There was a moment of shocked silence that Sakura couldn't have broken even if she wanted to. Itachi's eyes were barely slits, but she saw the almost-wicked pleasure in them. The slightest hint of sake marred his hot breath as he pressed his open-mouthed kiss to her. It was then Sakura realized that she was very drunk, not at all in control of higher brain functions, and had just been kissed by Uchiha Itachi - in front of his brother, her teammate, and her sort-of-ex-lover.
Then, sparks flew in front of her eyes. Not the good, chick-flick kind of sparks that accompany the fantastic kiss you've been waiting the whole film to see... The kind of sparks made when a kunai rasps against another piece of metal so viciously that heat and light are actually produced. Then, she stumbled slightly as her body was dragged at lightning speed to the side. Being drunk and pulled along like a pose-able doll in the middle of a fight between two murderous, psychopathic Uchiha was never fun. It felt like she was going to vomit.
"Itachi. Put. Her. Down."
'Yes,' she thought, 'I have to agree with the asshole - I mean Sasuke… –No, on second thought, definitely 'the asshole'.'
Somehow, Itachi had pulled her to the end of the street. She could feel his large hands on her waist, covered in those scratchy gloves she had decided she hated. There was a moment when one of his thumbs moved in a circular motion that almost made her dissolve - despite the situation.
Sasuke looked livid and ... one hand clasped the wrist of his other hand. Chidori. The telltale shrill noise rang through the air as sparks of light began to form in his hand. He was going to skewer them both. She was going to end up as a kebab, and of all the people to end up as a kebab with … Itachi. Sakura started to wriggle a little; the hands holding her kept her far too still.
"I suggest you do not do that," He hadn't moved and seemed far too calm in the face of something that could cut lightning, "Or that you save it for somewhere more private."
Sakura turned twelve different shades of red just as Sasuke charged towards them with a roar. In order to escape she would probably have to momentarily disengage the nerves in Itachi's arms... however, considering how drunk she was she would probably sever all the tendons and cause untold damage. Hmm; screw up Itachi's arms for life and probably be killed in some horrific manner for it later, or acquire a gaping hole in her torso, courtesy of Sasuke, now.
She was saved from choosing as Itachi did … something. As her brain felt like soggy, leftover ramen at the moment, it was hard to tell what exactly. One minute, there were streetlights, the moon, the glow of two sets of Sharingan, and the strident light of the Chidori; the next minute, it was dark. Not the kind of hollow, trapped underground with limited oxygen, dark - that sort-of-soft, velvet dark.
Then, flashes of light broke that dark. The Chidori broke through it somewhat - whatever it was (Genjutsu, most likely). Her perfect chakra control was in ruins at the moment due to the amount of alcohol she had guzzled in the last hour. Itachi let her go then, and she stared after him; searching blindly through the darkness. Then, she saw.
The Chidori illuminated flashes of the fight: a swipe of an arm, the flexing of muscles, a blurred kick, a gout of blood being spilt. At that, Sakura shuddered. All her senses seemed to be heightened - she could smell both of their distinct, masculine scents mixed with sweat and coppery blood. It smelled almost like sex. That thought made her blanch, even as her mind carefully listened to the distinctive noises; the hisses and grunts of pain and irritation; to try and determine the loser.
There was only one thing she could do - charging in there blind was tantamount to suicide. With every intention of slamming her foot into the ground and creating a trench in their general direction, Sakura reached for her chakra. It was then she realized she couldn't move her legs at all. The soles of her feet remained planted on the earth no matter how much she tried to move him.
Another part of Itachi's genjutsu - one that made her unable to interfere in their pissing contest, and that also left her in a vulnerable position should weapons or shrapnel come her way. 'Stupid, egotistical men.' Placing her palms flat against her temples, Sakura muttered, "Kai."
