Sand Trails Ch 18: Falling Castles

Later, maybe an hour, the two lay satiated and warm on his bed. Sakura was content for silence, but Itachi had other ideas.

“You had a question?”

The pink-haired girl blinked a few times, trying to remember. Inner Sakura sighed. Duh, dinner?

Oh right. “Actually, yeah.” She gave a small embarrassed laugh. “I was gonna ask if you wanted to come over for dinner… I’ve met your mom and all, but you haven’t met mine, so it seems a little lopsided.” She paused. “She’s a total stickler for neatness, by the way, not that I figure you’ll have much of an issue about that…”

Sakura sweety, you’re rambling, Inner Sakura said calmly.

Oops.

Amused, Itachi pulled her closer and nuzzled her throat. “No issue.” He lifted his face from her hair. “Tonight?”

Itachi would need to tell Okaasan that she wouldn’t need to include them for the evening meal, but that was a minor matter. No doubt, once she knew the reason, Okaasan would be pushing them out the door in minutes.

She grinned up at him brightly. “Yep! Mom says she’s making tempura tonight… which is weird, ‘cause she only does that when it’s my birthday, but hey, not gonna complain here,” she rambled.

What is up with you? Don’t you dare turn into a rambling mess after having awesome sex with the sexiest guy in creation, Inner Sakura threatened. If you do, I will tell Naruto all about it.

Sakura barely managed to keep from yelping and instead buried her face in Itachi’s chest. Crap. Now I’m receiving threats from myself. I swear this guy is bad for my mental health.

Inner Sakura snorted. Pssht. You love it.

Oh shut up. She lifted her head again. “Do you like tempura? If not, I could phone ahead and tell kaasan—”

“Sakura,” Itachi interrupted, “tempura is fine.” He kissed her firmly then drew away after a few cozy moments.

He sighed and sat up, looking at the clothing scattered across the floor. “When is she expecting us?”

Sakura choked on a breath. “Well… she sorta… isn’t,” she admitted sheepishly. “I told her I might have a surprise for her tonight, but it wasn’t anything definite.”

Twisting back around, Itachi leaned down over the girl, caging her in with his arms. He gave her an arch look. “Have you been keeping me a secret?”

He was amused by the idea and watching his lover squirm made him smile.

“Not really,” she hedged. “She… well, it hasn’t actually come up, you see. Though she probably suspects…” She coughed sheepishly and met his gaze. “I just haven’t had a… anyone special in a while, so I didn’t think about it, really.”

An eyebrow went up as did a corner of his mouth. “Am I your dirty little secret, Sakura?”

She smacked his bare shoulder, face bright red, and fought a smile. “Oh, go ahead and make fun of me,” she retorted.

Smirking, Itachi eased closer and rested his chin between her breasts. “What other things are you not telling your mother?” Which instead of continuing the levity, promptly killed it. “How much of us will stay a secret?” he asked, waving a hand at their nude bodies and scattered clothing.

Her eyes widened. “Well, I’m not exactly gonna go and tell my mother that I had sex with you, if that’s what you mean,” she replied. “She’d go ballistic.”

Unlike my own mother, Itachi thought. Okaasan had left him a note that morning, saying that he had the house until nine. If Sakura’s mother was that sheltered…

“Did she know about Suigetsu?”

“No,” she replied immediately. “I know she knew that something happened—she’s not dumb,” she added, more to herself than her lover. “She never mentioned it, though. Maybe I’ll tell her one day, just… not now.” She sighed.

Both his eyebrows winged up. “What am I to be then, Sakura?” He lifted his chin from her warmth and looked down into her eyes. “A friend? A boyfriend?”

She bit her lip and was silent a while, before taking a deep breath and looking him in the eye. “Well… a boyfriend? If you want…”

A slow grin spread across his face, and Itachi lunged forward to capture her lips for a long sweet moment. When he let go again to let them breathe, his hands were cupping the back of her head and his body had slid around to fit against hers.

He nuzzled her neck, a long sigh of contentment gusting over her collarbone.

Well, someone’s happy, Inner Sakura observed.

Sakura smiled a little at the thought, running her fingers idly through his hair. Yeah. “I’ll take that as a positive response,” she murmured, a warm feeling in her chest.

But then—Inner Sakura started, but Sakura was having none of it.

If you go bipolar on my ass—again—then I swear we’ll be seeing a shrink first thing Monday morning!

Inner Sakura just smirked and fell silent.

Itachi hummed in response, and nipped at her neck. “I’m honoured to be your boyfriend, as long as you are my girlfriend in return,” he said, pressing a warm kiss to her cheek.

She shrugged. “I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t think it would be a mutual thing,” she pointed out.

“Fair enough.” He nodded and stroked a thumb along her jawbone. “So, what are we telling her?”

