A/N Set during the same time as Scotcheroos. This is for Nanakira. She said any pairing would be fine, so...here it is, my first ItaSaku. This starts off with the scene in Scotcheroos where Sakura went to give Itachi his check-up, and he decided to take things further. I'm not giving any other background info in this fic, so if you need to, please refresh your memory with Scotcheroos.

May I just say what an absolute relief it is to be writing something other than yaoi?

Beta: Blood Zephyr


Chapter 1


Then, Oh God.

Finally, Damn, my dress!

Beyond those few simple thoughts, which were quickly gone, Sakura did nothing but let Itachi lead.

She couldn't call up a specific reason just then for why she was letting this happen, either. A reason had been there, when he'd asked her if she did random things, by which he'd meant would she allow him to court her (was that even a term anymore? Court?), but right now she was sitting on TenTen's cake, and her dress had been ripped open, right down the front.

Itachi had swooped down and kissed her before she'd been prepared, and it lived up to every girlish fantasy she'd ever had about the act. It was forceful and possessive. It made her toes curl in her sandals and her heart pound deliciously in her chest. It was her first kiss. Kakashi had touched his mouth to various parts of her body through his mask, but this was her first lip on lip action (outside the peck she'd given to Sasuke's closed lips under a mistletoe once, which hardly mattered compared to this).

She found it to be an overwhelmingly intimate experience. It left her with the bewildering realization that kissing felt more sexual than sex itself. It was… sensual. It probably felt more personal because it was her face, her mouth, parts of her that were deeply sensitive, and thrummed with an unidentifiable psychological resonance when touched.

She'd caught Sasuke and Naruto kissing a few times this past year. Was this how it felt to them? Did the slick slide of another's tongue make them wet and achy in certain areas? Her breasts responded immediately to the suggestive way he used his tongue by swelling and growing tender. Her nipples (flush against Itachi's bare chest, oh my Gawd!) were nearly painful with arousal. The way she was yanked against a rather significant erection made her moan with need; the hard ridge of flesh put pressure directly on the place in her that was aching the worst.

Her dress and brassiere were removed and set aside. She realized her arms were clasped around his neck, that she was squeezing him ridiculously hard, and started to lower them. He stopped her. Repositioned her arms around his neck as he managed to step even closer to her and wrap his arms around her torso in turn. His head slanted, and the kiss was deeper. Harder. It made her entire body shiver incessantly through waves of heat.

His arms were hot where they held her. The way his chest, also very warm, pressed against her own soft skin inflamed her in more ways than one. She had to break the kiss, turn her head aside, and rest her cheek on his solid shoulder. She breathed through the rising tide of passion in her, tried to take a step back and regain some measure of her usual composure. Itachi took this time to press his lips to her shoulder, to rub the palms of his hands over the faint depressions her back muscles created. He kneaded her flesh lightly in a way she found endearing. His hand came up to thread through her hair, to pull her head back. He met her eyes with his own. His face drifted closer to hers, unhurried, until their mouths found each other and locked together again.

Her desire was like a drug. It made her allow her pants to be pulled off, her sandals to be unstrapped, and her panties to be slipped off of her hips. Very little existed for her outside the kiss and its command of her senses. She was intently focused on the mouth plundering hers; after all, she'd been naked with a man before. She'd never kissed before.

Kissing felt like love, she decided. It was that intimate. A girl could really fall in love with her first kiss. If the kiss was anything like this, anyway.

He guided her to lay on her back. Her hips were dragged forward until they hung off the edge of the table, supported by his waist. The way cake gathered in the crack of her ass and between her legs from this action was not to be considered. It was noted distantly that the spongy mass was cool against the skin of her back. It felt soft and… indecent, somehow. This sensation was offset by the hard table beneath her. The way its smooth surface was in direct opposition to the cake left her overly aware of other textures: his pants-covered hips where they brushed her inner thighs; the rough skin of his hands as they grasped her calves; and the silky feel of her skin against his wherever they made contact. He bent over her, putting his face in the hollow of her neck and shoulder. His hair was still damp, and cold from the air conditioning where it fell across her throat. These thoughts didn't carry enough weight to detract from the way his mouth closed over the pulse in her neck and sucked leisurely. Almost questioningly.

There was a definite oral fixation on his part. He studied her nipples for long seconds before sucking them each until she sobbed. Only when he'd wrung similar reactions from her did he move on to other body parts. Her stomach. Her waist. Her hips, thighs, and pubic bone. She thought he might perform the final act of oral exploration then, but he instead stood up straight and only gazed at the juncture of her thighs. She wasn't too disappointed; Kakashi had never done that with her, either. She felt slightly self-conscious with his prolonged stare. After a moment, she hesitantly closed her thighs. He raised his eyes to her face, studying the expression he found there. What he did next surprised her.

Itachi thoughtfully scooped up handfuls of cake from where it was squished around her and dragged his hands over her skin.

