AN: An update that didn't take three months (kinda). Hope you enjoy this latest chapter. Drop a review! Kisses!

(PS: This story is rated for a reason. MATURE content in this chapter. Read at own discretion)

Chapter 6

Once upon a time, we burned bright….

-6 Years Later—Present-

The international FireStarter Airport was packed full of busy people who paid strangers no heed as they chatted on their phones, or argued with the customer service agents about over packed flights. The short red and black spotted tiles had black scuff marks on them and the sound of baggage rolling wheels mingled with the mumbles of personal conversations and soft, cheery music. A small crowed of people waited behind velvet ropes as a load of arriving 1st class passengers exited the gate.

Dressed in a sleek pair of black jeans and an off the shoulder ivory tunic that draped in the back with an oversized silver button behind her neck and big dark sunglasses, a tall slender blonde woman's designer stilettos clicked sharply on the shiny tile of the airport. She pulled her wheeled carry-on bag behind her, chin lifted, back straight. A striking figure of poise and beauty left a sweet trail of perfume in her wake.

"It's sure busy here." A five year old boy said, walking behind her with his hand in that of his three year old little brother. His dark hair was brushed neatly but a few ebony strands fell into his topaz blue eyes. The younger had a small blue bagpack on his small shoulders, filled with art books and colored pencils to keep him busy during the flight. He had eyes like his brother and his hair was like his older brother's as well, but it was softer and longer, curling just a bit at his collar. The people who saw them graced them with smiles, eyes bright at the children who seemed oblivious to the craned necks and dropping jaws of the male population that stared openly at their young mother. She was aware though…and it gave her power. The you-may-look-you-may-dream-but-do-not-touch arrogance.

"FireStarter is an international airport so a lot of people from all over the world come here. Stay close to me." She directed, searching the crowed behind her dark lenses to find their arranged driver. She spotted his tall, muscular frame easily, in between two preteen girls who were talking and texting eagerly between the two. His dark blue hair was cut short in a militaristic style and his beady silver eyes looked bored as he halfheartedly held up a sign that read 'Yamanaka' . She stopped in front of him a smile at play on her glossy pink lips.

"Kisame." Her soft voice broke him from his wandering mind and he straightened his slumping shoulders. "I didn't know you would be picking us up." He must have heard her disappointment because he offered an apologetic smile.

"You know him. Things come up." He said, offering a hand to take her rolling bag. Ino wanted to pout. She knew that well, but still…

"Daddy is always busy these days." Her oldest son Sasame commented, looking grumpy and deflated.

"I miss him." Her youngest, Taeyo sniffed, looking adorningly up at his elder brother who just gave his little hand a squeeze.

Ino smiled kindly down at them. "We'll see him later." She promised them.

Sasame didn't look entirely convinced. "I guess."


-6 Years Earlier-

It seemed like she couldn't stop staring at the small plastic stick staring at her on her coffee table.



It couldn't be right, she decided but then her eyes wandered to the second stick right next to it. There were a total of six of them…and they all said the same thing…

It had been two months since she had left Fire and came here to Tea Country. She had found herself a small little apartment next to her school and was working part time at a little clothing boutique named "Shining Beauty" owned by a beautiful, flirtatious older woman, Mei Terimi. After finding out what school Ino was going too, Mei took an instant liking to her and declared that she would tutor her in all things fashionable. Ino eagerly accepted.

After school, she would come back to Mei's shop and go over what she had learned, showing her boss her art sketches. Mei would give her a few pointers on a line or a pattern, letting Ino use her back work space to bring her creations to life. Alone with her imagination, Ino always lost herself in the hum of the sewing machine, the flutter of fabric and the details of buttons, stitches, lace and satin.

She was finally getting her life back on track and then this happens! She wiped the tears from her cheeks and fumbled in her purse for her cell phone. He was number one on her speed dial. They didn't lose contact after her move and he flew in to see her once a week on Sunday.

"Itachi…"She breathed when he answered. "I-I need to see to you…"



Itachi was in the shadows of the many people that filled the airport. He saw from his place by the water fountain, Kisame leading Ino and the boys out of the airport. He felt a sharp pang of regret when he saw Sasame and Taeyo look around from him. He didn't promise his boys that he would be there to pick them up, but alluded to the face that he might be there. He had planned on picking them up from the airport personally, but then he found out that Sasuke would be coming in at the same time, but on a different flight. He made up his mind to great his little brother. After all, he saw Ino and the boys a few days ago, but it had been six years since he had seen Sasuke.

