Title: training

Author: paws-bells

Beta-ed by: MelissaRose85

Characters/Pairing: Haruno Sakura and Uchiha Itachi

Type: Two-shot (InComplete)

Genre: Humor/Romance

Word Count: 5943

Theme: LJ Community, 50-shinobi theme #37, training

Rating: T (Contains content not suitable for children)

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto-san.

Summary: Non Massacre AU. Sequel to flirt. He is intent on laying claim on her. She is not so thrilled by his possessiveness. Meanwhile, Team Seven watches on with complete bewilderment.

Completed on: 01/05/08

Chapter Last Revised on: 03/12/11


Chapter 1


Sakura stared at the tall, handsome male standing beside her teammates and tried her best not to twitch. She forced herself to smile instead. It was a good thing that both Naruto and Sasuke were not looking at her; if not, surely they would have seen the disgruntlement that was painted all over her face. Sai noticed though, and he gave the kunoichi an odd glance before focusing back onto the conversation at hand.

"Nii-san, what are you doing here?" The younger Uchiha frowned slightly at his elder brother. The Uchiha heir was dressed in full ANBU uniform, his porcelain mask strapped securely to the side of a lean hip. "Aren't you supposed to be on a mission?"

The older raven-haired male gave Team Seven's only female member a long glance of acknowledgement as she approached reluctantly to see what was going on, and then he focused his attention back onto his little brother.

"My team completed the assignment earlier than expected." His voice was calm and quiet as usual, and Sakura's brow arched slightly. No wonder she hadn't seen him around for the past week or so. He had been out of Konoha again. That still didn't explain what he was doing in Team Seven's usual training area though. "I'm here to remind you that Haha-ue would like you to return on time to prepare for tonight's dinner with Hokage-sama."

If anything, Sasuke's scowl worsened at his brother's comment. Formal shindigs were never his thing after all, as the team had found out the hard way once when they had to go undercover to protect the Fire Daimyo and his wife during an important function and the bad-tempered Uchiha had gotten hit on by a drunken merchant who had thought he was a girl.

This was probably going to be nothing like that mortifying incident that had Naruto in stitches and Sasuke sulking for an entire week, but still, it had been a hard lesson learned, and judging by that look of annoyance on Sasuke's face, he remembered it all too well.

"Aa," the younger Uchiha grunted. "I know. I will not be late. Is there anything else?" It was obvious that Sasuke was more interested in resuming training. After all, it was a rare occasion that all of Team Seven could spend a day together.

Itachi appeared unfazed by his little brother's grumpy demeanor.

Sakura was rather disconcerted when she suddenly found herself under the intense scrutiny of the Uchiha heir. Not that she was not used to the older male's often times odd glances after being his unofficial medic for nearly eight months now, but the fact that he was doing so in front of her teammates made her twitchier than ever.

After all, none of the boys had caught on to the fact that their pink-haired best friend had been secretly patching up the many various injuries that Sasuke's older brother had sustained during training, missions and whatnots ever since the first time he had appeared on her doorstep one cold and wet morning. Sakura had always thought of him as an irritating thorn in her side since he seldom if ever did anything she wanted him to and always came back (often in the middle of the night, much to her chagrin) to annoy her until she gave up and healed him quickly just so that he would leave.

For Sakura, their relationship quickly grew to become that of a rather unconventional friendship that no one knew about.

Unbeknownst to her, the Uchiha had something else in mind.

Almost three months ago, he had blithely informed her oblivious self that he was interested in her, much to her blatant disbelief. The fact that he had disappeared without a word for the next two months after his firm declaration hadn't helped convince her at all that he was being serious, and oddly enough, it had made her very angry and somewhat upset that he had been playing such games with her. Then, almost two weeks ago, he had returned from his assignment and she had realized stupidly that the reason he hadn't come to see her for the past two months was because he had been stuck on a recon mission off in enemy territory. Her anger at him had no basis then, and so, she had reluctantly (or so she told herself) agreed to heal him and in return, he had stolen a kiss from her—again!

