Sand Trails Ch 25: Sunshine and War

Despite the heat of the day, and the general crowd around them, Itachi kept a firm hold of Sakura as she coaxed and prodded and cajoled the redhead that sat next to them.

There were several reasons for him to keep her in his lap. He liked to hold her, and it had really been too long between too few occasions lately that he could indulge this preference. She also smelled wonderful: the shampoo in her hair, the tang of her sweat, and the underlying faint musk that was her, all combined into such a heady addicting thing. Which coupled with the first reason created the third.

Even wearing the heaviest pair of cargo shorts that he owned, it would be indecent for him to allow her off his lap.

Sakura kept wriggling in the most distracting of ways, between sparks of eye-rolling friction, Itachi wasn’t sure if this delicious girl knew his predicament and was doing it on purpose or if she was doing all that hip rolling unconsciously.

Sometimes it was all he could do to hold on to her and hide his face in her hair.

The things this girl could to him, he mused. At least Mother isn’t here yet…

And as if the gods felt it justifiable to screw with him, there was the rumbling sound of a car pulling to a stop, immediately followed by two door slams and a loud, excited cry of, “SAKURA-CHAAAAANNN!”

Before Sakura could be stopped, she suddenly scrambled up, yelping the names of her two best friends and dashing away. An icepack was placed on the table in front of Itachi, and Hidan grinned widely, thoroughly enjoying the Uchiha’s torment. “Thought you might need that,” he said, and quickly got out of range of both Itachi and Kisame.

Growling, Itachi considered chucking the offer right back at the albino’s head. However… He grumbled and pulled the pack down into his lap, grimacing at the chill and covering the whole entire situation by fiddling with a water gun Kisame had given him previously.

The shark in the meantime was all but laughing out loud. In a startling display of restraint, Kisame gave him a wide grin, before yelling at everyone to pick up their guns.

The ambush of Naruto and Sasuke was underway.

Naruto yelped when Sasuke—knowing his brother and friends as he did and thus expecting such an attack—dove behind him. Mikoto stayed in the car patiently waiting out the onslaught on Naruto and Sasuke. Kiba got within reach, unfortunately for him, and Sasuke disarmed him. “Naruto!”

The blond grinned eagerly and promptly tackled Ino, who yelped out a laugh before losing her gun too.

Within minutes, lines had been drawn and the kids had moved away from the cars, even as another car pulled in and parked beside Mikoto’s. No one seemed to notice the immediate conversation Shizuru and Mikoto struck up.

Sakura laughingly took her best friends’ side, and got Kisame in the face.

He only grinned wider and threw a water balloon. As it burst and soaked the front of her shirt, his eyebrows went up and he darted his eyes back towards Itachi. The feral grins on both their faces spelled trouble, especially once Itachi made a hand motion to Hidan who cackled and reached under the table to pull out… What the hell?

If there was a mini-gun of a water blaster, that was it. Complete with a backpack full of water. That Kakuzu was—even now—dropping chunks of ice into.

The albino shrugged the straps into place on his shoulders, while his partner screwed the cap of the reservoir into place. When Kakuzu gave the plastic container a firm tap, Hidan grinned wide and lifted the nozzle.

Sasuke quirked a grin and winked—yes, winked—at Sakura. “We’ll cover you. Go get the turbo gun out of mom’s trunk,” he ordered.

Her eyes widened. “How–”

“A spy, now go!” he ordered, and she scuttled off toward the car.

Naruto and Sasuke defended without mercy, drenching their opponents almost as much as they were getting drenched. Sakura got the keys from Mikoto and opened the trunk, then grinned. Water grenades! And a couple turbo guns filled with water. Sakura commended Sasuke’s spy. It was probably Ino.

Several yards away, Itachi arched a brow at his mother. He was sure she could see it too.

A blur of motion caught his eye, and Itachi swung around. “Kisame!” he barked, “the reservoir!”

His partner looked over and saw Kiba climbing up the side of his truck, obviously intent on refilling using enemy resources. “I’ll be right back,” Sharky smirked and sprinted for the culprit.

Squarely hitting Sasuke in the eye, Itachi glanced over just once, risking a hit to his ear, to see Kisame pick Kiba up bodily and drop the squirming freshman into a tub of water. The blue teenager laughingly snatched up the younger man’s weapon and jogged back to Itachi.

“Swap you,” he grinned. “Refilled and pressurized.”

