A/N: So, this is the first part of a two-shot. I hope you enjoy.
Neither of them knew that the other was in their sights – in their minds – until they were too far gone. Both as stubborn as each other, feelings, love and infatuation went unnoticed. Their meaningless conversations had hidden messages, hidden feelings. She didn't know that. And neither did he.
When you're in love, it can make you do stupid things.
She ducked, causing her pink strands to whip violently around her face. Light eyebrows creased in determination and lips thinned in annoyance, she swung out a pale leg and attempted to sweep the Uchiha off his feet. He jumped lightly into the air, as though he could step on the transparent element, and jabbed out a leg of his own. It caught her in the jaw and she shot sideways, gliding along the grass before coming into contact with a nearby boulder. She rested against it for a minute, then let out a frustrated groan. Her spidery hand began to glow a pale green. She healed the bump on her head, closing her eyes and urging the dizziness away.
"Hn. You're as weak as ever."
Sakura's eyes shot straight back open to send a lethal glare at Sasuke, her sparring partner. She shook off the chakra in her hand and spat the blood that had trickled into her mouth onto the floor beside her. Wiping the back of her clothed hand over her mouth, she rose to her feet and narrowed her eyes.
"And you're as slating as ever," she threw a sudden punch towards Sasuke's bland, disapproving expression. He blocked it easily with his cold hand, enveloping her fist. He pulled it towards him and his elbow headed towards her face. She ducked and sent a chakra infused fist towards the enigmatic boy's stomach.
She cursed and ran a hand through her dirt-ridden hair, allowing the chakra that she had sent to her fist to dissipate. She was precariously low on chakra. It was then, in the distance, she heard Kakashi's deep voice.
"Wrap it up. Let's head off home."
Sakura slumped to the ground, outstretching her aching, cut legs in front of her and pressing her two hands into the dewy grass behind her. She looked up into the darkening sky and closed her eyes, letting the cool wind brush over her skin and listening to the quiet rustle of the trees around her. Training with Sasuke was always a pain – he never fought to his full potential. She wouldn't fight to her full, if her partner didn't either.
Next time, she'd ask for Kakashi. That was the level she put herself at.
"Hey, Sakura, we're heading off to Sasuke's, you coming? Apparently, Mikoto's cooking us up a feast!" Sakura's eyes opened again to see Naruto leaning over her, a wide grin over his whiskered face and his hands settled behind his head. She smiled up at him, letting out a sigh.
"Alright. As long as it saves me eating alone tonight." She outstretched a hand and Naruto took it without question, pulling her to her throbbing feet with ease. He slung a careless arm around her shoulder and for once, she allowed it. Team Seven emerged out of the training area in silence, exhaustion and hunger overriding their senses. They strolled past her house and she managed to get them to wait while she showered, dressed into her usual red outfit and tall boots, and then tied up her hair.
She scampered back outside and continued with the blonde, black and grey-haired men, not noticing their gazes examining her quickly. She walked on, oblivious.
How was she to know, that because of her hidden figure, clean, fresh face and carelessness of fashion, she attracted men without their knowing? Sakura had always told herself she didn't need a man. She needed strength and logic that surpassed her teammates and showed other shinobi that women were just as challenging as men.
Kakashi pulled out his copy of Icha Icha Paradise and flicked forwards to the page had been reading currently, before training had commenced. His student was beginning to trouble him. Casting one single eye over to her direction before settling it back on the provocative scenes in front of him, his thin, grey eyebrow tilted downwards into a concerned expression.
Sakura seemed to be getting stronger during every training session. It had gotten to the point where Sasuke and Naruto were not willing to fight too hard with her, as the fear that she may take this as an opportunity to show her full potential was overriding them. Not even they wanted to know if she was on the same level as them – maybe higher.
Sasuke sent a cautious glance over to Sakura, whose brow was still furrowed as though training was continuing. He didn't remember not seeing her face with that determined, yet broken frown on it. Wasn't he supposed to be the stoic one? What had happened to her?
