Itachi doesn't really like people.

Some will go as far as to call Itachi shy, but that is completely untrue. It's not that he can't talk to people, it's that he doesn't want to. He finds interaction unnecessary; what's really the point of small talk with humans he does not like and would not talk to if it weren't for the fact that they were in the same room, at the right time, doing the same thing?

There is an incredibly minute amount of people Itachi associates himself with, but he is proud to call that scarce amount of people his precious people.

It is very, very rare that Itachi allows somebody new into his little, thick-walled world. Itachi does not easily warm up to people. It takes days, weeks, months, years before Itachi can call somebody a friend, let alone even wave at a person if he were to run into them in a public setting. He simply feels no need to create frivolous ties known as acquaintances, so he does not bother giving people high hopes of sorts by noting their presence if they've only met once or twice or fifty times.

That is why Itachi does not expect himself to fall completely and utterly for the sore thumb of a girl that waltzes gracelessly and clumsily into his life and expects even less that she will not fall back.

When he meets her, the first thing he notices is not her hair, that is the color of cherry blossoms, pixie-cut and wavy, nor is it her eyes, that swell to fill nearly her entire face and are greener than grass, greener than emeralds, greener than broken beer-bottles. It's not her creamy white skin, or her stark, rosy cheeks, or the shape of her face—which is like a heart—with almost ridiculously high cheek-bones and a large forehead or even her rather short height, which can't be more than five-foot-two or so.

No, it is her hands.

They are very, very small, like those of a toddler. Her fingers are short and chubby, with noticeably short nails that are bitten, skin frayed right below them; baby-blue nail-polish is aging and chipping, making her fingers seem shorter than they actually are. Her middle finger is barely the size of his pinky and the hairs on her knuckles are a soft pink, which only supports the fact that she is a natural pinkette. Her skin is creamy and looks almost unused; as far as he can tell, she's never lifted a finger before in her life. The view of the girl makes him think, who would ever let her lift a finger, anyway? If he were in a position of trust, he'd probably try to do as much as he could for her himself, just to keep the dainty little hands she harbors in good shape.

Next it is her smile, which she offers him along with her hand. Her lips are thin, and colored in carefully using blood-red paints; it should clash awfully with her rose-colored hair, but it does the opposite, only enhancing her natural beauty. Her teeth are straight and pure white, while the smile itself is slim, but nearly as bright at the sun. She introduces herself, "It's very nice to meet you, Uchiha-san. I am Haruno Sakura." Her voice is like a sweet melody, high-pitched, but not squeaky; rather, it is fluid, like warm water during a shower.

He is nearly entranced, so much so that he gathers her small, delicate hand in his own and swiftly kisses it, earning a soft blush. Normally, he'd never dream of introducing himself like this to a stranger, but he can't help himself and he's not sure why. Either way, he blesses his mother for forcing him to attend etiquette classes as a child that showed him the proper way to greet a captivating young lady. "It's very nice to meet you, too, Haruno-san," he replies.

"Get your hands off her, weirdo," sneers the man next to her. He only towers slightly over Itachi, with the same black hair, same captivating, onyx-colored eyes and same milk-white complexion that would put Snow White to shame. The only real difference is the length of hair and the look of annoyance twisting his features, rather than one of pure calmness on the older Uchiha.

Itachi scoffs. "I'm only being polite, Sasuke-chan. Would you rather I treat your little friend rudely?" he questions, noting the way his annoyance thickens when he refers to Sakura as his little friend.

"I would rather you act like a normal human-being and shake the damn girl's hand, not make out with it, aniki," Sasuke nearly mocks; though his voice is monotone and calm, his eyes cannot hide how much he loathes conversing with his older brother.

It is Sakura who interrupts their little battle. "Sasuke-kun, stop it, silly! He was just being friendly. Right, Uchiha-san?"

Both boys relax completely at the sound of her warm, soprano voice, Itachi nodding his head in response to her question. "Of course. Thank you, Haruno-san and please, call me Itachi."