The genjutsu for darkness dispelled, but she remained stuck despite further attempts. She saw Sasuke - several cuts on his cheeks, a large gash on his leg and bruises in other places - and Itachi - less noticeably injured, but shielding his stomach in a way that suggested he had been hit. There was a moment of quiet before Sasuke puffed out his cheeks and released a Katon that blackened the ground and added the heavy smell of ash to everything.
Itachi launched himself to the left and, with a speed she could barely keep up with, he threw shurikan and engaged in taijutsu again. One of the shurikan must have hit Sasuke in the wound he had already had in his leg - the one that was dangerously close to an artery. Her senses buzzed as she watched thick blood well like red velvet from them wound and his aristocratic features crumple momentarily in pain - just for a second - before smoothing.
It was odd - she had always imagined, and known Itachi to be, more of a mid-range fighter. Now, he seemed to be going far more for close combat. After a moment she realized why; his lips were moving... He was goading Sasuke - getting in close to say things that seemed to be having a very marked affect. Anger and alcohol made Sasuke sloppy; he left his injured leg unguarded for a moment. Itachi took full advantage: slamming his heel into the shurikan embedded in the wound before executing several swift punches to his jaw and stomach.
"Hey, Saku-chan, looking good!"
It was Naruto, Shisui and ... Ino. Apparently, they had heard the fight from the bar and had decided to come out and watch. How she loathed them. Ino looked stunning in a pale lavender, silk shift-dress and was smiling coyly at her - in that sort of way that made her even more irritating
"Will you stop them? They're going to kill each other!" she exclaimed, waving her arms in their direction.
"What?" Shisui snorted. "Those are just love taps."
Naruto was swaying drunkenly, much to Ino's disgust - he never could hold his alcohol. Sakura dearly wanted to stamp her foot and yell, or - even better - go over there and stop the fight herself, but she was stuck.
"Oh, Sakura, to have two gorgeous Uchiha dreamboats fighting over you... You've finally bloomed." Ino sighed, flicking her hair.
"Yes, Saku-dearest, you are the luckiest girl in the world." Shisui mock-sighed, flicking his hair.
At that moment, Sakura prayed to any God that was listening to ensure that those two never got together in any way, shape or form. Naruto ambled over to her, hiccupping and looking irritatingly endearing as he did so, before throwing an arm around her neck a little too heavily.
"They're not annoying you, are they, Sakura-chan?" Naruto addressed her cleavage with the sincerest concern.
"Either break this Genjutsu or–"
"I'll fucking kill you!" Yelled Sasuke, stealing her words entirely.
Shisui's head snapped around so quickly, Sakura was sure it must have hurt. He watched intently for a moment as Sasuke unleashed several rather large snakes in his brother's general direction along with a few choice Katons that were sure to cause some damage to the surrounding buildings.
Inwardly, Sakura shuddered in disgust - she hated snakes. Sasuke almost never used the disgusting scaly things; he hated to remind everyone of his brief defection from Konoha during which he actually trained with Orochimaru, before he wandered back, beaten, feverish, and with a hell of a lot more jutsu three months later.
Using his trademark speed, Shisui was over there in a second, with his arm around Sasuke's neck and shooting a warning look at Itachi. Naruto followed, stumbling and yelling quite loudly about family and some other incoherent things. Ino took this as an opportunity to hiss in Sakura's ear a very important question she had obviously been waiting to say.
"Hey, Forehead… Is Shisui seeing anyone?"
"Ino, this is not the time. If ever it was the time - this was not it, Sakura hissed back. "–And, for Kami's sake, will you break this jutsu?"
"Hey! You're going to get some from," Here, Ino waved a dismissive hand in the general direction of the destruction and completely ignoring Sakura's polite request, "Either Sasuke, or his brother… or even both (ohh, you'd have to give me all the details for that!). So, why shouldn't I get in on the Uchiha action?"
Typical Ino; everything made into, relating to, or leading up to an orgy.
"No, he's not seeing anyone."
The look of glee on her features was terrifying. Obviously whatever Gods she had asked to stop them from getting together had chosen not to listen. Sakura found she could move her feet without Ino's assistance, effectively breaking the genjutsu. Looking over at Itachi, she smiled in a way that would have made her teammates very nervous.
