title. rondo of betrayal
summary. Sasuke knows he's obsessed to protect his sickly older brother; he knows Sakura and Naruto disapprove of it. But he doesn't know that the Itachi he protects is the same Itachi who will kill everyone he holds dear. [AU ItaSasu; SasuNaru, SasuSaku, others]
contents. mystery / romance / crime / drama / tragedy - M / Mature / R - yaoi, shounen-ai, het, shoujo-ai pairings/hints - tentatively 10 chapters.

notes. AU story, will have mind-screw later on :D I view Itachi as a yandere for peace Sasuke (a view that is sort-of supported by the canon developments) and Sasuke's obsession about his brother (before and after the ~revelation~ about Itachi) is very... interesting.

Each segment within a chapter is arranged chronologically, but each chapter focuses on a character/theme and can occur on different timeframes :D The story's main pairing is Itachi/Sasuke, but there'll definitely be a lot of focus on other characters/other pairings too. Rather than a 'ItaSasu fic', this is a 'fic that has ItaSasu in it', if that makes sense LOL The summary spoils the Itachi plot-twist, but I hope that there's still some stuff here that you'd find interesting XD



"Sasuke-kun, would you like to join us?"

Soft and gentle, unlike the tones she handles her frienemy with, Haruno Sakura's voice floats across the distance between the two of them. The guy she's addressing, Uchiha Sasuke, simply raises an eyebrow, face tilting slowly towards her to show that he's paying attention, but not that much. She bites her lip, tongue tasting the hint of cherry lipgloss from this morning. She feels her face flushing into a hopefully-flattering pink; she feels her palms grow clammy.


She is a confident girl, always has been—well, maybe not always, but even Ino-pig can attest to the fact that she has grown from her old, timid self—but there's something about talking to Sasuke that makes her nervous, that makes her wilt back to her very meek self. It's not just because she's been in love with him for what seems like forever—it's more than that. Somehow.

Sasuke is perfectly still, like a statue in the middle of their classroom. It only agitates the butterflies fluttering in her stomach.

"W-W-W-We were just wondering if you were free," the urge to explain, to stammer, to avert her eyes is too strong, "b-b-but if you're not then i-i-it's fine."

"I can go with you, Sakura-chan!" Uzumaki Naruto offers enthusiastically, beaming from his seat beside Sasuke. Sakura ignores the radiant smile and continues to focus her gaze on Sasuke's organized notes.

"...I'm busy."

"Oh." Sakura tries to swallow her disappointment, along with the surprising tint of relief. "I understand." She doesn't, really, because isn't life supposed to be not just all work and no play? Sasuke spends no time with others outside school and it worries her, saddens her. She doesn't understand how can a person as cool as Sasuke be only interested in staying at home and studying. "You're busy study—"

"Is Itachi better?"


"Better than yesterday."

Sakura watches Sasuke tilt his face away from her, watches Sasuke address Naruto with an underlying layer of gentleness. It pains her, to learn that there's something in Sasuke's life that is capable of making him look like that, that there's something in Sasuke's life that she doesn't know, that there's something in Sasuke's life that Naruto knows instead.

She has always scoffed at Naruto's claim that he and Sasuke are best friends, but maybe, just maybe, it's really true?

"Well, I hope he gets out of the hospital soon!" Naruto speaks as though he knows this Itachi-guy. Sakura balls her hands into fists, shaking, trembling.

She takes a step away from Sasuke's desk and Sasuke's charcoal-black eyes don't follow her movements. Naruto's gaze doesn't swing back to her either, even though he has claimed to be her number one fan embarrassingly many times.

Sakura vows to find out who this Itachi-guy is.


In a world where Haruno Sakura refuses to let go of her childish jealousy, she would have continued to resent Naruto for being much closer to her idol than she is. She would have hated 'Itachi' for being a reason for Sasuke's lips to curve into something aside from a haughty smirk or a displeased frown. She would have lost a chance to be closer to her most beloved person because of her immaturity.

But this isn't that world, and in this world, Sakura manages to be closer to both Naruto and Sasuke, Sakura manages to know the reason why the name 'Itachi' brings a shocking softness to Sasuke's expression, Sakura manages to shed her immaturity.