She giggles and his breath catches in his throat; he wouldn't mind hearing that beautiful noise for the rest of his life. "Then, please, call me Sakura."

She visits almost every day.

Their mother loves her like the daughter she never had and almost dreads the days that she's not there to talk with, joke with, laugh with, smile with, cook with, make fun of her sons with and nearly live with ("Sasuke-chan, where's your little friend today!? You're no fun without her!").

Itachi has found himself dreading them, too; she brings a little bit of color into a normally gray-scale, monotone home that managed to lose it's rainbow with the loss of the boys' childhoods and innocence. It has become a home of adults and she is like a child that showers them with smiles, stories and light.

Mikoto is the first to notice her oldest son's comfort with the girl and it only manages to lead to broken smiles and soft gazes toward he who is like a magnet to the cool metal that is the pinkette. Itachi's smiles are softer, his eyes are warmer, his voice is clearer, his spine is straighter and his skin is pinker whenever his youngest brother brings the girl with him. She manages to bring out the best in him.

Mikoto is the first to notice her youngest son's pure intentions for the girl with the clear, grassy eyes and the faerie-like body who manages to catch his eye after years of thinking her son would, simply, never fall in love or even like; she is the first to gain his attention and Mikoto is tentative and careful not to say anything silly in front of her normally introverted son who'd never dare bring a girl home if he was not sure. Sasuke is a little less cold, his voice is a little less sharp, his words are a little less cruel, his smirk is a little less condescending, his frown-lines are a little less prominent, he is a little less demanding and a little less angry when the pixie waltzes around him and gives him special smiles only reserved for him.

She is the first to know just how this is going to turn out: a disaster.

She still can't bring herself not to love the girl that will probably break both of her son's hearts.

"Are you dating my brother?" Itachi asks her one day while they are in the kitchen, making pancakes after she has slept over. They spent most of the night watching movies together, but not once did Itachi see her lean into his brother, kiss his brother, cuddle with his brother or indicate that she had anything going on with his brother, like his mother assumed.

She gives him the most incredulous look possible. "Excuse me?" Distracted by the question, she manages to make one gigantic pancake, as compared to the rest of the normal-sized ones, and decides that one will be hers. She carefully adds a few extra blueberries to the already baking confection while waiting for Itachi to elaborate.

He only raises an eyebrow. What is there to misunderstand about the question? "Sasuke, are you dating him?"

"Of course not, Itachi-kun," she tells him, fidgeting with the spatula and poking at the bubbling breakfast-cakes. She flips one before letter her eyes fall on the older man. "Don't you think I would've told you if Sasuke-kun and I were dating?" Her question is logical, seeing as there are no secrets between any of them by now, but he still can't help the feeling in the pit of his stomach when the idea of them being together fills his mind, like he's going to vomit or scream or something.

He shrugs. "I guess so."

Her eyes fall back onto the frying food. "What gave you that idea, anyway?"

"Mother," he explains and that is enough. She does not reply, only points to the cabinet off toward the left, indicating that he should drop the subject and grab the plates, which he does; he knows for a fact that she can't reach, and she knows for a fact that he can't cook, so in the kitchen, they are the perfect match: she cooks, he sets and cleans.

As if on cue, the aforementioned brother leisurely strolls into the kitchen, hair still soaking wet from a long, much-needed shower. His eyes shift from his brother setting the table to the beautiful girl flipping pancakes in one of his t-shirts and a pair of her own, navy-blue shorts. He smiles, "You're going to make some guy really happy some day, Sakura."

Both boys can only pray they are that boy.

When they kiss for the first time, it is like victory, Sasuke decides.

They are sitting in his room, talking about college and medical school and doctors and his brother and hospitals and jobs and the future and work and everything that makes a young-adult's head spin when suddenly, he is sitting next to her and his lips are slanted on hers so gently and they fit so perfectly that he can't help but feel like he has won something.

