Just a little somethin somethin that came to mind recently and had to type it down. This is an AU Non-Mass ItaSaku so no evil Uchihas present. Rated M for smut and language...and yeah, there's some fluff. Unbeta'd: all mistakes are mine. Please enjoy and tell me what you think!

Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto.

Sakura didn't realize it until after the fact.

She was bamboozled.

By a civilian.

I'm a ninja she thought sullenly to herself. And I'm the one who got swindled into this mess.

With a heavy, exasperated sigh, sagging shoulders and a reluctant countenance she continued to stir the mitirashi sauce. If anyone that Sakura was close to had been around they would be telling her she was being melodramatic.

Okay, so she wasn't exactly bamboozled. Kagori-san had actually put in the request to hire a shinobi to assist with her dango stand for the annual Konoha festival, as she does every year. Sakura had just returned from a week long mission from Suna and when she saw this particular mission on the roster she entreated to Tsunade-shishou that she take it, wanting a break from her usual jonin-ranked missions, but liking the prospect of still getting paid.

After receiving a crash course on how to properly make dango, everything was going smoothly, but then suddenly the young mother of four had to tend to an emergency regarding one of her children. That was over two hours ago and she still hadn't returned. Sakura frowned, stirring the dark brown sauce with a little more vigor. Helping was one thing, but doing it alone with only mediocre culinary skills was another thing entirely.

She knew her foul mood was being influenced by her hatred for all things cooking related and her lack of experience in making dango. Twice she had customers return her newly made batch only to ask she make them again. Also, oddly enough, people came in droves and then when she was finished serving them she wouldn't see a customer for a long while until the next herd came, leaving her either extremely bored or wanting to pull her hair out from anxiety.

After a while she got into her groove, though. She learned to start preparing the sauce even without customers present, keeping the burner on low and to roll the dumplings into the balls so they were ready for boiling.

Sakura noticed a general thinning of the crowds and when she looked eastward saw dark, rolling thunderclouds heading toward Konoha. How unlucky for all those enjoying the festival to have to scamper indoors when the rain came. It lifted Sakura's spirit, though. Perhaps that would be the end of her mission?...but then her mood darkened again. Just because it was raining didn't mean the festival was going to end; therefore, neither was her duty to watch over the dango stand.

All of the festival's participants taking cover meant no more customers. Sakura wasn't prepared for that. She wished she brought a medical scroll or something to keep her from not becoming bored. It was mid-afternoon and the festival went on late into the night. Maybe the rain will pass before then and she can get back to preparing and serving. As much as she dreaded that at least it will give her something to do.

Quit griping she chastised herself, so she decided to think of the positives. She was receiving compensation, for one thing. Also, she had some nice conversations with various members of Konoha's community. On a more superficial level, this kind of service tagged her in the eyes of the public and she might get called on more missions in the future. Also, when she made a good batch, Sakura liked to indulge, and if she had to say so herself, it wasn't half bad.

The rain was coming down steadily and Sakura was leaning against the counter, a plate in front of her, but she was idly looking out from her post under the makeshift stand over the street, listening to the pitter-patter of the droplets hitting the ground and the canopy over her head. It was a springtime kind of rain that Sakura actually enjoyed. Despite her situation at the moment, she knew the end of the rain would bring a warm sun and a nice, airy feeling of freshness.

Amidst the shower it was easy to spot the lone figure walking briskly toward her stand. Sakura wondered if he also was caught in the rain because he currently wasn't holding an umbrella. Any normal person would duck under the first cover they came upon and wait until the deluge ended, but this person seemed to be determined to reach a particular destination.

Sakura smiled giddily to herself and felt her pulse quicken, but when he neared she smoothed out her expression into a neutral veneer.

"What the hell are you doing? You're going to catch a cold walking in the rain like that!"

Her visitor simply smirked at her as he stepped under the plastic makeshift overhang, wiping his face clear of any water. "Fortunately you are a medic-nin."

Sakura placed her hands on her hips, wearing a feigned indignant expression. "Way to take advantage of someone," she murmured.

Sakura then looked around at the other vendors. Seeing that they weren't being watched Sakura leaned over the counter toward her patron as he sat down on a stool. "Well, first things first...we have to get those wet clothes off you," she said lowly, mischievously.

She was granted another sexy smirk, and with his already dark eyes reaching a smoldering onyx he met her halfway, took her face into his hands and their lips met. Sakura had only intended to give him a short kiss but when she began to pull away his grip tightened and the kiss deepened. A little sound of surprise escaped Sakura and she tilted her head to enliven the kiss to a more lustful level. For one short second their tongues touched, but this was hardly the place to engage in such acts so Sakura pulled back again with a pouting lower lip. Her gentlemen chuckled, but pulled back slightly, as well. Sakura stared endlessly into deep gray, almost cimmerian orbs, the time of the world disappearing from her cognizance as she got lost in them. He gently stroked her cheek, and Sakura's heart melted from his sweet affection.

"You're back," she breathed, stating the obvious, but her tone carried so much relief and joy that the recipient didn't find it redundant. "I've missed you so much, Itachi."

He nodded slightly, never taking his eyes away from her.

He had been gone for almost three weeks on a special ANBU assignment. It was a solo reconnaissance mission, and Sakura knew enough about those types of missions and had enough experience in dealing with Itachi's absences to know there was no set duration. And even though it was surveillance, she also knew ANBU-level missions of that nature were highly dangerous. He finally returned, apparently unharmed, and for that Sakura could sleep a little easier at night and worry less during the day.

