AN: Hey, you know what's nice? I'm back! You know what's even nicer? It's the holidays! Yay, I get to sleep! Either way, here is the second chapter that ends this little 'perfect world' fic. I'm happy with how it turned out, though it's different than what I originally had in mind. My imagination does crazy things occasionally. Either way, behold!
Observation: Please note that, since this is AU and the massacre never happened, I changed the characters' personalities somewhat to fit. I imagined Itachi would not have any reason to be the tormented man he was in the original (my poor baby ), so I wrote him accordingly. Anyway, I havealwayshated Fugaku with a passion for being a horrible parent (seriously, what kind of twisted father differentiates his children like that? To Sasuke, he was simply cruel: be like your brother, be like your brother. Bastard.). I also love the relationship between Sasuke and Itachi, and I hope I showed enough of that while still keeping them in character.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto today. It's just one of those bad days, y'know. Sucks.
Could You Teach Me How to Dance?
Sakura was good at being objective when needed. And when she looked at her hair, at her kimono and at the mere expression on her face, she was realistic enough to determine that the situation was bad. Some rebellious bubblegum locks had already managed to escape the elegant bun they'd been tied into and, in her hurry to make herself look decent enough for the exigent Uchiha Fugaku and his clan of arrogant noblemen, she had apparently rumpled her red kimono.
Standing in front of a mirror, she observed each and every of her eye twitches carefully, all the while feeling the small amount of patience she still possessed wear off rather quickly.
And, suddenly, it was all gone.
''Shannaro!'' she yelled in annoyance and mock fury, wrenching the small piece of fabric from her pink locks quite brutally and satisfactorily watching her hair fall in a rose cascade down to her shoulders. Truthfully, Ino was going to be severely disappointed by her chosen casual style, but Sakura simply could not stand the stress anymore.
A stress induced by the Uchiha clan's leader, no less. It was infuriating and even somewhat embarrassing how, even after years of being his youngest son's best friend, Fugaku still resented her and enjoyed inducing feelings of inadequacy in her already under-confident mind. It was true that, when being professionally associated with prodigies like Naruto and Sasuke, one that underwent normal development could be perceived as weak or unimportant. Sakura understood that fact, and yet craved to be recognized. She wanted to be on the same level as her two gloriously skilled teammates.
Sakura had thus asked for the Slug Sannin's guidance. She had come to love her Shishou like a second mother, and was extremely proud of her accomplishments she owed to Tsunade's proficiency only. Still, though, it was not enough. While she was defeating Sasori (almost losing her life, as well), Sasuke and Naruto were killing Orochimaru. Sakura did not deny her own opponent's remarkable abilities, yet they all knew Orochimaru had been a much more threatening enemy.
Therefore, the recognition she had so desperately craved after defeating an Akatsuki member was lost in the deafening cheers that were meant for Naruto and Sasuke only. Sakura was not jealous of them – she had been part of the applauding crowd, for goodness' sake – yet she was frustrated with herself. It was almost unbearable to see just how far behind she was in comparison with her partners.
More so, Fugaku was definitely not being helpful. He had acknowledged Naruto and had even almost adopted him as his third son, but Sakura appeared to be discriminated. The leader always agreed to allow the obnoxious shinobi to sleep over, yet the rosette was refused even to dinner. The fact that she had only visited the Uchiha compound once or twice in her entire career was discouraging, to say the least.
However, there was Itachi. Throughout her entire childhood, he had been the big brother Sasuke looked up to and who occasionally treated his sibling's small team to a dango dessert. Back then, he had been nice to both Naruto and herself, and they had even begun to call him 'Itachi-nii', to Sasuke's anguish.
As she matured, though, Sakura began to see more than just his imposing skill and kind nature. Being a kunoichi, the rosette specialized into reading people – be it their fighting style or their facial expressions – and, despite popular belief, Itachi showed exactly what he felt, through his eyes.
Those dark orbs were deeper than Sasuke's. They were a window to his soul, to his emotions, that he did not bother to hide – people usually did not look, anyway.
But Sakura did.
