The 'itty-bitty-plot-bunny-committee' is running amuck in my brain. However, I've learned not to question the motives of my muse and not let an opportunity pass by. So, you're probably wondering Sakura and Shisui? Eh...I'm still trying to reconcile the idea in my head with what I wrote here, but nonetheless, I had fun writing it, so I hope you have fun reading. This mother effer is looong, so sit back with a glass of lemonade and enjoy.

Speaking of lemonade, there are lemons present in this story (you liked that segue, didn't you?). This is rated M so please proceed with thus mentality.

BTW, if you do a selective search for Sakura and Shisui fanfics, there are none in the M category. At least not since I last checked. Maybe I'll start a trend?...or maybe not.

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Wouldn't mind owning Naruto though...he's such a cutie (:

Sakura finally completed the thirteen mile trek to training grounds thirty-seven. This was her favorite because it contained very wide open spaces of rolling hillsides and flat, even clearings along with sporadic, concentrated areas of densely populated trees. It was a place where she didn't have to hold back, no holds barred, and she could bludgeon the earth as many times as she wanted without repercussions to the land or complaints from other overly-sensitive ninja. It also bordered a river, so when she was dripping with sweat and dying of thirst she could take a plunge and rejuvenate herself. She also preferred this training area because of its distance from Konoha's main hub of activity. There were other places to train that were a lot closer and adequate enough, so not very many people ventured out this way often. Sakura didn't mind running to this specific spot because of the prospect of training by herself.

However, when she knew she was coming upon the first clearing into the designated area, and brushed aside the branches of a weeping willow only to discover there was someone else here, she was pissed. She had actually asked Naruto to see if he wanted to train with her today, and when he informed her he was already training with Sasuke she declined his invitation to join them. Training with them was really like not getting any training done at all because they didn't spar with her...they mostly sparred with just each other. She would have then asked Kakashi but she knew he was out of the village on a mission. She could have asked any number of other people, then thought, why not touch up on the basics today at her favorite training location? There was nothing like wreaking havoc with nothing but your fists to release some tension.

So, she stopped dead under the long, drooping branches that swept the ground, eyeing the unwanted 'visitor' with a hard glower, hoping it would chase them off. But no, this 'visitor' – because he was just visiting Sakura determined to herself – was lazily chucking kunai at a nearby oak. He wasn't even training! Or perhaps he had just finished? Either way...he was leaving very soon.

Sakura heaved her pack a little more securely onto her shoulders and began to trudge toward the other shinobi. From this distance Sakura didn't recognize him; she just saw he was very tall with tufts of dark brown hair that stood unkempt on his head. She halted in her tracks again when he turned his back and she saw the Uchiha fan displayed on the back of his ninja tunic. An Uchiha huh?

Sakura continued toward him and when she came right up to him her brow dipped in confusion and consternation at the fact that he hadn't sensed her signature. But before she spoke, realization suddenly hit. He was aware of her presence the entire time and just chose not to acknowledge her. She could see that in the way he finally turned to face her and saw the annoyed expression on his face.

Now she recognized him. He was pretty hard to miss because, besides Jiraiya-sama, he was one of the tallest shinobi in Konoha. And also one of the best. Uchiha Shisui certainly made a name for himself with his Body Flicker Technique and famous hypnotism jutsu from his sharingan. Also, Sakura had seen him around in various places. When she would visit Sasuke in the Uchiha compound he was there sometimes since he was Sasuke's cousin. Also, he was ANBU; a well-respected and formidable captain at that, and because of her being in Tsunade-shishou's close circle, she had encountered him from time to time. And also he just looked...mean. As he regarded her his large brown eyes were piercing and the straight set of his mouth told Sakura that he didn't appreciate being interrupted in his...whatever he was doing.

But Sakura didn't care. She wanted her space back.

"Uh, are you done here?" she asked not-too-politely, her eyes roaming over to the few kunai that was embedded into the tree. Normally she wouldn't be so brusque but she had been to this training area many times and had never seen him here. Sakura deemed this hers.

With a complete lack of propriety Uchiha Shisui allowed his eyes to very deliberately travel down Sakura's body and back up, and as if unimpressed, nonchalantly held up another kunai to throw. Sakura's fist clenched at her sides and her blood began to boil.

"Does it look like I'm done?" he asked her disinterestedly. He launched another kunai at the tree and it stuck to make a perfect circle.

Sakura, with a great deal of effort, forced her closed fists to open and she strained a heavy sigh, attempting to reign in her anger.

"Look, Shisui, right?" He gave her a sidelong glance at his name. "There are plenty of other places where you that. I like this spot because it's the best place for me to practice my skills and-"

"I was here first," he told her simply. Sakura's jaw dropped open. Was he kidding? "You can go and find another place to train," he finished.

Sakura crossed her arms over her chest angrily. "But you're not even training!"

He ignored her and threw another kunai into the center of the circle created.

"I'm not leaving! I'm going to start so you better not get in my way," she informed him scathingly.

Shisui turned to look at her, raising a brow. "Me get in your way?"

Stupid, insufferable Uchiha!

Sakura lifted her chin in defiance, shooting him a cavalier smirk before tromping off to the other end of the clearing and set her pack beneath a tree. She stood facing Shisui to see if he was watching her, which he wasn't, and she proceeded to go through a series of warm-up exercises. After finally stretching, she got up, cracked her knuckles, and with a huge grin jumped up and pounded her fist into the ground.

At the first sensation of feeling the earth rumble beneath his feet did Shisui look up, and when he saw the terrain explode and begin to swiftly break apart he actually had to jump away to avoid falling into a pit.

Ah, that's right. The pink hair told him he might have recognized the woman. Didn't Tsunade-sama have a student or an apprentice or something with pink hair? From a tree branch he looked down upon the uneven and blotted landscape and that confirmed it was Haruno Sakura. He had heard of her, may have seen her a few times, but didn't necessarily pay that much attention. However, her reputation of being dubbed 'little-Tsunade' helped Shisui to realize he did know of her.

Shisui gritted his teeth. Damnit, he was here first. He hopped down from the tree. "What the hell are you doing?" he called to Sakura. She put her hands on her hips.

"What the hell does it look like I'm doing? I'm training. If that bothers you then move. I told you not to get in my way."

She sure has some bravado Shisui thought as he activated his sharingan. One second he was standing on the opposite end of the clearing, and Sakura didn't even have a chance to take a breath before he was directly before her. She gasped at the amazing sight – the first time she ever got to witness the Body Flicker Technique – but took a tentative step back when he stood inches away, leaning over her.

"It's rude to disturb someone when all they want is to train alone."

Sakura cringed and tore her eyes away from the all-consuming gaze of the sharingan user. Even being around Kakashi and Sasuke all those years never got her used to how chilling a sharingan could appear. But she stood her ground, realizing he was just trying to intimidate her and met his eyes again.

"You could go somewhere else." She told him icily. He didn't answer, only continued to stand right in her face, and the fact that he hadn't moved a muscle made Sakura seethe. Channeling chakra to her fist, she pulled her arm back and attempted a right hook. He neatly dodged it, but at least he backed off.

The look on his face told Sakura he hadn't expected that and with a smirk, just a minute tilt of the corner of his mouth, it made Sakura pause. What the hell?

But she didn't even have time to recover from her curiosity before he went at her again. There was little Sakura could do against his level of speed, so it was too late for her to react when she felt his presence behind her. The thought of flipping away, driving her foot into his chin while she did it registered in her mind, but she wasn't fast enough to put it into action. Her arms were locked behind her with one hand and with his other hand he grabbed her hair. She 'tched' at getting caught. But what he probably didn't know was, besides any Uchiha or Tsunade, she was probably the only person who could break his hold. Supplying more chakra into her arms she tried to force herself free, but apparently he knew she would try it, for he pulled her hair roughly, jerking her head back.

"Bastard! Let go of me!"

"Apologize for disrupting me."

Sakura growled low, feeling loathing in the pit of her stomach. When she came to her spot this was the last thing she expected to happen. She didn't respond. When she felt him tug her head back further and put his mouth to her ear a harsh groan started deep in her chest and proceeded outward.

"Apologize," he whispered harshly. His voice was low and deep and Sakura felt his hot breath sweep over her ear. It caused her to shiver

"You idiot! You don't need to go through these theatrics just to get me to leave!"

"Oh, so you're leaving now?" he continued in his heavy baritone.

