Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters are created by Masashi Kishimoto, but the new plots (meaning the ones you don't recognize!) are mine. This fanfiction had been written for entertainment purposes only and without intention of infringing upon any copyright.

Title: The Evil Hair Clip

Author: elle6778
Rating: T/PG-13
Genre: General

50-shinobi Theme No 14: Hair Clip

Summary: Itachi never paid much attention to the antics of his admirers, including the gifts they sent him. However when a gift, presumably from one of them, landed him in the hospital, he could no longer disregard it. Non-massacre AU.

A/N: Hi there! I know I should be updating The Centerpiece, but this suddenly came up out of nowhere, so I thought I should finish it and post it. The story is not a long and complicated piece but I hope it will provide us all with some amusement. This is written for the 50-shinobi themes. All that said (written), please enjoy the story.


The Evil Hair Clip by elle6778

"Sakura-san?"

Haruno Sakura closed her eyes in exasperation. Not again, she thought irritably. Could her visitor's timing be any worse?

Ignoring the interruption, she opened her eyes and carefully pressed the dropper, allowing a single measure of a purple fluid to drip into one of the three vials before her. There, she thought as she straightened.

They were almost similar apart from the slight difference in hue. And those slight differences could mean life or death when the concoction was administered to someone. She had to remain there for another twelve hours to continue her observations, to note any changes that occurred and to test them every half an hour or so until she obtained the correct result.

Distractions were the last thing she needed.

"Sakura-san?"

Sighing wearily, Sakura looked up from the three vials lined up in front of her. "Not for another twelve hours, please. I thought there's a sign outside the door."

"I-I know. I'm s-sorry," the junior medic stuttered. "But this is an emergency."

She eyed the junior medic questioningly. "Okay, Kenji-kun. What is it?" she prompted with an encouraging smile. She had not meant to sound so harsh. The kid was doing his job, after all.

The junior medic lifted a small sample of blood. "Shizune-san needs an antidote for this."

Sakura's brows furrowed. "Why not send it to the basement lab?"

"We did, but they couldn't work out what it is. It's not in their database. The patient is in intensive care now and Shizune-san is not certain what else to expect. So she's hoping to get the antidote as soon as possible before his condition deteriorates."

It sounded serious, Sakura thought. "Bring the sample here."

She took the sample from him, and then flicked a glance at the three vials. All her equipments were in this room, so she supposed she could run the test and synthesize the antidote while keeping an eye on her research.

"Come back in six hours."

Kenji nodded. "Thank you, Sakura-san."

Without further ado, Sakura unsealed the sample and began the process of separating the compounds. She had to weave back and forth between the three vials and the blood sample, but she found herself just managing to do so without compromising the result of either.

After about three hours, she managed to identify the nature of the poison infecting the blood. Much to her bewilderment, the poison she had extracted was not unfamiliar to her. However, no one should have access to it just yet. Those weapons which had been infused with the poison had not been released after all. Could she have made some kind of mistake and the poison was actually not the one she was thinking of?

Glancing at the tree vials to make sure the color remained unchanged, she quickly went to the door and poked her head out. "Someone get me Umino Kenji from Intensive Care please?"

A chuunin who happened to be nearby responded. "Right away, Sakura-san."

"Ask him to bring the patient's file. He'll know what I mean."

Nodding, the chuunin ran off.

Sakura went back to her work. After fifteen minutes, Kenji appeared at her laboratory. He held a folder she presumed contained the patient's files.

"Come on in," she invited.

"Have you made any progress on the sample, Sakura-san?"

She nodded, and then turned to check on the three vials again. "But first, I need a few details from you, to confirm my findings."

The sound of paper sliding against paper reached her as Kenji opened the files. She caught a glimpse of the patient's family name as she looked over her shoulders. Uchiha, huh? She knew it was not Sasuke, because her teammate was incarcerated together with his blonde teammate in another wing of the hospital after yet another particularly violent sparring session.

"Can you brief me on the patient?"

Kenji nodded. "Uchiha, male, ANBU, twenty-eight, otherwise healthy. The patient is currently unconscious. He couldn't move on his own, and was brought in by Uchiha Shisui who happened to be around nearby when the incident occurred. Before he went down, the patient told us that he came into contact with the poison when he opened a package at home."

Sakura winced, wondering how he could have possibly remained conscious for so long if the poison was what she thought it was. He had some admirable mental fortitude, that was for sure.

"Describe the patient's symptoms, please."

"Trembling, weakness of the limbs…"

As he went on, Sakura realized that he was listing the effects of a certain poison she had created a month ago. It was just as she had suspected earlier. How on earth had the poison reached the Uchiha, though, and why? All the sample weapons containing the new poison were still in the approval queue, and as far as she knew, were kept safe by the security force.