"Aaaahhnnn…" She arched, her palms pressed against the table at her sides. The icing was gritty against her flesh, and this subtle abrasion stimulated her unbearably. The contrast of her heightened temperature and the cool icing made her shudder, which was noted, she saw.

He looked her in the eyes as he gathered more of the yellow and white icing and smeared it across her lips with one callused finger. Back and forth. Slowly. His finger circled her lips once before dipping inside her mouth, where she sucked greedily. She saw his face tighten in pleasure and felt an answering pulse directly in her clit. She bit his fingers softly, and released them only reluctantly, after he'd tugged them free with a lingering suck from her.

More icing. He painted her with it, covered her breasts and shoulders and inner elbows with the stuff. He wiped it all across her face, before grabbing her in both of his mucky hands and holding her head still. He leaned in.

The tiny sucks and nips to her cheeks and chin as he began cleaning her face had her panting. His own face became dirty with icing. Sometimes he paused long enough for her to flick his skin with her tongue, to taste him in turn, and these privileges made her clutch at him insistently. Her mewls were ignored, though. He took his time, moving to her shoulders. Her inner arms were given such attention that she was forced to bite her lip. Kakashi had always focused on specific places, not these sexless parts of her body. She found that they were at times more responsive than her more obvious erogenous zones were, and let him continue without complaint.

Her breasts again. The nipples were left alone. It gave her an entirely new feeling to have the globes themselves lavished with tongue and lips, and sucked clean. Her limbs were loose, every nerve in her awakened to a point of terrible intensity; she only had strength to lay quiescent for him. Only when he had thoroughly satisfied himself with what she had to offer above the waist did he kneel and put her feet on his shoulders.

She had time to wonder briefly what it would feel like, before she felt his rough thumbs spread her lips wide. This embarrassed her, especially at feeling the way cake and icing still clung to her there. Her arousal mixed with this mess to leave her suddenly blushing and trying to close her legs, positive that the sight of such an unholy mixture must be grossing him out.

He held her legs open with his forearms. They dug painfully into the tender flesh of her inner thighs. Closing her legs was impossible. Her lip got snagged between her teeth at seeing his scrutiny. One hand came up to nervously pull at the ends of her hair.

She felt the point of his tongue give one long, drawn out lick to the very center of her, and all her resistance was gone.

Her mouth opened and froze that way; the tongue was bad enough, but withstood. The way his mouth covered her and proceeded to suck her sanity away was what had one of her fists now around a handful of his hair and the other hand gripping the edge of the table hard enough to break a chunk of it off in her grip. Her entire body went through undulations that were timed to the motions of his mouth; helpless not to move upward whenever he drew on her flesh.

Never. She'd never been known this intimately, never been touched like this. Not like this. She'd had no one to compare with, but she felt it safe to say that Kakashi had been an animal in bed. Very… uninhibited. Wild. He'd liked her screams, liked her grunts, and liked to throw her this way and that in various positions. And it had been nothing but sex. His mask had effectively kept a barrier between them so that, although she'd been sharing the most personal experience of her life with him, it had been hollow. She was able to realize now that Kakashi had been enthusiastic, yes, and superbly skilled, but impersonal. There was a wealth of difference between his hands, when they'd touched her here, and Itachi's mouth. If Kakashi had been wild, then Itachi was more intent. More absorbed in the act, in her.

Aside from the physical sensations quickly sweeping through her, this level of intimacy finished what had been started with the kiss. Her heart opened and latched onto the source of her awakening with strong tendrils without her even realizing it.

He was meticulous about it. She was aware of this somewhere in the maelstrom of her thudding heart and wildly escalating desire. He gave tight suction to her nether lips for long minutes, before latching onto the sensitive, erect bud of flesh sitting atop them. She felt the thick glide of his middle and index fingers inside her, felt them move in counterpoint to his suction. The cool apartment was silent save for the wet sounds of his mouth, and the tortured way her breath hitched sporadically. She endured this until her head pounded and throbbed with her racing heartbeat, and then she burst apart and came in a jarring spasm that gripped his fingers in a concrete vise. It had her pushing against his shoulders with her feet to break the unbearable suction of his mouth. He fought her, holding on a few more seconds, until she finally screamed and pushed in earnest. She covered her streaming eyes with the heels of her hands, overcome.

Something in her had broken. Something that was the essence of her no-nonsense approach to life, the thing that labeled her as level-headed by everyone who knew her. It was broken and gone, snuffed out by the first person to reach past her logical common sense and touch the core of her personality. A core that was new to love, and thus had no immunities or protective walls in place against it. She cried at being breached, aware of the breach, and yet oblivious to her newly awakened feelings.

Her body was wracked with waves and shudders for several tortured moments while this small crisis had her, until she felt him lay a hand on her forearm. She was gasping.

"Should I stop?" he asked. He gently pulled one of her hands down, looking at her tear-streaked face with what for him was probably concern. His expression looked no different than usual.

