Story: The One That Got Away
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply. I don't own Naruto.
Summary: Perhaps his seven-year-old son's classroom wasn't the best place to reunite with his long lost love, especially when she was looking at him like she wanted to bash his face in with her bare fists.
Notes: 50_shinobi themed challenge #3. Tossing a coin. If you ask me where I got the idea for this one shot, I'd say I have no idea. Whether or not that's the truth is up for you to decide, but I'm most likely just pulling ideas out of my ass.
The One That Got Away
"I'm sorry, Haruno-sensei," her young student apologized for what seemed like for the hundredth time. Little Uchiha Taro looked at her exasperatedly before looking down at his homework once again. Her seven-year-old student was one of favorites because despite what teachers tended to say, they really did have favorites, but this one may just be because of her insane fondness for the frigid family.
She wasn't sure which Uchiha he belonged to, and the only member of the family she even kept in contact with at this point was Sasuke, and they hadn't talked in what seemed like months. There were twelve Uchiha children in this grade school alone, and her student exuded many of the trademark Uchiha traits – perfect raven hair, stoic, a little cold but mostly misunderstood, very good looking for a seven-year-old, incredibly smart and talented, and solemn in a slightly arrogant way.
Although she had, up to this point, never had a one-on-one conversation with Taro outside of class, she still enjoyed his presence like she did with the other Uchiha who she had encountered throughout her life since she and Sasuke had become best friends when they were twelve. He was quick witted in class, and he always understood the material.
He seemed to thoroughly enjoy helping his classmates understand what they were studying in class, and he always turned in his homework on time. All in all, he was the model student that any elementary school teacher would kill for.
"It's really alright, Taro-kun," Sakura finally responded after she gave a moment to look over the young Uchiha. He had clearly attempted to comb his rebelliously spikey raven hair that stuck up at the back, and Sakura almost laughed at the startling resemblance to Sasuke. If she didn't know that Sasuke was a perpetual bachelor, she would have sworn that he was his child.
Perhaps the only difference between his features and the features of a generic Uchiha was that Taro's eyes were a dark blue, a few shades lighter and bluer than what would normally be found in an Uchiha's eyes.
"I had to stay after class to grade your math exams anyway. You got a perfect score as always," Sakura explained cheerily, waving around his paper that had a large 100 in bright red ink on the top of the page. Seemingly placated, Taro gave her a half smile that was so heartbreakingly familiar that Sakura felt her stomach drop. She knew exactly where she had seen that smile before, but she immediately shook away the thought.
"Dad's been a little forgetful because he works so much, and the nanny has been the one to take care of us most of the time since mom died. My guess is he got caught up at work and forgot that he promised to get me from school," Taro stated rather matter-of-factly, making a small from appear on Sakura's face, but she didn't address her concern. He set his pencil down and placed his chin in his palm. Glancing at the clock, he continued, "He promised to take my sister and me to the high school's cultural festival today. My guess is that the nanny would have called him by now, asking him why he hadn't picked up my sister yet when he said he'd get her at three. He should be on his way now."
"That must be why I can't get him in here for a parent-teacher conference," she quipped, trying to lighten the suddenly somber mood. Taro merely nodded his head lazily and sighed before scribbling out another answer. Seemingly done with his work, he placed the English grammar packet back in his folder neatly.
Sakura gave a small laugh and wrote another number on a math test. "You seem to know your father well. When did your mother pass?" she asked gently. Taro didn't seem offended or hurt by the question.
"She died giving birth to my younger sister," he stated rather blandly again before picking up his pencil and turned his attention back to his homework.
Sakura felt her heart drop, but the boy didn't seem to want pity. "I'm sorry."
"I was only two, maybe three. I don't remember much about her. I overheard my uncles talking once when they thought I was asleep, and they said that my mom and my dad never really loved each other. They were in a…arranged marriage?" The last line came out as a question, like he didn't understand what exactly it was he heard.
His cobalt eyes were locked on hers rather stubbornly, but Sakura wasn't going to be the one to explain it to him. She had once been on the wrong side of an Uchiha-arranged-marriage triangle, and she didn't want to explain it to her seven-year-old student.
Luckily, Taro didn't give her the chance. "Why did you decide to become a teacher, Haruno-sensei?"
Sakura smiled fondly at the boy. "When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor, a pediatrician to be exact. I enjoyed working with children," she explained softly. "But when I finished high school and went to declare my major at the university, a friend talked me out of it. He told me my love was for teaching and for children, not for the medical field particularly."