Ino squealed when Sai suddenly picked her up, allowing Hidan to get both of them. She went stiff at the freezing onslaught, and Sai beamed and plopped her down almost gently in the sand. Sakura made it to Sasuke and handed over the turbo, grinning and uncorking a water grenade before heaving it at the traitorous Sai. “Traaaiitooorr!”

Sai grinned. “I get compensation!”

Meanwhile, Naruto had inexplicably vanished… Which was unusual since it was hard to miss him. That’s when Hinata and Gaara were drenched by an onslaught of filched water balloons.

The shocked girl sputtered and wiped long strands of tangled hair out of her eyes. “What–?”

She was cut off as beside her the silent Gaara dragged a hand through his hair and got to his feet. Growling. Oh dear

Naruto laughed, standing ten feet away, and ducked when Choji yelled a warning. A water balloon sailed over him… And exploded in Gaara’s face. “Whoops?” the blond said, noting the rage. He laughed. “Come and get me!” And he took off in the opposite direction.

Hinata was still blinking as the redhead surged forward with a snarl and darted off after Naruto. Naruto… He hadn’t even said hello.

Unconsciously, the pale girl bit her lip and watched as Gaara caught up to Naruto and tackled the boy to the sands. There was a flurry of blows, the water pistol was tossed to the side, and Naruto was shouting. Gaara was completely silent.

“Ten dollars says that Gaara wins, but Naruto makes another fucking friend.”

“What?” It seemed like that was the only thing she could say today. She turned around and saw Kakuzu watching the tussle with a clinical air, bordering on irritation. “Kakuzu?”

“Naruto’s not really fighting back,” he replied, then smirked, “Gaara, however, reminds me of Konan.”

Hidan popped up suddenly, grinning like god just blessed him. And what a blessing. “Hello there, sexy lady. Cold?” he asked, and leered.

It took a moment for Hinata to realize what the lecher was referring to. With a small mortified squeak, she folded her arms over her chest and scowled at him. His only response was a grin.

Sasuke jogged over to the fight as Naruto rolled himself and his attacker, and he gladly dropped a water balloon, watching it burst over them both. Naruto grinned and rolled off of Gaara, wiping at a bloody lip. “I’m Naruto! It’s nice to meet you!” he greeted cheerfully. “Man, you have an amazing right hook!”

“Dobe,” Sasuke muttered.

The redhead flat on his back blinked up at them both. “Gaara,” he said shortly, jade eyes focused on Naruto as he sat up. This wasn’t how he had envisioned their introductions, but the blond didn’t seem to mind.

He turned his head up to study the boy who was standing over them both. “I assume you are Sasuke.” Not really a question. Sakura had described both of her childhood friends rather accurately. And often.

The younger Uchiha nodded, opening his mouth to say something… But was bombarded from behind by his brother, Kisame and Deidara. He growled and whipped back around, letting loose a powerful stream of water right into Itachi’s face, then ran to get out of range.

Naruto grinned and scrambled to his feet, grabbing Gaara by the arm and heaving him up too. “Quick, while Itachi is distracted!” he said, and pulled the redhead out of range as well.

Back at the picnic table, Kakuzu snorted. Hinata hadn’t taken the bet. Shame. Sitting back, he eyed the other two left at the table, Hidan who was enjoying himself immensely and Hinata who looked like she was going to claw out his eyes.

Reaching down below the seats, Kakuzu removed the lid from the cold storage box and nudged it across the shadowed recesses of the table.

Feeling something hit her in the shins, Hinata looked down distractedly. There under her nose, were several white globes. They looked like snow balls. Kakuzu, I could kiss you.

Kakuzu watched as minute changes adjusted themselves across Hyuuga’s face. Her eyes narrowed, her mouth curved a little, and the blush faded from her cheeks.

There was a small flicker of remorse that he was betraying his best friend, but Kakuzu quickly dismissed it. In the long run, getting Hinata to trash Hidan was probably a good thing. Satisfied, he watched as she pretended to lean under the table edge to hide her soaked shirt. Hidan of course leaned further towards her to keep said shirt in view.

If anything, this would be entertaining, Kakuzu thought as he saw her shoulder shift as she palmed a snow ball.

Hidan was completely unprepared. All of a sudden, he got a snow ball to the face, and his arm lifted automatically, even as he jerked back. He pulled the trigger and let the icy water fly. Which just made her colder. Go him. “Ha! I got you all wet!” he said, wiping melting ice from his face.