It was annoying that he kept doing that whenever she was not paying attention, and what's even more aggravating was the fact that she could not seem to summon up enough self-control to stop him! It really irritated her to no end that her treacherous body appeared keen on betraying her every time he was nearby, shamelessly drinking in his presence and greedily soaking up his attention. Sakura twitched visibly just thinking of it, and once again, Sai gave his teammate a strange, considering stare.

Sakura frowned back at him, and Sai promptly gave her that irritatingly vague smile that made her scowl harder.

It wasn't helping the situation at all now that Itachi was staring at her as well.

"What?" the kunoichi snapped when she could not take it at last. Now all her teammates were staring at her. Sakura did not care; she was more bothered by the powerful ANBU Captain currently in their midst.

"If you are finally done with your super important announcement here, can we all go back to our sparring now?"

Naruto eyed his surrogate sister oddly. "Ne, Sakura-chan," he asked at last. "Why are you being so aggressive towards Sasuke's brother?" Not that Sakura was always the perfect little angel, but she was normally at least cordial towards everybody, only unleashing her scary persona on those who knew her very well, aka her teammates and best friends.

So, it was fairly unusual that she was being this touchy with the elder Uchiha.

To his credit, Itachi didn't seem to mind her irritableness.

"Actually, I'm not done yet." His voice was calm and placid, and his eyes never left hers. "My other purpose here is to escort my date to prepare herself for tonight's formal dinner."

Sakura was hardly impressed by his message, and she blatantly ignored that twinge of annoyance that flared within her at the Uchiha's statement. "That's very nice of you and all, but what does this have to do with us?" Sakura asked snappishly. "Just go and get her already!"

"Very well."

Before the grumpy pink-haired female could react, the tall Uchiha reached out and grabbed the stunned kunoichi. The rest of Team Seven could only watch in a bewildered stupor as Itachi tugged Sakura to his side. Not even looking at the now gaping female, he nodded once to the boys of Sakura's team.

"I will take my leave now. See you later, otouto."

He was about to leave with the beautiful medic-nin in tow when Naruto snapped out of his shock.

"H-hey! What are you going to do with Sakura-chan?" the blonde hollered. Sasuke was frowning a tad more ferociously than usual and Sai was quietly watchful.

Sakura was starting to recover from the fact that the lean ANBU had his fingers wrapped firmly around her wrist. She started to scowl hard at the Uchiha. "What are you doing, Itachi?" the kunoichi demanded as well. "Let go of me now or I swear that I will kick you where the sun don't shine!"

The fact that she was being so informal with the powerful shinobi was not lost on her teammates. Once again, Sai started to smile with his usual vague expression. "Ugly seems to know Uchiha-san very well. I don't think we need to worry about her; Uchiha-san will probably let go after a few more moments of exposure to her temper."

It was a good thing that Sakura was too busy being irate with one pigheaded male to be irritated with the other, and so Sai's comment went unpunished. It was a rare occasion indeed, but Naruto was hardly in the mood to celebrate. The blonde started to frown.

"Seems to know him very well?" Naruto echoed with increasing agitation. "How could Sakura-chan know Sasuke's brother very well? I can count on one hand the number of times we have seen teme's brother and still have fingers left over!"

Itachi ignored the ruckus that Sakura's teammates were starting to kick up. He focused his attention wholly on the woman before him. The petite pink-haired female whose face was still flushed from her exertions during training, tendrils of perspiration-matted hair escaping the bonds of her hair tie and framing her beautiful, heart-shaped features….

She was glaring unhappily at him.

He was not put off by that ferocious scowl on her face, however.

"My mother wishes to meet you," he informed her with little preamble whatsoever. In response, she could only gawk at his reply. In fact, three quarters of Team Seven were gaping openly, except for the still-smiling Sai. Itachi turned his attention to the amusing expression currently on the face of his incredulous little brother and continued. "I have told Haha-ue much about Sakura. She is curious to meet the person whom I have been spending so much of my spare time with."

