Kingdom For Two [10-12]

Chapter Ten: Security Blanket

Lazy mornings were the best. The world was quiet and Sakura didn’t have to worry about what was on her agenda for the day. Sasuke’s sheets felt crisper and the mattress softer. His voice was low and raspy, in the best way, right next to her ear as he slowly rocked against her.

“Mmmh…” Sakura moaned softly as Sasuke lifted her hips up higher for a better angle. One hand slipped in between her thighs to play with her clit and she let out a whimper. She called out his name with a sleepy sigh as he continued to tease her fleshy little knob with lazy circles.

This was her favorite way to make love, slow and deep unhurried thrusts with Sasuke pressed flush against her back, his panting and grunts right at her ear. Sakura snuggled deeper into the pillows, gripping tight on their cases as her chest and stomach lay flat against them.

“You’re allowed to be louder you know,” Sasuke teased as he kissed and sucked and nipped on her shoulder.

“Habit,” Sakura panted back. “We’re rarely alone in your house.”

Sasuke’s family went away to the mountains for winter break. With Fugaku four hours away and distracted with keeping Mikoto happy for the next few days, Sakura was free to come and go as she pleased from the Uchiha’s house as long as they were careful not to travel in and out when Sasuke’s cousin Obito was circling the block. Mikoto trusted Sasuke to stay home alone as long as he checked in with her twice a day and ate dinner at Naruto’s house, she just asked that he remembered to water all of her house plants, but Fugaku didn’t.

Sasuke told Sakura that his father had expressed concerns that he would be throwing parties and bringing girls over while they were gone. Mikoto snorted and told him that she would welcome any “normal” behavior from their son. She complained that he was too quiet and that she wished he would act like kids his age which had Fugaku scoffing.

Sakura mewled, enjoying her climax even in her sleepy haze. When she came down, Sasuke pulled back to turn her over. It always amused Sakura that Sasuke seem to have a preference for looking at her directly when he reached his own release.

“You get in the mood at the most random times,” Sakura teased as she wrapped her arms around Sasuke’s neck. Any sign of sleepiness was gone from his face and it would be easier to talk to him. They had just been sleeping when Sakura felt hot kisses on her neck and back. Usually she was the one up first and Sasuke unwilling to open his eyes in the morning but she wasn’t going to complain. It had been a nice surprise.

“Your fault.” Sasuke’s breathing came out shallow and harsh as he picked up a quicker pace. “You’re the one that gets horny at two in the morning. We have a fucked up schedule.”

Sakura giggled but then was cut off when a thrust hit her particularly well and she let out soft whine. She pouted when Sasuke smirked down at her. It had been a long time since anything could actually make her embarrassed but she still got flustered whenever Sasuke looked a little too proud of the fact that he knew her body so well.

Sasuke came with his forehead pressed to hers and his eyes on her eyes. Whenever he did that it always felt more intimate than the act they were just engaged in. Sasuke swallowed Sakura’s whimper when he pulled out of her with a kiss and then flopped onto his back. Sakura crawled on top of him and pressed her cheek to his chest, straddling his waist with her knees on the bed, thighs trapping him underneath her. She snuggled closer when she felt his arm wrap around her waist.

“This is nice,” Sakura murmured.

“Yeah, too bad my parents don’t go on trips more often.” Sasuke sighed and stretched out his arms. All of his movements caused Sakura to shift but she maintained her hold on him. “I hope Itachi’s having fun.”

Sasuke was still struggling with opening up so sometimes he would make vague statements that Sakura would have to draw her own conclusions for. She assumed he was worried that Itachi wouldn’t be able to enjoy himself up in the mountains where almost all of the entertainment involved outdoor activities. Sakura had looked up the resort that the Uchihas were staying in and there was a spa so it was likely that Itachi could spend the week relaxing.

“I’m sure he’s fine. It was nice of you to give up the trip so he could take his best friend with him.”

There was an odd pause. For a moment Sakura thought Sasuke had fallen back to sleep but when she looked up at him he was just staring into space.

Sasuke always got this way when it came to talking about Itachi. Even if he was making an effort it still felt as if he were holding back. It was an odd change from when they were in primary school, when Sasuke use to talk about his older brother all of the time and bragging about how great Itachi was. It had slowed down when they entered secondary school because Sasuke became slightly embarrassed of showing how much he loved his older brother especially since Itachi had become even busier with school and training at the police academy. Although he wouldn’t be able to actually be a police officer until he was twenty-one, training was made available for him. A perk of being the police chief’s son.

Sakura remembered how the usually stoic Itachi became bashful when his mother took pictures of him on his twenty-first birthday with his new uniform and his first haircut. The rules were pretty lenient but Itachi wanted to be by the book when he first started and had gotten rid of his long locks, looking more like Fugaku than he already did. It was the first time Sakura could remember seeing Fugaku smiling so fondly at any of his children.

Itachi was only an active officer for that first year. The following summer he had been hospitalized. That was when Sasuke─and Sakura and Naruto─found out about Itachi’s illness. He and his parents had kept it secret for two years while it seemed manageable.

That was when Sasuke became even more withdrawn.

Sasuke was already becoming more sullen and closed off as it was. He never liked to talk about his school life and although he played on Oto’s basketball team he never wanted Naruto or Sakura to go to his games, whether they were home or away. Because of an incident involving Sakura being ganged up on when they had visited once during his first year in Oto Prep, where the least damaging part of the attack was having her hair cut off, the two of them never really argued the fact. The administration at Oto refused to believe any of their students were involved in the assault of a Konoha Secondary student because “their students were above such barbaric actions.”

Sasuke was saved from being expelled because of his reputation as an honor student after their self defense plea fell on deaf ears. Naruto─with help from his father─was let off easy, just being banned from entering the school grounds ever again. Sakura was banned as well, not that she ever wanted to go anywhere near Oto again.

“He deserved a vacation and so did my mother. Hopefully with both Shisui and Izumi around she won’t fret over him so much and actually have fun.”

“What are you doing today? Besides basketball practice that is?”

“Nothing. You want to hang out later?”

“I was asking because I was curious. I’m hanging out with Karin and Ino.” Sakura rolled off of him and stood up stretching. She ignored the feeling of being observed and grabbed her clothing from the floor. “Do you want to hang out later?”

“I’ll hang out with Naruto this afternoon.” Sasuke sat up, resting his forearms on his legs. “God knows I haven’t been hanging out enough with that moron.”

Sakura smiled to herself as she slipped her top over her head. Sasuke always grumbled about spending time with Naruto but she knew how much he actually enjoyed hanging out with their goofball.

Sasuke would never admit it but one of the best parts of his day was when he got to go over and hang out with Naruto at his house or go somewhere, anywhere, away from Forest Grove Court. Anywhere with his best friend away from the big empty house.

“I’m gonna get Karin to cut my hair today.”

“Don’t let her shave the side of your head.” Sasuke narrowed his eyes at her, face completely serious.

“Just a trim.” Sakura held up a long strand and pinched a two inch section to wave at him. “And a layered look possibly. Or maybe I should get a pixie and an undercut. Just a buzzcut on the back of my head near my nape.”

“As long as you’re not shaving the side of your head like Karin, I don’t care. And as long as you don’t try to dye your hair again. That was a disaster. Pink suits you fine.”

“Uh-huh.” Sakura rolled her eyes and kissed him on top of his head. “I’m going to go home and shower now. Want me to come over again tonight?”

“If you want.” Sasuke swung his legs over the side of his bed and stood with a stretch and reached for his sweatpants on the floor. For a moment Sakura just stared at him, dazed, until she felt like she was being stared at. Sakura averted her gaze after Sasuke raised an eyebrow at her. “You’re a real pervert, you know that?”

“Says the one that keeps sticking it in me,” Sakura muttered, marching out of the room. She could hear Sasuke let out a snort as he followed her to the back porch door. She wasn’t scaling the building anymore but she still took precautions. So far Obito didn’t use the key left to him to come in but he was still prone to sitting out front and watching the front door.

“I’ll come by later tonight. I’ll text you if I can’t.”

“Like I said, only come if you want.”

Sasuke never asked her to come over. He would only ask her if she was or answer like he just did if Sakura asked him if he wanted her to come over. On the rare occasion he would just say that she was coming over, as if there wasn’t any question that she would.

Except for when she was giving him the silent treatment, she always came over. Ever since Itachi was hospitalized a few years back it never felt right to leave him alone.

“I want to. I’m coming over.”

Sakura smiled softly at him, pretending not to see the relief in his eyes. If he wanted to act strong than she’d let him.

“Next time,” Ino fumed, “I drive.”

She rubbed the space between her breasts through her sweater and scowled at Karin. Karin just stared ahead refusing to acknowledge her complaints.

“Oh, crap.” Ino grimaced and brushed Sakura’s bangs out of her face. “You have a bump on your forehead. Kind of makes your forehead look even bigger. I didn’t think it could.”

“Haha real funny, Pig.” Sakura pushed her hand away not liking how sensitive the bruise she had was,

“That’s why you wear your seatbelt even when you’re in the backseat,” Karin scolded.

Karin had slammed hard on her breaks, having not noticed that the light had turned red. Ino’s seatbelt tightened on her, bruising her chest and Sakura had been thrown forward, hitting the back of Ino’s seat.

“Uh, is that cop staring at us?” Ino narrowed her eyes at a man standing a few stores away. He looked like an overly obvious undercover cop but the insignia on his sleeve completely gave him away. Sakura rolled her eyes. Uchiha.

“Not us. Just me,” Sakura grumbled. She carried on with her business. She was there to shop with her friends and eat mall food. Sakura didn’t care about Uchiha officers following Fugaku Uchiha’s orders.

“They watch you even when you’re not with Sasuke?” Ino’s jaw dropped in disbelief. She shook her head and pulled on Sakura’s elbow, dragging her into the nearest clothing store.

“Worst Parent Award definitely goes to Sasuke’s dad. And mine left as soon as my mom got too sick to take care of me so…yeah.” Karin sneered at a rack of clothing. “It’s winter. Why the fuck are they selling crop tops?”

Ino opened her mouth to say something but one look from Sakura had her closing it. Karin had a habit of dropping uncomfortable statements nonchalantly about subjects she hadn’t discussed with them yet. Sakura realized it was how she opened up to them, just talk about things casually like they already knew what she was talking about and let them piece together what they could. There would be no sitting around with a tub of ice cream and having big talks that led to hugging and crying with Karin Uzumaki.

“Here. This is your shade of purple.” Karin tossed a crop top at Ino. “And just your length of top too.”

“I just want to know what’s his fucking problem,” Ino growled, tossing a similar top in a lighter purple shade at Karin who tugged at the hem trying to see how far she could stretch it out closer to her belly button. She glared at the sleeves and put it back on the rack. “What’s the big issue?”

“I don’t think there’s a specific problem.” Sakura held up a sheer long sleeved top to Karin who shook her head furiously. “Everything was fine until I started to develop these.” Sakura put her hands to her breasts and lifted them up and dropped them.

“Oh. He’s one of those.” Ino frowned. “Like that Shino kid’s mom.”

“Shino? Shino Aburame?” Sakura questioned. He was a student that had been in all of her Science classes for all of high school. He hung out with Naruto’s friend Kiba and was really quiet.

“We had to do a project for English once in tenth grade and his mom wouldn’t let us go into his room alone where his computer was. We had to wait for his dad to come home and let him use his work laptop so that we could sit in the dining room where his mother could keep an eye on us from the kitchen. It was weird because it’s not like Shino cares about talking to any girl except Fu in the Entomology Club. And that’s not even of the romantic nature. I think he just gave up on girls since his mom is so traditional and strict. Doesn’t believe in people of the opposite sex being friends.”

“Well that’s backwards.” Karin held up a sleeveless turtleneck black dress. Sakura thought she was going to put it back but it was apparently cute enough to ignore the lack of sleeves. “And keeping kids separated from the opposite gender never works. It either screws them up socially or they go at it like a pair of baby monkeys anyway, you know, like Sakura and Sasuke.”

“We do not go at it like a pair of baby monkeys,” Sakura said hotly, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “I’ll have you know today was the first time we had sex in almost a month, thank you. We have self control.”

Karin and Ino stared at her for a moment in silence before the pair of them burst out laughing. Sakura glared at them and waited for them to finish.

“Have you told Sasuke about the cops stalking you?” Karin asked being the one to compose herself first. Ino kept giggling in little hiccups.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is something you should talk to him about,” Ino instantly became serious. “My dad works sometimes with the police force when they need a psychologist. He could talk to Fugaku if you want. I’m sure he wouldn’t wanna hear about the police force keeping track of a kid just because Fugaku didn’t want his son interacting with them. It’s not like you’re a fuck up. You’re an Honor Roll student that volunteers at the hospital. Hell, my parents would be bragging if you were my girlfriend.”

“They wouldn’t care about the girl part?” Karin raised an eyebrow at Ino.

“My parents thought Sai was a girl at first to be honest. He’s too pretty.”

“The height didn’t give him away?”

“He’s tall but he’s not too tall. He’s only like five foot eight. There’s plenty of girls taller than him.”

“What girls?”

“Well, anyway,” Sakura steered the conversation away from Ino’s boyfriend. “No. No one’s talking to anyone. I don’t want to cause Sasuke any trouble. And if I tell him anything it won’t end well. It was pretty bad after their fight when he first wanted to transfer from Oto in ninth grade. It will probably be worse this time. So I can’t bother him with my problems.”

“Oh my precious Saint Sakura,” Ino exclaimed dramatically as she threw her arms around her shoulders and patted her head. “Too good, too pure for this world.”

“Precious cinnamon roll?” Karin offered with a shrug.

“Yes!” Ino excitedly pointed at Karin in agreement.

“You guys aren’t funny,” Sakura mumbled trying to escape Ino’s headlock.

“Oh you love us.” Ino hooked her arm with Sakura’s and the other with Karin and walked them deeper into the store.

Sakura sighed, powering off Sasuke’s flat screen. She had come over with tomato bisque from her parent’s shop knowing that Sasuke was used to having meals prepared for him by his mother or Itachi and would either starve or try to order take out anyway.

They were hanging out in his family’s media room, just across from his bedroom and had curled up together. Sometime during the third movie Sasuke had sprawled out on top of her with his head on her chest. Sakura had cradled it, massaging her fingers through his hair. He fell asleep almost instantly after she began doing that.

“We need to come up with something better,” Sakura mumbled, shifting her body carefully underneath Sasuke so that she could sleep comfortably.

Sasuke’s lack of sleep worried Sakura. He did better during basketball season because practices were later in the day for varsity and he would run until he was exhausted and had to go to sleep but he wouldn’t stay asleep. She was already struggling to get him to eat properly. Karin was reporting to her how he wouldn’t touch any food at school.

“Sakura,” Sasuke mumbled out her name, adjusting his arms around her and taking a deep inhale. Sakura smiled softly knowing how calming he found her apple scent. It was one of the reasons she never tried other shower products.

“Come on, love. Off to bed.”

“Are you going to stay tonight? You can stay if you want.”

“I want to.” Sakura nudged him gently until he sat up. “But I think you’re bed is better for sleep than this couch.”

Sakura stood up and held out her hand for Sasuke. He took it and let her lead him to his bedroom. The same way she did the first night Sasuke was alone in the big Uchiha house two years ago.

Chapter Eleven: All Storms Start With Just a Few Raindrops

Rain. Itachi had a love-hate relationship with rain. He used to look forward to nice rainy days so he could curl up in his rocking chair and read one of the books from the small library that doubled as his father’s study across from his room. It relaxed him to hear the pattering of rain against his window and its drumming on the deck outside of his and Sasuke’s room.

Nowadays he could feel the rain before he knew it was going to rain. His joints would ache and there would be a soreness all over his body. And he had an odd craving for soup. Rainy days, no matter what the season and temperature outside, became soup days.

It was likely that his mother was going to make hot tofu soup for dinner. She was starting to pick up on his habits and quirks very well lately. That was new for him considering when he and Sasuke were younger his mother wasn’t as aware of him. She focused more of her attention on Sasuke and was always making his favorites, especially on days he came back with test scores or some award from school. Sasuke was her favorite. Mikoto would never make it obvious but Itachi could tell that Sasuke was her favorite. And he didn’t mind. Sasuke was his favorite too.

Which is how he knew that even though he was going to get the soup that he craved, that the hot tofu soup was going to be at a degree of spiciness that he didn’t eat before. Funny thing about growing up and one’s body changing due to illness and medications that no one had explained to Itachi before was the change in his taste buds. Someone in a support group he attended had told him that it was taste perversion and that it happened to some people.

He still loved sweets but he now preferred his savory foods to lean more to the spicy side. It had a lot to do with “medicine mouth” and the horrible metallic and bitter after taste of pills. Sadly, sugar didn’t help the taste in his mouth so he had to cut back on sweets or be left with the horrible taste in his mouth all day.

“I don’t think I’m reading this right.” Itachi pulled his book at arm’s length, as if a different angle would give him a better understanding. Sighing, Itachi rose from his chair with a groan and headed to the library hoping to find the Japanese to English dictionary.

Although Konoha was also known as J-Town due to a majority of the population being of Japanese descent and all of the Japanese shops, Itachi still had some trouble with the language. He could speak fluently─his grandparents on both sides refused to speak English─but reading and writing still came with some issues.

“Where the…Sasuke.” Itachi shook his head and headed over to Sasuke’s room. Although Sasuke wasn’t one to read Japanese literature for fun the way Itachi did, he still used the dictionary quite often. When Itachi asked why, Sasuke had muttered something about translating song lyrics.

Itachi knocked on the door and waited for an answer. He was about to knock again, harder, when he realized that Sasuke wasn’t home because he still had basketball practice during winter break and not in his room. Itachi huffed in frustration, not happy that he had another brain fog moment. It happened often due to being fatigued most of the time.

Feeling guilty for the invasion of privacy, Itachi muttered a small apology and entered Sasuke’s room. Itachi usually didn’t enter and it always amazed him how different their two rooms were.

Itachi liked the minimalist look and barely had furniture in his room or personal effects. If he were to add anything to his room, perhaps a bookcase which would be pointless considering his books were kept in the library and his DVD collection in the media room.

Sasuke was the opposite. Itachi smiled to himself loving the feel of Sasuke’s room. It looked exactly like what he thought a teenage boy’s room was supposed to look like. Band and movie posters all over the walls. A tapestry of a snake and hawk fighting on one wall. Around his headboard were a bunch of photos of different places and his friends. A majority of them were blurry selfies of Naruto and focused shots of what was going on behind him, usually Sakura looking angry because Naruto was sneaking a photo of her. Itachi shook his head when he saw the carved Uchiha family crest on the lower corner of the headboard. Probably done in a fit of boredom.

Unlike Itachi, Sasuke did have a bookcase in his room. It was a wide set up, two narrow bookcases flanking the sides of one wider bookcase that had the top three shelves knocked out and a mirror installed. Sasuke not only had books on the shelves but stacks upon stacks of CDs and ninja and creature figurines gifted to him mostly from Naruto who went to conventions often. Sitting next to his old dinosaur stuffed toy was a fox plushie that looked just like the mascot costume Naruto wore during the winter sports season. Sasuke had griped about the gift when Naruto had given it to him when Sasuke transferred to Konoha Secondary but there it was, sitting on the shelf.

Itachi gently ran a finger on the body of Sasuke’s acoustic guitar, hanging on a hook on the wall. When Sasuke showed a talent for music when he was younger, Itachi had been proud. He started with the flute and then piano and made his way to teaching himself how to play guitar. Itachi had never been good at playing any instruments and it made him warm inside to know there was something Sasuke could do, and do really well, that he could never touch.

Not that Sasuke played often anymore. After Sasuke had transferred, their father had become stricter about his grades. Sasuke would casually strum sometimes but he no longer wasted away afternoons learning songs he loved or try to write his own.

“I’m here for a dictionary,” Itachi reminded himself. The amount of time he was spending in his brother’s room when Sasuke wasn’t there was bordering on inappropriate. He got caught up in looking at all of Sasuke’s stuff, all of the things that proved that Sasuke was just a normal high school aged boy and not a robot that churned out high test scores and followed every order of their father’s.

Sasuke’s computer desk was much like his own when it came to neatness. The only difference being that Sasuke’s was made out of metal and covered in stickers, reminding Itachi of a bar that Sasuke had asked him to take him to when he was fifteen for a rock concert. It wasn’t the kind of thing Itachi liked, not a big music fan even though he enjoyed listening to music, but it was something Sasuke wanted to go to that their father would have never approved of which was partially why Itachi had agreed to taking him in the first place.

“Where could he possibly have left it?” Itachi tapped a finger to his lip and then smacked his forehead. He pulled open the drawer of Sasuke’s night stand and found a silver lighter gifted from their grandfather, some more photos of Sasuke with Sakura and Naruto, pens, guitar picks and strings, sheet music, and the dictionary he was looking for. Itachi raised an eyebrow at the scented candles grouped on top of the nightstand and muttered a small prayer, hoping that they were suppose to be therapeutic and not for setting up a mood for Sakura.

“Why does he need a record player and all of this vinyl if he has like a million CDs? And he has an iPod. This boy I swear…” Itachi was surprised at how clean and orderly Sasuke’s room was considering all of the stuff that he had. Itachi shrugged and rolled his eyes. He preferred his bare room with only the essentials.

The door swung open and Itachi almost jumped. The last thing he wanted was Sasuke to be angry with him for entering his room without permission.



Itachi tilted his slightly in confusion and raised his eyebrow. It was pretty early for his father to be home and even odder for him to be in Sasuke’s room.

“What are you doing in here?”

“I needed to grab the dictionary.” Itachi waved the book so his father’s eyes would be drawn to the reason he had entered his little brother’s room. “What are you doing in here?”

“Don’t use that tone with me,” Fugaku snapped. He glared at Itachi who crossed his arms in front of his chest. “You may be an adult but I’m still your father, Itachi. Show some respect.”

Fugaku crossed the room and pulled open the drawer to Sasuke’s nightstand before Itachi could block him. His father rifled through the drawer and then closed it. Itachi watched as he went to Sasuke’s personal restroom and looked under the sink in the cabinet and slid open the mirror to look at the medicine cabinet.

“You didn’t move anything while you were in here did you?” Fugaku narrowed his eyes at Itachi.

“Just the dictionary.” Itachi glared back, realization dawning on him. “That’s really fucked up. And a total invasion of privacy.”

“Language, Itachi. It’s within my rights to makes sure my son isn’t doing anything he isn’t supposed to be doing.”

“And what exactly are you looking for?” Itachi felt nauseous. Luckily there was no chance of Fugaku finding a baggie full of ritalin or condoms. Itachi was sure Sasuke was too smart to leave anything lying around that he didn’t want found.

“It’s none of your concern.” And with that Fugaku left the room.

And not for the first time, Itachi felt defeated, knowing with how his body was that he couldn’t move out and take Sasuke far, far away.

“Hand me a rubber band.” Itachi held out his hand in front of Izumi so that she could drop a tiny rubber band into his palm. “I’m almost done.”

“You did a good job,” Shisui mumbled through the popcorn in his mouth.

The two of them had come over to have dinner and they were all waiting for Sasuke to come home. While they waited they watched TV in the media room and Itachi french braided Izumi’s hair.

“He’s getting better at it isn’t he?” Izumi admired her braids using her cell phone’s front facing camera. “You’re completely spoiling your appetite, Shi.”

“I’m a grown man. Stop treating me like a child.” Shisui tossed a scoop of popcorn at her and Izumi smacked him in the face with a pillow.

“You’re cleaning that Sui-Sui.” Itachi huffed, stretching his back. He had sat still for too long. “Zu-Zu?”

“Lie down and I’ll go get the cream, okay?” Izumi kissed his forehead and left the room to go get his pain relieving creams from his bathroom cabinet.

“My dad is searching Sasuke’s room whenever Sasuke isn’t home,” Itachi told Shisui when Izumi left.

“I caught Taiko stalking Itty Bitty.” Shisui gave Itachi a grim look.

“What did you do?”

“I kicked his ass of course. Told him I thought he was a suspicious character because he was following a schoolgirl around. Told him if I found out he was doing it again that I would report him. Inabi and Tekka wouldn’t like hearing about it. That’s something I expected of Yakumi considering how loyal he is to Fugaku.”

“No. Taiko is young and stupid enough to do something like that. Yakumi would have considered it grunt work and below him. Plus he’s middle aged and that would have looked creepier.”

“Who do you think would be more pissed if they found out? Sasuke or Izumi?”

Izumi had always had a soft spot for Sakura Haruno. She loved to play with her hair when she was a toddler and would always play with her and help her swim when the kids hung out in the Uchiha’s backyard. Itachi thought it was cute considering Sasuke would never let Izumi play with him but would then get jealous when Izumi took Sakura away. Izumi was an only child like Sakura, so she sort of adopted her as her younger sister when they were children.

“Are you kidding me? My mother would be the most pissed off. We need to find a way to stop it before she finds out. She’s already pissed off because my father tried to find out what goes on during Sasuke’s therapy sessions. She hasn’t spoken to him directly in the past two days.”

“Things have been getting bad ever since the Oto incident haven’t they?” Shisui took Itachi’s hand in his and rubbed the top of it.

“Are you guys flirting without me?” Izumi came bounding in with the creams and a tiny paper cup and some water. “I just noticed that it’s time for you medication.”

“Just noticed or did the alarm on your phone go off?” Shisui teased her. Izumi ignored him and began massaging Itachi’s back with the cream. Shisui grabbed the bottle and examined it. “This is new. Did they change your lotion at the Pain Management Clinic?”

“Just slightly. And this one warms up when you apply it.”