After a few tense seconds, Sakura sighed, defeated, and allowed her shoulders to sag. "Fine. I will leave." She responded curtly and waited for Shisui to relinquish his hold. After another long pause she finally felt his grip loosen. She immediately walked away from him and went to grab her pack. When she strapped it onto her shoulders she began to stomp back the way she came toward the village, but the fact that she came all the way out here made the return trip seem daunting, so she turned and went further into training ground thirty-seven, intent on going to the river instead. She just returned from a mission yesterday. Why doesn't she just use this day as a rest day? Or, maybe after Uchiha Shisui leaves she could resume her own training? He wasn't going to be there all day, was he?

She walked about a hundred meters and made a sharp right toward the area where she knew the river to be. It was a perfect, trademark Konoha day with clear blue skies and a warm, gentle breeze. What better way to spend her day off than lounging under the shade of a willow, reading? She made herself comfortable under a particular tree that was tall enough so the branches barely reached the ground and planted herself sitting up against the trunk. It was nestled just off the river, and for a few minutes Sakura sat and watched the gentle flow of the water glisten and shine under the sun's rays and heard its soothing bubbling with contentment, the bad encounter with the Uchiha already forgotten. She pulled her book from her pack, crossed her legs at the ankles, and got lost into the story.

When Sakura woke up, she was in mild dismay over realizing she didn't know she fell asleep. Geez, way to stay on your guard, Sakura her inner chastised. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and sat up, stretching her arms over her head, and then a splash of water caught her attention. Her eyes traveled to find the source of the noise, and not a hundred feet from her, in the water, was Uchiha Shisui. He was standing knee deep, and the sun shone and reflected on the light sheen of sweat displayed on his back. His bare back. Sakura swallowed hard and took only a brief moment to observe the perfectly chiseled contours, but then cast her eyes to the ground. He wasn't looking at her, but she didn't want to be caught staring.

She slowly got up, collected her things, stored them into the pack and walked out from under the willow. In Shisui's periphery he noticed the movement, but wasn't alarmed because he knew Sakura was there. He turned fully so he was facing her.

"I'm finished," he informed her. She paused in her step long enough to take in the front side of him, allowing her eyes to discreetly sweep over the finely developed pectoral muscles and the uniformly displayed indentations of his abdominals before looking away.

"Hm," was her only reply, not making eye contact with him. She turned right again onto a path that would lead her through a bank of trees and into a clearing that would take her back to the center of the village.

A week and half later Sakura decided to go to her training spot again. She was hesitant because she didn't want another run-in with Uchiha Shisui since the last one wasn't so great. She was beyond relieved to discover that she was alone when she crossed a line of trees onto the open field just like she did the last time.

Training went well and with a sufficiently smashed up piece of land, Sakura, her muscles limber, her body slick with sweat, and extremely gratified, went to the river to take a breather and rinse herself off. She removed everything except her black spandex shorts and her chest bindings, feeling no qualms about undressing to this extent because no one was around. She waded through the water until she was waist deep and dived under. The water was cool and when Sakura resurfaced she felt refreshed. She walked back up and out and after ringing her hair that fell mid-back, she sat on a patch of grass under the sun, laid back so she was resting on her elbows, closed her eyes and allowed the warm rays to finish drying her.

Shisui had coincidentally been in a different area of training ground thirty-seven, but not too far away to hear Sakura and her form of training that consisted of destroying the area around her. He watched her, curious as to what her methods were and when she was done he followed her to the river. She must have not sensed his presence because she gave no outward indication that she knew he was there. He watched her undress and couldn't believe it when a little thrill of excitement threaded through him to see how far she was going to unclothe herself. He briefly wondered why he followed her in the first place. Sure, she was cute and that attribute along with her petite frame completely dismantled any notion of her being a weak kunoichi when he saw her cause such massive amounts of destruction with just her fists, but who cared? Well, obviously you do Shisui thought to himself sardonically as he knelt behind a tree, watching her remove the medical skirt and go for the zipper of the top. His heartbeat quickened, but he was a little disappointed when it only revealed a series of wrappings that covered her chest and ended just below her naval. It left a revealed piece of ivory skin above her shorts and as she slowly dipped a foot into the water to test its temperature, he couldn't help but admire her figure. She was lithe, her muscles were toned, and as he raked his eyes up her legs and over her rear he noted with a good amount of appreciation that her hips were shapely, her ass the perfect size. Not too small and not huge. She turned so he could view her profile and he observed with casual enjoyment that her chest wasn't the largest he'd seen, but if the bindings were removed they were probably perky and worth a handful...

Shisui resisted the urge to face palm himself. What the hell was he doing? He was an Uchiha clan member, respected shinobi, feared ANBU captain, and responsible, productive member of Konoha's society...not voyeur. But he waited with bated breath to see if she was going to take off any more layers and was sorely disappointed when she didn't. He watched her go under and then come back up and start to make her way out. Apparently she was only going for a short dip. After she laid herself on the ground did Shisui finally proceed forward. With steps so light and quiet, as if his feet weren't touching the ground at all, he walked right up to Sakura. He blocked the sun from her and when Sakura sensed the shade over her, her eyes snapped open.

"Ah!" she cried, startled. "What the hell are you doing?" she demanded, covering herself with her arms.

Shisui chuckled lightly before sitting down next to her. Sakura turned her body slightly away from him, her eyes frantically searching for her clothes which, unfortunately, were too far away for her to grab while she was sitting. She turned back to Shisui to see he wasn't even looking at her but out over the water. Sakura stared at him for a few long seconds before speaking again. He hadn't answered her question.

"Um, is there something you need?" She brought her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them.

He didn't answer right away, just continued looking at the river for a few more moments before turning to her.

"I wanted to apologize for what happened last time."

Sakura immediately narrowed her eyes at him in skepticism. "Why?"

"It wasn't very pleasant, and I think we got off on a bad foot."

Sakura's brows raised. She honestly didn't think she would ever see Shisui again. This was a very big village and even though they were shinobi, they were of different calibers that ran in different circles.

"Um..." was all she could think of to say. Those dark, penetrating eyes forced her to look back into them with equal intensity. They studied each other for a few long moments, then Sakura looked away, feeling a twinge of heat spread over her cheeks. "It's fine."

There was an awkward silence between them and Sakura shifted uncomfortably, looking back toward her clothes. Then she shot a sideways glance at Shisui and saw he was wearing dark gray ninja slacks, a standard part of the Konoha shinobi uniform, and a black sleeveless ninja tunic. It appeared he wasn't wearing a mesh shirt beneath and Sakura saw the beginnings of impeccably shaped pectoral muscles. He was sitting with his knees raised, his forearms resting on them, and Sakura's eyes touched upon his biceps. Compared to Sasuke, and his brother for that matter, Shisui was more burly, his muscles a little balkier. He looked incredibly strong besides Sakura already being aware of the inhuman strength of the Uchiha.

She looked up at his outline since now he was looking back out over the water, and really took in his features. He had a long face with a small nose and thin lips. His hair was still as disarrayed as before, but with his hitai-ate in place it was slightly more tempered. He really wasn't all that bad-looking. His eyes were his most distinguishable feature, Sakura noted. They were large with long eye-lashes and slightly slanted, but that quality made the shape of them attractive...and at that errant thought Sakura stopped observing him.

"You said you preferred this spot to train." Shisui said conversationally, breaking into the uncomfortable silence.


"I prefer to train here, too, because usually there's no one else present." He shot her a pointed look, but the quirk of his mouth indicated to Sakura he was teasing.

Sakura smirked. "Perhaps we'll have to set up a schedule so we'll stay out of each other's hair, then." There wasn't a schedule list for training grounds. It was first come first serve.

"Perhaps," he agreed amiably.

It was quiet again for a long moment.

"You're Sasuke's cousin, right?" Sakura, of course, knew that already, but for the sake of keeping a conversation going with something they had in common, she asked anyway.

"Yes. And you're his teammate. I thought I recognized you from somewhere."

"The pink hair wasn't enough?" she asked coquettishly.

Shisui smirked. "I guess I should have noticed, but I'm gone on ANBU missions a lot."

Sakura guessed that was why she hardly ever saw him.

"Sasuke talks a little about you. I can tell he really respects you, looks up to you."