It was unmistakable, the gleam of pure love that adorned his magnetic orbs when he saw Sasuke. Sakura could swear upon her own life that her teammate did not even comprehend the sheer love his older sibling felt for him. Itachi would have gone as far as to destroy his own existence, if it meant Sasuke's happiness. Even the mere fact that a shinobi of Itachi's caliber was capable of feeling such powerful connections made Sakura's heart melt.
It was also in his eyes when he saw her, though not nearly as immense, not yet. It was a rather curious edge, an experimental attempt to deeper emotions. He did not love her as he did his brother, that was clear, but it seemed he was willing to try forming a close bond with her. And, by all means, Sakura reciprocated.
She truly did, because, if there was one man the kunoichi could picture herself falling in love with – madly, deeply – it was Uchiha Itachi. He had been the one to congratulate her for the victorious battle with Sasori, he had deemed her good enough to participate in a clan festival as his date, he was a man unlike all others.
Sasuke had been her first romantic attachment, but one's first love, while being a retainable experience, is not nearly the last. And, while her feelings for her teammate had been real, something inside her kept believing that, with Itachi, there could be more.
If only his father stopped driving her insane, that is.
Sakura was thoroughly aware of the fact that her obsessive desire to impress Fugaku and gain his approval was unhealthy and, to an extent, unnecessary, but the teenager was a particularly stubborn individual. If the man's prodigious son and heir had enough faith in her to wish to be publicly seen by her side, then Sakura wanted to be exemplary herself. She was not going to be any lower than all the other women who craved Itachi's attention and she was not going to give Fugaku any reason to abusively use his authority to humiliate her.
As a result, she bent on her knees and gently picked the hair binder and several hairpins she had thrown away, sighing. She had had enough trouble learning how to dance – she wasn't about to ruin her and Sasuke's hard work just because she was not patient enough to remake a simple hair bun.
Forcing a calm expression on her exotic features, Sakura took a deep breath in a final attempt to tame her fiery temper. Her slightly awkward hands had only a bit of trouble putting her freshly washed hair in place, while she made a mental note to ask Itachi to go on less demanding dates in the future.
As her fury died down, Sakura managed to eye herself thoroughly, actually observing the beautiful parts of her exterior aspect as well. She had chosen a fitting red kimono, with delicate cherry blossoms imprinted on the soft material. By miracle, her bubblegum locks were staying in place, forming an elegant bun. As a final touch, Sakura chose a silver necklace from her jewelry box, silently admiring the shimmering rosy flower that rested on her collarbone as she tied it around her neck. It was the gift the Uchiha family had offered her on her fourteenth birthday, and it had been her favorite ever since – though most definitely not defeating the set of gloves they had sent the next year, that left her pale knuckles unwounded even after the most furious of punches.
Caressing the undoubtedly expensive jewel, Sakura smiled at her reflection. Perhaps it was not going to be so bad. After all, both Sasuke and Itachi were going to be there, and, as far as she remembered, Mikoto did not dislike her in the slightest. If she managed to avoid Fugaku's discouraging comments and stressful presence, Sakura believed she was going to be alright.
Suddenly, her doorbell rang, and her heart leaped instantly. Quickly glancing at her clock, the kunoichi realized it was 6 sharp. She could not suppress a smile: Itachi truly was the epitome of punctuality.
Walking towards the door with the smallest glint of nervousness in her emerald orbs, Sakura tried to swallow her tumbling emotions, only to be met with an even more forceful wave when her partner for the night was revealed.
Maybe it was the fact that he was supposed to look tired or, at least, somewhat ruffled after an S-ranked mission, but the hormonal girl had to bite her tongue to refrain from gaping. Uchiha Itachi was impeccable.
He was wearing a tuxedo, of all things, and he was gorgeous. Sakura had not even known such outfits could be found in their geographical region, but it appeared that members of the Uchiha clan could own whatever they desired.
To add to her bewildered expression, he was also wearing a red necktie, making him a thorough match to her. How he had guessed her choice of clothing was beyond her, and she had a hard time not imagining how breathtakingly handsome he would look if he activated his Sharingan…
''Hello, Sakura,'' Itachi said curtly, her name rolling off his tongue in a way that was enticing to them both.