Naruto let his comrades walk in front of him, so he could look at Sakura's back without facing the accusation of being a pervert. Not that he'd hear that from Sakura – he didn't remember the last time she'd ever cut loose. He knew that today's five hour training session hadn't stopped for her. In her mind, she was planning the next four hours after dinner. Nine hours a day, she trained. The rest of the hours were spent saving lives at the hospital.
Was she human? Did she sleep? He didn't remember when she had become so much like the perfect shinobi weapon. Tsunade wouldn't have trained her to the point of exhaustion. No; she wouldn't do that. Sakura's change was after her training with Tsunade had been complete.
Nothing fit into place. Even though he missed the Sakura he had once knew – once loved – he knew that bringing up the fact that she had changed so drastically would maybe even cause her to get worse. It was best to leave it alone.
It was best to leave her alone.
Kakashi had dispersed – as he usually did in social situations – but Sakura, Sasuke and Naruto were sat around the Uchiha's elegant, large table. They all shared equal looks of awe at the food piled on the table and awaited Mikoto to finally take a seat too. She placed a final large plate on the table and wiped the back of her hand along the sweat on her forehead, before resting the hand on her hip. She looked at the large amount of food victoriously and grinned at everyone who was awaiting her confirmation to begin.
"I must say, I'm very proud of myself. Cooking all this was more challenging than an S-Rank mission," she rested a hand on her large, protruding stomach and looked down at it lovingly before taking a seat. "It's quite relieving to be off-duty again after all these years."
"You'll be eating for two, Mikoto!" Naruto grinned and lifted up his chopsticks, diving into a bowl in front of him. Mikoto let out a quiet laugh and began to get caught up in the blonde-haired boy's eating. She gazed at him as though he was her own. She wasn't going to tell Naruto that sometimes, the reasons she made the feasts, was so that he wouldn't have to eat alone. Naruto was like a son to her. She turned to gaze at Sakura, who was eating with elegance and poise, a frown on her beautiful face. Mikoto sighed. It was that frown that reminded her so much of her husband and her sons. Never did she think she'd see it on cheerful, aggressive Sakura.
Yet, there she was, eating the food as though it would snatch out and bite her at any moment. It may have been nice to make a feast to allow her to see Naruto at his happiest, but she felt more obliged to make them for Sakura nowadays. She knew that the girl's meals consisted of instant ramen, snuck in between shifts at the hospital and training.
Sasuke began to complain in a low, disgusted tone to Naruto about his eating habits and the blonde reacted violently back, stabbing chopsticks in the Uchiha's face and yelling that if he was hungry, he would eat how he liked. Sakura chewed on her piece of meat and looked at the boys disapprovingly. Mikoto waited. And waited.
There was nothing. No violent action that usually involved slamming the boys' heads together and screaming at them to enjoy the meal in peace. The pink-haired kunoichi just stared at them.
However, it turned out such an action from her was not needed. The door to their dining room-cum-kitchen opened and Itachi Uchiha walked in.
It was like he had released a freezing jutsu upon entry. Even Sakura had gone rigid, yet she had not raised her gaze to stare at the older Uchiha, like everyone else had. Her shoulders immediately tensed, though.
"Brother." Sasuke greeted formally, chopsticks and rice bowl in hand. Naruto grinned and nodded at Itachi.
His expression was blank at the greetings. He didn't reply, or acknowledge them. However, he did acknowledge the cold shoulder he received from his brother's pink-haired teammate, who hadn't even bothered to welcome him, as the others had.
He strolled over to the table, his eyes never leaving her pale face, and slowly, gradually pulled out the heavy chair beside her, letting the scraping of the legs echo around the kitchen. Sasuke and Naruto had continued their squabbling, albeit a little quieter, so the sudden scene between Itachi and Sakura went unnoticed.
"Isn't it considered polite to greet someone, whether they be acquaintance or enemy?" His deep, cool voice came from much closer beside her then Sakura had first anticipated. She stiffened. It wasn't that she didn't like Sasuke's brother – no, it wasn't that – it was more that she felt... obliged to stay quiet in his presence. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that almost everything that came out of his mouth seemed arrogant, vain and annoying.