"That kid better, I taught him all he knows," Shisui joked. Sakura laughed, and it startled her. The last time she saw this guy she wanted to pummel him into the ground, but now she was having a pleasant conversation with him. Weird.

"And you're Uzumaki's teammate, too."

Sakura nodded. Naruto's fame these days was nothing short of omni-present. After the Pein invasion he finally received the acknowledgement from the villagers that he had been working so hard towards.

They chatted a little more about her duties as a medic (because ANBU didn't oftentimes see medics) and his as a captain of the elite black ops. During their discussions it wasn't lost on Sakura that it seemed like he came to find her, but she never voiced that thought. They stopped talking when they heard voices just beyond the bank of trees. Sakura hastily got up and put her clothes back on. She wasn't completely dry, but whatever. "Here she is," she heard Kiba say. Just as she was pulling on her last boot Naruto, Sasuke and Kiba disembarked from the trees.

"Sakura-chan! We've been looking everywhere for you!" Naruto proclaimed. "Tsunade-bachaan has a mission for us!"

"Oh, okay."

She shot a quick glance at Sasuke and saw him frowning at Shisui. "Sasuke," his older cousin greeted him with a nod while standing up.

"What're you guys doing?" Sasuke looked between the two, and the vague tone of suspicion almost made Sakura cringe. What did he think they were doing?

"I was training and then I went to the river to clean up and ran into Shisui here," Sakura said, gesturing a hand towards him. Her boys tended to be a little over-protective of her, but Sasuke narrowing his eyes slightly was a little too much.

"Sakura took out my training grounds so I went to find her and tell her to stop." Shisui said easily and Sakura chuckled lightly. Kiba and Naruto exchanged a not-too-surreptitious glance.

"It was nice seeing you again," Sakura told Shisui as she put on her pack and started to walk towards the boys.

"Good luck on your mission," he replied.

When the quartet made it out of the trees and into the clearing, Sasuke turned to Sakura and said, "again?"

"Again what?"

"You said it was nice seeing him again."

Sakura rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I saw him like a week and half ago. He was training here and then I ran into him again today."

"Hn," was Sasuke's only reply and Sakura had to abstain from elbowing him. She knew what the "hn" could be interpreted as. It meant that he was contemplating on it further and was going to do some investigative research. But Sakura didn't carry it on anymore. She wasn't likely to see Uchiha Shisui again.

It was around three weeks and four missions later that Sakura did run into Shisui again, and again, it was at the training grounds. Or more like the river at the training grounds. Unlike the last time when he caught her, Shisui was there first, having just evidently finished training. And again, he was shirtless and sporting wonderfully defined muscles.

"Oh, hey," Sakura said shyly, pausing only slightly when she came upon him in his state, but then went to wash off herself.

"Hey, it's been a while."

"Yeah, how have you been?" she asked while she started to take off her boots. Today she was wearing a cheongsam and had to pull it over her head. It left her in only her spandex shorts and bindings...again. She joined him in the water and they talked over their occurrences of the last few weeks.

When both were sitting back on the bank, Shisui asked Sakura, "do you make it here every few weeks?"

"Yeah, something like that. But not consistently, you know, with missions and my shifts at the hospital and everything."

Shisui looked at her and his normally acute gaze was friendly and warm. "How about you meet me here two weeks from today for training?"

Sakura's eyes widened with excitement. A personal, specialized training session with a black ops member? She had to resist the urge to do a fist-pump into the air.

"Sure," she answered, smiling widely.

So a few weeks later, Sakura was delighted to see she wasn't on the mission roster and was elated to discover Shisui wasn't either. He was already at their meeting place, waiting for her.

A few months passed in this way, every few weeks or so the pair getting together. Sakura never questioned why he offered and he never gave an explanation. Certainly, when he wasn't out on a top secret assignment he had better things to do than train with a medic, but he was choosing to be with her. Over the weeks she learned he was 8 years older than her and unmarried, but whether he was in a relationship was never discussed.

He said he would train with her, but it was more like he training her, and Sakura expected that. He drilled her hard and pointed her in directions where she wasn't comfortable going, like taijutsu. She was proficient enough to get through a fight with an enemy, but against an ANBU and an Uchiha, she knew she could improve. So one day they were sparring right on the bank of the river, jumping on the water, off into trees, and back onto land. Sakura appreciated how he didn't go completely all out on her because she knew she didn't really have a winning chance against him, but he pushed her. Literally, too.

They were on the water and Sakura managed to take a hold of his arm and was going to throw him over her head when he shoved her from behind. Sakura threw her arms out and caught herself, springing herself up from her hands into a standing position. The compensation to prevent herself from going headfirst into the water left an opening for Shisui. When Sakura stood upright he was behind her, her wrists held together by one hand. His other arm went around her waist and he brought her right up against him so she wouldn't try anything with her legs.

Sakura laughed light-heartedly. "Ugh! You're just so fast!"

He could hear how breathless she sounded from her exertion.

"Need a break?"

She nodded and he let go. They both went to land and Sakura got two water bottles out of her pack, tossing one to Shisui. She sat down next to him and when she lifted the bottle to her lips her shoulder suddenly ached something fierce.

"Ooww..." Sakura murmured. She rotated her arm a few times to get a better feel of the location of the pain. "You really got me there when you pushed me," she told him, smiling.

Shisui glanced at her and then at her shoulder. He smirked, his eyes conveying contrition. "Sorry."

Sakura smiled again in return and was about to start healing herself when Shisui suddenly scooted behind her. Sakura glanced back curiously then went completely still when his hands went to her shoulders. He started to lightly massage. "Tell me where it hurts the most."

For a few long seconds Sakura didn't answer, having lost her voice. He knew she could heal herself, but he was doing this anyway. But when the silence lapsed on for too long that it went into awkward territory, she cleared her throat. "...a-a little to the right." When his hand moved slightly Sakura immediately felt relief. Her head lolled to the side. "Yeah, right there," she said, sounding like she was in daze. His strong hands were incredibly dexterous and felt so good. Sakura couldn't help but emit a small moan of contentment.

It was a particularly hot day so both were down to shorts and Shisui was shirtless with Sakura just in chest bindings. The thin straps covered just what was necessary and left her shoulders exposed. Being this close up and not constantly moving gave Shisui a good chance to thoroughly observe Sakura's skin. She was pale, with a rose undertone and the smooth expanse was flawless. Shisui continued to kneed expertly all the while making eye contact with the soft looking, creamy colored pillar that was Sakura's neck. When he hit another spot that needed tending to Sakura fell back slightly, going even more plaint under Shisui's hands.

"Ooooh..." Sakura moaned again. "Don't stop."

Shisui sat up a little straighter and his pulse raced a little faster. Did she even realize how she sounded...?

"That's feels really good..." she drawled out slowly.

Shisui shifted on the ground uncomfortably, the early stirrings of arousal making itself apparent in a certain part of his anatomy.

"Harder," Sakura softly commanded and Shisui had to close his eyes and let out a slow exhale, hoping it would help regulate his rapidly increasing heartbeat.

"You're really good at this. Maybe I should get hurt more often," Sakura voiced mischievously, coyly.

Shisui's hands paused then, and Sakura was about to start pleading with him to not stop, but instead of his hands massaging, they were softly smoothing up her shoulder blades and over her shoulders. Sakura froze and stopped breathing. When his hands proceeded slowly down her arms she felt like the sounds of the world had fallen away and all she could hear was the pounding of heart. Her hands that were on the ground gripped the grass tighter. The purpose of his touch had changed from simply helping to lessen her pain to more of a caress, the contact more affectionate.

Shisui opened his eyes again and noticed Sakura's completely still figure. She didn't seem to want him to stop, but that didn't necessarily mean she was encouraging it further. But he wanted to take the risk. The supple skin he had been examining a few minutes ago was suddenly very enticing, and slowly he leaned forward, brushing the hair away from her neck, and softly pressed his lips to a spot just under her hairline. Sakura gasped and it was a second that seemed to last for an eternity where she was uncertain of how to respond to Shisui's attention, but when she felt another gentle kiss and the skin from her neck all the way to her toes tingled with pleasantness she didn't want him to stop.

When Shisui saw Sakura lean her head forward and to the side invitingly Shisui didn't hesitate to move in more, decisively leaning all the way forward until his chest met her back and kissed her more urgently. Sakura moaned again and one of his hands moved to the front of her, grazing over her neck and up towards her face. He felt her lay her cheek into his palm eagerly and then cover it with her own.