The rosette finally looked into his onyx eyes, only to see a flicker of pride and mock amusement that clearly notified her she had been caught staring. She blushed in embarrassment immediately.
It was all Itachi could do not to smirk. It was unbelievable how adorable her antics were and how her mere face made him feel at home.
His mission had kept him busy and, being S-ranked, it had also necessitated his ability to kill. However, it was rather hard to acknowledge that, earlier that day, he had been murdering rogue ninja, when a beautiful kunoichi was offering him the privilege of being the reason for the reddening of her delicate cheeks.
The sentiment of attraction to a female was still rather unusual, yet surprisingly pleasant as well, Itachi had come to realize. In his two decades of existence, he had not focused on his personal life in the slightest, much too preoccupied with his shinobi duties to bother. Sakura was a desperately needed exception.
At first, Itachi had been extremely confused. Sakura was his little brother's teammate and friend – and the entire village was aware of Team 7's suspiciously affectionate friendship. Therefore, his attraction to her was a very peculiar emotion: Sasuke and Naruto were fiercely protective of Sakura and, even though Itachi was not frightened by a couple of Chunin in the slightest, the Captain was not entirely sure whether his interference was going to be accepted by his sibling or not – if the rumors were true and Sasuke really was in love with his beautiful friend, then his happiness mattered more than Itachi's.
After more time of carefully observing their interactions, though, the prodigious heir was unexpectedly joyous to realize that, despite their uncommon sleeping arrangements and the unhealthy amount of time spent together, neither of the males in Team 7 loved Sakura romantically. And, when his own sibling began to actually tease him for 'stalking his teammate like a lovesick puppy', Itachi knew it was time to act according to his completely new emotions.
The result was displayed in numerous thoroughly enjoyable conversations and even training sessions with the young kunoichi, and Itachi's urges changed drastically with each encounter. The growing need to be around her, the desire to be the reason why she smiled so brightly, the way he felt his gaze soften when he met those gorgeous emerald eyes of hers – reactions that were so normal for a man who was falling for a lady.
It was the one thing that had him glued to her, he supposed: she did not make him feel like the skilled ninja he was; she did not make him feel like the heir of one of the most prestigious clans in the shinobi world; she made him feel human.
The fact that he found her bashfulness absolutely adorable simply came with the package.
''Hello, Itachi,'' she responded with a tiny smile, a lively blush still coloring her cheeks. Itachi rewarded her endearing reaction to his presence with a small smirk of his own; he could afford to indulge in a night of being human.
He was pleasantly surprised when Sakura took hold of his right arm rather boldly, strongly contradicting her previous nervous actions in a way the ANBU Captain could only label as fascinating.
As Itachi remembered to be the gentleman his mother had raised and complimented his partner's truly lovely appearance, he inwardly smiled to himself, extremely proud of his choice to date Haruno Sakura: the chemistry between them was nearly palpable.
Now, if only his aggravating father was going to be capable to keep his opinions to himself when they reached the compound.
To Sakura's utmost relief, the person to open the door to the main Uchiha family's house was no other than Sasuke. Unlike his brother's exotic outfit, the younger Uchiha was wearing a traditional dark blue yukata.
Not nearly as gorgeous as Itachi, the kunoichi mused with a blush, but Sasuke had always been, as Ino would say, 'a piece of meat'. The attractiveness they both emanated was almost unfair.
Sasuke's eyes brightened for one moment at the sight of his sibling and he heaved a deep sigh of utter relief. Sakura stared in surprise at his reaction. Fugaku had, most likely, given him hell all day to make the usually impenetrable Uchiha openly express his emotions in such a way.
Looking to her side for a second, the young girl saw a glimpse of concern and even confusion in Itachi's dark orbs and realized he had been taken aback by Sasuke's peculiar behavior as well.
''Otouto,'' the ANBU Captain said with an acknowledging nod, his tone clearly demanding an explanation. Sasuke hesitated for one moment only, before offering Itachi and Sakura room to enter.