In a world where Haruno Sakura realizes the love of another suitor, she would have forgotten all about pursuing Sasuke, she would have attained a successful career in medicine, she would have lived a life of fulfillment.

But this world isn't that world, and in this world, Haruno Sakura will die.

Because this world—
—is burning.


first movement. accarezzévole
Haruno Sakura's love blooms under a cherry tree.


spring of 2009.

Sakura settles on her seat with a heavy sigh unnoticed by her surrounding classmates. Ever since she learned about Uchiha Itachi and his chronic sickness one month ago, she has tried different means in order to be invited to visit Sasuke's older brother—to no avail.

She briefly wonders whether the rumors are true that Naruto is starting to pay attention to his (quite possibly only) admirer, Hinata. That would certainly explain why the over-enthusiastic blond isn't gushing so much about her. Normally she'd be thankful to have Naruto stop showering her with affection that she can never return, but she actually wants that affection now, if only it can lead her to Sasuke's house, and closer into Sasuke's life.

It is unfair of her, she knows, to expect Naruto to keep doing her favors when she isn't at the least interested in him that way, but what's the point of being a teenager if her love is going to be restrained? That train of thought is more appropriate for someone like Rock Lee, but sometimes, just sometimes, Sakura wishes that she can live out the wonderful teenage life filled with cherry blossoms, smiling friends and a satisfying love life.

Their next period teacher's already in the room, but both Naruto and Sasuke are not yet back in their seats.

Sakura bites her lip and wonders if it's a little too desperate if she raises her hand now and bring attention to the duo's absence. She doesn't think that the two got involved into a fistfight or anything of the sort—well, they were prone to that behavior a few years back, but now Naruto's hotbloodedness has tempered a little and Sasuke's irritability has mellowed a bit... and it's not like Sasuke will lose to Naruto in a fight.

Naruto enters the classroom with a paper in hand, putting an end to Sakura's decision-making process.

Their teacher accepts the letter and reads it over fairly quickly, before picking up where she left off.

Sakura's attention isn't on the lesson that's supposedly going to be very important in the upcoming quarterly exams, but instead on Naruto who sits beside her.

"Where's Sasuke-kun?" Sakura asks in a low whisper.

Naruto shrugs and replies: "Itachi."

Tone nonchalant, as though that name is supposed to explain everything.

And in a way, it does.


spring of 2009.

Deidara walks around the room, inspects every drawer, checks the wooden desk. For a starting... organization, Akatsuki sure has amassed quite a hefty sum of money to be able to afford their base of operations and its sleek, modern decorations. At first glance, it appears like a well-respected law firm, or maybe an avant garde consulting company, or maybe even a high class infrastructure department.

...Of course, Akatsuki is neither of those things. Which is kind of the point: to disguise themselves properly, blend into the surroundings but still distinguish themselves as something to be wary of.

Deidara is the newest recruit and he admires the way the organization is reckless enough to invite someone like him—questionable origins, even more questionable hobbies by society's sissy standards. But Deidara doesn't think Akatsuki minds someone like him, someone as destructive as him, someone as young as him. After all, of the three people Akatsuki sent to fetch him from his crappy job, one of them looked even younger than him.

...Of course, it's also entirely possible that some, if not all, of the Akatsuki members have employed some plastic surgery to change their identities, but that's a thought for another day.

Before they dragged him over to this room, his tiny bit of personal space in this thirty-floor office tower, they asked him to read over an entire stack of folders that contains mission specs and a lot of other boring things. He only took a peek at a few pages, sure, but the staggering amount of text is enough to clue him in on the extent of boringness of the information. Plus, he's fairly certain that none of the interesting, dangerous stuff are written there, since he's a newbie after all.

Aside from the impromptu reading assignment, something that he thought he had left behind in the remaining debris of his high school, they asked him to choose a code name for himself.

Code names are for cowards.

He doesn't mind signing any and all of the documents with his name, doesn't mind shouting his name and his bomb's special attacks at the exact moment everything burns asunder.