"Itachi," she called out, pretending to be the oblivious to the way Sasuke stiffened and Shisui tightened his grip on his shoulders, "Didn't we have some business to discuss?"
… … …
They were alone, again, and she was drunk. Inwardly, Sakura questioned her own logic in demanding to speak to him and effectively ensuring that anyone who could help was long gone. Itachi looked bored, but he always looked like that; just like Sasuke. She winced slightly at that - having sobered up enough to feel guilty about hurting Sasuke's feelings and having him pummeled by his vicious elder brother.
Not that he didn't partially deserve, or run straight into, said pummeling.
"Look, I'd appreciate if you didn't … goad Sasuke like that."
Itachi raised an eyebrow and looked for a second like he was going to start stalking forward and invading her personal space like he seemed fond of doing. Thankfully, he didn't. She was having a hard enough time concentrating as it was.
"Goad him how, exactly, Sakura?" He was enjoying this, she could tell.
"By… Oh, you know how!"
"By," she was blushing like a damn schoolgirl! "Kissing me. And saying … whatever it was you were saying while you two were fighting!"
There was a moment of silence while he regarded her carefully. That omnipresent tingle of foreboding she had been feeling came back full force when she realized he had set up the mood, monitoring chakra in the air between them again.
"So, you are saying that you dislike me angering Sasuke?" His words were careful and considered.
The foreboding tingle increased tenfold.
"Yes." And I dislike you deliberately angering me, too.
"Not that you disliked my kissing you, only that it was to deliberately annoy Sasuke?"
"Yes," Sakura said confidently, before immediately backpedalling, "No, no! No, I disliked the whole thing."
She felt the scratchy material of his gloves rubbing the delicate skin of her inner wrist and shuddered slightly against her will. Sober enough to recognize that displaying such reactions were wrong, and drunk enough to not be able stop them. They were at the door to her apartment building where he stepped back and let her go as she fiddled with her keys.
"If it makes you feel any better," he began quietly, "I kissed you primarily for my own satisfaction."
Whatever witty retort she might have made was lost when he disappeared infuriatingly in a cloud of pale smoke. Sakura banged her head on the door hopelessly, wishing she had drunk herself into a stupor earlier and not had to deal with them.
And, really, it did not make her feel any better and send tingles down her spine that had nothing to do with foreboding.
… … …
Standing in the middle of a gloriously air-conditioned changing room, Sakura felt calmer than she had in an age. Until Ino thrust back the heavy velvet curtain and stepped inside; one arm heaped with complicated looking straps and multitudes of lace in colours that wouldn't look out of place in a circus. She began to arrange them (this with this; that with that; this on it's own) and then swept back out in a matter of seconds.
"Pink first, Forehead."
Sakura turned to regard the line-up. Shades ranging from what she guessed was coral, to cerise, to an almost mauve colour stared brazenly at her from the pink side of the line. After a moment she just picked the least complex one and carefully stripped off. The straps crossed strangely over her back and took a moment to get on, but it was quite pretty. (Might be hard to take off quickly as well - she stopped that line of thought as soon as it started).
"Ready-" Ino yanked open the curtain without waiting for her to finish. "That's not the one I meant... But it's too matchy-matchy with your hair anyway. Next."
They moved from pinks to greens then purples. Ino was vicious and completely ruthless. Out of what seemed like a hundred different pairings, she only approved five.
"What dress are you planning on wearing tomorrow for your hot date?"
"The red v-neck one, Pig"
"With the rose cut-outs at the hem?"
"There's a nice matching set that would suit - red rose motifs and lace. Want to try it?"
"Do I have a choice?"
"Pass it in."
"Red's probably a good choice. They all love red."
