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  • Posts

    • “You sacrificed a lot for me and I’m sorry.” Ayme replied his eyes looking at Derrick’s hand. Kissing his hand softly Ayme sighed and closed his eyes for a second before looking at Derrick again. “I’m very glad your with me again and you live with us. But, I feel selfish some days” Ayme admitted knowing Derrick had given up a lot to stay by his side and be someone who could stay with him. Looking down at the table Ayme sighed knowing all to well he needed a moment. Looking at Derrick he kissed his hand before getting up and excusing himself. “I’m needing a moment alone. Just to settle my nerves” Ayme whispered the kitchen noise and the exposed environment causing him to feel a little out of it as he stepped outside quietly to take a break leaving Derrick alone.
    • CHAPTER EIGHT: THE SCIENTIST     chapter warnings: OOC, regrets - might trigger depression, jealousy, misunderstandings, cheating, sexual tension (?), LONG CHAPTER (like fuck, look at the word count holy f. Forgive me for the length. It might take me a few weeks to update again. Let me do this! OTL), mentions of menstruation (noted for those who are uncomfortable with female body function), a hint of vengeful action (?), not beta read-please forgive the mistakes, long narration of what transpired before the Shika's wedding, absolutely NO CHARACTER BASHING; everyone has their circumstances here.  enjoy and please leave reviews if you like.    ~0~ ~Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry You don't know how lovely you are I had to find you Tell you I need you Tell you I set you apart Tell me your secrets And ask me your questions Oh, let's go back to the start Running in circles Coming up tails Heads on a science apart Nobody said it was easy It's such a shame for us to part Nobody said it was easy No one ever said it would be this hard Oh, take me back to the start~ ~0~     Sasuke was trying to put Sarada to sleep, while Sakura struggled to put on her shoes. They were headed to Shikamaru's wedding place later that afternoon and would be away from her for two days at least. Though Sasuke seldom takes care of Sarada personally, he really likes being with her – even watching her nurse or observing the maids and Sakura bathe her. "I'm gonna miss you," he muttered and kiss her cheek which Sakura happened to caught sight of. "We don't have a choice, it's been cold lately. I'd like to bring her with us, too..." Sakura commented, finally looking ready to leave. "Well then," Sasuke went outside their room first, carrying the fuzzy baby downstairs. His mother waited at the living for they'd be leaving Sarada with her for the time being. "Mother, we leave Sarada with you for the meantime. Be good, 'kay?" he addressed the last one to Sarada and stroked her cheek for the last time before he turned around and got the small luggage Sakura carried, directly headed to the car without another word. Though Sasuke surely would miss her, he can leave without making it such a big deal – he can always call back home if needed. His wife; however, was different. It was not easy for Sakura; this was the first time she's going to be away from her child and already, she's experiencing the anxiety. "Bye baby," Sakura said and Mikoto smiled. "Bye bye, Mommy. Bring grandmother lots of souvenirs.." she answered while motioning Sarada's arm to wave goodbye to her parents. Just as Sakura was about to say something else, Sasuke blasted the car horn. "Impatient as ever," Mikoto sighed and said her goodbyes to Sakura as well, bidding them a good journey. The baby and her stood near the gates as the maid helped Sakura load the last of their luggage to the trunk. Sasuke waited by the door of the passenger seat and opened it up to escort Sakura, offering to fasten her seat belt, but she insisted she can manage. Sasuke drove slowly so that Sakura can see her baby as they made it outside their driveway. After the automatic gates closed, Sasuke sped up and turned on the radio, killing the silence between them. He can practically hear Sakura's gentle sobbing which he decided not to interfere. Sakura's been a hands-on mother when it comes to Sarada, and being apart was hard for her—that he understood. .   . "Sasuke-kun, can we drop by the convenience store?" They just exited the town and headed to the freeway when Sakura sounded distressed. She was busy rummaging her bag placed on top of her lap. It has been just fifteen minutes after they'd left home. "Can it wait?" Sasuke asked, focusing on the road as he steadily drives. Fidgeting on her seat next to Sasuke, Sakura blushed slightly and looked down. "I forgot to bring.. some pads.." Sasuke understood, "Hn," he nodded and got a glimpse of Sakura looking down and still looking embarrassed. After she gave birth, though they slept together in the same room, Sasuke never actually consummated their marriage unless Sakura made the move. Of course he doesn't have any reason to embarrass Sakura and refuse her. And it's not as if he's against with it either, he was just feeling guilty for a lot of reasons. He was not faithful to her: physically and emotionally. Though these past few months, he was trying his hardest not to play around, that doesn't mean he already forgot his transgressions. You could say that Sasuke felt a bit dirty to touch Sakura. The woman is loyal to him, and though she wasn't as meek as she seemed to be on the outside – like what she's displaying right now – Sakura is easy to feel embarrassed around Sasuke. That kind of innocence is hurting Sasuke in a way. It felt like he unnecessary dragged Sakura into his personal hell. "Would you be alright?" he asked her, still focused on driving. "Hm? What do you mean?" "Hn. I know you have menstrual pains every time, would you be alright traveling right now?" "Ahh!" she gasped. By this time, Sakura felt his face turned so hot and red. She fanned herself with her hand and tugged the hem of her skirt, sitting so unnaturally. "I'm…. I'll be fine… I just need to get… some pills for the pain as well..." "Hn." Sakura took a few minutes to recollect herself and peeked at Sasuke. She was caught by surprised that Sasuke actually paid attention to what was happening her. She took great care into not bothering Sasuke whenever she's having her period: Sleeping early, taking pain medicines, putting on hot compress around her abdomen— all of these things she did secretly. She was somehow happy that Sasuke noticed and it appeared like he did care. She was feeling uneasy because of this wedding. Sasuke grew up in the same Village where they were going now, and though Sakura went to the same school as Naruto and him, she were not that close to Sasuke unlike how she is… was… with Naruto. Not to mention the fact that Naruto and Sasuke are groomsmen for this wedding. How will she face Naruto after all these months that'd passed them by? She always dreaded the day she sees him again, and together with their friends that sided with Naruto. How will Sasuke handle seeing Naruto, too? From