Sakura swallowed her food and watched as Itachi's arm – clad in a dark blue, wool fabric – outstretched and picked off pieces of meat from the bowl beside her.
"I'll greet whoever I want to greet."
There was silence beside her for a moment, but she kept her heavy eyes on the plate in front of her. It had gotten to the point where she could no longer eat anymore. If she did, she knew what would happen. But she found herself trapped. If she left, the superior to her left would no doubt think he had been victorious in making in her feel uncomfortable. So, she took another bite of her food and pretended to ignore his presence.
"Head medic at Konoha Hospital, former apprentice to the Fifth Hokage and current record holder of most medical jutsu learned in the Hidden Leaf Village, Sakura Haruno. For someone who is held so high, it is a surprise that she has no manners."
Sakura finally gave in and snapped her head around quickly, the short bangs framing her face whipping it softly. Her green eyes clashed with Itachi's ashen ones. She stared at him for a moment, waiting to see whether her lethal gaze would make him tear away, just like everyone else's did. But he held firm, not even looking the slightest bit uncomfortable that he happened to be holding the gaze of someone so... dangerous.
"A Uchiha clan child prodigy rumoured to be the most lethal shinobi in Konoha and currently the most youngest ANBU ever to retire. For someone who is so worshipped, it's really no surprise that he hasn't got any manners." Sakura spat at the Uchiha, his current status and superiority not bothering her in the slightest. There was no movement on the pale face in front of her. His eyes remained blank, his eyebrows were still. But, his thin, light pink lips twitched upwards at one corner.
"I didn't think such a little girl could be so amusing."
Sakura felt a stab of annoyance travel up her arm and she slammed her chopsticks down onto the table, a little harder than anticipated. The sudden movement jolted the table a little, interrupting Naruto and Sasuke's bickering when they both jumped at the sound of plates on plates. Their attention was now on the two shinobi in front of them, who were currently deep in conversation. Naruto felt a shiver ran down his spine. Itachi, the strongest shinobi he knew and Sakura, the most aggressive, both staring at each other like two lions fighting over territory. The tension felt like a ton of bricks landing on his shoulders.
"Little girl, huh? Well, I'm having difficulty believing a weak-looking, pretty boy like you could even hurt a fly."
Sakura vaguely heard a gasp from the other side of the table.
"Sakura, you shouldn't say-" A hand caught any words that Naruto was about to say and shoved them right back into his big mouth. Sasuke was watching his brother with a strange gleam in his eyes and a smirk that made Naruto feel even more uncomfortable.
"Hey, idiot, can you see that?" He leaned in towards Naruto's right ear and hissed into it quietly. Naruto's wide, blue eyes glanced at Sasuke, then he moved them slowly to finally settle on the two, conflicting shinobi in front of him. He didn't see anything different.
"Mrphrgm," he took Sasuke's pale hand away from his mouth, allowing his words to come back out. He was frowning now, his eyes narrowed in speculation at the two in front of him. He moved his lips to the right of his face and replied in a loud whisper;
"I don't see anything. What am I looking for?"
Sasuke folded his arms over his white-robed chest and leaned backwards in the tall, heavy dining chair, watching his brother with increased scrutiny. He would have activated his Sharingan if he could, but it would alert Itachi to the fact he was being watched.
If anyone else had such sharp perception like he did, they would see that Itachi was riled. Sakura's comment had obviously hit a nerve, judging by the slight rigidness of his brother's right shoulder, the light throbbing of his jaw that went unseen and the tiniest narrowing of the ashen eyes.
Mikoto shook her head and smiled lightly to herself. Then she rose to her feet, pushing back the oak chair, and picked up her plate from in front of her, heading over to the counter and placing it upon the marble top. She rinsed her hands under the cold water and while she towelled them dry, her eyes drifted back over to her eldest son. It appeared there was conflict between the pink-haired kunoichi and Itachi. She wasn't even aware they had been acquainted.
Sasuke rose to his feet also, slapping Naruto on the arm with the back of his hand.
"Let's go." Naruto stopped in his examination to look up at Sasuke confusedly.