… … …
Lying in a cold bath with her leg slung over the edge of the tub, Sakura felt sick. The cause of this sickness was not one that could be eradicated by a small flicker of medical chakra, unfortunately, but a well-placed punch might have done the trick. Sighing heavily, she considered getting out and starting to get ready. It was strange how nervous she felt. A date... No, this wasn't a date – just a meeting. She was just a convenience.
Lifting her head from where it was propped against the end of the tub, she stared at her fluffy towels for a moment before lifting herself from the water. Afterwards, Sakura spent some time sitting in her underwear, carefully applying nail polish to her fingers and toes, plucking her eyebrows, drying her hair, and applying the fancy, expensive, wonderful-smelling moisturizer her mother was always forcing on her that she never used.
Feeling very calm, she breezed through into the bedroom and slid into her dress... Or, rather, pulled it halfway up her thighs, caught a glimpse of the clock in her bedroom and screamed bloody murder. He was coming in two minute - two minutes! Yanking the dress up enough that it would stay on by itself, Sakura stepped into the bathroom and glared at the clock in there which had apparently stopped without her noticing.
Scrabbling for her zip, she pulled it up and stumbled in the general direction of her shoes and jewelry. One earring caught in her hair, the other refused to go in, the necklace had a slippery, fiddly catch that was impossible to do in a rush, and not only that – her beloved all-purpose black heels were a jumble of hideously-complicated straps.
The doorbell rang.
She hissed curses.
Sakura knew that, if she didn't answer the door immediately, Itachi would probably simply crawl through the window/air vent regardless of what state she was in. She elected to answer the door and save herself any lecture of his about how easy it was to break into her home.
"My clock stopped and I'm running late," she spat out, trying to wiggle one foot into her high heel and brush her hair at the same time.
A calloused hand caught the sensitive skin behind the joint of her knee and tugged her so that she overbalanced and flopped back onto one of her armchairs. Her big toe flicked by nose as she lashed out on reflex. The slightly startled face he made was amusing. His long fingers quickly went to work unbuckling the shoe and angling her foot to slide into it, before working the complicated straps around her flesh.
Sakura's center of logic shut down for a moment as her mind took on the sole pleasure of viewing Uchiha Itachi in a suit. Then a small, gibbering part sighed in appreciation at the way his fingers seemed to have lingered at the delicate arch of her foot and brushed teasingly over her ankle and calve.
"Brush your hair, Sakura," he said, quietly.
For a moment, it was a blissful scene of apparent domestic harmony; despite the fact they hadn't been on a date, never mind lived together…
Then, there was a loud, sullen knock on the door. Sullen, because it sounded as though her "visitor" had kicked the door rather than knocked on it. Itachi's fingers paused at her skin as he recognized the chakra signal that had just slammed her in the face like a ton of bricks.
"You did not inform my younger brother that you would be attending this event with me."
Somewhere between the kissing and the fighting it had completely slipped her mind… Itachi actually sounded somewhat irritated and that really didn't bode well - not at all. Oh, damn… Her apartment had just been decorated recently as well - nothing like a giant ash smear from a Katon to brighten things up.
"No, I didn't," Sakura admitted quietly.
As well as feeling horribly sheepish, she felt really very annoyed. Sasuke was such a presumptuous bastard! After everything – them breaking up, and her kissing his brother – he still just assumed she would be going with him. Sitting up, she straightened her dress and puffed herself up, fully ready to throw her stupid teammate through the window and give him a good kicking.
Then her brilliant green eyes fell on her lovely, creamy new rug and the painstakingly painted walls that were sure to be ruined in the impending fight.
"Want to sneak out the fire exit?"
Itachi gave her a somewhat devious smirk that sent a lightning bolt of heat straight to her stomach.
The first fifteen minutes or so went very well. Itachi offered her an arm - Sasuke usually just sulked beside her - and they walked in together looking like an actual, proper couple. So much so, that Mikoto began shooting looks at them that really didn't sit well with Sakura when she thought they weren't looking. Those looks clearly said 'Future daughter in law and prospective bearer of grandchildren'.