Despite being concerned for her friend, Sakura could not suppress a tiny gasp at the sight of the sheer beauty displayed before her. The mansion was incredibly spacious and yet absolutely impeccable, to the point where she could even see her reflection on the floor.
Each and every corner had been decorated meticulously with glimmering fake snow, different statues resembling angels and reindeers, all covered by red and green bows and tinsel.
Everything was so perfect that even a stray hair could make a person feel out of place in the Uchiha compound.
It was Itachi's unmistakable voice that snapped Sakura out of her reverie.
''Has something happened while I was on duty, Sasuke?'' the older Uchiha asked, all but a whisper. They were alone in the hallway and none of the three felt any other chakra signatures nearby, but Itachi was well aware that his clan was not to be underestimated – especially since the head of said clan apparently wished to declare war to his two sons.
Thoroughly aggravated, Sasuke rolled his eyes with a snort. ''Nii-san, he wants my head,'' he scowled, obviously referring to his father. ''Other than that, all is fine.''
Itachi inwardly sighed at his sarcastic and bitter little brother. Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined the little pest he loved so dearly was going to 'mature' into the ironic and, dare he admit, even somewhat constipated adolescent he was now. Knowing Sasuke, he'd done something to infuriate their father and now waited for 'Nii-san' to fix the potential disaster he'd created in a reckless moment.
Maybe he would need to share a serious discussion with Naruto about bad influence.
Before Itachi could respond, however, Sasuke fixated his onyx gaze on Sakura and grabbed her arm rather urgently.
''I'll have to steal her from you for a moment, though,'' he said, already dragging the extremely confused kunoichi to a room adjacent to them. Itachi lifted an eyebrow, but did not express any sort of disapproval. As teammates, Sasuke and Sakura occasionally needed to discuss classified matters and, being an ANBU, Itachi understood the need for secrecy best.
The fact that he suspected a mission was far from being the reason for their sudden departure to an area where he was not present was another thing altogether.
Sakura could only blink dumbly when Sasuke shut the door behind them, before the entire situation registered in her mind.
''Sasuke-kun, that was rude,'' she scolded him, annoyed when he waved her off with a shake of his hand. She would have to apologize to Itachi for both of them.
''Sakura, listen to me,'' he said forcefully, stopping the kunoichi's trail of thought in an instant. Sasuke only ever used that tone when the circumstances were critical on a mission, and it was serious.
''Sasuke-kun?'' she said hesitantly, instinctively sharpening her senses in case of danger.
''Sakura, no matter what anyone tells you, don't lose your temper,'' he emphasized his words, staring directly into her increasingly wide eyes.
She tilted her head in confusion. ''Why? What happened?''
Sasuke sighed, suddenly looking exhausted. ''Apparently, my father is so angered by the attachment both me and Itachi have to you that he wants to make you lash out at members of the Uchiha clan so he can humiliate you for being a loose cannon.''
Sakura simply stared at him, pondering the idiocy of his words. She opened her mouth to speak several times before finally settling for an insulted demand.
''What have I ever done to him?'' the injured pride in her voice was evident and Sasuke actually sympathized with her – his brother and he wondered the exact same thing on a daily basis.
''I don't know, Sakura. He's even started to belittle Naruto at the dinner table.''
That made her hair tips almost catch on fire. ''If anyone says one bad thing about Naruto in my presence-''
''You will deny it calmly,'' Sasuke strongly interrupted, meeting her fiery glare with one of his own for a fleeting moment, before his onyx orbs softened. ''Sakura, if there is one thing that is punished horribly in my clan, it is to disobey one's parents. Imagine what would happen if it came to attacking one's parents.''
Sakura stared at him for a long moment, slowly connecting his words to their current predicament. When the implication that he would go as far as to attack his own father if he hurt her in any way was fully registered, the kunoichi could not defeat the urge to embrace her best friend to the point of suffocation.
He returned the bear hug, at least until he emitted a strangled choke that echoed rather loudly. Sakura immediately detached herself from her injured teammate, rapidly healing the one rib she'd broken with a sheepish giggle.