She shook her head, still gasping. Even now her pelvis did tiny jerking motions, as her orgasm was loath to subside completely. Her nipples tingled frightfully, and the ache between her legs was fierce. "No. Don't… don't stop." Her crisis was now buried where conscious thought couldn't get at it. She was present once more.

His eyes gauged her face. Seeing her arousal, he decided that the tears weren't of disgust or regret, and cupped his fingers inside her again. He held her gaze as he did so, watching the way her face twitched and clenched as he probed carefully.

Wickedly, dastardly, knowledgeable hands. No, not knowledgeable. The very questing quality of his ministrations ensured that a thorough examination was made, an examination that bypassed the one sure place inside her to elicit pleasure, so that other nooks and pockets of delight were discovered… just as he'd done with the rest of her body. Her thighs and flanks tensed and contracted at the little bursts of pleasure his fingers caused, until…

"There," she wheezed.

He paused only fractionally at this, then rubbed firmly with the fingers inside her. He drove her, whipped her to a state of panting emergency, only to still his hand completely and leave her sweating on the very edge of release. Only when her trembling subsided did he start again. Slowly, building his strokes until the wet squishing sounds were nearly as exciting as the hand itself. His eyes prevented her from looking away, from denying what he was doing to her and what she was willingly asking for by keeping her legs spread wide. Again, he brought her to the brink, and again he left her wanting. She choked on her own breath, unwilling to voice her sizzling need while he remained silent, yet unable to be completely quiet either. She was slowly coming apart at the seams. Her hand closed around the one arm he had braced on the table near her ribcage and squeezed. She continued to squeeze, her chakra escaping her control and hurting him until he finally, finally let her come. Such was the force of her release that the table clattered on its legs. She stared up at his face the entire time, at the way his hair fell around his head.

Her brief foray into sex had been a year ago. She was understandably tight after so long, especially after coming more than once. He had to push and retreat several times to penetrate her constricted walls. Her wetness helped, allowed him to enter her. It stung, but once he was inside, the heat of him nearly had her coming again.

Uchiha Itachi is making love to me, she thought in dumb wonder. The name, a legend, somehow did not fit with the man covering her body with his. It didn't match the way he put her arms around his neck again, or the way he pushed her knees up until they were flat along her sides. It was a position that left her feeling spread and vulnerable, and gave her no leverage whatsoever. Only the way he pounded her hard, with a species of steady, unbroken, and unswerving concentration, fit with his name. Powerful man. Powerful lover.

There was no holding back on his part now. Her orgasms were fierce, uncontrollable monsters that ripped through her with a regularity that left her tearful with wild lust again. Maybe the tears weren't entirely from lust; there was nothing whatsoever impersonal about what was happening, not with the way his lips rested against her skin from time to time. She left red grooves on his back with her nails that did nothing to slow him down or gentle his thrusts. He was clearly hungry, and meant to be satisfied.

He pulled out once to turn her so that she was face down in the ruined cake. Her cheek pressed to a smashed strawberry on the table as he entered her from behind. This new position had her on her toes, the depth was so shattering. It took her longer to come, but the orgasms lasted nearly a full minute, sometimes longer, and she wailed openly as he kept thrusting throughout each one.

Periodically, some thinking part of her would surface and try to make sense of what was happening. This was invariably overwhelmed by all that she was feeling emotionally and physically. She finally just stopped trying to understand. She gave up, gave in, and just allowed him his way with her.

He emptied himself on the floor, pulling out at the last second. He rested his forehead between her shoulder blades for all of a few minutes. Then he entered her again.

Bright, noisy day. Kids running and laughing. Adults talking, shopping, socializing. Laughter everywhere. Life still made sense to people, if not to her anymore. The sky was an endless canopy of blue. Familiar. Sakura stumbled slowly between pedestrians with her head back, staring up and up into the bottomless, comforting blue. The sky reaffirmed that she was a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things, and so her problems must likewise be insignificant and not the earth-shattering catastrophe she'd been beginning to suspect they were.

Someone bumped into her. She was spun halfway around and nearly knocked her on her ass. Forced to look where she was going, she caught sight of herself in a passing store window.

Her hair was standing up in sections, stiffened with icing. One cheek had the remains of the strawberry stuck to it. There was cake and icing coating her ears and neck. She looked like a refugee from a battlefield.

She turned and continued making her way home.

Her legs were weak. Shaky. The mild friction caused by her thighs as she walked set off little miniature shockwaves, infinitesimal orgasms that threatened to buckle her knees at every other step. She held the halves of her sleeveless tunic together with strengthless hands. She avoided meeting anyone's eyes.


It wasn't until she entered her apartment and smelled burnt sugar that she even remembered she'd left her friends there. The clock mounted on the hallway wall chimed as she shuffled past it to the kitchen. She'd been in Itachi's apartment for four hours. And she'd left her bag there, she realized dully. Come to think of it, she couldn't actually remember leaving the apartment at all.