But even with those drawbacks, those limitations, Deidara is still sure to stay at this organization.

After all, Akatsuki has promised him free reign on their so-called 'demolishing projects'.


spring of 2009.

When Uchiha Sasuke returns after four days of absence, the school doesn't suddenly draw into silence nor does the school suddenly erupt into an uproar. It's a normal day all-around: a day when the sakura petals are lining the uncovered walkway that connects different buildings, a day when all of the teachers are arranging schedules for extra tutoring since the exams are fast-approaching.

It's almost too normal, and Ten Ten finds herself the only one whose brown eyes are busy following Sasuke's walk from the entrance of the cafeteria to the impossibly-long lunch hour queue. Nobody else makes a fuss about the pretty boy's entrance and Ten Ten finds herself wishing that the moment stretches a little further, a moment when she's the only one who has eyes for Sasuke.

The moment shatters when outrageous orange enters her field of vision, and true enough, it's Uzumaki Naruto and his obnoxiously-colored bag. Now the moment isn't hers anymore, because now Naruto is there, and then Sakura is following from her dainty perch on the benches from outside the cafeteria, and then Ino is speeding from her spot three tables away, and—the moment is gone.

She swallows her disappointment with a sip of her apple juice and instead focuses on her lunchmates. As per usual, Neji and Lee are with her; today has the underclassmen Hinata, Kiba and Shino sharing the table with them. Normally Ten Ten doesn't even consider hanging out with her kouhai, but Hinata is Neji's cousin and so special rights are granted to her. School policy bans students from bringing animals inside the cafeteria, so Ten Ten doesn't have to worry about Kiba's love of dogs and Shino's affinity with bugs whenever she eats with them.

There's still twenty more minutes of lunch break left, but both Neji and Lee are already packing up their food. Ten Ten struggles to catch a glimpse of Sasuke one last time, but it's a difficult task from her position, and all she can see is a crowd of short skirts that look similar to her own. Having PE immediately after lunch is something that she's looking forward to get rid of once she graduates from high school. Especially since their PE teacher is Gai-sensei.

Sometimes, she really hates the fact that Gai-sensei is both their homeroom advisor and PE teacher. For other classes, PE with Gai-sensei is both exhausting and exhilirating and utterly tiring that you only realize you collapsed on your knees when the person in front of you does the same. But because their class has Rock Lee, the person who probably synchronizes with Gai-sensei the most (and has been the topic of several questions on whether Lee is a long-lost son or something...), it's vastly different. Gai-sensei is more passionate in teaching them, and while a teacher having burning passion in imparting knowledge to his students is normally considered a great thing, Gai-sensei's passion translates into a PE class ten times more grueling than the usual.

She makes her way toward the changing rooms and she almost gasps when she spots someone who looks eerily like Sasuke near the cafeteria door. She blinks and the vision is gone. Ten Ten shakes her head, murmuring to herself about how unhealthy it is to fantasize about people you've just seen a few minutes ago.


spring of 2009.

"I'm home!"

"Welcome back, Sasuke." Itachi's voice is mellow and frail, but it carries across the distance between his corner of the living room and the doorway.

Everything looks exactly the same as this morning; Sasuke wonders if it's a good idea to let Kakashi in the house sometimes, just so that Itachi has company while he's at school. The moment the thought comes, it vanishes, since Kakashi isn't exactly the best type of company anyone, let alone Itachi, should have. Sasuke looks forward to the vacation—that way, he can spend more time with his brother.

"How was your day?" Itachi always asks those questions and Sasuke feels a little bit guilty, always. Itachi might be a genius, but his future is bleak, due to his sickness. Itachi could have been finishing his PhD now, or maybe even heading a few research investigations of his own, if only his body isn't ravaged by weakness. Itachi could have been unbearably famous now, maybe even a few mistresses on each arm, but.

Sasuke settles on the chair he positioned beside Itachi's recliner. The sunset's orange-purple colors stream through their old curtains, giving the room a somber atmosphere. "It's fine. I'll need to catch up on some subjects, but there's been a lot of offers for notes."