Sasuke shook his head, still in the process of catching his breath. ''Itachi is going to die by your hands, Sakura.''
Her idiotic giggle turned into a fit of laughter at his remark. Ruffling his spiky hair affectionately, she urged him to return to the subject of their light conversation.
''I'll heal him before he dies, silly.''
''I'm still put off by the idea of finding my brother drowning himself one day.''
When the duo finally exited the guest room, Itachi was not surprised to find them bickering like children. Even though they usually teamed up against Naruto, by all means, Sasuke and Sakura had their moments.
Fearing his little sibling was going to attend the festival with a swollen eye, Itachi cleared his throat, successful in gaining their attention. When they eyed him expectantly, he smoothly gestured towards two remarkably big glass doors, from where they could hear laughter and chatter.
''I believe we should make our appearance,'' he announced, lifting his elbow in an invitation for Sakura to interlock her arm with his. She accepted with a smile, clearly spelled by Itachi's chivalrous nature.
As Sasuke opened the doors, neither of the two could refrain from chuckling at the youngest Uchiha's snide, yet entirely truthful remark.
As the two brothers expected and Sakura feared, the room was instantaneously quieted by their entrance. Numerous people who had been talking or drinking halted their activities to shamelessly stare in their direction, however, they were all aware that they were staring at Sakura. While it was a premiere to witness a supposed stranger attending a clan event without being sent to the Hokage immediately for causing an undesired disturbance, the intensity of their stares was disconcerting, to say the least.
Itachi narrowed his eyes slightly, feeling the increasing sentiment of self-consciousness the kunoichi by his side was struggling to conceal. He did not appreciate such a reaction from his clansmen, especially since he had announced Sakura's presence the moment his offer had been accepted.
''Has the event we organized not been to your liking thus far?'' his lilt tenor echoed in the silence as he fixated his cold gaze on a woman he recognized as a distant cousin.
The unfortunate lady averted her gaze immediately, stuttering. ''N-no, Itachi-sama. It has been… very enjoyable.''
The heir nodded, looking around the room in a façade of confusion he did not bother to make believable. ''Then I'm afraid I do not understand why you are refusing to continue your enjoyable activities.''
Not a second after his words were spoken, the festival was resumed in a louder manner than before, the attendants carefully avoiding any direct or indirect interaction with the clan heir and his partner.
Sasuke tactfully lost himself in the crowd, sending one final glance to Sakura as a reminder of their previous conversation. She answered him with a subtle nod of her head, determined to remain undefeated by whatever obstacle Uchiha Fugaku decided to throw at her. She cared too much for both siblings to allow their Christmas festival to be ruined because of her.
She followed Itachi's slow steps, frowning slightly at the unnerved expression he was concealing, for her sake most likely. When the silence between them became awkward, Sakura forced a smile on her face.
''Thank you, Itachi,'' she said in a small voice, almost drowning in discomfort due to the invisible holes that were being burned into her back continuously. When he looked down at her, she decided to elaborate. ''For inviting me. This place looks lovely.''
Undoubtedly noticing how her remark only concerned the material beauty of the compound, Itachi turned to face her fully, grasping both her small, yet potentially destructive hands into his larger ones.
''I had intended for this event to be pleasant,'' he confessed softly, allowing a small amount of his disappointment into his voice while still maintaining his usual composed expression.
Sakura's heart churned. For a reason unknown, seeing that one man apologizing for something he truly had no control over, like an entire clan, was heartbreaking. She had no desire to be the cause of his disappointment, directly or not, therefore she gave him an encouraging smile, blushing ever so slightly at their proximity.
''I never said it was not,'' Sakura started, ignoring the blanched look he sent her at what he knew was a full lie. ''But maybe we could… detach ourselves from the crowd,'' she ended, glancing at the people around them warily as she spoke, as if expecting one of them to attack at any moment.
Itachi almost smiled at her unfounded wariness – no Uchiha (or Konoha resident, for that matter) that cherished their life would ever dare to attempt to hurt Haruno Sakura: if the Hokage herself failed to murder them cruelly, then two very angered Uchiha clan members and a feral Jinchuuriki would, without a second thought. Then again, that was if the victim were still alive after Sakura herself was done with them.