Sakura started to sputter. Naruto had yet to pick his jaw from the ground, so stunned was he by the news. Was this supposed to be a bloody joke or what?

"You told Haha-ue…?" Sasuke could only stare at his brother with blatant disbelief. As far as he was concerned, Itachi had never mentioned the name of any female to their anxious mother, and he knew because for the past couple of years, Mikoto had been almost desperate for her workaholic eldest son to find a nice kunoichi to start a relationship with but to no avail. Itachi had humored their mother by patiently listening to her oftentimes long spiels regarding his single status despite the overabundance of females who were more than willing to date him, but still had remained mostly unattached, much to their parent's immense chagrin. And recently, Mikoto had been starting in on Sasuke as well, and was always left despairing over the single status of both her attractive, competent sons.

And now, the fact that Itachi had actually told their mother…and about Sakura too…

"…spending so much of your spare time with…?" Sasuke could not help but utter with complete bewilderment. And just when did Itachi even know Sakura that well?

Unfazed, the elder Uchiha nodded calmly. "We have been seeing each other for nearly eight months already."

Naruto, who had just managed to close his mouth, felt his jaw drop open again with shock. He squeaked in a distinctly unmanly manner. "Eight months?"

Sakura reacted.

"That's not true! I wasn't seeing him!" She tried to defend herself under the unbelieving/stunned/mildly curious stares of her three male teammates. "I was healing him! Healing! We weren't doing anything else!"

Itachi merely leveled a quiet stare at the petite female standing beside him. She was still frowning at him for purposely deluding her teammates, but he was not done yet. She was trying so determinedly to keep her connection to him secret but he was not cooperating at all. He looked at her.

"Do you kiss all your patients then, Sakura?" He proceeded to ask with nonchalance.

Naruto choked. Sasuke's eyes widened. Sai's smile became a tad larger.

Sakura turned bright purple.

"You…actually kissed him, Sakura-chan?" Naruto could not help but squawk out in shock.

"I did not!" the kunoichi denied immediately. "He kissed me! I didn't kiss him back!"

It was like she was back in ninja preschool again.

"He kissed you, but you didn't retaliate?" Sasuke asked slowly, as if he was having a lot of trouble picturing the particularly disturbing image of his brother and teammate engaged in that type of relation. He really didn't want to think too much of it, but the appalling mental image refused to leave his mind.

Sakura turned even redder, if possible.

"I…I…he took me by surprise!" she blurted out quickly at last. She proceeded to look at the 'he' in question, her eyes accusing, almost as if expecting for him to clean up this mess that he had single handedly upended upon her head.

"…and you didn't retaliate after, Ugly?" Sai asked in a blandly interested manner. Sakura merely glared at her unhelpful teammate. Meanwhile, Naruto was beginning to finally recover from this second bombshell of the day.

The blonde looked at the elder Uchiha with something akin to growing admiration in his eyes. "…you actually managed to kiss Sakura-chan without her permission, and you are still alive?"

Naruto could still clearly remember the last time someone tried to steal a kiss from Sakura. Poor, gullible Lee had been brainwashed by Kakashi (who had been keen on taking his revenge on his female student because she had done something unspeakable to one of his precious Icha Icha collection) into believing that Sakura was sad and needed some good ole lovin' to perk her up. The taijutsu master had behaved oddly around the bewildered kunoichi for days, and the very moment Lee's intention became clear, the poor, poor man was promptly met with one of her supercharged fists that had sent him briefly into the skies for a nice aerial view of Konoha before plummeting down back to earth again. Painfully.