She glanced down at her three vials again. Assured that they would be fine for the moment, she went to a nearby cabinet and scanned the labels on the rows of bottles before her. After a while, she found what she needed and reached out for it. She had it prepared because those who would be testing the poisoned weapons over the next couple of months would definitely need an antidote to counter the poison.

Holding the bottle in her hand, she walked back to where the junior medic was waiting.

"Here," she said to Kenji. "The antidote."

Astonishment flashed across his features. "You have the antidote already?"

"So it seems," she replied flatly. "He'll be as good as new in a day. Two days at the most."

As Kenji rushed off, Sakura could not help but wonder once again how the new poison had gotten out. The weapons containing that specific poison were yet to be approved for distribution, which meant that not many people had access to them. Those who knew about those weapons were Tsunade, Ten Ten, herself and a handful of security staff assigned to transfer and store the weapons.

Sakura shook her head to clear it. Knowing that there was nothing she could do about it now, she made a mental note to question the patient later, once he recovered.

Now, she needed her full attention to complete this experiment.

000


000

Sakura stared balefully at the line of every-day trinkets arranged in a row before her. Beside each trinket was a scroll depicting what was needed from them. That would dictate her work for the next few weeks.

She sighed. It seemed never ending, this project of hers. She had just finished with the shoes and clothes a couple of months ago, after working for a good one year on the suitable hidden potions for those. Some hid poisonous components and some hid useful antidotes.

As of one month ago, she had just finished the first samples for accessories, for both male and female. Now, she was being pushed to hurry with the next batch because of unexpected spy missions coming up for a handful of shinobi. So she had been ordered by Tsunade to remain in Konoha when she could be out on a mission with her teammates, something which she had been looking forward to, because she rarely went on field missions nowadays.

It was enough to put her in an exceedingly foul mood.

A knock sounded, making her look over her shoulder at the laboratory door behind her. "Go away," she grumbled impatiently. "Read the sign on the door. I'm busy."

Receiving no response, she assumed that whoever that was had left. Therefore she returned her attention to her scroll, scribbling down an idea she had for the pretty silver necklace she had set aside. The emerald pendant hanging off it glinted as she studied it, weighing the possibilities of somehow infusing the appropriate serum in it. The serum had to be targeted to the female biology, because according to the orders, the aim was to make the female victim more malleable to suggestions.

The slight shift of air behind her was her only warning that she was not alone in the laboratory. In a flash, she spun around, a sharp kunai clenched in a hand.

And stared right into the eyes of Uchiha Itachi.

"What are you doing in here?" she demanded, her kunai lowered at the sight of Sasuke's brother.

She usually saw the Uchiha in passing and occasionally when she visited Sasuke at his home. So it was odd to see him here. Perhaps he was bringing her some official stuff from Tsunade.

"I came for information."

Frowning in confusion, she replaced her kunai in the holster and asked cautiously, "What information?"

He pulled out a box from his pocket and opened it. "Is this yours?"

Sakura's eyes widened at the sight of the familiar hair clip in the small box. And then the case Kenji had brought to her last week came to mind. As busy as she was with her work, Sakura had forgotten all about the poisoned patient. By the time she remembered, he had already left and she decided to leave the matter as it was.

The hair clip displayed in the box right under her nose made her blink with comprehension. Uchiha Itachi was that patient, and the hair clip was the cause of his injury.

"Where did you get it from?" she demanded warily. Suspiciously.

The poisoned accessories were currently undergoing testing. The fact that someone had gotten hold of it most likely meant that there was a security breach. However, in a shinobi village like Konoha, it would almost impossible to find the culprit.

"You know who this belongs to?" he asked instead.

"Of course! Technically, it belongs to Konoha. But I've been working on it until last month. Where did you get it from?" she repeated.

"It was delivered to me."

"What?" She frowned, baffled. "How?"

"In the usual manner, I presume." His expression did not change. "Gifts tend to find their way to my doorstep."

"What are you talking about?" Exasperated, she suppressed the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose. Even Sasuke was not this cryptic, but then again, this was his brother. "Someone must have sent them," she remarked.

"Aa. One who wishes for my attention."

And then realization dawned. "Oh. Yes. Your admirers."

He eyed the box pointedly and then back at her. "Yes."

The box? Her?

She bristled indignantly as his meaning became clear. The arrogant little thing thought that she was one of his admirers' and had sent him the hair clip. Well, she had better things to do than to chase after the Uchiha's clan prodigy. Besides, her days of mooning over dark-eyed broody men were over. It was soul-destroying, and she had no intention of subjecting herself to such a thing again.