Grateful for her desire to continue to attend the rather disastrous festival, Itachi nodded at her curtly, curling an arm around her waist and proceeding to lead her towards the left corner of the grand room.
Sakura's heart leaped into her throat when his hand rested on her hip, and it was all she could do to keep walking straight. She was well aware that she was overreacting, but, with her entire medical training, she was not capable to decelerate the frantic beating of her heart. Infuriating hormones.
If Itachi noticed the reaction the mere touch of his hand inflicted upon the kunoichi, he gave no signs of it, instead opening the wooden door that led to a large balcony. He did not particularly enjoy gatherings, so he looked forward to being alone with Sakura. Their conversations were always fascinating and, besides the pleasure of her company, he knew the view would be marvelous.
As a result, he was slightly taken aback when he was met with the figure of no other than his own father standing a few inches above himself. Fugaku was known for his remarkable ability to hide his presence – not even his oldest son was capable of detecting him. When Itachi felt Sakura stiffen considerably, he made the important decision to train his sensorial abilities from then on.
Seeing Uchiha Fugaku, to Sakura, was equivalent to seeing the devil himself. He was wearing a tuxedo that was similar to his son's, however, his necktie was black and the foreign clothes did not suit him very well. She had to ask Inner Sakura to torture her mind for thinking that he looked like a waiter.
It was rather amusing, though.
Sakura used the genuine smile her internal joke caused to her advantage, making herself appear pleased to see him. She bowed politely.
Fugaku's charcoal eyes narrowed at her, clearly displeased by the kunoichi's cheerfulness. He knew how to distinguish real emotions from fake ones and, as infuriating as it was, the girl's smile was genuine. He'd have to remove it from her face.
''Haruno,'' he said her name as if it disgusted him, not missing the dangerous flare in Itachi's chakra as he did so. Fugaku was irritated, to say the least. He was losing his both of his sons' loyalty to the clan in favor of the village that was nothing without the Uchiha, the Kyuubi's Jinchuuriki and that thing that called herself a kunoichi. Uzumaki, at least, was a capable shinobi, he would admit. But her? What had she ever done?
Sakura's eye threatened to twitch at the disrespectful use of her name, but she kept herself composed. That man was not going to be offered the opportunity to ridicule her, head of the clan or not.
Itachi tactfully decided to handle the conversation. ''Otō-san, we were heading towards the balcony,'' he said smoothly, and Sakura recognized the sentence as Itachi's respectful way of telling his father to make room.
Fugaku lifted a dark eyebrow at his son, as if questioning his observational skills. Truthfully, Itachi had known from the moment he saw him standing in the balcony, alone for no reason, that he had placed himself there purposefully. And the realization that, due to an ulterior motive Itachi had yet to discover, his father did not want him and Sakura away from the rest of the clan was not received well by the young man.
As much as Itachi respected his elders, especially his own flesh and blood, he did not tolerate being treated like a child. He was an adult capable of making his own decisions and, while he had certain duties as the heir of the Uchiha clan, accepting his father's abusive use of authority for personal benefits was the last thing on the ANBU's agenda.
Swearing for the millionth time in his lifetime that he was going to be a much better leader than Fugaku, Itachi ignored his father's presence and attempted to lead Sakura to the balcony regardless.
With a devious smirk, the older Uchiha placed a hand on his son's shoulder, stopping him from advancing any further. ''I am afraid I can't let you, Itachi,'' he said, closing the wooden door. ''The dances are about to begin and it would be a shame if you didn't participate.''
At that precise moment, Itachi understood the entire situation and feared he was going to achieve the Mangekyō Sharingan that evening. ''Under no circumstances will I tolera-''
However, Sakura interrupted, surprising both Uchiha. ''That's true, Uchiha-san,'' she said, wearing a deceivingly sweet smile of her own. Then, she turned to a composed, yet confused Itachi. ''We should go, don't you think?''
