AN: I really liked this piece, and its my first ItaSaku, even though I read a lot of them. I hope you enjoy this as much I enjoyed writing it. Please review and let me know!
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, unfortunately
I wish I could forget you the way you forgot me.
He was all she had, really. From when she was young it had always been Sasuke-kun Sasuke-kun Sasuke-kun. Because she would have left Konoha, left her friends, left everything she ever had - and more - to go with him. Except he had left her on the bench.
But then she couldn't really blame him, could she? After all, what had she expected? When had it ever been anything else?
She continued loving him anyway. Ino gave up, found solace with Shikamaru. Everyone else lost their faith in him, gave up all hope. Naruto was the only other staunch supporter of him. But she always loved him, had never stopped loving him after the day he left and would always always always-
She had grown up to be one of the most beautiful and powerful kunoichi of her time, but there was always a little skeleton in her closet that screamed Sasuke. Because in the end, he was all he ever wanted - the man of her dreams, her birthday wish, her worst nightmare.
And then he came back.
It had happened in a frenzy – Naruto had limped through the front gates, Kotetsu had gone running for the Hokage, Izumo had fainted, Naruto had laughed.
And for a while after that, things were good. Sasuke began to merge back into their lives. He ate ramen with Naruto and Hinata, sparred with her on occasion, and turned up to the weekly Game Nights at Lee's.
And sometimes... they'd talk. They'd talk about this and that and him and her and random nondescript things and kami she fell in love all over again.
It was good. She was happy.
But then, of course, like he had always, never failed to do, he left.
Three months after he returned, she came.
She was a scrawny little thing – brown hair, dull grey eyes. Short, just scraping ANBU-level, and not nearly as beautiful or as powerfulor as bloody spectacular as Sakura was.
But she loved him too. And the difference was, he loved her back.
Her name was Ami. Plain, average girl from a civilian background. She was an orphan from Wave, a failed experiment of Orochimaru's that specialised in poisons and sabotage. Sasuke had picked her up off the streets and despite their best efforts they'd been separated two years later. Except she had heard he was in Konoha.
She told him, as she stormed into the Hokage's office, that she had never stopped loving him.
And he loved her like Sakura had always wanted him to love her.
She didn't understand it. Sasuke could have her – beautiful, long legs, pretty face, exotic features, loyal as shit, and bloody intelligent too. She loved him long too - even longer - and she was never failing, always pleasing, always- did he not see her perfection was for him? Sowhy – why why why Ami?
But the sad thing is, is that Sakura thinks that she might just be a little broken inside. Underneath all that tough girl, badass exterior she's still the blundering, self-hating genin. And maybe that's why he can't bear to look at her.
And she can't stand it. She doubles her efforts, breaks up their dates, steals Sasuke away, turns up her kunoichi seduction during their training sessions and bloody confesses in the most broken way every single day-
I love you I love you I love you I love you-
Twice, now, she's made Ami cry. And she's becoming isolated from everyone else because of it. Everyone else who doesn't understand how she loves him is turning cold, reprimanding her for the way she treats the new girl. They don't understand why she's so cruel now, so callous, so indifferent so merciless. The boy who ruined her life is now the man who is ruining her life once again.
She knows that she's the typical villain now – the beautiful bitch that's trying to steal the heroine's man. Ami's the girl with the broken past. Sasuke is her beautiful prince. But she can't help it. She loves him more than anything in this world. And that will be her downfall.
Tsunade refuses to train her until she 'fixes her attitude'.
But doesn't anyone understand that it's not an attitude? It's an obsession, a love, a broken soul that only he can fix.
Sasuke's parole ends today.
"This is the first mission that you will be on without your escort," Tsunade says as she hands Sasuke the mission briefing. Naruto gives him a wide grin.
"What do you think teme?" he says foxily, "Think you can handle the mission without my help?"
Sasuke snorts but his eyes twinkle with amusement. "I'll be fine. Ami's coming isn't she?"
Sakura grits her teeth but Naruto just smiles. She can see it in his eyes – he's thinking Sasuke's changed, and it's all because of Ami Ami Ami Ami Ami.
Tsunade gives him a brisk nod. "As per protocol, it will be a four-cell team. That's you, Ami, Shikamaru and Sakura. It's a very high-ranking and dangerous mission, but I trust you'll be able to do it."
Shikamaru does some sort of half nod and half yawn and Tsunade shoos them out of her office.