The goddess rose from the bench, glorious in her fury. One hand was clenched around the rim of a familiar blue insulated container–When did she find that?--and the other was already reaching in for more ammunition.

Wine red eyes widened before he dove for cover. God, she was gorgeous when pissed.

xXx

Sakura tried to stifle her snickering as her boyfriend pressed an icepack to his jaw, and Mikoto clucked her tongue and handed another one to Sasuke. When all was said and done, the older group won, except for Hidan, whom was thoroughly thrashed by Hinata. Itachi and Sasuke got into a tussle when Sasuke furiously punched his brother in the jaw, and shortly after that, Mikoto and Shizuru called a halt to the water festivities. They found Shikamaru asleep underneath a picnic table and dragged him out before the mothers proceeded to provide any medical attention necessary.

Ino didn’t bother trying to contain her mirth and was laughing her ass off near a smirking Kisame.

With the two groups sprawled around on the various picnic tables, there wasn’t any effort at all to keep to any one side. They had just collapsed where convenient.

Shikamaru himself was slumped onto the warm wood, eyes half closed in bliss as he watched the former enemies relax in the sun.

“They finally look like a matched set, yeah,” a snicker voice piped up from behind him as the male version of Ino’s hair-do dropped down on the bench.

Not bother to lift his head, the brunet waved a hand at the man beside him in greeting. “The Uchihas or Jashin and Hinata?” The latter two where sitting side by side, plastered in sand and melting ice. Both bearing satisfied smirks. That Hinata could smile that way actually had the small hairs on Shika’s neck stand up.

“Both, probably,” Kakuzu muttered, looking bored.

“The Uchihas, I get,” Shika said carefully, “But the other two?” He turned his head to look at the two older teens. They were sitting far back enough from the rest of the group that their conversation wasn’t noticed. Most of the others were either concentrating on warming up or were distracted by Naruto’s loud boasts.

Kakuzu smirked. “That information will cost you,” he said.

Naara’s dark eyebrows swept up. He glanced at Deidara who at that moment looked exactly like Ino with a juicy piece of gossip. Wonder how far the similarities go? “Do you know?” he asked the blond.

Deidara nodded. “Most of it, un,” he said with a wide grin, and ignored Kakuzu’s scowl.

“It’s going to be troublesome isn’t it?”

Deidara smirked. “Depends…”

“On?”

“How well you can keep it to yourself,” the blond replied with a shrug. “Cause if I tell you and it leaks out before he wants it to, Hidan might just make your life a living hell, un. Quite literally.”

Shaking his head, Shikamaru pointed at Ino. “I won’t tell her anything, or anyone else,” he assured them. “But it might not matter. If I think something is up with those two, she will take it for granted.”

“So troublesome,” he sighed, watching as the other two flicked glances up over to the blonde in question. “If Hidan doesn’t want gossip to start, he has to move away from Hinata now.” Hidan near a girl wasn’t out of character. The fact that Hinata wasn’t running away from him was the problem.

Deidara hummed thoughtfully. “Point. Well, if it’s his fault, he can hardly blame anyone else, un.”

Kakuzu hummed and threw a rock at Hidan, who looked at him. He quirked a brow, looked at Hinata, back to Hidan, and repeated the gesture. Hidan blinked and looked at her. Blinked again. Shrugged and flipped Kakuzu off. He didn’t move. “He doesn’t care,” the larger boy muttered.

Hidan hadn’t moved, but Hinata had noticed the pebble sailing past her nose. She had watched the non-verbal cues flying back and forth between to the two men, and had raised an eyebrow as Hidan gave his last gesture.

Still looking relaxed, her lilac eyes had wandered back over to their table. Shikamaru sighed again as the Hyuuga girl visibly tensed, realizing that all three of them were staring at her. Sitting next to Hidan.

“Looks like she does,” he observed as the girl abruptly removed herself from Hidan’s vicinity.

Hidan instantly scowled, fingers twitching as if he wanted to reach out and pull her back down. But he didn’t. He just sulked. That was when Deidara noticed Sakura’s surreptitious glances and sly smile. “Pinky knows, un,” he commented.

Shika watched as Hinata moved over to Kiba and Shino. The two boys shifted to either side, making a space between them. She took the offered seat looking a bit dazed. Kiba leaned over, but at a signal from Shino, he drew back.