Itachi had to rub salt in her wounds in his own unique way. "My mother is very fond of you."
Factoring in his understatement of everything, and he was basically saying 'Yes, she will probably shoot you with a drugged dart and drag you off to a wedding with me, or Sasuke, in the near future.'
"Mikoto has always been very good to Naruto and I - the bentos she used to make us were to die for."
He made an amused noise as he began to discreetly steer her towards the dance floor. Sakura noticed, of course, but felt a little bit nervous again.
Sasuke loathed dancing – he just didn't do it. Itachi–
She really had to stop making comparisons... Even if he did know how to lead very well, and held her waist just tight enough for it to feel intimate and not choking, and had finally taken off those horrific gloves so all that she could feel beneath his hands was warm, calloused skin.
"This is kind of … nice." The blushing-schoolgirl feeling slammed back full force.
Itachi leaned in until his curiously cool breath brushed over her ear. An outsider might have thought it looked as though they were embracing; instead he spoke quietly into her ear. The hushed, silky whisper affected her more than he might have realized.
"It is pleasant – I'll remember you like this." Sakura was glad he couldn't see her face.
"Why are we whispering?" she muttered back, knowing he would hear the smile in her voice.
His hand tightened on her waist until she was achingly aware of just how thin the fabric of her dress was. "The Hyuuga, Shisui…"
She wanted to ask what would happen when Sasuke arrived, but couldn't bring herself to. Spending time with him was far more pleasant that she might have wanted to admit. Especially when he began stroking her waist and the top of her thigh in a discreet motion that was anything but unconscious. Sakura was aware of the many eyes that were continually watching them; Byakugan and Sharingan would pick up their every move. Inwardly, she was slightly surprised by Itachi displaying an action that could be described as territorial.
"Sasuke is approaching... If he enters, I cannot promise not to goad him."
Though she had actually been looking forward to this party, deep, deep, deep down, Sakura suddenly wanted nothing more than to run away. She was fearless on the battlefield and uncompromising in the operating room, but dealing with emotions and relationships? – Downright terrifying, thus the urge to flee.
Instead she opted to laugh nervously and squeeze his bicep in a way she hoped felt re-assuring, rather than panicky. "That's nothing to worry about... It's not like we're together."
"You think I am not courting you?" His voice was low and dangerous.
Sakura spluttered in response, "Well… I… No. We haven't even been on a date and I thought you just brought me to this because I wouldn't rub myself all over you all night and expect you to call me later."
The line of his thin lips tightened for a moment in what she thought was anger.
"I would not be adverse to you rubbing yourself all over me."
She gaped. Flat out gaped.
"Perhaps you need a demonstration of how little I would mind?"
… In front of his mother? His clan? The Hyuuga? One look at his face and she knew he would, because – unlike normal people – he just didn't seem to get mortified about anything and she was quickly learning that he really was quite territorial.
"Another time, maybe," she managed to squeak out.
Itachi looked contemplative for a moment – a long, terrifying moment – before his dark eyes drifted back down to her with a steely look that spoke of a recently made decision. Without a word, he began steering her towards the buffet table that had been wafting seductive smells towards her since she had arrived. Feeling somewhat caught between a rock and a hard place, Sakura glanced at him while he intently piled food onto a plate and also watched the door for signs of Sasuke's arrival.
Without a word, he placed a hand on her back – a little too low for her to be entirely comfortable with – and began to gently push her out into the lantern-strewn garden. It was warmer outside – the clammy heat becoming a usual feature as the heat wave dragged on.
"Where are we even going?" she called after him, as he slunk behind some bushes to a bench she hadn't known was there.
"A date usually constitutes of two individuals sharing a meal."
'Thank you for the dictionary definition, Itachi, I'm really as airheaded as this pink hair makes me look,' Sakura thought acidly. It really was infuriatingly romantic out here - with the soft glow of the lanterns, and the heady smells of the many flowers that filled the garden.
