Sand Trails Ch 5: Scant Peace

“OKAY,” Naruto said loudly once the phone was on speaker. “Spill, Sakura-chan! What’s going on? Why were you talking to tall, dark and stalkerish? Huhh? Huh?!”

Sakura smacked him upside the head while Sasuke groaned in exasperation on the other end of the line. “Naruto!” she screeched. “Don’t make me beat you!”

Oi, would both of you knock it off? There’s nobody watching; you don’t have to put on a show,” Sasuke said, feigning a yawn immediately afterwards.

Sakura turned bright red. “Saassukkkee-kuuun,” she growled slowly.

Yeah, yeah. So what was that call about anyway?” Sasuke asked, grateful that he wasn’t in the room with her. She’d be beating on him if he had been.

“What did you hear?” Sakura hedged.

Naruto straightened up, sticking out his chest in an approximation of Sakura’s chest size. “‘I’ll call you at five’,” he said in a high falsetto. “‘Oh, sorry Itachi~ I’ll call you when Naruto’s gone!’” he mimicked.

Sakura decked him. “Naruto!”

Sasuke wasted a minute snickering behind his hand, then added, “‘Puuurrrfeeect. Thank you, Sakura, for agreeing to let me get to know you, despite what Sasuke’s told you,” in a scary-similar voice to Itachi’s slightly smoother, deeper tones. And he broke into louder snickers.

Sakura was red.

Hey hold on.” There had been a knock on the door. He was sure of it. “I think that’s Itachi at the door. I’ll be right back.” Sasuke placed a hand over the phone and walked to the door.

On the other side both Naruto and Sakura winced at the loud shuffling noises that emitted from the speaker.

Yeah–Oh! Kaasan!

Neither kid at the Haruno’s house noticed a slick click amongst all the shuffling noises.

No, we won’t be long… Okay… Thank you.” Sasuke’s voice came filtering through. After a moment he uncovered the phone. “Mom was wondering if she could have the phone soon,” he explained.

“Oh,” Naruto said, having been about to ask. Then he looked at Sakura. “So? We told you what we heard–FROM BOTH ENDS–”

Naruto, don’t shout.

“-so spill already, Sakura-chan?” Naruto looked a little hurt. “I thought… well, I didn’t know you were into the psychotic, potential mass murderous types.”

Sakura sniffed. “Alright you idiots. He wanted to know if Sasuke-kun was having troubles in school. I’ve never been to Sasuke’s house before. So he wanted to know why Sasuke-kun needed the extra help.”

Bull-shit.” Sasuke’s tone was flat. Naruto snorted, nodding.

Sakura blinked. “Does he lie?” Her brows came together in a scowl. “Either he does lie and I drop him the next I see his face or he doesn’t. In which case I am still going out -”

Click

Hello? I’m sorry, to interrupt. Sasuke-kun, are you going to be long?” A mature female voice came on the line.

Kaasan? No, it’s okay. Ten minutes?” Sasuke smiled. His mother was great, but sometimes she took the oddest route to ask him things.

Only ten?” His mother’s tone took on a teasing edge.

Maybe twenty...” he admitted.

Her delighted laugh rang through the lines. “Just let me know when you’re done sweetie.”

Yes, Kaasan.”

Sorry everyone.”

“It’s okay, Mikoto-san,” Sakura said with a smile.

Naruto blinked at her, then shook his head. “Yeah, it’s cool, Missus U.”

This time it was Sakura blinking.

There was a soft click as Mikoto’s phone went dead.

Can we get this over with in ten minutes?” Sasuke sounded guilty.

Sakura snorted. “I asked you a question. You have to answer first. Does he lie?”

Sasuke coughed. “… well, he never has” he admitted slowly. “I just… well…

Sakura rolled her eyes. “Then Sasuke-kun, you’re being a paranoid ass.”

Hey-”

“Hey Sakura-chan…” Naruto tilted his head to the side, pouting. “Does this mean you’re not gonna hang with us anymore?”

“What?!” She gave him an exasperated look. “No! You idiot. Why would I do that? Just ‘cause I choose to go on one date, maybe two, with a guy, doesn’t mean–”

Two?”

Maybe two,” Sakura ground out. “Doesn’t mean that I will stop being with my two best friends. So, stop being such babies about this!” Her gaze softened as she watched Naruto
deflate.

“Nothing is going to change,” she insisted, putting her arms around Naruto in a fierce hug. “Don’t worry.” She let go and then slugged the blond in the arm. He yelped. “And stop giving me the eviscerated puppy look!”