It was time to set things straight.

"Listen, Uchiha-san. And listen well," she bit out stonily.

He raised a brow at her tone, but the light in his eyes were clearly condescending, something which she found irked her quite badly. Tamping down the urge to simply just punch his face in, Sakura took a deep breath.

"I did not send you that hair clip. So, perhaps you'd kindly remove the idea that I'm one of your rabid admirers out of your mind."

"You're not."

Was he deaf, or being deliberately obtuse? Hardening her expression, she reiterated, "I'm not hankering for your attention. I am not interested in you, Uchiha-san. And I do not have time for this nonsense. Now, if you're done with the outlandish accusations, please see yourself out."

There was a flicker of something and then quickly followed by what appeared to be amusement. Sakura almost gasped. What the hell? He thought this was funny, did he? Was he not taking her words seriously at all? Sakura seethed at the thought.

"Is that so?" he murmured.

"What do you mean?"

"You have made time, I believe, for such nonsense…" He raised a brow. "For my little brother."

Her jaw dropped. "W-What?"

Then it clicked, and her eyes widened in disbelief. Sasuke must have said something to his older brother back when she had blurted out what her young heart had felt years ago. Was that not supposed to be something private? She growled inwardly. Wait until she got hold of that teammate of hers.

"Do you deny it?"

She gritted out, "I was twelve then, Uchiha-san. Not that it is any of your business! Besides, I didn't send you the hair clip in the first place."

"Perhaps you didn't. However, you admit that you're capable of behaving in that manner."

She gasped in outrage. The nerve of the bastard! This was her workplace, where she was in charge. She did not care how highly placed he was as an ANBU captain, or how most people spoke of him with a combination of fear and respect. He had crossed the line this time, and it was about time someone told him straight to the face.

Fully riled now, she strode towards him and then leaned in until she was about two inches from his face. The bastard did not even blink, which served to further incense her.

"What the hell is wrong with you? How dare you come in here with all these accusations?" Glaring at that impassive mask, which did nothing to intimidate her, she snarled, "I know nothing of how you came into possession of that hair clip, which by the way, is not even meant to be out there in the first place. The approval for its distribution is not even through yet, not that you need to know that."

"It contains poison."

"Of course it contains poison!" she snapped, planting her hands on her hips. "It was designed like that, for kunoichi on spy missions to knock out lecherous bastards who can't keep it in their pants. It is a weapon, Uchiha-san. Designed to injure. And while we're on the topic of injury, if I hadn't gotten the antidote to you, you'd have remained in that useless state for a good week or so," she pointed out heatedly.

His eyes narrowed dangerously. "You merely took responsibility for your carelessness."

"MY CARELESSNESS?" Sakura cried out, incredulous. "How the hell is this my fault?"

"You allowed the hair clip to escape your supervision."

Sakura gritted her teeth.

And then as swift as lightning, her finger came up to stab him in the chest. "Listen, you arrogant… brat!" She prodded him again, despite the warning gleam which now lighted his onyx eyes. "Do you have any idea how many of those things I design in a week? I cannot keep my eye on every single item that leaves this lab, and I'm not even going to try. If someone wants to break into the storage area, which is meant to be secured by Konoha's security force, by the way, there is nothing I could do about it. Go find someone to investigate what happened if you're so concerned about it instead of wasting my time!"

She took a deep breath and was about to continue, lifting her hand with the intention of poking him again to highlight her point, when his hand clamped around her wrist, stilling her movement.

"You will cease this assault on my person," he intoned quietly, but there was no mistaking his irritation.

"In that case, you should cease your VERBAL assault on me," she retorted. "Who the hell do you think you are, coming in here accusing me for something that I didn't do? You're the one stupid enough to open a foreign package without assessing the danger." She bared her teeth at him threateningly. "It could have been explosives, rigged to detonate the moment the package is unsealed."

His eyes flashed red at her words. "Is that a threat?"

"It is tempting," she hissed. "But you know what? I wouldn't waste a good explosive on you."

The Uchiha looked at her disbelievingly, and then his expression hardened. But before he could say another word, she spun away from him and strode to the door.

Holding the heavy metal door open, she plastered a saccharine sweet smile on her lips. "Now, if you don't mind seeing yourself of my workplace, Uchiha-san, I have work to do."

He walked towards her, and then paused once he drew close.