what she'd learned from Ino, Naruto is bringing Itachi with him. It honestly shocked her that the two had that kind of relationship where Itachi was willing to go the lengths to help Naruto, even offering the man a place to stay. She knew that Itachi was just trying to be nice, for the sake of Sasuke's peace of mind as well, but that made her… jealous. Itachi and Sakura didn't have the easiest relationship. Though Itachi clearly loves Sarada, he remained distant towards Sakura. Every time Itachi came for a visit, all they exchange was, 'Hello, How are you?' and that sort of standard greetings. She tried -boy she did- to get close to the older Uchiha. Itachi; however, remained aloof towards her. She was certain that Itachi looked at her at a distance – though closely studying her. Some of the questions among their limited conversations revolved in him asking her what are her plans for herself. Will she continue Medical School? Does she intend to stay at home? Things that unnerved her. She was really wary that Itachi was measuring her versus Naruto. It's not a bad thing to stay with Sarada—that she already decided on. Though every time Sasuke and the rest of his family asked her how she was, her mind often got thrown into chaos and uncertainty. And even though it was hard for her to admit it, she felt like she gave up a lot of things for Sasuke and their marriage that she can't get anything out of. Not love, not certainty, not comfort. Ino was right. She's a simple idiot. Something like Sasuke noticing her discomfort every month, made her happy. It made her feel a bit important to Sasuke. The man never cares for just about anyone, after all. . . "Sakura, we're here..." Sasuke let Sakura freshen herself up inside their car, while he hauled their luggage out. He saw some of their friends outside the garden and parking lot of the Ryokan(Japanese Traditional Inn), chatting up while they park themselves. The Lady of the Ryokan gracefully assisted some of the guests inside, and Sasuke could hear some really loud cheers. He supposed Kiba was already there, and most probably flirting towards the Inn assistants. "Hey! You guys're early," Temari greeted Sasuke while she waved cheerfully to Sakura which caught her off guard since she was brushing her hair. She was way jumpy and nervous. "God, I hope I survive this wedding," Sakura muttered. When she was done combing her hair back, she opened the car door which made Sasuke walked towards it and helped her out. "They're already inside, I guess lunch'll be serve in a while, why don't we take it there to catch up? Some of the guests haven't arrived yet, Shika's on the phone cause Neji and Hina's ride made a wrong turn somewhere," Temari shrugged and then smiled when Sakura commented how beautiful she is. She took great efforts to dip in rice sake bath, have massages, facials and all that during her two days stay in the Inn. "How are you, Sakura?" she asked, while they took their time walking inside. Sasuke was in front of them while he was on the phone checking his emails before he shut it off for lunch. "I'm fine, though this is the first time I left Sarada's side. I'm a bit anxious," she answered. Temari is one of the people who tried to be as understanding as she could, weighing the facts before she side with whomever. She honestly straight hated Sasuke, and was one of the first person who wanted to strangle him when Naruto was drove to self-harm. But when Sarada got born and Naruto slowly regained his life back, Temari – like the rest of their circle of friends – accepted the fact that Sakura is Sasuke's wife now, and that they needed their peace in order to move forward. Ino made sure to ask Sakura to hang-out with them, but Sakura often refused. Temari was just glad that they could be adults and forget their indifference. "Oi, Sasuke's here! Heya!" Kiba was taking his tea, seated on a zabuton(floor cushion for sitting), while a lady of the inn fixed some assortments of side dishes on their table. Gaara and Kankuro were there as well—looking really annoyed at Sasuke's presence, especially Gaara. The raven didn't mind them, for he was already used to it. He can't help what they felt towards him and it's not as if it directly affected his life whether they like him or not. "He..Hello," Sakura greeted them and Kiba cheerfully returned her greetings, while Gaara just politely nodded. Soon after, Shikamaru came and they started their lunch. Sakura seated beside Sasuke and Choji, while the rest of them seated wherever they wanted to. "Where's Ino?" Sakura asked Choji whose face was already stuffed with rice and meat. "She's with Sai, they went to check the Wedding Chapel not far from here," Shikamaru was the one who answered her, and though these people are Sakura's friends as well, she can't helped but feel unease. She just nodded and continued eating while thwarting Choji's hand to eat her share as well. As they were busy with their lunch, the door slid opened, revealing a handsome Neji wearing Black shirt and dressed pants, together with Hinata, whose lavender dress fitted her perfectly, revealing her curvy form. "Sorry we're late, we got lost..." Neji said, letting Hinata seat near Temari, while he on the other hand, seated besides his partner Gaara. Greetings were shared and they started to eat as well. "Hm?" Sakura got curious why Kiba got silent all of a sudden and the mood turned cold. Was it her? Was it because she's here? "You look good, Hinata.." Kiba said, a hint of sadness in his tone. "Tha...Thank you, Kiba-san.." 'Kiba-san?' Both Sasuke and Sakura gave the two a questioning look. The two are engaged to be married not so long ago, yet why were they're sitting so far to each other? "We're missing a few people, are they coming tomorrow or tonight?" Neji was the first one to changed the topic and Temari caught on. "Yeah, Ino and Sai are there at the Chapel. Sai was the one who helped me designed the place, he's done a good job.. My other friends would come tomorrow, while Shika's parents are just dropping by their relatives and would come here very early tomorrow to help for the preparation. Naruto and Itachi are coming later, along with our Uncle and his husband…" At the very mention of Naruto's name, Sasuke and Sakura flinched at the same time. "Landmine after landmine, huh?" Kiba laughed and somehow the mood lightened up, though it was uncomfortable for Gaara. He was asked to behave himself, but inside, he was running scenarios how to provoke Uchiha Sasuke. Neji decided to spoil Gaara and didn't mind the presence of others; lost in their own world. The handsome long haired man being thoughtful and placing food on Gaara's bowl, while Gaara told stories no one could understand. Like always, a meal between the Uchiha couple were stiff and silent. Some glances were thrown their way, since this was the first time they saw the two together after everything's that'd happened between them. Saying that it was awkward was an understatement. "Hm? Whose phone's that?" Shikamaru asked, hearing the light buzzing of vibrate. Everyone