Sasuke and Naruto stood by the fridge, side by side. They had cautiously hopeful expressions. They seemed tense. What? Oh, right. They were supposed to make Scotcheroos. And there they were, on the table. God, she couldn't even look at Sasuke. She felt like she'd betrayed him somehow.

"Thanks," she offered. Her lips were numb.

That seemed to be good enough for them. They scampered away, and she was left alone. She sat down right there on the floor, her legs at last giving out.

A piece of cake fell from her ear to her shoulder.

The party that evening was surreal. She spoke to people, answered them, laughed and ate and danced, but inside she was still sitting on her kitchen floor. She could still feel his hands and mouth, and now the breach in her had been located and acknowledged. She was different.

"Where's the cake?" someone asked. The party had been in full swing for some time now.

"I brought it," Sasuke was heard saying. "It's over there. Itachi said Sakura had stopped by to give him his check up and he accidentally knocked it over. He gave me money for a new one. Sakura, you left your bag at my place. I brought it with me."

"Is your brother coming to the party?" the previous voice asked.

She'd ignored Sasuke's comment about her bag, keeping her back to him and whoever he was speaking to, but now she paused in the act of sipping her punch. She listened hard.

Sasuke laughed. "Yeah, he said he needed a nap first. He was conked out sleeping when I left him, like something dead. Wonder what he was up to today? He should be here soon, though. Naruto do you have that new CD…" Sasuke's voice trailed away.

She located TenTen, wished her a happy birthday, professed to be ill, and got the hell out of there.

She avoided her teammates and Itachi for the next week. She and the boys didn't necessarily see each other every day since making Chuunin, so she doubted they were aware of her absence. Itachi, however, sought her out at the hospital three days after the incident at his place. She pretended not to notice him standing at the nurse's station, where she was going over charts.

"You said you don't do random things," he greeted her bowed head.

"I don't." Please let him go away!

"That would imply you were comfortable with what happened."

"I-" What? She couldn't say that she was, when she was finding it impossible to meet his eyes, but she lacked the courage to admit anything else.

"You're avoiding me. Which tells me you regret what we did. You left without a word that day. Did I hurt you?"

By now a few medics were following the conversation. They were gathering at the nurse's station, pretending to go over their own charts; some of the charts they held to their eyes were upside down. "Can we not do this here?" she begged. She peeked at his face.

His expression brought flashbacks of how he'd stared at her during their encounter. One particular memory surfaced, staining her cheeks bright red: the knobby head of his shaft, and the way its particular friction had brought her to howling release several times. There had been no place on her body that his hands and mouth hadn't investigated thoroughly. He probably knew her body better than she herself did now. What the hell is wrong with me, thinking these things?

Looking at him now, she got the distinct impression he was disappointed. She looked at him more closely, trying to see past his practiced neutrality. Before she could do more than pick up on a vague sense of his confusion, he stepped back from the counter. "I misjudged you," he said. He turned without another word and left.


She went home, closed herself in her room, and stood with her back against her door. She stared at her bed. Gone was the white comforter with stars and rainbows that she'd had since her days at the academy. It had been replaced recently with a more mature rose-themed quilt.

After leaving the party that night, she'd come home and thrown herself on her bed in the fetal position. She'd bounced back up at encountering a stiff patch on the spread that scratched her cheek. A cursory inspection revealed a substance she was familiar with (especially given her earlier activities) in dismaying abundance all over her comforter. There was even a large splotch on the underside of her lacy pillow, still slightly wet from having been denied contact with the air. It was pungent with its freshness, preserved for her discovery.

She'd been grateful. This violation of her bed afforded her the necessary distraction she'd needed just then.

Full of a towering rage that had very little to do with the two frightened young men who screamed for mercy, and everything to do with the older brother who looked on silently from Sasuke's doorway, she had vented her disordered feelings in a most satisfactory way: Sasuke's room had been left a complete wreck, and the door to the Uchiha apartment had been in pieces. Sasuke and Naruto had been left stuffed into a closet, shreds of the pillow she'd brought with her still floating in the air. She'd retained enough fury to sweep past Itachi regally, without looking at him once. She left him staring after her without a word.

Now, though, she remained against her door.

I'm being a melodramatic tight ass, she thought with sad self-disgust. What happened to me? I'm better than this. She'd never run from life or difficult situations. If she could face Akatsuki, face death on a regular basis on both the giving and receiving ends, then she could face the fact that she'd had an utterly feminine moment and lost her heart without consultation of her mind. She'd been impulsive. She'd consciously allowed him to touch her. Her previous assertion that she didn't do random things remained true, and with this confirmation of herself, she stopped being afraid.

It had just been so much more than she'd expected. And yet less. She'd expected to hear some form of declaration, since he'd initiated it. Feeling as she did, his lack of a response left her feeling caught out in the open and silly. Immature. She knew she was none of those things. Instead of being able to engage in an adult interlude with cool nonchalance, she'd gone and fallen for the first man to kiss her.