However before they completely disappear she shoots Sakura a sharp look. "Wait," she says sharply. Naruto pauses at the door, shooting his ex-teammate a look caught between pain, restraint and disappointment before turning and closing the door behind him.
Sakura tries to ignore her heart breaking all over again. "Yes shishou?" She asks faux brightly. Tsunade simply stares at her.
"Don't antagonise her Sakura."
Sakura's smile cracks for a second - she's so broken - but it returns full force. But she doesn't say anything. She doesn't know what to say.
Tsunade waves her away and she finds the other members of her team outside. Ami is fidgeting and Sasuke shoots her a glare as she exits. Shikamaru sends her a pitying look. He does that often now.
They decide to congregate outside the gates in half an hour - the plan is to leave before the sun sets - and by the time Sakura meets the team then she already has all the details for the mission memorised. It all seems routine, except that she has a strange feeling in her gut - a deep tugging that's so weirdly odd that she knows something – something is going to happen.
"Let's go through the mission on the way." Shikamaru suggests, oblivious to her discomfort. He is the Hokage's advisor and the appointed team leader. The team murmurs assent and sets off at a slower pace than Sakura is used to - after all, they have to cater towards Ami. Even though the three of them are almost kage level, she is not nearly.
In fact, Sakura wonders why Tsunade put her on the mission. But considering this is the first mission of 'free Sasuke', she probably put her there to keep him in line.
(Because no matter how hard she tried, Sakura never could)
"We're getting paid big money for this," Shikamaru informs them as they run along the trees. "With the amount the contractor is offering we could pay all the upgrades for the Academy and Hospital and still have money left over to repaint the Hokage tower – twice."
"Very cool," Sakura says wryly. "How many ryu?"
Shikamaru grins. "5 million."
"Woah," Ami says with a smile. Sakura's smile quickly turns into a scowl.
"Yeah," Shikamaru continues, "so, our task at hand - our contractor has provided us with the information that Hoshigaki Kisame has booked in a visit at The Dragon Tamer. Our team is to pose undercover, sedate him, and steal his sword – Sameheda."
"Sounds fun," Sakura says brightly. The Dragon Tamer is the most exclusive, expensive and 'high-class' brothel in Fire.
"Right," Ami says quietly, "What are the details of the undercover aspect?" She's shy, the complete opposite of Sakura, and rather timid too. Except she has a poise, a grace and class - class Sakura will never, ever be able to imitate.
"Well," Shikamaru continues, oblivious to Sakura's inner turmoil, "one member of our team is going to have to go undercover as one of the girls in the brothel – she's going to be the one to sedate him. The rest of us will act as standby in case anything goes wrong – we'll have earpieces – radios – that connect to each other."
"Right," Sakura says, nodding to herself, "So Ami."
There's a beat of silence.
"What?" Ami and Sasuke say in unison.
Sakura rolls her eyes. "Ami," she reiterates. "As the undercover girl."
Suddenly, before she can even realise, Sasuke tears through the trees and slams her against a tree. His hand is over her throat, his nails digging into her jugular vein. The team freezes, and Shikamaru quickly appears by her side. But he doesn't act - no one does in front of a volatile Uchiha. Ami has her hand over her mouth in surprise.
"No," Sasuke hisses, and his eyes flash red.
Her heart breaks a bit there.
"No," Sasuke repeats.
It's funny, Sakura thinks ironically, because Ami is the most suited – she specialises in undercover sabotage and poisons. She was madefor this mission. Sakura's style is much more confrontational - cracking the earth, chakra scalpels. Plus, she wouldn't require a henge, as unlike Sakura, her face is not splashed over hundreds of Bingo books around the world. That lessens the risk of being caught immensely –after all, if Hoshigaki detects a slight shimmer of chakra, they're dead.
"So," she says calmly, a lot calmer than she actually feels, "Who then? Me?"
Sasuke falters, and for a second she sees the boy she fell in love with all those years ago – the boy who told her thank you, the boy who could have loved her if not for Ami Ami Ami Ami- But he's gone again before she can even blink.
"Yes," he says, and she can't hear any regret in his voice.
"Why not Ami?" Sakura asks hoarsely as her heart pounds in her ears. Sasuke can probably feel the crazy drumming of her heartbeat underneath his fingers. Shikamaru stares at her sadly, almost pityingly.