“You know what you need? Weed.”

“Shisui, you’re a cop!” Izumi scolded him. Itachi was starting to feel sleepy from the massage she was giving him. Shisui started snickering when Itachi hummed contently.

“That good? Maybe Izumi should give me  a massage too.” Shisui waggled his eyebrows at her and she pushed him hard on his shoulder.

“My friend works as a masseuse at the chiropractor’s office and he’s been giving me some lessons.”

“He? Should Itachi and I be worried?” Shisui raised an eyebrow and put his hands on his hip, smiling as he gave her a playful glare.

“Oh, shut up.”

“Kids! Time for dinner!” Mikoto’s voice rang up the stairs.

“Did she just call us kids?” Shisui gave his partners an incredulous look.

“We’re kids to her.” Izumi rolled her eyes and pulled Itachi’s shirt back down. “I’m going to go wash my hands and put everything away. Shisui you need to clean this mess up before Mamakoto sees it.”

“I’ll just blame the brat.”

“No you won’t,” Sasuke called out as he entered his room.

“He didn’t even make any noise as he came up the stairs.” Shisui gave an exaggerated shiver. “Your brother gets creepier every day.”

“He needs a haircut. You think he’ll let me practice on him?” Izumi asked Itachi who shook his head. “Figures. I haven’t found anyone to practice on outside of class.”

“I’m sure my mother wouldn’t mind helping you. She adores you.”

“She loves everyone,” Izumi laughed.

“That’s about to not be true anymore,” Shisui muttered under his breath as they waited for Izumi and then followed her down the stairs. Itachi elbowed him in the ribs and shook his head.

Itachi almost ran into Izumi on their way into the kitchen. She had stopped at the doorway and started to edge backward.

“What are you doing?” Shisui grumbled.

“Just go the other way around,” Izumi hissed, pushing him against his back. Shisui get griping all of the way to the breakfast room.

Itachi peeked into the kitchen and saw his mother giggling, feeding his bashful father gyoza. There was a pang in his chest and his eyes turned downcast as he shuffled through the great room to the breakfast room.

Seeing his mother happy and his father shy over affection was something he rarely saw anymore. Not since he was hospitalized.

Sasuke sighed, trying to relax. The cinnamon vanilla candle smelled like Sakura’s body wash and lotions but it wasn’t as comforting as her shampoo and conditioner apple smell. Sakura had bought the candles from the same shop she bought her bath products from but she disliked the one that mimicked her shampoo because she personally thought it smelled gross as a candle

“Try to relax before bed. Take a nice hot bath, sleep on freshly laundered sheets, listen to some music, and light a candle. I kind of like the mango cilantro one best.”

Sakura’s advice helped ease his body to a level of comfort that resembled how he felt in the morning before he had to force himself to move. But he was still finding it slightly hard to fall asleep.

“Over thinking things before bed can make it harder to sleep,” Dr. Yamanaka had informed him once. Sasuke had just deadpanned at the time wondering why his mother was paying for sessions if that was what he was going to be getting out of them.

The quarter is ending soon. If I get at least a ninety-three on my next Physics test I can finish off with an A minus and my first semester grade should round up to an A.

Sasuke groaned and wiped his hands down his face. School was probably not the best thing to think about when he was trying to fall asleep. Now all he could think about was trying to calculate what grades he should have for all of his classes when the first semester ended.

Sasuke focused on the rain drops against his window and closed his eyes. In his head flowed a scrolling music staff and the notes to Prelude Op. 28, No. 15 showed up. He shook his head, not wanting to think about something so cliché.

Sasuke settled for focusing on the song playing gently from his speakers and inhaled deeply, taking in the cinnamon vanilla smell.

There’s twenty-four parts in a day that divides me…from you…

Sasuke snorted. It would be typical that this song would play, especially on a rainy day. The similar smell of Sakura’s lotion wasn’t helping. Sasuke breathed in and let out a slow exhale. If he were going to think about anything, the feel of brushing his nose against Sakura’s inner thigh was way better than his Physics class. He brushed his fingers lightly over his lower stomach, summoning the sound of Sakura’s whimpers as he nipped at her soft, fleshy thighs in his mind.

First we were water…


Sasuke inhaled a sharp intake of air as Itachi’s voice came through muffled from his bedroom door. There was a light knock and Sasuke turned on his side, slightly panicked.

What the fuck was I about to do!?

“Come in!” He groaned inwardly at how his voice came out in an awkward squeak.

Itachi came in, closing the door behind him. He sat on the edge of the bed and Sasuke scooted back, worried that his brother would discover his growing problem.

“I like this song,” Itachi commented with a slight nod of his head. “It’s relaxing.”

“It’s called Creation Lake,” Sasuke said after clearing his throat. Yeah, real relaxing.

“I wanted to check on you. You were really quiet at dinner.” Itachi patted Sasuke’s head, stroking his hair. It was an oddly nostalgic gesture, something Itachi stopped doing after Sasuke shot past him in height.

“I’m always quiet at dinner.”

“Yeah, but not like today. Did you have a rough day at practice?”

“Sort of.” His shooting was completely off. Sasuke was in a low mood ever since his family came back from their trip.

“Don’t let it get to you. You’re probably just overworked.” Itachi ruffled his hair and stood up. “Don’t leave this candle on all night. Good night.”

“G’night, Itachi.”

As soon as Itachi left Sasuke flipped onto his back, throwing an arm over his face. That had been the most uncomfortable few seconds in his brother’s presence that he had ever been in and now he was thinking about his sucky day at practice.

He repeated what he did before his brother had come into his room and inhaled deeply, focusing on the new song that was playing. Now his mind conjured an image of Sakura with her hair all fanned out on his pillow, giggling softly as she sang along.

“All I wanted was you…”

Chapter Twelve: Act 5, Scene 1

When Sakura was younger, one of her favorite things was tracing the ink cherry blossoms on her father’s arms. She marveled at the way the branches of the cherry blossom trees wrapped around his arms and the way the flower petals danced across his skin. He carried spring with him all year round.

“I thought your father was walking art. Everyone was always trying to make a statement back then. I thought there was a deeper meaning to all of those tattoos considering he used so much of his body for them,” Mebuki had once told a giggling Sakura as she tucked her into bed. “Turns out that he was just a goof that really liked soft things like flowers.”

Kizashi Haruno was the softest punk Sakura ever met or saw. He was a big man, tall and burly, yet very gentle and liked to bake cakes and give free coffee and scones to stressed out looking students. He made awful dad jokes that according to her mother he had been making since he was nineteen when she met him.

“He use to follow me around trying to get me to go out with him and he scared all of my friends. He was already so tall and he wore his hair in those spikes.” Mebuki used her hands to create a point at the top of her head.

“Papa’s not scary.” Six year old Sakura frowned. “He’s silly.”

“Yes, he’s very silly. But he’s all mine. And yours too.”

Kizashi was all Sakura’s and except for the rough patch when she was a pre-teen, she loved every part of him. And no one was going to mess with him.

“Let go of me!” The man Sakura had in a headlock grunted.

“Hand over all of the bread you pocketed and I’ll let you go.” Sakura tightened her hold.

In the bakery part of the café, the Haruno’s had baskets of different packaged treats like cookies and brownies and scones. Some of their more popular packaged goods were different small breads filled with things like red bean paste or coffee cream. The sort of thing no one would actually try to steal normally, especially since Kizashi offered a Soup Of The Day which was a free cup of soup for anyone that asked, you just had to deal with the fact that it was a vegetarian dish.

It was something mostly latchkey kids that didn’t want to go home yet took advantage of and Kizashi usually included pieces of baguettes or rolls. Regular patrons usually left money in the tip jar at the register to help cover the cost of the free meals.

Which made the act of thieving even more reprehensible.

“Jesus Christ, lady.” Sakura was a petite woman but very strong. Izumi Uchiha had even taken it upon herself to teach Sakura self-defense when she was younger.

“You’re super cute and you need to be able to protect yourself from creeps. Naruto and Sasuke aren’t always going to be there.”

“Sakura, let him go. It’s only bread.” Kizashi’s voice was soft and gentle instead of it’s usual loud and jolly tone. He placed a hand on her shoulder and Sakura’s eyes narrowed in frustration. Her father was too nice for his own good.

“Hand over the bread and don’t come back. Ever. We will call the authorities next time,” Mebuki said sternly and extended her hands to receive the sweet breads. The young man dropped all of the breads he pocketed in her hands. As soon as Sakura released him he ran out the door, the chime tinkling aggressively from the force it was opened with.

“Papa!” Sakura followed her father into the kitchen. Marco, the boy in his early twenties that helped out in the kitchen, quickly headed into the walk-in freezer and hid inside.

“Weren’t you supposed to be done with your shift already, blossom?” Kizashi carried on with food prep casually, as if nothing had happened. “Don’t you want to go home and get ready for that party you’re going to tonight?”

“Papa.” Sakura frowned at her father. He chuckled and tweaked her nose.

“You look like your mother when you do that.”

Papa.” Sakura gave him a stern look and pulled away the kale he was chopping up for a salad. Kizashi tried to scold her for putting her hand so close to a knife in use but she cut him off. “You shouldn’t be so easy on people like that. That’s how you get taken advantage of.”

“It’s the holidays, Sakura. And you don’t know if maybe he really needed it.”

Sakura shook her head, the frustration giving her a headache. Sometimes Sakura wished her father was one of those in-your-face-take-no-shit type of punks. No, her father was a pleasant and friendly vegetarian that needed to be the father of the community. Sakura wondered sometimes if maybe Kizashi would have been mayor if he had the ambition for it instead of Minato Namikaze. He was a smart man and well liked by the people of the town but he didn’t care for politics. Or authority figures.

Which explained why he and Fugaku Uchiha couldn’t seem to get along. That and how they disagreed on how children should be raised.

“Come on. Get going.” Kizashi took his bundle of kale back. “It’s New Year’s Eve and you already agreed to go and have fun with your friends. Don’t make me get your mother.”

Kizashi gave Sakura a mock glare and waved a finger in front of her face. Sakura sighed and untied her apron and hung it on it’s hook. She headed behind the counter to say goodbye to her mother.

“That was uncouth, Sakura.” Mebuki didn’t even bother to look up as she prepared the coffee maker.

“He deserved it.”

“Well, yes, of course he did,” Mebuki rolled her eyes and then sighed in defeat. “Aren’t you going to go and have fun? Remember, I would rather you not drink at all but if you or your friends do drink I would rather have a phone call from my inebriated child needing a ride home at whatever hour of the night than a call from a cop with bad news.”

“Yes, Mama.” Sakura kissed her mother on the cheek. “I know better.”

“Be safe,” Mebuki said sternly. She tried to keep a serious expression on her face but she broke out into a gentle smile. “And have fun. Please?”

“Yes, Mama. I’m going now.”

Sakura tried really hard not to snort out her hot chocolate but Ino was making it really difficult. Every time a guy tried to give any of them a flirty look and call them over Ino would pantomime throwing up or make a disgusted face.

“You don’t hold back at all do you?” Karin smirked, blowing out a long train of smoke. Sakura had given up on getting her to stop smoking after Karin attempted to bite her.

“It’s really cold out here. Can we please go inside?” Sakura was shivering and no matter how close she got to the bonfire she couldn’t warm up.

“No,” Karin said firmly.

“You’re going to have to face him sooner or later.” Ino wrapped her arms around Sakura and tried to share her body warmth. Sakura curled into her, trying her hardest not to rest her head on Ino’s chest so much.

“How about never?”

“He’s playing beer pong with Naruto and is extremely distracted. I’m sure Sui won’t even notice us.”

“Don’t call him that,” Karin snapped at Sakura. “It will only encourage him to be even flirtier.”

“Well, we’re tired of freezing our asses out here. Come on, Sakura. Let’s go find Sai. Hopefully he’s not drunk painting again. Kiba was not happy with what he drew on his wall last party.”

Ino took Sakura by the hand and led her into the crowded kitchen from the back door, making sure to hold on tight so she wouldn’t lose her.

“You’re not being a good Party Mom, Ino. We shouldn’t leave her alone.”

“Pfft! She’ll be fine. This is their foreplay. They get in a fight at the start of every party and then the girl ditches me to go fuck him in whatever room is available. You would know these things if you came to more parties.”

“You know, you could leave me to my own devices and hang out with Sai. He’s probably face down somewhere right now. He gets so weird when drunk.”

“He’ll be fine. I have Shika and Chouji watching him.” Ino tugged hard, steering Sakura into another room and used her other hand to slap at a random guy that tried to reach for Sakura’s arm. “Besides, I’m more worried about what your boyfriend would do if he found out I left you alone all night. Too bad he couldn’t come.”

“Yeah, too bad.”

Sasuke didn’t really go to parties anymore and even if he did let himself be dragged to one he wouldn’t have been able to go to the one tonight. His family always had a party on New Year’s Eve. Sakura and Naruto use to go to them every year to keep him company but that was when the Harunos use to be invited to the Uchiha party and Naruto was dragged along with his parents.

Sakura found it strange to call it a party. It was more like a dinner party and everyone had to dress up for them. Sakura and Sasuke usually spent the night keeping Naruto in order and in his formal clothes so that he wouldn’t get in trouble with Kushina.

Sakura tried to have fun and dance with Ino. It was working considering Ino was a huge goofball and kept twirling her around and making funny faces. She had been right about Karin. They found her later sneaking up the stairs with Suigetsu. Sakura was confused as to how their relationship was so secret if they were so open at public events.

“I want to head home now,” Sakura giggled. Ino had started ruffling her hair as they swayed their bodies to the music.

“You don’t want to stay for the count down? It’s in like forty-five minutes.” Ino checked her phone for the time. “Forty. Close enough.”

“There’s somewhere I wanna be at midnight.”

“With Sasuke?” Sakura looked up and saw a tipsy Naruto making his way over. He frowned at her and rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t think anyone here is sober enough to drive. You should just stay here.”

“Not true!” Ino chirped. She wheeled Sakura away from Naruto and toward the door. “Shika’s sober. You know he doesn’t drink. He thinks drinking is troublesome and not as fun as we all make it out to be.”

“What are you dragging me into now, woman?” Shikamaru sighed as he rose from the couch closest to the exit. Even though he made a face as if he were annoyed he grabbed his coat and checked his pockets for his car keys.

“You need to go home, squirt?” Temari, Shikamaru’s girlfriend who was visiting during the holidays, joined them as they walked out to the street looking for his car. “Aren’t you too old for a curfew?”

“I’m just tired. And I have someone waiting for me at home.”

“Ah. Alright. We’ll drop you off and then come back for Ino and Company,” Temari offered without consulting Shikamaru. He just kept his mouth shut like he was use to it.

“I knew I loved you.” Ino wrapped her arms around Temari’s shoulders and squeezed. “Shika would usually just go straight home and leave me and Chouji to fend for ourselves or get Sai’s brother Shin to pick us up.”

“Yeah, I know. He can be an ass like that.”

“The ass can hear you, you know,” Shikamaru called out. He had walked ahead of them when he found his car.

“Thank you Shikamaru,” Ino and Sakura chorused. “We love you Shikamaru.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“She better get home safe, Shika,” Ino warned him, pulling Sakura into a hug. “See you next year.”

“See you next year, you goof,” Sakura giggled.

Sakura carefully made her way through her backyard, lifting her knees high to avoid the bags of leaves that had been raked earlier. She smiled knowing that Mikoto had probably asked Sasuke to help out. She was always doing stuff like that, trying to help out when she noticed that Sakura’s parents were really busy. Mikoto would probably have come over to help with the annual intense cleaning if she could. Sakura already took over the task for the past few days, cleaning up the Haruno home all alone because her parents wouldn’t take off until after tonight and then go back to work on the third.

Sakura didn’t want to waste her parents days off by spending them cleaning.

Sakura reached the iron wrought fence that separated her yard from the Uchiha’s and grabbed one of the bars. It was icy to the touch but a warm hand covered hers and then lifted it off the bar so that it could interlock their fingers.

“Did anyone notice you leave?” Sakura asked Sasuke. He shook his head and tightened his grip on her hand. “It’s almost time for the countdown.”

“I’m practically invisible at these things, especially when Naruto doesn’t come.” There was an odd slur to his words. Sakura sniffed and there was a smell of alcohol.

“Have you been drinking?”

“Yeah. Shisui got me some rum. He’s awesome.”

“Rum? Great. My boyfriend’s a pirate.” Sakura gave him a cheeky grin. “And you are drunk.”

“No I’m not.”

“You just said that Shisui’s awesome.”

“Shit. I am drunk.”

Sakura giggled and reached her hand through the fence to pull at Sasuke’s tie. He wore a red and black plaid patterned button down dress shirt with a skinny black tie under a black cable knit cardigan. He had a gray and white marbled thick wool scarf wrapped around his neck.

“You look dapper.”

“You look cold.”

Sakura had left her coat open to reveal her thin, shimmery red v-neck sweater dress and her stockings. It wasn’t the warmest outfit but it was pretty and she wanted to look nice when she met Sasuke. It wasn’t often that she dressed up and Ino had dolled her up for the party.

“Yeah, but I look cute.” Sakura winked at him and Sasuke rolled his eyes. He pulled his scarf off and wrapped it around her as best as he could through the fence.

“You’re cuter when you’re warm.” Sasuke’s voice became lower and huskier. “But yeah, super cute. Really. Cute. Always cute.” Sakura flushed pink. Sasuke was always more likely to flirt with her when he was drunk. Being inebriated had him dropping his guard.

“This kind of reminds me of a Shakespeare play.” Sakura grabbed onto a bar and shook it.

“Please don’t say it reminds you of Romeo and Juliet. They died in that one.”

“No, no.” Sakura waved her other hand in front of her face in protest. “The comedy with the play within the play. Midsummer Night’s Dream. The wall scene.”

“Ah. That one.”

“O Wall, full often hast thou heard my moans, for parting my fair Pyramus and me!” Sakura whispered dramatically. “My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones, thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.”

Sasuke’s eyes squinted and he looked up at the sky, trying to remember the next line in his inebriated state.

“I see a voice? I think that’s how it goes. Now will I to the chink, to spy and I can hear my Thisbe’s face. Why the fuck is it hear her face? Thisbe?”

“Very good,” Sakura laughed. “My love thou art, my love, I think.”

“Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grace? That’s it right? And like Lim-something am I trusty still.”

“The next line is awful. Helen of Troy is the most famous adulterer. I guess that’s supposed to be funny through irony or something.”

“Yeah and I’m sure Lim-whatever didn’t love her anyway. Blah, blah, blah. Oh, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.”

“I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all,” Sakura whispered back, eyes downcast. She wanted him to come over but it was likely that someone would wonder where he was soon.

“Hey.” Sasuke tipped her chin up and through the space in the fencing kissed her. The icy bars stung her cheeks and his tongue was coated in rum but his mouth was warm and soft. Sasuke’s hand snuck through the bar and he held onto her hip. “Fuck this fence.”

“I can’t wait until we’re back in school and I can see you all I want without this stupid fence in the way.” Sakura pressed her forehead against the bars and pouted when Sasuke mimicked the action. She felt more of the cold metal than Sasuke’s skin. “Do you think it’s gonna snow a lot this year?”

“I hope not. We can’t walk on our roofs when it starts to get icy out.”

The two of them stood there quietly, holding hands through the fence. The only sound was of the people inside counting off until the new year. There was a loud applause and cheers signaling midnight. Sakura pressed her face against the bars again and kissed Sasuke chastely on the lips.

“Happy New Year, love.”

“Happy New Year, Sakura.” Sasuke kissed her once more and then a second time before pulling away. “I should go. Itachi wanted to visit the shrine as soon as it was the new year instead of waiting until daylight. Hatsumōde and all.”

“I probably won’t go this year. Too many people came to take photos of the oh so exotic Japanese people last year. It pissed Ino off and she’s not going.”

“Why don’t you come with us? There’s room in Shisui’s car for one more. And I’m sure Izumi would love to see you.” Sasuke added the last part with a hint of distaste that made Sakura giggle.

“You guys go to Naka Shrine, right? Isn’t that like a strictly Uchiha shrine.”

“Nah. Izumi wanted to go somewhere else this year.” Sasuke looked down at her thoughtfully for a moment. “Wait here for a moment.”

Sakura watched Sasuke enter his home from the back porch. She stood by the fence, patiently waiting. A moment later Sasuke came back out, his mother following behind him.

“You’re alone tonight, Sakura?” Mikoto gave her a worried look and then her eyes shifted to the house. The lights were still off because Sakura went straight to her backyard when she came home. “Your parents are still at the café?”

“They stay open later on New Year’s Eve. Gives people a place to go that’s not a bar.”

“That’s not good. You should’ve come over then. Shame on you Sasuke for not telling me until now.” Mikoto lightly slapped Sasuke on the arm. Sakura giggled, loving how stern the petite woman was with her tall son. “The young people are heading off for the first shrine visit. You should go with them. No arguments.”

Mikoto put a finger up to silence Sakura who had opened her mouth to protest. Sasuke gave her a lopsided grin from over his mother’s head. If he had been sober Sakura was sure he would have smirked instead.

“They’re getting ready to go. Go grab a hat and some gloves. That’s a nice scarf. I think Sasuke has one like it.”

Sasuke snorted and turned to leave. Mikoto shooed Sakura toward her house and followed her son back into the house. Sakura rolled her eyes and went to go do as she was told.

When Sakura met Sasuke and his brother in front of their house her jaw dropped when she saw the older Uchihas. The three of them were wearing full kimonos and Izumi even had a faux fur shawl around her shoulders.

“You guys really go all out.” Sakura whistled. Shisui started posing for her which earned him a slap to the back of his head from Sasuke.

“This is for you Little One.” Itachi handed Sakura a small envelope with a cherry blossom design. Sakura’s eyes went wide and she tried to give it back but Itachi pulled his hands up away from her. “Nope. Take it. It’s your otoshidama. Don’t worry. I gave one to Sasuke and I have one for Naruto too.”

“I forget how much of an old man he is sometimes,” Izumi joked. “Just take the money. We should get going. I bet it’s going to be crowded.”

Izumi took a hold of Sakura’s hand and led her to the car. Sasuke followed behind them grumbling. Sakura snickered, remembering how bad Sasuke was at sharing, especially with Izumi and Shisui.

Izumi was right to assume it would be crowded. The day crowd would be worse especially with the increase in culture tourists that would be taking in the sights.

“I’m going to get some charms.” Izumi informed them all. “Especially for the students here. Come on you guys.”

Izumi linked arms with Shisui and Itachi and dragged them away. Sasuke tried to follow them but lost them in the crowd.

“Be careful with him!” He cried out. Sakura put a hand on his arm and rubbed gently to calm him down. It was likely that he was going to shout at Izumi for dragging his brother away in a crowded place.

“He’ll be fine. Let’s get in line and hold their place.”

“They better bring us some hot sake,” Sasuke grumbled. He took Sakura’s hand in his hand which made her eyes go wide. “Just making sure you don’t get lost.”

“Okay.” Sakura nodded slowly. She didn’t say a thing when Sasuke pulled her hand into his pocket. She just leaned closer into his body and closed her eyes as she laid her head against his arm.

They held hands, hidden in a crowd of hundreds.

Kingdom For Two [7-9]

Chapter Seven: Let’s Take It Day By Day

Sometimes, opening his eyes in the morning was the greatest accomplishment of the day. Sometimes just breathing was reason to celebrate.

Cold. Unreasonably cold. Itachi’s body had difficulty regulating body temperature properly. He could be burning or he could be freezing, sometimes it was the complete opposite of what everyone else felt. Today, he was cold, even in the comfortable heat of his family home.

Sliding his legs over the edge of his bed, Itachi sat there for a moment, taking in all the creaks and aches of his limbs. Just the usual, no new pain. He stood up and walked over to his rocking chair and took his oversized black and red striped duster cardigan that was hanging off the back and pulled it on over the sweater he was already wearing. His father hated the cardigan, calling it too feminine. It became well-worn because of how often Itachi made it part of his ensemble after that.

Itachi sighed, body comforted in it’s new layer. He pulled at the sleeves and the way they covered his hands so only his fingernails poked out. His freshly painted fingernails. Itachi’s hands shook more often than not nowadays so Izumi took over the painting. If he was in a pleasant enough mood and wanted to go out he would go to a salon with his mother who could care less if it was yet another thing his father didn’t like.

“It’s just nail polish, Fugaku.” His mother had huffed and rolled her eyes. “It isn’t permanent and besides…it looks fantastic on him. He has such nice looking hands.”

Itachi put on his house slippers, not wanting to feel the cold of the hardwood floor any longer, and made his way down to the kitchen. He shuffled past the great room, grateful for his house slippers as he walked over the marble tiling, and made his way to the kitchen.

“Don’t you dare only drink juice, Itachi.” Mikoto narrowed her eyes at her eldest son as he reached for the pitcher of orange juice in the fridge. Itachi sighed and made room for his mother to pull out ingredients for a late breakfast.

Itachi had the bad habit of skipping meals. Sometimes due to nausea but mostly because he didn’t have an appetite or the energy to eat. He couldn’t summon the will to eat anything when his body didn’t communicate hunger to him. The periods of time in which he was prescribed Prednisone made it easier to eat because it increased his appetite but at the same time it made it harder to sleep.

Itachi sat on a barstool at the kitchen island and watched his mother as she cooked. His mother looked young for her age and she moved with grace. Sometimes he felt like his mother was the twenty-two year old and he was the forty-five year old. It wasn’t like that was an old age, but a twenty-two year old should be able to run circles around someone that age.