checked theirs until Gaara realized it was his. "Oh, Naruto. Are you near?" he answered without asking anyone's permission if he could. "Not at all! We had to wait for Choi's sitter and she was late. Anyway, that's that. We're totally late 'ttebayo!" Naruto's voice echoed throughout the small room they were in, and Sasuke's heart ache good, beating violently against his chest. "Can I borrow the phone?" Shikamaru asked and Gaara nodded. "Shika?" "Naruto, you bastard, what's with the 'you lost your tie' thing? Temari's going to kill you.." "Uh-huh, that I will," Temari added. "Don't worry, I have it all figured out…" said the blond, and already, Shikamaru can see him nodding his own head, "Sasori-niisan gave me a replacement, and it's similar to the ones you gave me. It's actually more… I think I might look better than you!" Naruto finished that one with a hearty laugh that they can all hear. Then they heard him saying something to the person beside him, before he asked permission to pass the phone. "Shikamaru.." Itachi's baritone voice boomed through the speaker. "Itachi-san, where are you guys now? Are you riding in one car with Deidara-san and Sasori-san?" Shikamaru kept his cool while gauging Sasuke's expression. Personally, he was siding with Naruto; he was closer to the blond, and more at ease with him. He's just not the type to go all out to meet and be friendly with others, and Naruto bulldozed his way into Shikamaru's life. That kind of person would leave a lasting impression on someone as lazy for everything like him. "We're going to be there by four hours I think," Itachi said curtly as always while Naruto kept speaking and side commenting. "Take your time then," with that, Shikamaru ended the conversation. "Who is this Choi?" that's the time that Ino and Sai decided to enter; they partially heard the conversation but decided to stay hidden behind the door, to feast at Sasuske's expression. It was interesting to see the Uchiha moved so unnaturally: shoulders tensing up, glancing at Shikamaru and trying to correct himself when he realize he was paying attention to the phone conversation. Sai and Ino can't helped but laugh behind the screen. "Naruto and Itachi adopted that boy. Such a cute one; very energetic…" Kiba jested. Though he was really fond of the dog, he did not clarify what kind of 'boy' Choi is, irritating Sasuke and purposely confusing those who aren't updated with Naruto's life. "Eh? Are you kidding me?" Sai asked and Ino seated next to Sakura, starting small talks and saying Hi to Sasuke. It was especially awkward, again, with Sai near them. Though Sasuke briefly had a relationship with him, Sai was one of those very open, not-at-all-ashamed with what they did. Married or not, Sai's always been blunt with Sasuke. "Hello, Sasuke-kun, handsome as ever," he started. Of course, he was ignored. He then turned his attention to Sakura, eying her very intensely. "What is it?" Sakura asked, a bit annoyed at how he acts. Sai smiled, a creepy way he does with his eyes closing, fake and obviously made to tease her. "Nothing. Nice to see you Sakura-san," he stared at her forehead which angered her some more. "Are you dating this guy, Ino?" Sakura asked. "Is there a problem with that, forehead?" "Who are you calling forehead, you pig!" While the ladies continued to throw insults in a seemingly friendly banter, Temari smiled a bit towards Sasuke. She caught him eying her, looking relief. "Good thing she's not nervous anymore, right?" she said to Sasuke and Shikamaru got the gist of it, while Choji got confused and asked his best friend. "Too troublesome," as always was Shikamaru's reply. . After their lunch, they decided to roam around the inn or town on their own; Shikamaru and Temari went to their reception hall and Choji joined them. Ino, Sai and a few people from Shikamaru's work went to the town to roam around before dinner, while Kiba stayed, trying  to catch some sleep. Sakura and Sasuke; however, went outside for a short walk. Sasuke was familiar with the place, though a lot has changed since the last time he went there. Sakura grew up not far from where they are, but since her family were originally from the city, their type of recreation and relaxation involves going to the mall, playing bowling, shopping or eating out. "Oh, the park's still here," Sasuke commented, walking up the stone stairs and stopping to check for the trees nearby. "What're we looking at?" Sakura asked and looked with him as well. "The dobe scratched our names here, guess the tree's around here somewhere… Ah, see? There it is," When Sasuke turned around, he saw Sakura's expression. It was sad and hurt at the same time. It wasn't his intention for he simply forgot about what they were, or what situation they were in. He's just reminiscing and got lost of reality for a second. "I'm.." "It's not that I'm mad, Sasuke-kun. We know what we need to improve on, we'll get there..." Sakura tried to be cheerful and walked towards him, looking at the tree Sasuke was trying to show him earlier. "It really is still there.. How long has it been here?" she asked. Sasuke drew in an audible breath before he answered, "Fifteen years, or so.." Sakura's smile faded, "That's a really long time..." "..It sure is.." After an uncomfortable silence, Sasuke decided it was time for them to head back and take a dip of the bath themselves. It was in the bath when Sasuke encountered a very different Kiba. Silently dipping his body on the hot water while he stared at the open sky. "What? Not drinking?" Sasuke splashed himself a few times and started washing his body on the side. The bath has nice scented soaps which he appreciates. He was never fond of sulfur baths, which the onsen has other than their well-received Rice Sake Bath. While Kiba turned around, he rested his elbow on the rocky side of the hot bath and clicked his tongue. "Are you really serious about Sakura?" he started. "Hn," though the raven would rather not talk about it. It was obvious that Kiba has problems with Hinata. The lady was very happy to shop and hang-out with Gaara and Neji while they wait for Naruto. It's as if she was not minding Kiba's flirtatious ways like she used to. If that wasn't enough, Hinata wasn't wearing her engagement ring. "Naruto.. Do you not love him anymore?" Sasuke sighed and rinsed his body hastily, slowly he got up and dipped in the bath as well. "If you have problems with Hinata, why not talk about that instead of going roundabout." "I so don't want to talk about it to you," Kiba sighed and further relaxed in the baths while he massages his shoulders. After a short silence, Kiba couldn't keep his mouth shut and started telling what happened between him and Hinata. "So, she woke up one day, broke up with you over breakfast and didn't come back ever since..." Sasuke made sure he got the gist of the situation. It was surprising, since Hinata is a good girl—someone who wouldn't normally do that kind of thing. Her leaving abruptly was uncharacteristic. "Yeah, pretty much it," Kiba said. He continued to say