Her lips are painted red, as usual, but the lipstick tastes like cherries; it's expected, yet he feels like this flavor is better than tomatoes, or his mother's onigiri. They are warm, like lava, and soft like your favorite sweater, and it is then and there that he decides that the blossom next to him will be his.

This is the girl he is going to marry and spend the rest of his life with, make lots of beautiful, green-eyed, black-haired babies with, cry with, smile with, laugh with, watch bad movies with, cuddle with, hold, grow old with and love for the rest of his life. This is the girl who will keep him company for the rest of his days and they will enjoy life until they are numb with love and feelings; this is the girl he will tell "I love you," to as much as he can and as much as his voice will allow him to. If he could, he'd tell her right now.

He would tell her that this is it.

When he finally pulls away, she has this goofy smile on her face that takes his breath away and her eyes are glossed over, like she has just experienced the best trip of her life on the most dangerous drug. He almost claims her right then and there, but decides against it when she begins chattering away again about school and some dress she bought and his brother like nothing ever happened.

Yes, the kiss was like victory, Sasuke muses, but she just does not know it yet.

"Has Sasuke-chan told you about the dinner coming up?" he questions and sadly attempts to hide his anxiousness behind a calm facade. It barely works.

She shakes her head in the negative. "No he has not."

"Well, every year around this time, our family throws a dinner where they invite some very important people," he begins explaining. "This year, mother has asked us to acquire..." he trails off and she notices the small blush gathering at his high cheek-bones, "... dates," he concludes.

She snorts, but the grin tugging at her lips is beautiful, nonetheless. "Sounds like your mother."

He smiles in return, something he only finds himself doing around this blasted girl. "As you know, I don't know many women."

She snorts again; somehow, it is endearing, rather than crude. "Maybe if you spoke every once in a while..."

He scoffs and his smile falls. "I am speaking right now."

"That's true," she sighs, but agrees. "Are you trying to ask me to be your date?" she questions, barely hiding her excitement at the possibility of being invite to one of these fancy dinner parties.

"No, I was going to ask if you knew any pretty women..."

Her smile is gone as quickly as it was there.

He chuckles deeply at her bipolar-like attitude. "I'm kidding, Sak, who else would I ask?"

She sticks her tongue out in embarrassment before deciding to spitefully remark, "Shisui?" He rolls his eyes. Then, she bites her lip, as if she is nervous, before asking, "Who will Sasuke-kun bring?"

He raises a thin, perfect eyebrow. "Does it matter?"

"I guess not..." she trails off, brushing a lock of pink behind her ear that was caught in the chandelier she called an earring. "You don't think he'd ask Karin, do you?"

"Probably," he tells her, focusing back on the papers that has gathered around his desk. He decides it would be best to ignore the devastated expression on her face at the idea of Sasuke with another woman.

He also decides that her heart-broken eyes and jealousy is just too much information for him to bear.

When they arrive to the party, Sasuke is dateless and Sakura is on Itachi's arm, dressed in a red gown that should clash, but does not and a pair of heels that allow her to barely reach the tip of his chin in height.

For most of the night, Sasuke nurses a beer, Itachi nurses a glass of expensive wine and Sakura nurses the frowns on their faces with her lively stories and giggles that could put a grin on the toughest man in the dining hall. All her tales are exciting, with vigorous hand-movements, a different voice for every character and bright, emerald eyes that will distract you from what she's saying, anyway.

It isn't until after the party when they are in his room and it is late and dark that Itachi's heart breaks for the first time.

He kisses her; it is sloppy, dry and new, but his heart flutters like a new-born butterfly. He knows he is tipsy from the numerous glasses of wine he consumed only hours before, while her breath is fruity and delicious from light drinks she had downed herself, but the kiss is rough and lustful and full of need and so unlike her that he almost cringes, but refrains because this is what he wants, isn't it?

He throws her onto his bed and, before moving on; he pulls himself up to look at this woman he will, finally, make love to. Her familiar pink hair falls like a halo around her heart-shaped face, her cheeks flush with a soft rose-color while her scarlet lips are parted slightly, gasping for breaths and panting. Her forehead is covered in a film of sweat, much like his own, while her mint eyes cloud in a haze, from her drunken stupor or from lust, he can't tell, but he decides he doesn't want to know, either.