“She and Hidan are together somehow,” he murmured, ignoring the other two men at the table, “but she doesn’t want it public yet. She’s confessed to Sakura, so I can’t just write this off as Hidan’s fancy. And Hidan isn’t making this public, so he’s actually respecting her. Her close guy friends don’t know, so she’s unsure about this, but is willing to…” he drifted off. Willing to what? Sleep with Hidan? Date? “… give whatever is between them a try,” he finished lamely.

Deidara and Kakuzu shared a glance. “Smart kid,” Kakuzu said, sounding impressed. Hmm, maybe he would have some use for this boy…

Meanwhile, the mothers had set out the food, drinks and utensils and Mikoto beamed brightly. “Please, help yourselves!” she chirped, and Shizuru giggled beside her. Yes, giggled.

Shikamaru grunted as Sakura and Sasuke shared an uneasy look. Itachi sat impassively to the side of them, but it was obvious the older Uchiha brother has also picked up on the uneasiness between the younger teens.

The momentary flicker of glances were interrupted by a shout from Naruto who piled on top of Sasuke demanding to know if they had ramen.

Sasuke, of course, was deeply offended by the implied insult to his mother’s cooking and began to rant at the blond about being grateful that anyone was feeding him anything. Luckily, the ever patient and calm mothers had foreseen this problem, and Shizuru set a bowl of homemade ramen in front of Naruto. A very big bowl. “Just for you, Naruto-kun!” she said with a smile.

Sasuke stared while Naruto grinned. “Haruno-sama, I love you.”

Shizuru giggled again. “Of course you do, Naruto-kun. Eat up!”

“I think I’ll wait for the rush to die down before going for food,” Shikamaru told his table mates as a surge of his friends crowded around the buffet.

Deidara smirked. “You’ll miss out on the best parts, un!” he said, getting up. And he hurried over, joining the fray.

Kakuzu waited, biding his time, and after a few minutes, Sai appeared. He handed Kakuzu a couple of plates and accepted a five. “Pleasure doing business with you!” the perverted artist chirped.

Quirking a brow, Shikamaru just shook his head. Apparently their social circles had been mixing more than he knew.

Speaking of mixing, a hulking blue teenager thumped down on to the bench in Deidara’s vacated seat. “Not hungry?” Kisame grinned down at him.

Shika looked down at the paper plate next to him, noting that the piled food nearly overflowed the edges. Deidara was wrong. If he didn’t get up now, he was likely to get no food at all! “Going now,” he grunted, leaving the table and the two amused teenagers.

xXx

On days like today, when the weather wasn’t as sweltering hot as it usually was, Kimimaro liked to take walks with his pet. The tiny lovebird would snuggle into his hair, perched just below his ear and warble softly as they left the apartment.

Smiling as he crossed the streets, he let a finger drift up to stroke over the black and yellow feathers of Zuko’s head. A sharp beak nibbled at his nail in response.

Their destination was a small public park not far from his home. Once there, Kimimaro would watch as Zuko flit from tree to tree. There wasn’t much in the way of greenery here in Suna, but the bird seemed content on the wiry dry branches.

Once they reached the park though, Kimimaro was startled to see a large group of teenagers had taken over several of the park benches. Bright plastic weaponry was scattered across the sands and there were several cars parked nearby.

Water pistols were not rare in Suna, but the sheer abundance was interesting. Being a desert, water conservation laws were always in effect. So where had all the ammunition come from?

Kimi’s white eyebrows shot up as he noticed two of his classmates in the mix of teens. Sakura and Gaara.

Zuko made a faint murmur, clearly wanting to fly, but his owner didn’t immediately give the one shouldered shrug that signaled flight. Kimimaro knew his classmates would never harm a bird, but he had some reservations on some of the males in the large group. It wouldn’t take much from a pressurized water gun to disrupt Zuko’s flight. The bird was so tiny.

With that in mind, Kimimaro made his way over to those he recognized, hoping that his bird would have its exercise uninterrupted.

Sakura noted his approach and got up with a smile. “Kimimaro! Hi!” she greeted energetically, stopping in front of him. “A bird? What’s its name?” she asked, beaming.

“Zuko,” he replied automatically, stunned a little at her exuberance. “I was hoping to let him fly around the park.”

“Oh? Well go ahead! No one will hurt him,” she said, raising her voice slightly to be heard by the boys. She even glared for good measure. “Did you want something to eat?”