what's on his mind and Sasuke listened, mind wandering towards Naruto. In a few hours, he'll see him again. He wondered what would he say? How will he react towards him? And what about Naruto — how will act towards him? "Troublesome, huh?" Kiba laughed at him, "Are you Shikamaru?" "Shikamaru's really happy right now, not like us." Sasuke retorted. "Now that is so true." Sasuke 'Hn'ed' while Kiba laughed hard. . "Sasuke, Sakura, It's dinner time." Ino knocked on their room, waking the two who decided to take a nap before dinner. "Thanks, Ino. We'll see you there," Sakura answered, fixing the Yukata she had on. It was one of those clothes given by the inn so they can be comfortable sitting on the matted floor while having dinner with drinks. From what they heard while they were resting, Kakashi, Iruka and some of their High School and University friends finally came and they'd be using the bigger room so they can celebrate. Shikamaru's parents decided to have dinner at home, letting the younger crowds enjoy their night. Kiba's parents joined them. When the Uchiha couple came in, most were all settled in, though dinner was not prepared yet. "Sasuke, Sakura!" Iruka waved at them and they seated next to him. "How are you, Iruka-sensei?" she asked, while Sasuke nodded to Kakashi. Seeing him in a yukata while wearing a mask was weird. Even though he'd known the man for a long time, that still gives him the creeps. "I'm fine. We're both fine, and you? How is little Sarada?" Just as she was about to answer, a really loud voice from afar startled them all. "Shikamaruuu! Temariii!" Noticeably, people around looked the Uchiha couple, which was understandable. This was the most dreaded part of their day. Not for Ino and Sai though. Ino is Sakura's best friend, but she has good times teasing her. The two were smiling ear to ear, as if this was their most anticipated event. The door to their private room, opened and Sasuke could practically hear Sakura gasping her breath. He could understand, cause he was doing the same. The bile started to rise on his throat. It wasn't Naruto who came first, surprisingly. It was another blond. The man is gorgeous, wearing his hair on a loose tie to the side, mocha-colored Tailored jacket paired with dark, skinny straight cut pants and off-white T-shirt with bold, graphic prints. Everything screams fashion with the blonde. Behind him was a redhead, looking sharp in dark suit. From his eyes, they can easily see he was the Uncle Temari was talking about. "Hello," Sasori smiled at them and took the seat next to Shikamaru and Deidara followed. "Everyone, this is my Uncle Sasori, this is his husband Deidara-san. This inn we're all staying 's because of their courtesy," Kankuro said. "Wow. Thank you so much, the service and everything else here is superb," Iruka said, sounding really happy and sincere. "Aww, it's nothing. Good to see you again, Iruka-sensei, Kakashi..." Deidara said, smiling as the server gave them their utensils. "Where's Naruto?" Gaara asked. "Just turning in their luggage, Itachi's with him." Right on cue, the door slid opened loudly and Itachi went in first. As expected of him, looking smart and handsome; wearing a navy blue shirt, sleeves rolled up his arms. He looked sharp even though he was looking for a relaxed look. "Good evening, everyone. Looks like most of us are here," Itachi said, nodding towards Sasuke and Sakura. The only empty seat was besides Deidara and he gladly took it. As if the suspense wasn't enough, Sasuke can hear Naruto talking to Hinata outside on the halls, laughing at Hinata's stutter. "You haven't changed, Hinata-chan." Ino and Sai, together with the newcomer couples was not hiding their amusement in their faces. It's as if they don't care if they come off as rude and uncaring towards Sakura. It was Sasuke that they wanted to tease after all. "Uzumaki Naruto has arrived!" the blond cheered, saluting his way inside the halls. Everyone, including Sasuke was shocked to see Naruto. He wasn't the same one as they knew him to be. "Wow, Naruto. Like… hot damn..." Ino commented, forgetting her initial goal. She now straight gawked at him. Naruto did not hesitate and knew exactly where he'd sit. Automatically strutting his way towards the older Uchiha. Itachi, on the other hand, stood up and meet Naruto halfway, carefully escorting him. As if time slowed down, every single one who anticipated Naruto's grand entrance was captivated by the stunning, tanned and blond man in front of them. He wore something he normally wouldn't wear: a dark, form fitting dress shirt, and though he paired it off with a gray suit jacket, it looked relaxed and not too formal on him. His hair was cut stylishly, comb back, revealing a shaved side. His face glowed, looking healthy and smooth, accentuating his whisker scarred face. If anything, it made him looked a handsome young man, with a wild, untamed beauty. The best of all was his earring. A plain, studded black one. They never knew Naruto could look like this; he was sloppy most of the time, if he could, he'd wear sweats everyday. If he really had to dressed up, a polo-shirt and jeans would suffice. Yet this one – the one in front of them was smiling confidently, commanding attention, greeting everyone with ease. He's a different, way improved version of the old Naruto. When Naruto was finally seated, he greeted everyone happily, like always. He was cheerful and natural that it made everyone who knew him genuinely happy. For those who saw him on a regular basis, knew that this change was not abrupt. Naruto took great care of himself this past few weeks and was glad with the result. Of course their meeting was inevitable, and so when Naruto caught site of the Uchiha couple in front of him, seated closely together, he gave the two a smile. "Hello. You look well, Sakura-san. You too," nodding towards the oh-so-familiar younger Uchiha. "He...Hello Naruto, thank you. You look good as well." Sakura handled that one well, Ino thought. Sasuke; however, just 'hn-ed' as expected and kept drinking his sake that was served to him awhile ago. He wasn't expecting Naruto looking like that; Naruto facing them head on. Most of all, he wasn't expecting Naruto not even calling his name, or throwing his usual insults – calling him 'bastard' like he used to. He wasn't expecting his heart race to hell and back. . A few weeks ago . "Deidara-nii, do you have a minute?" Naruto lurked behind the office wall for a few minutes, thinking on how he'll start the conversation. "Sure, come in!" He saw the couple looking over few papers that looked like shipments invoice. There were couple of mugs laying on top of Deidara's desk and he was sure that the man had more than enough coffee for the day, which means he's either feeling good, or feeling agitated. "Yes?" the older blonde asked with a wide grin on his face; a good timing, Naruto thought. "Okay, so I don't know how to say it.. so I'm just going to be straight with 'ya," Naruto drew in multiple audible breaths before he said – "Please, do make-over one me!" really