She watched in a detached sort of way as he took off his suit jacket and spread it out on the stone bench - presumably for her to sit on. Her heart gave an unexpected pang.
In the animal world, many courtships were sealed with food. When a female accepted an offering of food from a male she accepted everything; his protection, his ability to care for their young … she became a mate.
Somehow she knew, innately, that if she accepted this and sat down with him, that would be it. Itachi didn't do things halfway. It hit her suddenly, nauseatingly, that they barely knew each other and she didn't know why he suddenly wanted her.
"Why are you doing this?" She must have looked stricken, because he frowned at her.
In the darkness, his hair and eyes became little more than shadows, but his pale face almost magnified the dim light.
"I acknowledged my attraction for you some time ago," he said, matter-of-factly, "But I do not touch what is not mine."
The day in the shop with Shuya, and Itachi's use of that infuriating nickname was a month after she had broken up with Sasuke - but Itachi would just have returned from a mission. She knew because she had watched Shishou fill out the mission forms. She remembered the way he had clutched her arms when she had almost ran into him and felt the heat of the gaze that hadn't quite registered at the time.
"I remember..." he paused, momentarily, "... I remember that I was first aware of you properly on my foolish little brother's birthday – of all times." He sounded almost bitter.
"You smiled brightly, without guile, and your laugh... I remember. Perhaps, it was just the fact that I had just returned from a two month long mission with almost no human contact, but your being seemed amplified. And then, Shisui brought you to heal me and you regarded me as you would a man – not an Uchiha. You were free, and I am not a fool."
It was the most she had ever heard him speak, even though he did so almost to himself.
She sat down and took a bite of the delicious looking tempura he had brought. Anything she might have said seemed inadequate. High above their heads, there was a deep, echoing rumble of thunder in the air, like the roar of some great beast. Fat droplets of warm rain began to fall shortly afterwards – stopping only when they struck her hastily erected chakra shield. Itachi chose that moment to reach for her and pluck a grain of rice from her cheek.
The sight of him licking it off his fingers with his agile tongue caused her shield to drop and rain to splatter them both.
"I believe your chakra control could use a little work, Saku-chan."
Furious beyond belief, she turned and pressed her mouth to his in what amounted to little more than a clash of teeth and noses. He almost seemed surprised, but then smoothly took control and made her completely forget why she had been angry in the first place. The rain made his white shirt stick to his skin and she was sure she was a mess of stringy hair, clingy clothes, and smudged make-up.
Itachi didn't seem to mind – that smug, arrogant, unflappable being that he was. She couldn't believe he wanted her – had wanted her for some time now.
Tentatively, she ran a hand over his chest and felt his strong, steady heartbeat beneath her hand. He breathed heavily through his nose before exhaling sharply - his eyes burned brightly in the darkness; two sharp pinpoints of light.
"I think that you should tell Sasuke," she said, as he watched her suddenly the way a predator would watch prey. "About us. I'd like for this to work. I'd like to try."
She wasn't sure if this was just a rebound, and she knew that she found him infuriating and barely knew him to start with. But he was perceptive, intelligent, and always interesting. Maybe Shisui had been right, damn him; maybe she just wouldn't work with someone who wasn't a ninja. Her mind flickered back to the present, where he was placing hot kisses on her palm and the inside of her wrist.
"Very well," he spoke against her skin, "But you have to tell Shisui."
"I hate you," she said, abruptly.
Moving to her neck, he dropped a chaste kiss on the sensitive skin behind her ear and let out a quiet sound of amusement. "I know."
"'Tachi-chan," she added.
Behind them the large, fragrant bushes shook slightly with barely restrained peals of laughter - one very feminine and easily recognizable, and one deep and masculine. Ino and Shisui.
Revenge was sweet.
Last one guys! Wow, this took longer to finish than I had expected (I really should have factored exams into that guesstimate). The ice that inspired this has melted here now and it's actually quite warm!
Hope you enjoyed what amounts to pointless AU fluff,
Beta'd by the ever fabulous Sakura4eva.