“Well, mmm…” She pursed her lips. “Ah, ‘Mom, this is my boyfriend, Itachi.’ And from there, basically the truth, if you ignore Suigetsu and uh…” She made a vague gesture. “This.”

Itachi tilted his head at her. “Where does she assume you go? When you are here at my house almost daily?”

“I tutor a lot,” Sakura replied offhandedly, “so she stopped asking a while ago. Now she just gives me a curfew and says to make sure my chores are done before bed. I usually call if I’m not going to be home for dinner.”

“Hnn.” Itachi brushed her hair back with a few fingers. “And that night at the beach, she thought you were tutoring?”

“No, I told her I was going on a date… which was true,” she replied, smiling slightly. “I usually tell her the truth… mostly. I just omit some things,” she admitted sheepishly.

Itachi hummed knowingly. “Telling the truth, but not the whole of it.” He paused. “And if she asks if I have touched you?” His body moved against hers in a very significant, very specific way. “What then?”

“She won’t,” Sakura replied. “She never has, and she’s too shy to ask such a thing without me bringing it up.”

“Hear no evil, speak no evil,” Itachi replied, “but she still has her eyes.”

He rolled over and pulled black hair away from his face. “Perhaps I should have left sex for another day.” Itachi smirked over his shoulder at Sakura. “We’re going to be eating home-made tempura while still basking in the after-glow.”

She rolled her eyes, her face turning red again. “Yeah, yeah. Oh well, let her wonder,” she replied, waving a hand as she sat up. She cast her gaze around, brow furrowing. “Where’d my bra go?”

Itachi smirked again and pointed up.

The bra was hanging by the cup, at the very top of one of the bed posts.

She groaned, exasperated, and smacked him on the shoulder again.

xXx

The door clicked shut behind her and Sakura smiled, smelling the scent of cookies. Her mother had made cookies for dessert! “I can’t believe this,” she said with a tiny grin toward her boyfriend.

“Sakura? You’re home?” a soft voice called from another room, and a woman stepped into the hall. Her hair was straight like Sakura’s, and a pale almost faded sort of pink, though it went past her shoulders—where Sakura’s stopped—and fell down her back. Her eyes were expressive yet soft, and a warm brown; Sakura got her eyes from her father.

“Hello Mom,” Sakura replied, setting her shoes in the rack and straightening.

Her mother was eying Itachi curiously. “I’m glad you’re home,” the older woman said and smiled at Itachi. “And with your guest. Hello, I’m Naiyuri Shizuru,” she greeted, and bowed politely.

The black-haired teen soberly bowed in return. “It is an honour to meet you, Naiyuri-san,” he replied gravely. “Thank you for having me.”

“You’re very welcome,” she replied with a bright smile to combat Sakura’s bright smiles.

“This is my boyfriend, Itachi,” Sakura said, smiling back.

Shizuru’s brows lifted in surprise before she gave Itachi an even bigger smile than before. “Oh, it’s nice to finally meet you!” she said, making Sakura choke.

“You knew!?” the pink-haired girl gasped.

“Oh heavens, yes, Sakura-chan,” Shizuru chided. “Naruto can’t keep secrets, remember?”

Sakura groaned. “Just great.”

Chuckling, Itachi turned and presented Shizuru with a rather large tin-foil covered platter. “Okaasan insisted,” he replied to the curious expression on the mother’s face.

“Are those what I think they are?” Sakura asked, eying the slightly rounded shapes beneath the foil.

Itachi smirked and noted the muffled laughter from Shizuru as he held the platter high above Sakura’s reach. “Perhaps,” he grinned at the girl, “but they are for your mother.”

She gave him an evil look. “Hmph. I don’t care! I’m on a diet anyway,” she said, sticking her nose in the air.

The smiling teenager extended the goodie plate to the older woman saying, “We are not allowed to ask for any part of the gift,” he slanted a look at Sakura, “since we have had these before.”

Shizuru chuckled and accepted it. “Thank you, Itachi-kun. Do you mind if I call you that? Or would you prefer Uchiha-kun?” She turned and led them down the short hall, into the dining room that was set for three people.

Both of Itachi’s eyebrows went up as he shared a look with Sakura. Her mother was certainly accepting him easily enough. As a first boyfriend meeting a mother, the encounter was going incredibly well.

“Itachi-kun is just fine, Naiyuri-san,” he replied smoothly.

“Good!” She motioned toward the table. “Take a seat; I’ll be right back.” And she took off for the kitchen.

Once she was out of sight, Sakura sat down, frowning slightly.

Itachi sat across from the perplexed girl and tilted his head after the mother. “She is taking this well.” An eyebrow arched up. “Too well?”