Fugaku was silenced for a good amount of time, before leading the way with a huff, to Sakura's delight. He did not know how to perceive her enthusiasm – she was about to be humiliated in front of Konoha's most powerful, wealthy and respected clan. Perhaps she was masochistic. With her aggressive fighting style, one could never know.
Itachi was flabbergasted. Surely Sakura knew the dances were practiced among Uchiha clan members only, didn't she?
''Sakura, would you mind explaining?'' he whispered in her ear, his arm still curled around her waist possessively. The young lady smiled up at him knowingly. ''I am a kunoichi, Itachi, aren't I?''
Before he could interrogate her further, they found themselves in the middle of the room, where the men and women were separated by an invisible line, waiting for the music to begin.
As Sakura stood in her place, recognizing the dance as one being done by men and women separately, she saw Sasuke, who looked just as satisfied with the clan's confused mumblings as she felt. It was idiotic of them not to realize what had happened, really, but neither members of Team 7 seemed to mind. Their radiating irritation was delicious.
Itachi, however, being the prodigy he was and noticing Sasuke and Sakura smirking at each other knowingly, was quick to put two and two together. When he did, he chuckled involuntarily, attracting a few curious glances. What a silly move for his father to make – Itachi would have been surprised if his little brother hadn't told Sakura every clan secret he knew.
Everything appeared to unfold smoothly and, as expected, Sakura knew every move by heart. It was when a group of Uchiha kunoichi carefully approached the medic in dancing steps that the events took a turn for the worst.
''Easy with the spinning, Haruno; you might produce a tornado,'' one whispered in her ear in passing. Sakura's first urge was to break her stomach in half, but she bit her tongue.
''I think the dancing is a little too much effort for you – you're starting to stink.''
Her eye twitched.
''I should have expected your stupidity. After all, you're friends with that Uzumaki foolish son of a bitch.''
That was it. She could take any insult directed at herself, but no one spoke badly of Naruto or Sasuke in front of her and lived to see another day. Especially if swearing was included.
Just as she turned around with her fist raised to kill, in a motion that clearly screamed she could not care less about Fugaku's idiotic clan and the fact that those kunoichi had been ordered to anger her, Itachi caught her elbow from behind, turning her around to face him and proceeding to lead a slower dance as the music changed.
''Forgive me, Sakura,'' he whispered in her ear, using a tone she'd never heard before. ''But I cannot allow you to steal the satisfaction of silencing my cousins from me.''
She looked into his magnetic orbs confusedly and was surprised to see a glint of malevolence that had never been there prior to the festival. It was peculiar to gaze into Itachi's eyes and not see pure love and kindness, but Sakura had been about to pummel another kunoichi with an amount of chakra that could destroy the entire mansion, therefore Itachi's change in attitude was welcomed.
Suddenly, Sakura found herself thrown into the arms of no other than her lovely teammate, who was grinning in a manner similar to Kakashi when he read his pornographic novels. She glanced to her side, only to see Itachi gallantly gather the kunoichi who had insulted her, leading them towards his father. Sasuke chuckled deviously.
''I like to call this kind of moment, Sakura,'' he told her, pausing to add a dramatic effect to his statement, ''the rare moment when my brother loses it.''
The kunoichi gasped. It was a known fact among Konoha shinobi that the prodigious ANBU Captain never lost his temper and handled every situation calmly and logically.
However, seeing Sasuke's unnaturally pleased expression determined her to think otherwise. As the youngest Uchiha gently led her away from the dance floor, Sakura stared at Itachi in awe.
The three kunoichi next to him were shamefully staring at the floor and the Captain appeared to have engaged in a rather heated argument with Fugaku. The general noise prevented Sakura from hearing the entire conversation, but Itachi's voice was unmistakable as he spoke, and the kunoichi understood some of his words: 'not a child', 'not tolerate this degrading behavior', 'the first and last time', 'made myself clear'.
It was enough to understand what they were arguing about.
To the guests' utmost bewilderment, though, at that exact moment, Fugaku stormed out of the room with a dangerous flare of his chakra, leaving his two sons smirking in satisfaction.