They hadn't seen or spoken to each other since that day at Domi Hotel many years ago. He would like to think that these six years had given his little brother some time to calm down, but Itachi knew better. Sasuke could hold grudges until the day he died. Still, it didn't dishearten him. Despite everything, Itachi loved his hard headed little brother. Nothing could change that. Even if Sasuke gave him the silent treatment or ignored him, Itachi was determined to see him home. His father was out of the country, but their mother was expecting both her boys home for a welcome home dinner in Sasuke's honor.

Itachi scanned the crowed of people exiting the three-thirty arrival from Sound Country and instantly spotted his brother. He was dressed casually in dark blue washed pants and a black tee-shirt. His black and red high-top shoes made him look younger than his twenty-four years. Like one of those F-Pop boy bands that were all the rage these days. His expensive sunglasses were perched on top of his head as he strutted across the airport floor, with one hand stuffed in his right pants pocket, the other pulling an expensive rolling carry-on bag of red and black with the Uchiha clan symbol printed on the front.

He looks so grown up, Itachi thought fondly as he stepped into the crowed to catch him off guard. He grew taller and leaner and his hair was longer too. It still spiked in the back, but the front of it framed his face more, drawing attention to his perfect jaw line and making his dark eyes stand out more. He looked like their mother.

A lady killer was what Kisame had reported to him. Ever since Sasuke had left to study in Mist Country and then Sound, Itachi still kept tabs on him. He knew Sasuke was quite the playboy there, but how would he be here? He wondered as he fell in step beside him.

"Glad to see you made it." Sasuke stopped dead in his tracks when Itachi spoke. "How was the flight?" He grabbed Sasuke's elbow to urge him to move but Sasuke violently jerked away from him.

"Why the hell are you here? I called a driver to come and get me, not you." He growled, flipping his sunglasses down over his eyes and all but stalked down the wide staircase.

"Sasuke, don't be so childish and make a scene here." Itachi warned in a low voice, catching a few curious glanced their way. "Mother asked me to get you and bring you home. She wants us both at the manor."

Sasuke snorted. "So are we going to keep the 'good brothers' pretense up in front of her and father? Is that what you want to do?" He demanded. Through these six years, both silently agreed to keep up their friendly charade with their family. Their father didn't notice, but their mother did. She noticed how divided they became and would ask time to time what had happened. But both stubbornly refused to let anyone know. Weakness was bad in the Uchiha clan. "I come home after six years and already I'm regretting coming back to Fire." They quickly claimed his other bags, not speaking another word.

It hurt that Sasuke wasn't even trying to hide his disdain. His anger was rolling off of him in waves and Itachi felt them slap him harshly. He knew trying to make things better between them was going to be difficult, but he didn't know how much it would pain and sadden him to hear so much venom come from his little brother's tone even after all this time. It was like reliving that terrible moment back at Domi Hotel.

The sunlight gave him back some warmth in his blood when they exited the airport and walked to their waiting car. The driver put Sasuke's bags in the trunk and they waited for him to open their doors. Something caught Sasuke's eye and Itachi turned his head to and then froze in place when he saw what it was. He looked quickly at Sasuke to see if he recognized Kisame's profile by the front of the car but saw that his little brother wasn't paying Itachi's assistant any attention. Instead, he lowered his glasses and took an appreciative look at the very nice backside of a long legged blonde that was currently texting his phone (he felt it vibrate in his pocket) as she leaned in the back of the door of the car to say something to the boys. Her face wasn't visible being hid behind the limo tint of the black sedan's rear window but everything else was. And here he was, mere feet from her with Sasuke by him, Itachi thought in irony.

"As much as you love to drool over shapely women, perhaps you can restrain yourself for the moment? We need to get going. Mother isn't a patient woman when it comes to her little boy." Itachi drawled dryly, hoping that Sasuke didn't catch the strain in his tone. He didn't and Itachi swiftly opened the door to the car himself.

Sasuke replaced his glasses, a smirk on his lips. "Whatever you say Itachi." He sneered and slipped inside the car. Itachi watched as Ino finally closed the door and then withdrew his phone, touching the screen to read her text. It was a picture text with both boys giving him a peace sign and grinning. At the bottom it read: We missed you! See you tonight. Make sure to bring make-up candy.