He rubbed his arm. “What are you talking about?” he grumbled. “Man… Now I’m gonna have a bruise, and everyone’ll think I was fighting again!”

“I didn’t hit you that hard, baby,” Sakura scoffed.

You hit harder than you think, Sakura,” Sasuke inserted. “It hurts.”

“You two are wimps.” She sighed. “Geez… So is your freaking curiosity satisfied already? I still need to freaking tutor you, Naruto.”

“You’re getting freaky again.”

Whack!!

… Naruto? … Naruto…?

“… oops.”

… what’d you do…

Naruto, laid out on the floor, stirred after a moment, and whined. “Sakura-chan… so abusive…”

Sakura turned red. “You BIG FAKER!!!”

Naruto yelped and dove over the couch, barely avoiding her hit. Sasuke sighed. “OI. Chill out, Sakura.

She scowled at the couch and then the phone before sighing. “Sasuke-kun, Itachi-san doesn’t lie.” Sakura waited for the begrudging confirmation before continuing. “I asked him why he wanted to know me. He said he was interested. In me. What does that mean? Like in a romantic sense or just a weird curiosity?”

He hesitated, then admitted, “I don’t know. No one knows. Him and Kaasan are always too hard to read, and then Tosan is too easy to read, and I’m not good at reading people anyway.” He hesitated again. “But I’ve never seen his eyes so… glittery. Not where a girl was concerned.

Naruto scowled. “I still think he’s bad news…”

Her whack up the back of Naruto’s head may have been a smidge harder than she had meant it to be.

Sakura snorted. “People say you’re bad news,” she told him. “So, if he hasn’t gone all glittery eyed about a girl before, when has he?”

“Glittery,” she muttered to Naruto, rolling her eyes. He snickered.

Well, he got all glittery-eyed about Shiori,” Sasuke said, a smirk in his voice.

“I thought you said he hadn’t–” Naruto said, only to be cut off.

His car, dumbass.”

“… he named a car?” Naruto asked.

Sasuke was practically giggling. “Yeah. He did.

Naruto turned to the girl by his side. “You really want to get involved with a guy who–Sakura-chan?”

Sakura was lying out on the floor, grinning at the ceiling. “You have no idea what kind of car this is, do you?”

The blond shrugged. Sasuke groaned.

“It’s a Camaro, Naruto.” Sakura sighed. “And it’s gorgeous!”

Sasuke huffed. “Nutcase.”

Naruto goggled at his female friend. “You look like someone just gave you a million bucks! So what if his stupid car’s a Camura–”

“Ca-ma-ro,” Sakura said, drawing the word out as if he were an idiot. “A Camaro. A silver Camaro. A gorgeous silver Camaro. Get it?”

Wide-eyed, the blond shrugged. “It’s just a car…”

“Uhg, you’re a moron.”

You’re both morons,” Sasuke muttered. “I’m hanging up now. See you tomorrow. Naruto make sure to bring your half of the project.”

“Yeah, okay,” the blond muttered, still looking perplexed. “See ya.” And the last thing Sasuke heard was him saying, “What’s so great about a Camurna?”

Sakura clicked the speaker button. “Camaro. Do I need to beat it into you? C’mon, we have to study.”

xXx

Itachi chuckled and hit the mute button again. “Well, what do you think, Okaa-san?” he asked the other eavesdropper.

“Oooh, Itachi-kun, how’d you know?” his mother teased, and giggled.

He smirked. “No dial tone and Otou-san wouldn’t bother.”

“Aah, true enough. You’re so observant! I’m proud of you.” She snickered again, then proclaimed, “Shiori-san has an admirer, I see. No wonder you’re so interested.”

“Hnn,” Itachi groaned. “So interested, my eyes glitter.” He burst out laughing. “I must have dropped Sasuke on his head at some point.”

Mikoto giggled. “Itachi-san! Be nice, hm? He’s your innocent little brother, and he reads too much.”

He shook his head. “Or not enough of the right books. So–your thoughts?”

“On what, Itachi-san? Really, you must practice being more specific,” she said, feigning innocence.

Her son snorted. “Sakura-san.”

“Oooh. Yes, her,” she said, tone sing-song. “I think that if she doesn’t want to date you, you won’t be able to do anything about it.” Her words–and tone–were teasing, and she had obviously noticed his particular brand of charisma.

Itachi rolled his eyes. “You do approve of her though,” he persisted. Her earlier actions with Sakura’s phone number were telling, but he wanted it to be clear where she stood.

“Well of course; she won’t take your bullshit,” she replied cheerfully. “A girl like that is hard to find.”

Itachi coughed. “You do realize that once she really gets to know you, she won’t take your bullshit either,” he reminded her.