"I would...properly...welcome you home but unfortunately I'm stuck here until the end of the festival," Sakura stated grumpily, sweeping her hand around the stand, but then her expression changed to contemplative. "How did you know I was here?"

"There were rumors of a beautiful pink-haired kunoichi assisting at the dango stand."

Sakura giggled at his impish grin. "And of course you had to partake."

"Of course," he agreed easily.

"I wonder who's more of the attraction? The beautiful pink-haired kunoichi or the dango?"

Itachi appeared to be in thought and Sakura almost reached out to swat at him. Before she could, however, he replied with, "I would have to say the kunoichi. Though the dango is a very close second."

Sakura chuckled, planted another quick kiss on his lips, then pushed her plate towards him. "They're on the house," she told him, winking coquettishly.

As Sakura turned around to pour him a cup of tea, until now she hadn't realized just how deeply, almost desperately, she missed Itachi. The past few weeks were the most difficult she had to endure him being away. And Sakura knew why. Though it hadn't happened with anyone else before, she was starting to recognize the signs of falling in love with him.

They had been "seeing" each other for six months. Their times spent together were spread apart with missions, her hospital duties and his clan responsibilities placed in between, but they tried to make time for each other.

She had known of Itachi for most of her life, seeing that his status as one of the strongest shinobi in Konoha caused him to be quite infamous, but it really wasn't until her days as a part of team seven that she got to know him a little. To her, he was always Sasuke's older brother; a seemingly introverted and, at times, even cold individual that Sakura never really felt the need to become more familiar with, even if Sasuke really looked up to him.

That all changed almost seven months ago. On Sakura's first solo mission as a jonin she was ambushed by Iwa-nin. She barely made it out alive with too many injuries sustained that made her unable to get home. She stumbled into a small village and thankfully was taken in to be cared for by their doctor. The doctor was not a medin-nin, however, so Sakura's recovery would take twice as long before her own chakra was stable enough to help with the healing.

After a certain amount of time passed, Itachi was ordered by the Hokage to find Sakura. Either she fled Konoha, becoming a missing-nin (which, of course, was preposterous but always had to be considered no matter who the target was), was captured, injured, or dead. Sakura woke up from her drug-induced coma to find Itachi there and discovered he was assigned to see as to her whereabouts and bring her back to Konoha safely. She learned she had been out for almost a week.

In the weeks following Itachi stayed to help her recuperate since she was no where near able to travel long distances. That short time period helped Sakura to see a different side of the famous Uchiha and it shattered all of the preconceived notions she ignorantly held onto, just as everyone one else did. He was actually gentlemanly, a good conversationalist, compassionate, and could sport a sense of humor at completely random times.

He never hesitated to help her eat, assist her with moving around, and then help with the physical rehabilitation when that became feasible. Since he wasn't a medic-nin and not exactly qualified Sakura explained to him what he could do on his end and one day she was pleasantly surprised to find out he had actually been reading a few books on the matter and doing his own research. He was thoughtful, kind and caring and Sakura questioned to herself whether it had anything to do with her personally or because it was his mission to see that she returned home at her optimum.

She had started to feel attracted to him. How could she not? Sakura wasn't sure if it was propinquity, the constant aid, or finding out what he was really like that spurred her captivation, but none of it mattered to her. The reality was she really liked him, more than any other person. Despite helping her out, he was still reserved though, which Sakura wondered if that was just a quirk of his personality or if he was deliberately acting that way toward her for the sake of his assignment. God knows that he and his brother had an impressive fan base developed, albeit unwittingly and unsought, and probably didn't want another added. Sakura knew that Itachi was perceptive enough to see her growing liking of him. It was subtle things she displayed like allowing her eyes to linger longer into his and a brush of her hand on his arm as a thank you. But his disposition always remained the same while Sakura's had changed.

When they were deciding when a good time was to leave, Sakura's heart sank a little. Though she missed home, her friends, the hospital and missions she actually was enjoying her time away from it all...and she knew it was only because of her charge.

It was a three day journey back to Konoha and they stopped at an inn on their first night. Sakura had to know if he returned the attraction so she impulsively went to his room after they both turned in. She could sense he was still awake and she asked to speak with him. When he opened the shoji screen Sakura was perturbed to see he wasn't surprised at her coming to see him. What did that mean? He was looking at her with the same unreadable expression he had most of the time. Steeling her resolve, she admitted her feelings to him. He didn't respond at first; just kept staring at her expressionlessly and when Sakura started to feel like a gigantic idiot and was going to tell him to forget she ever said anything was when he leaned in and kissed her.

That night Sakura gave him everything, and that meant the part of her that had not been touched by any man. She could tell he was inexperienced in that area, too, which greatly surprised her, considering his reputation and how handsome he was. Sakura reveled in sharing with him the most intimate parts of her and receiving his, as well, but also learning that he was attracted to her just the same. In the weeks they spent together as he helped to heal her, they had grown attached to each other.

When they returned to Konoha Sakura wasn't sure what was going to become of them. Were they a couple now? Sakura knew that him being apart of a prestigious clan like the Uchiha required that he adhere to certain traditions passed down through the generations...like marriage. She certainly wasn't ready, or perhaps even willing, for any of that to happen; she just wanted to be with Itachi and get to know him better. She told him so and he informed her that he made the decision long ago not to marry for the sake of the clan and the position of heir was going to be passed to Sasuke if he wanted it. Well, that was good enough for Sakura, so they continued with their relationship in a no-strings-attached kind of manner. Sakura was blissfully content with that. It brought excitement and a haven of escape for her when the duties of a ninja became too overwhelming.