Itachi smiled softly, eyes tender as he watched his mother’s process. She sprinkled a bit of sugar with the salt she used for his rolled omelet because of his love of sweet things. She slid over a small bowl of the fruit salad that she had been preparing earlier for him to eat, mostly berries with clementine slices. She warmed up a croissant, his preference over toast.

Itachi didn’t usually care for the way his mother spoiled him and Sasuke. He would have been fine with a bowl of cereal but he wouldn’t take this away from her. He hadn’t needed her most of his life, a truly independent child. He never complained and never asked for anything. He was a genius, choosing to take the high school equivalency test instead of attending and going straight to college when he was fourteen, never once needing his parents help in his studies.

It wasn’t until he was nineteen when he first started getting sick that his mother felt like she had any part in his life. It wasn’t until he got sick that he started realizing that he had never put much mind to his family. He loved them but he never made much time for them, not even for Sasuke who he was forced to admit was the person he cared about most, even more than the rest of his family, more than anyone else.

“Where’s Sasuke?”

“He went for a run earlier. He’s in the exercise room now.”

Itachi sighed. Although his family was humble it was hard to forget that they were blue bloods when he looked around at his home. It was one of the reasons he preferred to eat in the kitchen. It was ridiculous that they had a breakfast room which was the same size as their dining room that was attached to the living room that they only sat in when they had guests. It was a beautiful room covered filled with an array of houseplants but Itachi felt weird and out of place in his large and beautiful home.

“I’m going to go to Shisui’s place later.”

“Invite him over for dinner,” Mikoto ordered as she cleared the counter of the used dishes. “And Izumi too. You guys hang out all of the time but I feel like I haven’t really seen either of them in a while.”

“Of course.”

Itachi left the kitchen to head over to the exercise room which required him crossing the great room again. The great room was even more proof of how ostentatious their house was. All the furniture was high end and modern and faced a recently renovated fireplace to match the modern interior of their home.

Itachi found Sasuke using one of their family’s weight lifting equipment to work on his arms. His younger brother was shirtless revealing a lean yet muscular form that reminded him much of what he use to look like when he had the energy to exercise. Because it was winter now he couldn’t swim in their pool. Swimming was the easiest form of exercise for him but he disliked indoor pools.

Itachi smirked at his little brother who was heavily distracted with his workout and hadn’t heard him come in due to having his headphones in. It amused Itachi at how much energy Sasuke had left over to work out considering his healthy sex life. Granted he hadn’t heard anything the night before but Itachi had heard plenty of soft sounds coming through his bedroom wall every night the previous week. No matter how quiet they tried to be, Sasuke and Sakura’s night sessions were just loud enough for him to hear. It was a good thing that the master bedroom was on the first floor and if there were any guests to use the room down the hall they wouldn’t be able to hear at all. Itachi had tested the distance in which they could be heard.

On bad days, Itachi was angry, pissed off that his brother would be so inconsiderate as to rut like an animal when he knew on the other side of the wall his older brother’s bed stood against it, their rooms almost a perfect mirror in regards to the furniture. He refused to acknowledge the jealousy he felt when he heard Sakura let out pleasured and happy sounds. Sounds he couldn’t always pull from his loves because of the shape of his body.

On better days, it amused him how Sasuke’s mood and behavior depended on whether or not Sakura and him were visiting each other. In fact, the past week had easily been Sasuke’s best week since school had started. Itachi had caught him humming to himself the other day as he grabbed something to eat before school. If it weren’t obvious that they were keeping their relationship secret, Itachi would have laughed in his face at the fact that Sasuke stood straighter, the bags under his eyes were lighter, and he wasn’t as quick to snap at everything that irritated him. Getting laid was just as good for Sasuke as his therapy sessions were.

“Sasuke?” Itachi pulled out one of Sasuke’s earbuds. Sasuke paused in his repetition and looked up. “Can you drive me over to Shisui’s?”

“Aa. Let me shower first.”

Itachi hated when he had to depend on others. He preferred when he could come and go as he pleased but some days, like today, it wasn’t possible. He didn’t have the energy required to drive himself. Didn’t have the energy to argue with himself that he would be fine on his own.

Shisui lived in a small but posh apartment in River Place, the area Fugaku called the “artsy” part of town where Konoha started to look more city than town. Itachi couldn’t argue with his father, almost every architectural structure on the other side of Naka River was a work of art including the bridge needed to cross to reach River Place. At night the bridge lit up along the arch revealing a beautiful rainbow light mosaic art piece. It glowed at a healthy brightness that didn’t disturb the residents but still made it a wonder.

Itachi would have moved there, moved in with Shisui if he hadn’t gotten sick. He hated being a burden to his family, he wouldn’t do it to Shisui or Izumi.

Itachi had tried to leave them once. He tried to split up from them causing them all to get into a fight. Shisui and Izumi refused to part from him, inserting themselves into his life so that even though they weren’t together he was still stuck with them. Itachi eventually caved in, too lovesick to be near them yet so far away at the same time.

“Hey Babe,” Shisui greeted him when he walked into apartment and shut the door. Shisui cupped his face in his hands and gave him a kiss, too deep to be chaste but short enough that it wasn’t inappropriate for a greeting.

“Hello,” Itachi smiled softly giving him a peck on his cheek. “Where’s Zu-Zu?”

“She found out you were coming over this morning and rushed over here to disinfect and clean everything.” Shisui rolled his eyes and grinned cheekily. “She’s a mad woman. Honey! Babe’s here!”

There was a small crashing sound like something was being dropped and then the thud of feet slapping on the hardwood floor.

“Ita!” Izumi turned the corner and wrapped her arms around Itachi’s waist. Itachi kissed the top of her head and she squeezed tighter. “Thank God you’re here. I was stuck with Shi and his mess the entire morning.”

“It wasn’t that bad.” Shisui hugged Itachi, squashing Izumi between them. “You’re exaggerating, Hon.”

“Oh, please,” came Izumi’s muffled reply. “Your place would be filthy if Ita and I didn’t clean up.”

That wasn’t necessarily true. Itachi hadn’t been able to do any cleaning in a long time so it was usually Izumi taking care of everything. Itachi would help with small things here and there but Izumi had a hard time letting him. Itachi had blown up once when she wouldn’t let him do a few loads of laundry and Shisui got angry when Izumi started crying and apologizing. It wasn’t a good day.

“I hope you already set up the movie, Shi,” Izumi pushed herself free from their group hug and headed to the kitchen to grab a bowl of popcorn that was sitting on the counter. “You had more than enough time to get everything ready.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Itachi followed Shisui to the couch. Shisui leaned his back against the arm and pulled Itachi to lie with his back against his chest. Izumi followed behind them and nestled herself in front of Itachi between his legs. Shisui’s guests always wondered why his couch didn’t face the television. It was their favorite sitting position.

Twenty minutes into the movie, Itachi started squirming. He couldn’t stay comfortable and his body was protesting it’s stillness. Izumi had to get up so that Itachi could stretch out a bit. It happened a few more times causing them to pause the movie frequently.

“Let’s take a nap,” Izumi suggested, faking a yawn. Itachi’s eyes narrowed at her, knowing exactly what she was trying to do and he felt slightly insulted that she was trying to get him to rest after watching a movie. No matter how much he needed it.

“A nap? Or a nap?” Shisui asked, rubbing his crotch against Itachi’s backside. Itachi felt heat creep up his neck remembering how he couldn’t allow Shisui to finish the last time they were all his bedroom due to the stress it was giving his muscles and legs. He felt pathetic at how Izumi and Shisui had to do all of the work when it came to sex.

“No, you perv,” Izumi snapped, face flushing pink at the way Shisui was staring at her lewdly. “I wanna cuddle.”

“And I wanna see you sit on Itachi’s face. Let’s compromise.”

“How about we just cuddle?” Itachi sided with Izumi. He wasn’t going to try to prove anything to anyone with how his body was feeling.

They curled up all together on Shisui’s king sized bed. He had bought the bed so big so they could all lay in it comfortably. Izumi stroked Itachi’s hair as he rest his face in the crook of her neck. Shisui wrapped an arm around her waist, his face buried in her hair. Itachi tried to relax but his body was feeling restless.

“I think when we have kids they should all be Shisui’s.”

“What? No. I thought they were going to be all of yours, Babe.” Shisui frowned. “When curly haired kids pop out your parents are going to flip and question your marriage to Honey. What are we going to do? Confess that I’m fucking the both of you? Yeah, sure. Fugaku’s gonna love that.”

“I want one from the both of you,” Izumi mumbled into Itachi’s hair. “Why are we discussing this?”

Itachi sighed and pressed his face deeper into Izumi’s neck hoping the smell of violets would cheer him up. It didn’t.

“No child should share my genetics.”

Izumi stiffened in his hold. It was one of the weird things about Itachi being sick. They were over considerate to his condition but at the same time acted like he wasn’t sick at all. Pretended that he didn’t have Lupus or MPA. Itachi knew that it wouldn’t be fair to bring children into the world that he would doom to being sick the same way he was. He knew that was one of the reasons why Sasuke kept Sakura at arm’s length. It was in his genes too. Itachi had all of the symptoms and the struggles but he wasn’t the only person in his family that may have Lupus.

“You’re such a pessimist.” Shisui tugged on Itachi’s ear playfully. “What are the odds one of our kids has it? So what if it runs in families? Look at your mom and dad. They’re both healthy.”

“And so am I.” Izumi took Itachi’s chin in between her thumb and index finger, lifting his face up to hers. She smiled tenderly at him and placed a sweet kiss on his lips. She leaned her head back and kissed the underside of Shisui’s jaw. “And I’m having one of your curly mopped brats too. I want our kids to have a little of each of us.”

“Besides,” Itachi mused, “it wouldn’t be too weird if we ended up with a curly haired child. Look at Sasuke’s hair.”

“That’s not curly. I don’t know what the hell that is.”

“It’s unruly. And it defies gravity.” Izumi giggled. “And it’s close enough.”

Dinner was awkward. It was too quiet as they all chewed their food. Itachi’s mood kept getting lower and lower.

He tried not to react to his pre-cut steak. Itachi knew his mother only did it so that if his hands had started shaking throughout the meal that he wouldn’t feel embarrassed when he needed to ask for help. But he still would have liked to have tried to cut his own food.

“I’m going to a hockey match with Naruto on Saturday.”

Everyone looked up from their dishes and turned to face Sasuke. Sasuke took a bite of his steak, staring down his father who sat across from him at the other end of the table. Fugaku put down his fork and knife and put his elbows on the table. He clasped his hands in front of his face and rested his chin and mouth on them.

“You’re going out?” Mikoto asked excitedly. Itachi smiled to himself, glad that Sasuke could do something to make her happy. “To hang out with friends?”

“Just Naruto?” Fugaku asked.

“No.” Sasuke matched his pose. “I’m going with Naruto, his girlfriend, and Sakura. He wants us, his best friends, to meet her.”

“Naruto has a girlfriend?” Mikoto squealed. Fugaku frowned at his wife but she was no longer paying attention to him. “You have to send me a picture of her on Saturday.” Mikoto turned back to her husband and asked, “Can you transfer money to Sasuke’s account? You’re going to go eat dinner before the match, right?”

“You expect him to pay for all of them?”

“Now you’re just being obtuse Fugaku.” Mikoto pursed her lips, her hands on her hips. “I expect Sasuke to pay for his own meal and for Sakura Haruno’s. I expect my son to be a gentleman.”

“Doesn’t Sakura Haruno have a job? And wouldn’t her feminist ideologies cause her to feel insulted that a man would assume he needed to foot the bill?”

“Fuagku. Again, you’re being obtuse.” Mikoto crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Sasuke should still offer and let her decide. And if she lets him pay he should have the money to back up his offer. Now transfer the damn money.”

Well played Sasuke. Itachi had to hold back from smirking. Sasuke had purposefully informed his parents of his plans so that it wouldn’t be a surprise when Sasuke was out with Sakura. And on top of that he had gotten his mother involved and now if it seemed like he and Sakura were on a date it wasn’t because he had taken her out but because his mother had told him to act the gentleman.

“Why do I feel like I owe the brat a pat on the back?” Shisui leaned over and whispered to Itachi.

“Because he deserves one.” Itachi smirked.

His father was severely mistaken if Sasuke was going to continue taking his bullshit lying down. Itachi took a sip of water and looked at his father and back to his brother, both of them continued to stare each other down as they ate.

Fugaku may have won some past battles but Sasuke wasn’t going to hand him the war.

Chapter Eight: Talk To Me Talk To Me

There was something heartbreaking about the smell of winter. It caused an ache in her chest when she breathed it in. The air of Konoha was brisk and clean, the cold of it harsh on Sakura’s cheeks as she ran through the worn-out path through the trees of the section of forest behind her neighborhood.

There were hundreds of trails, Konoha being mostly forest especially in the residential areas, but Sakura preferred running off the paths down the one she beat into the forest floor over the years.

She, Naruto, and Sasuke had created this path when they were ten. They would run through the woods together, Sasuke and Naruto racing against each other leaving her to trail behind them. Naruto refused to acknowledge that Sasuke was faster, always trying as hard as he could to push past him. It had taken a few more years before Sakura was truly able to run alongside them.

“On your right.”

Sakura turned her head slightly to her right. A dark blur pushed ahead of her. When she was finally able to focus on the back of the person running on her path she recognized the gravity defying locks that sat at the back of Sasuke’s head. Sakura grinned at the faux casual way Sasuke jogged, a slow pace for him that she could easily match without difficulty.

Sakura touched Sasuke’s elbow to get his attention, knowing that he wouldn’t go for a run without his headphones. Sasuke looked at her from the corner of his eye and raised an eyebrow. Sakura grinned cheekily and sprinted ahead, swerving down a newer path than the one they were on. She listened to the thud of feet hitting the ground behind her and knew he was chasing after her. She had a headstart but he was going to catch up soon. After all this time he was still faster than her.

Just a short moment after she took off ahead of him, Sakura was pulled to the right from behind by a pair of strong arms. She stayed still, letting Sasuke drag her off of the path behind a tree.

“You’re not a morning person,” Sakura stated cheekily. Sasuke rolled his eyes and took his headphones out.

“And you don’t like the cold.” Sasuke tugged on the zipper of Sakura’s sky blue lightweight running jacket. She protested and slapped his hand away. She wore thermal gloves, thermal leggings, and a thermal sweatshirt under her jacket and she still felt cold. She had no idea how Sasuke got away with wearing his basketball shorts and a hoodie over a t-shirt. She swore he had fire in his blood.

“So what’s your day like today?”

The two of them strolled through the woods forgetting their workout. No one ever came by this part of the woods and it had become one of their hiding places over the past year. They would walk until they found a secluded clearing and just lay in the grass talking or just enjoying each other’s presence in silence.

“How’s Itachi?”

Sakura shifted on her side and stared at Sasuke as he looked up at the gray November sky. They laid in the grass, a yard apart, and Sakura reached out with her arms in the space between them, reaching for him, finger tips longing to make contact. Sakura wanted more words. Wanted to hear his thoughts and his feelings. Wanted him to be more open. She wanted to know all about what hurt him.

Talk to me, talk to me. Just turn around and talk to me.

Sasuke turned his head to look at her. He just stared at her, face blank for a moment, and then crawled toward her. He hovered over her and pressed his face to her neck, inhaling her scent and pressing kisses to her jawline and throat. He unzipped her jacket and slid his palms up her torso, pushing her thermal up.


Sasuke kissed her fiercely and pulled up her thermal and sports bra up by her armpits. Sakura hissed as the harsh cold air nipped at her skin.

“Sasuke! It’s too cold for that!” Sakura squirmed and pulled herself away, adjusting her clothes. Sasuke scowled and turned his face away from her. Sakura pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes at him.

Is that really all I’m for?

“I have to go Sasuke. I’ll see you later.”

Without taking another look back, Sakura got up and sprinted away. She didn’t hear the thud of feet hitting the ground chasing her this time.

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

Sasuke pulled away from the exercise room’s cardio strike bag. He reached back for it, resting his forehead on it. His forehead was slick and slipping from the sweat but he gripped onto it with his hands.

He couldn’t get the look on Sakura’s face out of his head. The confusion, the frustration, and then the hurt. He knew he was being pretty shitty when he ignored her but he didn’t want to talk about Itachi. Sasuke didn’t want to think or talk about what was going on with his brother. But he also couldn’t just fuck his problems away.

Sakura was a wonderful reprieve from constantly worrying and stressing about what was going on with Itachi and his body. She was a source of warmth and a blissful distraction from his father’s unrelenting judgement and demands for greatness in all that he does. But pounding her into his mattress wasn’t enough for a relationship. At least not one that Sakura deserved. One that he wasn’t even sure he could give her.

Frustrated, Sasuke pulled back from the strike bag and spun, slamming his heel against the bag with enough force to almost topple it over.

“Wow. It must have really pissed you off. I’m sure the strike bag is sorry and would like to talk it out.”

Sasuke almost audibly groaned when he heard his cousin’s voice. Shisui had always been irritating, taking up all of his brother’s free time when they were younger. It only got worse when he started fucking him.

Sasuke shook his head and tried to clear his negative thoughts. It was rude to belittle his brother’s relationship with Shisui by narrowing it down to their more carnal forms of intimacy. He understood that Itachi, Shisui, and Izumi had a hard time as it was with the way society judged their relationship. The three of them had sat him down and gave him the “sex talk he wouldn’t hear in school or from their parents”. It was weird hearing his brother tell him he was panromantic asexual and that Shisui was bisexual and that it seemed that Izumi was heterosexual because so far she was only attracted to men. Talking about different sexualities had been overwhelming back then considering he wasn’t sure if he was ever going to be interested in sex when he was fourteen years old.

Well, he figured that out fine later on despite Naruto’s pushiness to get him to watch porn and to “figure that shit out”. Shisui just laughed at him when he told them “it” only seemed to work when he thought of one specific person. Izumi was at least nicer and told him it was probably more of an emotional thing for him. Sasuke completely blanked when Itachi tried to give him a long lecture about the ace spectrum and decided he didn’t give a fuck about sexualities and whatever the hell “demisexual” was.

It was a lot easier for him to just go with whatever makes someone happy then to deal with all the labels of things. He, personally, just didn’t care.

“What are you doing here Shisui?” Sasuke bent down to pick up his towel and iPod from the ground.

“I came here to hang out with your brother since I’m off today. It’s rare that it’s ever just him and me and we need to talk.”

“Without Izumi?” Sasuke paused in wiping his sweat off and raised an eyebrow at him.

“Yeah, this isn’t a group thing and I know Itachi wouldn’t appreciate it if we talked about it in front of her.”

“Why are you excluding her?” Sasuke narrowed his eyes at Shisui and crossed his arms in front of his chest. He knew he was being unusually defensive of Izumi but he was still affected from when Naruto used to isolate him and Sakura. The situation was completely different but it still caused something unpleasant to stir in his chest.

Shisui frowned at him but then smirked, crossing his arms in front of his chest and shifting his weight to one leg, hitching one hip up.

“Because Izumi babies Itachi sometimes and he won’t feel comfortable venting about the fact that Itachi and I are having problems being physically intimate if she were there. It’s not an Izumi thing that and he wouldn’t want her to worry about it.”

Sasuke’s face twisted in disgust. Somehow hearing about his older brother having sex was just as bad as when he had heard his parents actually having sex when he was younger. He knew Itachi had sex with Izumi and Shisui and that he had always felt insecure about it because sometimes he was repulsed by the act and didn’t want them to think he didn’t love them. It was just awkward because Itachi had always been as much of a parental figure to him as his parents were.

“Don’t make that face. You asked.”

“He’s not feeling well today so keep your hands off of my brother,” Sasuke snapped, pushing past him to leave the exercise room. Shisui grinned broadly and followed him.

“You really need to get over your brother complex.”

“Shut up!”

“Why are you guys arguing?”

Sasuke looked across the great room and saw Itachi holding a mug and a plate of cookies and wearing his oversized duster cardigan. Sasuke hated how much smaller it seemed to make Itachi.

“We’re not.” Sasuke looked down at the marble floor, trying hard not seem like a little kid getting caught breaking a rule and failing. He walked over to his brother and grabbed the plate and mug from him. “I’ll take this up to your room.”

“Oh, we’re going to the media room actually. We’re going to turn on Flames Central and listen to a bunch of middle aged men and the one woman make commentary for hours before watching the match. And don’t worry, I actually like how the heat feels on my hands.” Itachi took back the mug and cupped it in both hands.

“Why do I feel like you’re mocking me?” Shisui muttered.

Sasuke shifted on the balls of his feet, feeling uncomfortable. It was one of those moments that he felt guilty even though it would probably hurt his brother’s feelings if he knew that Sasuke was feeling any guilt.

Sasuke was excited to go watch the Flames play. Usually he would curl up on the couch in the media room and watch with his brother. Ever since his brother started to drift apart from his friends, he had been the one to hang out with Itachi and he felt guilt naw at him if he left him alone. He also felt guilty knowing that going to a live match was something that Itachi would enjoy but had difficulty even thinking about the possibility because he was never sure if he could attend until the day of and if he couldn’t that would be a waste of tickets. And pushing himself on that day to sit in an uncomfortable arena seat would mess him up for the following day.

Itachi’s life just sucked so much.

“Don’t you have to get ready for your date? You stink.” Itachi wrinkled his nose at his brother. “Go shower and Shisui and I will pick you out an outfit.”

“I can dress myself,” Sasuke grumbled. “And it’s not a date.”

“Sure you can,” Shisui laughed. “And of course you’re not going on a date with Itty Bitty.” Sasuke didn’t like the way Shisui winked at him.

“Don’t call her that.” To Sasuke it seemed as though everyone had something they called Sakura and she hated nicknames. Well, not all of them. Sakura did seem to like the one Itachi gave her but it wasn’t like anyone disliked Itachi and the nickname was sweet.

“Just go shower, Sasuke.” Itachi pushed his brother toward the foyer to get to the stairs. He sounded tired of the conversation and standing there so Sasuke allowed himself to be ordered around just to give his brother a break.

“And do something about your hair.”

“Shut up Shisui.”

Sakura decided to walk over to Naruto’s house and wait with him for Sasuke. Logically it made sense because she wouldn’t be pushing her luck by getting in the car alone where Fugaku could see them. And she could also make sure that Naruto was dressed properly for his date.

She was avoiding telling herself she was just trying to stay away from Sasuke for as long as she possibly could.

Sakura had been excited for today. She was going to go watch her favorite hockey team play and she was going to be going on her first date ever. It didn’t matter that it was a double date and that Naruto would be with them the entire time. But she apparently got excited for no reason. She wasn’t going on a date. It was Naruto’s date with Hinata. She and Sasuke were just going for the ride.

“You look, um, nice?” Naruto raised his eyebrow at Sakura’s attire. He was under the assumption that she was going to dress cutely. Sakura had shown up in light blue skinny jeans and knee high boots but wore the white and red jersey for her favorite player, the goalie, under her faux fur trimmed utility jacket. It wasn’t what he expected from her as date clothes which seemed like a bad sign. He had hoped that this would be a good chance for his best friends to act like a couple but something seemed to have happened.

“Are you really going to wear your orange hoodie? Naruto, I hope you at least washed it.”

Naruto grabbed onto the strings of his hood defensively. It was like his security blanket. He never left the house without his hoodie in his favorite color.

“I used Febreeze.”

“Gross, Naruto.”

Sakura sat on the edge of Naruto’s bed, too scared to go near anything else. How he got away with having a messy room with Kushina for a mother baffled her.  She would have hung out with Karin but she seemed to be out for the evening already. Karin’s room was cluttered─Sakura found out she was secretly a sentimental person that hated throwing things out─but clean and everything seemed to have an order that was easy to understand. The Uzumaki cousins were so different.

I’m outside. Why did you go ahead? I needed to talk…

“Sasuke’s outside.” Sakura cleared the text from her notifications, not bothering to open it and read the rest.

“Ready!” Naruto smashed a bright red beanie with the Flames logo across the front onto his head. It clashed horribly with his orange hoodie but he looked happy. “Let’s go pick up Hina.”

Sakura and Naruto headed out, hugging Kushina goodbye before leaving. Naruto pulled her right into a giant bear hug, lifting her slightly off the ground.

Behave Naruto!” Kushina called out as they headed down the drive.

“Sheesh, you would think I was seven or something,” Naruto grumbled. “What are you doing?”

Sakura was in the process of climbing past the front passenger seat to get to the rear seats of Sasuke’s two door Jeep. Sasuke hadn’t said anything, just looked at her all confused.

“Sakura, I’m going to have to sit in the back with Hina.”

“We can switch when we get her.”

Sakura buckled her seatbelt and looked out the plastic window of the soft top, refusing to look at Sasuke.

Hinata was a quiet girl. Sasuke forgot she was there sometimes because she seemed to sort of blend into the background. The opposite of Sakura. His eyes kept shifting to look at her as she walked on the other side of Hinata who was practically being dragged by Naruto who hadn’t let go of her hand ever since she got into Sasuke’s Jeep.

“There was a perfectly good ramen place down the street,” Naruto complained. He had tried to drag everyone over there but Sakura put her foot down and insisted that it wasn’t appropriate despite Hinata’s protests of not caring where they ate. Sakura got her way and they were standing in a Pizza Kitchen much to Sasuke’s secret delight.

He hoped he was part of the reason Sakura suggested the place but she had been giving him the cold shoulder. It seemed he was in for another one of her silent treatments which was starting to get annoying.

“Two,” Sasuke informed the hostess. “Preferably a booth.”

“Sasuke there’s four of us.” Naruto poked hard on his shoulder. Sasuke elbowed him to get him to stop.