Oh, Sakura-chan had eventually healed the bowl-headed, spandex-wearing nin of course, and when she had learnt that her sorry excuse of a sensei was the mastermind behind all the nonsense, she had gone straight over and given him a thump or ten, too. Kakashi could only meekly allow his student to vent her rage on him; she had warned him that if he even tried to run she was going to take her anger out on the rest of his Icha Icha books instead, and so the silver-haired Jounin had remained, and after that, no one had dared to mess with the beautiful kunoichi and her delectable, Cupid's bow lips.

But now, here was someone who had somehow managed to get past all of the pink-haired female's many, and often painful, defenses.

Naruto was almost in awe of this raven-haired ANBU, much to Sakura's growl of outrage.

"I don't want to talk about this anymore." the kunoichi snapped at last. She could easily foresee that this conversation was heading towards a lot of problems for her, and she wanted out before it was too late. She even shook Itachi's hand off her wrist too, for good measure. Who was he to start manhandling her like that? "Let's just resume training."

But it was apparent that her teammates were a lot more interested in her love life (seeing that there had been no such thing before) than training now. And besides, Itachi wasn't about to let her go back to the training area.

"You will need to prepare yourself for tonight's dinner," he told her patiently.

She could only stare at him incredulously. It quickly turned to anger, of course.

"I never agreed to attend it!" She scowled fiercely. "And you never even asked! I'm not your pet, for you to drag along at your every whim!"

She was getting madder and madder by the second, just thinking of how he was being so daring as to treat her like this. Her teammates could only look on in trepidation, aware of the impending explosion.

Naruto stared at the elder Uchiha, suddenly feeling a little sorry for the man. Once upon a time, Team Seven had been completely protective over their one and only female teammate, but they had quit worrying over her soon enough, seeing that she could be completely terrifying in a blink of an eye and had proven on multiple occasions to be more than capable of protecting herself, and sometimes even saving their collective asses while she was at it too.

They had once joked that the man who would end up with Sakura had to be pitied, and it was true. The kunoichi had a temper on her and she was not exactly afraid to use it.

It was apparent that any male insane enough to take her on was going to be in for a long, uphill battle to win her affections.

Sasuke sighed inwardly to himself.

It made so much sense now that his brother would have gone for Sakura.

"Aniki, you should stop while you are ahead. In fact, you should just stop. You are making her very angry," the younger Uchiha muttered as he cast a wary eye over to the enraged female.

"Damn right you are," Sakura agreed agitatedly, her mouth pulled down in an upset frown. Really, she just could not understand why he was picking on her like that! Did he not realize how confused she was feeling right now? She was so used to being with the guys; no man had even dared to lay eyes on her thanks to the combined prowess of her teammates and herself, and she was rather pleased to be left alone, too. Work took up a great portion of her time, her continuous training took up yet another chunk of her life, and last but not least, her friends sucked up whatever was leftover.

And then he strolled into her life like it was his goddamned right or something, and proceeded to take over her thoughts and attention so completely and thoroughly that she was quite naturally upset by the suddenness of it all. It was true that most women would have been flattered to have someone like him pay so much attention to them, but Sakura was not one of those women and, to be honest, he was scaring her. She was not used to feeling like she did whenever he was around, breathless and almost shy and uncertain, and she was almost sure that she didn't like those feelings too, if not for the fact that she just could not seem to get genuinely mad at him at all.

That wasn't a problem now, of course. Sakura did not appreciate what he was doing; coming here before her teammates and best friends and behaving as if he had a right to her when that was perfectly not true! He kissed her a couple of times, alright, more than a couple of times, but that was it! It certainly didn't mean that they were together, and it sure as hell did not mean that she would be willing to meet his parents just because of a few kisses! And this was absurd; just because he happened to be heir to the prestigious Uchiha clan did not mean that everyone would be jumping at the chance to meet his highborn family, and Sakura quickly decided that he was being condescending again. Well, she was not about to dance to his tune, that was for sure.