Shrugging his shoulders, Kimimaro watched as the little bird took off. “Any fruit would be welcome,’ he said quietly. “Gaara.” He nodded to Gaara, who nodded back.

She beamed and gestured for him to have a seat. “Mom, this is my school friend Kimimaro. Kimimaro, this is my mother, Naiyuri Shizuru. And this is Uchiha Mikoto, the mother of Itachi and Sasuke,” she introduced, pointing each out in turn. “He will join us, if you two don’t mind!”

Giving each mother a nod, he couldn’t help but noticing how very vibrant Sakura was. Surrounded by friends and family, she was as hyper as he’d ever seen her. More so even. If this was how she usually was in Konoha, he could see how much the move has changed her.

Itachi is a lucky man. Kimi blinked at the thought as he accepted a plate of oranges and murmured his thanks to Naiyuri. Sakura is truly happy at the moment and it shows.

“WAH! SAI YOU JERK!” Ino shrieked from across the table, and then buried her fist in his gut before kicking him off the bench. Sakura laughed, prompting the blonde to scowl. “You see what I have to put up with, Forehead?!” she demanded shrilly.

Sakura giggled and picked up a sandwich that had appeared on her plate. She didn’t remember getting it, but she must have. It was made just the way she liked it… “Oh stop bitching, Ino Pig! At least he likes you!”

“LIKES ME?! HE LIKES MY BOOBS!” Ino screamed.

“And what nice breasts they are,” Sai agreed, getting up.

Sakura certainly has strange friends, Kimi observed, holding up a piece of fruit as Zuko landed on his wrist. On the other side of Sakura, Itachi handed Mikoto back the lettuce. And a dedicated lover.

Sakura smiled wistfully before digging into her food.

xXx

Eventually, the evening was drawing the a close.  The sun had gone down, leaving them in a cold they found it necessary to bundle up in.  A good chunk of those attending had even headed home.  Most of Naruto’s friends, except Hinata and Sasuke, and of course Naruto himself.  Kimimaru had wandered off before sundown.  Naiyuri had left just after sundown, expressing her disinterest in freezing.  Mikoto had also left, alone, after extracting promises from her boys that they wouldn’t stay the night in Suna.

And so it was just Itachi’s group, Sakura, Hinata, Sasuke and Naruto left.  For what reason?  Aside from Sakura herself; the finale, a la Deidara.  And like the last time she’d seen him do a fireworks show, the blond was near fanatic with glee as he set things up.

The group of teens gathered together, seated on the picnic table benches (or the table itself, in Naruto’s case; much to Kakuzu’s chagrin), and prepared to watch.

The feeling of Sakura’s slim body in his lap had Itachi biting his lip and pulling her in even closer. When she stilled and then melted back into him with a breathless chuckle, the Uchiha shrugged unapologetically. He was male, young, and hadn’t had his lover in his bed for a long long time. For now though, it would have to be enough that he was with her.

“I’ve missed you,” he murmured into her ear when she twisted partially to look back at him, “so, so much.”

Her smile was soft.  “I missed you too,” she admitted.  “Probably just as much.  Most likely more.”  She grinned cheekily.  “It’s kinda lonely without people bulldozing me first thing in the morning… between classes… at lunch… after school…  Especially after school.  I miss hanging out with you and the guys at the junkyard.”

“Hnn.” He leaned forward and nuzzled behind her ear. “Bulldozing? That’s an interesting way of calling it.” Itachi loosened his arms a little to allow Sakura the laugh that she needed, then curled them around her once more. “Apparently, I am… unbearable with you gone,” he confessed.

Sakura grinned.  “Deidara sent me an email yesterday, detailing all the reasons I should come home.  Twenty six.  Every other one was ‘Itachi’s being a dick’.”  She giggled.

Dark eyebrows winged up. “He could only think of thirteen reasons for you to come home?”

“Yesterday, I said,” she replied, chuckling.  “He’s sent me similar emails every other day since I moved.  Only, yesterday’s was the only one detailing that.”  She shook her head and tightened her arms around his shoulders.  “I wish I could move back…  It just doesn’t make sense, you know…  My mom losing her job so suddenly, I mean.  She’s a good worker.  A hard worker.”  She frowned.

Leaning back into the table edge behind him, Itachi ignored the bite of the wood and pulled the girl back with him. “It is odd,” he agreed softly. “Does she talk about it?”