Most thought processes had ceased for Shisui at this point and he was simply being driven by raw attraction. His lips moved from the back of Sakura's neck toward the front and the rest of his body followed until he was kneeling before her. Sakura was leaning back with her eyes closed and when she sensed Shisui in front her she opened them. Shisui stared relentlessly into gorgeous viridian orbs, darkened from lust. His thumb moved down along her cheek until it reached her mouth and then it rubbed lightly over the tender, pink lips. Sakura opened her mouth a little as she looked up into Shisui's penetrating stare. She read hunger, longing and lust for her in them. When Shisui felt the tip of Sakura's tongue, moist and warm, meet his skin he just about went crazy. His eyes widened for half a second, his mind reckoning the significance of her action, before he grabbed her face with both of his hands and crushed his lips onto hers.

Sakura let out a small sound of surprise and amazement but earnestly wrapped her arms around Shisui's neck and pulled him closer. She couldn't believe this was happening! Her mind felt like it was going into overdrive but simultaneously being cleared of all thoughts. Their lips met fervently over and over, both of them making loud and wet kissing sounds. Sakura felt Shisui's tongue at the seam of her lips and her tongue met his. She moaned again at this new, heightened sensation. As the pair of wet muscles slid against each other vigorously it caused sharp, hot stabs of pleasure to radiate straight to Sakura's core. She grabbed chunks of Shisui's hair and pulled feverishly. Sakura's unbridled response to what was happening between them at this moment energized Shisui's desire to wanting to feel her closer, to feel more of her...all of her. He carefully started to lay her down on the ground and with a knee gently spread her legs apart. When he rested atop her lightly, mindful to keep most of his weight off of her but yet wanting to feel the contact, he detached his mouth from hers and moved downward. Sakura moved wantonly beneath him, writhing and tilting her hips upwards to meet his erection. She let out little breathless gasps at Shisui's ministrations and when his lips reached the top of her bindings did her mind finally come back to her.

"Wait, wait..." Sakura said abruptly, lifting her torso a little. Shisui looked up and his eyes met Sakura's. He was fearful that he would see uncertainly or unease in them, but they only appeared more lust filled. "We shouldn't do this here..."

He wondered whose place was closer, but seeing as how he didn't know where Sakura lived it was obviously his. He jumped up and pulled her along with him. He dragged her to where their packs lay and took hold of them, then picked Sakura up bridal style. His chest swelled with masculine pride when he heard her giggle. Time and space were altered for a fraction of second when Shisui moved and they suddenly found themselves in front of a door. It was Shisui's bedroom door. He had teleported them into his house. Sakura gasped when she finally got her bearings straight. Shisui dropped their packs to the floor and immediately pushed Sakura against the wood, leaning into her. She threw her arms around him and they continued where they left off, kissing and touching each other with fiery abandon.

Shisui managed to open his door and they both stumbled inside, their kiss never breaking. He led Sakura to his bed and they stopped long enough for him to gently lay her down upon his black coverlet. He followed her, crawling until he was propped up on all fours over her, and her hands smoothed through his hair and down his face. He leaned in for more heated kissing and laid all of his weight on her. Sakura hastily brought her knees up and pushed her pelvis into his, detaching her lips from his, throwing her head back and emitting a heady moan when his arousal hit her directly in her center. She was so highly charged with her own arousal the slightest of contact already had her aching with desperate need.

When Sakura's lips left his he immediately assaulted on her neck. She had no taste since it was removed from the river but she smelled fresh, clean, pure. He moved lower until he reached that barrier once again and lifted himself up onto his knees. Both of his hands took hold of the strips of cloth and in one easy motion he had ripped them away. The look on Sakura's face was so beautiful. She was so beautiful. Shisui wanted to tell her so. Even before he further explored her he leaned down and gave her a searing kiss before whispering in her ear, "you're so beautiful, Sakura."

Sakura actually felt the pricks of tears in her eyes and in response she pulled Shisui down for another deep and passionate kiss. She brought one of his hands to her breast and he immediately squeezed. They were small, but perky and soft and fit nicely into his palm. His lips journeyed down her neck, over her chest and as one hand massaged and played with her nipple, his mouth descended onto the other nipple, his tongue swirling and his lips sucking. Sakura grabbed his covers and her back arched as she cried out in ecstasy. Her skin tingled with buzzes of pleasure, her sex was hot and throbbed with want, and her core tightened with anticipation.

Amid his sensual attention Sakura had a thrilling, fleeting thought of 'this was really happening!' They were really doing this.

After thoroughly concentrating on her other breast with his mouth, Shisui worked lower, his tongue drawing random patterns on the skin over her ribs, her stomach and her abdomen. When he reached the fabric of her shorts he didn't hesitate to pull them down. Sakura eagerly lifted her hips to assist him. He pulled her panties down with them and now she laid exquisitely naked before him. Over the past few months he vaguely had wondered what she would look like without clothes, as any man would wonder when working in such close proximity to a woman as attractive as Sakura. But looking at her now, her cheeks flushed pink, her lips moist and swollen, her breasts plump with fully erected nipples, the flat planes of her perfectly toned stomach, her shapely feminine curves, and then finally the soft tufts of pink at her sex all made Shisui speechless in astonishment. She was an alluring nymph, a stunning embodiment of all things feminine and beautiful.

"Damn Sakura..." he rasped as his eyes raked up and down her frame.

Sakura laughed lightly at Shisui's awed expression. She sat up, reaching a hand out to cradle his face. "Thank you, but I'm so ready for you to make love to me right now," Sakura said as her other hand went for the button on his pants. Shisui's already throbbing manhood twitched with anticipation and desire. He leaned forward and kissed her again, slowly pushing her down until her back hit the mattress. He proceeded to take his own clothing off and when his joined Sakura's on the floor and they were both connected skin-to-skin Shisui pushed himself until his tip was right at Sakura's threshold. He pulled away from their kiss, looking intently into her eyes, wanting to see her when he entered. Slowly he thrusted forward until he could no more and watched with infatuation as her eyes fluttered and then shut completely as she was fully enveloped with desire and the satisfaction at finally being filled. Shisui began to move in a steady, but stimulating rhythm, keeping his eyes on Sakura, concentrating on making each thrust meet Sakura's end.

"Oh my god..." Sakura whispered as heat and titillation was overtaking her. It felt so fucking good. "Please don't stop. Oh god don't stop..."

Already he was hitting her perfectly. She fit around him so superbly, the hotness and tightness of her sex pulling him and bringing out the best kind of friction, it was almost too much. He was already close, but no way in hell was he going first.

In one fluid and easy motion Sakura suddenly found herself on top of Shisui, straddling him, still connected. The provocative look in Shisui's eyes exhilarated Sakura to place her hands on his chest for leverage and immediately lift herself and slam back down onto Shisui. The change of position and the different kind of stimulation it brought about caused both of their eyes to close and let out breathless gasps and moans from the deeper state of sexual euphoria it put them in. Sakura didn't hesitate to go for it again and again, and Shisui eagerly assisted her in bringing his hands to her hips, helping her ride him. Once again, Shisui's chest was filled with a feeling of testosterone-fueled gratification at witnessing Sakura's expression of concentrated pleasure and his manhood that was already pulsating with heavy need twitched with desirous convulsion. Both of his hands went to cup her wonderfully bouncing breasts and Sakura used her own hands to cover them, making him squeeze them in fervent wantonness.

Over the past few months neither had particularly been desiring for this to happen. It was something that just did with the subtle, yet thoughtful actions from Shisui's innocuous massage and Sakura's openly expressing pleasure in it. The underlying attraction was certainly there, but it could have certainly been ignored. Shisui hadn't been looking for any kind of relationship to become involved in and Sakura's schedule was so full as it was she tried to avoid any attention from her male counterparts, attempting to be considerate of how unfair it would be to engage in a relationship when she really didn't have the time to adequately give. Perhaps, since it had been quite a while for Shisui, this copulation was inevitable. Perhaps his subconscious led him to be interested in Sakura in a sexual way because the prospect of a release had become too difficult an urge to quash. Besides, they were ninja. It happened all the time. Their challenging and overwhelming duties as shinobi impulsively led them to satiate the need for release.

But when Shisui rolled Sakura's nipples between his fingers and immediately felt and saw Sakura's legs twitch and when she practically screamed from the sudden onslaught of sensation Shisui knew it wasn't just about getting off.