Sakura looked at her teammates, her mood for training suddenly gone. She purposely ignored a certain Uchiha heir in question and smiled grimly at Sasuke, Naruto and Sai. "You know what, guys? I don't think that I'm in the mood to train now. You can go on ahead without me; I'm going to head home to spend a nice, quiet night in reading."

It was apparent that she was blatantly rejecting Itachi's request/demand, and according to her teammates, it wasn't much of a surprise at all. In fact, what was more surprising was that she had actually lasted as long as she had without lashing out at the object of her irritation, namely one Uchiha Itachi.

Naruto appeared slightly put out. It would have been interesting to see how the other Uchiha would react to Sakura's temper; if he could actually keep his cool around her, or if he would whimper and run in the other direction like his younger brother did every time he unknowingly offended their pink-haired teammate.

After all, Sakura was very good at letting her fists do the talking, if all else failed.

At the moment though, the kunoichi in question was stalking off the training field and to the side to collect her water bottle and other belongings. She hadn't even glanced at Itachi as she skulked off, which indicated that she was really annoyed. The men watched silently as she promptly disappeared from sight after she took all her things, before turning collectively as one to look at the culprit responsible for their female teammate's fury.

Itachi ignored his brother's team members in favor of looking to his otouto for an appropriate answer.

"What did I do wrongly, Sasuke?"

There wasn't a hint of bewilderment whatsoever in the voice of the elder Uchiha. Nor was there any embarrassment or awkwardness in the male's calm, even tone, despite the fact that he had just been flatly turned down by the kunoichi whom he was so intent on pursuing. In fact, it was as if he was just casually asking his little brother about the time and nothing else. Naruto grimaced inwardly. He should have known that teme's brother would be even cooler than teme himself, if that was even possible.

Sasuke, on the other hand, could only stare at his aniki for a long time. For the younger Uchiha, it had been a long recurring fantasy for his all-knowing elder brother to for once admit that there was something that stumped even that prodigious mind of his. Today, his dream was coming true. His aniki was asking him for help!

Unfortunately though…

When it came to the subject of his female teammate, Sasuke was just as stumped as his brother, if not even more so. Never mind that he had known Sakura for nearly a decade already, but when it came to the emotional workings of one pink-haired kunoichi, the younger Uchiha male had long since given up on trying to understand how she ticked. Though he couldn't deny that a manual on what ticked her off would certainly be nice.

"Eh." Naruto scratched his chin as he looked at Itachi consideringly. "Are you really serious about Sakura-chan?"

The blonde was asking on the behalf of his entire team, sort of on one part concern for his pink-haired teammate, and three parts curiosity regarding the sanity of the poor man in question, kind of deal.

Of course, the 'concern for teammate' portion was most evident in those surprisingly serious sapphire eyes, and even Sai appeared quietly analytical of the lean Uchiha ANBU standing within their midst.

"He's serious," Sasuke answered for his brother, much to everyone's surprise. Sasuke still had this oddly disturbed/disgruntled/disbelieving look on his face as he glanced at his aniki. "Itachi wouldn't spend eight months on Sakura if he wasn't serious."

At that, Naruto could only look impressed. Sai gave the older Uchiha an odd glance.

"Please clear this riddle up for me, Uchiha-san," the younger male asked in a deceptively polite manner. "Just what do you see in The Hag, anyway?"

At that question, Naruto and Sasuke frowned at their teammate.

"Sakura is going to cream you with great pleasure if she hears about what you are saying right now," the younger Uchiha remarked flatly.

Naruto agreed, nodding sagely. "That's right, man. And besides, aren't you supposed to be sorta defending her here?"

Sai merely eyed his two teammates quizzically. Sometimes, he just did not understand what they were thinking. "Why? It's not like she lacks the ability to protect herself." Sai's remark was entirely true to the nth degree. "Both of you still remember what happened the last time we tried to interfere with one of her 'dates', yes?"

As if on cue, Naruto and Sasuke visibly cringed. Obviously, that interested Itachi as well. The Uchiha gave his entire attention to the trio.