Sakura shrugged.  “She just said that the company had a small downsizing, and she was one of the people who got let go.”  She frowned.  “Luckily, like the next day, an acquaintance of hers here in Suna said they had an opening for her…”

“A little convenient, hmm?” Thinking back a few months, one of the companies owned by his family had downsized. Would it be too much of a coincidence? “Where did your mother work at before? The company I mean.”

“Oh, um…  Madanezo Incorporated,” she replied.  “She was management.”  Her brows lifted curiously.  “Why?”

Itachi propped his chin on her shoulder, looking out over the park as he thought. Uchiha owned. It sank in, bringing with it a wave of black frustration. If he had been aware of just this bit of information, he may have been able to keep Sakura home. By the simple change of having someone else let go.

“My family owns that company,” he told her, frowning. “My father’s company bought it five years ago… I could have pulled strings to keep you home.” He sighed, rubbing his temple against her cheekbone in apology. “Where does your mother work now?” Itachi would not repeat past mistakes if he could help it.

“Erm, I think it’s… Kazeomi Goods,” she said after mentally flailing for an answer.  “But don’t quote me on that one.”  She sighed and gave a tiny shake of her head.  “We’ll figure something out, right.  It’s just… a matter of working hard enough.  I’ve only got the rest of the year and two more before I graduate.  And you graduate this year.  We can think about… er, you know.  Location shuffling.”  She wanted to beat Inner Sakura for her cheer of, ‘Are you telling him you’ll figure out a way to move in together?  You baaaadd girl!’

It could get really embarrassing when you’re own psychosis made fun of you.

Blinking, Itachi tried to gather his thoughts. Kazeomi Goods had sounded familiar, but she was right, the name wasn’t quite correct. However, there was a company he knew of called Tazume Foods. Interestingly enough, also owned by Uchiha. He was still tumbling that bit of information around when Sakura had mentioned two years, graduation and then…

“‘Location shuffling’? As in transfer students?” he asked, moving his head a little away to focus on her properly.

“No, well, I mean, maybe, I hadn’t thought of that,” she said, and opened her mouth to blurt out the rest–when she realized how very permanent-long-term-couple it sounded.  Her mouth clicked closed and she blinked.  She’d have to set that trail of thinking aside for later—‘And I will so bug you with it,’ Inner Sakura said smugly—and focus on a plausible excuse.  “I meant, you know, me moving closer to you… or vice-versa or… something… um…”  She turned a faint rosy color.

Watching as the girl flushed, pale, flushed again, and finally stutter, he shook his head and pulled her close as he mulled over her words. Move? Obviously she would not be able to move before–but she had moved before graduating already, so that argument was false. Her moving again, away from her mother, would be far more difficult.  Then the question was, would he move? For her? Honestly, he had thought of it, but as much as it churned his insides and made him disgusted with his cowardice, moving to Suna did not make sense. Like Sakura, his entire life was in Konoha, including future plans. Ones that did include a certain pink-haired girl with green eyes and a wonderful mind.

“I can’t move here, Sakura.” He watched her eyes, saddened, guilty, wretched. “I’m sorry.”

Her shoulders slumped and she swallowed hard.  “Oh…”  Perfect white teeth sank into her bottom lip, eyes sliding away from his.  “Well… I can try to move near you, then,” she whispered softly.  “If you want me to, that is.”

There was a growl and then a squeak, as Itachi lurched upright, pushing and pulling the girl around so that she straddled his lap facing him. He wanted no misunderstandings at this point. One hand slid up, fingertips in the fine hairs behind her ear, thumb nudging the bottom of her jaw while he held her shoulder with the other.

He glared into her eyes, wide green orbs level with his own black. “I want you near, yes. Never doubt that. The life I had envisioned is with you. Suna never factored into it. Nor will I leave you in Suna. You are coming home, to Konoha, to your friends, somehow, someway. Understand?” Narrowing his eyes and taking a deep harsh breath, he frowned sharply. “And it will not take two years.” Cuz, fuck that. He wanted her home now.

She met his gaze, that tiny part of her that had almost gone frigid with self-defense when he said he couldn’t… melting.  She gave him a wobbly smile.  “I understand,” she replied softly.  And then the smile faded, her eyes hardening.  “I’ll see what I can do.  The transfer student idea is a good one.  I’ll look into it at my school, okay?  Maybe Sabaku-sensei will cooperate and help me out even.”  She honestly doubted it; the man hated her.  “And if not that… well, I’ll find out something.”

