"Sakura-chan?" Ino said, stepping into her best friend's living room. She'd gotten into the habit of pretty much just walking
right into the house since her friend had moved in three months ago. And boy, was she glad she had, otherwise she wouldn't
have gotten to see this. "Oh my god," she shrieked. Sitting there on the sofa was Sakura. And Itachi. And they were
kissing. "Oh my god!"
Sakura shrieked and shoved the surprised Uchiha away, bolting to her feet as the blonde spun away with a surge of giddy
glee. "No! Ino! Get back here!" the pink-haired kunoichi yelled, giving chase. "This is not what it looks like!"
Ino spun back around to face her friend at the front door, grinning ear to ear. "Not what it looks like, Forehead? It looks
like you and tall, dark and handsome were just making out! Ooh, I have to tell Shika!"
Sakura reached out and grabbed her wrist. "No! We were not!" she said, face the color of a ripe tomato.
Ino tugged at her arm, still grinning. "Honey, I know what I saw! Leggo!"
"No! You did not see what you think you saw!" Sakura retorted. "You saw the back of Itachi's head, and me sitting
next to him-"
"Facing him," Ino corrected.
"I was checking-" Sakura choked, cutting herself off. "Medic stuff! You saw medic stuff! Oh my god, Ino, I'm going to murder
"You were kissing him!" Ino accused, grin growing impossibly wider. "Oh, wow! You were!"
"Were not!" Sakura yelled, flustered. "Was not! Uhg! Stop jumping to conclusions!" She turned her head and scowled
at the amused-looking Uchiha standing in the entrance of the living room. "Itachi! Tell her we weren't kissing!"
He blinked slowly, the corner of his mouth quirking up. "Why? Anything I say on the matter will simply seem contrived.
Besides, this is a much more interesting story," he commented, crossing his arms and leaning against the doorjamb.
"I will murder you," she growled.
He smirked. "You're keeping the bed. Call this payback."
"You're sleeping with him too?" Ino yelped, bouncing on the balls of her feet. "Oh my god! Go, Sakura!" she squealed.
"NO! NOT SLEEPING WITH HIM!" Sakura yelled, getting redder. "NOT NOT NOT!"
Ino was simply bursting with the desire to tell someone. "Oooh, spill. Is he good in bed?" she asked as if he weren't standing
"Amazing," the Uchiha inserted, smirking.
Ino's eyes widened while Sakura sputtered. "Ohhh, Sak! You sly dog! Ack! I can't believe you were holding out on me!" She
twisted her wrist out of Sakura's grip, only to be tackled halfway out the door. "Heeey! Lemme go!"
"You are not spreading this around the village," Sakura growled. "Hell no!"
"Awww, c'mon! I was just planning on telling Shika!" And Choji, and maybe Tenten, ooh, and Neji would find it pretty funny!
Not to mention Kakashi would get a kick out of it-
Ten minutes of struggling later...
"The closet? Really, Sakura-san?" Itachi asked, brow rising.
Sakura, who was leaning against the broom closet in the hallway even as Ino pounded against it, scowled at him. "Well,
I wouldn't have had to resort to this method if you had told the truth, Mr. It Will Seem Contrived," she retorted. "By the
way, I'm murdering you as soon as I get the chance."
He shrugged, unconcerned with the empty threat. "You're welcome to try at any time. Clearly, I have issues with actually
"Yeah, I noticed that," she said, and scowled. "But when I kill people, they stay dead."
There was a knock on the front door then, and Ino's pounding abruptly stopped. Naruto stuck his head inside the door. "Sakura-chan?"
She blinked at him. "Naruto? Oh, hi. Um... I'm a little busy right now. Can you come back later?" she asked.
His gaze immediately moved to Itachi, and blue eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Busy with what?" he asked, glaring at the Uchiha.
"SHE WAS MAKING OUT WITH ITACHI!" Ino yelled through the closet door.
Sakura spazzed. "NO I WASN'T!" she screamed back.
As the two started up another heated argument, Naruto stepped inside, eyes narrowed on the Uchiha. "Were you?"
Itachi shrugged. "Sure. Why not."
Sakura, who'd turned to face the closet door, turned her head around abruptly to glare at him. "AND YOU!" she shouted.
"You're not helping matters at all!"
Itachi gave her a look that practically screamed how non-threatening he found her. "I fail to see what I would get
in return for telling them the 'truth'," he said calmly.