Unflinchingly, Sakura met his gaze, one which was now surprisingly mild but penetrating. It was as if he was barely affected by their exchange and was now trying to intimidate her with his larger physique. She, on the other hand, was so incensed that she could hit something. Preferably the source of her annoyance, but she knew that she stood no chance in a battle against the oh-so-great Uchiha Itachi. Her lips thinned, disgusted by the thought.

When he continued to study her silently, Sakura let out a hiss. "Please leave, Uchiha-san." Her eyes narrowed into slits. "Or I will call security."

His eyes widened slightly, and she doubted that it was because he feared what the security force might do. It was laughable, really, because the security force mainly consisted of Uchiha personnel.

And then he smirked at her.

He SMIRKED at her!

A growl threatened to escape from her throat, but his words stilled it.

"Have a pleasant day, Haruno-san."

In a blink of an eye, he was gone, leaving her to fume alone in her lab. With a short screech of fury, she spun around to return to her work, swearing to herself that she would never exchange another word with that arrogant Uchiha again if she could help it.

000


000

Luck was certainly not on her side.

One week after the encounter, Sakura found herself once again glaring into a pair of piercing onyx eyes. His ANBU mask was hanging under his chin. Behind her, members of his ANBU squad were going around her laboratory, searching thoroughly through her things.

The invasion into her work space made her angry enough to want to swing a tree at the shinobi responsible for this travesty.

"What is the meaning of this, Uchiha-san?" she gritted out, barely hanging on to her temper.

What she did not need was for ANBU to lay their hands on anything in that room. There were fragile equipments and sensitive ingredients in her laboratory. Things that should not be tampered with lest they affected the function of the equipments or the purity of the ingredients. Out of the corner of her eyes, she could see one of them lifting up a corked vial to inspect it before carefully setting it back in its place. Well, at least they were not throwing her precious samples around carelessly.

"I believe I've elaborated our purpose here."

Sakura turned the full attention of her wrath towards the one responsible for this. "Elaborated?" she echoed in a shriek. "All you said was one word; investigation. Genius or not, I think you'd better look up the dictionary for the 'elaborate'. You might find that it requires more than a single word!"

"It is not necessary to shout, Haruno-san," he murmured in that infuriatingly calm manner of his.

By now, she could feel the sudden interest from the three masked ANBU currently investigating the room at their captain's orders, even though they were obviously trying hard to hide it. The fact that their movements had stilled told her that much. One of them was even looking over his shoulder.

Crossing her arms over her chest, Sakura raised her chin. "Oh, there is every need to shout. In fact, I should continue demanding the explanation for this search at the top of my lungs until you explain FULLY why your operatives are investigating my laboratory!"

He regarded her wordlessly and she feared that if he did not cave, they would be at this state of stalemate for the next few hours because she was definitely not going to allow him to walk all over her like this.

"The trail for the hair clip led us here."

"Of course it did. I worked on it, after all." She rolled her eyes. "However, that particular hair clip and its siblings were sent out more than a month ago. I told you before, Uchiha-san. And just in case you forgot, I also told you that I didn't send you the hair clip. I'm not one of your infatuated admirers."

"Hm."

Her eyes narrowed at his non-committal response.

"There's no indication of intruders here, Taishou," one of his squad members reported, cutting into their conversation.

"I see."

Sakura glared at him. "Satisfied now?"

His eyes were slightly hooded as he regarded her intently. And then his lips quirked. "No."

She balled up her fists and ground her teeth. Just one little chakra-enhanced punch. Tsunade-shishou would not begrudge her just ONE punch, would she? The ANBU was rumored to be tough, after all, so what was one measly punch? Surely one did not deserve to be in ANBU if one was not able to handle a single punch from a kunoichi.

But she reigned in the urge, though by the gleam of amusement in the Uchiha's eyes, it was likely that he suspected what she wanted to do. Bastard!

"Uh… you want us to search the place over, Taishou?" another of his squad members asked hesitantly, obviously sensing the tension and was discomfited by it.

Sakura's fists tightened further as she watched the ANBU captain. The bastard was scanning her lab thoughtfully, as if he was truly considering the merit of searching over the space again. Just try it, Uchiha, she challenged silently.

"No. This is sufficient," His eyes landed on her, and there was an unnerving gleam of something she could not quite place. And then he added, "For now."

Her teeth clicked together as she clenched her jaw. Spinning around, she walked to the other end of the lab, away from the infuriating Uchiha and his ANBU squad.

"I'm sure since you managed to barge in here uninvited again, you are quite capable of letting yourself out," she tossed over her shoulders.

"Thank you for your cooperation, Haruno-san," the Uchiha murmured.

She could almost swear that he sounded amused, even though his expression was impassive. What did he find so amusing, anyway? Glaring at the back of his head, she waited until he had left the room before she turned back to her desk.