He smiled warmly at it before locking his phone and slipping it back in his pocket. "Let's go." He ordered the driver and shut the car door firmly behind him.


-5 Years Earlier-

She looked like a zombie. A beautiful sleep deprived zombie. Her sparking topaz blue eyes were dull glassy, and dark circles had formed. Her hair was up in a messy bun, a few strands brushing the sides of her face.

Itachi quietly slipped off his shoes, closing the door to her two bedroom apartment. He shrugged out of his jacket and placed it over a chair as he stepped into the shallow stairs to get into the front room. She was in a gliding chair, rocking back and forth with a mewing baby to her chest. She looked up when she heard him and she saw the quiet desperation in her eyes.

"Itachi, he won't go to sleep and I have to finish my midterm project!" She let her arms drop and he saw five month old Sasame's face screwed up with a cry. "I tried everything! What am I doing wrong?" She cried, tears gathering in her eyes from exhaustion and shame.

Itachi gave her a comforting smile and took his little nephew from her arms, cradling against him, over his shoulder. He patted his back to soothe him.

"It's alright Ino. I got him. Why don't you take a break and shower."

Ino sniffed and rubbed her eyes with the edge of her palm. "Me? You just came in. You're probably tired from the flight."

"I dozed on the plane." He assured her. She bit her lip, looking like she was about to call him on his lie, but he raised a brow of authority and she thought twice. She stood from the rocking chair.

"Thank you." She touched his arm and she passed.

He heard the water run in the back and Itachi took her place on the glider to rock Sasame asleep. After, he placed him in his crib in the spare room decorated in pale blue and white. They both had painted the walls with clouds and there were green and yellow butterflies on sunflowers. He had teased her that the room looked a little girly when they finished but she just rolled her eyes and wiped paint on his nose.

He picked up as he made his way back to the living room. Tossing some unfinished food in the trash can and straightening out the pillows on the couch. Ino wasn't a messy person, but he could see that her housekeeping skills were waning due to her school and her parenting responsibilities. Her apartment was a cozy place with a small kitchen with dark stained cabinets and ivory granite counter tops. The living room had a family sofa of buttery leather with dark stained end tables and coffee table that tied into her kitchen colors. She had turned the dining area into her work space where a drafting table and design mannequin stood draped with her half finished midterm project that screamed Ino.

He had monitored her schooling in secret, but after a while stopped because there was no need too. She had become the top student in her design class and kept it even after taking some time off to care for newborn Sasame, surprising her classmates and professors.

He tried to be here in Tea Country as much as he could, but traveling between Fire and Tea took its toll. But things might change now he thought, dumping an armful of toys back in Sasame's toy box. He might have secured a long term project here in Tea. He was waiting for the call from his father.

After shutting off the lights in the kitchen and hallway, he knocked on Ino's bedroom door and a moment later it opened. The air was slightly humid from the bathroom that adjoined to her bedroom and smelled like candy and apples. He ignored the tight pull of his stomach seeing her in a tight t-shirt and cotton underwear.

"Feel better?" He asked, not trusting himself too much at entering further into her room.

She smiled, unaware of her affect on him. "Yes. Thank you. Is he—"

"Asleep." He said. Ino gathered the wet towel from her bed and draped it over a small chair next to her dresser.

"You're always so good with him." She murmured. He tensed a little when she came close to him "I don't know what I would do without you." She said, hesitantly meeting his eyes. A steady spark of attraction hummed between them, like it always did. It did things to him, made him want more…he always wanted more from her but knew…he shouldn't. Despite how things went with Sasuke, he knew she still loved him, even after all this time. But the way she was looking at him, the way his heart thudded hard in his chest…no.

He took a step back because if he touched her, he wouldn't be able to stop himself. And no matter what, he wasn't going to be a stand in for his little brother. He loved her, yes. He had come to terms with that a long time ago, but he couldn't…he couldn't be Sasuke for her.

"Itachi?" Ino reached out to touch him, seeing the pain of his thoughts in his face. No, he had to tell her that whatever was brewing between them this past year could turn into nothing more. He caught her wrist before she touched him.

"Stop." He closed his eyes and took a breath. "I can't be Sasuke."

He felt her stiffen and tension so thick, hung between. He opened his eyes when she pulled her arm away from him. But she had turned so he couldn't see her face.

"Leave." He barely heard her.

He had done the right thing, he thought, staring at her back. Then why was his heart racing painfully in his chest? Why did he feel so much sadness and panic?