Sasuke pushes against her throat, rougher, harder. "Don't you understand?" he says desperately, "she could be raped by him."
Oh, Sakura thinks, And I could too.
(But then again, you've never cared about me)
So Sakura makes up her mind.
"Right!" she says brightly, wrenching herself from his grip. Sasuke steps back, frown on his face. "Don't worry about it then. I'll do it."
Shikamaru opens his mouth, as if to say something. Sakura watches him and prays that he will.
"I'll do it," she repeats, hoarsely, emptily. She eyes Sasuke with the hope that he might react, might notice – that he might care – but he doesn't.
(Perhaps he never will)
"Good," he says, "Plus, you're probably more experienced in this area anyway."
Shikamaru and Ami freeze. A second later, Sasuke realises too.
"What?" Sakura says blankly. "Did you just call me a slut?"
Sasuke shrugs. Bad move. "I mean, considering the way you look and all, and the way you act, you've probably had-"
Sakura shoots chakra through her feet and runs. But she doesn't cry. She won't. Not like this.
"Sakura." Shikamaru's voice crackles through the earpiece tucked behind her ear. "Sakura, are you in?"
"Yes," she answers monotonously. Around her, the girls at the brothel primp her up. Her hair is dyed jet-black now, but her eyes are the same bright green. She's being smothered with makeup – dark mascara and eyeliner over her eyes, pale luminescent cream across her body. She's wearing one of their most provocative outfits.
Her radio cackles again.
"Hoshigaki has been spotted entering with another cloaked figure. When he booked he said he would be alone, so this must be a last-minute adjustment. Prepare yourself."
She hums in assent. Probably no one serious. She waves the other girls off and they scamper away. She places herself behind the door, ready for when the Madam will announce her entrance.
"Welcome, welcome," she hears the Madam say. "Hoshigaki Kisame, of course. And who is your friend?"
There is some rustling – probably the pair pulling off the hoods to their cloaks.
"Uchiha Itachi," a smooth, baritone voice pronounces.
"Fuck," Shikamaru whispers, echoing her thoughts.
Suddenly, there's a cacophony of tumbling on the other side of the radio. There's howling, screeching and snarling.
"Shikamaru," Sakura whispers frantically, "Shikamaru what do I do?"
Above the din, Shikamaru's voice rises in panic.
"Wait! Sorry I- Ami and I- we're- we're holding back Sasuke. Just- just go on with the assignment. It's alright. I think- Uchiha's never ordered a girl at a brothel before."
There's a loud screech, and the radio blacks off. She's lost her connection.
Sakura snarls and removes her earpiece, throwing it in disgust on the floor. She breaks it with the heel of her heels, cursing under her breath.
"-and this is Jasmine!" The Madam's voice floats through the door to Sakura. Cursing her luck once again, she quickly slips into her persona and opens the door, waltzing in with a sultry smile.
"Hello there gentlemen," she purrs, running her fingers up and down Hoshigaki's arm. In her peripheral vision, she locks onto the sword. She fervently tries to ignore the Uchiha but knows that she must acknowledge him too, or else blow her cover.
"Our best," the Madam says, "Which one of you wants her?"
Shikamaru's voice echoes in her head – Uchiha's never ordered a girl at a brothel before, Uchiha's never ordered a girl at a brothel before, never never never never never never-
"I do," says Itachi.
Sakura's brain stops working. In autopilot, she smiles and simpers. The Madam nods, pleased, and Uchiha Itachi hands her a large stack of ryu. Then, his hand latches onto her arm in a vice grip and he pulls her towards one of the rooms.
This is it, Sakura thinks.
Itachi pulls her into the room, but all she can think is-
Shit. Fuck. Sasuke why? Why did you do this to me? How could you do this to me?
The door slams shut, and she thinks desperately - Sasuke! Please - please - Sasuke!
Why are you doing this to me? I love you. I've been waiting for you.
(But now I'm going to lose it all to your brother)
Itachi doesn't even wait till they get to the bed. His lips brush over hers and it's strangely, terrifyingly beautiful. And she thinks – is this what it would have been like to kiss Sasuke?
His kisses are nice, but then he reaches for the lace at the back of her garment and reality hits her.
This is really happening.
Better me than Ami.
Because even though he is the one who put her in this situation, she still loves him and she'll do anything for him. Even if it means killing herself for his girl.
It's pitiful, but then again, Sakura has always been somewhat pitiful.