"…yeah," Naruto admitted at last. "We got smacked around by her, and then largely scolded whilst she healed us later on."

It was not that the men of Team Seven could not hold their own against their female teammate. And it sure as heck wasn't because they were holding out on her because she was a girl. Chauvinism in Team Seven had died a painful, violent, bloody death a long, long time ago, and there was really no chance whatsoever of it being revived anytime soon, not even by that pervert Orochimaru's forbidden techniques.

No, the men of Team Seven had learnt that it was better to receive their dues right away than to attempt to evade and allow their devious teammate time to think of worse and oftentimes completely humiliating revenge that would haunt them for the rest of their adult lives. And after almost eight years of intensive 'obedience training' thanks to their aggressive female teammate, they had finally learnt to choose their battles wisely.

"But we are still nowhere near worse off than that man she was dating," Sasuke remarked to his brother. "He turned out to be a pervert and I believe that Sakura nearly broke all his bones for trying to get fresh with her."

Naruto winced. "And because Sakura-chan is one of the head medic-nin in the hospital, no one dared to help heal the man for two whole weeks until baa-chan stepped in, and that was after he swore up and down that he would never be a pervert again." Once again, Naruto cringed visibly. "I think he became something of an okama—probably had something to do with that broken man part of his."

At that, the other two members of Team Seven flinched.

"You are right, Sai," Naruto mumbled dejectedly. "There is no need to protect Sakura-chan at all. She's a natural born ball-buster all on her own, so scary as hell that the only thing we need to worry about is the wellbeing of the men who dare cross her path—and invoke her fury."

The blonde Jinchuuriki looked to the silent Uchiha heir.

"Are you really sure that you still want to court Sakura-chan?"

To be entirely honest, it completely bewildered Naruto that teme's brother had been doggedly pursuing their obviously reluctant female teammate for eight months already and he was actually still alive—and still very determined to have her, even to the extent of trying to coax her to meet the parents. Naruto quickly decided that either that particular Uchiha was a glutton for pain and suffering, or that all those harrowing ANBU missions had screwed up his common sense and sense of self preservation and had made him distinctly odd, just like Kakashi.

Or maybe it was just the man himself.

Sasuke looked over to his brother, and whereas the others saw an impassive façade, the younger Uchiha managed to detect the hints of amusement and growing admiration for a certain beautiful, pink-haired female. Sasuke groaned mentally.

"This is not putting you off her at all, is it?" the younger Uchiha demanded. His aniki merely eyed him calmly.

"No, it's not," Itachi admitted blandly. Then he focused his attention wholly on the three men who knew Sakura the best.

"Tell me how to get past her defenses."


Sakura was in a foul mood.

The kunoichi stalked into her living room after shutting the door behind her noisily, and then she tossed her keys and belongings onto the coffee table before heading straight for her bathroom. The pink-haired female undressed herself in quick, jerky movements as she scowled and fumed. That damn…arrogant idiot! How dare he behave as if she was his pet and that he could order her around anytime he pleased? He had no right whatsoever! And to do so in front of her teammates as well?

She emitted a loud, frustrated growl as she stepped under the showerhead and proceeded to turn on the water. It took awhile, but eventually the cold spray from the shower did manage to calm her agitated temper down somewhat. Then she began to think hard about her circumstances. How had her relationship with one Uchiha Itachi degenerated to something like this? And most importantly, what should she do about it now?

Why did he have to be so damn perplexing? Granted, he had indicated his interest in her before but she had thought that he was only joking! How could he not be? She had done absolutely nothing to attract his attention and just what on earth did he see in her anyway? For all she knew, she had only healed him on multiple occasions and snarked at him some like her usual self and that was it! Was he secretly masochistic and enjoyed getting scolded or something?