"What about Sakura? Shouldn't we- HEY!" Sasuke grasped the back of Naruto's orange collar and began to drag him backwards away from the kitchen, ignoring his squeals and yells that he still wanted to continue eating. Mikoto left shortly afterwards.
Sakura and Itachi were alone in the kitchen, unknowingly. Their staring contest was still in action.
"Would you be willing to fight this 'weak, pretty boy,'?" Itachi replied, tilting his head in a questioning manner. Sakura smirked and pushed herself upwards from the table, the chair scraping back noisily against the dark, wooden flooring.
"Thought you'd never ask."
The sky was a dull, dark blue and the large moon illuminated both Itachi and Sakura in the training grounds, their faces equally pale and their motivation equally high.
"No ninjutsu, no genjutsu." Sakura stated, ruling out both her medical techniques and Itachi's bloodline. While she was no stranger to the bleeding red eyes, she still knew their lethal power and with it activated, there was minimal chance of her winning. Not when she was so depleted of chakra already.
Itachi nodded curtly in reply, getting into his battle stance. His mind hadn't even registered his actions yet. He was still questioning them, wondering what exactly it was about his brothers pink-haired teammate that had managed to get him so certain on proving her wrong. Perhaps it was her similar attitude towards him as he had towards other people.
She gave him no signal of starting, which was exactly what he expected. As she came at him, fist outstretched, he readied himself and blocked her oncoming hand. Then he used it as leverage to flip above her, grasping her neck and waist as he went. As he landed, he threw her over his shoulder onto the floor, where she then flipped and threw several shuriken into his direction. This continued for a while, almost seeming like a dance. Was she playing with him? Was he playing with her?
"I don't really see what the big deal is about you." Sakura yelled at him from across the field, starting a multitude of front flips before approaching him and sending a kick at his face while balancing solely on her two, firm arms. He blocked her leg with his left forearm and grasped it with his right hand, but before he could throw her, she swung herself up so both legs were round his neck and she was supporting herself by grasping onto his head. He stumbled backwards under her weight and fell against a nearby, rock wall, his hands grasping her thighs tightly. Her face seemed to permanently be creased into a deep frown.
Itachi found the position rather uncomfortable, despite his talent to block out such disconcerting emotions. So, he released one of her thighs and reached behind him to grasp her foot, where he then tore her away from him, raising a foot and kicking her hard in the stomach. The first contact.
She engraved into the dirt as she slid along the ground, before she finally stopped herself by lodging a kunai into the ground, holding her weight. She stood up slowly, one arm clutching her stomach and a smirk on her face. She expected to see some arrogant stare that told her she was pathetic – the kind she usually got from Sasuke. Or, the sympathetic yet disappointed one she would get from Naruto. Possibly even the concerned, cold stare from Kakashi. Instead, nothingness. Just blank, empty, grey orbs. Like dust balls.
She snorted quietly to herself and scratched at her forehead, looking uneasily down at the floor whilst an arm still wrapped around her stomach. She'd expected more from the Uchiha prodigy. She knew him no more from the rumours that spread around Konoha, yet sparring with him made her feel like they were personal.
Her eyes widened suddenly. If it were possible, her pale skin became an ever lighter shade of white. Her arms were trembling, her legs were uneasy. No... she hadn't over-eaten. Had she?
She fell to the floor, her unstable legs no longer able to keep her sturdy. Knees came into contact with cold, moist grass and her hands clutched drily into the blades. Her stomach – not on the outside, but inside – began to resemble the feeling of a thousand needles, pressed in and out of her skin continuously. She retched, emptying the contents of her stomach onto the ground.
The rest was a blur. There was a lot of darkness, sudden warmth, the feeling of flying and then comfort, blankets, beeping. It was to those feelings, that she finally lost consciousness.
"Her condition is stable. She'll be out by this afternoon, if things go well. For now, she's taking much-needed sleep."
The voice echoed around in Sakura's head, like it was being spoken from one side of a large room to another. It slowly, gradually became louder and louder. She opened her eyes.
