. No one had ever managed to unsettle her like that with just a few words and a magical voice.
Noriko groaned and shook her head. The man was gay. She had to keep that in mind lest she left herself open to heartache.
She sighed and glanced at her watch. It was nearly four. Regardless of what Itachi said, she had to be dressed to impress those business acquaintances of his. Combing her fingers through her silky blond hair, she wondered why Itachi just didn't go ahead and ask someone who was more familiar to him. Such meetings required an understanding of silent cues and a keen recognition of gestures. She needed to understand what Itachi's intentions regarding his client were so that she didn't say something damaging.
With a shake of her head, she stood and walked to her bedroom. She needed to decide on a dress for the evening.
After half-an-hour of frantically searching through her closet, she sat down on her bed with a scowl. Why was she so agitated? A simple black dress would have done the trick but she kept on trying to find something better… something more attractive.
'Just whose attention do I want to attract?' She asked herself as she picked out a deep, crimson colored empire-cut dress.
Closing her eyes briefly, she composed herself before standing up and heading towards the shower.
It didn't take her long to finish bathing and getting dressed. She just didn't realize how fast the time passed. Noriko had just finished pinning up her hair when the bell rang. She started and glanced at the clock. Composing herself, walked over to the intercom. "Itachi-san?"
"Noriko-san, are you ready?"
The girl paused reluctantly, "Er… you've probably experienced this with other girls." She smiled sheepishly, "Unfortunately, I'm not. I'll keep the door open for you, please come upstairs. I'll be a moment."
There was a chuckle, "Alright. I'll be there in a minute."
"Okay." She whispered before walking towards the door and opening it, leaving it slightly ajar.
By the time Itachi was in her home, Noriko had finished her hair and was just putting on her shoes. She barely glanced at him as he leaned against the wall, studying her intently. "Just let me finish this and we're all set. I hope it isn't too late."
"I'm a bit early so there's nothing to worry about." The Uchiha said as he let his eyes roam over her, a pleased smile curling at his lips. With a small portion of her hair pulled up, the rest of her riotous golden curls flowed down her back. The blond coloring was beautiful against her deep red dress that ended just on her knees.
There was no sense of conformity and restraint now. She looked stunning.
Noriko looked up after she finished wearing her shoes and smiled at him. "Underdressed or overdressed?" she asked teasingly, standing up and looking at the mirror critically. Her make-up was so light that it was barely there and her skin glowed under the warm lights of her home.
"Perfect." He said before offering his hand to her, "I realize why Sasuke seems so protective of you." He glanced at her, his intense eyes gleaming, "Not many can resist such a vision."
She arched a brow at him, smirking slyly. "You're hoping that my feminine wiles will soften Tachibana-san? Tachibana Hideaki is a notorious womanizer even though he's married."
He tensed and narrowed his eyes, "You're mistaken." He stated stiffly, "I'm afraid, Noriko-san, you'll find that Sasuke and I aren't so different when it comes to certain aspects of our personalities."
She looked at his tense form and frowned, "Er..." she paused uncertainly, had it been Sasuke, he would recognize her gentle mocking and sarcasm but it seems that Itachi didn't. "Look…" she murmured awkwardly, "I didn't mean that seriously."
He looked at her keenly as they entered the elevator. "Perhaps it was a mistake to invite you to a business dinner. I should've been more considerate." He frowned, "I'm afraid I've given you the wrong impression."
Noriko looked at him in question.
Itachi paused for a moment before explaining himself. "Tachibana-san's timing was unfortunate and it's even more unfortunate that I cannot refuse him. I'm quite busy for the next two weeks and was hoping to dine with you today, alone." Noriko stilled at the emphasis. "You're very precious to my family, Noriko-san, so much so that you're now a part of it. I wish to offer you the same amount of attention that I'm willing spare for Sasuke."
Noriko shook her head, "You don't have to. You realize that, right?" she asked him as they walked out of the building and stepped towards his car, "Sasuke's your brother. I'm simply his best friend. I know you are very busy man."
Itachi paused for a moment, looking at her with hooded, mysterious eyes. His gaze was unsettling but Noriko could not turn away.
He turned away without saying a word, opening the passenger-side for her.
She frowned as she slid into her seat, wondering what exactly Itachi's intentions were. She had met Itachi only once but Sasuke often spoke about his brother. She gathered that Itachi wasn't someone who would fool around. According to Sasuke, almost everything Itachi did had a motive behind it.
Leaning back against her seat, she glanced at Itachi. 'Whether he reveals his motives to others or not is the real question.'