“Well, I wouldn’t approve of her if I could push her around, dear,” she chastised. “No, you don’t need to worry about me. … your father, though…” And she trailed off meaningfully.

“Hnn.” Itachi leaned back against the wall. He heard a knock on his mother’s side and she turned to speak to his brother. He grinned. Little brother had forgotten to tell her that the phone was free. So sorry. Oh–you’re on the phone already. Again, so sorry. Bye.

When his Okaa-san brought the phone back up to her ear, Itachi chuckled. “Are you sure I didn’t drop him?”

“No, he just takes after your father,” she said, and sighed as if this was a bad thing. “Mm… What was I saying?”

“Father actually.” He smiled. “Though I am unsure if you were warning me about father’s opinion of Sakura, or her reaction to his opinions.”

She chuckled. “Well… I don’t know much about her reactions, though given those to her dear friend Naruto-kun, whom she cares for… Heh… someone she doesn’t care for is likely to get a worse reaction. And as for your father’s opinion… He may not like her. I don’t know if he does; he never tells anyone anything, but… well, just you let me handle him, though.”

Itachi grinned. “Have I told you today how much I love you, Okaa-san?” He turned and looked at the clock. He was doing that a lot this afternoon wasn’t he? “Thank you. By the way, is there anything you need from the store? I just need to busy myself for an hour or so.”

She was smirking; it was so obvious. “Tea? Hm… and maybe some flour; I want to make bread. Just get the money from the big cookie jar on top of the fridge, please. Oh, and get your father some Pocky; he’s almost out.”

“Pocky addict.” Itachi snorted. “Alright, I’ll be back soon.” He moved off the bed.

“Good! Have fun.” And she hung up.

xXx

Sakura nervously picked at the hem of her shirt as she sat in The Tea Shop (which sold both Tea and Coffee, among other things), which was a popular hang out for teens. Though it did afford its customers some privacy if they picked the top floor, which was mostly adults instead of the rowdy teens downstairs. She had just got there and picked a seat, hoping Itachi thought to check this floor, and was waiting for him.

It had scarcely been two minutes, but it felt closer to two hours. When would he come? Would something come up? That would be just her luck–

“Ma’am?”

Sakura jumped, and looked up at the waitress with wide eyes. “Eh?” she said, unintentionally mimicking her blond friend.

The woman smiled. “Can I get you anything? Or are you waiting…?”

“I’m waiting,” Sakura said. “Um… if you see a dark-haired guy down stairs looking around–” But it wasn’t necessary, as a voice spoke up right behind her.

“Will I do?” Itachi teased, slipping into the seat across from her.

Sakura blinked a few times, then grinned in embarrassment. “Oh, hi,” she said sheepishly.

“Should I come back, give you two a few minutes to see what you want?” the woman asked, smiling pleasantly.

Itachi looked at Sakura. “Just a few moments. Thank you,” he said to the waitress.

“Okay, then,” the woman agreed and wandered off.

Sakura smiled and shifted slightly. She cleared her throat, looking down at her lap, though a slight smile remained on her lips. She fumbled with her shirt’s hem again. “So… uh…”

She laughed at herself and looked up at him, somehow unsurprised that his eyes had remained fixed on her face.

“Naruto thinks you’re up to something,” she admitted. “And Sasuke agrees, though he says you’re not a liar.”

He smirked. “I am always up to something. This, however, has nothing to do with either of them.” Reaching for the menus, he gave one to Sakura, allowing her a moment to think.

“I am curious. Sasuke says I’m not a liar, but what does he say about me?” Itachi’s grin widened. “It seems the only times I can get an honest opinion from him is to listen at his door when he has friends over. Even then, he’s careful.”

“He thinks you’re a manipulative jackass,” she replied bluntly. Then she smiled. “But then again, he’s biased,” she joked, and flipped open her menu. It was short, as there weren’t many snacks sold, and it was mostly drinks. But she wasn’t here for dinner; just coffee.

Itachi put his menu down and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. “He is very blunt, isn’t he?” He was still smiling. “How does he describe Okaa-san?”

“Oh, he loves her, and the guys are always going on about her cooking.” She grinned. “Though, I admit, there’s a reason for it,” she said, briefly remembering the first night she’d joined them for dinner.

“Hnn.” Itachi laced his finger over his menu, then he blinked. “My apologies, I am distracting you. Please, choose your drink and then we can continue.” He placed his menu back into the holder and leaned back in the chair.

She blinked. “Oh, yeah.” She glanced back down at the menu, then replaced it and opened her mouth.