She is painfully beautiful and his heart swells whenever she fumbles with his name on her glossy lips.

When the time finally comes and he pushes into her gently and carefully, it is the best he has ever had. When she screams his name and digs her nails gracelessly into his back, vocalizing her want and need for him, it drives him crazy. She drives him crazy and from that day on, he knows she always will; as if it is her god damn job.

Sakura has told Itachi many things; he knows her life story, in and out, what she loves, her morals, her feelings, her political views, religious views, or their lack-of, what makes her happy, what makes her sad, and what she is proud of herself for. If there is one thing Itachi remembers Sakura telling him months ago, it is that she is a virgin, and she is damn proud of it.

Sakura is not a virgin tonight and when he holds her and gently brushes her fringe from her swollen eyes after they have finished the deed, he can feel his heart begin to crack in his chest.

When Sasuke sees them together at the dinner-party, it breaks his heart, if only a little.

He feels this hollow aching in his chest that is normally full when he's just in the same room as her, let alone five-feet away from the bombshell. He has uncomfortable, sickening butterflies in his stomach, his ears are ringing, his fingers are twitching and his mouth is fastened in the tightest scowl imaginable. He feels betrayed, wounded, crushed and alone, all at the same time, and by who, he's not so sure.

She is beautiful, but when is she not? He thinks it should be him courting her; she should be the one hanging daintily on his arm, flashing him a coy smile, emerald eyes lighting up with fascination and hanging on every word he says.

He figured she would just be here. He didn't have to guts to ask her himself—no, after kissing her, bedding her, telling her he loved her and wanted to be with her forever and ever and ever—but the last thing he expected was his older brother to whisk her away from right under his nose. The last thing he expected was for whatever she was (his lover) to say yes.

He takes the longest swig of his first beer that he can manage when the stalk off toward to doors to leave. He can feel his vision haze red, but he will keep calm, carry on with the night and assert himself on a new day.

With Sakura, there is always a new day.

"What are we?" he asks one starry night after they have made love (he swears, it's making love) for the nth time.

Her eyes are still hazy from the escapade as she lays in his strong arms, her hair falling against his chest. Every once in a while, like most of their sessions of sorts, afterward, he gently runs his hand through her pink tresses as a sign of affection. She falls into his arms, as if it is love and allows him to treat her like a queen; like she is his and for the eyes of no one else. "What do you mean, Itachi-kun?"

"I mean, what is this?" He points at themselves lying together, basking in the warmth of each others' body-heat.

She shrugs, as if it is the simplest thing in the world. "Nothing, I guess."

His heart falls to his stomach and his stomach falls to God knows where. "This... is nothing?"

"Itachi-kun, don't get me wrong, you mean a lot to me and we've been best friends for almost a year-and-a-half..." He notes in his mind the first time he met her and how he was determined to make her his. "This won't work out though?"

"Why?" he questions, and for the first time in a long time, Itachi feels tears build up in the corners of his eyes.

"I thought..." she trails off, now green-painted finger-tips tap against her cheek in thought. "I thought we were on the same page, I guess. This was just... sex. Casual sex."

He purses his lips and can feel the frustration nearly building in his blood. "I didn't realize that this was it. We were just fuck buddies—"

"Now, Itachi-kun!" she cuts him off; he cringes at the affectionate suffix. "You know we're not just fuck buddies, I love you, but I'm just not... in love with you."

"I can't say I feel the same way," he finally tells her, back away from the pinkette in his bed. The pinkette he just made love to and the woman that just fucked him.

"Itachi-kun..." it is an airy whisper, and a tear falls gently down her cheek as he gathers to his feet, grabbing his boxers from the wood floor and throwing her a t-shirt.

"I should be the one crying, you know," he admits. His voice his not angry, but calm, as usual; monotone, and it cuts her like a knife. She throws the t-shirt over her body before standing and grabbing her panties from the floor, listening intently to what he had to say. "I knew from the first day I saw you, I would have to make you mine."