Her lack of experience and the fact that she and Itachi decided to keep their relationship hidden so his clan would not find out about them did not prepare Sakura for her falling in love with him. She didn't expect it, never saw it happening, but now that she was fully acknowledging it, she felt so stupid for pretending otherwise. Of course she was going to fall for him! Their relationship wasn't degenerating after all the months they had been together, so the only place it could go was forward, resulting in them becoming closer.

As she contentedly watched Itachi eat his dango she wondered if she should tell him.

The TV was on, but no one was watching.

Sakura had worked a fourteen hour shift at the hospital, came home, showered, ate, and decided to waste the rest of the evening away in front of the boob tube before she went to bed. She actually fell asleep while watching and had suddenly woken up, feeling that she was enveloped in a pair of strong, masculine arms. Immediately knowing whom they belonged to, Sakura sighed pleasurably into the warmth of Itachi's chest.

"I didn't wake you, did I?" he asked in his smooth baritone.

"Nope," Sakura answered, snuggling further into him. She wrapped her arms around him and placed a leg over his, desiring to feel him closer. Always desiring him to be closer.

After a while Sakura lifted her cheek from his chest and began to plant soft little kisses onto his neck. She smiled to herself when she felt his body stiffen. He was probably thinking she was going back to sleep, but there was no way Sakura could be so close to him without her heartbeat quickening and her mind turning with all the possibilities that had arisen from his unexpected visit.

Sakura slowly moved, bringing her leg that was draped lazily over his so it was on the other side of him until her body was leaning over him. Itachi was on the edge of her couch and moved so he was more securely on it, directly beneath her. Sakura didn't stop her ministrations and her hands sneaked under his shirt. She felt the smooth indentations of his rippled abdominal muscles under her fingers. Sakura shivered, heat sweeping over her briefly as she thought about how sexy he was. He was all raw, powerful, lean muscle and god she loved feeling and looking at him without any clothes on. With that thought entering her mind she slid her hands up, palms sliding over perfectly sculpted pectorals and completely divested him of his shirt. Sakura felt his hands on her hips and he pushed her down, making her aware of his already growing desire for her.

Sakura had fallen asleep in just a robe with her hair still wrapped in a towel. Next Itachi pulled it from her head and discarded it to the floor. Sakura moved her lips up his neck, over his jaw and finally met his mouth. Their actions suddenly turned rushed and hungry, Itachi's tongue immediately traced along Sakura's lower lip and she instantly let him enter. Her hands went into his hair and smoothed through the long strands. His hands went to the belt on her robe and he pulled fervently. Sakura almost giggled from his hasty actions. That probably meant he had been patiently waiting for her to wake up for a while now, like the gentlemen he was, instead of waking her himself. Sakura sat up and watched him as he opened the robe to reveal she was wearing nothing inside. Sakura was extremely gratified to see those dark eyes that were filled with yearning suddenly turn fierce, carnal, indicative of his want of her.

Sakura shrugged out of the sleeves and as she was dropping the robe to the floor Itachi sat up. He took her face into his hands and kissed her intensely, then proceeded downward along her neck and chest. Sakura ran her hands into his hair and her eyes fluttered closed in anticipation of the onset of sensual feelings she knew she was going to experience. She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned back slightly so he had better access to the place where Itachi knew Sakura loved to be touched by him.

His lips hovered, but he didn't close the distance. After a few seconds Sakura got the hint and growled impatiently. Itachi chuckled.

"Itachi," Sakura almost whined.

And when his lips finally encased a nipple Sakura let out a ragged breath. Itachi flicked it with his tongue, teasing so it would become fully distended. Sakura tilted her head back and emitted breathy moans and pants. Unconsciously her hips rocked against his, needing the contact there as well. Sharp, electrifying shots of pleasure pulsated through Sakura's core at each motion of Itachi's tongue.

It took a little while for both of them to discover exactly how they liked to be touched in the erogenous places on their bodies, but once those were found they were fully accessed. Like now. Itachi would circle his tongue over Sakura's protruding nipple, flick it, then lightly draw his teeth along it. This reduced Sakura to a writhing, panting, quivering, aching mass of human cells that then needed Itachi to fuck savagely until she came.

Sakura immediately sat up, pushing on Itachi's chest until his back met her couch and she hastily went for the button on his pants.

"Sakura," he said, sitting up again and wrapping his arms around her. "Be patient."

"Ugh," she muttered, trying to twist out of the lock of his embrace. "But I need you now."

He chuckled, amused, and that infuriated her.

In the back of Sakura's mind she wondered if Itachi did things like this on purpose so he would get to experience her superhuman strength during foreplay. Once he admitted that he found it sexy. She roughly pushed his arms away with her own, then grabbed them, leaning backward off the couch and pulling him to the ground with her. When he settled over her she kissed him harshly, her tongue demanding entrance immediately. At the same time, she fumbled with the button on his pants then forcefully pulled them down over his hips.

Itachi wasn't attempting to stop Sakura's frenzied actions. Just the opposite. He returned them in an equally greedy manner that told Sakura he was just as eager. It has been a few weeks, so not only the need to be intimate with each other was strong, but the need for a release was unequivocal, as well.

Sakura sat up and, again, pushed on Itachi's chest until he was laying on the ground and Sakura crawled down him, taking his pants with her until they were completely off. It seemed he didn't need any more facilitation in getting harder because he appeared to be quite ready, his member standing proud and erect and Sakura could see it pulsating with need, but nonetheless, she moved back up him until her face was level with his cock and she took it into her hand and into her mouth.