Sakura swallowed. “Better than I’d thought,” she admitted. “She flipped out when I started tutoring Naruto, thought we were going out and gave him the ‘talk’.” She shook her head and eyed the table. “I wonder what’s up…”

“Perhaps because of Naruto, she has had time to adjust?” Itachi offered. He shrugged. “You have spent time with both him and my brother to no harm. It’s possible she is now comfortable with the idea.” Sakura didn’t look convinced.

“You don’t know my mother,” she said dryly. “Somehow, I get the idea that if they were in high school, your mom would be head cheerleader and mine would be the bitchy band geek.”

She shook her head and eyed the room around them. Things were missing… Frowning, she got up and walked over to the top ledge of a fireplace, where there’d been an entire line of pictures and knickknacks the day before. Now, it was only dust, and the spaces where items had once sat.

She ran her finger along the shelf, not noticing when her boyfriend ninja’d his way up behind her. “Why?” she mumbled to herself, staring dumbly at the dust on her finger. She dropped her hand and turned around, nearly smacking her nose into his chest. “Oi!” she yelped. “Watch it.”

She pouted up into his expressionless—yet somehow smug—face, wiping the dust off her finger onto her jeans.

“For a fighter, you certainly aren’t observant,” Itachi quipped, dropping a quick kiss on her nose. Noticing the dust free spots on the mantle, he frowned himself. “Is something wrong?”

She shrugged. “I dunno. I guess I’ll ask her later, if she doesn’t tell me at some point tonight,” she said uneasily. She purposely let the comment on her abilities to observe slide, as it wasn’t really important.

“Hnn.” Itachi rubbed warm hands up and down her upper arms, then pulled her toward the table.

As they sat down again, he took the time to look at Sakura’s home. Without a male influence, the colours drifted towards the warmer tones. Multiple pillows, all the hues of the rainbow, were tucked into every available corner. And the blushing pink curtains fluttered in the breeze. It felt feminine.

“Your home is colourful,” Itachi said blandly.

“You mean girly?” she interpreted with a grin. “Sasuke-kun had that exact look on his face when he first saw it.” She snickered.

The lone male shrugged. “There isn’t a reason for your home to be anything else; however,” Itachi eyed the plates, “buttercups?” His tone was somewhere between pained and incredulous.

She burst into laughter. “Would you prefer the roses?” she asked, eyes dancing.

“Yes,” he replied, straight-faced.

Sakura giggled again and got up, grabbing his plate, spoon and cup and disappeared into the kitchen. A moment later, she returned with replacements, in rose pattern instead of buttercups. “Here, Picky,” she said, setting them down in front of him.

An eyebrow shot up and Itachi inspected the china in front of him. Soft rose petals in red and pink hues tastefully decorated the rim, while a trio of fully opened blooms dominated the middle of the plate.

He looked up at Sakura’s grinning face. “Does this come in black and red?”

“Nope,” she said, trying and failing to smother her giggles. “You’ll have to deal with the pink. You know, real men wear pink…” She grinned.

Itachi blinked slowly. “Hnn.” A pained look crossed his face. “I’ve been around Kisame too long,” he muttered.

She snickered. “Oh?”

“Far too long,” Itachi repeated. He picked up a spoon that had a pink rose on the handle and sighed.

“Oh cheer up, it’s not going to maim you,” she pointed out as her mother walked into the room with a pot. “Oh, Kaasan!”

Naiyuri smiled and waved her off when Sakura started to stand. She carefully set the pot down on top of a potholder sitting in the center of the table. She offered Itachi a smile as she started to dish the food out. “So Sakura-chan told me you’re a senior?”

“That is correct,” the teen replied, as he brought the other two bowls next to the pot. “Thank you,” he added as Sakura’s mother handed him a full bowl.

“You’re quite welcome, Itachi-kun,” she replied, finishing and then sitting down. “So what do you plan to do once you graduate?”

Humming, Itachi sat back from his bowl. He tapped the spoon against the rim thoughtfully before replying. “There is a position open for me within my family’s company once I graduate; however, I have plans for university.” The boy shrugged. “I cannot rely on family ties forever. Self-reliance is crucial.”

Naiyuri smiled. “What do you plan on studying?”

Tipping the spoon back and forth, Itachi frowned slightly. “I’m caught between robotics and biology,” he admitted. “I may take courses in both, even if it will take me longer to graduate. Regardless of what I prefer, I will need to take a minor in politics.”

Itachi sat forward and took a sip of the soup. “This is good,” he said softly.

Naiyuri beamed. “Thank you!” She fell silent, and for a little while, none of them said a word.

Until Sakura noticed something. “Okaasan!” she gasped, staring at the walls. “Where are the pictures?”

Naiyuri sighed, setting down her chopsticks. “Hm… well, maybe it’s good that your boyfriend is here, so he can hear the news first hand…”

Head tilted to the side, Itachi carefully put down his chopsticks and glanced at the younger Haruno, but Sakura only looked alarmed.

“Naiyuri-san?” Itachi prompted.