She scowled at the audible air quotes. "You get to keep your manhood?" she retorted.
"Threats do nothing as far as convincing me to remain on your side in the matter," he replied.
"What do you want?" she demanded.
"The house. You can have any other house on my lands, but this one is mine," he replied. "Unless you want to share it,
"NO!" she shouted. Because giving him the house meant giving him the bed. And she was not giving him that bed.
Naruto looked back and forth between the two of them, brow wrinkled, and decided he was just going to take Sakura's word
for it. "Man, you guys have some serious relationship issues," he announced, and abruptly left the house.
Sakura wanted to cry. "WE DON'T HAVE A RELATIONSHIP!" she yelled after him.
Itachi chuckled softly. "Alright, alright. Please let Ino-san out. We can tell her, if she promises to keep it to herself
upon pain of death."
Sakura gave him a suspicious glower, but stepped away from the door, opening it for the eavesdropping blonde. Ino beamed.
Itachi's brows lifted. "You will not tell anyone."
"Sure!" Ino agreed quickly. Gosssiiiippp!
"No one," Itachi insisted. "At all. Or else." Ino nodded, but he remained silent for a long few minutes. Finally, he sighed.
"Sakura-san was checking my eyes."
The blonde blinked. "Your eyes?" she asked, surprised. "What for?"
He tapped his cheekbone right beneath his left eye. "The Sharringan, specifically the mangekyo sharringan, uses an especially
potent brand of chakra that burns the chakra pathways. It was slowly making me go blind," he explained. "Sakura-san has been
my personal healer since I returned to the village. She was making sure that my use of the sharringan on our recent mission
had not damaged what she was able to repair. Thankfully, it had not."
The blonde nodded thoughtfully. That made sense, actually, considering the similarities between the sharringan blood-limit
and the Kyuubi's poisonous chakra. "Alright. So that's what she was doing, huh? And you two were not making out?"
The Uchiha shook his head, lips quirking in a smirk. "No, we were not. We never have."
She heaved a regretful sigh. "Well damn. You guys totally should, you know. You'd make a super cute couple!"
"Alright, get out," Sakura snapped, at the ends of her patience. She grabbed the blonde and shoved her out the door.
"But, Forehead-" Ino protested, turning around.
"No buts!" And Sakura slammed the door in her friend's face, locking it so Ino wouldn't just walk right back in. "Go away!"
She heard grumbling, but thankfully the blonde left.
Itachi smirked. "So about my bed..."
"Mou... you know, it's actually pretty weird," Ino said, and sighed. "One minute, we're all 'he's dead!' and then the next,
the guy is having the usual arguments with Sakura like... well... usual." She pouted, poking at her bowl of ramen.
Beside her, Kiba shrugged and quickly slurped up the rest of the ramen hanging out of his mouth. He started to wipe his
mouth with the back of his hand, but one disgusted look from the blonde made him pick up a napkin. "Eh, weirder things have
happened," he pointed out. "I mean, we live in the same town as Naruto."
"Oi!" Naruto said, batting away the cloth overhang as he stepped into Ichiraku's ramen stand. "I heard that."
On Ino's other side, Hinata turned bright red at the sight of her crush. "N-N-Naruto-kun!" she yelped.
The jinchurriki offered her a grin. "Hey, Hinata! Long time no see, right?"
Kiba snickered when the girl predictably fainted, and Ino, who caught her after years of practice, sighed. She shoved Hinata's
bowl of ramen out of the way and pushed the girl forward so her upper body was slouched over the counter. "Geez, Naruto!"
the kunoichi complained. "Give her a little warning next time, huh?"
Naruto had the grace to look sheepish. "Oh, sorry... Hey, does she have low blood-sugar or something?" he asked, sitting
down in the free space next to Kiba. "'Cause she's fainting like all the time!"
Kiba snorted. "Yeah, fure fe doef," he muttered around a mouthful of ramen. He shrunk away from Ino's annoyed scowl. "Fowwy."
She shuddered. "You men are just so gross," she said, and sniffed disdainfully. "I have no idea why I even come
out with you! Well, besides for Hinata."
Naruto grinned and turned his attention to the man behind the counter. "Ojiijii!" he shouted unnecessarily. "The usual!"
"Hai!" Ichiraku chirped, beaming at him. "It's been a while, Naruto-kun! It's good to see you back! After all, you are
my best customer!"
Naruto grinned, scratching his cheek in embarrassment. "Ahh, I try," he said, and giggled.