She heard Itachi hiss and his hands went to her hair. But soon after he sat up and took a hold of her shoulders and lifted her from him.

"Sakura..." he panted, and she knew by the desperate inflection in his voice that he wanted her to keep going but if she didn't want to be left behind, she had to stop. She smiled slyly at him as she moved upwards until she was straddling him and her center was placed over him.

Finally the alacrity of Sakura's actions slowed and she took Itachi's face into her hands. He placed his firmly on her hips and for a long, all-consuming moment they stared relentlessly into each others eyes before Sakura gradually, luxuriously lowered herself onto Itachi until she completely engulfed him. Sakura's toes curled as heat and wanton pleasure traveled through her. She closed her eyes, tilted her head back and fully succumbed to finally being connected to Itachi once again in this way. She slowly, gently lifted herself until he was almost completely out then sank back down. Her walls could feel him throbbing heavily and when she looked back up she saw he was intently watching the place where they both connected. She gently pushed him down, then placed her hands behind her onto his thighs. If he wanted to watch them make love then she would give him a better view. With the pads of his thumbs Itachi stroked the pink buds of Sakura's breasts, causing her to moan loudly.

Sakura's speed increased when she felt the familiar rousing of her oncoming orgasm. Torrid, erotic feelings of rapture overpowered Sakura until she couldn't focus on anything except her pending release. Itachi sat up again, his hands going to her hips and his mouth placing hot, wet kisses along her neck. Sakura leaned forward until her head rested on his shoulder and her arms wrapped around Itachi's neck, steadily riding him.

There were times when their love-making was so intense Sakura would scream when she came. Other times it was so tender that she felt like crying. This time, it was a mixture of both inundating passion and amorous desire that when she finally reached the apex she both cried out and allowed a few tears to fall.

When Sakura started to climb back down it was then she realized that Itachi hadn't finished with her. She thought he might change their positions as he so often did to get to his release, but he surprised her when he picked her up bridal style and carried her to the bedroom. He laid her down gently then moved over her. Sakura was confused but also delighted and she pulled Itachi down for a kiss, wrapping her legs around his waist until she felt his slick body against hers. He aligned himself then entered. Their kiss did not break as he continued with smooth, deep thrusts. When heat was starting to pervade her body again Sakura wrapped her arms his neck and clung to him.

Something was different about this lovemaking. It was urgent, but at the same time very meaningful...almost transcendental.

Sakura loosened her hold on Itachi and laid her head back down on the pillow. Their eyes met and Sakura was swept away at the emotions she read in them. This was different for Itachi, too, she could see. She pulled him down for another searing kiss, concentrating on moving her hips in time with his thrusts, the feeling of his naked skin sliding against hers, the way his member created such perfect friction within her, and the small, breathless pants they were both letting out.

Itachi's steady rhythm sped up and started to become irregular and Sakura knew he approaching his climax. She brought her knees up so they were level with his shoulders, letting him know that she was ready and near her end, too.

Itachi wrapped his arms around Sakura and hers went around his neck. They were peering into each others eyes again and there was moment when time seemed to stop altogether, and then they arrived at the zenith together, both letting out incoherent cries and sounds of ecstasy.

For a very long time neither moved, just stayed wrapped in each others embraces, trembling and panting from their exertion and orgasms in the post-coital bliss. Itachi had his face buried into Sakura's neck and she ran her fingers through his sweaty, slightly tangled hair. She leaned down and pressed a kiss to his brow.

Now. Now was the perfect time.

"Itachi?" She prompted in a small voice.

He looked up at her, his dark eyes inquiring.

Sakura cast her eyes away, now a little uncertain. She really wanted to tell him, but was afraid of the consequences, and that thought alone was crumbling her resolve. There shouldn't be consequences for telling someone you love them.

"Are you alright?" Itachi asked lowly as he reached up and stroked her brow.

Sakura met his eyes again and read the concern in them. This was the Itachi she knew so well. Not the indifferent, calculating human facade that everyone else did. This was the man she came to love.

"Um...I...I wanted to tell you that..." She bit into her bottom lip, her once regular beating heart picking up pace again. "...I'm in love with you, Itachi."

Just as she feared, that concerned expression morphed into something indistinguishable as he hid his feelings. He just continued to stare at her, reminiscent of the time she told him of her attraction.

"I'm sorry," she said quickly. "I know that we decided not to make this serious or anything-"

"We haven't decided anything," he amended evenly.

Well, they hadn't verbally established what the nature of their relationship was or what it was going to be, but Sakura thought it was pretty obvious anyway.

"...um, yeah, I guess." She glanced away shyly again. "I realized it this last time when you went away on your mission and I missed you so much and couldn't stop thinking about you and..."

Sakura snapped her mouth shut and looked away, blush covering her already flushed features as she realized she was rambling like a fool.

"I'm sorry," she said again, sounding resigned. They were still joined, so when Sakura tried to push Itachi off, mortified that she opened up to him and he apparently didn't reciprocate, he tightened his hold on her.


She kept her eyes locked on the dresser in the corner of the room.

"Sakura. Look at me."

When she didn't comply Itachi took hold of her chin. He leaned in and kissed her gently before laying his forehead against hers.

"I love you, too, Sakura," he said very quietly, almost inaudibly.