She took a moment to realize with further disparagement that she'd never once entertained thoughts about Itachi before he'd touched her. Sick now at the thought of how juvenile her encounter with him had shown her to be, she refused to cry. It seemed to her that if she'd never had feelings or thoughts about him before, then it was impossible that her feelings now could be real. This is what she stood there and told herself. She repeated it firmly in her mind. I'm not in love with Uchiha Itachi. I'm infatuated, that's all. I have a lot of growing up to do.

But her chest tightened with the knowledge that this wasn't true. She'd been infatuated with Kakashi-sensei for years, she knew what infatuation felt like. This was nothing like that. Her belly fluttered with the awareness that her feelings were genuine, precipitous, and thus likely to be highly destructive. I'm screwed, she thought miserably. And she was confused. Love or lust? What was she feeling? It was so hard to tell when her mind was saying one thing and her heart and body another.

She hugged her throbbing midsection and slid to the floor.

At the end of a week, she reasoned that she had her brief drama queen moment well in hand. Regardless to what she was feeling, she was not some flighty person who ran from conflict. She scouted the village until she found him sitting in a dango shop. He deserved an explanation. She marched to the chair opposite him, courage and tattered pride in hand, and sat down.

He kept his eyes on his tea and dango.

"I got scared," she stated without preamble. He did nothing but delicately bite a dango from its skewer and chew. The motion of his lips reminded her that he liked sweets… especially when eaten off of her. Heat seemed to bloom low down in her belly and climb upward. She had to swallow and clasp her hands on the table in front of her before she could go on. "I've never behaved like that. And those things you did-"

His eyes lifted to hers for a moment.

"-I'd never done them before. It just… scared me."

"You didn't behave as if you were frightened when I was with you," he pointed out. Another dango slid into his mouth. He licked the tip of his skewer to catch a drop of sweet syrup.

No, she hadn't. She'd been out of her mind with ecstasy. "After," she clarified. "I felt..." Confused. She kept that to herself.

"Why did you allow it then?"

Because I thought you'd tell me you liked me. I thought you had feelings for me. Which did nothing but make her feel desperate and pathetic."I think you're attractive." That was half of the truth, at least. An acceptable excuse. Believable, given her youth. It grated to portray herself as shallow, but it was better than showing herself to be childish and incapable of a simple encounter of sex between two consenting adults.

The look he gave her at hearing her reasons hinted at disappointment again. She considered asking him about it, but he broke the eye contact and sipped his tea. "And now?" he asked once he'd set his cup on the table. "Are you over your fear?"

She looked at him for a long time, deciding then and there to just cut the crap. It wasn't who she was. She generally left the mind games to Ino. She had feelings for him, so what? Was she so weak that she couldn't admit them?

He finally looked at her again as he was lifting his tea once more. He held her stare over the rim of his tiny cup.

"Are there any feelings involved here?" she asked. She suddenly wanted to know if he felt anything before she went and stated her own feelings. Her hands tightened around each other on the table. Her stomach muscles clenched in self-defense. Just a yes or a no. Yes or no, and then I'll know what to say, or if I should say anything at all…

"Are there?" he challenged. Such direct dark eyes.

So it was a no, then.

After a moment she nodded, biting her lip. Trying not to feel crushed, she got up and left. She listened hard for footsteps following her, opened her senses to the feel of his chakra, but she arrived at her apartment door without interference. Instead of unlocking it and going inside, she turned and walked until the moon was high in the sky, and her tears were completely spent.

Forget him.

Days went by.

Her body performed the most heinous act of betrayal and counted them by twisting tighter with longing the more time went by. She would stutter through her days with her mind caught between images of dropping a tree on him, and devising strategies to somehow move into his apartment without his knowledge, preferably right into his room. The vivid memory of the things he'd done to her punctuated each stupid, pointless task she performed at work. She remained in such a state of arousal that the mere act of crossing her legs, or sitting down, or urinating was enough to have her coming halfway. Her panties were perpetually moist. At night she would put both hands between her legs, clamp down with her thighs, and indulge in the recollection of his mouth tugging on the flesh beneath her hands. She always climaxed with her head turned into her pillow, muffling her fraught shriek of his name. She would wait until she caught her breath, and then start again, kicking the hell out of her blankets and thrashing her head from side to side.

And still the tension did nothing but claw its way deeper into her body, day by agonizing day.

Looks like forgetting him is out of the question, she thought in dull resignation. Hello, teenage obsession. Welcome to the previously ordered thought-processes of my mind. Feel free to pick over what's left of my sanity. If I can get you anything that would make your stay more welcome- my heart and soul, for instance- you need only to ask. Whoever said eighteen was too old for suicidal fixations on older men knew absolutely nothing about love.

The code blue jolted her out of her musings. She saw Tsunade-sama and Shizune run past the nurse's station, where she was supposed to be getting their patient's file, and hurriedly ran after them.