Then her eyes widened when she saw the box sitting there.

Standing over it, she glared at the evil hair clip which had brought her so much trouble.

000


000

One week later, Sakura was enjoying a pleasant lunch with Sasuke. Naruto, for one, had gone off shortly after they have all sat down. Not that he did not want to eat, but Hinata required his presence for something. For Hinata, Naruto was willing to forgo his favorite meal.

Sasuke did not speak much during the meal, but she was used to it. Still, she managed to extract from him that both he and Naruto would be deployed soon on a month-long mission with Kakashi and Sai. Sakura doubted that Tsunade would release her for that particular mission, not to mention there were already four of them in the team. It meant a lonely month for her.

She had just lifted her cup of tea to her lips when a prickle at the back of her neck set her internal alarms blaring. Her reflex kicked in and she spun around on her stool.

Only to stare up into a pair of onyx eyes belonging to Uchiha Itachi.

Not expecting to see him so close to her, she jumped, and in the process, spilled her tea all over herself. For a moment, she could only stare down at the wet patch on her lap in stunned silence, and then her cheeks flared with embarrassment.

"Clumsy," she muttered to herself.

"Indeed," the ANBU captain agreed in his smooth voice.

She looked up again, this time to glare at him, only to be blocked by Sasuke holding a napkin in front of her.

"Here. Take this."

"Thank you, Sasuke-kun," she said, taking the napkin from him to dab at the wet patch.

So much for hoping that she would not have to lay eyes on Uchiha Itachi again. What possessed Sasuke to invite his brother here? Oh, yes, Sasuke had no idea that she did not particularly like his brother at the moment.

"Sasuke."

"Nii-san."

Sakura bristled when the older Uchiha took a seat beside her, sandwiching her between him and Sasuke. She opened her mouth to object, and then closed it again when she realized that there was nothing she could say that wouldn't sound childish.

The ANBU captain picked up Naruto's unused teacup, inspecting it quickly before he instructed evenly, "Please pass the tea, Sasuke."

Sasuke obediently passed the teapot across the front of her face, much to her incredulity. She still could not quite wrap her mind around the fact that Uchiha Itachi was sitting beside her in Ichiraku Ramen.

Sakura watched in consternation as the source of her agitation poured his tea, his entire countenance a picture of calm. She tried to catch Sasuke's eyes to ask him silently what was going on, but Sasuke's attention was fixed down to his teacup, with furrow of concentration marring his brow, interestingly enough.

And when Sasuke finally lifted his head, it was to stare across her at the older Uchiha. "Okaa-san asked about you last night. She's worried you're working too hard."

His brother slanted a gaze over towards him. "I've been busy, Sasuke."

Sakura simply could not help herself. "Been carrying out more 'investigations' have we?" she asked sweetly.

Uchiha Itachi gave her a look which could only be described as amused. "As well as the usual assignments. The investigations are… necessary."

"You are a bit obsessed with that, aren't you?" she taunted.

"Security is rather lax, it seems. That includes the research department," he commented mildly, giving her an indecipherable look.

Was he taking a jab at her department? Incensed by his words, Sakura suggested in a clipped tone, "Perhaps you should take that up with the people in your clan the next time there's a clan meeting, hm? After all, the security force is made up of your relatives."

"I do not possess such authority, Haruno-san."

"I'm surprised. You're the clan heir, after all."

"It is merely a title."

She raised a mocking brow. "Actually, I'm surprised they haven't demanded the department to be shut down, considering the injury inflicted upon their precious clan heir."

Itachi raised a brow at her.

"Sakura-" Sasuke began with a hint of caution in his tone.

She pinned a threatening glance at her teammate, who looked a little uncomfortable. "Yes, Sasuke?" she bit out tightly.

He twitched once, his brows furrowing. "I take it this is all about the hair clip."

"Yes."

"You haven't found out who did it yet?" Sasuke asked.

Uchiha Itachi set down his empty teacup before he shook his head. "Unfortunately not.

"Hm. It must be someone close to the clan, or they wouldn't have managed to get the package to our doorstep," Sasuke commented thoughtfully.

"Aa."

Someone close, huh? It could be someone from within the clan, but who would do such a thing to the clan heir? Anyone who did not like Uchiha Itachi? Well, she supposed the motive could be jealousy.

"If you haven't found out by now, the trail probably have gone cold," she pointed out.

"That's true."

Sasuke shrugged. "I would say keep your eyes open, Nii-san. But that's what you usually do anyway." He reached into his pocket to draw out some money. "I have to go."