Sakura's body stilled completely at his words, then a profound rush of happiness and joy coursed through her she gave a little laugh, took Itachi's face into her hands and kissed him. When they parted, though, Sakura immediately sobered.

"This is...troublesome...isn't it?" she asked cautiously.

Itachi was in pensive silence for a long moment. "Potentially," he finally said.

Sakura sighed, both relieved and out of nervousness. She impetuously wanted to say that everything will be okay, that their love will get them through whatever obstacle they may come across in the future, that everyone will understand, but she wasn't naive enough to really think that. The fact of the matter was, the Uchiha clan may not be accepting of their relationship. They encouraged - their encouragement was actually a complete understatement - their clansmen to marry within before considering outsiders. If an Uchiha were to choose someone that wasn't apart of the clan, then it was usually a person from another prestigious clan. Sakura was neither an Uchiha or from a prestigious clan.

"What now?" Sakura asked dully, moving her hands through his hair again.

"I've been pondering on this for a while. I think it's best if we-"

"What?" Sakura gasped. "Are you saying you...you were already in love with me?"

Sakura absolutely adored the small, diffident smirk Itachi gave her then, affirming that she was correct. "Why didn't you tell me sooner?"

"I didn't want to influence you into feeling anything prematurely."

Sakura's reflexive reaction was to be put out, but she realized that was just how Itachi was. He thought thoroughly about everything and seemed to always be one step ahead. Well, not always. Falling in love with her probably was not apart of his plans.

"I see," was her response. She looked up into clear, dark gray eyes. His love for her was evident in them. She didn't want to plot how they were going to handle this. Right now, she just wanted to bask in their mutual revelation of loving each other, so she took a hold of his face again and brought his lips to hers. It was an adequate distraction from all of the worries and Sakura noted how he was just as eager to fall back into passion.

When Sakura approached the door to the Hokage's office she noted there were no other chakra signatures behind it, save for Tsunade's. That was very strange. She was sure she had been summoned, along with her teammates, for a mission. Being beckoned alone wasn't unusual either, though, but it had been almost a week since her last mission. Or, perhaps they were called but hadn't arrived yet. Either way, Sakura's curiosity grew as she knocked.

"Enter," came Tsunade's voice and immediately Sakura was filled with a foreboding sense of dread. Tsunade would have recognized Sakura's signature and acknowledge her with the usual 'come on in, Sakura,' but the dull sound of her voice and the formality she used with just about everyone except her, Shizune and a hand full of other shinobi was disconcerting.

Sakura hesitated for a long moment, unsure of what to make of it, turned the knob and entered slowly. She instantly took in the Hokage's features, but Tsunade was standing with her back to her, looking out the window. Sakura quietly shut the door and walked over to stand a good distance from her desk.

"You summoned me, shishou?" Sakura asked in muted, expressionless voice.

Sakura's dread became more pronounced when the Hokage didn't turn around right away. Sakura started to count to herself, probably out of nervousness, and when she reached twenty-three seconds did Tsunade finally face her former protégé.

But there was still no answer. Just an intense stare; the air being charged with all kinds of negative implications causing Tsunade's expression to border on a glower. Sakura shifted her weight from one foot to the other nervously, not liking being under the acute scrutiny of her master.

After a few very long moments where Tsunade's clear disapproval with Sakura made the atmosphere in the room potent with a heaviness that was really beginning to burden Sakura, the Hokage sighed, stepped up to her desk, opened a drawer and withdrew a scroll. Tsunade tapped it against her palm in deep thought, then took a seat.

After another long sigh, the Sannin began. "I've received very startling news, Sakura, and it's involving you."

Sakura's cheeks immediately turned a slight shade of crimson. "Me, Tsunade-sama?" Sakura wanted to shrink under her master's discontent, but she was glad her words came out stronger than what she was currently feeling.

"Yes, and another individual."

Sakura gulped. "Who is that?"

The older woman's eyes turned from impassive to hard. "Are you familiar with Uchiha Itachi?"

Although she wanted to cringe away, Sakura fought with every iota of her being to keep her face neutral. "Uchiha Itachi? Of course I'm familiar with him. He's Sasuke's brother. And, beg your pardon, Tsunade-sama, but there isn't a shinobi in Konoha who isn't familiar with him because-"

Tsuande's fist making abrupt and hard contact with her desk sufficiently shut Sakura up.

"Why the hell didn't you tell me that you were intimately involved with Uchiha Itachi?"

Sakura was about to respond, spouting out whatever came to mind first out of nervousness and embarrassment, but then she noted not the angry, but disappointed look on Tsunade's face, and Sakura realized just how much of a grievous insult it was to keep her out of the loop. After Sakura unofficially was not Tsunade's apprentice anymore, and when Sakura became a jonin, their relationship turned more like mother and daughter, seeing as how Tsunade didn't have children and Sakura didn't have parents. When Sakura returned from that first jonin mission it was then that Sakura fully realized how much Tsunade cared for her, beyond that of Sakura being a loyal Konoha kunoichi and trusted pupil.

Now, Tsunade's look of disappointment was based on her assumption that Sakura wouldn't be able to trust her with crucial information, such as being in a relationship with the Uchiha clan heir. And the crux of the matter was, Sakura didn't trust her, because she knew Tsunade would try and dissuade her from engaging in it.

Sakura suddenly felt like a coward and an imbecile. Of course Tsunade, the Hokage, was going to find out about it eventually! Itachi and Sakura never talked about if they should tell Tsunade. She was presuming if he, who was ANBU, was not going to tell her then she shouldn't either.