She pulled the sheet over the face of the aged man. He'd fought a years-long battle with an illness he'd picked up in Water Country, where he'd been an undercover ANBU agent for decades. He'd been brought to the hospital last week, but Tsunade-sama had been unable to find a cure strong enough to combat the aggressive nature of his disease. He'd died in his sleep a few short moments ago, after his body systems had failed one by one.

The Fifth's golden brown eyes narrowed as she spent some time staring at the outline of his face beneath the sheet. Then she noticed Sakura and Shizune. "Prep him for autopsy, and have samples ready for intensive analysis."

Shizune wheeled the body away, while she was left to research similar illnesses in scrolls the Hokage dropped in her arms.


One floor up from the Quarantine, she rounded a corner in the empty hospital corridor and felt a hard hand come around her face to clamp over her mouth. Her scrolls either fell or were knocked from her arms before she was pressed against the wall face first. A moment, wherein she sensed him taking the time to scope for witnesses, and then she was bustled into an empty examining room. Her dress was yanked up, and her panties pulled aside. She was lifted and sat on Itachi's hard length before she could catch a breath, and it was a relief. The awful tension she'd lived with was sluiced away as the floodgates of her desire opened wide.

Just that one punch of his body into hers and she was tightening around him hard enough to make him grunt. He allowed her a single moment to wrap her legs around his waist more securely, and then he was moving her, careless of the fact that she was still coming. One climax after another rolled through her, beginning and ending in one long, ceaseless wave that had her seeing stars behind her lids.

She consciously surrendered to what she perceived to be irresponsibility on her part, and told herself that by doing so she was in fact being responsible. Why fight? The feelings were entrenched, wisely or not, regardless to her capacity to understand them. A large part of her still vacillated between the love/lust theory, but really, what could she do? She could suffer alone with the consequences of her ill-advised concession to his pursuit, or she could feed her obsession by indulging it.

A relief.

He didn't mind being seen in public with her, she found. She would have thought that all he wanted was sex, and so would stick to private assignations, but he surprised her. He sought her out at the hospital, or would be waiting for her outside the Hokage's office at midday to take her to lunch. He walked her home from work and training sometimes, or stayed in the library with her when she had to research late into the night. Oddly, the first week or so of these meetings were done in silence. He ate with her, walked with her, and sat with her all without speaking to her. If she weren't terrified of losing him, she'd have tried to say something. Anything. But not so much as 'Hi, how are you' was exchanged.

It wasn't uncomfortable. She sensed he was observing her. His presence didn't strike her as being needy either; it wasn't a case of him following her (or mutual obsession, she thought with regret). Sometimes he was with her, and sometimes not, that was all.

It helped that when he wasn't walking with her or eating with her, he was screwing her brains out. It happened in janitor closets at the hospital, in restrooms at the library, or up in trees, with them standing against the wide trunk.

Occasionally, she saw Sasuke and Naruto during this time. They came to her house one afternoon, and they all ended up playing video games, eager to take advantage of one of her rare days off. At one point, while the next level was loading on the screen, she'd looked left and right at where her former teammates sat on either side of her. It made her stomach hurt to think she was keeping something so important from them, especially when she looked at Sasuke. But then round four started and she pushed her guilt aside.


Gradually, Itachi opened up. It began with him asking what made her decide to study medicine one evening when he was walking her home. Her explanation had been long and involved. At the end, she realized they'd arrived at her apartment and had been standing outside her door while she talked for at least an hour. She asked him inside. Her mother and father had been flustered and pleased at the deep bow Itachi gave them, but left their daughter alone with twinkling eyes and approving nods. He'd stayed, and they'd talked of a few topics.

It had been awkward. The atmosphere of her apartment, with her parents obviously eavesdropping, put a damper on their budding comfort with each other, and he'd left.

She discovered a side of him that she cautiously labeled as playful. Once, when they'd been in a restaurant, he'd surprised her by asking her to sit next to him instead of opposite him on the other side of the table, as she usually did. She'd complied with a pretty blush of confusion. He was positioned so that his back was to the wall, with him facing the rest of the room. He draped his right arm behind her shoulders on their seat in an unprecedented public display of affection. His left hand dropped into her lap. The menu in her hands trembled the faintest bit. He wouldn't, she thought. A peek at his face showed him apparently focused on the menu in her hands, reading it with her. She realized that the fall of the tablecloth effectively covered her lap from prying eyes.

After a tense minute had gone by, she covered her mouth with the corner of her menu. "What are you doing?" she hissed.

His look was an attempt at innocence, she could tell. It was only slightly less stoic than his normal expression. "We're reading the menu to decide our order. Aren't we?" He delivered this with such seriousness, down to the tiny frown between his brows, that despite feeling one callused finger rasp along the cleft of her panties, she actually doubted he had a hand up her skirt.