Her lips turn slack against his. She tries to act the part harder than ever, coaxing him, using all the skills she had learnt as an ANBU kunoichi. After all, if she wants to get to Kisame she needs him down. She can feel him hard against her and suddenly – she loses it.
A tear slips down from her cheek and lands on his bicep.
Both of them freeze.
Fuck, Sakura thinks, her cover's been blown.
"You're not a prostitute are you?" Itachi says blankly.
Then, he sticks a kunai between her ribs.
The first thing that hits Sakura is pain, then Sasuke Sasuke Sasuke Sasuke-
She's delirious as he leaves, and she thinks to herself - what a sad, sad way to die, bleeding on the floor of a brothel with my team mates so close but so so far away. But just before he disappears, a word escapes her lips.
"Sasuke," Sakura whispers.
Itachi freezes. Slowly, he turns around and looks at the dying girl. Her eyes are far far away and a giggle escapes her throat. Blood comes gargling between her lips. Then, her eyes refocus and land on him.
"Do you think," she whispers brokenly, "Will he miss me when I'm gone?"
Itachi walks over, slightly broken, to where she is lying. Her fingers curl around the bottom of his cloak.
"It was all for him, you know," she says quietly, "I did it all for him."
And she's dying. But she's smiling and she's accepting and it is like Itachi is looking into a mirror. This girl – just like him – all he did, all she did, everything they did it was all for Sasuke.
He bends down and picks her up, kunai still wedged in her heart. In a flash, he leaves, pulls Kisame off of his blonde escort and whispers-
"We have to save the girl."
By the time Shikamaru and Ami manage to restrain Sasuke, Sakura, Itachi and Kisame have disappeared.
When Sakura wakes up, the first thing she does is grab the bedside table and hurl it at Uchiha Itachi. However before she can attack him again he is on top of her, pinning her arms and legs under him.
"Stop," he hisses.
She thrashes against him, trying to escape, but it is futile. Tears begin to slip from her eyes.
"You don't understand," she whispers, "I have to kill you. I have to kill you for Sasuke!"
Itachi turns on his sharingan.
"Stop," he says again, then- "Listen."
And he tells her his story. He tells her about Uchiha Madara and the Third Hokage and Danzou and the Uchiha coup and the orders for the massacre and he tells her his grand plan and how it was all for Sasuke.
And slowly she listens.
And she cries, and he cries, and together they tell their stories of the boy that they both loved beyond and the boy who killed them too. Of the boy who made them lose everything - the boy they loved.
And funnily enough, ironically enough, Sakura says to him - enough.
"Stop," she tells him, "You have to stop giving up for him. Your plan – for him to kill you and regain the Uchiha honour – it doesn't need to happen. Don't you see? Sasuke has already redeemed the Uchiha. He has shown that he can love. That he can love… Ami. And he has Konoha's respect for that. He has more of their respect than… huh. Than even I do."
But then Itachi says-
"Stop. If Konoha respects him more than they do you then they are all a bunch of idiots. It takes a lot to give up everything for the one you love, and it takes more to do so willingly. You deserve respect. It is just kami being cruel and kind, making us love the one man who will probably kill us."
Then Sakura thinks, ponders, wonders-
"Do you think we'll ever stop? Stop loving him? Stop obsessing? Stop crying? Stop... hurting?"
Itachi shrugs, leaning back. His sleeves roll up, revealing thin scars across his arm.
Sakura looks at them, then up at him.
He eyes her too, and finally she asks-
Itachi simply smiles.
"One for every time I hurt him," he explains.
Sakura pulls up her own sleeve.
"One for every time I failed him."
It's a momentous occasion. Itachi and Sakura are touching, kissing, are maybe a little perhaps just a tiny bit in love. It is so much better than the first time they kissed and so much more beautiful.
"I think it's time to stop," Sakura says as Itachi's fingers drift across her bare stomach. He freezes then pulls away.
"Sorry," he says softly.
"No," Sakura says, placing her hand over his and guiding it back to her stomach. "I think it's time we stop giving up for Sasuke and start taking."
She brushes her lips against his.
"Yes," Itachi groans, "Yes."
The next time anyone from Konoha sees the missing kunoichi is a year and a half later from when she disappeared.
It is a four man cell, just like the one from last time – Sasuke, Ami, Shikamaru and Naruto.