"Was he your boyfriend?" Taro asked rather suddenly. Sakura blushed a bit, feeling silly that her observant student was so accurate in gauging human character, but she nodded her head.
"I'd like to be a teacher one day," Taro declared rather certainly, but there was a hint of melancholy resignation to his voice.
"Then you should be," Sakura responded. "You'd be good at it."
Something flashed in the deep azure eyes of her student, but he smiled at her nonetheless. "You think so?"
"I know so," Sakura replied.
"I wish I could," her student said longingly. Now his eyes were drifting out the window. Sakura's lips pursed into a thin line; she was very familiar with the rules placed in the Uchiha family about their children. Even if a child wasn't part of the main family, their futures were essentially planned for them the moment they were born.
"You have to work for the Uchiha family when you graduate university?" Sakura guessed. It saddened her that the future of a seven-year-old was already planned out to a tee. Cobalt eyes flickered to her for a moment before returning to the window.
"That's what Ojii-sama says," replied Taro robotically.
"What does your father say?" Sakura probed. Grading papers forgotten, Sakura twisted her red pen through her fingers.
"He's afraid of Ojii-sama. So are my uncles," he admitted reluctantly. "And so am I."
Sakura chuckled mirthlessly. "You're a smart boy."
"I was listening to my uncles talk once when they thought I was asleep—"
"You do that a lot, don't you?" Sakura asked, arching a brow at her student. There was a slightly mischievous gleam to his eyes when he glanced her way. Another smirk curled his lips lightly.
"If I didn't, then I wouldn't know anything," he replied. "Anyway, my uncles were saying that there was a time when my father wasn't afraid of Ojii-sama. They were talking about how he was ready to give up everything for his fiancée at the time – the Uchiha name, his position in the company, everything. But I guess his fiancée broke up with him when he threatened to leave the company so he wouldn't give up his family. After that, he married my mom like my sofu wanted and began working for Uchiha Corp."
The story was so familiar that it made the air fly from her lungs in a deep sigh. Sakura rubbed her eyes that were threatening to spill long forgotten tears. If there had been any doubt before as to whom this boy's father was, it was gone now.
"My uncle called her 'the one that got away'," Taro said rather wistfully. When he looked at the troubled face of his usually bright and cheery sensei, his eyebrows furrowed in concern. "Sensei?"
Sakura was at a loss for words, but luckily, she didn't need to answer. There were footsteps heading for the classroom that gave her ample distraction. A moment later, a light knock on the door and the sound of it sliding led to two raven-haired heads popping into the room.
"Oh," said a deep and painfully familiar voice. The usually impassive nature of his voice was seemingly forgotten, and Sakura turned to look to find exactly who she expected to be entering her classroom.
"Sakura," greeted the other Uchiha. He was just as familiar as the first, and Sakura realized that she really hadn't seen her best friend in months.
The deafening silence that followed was interrupted by a light squeal. The door opened further to reveal a small child in Sasuke's arms. The two men walked into the room, and Sasuke dropped his four-year-old niece to the ground. Said girl ran straight for the desk of her older brother.
"Nii-san!" she cried in greeting. Taro grabbed his sister and sat her on his desk, looking at her with a soft fondness that Sakura had not seen from her student.
"You're Taro-kun's teacher," Sasuke stated matter-of-factly.
"It's been a while," Sakura greeted her old friend affectionately. Her jade eyes worked their way rather reluctantly to the other Uchiha in the room. Although they hadn't seen each other in more than eight years, he still looked exactly the same. Well-toned, tall, with dark hair that framed his face until he bunched the larger strands in a ponytail at the base of his neck were all constants with Uchiha Itachi. It broke her heart all over again.
His dark onyx orbs shone with shock and sadness, just as they had the last time they had spoken.
"I've been trying to get a parent-teacher conference with you for months," Sakura stated rather blandly, trying to suppress the grief she was feeling at seeing him again in such a long time. "I had to go through your nanny though. She is the only one who has shown up in your place."
Itachi's impassive mask was back on again. "My apologies."
The ire and fury that was quickly welling up within Sakura was hard to ignore, and his usual stubbornness wasn't helping. "Now that you're here, let's talk." Her tone left no room for negotiation.
Itachi looked ready to deny her, but Sasuke interrupted, "Taro-kun, get your sister. We'll wait in the hallway." Sasuke patted Sakura on the shoulder. "Let's get lunch next week. I'll call you."