"You're such a loser, Naruto," Ino informed him, and then smirked. "So! What's the dish on Sakura and Itachi, huh? They
said they weren't making out, though I'm not supposed to tell you what they were really doing, especially since I really don't
want Itachi coming after me while I sleep..." She paused, wrinkled her nose at the thought, and continued. "But anyway! Are
they a couple or aren't they?" She leaned right in front of Kiba, eyes dancing with hope. "C'mooon, Naruto! Tell me! Are they?
Kiba looked down and smirked. What a view!
Naruto, though, looked like he was caught between a rock and a hard place. "W-well, I dunno," he admitted. "They've always
been kind of weird like that. She swears up and down there's nothing between them, but..."
Ino pouted when he trailed off uncertainly. "But?" she prompted, leaning further forward.
Naruto looked around suspiciously, as if expecting Sakura to pop up out of the ground. "But... you know," he finally said
after a moment. "Itachi doesn't treat anyone quite like he treats her. I mean, he let her have three free punches,
according to Genma! And then I punched him, but he said he was going to repay me for it eventually."
Ino gasped, then grinned. "Ohhh my god!" She paused a beat to punch Kiba in the face, knocking him back out of his chair
and onto the ground. Then she scooted over into his seat and switched their bowls around before leaning right up against Naruto.
"Seriously? Three punches? I didn't know he gave out free hits! But you know, it might just be because she's a girl!"
"No, I don't think he'd give you a free punch," Naruto said, leaning away from her and turning faintly red. Mostly because
her boobs were pressed right up against his arm.
She pouted, leaning further. "You don't think he would? Would you, Naruto-kun?" She batted her eyelashes at him.
Clearly, this was now less about Itachi and more about Ino's womanly charms.
He turned redder. "I-I don't... m-maybe... I-I think... well... uhm..." And he toppled out of his seat, landing on the
ground with his feet in the air.
Ichiraku turned around, ramen in hand, and blinked. "Naruto-kun?" He set the ramen down and leaned over the counter to
peek at the blond. "You alright?"
Naruto, sprawled out on the ground, lifted one arm, finger pointing at the ceiling. "Hai, hai, ojiijii..." His arm dropped
to the ground again.
Naruto sighed, feeling totally stuffed. But man, Ino was such a pain sometimes! He wasn't sure if any girl had ever
gotten on his nerves so bad, like Ino did. And trying to talk to her was like trying to talk to a brick wall, only louder!
And people said he was obnoxious!
"Maah, I don't know how Sakura-chan deals with it," he grumbled irritably, and kicked at a rock as he ambled down the street.
"I guess it takes a special sort of someone to do it." Which was certainly Sakura-chan, of course. He heaved a sigh and turned
his mind onto another subject.
His training, to be precise. It was coming along okay, for now... He'd even dispatched Sasuke's clone back there like it
was nothing, though he doubted the real deal would be half as easy. He needed to train more, longer, faster... He needed
A bookstore caught his gaze. Maybe they had books on techniques? It was possible. "Yosh!" he said, picking up his pace.
"I'll check it out, then!"
The bell over the door clanged as he pushed it open and stepped inside. He shivered. Man, were all stores this cold? It's
like they thought having the AC up so high would attract more customers or something. Well, whatever. He shook his head and
walked up to the cashier.
The man looked up at his approach and blinked. "Oooh, hello, ninja-san. How can I help you?" he asked, smiling kindly.
"Ojiijii," he greeted, smiling back. "You got any books on jutsu?"
The man's brows lifted. "Well, none on learning, but I have several catalogues." He suddenly grinned and walked around
the counter, going over to a shelf. "In fact! In honor of the Yondaime's upcoming anniversary, we have a special sale!"
Naruto blinked. "Anniversary? For what?" he asked, confused.
"His death," the man replied, smiling a little sadly. "He was a very brave man, and we feel that we should honor his sacrifice
in some way. So, every year we have a sale for a week before and after."
"Oh," Naruto said awkwardly, shifting. "Well... what's the book?"
"It's a catalogue on all the jutsu he was known to have, with an extended article on his most known, the Hiraishin!" the
man said, beaming as he reached the height of his sales pitch. Of course, the boy wouldn't be able to use the Hiraishin, and
probably none of the jutsu that the Yondaime had used. But it was still a good sale.
"Hiraishin... ne?" Naruto murmured. Well, the Hiraishin was fast... and he'd wanted fast. "How much?"