Sakura's eyes widened at the thought that Sasuke might leave her here alone with his brother. "Me too," she quickly said.

"I will see you at home, Sasuke," the ANBU captain said, and then inclined his head at her. "Till next time, Haruno-san."

Not if she could help it, she thought darkly.

Sakura waited until Uchiha Itachi had disappeared from sight before she spun towards her teammate, who was now inspecting his teacup thoughtfully, despite his earlier declaration that he had to leave.

"What the hell what that all about?" she hissed angrily.

Sasuke gave her a puzzled look. "What?"

"Don't give me that. You shouldn't have invited your brother to our team lunch."

He stared at her for a moment, and then his brows furrowed. "I didn't."

"You… didn't?" she echoed slowly. Confusion coursed through her. "Then what was he doing joining us?"

Sasuke shrugged.

Sakura threw her arms up in the air. "This is unbelievable!" A huff left her as she stood up jerkily, trying to ignore the damp patch on her lap. Now she would have to walk back to the hospital looking as if she had just wet herself. "Never mind. I'll see you in a few days. Wednesday for lunch?"

"Sakura…" Sasuke called out, his eyes still fixed to the empty teacup in front of him.

"What?"

"Watch your back."

She blinked at the unexpected warning. "Huh?"

"My brother. He's up to something. Something to do with you."

Sakura's jaw dropped as Sasuke's warning registered. Was Uchiha Itachi planning something against on her? What the hell? She had not even done anything against him! The only thing they had in common was the hair clip. And Sasuke.

Well, she was not about to just sit there and take it, she vowed. Uchiha Itachi might be a genius, but she was not so sloppy herself. If he wanted to make things difficult for her when she was clearly not responsible for sending him that hair clip, then she would not hesitate to do the same to him.

000


000

Her opportunity came a few days later when a medic stumbled out of a room, looking harassed and pale. Practically trembling, in fact, as he leaned down to pick up the scattered papers from the patient's file. Sakura, who was walking through the south wing of the hospital on the way back to her lab after her lunch date with Ino, stopped at his frazzled expression.

"What's wrong, Sota-san?" she asked, reaching down to help him gather his papers.

"Nothing."

She raised a brow as she straightened to give him back the papers. "Nothing?"

Sota sighed wearily, raking a hand through his already messy purple hair. "Nothing unusual, I suppose." Jerking his head towards the closed door. "Another stubborn shinobi insisting on being discharged, but he should stay at least a couple of days for observation. I swear, we shouldn't even heal them at the rate they injure themselves sometimes."

Sakura glanced down at the file.

And then her lips curved and her eyes gleamed in anticipation when she realized who it was.

"This one is particularly aggressive as well," Sota practically winced. "He's leaving, no matter how many times I tell him it's not a good idea."

"Hmm…" She tapped her bottom lip with a finger. "Do you mind if I take over?" she asked the medic casually.

Eyes wide with surprise, Sota stammered, "B-But… you don't usually-"

"I assure you I'm qualified," Sakura told him with a chuckle.

Sota flushed red. "That's not what I meant. Everyone knows you're a skilled medic. It's just…" He flicked a glance at the door, and then quickly made up his mind. "Of course I don't mind," he said, pushing the file into her hands almost too eagerly. "Thank you, Sakura-san."

Beaming now, Sakura stood outside the door, watching Sota beat a hasty exit from that hallway, no doubt worried that she would change her mind. Hah! Not a chance. She was not about to let this opportunity slip.

Opening his file, she scanned through it quickly. It seemed that the Uchiha had been admitted this morning with two broken ribs, a sprained wrist and a possible concussion, injuries he had sustained during a mission yesterday. Reading through the report on the treatments he had undergone, Sakura mentally confirmed that Sota was right in his intention to keep the Uchiha bedbound for a couple more days.

Wiping the smile off her face, she adopted her most professional expression before she pushed the door open.

She only spared the Uchiha a quick glance as she strode briskly to the foot of his bed, not missing the way his eyes followed her movements warily. She could make out the outline of bandages around his torso underneath the tight ANBU vest. Once there, she opened his file and flipped through the pages slowly, allowing the silence to thicken.

And thicken it did.

Hiding a smirk, Sakura continued to peruse his file, determined not to say anything until the Uchiha did.

"Where is my medic?" he finally asked, in a tone which could only be described as imperious.

Making a great show of studying his file, Sakura only mumbled something indistinct. Almost instantly, she felt the flare of chakra which signaled his annoyance. Amused, she decided to let him stew longer. He was obviously not a happy patient.

"I was not aware that you're an active medic."