“Really, idiot? Don’t you want one on one time with your date?” Sasuke continued to give Naruto an unimpressed look as he watched his face flush crimson.


“Yeah. Oh.” Sasuke pushed Sakura on the small of her back despite the noise of protest she made when she realized that he had just split the group. He knew she wouldn’t want to cause a scene in front of Hinata, hoping to make a good impression for Naruto’s sake.

When they got to the booth, Sasuke waited for Sakura to slide in and slid in after her, trapping her inside. Sasuke quickly placed their order of four cheese and tomato pizza with extra tomatoes before Sakura could make any comment.

“Really, Sasuke? You’re going to trap me in here?” Sakura huffed and crossed her arms in front of her chest.

“Isn’t this what you do on a date? Obnoxiously sit on the same side of a booth and leave the other side completely empty?”

“Wait. We are on a date?”

The tone of voice she had used stung a lot more than Sasuke was prepared for. He forgot sometimes that a side effect of Sakura having become friends with Ino Yamanaka years ago was that she no longer had a problem with making biting comments. Sakura wasn’t always sweet. It just wasn’t something he ever had to deal with.

“Aren’t we?” Sasuke asked softly, playing with the rolled up cloth napkin of utensils left in front of him. “I was under the impression that we were.”

“We’re not,” Sakura answered. She rest an elbow on the tabletop and rest her cheek against her fist, facing away from him. “Couples go on dates. We’re just people that fuck each other.”

There was a watery edge to Sakura’s voice. Sasuke was sure that if she was looking at him he would see her jade eyes turn glassy as they welled up with tears.

“There’s more to us than just people that fuck each other.”

“Okay. We’re friends that fuck each other.” Sakura turned to face him, glaring. “No. Not friends. Friendly acquaintances. Neighbors that are just way too friendly.”

“I’m sorry about earlier. I didn’t mean to─”

“It’s fine, Sasuke.” Sakura leaned back against the booth and looked up at him with a defeated look on her face. “I just misconstrued what I meant to you. But I would really like to stop whatever the hell it is that we’re doing, okay? I can’t anymore.”

Sasuke expected this to happen. He figured one day Sakura would want more than he could currently offer her. He just hadn’t expected the conversation to happen in the middle of Pizza Kitchen during what was suppose to be their first real date.

“I just wanted you to talk to me.” Sakura’s voice was low and raspy, like she was holding back from sobbing. “I’m starting to feel like all I’m good for in your life is to lie on my back and spread my legs. Would it even matter if it was me?”

“Don’t you dare try to suggest that. Don’t think for one second that─”

“What else am I supposed to think?” Sakura cut him off. “I just want you talk to me but apparently I’m useless for anything that isn’t physical because you never tell me how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking about. What do you want from me, Sasuke?”

Everything. But Sasuke knew he shouldn’t ask for anything from her. He was always lost in his head thinking about the unfairness of his brother’s life. His father was intent on controlling his life. He had to keep his mother blissfully ignorant of exactly how controlling his father was so that she could remain happy and her attention would stay on Itachi who needed her care and affection more than he did. He was still fucked in the head from all the shit that went down in Oto, something he was never going to talk to anyone about because it involved more people than just him.

But he could be just a little selfish, right? His relationship with Sakura was the only selfish thing he had done in a long time.

“This.” Sasuke slid his hand across the booth’s seat and grabbed Sakura’s hand, interlocking their fingers. “I want this.”

“Sasuke─” Sakura pulled away from him and looked down at her lap when the waiter came back with their pizza.

They sat in silence for a bit. Sakura picked out all of the excess tomato slices from her pizza and put them on Sasuke’s plate. After a quiet ten minutes Sasuke grabbed onto Sakura’s hand again. He pulled her hand under the table and intertwined their fingers. He held on tight when Sakura tried to pull away.

“I can try harder. I will try harder.” Sasuke rubbed the hand he held with his thumb the way Sakura usually rubbed his when they held hands as they tried to fall asleep. Sasuke waited patiently for an answer. It came in the form of Sakura resting her head against his arm.

“So. How do these date things go?”

“Not completely sure. But we’re definitely not doing that.”

Sakura looked over in the direction Sasuke was nodding his chin towards and giggled. Naruto’s table was in perfect sight of theirs and he was attempting to feed Hinata but was using a lot more force than necessary to place the food in her mouth.

“I guess it’s cute when they do it.” Sakura pulled out her phone to take pictures of them. It would be good teasing material. “So what do you think about Hinata?”

“Quiet. Small. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

“Really? She was sitting right in your car and you didn’t notice anything else besides the obvious fact that she’s small?”

“Well, I was focused on more important things. Important pink haired things.” Sasuke smirked down at Sakura who had flushed pink.

“She seems nice.”

“I can’t gather any opinion on the matter considering she barely talks.”

“I thought you would consider that a good trait since you don’t talk much yourself.”

“Naruto is my best friend and you’re my girlfriend. And you two are the chattiest people I know other than Yamanaka. I don’t think most people would take that information in and come to the conclusion that I like quiet people.”

“I’m your girlfriend?”

“Jesus, Sakura. What else would you be?” Sasuke scowled, the tips of his ears turning red in embarrassment. There had been too much awe in her voice when she asked the question.

He hadn’t thought it needed to be said out loud. It was the kind of the thing he considered to be obvious. Yes, their relationship had to remain a secret from his father and sadly the other members of his family for security, but it wasn’t like he didn’t want her to be his girlfriend. He assumed she had been his girlfriend for the past few years already.

Well. Now I know why she doesn’t ever bug me about anniversary stuff.

“You’re annoying you know that?”

“Hey! I am not─”

Sasuke stuffed a slice of pizza in her mouth to prevent her from talking. Sakura narrowed her eyes at him but took a bite from the slice. She pouted and looked sort of cute with tomato sauce on the corner of her mouth.

Dates aren’t that bad, I guess.

“You’re being ridiculous.” Sasuke sighed and pushed Sakura toward his car. When she hopped out of his Jeep to let Naruto out from the back seat she tried to start walking home but was dragged back into the car.

“You’re dad is going to see me and think we lied about going to the game.”

“You’re overthinking everything. It would make perfect sense for you to still be in my car considering you live right fucking next door. Besides. Date’s not over.”


“I had to share you with Naruto and Hinata. So date’s not over.”

“We just fought earlier about the fact that all we seem to do is have sex. Do you really think─”

“We’re going to talk. You wanted to talk right?”

Sakura chewed on her lower lip. She did say that she wanted him to open up more. But now wasn’t the best time.

“I do. I think we have a communication problem. But not now. I would rather you be home on time and not get in trouble with your dad.”

“Fine. I’ll just come over later.”


Sasuke’s eyes widened at her cry of protest. He knew he had fucked up earlier and was aware that they wouldn’t be having sex anytime soon but he didn’t expect to be completely barred from her room.

“Not tonight,” Sakura said quickly. “I feel like tonight’s not a good night for one of our gambles. We just went out together and it feels riskier.”


Sasuke turned back around, driving back up Forest Grove Street to enter their cul-de-sac. He pulled up his driveway and was going to walk Sakura the twenty feet to hr house when she held up her hand to stop him.

“You should go straight to your house. Don’t even look to make sure that I’m in my house.”

“You’re being paranoid.”

“Just do it Sasuke.”

Sasuke sighed and did as she asked. Sakura kept an eye on him as he walked up his stone walkway and up the stoop of his house to make sure he never turned toward her house. As soon as Sasuke unlocked his front door and walked in the light in the living room went on. It was safe to assume that it was Fugaku waiting for Sasuke.

God. That man is predictable.

Sakura shook her head and went inside her own home. She headed into her kitchen and found a note on the counter. Her parents had gone to bed because of their early start the next day but left something for her to eat in the fridge just in case she was hungry after the game. Her dad said he would see her at work in the morning and that he wanted a play by play of the match. Her mom had placed kisses goodnight with her baby pink lipstick on the bottom of the note.

Sakura went to bed wondering why some parents had the time to spend with their kids and yet wasted it on not loving them properly.

Chapter Nine: Let’s Take A Trip

Sasuke was getting fed up with his friends. One of them kept holding his phone up to his face instead of his book and the other wouldn’t stop staring off in the direction of a certain redhead with a dazed expression on his face.

“I thought you guys wanted to study.”

Naruto and Suigetsu had asked Sasuke to tutor them. Suigetsu needed to keep his grades up to remain on the swim team and Kushina had asked Mikoto if Sasuke could help Naruto with Pre-Calc. Naruto’s grades had been dropping and Sasuke had a pretty good idea why.

Sasuke snatched Naruto’s cell phone away. He looked at the screen and saw that he had been messaging Hinata. Sasuke was tempted to remind Naruto that if he distracted his girlfriend when she should have been doing her own schoolwork that her tutor would inform her father and she would have her phone confiscated. He would have, but the idiot had been so damn happy the past few weeks and everything was starting to get back to normal with them.

But he didn’t mind screwing with Suigetsu.

“Stop undressing Karin with your eyes and pay attention.”

Suigetsu scowled and Naruto’s face twisted in disgust.

“Gross! Dude, that’s my cousin!” Naruto gagged and Suigetsu reached to throttle him but Sasuke slammed Naruto’s chemistry book on the desk to get their attention back.

“You’re such a dick, Sasuke.” Suigetsu frowned and pulled his Konoha Swim Team hoodie’s hood over his head. He leaned back in his seat and lazily scrawled his answers to the practice problems Sasuke had made for him.

“Naruto, why do you have your Chem book with you?” Sasuke raised his eyebrow at his friend but instead of answering him Naruto just started waving excitedly to someone behind him.

“Sorry I’m late Naruto.”

Sasuke looked up and saw Sakura slide into the seat next to him across from Naruto. Karin had moved from the table she was sitting at and grabbed a chair to sit at the end between Sakura and Naruto.

“What are you doing here, Red?”

“Sakura told me she was going to tutor you in Chemistry for her last few hours this semester for the Honor Society and asked me to come with so that I know where to continue at home.”

“What? No! You suck at teaching!”

“No, I just don’t have the patience for morons,” Karin sneered. Sakura gave a small cough and gave the Uzumaki cousins a disappointed look. Naruto dropped his gaze to his lap in shame. Karin turned her head away haughtily.

“We’re in a library,” Sakura scolded them. She turned to Sasuke and Sasuke was taken aback at how sweetly she smiled at him. Usually she was polite and gave the same smile she gave everyone else when they were in school but the adoration she usually had to mask was out in the open for anyone to see. “Sorry but this is the only time I can make to tutor. Do you mind if I help Naruto with Chem? You can assist Hozuki in the meantime.”

Sasuke really wanted to ask her why she was too busy. She usually did have a packed schedule. All seniors had to do at least twenty hours of community but Sakura went beyond that, actually enjoying volunteering at the Konoha Hospital Center. Then she had to do tutoring for the National Honor Society’s requirements. But she no longer had volleyball since it was winter now so that should have cleared up part of her schedule.

“I prefer to be called Suigetsu. But you can call me Sui since you’re so cute. Only cuties can.” Suigetsu winked at Sakura and Sasuke glared at him.

“Doesn’t Jūgo call you Sui?” Naruto cocked an eyebrow and grinned impishly at him. Karin started snickering and Sakura covered her mouth with her hands to suppress her giggles.

“Don’t you have something to study, Blondie?” Suigetsu snapped, turning back to his own work.

“Okay, Naruto. What are you having difficulty with?” Sakura pulled out her reading glasses and slipped them on.

Sasuke tried to focus on helping Suigetsu with his math work but he was distracted with Sakura sitting next to him and Naruto across from them. Nostalgia washed over him as they all sat in the library.

Sasuke paused in his writing as Sakura let out another frustrated huff. She was lying stomach down on his bed towards the foot of the bed and he was sitting on the floor with his back against it. Naruto had left moments earlier, Kushina having come by to pick him up for soccer practice.

Sasuke had started attending Oto Preparatory School two years prior, Naruto and Sakura had continued on to Konoha Secondary School after they all had graduated sixth grade from their local elementary school. Although they no longer attended the same school, the three of them still got together at Sasuke’s to do homework and hang out. Mikoto liked to keep the three of them around to keep an eye on their studies.

Sasuke watched as Sakura chewed on her lower lip and tapped her pencil against her nose. It was something she always did when she was concentrating on something she was trying to solve. It was an old habit but it was starting to make Sasuke feel strange when he saw her nibble on her lip.

Sakura let out another sigh and shifted her body, squirming a bit to find comfort. Sasuke knew it was mostly due to the fact her body had started to react to her anxiety over not being able to solve the practice problems Itachi had left for the both of them. Sakura wanted more challenging work but math had never been as easy for her as her other subjects.

Shifting her body had brought Sasuke’s attention lower, down to her clavicle and further. Her small breasts squished against his mattress creating an oddly appealing visual. Sasuke was almost tempted to reach over and button up her red blouse all the way. Now that he was in ninth grade he was starting to notice changes in his friend that he hadn’t before. He blamed Naruto and Shisui for his predicament.

Naruto had always been a pervert but it was getting worse as they got older. He had come over some time ago with a DVD he had “borrowed” from his godfather and watched it on Sasuke’s desktop. Sasuke had been repulsed by what he had seen and Naruto told him he was abnormal. Naruto kept coming over after that with new DVDs to see if he could figure out what Sasuke was interested in.

Nothing really clicked for him. It all seemed empty and meaningless. He felt nothing from what he was watching. When he brought up his concern with Itachi that he felt like something was wrong with him, it had been Itachi and his partners that took him aside and taught him about sexualities. Izumi took on the gentle older sister role and told him it was nothing to worry about. He was still really young and was probably not emotionally ready. Shisui joked with him and said the answer was probably closer than he thought. And he was right.

Sasuke tried to do what Naruto seemed to do, look at girls his own age─some older─and try to see them in a different light. The three girls he knew that were popular for their looks were Izumi, Ino Yamanaka, and Sakura.

In Izumi’s case it felt disloyal towards his brother to even attempt and slightly incestuous since they always had a sibling type relationship. He thought she was pretty, just like how he thought his mother was beautiful. Not that he would tell her because then Izumi would think that he actually liked her and it was fun watching her pout when she thought he didn’t care if she was there or not. Izumi still thought that sometimes, a slight insecurity stemming from the fact that he would cry and whine whenever she was around Itachi when he was a toddler.

In Ino’s case he understood logically why boys were interested in her. On paper it made sense. She had long silky blonde hair and almond shaped blue-green eyes framed with thick dark brown lashes that she would flutter teasingly. Ino was already curvy and boys like Naruto and Kiba Inuzuka had a hard time not staring at her chest. But she was loud and brash and it irritated him to be around her for too long. He had no idea how Chouji Akimichi and Shikamaru Nara did it but he guessed it had to do with the fact that the three of them were like Sasuke, Naruto, and Sakura: childhood friends since the crib.

Sakura’s popularity upon leaving elementary school unsettled him and Naruto. Naruto was always complaining about upperclassmen following her around and that she was just too cute for her own good. Sasuke was unsure of what to to think about that. Despite some annoying tendencies, he had always thought Sakura was nice, talkative but it was comforting and unsettling when she was quiet, and the only girl whose presence was welcomed. She was obviously pretty, his favorite characteristic was her wide green eyes. He loved the way they shined when she was happy and hated how they glittered when they welled with tears.

Sasuke liked Sakura. He could list all of her good traits but if he were honest he could probably find them in someone else. Anyone could be sweet and caring. Ino was proof that there were many chatty girls, perhaps he could find another one that wasn’t annoying but comforting. But just thinking about Sakura not being by his side and someone else taking that place, that seemed to have been regulated to her since they were infants, caused a sharp pang in his chest. There wasn’t any real reason he could find about why he liked Sakura. It was just something he felt and it got stronger every day.

He felt awkward watching Sakura, like he was being a bad friend, but he was curious. He wanted to know if he could muster any other feeling besides the obvious like. Sexual attraction was something he believed was important at fourteen, a bad concept instilled in him due to society.

Did Sasuke think Sakura was physically attractive? Yes, of course. No one could argue that she wasn’t pretty. A heart shaped face dusted with freckles that were slightly darker than her creamy skin. Plump pink lips that he kept finding himself looking at more often than not. Her eyes. He couldn’t get enough of her green, green eyes.

The more he stared at her the more he found more to like. She had long toned legs that he liked to watch as she ran towards him after he sprinted ahead of her and had to wait on her to catch up. She had a flat stomach that she exposed when her shirt slid up when they lounged around in the grass of their backyards, enjoying the weather. Sasuke recently discovered that he liked the way her body dipped and curved, her round and perky bottom becoming more pronounced, when she lied on her stomach on his bed when they were spending time in his room.

Sasuke enjoyed when she was close, close enough to smell the apple scent of her shampoo. Close enough to feel her shoulder length strands tickle his cheeks. The softness of her mouth against his.


Sasuke had been distracted, daydreaming, and never noticed Sakura lean over the edge of his bed to kiss him until she already had. His eyes widened and he watched her, confused, as she pulled away from him.

“Um. You were kind of staring at me, my mouth, so I…I thought maybe..that you also wanted to…” Sakura bit her lower lip and her eyes became downcast. “Sorry, can we pretend that didn’t happen?”

“No.” Sasuke swallowed hard. Sakura blinked up at him, jade eyes glassy from tears ushered out of embarrassment. Wanting to feel how soft her lips were pressed against his again, Sasuke cupped the base of Sakura’s neck and pulled her back down to kiss her.

Not sure of what to do he just pushed harder against her lips. Sasuke’s ears started to heat up, embarrassed at his inexperience, but soon enough something wonderful happened. Sakura matched his fierceness and parted her lips, the pressure causing Sasuke’s to do the same. Sakura moved her mouth against his, slow and clumsy, and he followed her lead. After a while of moving their mouths together a strange urge to be closer overwhelmed him and he attempted to pull Sakura even closer, forgetting that she was lying on the edge of his bed.

Sakura fell over, crashing her head against his knee. After an initial outcry of pain, Sakura blinked up at him and started to giggle. Her face flushed pink and her eyes shimmered with mirth. Her eyes were bright with glee and Sasuke liked them like that. Liked them like that a lot. And apparently kissing her was one way he could keep them like that.

He bent over and cupped her face in his hands, bringing her up for another kiss. Sasuke heard her sigh, and felt her breath enter his mouth. Sakura’s hands slid up his arms and over his shoulders. Sasuke felt the pads of her fingers slide up his neck and into his hair. There was a tingling sensation on his scalp and he was enjoying the feeling. Sasuke slid his hand under the hem of Sakura’s blouse, feeling how soft and supple her skin was underneath his fingertips.


The two of them froze upon hearing Mikoto calling him. They pulled apart, scrambling to their feet when they remembered the door to his bedroom had been open the entire time. Luckily for them, Mikoto was just shouting up the stairs, voice loud and clear because his room was closest to them.

“Mebuki just called. Sakura needs to go home now.”

Sakura rushed to pack her bag, stuffing her papers and notebooks haphazardly. Sasuke stood there watching her, unsure of what exactly had just occurred. He kissed Sakura and he enjoyed doing it. He didn’t enjoy the uncomfortable warmth pooling in his lower stomach after the fact but it was ebbing away after the shock from his mother shouting.

“I’ll see you after school tomorrow,” Sakura told him. She stood on her toes, now much shorter than him, and pecked him on the mouth. “Bye.”

Sakura tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, face flushing an even brighter pink. She looked down at her feet and then quickly left. He could hear her small feet stomping all the way down the stairs. Sasuke stood there, slightly dazed and unsure of what to feel or do. He could ignore what had happened and continue doing his homework, forgetting that he and Sakura had just done something quite new for them. Or he could take a break and think about how good it felt to wrap his hand around Sakura’s hip and how nice her soft sighs sounded in his ears.

There was a warm and giddy feeling welling in his chest when he remembered how she smiled at him, eyes all warm and bright after he kissed her. The heat in his stomach returned when he thought about how flustered and pink she looked after they pulled apart. He definitely didn’t want to forget either of those expressions.

In fact, he was looking forward to the next time he could pull both those looks from her.

“If you still want a ride to work we gotta go now.” Sasuke’s attention was drawn away from checking Suigetsu’s worksheet by Karin scooting her chair back. He looked up and saw Sakura packing her things.

“Sorry Naruto but I have a shift at the café today.”

“You work on weekdays now?”

Everyone turned to look at Sasuke. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud but it had come out. Karin’s russet colored eyes gleamed mischievously as she smiled at him. He had never gotten around to asking Sakura about the weird looks Karin was giving him but now he definitely knew that she knew something.

“Yeah. I start today.” Sakura shifted her shoulder straps so they sat more comfortably. She carried more books than the rest of them. “I never got around to telling you ‘cause I just talked about it to my dad this morning.”

“Why would she tell him?” Sasuke heard Suigetsu whisper to Naruto.

“I’ll call you tonight, okay?” Sakura bent down and kissed his cheek. Sasuke’s face warmed up. He slightly panicked because of the physical display of attention. It seemed like a Sakura thing to do but they had never done something like that in front of others. Sakura turned back around and linked arms with Karin who was cackling as they exited the library.

“Did you see his face? Priceless.” He vaguely heard Karin tell her as they left. Sasuke was still dazed but already conspiring to get back at Sakura for embarrassing him in front of their friends.

“What the hell was that!?” Suigetsu cried out. Naruto, who was snickering, started making shushing noises at him, pointing to the librarian that was glaring at them from behind the checkout counter. Suigetsu narrowed his eyes at him but then turned on Sasuke and hissed out a whisper, “Why is Sakura Haruno, one of the hottest girls in this stupid school, kissing you of all people?”

“Wait, he doesn’t know?” Naruto grinned impishly. “Oh, this is going to be good. Suigetsu, didn’t you ever wonder why Sasuke seemed like he was never into girls?”

“Well, yeah. I thought he wasn’t interested in girls when we were at Oto but I assumed he had a crush on Haruno after I caught him staring at her a few times after we transferred.”

Sasuke glared at the two of them. They were talking about him like he wasn’t even there. He stared at Naruto hoping he would take a hint from the look on his face to stop talking.

“Oh, it’s not just a crush. He’s in love.” Naruto batted his eyelashes and clasped his hands to his heart. Sasuke threw a ball of paper at his face but Naruto just brushed it off and continued. “They’ve been dating for, huh, I don’t know how long actually. When did it all start again Sasuke?”

“Since we were like fourteen,” Sasuke hissed, eyes narrowing even more. Sometimes he wondered why Naruto was his best friend when he couldn’t even decipher what Sasuke was thinking by looking at his facial expressions.

“What!?” Now it was Naruto that shrieked. He held up his hands defensively when the librarian made a scandalized noise of protest. “Fourteen? Fucking fourteen? I thought you got together when we were fifteen, maybe sixteen. You should have told me then. You guys suck.”

Sasuke sank lower into his seat. Everything was starting to go back to the way things were with the three of them but he occasionally felt guilty in regards to having kept everything secret from Naruto. Their friendship might not have taken a dive if they had let Naruto in on everything from the start. They might have just been fooling around, flirting with the idea of being more the first year they were involved, but they should have told their best friend when they became more serious. Sasuke was slightly distracted when Itachi was hospitalized but there really was no excuse. He should have done something when he first noticed Naruto’s odd behavior.

They couldn’t go back and fix it so they just had to deal with what they could now.

“Well, that’s just not fair. Of course the prettiest girl around would end up with this gloomy asshole.” Suigetsu rolled his eyes and snatched his paper back from Sasuke, looking it over for what he had missed.

“I wonder what Karin would think about your interest in Sakura,” Sasuke drawled. He knew that Suigetsu didn’t actually like Sakura but it still bothered him that he couldn’t go five seconds without commenting on how she looked.

“Eww, gross. No. No!” Naruto clamped his hands over his ears. “We’re not discussing my cousin and this soggy bastard. If anything is going on, I don’t wanna know.”

“Soggy?” Suigetsu raised an eyebrow questioningly at Sasuke.

“Because you constantly smell like chlorine water and almost all your shirts are never one hundred percent dry.”

“I hate him.”

Sasuke shrugged and took out the worksheet he had prepared for Naruto. That hadn’t gone too bad. Maybe hanging out with Sakura in school wouldn’t be so bad. It’s not like he ever ran into any relations in school.

“Wait. Are you involved with Karin? Is that why she’s always coming and going whenever?”

“No. We’re not together. If she hasn’t told you anything about what she does in her free time then it’s none of your business.” Suigetsu stood up and packed his stuff. “I have practice. I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.”

Naruto watched him leave and as soon as he was gone he turned back to Sasuke.

“Do you know anything?”

Sasuke shook his head. He really didn’t know. He never really understood how the four of them─Sasuke, Jūgo, Suigetsu, and Karin─became friends considering he wasn’t that good at dealing with people and taking much interest in their lives. The only people outside of his family he could say that he really knew was Naruto and Sakura.

And sometimes he didn’t really know his own family and what was going on with them.

It was never a good sign if Sasuke came home and his dad’s Crown Victoria was already sitting in the driveway. He never worried if it was his Mercedes-Benz because Mikoto mostly used that vehicle, but the Crown Vic always made Sasuke want to U-turn and go anywhere else.

All Sasuke wanted to do after basketball practice was take a shower and go to sleep. He had swung by the Haruno’s café to grab a tomato and mozzarella panini to go and to get a glimpse of Sakura so he didn’t need anything to eat. Considering he had his own bathroom in his room he didn’t need to leave his room for anything for the rest of the night.

But since his dad was home there would be other plans.

Sasuke sighed and entered his home, knowing he couldn’t waste time trying to avoid any confrontation as long as possible. Fugaku would already know that he was outside. As soon as he removes his shoes and places them inside the foyer closet, his mother calls out to him from the great room.