Sakura nodded rather quickly, but fixed her angry glower back at the older Uchiha. Her jade eyes shown with an unfamiliar yet refreshing fury that Taro had never seen before. Honestly, it scared him a bit to see his bright, cheerful teacher so angry. After Taro had gathered his things, he grasped his sister's hand and pulled her out of the room. His uncle closed the door behind them and let out a wary sigh.
"I've never seen sensei look like that," Taro remarked rather oddly. Sasuke's response was a chuckle full of so much knowing mirth that Taro had to blink the surprise out of his eyes. He never heard his uncle laugh like that.
"You mean like she was about to pound your father's face in?" Sasuke asked rather amusedly. Taro nodded his assent. Sasuke ruffled his nephew's hair. "I think you should get used to that look if the upcoming conversation goes how I think it will."
The trio sat down on a bench down the hall. Taro's younger sister, Aiko, looked around rather confused. She was too young to understand what was going on.
"Oji-san?" Taro asked suddenly. Sasuke arched an eyebrow in response, imploring his nephew to continue. "You and Shisui-oji-san said that Otou-san had a girlfriend that he was going to give everything up for."
"Eavesdropping again, brat?"
Taro just nodded solemnly. "Haruno-sensei was the one who got away, wasn't she?"
Sasuke let out another wary sigh. "Aa."
"What were the odds that you'd have my son in your class?" Itachi asked rather exasperatedly the moment that Sasuke closed the door. He turned around to face Sakura, his ex-fiancée, the woman he had been willing to give everything up for.
"It's like flipping a coin," she remarked rather wryly, clicking her pen in and out again in her anxiety. "Pure chance."
Through Sasuke, he had kept tabs on the woman who he had been in love with since he was twenty-one. The sixteen-year-old sprite had caught his attention in such a way that he had pursued her for two years before she had finally agreed to go on a date with him. The rest was history. In fact, they were thoroughly happy together and planning to marry for two years before his father had to intervene and ruin everything.
She had taken his advice and gone into education and landed herself a job at one of the top academies for elementary school students. He just hadn't known that it had been the academy where almost all Uchihas who lived on this side of the city sent their children. He pulled a small chair up to the desk and sat down.
Sakura was still as beautiful as he had remembered. Her bubblegum pink hair was shorter now, but it matured her face and made her look much more convincing as a teacher. Jade eyes sparkled with just as much emotion as he remembered, and underneath her rather bland and generic outfit, he could see that she was in just as good of shape as she was when she was in college. Besides a few glimpses in restaurants and photos that Sasuke had, Itachi hadn't seen her in eight years. Oh, how he missed her.
Sakura just glared at him.
"Hm?" he asked. "You wanted a parent-teacher conference?"
His smug, arrogant attitude was grating her nerves, just as it always had. "Yes," she snapped. "You know, your son wants to be a teacher." Itachi arched an eyebrow. It was clear that he hadn't known that, and Sakura got the feeling that there was a lot of things that Itachi didn't know about his children.
"How do you not even know the name of your son's teacher?" Sakura barked.
"I do work. A lot," he replied smoothly. Her cheeks puffed out in annoyance; it was one of the most excruciatingly adorable things he had ever seen and one of the things he missed most about the spit-fire woman in front of him. "He probably mentioned it."
"You're a horrible father." Alright, that was crossing a line. His eyebrows furrowed in frustration, and he sat back while crossing his broad arms across his well-toned chest. The dark blue dress shirt he was wearing was unbuttoned at the top, wrinkling his black tie and revealing that he still kept in great shape. When she had been younger, seeing that alone would have gotten her hot and bothered for the man before her.
"You don't know who your kid's teacher is, you don't respond to any e-mails or phone calls, you forget to pick him up, and I know your nanny better than I know who you are anymore!" she cried hotly.
"You know my circumstances," Itachi retorted rather bluntly. "You're aware of how much I have to work."
"These are your children, Itachi. You promised to take them to the cultural festival today, but if I still know you like I think I do, you have too much work to do. That's why you brought Sasuke-kun. You're having him take them."
His eyes widened in shock, but she didn't miss the guilt that flashed through them before he lowered them to the ground. He didn't deny her accusation.
"What happened to the stubborn Itachi who had his own thoughts and ideas? The one who would never miss a chance to spend time with his family?" … the one who would have never missed a chance to spend time with me. Sakura asked. Her voice was softer now, a little sad.