Sakura heaved a large sigh. Matters concerning the opposite sex had always been so clear cut and simple to her before him, but now that he was in the picture, everything felt odd to her. She felt odd in his presence. His gentle regard whenever those onyx eyes of his landed upon her made her insides flutter with strange intensity, and on the separate occasions when he kissed her…

Emerald eyes darkened unconsciously, and then Sakura groaned.

This was sheer hell!

If nothing else, the petite kunoichi absolutely hated to be confused and Itachi was doing nothing but muddling her mind up even worse! On one hand, what he was doing now was seriously annoying her and pricking at her fierce feminine pride. But on the other…

Sakura was aware that she was being appallingly shameless, but her inner self was greedily lapping up all the attention that he was giving her and, worse of all, she was beginning to suspect that he was well aware of her conflicting emotions—and was probably amusing himself at her expense, too.

Emerald eyes narrowed slightly at the infuriating thought. Well, she was not going to let him find his entertainment with her anymore! The next time she saw him again, she was going to clear everything up once and for all! No more was she going to be the nice and sweet tempered medic-nin! She would demand to know what he was trying to do messing with her thoughts and feelings like this and by golly he was going to tell her—if not there was really going to be hell to pay and she would be vindictive.

At that moment, Sakura yelped out a small sneeze.

Well, at least as vindictive as she could be with a side serving of the cold and sniffles.

Time flew when one was preoccupied in deep thought, and it was already a good twenty five minutes since Sakura had made the very smart decision to take a cold shower in the middle of autumn. Never mind that it had really felt good initially, but Sakura was starting to feel a little foolish right now. The pink-haired female quickly decided to get out before she really did catch a cold and she did so promptly, turning off the shower and then reaching out of the shower area for her towel, rapidly drying herself with the large, fluffy fabric.

Warming herself up again was going to take more than that though, and as Sakura finally walked out of the bathroom wrapped in her towel, the kunoichi mused on fixing herself a cup of hot coffee and settling down to do some leisurely reading before preparing a light dinner for the night. She padded almost soundlessly out to the hallway and then into the bedroom across of it. Putting on her clothes took no time at all, and then she picked up her hairbrush from the vanity table and started to run it through her mid-length locks. The kunoichi stared absently at her reflection in the mirror. A vibrant, young woman stared back boldly, with large expressive eyes of the purest shade of emerald, and soft, pink hair that made her stand out from the crowd. Her features were pleasing; full, Cupid's bow lips, a small nose, dainty cheekbones and long eyelashes of the palest shade of rose.

Was this what Itachi saw whenever he looked at her?

Sakura blinked and then snorted softly to herself. She was passably good looking, she supposed to herself. But the notion that the Uchiha was actually attracted to her because of her supposed 'good' looks made the kunoichi huff with blatant disbelief.

Yeah, right. There were so many better looking women out there, so why pick her? And she hadn't even been exactly encouraging towards his attentions. She was grumpy, she had made it astonishingly clear on more than several occasions that she saw him as an additional irritation in her already irritable life, and never before had she shown an ounce of interest in him that was unprofessional. Sakura really did not understand how she had ended up in this situation. She wasn't a flirt, she had never acted coy before and she sure as heck was not 'extending her wily claws' in an effort to land one of Konoha's most eligible bachelors.

So why on earth was he so interested in her?

Sakura scowled as she set down her brush. Then she thought hard about her sorry state of circumstance.

Itachi was the heir to the Uchiha clan; surely there were women falling all over him just for the chance for him to look their way…

Maybe…

Maybe, he was just trying to use her to get those fan girls/women/grandmothers to back off?

The more Sakura thought about it, the more likely it became. Really, the wonders of self-delusion simply knew no bounds.

But then again, it did make some sense. After all, who better to pretend to have an interest in than someone who was apparently quite uninterested in return? Sakura knew enough that the raven-haired male was a very meticulous, detail-orientated person. It was what made him such an excellent shinobi in the first place. The past eight months…had he been carefully laying his tracks, making sure that his interest in her was not something that was suspiciously sudden?