Oddly enough, his family was just casually lounging. Mikoto had prepared a tray of mugs filled with hot cocoa and there was a fire roaring in the fireplace. Itachi was sitting on one of the two loveseats, bundled up in his sweaters and a blanket covering his legs. Fugaku for once wasn’t looking at him with one of his more dour expressions but with a relaxed and content look.

“It doesn’t take more than fifteen minutes to get home from your school. You took thirty-five.” The question of where he was didn’t need to be asked out loud.

“I stopped somewhere to get something to eat.”

“That’s not why we were waiting for him, Fugaku,” Mikoto scolded her husband good humoredly. “You’re being too strict. It’s not even curfew yet. Come and take a seat. Sit, sit!”

Instead of taking a seat on the cushion his mother was patting, Sasuke headed over to the couch Itachi was sitting on and sat with him. Subtly, Itachi moved closer, not minding the slight smell of sweat in favor of Sasuke’s body warmth.

“We were discussing our plans for our trip coming up,” Mikoto informed him cheerfully, getting up to hand him a mug. “We’re going to a ski resort during winter break. Your silly brother wants to bring Shisui along. Why ruin a perfectly could chance for a romantic winter wonderland vacation by bringing his friend along?”

Sasuke shifted his gaze to his older brother. Itachi had an impassive look on his face but his grip on his blanket tightened.

Just like Sasuke kept his relationship with Sakura a secret, the nature of Itachi’s relationship with Izumi and Shisui was as well. Their parents didn’t know that the three of them were all involved with each other. Fugaku wouldn’t stand for it and Itachi didn’t think his mother, as open minded as she could be, would be understanding of a poly relationship. And even if she was understanding and ready to back Itachi up, Itachi would never put her in a position where she would have to oppose her husband.

“It’s not just that. We already booked our rooms and there is nowhere to place Shisui,” Fugaku backed up Mikoto with what he thought was more logical reasoning.

“Why doesn’t he just take my room?” Sasuke offered. “I have practice all winter break so I can’t go anyway. The Varsity team doesn’t take a break. I can just stay with Auntie Kushina and Mr. Minato.”

“We’re not leaving you here alone,” Fugaku said gruffly, narrowing his eyes at Sasuke.

“I wouldn’t be here home alone. I would be staying with Auntie Kushina.”

Sasuke and his father stared each other down, much like they had when Sasuke said he was going with Sakura to a hockey match that Naruto had invited them to. They were drawn out of that state by Mikoto letting out a disappointed sigh.

“I wanted us all to go but I should have known you would pick basketball over a vacation with your family. You work too hard.” Mikoto took a sip of her hot cocoa and let out a contented sigh, the sweetness bringing her mood up a bit. “I guess Shisui can take Sasuke’s room. We don’t have to modify the reservation.”

“Is that all? Because I need a shower.”

Fugaku nodded and Sasuke excused himself. Itachi stood up, stating he was tired and needed to go to bed, and followed him up the stairs to their bedrooms.

Before Sasuke entered his room, he felt a hand tug on his elbow. He turned to look at Itachi who gave him a weak smile.

“Thank you, Sasuke.”

Sasuke nodded slowly at his older brother and entered his own room, locking the door behind him.

Sasuke pulled his clothes off wondering how his family could try and pretend to be so happy when all of them were keeping secrets from each other.

Kingdom For Two [4-6]

Chapter Four: The Police Chief’s Son & The Baker’s Daughter

Soft sighs and a muscular arm around her waist was what Sakura woke up to for the past two weeks. Sasuke had been getting into the habit of crawling into her bed in order to sleep at night. Unlike her, he didn’t wake up after a few hours and go back to his own bedroom. He had never been a morning person and Sakura was an early riser.

“Pervert,” Sakura muttered. Sasuke’s hand had snuck under her shirt while they slept and cupped a breast. She disentangled herself and Sasuke grumbled in his sleep. He rolled over to his other side and curled up under her comforter.

Sakura grabbed her yoga mat and began her three sun salutations. Just because Sasuke had become a regular presence in her room it didn’t mean her routine was going to be thrown off. While Sasuke continued dozing she did her morning yoga, made sure her school bag was ready for the day, showered, and got dressed. Sasuke would usually wake up and go while she was in the shower but sometimes she would have to wake him up.

“That’s too short.” Sasuke’s voice was always husky and a little raspy in the morning. Although he was grumpier, Sakura always thought he was his cutest right after waking. “And I can see skin. From your stomach. Torso. Whatever.”

“Ha. Funny. Sounded like you were trying to tell me what I can or can’t wear.” Sakura dusted off her black pleated high waisted skirt and pulled at the hem of her red long sleeved crop top. She wore black thigh highs and a black beanie over her pink head. “My dad doesn’t tell me what I can and can’t wear. What makes you think you can?”

Sasuke gave her a blank look. Her punk, baker father wouldn’t mind whatever she wore as long as her “bits”─as her mother called them─were covered. His father on the other hand would make the same face he made when he found out Sasuke got a stick and poke tribal looking tattoo on the back of his shoulder near the base of his neck. It was done so well it could have been mistaken for a professional artist’s job. The tattoo had given Sakura the shock of her life and she had lectured him about how stupid it was to trust some random amateur with something permanent.

He had quickly come back at her, reminding her that she had trusted Ino to pierce her ears with a kit that she ordered online instead of asking her parents to go with her to a professional piercer.

“You gotta go home and get ready for school.” Sakura pushed him toward the window and he glared at her for trying to manhandle him.

Sakura watched as he made his way down from her roof and climbed over the wrought iron fence between her house and his. Everytime he climbed over made her grateful that Mikoto got the custom fencing with the rounded arch and scroll patterning she wanted instead of the spikes that Fugaku had originally planned on having installed. She wished he could use the side gate that joined their two yards, but it had been padlocked two years ago.

Sakura waited until Sasuke was entering his bedroom window before she headed down the stairs to grab something to eat on her way to Karin’s to catch a ride to school. She was trying to picture what the cake stand with the glass dome they used to store scones had looked like the day before when she ran into her father at the base of the stairs.


“‘Morning my blossom,” he cheerfully greeted. Kizashi Haruno was pulling on a leather jacket over a uniform shirt from his café, Budding Cherry Blossom. Not so cleverly named after his wife, Mebuki, and Sakura, he had owned his own shop since Sakura was three after years of saving up to open his own place.

Sakura let her father hug her, lifting her up into a spin. It was rare for her to see him in the morning since he was usually up getting an early start in baking the bread they sold and used in his shop. He had hired someone to help out with the baking but he preferred to do all of the heavy work.

“Did the boy leave before his father was up for work?”

Sakura’s eyes went wide, shocked that her father was aware that Sasuke had been coming and going. Her father gave her a gentle smile and handed her a brown paper bag. He had taken the opportunity to make her lunch since he was going into work later than usual.


“Just be careful. I don’t want you to get hurt when he gets caught.”

Kizashi awkwardly rubbed the back of his head, his puce colored spikes shifting up and down in the process. For a time when she was twelve, her father’s cherry blossom shaped hairstyle had embarrassed her. Sakura had learned to appreciate the things that made him unique as she got older.

“Oh. And make sure to use protection. I’m not a big fan of only relying on the pill,” Kizashi said as he walked out the front door. Sakura flushed red, choking on a reply she didn’t really have for that. It was awkward enough that he knew that Sasuke was sleeping over, him being aware that she was sexually active was worse. Just because he was open minded didn’t mean it made it any less embarrassing.

“At least it wasn’t Mama…” Sakura sighed gratefully as she slipped on her combat boots. Her mother, as kind and loving as she was, was also the strict, no nonsense parent of the two. She would have handled her and Sasuke’s sleepovers a lot differently.

As Sakura was leaving her house, Sasuke was leaving his. She watched him walk over to his black Jeep Wrangler and observed his attire. Crisp dark blue jeans, a gray v-neck shirt, an open navy cardigan with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows, and black and white converses. Simple and neat and obviously something his father would deem appropriate for a seventeen year old boy to wear to school.

Sakura averted her eyes and walked down the street. Her father had given her some good advice about being careful. It wouldn’t do if Fugaku Uchiha caught the Haruno girl staring at his son.

School was one of the only places Sakura could look at Sasuke as much as she wanted. She hated how popular he was amongst the girls but it made it easier to look at him when it seemed to be the favorite activity of the girls of Konoha Secondary.

It was also one of the only places they weren’t under the watchful eye of Fugaku Uchiha.

“Quit staring,” Sasuke muttered. He handed back the copy of her essay he had marked up during their class’s peer editing session. “It was almost perfect. As usual. You don’t have to stare me down.”

“That’s not why I was staring,” Sakura mumbled. She passed back his paper and he scowled at all of her comments. He held it up to her and silently demanded an explanation. “What?”

“I just asked you to check grammar and syntax. Stop trying to write my paper for me, Haruno.”

“Just some suggestions, Uchiha.” Sakura tossed her hair over her shoulder haughtily.

Their whispered arguing in class was such a common occurrence that no one bothered to look away from their partner’s papers at them. Not even the teacher bothered to break them up as they continued to bicker about how Sakura was taking over Sasuke’s essay topic. The conversation should have ended when Sakura agreed to let Sasuke pull his own quotes from the novel─Brave New World─ that their class was reading. It should have if not for Sasuke snatching Sakura’s paper back and adding in more notes like she had.


“Just some suggestions Sa-ku-ra,” Sasuke dragged her name out in a mocking fashion. Sakura tried to grab her paper back but Sasuke lifted her essay over his head out of her reach.

“Wow. It’s like you guys don’t even care that you’re flirting in the middle of class,” Karin drawled out, sounding bored. Sakura had forgotten that she sat in the seat behind them.

The two of them visibly stiffened. Sasuke shoved Sakura’s paper back onto her desk and looked and turned so he was staring out the window.

“We’re not flirting, Karin,” Sakura muttered, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear clumsily. She pulled out her copy of Brave New World and flipped to the pages Sasuke had pointed out in his notes for, folding down the corners of the pages she agreed could be useful.

Sakura avoided looking at Sasuke the rest of class. She also ignored the vibrating sound coming from her backpack, fully aware that Karin was sending her texts making fun of her. She was grateful when the bell rang ten minutes later.

Sakura had just parted ways with Karin as they headed off to their different classes when someone yanked her by the elbow under the stairwell. She was just about to yell at the snatcher when she was overcome by a cinnamon and menthol smell and was pressed into the the corner by an unbelievably warm body. Sakura closed her eyes and sighed contently when Sasuke kissed her, quickly, but too deeply to be chaste.

Completely forgetting about making her way to class, Sakura pulled him by his cardigan back down toward her and pulled at his lower lip with her teeth. Sasuke responded by pressing her even further against the wall, sliding his hands up her sides.

“I wasn’t flirting with you,” Sakura grumbled with a pout. Sasuke snorted and cupped the side of her neck pushing her jaw  up with his thumb so he could kiss her again. Sakura made a noise of protest in the back of her throat as Sasuke deepened the kiss by sliding his tongue into her mouth. She pushed against his chest and he leaned back with a frown on his face. “You’re going to make me late for my history class.”

“Can’t help it. You’re distracting,” Sasuke said as an excuse. Sakura’s eyes widened, horrified by his statement.

“No I am not!” Sakura shook her head adamantly. “Take it back.”

“I didn’t mean it like that, Sakura.”

“I have to go. Don’t be late for class.”

Sakura pushed past Sasuke who tried to grab at her arm to pull her back to him. Sakura backed away from his reach toward the exit doors toward the trailers and shooed him away, waving her hand at him to leave. Sasuke narrowed his eyes at her for a moment but then rolled them, shaking his head as he left the stairwell.

“I am not a distraction,” Sakura mumbled to herself over and over again as she headed to her class.

Unfortunately for Sakura, Karin had “errands” to run after school leaving her to take the school bus. She loathed not having her own car and having to ride with the underclassmen back home. It was worse that she had to walk past both the Uzumaki-Namikaze residence and then the Uchiha on her way home.

It was made even worse when Mikoto Uchiha stepped out of the Uzumaki house and caught sight of her on the sidewalk. Sakura felt guilty for trying to avoid her when she saw how Mikoto’s face had brightened when she saw her.

“It’s been so long!” Mikoto hooked her arm with Sakura’s and patted her hand when she reached her at the end of the drive. “How have you been? You look prettier and prettier every time I see you!”

“I’ve been good. Really busy with school.”

“You and Sasuke both, I swear.” Mikoto chuckled. “Always studying you two. Kushina was just telling me how she wished Naruto cared about his studies half as much as you two do. Even her niece Karin, who is so studious, doesn’t hit the books the way you do. I miss when you guys use to come over and just hang out in our media room.”

Me too. Sakura tried to smile but it felt strained, too forced. Sakura hadn’t entered the Uchiha home through the front door in over a year and a half and even then it wasn’t to socialize but to study with Sasuke.

“You and Naruto should come over this weekend. I’m sure Sasuke would like that.”

“I’m not sure…” Sakura chewed on her lip. She didn’t want to decline Mikoto’s invitation. It was a good way to try to get the three of them in one room again but at the same time Sakura didn’t want to risk a run in with Fugaku.

Fugaku wasn’t a fan of her father. Fugaku was straight laced and no matter how friendly her father was there was always something that kept Kizashi and Fugaku from getting along. Fugaku just couldn’t get past Kizashi’s loud and bright spiked hair, even if the color was natural the hair style was most definitely not. Kizashi was a jokester and and didn’t really know boundaries which clashed with how serious and reserved Fugaku was. They were cordial with each other because they were neighbors but when Sakura was sixteen their relationship turned sour.

Kizashi didn’t take too kindly to what he believed was Fugaku implying that his son was too good for Sakura. It had started with him trying to cut back on how often Sakura came over to do homework with Sasuke and then ended when Fugaku had pretty much told Kizashi that he was uncomfortable with how much time the two spent together. Kizashi jokingly asked if he was worried that Sasuke would be too distracted from his studies if a pretty girl was around. Fugaku’s silence after the question was answer enough. Fugaku told him that Sakura was the wrong kind of friend for Sasuke and that Sasuke shouldn’t be thinking about girls and dating until much later. He then said that it was likely that Sasuke would find someone that would ideally match his lifestyle when he went off to college.

That was the end of Sakura being allowed to go to the Uchiha house. Kizashi didn’t want Sakura to hear Fugaku say anything that would hurt her feelings. Sakura was stubborn and tried to keep her friendship with Sasuke going but she was caught giving Sasuke a chaste kiss goodbye on the cheek and Fugaku had put a stop to allowing the two to be alone together. Even going so far as having Sasuke monitored by relatives that worked in the police force. Sasuke’s cousin Shisui had volunteered to keep an eye on things but was found to be too lenient.

“Don’t be like that. Look! There’s Sasuke now.”

Oh, Lord help me now.

Sakura mentally ran through a list of excuses she could make but next thing she knew she was being dragged up the Uchihas’ stone path to their front door. Sasuke who had just parked his Jeep raised an eyebrow at her while his mother babbled on about how he need to socialize more.

“Sakura and I have a paper for English. We could work on that.”

Sakura’s eyes went wide and she mentally cursed him. He smirked at her obvious discomfort and if it weren’t for his mother standing right there she would have punched him for finding the situation she was put in amusing.

“I thought you didn’t want my help with your essay.” Sakura crossed her arms in front of her chest and glared at Sasuke as he dumped her backpack with his messenger bag against the legs of his computer desk.

“We’re not working on our essays.” Sasuke looked down at her, crossing his arms in front of his chest to match her stance. Sakura wrinkled her brow in confusion. She didn’t understand what she was doing there if he wasn’t going to work on anything. Unless…

“No! Your mother is downstairs, Sasuke Uchiha.” Sakura flushed pink and Sasuke snorted, rolling his eyes.

“Get your head out of the gutter.” Sasuke pushed her back out of his bedroom and headed to the room next door. “We’re going to hang out with Itachi.”


As far as adults went, Sakura quite liked Itachi Uchiha. She use to be jealous of Sasuke when they were younger because he had a big brother. She wasn’t too lonely because she had Naruto and Sasuke but it would have been nice to have an older sibling. Naruto was more like a younger brother and Sasuke…Sasuke was never anything like a familial relation, not even when they toddlers.

Sasuke use to complain a lot that his brother never made time for him which turned Sakura off from the idea of older siblings but she knew how much they loved each other. Sasuke loved Itachi so much and she knew how it pained him to watch Itachi waste away. She knew very well how it pained him and knew that sometimes when he lay with her it was to make that pain go away.

It was how their sleepovers had started. She couldn’t leave Sasuke alone in his big house when his parents were in the hospital with Itachi. And then she couldn’t leave him alone as he he lay in his bed, afraid of the presence in the room next door, afraid of the sounds of Itachi coughing and moaning, and the paranoia that one day he would hear nothing at all. Feel nothing but emptiness instead of his brother’s presence.

“Hello Little One,” Itachi greeted with a gentle smile from his cushioned rocking chair. He took off his reading glasses and set them and his book down on the nightstand closest to him. He looked thinner than she remembered but he seemed to be in good spirits.

Sakura liked Itachi’s nickname for her. It was far better than Shisui’s nickname “Itty Bitty.” It had made her feel self conscious at fourteen thinking that he was referring to her chest size instead of her stature even though he had been calling her that since she was four.

“Hi Itachi.” Sakura smiled back. Itachi gestured to his bed and she took a seat on the edge. Sasuke made himself comfortable on the floor, leaning against the bed, far enough from Sakura’s leg that he was close without touching her.

“I haven’t seen you in a while. How have you been?”

“I’ve been fine. And you?”

“Good. But enough about me. Tell me, how’s school?”

Sakura spent the afternoon talking to Itachi. They discussed her essay topic on Brave New World and Itachi pulled out a copy he had on his bookshelf and gave it to her to borrow so she could go over his annotations. Sasuke had scowled at that, calling his brother a traitor for withholding his notes and giving them to someone else.

Sakura got really excited when she told him about her volunteer work at the hospital. Itachi had teased her asking if she wore a candy striper uniform and she blushed and told him that no she wore the maroon volunteer scrubs and that he knew very well that that is what they made the volunteers wear. She told him about the different patients she had come across and he listened with a pleasant smile on his face.

They sat in Itachi’s room talking until Sasuke looked at his watch and said it was getting late. Itachi nodded and he walked Sakura out with Sasuke. When Sasuke opened the door and checked to see if his father was driving up the cul-de-sac Itachi leaned down and whispered in Sakura’s ear.

“Thank you.”

Sakura looked up at him, head tilted to side, puzzled. She didn’t understand what Itachi was grateful for. He gave her another soft smile and nodded his chin at Sasuke.

“He’s in a better mood today.”

“Oh. I can’t take credit for that.” Sakura could feel warmth creep up her cheeks. Itachi shook his head, smiling gently. He waved goodbye and headed back up the stairs.

Sakura stepped out of the Uchiha house, unsure on how to say goodbye to Sasuke. They didn’t usually interact in their neighborhood outside of each other’s bedrooms.

“See you later.” Sasuke helped her from making any decision on the matter by casually tossing his statement out in the air, not even looking at her just stretching his arms out in front yard and scratching the back of his head. “My room tonight.”

Sakura rolled her eyes and shook her head. She almost pretended to be busy to tease him when he beat her to the punch.

“Now your mind can be in the gutter.”


Chapter Five: Hawk and Blossom (and Fox!)

Guilty. Sasuke couldn’t help but feel guilty whenever he thought of Itachi and everything that was being taken away from him. And sadly, Sakura tugging on his hair and bouncing in his lap wasn’t helping the situation.

Certain things Sasuke shouldn’t be privy to and one of those things was his older brother’s sex life. He was going to have to subtly bring up erasing one’s search history before returning a borrowed laptop to Itachi. Never in his life did Sasuke think he would ever have to read the phrase Suggested Sex Positions While Chronically Ill.

It wasn’t that Sasuke thought his brother had suddenly turned into a monk when he got sick. He just didn’t realize that was a concern that Itachi had. He should have figured it would be one considering Itachi suffered from chronic pain and fatigue.

Thinking about it, Itachi could always use the position Sasuke was currently in with Sakura when he was with Izumi. If she were on top it would minimize how much energy he had to use. But then came the problem of sex with Shisui. And when all three of them were together.

Which was why he was feeling guilty for enjoying himself when his brother was struggling. And that wasn’t a feeling he wanted clouding his mind and weighing heavy in his stomach when he was looking at Sakura’s pretty little tits.

“Are you okay?” Sakura’s brow wrinkled in concern as she pulled away enough to look Sasuke fully in the face, but not enough that she accidently pressed on the horn of his Jeep. “You seem distracted. We don’t have to do this. We can stop. Let’s just head to school.”

Sakura brought her forehead down to his and used her thumbs to rub circles on his cheekbones. Her hair fell over his face, hiding the two of them in a curtain of pink. He inhaled her apple scent and tried to calm down. He felt guilty but it would bother him even more until the next time he and Sakura were together if he didn’t make her come.

That had always been a concern for him since the start of their odd relationship. Sasuke was shit when it came to talking, especially about anything he felt. It helped when it came to trying to keep Sakura at bay when he was feeling conflicted about how significant she had become in his life. It didn’t help when he wanted to match the overwhelming amount of adoration in Sakura’s eyes when she looked at him. Bringing her body to complete and total bliss was the closest he could get so far.

Sasuke used his hands on her hips to lift her up and back down on his length and urged her to continue. Sakura frowned but hesitantly started moving and picking up a pace he liked a lot. He pressed his thumb against her clit and rubbed in circles until her panting turned into soft cries of joy.

Sasuke focused on Sakura’s little sounds until he forgot he even had a brother.

Getting angry was fairly easy for Sasuke to do nowadays. Managing not to act out was a struggle.

Transferring to Konoha, he should have expected hearing about Sakura a lot. She was a top student, varsity volleyball captain, and too pretty for her own good. It would have been weirder for her not to be popular. Acknowledging that didn’t make it easier to listen to disgusting locker room talk.

“What the hell are you doing?” Sasuke back stepped when someone touched his ears. Naruto shook his head and raised a pair of earbuds he had been trying to insert into Sasuke’s ears. Sasuke stared at the headphones in his friend’s hands for a moment before taking them. Naruto turned up the volume on his phone and all Sasuke could hear was his friend’s shitty taste in rap music.

Naruto sat with Sasuke until the locker room had emptied. Sasuke had stopped in the middle of putting his street sneakers on and Naruto had only removed the shirt to his gym uniform. As soon as the room cleared, Naruto took his headphones back.

“I’m glad Hina’s homeschooled. It’s bad enough hearing about your best friend I don’t think I could handle it if it were a girlfriend.”

“What?” Sasuke frowned at Naruto. Naruto shot him an unimpressed look and then rolled his eyes.

“You’re so fucking obvious.” Naruto pulled on his sweatshirt. Sasuke watched as he covered up his stomach tattoo. A stick and poke job just like Sasuke’s. They had gone to get them done together only Naruto decided on a much larger piece. It took longer and hurt more because of its location. Because Sasuke was his best friend he let him hold onto his hand throughout the whole thing. If asked he would never admit to it though.

“Obvious about what?”

“I may not be a super nerd like the two of you but I’m not an idiot,” Naruto grumbled as he finished changing. “Yeah, maybe you look like you might only be interested to other people but I’ve known you since we were in the crib.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.’

“Bullshit.” Naruto was growling now. If Sasuke was bad at controlling his anger, Naruto was worse. “I know you two are together. I know she’s your girl. Been your girl for a while.”

“Oh, really?” Sasuke sneered. “How long have you known then? Before or after you made a move on my girl?”

Naruto’s shoulders drooped and his glare melted into a defeated look. It was the face Naruto made that Sakura had told him made her feel like she had kicked a puppy. But Sasuke wasn’t Sakura and he didn’t bow down to sad faces. With the exceptions of his mother, Itachi, and Sakura. Naruto noticed how ineffective it was and sighed.

“After. I swear.”

Sasuke stared him down. He was starting to understand Sakura’s struggles with trust. With Naruto’s history of usually being the most honest person he knew, besides Sakura who sucked at lying so she didn’t attempt, it should have been easy to believe him. But there was also the brief period when they were fifteen that Naruto had tried to manipulate the two of them into thinking that the other didn’t care to be around the other by hanging out with them separately and claiming that the other person was busy. There was always a heavy implication that the other was too busy to hang out when it should have been the three of them but not when it was just them and Naruto.

It hadn’t really worked because at that point Sasuke and Sakura had already started to be involved. The only thing helping Naruto from having Sasuke throw that back in his face and walking away from him was the fact that no one knew what would have happened if Naruto had been made aware of what was going on with his best friends.

And guilt. There was always a bit of guilt that Sasuke felt when he remembered that Naruto had a crush on Sakura for most of their lives. Sasuke wasn’t vocal about his feelings like Naruto but it didn’t change the fact that he had also liked her just as long as Naruto had, maybe even longer. It wasn’t Sasuke’s fault that his feelings were mutual while Naruto’s weren’t.



Sasuke sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“How did you find out, idiot?”

“Oh. You just told me.”

“What?” Sasuke hissed. Naruto gave him a sheepish look and shrugged his shoulders.

“I had my suspicions. I already knew how Sakura felt. And like I said, you’re more obvious than you think. What didn’t make sense is how you two stopped talking and yet you’re always busy whenever I want to come over. And it’s not like you enjoy spending time with other people. You can lie all you want but Sakura and I are your favorite people, always have been. Hell, Karin said you were the most antisocial person she met at Oto so I know you’re not busting your ass to spend all of that time with those three losers. Well, two. Jūgo’s nice.”