"Ino…" He began before he had a chance to stop himself.

"Leave. Please."

He didn't know what to make of her tone, so he turned and left out of her bedroom. He heard her move to close the door.

"I never wanted you to be Sasuke. Never." He heard her say and he turned his head back. But the door was already closing and he reached out and stopped it. Ino looked up at him with alarm, traces of sorrow lingering on her lips. He erased it with a kiss, a sudden kiss that had been building ever since he saved her that night in his father's unfinished condos.

He had dreamed of this moment, longed for the feel of her pressed against him. Not in friendship, not in comfort. But in desire, in aching need, in crazy passion. And he tasted all of that and more in this kiss. He felt it with every stroke of her hand down his arm, around his neck, through his hair, like she couldn't get close enough. It ignited his whole body.

They fell on her bed, him half across her body, his lips tasting her, devouring her breathy pants, stroking her warm skin in desperation. She was arching against him with need, her tongue bold and gentle against his. Her teeth would graze his bottom lips, but then she would give it a little suck to sooth it. His breaths were uneven and trembled with anticipation, nervousness and joy.

His lips wandered, over her jaw, down her neck and he heard her breath hitch as he explored her flesh. She moaned, her hands pulling at the buttons of his dress shirt while he gripped her hips under him. She pushed the shirt from his shoulders and be broke apart from her for just an aching moment to shed his thin undershirt. He helped with hers too, running his hands up the bottom hem and lifting it over her belly, her ribs, breasts…each inch of her that was bared to him made his harden even more.

Skin against skin…he never knew anything that felt more sensuous. His fingers caressed a velvet nipple before his mouth descended on one and then the other…little pebbles that he pulled between his teeth making her hiss in pleasure. Her felt her legs lock around his hips and heat singed along his veins when she licked his collarbone and then his earlobe. A pleasurable shiver shot down his spine, made his belly tingle with raw awareness of just how far they've gone.

He heard the click of his belt being undone and the tug of his pants being unbuttoned. Her leg slid between his and pushed off his pants and underwear with her foot. He wasted no time, pulling off the black cotton panties from her before settling over her again. He was feverish with desire, with longing and love. Her breath was on his face, panting and he was trembling.

"Itachi." She breathed and he closed his eyes when his body rocked with electricity. He never thought he would ever hear her say his name with a voice smoking with passion. She was arching against him, her wetness kissing his thighs and he couldn't wait anymore. She couldn't either and when he sank into her, her heels dug hard onto his lower back, sealing them tightly together. He let out a shaky moan, pleasure dancing through him like a lance of lightning. She felt like bliss, like everything he ever imagined and more. He had a few experiences with women, short affairs that ended as soon as they began but none of them could ever compare to this. The joining of their bodies…it felt like he was finally complete.

With every thrust of his hips, fire kindled in his stomach. With every moan, he lost himself. With every kiss, she stole his heart. She was panting his name. His name. She was watching him with heavy lidded eyes, biting her lip as he slipped into a harsh rhythm, their flesh, their grunts and moans creating beautiful music. The bed shook under their weight, the blankets bunched and he made her come with a surprised scream. He shuddered with he felt her spasm around him and that was his undoing. He came hard, into her velvet channel with three powerful thrusts, spilling everything her had into her.

He sucked in a breath, kissing her soft shoulder, his hair pooling on her throat. Her hands were aimlessly wandering down his back as he recovered, nails grazing him now and then and sending little shivers of thrill through him. He was surprised when she scooted out from under him and hiked a leg over his waist and she was above him. He blinked, staring up at her in wonder and awe. Her hair was wild and draped heavily down her back and over her shoulders.

"Itachi." She breathed, leaning down and kissing him breathless. "I love you." Her topaz blue eyes locked onto his, so serious and vulnerable. "I love you Itachi. You."He had hurt her feelings when he had said that he couldn't be Sasuke for her. He thought that she couldn't see him, but he had been wrong. She had seen him and she was confessing her love for him. Itachi Uchiha.

He gathered her in his arms and kissed her, his fingers getting tangled in her hair. She was more than he ever dreamed. More than he ever wanted in his entire life. He held her flushed face between his hands, brushing light kisses over her swollen lips, touching their foreheads.

"I love you." He swallowed, meeting her eyes. They glittered with warmth and happiness he chest almost exploded with elation. He kissed her again.