"Is that so." Itachi chuckles, the low sound filling the silent space of the room. "My little brother is proving to be a Casanova?"

"It's nothing like that." Sasuke protests, even though he's aware that it is exactly like that. "It's not like I'm interested in them."

Itachi's chuckles return and Sasuke flushes in embarrassment.

"How is Naruto-kun, by the way?"

"He's a dobe, as usual." Sasuke replies dismissively, still baffled on why Itachi always makes sure to ask about Naruto. He didn't think Itachi would approve of him having a friend as noisy as Naruto. But then again, Itachi is very different from their father... Itachi is lenient, almost too painfully kind, to Sasuke's choices in life. Even when Sasuke chose to coddle Itachi and take care of him singlehandedly, Itachi simply smiled and let him do whatever he wanted. "Naruto lent me his notes, but they're just drawings and unreadable chicken-scrawl."

"So you're borrowing from another friend?"

Sasuke blinks, taken aback by the strange tone that Itachi used. He has never seen or heard Itachi say anything without his trademark cool and serene tone, except maybe now. But Itachi's face remains in that mostly-unreadable expression, nothing that suggests any sort of malice or anger like Sasuke just heard. Or maybe he's just hearing things? Must be a side-effect of being surrounded by squeals of his classmates...

"Sakura and Naruto want to come over tomorrow so they can help me catch up, but I told them I'll just borrow Sakura's notes—"

"Sakura? I don't think you've mentioned her before."

Again, there's nothing malicious about Itachi's tone but Sasuke feels guilty anyway. Like he has deliberately lied to Itachi—something that he would absolutely never do.

"She's nobody," Sasuke doesn't think there's anything important about her, rather than she has unbelievably pink hair and that she has better notes than Naruto, "that's why I never mentioned her before."

Itachi seems satisfied with that reply. "You should invite them over tomorrow. It's important that you don't fall back in your lessons because of me."

Another pang of guilt. Sasuke doesn't really like the notion of those two going inside this house—a house that's more than just four simple walls enclosing the space that Uchiha Sasuke and Uchiha Itachi occupy after the entire Uchiha Estate has been sealed off from the public. Naruto has visited a few times, but Sakura will probably see this as a chance or something ridiculous like that. He doesn't want to deal with any unnecessary complications, especially since he values Naruto's friendship more than anybody would ever know (...not that he'd admit that to anybody though).

But since it's Itachi's suggestion and he's never really rejected anything Itachi has ever said...

"Okay. I'll let them know it's fine with you."

Itachi smiles peacefully, the sunset's orange-purple-red giving his eyes a dark red tint.

"It is a great opportunity for me to get to know your friends."


spring of 2009.

It is different from what she expects—after all, even now, everyone regards the name Uchiha with a certain amount of awe and respect. But it doesn't matter, since she loves Sasuke no matter where he lives, no matter how gloomy his apartment is, no matter how beautiful his older brother is.

If not for the recliner and the amount of pillows supporting his back, as well as the IV drip connected to his arm, Sakura wouldn't have guessed that Itachi is suffering from a chronic illness. His skin is pale, but not sickly; his expression is tired, but overly so. He looks exactly like one would expect Sasuke's older brother to be: refined and flawless.

"Thank you for inviting us—"

"Oho! I smell food! Did you order from Ichiraku? Nice!"

Sakura forces herself to retain her graceful smile, even though she wants nothing else but to scold Naruto for not even removing his shoes properly and simply barging into the house without so much as a greeting. It still amazes her how someone like Sasuke can tolerate Naruto's personality.

"I assume you're Haruno Sakura-san?"

She takes the pale, outstretched hand and shakes it timidly. Now that she's this close to Itachi she can't help but notice the similarities between the brothers. Her heart feels a little faint.

"Yes!" She hopes she doesn't sound as squeaky as she fears. "It's nice to meet you, um, Itachi-san."

"You're one of Sasuke's friends," Itachi says slowly as he lets go of her hand, "so the pleasure is all mine."

—and for a moment, Sakura's heart stops.


spring of 2009 chapter;
end of Haruno Sakura's spring.