loudly. Deidara was sure he was having auditory hallucinations. This was Naruto in front of them. Naruto who came to work without brushing his hair. The gloomy brat he kept calling 'mushroom' 'dirty alley cat' and other things like that. What brought the request on? Deidara wondered. He looked at his husband for answers, yet Sasori just chuckled and searched something on his smart phone, before showing it to him. The older blond saw Sasuke and Sakura attending a gala, looking like celebrities. It was all over the business news since Sasuke was introduced by Madara to some of his business associates. Usually, functions like the mentioned was attended by Itachi; he handled the majority of Uchiha affairs in the recent years. To see the younger Uchiha—together with Madara, no less—was a surprise. For Naruto, it was a stepping stone to let people know that Sasuke and Sakura are married and have a family now. But for Sasori who were familiar with the business and what was happening around the said household, it was a power struggle. He knew Itachi is a shrewd businessman and if needed, he would directly confront anyone, even though his personality is a pacifist. Naruto who was in the middle of Sasuke's interest was probably already being used as bait by the schemer Madara. Maybe Naruto being aware of himself and his standing between the Uchiha brothers would do him more good than harm, that's what Sasori thought at least. So he urged his husband to help Naruto. Deidara; however, was just happy he can do make-over with Naruto, oblivious with the underlying problems to come. And so the older blond made the succeeding weeks hell for Naruto, making him change his unhealthy diet for Naruto was taking too much salt in his regular meals, which was the hardest part for Naruto. He made the young man switch to high protein, high fiber diet too. Since Naruto's body isn't in bad shape, he just 'urged' him to take intense Birkam yoga classes. He also made him take fish oil food supplements, Vitamin E and increased his intake of Vitamin C. Gave him facials, luxurious salt scrub, done a lot of hair treatment to make his hair silky soft, and changed his nightly routine. Just taking a bath was not enough anymore; he had to deep condition his hair, scrub himself from head to toe, clean his face with liquids he hasn't heard before, moisturize himself all over and have his nails cared for. Naruto realized that when Itachi mentioned before that 'being beautiful comes with a price and hard work', he was not kidding. Two weeks into doing the routine that was asked of him, he can already see the results. Kakashi was the first one to notice that he was glowing and that his body looked leaner. Deidara and Sasori was kind enough to give him their old clothes; by old, means the clothes they haven't wore for the past 3-4 months. Some of it was fairly new and some are even in packaging. Shoes and other accessories was bought by him on a very discounted—almost free—price, from Deidara's clothes store. So his fashion sense changed drastically as well. No longer the slovenly man he was once after Sasuke left. People who noticed him have very mixed reactions. Like a females who went into a messy break-up, more often than not, they change their image for the better. So they took it like the blond was rebounding. Some men were very much into his new look, asking him on dates—which fed his ego, quite frankly. The females who were jealous of him from way before became even more, spreading rumors that he found himself someone to support him and make him all glammed-up to suit his new victim's taste. Months ago, this was enough to make Naruto angry, and maybe even hate himself. But thanks to his bosses support, he learned how to handle them. That is, smile dubiously at them and have a smug attitude. Not confirming or denying the rumors made Naruto mysterious. It was hard to admit, but Naruto felt high. Even though his change was superficial—he still takes his medication and went to therapies he needed—, he was still happy that this helped him cope. He saw Sasuke and Sakura's face all over the news one day while he was in the library. The nosy girls was talking about it, and without any reserve showed him the pictures. He just got out of an annoying, intrusive talk with Iruka and was not in the mood for the heckling. He tried to shut down the rest of the world that afternoon and focus on his assignments, but when he saw the pictures, he lost his cool for a second and came dashing towards the bathroom to throw-up. After he got Choi, his appetite returned with a vengeance, so he doesn't have difficulty eating. It was a surprise to him to vomit, and violently at that. He understood that he got confident that he had no trouble seeing Sasuke again, now that he has a lot of support behind his back: Itachi, Sasori, Deidara and his friends. Boy, was he wrong. What shook him to his core was that he was way hurt now more than he was months ago. It's as if he was angry that Sasuke seemed to moved on, while he was on stand-still. He knew that he loves the man, and would probably still feel that way for a long time. He just didn't expect him to feel that strongly even after he had gave up. So yes, changing his appearance, as well as the rather spartan etiquette training—and charming people, AKA seducing technique—courtesy of Sasori lifted Naruto's mood even for just a bit. . Itachi, that time was very busy with his work and rarely sees Naruto. It seemed that him and Neji had a lot of things to settle before their new partnership runs smoothly. Because of this, Gaara felt lonely as well, often dropping by Itachi's house to play with Choi and Naruto. This time, Gaara helped Naruto in keeping up with his schedules. His nightly routines, and diet was closely watched by the redhead. Naruto tried to weasel himself out of it every now and then, wanting to cheat and eat sweets or his beloved ramen, but Gaara knocked him to his place. It was exactly one week before Shikamaru's wedding when Itachi gave Naruto a call, telling the blond that he's on the way home and asked him what would he like to eat as dinner. He knew Naruto haven't started cooking yet; it was past five in the afternoon and the blond just finished his work for the day and probably just got home. "Sushi, please. The deluxe kind! Ones with lots'a fatty tuna. Oh! ginger and soy sauce dip too!" Itachi chuckled and 'hn'ed' at the receiver, a smile on his face when he can practically hear the dog barking like crazy. When he dropped his call, Sasuke surprised him by clearing his throat behind him. "How are you, Chairman?" Sasuke asked. Itachi affectionately poked Sasuke's forehead, "Niisan's fine, Sasuke. How 'bout you?" They walked towards the elevator, both seemed done for the day. Sasuke already loosen his tie, while Itachi removed his hair tie. Sometimes, he like to keep it that way. "I'm fine, we're all fine. I'm headed towards our home. Wanna come with? Sakura's making dinner with Mother." Itachi shook his head without hesitating, "Someone's expecting a sushi platter. The 'deluxe' kind, apparently," The chuckle after surprised Sasuke. Itachi never laughs. Itachi never chuckles. Well, he does, but it's always condescending and never out of amusement. "Ginger and Soy sauce? Try the shop near the station. It's called-" "-Ichiraku, I know. I'm headed there now," Itachi interrupted Sasuke intentionally. He wanted Sasuke to distance himself away from Naruto, for his and Naruto's sake. Not because it was complicated and messy, but because he doesn't want Madara to use Naruto against the man. Though at this point, it all seemed bleak and pointless. Madara already started doing his thing. "Please kiss Sarada for me, and tell Mother I'll come visit this weekend." Sasuke could not say anything anymore and nodded his head. He wanted to ask about the dobe, but when he did a few days ago, he was stared into submission. It's as if Itachi was saying it was not his business anymore—which was true. He tried calling Naruto few days after the incident with Itachi and the news that broke to them; trying to confirm if Itachi and Naruto are dating. The phone rang, and all throughout the unanswered call, Sasuke could hear his heart beating at his chest. Never did Naruto made him wait for a call. Even when Naruto was at work, at school or some place inconvenient, the blond would always answer him. Unlike Sasuke who doesn't answer Naruto's call when it's not necessary or it's not an emergency. Having to wait for someone you love to pick up the phone was painful. That he just learned the hard way. . . "I'm home," Itachi called and was not surprise by Choi's loud barking. The dog got attached to him for some reason and was drawn into anything Itachi owns. That means, anything Itachi left scent on. "Hello, Choi," the raven knelt and patted Choi, while the white Husky barked really loud and wagged his tail. He then got super excited which prompt him to pee a little. Itachi 'tch'ed' his tongue, "We still need to work on that," he said as he was headed to the kitchen. "Where's Naruto?" Itachi asked the newly hired guard when the man assisted Itachi with the overexcited husky; he jumped on Itachi and wanted to tackle the raven, so the burly guard had no choice but to held the dog down. "I think he took a shower, Sir." "Hn. Sushi's going to be delivered in a few minutes, the owner was out when I went there, so please take care of it." The barking didn't stopped though and Choi broke out of the guards hold, directly headed towards the stairs and into the first door he saw. He scratched it a few times, and though the guard wanted to take him, Itachi said he doesn't mind. When he let Choi enter the room, the dog already knew what to do and fetched Itachi his room slippers, carefully carrying it on his mouth. After he was done, he sat in front of Itachi, as if waiting for something. "Yosh. Good boy, good boy," he said as he patted the dog's head and scratched its body for a bit. Itachi was used to Choi fetching things for him. It's true that the dog was rather undisciplined in some areas: stealing leftovers on top of the counter, sneaking out to play with stray cats from the subdivision park, pooping on the rug, and other stuff that needed work on—but there's no denying that the dog is a sweet one. He strives for human affection, and would cry every morning whenever Naruto or Itachi leaves the house. Itachi's surprise that he got so attached to Choi. He's a cat person in all honesty. They grew up with cats around their home and was happy that his Mother still take cares of cats for Sarada to play with. But Choi was an exception. It's as if the dog has a personality resembling to Naruto. Noisy, energetic and mischievous. Itachi was showering when he heard Naruto's voice excitedly 'ooohhing' about something. Like always when he got home, Choi was by his bathroom door, watching him bathe or shower while he feast on his bone or treats given by the raven. It was uncomfortable for Itachi the first few weeks, but when the dog tried to gnaw on his door, he decided to let him do as he pleases as long as he does not step inside the bathroom itself. Naruto on the other hand let Choi enters his, allowing the dog to sleep on the floor while he took long baths at night. "Ne, Tachi, are you showering?" the blond called, staying by the door and saw Choi at his usual spot in front of the bathroom door. "I am. I'm still not done. Need something?" "The sushis and sashimis are here! Looks good! Thank you! Be quick, I'll wait for ya', alright?" Itachi, just then felt a funny sensation on his chest. It has been a while since he heard Naruto. They often exchange mails but rarely sees each other. He leaves early while the blond was still asleep, and comes home very late—if he does at all. It's not like he was missing Naruto. When he was busy, he forgot about the man for the meantime and would remember him when his mind was not occupied. Like the normal person who is busy with work, Itachi thought this was normal. But times like this made him realized that he was not living alone anymore, and that the blond had wormed his way into his monotonous life. Him and his weirdly cute dog. After Itachi was done with his hair and got dressed, he whistled and let Choi followed him downstairs and into the kitchen. He knew Naruto was there, for he could already hear the songs Naruto often played on his iPod. Some South Korean Pop Group Naruto was really in to. "Hello," he called, seeing the man's back facing him. When Naruto turned around, Itachi halted and stared in disbelief. Naruto wore a cream colored tee and gray shorts, nothing really fancy. But his face was different. This was the second time Itachi thought Naruto was incredibly attractive. His skin contrast the scars on his cheeks gave him a wild, untamed personality. It was symmetrical, making it looked like it was tattooed instead of just scars. His face was different as well, almost glowing and smooth. Itachi had to take a few seconds to adjust. "Liking what you see?" Naruto jested, a hint of blush on his cheeks. He was happy that Itachi noticed the difference as well. "Well, what happened?" Itachi took a seat and ordered Choi to stay on his corner; the dog was already seated on one of the chairs so he whined a bit before he did as he was told. "Lots of things happened, so Deidara-niisan and Sasori-niisan helped me. The diet was exhausting, quite frankly." "Hn." As they started eating, Itachi—despite the food laid in front of them—could smell Naruto's scent. It was a good hint of vanilla and lemony scent. He can't helped but stare at the blond's face. It really has been a while since he saw Naruto and somehow eating together with him made him relaxed and be at eased. "..how 'bout you?" Itachi was caught off-guard, "I'm sorry, what?" "How was your week?" "Oh, that." So he, as little as he can provide, gave Naruto an idea of what was happening after the merger. Naruto was not that interested, especially the part where Sasuke was mentioned, but he still listened to the man. He loves it when Itachi tells him stories, or simply chatting up with him. Many people asked how Itachi was at home and that they couldn't believed someone like him was living with someone like Naruto. Yet, here he is. In front of the man, eating dinner with him. Naruto was happy he could see Itachi again. Somehow, even after all the mentioned source of his stress, Itachi appeared to be more handsome than he was the last time he saw him. After their conversation, the two spent the night watching the rest of the series on the Blu-ray discs Itachi bought sometime ago. Naruto was not allowed to have alcohol, but figured it would be rude not to drink when Itachi offered, so like the raven, he had wine. It was the second hour of their series marathon when they heard Choi making a racket at the door, asking if he could go out for a second to pee. "I'll do it," Itachi offered. He needed to check on the guards outside as well. "Can you give me that pillow please," Naruto pointed at couch pillow asked and so Itachi did, pausing the player for a second while Naruto browse his phone. Outside, there were two guards patrolling the premises. When they heard the dog barking, they immediately had a smile on their faces. Apparently, the dog has a habit of staring at them by the glass door at the living room. He looked pitiful like he wanted to go out, but was not allowed to. So whenever Choi's outside, he ran towards the men like crazy. Of course, not forgetting to pee a little in excitement. "Everything alright?" Itachi asked, coolly tucking his hand on his designer cardigans sweater. "No problems at all, Sir," "Hn." Itachi stayed until Choi had enough and was done doing his business on the patch of earth that was allotted to him. When they entered the house again, Itachi saw the beautiful blond already asleep at the big couch, curled up in a ball. Unlike months ago, Naruto looked healthier, and Itachi was truly pleased. He was about to cover Naruto with a blanket when he heard him moaned in his sleep, tossing around. Itachi's breath hitched. He gulped hard seeing Naruto's moist lips and that made him a bit weak in the knees. It has been a while since he had any form of human touch so this affected him in a lot of ways. Especially since he was pleased with what he saw. Itachi, overall, likes those who are very nice and easy to talk to. He doesn't like those who tries too hard to change their personality to please people. Which was why he never really liked Sakura like he does with Naruto. He felt that Sakura was brute, honest and loud towards others,—Sakura's personality that Itachi likes so much— but keeping herself in-checked in front of Sasuke—a trait Itachi did not care for. How about Naruto? He liked how Naruto is the same with the rest of the people he knew. He loves Sasuke romantically, but never was shy to show his ugly side to him as well. Those idiotically honest folks are Itachi's favorite kind of people. Those who are serious too, when it comes to protecting the ones they love. Itachi thought Uzumaki Naruto is very similar to his beloved Shisui—not that he was comparing, nor substituting the blond for him. "Hgn," Naruto moaned again, stopping Itachi's unabashed staring. Did he had a lot to drink? Apparently, he did or so he convinced himself after he tilted Naruto's chin and gave a man a chaste kiss on the lips. "Good night." . ~o~ . The groomsmen were already at the saloon at the chapel while the bridesmaids were being noisy at the room next to them. Shikamaru, unlike normal groom who were nervous on their big day, yawned really loud, looking bored already. Sasuke sat crossed legs on one corner, right next to Sai, annoyed at Choji's loud chewing of his snacks, but had no choice but to endure. He was more concerned by Naruto's presence. The blond's really handsome, the suit suit him well. It was a perfect fit—and not only that, his poise was good as well. If Sasuke didn't know better, he would assume Naruto was replaced by an unknown being. He wished he could say 'fine feathers make fine birds' but that wasn't the case. Last night, when Sai and some of their University friends asked them to take a dip at the open-air bath, Sasuke had the chance to stare at Naruto's body. He was not ashamed of it, and he was really doing it intensely. That night, he was the first one to take a dip, near him was Kiba and Sai, who was having fun poking fun of him and his reactions. Itachi came without a towel wrapped on, as expected of him. Some of their colleagues and friends felt insecure towards the older Uchiha's physique. If that wasn't enough blow to the ego, Sasori and Deidara followed without towels too, flaunting their otherworldly beauty. "The suspense is killing you, huh?" Kiba said, elbowing his side. Sasuke could not deny it, he was tapping his finger on the rock, looking at the bath's entrance. When they can finally hear Naruto's loud chatter with Choji through the dressing area, Sasuke didn't realized he was holding his breath. The dramatic entrance came and Sasuke was shocked to see Naruto flaunting himself in the nude as well. The blond really did transformed, looking all smooth and firm all over. Prominent abs here, nicely shaped butt there. Sasuke deduced that the bigger impact Naruto left to them was not because he changed his hair, and clothes—but his attitude change.  If he was a people's person before, now he's a people's person with a devilish charm. It was not surprising to see himself get arouse by what he was seeing. That smile Naruto was flashed sent Sasuke to heaven. Was he smiling to him? As he was about to stand up and meet Naruto halfway, Kiba held him by the arm. "No," the man uttered. Sasuke was then sent back to hell. It was not him Naruto was approaching, flashing a million dollar smile, but his brother behind him. After that, Sai who seemed to be enjoying making fun of him kept his distance. Sasuke hated it. He knew Sai and those who understood what happened felt sorry for him. . . "We're ready," Sakura was the one who knocked on their door, signaling them to get ready to the entourage. Sasuke was the first one to get out. He could not take another minute being in the same room with this Naruto. More than physical attraction, it felt he lost the Naruto he loved. The Naruto of his memories. His vivid, and spiteful memories. As the procession of the wedding started, Sasuke kept Sakura fastened on his arms as they walked the isle together. Their own wedding was a civil one; only a few people present. Walking the isle made Sakura felt mixed emotions. After them were Sai and Ino followed by Lee and Tenten—who came in just an hour before the ceremony because of a job they can't leave. Few people were in the procession and Sasuke could not care of them. The time went so slow. But when it was time for Naruto's entrance, he felt unbelievably angry at the time for moving so fast. The blond had Hinata in his arms, looking suave with his Carlo Pignatelli suit. Sasuke had no shame on staring at him and it's not like he was doing something other people weren't doing. Kiba too, by his side stared at Hinata. It felt like the two brokenhearted idiots were waiting for their spouse-to-be, walking down the isle. It hurt them, Sasuke especially. Recalling what Kiba told him at the bath when they were alone, having a heart-to-heart talk. . "If you have problems with Hinata, why not talk about that instead of going roundabout." "I so don't want to talk about it to you," Kiba sighed and further relaxed in the baths while he massages his shoulders. After a short silence, Kiba couldn't keep his mouth shut and started telling what happened between him and Hinata. "I often told myself that since we've been together for a long time and that our relationship naturally turned into a romantic one, ya' know, I felt like I was cheated by fate and that I had no choice but to fall in-love with her," Kiba started. That part, Sasuke could understand. There was a point in his life where he felt that way as well. Kiba sighed another loud one, "I was smug. No matter what I do, she was willing to forgive me and when I come home, she'll wait for me with a smile on her face. I was angry at myself. I felt I was doing Hinata a favor by going out with her, ha!" Kiba laughed. "Sorry, but I know I'm a jerk but I'm telling you the truth. I was justifying me cheating her. It felt like I was sabotaging my relationship, thinking 'okay what if we're not dating? What if I can be with this model instead of her? Just because we're childhood sweethearts, doesn't mean I have to fucking marry her!' and this kind of thoughts... "But I was a coward—I was selfish. I didn't had the guts to let her go. She was my safety net, that..." Kiba choked, "..no matter what kind of an asshole I am, she'd be there. I'd just have to accept that she'd give me a punch or two, not talk to me for a few days. That kind of... of shitty way of thinkin'. Like fucking shit, what have I've done?" Kiba patted his chest and continued. "You know Sasuke, I laughed at you. I felt like when you were going crazy about Naruto, you were a shame for all the players out there. I kept telling myself I won't be like you. But when Hinata and I broke up, I was torn. It felt like I was going to die. I haven't taken a shower, I forgot to eat. I forgot the time. Shit! "Then I begged her. I asked her to stop being unreasonable and come back home. I was angry at her, I don't know why I am, ya' know? I think I even told her it was her fault for not being mad the first time." Sasuke flinched. He could not believe what he's hearing. The similarity was like a stab in his gut. "I woke up one day when a girl I was messing up with messaged me, asking for a hook-up. Know what I realized after that? I was an idiot. I traded Hinata for that..." Kiba finger combed his hair, "I traded Hinata for her, and all those people I kept seeing behind her back. And now what? Hinata had enough, and I can't really blame her. It's like, the day she left, she proved me that I was wrong all along. I did not fell in-love with her because we're always together. I did cause she was Hinata. And everything about her is lovely." Kiba felt like crying, but held back.. "I'm an idiot. Did 'ya see her? She's fucking beautiful. That beautiful smile is not for me anymore. And for what? So that I could sheath my dick into pussies that belongs to girls I do not really care for... Know what she said when I talked to her last time?" "What?" Sasuke asked, since it seemed Kiba wanted him to. "She fucking smiled at me, looking like a weight was off her shoulders! She said 'I hope you'd be happy, Kiba-san.' After that what can I say more but cry? "The day she left, she made my favorite breakfast.. and... fuck" "So, she woke up one day, broke up with you over breakfast and didn't come back ever since…" Sasuke interjected. He could understand how much Kiba's suffering right now. He was somewhat the same. . . All throughout the wedding ceremony, Sasuke stared at Naruto and Sakura could see it all. It hurt her, it hurt Sasuke. The only one who doesn't seemed to be affected was Naruto himself. The wedding was simple and beautiful. The reception was not an exemption; the band they hired played beautiful songs. Right after the first dance—which Shikamaru did clumsily, showing how nervous he really was—the guests flooded the dance floor and dance their butts off. Hinata was seen having fun with Tenten, Lee and Neji. Deidara and Sasori showed their skills while Itachi and Naruto sit that one out. Sakura asked Sasuke to dance with her, and he obliged. He was skilled; Uchihas are trained to escort a lady perfectly. The focus on the dance floor were directed at them. It was the first time they saw the Uchiha couple dance. Sakura, not to be outdone, dance very well too. Her beautiful hair swayed as Sasuke lead him. After the waltz, it was time for tango and those who brave enough to dance the technical, and very intimate dance was called to step-up. There were a few old people takers, dancing however they want. Though, one couple by then, surprised everyone. Naruto and Itachi dancing tango, commanding everyone's attention to them was probably the highlights of the night. Almost everyone had their phones out, recording the dance. Itachi always looked good in suit, hair tied at the back, was a perfect lead for Naruto. The blond's face was stuck on Itachi's cheek as they skillfully circled the floor. By this time, everyone that was dancing at first gave them the floor. It was beautiful to watch. A dark figure like Itachi was a beautiful compliment to Naruto's glow. Even Sasuke could wholeheartedly say that Itachi's really handsome and princely. It broke him even more to see his brother's face. It's as if he saw something in Naruto that made him happy again. "I did not fell in-love with her because we're always together." ".. looking like a weight was off her shoulders!" Sasuke could hear Kiba's words echoed in his head. He hated it. He hated that Itachi smiled because of Naruto. That was him. He was the man who was supposed to smile like that. So borrowing courage from alcohol, Sasuke decided to drag Naruto out of there. Pride, and everything be damned. "Sasuke-kun?" Sakura was confused why Sasuke stormed towards the dance floor. "That idiot!" Kiba saw Sasuke swaying his way towards the two and was late to tug Sasuke in the corner. It seemed Naruto and Itachi saw Sasuke's expression, heading towards them, scaring Naruto that his old-flame would make a scene. "Naruto, would you please forgive me for this?" Itachi grabbed him by the waist, earning audible gasps from everyone, including the overjoyed Temari, fangirling over them. "Wha- Naruto didn't finished his question when Itachi drew the blond's body closer to him. Itachi's face came closer. All of the sudden, a warm mouth met his and then the reception hall erupted into chaos.       a/n; the song is 'The Scientist' by Coldplay. anyway, sorry this was so long. XD next chapter is Itachi's POV about all these mess. ^^ hopefully I can squeeze it here sooner. See you soon, everyone. thank you! -rhye  
    • thank you for all your hard work :D
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