"Perhaps we should start again?" She asked softly, offering him a charming smile that was so genuine that Itachi relaxed, "How have things been? Between you and Sasuke?"
"Better." Itachi answered, driving out of the parking lot. "He has changed quite a bit but in some aspects, he's still a clingy brat."
Noriko snickered, "Oh man, I'd pay to see his face when you tell him that!" Her eyes sparkled with humor as she looked at him, "He's a bit too possessive. I can't imagine what Haku-chan goes through. He's an absolute saint to tolerate Sasuke with such patience!"
Itachi smirked, "Oh, I concur." He tapped his fingers against the steering wheel as he peered at the traffic in front of him with a grimace. "I'm still uncertain about Haku-san."
Noriko shrugged, "That's alright. Even I didn't accept Haku-chan for a long time. You'd probably take less time than I did, you're more sensible. Besides," Noriko grinned, "Despite all that cool, untouchable attitude, the bastard's a putty in Haku-chan's hands. Seeing him so besotted unsettled me for a good while before I learned to accept it."
"Well, we'll just have to see." He murmured as they reached their destination. He glanced at his companion with a raised brow, "Ready?"
Noriko snorted before forcing her lips to smile in a fake charming manner, "Let's woo the clients."
Itachi smirked and got out of the car. "I'm assuming that your charming sense of humor is absent when you're with clients." He asked as he held out his arm for her.
She placed her hand on his arm as they entered the Ritz Carlton hotel. "Well, my friends say that my real personality is quiet annoying so if I do be myself, I'll lose a great deal of clients."
Itachi chuckled and for the first time Noriko realized that there was something very deliciously dangerous about her best friend's older brother. The flash of cunning in his eyes, the seductive curl of his lips and the measured movements of his body were as alluring as flame was to a moth.
She bit her lip and turned away.
She needed to keep her composure. She couldn't just swoon over every attractive man that came her way.
She'd be doomed to heartbreak, if she did.
Itachi entered his penthouse with a pounding headache. He had hoped that despite the presence of the clients, Noriko and he would manage to have a good time.
He had been wrong.
Mrs. Tachibana turned out to be just as big of a flirt as her husband was. It was appalling to see Hideaki try to get on Noriko's good graces in the presence of his wife while the said wife tried to throw herself at him.
In all, the evening had been a disaster and Noriko seemed as though she had been through hell instead of a pleasant dinner meeting.
Itachi decided that instead of letting her go home immediately after they parted ways with the clients, he'd take her for a small walk.
That turned out to be the best decision. After a while of walking through a silent and charming little park, Noriko regained her witty humor and dazzling smiles.
Absently, he flicked on the light switch, discarding his coat and folding up his sleeves. He looked up after he removed his shoes and stilled.
Sitting casually on his couch, fiddling with a chess piece, was Sasuke.
"Otouto." He greeted after he composed himself. While he was surprised, he wasn't particularly annoyed. He had given Sasuke the keys to his home and given him permission to come and go as he pleased. However, that was the first time Sasuke had utilized that privilege.
Sasuke moved the chess-piece as he spoke, his voice low but somehow carrying a hint of danger in it. "When I decided to take a walk after a day's work, I didn't expect to see you with Noriko on your arm."
Itachi arched a brow as he sat down. "So you saw us."
Sasuke glanced at him, "Nii-san…" he whispered, "What exactly are your intentions towards my Noriko?"
The older Uchiha seemed amused, "Your Noriko?"
"My Noriko. She isn't yours yet and until she is, I have every right to question you." Sasuke looked at him in the eye, "Now, answer the question."
Itachi paused before shrugged, "It was a business dinner. I decided to take her with me. She's a charming company."
The younger Uchiha didn't look convinced. "Nii-san, we may've been living separately for years now, but that doesn't mean that I don't know you." He scowled when Itachi leaned forward and observed him in amusement, "I know what you're like."
"I don't believe that my intentions can be so easily read."
"You're attracted to her."
Itachi stilled, narrowing his eyes at his brother in warning. Sasuke, however, ignored it and continued, "You met her only two weeks ago. You spoke to her only a couple of times during that evening. After that, I know you didn't have any contact with her. Noriko would've told me if you did. I know that we don't have any business ties with Noriko's company. So why would you abruptly take her out for a business dinner?"
The older Uchiha didn't answer.
"Do you know just how telling your silence is, nii-san?" Sasuke asked seriously. "You don't do things randomly. Noriko has been on your mind, hasn't she? Answer me honestly." He asked softly.