"I...um..." And not being able to come up with an adequate reason, Sakura bowed her head and simply said, "I'm sorry, Tsunade-sama."

When she looked back up Tsunade was still studying her with hawk-like intensity, but then she closed her eyes and shook her head slowly, as if in regret.

"Sakura," she began seriously after setting her gaze upon her again. "There have been some major developments in the last few months regarding the Uchiha clan. If you would have confided in me what was going on between you two I could have helped, maybe even prevented, what happened."

Sakura's brows furrowed. "I don't understand." She hadn't heard anything recently and Itachi hadn't been around to inform her. He's been away on a mission for almost two months.

Tsunade held the scroll out to her pink-haired adopted daughter. Sakura took slow, cautious steps towards the desk, feeling very averse to reading the content within. When she finally opened it, she saw the Uchiha crest at the top, and next saw the scroll was from Uchiha Fugaku addressed to the Hokage. In the last few months he learned he had fallen ill with an incurable disease, and his dying wishes were that his eldest son take a bride that had already been chosen for him and to assume the post of Uchiha clan leader.

As Sakura read on her hands began to tremble slightly, her palms moistened, and her heart palpitated.

Itachi's betrothed is from a clan that resides in Takigakure and in a few weeks time they will travel to Konoha to marry.

Sakura checked the date on the scroll. It was written almost two weeks ago.

Not wanting to read any more, Sakura dropped her arm to her side like a dead weight, the scroll hitting the ground with a light clanking sound as the paper met the wood, and stared unseeing at the front of Tsunade's desk. "This is real, isn't it?" Sakura asked, her tone dismally blank. "This isn't a joke, right?"

"Of course not, Sakura," her shishou answered quietly. "However, there's more."

Sakura looked up expectantly, fighting hard not to cry.

"I've been aware of Fugaku's condition for a while now, but the circumstance with Itachi and an arranged marriage just recently occurred."

Sakura wasn't comprehending the relevance of Tsunade's statement. "I don't understand."

"Being Hokage, it is my responsibility to be familiar with the customs of the clans in my village. I know that the Uchiha were planning on arranging someone for Itachi to marry, but I also knew that he receded from the expectation and basically renounced his birthright. No one really knew why and I never bothered to ask him about it. I wasn't really all that interested to know something that could be considered trivial and should be left to the clan to deal with internally. But based on the evidence it appears that someone informed Fugaku of you and Itachi and actions are being made to prevent you and him from being together."

Sakura gasped in outrage. "Do you know who told?"

Tsnuade nodded gravely.

"Who?" Sakura asked, the word coming out sounding desperate and furious. Her hands clenched into fists as Sakura raised them as if as soon as Tsunade revealed the perpetrator she was going to punch them through the window.

The Hokage was quiet for a long moment before replying, "it was me."

Sakura's eyes widened in utter shock. "You, shishou?" she asked, both alarmed and in disbelief. The tears that were already pricking behind her eyes were now threatening to spill over.

"Yes, I was the one to inform Fugaku of you and Itachi."

Betrayed didn't even begin to cover how Sakura felt at the moment. "Why?" she asked in exasperated incredulity.

Tsunade sighed yet for the third time, stood up and walked directly in front of Sakura. The last remaining Sannin stared into the younger kunoichi's eyes very closely, and their concerned exploration made Sakura's tears finally fall.

"Why?" Sakura repeated miserably.

"I'm sorry, Sakura. I'm sorry that you had to find out this way and I'm sorry that I went behind your back and did this. And this is not punishment for you keeping me in the dark, but this is for the betterment of everyone involved. Trust me."

Sakura vigorously started to wipe the tears away, wanting so badly to turn and run from the room. But she would never display such a lack of deference to her master, even after her cruel intervention.

"How will this be better?"

"If Konoha forms an official alliance with Takigakure through this union, than this will be very beneficial to us in almost every aspect of Konoha's livelihood."

Of course Sakura thought bitterly. Benefits to Konoha.

"I am sorry, Sakura," Tsunade said again, but the resoluteness in her tone told Sakura the Hokage was neither permitting nor wanting her opinion on the matter.

But suddenly Sakura didn't care. Her eyes shot up to Tsunade's, defiant and angry. "You said you could have helped or prevented this. How could telling Itachi's father about us help?"

As if expecting the mini-tirade, Tsunade answered Sakura indulgently, almost condescendingly. "What I meant by help was me trying to dissuade you from being with him."

Sakura stared into the Hokage's eyes, studying them intently, then she nodded slightly in comprehension. Tsunade would have "helped" Sakura by preventing her from being hurt by the eventuality of Itachi's marriage. Tears still steadily falling, Sakura asked, "Is that all, Hokage-sama?"

Tsunade frowned slightly. "Yes. That is all."

With a small bow, Sakura turned and left the Hokage's office.

A few nights later, Sakura woke with a start when she heard her window being opened. Immediately recognizing the signature, Sakura jumped up from her bed and burst into tears.

"Itachi!" she cried wretchedly, throwing her arms around his neck.

For a long while he held her, stroking her hair and soothingly rubbing her back as she sobbed into his chest. When Sakura finally calmed he brought her over to the bed and they sat down.

"Did you know that Tsunade-sama is the one who told your father about us?"

"Yes," Itachi nodded grimly.

"I can't believe she would do that me! To us!"

Itachi suddenly turned away, but Sakura caught his expression of anguish and uncertainty. "What's wrong?" Sakura asked, taking his face into her hands so he would look at her. His eyes were downcast, but she could see they retained so much regret and sadness that it caused a large lump to form in her throat. "Itachi, what's wrong? Please tell me."

