Story: Bittersweet

Pairing: ItaSakuSasu

Genre: Romance/Family, AU, Nonmassacre

Rating: T

For: Everyone...myself included.

Chapter One

Bitter Horizons

Sakura opened her eyes to find herself draped across black satin sheets. Black, a color that she found suited him well. Dark, mysterious, unattainable and yet not because eventually you'll be enwrapped in darkness, like a few hours ago when she was enwrapped in his arms. She lay on her stomach with one arm bent above her head and the other at her side. The scent of smoke and sex filled the air, and a small smile appeared on her face as she recalled the previous night's heated encounter with the Uchiha heir. Her eyes scanned the room to discover that he was moving about, grabbing this and that.

"Where are you going?" Sakura asked drowsily, barely stifling a yawn.

The back that had been presented to her stayed that way. She watched as he pulled his unbound hair back into a ponytail and then proceeded to dress himself in his ANBU uniform. Suddenly the question that she had asked had been answered, so she said nothing more, simply watching him prepare to leave. It amazed her that he made not a sound as he moved around the room. He was truly an exceptional ninja. It seemed his guard was always up. Sakura smiled to herself. Well, maybe not always.

He turned to her then, and Sakura's heart stopped beating. His dark eyes smoldered dangerously as they raked over her body and Sakura shivered in response to the intense heat that was directed her way.

"Dawn is in two hours."

She immediately understood his words. It really wouldn't do for one of the members of his family to discover their nighttime activities, so Sakura sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Her feet touched the ground, and she shivered as the cold sensation overtook her. She padded quickly over to the shinobi preparing for his departure and stopped right before him. Sakura rose up on her toes and laid a gentle kiss on his neck. As she pulled away, she looked up into his eyes to find him watching her sharply, and inwardly she shouted with joy. Outwardly, though, she turned and walked away from him, gathering her clothes and dressing.

In minutes she had completed her task-not as quietly as he had, but she completed it. Sakura turned to face him then; her heart lodged in her throat. She longed to utter a, 'Be safe' or some other sweet nonsense, but he was not that type of man, and so she kept her sweet words to herself and did what she could to show him how she truly felt about him.

"Come." He said, and she walked silently behind him as he led her out of his dwelling place. This time she let her eyes roam over his body and soon focused on his ass. She found herself admiring the brilliance of the ANBU uniform, especially on a form as fine as his. She was one of the few people outside of his family who knew of his ANBU status and was glad of it.

The outside air soon hit her face as a gentle breeze ruffled her clothing. Darkness still blanketed the earth and yet the day felt bright and sunny to her already. She was hard pressed to bite back the grin that was threatening to erupt on her face. She knew there was a bounce to her step and a swing in her hips that only came from being loved thoroughly and completely the night before.

It was rather amazing. She never expected in a million years to attract the attention of the enigmatic and aloof Uchiha Itachi. She had fallen in love with him such a long time ago-two years ago. It started with a simple thing-spilled files all over the hospital floor. He stopped to help her gather everything together, and she was shocked at his rather gentlemanly display. Honestly, it was a quality that she had never equated with Sasuke's older brother. Fierce-yes. Loyal-yes. Deadly-definitely. But a gentleman? It gave her pause, and it was then that she realized she would probably have to re-categorize him in her mind. She began to study him after that. In time she found that he was a man worthy of devotion, worthy of love-her love.

At such a realization Sakura found herself in a bit of a bind. The village was lined with women who were dying to get Uchiha Itachi's attention for just a second. The thought of the such a problem was enough to make her keep him in her fantasies. She was unwilling to make a fool of herself because of a man. Besides, she was busy enough with her work as it was.

At least, that's what she told herself.

Until that night she found him standing on top of the Hokage mountain looking down over the village. She would often go there and watch the village at night. It seemed so calm and serene then. It gave her time to unwind before she settled into her bed, but that night he was there before her. She watched him for a moment, noting how still and stone-like he was. He reminded her of the fabled Shadow People, who were said to be the embodiment of the shadows themselves, undetected and deadly. She meant to leave quietly so as not to disturb him, but he was too skilled to have not noticed her presence. She had only taken a step when he issued the command,


And she did. She sat gingerly by his side, and as one thing led to another, they found themselves making love atop the head of the Third.

It began to happen more and more, but this was the very first time he'd taken her to his home. She'd been to the Uchiha Manor before, with Sasuke. However, this was new; more special because Itachi rarely shared anything with anyone, least of all herself.

He reached out a hand to stop her from moving forward. "Haruno."

Sakura felt her mood dampen a bit. He had never called her anything but Haruno. Not even once in the throes of ecstasy did he utter a single 'Sakura.' How she longed just once to hear him say her name. It would be the simplest of gifts, but it would be best one. She turned to him, awaiting his words like a dog might wait for its master's command.

"This thing between us-" Sakura felt her eyes soften as he sought to put a definition on what they had. It had to be difficult because she knew he wasn't a man inclined towards words. She almost stopped him from saying it, because she didn't need the words. All she wanted was him…and for him to say her name. But she didn't, and in the end, she was glad she said nothing. "-is just sex." Sakura felt her blood run cold at his declaration. A few seconds passed with her feeling like an utter fool. She felt angry and confused, used and dirty. She had the intense urge to find a shower, turn on the hot water, and let its scalding touch scrub her clean. Although she was certain that she never would be. "I will marry the woman that my clan chooses for me."

"And in the meantime, you'll have your fun with me." Sakura finished, keeping her voice matter of fact and not showing a hint of the bitterness that welled up within her at the man's words. "I understand."

"Do you?" He asked. Sakura could feel his eyes searching her countenance for the truth in her words, but her face was carefully masked. She would not allow him to see the emotion that dwelled within her. No, he had no right to see the pain that he had unwittingly invoked upon her person.

She presented Itachi with a serene smile. "Is that not what I said?"

He gave a curt nod, satisfied that she understood how things were going to be.

"Fine. I will see you when I return."

"No…you will not."

"You said you understood." His eyes narrowed at her, and his voice was cold. She heard him use that tone of voice before when he was displeased with one of his subordinates, but she had never heard that tone of voice directed at her. It was disconcerting. Nevertheless, she would not be swayed.

"And I do. I don't need many words to inform me of when I've been used. So we'll just end it like this. We had a good night and several more before it. I won't look on this in bitterness, and you will find someone to take my place."

"I have no desire for someone to take your place. That was not the point."

"Perhaps it wasn't the point, but it is the result." Sakura's matter of fact tone did not sit well with Uchiha Itachi. So abruptly he decided to end the conversation.

"I'm leaving." He said, turning away from her and washing his hands of her words. "And you will be waiting for me when I return."

"No," Sakura said, and then paused. "I will not."

Then she turned away as well. Her steps were unhurried, and her back was straight. To anyone who saw her from behind they would think she was just a woman taking a casual stroll as the sun rose in the horizon. However, to those who saw her face-the tear stained cheeks were a giveaway that her heart had just been broken.

Now & Again

You're a fool

Despicable even

You tore out my heart

And couldn't care less why I'm leavin'

But it's okay

That's just the way it goes

I may seem foolish to you

But I'm wise enough to know...

How the dice rolls

Every now and again

I wonder what I saw in you

Did you woo me with that aloof demeanor?

Or did I reek of a flighty dreamer?

Making myself easy prey...

Either way

I'm done with you

As of today.

-By Juniper11- written 1/23/10

AN: My thanks to BlueArcticWolf for going over this for me.