Sasuke stretched with his feline grace, holding back a yawn. It was the usual, he supposed. Itachi had successfully silenced their aggravating father once again, and Fugaku was obviously angered by that fact. However, the Chunin knew from experience that the head of the clan was going to act as if nothing happened the next day, continuing his futile attempt to convert his sons to his own narrow-minded beliefs that revolved around the clan only. Even though Sasuke had never particularly liked Shikamaru, he was tempted to say that his family was troublesome.
While Sasuke had expected the argument between his father and sibling, he had most definitely not expected Itachi to victoriously march towards an intrigued Sakura, to grab her by the waist possessively and kiss her in front of the entire Uchiha clan.
After five seconds of being caught in a passionate lip-lock with the fascinating ANBU Captain, Sakura's mind was still processing the information. Itachi was a stubborn individual, however, and he refused to grant her freedom until she responded to his incredibly bold action.
Slowly and rather hesitantly, Sakura's lips began to move with his own and she brought her arms around his neck in a tight embrace. The blissful experience was deemed too short by both of them when they had to break apart due to lack of air, but they smiled at one another lovingly, forgetting the world around them.
An overly excited squeal that Itachi's subconscious fearfully recognized as his own mother's truly snapped them out of their small paradise. Mikoto's exaggeratingly enthusiastic reaction was followed by both Sasuke and Shisui's cheers and then the entire room erupted in applause, Fugaku's orders to dislike the kunoichi under any and all circumstances forgotten.
Sakura blushed furiously while Itachi subtly shook his head with a small smile. He had not quite been in his right mind after arguing with his father, and the urge to somehow claim the young lady as his despite whatever Fugaku thought had overwhelmed him, but, for once in his life, he was glad to have reacted impulsively.
Mikoto approached them joyously, a bright smile planted on her surprisingly young features. ''Congratulations, you two!'' she exclaimed, hugging a startled Sakura. The younger girl had known that the Uchiha matriarch did not dislike her, but the fact that she seemed to actually quite like her was unexpected, yet welcomed. She returned the embrace with a genuinely cheerful smile, actually laughing at the woman's antics when she spoke again.
''Ne, Sakura-chan, it is a bit weird that you know how to dance like an Uchiha, but aren't one yet, you know?''
Itachi cleared his throat vigorously. ''Actually, Okā-san, I have observed that she cannot follow a set rhythm just yet – she may need a bit more training before you decide to legally adopt her as your daughter,'' he said, successfully making the point that they were not getting married the next day clear.
Mikoto laughed and Shisui and Sasuke smirked at their respective best friends.
''Man, Itachi, you sure kiss like an animal!'' Shisui chuckled a bit too loudly, because the warning glare the ANBU sent him was only half amused.
On the other hand, Sasuke was slightly more subtle in his approach. He looked at Itachi and Sakura and smiled. ''You two deserve each other,'' he honestly told them.
Itachi and Sakura only shared a glance and a smirk before unexpectedly embracing the surprised Chunin that was dear to them both. Sasuke stood still for a moment, but relaxed into their hold, bringing them closer with a fierce embrace of his own.
Needless to say, Mikoto began to cry.
All was well, until the doors flew open to reveal an angry ninja… in his pajamas.
''Oi! I don't care what big clan festival you people are having, but I just came back from this really awesome solo mission and I want some damn sleep, so quiet down, dattebayo!''
Sakura began to laugh in sheer joy. To think that, only one day before, she'd been so worried about what the aggravating Uchiha clan head thought of her when she should have simply spent her time loving her precious people. She was even willing to forgive Fugaku for making her night so complicated.
Or perhaps not. But, either way, Sakura was happy: she loved, she was loved and she was alive.
It was more than she could have ever asked for.
DONE! So, what do you think? Do you like it? Seriously, I would feel like the biggest idiot if I were the only one to like this story. I'm actually rather proud of it.
Anyway, leave a review if it's not too much trouble, but, most of all, have a merry Christmas with your loved ones, because they're the ones that matter, not your enemies. You can deal with those later.