Sakura wouldn't put it past the genius Uchiha heir to plan something like that, but unfortunately for her, she was just thinking way too much in this instance—and as a result, was starting to give herself a huge headache, not to mention that phantom twinge in her chest when she came to the conclusion that Itachi was most probably making use of their somewhat unorthodox friendship to rid himself of his legions of fangirls.

The annoyed kunoichi had to give herself a harsh mental smack to snap out of her gloomy stupor. She was not upset at all! In fact, now that she was sure she had gotten everything figured out, it was as if a great weight had just been lifted off her shoulders! Nope, not upset at all!

With that wonderfully convincing inner prep, Sakura attempted a cheerful smile at her reflection and promptly failed miserably.

Sakura let out a loud groan and resisted the urge to bang her head against the mirror. Just what the hell was wrong with her anyway? She was bewildered and not exactly welcoming of Itachi's advances towards her, but yet the notion that he might not be genuinely interested in her hurt her somewhat. She couldn't have it both ways! Why couldn't she make up her mind? She was not normally this uncertain and wishy-washy!

The pink-haired female gritted her teeth and resisted the urge to growl. Even she was beginning to get irritated with her own indecisiveness and—that was it!

The next time she saw Uchiha Itachi they were definitely going to settle this once and for—

"Settle what once and for all?"


::tsuzuku::


Questions That I Would Like To Answer Before You Ask:

Well, I hope you guys have enjoyed this chapter! As mentioned in the summary, this prompt is my latest offering for the tossing a coin/thunderstorm/flirt-verse. 'training' is a two-part instalment, and I will be putting up the second and last chapter either on next Friday or the one after that, so do sit tight and wait for it!

By the way, if the writing style feels a bit wonky in here, then it's because this fic has been written ages ago, sometime back in 2008, in fact. 'training' should have been put up a long time ago, really, but I kinda misplaced it until recently, when I was digging around for the old CP plot outline and found it along with a few other odds and ends. Ahaha, let's just say that my thumbdrive is a scary place.

For new readers who haven't read the prequels and need help figuring out the chronological orders of my various verses, please visit my profile page for the information. I have an updated list there; apologies for the confusion and inconvenience caused!

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This verse's Itachi and Sakura are not entirely like their canon counterparts; she is short tempered, hot headed and grumpy (more Inner Sakura-esque), and he is arrogant, demanding and overconfident to a fault (typical Uchiha pomposity). Still, I think they will do well together if for no other reason than the fact that they'd both serve to curb each other's overbearing tendencies.

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Sakura is not as completely oblivious to Itachi's attention as she acts; it's more like she is deliberately ignoring it—feigning obtuseness—because the implications are so distinctly surreal to her that they are downright unbelievable. But don't worry; her Uchiha suitor is pushy and assertive enough to set her straight soon enough, since he is not just going to take a 'hell, no' for an answer.

And…yes, whichever of you guessed that Itachi really doesn't get out much will find yourselves right on the money, especially since his method of courting the woman of his dreams is quite dubious and basically boils down to subtly harassing her for her attention for over eight months and then promptly deciding that it'd be a good time as any for her to meet the parents. Sakura is understandably not impressed, so Itachi is clearly going to need some help in the form of the manly men of Team Seven, though in hindsight, I'm not sure if that would turn out to be a wise idea.

…odd couple, those two. But still, my all-time favourite OTP!

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Last but not least, a grateful nod of recognition towards my wonderful beta, MelissaRose85, for her seamlessly efficient editing skills and swiftness in cleaning my fics. We have been working together for over three years now; she's stuck with me through thick and thin and I have learned much from her in the process. I probably don't mention it often enough, but none of this is possible without her contribution and I am very thankful for her help.

Melissa, if you are reading this; thanks once again for being the best beta in the world for me!

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Your reviews fuel my passion for writing; so please leave a comment if you like this fic!

-paws