Itachi observed Sasuke for a long moment. In any other circumstances, he'd have dismissed his little brother because it was a question about his private life. However, Noriko mattered a great deal to Sasuke and he was right. When it came to that particular woman, he was answerable to his brother.
"She has been on my mind for the last two weeks." Itachi answered softly, "I've been unable to stop thinking of her." He leaned back and crossed his legs elegantly, "I hoped that getting to know her better would dispel that annoyance."
Sasuke leaned forward, "Did it?"
Itachi shrugged, "Not yet." The older Uchiha seemed contemplative, "If anything, I fear I may have encouraged it. My own responses to her are rather intriguing."
Sasuke arched a brow, "Intriguing in what way?"
"I feel a certain degree of possessiveness…" Itachi informed, his gaze inward, "That was obvious when Tachibana-san flirted with her despite the presence of his wife. Curiously, it wasn't like what I feel for you. With you, there is a sense of protectiveness. With her, it was purely illogical."
Sasuke frowned, "Possessiveness? You felt that she was yours? That Tachibana-san was encroaching in your territory?"
Itachi gave him a dry look, "Yes. That's the blunt manner of putting it."
The younger Uchiha shrugged, "Noriko is not here so no one's going to be offended." He tilted his head to the side, "Anything else?"
"There was attraction. On both parts I believe." Itachi stated, "She's remarkably composed and in control of her reactions but sometimes she slips…" he closed his eyes, "Quite beautiful, those demure blushes of hers."
Sasuke chuckled, "Demure is not a word that I'd associate with her."
Itachi opened his eyes, a small smirk gracing his lips. "Ah, but otouto, I think she is quite shy when it comes to such things…" his eyes gleamed, "Her inexperience is most… charming."
"You, my dear nii-san, are besotted."
Itachi scoffed, "Not yet. However," He combed his fingers through his hair, seriously analyzing his own feelings. "There is a possibility of it happening." He admitted, much to Sasuke's surprise. "The…" he paused, grasping for the right word, "The strength of these feelings are not something that I can ignore. And considering how short our acquaintance is… I am…"
Sasuke frowned, "Confused."
"This is highly illogical, Sasuke." Itachi stated, "And it's completely uncharacteristic of me."
"Kami-sama help me." Sasuke murmured incredulously, "Am I to advise you on love, of all things?" he looked at his brother, trying to understand just what Itachi was feeling. "Nii-san, if you're going to cut and dissect everything in hopes of trying to understand your reactions then I'm telling you right now that you're doomed to failure."
"I'm not a fool." Itachi stated dryly, "I'm well aware of the illogicality of emotions. These feelings are occurring too soon for me to lay real weight in their authenticity, Sasuke."
The younger brother frowned, bowing his head a little in agreement. "Yes, but surely there is nothing wrong in pursuing it?"
Itachi arched a brow, "You're encouraging me?"
The younger Uchiha shrugged, "I'd search the entire country and I wouldn't find anyone more suitable for you than her."
"Me?" Itachi asked, genuinely surprised, "I thought you'd be more concerned for Noriko."
"I am." Sasuke replied promptly, "But I trust you, nii-san and you've never betrayed that trust. Besides, there's no one better suited for Noriko either. I know you. If you really feel that there will be no future in the relationship, you'd stop it from progressing to the point where either of you could get hurt. There is no one else that would trust Noriko with without a single shred of reserve."
Itachi bowed his head a little, "Your trust is appreciated." he paused when a thought occurred to him, "How can you be sure that this is not one of my usual conquests?"
Sasuke scoffed, "After the conversation we just had, I'd be a fool to believe so. Besides, you know that I'll kill you if you hurt Noriko like that. Moreover, father would break every single bone in your body if you even harm a hair on her pretty little head. She is his daughter in all but blood and you know it." He smirked, "I saw the way you looked at her. I saw those judicious little touches that you never bestow on any woman but our mother. I saw how your arm remained wrapped about her waist. Not once did you seem disinterested. Not once did you shift your attention away from her."
Itachi was faintly surprised to note how well his brother could read him. His lips curled into a smirk and he relaxed in his chair, his eyes gleaming in amusement. "My, my." He purred, "It seems that my baby brother has become quite courageous and wise."
Sasuke snorted and stood, picking up his discarded coat and shrugging it on. "Well, my curiosity is satisfied for now." He looked down at the seated Itachi and smirked, "I don't care how you plan to woo her nii-san, but I'll give you some advice."