Naiyuri gave him an apologetic smile, then looked at Sakura. “Honey…” She attempted a smile. “We’re moving.”

“WHAT!!!” Sakura shoved her chair back and jumped to her feet, eyes wide and fists clenched. “TO WHERE?!”

“Sit down, and stop acting like Tsunade-chan already,” Naiyuri ordered patiently. “Honestly, you spend way too much time with that woman.”

Sakura flushed, thoroughly scolded, and sat down. “Sorry,” she mumbled, taking a deep breath. “Where?”

“Suna,” Naiyuri replied simply, and waited out the next explosion with the patience of someone with much practice. When Sakura sat back down again, she continued. “My job was… Well, I’m no longer able to work there anymore,” her eyes darted toward Itachi, as if curious about his reaction to the news. His face was expressionless, so she looked at Sakura and continued. “Thankfully, an old friend of mine told me that there’s a similar position in Suna, with enough pay to support us.”

Puzzled at Naiyuri-san’s glance, Itachi frowned. “And you have the position?”

She nodded. “Yes. My friend also helped me with that. Everything is all settled, except for an apartment.” She looked at Sakura. “I’ll be going on to Suna to find one. I’ve packed a lot, but I’m counting on you to pack the rest while I find a place to stay. You can continue to go to school here until then.”

Sakura slumped, trying not to pout. “We really have to?” she asked.

Naiyuri gave her daughter a regretful smile. “Yes. I’m sorry, Sakura-chan. You’ll have enough time to say good-bye to your friends, and arrange the rest of your unenrollment. Sunagakure Highschool has been notified that you will start school next week there, and I talked to Sarutobi-san about you staying in his school till then.”

Sakura sighed and sat back, running a hand through her hair. “Yeah…”

Itachi reached over the table and wrapped a hand around Sakura’s. They sat in silence.

Suddenly she stood, her hair falling to shield her face. “I’ll be right back…” She squeezed his hand gently and walked down the hall.

Naiyuri sighed.

Standing from the table, the boy looked over at the mother. “Excuse me.” He left the table to trail after Sakura.

The bathroom door was shut and locked, the light on and the water running. There was the soft sound of steady thumping, slow and almost gentle. She didn’t hear his knock, or she ignored it.

In truth, she was staring into the mirror, fighting frustrated tears. She had to move, and she’d just gotten a boyfriend! And to Suna, of all places! Granted, Suna wasn’t that far away, but it was in a freaking desert!

Tap tap.

Sakura lowered her face to splash water over it, an attempt to keep herself from crying. It was a damn stupid reason for her to cry.

Knock knock.

Sakura growled, the water running down her face, and jerked open the door. Her mind was in a different time and place, one where her mother told her they were moving away from her father.

What.” She looked up and into her boyfriend’s eyes, then abruptly deflated. “Oh. Itachi-kun. I said I’d be right back, didn’t I?” Hadn’t she?

With a solemn look, Itachi opened his arms. “Hug?” he offered with a small smile. His tone was a distressing mix of offer and plea. Sakura wasn’t the only one who was fighting back a sick feeling in the stomach.

She obligingly wrapped her arms around his waist, burying her face in his chest. “We can still visit,” she said after a moment, voice muffled by his chest. “It’s just a little further to travel, right?”

Lowering his face to her hair, Itachi breathed deeply, taking in the floral shampoo and the underlying scent that was Sakura. His arms tightened and his lips curved into a smirk.

He hummed and murmured, “You’re going to kick my ass to the curb if I show up in the Junk car aren’t you?”

“Maybe. I may miss you too much,” she said, also smiling. “Mom’s going to be worried…” She sighed, but made no move to back up.

“You know,” Itachi said quietly, “with the awkward distance between us, perhaps sleepovers can be arranged…”

She nodded. “We’ll see,” she agreed with a smile, looking up at him.

Her boyfriend nodded and turned her around by the shoulders. “Go see your mother,” he suggested as he gave her a gentle push, then a sharp slap on the ass. When Sakura turned back to face him, Itachi grinned. “She’s worried.”

She looked toward the ceiling as if asking the Gods for patience, then turned back and walked down the hall. Naiyuri wasn’t at the table, so she walked to the kitchen. She stood at the sink, doing dishes. “Kaasan?”

Naiyuri looked up and gave her a smile. “I’m sorry, Sakura…”

“I know, kaasan. It’s okay.”

The woman sighed. “Things will work out,” she promised. “Everything gets better.”

Sakura nodded. “I know, kaasan. I’m going to go out with Itachi the rest of the night, I think… unless you need me here?”

But Naiyuri shook her head. “Go, enjoy yourself.”

“Hai.” The pink-haired girl walked out of the kitchen to find her boyfriend in the living room. “Let’s go out and do something,” she said.

xXx

Chapter 17 | Table of Contents | Chapter 19

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