Witnessing Sakura's uninhibited displays of passion made Shisui think of the first time they met. Most people were intimidated by ANBU types, and seeing Sakura's fighting spirit that day – even if it was just over training ground – immediately intrigued Shisui. He hadn't thought about it at the time, obviously, since the attraction hadn't been acknowledged yet, but he should have guessed she would be a good lover from that little exhibition of character.

He starting noticing the telltale signs of Sakura's approaching climax when her movements became more automatic, when her lips opened just slightly, when her moans and short cries became heavier, longer, and louder, and especially when the walls of her sex began to grip him so magnificently Shisui had to take hold of Sakura's hips not to keep her moving, but to hold on for dear life.

It built up gradually, the heat and sexual pleasure mounting higher and higher until there was just a split second where Sakura was oblivious to the world around her, then her orgasm crashed into her, wave after intense wave rolling over her. What she didn't hear was herself screaming when she came. Shisui's entire body went taut when Sakura's walls suddenly squeezed him so perfectly it forced out his own climax. Sakura collapsed onto Shisui's chest, each pant allowing a powerful moan to accompany it. It took a while for both to regain full consciousness in the aftermath of their vehement love-making. Sakura started to come back to herself when she took note of Shisui's heaving chest. She leaned down and placed short, sweet little kisses along it and then slowly lifted herself from him. It resulted in both of them moaning from the vague, phantom feelings of pleasure, reminiscent of their orgasms. Sakura laid herself next to Shisui and both stared up at the ceiling, still waiting for their breaths to even.

After a while Shisui heard Sakura laugh to herself; a short, sort of bemused and incredulous chortle. He looked over at her to see her grinning widely. Sensing his gaze on her, she turned to look at him. They both gazed at each other for a long moment.

"Wow. That was..." Sakura said.

"Mmhmm," Shisui agreed.

Then they both chuckled, their thoughts coming upon how it happened and why they let it happen. Shisui didn't really care though. Looking at Sakura in the afterglow of their passionate coupling, the flawlessly pale skin of her face with her cheeks tinted pink, her swollen, tender pink lips, her hair mussy, and her bright, emerald, expressive eyes made Shisui not want to look too deeply into the whys and just focus on his attraction to her. He leaned over onto his side, grabbed hold of Sakura and pulled her to him. She immediately wrapped her arms around him, placed a leg over his, and held onto him tightly. She peppered his neck with soft, chaste kisses and then laid her head on his chest.

Shisui was absently rubbing his hand over the smooth skin of Sakura's arm when he noticed her slow, even breathing and realized she fell asleep. All their training and then what they did after had probably worn her out. Shisui laid there contentedly, glancing over at the alarm clock on his nightstand. It was early evening and he was actually due to leave for a mission at midnight. He looked down at Sakura's beautiful face, kissed her brow lightly, and decided a nap was in order before he left for duty.

When Sakura woke up she automatically reached for the person she knew whose arms she fell asleep in, but she sat up immediately when all she found was a cold, empty space. The room was dark, the only light was of the soft luminescence from the moon filtering in through the open window. The drapes wafted lazily from the gentle breeze. Sakura sat up a little more and listened for any sounds. Upon hearing nothing and sensing no one, confused, she slowly sat up until she was at the edge of the bed, and rested her feet on the wood floor. She turned and saw a lamp on a nightstand and clicked on its light. Her eyes touched upon a piece of paper also on the nightstand and knew Shisui had left it for her. She read it, feeling mildly disappointed and disheartened. He was scheduled to leave for a mission at midnight. Sakura looked at the alarm clock. 2:17. Sakura lowered the note in her lap and stared vacantly at the far wall. He didn't want to wake her so he left a note. Sakura wondered what he would have done if this had been her place. But, seeing as it was his, he didn't mind her staying here for the night, even without him. Sakura smiled to herself, feeling a tug of affection for the Uchiha at his consideration.

Taking a hold of the pen that was next to the note, she turned it over and wrote Had a great time. Hope the mission went well. Sakura. She deliberately didn't leave any indication or desire to see him again. Just before she went to sleep, her mind was turning over the possibilities of what occurred between her and Shisui. It was certainly unexpected, but welcome nonetheless. However, it was probably best just to leave it as a one time thing. At fully acknowledging that thought, Sakura felt her chest tighten slightly with unease. Sakura had never really been good at handling one night stands. Usually liaisons of that nature consisted of people Sakura hardly knew of or didn't know at all. When she was on a mission near Suna she engaged in one with a sand-nin. She didn't even know his name, but after a particularly stressful mission, just enough alcohol to help her relax and upon seeing an ally, one thing led to another. When all was said and done and he was gone the next morning it still kind of hurt, even though its purpose was evident. The only other time actually happened with a civilian near the border of Fire Country and Yu no Kuni, but she was the one to leave the next morning before he woke. And still, that experience left Sakura feeling even more dissatisfied.

Shisui was a different case. They had been getting to know each other, and Sakura supposed the pleasant familiarity, the subtle innuendos, the brief flirtatious glances, and the close contact all built up to result in this. Sakura sighed, feeling downtrodden with her decision. It was best to not allow this to happen again, or better yet, just to stay away from Uchiha Shisui altogether. Sakura didn't have the time or energy to invest into a relationship...even a quasi-relationship of having sex when they got the chance.

Sakura got up, considerately made his bed, got dressed, and was going to climb out of the open window but then stopped herself. It would be too difficult to get out of the Uchiha compound undetected, and she didn't want to be apprehended and questioned as to why she was there and attempting to sneak out so early in the morning. Well, she could do it, but it would be an inconvenience to have to put effort into it. She hated to do it since it drained half her chakra, but she molded some in preparation for teleporting herself out. With one last glance at the neatly made space used just recently for their love-making, Sakura closed her eyes and in a puff of smoke allowed herself to be drawn into a second of black space that would take her away from Uchiha Shisui's home and into her own.

Six weeks later Sakura was making her way into the jounin headquarters. She was going to collect her mission payment and check to see if she was scheduled for any others. She saw Ino, Shikamaru, Kiba and Tenten all talking casually amongst themselves. The room was actually pretty full, and many different jounin milled about, some lounging on the couch circle, reading or talking to others, some eating, and there were even some ANBU present. Though they had their own headquarters, ANBU had to become jounin first in order to be advanced to the black ops, so it wasn't beneath some of them to hang out in the jounin meeting place.

Sakura was walking towards her group of friends, looking at the amount of compensation she received for her recent mission so she didn't notice right away when someone stepped in front of her. She almost bumped into them.

"Excuse me," she said distractedly and was going to walk around them until that person spoke.


She looked up curiously at a cat mask of an ANBU looking down on her. Their voice was muffled, but she instantly recognized the mystery person. The tall, looming figure, the wild tufts of dark brown hair that protruded from above the mask, the sleek and well-defined muscles of his biceps...all left little doubt as to who the person was. Sakura could only gape openly at him because she was at a complete loss of what to say. She didn't think she would ever see him again since she decided not to go to training-ground thirty seven anymore.

"It's been a while," he stated evenly.

All the repressed feelings of doubt, a little hurt, pleasure, and lust rocketed through her for a few seconds, rendering her incapable of moving or speaking, but the tilt of Shisui's head at her lack of response made her shove it all back into suppression and she blinked rapidly a few times to help clear her head.

", it's been a while."

A few awkward moments passed as neither spoke. Sakura felt her paycheck sticking to her palm like an adhesive and couldn't believe her racing pulse was making her hands sweat!

"Um...excuse me-" she said and started to go around him when he took hold of her arm. Sakura stopped abruptly and stared up at the mask in alarm.

"You haven't been to training ground thirty-seven for a while," Shisui pointed out. Sakura cringed slightly. So he noticed. Well, it wasn't like they had firmly established a schedule or anything.

"Y-yeah, I've been kinda busy lately-" she tried to push past him again. His grip tightened.

"I was beginning to think you were remiss."

The flat, even monotone of his voice told Sakura he wasn't pleased. Her shoulders sagged and she stopped trying to get away from him. The man wasn't stupid. He would probably fully confront her if it wasn't for all of the other people around. She sighed heavily.

"Shisui," she began lowly, not wanting anyone else to hear – or see – them. "Can we talk about...can we talk somewhere else?"