One of Sasuke's snakes has reported an Akatsuki presence at a bar in Rain. The four decide to divert from their original path and follow the snake's directions in the hope that it is Uchiha Itachi.
What they don't expect to see in the forest outside Rain is Sakura. In an Akatsuki cloak. With Itachi.
The four freeze, and Sasuke has matured enough to stay still and silent.
Sakura's voice drifts towards the treetops where the four are hidden - "What's the assignment?".
Her and Itachi are walking along the dirt path leisurely. The four Konoha nin have their chakra masked so seamlessly that even the Hokage can't detect them – they are perfectly hidden.
"It's a theft," Itachi says, "Hazou's paying us 36 million - 6 million in deposit, and 10 million for every phase completed."
Naruto's eyes bug out. 36 million ryu?
But Sakura just shrugs as if it is normal.
Next to Naruto, Shikamaru raises his hands into his iconic Shadow Possession Jutsu. A shadow shoots down from the trees, ready to capture the two-
But just before it reaches the pair, a kunai whizzes through the leaves and impales Shikamaru through the stomach. He convulses and falls of the branch, toppling down onto the forest floor.
"Nara Shikamaru," Itachi lists tonelessly, "Uzumaki Naruto, Haede Ami... Uchiha Sasuke."
Naruto shoots a frantic look at Ami and Sasuke. Sasuke's eyes are frenzied and he's trembling like a man in fire or lime.
"Come on," Sakura's familiar melodic voice drifts out, "We've known you were there since you got here two minutes ago."
Hesitantly, Naruto drops down onto the path. A second later, Sasuke and Ami follow him. Sasuke is shaking with rage but Ami has a restraining hand on his shoulder.
"Itachi," Sasuke hisses angrily.
"Sakura…" Naruto breathes.
An old part of Sakura is upset that Sasuke doesn't even acknowledge her, but now it has just cemented her new position.
"Itachi," she says softly, "I need to talk to him."
Itachi turns his gaze to Ami and Naruto and they drop down unconscious, caught in his genjutsu.
Sasuke takes one look at Ami and bellows, charging forward Chidori in hand.
But right now, Itachi is perhaps the most powerful ninja in all the elemental countries. Sakura has healed his illness and now that he is not trying to lose, Sasuke does not stand a chance. This is the man that, in another life, would stop Kabuto and be hailed by the Tsuchikage as a hero to the shinobi world.
His sharingan spins to mangekyou and Sasuke freezes, unable to move.
"I admit," Itachi says, "That you have changed for the better in regards to… her." He cocks his head to the fallen girl. Ami now has an ANBU tattoo on her shoulder - she has finally made the rank.
"However," he continues, "You should learn to be more appreciative of the people around you otouto. There are many who love you, but you have been too blind to see it. Years ago, you chose your path of solitude, but you have never been alone."
Sasuke lets out a scream of rage, eyes flitting dangerously between sharingan and the mangekyou. But Sakura is not afraid. She can feel the protective coat of Itachi's chakra around her, protecting her against his sharingan.
Sasuke changes his tactic.
"Sakura!" he yells, "I thought you loved me. How could you do this to me? How could you run off to my brother? You love me!"
Sakura stares him right in the eye, unperturbed by his spinning sharingan.
"I've loved you for years Sasuke," she says quietly. "The day I left you, I loved you with all my heart. I was willing to give up all my dignity and everything I had to Hoshigaki Kisame so that Ami wouldn't have to. I was willing to die for you. I did it because you cared for her. Despite all your false claims I was always pure, and I was willing to be poisoned for you."
She pauses to interlace her fingers with Itachi.
"But," she continues stronger, "That's irrelevant now. Your brother has been kinder to me than you ever were. I am happy to give him what I once was willing to give you."
"Wait..." Sasuke says slowly, thinking quickly. As his eyes dawn with realisation he turns on her, snarling. "What do you mean you were– did you– my brother-"
"I was willing to give up everything for you," Sakura says wistfully as Sasuke charges towards her, chidori blaring, "But not anymore."
She gives Itachi's hand a squeeze and they disappear away- away- away- leaving Sasuke in a tornado of ravens and cherry blossoms.
AN: Anyone spot the quote? It's from a poem. For some weird reason while typing this I kept on writing Shikamary instead of Shikamaru. I also looked for some quotes to match this fic but I couldn't find any. If you know one let me know! Cheers, and review!