She grimaced at the sudden whiteness that blinded her vision and her eyes shrivelled up before opening completely to reveal a white room. She knew that ceiling.
"Sakura! You're awake!" A blonde figure bounded towards her from the end of her bed and the mattress tilted when he placed his hands onto the edge, leaning over her to get a good look at her face. Her confused, dazzled green eyes focused completely on the person who had called her name.
"Naruto." She said, surprised at the hoarseness of her own voice. He gave her a wide grin, looking overly happy at just the sound of his name. Sakura swallowed to dampen her dry throat and pushed her weak arms behind her, attempting to sit up. She shook off Naruto's hands that offered to help.
"What am I doing here?" She looked around the hospital ward, not surprised to see that she was in a room of her own. Naruto scratched the side of his cheek, refusing to make eye contact.
"Well, Itachi told us you were in hospital and said it was up to you to tell us why. Say, Sakura, is there anything you want to talk about?"
She didn't hear Naruto's question. She'd stopped all train of thought, all movement, all breathing at the sound of his name. A hand suddenly snapped to her hair and she entwined it in her pink strands, a lost expression on her face. She'd collapsed in front of him. No one was supposed to know. No one.
She didn't hear the nurse leave. She didn't hear Naruto come back with the nurse, who tested her blood pressure and spoke to her. The words went in one ear and out the other. No one was supposed to know.
That afternoon, she was dispatched. She knew what would happen. Word would spread. She worked, lived and sometimes slept in the hospital – she knew how it operated. There was a sanction of nurses that revelled in sharing the information of others, despite the confidentiality contract. Yet, she had never thought to remind them of it. She had never thought she would also be victim to them.
The moment she left the hospital, she felt the harsh, speculating stares of others. Sakura Haruno, the girl who had supposedly killed even children whilst attempting to save her own parents, who had fallen victim to the Akatsuki and had been tortured, who had been targeted countless times because of her position with the Hokage, whose enemy listed nearly beat that of Itachi Uchiha's... was ill. Sakura Haruno was ill. She was weak.
She didn't remember which were lies and which were the truth. Did it matter? Whether it be lie or not, Konoha believed it. And if it was believed, that almost made it the truth.
Feeling the stares on her back, hating the fact that she was no longer invisible, seemed to rile a hatred inside her. It was a hatred for the one person who was responsible – who should have just left her, alone, like she had always been in such a situation. Instead, he had taken her to the hospital – the last place she needed to be.
Sakura wasn't even alarmed when an ANBU dropped down in front of her, in the familiar crouch they all were in as they greeted the target of their message.
"The Hokage wishes to see you."
Sakura nodded sharply and the ANBU disappeared from in front of her. Tsunade wanted to see her. Was that so...
She continued onwards down her route and entered her flat, slamming the door behind her. She headed into her room, put on a plain black shinobi t-shirt and a pair of shorts, then settled down onto her sofa and rested her head backwards against the armrest.
She could have counted the minutes.
"Usually, when I send a messenger, I expect the target to listen." Tsunade's voice seemed loud in Sakura's tight, confined flat. Sakura smiled upwards at her ceiling, her bright green eyes shut off from the world so all she saw was darkness.
"Lady Tsunade, you know me well enough by now to know-" A crack made Sakura's eyes snap open. She tilted her head back so she was staring upside down at her teacher, then her gaze moved to the table beside the blonde shinobi, which was now broken. Tsunade had smacked her fist against it in anger, obviously using much more force than necessary. Sakura frowned.
"Sensei, now I'll need a new on-"
"How long do you plan to keep this up, Sakura?" Tsunade's voice sounded like it was struggling to keep even and quiet, as to not alert the other passing shinobi around Sakura's house. Sakura sat up and rested her back against her comfortable blue sofa, staring down at the hands in her lap. She scratched the back of her head instead of replying.