“And you didn’t stop to consider that I might be spending my time with Itachi?”

Naruto snorted and nodded toward the door. Sasuke followed him out into the hall. They had wasted so much time talking that they were already late to their next period.

“Yes. I did but then I remembered that Itachi wouldn’t want you to do something like that.”

“If you’re smart enough to figure that out, then why are you barely passing most of your classes.”

“You know I hate reading. Plus I have a major concentration problem.”

“You need to stop doing that shit by the way. Manipulating things and talking in circles to get what you want. You can’t mess with people like that.” Sasuke rapped his knuckles against the back of Naruto’s head. “It’s why Sakura got mad you in the first place.”

“I know.” Naruto’s shoulders drooped. He hung his head as they walked. Neither one of them bothered to even attempt to head toward the classes they were already late for. Sasuke was about to try and say something to stop Naruto’s gloom when the blond’s head shot back up. “What about some Flames tickets? Do you think she’ll forgive me if we all go to a game?”

“Good idea. But how are you going to get them? I can’t help. My family’s got money, that doesn’t mean that I do.” Sasuke thought it was a good idea considering Sakura’s love for hockey. They all use to watch games together and would try to convince whatever parent was watching them to let them stay up late until they finished.

Naruto gave him a sly grin and chuckled darkly for humor.

“I already have tickets. My dad got them for us. I just didn’t think we would actually use them.”

“Good going, Minato,” Sasuke muttered. Naruto’s dad was always doing nice things for him. Sasuke couldn’t help but feel slightly jealous of the easy relationship Naruto had with Minato when he compared it to his own with his own father.

“How much longer are you guys going to pretend like nothing’s going on?”

Until we’re both in college and my dad isn’t breathing down our necks.

“I don’t know.”

“You should do something soon. You know how Ino is. She thinks Sakura needs a boyfriend. She tried to convince her to go on a double date with one of Sai’s weirdo art friends from that studio he goes to. I love the guy but I wouldn’t let anyone I know near his friends. One guy kind of looks like Ino and that freaked me out.”

“Yamanaka needs to mind her own business.”


Naruto and Sasuke both jumped at the sound of a gruff voice. They turned and saw one of the school’s security patrols coming down the hall.

“Where’s your hall passes?”

Naruto and Sasuke took off down another hall, ignoring the shouts from the patrol.

“Why did you follow me, moron? He can’t chase us both if we run in different directions.”

“I panicked! You know I just follow you when I panic!” Naruto hissed out. “I can’t get detention again. My mom will kill me!”

Sasuke didn’t even want to think about what his father would say. When he and Naruto got suspended for their fight the year before Fugaku had taken away his electronics and his Jeep until Mikoto told him he was being ridiculous and demanded that he return everything.

The two of them turned down the Fine Arts hall and looked for a stairwell to hide under.

“You two are idiots.” Sai had opened the door to the studio the Advance Studio Arts students used and beckoned for them to come in. “I could hear Naruto coming down the hall.”

“Can we just hang out here?” Sasuke looked around the room. None of the students had even bothered to look up from their projects.

“It’s the advanced class. The teacher stays in her office unless it’s a presentation day for someone or to collect our research sketchbooks for grading.”

“Thanks, Sai. You’re a lifesaver.”

“It’s good you’re here. I finished my Naruto piece for my showcase.”

Sai led the two of them to an easel in the far corner of the room by the windows. On the canvas was an image of a brilliant orange fox swimming in a bowl of ramen.

“Wow. That is definitely Naruto.”

“Can I have this?” Naruto beamed at the portrait. “After your showcase of course.”

“Yes. I’m running out of room for things in my apartment anyway. Shin doesn’t like storing them away but we’re going to have to.”

“Is this Sakura?” Naruto pointed at a canvas that was propped against the wall on the floor.

“Yes. Cherry blossoms of course. But I wanted the pink to be more like her hair so I’m going to have to fix that.”

“What’s that?” Sasuke pointed to one of the top most branches on the cherry blossom tree in the portrait. It looked like a bird.

“A hawk.”


“Because this isn’t just a portrait of Sakura. It has a twin. I usually name each piece after the person that inspired it. But I’ll probably leave the two as Taka and Hana,” Sai answered giving him a knowing look.

Fuck. Naruto was right. He was fucking obvious.

“You should have seen the look on her face after the volleyball hit her face,” Suigetsu snickered. Karin smacked the back of his head with her textbook for Computer Science.

“She could have gotten hurt Sui. She has glasses,” Jūgo said softly. He usually tried to keep the peace between the two of them before they took their spats far enough to irritate Sasuke.

“I hate this school. Why does two years of Physical Education have to be a requirement? I’m the only senior in my class.”

“You could have done weight training with the rest of us,” Suigetsu shrugged. Karin scowled at him. He knew she wasn’t a fan of gym equipment either. She wasn’t good at sports even though she loved running. If it were up to her she would just run circles on the track and listen to her iPod for gym class.

“Or stayed in Oto.” Sasuke watched as Karin’s face twisted into one of disgust. She shot him a glare, clearly unhappy that he brought their old school up.

“I don’t hate gym class that much,” she muttered. She stopped walking with them and looked somewhere behind them, craning her neck.

“Who are you looking for?” Sui crossed his arms in front of his chest and loomed over her small frame. Everything about it screamed possessive to Sasuke. Sasuke sometimes wondered who was smaller, Karin or Sakura.

“Sakura. I’m too short though. Can you see her anywhere? I wanted to wish her luck before I left. I’m not going to get a chance to see her before I come back to watch the game. She doesn’t think they’ll win their match today and that means it will be the end of their season.”

“Haruno in tiny spanks? Count me in!” Suigetsu chortled. Karin scowled and pulled on his ear. She yanked hard and then let go.

“Don’t objectify my friend! She’s too good for you or anyone else here.”

Sasuke frowned at the way she seemed to look at him when she said that. He was going to have to talk to Sakura later about how cryptic Karin was being lately.

“Lady crush much?” Suigetsu waggled his eyebrows and then ducked another incoming hit from Karin.

“Don’t be a perv! Sakura’s just really nice.”

Sasuke watched as a somber expression took over Karin’s face and the way she pulled at the sleeves of her sweater. Besides their height, there were plenty of similarities between Karin and Sakura. They both had odd colored hair and unique eyes. They both wanted to do something with medicine, Sakura wanted to be a doctor and Karin wanted to go into medicinal chemistry and be a pharmaceutical scientist. They both had suffered abuse at the hands of bullies, Sakura when she was younger and Karin in the dorms of Oto Prep.

Although Karin was loud and brash, she was small and weak. She didn’t stand a chance when she was ganged up on. She was stuck in the dormitories until Suigetsu offered his couch up to her and Sasuke made the connection between her and Naruto’s mother, a long lost relation, a daughter of a distant, late cousin of Kushina’s. She was a ward of the state, her mother’s parental rights having been terminated a long time ago, and Kushina and Minato lawyered up and took custody of her.

Sasuke might have helped Karin find her family but he didn’t feel as though he could take credit for saving her. It wasn’t until she had made friends with Sakura that she seemed to have gotten better and started trusting people around her more. Just another person that Sakura’s presence made everything better for.

It was why when his mother had dragged Sakura to his house the other day that he took her to see Itachi. Itachi needed to be surrounded by more people that were gentle and warm. Sasuke would invite Naruto but he was boisterous and just being around him drained him of energy. He wasn’t sure how Itachi would handle it.

“Why don’t we all go watch the game with Karin?” Jūgo suggested. “It’s been a long while since we’ve all done something together.”

Everyone agreed except Sasuke. He was distracted thinking about the last time he saw Sakura in her volleyball uniform. The top was tight and sleeveless and Suigetsu was right about her spandex shorts. Tiny. The last time he had seen them on her his hand had been down them. He quite liked how her bottom looked in her spanks.

“Sasuke? Dude?” Suigetsu waved a hand in front of his face.

“Yeah. I’ll go.”

Sasuke avoided Karin and her sharp eyes as she gave him a sly smile before she walked away to look for Sakura.

Chapter Six: Like You’re The Back Of My Hand

Love at first sight. That’s what Mebuki Haruno described the first meeting of Sakura and Sasuke Uchiha. Sakura found it hard to argue against that when she couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t love him.

They were one and curled up under each other’s baby blankets. They were three and holding hands whenever they walked in new places. They were seven when the world first split them apart as boy and girl. They were twelve and changing. Then fourteen and for the first time finding out what the other’s mouth tasted like. Barely sixteen and molding and clicking together like puzzle pieces. Then they were seventeen and hurting, both from different heartaches.

As comfortable as Sakura was in their exclusivity, she couldn’t help the days she felt like Sasuke’s dirty secret. She knew it wasn’t just his fault for that feeling and that she was overthinking things but when she was alone with her thoughts it hurt.

“Taro boba tea and tomato mozzarella panini.” Sakura dropped off her customer’s meal at their table and ignored the way he stared at her too long. She was use to the looks from new patrons because of her hair. It was once a subject of ridicule when she was younger. With a little help from Naruto and Sasuke she grew to love her hair.

“Sak is like a flower.” Naruto had once said when they were ten. She use to wrinkle her little nose at the name he chose for her. She still did. “Very pretty.”

“They’re just jealous.” Sasuke would glare, face turned away. “You have something that makes you special and they don’t.”

Of course the two had been just a few years late in coming to her defense. Being separated into different classes and making new friends caused them to leave Sakura behind. Ino Yamanaka had been her first saviour.

“Wow, they weren’t kidding. Your forehead is huge.” Ino had pushed Sakura’s shaggy hair out of her face. Blue green eyes widened in awe.  “You’re eyes are the greenest things I’ve ever seen. And this hair! You need a new cut but it’s soft and pretty like flower petals. What’s a pretty little fairy doing hiding out here all alone?”

Sakura spent the next half hour listening to Ino’s consistent chattering and having her hair tugged on as Ino weaved tiny white flowers from the forest floor into it. It was the happiest Sakura had been in school in the longest time. After that Ino and Sakura were inseparable. A fact that Naruto and Sasuke weren’t happy about when they were finally all assigned to the same class the following year.

“No one’s paying you to stare off into space.” Mebuki snapped her fingers in front of Sakura’s face. Her mother sighed and handed her the order for another customer. “You haven’t daydreamed like this since you were twelve.”

“Sorry,” Sakura muttered.

“How’s the pain?” Her mother whispered. Sakura sighed and shook her head.

“Barely manageable.” Sakura was cramping bad. It was always worse on the first day.

“Go home early today.” Mebuki stroked Sakura’s hair and patted her shoulder, giving her a reassuring smile.

Sakura stopped running food and wiped down a few tables before heading off. On a normal day she wouldn’t mind taking a bus or taking the five mile trek through one of the hiking trails that ran through Konoha’s forests that led to her neighborhood. Because her menstrual cramps were bothering her, Sakura walked a couple of blocks through the more condensed, commercial part of town to the Yamanaka’s flower shop.

“What’s up, Forehead?” Ino had her hair tied up in a high ponytail and was wearing one of the beige shop aprons. She sat behind the floral counter in the center of the shop where arrangements were made, stringing garlands of marigolds.

“I need chocolate,” Sakura grumbled giving her a pout. Ino made a tutting noise and put aside the flowers she was working on.

“Mom! I’m calling it a day.”

“What? Did you finish your box of garlands?” Ino’s mother Noriko appeared from behind the group of large potted plants, narrowing her brown eyes at her daughter. Sakura was surprised to see her mother stressed out, brown hair falling out of her usually tight bun.

“Started on a second. My hands are orange now.”

Noriko sighed and nodded her head. Ino hopped off her stool and led Sakura back outside to use the stairs that led up to her family’s apartment. Ino stopped by the kitchen to grab a couple of spoons and a tub of ice cream. They entered her bedroom and both collapsed onto Ino’s canopy bed.

“Ow!” Ino groaned. She clutched her abdomen and whimpered. “I’ve been trying not to complain since my mom has that order of marigolds for a wedding tomorrow to finish up but I can’t take the pain anymore.”

“I couldn’t finish my shift today.” Although grateful for the break, Sakura had really wanted to spend the day at work with her parents. Weekends were really the only chance she had to see them. “Can you drop me off at home later? I don’t wanna take the bus.”

“Sure. The worst part is that I’ve been really horny but I also feel super gross so I’ve been staying away from Sai the past two days so that I don’t get any ideas.”

“More than I needed to know, Ino.”

Sakura grabbed one of Ino’s pillows and cuddled with it. She understood the feeling gross part but Sakura usually didn’t feel the increase in arousal during her period but the week leading to when it started. She had been crawling into Sasuke’s bed every night to help ease the frustration.

Sex was starting to complicate things for Sakura. It was starting to feel like it was the only way she could be close to Sasuke, like it was all they would ever have. But she couldn’t just stop either. Even if she tried to separate her feelings from the act, she still clung to the affection she received from Sasuke.

Ino was starting to notice her frustrations with not being in a fulfilling relationship and was starting to meddle. She and Sakura had gotten into a fight the week before because Sakura was fed up with her plans of trying to set her up on blind dates. Sakura packed her schedule with tutoring hours to fill her requirements for the National Honor Society. Ino was initially excited hoping a cute boy would need Sakura’s help but Sakura had gone to the middle school section of Konoha Secondary to find students.

“So Naruto has a girlfriend.”

“Um. Okay?”

Sasuke had mentioned that Naruto had been talking to a girl over a month ago but Naruto had never brought it up whenever she saw him around school. All she knew was that he had stopped being flirtatious when he talked to people but that could have just been a sign of maturity.

“You’re not curious?” Ino raised a delicate blonde eyebrow. “Sai said she’s mousey. Plain looking but really sweet.”

“Not really? If Sai thought she was pretty he probably wouldn’t tell you.”

“A normal boy wouldn’t but he’s blunt as hell. Trust me. Sai didn’t hold back from describing how large her rack was.”



“Why are you bringing this up?”

Sakura turned her head to look at Ino. Ino was staring at her tub of ice cream, poking at it with her spoon. Sakura poked her leg until she looked at her.

“Are you sure you don’t like Naruto?”

Sakura snorted. She sat up and snatched the tub of ice cream from Ino’s hands. She stuffed a large bite of it into her mouth and let the sweet cream melt into her mouth a bit before chewing and swallowing.

“I still don’t see why you thought so in the first place. I was practically babysitting him and treating him like a five year old when we all hung out.”

“Well,” Ino huffed, eyes narrowing in annoyance. “Anyone would assume so with how you guys were practically joined at the hip when we first started attending K.S.S. And he sure acted like he was your boyfriend.”

“Ino. I’ve been avoiding him whenever possible for the last year and a half. What would make you think I like him?”

“I thought you might be avoiding him because of his new girlfriend.”

“No. That’s not why.” Sakura was starting to get irritated. Ino hadn’t been one of Naruto’s supporters when he was trying to get her to go out with him but she knew what was going on and never tried to warn Sakura. And for that, Sakura felt that Ino had been just a tad disloyal. “I’ve been avoiding him because I turned him down. And he didn’t take it that well. We’re trying to be friends again but he did something I didn’t like and he hasn’t fixed it yet.”

“What did he do?”

Sakura exhaled deeply through her nose and handed the ice cream back to Ino. She was going to need it more than Sakura in a moment.

“I haven’t told you something because I knew you wouldn’t take it well.” Sakura ran a hand through her hair and sighed. “I’m sort of seeing someone. He’s not my boyfriend but pretty close to it. We’ve never actually discussed if that’s what he is but he seems to be that. I was already involved with him when Naruto started trying to date me. He didn’t know I was seeing someone already but I think he knew I liked the person I’m talking about.”

“Sakura. Who are you seeing?”

Sakura stared at Ino for a while. Ino was staring back at her, eyebrows furrowed in what looked like a cross between concern and anger. Sakura guessed that her friend wasn’t happy to have information kept from her.

“Sasuke Uchiha.”

“What!?” Sakura covered her ears as Ino shrieked. Because she had covered her ear she wasn’t prepared for Ino to start smacking her with her pillow.

“What do you mean Sasuke Uchiha is sort of your boyfriend? You guys don’t even talk in school unless you have to!”

“Well, you can sort of blame Naruto for that.”

“What. Why?” Ino stopped smacking her, curiosity halting her actions.

“Okay, he’s not the main reason. Mr. Uchiha doesn’t like me.”

“Everyone likes you.”

“Well not strict fathers that think you will get pregnant and ruin their sons’ lives apparently.”

“I should have figured it would be something like that. That man scares me. He never smiles.” Ino shivered. She seemed to relax for a moment but then she smacked Sakura again one more time. “Now tell me why it’s a secret at school. What does Naruto have to do with it?”

Sakura let out a huge sigh. She fell back onto the bed and stared up at it’s canopy. She knew it would sound stupid when she told Ino what Naruto had to do with the secret.

“I wanted Naruto and Sasuke to stay friends. I wanted the three of us to stay friends.” Sakura recalled how Naruto avoided Sasuke for weeks after she told him the one she liked was Sasuke. “I thought maybe their friendship could be saved if we waited for Naruto to get over me and then we could go back to hanging out. He went through so much trouble to keep us apart when he had the suspicion that Sasuke was the one I liked and then he gave us both the cold shoulder when I confirmed it.

“He eventually started talking to Sasuke again and we slowly started to be friends again without him trying to start anything between us. But he still would go hang out with Sasuke and exclude me and vice versa. I wanted him to feel comfortable with us all being in the same room again. Naruto still hasn’t tried hanging out with both of us at the same time. I sometimes feel paranoid like he’s still trying to keep Sasuke and I from being around each other. But it’s not like that ever worked. Even though he knew about how I felt about Sasuke I never told him the whole truth. He never knew that the entire time he and all of you were scheming to get us together I was already sleeping with Sasuke. No one knew we were involved because Sasuke went to Oto and I felt weird bringing that up. I don’t think we should let him know that his best friend was fucking the girl he liked behind his back.”

Ino’s jaw dropped, blue-green eyes wide. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath in. She held for seven seconds and then slowly exhaled. She repeated that process three times.

“You guys…are fucking idiots.”

“I know,” Sakura mumbled. It sounded even stupider when she had said it out loud. “But how am I supposed to believe he’s over me if he won’t invite Sasuke along when he asks me to hang out with him? When we were fifteen he tried to make me think Sasuke didn’t care about me.”

“I still don’t get how he could possibly do that. And are we talking about the same guy?”

“Yes,” Sakura groaned out, exasperated. “After Sasuke and I first had sex  I was feeling kind of vulnerable. I just wanted to talk to him and figure out what was going on with us. I couldn’t walk over to his house because I was worried Mr. Uchiha wouldn’t let me talk to him. He use to tell me Sasuke was busy if he answered the door. And I couldn’t reach him by call or text because Naruto had blocked me from Sasuke’s cell phone when they hung out the day after. For a moment I thought he didn’t want me anymore.”

“I wouldn’t be friends with him after that,” Ino said bluntly. “Fuck Naruto. Doesn’t matter how much you like someone, you don’t mess with their relationship with someone else.”

“But Naruto isn’t just anyone, Ino. He’s like family to me.”

Out of the three of them, growing up, Sakura was the loneliest. Her parents both worked full time so she was always over at Naruto’s house or Sasuke’s being taken care of by their mothers whom were both housewives. The two of them were her world growing up. Just because her love for Naruto wasn’t romantic it didn’t mean it was any less than her love for Sasuke. It was just a different type. Much different but just as important.

“Okay. Enough with the melodrama. Tell me about how you started, you know,” Ino made a whistling noise and a crude gesture with her hands, “Sasuke Uchiha. Because I love Sai from the bottom of my heart and wouldn’t want anyone else but goddamn! And this was when he went to Oto? So this was when he was wearing that uniform and looking all proper and innocent and shit? I can’t believe you took Sasuke’s virginity. Amazing.”

“I think it’s time for me to go home.”

“Noooo! Talk to Ino!” Ino wrapped her arms around Sakura to hold her in place. Sakura sighed heavily not wanting to start wrestling with Ino and having her mother come up to hear Ino pleading with her to tell her all of her dirty secrets.

“Let me go and I’ll tell you.”

“Yes! Let me get some popcorn. I already know this is going to be good.”

Sakura wasn’t expecting Naruto to be at her doorstep when Ino pulled into her driveway. He paused his knocking and turned to see Ino’s baby blue VW Bug and waved at the girls.

“I can stay if you want,” Ino offered. “He tries something and I go for the eyes.” She held up her manicured nails. She wore her nails in an almond cut so they looked somewhat like claws.

“Nah. Sasuke is watching.”


“Don’t stare,” Sakura warned. “He likes to sit on his roof.”

Ino subtly tilted her head upward and looked out of the corner of her eye. She almost gaped openly when she saw Sasuke Uchiha just sitting on his rooftop, eating a tomato like an apple.

“Why are all the hot guys I know weirdos?”

“I’ll see you at school, okay?”

“I’ll probably call later tonight about the questions for the reading in Topics. Remind me again why I took Honors History courses?”

“Bye, Ino.” Sakura giggled and waved at her friend. She watched Ino back out of the drive and head out of the cul-de-sac before turning to Naruto.

“Hey, Sak.”

“If you continue to call me that I will stop responding to you completely.” Sakura was tired of reminding him that she hated that stupid nickname. It sounded way too much like he was calling her Sock. “What are you doing here, Naruto?”

“I have something for you.” Naruto reached into his back pocket and pulled out a rectangular strip of paper. “A Flames ticket. For next weekend.”


“I’m not asking you out on a date!” Naruto cut her off. He waved his hands frantically in front of him, desperate for her to listen to him. “Well, technically I am─but not with me!”

“Naruto, you’re just confusing me now.”

“A double date.” Naruto pulled out his phone and showed her his lock screen. It was a photo of an average looking dark haired girl. The only thing not average about her was her silvery eyes that should have commanded attention but what stood out the most to Sakura was her shy yet gentle smile. “I wanted to take you and Sasuke to a Flames game. This is Hina, she’s kind of my girlfriend and I want to be able to take her out but her dad’s pretty strict. Like worse than Sasuke’s dad. I usually can’t go anywhere with her unless she’s running an errand with her older cousin or out shopping with her younger sister and I just tag along.”

“And she’ll be able to go out as part of a double date?”

“Well…we can’t call it that and she’d have to call home often, at least once per hour, but she would be able to go without her cousin or caretaker if you come along. You know, ‘cause you’re a girl and kind of known around town for being such a good girl.”

Sakura crossed her arms in front of her chest and stared Naruto down, looking him over for any sign that he could be lying to her. Naruto gave her a puppy dog stare complete with watery baby blue eyes.

“Sasuke is going?”

“Yep. I just gave him his ticket.”

Sakura plucked the ticket out of Naruto’s hand. Naruto beamed and pumped his fist in a cheering gesture.

“Hina and Sasuke better be going Naruto. This is your last chance.”

“They’ll be there. Believe it!” Naruto skipped down her drive and dialed a number on his phone. Sakura could hear him talking cheerily to someone he called Hinata. Hina must have been a nickname. Sakura hoped Hinata at least liked hers.

Sakura unlocked her front door and headed straight to her bedroom. She just wanted to curl up in bed and whine about how much her cramps were hurting her. She had just finished changing into a pair of cotton shorts and a baggy navy blue sweatshirt that almost completely swallowed her body when there was a knock on her window. She walked over to open it and Sasuke came in, tossing a drawstring bag on her bed.


“Hi,” Sakura barely got out before Sasuke cupped her face in his hands and pressed a kiss on her lips. “Um, I can’t…”

“Hm? You can’t what?”

“Not today,” Sakura said softly. She flushed pink and bit her lower lip. Sasuke snorted and rolled his eyes. He walked over to her bed and opened up the drawstring bag he had brought over. He pulled out a thermos and a hot water bottle wrapped in a small towel.

“It’s like clockwork.” Sasuke handed her the thermos and she opened it up. The smell of hot chocolate filled her room. “And that’s my sweatshirt.”

“I stole it.” Sakura grinned mischievously and took a healthy gulp of the hot chocolate. The heat felt good sitting in her stomach. “I forget sometimes that my cycle is really predictable.”

“The wonders of the pill,” Sasuke muttered.

Sakura set down the thermos and grabbed the hot water bottle from him. She curled up in bed with clutching it to her abdomen. She had an electric heating pad she would use later for her lower back pain but she appreciated the gesture. Sasuke kicked off his shoes, lifted up the covers, and slid underneath to join her in bed. He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her closer, careful not to touch the hot water bottle with his stomach.

Sasuke’s smell was more intense than usual and his hair was still kind of wet. Sakura figured he must have showered earlier. She was about to scold him for being out in the cold with wet hair when she felt a familiar tingling sensation from her nether region. Talking earlier to Ino about what she and Sasuke use to get up to and now his presence was doing awful things to her and her out of whack hormones. She pressed her palm against his crotch and watched his eyes widen a fraction. She continued to rub him through his sweats until she felt him start to harden.

“I want to touch you,” Sakura murmured. She watched him swallow, his adam’s apple bobbing.

“Okay.” Sasuke slid his sweatpants lower on his hips, just enough for her to see the top of his black curls. She used a finger to trace the line of hair that licked his navel, feeling his abdominal muscles clench, down until she was fingering his waistband. Slowly, she slid her fingers underneath and pulled him out.

Sakura inserted two fingers into her mouth and laved them with her tongue before releasing them with a pop! and running them over his length. She stroked him at a slow pace, pausing every now and then to rub her thumb over his tip, causing Sasuke to let out a hiss. She continued that process until she had pooled enough of his precum to use as lubrication.