There was no discerning his reaction because of the mask and his completely still posture, but finally he gave a short, curt nod and released her.

"Meet me at the training grounds in an hour?"

He nodded again. Instead of going to converse with her friends like she planned, she just turned on her heel and walked out of the jounin lounge. She was going to head straight home and change into her shinobi gear. She was currently wearing her off-duty attire and if she wanted to make it on time she would have to run at shinobi speed, requiring that she wear something more fitting.

The simple exchange, the small bodily contact, the air that Shisui gave off around her...Sakura couldn't believe it sent all of her carefully managed emotions into overdrive! She thought she was doing so well! It took a few good cries, a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream and a night out with Ino to help distract her from thinking of Shisui, and over the weeks she finally started to come to terms with what they did and her feelings in the aftermath of it, but just one small encounter and a few words spoken caused it all to come crashing down on her again. Sakura crossed her arms over her chest, hugging herself as she walked briskly through Konoha toward her apartment. She gritted her teeth, utterly loathing the vague tightness in her chest and the sting of tears in her eyes.

But then she thought about why Shisui agreed to meet with her. She hadn't even noticed he was there in the jounin lounge and if it wasn't for him coming up to her they probably wouldn't have interacted. He sounded displeased. Was he mad at her? Well, she made the decision to purposefully avoid him. She thought he would appreciate it because then he wouldn't have had to deal with the awkward 'It was great and all but I think it's best we stay friends' conversation.

Sakura shook her head minutely. She didn't understand. Why did he seem so bothered? Unless...

Sakura shook her head again, this time more adamantly. No. There was no way he was interested in something more...committing.

She was resolving to herself what to say to him for when they did finally meet up and was rounding the corner into her apartment complex when she felt it. She stopped suddenly, carefully focusing her shinobi senses outward. It was an inexplicable feeling of...being watched. She turned around to view her surroundings. Directly across the road was a group of trees. Was there someone...?

And then the mystery person unveiled their hidden chakra just a little, letting Sakura know her instincts were right. Sakura gasped. He had followed her!

Sakura experienced a second of ambivalence as she stared into the trees where she knew he was hiding. Should she talk to him here? Then she turned and looked back to her apartment building.

With one last, meaningful look toward Shisui's location, she headed straight to her apartment. Once she was up the stairs and before her door, she opened it and walked in, but didn't close it. She stood with her back to it, her arms crossed obstinately over her chest, tapping her foot impatiently. A few seconds passed and she felt the breeze brush by her before she heard the slam of her door. She felt him behind her and when she finally turned to look at him her breath was momentarily taken away by the ferocious look in his eyes. Her mouth dropped open in shock but before she could even speak he was on her, driving her backward until she hit the wall.

That was all Sakura needed to see and feel before she, too, was devouring Shisui just as eagerly as he was her. She ripped the mask off that was placed atop his head and threw it somewhere. Sakura still had her papers in her hands and Shisui took hold of them, throwing them off to the side. They groped and panted and kissed with such fervency their movements were clumsy and they almost didn't make it into Sakura's bedroom. Clothes were hurriedly shed and when they both tumbled onto the bed their actions finally slowed. Sakura took Shisui's face into her hands and pressed her lips to his firmly, wanting to convey to him that she, too, shared the same want and need he was openly expressing to her. When they parted they stared into each other's eyes, searching, discovering, questioning. Shisui's were asking why and Sakura's were desperately wanting to know if his affections were heartfelt. Did he really want her? Sakura only denied him because she assumed he didn't, but the entire time it didn't mean that Sakura didn't want him.

Shisui lowered his head and gave Sakura another lengthy, all-consuming kiss before proceeding downward. Sakura sighed blissfully and pulled on Shisui's hair when he gave attention to her breasts and nipples. Sakura could feel she was already ready for him, but enjoyed the feeling of his mouth making-love to her body. He ventured lower and when his lips grazed the hairs covering her sex and he kept going, Sakura sat up a little.

"Shisui, you don't have to-"

"Shut up," he growled. He spread Sakura's legs open and propped each of them onto his shoulders. Sakura watched in fascinated wonder as he settled his head between her thighs and when his tongue swept over the small, firm button of sensitized nerves she threw her head back and cried out.

"Oh god!"

Shisui immediately inserted a finger into Sakura and growled again at how tight and wet she was. He put in another as his tongue made circles around her clitoris.

"Shisui! Oh my god!"

He didn't slow at her pleadings, which he wasn't sure were meant to make him stop or go faster, but he kept up a consistent pace of pumping his fingers in and out and swirling his tongue around her clit.

Sakura's back was arched off her bed and she had a death grip onto Shisui's hair. He didn't seem to mind though. His ministrations brought such an intense amount of pleasure that it was almost painful. The sensations lashed through her so immensely she pulled on Shisui's hair to get him to stop, she couldn't take it anymore. When Sakura finally climaxed, it was such a huge relief that she actually laughed through it while screaming.

When she fully came to she opened her eyes to see Shisui leaning over her, smirking wickedly.

"You jerk!" She swatted his arm. "God...that was...don't ever do that again!"

"Oh, so you didn't enjoy it?"

One of Sakura's brows dipped modestly. "It was just..." She shook her head. She didn't have any words to adequately describe it. She pulled him to her and kissed him. Shisui didn't hesitate to align himself against her. When he felt Sakura shift her hips to accommodate him did he finally enter. This union and their build-up to release was slow, steady, full of heat, meaning and passion. Many times did their eyes meet and Shisui would stroke her cheek or remove a piece of Sakura's hair from her face. When they were nearing completion Shisui took hold of one of Sakura's hands and placed it above her head. Sakura was filled with so much joy at the surprising display of affection she leaned up and pressed her lips to Shisui's. They both came together and kept their lips locked through the experience. It was one of the strongest, most profound sessions of love-making Sakura ever had, and when they finally settled down she immediately snuggled into his muscular frame. All the doubts, uncertainly and hurt feelings Sakura felt over the past six weeks completely dissipated and she reveled in feeling safe and wanted.

They were both silent and Sakura didn't think it was necessary to talk about what happened. Or more like she didn't want to. But what now? She had given him a way out but he still pursued her. He was an ANBU and she the Godaime's protégé. There wouldn't be any backlash from them getting together, but neither of their lives really permitted much room for an intimate relationship.

But the way he was currently stroking her hair, his other hand slowly smoothing up and down her back, his eyes that were warm and cordial, then feral and taking, the way he made love to her...

Sakura was determined to find a way to make this work.

After a while Shisui turned slightly so he was facing Sakura. She looked up at him.

"I have to leave because I have some meetings with the Hokage and then a clan assembly. Will you be here later tonight?"

Sakura's eyes widened considerably. " don't have to...come back tonight."

Sakura almost giggled at the mildly forlorn expression Shisui displayed. "So then I guess that means you don't want me to?"

"No! No! That's not what I meant! What I meant was..."

She stared deeply into Shisui's eyes. She noticed amid the brown there were rivulets of green in them.

"...yeah, I'll be here."

Shisui smiled. "Good. I'll be back."

After the meeting with the Hokage Shisui learned he was assigned to another mission tomorrow morning. After the Uchiha assembly he knew that, since he was in Konoha, Itachi would suggest the two of them go train.

"Can't," he told his little cousin.

Itachi lifted a brow in question. It had become sort of a routine for them to train together if both happened to be in the village.

"Do you have some prior engagement?"

"I do actually." Shisui threw him a wide grin. "A date."

Well that was headliner worthy news.

"May I inquire as to whom?"

The excited glint in Shisui's eyes – something Itachi hadn't seen for a very long time – turned coy. "Lets just say she's pretty important."

Itachi smirked at his cryptic response. That could be interpreted in many different ways. Important to whom? Shisui? Uchiha? Konoha? When Shisui saw the wheels of his cousin's brain turning he clapped him on the back.

"And I'll also tell you she has the most beautiful green eyes any man will ever see."

Just in case she hadn't eaten he brought food because he was starving himself. They ate naked in bed together then went through a few more rounds of passion and love-making before falling asleep.

Sakura was one-hundred percent, totally, no trace of doubt, completely, utterly, absolutely in love with Uchiha Shisui. Sakura knew because despite everything going on in her busy life, she couldn't stop thinking about him, wanted to see him all the time, wanted to do nice things for him, was constantly concerned for his safety and well-being, ached and yearned for him to be making love to her and then receive his gentle and loving attention in the afterglow...all the typical attributes of a person in love.