This time, she slid her eyes towards him. Calmly, she informed him, "All of us medics remain medics, even though we might specialize in certain sectors."

"And yours is weapons design."

"No. I handle things like toxins, poisons and their antidotes only. But I'm not here to talk about me, Uchiha-san." She snapped his file shut, and then strode forwards to stand by his head. Looking down at his obviously displeasured countenance, she smirked, "I'm here to inform you that you'll be remaining in this bed for another two days. At least."

A moment of silence passed as he stared at her. And then he ordered in an uncompromising tone. "You will discharge me today."

Unfazed, she told him calmly, "It is non-negotiable, Uchiha-san."

"There is no need to keep me here," he insisted.

"That's where you're wrong." Pleasantly, she continued, "Kindly adhere to our medical advice. You do not want to undo the medic's hard work by being unreasonably foolish now, do you?"

His jaw twitched almost imperceptibly at her words. "Leaving is not foolish."

"Oh? Well, you're entitled to your opinion, but you're not a medic. And as your medic, I'm telling you that you'll be remaining here like a good little patient for at least two more days," she told him resolutely.

He raised a challenging brow.

"Or I will not hesitate to report you to the Hokage," she went on with a wider smile, letting him know that she would relish that particular report. "Understood?"

Uchiha Itachi's eyes narrowed at her words. It was clear that he was more than displeased. "Do you usually report to the Hokage when you do not get your own way?" he asked silkily.

She tapped her pen against his file as she stared down at him thoughtfully. "Only when I'm dealing with stubborn patients."

"You're not able to handle such patients on your own?"

Sakura snorted. "See, I'm not supposed to inflict any harm on my patients, so that kind of limits what I can do. Of course, if brute force is an acceptable manner of persuasion, I'd be more than happy to employ it. Unfortunately, the Hokage will have my head if I do anything like that."

At her words, he took on a contemplative expression, making her frown inwardly. What was he plotting now?

Suddenly, at a speed too fast for her to discern, a hand clamped around her wrist and yanked her down.

The next thing she knew, a pair of warm lips enveloped her own.

"Mmphh-"

She broke off in a gasp, jerking her head backwards. And then her eyes shot wide open in shock when his hands circled her waist, bodily maneuvering her until she landed on her front on top of his reclining form. Her immediate reaction was to lash out with her fists, only to find them restrained in his vice-like grip. He was unbelievably strong even in his injured state.

Injured! She gasped at the realization that her weight was bearing on his injured ribs. It would worsen the injury if she did not get off soon. What was he thinking?

"Comfortable?" he asked, cutting into her anxious thoughts.

Their eyes met. Her temper instantly flared when she saw the gleam of amusement in his, and all her concerns about his injury vanished as quickly as they had appeared. He was so close that she could feel the heat of his breath. His body felt firm and warm underneath hers, and their position was definitely inappropriate. But the bastard knew that, didn't he?

Glaring at him heatedly, she spat, "What the hell do you think-"

She broke off again, her words cut off by his mouth assaulting her insistently. Her arms, now held tight to her sides, made it impossible for her to remove herself off him. This could not be happening, she thought with growing alarm. Uchiha Itachi was taking this whole thing too far.

With all the willpower she possessed, she forced herself to ignore the growing pool of heat centered within her, the result of his insistent kisses. She forced herself to ignore that she was growing steadily aroused even while she continued to struggle against him. Her body might lust after his ministrations, but she was not planning on giving in.

He broke their kiss suddenly. In a voice which sent a shiver up her spine, he murmured, "Stop resisting."

That voice should be declared illegal, she thought as her insides lurched. But however nice his voice sounded, it was not an excuse for him to maul her like this. He could think twice if he thought something like that would sway her.

"Let me go!" she hissed furiously, her fingers clenching even though she could not move her arms which were still pinned to her sides. "Or I'll hurt you so badly that you regret this forever."

He raised a single brow. "I was under the impression that you do not harm patients," he remarked with mild challenge.

"I will gladly make an exception. For you," she growled, glaring at him.

And then the underlying meaning of his words stuck her, making her sputter in disbelief. He had kissed her because he wanted to taunt her with her own words? He had wanted to push her to see if she could actually harm a patient after her declaration that she would not? After what he had done so far, he had to top them off with something so personal?

She could feel her temper reaching its boiling point. Uchiha Itachi had some nerve doing all he had done so far. It was too much for her to take lying down.

Consequences be damned!

And she called forth her chakra to her forearm.

His eyes widened, and a fraction of a second later, Sakura found herself released and shoved away from him.