"It was three years ago. Don't think you're the only shinobi in Konoha grieving the loss of their parents-"
"Yeah, but it's not just losing them, sensei!" Sakura's attitude turned suddenly at the mention of her parents. Her eyes still glared angrily down at her hands, as though releasing her anger on them would rid it completely. "I was there. I was responsible. I was weak and let them die." She finally brought the green orbs back up to her sensei, who looked at Sakura with sympathy. Sakura swallowed the lump in her throat and her voice came out calm, yet wobbly. "It wasn't just my parents, sensei. It was my clan." She snorted and changed her direction of gaze over to a dark, gray picture that sat above her fireplace. "What little was left of it anyway."
Silence stretched out into Sakura's tiny, dull flat and for a moment, Sakura thought that the Hokage had left. She didn't dare turn to look, in case she happened to catch an expression which would make her lose control. She jumped when a heavy hand placed itself on her shoulder and a light kiss was pressed to her forehead. Sakura's eyes were wide and she waited until Tsunade pulled away before looking up at her. The blonde shinobi smiled down at her, all sense of sympathy gone and a determined, proud expression on her face.
"The reason you can't let it go is because you haven't been looking at others. When I thought I'd lost everything, a certain blonde, loud-mouthed knuckle-headed ninja came into my life and changed my ideals, my dreams, my hopes. Someday, you'll find someone like that too." The Hokage ruffled her hair and did a two-fingered salute, before disappearing into a cloud of smoke. Sakura remained on her sofa, frowning in confusion up at the gray wall that was outstretched in front of her.
Someone appearing her life, making her forget about the pain, the memories and the regret? Snorting, she rose to her feet. Yeah, right.
At that present moment, she didn't want comfort. She didn't want to forget it all.
She just wanted to kick a certain Uchiha's ass for destroying her life. Well, what was left of it anyway...
Sasuke was certainly surprised to see her at his door, especially mid-afternoon when she'd usually be training hard, not stopping until her body could take no more or her chakra was completely depleted.
"You're out of the hospital then?" His cold, detached voice asked her. She looked over his shoulder, attempting to peek inside the house for any view of her current target.
Sasuke stepped away from the entrance of the door, allowing her to see inside their wooden, furbished hallway. She was obviously not looking for him, which was no surprise. It was, however, a surprise when the notion came into his head that she appeared to be looking for his elder brother.
"He's out." Sasuke told her, folding his arms over his chest and resting his back against the flat, white doorframe. Sakura's irritated frown deepened and she gritted her teeth, letting out an inward sigh and running a hand through her dishevelled fuchsia hair. She didn't notice Sasuke's inquisitive gaze unmoving on the side of her face.
"Why the sudden interest in my brother, may I ask?" When her eyes snapped to his, for once he actually held her gaze instead of breaking it. He had always felt uncomfortable, staring into the eyes of the woman who had once loved him so much yet now treated him like nothing but a hassle.
She didn't seem fazed by his eye contact, or his question. "As the Uchiha prodigy and most talented shinobi in the village, I know that he won't hold back against me and lose on purpose." Sasuke heard the accusation in her voice, but let it pass. Sakura snorted and turned away, placing her hands in the small of her back and resting against them on the doorframe. She looked out at the people who passed, ignoring their quick, furtive glances. "And I want to kill him."
Sasuke, for the first time in his life, felt slightly alarmed. Sakura wanted to kill his brother? His brother was idolised by all shinobi. Constantly challenged, but not hated.
"He handed me into the hospital without my permission." Sakura seemed to answer the question that Sasuke was burning to ask, yet hadn't for he didn't want to seem as though he was interested. Sasuke didn't reply, but looked away. He shared a mutual understanding with Sakura in that aspect. Appearance for the Uchiha clan was everything. If he had been submitted to hospital, due to his own carelessness, he would be ridiculed. Although, why Sakura wanted an appearance held up was beyond his knowledge. Surely the rumours surrounding his pink-haired teammate weren't true?
Sasuke didn't realise that he and his teammate seemed to fall into a conversation and a friendly one at that. Sakura didn't realise either. To civilians who passed, it would seem like they were doing nothing but both resting against a doorframe, like they were waiting for a friend or companion, because although they talked, their eyes remained on different objects. Eye contact was difficult for Sakura, even to her closest friends.
