moor: Photo of me in one of my mermaid Arda wigs (Default)
Sakura glanced up in surprise at the tall man who crossed her path on her way to the training grounds.
“Haruno-san, may I bother you for a moment?”
Her teammate’s brother had always been kind to her, and Sakura’s smile widened at Itachi’s request. “It’s Sakura—and you never bother me. How can I help?” she slowed her pace to face him; she was only a few minutes away from the training grounds, so she had plenty of time. “Does your brother need some sense knocked into him again? You know I permanently volunteer my services.”
It was only thanks to knowing him as long as she had—and in particular, his brother—that permitted Sakura to discern the warmth that softened his eyes. After being Sasuke’s teammate for nearly a decade now, she and Naruto had become unofficial fixtures around the Uchiha complex and main house—much to Sasuke’s ire, Mikoto’s pleasure, and Fugaku’s frustration. She wasn’t quite sure where they stood with Itachi—he seemed alternately amused and exasperated by them, depending on how much they were annoying his younger brother. He didn’t outright stop them, ever, or condone their teasing—however Sakura would have sworn to it that at times he’d been an enabler…
That morning, he was simply looking out for his brother.
“Sasuke left this at home this morning. I understand you have practice with him soon—as I was called to the Tower, could you please deliver it to him?”
“You know you don’t need to ask so formally,” she reminded him, accepting the wrapped package. “Ooh, this looks like it’s from your mom—I’ll be sure it gets to him intact,” she promised. “Anything else?”
He paused thoughtfully a moment before shaking his head, “Thank you very much, and I apologise for imposing on you.”
“One of these days, you’re going to forget to be formal around me and I’m going to cheer and hug you, just to celebrate—and embarrass you, you know,” she teased. “Be ready, Uchiha-san!” she called with a wave, and headed back on her way. “You should join us at Ichiraku when you’re finished at the Tower! Naruto loves it when you tell stories about Sasuke when he was younger, you know!”
“Perhaps,” he replied, the corners of his mouth tugging at her devious streak. Then again, it matched his own.
“I was sure I packed it this morning,” muttered Sasuke, going through his bag. Beside him, Naruto stood his ground sulkily, his arms crossed and a deep scowl marring his handsome face.
“You promised!”
“I had it! I put it in! It was huge!”
“I knew there was something going on between you two,” sighed Kakashi from behind his book.
“Not like that!” growled Sasuke, his eyes flashing red at his teacher’s deliberately incendiary remark. He jabbed a finger in Naruto’s direction. “He asked for some of my mom’s riceballs for his stupid picnic with Hinata--,”
“Hey! It’s not stupid!” burst out Naruto, puffing up angrily. “And you’re the one who forgot them!”
“I didn’t forget!”
“Forget what?” asked Sakura, dropping down beside them. “Oh, here, Itachi passed this to me to give to you. It’s from your mom.”
“My balls!” cheered Naruto. “Hinata will be so happy!” He gave a quick peek inside the wrapper and grinned. “Hey look! Different colours--she even made a few of them blue!”
“And here I thought it was only his measly penis that brought him such joy,” said Sai.
His head in his hands, Sasuke very quietly counted to ten, three times.
“So, outside of Sasuke’s package giving Naruto blue balls to cheer up Hinata, is there anything else we need to go over this morning? Or can we start training?” asked Kakashi as he slid his little orange book into his hip pouch.
Sakura turned to Sasuke. “I invited Itachi to join us at Ichiraku later, to thank him.”
Overhearing them, Naruto hooted and pumped his fist in the air.
“Really? I can’t wait!” the blond grinned, excited at the burgeoning potential for Sasuke-torture.
“And I was worried today couldn’t get any better,” the Uchiha muttered under his breath.
It was a fairly bedraggled group that dragged themselves to Ichiraku just after noontime that day; covered in dirt, dust, and scorch marks, Team Seven-slash-Team-Kakashi collapsed onto the stools at the counter and begged for water. Teuchi chuckled under his breath and already had a pitcher waiting for them.
“You had to open up with the Sharingan in the first round,” groused Naruto after a long swallow.