Sakura woke to the scent of bacon and coffee. Which was very odd, since she lived alone, it was dawn which meant that Ino
hadn't come over, and anyway she locked the door before going to bed. Then she remembered. Itachi was back. He was alive.
He was here. He was... cooking breakfast?
She sat up, frowning, and stared at her closed bedroom door. She never would understand that man, would she? Yesterday,
he was all huffy about the bed - she still felt no guilt over refusing to give it back, though she had moved it to a different
room - and now he was up at the crack of dawn making breakfast. Perhaps it was just for him?
As if he'd read her thoughts, there was a soft knock on the door. "Sakura-san? Are you awake? I made breakfast."
"I'm up!" she said. "Just don't open that door."
"Very well. Hurry, though. It'll get cold if you don't."
She sighed when she heard the sound of his receding footsteps. "Mou, as if I don't know that," she grumbled, and got up.
Three minutes later, she'd finished dressing, put on her deodorant and in general completed her wake-up process, so she stepped
out of the room and headed for the dining room.
Itachi was sitting at the table drinking his coffee as he peered at the newspaper, and the scene was so much like Shikamaru
that she burst out laughing. He looked up at her, blinking. "Sakura-san?"
She forced herself to calm down and sat across from him. "Did you pick that up from Shikamaru? Or is this normal for you?"
His brow furrowed slightly. "I find it relaxing," he replied, looking ever so slightly annoyed. Pointedly, he looked back
down at the newspaper and ignored her.
She smiled and shook her head, picking up a fork. "Itadakimasu!" she chirped before digging in.
Ten minutes later, she'd finished in the silence that had descended between them before Itachi sighed and set down the
newspaper. "Perhaps we can come to an agreement?" he ventured.
"Is this about the bed again?" she asked suspiciously.
He nodded. "Please hear me out, hm?" When she said nothing, he sat back and crossed his arms over his chest, eying her.
"Would you be willing to give me that bed back if I were able to acquire one just as comfortable?"
Her brows quirked. "Well... if you were, and I agreed that it was just as comfortable, then yeah. That'd work," she agreed
slowly. "Why do you want this bed so badly though?"
"It's my bed," he replied, and remained mulishly silent on the matter after that.
Sakura eventually gave up. "Oh, fine," she grumbled after nearly twenty minutes of trying to get him to answer her. She
pushed her chair back and brought her dishes to the sink. "Anyway, I'm going to the hospital to put in some hours," she told
him. "I probably won't be back till late tonight. Maybe not until tomorrow."
Itachi eyed her curiously. "That's quite a while. Will you sleep?"
Sakura nodded, walking out into the hall and opening the coat closet. He followed. "Yeah. Probably in the break room. Or
I'll take a soldier pill. But I've been doing a lot of missions lately, so I need to put some work into the hospital." She
flashed him a smile.
He leaned against the wall beside her, arms crossed. "I was under the impression that you did most of your work
in the hospital," he commented softly. "Why so many missions?"
Half turned away from him, she paused, and looked down at her hand on the door knob. She sighed. "Itachi? It's... it's
been a very long three months."
He almost flinched, realizing. "Sakura-san, I-"
"Don't," she snapped, shutting the closet door sharply. "Don't say you're sorry." She looked at him, met his gaze. "It
won't change anything, and frankly, I don't want to hear it. What's past is past, and it should be left there. Just bury it
already and move on."
Itachi's lips were pressed together, his gaze grim as it flickered over her face. Finally, he nodded. "Very well."
Sakura's smile was relieved, and before she could talk herself out of it, she stepped into his personal space and wrapped
her arms around his waist. He stiffened in the embrace, arms stuck awkwardly between them. She released him as quickly as
she'd hugged him. "I'm glad you're back, Itachi. No one ever gets this." And she tugged on her light jacket as she walked
out the door.
Itachi sighed and closed his eyes, letting his head thunk gently against the wall his back was now to. He lifted one hand
and touched his chest, clutching the fabric over his heart. Why would it beat so quickly, so hard? It was just a hug. It was
But he should know better. There was never a 'just' with Sakura.
"I find that a person who visits the library is usually someone of at least moderate intellect," a voice commented. "However,
with you Naruto, I must wonder what you are getting into."
The blond turned his head to glower at Sai, who stood several feet back just in case. "Gee, nice to see you too, Sai. What
happened to your wrist?" He gestured toward the cast on his ex-teammate's arm.