Eventually, he arrived home. Itachi didn't seem to be carrying anything, so where he had gone was a mystery. She didn't care.
The fact that he stood at the bottom of the steps to the domain, staring up at both Sasuke and Sakura like he had known they would be there the whole time, infuriated her further. Couldn't he at least show some emotion? Show some surprise, hatred, annoyance?
"You've got some apologising to do." Sakura ordered, not noticing Sasuke slip inside the house quietly, leaving his brother and his comrade to talk stuff out. He did not want to be in the way when the two were talking.
Itachi looked at her blankly. Ashen eyes showed nothing.
"I don't believe I've got anything to apologise for."
Sakura let out a loud snort, unladylike, but it didn't bother her. She glared at Itachi and pointed at a pair of jonin who walked past, staring at her like she was a ghost.
"That. That is what you have to apologise for."
He didn't turn around, just continued to watch her, like she was a boring scroll he had been told to read due to a mission. She hated it. She hated how such a blank, unreadable shinobi could be one of the strongest.
"I am not responsible for the lack of confidentiality in the hospital, Miss Haruno."
Sakura bit her tongue too hard and the slight tang of metal caused her to grimace. It was either that, or that fact that his comment had made sense. A lot of sense.
He'd said her name.
She grit her teeth and remained standing on the top step, even as Itachi strolled past her into the Uchiha main house. She waited until he had entered before turning to follow him, inhaling the scent she had gotten to know as Sasuke's. She left the door open behind her, but it closed by itself as she followed Itachi around the house. He paused and looked over his shoulder.
"Do you need something?"
She glared at him furiously. "A rematch."
He turned his head back away and started to ascend up the stairs. She followed, even though his posture and stiffness told her not to.
"I will not fight someone in such a condition-"
"-DON'T even think about using it as an excuse," she tagged along at Itachi's heels, ignoring the widened eyes of Sasuke as they passed him on the landing when they finally reached the top of the stairs. It didn't even occur to Sakura that she'd never been in the part of the Uchiha main house that led to Itachi's room.
"Perhaps if you tell me what it is that's wrong with you, I will be eager to reconsider?"
Sakura stopped walking. Itachi seemed to notice the light patter of footsteps stop from behind him and again he looked over his shoulder. He turned fully, folding his arms over his chest. Sakura's expression showed one of fortitude and pain, like she was battling with her mind. The pulsing part of her cheekbone, indicating that she was gritting her teeth, seemed to draw his attention away from her face.
"Fine," she spat out. He brought his attention back to her eyes and noticed they were gleaming with something he couldn't decipher. He opened the door to his bedroom that he was standing next to – whilst still facing her - and pressed his hand against the doorframe. With his other, he gestured for her enter. She stormed in, like a child being sent to their room by a parent.
He followed soon after, closing the door quietly behind him. He knew that his brother was watching them in immense curiosity and suspicion from the other side of the hallway and he was not willing to favour to his brother's thirst for knowledge.
His bedroom was small, and usually obsessively clean. Yet, today, he seemed almost too conscious of the fact it no longer looked organised and rather more like a real human's room. He hadn't remembered being so careless with his cleaning.
The pink-haired kunoichi didn't seem to notice, though. She had her back to him, her arms folded over chest. The short, red top she was wearing revealed a part of her pale back and he found himself staring at it. She turned around suddenly, like something had attacked her from behind and her bright hair flapped wildly around her face, her eyes alight with forced determination.
"It's just an eating disorder, alright?" Her teeth were grinding against each other again, as the pulsing part of her face had become more apparent. She was obviously more angered than before.
Itachi found her illness to be no surprise, however. Her chakra inflation and depletion was damaged and her movements were weak and forced. Itachi wondered how she would react to his knowing if he were to tell her.
It proved to be worth it. Again, the frown that usually was bedded into her forehead disappeared and she looked like a lost, little girl. Just like how she had used to look. She scratched the side of her forehead, not taking her unwavering gaze away from his. That was something that concerned him – the fact she had no problem with reaching for his eyes and staring long and hard into them.