Her boyfriend’s gaze flickered over her features, taking in her expression, then after a nod, he let the tension go. “I will be attending college soon,” he murmured, hand shifting up to slide through her hair and then stilled. “Dorms,” he breathed out, eyes locking onto hers.

She blinked.  And blinked.  “Uhm.  What about them?” she asked blankly.  For a smart chick, she sure had a hard time connecting the dots sometimes.

“The freshman of most colleges live on campus,” he spoke quickly, “and most scholarships will cover the cost of living in the dorms. There are programs for early applicants. Some applicants are years younger than me. They just need to be supported by the correct scholarships and recommended by the right people.” His hands came around to her back and dragged her down to his mouth as he whispered the last few words against her lips. “Sakura. You’re right. If you work hard enough, I can bring you home.”

She kissed him, grinning happily through it as their mouths locked–for about ten seconds.

“WHOO HOOO!  You go, Itachi!  Give us a fucking show!  Haha!  OW–KAKUZU, YOU FUCKING DICK!” Hidan yelled, and would have probably pounced him if it weren’t for the shocked looking Hinata sitting between them.

Sakura turned bright red as she jerked back, and scowled at the albino.  “Hidan, shut your mouth!  Or I’ll be telling secrets!”

He yelped, gaze flickering to Hinata, would was making a nice impression of a tomato.  “Uh… don’t…”

Smirking, Itachi pulled his girl in for a quick kiss before letting go. “I think Dei is almost ready anyway.” Now that there was a tentative plan to bring Sakura back, the Uchiha was relaxing completely and noting the excited chatter from the blond in the middle of the park. “It’s best not to steal his show.”

“Yeah,” Sakura agreed, and winked at Hinata (who turned redder).  She got up and turned around into her original position, though she made sure to grasp both of Itachi’s hands and hold them in her lap.  Then she relaxed against him, smiling.  “Best. Day. Ever,” she confided, turning her head slightly to whisper.

“Hnn, I can think of a better day,” he murmured into her hair, smiling as various plans swirled and settled in his mind.

“And what day is that?” she asked softly.

“On the day I have you back in Konoha for good, I’m going to pull you into my room, strip you down with my teeth, spread you out on my bed, and worship every single inch of skin you have using my tongue.” His arms tightened. “And I assure you, that will take a full day.”

She shivered slightly, cheeks tinting pink as she grinned slightly.  “I’ll hold you to that,” she replied mischievously.

Chuckling, he suddenly groaned as she shifted in his lap. “I can think of something else I’d like you to hold in the meantime.” Itachi thudded his forehead against her spine. “Fuck,” he drawled. “Talking about sex was a really really bad idea.”

Sakura giggled softly.  “Well… if you’re willing to deal with Deidara’s complaining for the next few weeks, I know where there’s a car,” she whispered in his ear.  “And no adults around.”

Itachi stilled, breath drawn in with a sharp hiss, very slowly he brought his gaze up. The air shuddered out of his lungs in a gusty breath. “Very tempting,” he said finally, a faint smile flickering on his lips. “But no. I can wait. This is important to him or else, no, I wouldn’t care.”

She chuckled.  “You just don’t want Hidan spying on us,” she accused jokingly.  “But alright.  I’ll relent.  For now.”  She smirked and turned around to look back towards where Deidara was making a final check… and shifted pointedly on her lover’s lap.

“Oh, you fucking minx…” he muttered, using his arms at her hips to pull her down hard into his lap.

She grinned and gave one more tiny wiggle before sitting still.  “You love it,” was her retort, her teeth sinking into her lip again to keep back her own wanton noises.

Sighing and nodding, Itachi nosed at her hair before turning his head down a few inches and biting down lightly on her shoulder. “I do,” he admitted easily once he had let go and then uncurling an arm to point to somewhere to the side, he said blandly, “Naruto is going to explode…”

Sakura sighed wistfully and settled down, pointedly not looking at her blond friend.  “Ah, well.”  She paused, nibbling on her lip briefly, before she quietly murmured, “I love you.”

That outstretched arm came back to settle around her waist and he smiled into her nape. She could feel his lips move as he whispered back, “And I love you.”

And as if just to complete the moment, with the same remarkable and coincidental timing as always, Deidara’s first firework went off.  It soared into the sky in a burst of yellow and red.

xXx

Chapter 24 | Table of Contents | Chapter 26

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