"The woman he was in love with broke his heart," was the resolute reply. His eyes were peeking out from behind his bangs, and Sakura felt her mouth go dry. "Then he married a woman who he liked but could never love."
"That was eight years ago."
"I haven't loved any one since. Have you?" he asked rather confidently, like he knew that answer he was going to get.
"I still love you."
"Go on a date with me."
"What?!" she exclaimed. Where did this guy come from?
"I will not repeat myself."
"We broke up for a reason," Sakura replied after taking a deep breath. He had always done this to her – surprised her with his feelings. When he had confessed to her when she was sixteen, she had been shocked. The Uchiha heir, tall, dark, handsome, in college, the perfect student and the perfect man, had been interested in her.
At the time, she was still too young to date someone five years her senior. Plus, she had to focus on school and getting into a good university. When he had insisted on dating when she had entered her first year of college, she had been just as surprised. Then, when she was barely twenty, he had purposed. And here he was again – shocking her in his blunt statements.
"I could never marry into your family. My children will not live their lives mapped out for them," she stated with new determination. "And I will not allow you to give up for family just for me. I wasn't going to let you do that then, and I won't let you do that now."
"I had been willing to give that all up before. That hasn't changed," he replied rather tentatively. "It wasn't supposed to be your decision to make."
"I won't let you give up your family for me. That's why I left before," she reiterated rather uncertainly, and he could hear her resolve beginning to dwindle. He smirked. She was so predictable. But she wouldn't meet his eye, so he stood up and made his way around the desk. Lounging out it in a posture that looked much more relaxed than he actually was, he smirked at her in a way that she would not be able to resist. There were some things that just didn't change about her.
"I'm planning on resigning anyway. You're right – it's something I should have done a long time ago. I don't want my son and daughter to be treated as commodities."
That was surprising. So shocking, in fact, that Sakura didn't know how to reply. She just stared up at him rather dumbly while he smirked down at her with that infuriatingly sexy grin of his.
"Sasuke, Shisui, and I are going into the martial arts business with Subaku no Gaara and his family. We also plan on investing in Naruto-kun's ramen business. They are both wise business decisions, and they will get us away from the Uchiha Corp. We've been planning this for, oh, eight years," he explained. Sakura was staring at him now, jade eyes sparkling with confusion and something akin to pride.
"Why'd you continue to work for the Uchiha Corporation and marry a woman you couldn't love when you knew this?" she asked. Her voice was shaking and her eyes threatened to spill tears long overdue. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"We needed to accumulate the funds to start are own business. We plan to open up dojos throughout Japan. This idea didn't come up until after our relationship ended."
"You'd be good at that," Sakura conceded. "I'm glad for you."
"So, have you reconsidered my offer?" Itachi goaded. Sakura sighed.
"I don't know," she sighed exasperatedly. "It's just been so long."
It was as if he had been expecting this answer. Slowly, he was peeling back her layers and breaking down her resolution. The challenge this woman had always presented was half the fun of courting her. Grabbing her wrists lightly, he pulled her up from her chair. The notoriously klutzy girl tripped over her feet and fell directly into his chest, just as he had planned. Before she could gripe about stupid Uchihas, he released her wrists and cupped her chin.
Pulling her up, he planted his lips on hers, and just as he had anticipated, she immediately melted into the kiss.
Some things never changed.
Sasuke had been prepared to go in after Itachi to find out what was taking so damn long when the door to the classroom slid open. Over his brother's shoulder, he could see a flustered and blushing Sakura sitting in her chair while she scribbled on tests in red ink, flipping through them to grade them quickly. Sasuke smirked.
"How did it go?" Sasuke asked easily, but he already knew the answer. Itachi matched his smirk and picked up his daughter. Taro went to follow them, holding onto his briefcase and listening to his father and uncle talk curiously.
"Otouto, do you think you could possibly watch Taro and Aiko this Friday evening?" Itachi asked rather amusedly.
Sasuke grunted. "What'd she order you to do in return?"
Itachi smirked. "I had to promise to spend more time with my children and only allow the nanny to be at the house from the hours when the children aren't at school and I'm at work. No longer than 9-6. She will be asking Taro for weekly updates on my progress."
Taro harmonized his father's and uncle's smirk. It was a good thing he really liked his teacher because he got the feeling that he would be seeing much more of her in the months and years to come.
AN: Please review. They make me soooooo happy!