She is still crying. "I'm so sorry, Itachi-kun, I do love you—"

"But you're not in love with me," he finishes for her and the first tear falls. The first tear in years leaves Itachi's eye, because this is the first time he has voluntarily let somebody in and this is the first time he has ever been truly hurt; he has had so many first times with this beautiful woman, but there won't be any more. "I understand... I hate to be rude, but can you please leave?"

She nods as she is slipping on her jeans and doesn't manage another word while picking up her black bag from the floor. It is large, as usual, full of heavy text-books and notes and whatever else she's always carrying around and Itachi can't help but think how much he is going to miss it.

How much he is going to miss her.

How he will never really get over this blow, and how he will surely take her back if ever need-be and how he prays to God that this isn't over and that she'll still want to be his friend forever and ever and ever

"Thank you for everything, Itachi-kun," she tells him when she is at his door, ready to leave and never look back. She is not hurt, not in the slightest, and Itachi knows this, but she still feigns it just for him. Because she loves him.

She's just not in love with him.

This idea will forever plague him.

"Don't be a stranger," he whispers, and it is the best he can muster. He feels like he's talking to an old friend from high school, or a cousin, but no, this is the woman he will always love.

"I won't," she assures him and leaves before he can another word in edge-wise.

That night, Itachi cries until he is dehydrated and weak and his throat is sore and his body aches and his eyes are tired. Itachi will not cry for a very long time.

Nor will his heart mend.

She marries Sasuke.

Itachi remembers the looks on their faces when they announced it to the family at the same dinner party he courted her to only five-years ago. She was dressed in red, like she always is, with lip painted scarlet and eyes lined with charcoal, and she looks beautiful, but doesn't she always?

When they tell everybody, with the brightest of smiles and the warmest of voices, that, "We're getting married!" Itachi is forced to excuse himself for the rest of the week.

He does not cry until the reception.

This is the most beautiful he has ever seen her and, as his little brother's best man, he feels their spots should be switched. He should be the one smiling at her and kissing her and making her the happiest woman alive, but he is not.

Her dress is ivory and her arms are covered in intricate lace, while the bodice is tight and the skirt is like that of a princess. Her lips are a light pink and he can't imagine why she ever wears red lipstick when she looks nearly like an angel with rosy paint. Her eyes are so green and bright, her lips are so taut and turned upward, her hair is curly and perfect and her voice is sure.

When the priest says, "If anybody objects you may speak now or forever hold your peace," he must refrain from screaming that Sakura is his. That he loves her and needs her and will never marry unless it is to her.

He can't do that, though, because she is happy, and that is all he has ever wanted for this woman who, even after he confessed his undying love for, stayed with him. She stayed as his best friend and right-hand girl. She stayed.

So he must stay quiet, for her sake, and let the tears fall and pretend they are ones of pure joy. Sakura knows they are not; they are of sadness, because she knows that Itachi wishes this was him. Maybe, somewhere deep down, if circumstances were different and Sakura had met Itachi first, this would be him.

Sakura knew from the day she had met Sasuke that she was going to marry him. She knows how Itachi feels, and how hard it is for him to stand there and try to keep a calm, happy facade. For her.

Mikoto cries that day, too. Tears of joy for the one son that got what he wanted, tears of sadness for the son that got his heart broken by the girl she loves so dearly.

She did always say one of them was bound to get their heart-broken by the pink-haired girl with colors that don't really clash and the stories that can captivate the most stoic men in a room.

Those men are her sons.

Ugh, I don't even know what I'm doing. I was going somewhere with this, and then it went in a completely different direction. It was supposed to be college-y, but oh well. I know I should be completing my other stories, too, but mehhhh I'll get to it.

This is what I'm doing instead of studying for AP Calc and doing my AP Lang summer journals, challah. Review, constructive criticism. Your reviews do really make me want to write more! So please let me know how you think I'm doing! :)