His eyes seemed to dare her to contradict him. She picked up a faint air of amusement in his look and managed to crack a strained smile; that finger was burrowing its way inside her panties, between-

The waitress came by to ask if they were ready to order at that moment. She looked up to request a few more minutes, but Itachi switched the languid probing of his fingers to pinch the small, erect key to her release. He rolled it between thumb and forefinger, and she came with the waitress looking pleasantly at her red face, still waiting to hear her order. Her eyes glazed over, and all she could do was clench her teeth to keep in her deep moan. Her breathing stopped altogether. Every muscle in her body tightened to prevent her shudders from being visible. She lowered her eyes to her menu, then closed them at feeling Itachi's middle finger slide deeply inside her.

Itachi spoke as if she weren't right then coming in his hand. "We'll both start with the steamed chicken dumplings," he told the waitress.

He could never be called verbose, but he did speak at length on a number of things that interested him on occasion, and he asked pointed, specific questions of her often that required detailed answers. Still, Sakura noticed that their discussions were never personal. He never asked about her feelings, only her thoughts on things. And he never spoke of his own feelings. They continued to step around the topic, sharing everything but what mattered, until she was forced to accept that this was the extent of his ability to commit. It forced her to hide a lot of what she felt, among other things. As time wore on, she wished more and more that she knew the real Itachi.

There was one good thing that had come from their weeks of seeing each other. She was no longer conflicted about love and lust.


"You wished to see me, Tsunade-sama?"

Sakura watched her mentor exchange a meaningful glance with Shizune when she entered. A sense of foreboding settled on her shoulders. Shizune left, closing the door softly behind herself. Sakura kept her eyes on the blonde woman behind the curved desk, who was now watching her with a finger to her lips. Tsunade swiveling back and forth in her chair.

"Is there anything you want to tell me, Sakura?" The voice was neutral, noticeably so.

Sweat suddenly coated her brow, though the day was cool. "No, Shisou. Is- is something wrong?"

Tsunade continued to stare at her. "I was hoping you would tell me. I hope you know you can come to me with anything, even if you feel you can't go to anyone else?"

Sakura kept her composure with an effort. Fuck. "Of course, Shisou."

"So is there a problem?"

"No, Shisou." Her voice was firm.

Tsunade held her gaze without blinking for several long seconds. "Very well. I called you here for a mission. You are to choose two other team members and travel to Water Country. I believe we can discover the nature of that man's illness and perhaps an antidote. Be back in under a fortnight." She held the mission scroll up for Sakura to take.

Smoothing her hands down her pants, she walked forward and took it with a bow. "I'll leave immediately."

She didn't tell him she was going. Probably an unwise decision, but such an action felt in character with the rest of her recklessness of late. People who didn't share their feelings, if they had any, with the woman they had sex with didn't deserve to be informed when the same woman would be away on a mission. At any rate, the pang she felt was more for having to endure days without his touch, than for what he might think, she told herself. She ignored the private hope that he'd be angry and worried, and instead focused on packing.

Spare clothes, a compass, and a map of Water Country were stuffed into her satchel. A special leather case filled with medical tools went in, along with vials and tubes for any samples she might pick up. Done, she walked purposefully out her front door. She called farewells to whichever of her parents were home, too distracted to hear their replies; Tsunade-Sama's piercing gaze this afternoon seemed to float in front of her. Those perceptive eyes had done, and were continuing to do, an effective job of shocking her out of the sexual, stuporous, bubble of obsession she'd lived in for the past three months. She'd come home and sat for hours thinking before actually getting up to pack.


Sasuke and Naruto were waiting for her. They signed out at the village gate, and proceeded to walk the first leg of their journey. Hoping to make good time, and combat the cooler weather, they traveled hard that first day, and the next five days. They slowed when they were near the coast of Fire Country and the border to Water Country.

She was left alone at their campfire that night. Sasuke and Naruto didn't go far. She could pinpoint their location by their chakra, which seemed to grow erratic at a rate proportionate to the amount of rustling they did in the bushes. She poked the embers with a stick, her mind flitting between a wide variety of thoughts, yet unable to settle on any specific one for more than a few moments at a time.

Sasuke led the way back, emerging into the light surrounding their small camp with Naruto behind him. Their cheeks were flushed. Naruto was actually still grinning.

Quite without warning, she picked up one of the medium-sized rocks surrounding their fire and hurled it at them, followed by another.

"Ack!" Naruto yelled. He ducked, as did Sasuke, before whirling behind him to see what enemy had been at his back.

Sasuke knew the rocks had been meant for them and remained crouched as he stared at Sakura, who stood glaring at them and panting.

She burst into tears.

Naruto, recovered, cautiously came around the fire. "Sakura?"

"I hate you both," she said with a vicious swipe at her nose.

That was actually a relief to hear. Both boys had received this declaration from her innumerable times. It usually meant PMS or that she'd been saddled with extra work from the Hokage. In other words, the statement rarely had anything to do with them even if it was directed at them.