Three weeks had passed since the last time she saw him and there was no definitive time when he would return. She was at training ground thirty-seven, blowing off some steam and trying to distract herself from the restlessness she felt from missing Shisui.

Sakura couldn't believe how far and fast she fell for him after their "misunderstanding" was cleared up. Everyone close to her sensed a change in her, but she didn't want to go public with anything. Her life was already so public, being a member of team seven and the Hokage's student. Her and Shisui's relationship was theirs and theirs alone. She didn't regard him as a dirty little secret or a guilty pleasure, but wanted to wait until the right moment for everyone to become aware. She didn't know when that was, but right now, she was blissfully happy in indulging in her secret thoughts of him.

She set her pack down and was just about to start warming up when a figure broke through a line of trees. Pathetically, like a little schoolgirl, Sakura's eyes widened and she let out a squeal of joy at her lover coming to see her. He was back! She started to jog to meet him halfway and he picked up his pace, as well. Shisui was delighted with the clear excitement in Sakura's eyes and when he reached her he immediately picked up and spun her. She clung to him, burying her face in his neck.

"God, Shisui, I've missed you so much." The statement had built up strong in Sakura's chest and just came pouring out.

Shisui laughed. "I've missed you too, Sakura."

Then she looked up to him and into his eyes for a few long seconds before pressing her lips to his. Feelings of peaceful serenity and happiness coursed through Sakura so strongly it was almost overwhelming. She couldn't believe how far she'd fallen but she didn't care.

Their kissing, which started out sweet and meaningful started to turn more urgent and hungry. A little sound that sounded a lot like a whine escaped Sakura when Shisui suddenly pulled away.

"I'm not interrupting something, am I?"

Sakura's grin was huge. "You did. I was about to train."

Shisui dropped his arms from around Sakura's waist and started to turn away. "Okay, I'll leave you to it then..."

Sakura shot him a devilish smirk, grabbed a hold of his arm and yanked him back to her. "Well, since you're already here...I can think of better things to do than train."

Shisui stepped up to Sakura again and took her face into his hands. "Yeah? What's that?"

Sakura's answer was to kiss Shisui again, but it was short as she immediately backed away and began to pull him somewhere. She led him to their spot by the river with the tall weeping willow. They ducked under the sweeping branches until they were all the way underneath. Sakura slowly started to peel away the many accessories of his ANBU uniform until he was clad in just his ninja slacks, then Shisui reciprocated on her. When they were both fully naked Shisui laid Sakura down onto the soft grass and sweetly made love to her.

Afterward, they laid together, Sakura's back tucked against Shisui's chest, one of his hands curled around a breast, and they quietly watched over the gently flowing river. There were a lot of momentous occassions in Sakura's life: when she was accepted into the ninja academy, her graduation, becoming Tsunade-sama's apprentice, becoming a chuunin, her defeat over Sasori of Akatsuki, becoming a was safe for Sakura to say this moment definitely made it into that list.

Sakura's shift just ended at the hospital and before she went home she went to the jounin headquarters to receive her missions schedule. She hadn't seen Shisui for two weeks. Though it made Sakura sad and she felt bittersweet at their separation, Sakura knew this was just apart of their lives. Despite how they felt about each other, their responsibilities to Konoha was more important.

A group of ANBU was standing with Kakashi and Shiranui Genma when Sakura entered. Sakura's heart skipped a beat for just a moment, but seeing as it wasn't her ANBU standing in the group she continued on. She waved to Kakashi and he nodded, but her step faltered slightly when she noticed Kakashi appeared somber. Well, more somber than usual. Hmm.

She shrugged it off and went to the clerk to receive her list. While she skimmed over it she couldn't help but eavesdrop on their conversation.

"...such a shame. He was a great shinobi."

"Nobody probably knows what happened, right?"

"An ambush," an ANBU replied. "There were too many of them and by the time they got to him his team had been wiped out."

They were talking about someone killed in action. Sakura looked up at the group of men.

"There was no body so we have to assume he self-destructed."

Sakura cringed. She would never join the black ops simply because of their policies which differed so much from the regular ranks it was startling. If a mission went awry, the members had to kill themselves to destroy all evidence of the sensitive information they carried. It was why Sakura hardly ever saw ANBU for medical-related issues because they either returned to the village barely scathed or didn't return at all.

"How's Sasuke holding up, Itachi?" Kakashi asked.

The ANBU with a bird mask shook his head slightly. "It's been hard. They were close. He looked up to him, respected him."

Sakura's entire body stopped moving and her mouth opened slightly.

"You were close to him, too, right?"

"Shisui was like an older brother to me..."

Sakura brought a hand to her mouth. She saw the colors of the room were fading away rapidly and slowly, it felt a hole was being forced open in her chest. She clutched desperately at it, shocked at its sudden attack of pain.

All of them turned to look at the pink-haired woman that had walked in a few minutes ago when they heard her give a short cry. Kakashi raised a brow when he saw Sakura's stunned expression.

"You alright there, Sakura?"

She didn't answer. Just stared unseeing at them, past them, past the wall and onward toward nothing.

In that moment, it all came together for Itachi. "...the most beautiful green eyes any man will ever see." Shisui had told him that about a month ago. He had been dropping hints to Itachi here and there about this mystery woman, and Itachi still hadn't figured it out, but now, seeing this woman in the state she was in...

Beneath his mask Itachi watched with great interest as Haruno Sakura, with her hand covering her mouth, her eyes vacant and glassy with unshed tears, started to visibly tremble. Her knees buckled slightly and all five men, at the same time, rushed to reach for her in a fraction of a second. It was Kakashi who caught her.

"What's wrong?" he asked, concern laced in his tone.

It was a very long moment where Sakura only heard nothing but the cruel, merciless pounding of her heart. It was beating, she was still alive...and Shisui wasn't.

"Yo, Sakura, you there?" Kakashi tried again.

Sakura dazedly looked up at him, and as her hand gradually withdrew from her mouth, she shakily croaked out, "excuse me."

She pushed past the men and full out sprinted down the hall and out of the jounin headquarters. She hopped along rooftops until she came close to her destination then hit the ground, still running. She raced up the stairs and burst open the door of the Konoha Archive Library. Luckily, the place was empty and Sakura ran to a certain section of files. In the Hokage tower a different collection of files were organized there. The files of the living shinobi. Here, the ones not living were stored.

She hastily finger combed through the 'U' section, for some reason, desperately hoping and praying to any deity out there that she wouldn't find it.

Uchiha Saburo...Uchiha Satoru...Uchiha Seiji...Uchiha Shichiro...

Sakura's fingers frantically kept picking through files until...

She pulled it out slowly, looking dully at the unblemished manila folder. Her fingers shook. She was too afraid to open it, which was strange because it was already here, meaning it was true.

Sucking in a huge breath Sakura flipped it open and immediately she let out a harsh cry of anguish at seeing his picture. The tears started to fall then. She looked over his statistics and at his status that had said "ANBU, captain, registration number 00246" but now there was a red rubber stamp that said "deceased" over it.

Sakura's knees finally gave way and she slid heavily to the floor. She pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around her legs, buried her face into them and began to wail. Luckily no one was there to hear her for her gut-wrenching cries of agony would have raised the hair on their arms.

She wasn't aware, however, that the five men had followed her, and they all stood outside the door, listening. Genma awkwardly scratched the back of his head, looking to Kakashi. Two ANBU assessed the situation, but knew there was nothing either of them could do since neither knew Sakura personally, so they turned slowly and departed. Itachi stayed and he looked at the door, deciding whether or not to go in. Kakashi's hand went to the handle, but then he eventually lowered it to his side.

"We should probably let her be for now." He said lowly.

"Yeah." Genma agreed quickly, not quite sure how to deal with her anyway.

The two jounin started to walk back down the stairs, but Kakashi stopped when Itachi hadn't moved. He glanced up at the ANBU captain, watching as he stood, facing the door, very still. Kakashi decided to not comment and he and Genma continued down the stairs.

Sakura's lamenting was exactly how Itachi was feeling inside. He just kept listening to her frantic sobs, stoically taking in, but underneath his hard exterior he was reeling with pain and grief. He didn't know Sakura on a personal level; had seen her many times over the years because of her being on Sasuke's team, had spoken to her a few times, but never took the time to get to know her. Odd that it was her that Shisui came to love. It was certainly unexpected.