She landed nimbly on her feet, both her arms still glowing with the deadly chakra scalpel. Fury made her tremble, and it took her all her willpower to rein in the urge to rush forward and slice the smug bastard into ribbons. Instead, she took a few steps backwards to maintain a safe distance between them before she spoke.

"You have no right to do that," she ground out tightly.

His eyes darted quickly towards her still-glowing arms before he met her eyes. "Perhaps not."

"Perhaps not?!" she practically shrieked. "When have I ever given you the idea that it was okay to assault me?"

He stared at her impassively.

Trying to compose herself, Sakura mentally counted to ten as she dissipated her chakra scalpel.

"Let's see. First, you turn up at my lab, accusing me of sending you the hair clip. Fine, I admit I might have been a little abrupt then. But I was BUSY. I didn't have time to entertain all that nonsense. Next, you barge in to my lab to 'investigate'. Okay, I get that you want to know who tried to poison you, but did you didn't even have the courtesy to warn me first? What am I, a suspect? And then, you turned up at our team lunch uninvited. What the hell was that about?" She took a deep breath, and then went on with her rant, "Fine, I'm not without fault. I came in here today just to rub it in your face that you can't leave for another couple of days. But it's not as I'm forcing you to stay unnecessarily. Your condition calls for it. So when in all these weeks did you get the idea that it was fine to KISS me?!"

She stopped, breathing hard and fast by now as she glared daggers at the still-expressionless Uchiha. He had taken things too far by kissing her. Whilst it was not her first kiss, by any stretch of imagination, such intimacy was not something she indulged in casually.

She did not care that he was one of the most eligible bachelors in Konoha. She did not care that he had hordes of women chasing after him. She did not even care that he was the person one of her teammates most looked up to. Those things had nothing to do with her at all.

Feeling as if she was about to implode, she decided that she should leave before she did something she regret; like punch a hole through the floor so that the Uchiha's bed fell through.

Swiveling around, she strode to the door in jerky steps, only to be halted by his quiet voice.

"Wait."

Without looking backwards, she snapped, "What now?"

"You are right."

She froze at his words.

"It was unnecessary and improper," he admitted evenly.

And the air shifted behind her, moving several strands of her hair. Tension and awareness hummed through her entire body when she realized that he had moved. She had to will herself not to react as his hand descended upon her shoulder in a strangely hesitant manner.

"I apologize, for the… inconvenience."

Her breath swooshed out of her and she sagged, closing her eyes. An apology was not what she had expected, but strangely, it went a long way in mollifying her. The raging fury she had felt earlier was now gone, leaving her strangely dizzy.

What now?

"Apology accepted," she responded in a stilted tone.

She moved to stand at the doorway, and in the process, his hand fell off her shoulder. Hand on the doorknob, she went on, "Please stay for two more days, Uchiha-san. You need the rest to heal properly."

"The animosity simply stemmed from misunderstanding."

This time, she spun towards him. "Misunderstanding."

He nodded, but said nothing further, allowing her to form her own conclusions as to what he might have meant with those words. Their past encounters had been so volatile because of some misunderstanding? What misunderstanding? Whatever it was, it probably had something to do with the hair clip, she decided.

Just as she was about to step out of the room, he spoke again. "Perhaps our next encounter will not be so volatile."

She did not want another encounter, but she forced out, "We'll see."

"Haruno-san, I have apologized."

She eyed him carefully, noting that he seemed sincere enough, if one ignored that standard Uchiha emotionless mask he wore. Why was he trying to make amends? Confused, she continued to stare at him.

"I assure you our next meeting will not be confrontational."

Sensing that he was actually trying to put her at ease, she agreed a little grudgingly, "Okay. Maybe we can even manage a civil conversation."

Clearly amused, the corner of his lips quirked upwards before he said, "Indeed."

Sakura left the room, closing the door behind her. Her feet did not stop moving until she reached her laboratory. Only then, safely sequestered behind her desk, did she allow herself to lift a finger to touch her lips.

Now that her anger had abated and her head was relatively clear again, she had to admit, albeit reluctantly, that Uchiha Itachi was not a bad kisser. In fact, she did not recall being kissed so thoroughly, despite her attempt to dislodge him at that time. Perhaps, if the circumstances were a little less hostile…

A groan escaped her as she forcibly cut her thoughts short. What was she thinking? Not long ago, she had been more than happy to punch his face in, and now she was thinking about him along THOSE lines? She must be going out of her mind.

That was it. The man was a threat to her sanity.

From now on, she would steer clear of Uchiha Itachi.

000


000

The End

A/N: That's the one shot done. Hope you were entertained. I'm hoping to follow on with a sequel, but no promises when that might be posted. Please review if you could.