Itachi took a few steps forwards and seated himself on his chequered bed sheets, leaning onto his thin, toned arms. He looked up at her through thick eyelashes, his black, tight, t-shirt settling into every curve of his stomach.
"Your chakra wavers, your movements are forced and you put off a strong front, while inside you seem to be in a lot of pain, physically and emotionally." He almost missed her aggressive expression when her bright, green eyes began to gleam and her mouth was downturned in way that showed utter misery. He sat up a little straighter. "My eyes are not only useful for combat."
Sakura swallowed. And swallowed. And swallowed. The lump inside her throat didn't appear to be disappearing. Was she that readable in his eyes? Could Sasuke see what was wrong with her too?
No, he couldn't. She refused to break away from the stubborn staring contest that had ensued between her and Itachi again. Did he have to say it so blankly? So easily?
Sakura Haruno wasn't supposed to feel sad. Three years ago, she'd locked away sadness and settled on anger. So, she was sad now? Sad, because Itachi Uchiha – of all people – had taken one look at her and summed her up, like she was nothing but a math problem? Of course, to anyone who had the sense, she was obviously in pain. But, to be told it so bluntly and so passively... It created so much more of an impact.
She turned around and finally broke the eye contact. The olive green wall that greeted her when she turned seemed like a good target so without all her strength, without chakra, she began to pummel it hard with her fists, taking out her anger, taking out her sadness. She told herself she wouldn't be sad. She told herself she wouldn't cry.
A hand captured both of hers and rested them on the wall, preventing them from their beating anymore. She didn't turn around, she didn't try to pull away. She felt him behind her, but his closeness left her unfazed. Instead, she let her head droop forwards towards the floor, allowing her pink locks to frame her face, frame her clenched eyes, frame and attempt to hide her emotions. A single tear fell to his carpet.
"You idiot," she whispered to him, resting her soft forehead against the olive green wall underneath her captured, entwined wrists. "You idiot," she repeated, banging her head lightly against the wall. "Couldn't you have at least looked surprised? Couldn't you have lied? Couldn't you have pretended not to see right through me?"
She tore her hands from his grasp and brushed past him, storming out of the room as fast as she could. She needed to get away from him. The sadness would be replaced with anger soon and there was no holding back if he happened to be in the way. This was all his fault. His fault that now, she was being sympathised by the whole village. His fault that she had become so easy to read.
His fault, that slowly, but surely, she was becoming human again.
Itachi, whose arm was outstretched and resting against the wall, like he needed it for support, turned his head to peer over his shoulder. Sasuke was in his open doorway, a light frown dusting over his features and a sprinkling of accusation there also. Itachi lifted his hand from the wall, wiping it down the side of his shinobi trousers and standing sideways, so his face was not fully visible to his younger brother.
"You made Sakura cry-"
"-I am not responsible for the instability of a young adult." He moved his gray, dark eyes so they were staring at Sasuke's feet, but not his face. He felt that if he were to look into his brothers perceptive gaze right now, he would seem to be a lot more emotional than he was. Because he wasn't bothered at all by Sakura Haruno's outburst. She was absolutely nothing to do with him, eating disorder or not.
Itachi, having swallowed down his stable notion, finally brought his blank, calculating gaze back up to his younger brother.
"She is simply emotionally troubled over the fact her eating disorder is now being spread amongst the villagers of the Hidden Leaf Village. I was the first to discover this and it seems she believes I was responsible for it being determined." Itachi looked down at the floor. "Now, leave."
Sasuke left without objection, happy that his thirst had at least been quenched with what could have been half-truths, but was enough for him. Itachi frowned, seating himself at his desk and looking through a pile of reports he had started but was yet to finish. He picked one up and began to scan through it, scribbling down notes here and there. After a couple of minutes, he swept it to the floor slowly and rose to his feet, opening his bedroom door and heading down the chilly hallway that led outside into the orange, basking light of the sun.
He would go for a walk and when he had finished, he would think no more of the silly pink-haired girl that he had once informally sparred with as her teammate's older brother.
A/N: Just the first part. Unfortunately, the yummy stuff comes later. ;) Review!