Taking a slow sip of his tea, the order of dango before him had been cleared and replaced twice already.
Never seen any time recently outside of his organizations signature cloak and hat, the phrase laying low meant something different for each member in his organization.
His own partner was currently swinging between bars and gambling houses in the dark of night, either taking his winnings peacefully or leaving as a winner of at least a brutal brawl. It was fitting of the creature-looking man, however it was nowhere near what Itachi Uchiha would consider fun or productive.
Then again, he had successfully completed his last village-given mission and was in the middle of playing the waiting game for his personal mission to be completed. The world believed him to be a clan killing lunatic to be avoided, but he received no orders on what to do afterwards anyways. Matter of fact, joining the world's most dangerous organization however did convince the ones giving the final official orders that he couldn't be trusted no longer, which is just how he preferred it.
Visiting tea house after tea house, Itachi deeply enjoyed the standard layouts of wide open windows that revealed the hustle bustle of the surroundings. There would always be gossip following of what the latest was going on in the rest of the world, but far out in a spontaneous and tourist village in the Land of Lightning, the chatter he overheard was a little about everything.
Including a pair of particular visitors that had arrived just the day before. He had heard of the two before he could finally get a feel of their chakras, yet he didn't bother turning away and finding another rest spot. Instead, from the corner of his eyes he found himself fondly watching Jiraiya the Great Toad Sage get so belligerent before happy hour as Naruto Uzumaki begged him to train her already before throwing her hands up and stomping away.
Her eyes had passed right over him unknowingly as she entered the tea house and he mused to himself that she especially would probably never have considered him appearing out of nowhere dressed as a civilian. His much more common rice hat was placed on the booths seat beside him while his current light grey traveling cloak blended him into the countries surroundings of tall mountains and low hanging clouds. Hair untied from its usual low ponytail, Itachi couldn't remember the last time he activated his sharingan in this poor excuse of a disguise since he had left Kisame to destroy a gambling house that had given him a bad hand over a year ago.
Watching her plomp down in a small booth by herself as she began overlooking the menu handed to her, it had been two and a half years since the Uchiha had seen her on the orders to kidnap her. Dressed in a blue and orange jumpsuit with wild spiky hair all over the place, her girlish cheeks were the only thing that could've suggested that she was anything but a boy at the time. Now, however, Itachi almost couldn't tell that she had sewn the original jumpsuit pants into shorts that were becoming well worn into anyways. Her black shirt with the Uzumaki swirl was straining to be fitted in due to feminine growth with the now tattered jacket tied around her hips, and her originally wild hair was now tied into two pigtails. Straightening out the spikes with the length, the Uchiha silently appreciated the sight of her radiating happiness despite the obvious signs of having been staying in tents instead of hotels.
She was 12 when he had gone for her and with a glance at the hanging calendar behind the hosts pedestal, she was going to be 15 in two days.
The incoming growth spurt was probably more noticeable since he hadn't seen her in awhile, especially since she hadn't looked like she was past the age of 10 when he sabotaged her kidnapping due to her height and clothes, yet he could remember when she was 6 years old and was still pranking the academy teachers.
While this tea house didn't serve her favorite meal of ramen, her pouting as she gave in and ordered a multi-person entree platter gave him an idea.
Waiting until the server walked by him again with her order, the servers eyebrows must've reached his hairline at his request to her table while he prepared to pay and leave.
Three servings of tonjiru, a pork and vegetable miso soup. Served with a side of rice, it was the closest thing to ramen she would be able to get here.
It won't be long now that the Akatsuki would begin trying to gather the jinchuuriki again and a meal will never be enough to make it up to her, yet Itachi felt like he needed to acknowledge her somehow before he left the town tomorrow.
Hat back on as he made his way to his hotel through the civilian crowd, a soak in the hot spring as the sun set sounded perfect to the man.
"Hey! Excuse mee!" Tensing just enough as he quickened his pace, her chakra disappeared quickly in the crowd from the famed Uchiha.
Or so he thought, as the blonde almost appeared beside him and grabbed a hold of his sleeve. "I just wanted to say thank you! Why are you running away!?"
Sharingan activated once more, the genjutsu on his more noticeable features - the long bags underneath his eyes disappearing and his eye shape changing entirely - was quickly cast on her unknowingly.
He never thought she'd go after him just to say thank you, but then again - he should've remembered she was massively known as Konoha's Unpredictable Kunoichi.
"I apologize, I did not want to give you the wrong idea of what my intentions are as a man." Being upfront as she was of course training with the most known perverted man before, her cerulean eyes widened while her tanned cheeks quickly lit up as she blushed furiously.
"O-Ohhh, I didn't think you were.. trying to do that. Like, at all, ya know." Shaking her head wildly, sending the scent of mixed products hitting his nose, she released his sleeve. "Then what were your intentions, if you weren't trying to sleep with me anyways?"
Her bluntness made him blink as he felt the familiar feeling of being in awkward position return to him, years after he had forgotten it existed.
"I overheard your disappointment at the tea house having no ramen. Thought someone attractive as yourself would appreciate it, is all." Loosely gesturing her appearance, her blush spread to her ears as her eyes widened impossibly wide in surprise.
Itachi wasn't sure if he should regret giving her her first upfront compliment as the disbelief and amazement of someone saying that to her finally kicked in. Living out in tents with an old pervert did most likely shield her from anyone that wanted to see the exact details of her new feminine features, or it at least didn't give anyone enough time to figure out how oblivious she could be and how they could get around it for her to understand their intentions as well.
Her next bright wattage smile was twitching slightly with uncertainty and nerves as she pulled down the front of her shirt awkwardly, head tilting as she avoided his modified eyes. "Thanks, really. Uhh, so I'm going to be in the village for a week or two.. will I be able to see you around at all?"
Nodding gently, his reply made her perk up excitedly. "Possibly."
"Great! That tea house is the only place that has anything close to ramen here so you might see me there a lot now, but I hope I do see you around, ya know?"
He couldn't resist giving her a hint of a smile before she ran off, allowing him to continue on his way to his hotel.
He hadn't planned on doing any of this with this outcome, it was just naturally happening. Going with the flow, he bet Naruto would say. A concept that now that he truly thinks of it, he was unfamiliar with. A prodigical heir did not do anything without it having been planned in their schedule beforehand, a mass murderer would not have gotten away unless they had taken the time to plan it, and an Akatsuki member normally did not go off on their own or without a task in mind. Now was the exception, being only dangerous heavy-hitters left them with too much free time until the resources could be gathered again.
He also didn't have a burning desire for anyone to discover the true events that lead to the Uchiha Massacre so many years ago, and she would be the last person he'd want to know in the first place. He knew what kind of person she was turning into and she'd be furious on his behalf, going so far as to save him from his plans of suicide at the hands of his younger brother even. He had also signed off on the possibility of there being any love in his life, other than the one he had for his village and her people, and for Sasuke.
His original plans of leaving the next morning after breakfast made him wonder on if he'd still do so now. If he did, he would not see her again unless in an another attempt to kidnap her or if she'd ever be caught, and if he didn't leave just yet.. well, he didn't know.