Sai looked down at it, blinking. "Sakura-san," he replied blankly.
Naruto snorted, snatching a third book from the shelf right in front of his face. "What'd you do to piss her off this time?"
"I was merely referencing her breasts in conversation to Choji-san," Sai said, a touch defensively. "Unfortunately, I had
no idea at the time that she had come up right behind me. So... she broke my arm."
Blue eyes danced with mirth as Naruto got up with his stack of books. "Man, you suck at life, you realize that?" He flashed
his friend a grin.
Sai's brow furrowed. "Excuse me?" he protested, shocked.
Naruto laughed. "Maaann, I'm teasing you, chill out." He shook his head and started toward the nearest table. "What are
you doing here anyway?"
Sai sighed and followed him. "I come to the library frequently. They have quite a collection of helpful books." He paused
to lean over and pick up a rolled up magazine that had fallen out of Naruto's pocket. "You dropped this, Naruto."
Naruto glanced over his shoulder and shifted the books into one hand. He held the other out for the magazine. "Thanks,"
he said, taking it. Then he stepped the last few feet to the table he'd been aiming for and set it all down.
Sai eyed the books, noting their theme. "So what are you doing?" he asked curiously, sitting down across from the
"I'm researching the Hiraishin technique," Naruto said, oblivious to a few books clattering somewhere.
Sai glanced over, watching Yamato duck out of sight, and frowned. "Why?" he asked, looking back at the blond.
Naruto opened one of the books, flipping through it until he was nearly in the middle. He considered it for a long time
before he finally answered without looking up. "Because I want an edge. I have to get an edge. If I can defeat Sasuke and
bring him back... Itachi would have killed him. I know he would have. Maybe he didn't want to, but Itachi has no self-limitations
when it comes to killing. So I have to be the one that saves Sasuke."
Sai's gaze softened slightly. "You know it's possible that you won't be able to. Especially now that Sasuke-san knows Itachi's
death was staged."
Naruto's hand paused half-way through turning a page, and for a moment, he just stared down at the table-top unseeing.
Then he shook his head and finished with the page. "It wasn't staged. Itachi really died. Tsunade-baachan resuscitated him."
Sai was mildly surprised that Naruto even knew that word. "Oh," he breathed. After that, there was really nothing much
to say. How did you broach the topic of someone's death?
Genma groaned when, sometime around noon, his curtains were drawn back to let the sunlight into the room. And directly
into his face. "Uhhgg, Sakura, you're a pain in the ass. Or the face. Guck."
She snorted and felt his forehead for a fever. "You're welcome, your almighty highness."
"Hey, Uchiha's the high and mighty one," he retorted, cracking one eye open to peer up at her.
She flicked his forehead in admonishment. "And you're a jerk, your point?"
"Shush, mommy, I'm imagining you in a bathing suit... Mmm... latex."
Sakura's eyes narrowed at him. "Don't make me break your neck," she threatened, but there wasn't much promise to
it. Mostly, it was hot air.
Genma beamed up at her. "So, doc, how'm I doin', eh?"
She rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Well, considering you're well enough to give me cheek, I'll probably have you
out of here by the end of the week at the latest. After that, you'll have five days recovery before you're put back on active
"Man, Hokage-sama sure does run us ragged, doesn't she?" he complained.
"Only you troublesome boys," she replied, and flicked his nose. When he yelped, she grinned and stepped away. "Now, behave
while I'm gone! I'll check in on you in a few hours. Is there anything else you need?"
"I'll send you something," she laughed, and the door shut with a quiet snick behind her.
He settled down for another nap.
"What are you smirking about?"
Shikamaru looked up from the letter in his hand, meeting the eyes of his blonde teammate. "Oh, hey Ino," he said, and indicated
the letter. "Just something Temari said."
"You two are still writing to each other?" she asked incredulously.
"Is Anko secretly a man?" he retorted.
"Fair enough." She sat down beside him and pointedly did not look at the letter.
He sighed and handed it over. "Troublesome," he grumbled, getting up from the park bench. "Anyway, I'm gonna go. Make sure
you drop that off in my apartment when you're done with it."
"You know, I think it's funny that you never moved back in with your mom, even after you moved out of Itachi's house."
She grinned at him.
He snorted and shrugged. "I don't know. Living more or less alone kind of opened my eyes, I guess. I like not living at
She smiled up at him. "I know. I'll see you around."
"Yeah, see ya," he said, waving, and walked away.