Ino, my Ino you make my world so much more than I ever thought possible. You give my life purpose. My heart thumps so hard when I'm around you. I get lost in your smile, fall deeper and deeper in love when you look at me. Let me be here for you like I've always wanted to. Let me love you like you deserve. I won't let anything hurt you. You'll be happy with me…you and Sasame are my world, my family. Ino…my Ino…

He poured all of that and more, poured his soul into his kiss and tender embrace. He worshiped her body, cherished her tears of pleasure. And he felt it, he felt her understanding and acceptance in their spine tingling, star exploding, mind shattering orgasm that had her screaming.

Hours blurred into nothing as they reached that peak of pleasure several times that night. Sleep was the only adversary they had to fight, but it won in the end and they slept, limbs entwined. It was his phone that woke him and he managed to leave Ino sleeping when he got up to answer. Naked, he walked into the bathroom.

"Yes father?"He ran his fingers through his tangled hair when he saw his reflection in the mirror.

"Itachi. The board approved the project. Meet with Sora Construction in two days to discuss it. This is a big opportunity for our Uchiha Empire. See it through to the very end." He sighed, sounding tired on the other line. "I had my secretary e-mail you various listing of open real-estate for your stay during your time in Tea Country. I'll tell your mother the news."

Itachi's lips were twitching with a smile. "I understand." He said in all seriousness.

"You'll be back home before you know it son. Five years go by fast."

"Give Mother my care." He said and his father grunted on the other line before he hung up. He let his smile blossom and tightened his hold on his phone. Standing, he went back into Ino's room and stared at her, his heart speeding up when he thought of their night. He had wanted her for so long, but he wanted Sasuke happy too. So he suppressed his longing, kept an iron grip on his jealousy and forced himself to be content with just having her in his life and spending his Sunday afternoons with her. And then Sasuke left, disowning him as a brother and horribly breaking Ino's heart with his false accusations. That terrible fateful day at Domi Hotel shattered their world.

He pulled on his underwear and went to check on Sasame. It was a bit early in the morning and he still slept. He pushed back some of his fine black hair and the baby lightly flinched. After a moment, he left back to Ino's room climbed back into bed, propping his head on his elbow as he watched her sleep.

Sasuke…my foolish little brother. This could have be yours if you had believed in us. A son, a loving woman. It could have been yours but I'm claiming them now. I'm going to be selfish and take them both. You had your chance. Now it's my turn…

When she woke, he sighed and sank next to her, pulling her into his arms and kissed her. He tightened his embrace, still feeling like being with her was a dream. But when she deepened the kiss he knew it was real. They were real. She was finally his…



Sakura Haruno took in a deep breath of cool air and stepped from the cab and yanked her small carry-on case free. It had been a good three years since she had come to visit her family estate. The lights from Haruno Manor gently seeped from the wide, elegantly carved front windows. She thanked the driver and handed him money before taking another breath to shake away her nerves. The gravel crunched under her black high-heels and a servant took her suitcase from her, murmuring politely that her mother was anticipating her arrival.

The Family Reunion was in full swing when she entered the house and a few of her cousins gaped at her for a second before plastering a fake smile and greeted her in exaggerated coos.

"So good to see you?"

"Heard you're kicking ass at Fire Medical!"

"You cut your hair! It looks…nice."

And then her mother spotted her and her regal expression turned into a grin. "Sakura!" She gathered her in a bone crunching hug. It took everything Sakura had not to push her away. She gritted her teeth in anger. How could she! How could she act like this when she knew what she did! There was only one reason she had come home early…

Sami pulled away, fingering Sakura's short hair with a pinch of disapproval. Sakura felt smug for a second. She smiled at her mother. "How have you and daddy been?" She asked.

Sami grinned and looped their arms together. "He's out of the country right now, but he'll be back tomorrow evening. He feels just horrible about not being here to greet you."

"Aww, I hope he doesn't feel too bad. I came early after all." They weaved their way through the crowd of Harunos until they came to the settee room where her grandparents sat. When they saw her they smiled. They were old, but the way they dressed, the way they were groomed, the sharp shrewdness of their eyes spoke volumes. They were old, but they were not at death's door and won't be for a long long while.

"Welcome home Sakura." She kissed her grandparents on the cheek with genuine warmth. Her mother was beaming and chatting with a few of her aunts. Sakura watcher her, resentment growing.

Mother…there is only one reason I came home early…you will pay for what you did...

She thought of Sai and her resolve strengthened. She came home for one reason and one reason only. War…