“And letting off three Rasengan in fifteen minutes was completely pulling your punches?” snapped Sasuke.
“I think we should all take a moment to congratulate each other on a fine spar,” Kakashi broke in. He turned to look at Sakura and Sai, his visible eye creased happily. “You two worked very well together today. I’m very proud of you. Good teamwork.”
“You still aren’t getting your book back,” snorted Sakura from her glass. She wasn’t sure where Sai’s bird had flown it to, but it had her blessing, after their sensei had put that crazy genjutsu on them. And no, she would never find it funny that she started dancing the mambo on a treebranch while stripping. Ever.
Maybe she should have burned the book?...
Kakashi’s eyes lost their happy crease.
“I’m amending my comment, then. You’re a very bad person, Sakura, stealing from the elderly. You should be ashamed.”
“Elderly my a—Itachi! You came!” she exclaimed happily.
Sasuke spewed his water over the counter, coughing hard.
“Ah,” he said simply; Sai shifted over a seat, freeing up the stool beside Sakura so that Itachi could sit down. Sakura beamed at him, and the warmth was back in his black, black eyes again.
“Thank you, Sai. How has the new tanto design worked for you? Do you find it field-ready yet?”
“The balance still needs some work, but the composition is good. I have several possible alterations for the shape that may help.”
Itachi’s eyes sparked with interest. “You know who to speak to. Thank you for your contributions.”
Sai nodded, and Ayame approached, taking their orders.
“How was training this morning?” Itachi asked, though he was looking keenly at Sasuke.
“Fine. Don’t you have a clan meeting?”
Sakura’s eyes narrowed and she leaned forward. “Sasuke! Don’t be rude to your brother! He helped you out this morning!” Then she paused and turned worried eyes on his brother. “We’re not keeping you, though, are we? Your clan already has it in for Sasuke because of us, we don’t want to make trouble for you, too.”
Sasuke grumbled into his glass, and Naruto thumped him on the back.
The older Uchiha shook his head lightly. “It’s ok, Haruno-san,” assured Itachi. “The meeting is later this afternoon. I rarely get to see Sasuke and his team outside of our home, so I am happy to join you.”
“Join with you,” came one muttered voice from further down the bench.
The team stilled awkwardly for a moment, before Naruto laughed loudly, “So, Sakura, you never told us whether or not you could make it to dinner at Kakashi-sensei’s place on Friday! Have you heard from Tsunade-baachan yet whether you’re working that night or not?”
“I’m working a full day, but should be free in the evening—but I could be late,” she warned.
Naruto nodded easily, “But you can still make it, right?”
“Barring emergencies that keep me late—like daredevil ANBU squads who think they’re invincible, yes,” she specified. Beside her Itachi blithely broke apart his chopsticks, feigning ignorance of her comment’s direction. “Thank you,” she spoke to Ayame as the other girl set her bowl of piping hot ramen down in front of her. Ayame smiled and settled everyone’s bowls in front of them before retreating again to the kitchen to help her father.
“How about you, Itachi? You wanna come over? It’s normally a team dinner thing, but I’m bringing Hinata. And you’re family, to Sasuke-teme, and practically the rest of us,” offered Naruto around his mouthful of noodles.
“I will see if I am in the village that day; if so, yes, it would be my pleasure.”
Sasuke merely sulked harder, though his posture remained as rigid as always.
“Is something wrong, Sasuke?” asked Kakashi quietly while the others spoke.
“No,” he said, his chopsticks tightly clenched in his hand.
“I think some of my chairs may be broken—should I bring up the fact that we may not have room for others to join us this time?” he offered casually.
Sasuke snorted, dipping his chopsticks into his bowl. “He’d bring his own.” And put it beside Sakura’s, he thought to himself.
Kakashi eyed him a moment speculatively.
“Is there something I can do?”
Sasuke’s shoulders slumped minutely, but Kakashi noticed.
“No,” admitted the young, dark-haired man. No one could help him with this.
Further down the table, Sakura and Itachi chatted on without him.

AN: Yeah, this is either going nowhere, or at least no where good. XD

April 2017

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