Itachi finally looked up. "Tsunade-sama told my father about us because I told her in the first place."

Sakura was a little shocked, but didn't understand why he seemed so distraught with that decision. "So?"

"I told her to tell my father."

Slowly Sakura's eyes widened in comprehension. "You...you knew about your father's sickness and what he wanted you to do."

Itachi nodded remorsefully.

Something suddenly occurred to Sakura. "Then why didn't you just tell your father about us in the first place?" she demanded.

In the blink of an eye Itachi's countenance changed from regretful to determined. "Because I have a plan."

The news spread like a fire-wind combo jutsu, even without Ino's influence.

Itachi resigned from the ANBU black-ops and was being reinstalled as a jonin.

About a week later, Sakura learned she was specifically requested by the Uchiha for a mission. It was no surprise to Sakura that the mission was nowhere near jonin-ranked.

"This is wrong," Sakura whispered amidst her panting. She continued to assault Itachi's neck and bare shoulder with eager, hungry kisses. She stopped just long enough for Itachi to pull her Konoha issued jonin shirt off before hastily continuing.

"Is that going to stop you?" Itachi rasped before he put his hands under Sakura's rear and lifted her up. Sakura wrapped her legs around his waist as he brought her over to the futon.

She giggled. "What do you think?" she responded mischievously before crushing her lips to his.

Their "mission" was to deliver some weapons to the monks at the Fire Temple. Itachi had personally requested the mission as a "favor" to a friend, which was true, but needed it sanctioned by the Hokage as an official mission so he could petition another jonin's company. Or, more accurately, Sakura's company. That way her involvement wouldn't look suspicious since the Hokage ordered it. Tsunade knew what they were doing, and although she frowned upon it, she granted it anyway. Itachi wasn't married yet, so Tsunade decided to give them some time for themselves before that deal was done, but then was not going to send Itachi and Sakura out on a mission together unless it was absolutely necessary.

As Sakura went for the button on Itachi's ninja slacks she thought about how not only what they were currently doing was wrong, but all of it. But Itachi had a plan and what they did in the interim was really of no consequence to anyone. Unless his fiancee found out. Then they were screwed.

But Itachi wasn't a genius for nothing, and Sakura had no doubt that his fastidiousness in planning ahead would keep them clear of suspicion.

Their mission was scheduled to conclude four days from commencement. They had completed it in under a day. After they left the Fire Temple the first evening, they went to an inn to stay for a night. Or three.

When all their clothes were shed Itachi didn't hesitate to take a pink, budded nipple into his mouth. They both moaned. It had been so long. His other hand, almost too roughly, massaged Sakura's other breast. Her back arched and her hips rocked against his.

"Argh, Itachi..."

He went lower, and when Sakura understood his intention, she put her legs onto his shoulders. Itachi planted kisses along her abdomen, over her hip, down her thigh and continued his trail to the inside. Sakura's breath caught for one long second in desperate anticipation of where his mouth would go next and she let out a keening cry when his tongue immediately found her clitoris and he gave it relentless attention. When Itachi inserted a finger Sakura's legs began to tremble. Itachi looked up for a brief second to catch the beautiful look of concentrated bliss on Sakura's face before he delved full force back into her. When he put another finger in Sakura instantly lost it. She thrashed wildly, gripping the blankets with white knuckles.

"Ah! Oh my god!"

Itachi didn't ease up and was extremely gratified when moments later another orgasm ripped through Sakura. Everyone in the inn, and probably the immediate vicinity, could hear Sakura scream, but Itachi didn't care. As much as he wanted her to, as long as she didn't scream his name then they would not be caught.

Even before Sakura came down fully Itachi was already positioning himself at her threshold. He lifted himself so he was on his knees and slid in easily, immediately pounding into her with jack-hammer like intensity. They could make love later. Right now, they both just severely needed to be fucked by the other.

When Sakura suddenly sat up and pushed on Itachi, he threw her a questioning look before pulling out and backing away. When she turned around and positioned her rear to him, he grinned madly before aligning himself and slamming back into her. Sakura cried out again, burying her face into the pillows, the sheets twisting from her grip.

"C'mon Itachi." Sakura encouraged wantonly, meaning fuck her hard until he came because she already came twice. It was less than minute later when Sakura almost had to make him stop because his thrusts were becoming unbearably painful when she heard him grunt, felt him pulsate thickly inside of her, and her womb was filled with his warm essence. He fell onto her in a tired heap and they both laid there, panting and completely satiated.

After a while Itachi lifted himself from her to lay on his side. Sakura turned to tuck herself against him, laying her head on his chest.

"Itachi, tell me you love me."

He looked down at her, took her face into his hands and stared endlessly into beautiful pools of viridian. "I love you," he vowed.

This might be morally wrong, Tsunade might disapprove, Naruto might get angry with her, Sasuke might even hate her someday, and they might even get caught but Itachi's declaration was all the validation Sakura needed to know they were doing the right thing.

More news and gossip circulated throughout Konoha. It was discovered that Itachi's fiancee was caught red-handed engaging in an affair.

The collective shinobi and civilian populaces all waited with bated breath to see how the Uchiha genius would handle it. Would he tolerate it and keep the alliance intact? Or would he banish her, threatening hostilities against Takigakure?