His older brother looked at him questioningly, "Always assume that she is twice as smart as you are because if you don't you'll slip. She is very perceptive when she wants to be. She is stubborn as a mule and prideful as a finely bred horse. Disrespect her once and she will never forget. She may forgive but she will never forget. And finally," Sasuke narrowed his eyes, "Don't play games with her and lose her trust, nii-san because if you do, you'll never regain it. I know that you like playing mind-games and that's fine. That'd probably excite her just as much as it excites you but know your limits."
Itachi smirked, "I'll remember that."
Sasuke nodded before heading for the door, "Goodnight, nii-san."
Itachi watched him go as he poured himself a drink. When he heard the door snap shut, he stood and walked into his study.
Flicking on the lights, he settled into his customary seat behind a large, ornate desk. Leaning back, his closed his eyes, his mind lingering on his dinner companion.
For the first time he realized exactly what the right woman could do to a man. A combination of stunning eyes, mischievous smiles and charming nature had successfully fascinated him. While he had admitted to Sasuke that he doubted the credibility of his feelings, he was keenly aware of just how strong they were.
That unsettled him.
Itachi was a businessman. He never invested in deals that didn't guarantee at least some profit. He was well aware that he stood to gain a lot if a relationship did develop between him and Noriko.
Firstly, his father's worries for heirs will be solved. Secondly, Namikaze Noriko's stellar reputation and good connections would only benefit his family. Thirdly, he knew that Noriko wouldn't be a fortune hunter even if she didn't have a considerable income of her own and the entire Namikaze empire to support her.
Opening his eyes, he switched on his computer, letting it boot as he sunk into his thoughts again.
He could see all the practical benefits of the relationship. However, investing his emotions was something he had never done before.
He had a feeling that Noriko was an 'everything or nothing' kind of woman. She would give everything to a relationship but also demand everything in return. With her, a casual association would be impossible. It would be something akin to what his parents shared. A long-lasting, solid relation that was based on trust and friendship as well as love.
"This is ridiculous." He murmured to himself as he checked his inbox for mail. "I am getting ahead of myself."
Absently, he opened the email that Kakashi has sent him and paused, his eyes narrowing.
My dearest Uchiha,
I never realized how hopeless you were in all things considered romantic until I got a call from a friend of mine saying that you took Namikaze Noriko to a business dinner.
I am thoroughly ashamed. Have I taught you nothing? You have a beautiful, successful woman within your reach and instead of wooing her; you take her to a business dinner?
Regardless, I have decided to help you out.
Don't worry, it's nothing too drastic. I did some digging, met people with surprisingly loose tongues, coerced some to become stone drunk… in all it took a lot of effort but I managed to gain some useful information.
You are a smart man, Itachi. I believe that you'll be able to put this information to good use.
Itachi frowned as he downloaded the attached Word document and opened the application.
Surprisingly enough, he encountered a list in the document. It revealed many silly little facts but Itachi realized that for someone who was preparing to court a woman, it was quite useful. It was clear that Kakashi wanted him to know what kind of gifts Itachi could present her.
Smirking slightly, he read it, ignoring the fact that it was absolutely, uncharacteristically cheesy of him to actually value such information.
Noriko's favorite flowers are roses but she's very particular about the color. She loves white, purple and dark, almost black crimson roses. Pink roses are met with muted distaste while yellow, orange and any other color with reluctance.
Itachi was surprised by this. He hadn't expected Noriko to be fond of flowers. Something about her personality indicated that she wouldn't care for such trivial things.
Obviously, he had been mistaken but he wasn't particularly disappointed.
Her favorite colors are orange and blue. She doesn't like black but she doesn't favor white either. Both of them are too bland for her. Again, no pink.
That came as no surprise to him. Sasuke has already implied that she was fond of orange… almost to an obsessive degree. Of course, considering how fond he was of black, he was a bit disappointed.
Shaking his head to discard that ridiculous thought, he continued reading.
Like any other woman, she loves diamonds but colored diamonds fascinate her. Blue, black, green, yellow, you name it.
Colored diamonds? He agreed with her. Blue diamonds compliment her beautiful eyes though he felt that colorless diamonds would look just as stunning on her.
"Blue diamond earrings would suit her well…" he murmured to himself with a slight smirk, "I'll wait for a couple of months before considering gifting her a pair."
She reads only when necessary so books are mostly wasted on her but loves action and adventure novels. She'll read anything involving ninjas and samurai.
He chuckled, somehow unsurprised. She was the exact opposite of Sasuke. His brother couldn't go a day without reading. He always had a book on his nightstand.
Her favorite composers are Vivaldi and Paganini. However, don't bother to buy her CDs. She owns a large music collection that would be every music lover's envy.