“I want to look at your tits while you do that.” Sakura paused to let Sasuke pull the sweatshirt she was wearing over her head. Sakura picked up speed and pumped him at a nice even pace. She didn’t want to go too fast and finish Sasuke off so soon. Sasuke cupped her face and pressed a hard kiss to her mouth. He parted her mouth, giving her hungry kisses, dipping his tongue into her mouth.

“It’s been a while since we just fooled around, hasn’t it?” Sakura panted after Sasuke pulled away for air. He nodded dumbly, black eyes hazy with lust. He let Sakura’s breathing even out and then pressed another hard kiss to her mouth. He started bucking his hips, trying to get even more friction.

Sasuke pressed his forehead to hers, hot breaths puffing out onto her face. His hand that wasn’t attached to the arm tucked between their bodies came to rest on her hip, gripping hard.

“Fuck…” Sasuke moaned softly. Sakura liked him like this, when he grunted and moaned and even whimpered with pleasure.

“I like playing with your cock, Sasuke. Do you like when I play with your cock?” Again, Sasuke nodded dumbly. Sakura pressed kisses along his throat, nipping and licking as she followed it down to his clavicle. She sucked hard there, hard enough to rupture blood capillaries. She was going to mark him up.

Sakura chuckled inwardly remembering Sasuke’s reaction to the first time she gave him a hickey. It had been an accident.

Sasuke scowled, looking at the mirror on his closet door for a better look at the small red bruise sitting on his collarbone. He would have to button his uniform button down shirt all the way up for the next few days until it went away.

“Sorry,” Sakura mumbled, again, for the tenth time since Sasuke had come to his senses after she had jerked him off.

It was her first time touching him, payback for him touching her the last time he had pulled a better score from the practice tests Itachi had drawn up for them. He was suppose to only look, satisfy his curiosity as to what color the hair between her thighs were when he took a finger and traced her slit. The afternoon had ended with her squirming from her seat between his legs as he pumped his middle and ring fingers in and out of her, digging the heel of his palm against her clit.

“I kind of just…heat of the moment type of thing…” Sakura looked at her feet, her eyes feeling that familiar itch, signaling tears.

“Lift your shirt up,” Sasuke commanded.

“What?” Sakura’s eyes widened in surprise. Sasuke sighed and slid his hands under her t-shirt and pushed the shirt up as he ran them up her torso. He leaned down when the shirt was pooled over her breasts and sucked on top of the left one until he bruised her just like she had bruised him.

“Now we’re even.”

“That was good,” Sasuke panted. Sakura pulled a box of baby wipes from her nightstand to clean her hands and his stomach. They had used tissues once but that had caused more mess than cleaned anything. Sasuke furrowed his eyebrows and frowned at her. “What do we do about you now?”

“I’ll take care of it later in the shower. I’ll just think about this.”

“You’re going to think about jerking me off when you touch yourself?”

“What would you rather me think about?” Sakura asked hotly, face flushing red in embarrassment and slight annoyance. Sasuke smirked and pulled his pants back up. He pulled Sakura close again and buried his face in her hair.

“So. We’re going to go watch the Flames play the Tornadoes?”

“I guess so.”

The two stayed quiet for a moment, content with just lying next to each other. Sasuke broke the silence, catching Sakura off guard.

“I always thought Naruto was pretty shallow. I guess I was wrong.”

“What are you talking about?”

“His girlfriend. He showed you a picture, right?” Sakura nodded, still confused. “Because of his crush on you I thought he only went for looks.”

“What’s that supposed to mean!?” Sakura pulled away from him. Her chest constricted, not liking what she was hearing. She couldn’t look past the implication that there was nothing else to like her for. “You should leave Sasuke.”

“Can you just listen to everything first?” Sasuke narrowed his eyes at her. “I mean that he really liked you but didn’t really try to understand you that well. He use to use a lot of flattering words to try and get on your good side but he was always making you upset or ignoring your feelings. He kept doing things that annoyed you even when you asked him to stop. Hell, he didn’t even notice how you were all tense, wincing in pain, as you were standing in front of him earlier. It was just weird that he would like you but be completely oblivious to everything going on with you even when you were right there by his side. But then with this Hina girl he’s more attuned to what’s going on in her life. Tries a whole lot harder. And you should see him when he talks about her. Like he actually sees her and not just a face.”

“And what about you?” Sakura asked. “Are you attuned to what’s going on with my life? Do you know me Sasuke Uchiha? Do you actually understand me?”

“What do you think?” Sasuke adjusted the hot water bottle, the movement easing more of Sakura’s pain. “We should probably switch sides so you can use your heating pad.”

“Not now. After my shower.”

“Your parents won’t be here for a few more hours. Want me to join you?” Sakura wrinkled her nose in disgust and shook her head. She didn’t want him to see the blood going down the drain.

“We should probably come up for a reason why you’re going to be going out, especially with me of all people, next weekend.”

“Already taken care of.”

“Really? What’s the plan?”

“My mother. She wants me to socialize more and she misses you and Naruto. There’s no way my father is going to say no to her and risk her finding out what he said about you.”

“Sounds like a gamble.”

“Trust me. My mother is the best thing we could have in our arsenal.”

Kingdom For Two [1-3]

Chapter One: Late Night Visits

Sounds. At night all sounds have a tendency to seem much louder than during the day. Loud in contrast to the heavy silence that blanketed the small, secluded suburban neighborhood.

Sasuke shifted onto his back, arm thrown over his eyes. The loudness of the nighttime noises made it difficult to sleep. Difficult to breathe. But not difficult to think and to feel.

With little effort, Sasuke focused on the sounds of the CPAP machine in the room next door. The whirring and heavy breathing sounds did nothing to alleviate the anxiety he felt. It should have been a welcoming sound because it was doing it’s job but the sound was grating because it reminded him that the damn machine was needed at all.

Throwing his sheets aside, Sasuke made his way to his desk and started up his desktop. His father was the only person he knew that would buy his son a desktop computer and a laptop in the name of studying. No excuses, he would always have a means to work and to strive to be the best. Something that he was failing at ever since he had transferred out of his private school, Oto Prep, to the local public school.

Fugaku Uchiha didn’t even yell or lecture Sasuke. He just gave him the same impassive look he had when Sasuke was younger, like he had expected Sasuke to come in second place. Sasuke would have felt insulted about that considering he was top at the harsh and strict environment of Oto if it weren’t for the fact he knew there was no way to surpass the person ranking first in academics at Konoha High. She had always beaten him in written tests when they were younger. Apparently his father never forgot that fact.

His mother, Mikoto, and his older brother Itachi seemed to be the only ones that were glad for the transfer. Who cared if he wasn’t the highest scoring student if he was happier? Because Sasuke was not happy at Oto. He made three friends there and he joined the basketball team but being happy wasn’t something that happened at Oto. It was a toxic place that would either burn you out until you wished you were dead or made you start slowly─or quickly─killing yourself, depending on how dependant on drugs you were or how far you were willing to toe the line between “study aid” and recreational use.

Sasuke ran his fingers through his unkempt hair and all but slammed on the keys to unlock his Mac and start up iTunes. Distraction. He needed a distraction. A distraction from the whirring and from the sounds of wet coughing when his brother woke up to shuffle his way over to the restroom.

As the crooning of the lead singer warbled out of his speakers, Sasuke made his way over back to his bed and threw himself on top of it. He curled up with a pillow on the farther side of his bed and inhaled. Disappointed to smell only his cinnamon and mint scent he tossed it aside. His sheets and pillows hadn’t smelled like apples in over a week and it was starting to put him on edge how dependant he became on that smell to relax.

Sleep wouldn’t be coming that night. Not when his distraction of choice was next door, nose in a book, having yet another night of cramming.

No matter how crowded the halls, she was always easy to find. Either because of her hair or because she was always with a taller blonde girl with ridiculously long “mermaid length” hair. A trend Sasuke didn’t care for.

The rose gold head of Sakura Haruno was like a beacon, calling out to him. His eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to her due to the odd genetic mutation passed on from her father’s side of the family. Her father had told them a weird story about how originally their ancestors had a unique chocolate with heavy violet undertones shade of hair but that the brown had dulled down through the generations and left it a sort of purple hue. It drew in everyone’s eyes. Rose gold was what his mother called it when they were younger but the strands were more dusty rose and thus pink, just plain pink. Sakura had pink hair, a lovely delicate shade that couldn’t be imitated by dyes.

“You can’t survive on coffee, Forehead,” Ino Yamanaka scolded the pink haired girl as they passed Sasuke’s locker. Sakura let out a long groan and then sipped from her travel mug.

“I was studying all night and didn’t go to sleep until like three. I need this, okay?”

“Whatever. Let’s go pick up Sai from the Art room. He can’t miss any more classes because he’s hole-ing himself up in there.”

It was brief, very brief, completely unnoticeable to anyone else but their eyes met. Their eyes met and the world became muted with just a flash of vivid green eyes. As quick as their eyes met, they also averted their gaze. Sakura continued walking and Sasuke turned his attention back to his locker.

“I saw that.”

Sasuke took a sideways glance at his friend and fellow transfer student Suigetsu. The had attended Konoha for an entire year and a few months already and Suigetsu still insisted on tagging along with him. Suigetsu had made friends with most of Sasuke’s old friends but continued to pester Sasuke the most.

Ignoring him, Sasuke slammed his locker closed and headed off to class where Suigetsu couldn’t follow him into the classroom. It didn’t stop him from walking with him though.

“It’s not that weird that you look at her. I look at her too sometimes. Don’t let Karin know that though.”

Sasuke rolled his eyes and shoved the feeling of irritation away. He tried to convince himself that he was just irritated with Suigetsu’s constant chatter about his nonexistent love life and not the fact that he confessed, yet again, to finding Sakura Haruno attractive.

“I mean she’s pretty hot. For a nerd.”

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Sasuke grunted. Suigetsu gave him a lopsided smirk and held up his hands in surrender.

“Yeah, yeah. I gotta go or Uzumaki will bitch at me for being late for the pre-lab work.” Suigetsu let out a playful sigh in mock exhaustion. “Still have no clue how a dummy like that ended up Student Body President. I’m sure even I’m smarter than he is.”

If Suigetsu expected Sasuke to defend his best friend he was mistaken. Sasuke just gave him an unimpressed look and walked away. Suigetsu was one of the few students at Oto Prep that was there on a sports scholarship but then ended up hating his school life. When Sasuke, Jugo, his closest friend there, and Karin Uzumaki, Naruto’s cousin, transferred he jumped ship as well.

Rumpling his hair for the thousandth time that day, Sasuke made his way to his desk and pulled out his Calculus notes, not even bothering to look at any of the students around him. When he returned to the public school system he had been bombarded with unwanted attention from the female student body. Naruto, who used to find it a reason to be jealous, laughed uproariously in his face at his discomfort. Naruto then made a comment about his sexuality and then was punched in the face which resulted in an all out brawl.

Not a great start to his career at a new school but worth it since it had helped him fend off any initial admirers that found him too violent. The ones that loved “bad boys” were then disappointed to find out that he was just a quiet and studious person. Sure he had some of the elements that one could find in a “bad boy” but that wasn’t who he is. Now all he had to do was avoid the fans of the dark and brooding type.

“Think you’ll  beat me today?” Sasuke looked up from his notes to his seatmate. Sakura tossed her pink locks over her shoulder as she slid into her seat. She flashed him a winning smile and pulled out her pencil pouch and spiral notebook for class.

Sasuke grunted and went back to his notes. Calculus was one of the classes he could out score her on tests but it wasn’t a consistent occurrence. Calculus might have been Sakura Haruno’s worst subject but that wasn’t saying much when she was the top student in all of her classes.

“Going to give me the silent treatment?” Sakura whispered flipping through her notes on the unit they were going to be tested on as soon as the teacher closed the classroom door. “I guess in the off chance that you do beat me, you’re not going to want to cash in then?”

Sasuke lifted his head again and turned in her direction. Sakura was subtly going through her notes as if they weren’t speaking in the first place. She placed her left elbow on her desk, cupping her face with her hand to hold up her head as she read her notes. With her hair tossed over her left shoulder, her neck was shown to advantage. Creamy and slender, it was one of his favorite parts of her anatomy. A fact that was no secret to Sakura.

Sasuke’s eyes followed the line of Sakura’s neck down to her clavicle and then even further down to the V of her shirt. The swell of the top of her breasts peeked from her low neckline from the angle he was looking. The shirt was modest, not one part of it meant to be seductive, but that was the way Sakura Haruno worked: in subtlety.

Sasuke shifted his gaze back to his notes and ignored her attempts at flirting and playing coy. Cash in? As if it mattered whether he got the higher score or not. He was still going to win in the end.

There was always that awkward moment when he walked through his front door and stood in the foyer removing his shoes. It was the most vulnerable position he could be in when he got home. Taking a pause on his way to straight to his room left Sasuke opened to any questions from his mother about his day.

“How was your day?”

Surprisingly, it wasn’t his mother. The voice was too low and raspy. Sasuke looked up with his mask of indifference to look at his older brother.

“How was your doctor’s visit?” Sasuke countered the unwanted question.

Itachi gave him a somber smile. It stretched his gaunt face and was weak, as if it was too much of a strain to use his facial muscles. He held out out his arms to take Sasuke’s school things and coat which earned him a growl of disapproval from his younger brother. It was something he use to do, help his younger brother with his things when he came home from primary school. Not only did Sasuke dislike being treated like he was still a child but he hated when his brother offered to do things he had no business doing.

“You know I hate feeling useless,” Itachi said with a soft voice. Sometimes Sasuke thought Itachi’s voice was doing the same thing that he was doing: physically, slowly disappearing. Sighing, Sasuke handed him his hoodie. It was the lightest thing he was carrying and Itachi only had to turn his body slightly to hang it in the front hall closet.

Sasuke stood next to his brother and his eyes softened at the sight of him in his too big clothes. Sasuke had shot passed his brother in height over the summer but he had never expected that Itachi would ever be so much thinner than him.

“How was your visit?” Sasuke asked again, tone a lot gentler than it was the first time he asked.

“The rheumatologist sent me for more blood work.” Itachi sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “I hate being prodded with needles.”

“I bet you’re tired now. Have Shisui or Izumi stopped by today?”

“Shisui has work all day and Izumi is spending the day with her mother. She hasn’t been doing too well this past week.”

You’re not doing too well, Sasuke wanted to retort but held back his tongue. Considering how much time Izumi dedicated to being Itachi’s companion it would have been rude. She and Shisui were one of the few friends of Itachi’s that stuck around after his illness got worse. On bad days Sasuke didn’t think they counted as friends since they were technically distant cousins but close enough relations to carry the same last name.

“Is father going to let you go back to desk duty?”

The two brothers made their way to the kitchen and Sasuke let his brother prepare him a snack of sliced tomatoes. It was rare that they got time alone in the house. Mikoto would hover around Itachi whenever he was at home on one of his bad days or on days he dedicated to doctor visits. Itachi would never admit it but doctor days wore him out, exhausted him and made him weak. They were stressful and lowered his energy. He would never admit it but it was obvious to his family. Sasuke wouldn’t point it out. only make small suggestions, Fugaku ignored it when possible, and Mikoto suffocated him with care and attention.

“I hope so. No one expected me to relapse but I’m doing better. I want to work again.”

Itachi had once been an active duty officer in their hometown’s police force. When he got sicker he was moved behind a desk to do paperwork. He had been fine with the trade in positions as long as he was still a functioning member. Most Uchihas worked for the town’s police department in some fashion. Their earliest ancestor had helped settle the town with another family and became in charge of defending it and enforcing the law. The Uchihas have been working as the police force ever since.

The front door opened and Sasuke threw a sympathetic look at his brother before taking off, leaving him alone in the kitchen where whatever parental figure could find him. If anyone needed the attention it was Itachi. Sasuke was more than willing to let him have it now that he was older and the able-bodied child. The expectations placed on him were stressing him out and had he known how intense it was, he would have never craved for his father’s approval and attention.

As soon as he got to his room he locked his bedroom door and blasted his music loud enough for his family members to know he was in his room and didn’t want to be bothered.

Sasuke’s attention was drawn away from his handheld gaming device by rhythmic tapping on his window. It was two-thirty in the morning so there could only be one explanation for the knocking on glass.

Casually, without seeming like he was in any hurry to get to his window, Sasuke saved his game and turned off his device before tossing it aside. He stood up with a small groan and stretched as he made his way to the window to unlock it. He had gotten rid of the mosquito screen a long time ago on that specific window.

This time it was her eyes that drew him in. Yet another coloring of hers that couldn’t be replicated. In some lighting her irises were a pale jade, in another a sparkling emerald. In all cases they were vivid, bright, perfect.

“Can’t sleep?” She asked in a soft voice. All they could do was whisper at night when everyone was asleep and the only noises Sasuke could hear from his family was the CPAP machine in the room directly next to his.

“You wouldn’t be in here if I was able to, would you?”

“Hmm. Guess not.”

Routine. It was all routine for them. She would sneak out of her house in the middle of the night and climb up the lattice vine wall that ran up the brick walls of his cottage styled house to the part of the roof that held his bedroom window.

And in the night as part of their routine she would distract him from his brother’s illness and from his father’s expectations.

“I got the email with my test score when I got home. Ninety-nine. My score was higher wasn’t it?” Sakura smirked, playing with the waistband of Sasuke’s flannel pajama bottoms. “Are you going to be extra attentive tonight?”

“Ninety-eight,” Sasuke replied before cupping her head with his hands and leaned in to give her a kiss. He nibbled at her lip and deepened the kiss when she parted her lips. Sakura sighed into the kiss, her hands on his forearms, lightly scraping her nails on his skin as her fingers curled around him.

“Slow down a bit,” Sakura whined as Sasuke placed hurried kisses and nips and bites on her neck. Sasuke growled but did as he was told and gave her slow open mouthed kisses on her neck and clavicle as he slid his hands under her shirt and t-shirt bra and cupped both of her breasts in his hands. He would say they were closer on the small side but still full and perky. Sasuke brushed his thumbs over her nipples and she arched into his touch, moaning softly. Sakura’s hands went to his hair, tangling into his unruly locks and tugging at it.

“Take it all off,” Sasuke grunted. Sakura shook her head giving him a mischievous grin. He glared at her and she made a clicking sound with her tongue, still smiling at him playfully.

You take my clothes off. You’re supposed to be more attentive to my needs tonight, Uchiha.”

Any other night, Sasuke would have silently demanded that she stop trying to order him around. But it had been a while and he needed her, wanted her. So he pulled her shirt over her head and rid her of her other clothing. He paused momentarily to just look at her. She was all strawberries and cream. Milky skin flushed red, pink hair, pink nipples, and full pink lips. The only sweet thing he actually liked.

Lightly, he pushed her backward onto his bed and watched as she bounced on the mattress as he pulled off his own clothes. Sakura’s eyes darkened at the sight of him, bare, in all his glory and she licked her lips. If he weren’t so desperate for her himself he would have smirked at that. To think this was the same girl who only two years ago had looked at him, with worry in her eyes, and said there was no way he would fit in her.

“Just like that,” Sakura moaned softly, tangling her fingers in his hair. Sasuke loved the view from between her thighs. Loved watching her chest heave, the way her stomach muscles quivered, and the way her body arched when he licked her in a way she particularly liked.

Loved when he made her a quivering mess, squirming and clutching at his dark gray sheets.

“I’m more than ready now Sasuke,” Sakura whimpered, breathing hard after coming down from her high. Sasuke shook his head and gently bit down on the fleshy knob that brought her so much joy when he played with it. He continued to lap at her and snuck a hand up her torso to fondle her breasts, tweaking the hardened nipples. He used the other one to tease her nether lips, stroking her, refusing to place them inside her. If he felt her clench around his fingers it would be his undoing and he couldn’t let her know just how badly he wanted his cock in her.

She had left him without for a week and he was going to make her wait for what she really wanted. Besides, he was being attentive. Wasn’t this her prize? To think winning their little competitions use to mean either buying sweets or packages of collectible cards. They were both a long way from when they were younger.

“I’m starting to think,” Sakura panted, “that you like eating me out more than fucking me.”

“Shut up.” Sasuke spread her thighs apart with his knees, used one hand on her hip to steady her, and thrust hard into her. He used his free hand to clamp over her mouth to keep her from crying out loudly. He only removed his hand when he knew she would have an easier time controlling her mewling.

Sakura clung to him, wrapping her legs around his waist and hooking her arms under his armpits to hold onto his back. She used her hold on him to pull him closer so she could pepper his throat with kisses and licks. She sucked hard on his pulse point and Sasuke couldn’t help the low moan that escaped his throat.

“Fuck, you’re squeezing too tight,” Sasuke groaned. He buried his face into the crook of her neck. He breathed in the smell of her apple scented shampoo intermingled with sweat, the resistance of her tightening causing him to slow down his thrusting.

“I c-can’t help it, I’m─ah!─going to come again.” Sakura bit down on his shoulder and he groaned from the pain mixed with pleasure as her muscles clenched even tighter around him. A few more thrusts and he found his release as well. Tired, he pulled out of her and collapsed on top of her, resting his head on her chest.

Sakura stroked his hair, lightly scratching his scalp with her nails, and he closed his eyes and let sleep take him.

Sasuke woke up hours later, alone in bed. That was their routine. They would fall asleep after a nightly romp and he would wake up to find that she had left before morning light. He use to wake when she moved to leave but after growing accustomed to her presence at night he fell into a lax state and his body no longer alerted him that there was a stranger moving around in his room.

Sasuke pulled the pillow Sakura had used the night before and held it to his chest. It smelled of apples so he curled around it and fell back to sleep.

Chapter Two: Fences

Twenty feet. There was twenty feet from her house to his. The exact distance was nineteen feet and ten inches. Sakura had found that out when she was seven and the Uchihas had put up a new, much nicer looking, fence to surround their property.

She remembered running with Sasuke and Naruto back and forth from her backyard to Sasuke’s while the fences were down. They chased each other around with no care in the world, no rules or structures, just feeling free.

But that was back in the period of time that Sakura called Before. That was back when all three of them were friends. That was before they all turned twelve and were separated by arbitrary things like what gender they were and what secondary school they were going to be attending.

“I’m going out,” Sakura called out, grabbing her utility jacket from the coat rack in the front hall.

No one responded because no one was there to do so. Sakura rarely saw her parents on weekends unless she was working a shift at the family bakery and café. She would have loved to have been working today and earn tips but her parents thought she worked too much. Sakura was the only kid she knew whose parents scolded her for being too high of an overachiever and would have preferred if she went out and enjoyed her youth while she could.

But Sakura didn’t have that luxury. She needed perfect grades and she needed to be part of the National Honor Society. She needed to work volunteer hours and she needed, desperately, to be the best of the best. They don’t give scholarships out to just anyone and her parents weren’t going to be able to put her through medical school with money from the café.

Sakura Haruno was one stressed out seventeen year old girl. It was a good thing she had found a form of stress release that worked well for her.

Stress release that came in the form of her childhood friend next door.

Right in the center of the row of houses lining the cul-de-sac stood the magnificent two-story plus basement and attic cottage styled house of the Uchiha. The most recently built house in the neighborhood, only nineteen years old, it was more of a manor, especially in comparison to the smaller houses surrounding it. It was the jewel of Forest Grove Court. When Sakura was younger she thought the Uchiha house came straight out of a fairytale. The neighbor boy, Sasuke, thought that was the stupidest thing he had ever heard.

Walking by the house caused the hair on Sakura’s neck to rise and a shiver to run down her spine. Sometimes there would be a heat that would pool in her lower belly. She was being watched and she knew if she looked up she would fine Sasuke sitting on the roof, looking out into the street.

Stress release she called him. Stress release, she tried to convince herself, was all he was.

Leaving Forest Grove Court and walking along Forest Grove Drive, just a few houses down from where the two streets met, stood the simple two story and three bedroom home of the Uzumakis. Sakura had probably spent more time in the Uzumaki residence when she was in her younger years of primary school than her own home. Kushina Uzumaki was a friend of Mikoto Uchiha and she babysat Sasuke and Sakura after school.

“Oh, hello Sakura!” Kushina greeted her warmly, letting her into her house. “I didn’t know you were coming over. Let me go get Naruto.”

“Ah, no! Ms. Kushina, I’m here for Karin,” Sakura reminded her. Kushina frowned but quickly placed a smile on her face.

“Right.” Kushina grinned broadly, leading Sakura to her kitchen. Even if Sakura hadn’t spent most of her time in the Uzumaki house most of her youth she would be able to navigate it easily. The floor plan was almost an exact copy of the Haruno home.

Sakura slid onto a barstool at the kitchen’s island and waited for Kushina to call her niece down from her room. From her spot she could see the markings on the doorway where Kushina used to measure her son and his friends’ heights when they were younger. Naruto was always the shortest back then. He always swore he would someday be taller than Sasuke. They both seemed to stop growing and it seemed he would always be an inch shy of reaching Sasuke’s height. He also use to say he would marry Sakura one day.

That was never going to happen, Sakura chuckled inwardly. She was forever glad that Naruto had given up on that around the end of primary school. She thought of him as a little brother, nothing more.

“Stop being such a creep, you perv!”

Not that that stopped him from seeing her as something else. Sakura turned around and saw Naruto in a headlock. He kept slapping at Karin’s arm attempting to get her to release him. Karin let go and Naruto collapsed on the floor.

“Why are you always a bitch to me?”

“Why do you always have to check out my friends like some skeeze?” Karin unwrapped her cardigan from around her waist and pulled it on, covering the scars and bite marks on her arms. She never exposed them outside of her home and Sakura’s house.