And, like magic, the waitress appeared again. “You guys ready to order?” she asked cheerfully, reaching up a hand to adjust one of four blond ponytails.

Sakura blinked. “Oh, yeah.” Broken record, much? She smiled. “A mocha latte, with chocolate shavings and whipped cream.”

The girl nodded and looked pointedly at Itachi. “You?”

“Large Americano. Black.” This time, Itachi took the time to actually look at the waitress. “Are you related to Gaara?”

She blinked, then grinned more brightly, and less politely. “Oooh! You know my baby bro? That’s pretty awesome!”

Sakura quirked a brow at Itachi. “Who’s Gaara?”

The blond cast a glance at Sakura, and shrugged. “A looney little redhead with no eyebrows.”

“No eyebrows?” Sakura’s eyes were wide.

“Well, it looks it anyway. Actually, they’re just really light, and unless you’re really close, he looks like he shaves ‘em off.” She snickered.

Sakura looked at Itachi, both eyebrows raised this time.

“He seems to have inherited only his eyebrows from his parents,” Itachi said blandly referring to the blonde’s ponytails. Sakura’s expression remained and he relented, answering the silent question. “Her brother frequents the same pet shop that Kisame works. Apparently, Naruto did them both a service by finding white sand.”

“White sand?” she echoed, brow furrowed. Then it cleared. “Oh. That.” She rolled her eyes.

The blonde–Temari, by her name-tag–smiled in amusement. “Alright, I’ll go get you guys your drinks; it was nice meeting you!”

“Uh, you too,” Sakura said, and shrugged as the blonde left. “Okay then. That was… interesting.”

“Hnn.” Itachi smiled. “You may be seeing more of her in the future.” He gestured after their departing waitress. “Gaara was asking where Kisame found the sand, which leads back to Naruto.” When the taller boy had brought up Gaara’s interest over a poker game, Kazuku had shown interest. The concept of selling sand was apparently an appealing one.

He shook his head. “That is beside the point though,” he said and leaned forward again. “Why didn’t you let me pick you up from home? You wouldn’t have had to wait for me alone.”

Sakura quirked a brow at him, and shrugged. “Is that really totally important?” she asked in return. “I mean, really? You guys keep asking me these questions like my trust of you is in jeopardy. It’s really annoying; can’t a girl do anything without someone questioning her?” She stopped, and sighed. “No, sorry, that was rude.”

He let his own eyebrows rise. “I asked because I was under the impression that perhaps you just hung around me for the car,” he teased. “You coming here alone completely disproved that theory.”

The pink-haired girl sat back in her chair and offered him an apologetic half-smile. She lifted a hand to idly tug at a jaw-length lock of hair. “I didn’t mean to snap at you; I guess I’m just a little fed up with everyone around me getting so interested in meddling in who I do or don’t date! Did you know they did a conference call to bitch at me earlier for agreeing to come here?”

Itachi smiled. “A conference call? Really, Sasuke.” He shook his head in mock disappointment.

“Oooh, the car,” she gasped, smacking her forehead with the palm of her hand. “I coulda rode in it; dammit, Saku, what were you thinking?” She shook her head, and laughed sheepishly. “And I’m totally not going out with you for your car; it didn’t even cross my mind.”

Itachi gave her a flat look. “It should have,” he said in a slightly injured tone.

She suddenly leaned forward, so fast that anyone else would have jumped, and smacked the palm of her hand on the table. She was smiling slightly, but it was akin to the smiles Kisame would give to people he was very displeased with. “I’m not that shallow,” she said lightly. “And even if your car is amazing–” read; orgasmically epic “–I will not, ever, use you for your car. And, Itachi-kun, I expect the same thing from you, not that you’ve given me reason to think you would. Deal?”

He flashed a grin as fierce as hers. “Deal.” He tilted his head for a moment and quirked a brow. “Can I still use car rides as bribes?” He held up his hands in placation. “Not in a way to govern where you go or how. Only because I would like to spend those extra minutes traveling with someone who understands the vehicle and thoroughly appreciates it.”

She narrowed her eyes, going serious. “No.” Then, she cracked a grin and sat up. “Only kidding. As if I could resist.”

It was that moment that the waitress–what’s-her-name-Temari–reappeared. She had amazing timing. Or maybe she was like creepy stalkerish. Either way, it was great timing. She set their drinks before them, quirked a brow at the atmosphere, and left again.

“Good. So I have learned something of you,” Itachi said with satisfaction. “What would you like to know about me?”

She contemplated that a beat. “Hm… Oh! Music. What do you listen to?” she asked, sitting back in her chair again.