Temples, historical sites and concerts are ideal venues for dates. By concerts, I mean those of the classical music, boring kind. Considering that she has perfect pitch, she'll dump you the very next day if you take her to a Rock concert.
That shouldn't be a problem. It seemed that they had similar tastes.
Despite her reputation of being a tomboy amongst her friends, she holds great fascination for kimonos. She owns quite a few but refuses to wear them in front of anyone. She collects them. According to my resources, she dresses up in these beautifully embroidered kimonos and stares at herself in the mirror. A strange from of vanity, if you ask me.
He raised a brow, closing his eyes for a moment to imagine what Noriko would look like in a beautiful, brightly colored kimono.
An unexpected shiver of desire raced down his spine, his lips curling at the edges to form a seductive smile. His eyes gleamed as he opened them, already keen to see his vision come true.
She would be truly beautiful… elegant and enchanting in ways that Itachi was eager to see.
Her favorite food is ramen but Sasuke's influence has taken its toll on her. She is very fond of onigiri as well. She is quite fond of sake as well but indulges in it very rarely.
She has a little anime crush on a character from the Final Fantasy games… Sephiroth, I think. Good luck with that… considering that the guy is a psychopath bent of destruction of the entire world and nurturing a disturbing god complex.
You wouldn't go about slaughtering innocent people with a ridiculously large odachi just to impress her, right?
Itachi snorted but he was incredibly amused. He didn't know who or what this Sephiroth was but he resolved to look into it.
According to some, she is very competitive and hates to lose. In fact, she has the tendency to sulk every time she does. She'll fight tooth and nail to gain a upper hand when she wants to.
Itachi would picture it. It suited her personality. He expected a certain amount of playful childishness from her though he knew that she was capable of being mature when the situation demanded it.
I'm still searching. I'll let you know if I find anything else.
Itachi leaned back in his chair, crossing his legs elegantly and staring at the computer screen with impassive eyes. The information that Kakashi had given him was not particularly important. He knew that Noriko wasn't the kind of woman who'd be persuaded with gifts and trinkets.
"However, it wouldn't hurt to indulge her a little." He thought to himself. He would have to be careful and thoughtful about his gifts to her. Had it been any other person, he would have simply bought the most expensive gift he could find and be done with it. However, with Noriko, the thought would matter rather than the price.
She could afford everything he could, after all. Financially, they were equal.
Moreover, presenting her with courting gifts would serve to make his intentions towards her very clear. It would compel her think about him as more than an acquaintance.
He closed his eyes, relaxing as he made his decision. He would take Kakashi's unsubtle hint.
He would court Namikaze Noriko.
Noriko paused when the intercom rang. Her guests, Neji, Tenten and Hinata paused as well, looking faintly confused.
"Excuse me." She murmured as she laid down her chopsticks as walked towards the intercom.
"Namikaze-sama, there's a special delivery for you." The security personnel's voice sounded amused. "Shall I send it up?"
Noriko frowned, "Alright." She wasn't expecting any mail, was she? A special delivery?
What could it possibly be?
It wasn't along before her doorbell rang. By now, her friends had gotten curious as well. They were looking at her as she opened the door.
She stilled, absolutely stunned.
In front of her, a deliveryman stood holding a bouquet of angelic white roses. The arrangement was so beautiful that it took her breath away. The roses seemed to glow, all of them in perfect bloom as though they had been handpicked to make a perfect little bouquet.
With wide eyes, she took the flowers from the smiling deliveryman and absently signed his sheet, so mesmerized by the flowers that she was unaware when he left.
"My, my…" Tenten teased gently, "Who sent you that, I wonder?"
Noriko swallowed nervously, a suspicion forming in her mind.
Taking a deep breath, she opened the accompanying card.
I hope these roses give you just as much pleasure as your company last evening has given me. I look forward to similar evenings in the future… with just to two of us. If I'm getting ahead of myself, please excuse me. The evening wasn't ideal but your presence was a very pleasant escape from the tediousness of work.
You have left me enchanted.
Itachi's name whispered past her lips in surprise as she stared at the card. With wide eyes, she turned her attention towards a postscript written in a small but legible handwriting.
'While you are colorful and vibrant, the white rose suites you the best… beautiful and enigmatic yet so charmingly innocent. Wouldn't you agree, Noriko?'
Noriko felt her cheeks warm with a blush and tried to still her rapidly beating heart. She hadn't expected anything like this from Itachi. The previous evening, she had convinced herself that Itachi was just being gracious. That the arm that was wrapped around her wasn't possessive. That those eyes weren't watching her every move in fascination.
"Kami-sama…" Noriko whispered to herself, "What're you doing, Itachi?"