It was precisely twenty-three minutes later when Sakura's sobs started to wane, and then another six minutes before they stopped completely. Itachi still stood outside the door, waiting. He heard her shuffling around and then there was no sound at all. She must have left through some back way.

She did, and like the walking dead, she was dragging herself somewhere.

Itachi followed her for miles and because of the slow pace it took hours. Sakura kept off Konoha's main trails, lurching through the forest instead. Finally, Itachi watched as Sakura come upon a river and she stood before it with her hands hanging loosely at her sides, her head bowed slightly. She stayed that way for a few minutes before turning. Itachi thought she might go somewhere else now, but instead she walked to a large weeping willow, swept the branches aside, and went under. Between the branches Itachi could only see spots of pink and red, but he saw her fully when she suddenly collapsed on the ground, lying on her side, bringing her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. She was crying. It was silent for a long while before Sakura turned on her back, placing her feet flat on the ground so her knees were positioned in the air.

"...I wonder where it could have gone..." Itachi heard Sakura dully murmur. "...I wonder...what our lives would have been like together." She sighed heavily. "...I wonder if you loved me as much as I loved you, Shisui."

At the last sentence Itachi's chest tightened so painfully he let out a short gasp. Sakura heard it immediately and jumped up, looking around frantically. Well, there was no use in hiding now, so Itachi walked forward and brushed aside the willow branches. Sakura's alert expression turned hard, her eyes full of contempt.

"What-?" she started to ask. It was an ANBU and he found her. "What-? much did you hear?" Weird that Sakura's primary concern at the moment was what the ANBU overheard.

Slowly, Itachi reached for his mask and pushed it so it was placed above his head. Sakura's eyes widened, recognizing him, but then she folded her arms across her chest tightly and looked away.

"Itachi-san, what're you doing here?" she asked testily.

Sakura felt like Itachi was invading hers and Shisui's private space.

It was a very long moment that seemed to disappear into the time of the universe where Itachi didn't answer. All Sakura heard was the gentle rustle of the leaves from the breeze and the delicate sounds of the moderately-paced river. She turned back to him, staring expectantly.

Finally, very low and quiet Sakura almost didn't hear him, Itachi said, "he loved you, Sakura."

Sakura's shoulders stiffened and her eyes widened, outraged. He heard her! But then she processed Itachi's words and reflected on them, and slowly her posture softened, her eyes welling with tears. Itachi knew.

She stared at him in disbelief for a few long seconds, then covered her face with her hands and, for the second time, began to sob. Itachi walked up to her, and being compelled by his compassionate nature, gently laid a hand on her shoulder. Sakura immediately leaned into him, her forehead touching his chest. Itachi didn't hesitate to bring his arms around her and soothingly rubbed his hands up and down her back.

Though it was difficult to understand with the hard convulsing of Sakura's chest, Itachi heard her say, "Why did it have to be him? God, I love him! Why!"

No one, not even Itachi, could give an answer. There wasn't one. It was just something that was and eventually it would have to be accepted or not be accepted as reality.

The sun had fully set and through the canopy of trees one could see the stars twinkling in the velvet black sky. That was how long Itachi had been holding Sakura and finally she pulled back slightly, looking up to him. Beneath the willow branches it was hard to see his face, but his silhouette and comforting presence were still there.

"I'm sorry," Sakura whispered, wiping the tears from her face. But the way she said it, she wasn't apologizing for standing there for hours. That apology would probably have sounded a little sheepish. This apology sounded dull, resolute and utterly despondent. She was apologizing for his loss, because Sakura didn't just lose Shisui; Itachi lost him, too. His eyes widened slightly at the realization.

"Your loss is greater than mine," she continued. "He was your family. You grew up with him and knew him so much better."

"That doesn't diminish the significance of your loss, Sakura," Itachi told her, his voice sounding both surprised and mildly reprimanding.

Surprisingly, Sakura smiled a wan smile. "Nevertheless, your related by blood."

"You were his lover. No amount of blood could contend with that magnitude of closeness."

Sakura peered closely up at him. "So he told you, huh?"

"In so many words. Your reaction to the news gave it away fully."

Sakura nodded gravely, looking away when she felt her bottom lip quiver. She was clutching Itachi's arms and when she realized this she backed away weakly.

"I should go home. I have a mission tomorrow."

"Would you like me to walk you?"

Sakura's reflexive reaction was to say no, but...she didn't really want to be alone right now.


It was sometime near midnight when they reached Sakura's apartment complex and when they went inside Kakashi, Naruto and Sasuke were waiting for her. They were all lounging on her couch and when they entered Naruto jumped up immediately and grabbed Sakura in a big bear hug. Kakashi and Sasuke got up more to their own paces and Sasuke walked over when he saw Sakura's confused expression.

"Kakashi told us about you and Shisui," Sasuke told her. Sakura shot a glance at Kakashi who was standing awkwardly with his hands in his pockets.

"Sakura-chan! We're so sorry!" Naruto's squeezed tighter.

Sakura's face contorted a little in pain, but she didn't cry. "T-thank you."

"The memorial will be held tomorrow. We asked Tsunade for a reprieve from the mission."

Sakura nodded gratefully to Sasuke. When Naruto let her go Sasuke was next to embrace her.

"You sneaky little kunoichi," Sasuke chided softly. "We had no idea."

Sakura huffed out a short laugh. "I wasn't trying to hide anything. You guys are just oblivious." It wasn't entirely true, but if they were paying close enough attention they would have figured it out.

Sakura sighed heavily and parted from Sasuke. She hadn't eaten in hours and was suddenly famished. She started toward the kitchen. "Anyone hungry?"

Everyone, even Itachi, stayed to eat, but then left, saying there were still some preparations that had to be made. Kakashi, with a ruffle and Sakura's hair, gently took hold of her chin so she would look at him.

"You'll be alright?" he asked, not wanting her to be alone since everyone was starting to leave. But before she could answer, Naruto said, "we'll stay with her."

Sakura's eyes filled with tears again and she nodded to her sensei.

Sakura fell asleep on the couch leaning on Naruto's shoulder with her feet draped across Sasuke's lap. Her final thought before she met unconsciousness was she was so glad to have such wonderful friends like her boys.

As the months passed Sakura's despair slowly dwindled and morphed into sadness. The harsh physical pain she felt at Shisui's absence was also slowly fading, and Sakura was finding herself getting more and more sleep at night.

Despite her heart breaking, life and duty still had to go on, and part of Sakura was grateful for it. The hospital, missions, and friends helped ease some of her pain and as the months wore on it was becoming easier to wake up every day.

A certain amount of time elapsed and Sakura was finally comfortable enough to visit her and Shisui's spot. She stood along the banks of the river, watching its gentle flow with mild interest. Unlike the last time she was here, the pain in her chest was dull and Sakura knew with more time it would disappear entirely, only to leave a melancholic sense of nostalgia in its wake.

"I thought you would be here," a voice broke her from her thoughts and she turned abruptly to see Itachi walking towards her. Over the months he became a surprising addition to the group of friends that helped her grieve.

She smiled briefly at him and turned back to the river. He stopped when he was standing next to her, and in silent companionship, they watched the water together. After a long while, Itachi dropped a pack he had been carrying onto the ground and started rummaging through it. Sakura watched his actions and when he produced an ANBU mask and hitai-ate Sakura immediately knew whom they belonged to.

Itachi stood up and held them out for her. "I think Shisui would want you to have these."

Sakura stared at them for along moment, then blinked rapidly. She looked up at Itachi and he could see the hesitancy in her eyes. He started to shake his head before she started to state her protestations.

"I insist."

Sakura swallowed down the lump that formed in her throat and took the items from him. She looked over the faint scratches on the metal and ran her fingers over them. Then she looked at porcelain surface of the mask and noted its various markings, as well. She looked back up to Itachi and with shiny eyes she smiled thinly.

"Thank you," she said quietly.

His response was to slowly reach a hand out and touch her lightly on her cheek. Sakura was used to this attention from Itachi and she closed her eyes, leaning into his palm further.

Life, duty, and love go on, Sakura thought. Though a person may endure circumstances which may seem impossible to withstand, a person can only be lifted up from there. While stroking the smooth exterior of Shisui's mask, she leaned into Itachi's side, taking solace in his comfort.