“Hnn.” He sipped his coffee. “For the most part rock, a good selection of metal…” Tilting his head, Itachi let his eyes follow the waves of her hair. “Kazuku works as a bouncer at the Red Room. So I tend to frequent that club. That may explain my musical tastes, or be the result of them,” he mused.

“Red Room?” she asked, blinking, then remembered he was eighteen. “Ooh. So they play rock and all there, then,” she surmised, and nodded. “Naruto used to joke about starting a band when we were younger; I think he may have mentioned the Red Room around that time… Is it really old? The club, I mean.”

Itachi shrugged and held out a hand palm down, tilting it side to side. “The actual establishment has been around for fifteen years. Though, now they rent out nights to different organizers. Sometimes it’s rock, sometimes death metal, other times 80’s. It varies.” He put down the hand. “What about yourself? What do you listen to?”

She smiled. “Ohh, I really like classical,” she admitted. “Especially string music. And maybe a little metal on the side,” she added sheepishly. “I like the Gazette too… hm, would they classify as rock or heavier?”

He grinned. “Classical, metal and a fusion of rock and metal?” His smile warmed. “Fantastic.” The older boy held out his cup. “Now I know what to play while in the car with you. Cheers.”

Sakura laughed and lifted her latte. “Cheers, then. You totally passed that test, by the way,” she added, and smirked at the brief flash of semi-surprise that quickly vanished again.

“Really?” He put down his cup and steepled his fingers over the mug. “And for what purpose is the testing, Sakura-san?”

“I’ve found that if I can’t stand the music a guy listens to, I generally can’t stand him,” she admitted, smiling slightly. “It’s this weird thing about personalities and silence…” She waved her hand. “I had to beat rock into Sasuke.” Her grin was sharp and amused.

Itachi winced. Oh, he remembered the earlier years. “It was you then,” he said. “I owe you my thanks for sparing me another few years of Sasuke’s obsession with American hip hop.”

Her exaggerated shudder was answer enough. “I was like head over heels for your brother… ‘till I heard that crap. Well, that and a few other things. When all was said and done, we were friends, and Naruto and I locked him in the closet with some rock band playing until he swore up and down he loved it.”

Itachi smirked, and took a long drag from his cooling coffee. “What’s your favourite place to go in this city? When you want solitude.” He waved a hand at the coffee shop where he could still hear the clamour from the main floor. “And possible peace.”

She threw her hands up and waved them around exaggeratedly. “I hardly get any!” she replied, then smirked. “But there’s a manga shop down the road from Naruto’s place that I like; he’d never check it ‘cause it wouldn’t make sense for me to be there.” She chuckled.

Both eyebrows went up. “We would need to finish our drinks before entering a manga shop,” he replied. Was this girl already vying for a more private place? He hadn’t meant to imply a need to leave. “My own quiet spot is actually out-of-town and should probably be another night’s venture.”

She smiled slightly. “We don’t gotta leave, you know,” she teased. “I was just saying. It’s a nice place; and you asked.”

“Hnn.” Itachi glanced into his cup. Ugh. Cold. “Regardless, it appears my drink has died and gone cold. How is or was yours?”

“It’s cold, but I don’t mind cold coffee,” she replied, and jumped slightly. She shifted to the side, pulling a cell from her back pocket, and glanced at the screen. “Uhg, hide me. Please,” she said, looking up at him.

He blinked. Then he took off his black and red trench coat and held it out to her. Seeing her uncomprehending stare, he shrugged. “I can pay and then we can leave. Or you can hide in the girl’s washroom.” Itachi jerked a thumb over his shoulder to the small corridor behind him.

“How about I go hide in your car while you pay?” she suggested, and grinned in a way that said she much preferred this option. “Ino’ll notice; and she’s apparently friends with that blonde chick.”

Chuckling, Itachi shook his head. “I may trust you, Sakura-san, but there is no way I am giving you the keys to Shiori.” He put down a few dollar bills and pointed to a side door. “Staff exit. I know the shop keeper. Let’s go.”

She pouted, but a quirky voice from downstairs, coming up the stairs, quickly decided for her. “OhgodsI’mgonnamurderher,” she breathed in a rush, jerked her purse over her shoulder, snagged her jacket and bolted. “Here, have fun,” she added over her shoulder. “I’ll wait by the car.”

As soon as the door clicked shut behind her, Yamanaka Ino stepped through the door of the upstairs room, glancing around. She pouted, then spied Itachi. “Ooh, Itachi-sempai!” she said, perking considerably. “I knew it! Where’s Sakura?”

xXx

Chapter 4 | Table of Contents | Chapter 6

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