They watched her busily sitting back down and taking up her stick. They sat to either side of her, pressing against her to share body heat. They were less than a day from the ocean bordering the southeast corner of Fire Country. Tomorrow they would hire a boat to take them to one of the small islands surrounding Kirigakure. Right now, a stiff wind blew in off the coast and had their fire dancing wildly.

Naruto dragged his blanket free of his pack and passed one end to Sasuke. Together, they wrapped the large rectangle of wool around themselves so that their heat was trapped.

Sasuke put an arm around her waist. Sakura was suddenly nice and toasty. She relaxed slightly, and leaned her head on Naruto's shoulder. His body was giving off the most heat. She thought idly of how this was likely due to his Kyuubi-enhanced metabolism, while the three of them stared into the fire.

They didn't ask for an explanation. They just sat and waited for her to get to her issue in her own time, as they'd done a thousand other times through the years.

"I used to think I was smart," she whispered. "That I was practical and sensible. In fact, I know I still am, which makes the past three months even more hateful." Her tears were starting up again. She let them come, hanging on to Naruto's solid arm, while feeling Sasuke's tighten around her waist. They were listening hard, given the heads-up to an impending confession by her reference to three months of some mysterious act they'd known nothing about.

"I think I let him because he obviously wanted me. I thought he'd tell me he'd been carrying secret feelings for me or that he… that he'd loved me from afar. Stupid, childish fantasies about being swept off my feet by a strong shinobi. The kind every girl dreams about. The kind too strong to fall in battle and leave you a widow. And he was –is- all those things. The stuff of dreams and fantasies. And it was good. Better than good, it was amazing and incredible and hot. I thought, well if it's like that with him, then it must mean he loves me, right?

"I was stupid to think that. It was just like Kakashi all over again, with nothing but our bodies connecting. That's what I thought, anyway. I made it worse by running like a coward. Then I missed him. So much. And when he came back I just threw myself at him and told myself that I didn't care if he didn't care, I just wanted him to touch me like that again, to make me feel those things again."

She sniffed long and hard. Sasuke rubbed her arm, before resting his chin on her shoulder. "How does he make you feel?" he asked.

"Like I'm the only girl in the world."

Naruto stirred. "I love that song." He was rewarded with two pairs of eyes looking at him as if he'd grown a second head. He resumed staring into the fire in an effort to pretend he'd said nothing.

Sasuke shook his head at such thriving idiocy before dropping his eyes to Sakura's head. She was resting it on Naruto's shoulder again. He attempted to summarize the situation. "So… you have feelings for this guy, but suspect he's been using you for sex? If he makes you feel so good, then he obviously cares. What's the problem?"

"I'm in love with him," she admitted painfully.

"But?" Sasuke burrowed closer to her and Naruto both, as the wind picked up. He tugged the blanket over their heads.

"But I hardly know him." She turned her face into Naruto's arm completely to escape the biting wind. Their fire was nearly blown out. Heat baked off Naruto like an oven, and she sucked in the smell of him in a deep breath. "We talk about everything but ourselves, or else have wild jungle sex-"

Naruto giggled. She bit him through his sleeve. Hard. He nuzzled her cheek in apology, rubbing his whiskers against her face until she fought him off with a giggle of her own. She kissed his injured arm in forgiveness. Sasuke hissed at them to quit disturbing the blanket and letting the heat escape.

"I don't think he has any feelings for me whatsoever," she resumed when they'd settled down. "It's all about the sex for him."

"Okay, so you're screwing some creep," Sasuke said through clenched teeth. He was turning into an icicle. "You're right, that is stupid. The Sakura I know would never let herself be used by a guy, even if she did have feelings for him. But that's what you have us for. Naruto and I will step to him, if you want. Things could be worse, right?"

Sakura waited until Sasuke had finished his muttered string of curses at another gust of wind. He got cold so easily. "I don't need your Neanderthal chest-beating complex, or for you to handle my affairs. And it already is worse. I'm pregnant."

Sasuke and Naruto wasted precious cultivated body warmth by leaning sharply away from her to stare at her face. She took the blanket and wrapped it around herself exclusively. She gazed at the flickering fire as if she hadn't just shocked them beyond belief.

"Who is this fuckface?" Sasuke demanded.

She liked that the first thing out of his mouth wasn't an observation on her carelessness. She really should have told someone sooner, she realized. Her voice was a whisper, and the tears tried to come back; saying it out loud hurt. "Your brother. Itachi."

The fire finally went out. The wind fell away suddenly, as if it too was frozen in disbelief. Sakura imagined her friends standing in the pitch darkness with their eyes popping out of their sockets. It reminded her of cartoons, when some hapless character would find themselves in a dark room and all you could see was their eyes. Ludicrous, but it struck her as hilarious then, and she repressed an inappropriate urge to laugh, while simultaneously still trying not to cry. Really, there was nothing to laugh at. Hormonal female? Check. Cliché unplanned pregnancy? Check. She reigned in her thoughts, and her emotions, with an effort.

Naruto's voice broke the deafening silence. "HUH?"