The conclusion of the whole debacle was of the Taki-kunoichi meekly requesting that she be allowed to be sent back home with the hopes that Konoha will still desire a formal association with her village. She was actually in love with a member of Takigakure and never really wanted to marry into the Uchiha. By this time, Fuguku was too ill to make any competent decisions or opinions, so it was left up to the clan council and the Fire Daimyo.

Itachi made sure to have Shisui present at every meeting.

In the end, Itachi completely extracted himself from all duties pertaining to being the Uchiha clan leader. He was no longer involved with the Military Police (which pressured him into joining ANBU in the first place, something he never wanted anyway), the clan council and leadership. It was perfectly understood that he was still an Uchiha because of the sharingan, he would go on missions behest of his clan, but would no longer take up the position as clan authority.

In her office, three satisfied and remorseless shinobi stood before Tsunade. Well, three satisfied but two remorseless.

"Sakura," her shishou got her attention when she noticed the mild look of uncertainty in Sakura's features after learning of their plans. It was mostly Shisui's doing, with Itachi's planning. Sakura wasn't directly involved, but she was aware of the plans, so that made her a co-conspirator.

"Yes, Tsunade-sama?"

"You seem a little uncertain with what happened."

Sakura bit into her lower lip, but didn't answer. Yes, she did feel bad for their rather unscrupulous methods of sabotage. Also, she was afraid that Tsunade would think less of her for it.

"But when Itachi presented the facts to me, his planned outcome for all parties involved, and his love for you I couldn't deny the plans coming to fruition."

Sakura's jaw dropped open and her eyes widened. "You knew, shishou?"

The Hokage chuckled. "Of course I knew."

"Then why...why...why did you make me believe you were against Itachi and I in the first place?"

"Sakura, if anyone besides me, even Itachi, handed that scroll to you, how would you have reacted?"

Sakura thought about it for a moment, then her cheeks reddened and she gave a sheepish smile. "Oh."

"Yes, exactly. Only I was able to control what potentially could have been the Fourth Shinobi World War around here."

Sakura knew her mentor was correct. Sakura would have turned Konoha upside down in her rage at whomever informed Fuguku of her and Itachi.

"Besides," Tsunade continued. "I encourage all of my shinobi to use their gifts for the betterment of Konoha, so don't feel bad about what happened, Sakura," She said, eyeing Shisui with a wicked, knowing glint in her amber eyes.

"You mean use their gifts to exploit a situation," Sakura amended cheekily, because what Itachi and Shisui did was certainly exploitation.

A corner of Tsunade's mouth lifted. "Something like that," she answered cryptically. "Now, to wrap up this business, I suggest that you two maintain a low profile for a while so no one suspects your motive was to be with Sakura, Itachi."

"Yes, Hokage-sama."

Four months later Sakura was assisting Kagori-san with her dango stand once again. And once again, she was absent due to something or other. Sakura realized she really was bamboozled into this, but paid it no mind.

"So..." Sakura began as she handed an on-the-house plate of dango to her lover. "You think now is a good time for you to move in?"

"Hm," he said before taking a bite.

Sakura waited patiently for an answer. She handed him a cup of tea and Itachi suddenly took her hand and kissed the top of it. Sakura thought it was a little odd, but sweet. When she started to pull her hand away and she felt something hard pressing into her palm.

"Yes, it's probably a good time," Itachi answered with a certain glint in his eye.

Sakura opened her hand to find Itachi had given her a ring. An engagement ring. Sakura looked back up to him in shock and awe.

Itachi nonchalantly took a drink of his tea. "This is merely a formality, a demonstration that you're mine. We don't have to discuss anything relating to marriage until you want to."

Sakura had made it very clear that she was uncertain if she ever wanted to get married. Itachi, however, was raised in tradition and saw the benefits of it. At least that one. As long as he got to choose his bride than he could comply.

Sakura was dubious. "What about your clan? They probably won't agree to this."

"They will have to," Itachi said simply.

"Okay, they'll have to, but that doesn't mean they'll like it."

"While I appreciate your consideration for my clansmen, it's irrelevant whether they like it or not. They will just have to accept it."

"Yeah, okay, let's not talk about marriage stuff...for a long while."

Itachi smirked knowingly. He took the ring from Sakura and slid it onto the appropriate finger. She admired it for a long moment.

"You know, this huge rock is really impractical for missions."

Itachi gave her a steady look. "You can remove it before missions," he pointed out.

Sakura blushed and smiled hugely. "But I don't want to. Look how shiny it is," she said, tilting her hand this way and that. Then she looked into her lover's eyes, her own gleaming with happiness and excitement. "I love you," she said before leaning in for a kiss.

"When do you think we should inform everyone else?" Itachi asked. Sakura knew who the 'else' was. She cringed. Naruto and Sasuke were clueless to her and Itachi being together. Then they are going to come out with the news that they're engaged...

"That's a ticking time bomb waiting to explode," sakura muttered.

"Yes, that could be problematic indeed," Itachi agreed.

"Well, it's not something that has to happen right away." Sakura wrapped her arms around Itachi's neck. "Why don't we just concentrate on being in love?"

Sakura could see Itachi knew she was trying to avoid the topic, but when she batted her eyelashes and licked her lips inconspicuously, his even expression turned gentle. Ah, the ever persuasive charms of feminine wiles. She could persuade him more fully when she took him home later that night.

The End

I hope that ending makes you smile like it makes me. Sorry for the anticlimactic plotline and resolution to Itachi's and Sakura's problem, but I didn't write this for a good plot...I wrote it for the smut that was going on in my brain. You guys don't mind, right?

Thanks for reading! Reviews stoke my passion. Passion for writing, that is (: