AN: Happy New Year! Finally finished this chapter and will update Entwined soon as well. To tell the truth the ending of the manga left me a bit unsatisfied and while I don't dislike Sai as a romantic paring, I found that a bit far reaching as one. So I'm roaming fanfics on them to see how that works. And of course I rolled my eyes at Sakura and Sasuke, but hey that's why we have fanfiction so I'm not going to hate on that pairing (very much).

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this one! Kisses!

(PS: This story is rated for a reason. MATURE content in this chapter. Read at own discretion)

Chapter 12

Could have had a castle and worn a ring…

Tamaki Nakamura was in a panic…no..she was hyperventilating…no she was DEAD! DEAD MEAT! What in the heck happened just now?

"I think he left." Sesame grumbled at her with a scowl on his face.

"Who was it? 'Maki? Who was that guy?" Taeyo asked jumping on the couch, still naked. "Maki? Maki? Maki!" He shrilled with a giggle.

Tamaki clutched the dry cleaning to her chest, her tongue thick and dry. What should she tell them? She was given explicit orders to keep Itachi's family from seeing or talking to the boys. Gods! She was so DEAD!

"Never mind that! Let's go to the room to get you dressed." She whirled and pointed a finger to the brooding 5 year old on the couch. "Sesame! Don't. Answer. The. Door! Got it?" She fumed before picking up Taeyo and stomping to the bedroom. She was tying the babbling three year old's shoe lace when she heard the door open again.

Her heart seemed to seize inside of her chest. "Sesame!" She hollered in angry panic and ran to the living room. She skidded to a stop when she saw Ino hugging the five year old.

"Mommy! We had a guest!" Taeyo came running from the room and latched on to his mother's leg.

"A guest?" Ino raised a brow looking to Tamaki for an answer. She was dead. She gulped and from the frightened look on her face, Ino asked Sesame to go to the kitchen to eat their breakfast. Tamaki's mother had become a part time housekeeper for Itachi and Ino and had come earlier in the morning to prepare breakfast for the couple before they left for work.

"What's going on? Who came by?" Ino asked, hand to her hip. Her perfectly arched eye brow intimidated her like no other eye brow had. And she grew up around Fugaku Uchiha.

Tamaki licked her dry lips in nervousness. She took a breath and then another before opening her mouth. "He came by." She whispered. The number one guy that Tamaki was told could not find out about the boys. Her eyes watered. "He just showed up out of nowhere with Itachi's dry cleaning and I was in the back with Taeyo in the bath and then…"

Ino had paled and her purse fell from her hands and onto the expansive living room rug that looped and swirled in a flower and lace pattern.

Tamaki nodded, hands gripped together in a single fist under her chin. "Sesame opened the door and he was standing right there in front of him. And then when I came out to see what was going on he asked if Itachi was here and Taeyo…he said "Daddy" and then Sesame asked him what he wants with his dad and you should have seen his face! I'm so sorry!" She cried and covered her mouth with her hand to keep her sobs in.

Ino looked extremely trouble but patted Tamaki on the shoulder and told her to calm down. "I have to make a call. Fix your face and eat with the boys."

Tamaki nodded and went into the bathroom to wash her face with cold water.


Itachi stood from his chair when he heard the news. He had a packed day but a call from Ino wiped his schedule clean for the moment. Damn it, he didn't plan for this so soon. Eventually, he knew Sasuke would find out about the boys and the fact that he and Ino were together but not this fast.

How did this happen? Who tipped him off? Was it his mother? A private detective? The paparazzi?

"I'll come home." He said quietly and grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair. His secretary was left stuttering and bewildered when he told he her would be gone for the day. He kept his stride long but slow as to not give away anything. He phone rang and he saw it was his father. He cursed but slipped it back in his pocket. He didn't have anything to say to him right now.

The elevator opened to the parking lot. His steps faltered when he saw Sasuke emerge from his bright red sports car next to Itachi's own sleek black sedan. They just stared at one another, no one willing to speak and a spark of challenge developed between them. He saw Sasuke's stiff posture, anger in his dark eyes and Itachi knew he was tense as well.

"Going somewhere Big Brother?" Sasuke silkily asked. Itachi smiled and forced himself to relax. His phone began ringing again. He used that as an excuse and let the call go to voicemail.

"Something came up at the resort. I'll be back later unless you want to deal with it?" He said easily enough. Sasuke narrowed his eyes and then his own phone rang. His face dropped, and was replaced with a frown.

"It's father. I'll leave the resort problem to you." Sasuke said and answered quickly. Itachi watched him get in the elevator, guilt and pain eating away at him. Sasuke finding out about his family was troublesome but he had a way to deal with it. He wanted to wait until things had calmed between all three of them before starting his work with Sasuke. He had an uneasy feeling that if he didn't approach this right, Sasuke and Ino would be even more hurt. But now he was left with little choice.

In the end, Sasuke was needed on his side. They needed to be allies when they brought his father and Madara to their knees.


This was bad. Ino paced. This was very bad. She stopped and caught herself in the mirror. Jeeze, she looked like shit. It was all Sasuke's fault. Why did he have to find out about this now? Part of her wanted to call him and tell him the rest out of sheer anxiety. But the bigger part of her wanted to run away back to Tea and keep her children away from the rest of the Uchiha. What if Itachi didn't know what to do? She didn't know what to do. What was Sasuke going to do? Would he tell Fugaku? Would he let the media know? Would he blackmail them? Would he try to hurt her by using her sons?

The small part of her wondered desperately if she could minimize the damage by telling Sasuke about Sesame. Would it lessen the blow Sasuke was surely preparing? But even if she did that would he believe her? If he knew would he keep it a secret or hand her son over to Fugaku if it meant getting the Heir position?

Technically, Sasuke was next in line to be heir because Sesame was older than Taeyo and Madara Uchiha's sons have yet to produce a child. But Itachi didn't think Sasuke was ready to become heir yet. He had told Ino terrible things he had to endure as heir and didn't want that kind of thorny burden on Sasuke's shoulders. He wanted to keep him away from the closet horrors the Uchiha dealt in. To keep Sasuke pure so that when he did take the Heir mantel, that the Uchiha Clan as a whole could be redeemed under him. Itachi had so much hope for Sasuke that Ino's couldn't help but believe in her former lover as well.

"Daddy!" She heard Taeyo scream in joy and Ino left the bedroom. "We had a guest! He was looking for you."

Itachi forced a smile. "So I heard." Their gazed clashed and he offered her a comforting smile. It didn't work.

"Come on boys! Time to go!" Tamaki singed from the back and came into the living room with the boys school bags. She was trying to keep things normal for the boys, Ino realized. She let out a breath.

"Itachi and I will drop them off Tamaki. You should get going. We don't want you to be late for your morning classes." She said, taking the bags from her.

"Yay!" Sesame cheered blue eyes warm with happiness. Itachi quietly asked them to get their coats and the boys rushed to obey.

"You sure?" Tamaki looked between the two.

"We got it. Thanks Tamaki." Itachi agreed. It was rare for them to take the boys to school since they had early work hours. Ino wished they had more time with them in general.

The drive to Leaf Academy took her mind off the disaster that happened this morning. The boys chatted idly about school and their teachers and friends. They both did really well and although Taeyo was just in preschool, he excelled at his social skills. He was three and already reading basic sight word book and doing basic math. Sesame was at the top of his class but had a hard time making friends because he liked to be alone. Ino thought he took after both Sasuke and Itachi in that area of his personality. Taeyo was like her, easy to befriend, cheery and liked to be around people.

They dropped Taeyo off first. His teachers were surprised to see them there and gushed unnecessarily loudly upon their arrival. Ino kissed him goodbye and told his that she would pick him up as well and he left happily to join the other children at circle reading time on the carpet.

Sesame's teacher was a pretty young woman fresh out of college with light brown hair and glittering emerald green eyes who had an obvious crush on Itachi. Ino found it amusing that Itachi pretended that he didn't notice. But Ino made sure that the teacher knew he was hers. She slipped a possessive arm through his when the teacher saw them dropping off Sesame.

"It's so nice to see you! Sesame looks really happy today." She said raising her hand to touch Itachi's free arm. Ino skewered her with a look that said back-off-he's-taken and the teacher's smile froze comically on her face. She dropped her hand awkwardly. "Parent conferences will start next week." She began with a wobbly voice and then cleared her throat. "I'll look forward to seeing you to talk about your son." They signed up for a time on Friday.

She leaned down and placed a kiss on top of her eldest's head and Itachi ran an affectionate hand through Sesame's hair before the five year old grinned and then left them by the door to join the other students. "We'll be picking him up before lunch." Ino told her and the teacher nodded. When they left, Ino took in a deep breath of cold almost-spring air and sighed out loud. "He's going to bomb us with questions about Sasuke, just watch." She said to Itachi, sliding into the passenger seat when he held open the door for her.

"We'll find a way to explain. Maybe meeting my mother might distract him from it?" He sounded distracted himself but gave her a hopeful look. Ino wasn't amused. She was worried, so worried!

"How did he find our place? That dry cleaning, was it dropped off at his apartment or at your parents house?"

"My parents' house. I saw the tag on the bag with their address."

She tossed her head back on the seat in frustration. "So who told him to take it to you? Your mother? The housekeeper?"

He glanced at her with a blank look before returning is eyes to the road. "Probably my mother. Because of our strained relationship, Sasuke wouldn't do anything for anyone else." He frowned. "I don't think she knew what she was doing when she sent him."

"What do you mean? Why would she send him in the first place? You said we could trust her!"

Itachi leaned and squeezed her knee. "Ino calm down. We can trust her. She sent Sasuke to give me my dry cleaning, but she sent him to Unit 322. I talked with the front desk when I arrived at Ninth Place and found out that someone down stairs sent him to 300."

Ino hissed in irritation. "I hope they fired that person. They can't give out information like that!" Ninth Place was like a safe haven from the media and paparazzi. A lot of celebrities and high profile citizens of Leaf stayed in one of three places for security. Ninth Place owned by a group of young investors, Tsukuyomi, owned by the Uchiha and Trigram owned by the Hyuga.

These condos were highly prized for their security measures to ensure their residents privacy. Someone broke that trust so of course Ino was fuming. She and Itachi did their research for three months before the move back to Fire and purposely chose Ninth Place because of the positive reviews. But they didn't calculate human error.

"I took care of it." She heard the heat and anger in his voice. Now that comforted her. "None the less the damage was done." They arrived back at Ninth Place and headed up to their penthouse. Ino shrugged out of her coat and shucked her heels as she made her way to the kitchen. She grabbed a chocolate donut from the glass tray on the counter. Itachi plucked it from her hands leaving her jaw dropping in surprise.

"Ino, don't do something you're going to regret." He warned.

"I don't care!" She jumped up to try and reach the donut Itachi held high above his head. "I need it!"

"You're going to cry and moan when you settle down. You know you can't stop at one."

"Itachi! Give me the donut right now!" A smile threatened and when he arched a brow at her she began to laugh. He gave her the donut and she threw it on the counter. "Jerk." He swept her into his arms and she closed her eyes to relish in his smell and warmth. She loved the feel of his solid form pressed against her, the way her senses filled with everything that was Itachi Uchiha. She began to feel better.

"Ino we need Sasuke on our side." He began and Ino frowned. "You need to get him on our side." He said softly and Ino stiffened. She knew what he was talking about. They had discussed it once before the move back to Fire Country. She pulled away from him, looking at him with large fearful eyes.

"I can't." She whispered shaking her head. "You know I can't."

Itachi's expression softened and he gently pulled her back to him, cupping her face in his large hands. He kissed her lips then her forehead, velvet thumbs caressing her cheeks. "I know you can. That's why I'm asking you to do this." Her body began trembling and he pressed more firmly into her. "I know what I'm asking Ino. I've gave it more thought than you think."

Her eyes searched his, heart in her throat. "He hates me. He would never—!"

"He loves you still." Kiss.

"You love him." Kiss.

"I love him." Kiss.

"I love you." Deeper kiss.

"You love me. I know it." His breath misted over her swollen mouth. He kissed her again. Meaningfully, his tongue sweeping her mouth leaving her knees weak as well as her will. "I trust you."

Ino felt tears slowly fall from the corner of her eyes. "You're pushing me over a line that there's no coming back from." She was breaking, giving into the absurd idea that Itachi came up with when she finished her business in Tea. At first she thought it was a test of some sort but he had been serious. So serious and she had been angry that he offered her such a temptation.

"I know what I'm asking. It won't make me love you any less than I do right now." He pulled her shirt from her skirt and her breath caught in her throat. "It's my choice." He breathed, crushing his lips to hers, ravishing her mouth with his tongue and teeth. Breathless he broke the kiss and busy fingers nimbly lifted her shirt and deft hands unhooked her bra before eager lips latched onto her bare shoulder, kissing up her neck while warm hands unzipped her skirt from the back. She fell into the fast built up of desire. She wanted to get lost in him. Lost…

Ino was busily unbuckling his belt, pulling up his shirt. Her skirt fell to the floor and she managed to untangle his black tie and pull those annoying little buttons free before pushing off his long sleeved business shirt. He discarded his own undershirt and as soon as his smooth bare flesh caught her eye, her mouth watered and her teeth and tongue was on his body, trailing kisses across his chest, over his collarbone, nipping gently at his shoulders. Marking him with possessive red splotches. He captured her mouth with a heated, tightly sealed kiss and she moaned into it, nails digging into his shoulders to keep her rooted. Her body softened her core moist with longing and hunger. She wanted, wanted…

A surprised whimper escaped when he lifted her and placed her on the counter. The cool surface made goosebumps emerge. He pressed her back and she arched her back, her hair spilling over the other side of the island. She watched dizzily as Itachi peeled her satin black underwear from her body, eyes locked onto hers. Shit. And then his tongue pressed on her clit and a strangled sound of pleasure echoed in the room. SHIT! She bit her lip hard, trying to quiet her moans, but she was so turned on right now that she had to touch something so her hands grasped her breasts, her thumbs flicking over taut nipples. The sight must have turned on Itachi as well because she was almost bucking off of the counter the next second.

"Shit!" She hissed when his mouth brought her to a quick trembling climax and her knees squeezed his head to anchor herself. She grabbed into his hair, pulling and mewing in pleasure. His breath ghosted against her soft sensitive inner thighs. Breathless, she relaxed her legs and Itachi pulled her to the end of the counter. "Wait—Let me…" She wanted to reciprocate his ministrations, to watch him come alive under her mouth and hands too but he shook his head, a soft wanton desire on his beautiful face. Gods…he was so beautiful

He kissed her instead and molten desire seeped into her blood from the taste of herself on his tongue. "Let me do this for you…I want to show you…I need to show you how much I love you." He breathed heavily, hands idly roaming down her sides to her pelvis.

She was panting in need. "But I know…"

Dark eyes bore into hers, serious and focused. "You don't Ino. If you did you wouldn't be so conflicted about this."

Okay…now he was beginning to kill the mood and—"Ah!" He fingers began working their magic before she could say anything. Curling and pressing and rubbing and right when she was at another crescendo of pleasure he stopped and her body shook in shock. She opened her eyes and saw him, his hands on her knees, his length poised right before he brought them together. The shock of the penetration, the tight burn of her stretching around him mixed with the excited nerves of her clit made her clench and orgasm around him with a scream. He rode it out, pulling almost completely out before rocketing back in with a quick thrust that had her arching her back again, her breast bouncing against his chest. Dark inky black hair fell over his pale shoulders, framed his beautiful face. She loved this look on him, so…undone. She moaned and closed her eyes when his lips dropped to her chest, kissing the soft flesh between her breasts.

It was fast paced, body pressed so closely together, lips bruised and swollen from heated kisses. He filled her again and again and again, rolling her nipples between his fingers, then his mouth followed, warm breaths against his neck as she sat up. She squeezed her inner muscles around him drawing a delicious dark groan from his throat. His head bent, tongue sweeping across her shoulder and neck before biting her ear lobe sending a spiral of hot desire down her body in retaliation. Her heels dug into his back and her hands pressed against his ass, urging him to go deeper, harder…harder. She squeezed and released, rolled her hips in a circular motion and his grip of her hips tightened hard she knew she was going to have bruises.

He slowed in a teasing manner and she bit his shoulder, tightening once more. "Itachi…please." She was begging, her body tight with her impending release. He picked up his rhythm, going faster, deeper, playing with her clit, kissing her, biting her, stroking her and then when he reached between their bodies were that bundle of nerves sat, he pressed his fingers over it, fast and bold until he broke the tension and she whimpered once before she screamed in delicious pleasure, her body fluttering around his member. Itachi groaned, hips slowing before she felt the first spurts of his release deep inside. Her body was humming, her flesh hot and her breath gasping. She was dizzy, breathing erratically. He was peppering soft kisses over her forehead, down her cheek, coming down from his high, bringing her back down with him. She kissed him softly, her tongue circled in a lazy, sated motion. Gently her hands sunk into his hair as she closed her eyes.

"Ino, my Ino I trust you." She opened her heavy lidded eyes, body still throbbing in the aftermath. Her breath caught in her throat from the swirl of emotion she saw in his dark infinite eyes. His love and devotion, happiness, desire and yes…trust. She drowned herself in them. He leaned forward until their foreheads touched. "Trust me too Ino." His breath was soft and hot. "Trust me to know myself. Trust in us."

Tears pricked her eyes and she felt herself start to give in. The rebellious part of her brain reminded her of Domi Hotel. The betrayal, the suffocating pain of looking at Sasuke's eyes embroiled with rage and hatred. It could fail and she didn't want her heart to break again. She didn't want to be put in that weak position. Trust him Ino…trust in them. She could do that for him.

"Alright." She said softly, eyes boring into his. Her hesitance strangled the answer but she had said it and there was no going back. Itachi relaxed and sighed before kissing her again.

"I love you Ino. I know we can do this."

"It's just Sasuke…"

He nodded, hands brushing her hair from her face. He traced a finger down her cheek and jaw line. "He's going to have to be persuaded. He has a problem with sharing."

She pressed a hand on top if his, pressed it into her flushed cheek. "What if things get worse? He hates us so much right now. Your parents are pushing he and Sakura together and he has that other girl…Misa."

Itachi smirked. Actually smirked. "Doubting yourself? That's not like the Ino I know."

That smirk ignited her pride. It was going to be challenging but she would try. "Fine." She huffed. Itachi pinched her pouty bottom lip and then carried her to the bedroom. They had three more hours until they had to pick up the boys.


Itachi didn't come back to work that morning, or afternoon. Sitting in his father's office, his mind was totally and utterly distracted. His father and Uncle were talking about some kind of trade deal with a company in Cloud. It was too soon to reach out so far and Lightning and Fire Country weren't the best of friends right now. They had a long sordid history but his Uncle knew some people that would be willing to work with them in expanding the Uchiha brand.

Well, "willing" was stretching it. It was more like his uncle had some kind of bargaining piece held over the investors in Cloud and was using blackmail to get his way. It was ruthless, but Sasuke understood that it was how business was done with his Uncle. Not that he could say his father was any different. Sasuke shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He always knew that every company in the world had shady goings ons. But the ones in the Uchiha were…innumerable.

"On another note, my daughter-in-law Yugao announced her pregnancy at dinner last night." Madara smirked at his father's stiff posture at the news. "She and Shisui are glowing with pride."

Finally, after some silence Fugaku offered his hand. "Congratulations Uncle. I was wondering when your sons would start providing you with heirs."

It had been five years since both Shisui and Obito married. This was a long time coming and now the pressure was on. He appreciated the space his father gave to him concerning his personal relationships but now that era was coming to an end. Sasuke wasn't too happy about this. If Madara's daughter-in-law gave birth to a son, his father as well as Itachi and Sasuke could possibly lose the succession to lead the Uchiha Clan and everything they owned. Which was vast.

"Yes, I doubted the possibility as well." Madara drawled, dark eyes sparking with dark humor. "Though we won't know the gender until she's in her fifth month. But sons are strong in our family. I hope she doesn't disappoint me with a daughter."

"Ah but daughters are sweet flowers, a blessing to any family. I wish I had a daughter. They are good ways to strengthen our bonds with our competitors."

"They have their uses." Madara murmured, looking lost in thought. But he sighed and stood. "I hope that your sons find such a daughter to marry." He looked at Sasuke with piercing, almost accusing eyes. "They're not getting any younger Fugaku. I would have thought that Itachi would be married by now. You are too lenient with them."

Fugaku smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. Sasuke wanted to disappear. "You are entirely right. I plan on having them settled within the year."

Madara nodded and opened the office door. "I look forward to the weddings Nephew."

Sasuke wished he could have slinked silently out of the door to escape the coming conversation. He ruefully watched the door close with a soft click. But he didn't move.

"I have been too lenient with you and your brother." He laughed dryly. "Two if Fire Country's most eligible bachelors, heirs to our grand Uchiha Clan and you're still single." His father scoffed and stood. He took a crystal paperweight from his desk. It was shaped like a bird in flight. "Were there no girls in Sound and Mist Country that caught your eye? You had a handful of girls at your beck and call and none of them interested you?"

Sasuke glanced up and shrugged. "No." Some of them had powerful family connections like Misa or that brunette, Katsumi whose family owned an airline in Water Country. The rest were nobodies. Second or third daughters that had nothing to offer. "None were worthy to be an Uchiha daughter."

"There are few that are." His father paced behind him and Sasuke's skin prickled. "There's a girl that you will see. You've met her before and your mother and I think she will be a good match for you."

Sasuke's temper flared. He hated this part of his life, meeting unknown women who he had to date to keep his father out of his business. He wasn't a stranger to matchmaking dates. He had been on plenty growing up. All of them were the same. Narcissistic, brain dead girls who saw the Uchiha name and threw themselves at his feet. Girls who didn't argue with him, or tease him about being uptight. Girls who would never skip or giggle or laugh out loud in public. None of them smelled like roses and candy. They didn't drape themselves on his back and sigh in his ear. They didn't leave him breathless with kisses and warm with hugs. Girls who didn't love him.

"Sasuke you know what makes me happy?" It was a warm night and they were laying on a hill watching at a late meteor shower. His fingers were entwined with her dainty ones and he was full from the picnic she packed. Dates with her were always simple things. Walk in the park, late movies, hanging out in the flower shop. He loved their private moments together where he could just be himself and had her all to himself.

"Getting your hair to lay straight when you part it?" She smacked him on the chest and rolled over. His vision was filled with glittering topaz blue eyes, and his senses were overrun with the smell of her perfume and the soft caress of her hair on his arm and the sound of her soft breathing.

"Do you know?" She asked him again, softly, her feathery finger tracing his mouth.

He knew a lot of things that made her happy. Getting ice cream after Taijutsu practice, a sale at her favorite accessory place, surprise just because flowers, date nights when he agreed to watch a dreaded chick flick. Piggy back rides, unexpected compliments, her family and friends.

"What?" He knew the answer but he wanted to hear it from her lips, see it in her eyes and feel it in his soul.

She smiled at him, eyes sparkling with heart stopping tenderness. "You Sasuke Uchiha. You make me so happy." And when she kissed him, it takes everything he has not to crush her to him and ravish her on the picnic blanket…

"Sasuke?" He snapped hard out of his thoughts when he heard his father's deep voice. "Did you hear me? I said the girl's name was Sakura Haruno and she's an intern at Fire Medical. She is training under Tsunade Senju and has gained notoriety for her intellect and skill. Meet her this weekend at Rosewell." He suppressed a grimace. Rosewell, it was a very expensive and high profile place. His father wasn't even going to let their date be private.

"Why not Itachi? He's the eldest. He should be the one in the front of this." Sasuke complained hotly. His gut churned when he thought of Itachi and her. Living together, raising a family. He should tell his father that the succession wasn't really in danger. He should tell him about Itachi's sons and reveal his relationship with his ex-girlfriend. His father would tear them apart and claim the boys without second thought. He was so tempted to blurt everything out! He was seething with rage and betrayal. Again.

"I've already chosen someone for him. She'll be arriving in Fire Country in ten days." Fugaku said, making Sasuke's anger dissipate for a moment.


His father leaned against his desk, the paper weight going from hand to hand in contemplation. "Her name is Samui Yono, eldest daughter of Sora Yono from Lightning Country. Sora Yono has a monopoly contract with a branch of Lightning's military."

"What branch?"

"Aviation. The Air Force." Fugaku grinned manically, dark eyes flashing greedy. "I had to sacrifice and arrange a lot for the engagement to proceed. Itachi and Samui will be married by the end of the year, I guarantee it."

"Fire might think you are consorting with their enemies if Itachi marries a girl from Lightning. Especially one tied to their military." Sasuke warned. Public opinion almost ran Leaf these days and being unpopular was a fast way to lose everything despite how much money you had. Fire Country was very patriotic and consorting with an old enemy was something no one dared to do. His father was always overreaching and Sasuke wondered when it would all come crashing down.

"That's why you're going to marry Sakura Haruno. As much as I dislike admitting this, Tsunade Senju will win the upcoming election for Hokage. She will make history by being the first woman to hold that powerful position and Sakura Haruno is her special student. She will become Fire Country's sweetheart when the election is over. You marriage will negate the damage Itachi's marriage will cause and the Uchiha will come back on top." His father sat down across him and Sasuke tensed from the look he was giving. "Itachi will do his duty. I trained him and prepared him for this task. I expect you to do the same Sasuke. My decision on Heir has been wavering lately. Itachi is concerning me but you…you have surprised me son."

Sasuke had wanted to hear those for as long as he remembered. He had always wanted to be acknowledged and taken seriously by his father. He had always wanted to surpass his brother, or at least be looked at as an equal. He cared very much about what his father thought of him and like a child, greedily trailed after that approval. He worked and worked and struggled and fought to be where he was today. As his father's right hand man, as the son who his father could rely on and trust.

"Thank you father." He murmured quietly. Now, he couldn't tell his father about Itachi's children. It would ruin everything. The thought didn't settle easily with him. They were still together and he was…

"You have proven your worth Sasuke. I am proud of you." His father gave him a real smile, full of appreciation and Sasuke struggled to give one back.

He wanted to feel the tingle of warmth from that admission. It was what he always wanted but he felt...hollow. Empty. Trapped…