“I-I was not!” Naruto’s cheeks heated to a red almost as vivid as his mother and cousin’s hair.

“Sure you weren’t.” Karin rolled her eyes and hooked her arm with Sakura’s. “Let’s go Sakura. You’re not safe here.”

“Bye Naruto!” Sakura giggled and waved at him. Naruto waved back and then turned back up the stairs, cursing. “You’re so mean to him, Karin.”

“That’s our dynamic. If I start being nice to him it would be weird,” Karin scoffed. “Plus he needs to learn to stop staring at you like that. Maybe if I embarrass him enough he’ll quit it. Let’s go pick up Yamanaka. She has been texting me nonstop this morning about making sure that you actually left the house today. I was almost tempted to tell her that you needed bedrest today.”


Karin was the friend that Sakura never knew she needed until she met her the year before. She was bold like Ino but unlike Ino she didn’t baby her. It made it easier for Sakura to tell her secrets that she couldn’t tell Ino who would have gone into mother hen mode and demand that she put a stop to her relationship with Sasuke.

“Don’t act so prudish now. Let me see the marks,” Karin teased her, pulling at the belt loop of Sakura’s denim shorts. Sighing, Sakura shimmied her shorts and stockings down enough for Karin to take a peek at her hips. Karin let out a low whistle when she saw the finger shaped bruises. “Is it always like that?”

“No. Usually he tries not to be rough enough to leave me all marked up but we did hold back from seeing each other for a week.”

“I wish this wasn’t a secret. I would love to fuck with him about this.”

“Hey. You don’t blab about me and Sasuke and I don’t say anything about Suigetsu.”

Karin grumbled incoherently and slid into the driver’s seat of the old Toyota Camry her uncle had purchased for her when she moved in with them. Karin didn’t like hand outs so she had insisted on an old used car that she could afford to payback the cost of.

“I still don’t understand what’s going on with you and Suigetsu.”

“Well I still don’t get what’s going on with you and Uchiha,” Karin retorted defensively.

Sakura took a sideways glance at Karin as they backed out of the driveway. Karin’s face held an impassive expression. Karin was always putting her walls up. Sakura knew it would take time for Karin to be completely open with her but she had hoped they had become close enough for her to be privy to more about Karin’s life.

Karin had transferred at the beginning of junior year with a few other students from Oto. Not many knew what had exactly happened but there was a rumor that the headmaster had been involved in some sort of scandal which was why some students were either forced to transfer or did so on their own free will. Karin had never explained why she had transferred but she was one of the only former Oto students that had been friends with Sasuke Uchiha which led her to be welcomed by Sasuke’s friends. Karin didn’t really warm up to the others but she had become close with Sakura after an incident in the locker room involving Karin’s scars.

Sakura never questioned her about them and Karin appreciated that.

Being friends with Sakura meant being friends with Ino as well and luckily for Sakura, Karin and Ino got along fine. Karin wasn’t ready to open up to Ino as much as she had with Sakura but she was happy with having another female companion. Sakura and Ino were her first female friends.

“I think he wants a real relationship. Like holding hands in public and going to the movies and sharing popcorn. That kind of stuff,” Karin breathed out as they turned out of the forested neighborhood and onto one of the major roads of Konoha. Ino lived in the center of town where all the shops were located in a loft style flat above her family’s flower shop. The Yamankas had lived in one of the quiet neighborhoods but had moved around the time Ino was in middle school because Ino’s mother preferred the more “urban” feel of the center of town.

“And what do you want?” Sakura asked. She couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of Karin. It was unlikely that Sasuke would ever want to do anything like that.

Sakura was frustrated with her relationship with Sasuke but she wouldn’t give it up. Sasuke wouldn’t say it, but she could feel it in the way he touched her and the way that he looked at her that he felt the same as her. The problem wasn’t if he loved her or not. The problem was if he wanted to love her. And right now, it seemed that Sasuke wished he didn’t.

“I want better for Sui,” Karin answered softly. She stared blankly ahead, eyes cloudy behind her black frames. The rest of the ride remained quiet until they pulled up to the building reading Yamanaka Flowers.

“Hey!” Ino called out from a window from the apartment above the shop. “I’ll be down in a sec.”

“Does it feel like we’re always waiting on her even though she’s always rushing us?” Karin grunted. Sakura just sighed and shrugged her shoulders.

Sometimes it felt like Sasuke had some sort of magnetic pull on her. Like how a compass will always point north, there was something in Sakura that always pointed her in the direction of Sasuke.

She hadn’t been looking for him but there he was, in the same bookstore as her. He couldn’t see her because she was shorter than the bookshelves but she could see the top of his spiky black hair above the top shelf. Ino and Karin were at the store’s coffeeshop so she took advantage of being alone and turned the corner into the next aisle and quietly approached him. She stood right next to him and reached out for a copy of the book in his hand.

Sasuke saw her small hand as she grabbed the book and took a sideways glance at her. He then subtly looked around them for anyone they knew.

“Is it any good?” Sakura asked, skimming the summary on the inside of the jacket cover. She looked up at Sasuke and saw that he was still reading his book, ignoring her. “Um…”

Sasuke sighed and placed the book back on the shelf and then walked away without a second glance back at her. With a new ache in her chest, Sakura placed the book back on it’s shelf and headed back to her friends at the coffee shop.

“Guess who I just saw?” Ino asked her biting down on the straw of her ice coffee. “Sasuke Uchiha. He just ignored me when I tried to say ‘hi’. I can’t believe you use to be friends with him.”

“Neither can I,” Sakura murmured, stealing a sip of Karin’s frappe.

When Sakura got home later that evening the house was still empty. It was always empty before eleven at night. Luckily for her she had been invited to dinner at the Yamanakas because it was unlikely that she would have bothered to prepare anything to eat when she got home.

It felt like Sakura was always being taken care of by the Yamanakas. Ino was the first one to take care of her by becoming her first friend in school when she was seven and then Ino’s parents followed by taking care of her after school until Sakura reached seventh grade. Sometimes, on days like today, it still felt like they were taking care of her.

Sakura wondered how different her life would have been if Ino Yamanaka never followed her into the woods at the edge of the school field that day during recess. Maybe she would be alone, all empty inside like her house. Because Ino wasn’t just her first friend in school but possibly her first real friend in general. Ino was the first person to pick her instead of being forced to be with her.

Sakura pulled out her Organic Chemistry textbook and took a seat at her windowsill. It was one of her favorite design structures of her home that her window jutted out and created a bench type area that she could sit at. She refused to believe it could possibly be her favorite window in her room because it faced the Uchiha house.

Sakura had always liked reading and learning. Reading helped her escape when she was younger, helped her not feel as lonely. Learning new things made her feel closer to the world by uncovering more of it’s secrets.

Her phone vibrated in her pocket and she pulled it out. She had lots of people in her address book but only four people actually texted her. Sakura sighed, disappointed that it wasn’t her parents messaging to check on her. It was almost as if they forgot she wasn’t at work today.

Are you coming over tonight?

Sakura looked out her window and across to the Uchiha house. She always wondered what kind of sick joke it was her window of all of the windows that faced the Uchiha house.

Sasuke was sitting on his roof, watching her, which explained the shiver down Sakura’s spine. He was sitting with one knee propped up, his elbow resting on it as his hand cradled his face. He was looking at her with his impassive expression, as if it didn’t matter if she went over or not.

Sakura stood up and drew her curtains closed. Sasuke could handle being ignored tonight. She ignored the lonely ache in her chest.

Chapter Three: Never Cared For Polygons

The First Law of Motion states, “A body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion unless it is acted upon by an external force.” This simply means that things cannot start, stop, or change direction all by themselves. It takes some force acting on them from the outside to cause such a change.

Sasuke sighed, wishing he never chose to review his physics notes. Everything seemed to remind him that he needed to fix the problem he caused between him and Sakura. From experience he knew that unless he did something nothing was going to end Sakura’s silent treatment. He had turned over every argument he had in his head but none of them worked. The truth wasn’t an acceptable answer but the only right choice.

When Sakura had first approached him in the bookstore he was tempted to let things play out. It had been forever since they had been involved in anything as innocent as flirting. It was easier to get away with when they went to different schools because then they seemed like old friends catching up with each other. It was also a lot easier to do when he wasn’t losing sleep over his older brother slowly dying in the other bedroom but that was just crass using Itachi’s illness as an excuse.

But how could he tell her that he left her standing there by herself because not only had he noticed Ino Yamanaka earlier but that also he saw Naruto enter the store looking for him out of his peripheral. Tiny and with weak eyesight due to straining her eyes reading tiny font in bad lighting, Sakura wouldn’t have noticed Naruto until he was standing right next to them.

“You look like shit.”

Sasuke looked up at the sound of snickering. Karin was looking down at him through her glasses as she took a seat at their lunch table. Suigetsu followed suit, pulling out a large bottle of water from his drawstring bag.

“What’s up with you?” Karin asked without looking up from her lunch. She picked at her nachos until she found a chip with a proportionate amount of cheese to chip.

“You’re looking even more like an overgrown bat these days,” Suigetsu commented. Sasuke glared at him and Suigetsu grinned back, taking it as a win that he reacted. “Or a pissed off cat.”

“Lay off Sui.” Karin narrowed her eyes at Sasuke, silently observing him. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Maybe he just needs to get laid.”

“Not interested,” Sasuke growled out.

“I wasn’t offering,” Karin hissed back. Sasuke scoffed and shoved his food tray away. Karin made another note about his lack of appetite.

“Not everyone wants to hop on your dick, ass,” Suigetsu muttered. Sasuke just raised an eyebrow at the comment and looked back at his notes, not actually reading.

Sasuke was aware of Suigetsu’s crush on Karin but it wasn’t something he truly cared about as long as he was kept out of it. He was just glad that Karin’s interest in him back when they were sophomores in Oto only lasted a few weeks until she came to the conclusion that she was barking up the wrong tree. She had mistaken his lack of sexual interest in her to be a matter of his orientation. When they actually became friends instead of just seat mates she realized he didn’t like people and being touched and dropped it. It wasn’t any of her business but Sasuke was getting increasingly aware of how Karin seemed to come across as knowing something she shouldn’t.

Like with the comment she just made. How much of a coincidence was it that Sakura had been freezing him out for the past few days and that her friend Karin just happens to make a crude statement that could have been a reference to that? Sometimes it irked him how close the two girls had gotten.

Sasuke was glad that Karin had made friends with Sakura. She needed someone like her but sometimes he wished he could keep Sakura separate from certain aspects of his life. His life was so heavy and she didn’t deserve to be mixed in with all of that.

“I gotta go. I have Organic Chemistry next and Haruno has me stressed about this quiz we have.”

“Our little nerd and her special science class,” Suigetsu teased. Karin threw him a scathing look and smacked him with her tote bag as she walked past him to throw out her tray. “Hey, where are you going?”

Sasuke got up to throw out his barely touched tray of food and tossed out it’s contents. He looked back at Suigetsu and let out a sigh.


Loud. Obnoxious. Boisterous. Just a few words Sasuke would use to describe his best friend. Bright. Sociable. Dependable. Friendly. A few more choice words when Sasuke was feeling more amicable.

Asshole was the word that was pulled to the front of his mind currently.

Seeing Sakura smile always gave Sasuke conflicting emotions. Her smile could be sweet or it could be bright and joyous. Sakura smiling filled his chest with warmth whenever it was directed at him. Sakura’s smile made his stomach feel like it was freezing over, ice crawling up his insides when she flashed it at someone else. It was a horrid feeling and it disgusted him that he felt like that at all.

Sakura would usually use her lunch period to study in the library if she had a test or quiz in an upcoming class. Sasuke swore she didn’t need it, she seemed to have a knack for committing anything she read to memory, but she always looked through her notes trying to cram anything she could, anything to get her closer to perfection.

Naruto didn’t use the library unless he needed to for class. In reality the two of them shouldn’t ever come across each other in school. Sakura took all honors courses and Naruto breezed through his standard classes with average scores and grades. But there they were, chatting and laughing at one of the tables provided.

It wasn’t fair. Sasuke was smart and he had inherited his family’s genetics for good looks. Sasuke was a natural talent at whatever he did. Things came easy to him.

Except that.

Sasuke couldn’t brighten a room with his presence. He couldn’t easily laugh and joke. Sasuke couldn’t be carefree and run around and face life head on all happy-go-lucky.

“You never want to come over to hang out with me anymore, Sak. It’s always Karin.” Naruto pouted, giving Sakura sad blue eyes.

She hates that nickname.

“Ew, no. Come on, Naruto. You know I don’t like being called that.” Sakura wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“You never answered me. Wanna come over after school? We can watch movies or play some video games.”

She doesn’t like being alone with you. Not anymore.

“Just us?” Sakura twisted her lips, concern in her eyes.

“Not like that!” Naruto waved his hands in protest. “I mean, Karin might be home.”

“Might be.” Sakura gave Naruto a blank look. Naruto leaned back in his seat and frowned.

“Are we ever going to be real friends again? I feel like all we are is friendly acquaintances. Sure we have the same friend groups and we all hang out from time to time but we don’t chill like before. Are we ever going to act like the best friends we’re supposed to be?”

“Are you ever going to invite Sasuke to our hangouts ever again?”

Or are you going to try to make her believe that I want nothing to do with her again?

Silence. Sasuke ducked behind a bookshelf to make sure he remained unseen. It was unsettling how Naruto couldn’t answer without hesitation. It stung but Sasuke bypassed hurt and went straight to feeling bitter and angry.

“We can hang out when it’s the three of us again, Naruto. You said you got over it.” There was a sound of a book slamming and pages being rustled. “I never thought you would be like this. You’re not acting like a real friend to me or to Sasuke.”

“You guys are the ones acting weird not me.” There was the sound of chair legs scraping against cheap, thin carpeting. “Why don’t I see you guys talk to each other anymore?”

“Goodbye, Naruto.”

She wasn’t walking away from him but it always made Sasuke feel odd when he saw Sakura’s back. Weird when he watched the way the long sheet of pink hair swayed from side to side as her tiny body marched forward.


Sasuke turned his gaze away from the library doors and to the side where Naruto stood. Guilty blue eyes stared back at him, shoulders slumped in defeat.

In Naruto’s mind the three of them were once part of a triangle. An odd isosceles triangle where his unrequited feelings were the same as Sakura’s. They made up the equivalent sides. It was bullshit. Sasuke had only ever believed in one love triangle and that was Itachi, Shisui, and Izumi’s perfect equilateral triangle. All sides perfectly matched with each other, all in love with the other.

Sasuke never cared for polygons. Sasuke knew what he, Naruto and Sakura were. They were points. He and Sakura were points, connected in a line segment, completely separated with no intersecting lines. Naruto was a point on a different quadrant, a different plane.

“Sasuke, you know I don’t─”

“No. I don’t know.” Saying one thing but acting in a different manner kind of made it hard to believe anything anyone said. Kind of made it hard to feel like you were their friend. “Look. I have my own problem to fix. I can’t fix yours too.”

And not for the first time, Sasuke walked away from Naruto, no faltering in his steps. He walked with purpose, hoping his back looked just as proud and straight as Sakura’s did.

Strong, like the way Sasuke wished he actually were.

Talking wasn’t his strong suit. If it came down to talking, Naruto was the best at it with Sakura as a close second. It wasn’t always that way but for Sakura it had always just been a matter of confidence. For Sasuke it was an apathetic, lack of care for the task.

“So how was your week?”

Seeing a therapist once a week wouldn’t be part of his agenda if it were up to Sasuke. He had agreed only because it pleased his mother and stopped the constant looks with sad doe eyes. It was unnerving seeing such an expression on a face that looked so much like his own.


Sasuke’s first choice of therapists wouldn’t have been a classmate’s father but Inoichi Yamanaka was one of the best in the region and had an office conveniently located in Konoha.

“Anything interesting happen this week?”

“Not really. Same as last week. Itachi had more appointments. I took another test. I studied.”

“How is Itachi doing?”

Dr. Yamanaka had a strange talent in getting Sasuke to talk. Sasuke always had the cynical thought that he was doing his job, getting paid to act like he cared but there was a small part inside of Sasuke that was grateful for the act. If there was ever a way to get Sasuke to talk, it was to act like he was concerned for Itachi.

“He acts like everything’s fine but I know he’s faking it. He gets more tired lately. He’s always exhausted. He should be sleeping better at night with the CPAP machine but just because he can breathe more easily it doesn’t change the fact that his body is always aching and everything hurts. I can hear him moaning in pain in his sleep. He can’t catch a break even when he’s sleeping.”

Sasuke paused. He stared at Dr. Yamanaka, stared at him and waited to see if he said anything before continuing.

“And his social life is fucked. I never hear about his friends anymore. Last time he’s ever brought up Kisame was months ago. His girlfriend and boyfriend come over and he acts like everything’s normal. I know he’s feeling insecure. He thinks once he gets sick enough they’ll leave him too. Decide that maybe three’s a crowd and maybe they’re better off as two. I can’t watch him anymore.”

“It must be frustrating,” Dr. Yamanaka offered. Their sessions were a place for Sasuke to vent.

“More than you can imagine,” Sasuke muttered bitterly.

“So how are you? How has your mood been? Are you sleeping any better?”

“I’m shit. I feel like shit. And it’s always shit.” Sasuke sneered and averted his gaze to the door. The arrangement of the office made it so he couldn’t see the clock on the wall behind him unless he turned on the couch.

“We’ve discussed sleeping pills in the past. Have you changed your mind?”

“I still don’t want to go near any drugs yet. It’s too soon.”

Although Sasuke never dabbled in any of the recreational drugs that overflowed the halls of Oto, he did have a problem with ritalin and adderall. He had no business using them but it helped him focus more in school, especially around the multiple exam periods Oto favored. He had a preference for adderall because it stayed in his system longer and he had an easier time controlling his use with it than the quick acting ritalin that he had to keep restocking to get his fix.

He started to wean off the use in his last term at Oto. Fortunately for him, Sasuke wasn’t as addicted to them as a majority of his former classmates.

“Anything else you want to talk about today?”

“Not really.”

“Well, you have five minutes left.” Dr. Yamanaka gave Sasuke an encouraging smile. He preferred when his patients used all of their time. “We can end early if you like?”

Sasuke nodded and Dr. Yamanaka pulled out his planner to schedule their next appointment. Sasuke’s sessions were on the same day, at the same time, every week.

“Try to get some rest.”

Sasuke exited the room, positive that that was the last thing he was going to be able to get.

Sakura’s window was easier to access than his own. He would hop on her father’s tool cabinet that was against a part of the back wall and pull himself up to the low overhanging part of the roof. The Haruno home was technically two stories but the first floor was larger in dimension than the second giving it a layered look.

Sasuke tapped on the window of Sakura’s room that faced his room. He knew it was her favorite because it had the seat. It was the perfect size for her petite body to curl up on the cushion and sleep like he caught her do on some nights.

With a frown on her face, Sakura padded her way over dressed only in an oversized sweatshirt with the local hockey team’s name on it. She unlatched the lock for her window and stepped aside so that Sasuke could step into her room. Sakura stood with her arms crossed over her chest and a hip cocked as she shifted her weight on one leg.

“I’m an ass.”

“Well that’s not news.” Sakura stared at him for a beat before sighing and plopping herself onto her bed. Sasuke took it as permission to stay and sat on the floor next to her legs.

“I don’t like it when you give me the silent treatment.”

“And I don’t like it when you ignore me.” Sakura nudged his side with her foot. “Talking to me in public won’t give us away. There’s such a thing as coincidences.”

“I was in the library when you were talking to Naruto,” Sasuke confessed. “You know you can hang out with him, right? He’s moved on. Well he seems to have moved on. He’s been talking to this homeschooled girl from the other side of town.”

“It’s a trust thing, Sasuke.” Sakura shuffled on her bed so that she could dangle her legs over Sasuke’s shoulders. She sank her fingers into his unruly hair and massaged his scalp, lightly scraping with her short fingernails. “I want to be able to trust him again. What he did really hurt.”

Sasuke leaned into Sakura’s touch. Her massage on his scalp was making his brain feel fuzzy and the tingling feeling was moving south down his neck. It was a relaxing feeling and he felt himself getting sleepy.

“I wish I could forgive him as easily as you did.”

The truth was that he hadn’t. Sasuke never really forgave Naruto, just pretended to be ignorant of his scheming. Pretended he didn’t care when Naruto used to brag about how close he and Sakura were getting while he was away at Oto. Pretended he didn’t care about the comments about their friends wanting the two of them to get together and creating situations where they had no choice but to be paired up. Pretended he didn’t notice the way Sakura was never around when the two of them hung out. Pretended not to notice how he stopped getting invited to go out to the movies or the mall with their friends.

Pretended not to notice when Naruto stopped talking about how close he and Sakura were getting and how Sakura no longer liked walking by Naruto’s house. Pretended that he hadn’t held her as she cried the day Naruto had confessed to her and tried to kiss her.

Sakura wouldn’t tell him the full story but considering how Naruto avoided Sasuke for weeks after the event it must have been brutal and his name must have popped up.

“You should probably head back soon before someone realizes you’re missing.”

Sasuke leaned into Sakura’s leg, resting his head against it. He rubbed his cheek into her skin and then frowned remembering Suigetsu’s cat comment from earlier that day.

“No one bothers to check up on me. Can I stay here tonight?”

“I’m not going to fuck you. I’m still mad at you.”

“I’m completely fine with that.” Sasuke stood up and helped Sakura pull back the covers on her bed and remove all of her superfluous pillows and stuffed animals. “I can still hold you though right?”

“I would be more pissed if you didn’t.”

Sasuke curled his body around Sakura’s small frame, entangling their legs. There was a reason she mainly came over to his room at night. He had a queen sized bed while she slept in a twin and he took up most of it.

There was a comfort in being in Sakura’s quiet, empty home that made him feel guilty for not listening to the whirring through his bedroom wall.

So Why Make Chronically Day?

“I can’t live here. In my body, I mean. I can’t live in my body all the time, it feels too much. So if I ever feel far away know I am not gone. I am just underneath my grief, adjusting the dial on my radio faith so I can take this life with all of its love and all of its loss.” 

Royal Heart, Andrea Gibson

When I was 19 I discovered that I had Lupus and later that same year I found out I also had Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome. Slowly I began to accumulate other illnesses like there was a buy one illness get three free deal. At this point in my life I was in denial of the changes in my health and that I wasn’t going to get better.

I could adapt and treat my symptoms but it was never going to go away.

It wasn’t until I had to drop out of school because of my frequent absences due to doctor appointments every week and constantly being sick that it first hit me. I had already had to quit working for a few months after my first hospital stay and that was awful.

I had loss all sense of independence. I had to rely on my parents whenever I needed to make a purchase or to pay for my phone bill and car insurance–both of which I had been paying for since I had started working when I was in high school.
There was no more going out unless my parents knew exactly where I was especially because they were the ones providing for my gas. No more keeping my bedroom door locked. Still no more keeping my bedroom door locked.

Every day was a fight against myself. I would make plans to go out with friends and despite what my body wanted I would force myself to walk for blocks, to thrash in mosh pits, to sit in diner booths, or go to house shows and party.
And then my body would take back what I owed it with days of bed rest because I would make myself ill.

I stopped going to the concerts I loved. Stop planning trips with friends, even day ones. Slowly my relationships fell apart. I don’t have IRL friends other than those that I work with. There’s no making weekend plans or making plans to go for drinks after work.
There are never plans for drinking because of my dietary restrictions. If I drink it’s because I am rebelling against my own body.

All of my hobbies were out of reach. My first love was basketball. I was so good at it and it was my life from age seven to sixteen. Even though I stopped playing competitively, I still went out to play with friends whenever possible.
The last time I played basketball I was twenty. That was five years ago.
Concerts are another problem. They used to be the one crowded and loud place I could go to with no problems. But I can’t anymore for the same reasons I can’t play basketball.
I spent the last concert I attended sitting in a booth by the bar away from the stage watching the concert on the television screen so that the bartender could babysit me while the venue’s medical staff checked on a kid that got injured while crowd surfing.
All I wanted was to watch Saosin live for the first time and I wasn’t even on the same floor of the building as they were.

Even art and crafting can be stressful. My body hates when I sit a table for extended periods of time. Hates when I hold brushes. When I curl my hands certain ways. When I want to do anything that’s not lying down.

And even that’s not true considering even lying down is a struggle.

Everyday is a struggle with this body of mine. I’m trapped inside of it, prisoner, to it. Most days it feels like I am not me but my illness(es) and that I will never be anything else.
And although it’s still a struggle of mine, I can say it’s a lot better now.

In September of 2016, I made a new friend on Tumblr. And I owe it to her for this turn around.

The relationship began a year after the summer I spent in the hospital and then on bed rest. That summer was hell. It was the beginning of the end of all of my friendships.
Everything fell apart after that month long hospital stay. The year that followed that hospitalization was the scariest and loneliest year I had.
I was told by one of the doctors that there was a chance I wouldn’t reach twenty-five years old. I was twenty-three at the time.
People that I thought were my closest friends no longer had time for me. I had developed a fear of being alone due to being trapped in a hospital bed and unable to move for a month with no visitors other than my parents and younger sister who came in the evenings.

My parents refused to acknowledge that I was a ticking time-bomb. They didn’t care what the doctor had said or didn’t believe him but whatever it is they carried on with their lives, the only change was that they were monitoring me even closer than before.

Without friends to spend time with and with family I couldn’t speak to, I had fallen back to the same thing that had kept preoccupied when I was younger: reading. Only this time I wasn’t reading books.

Fanfiction. I started to read fanfiction for a pairing I adored ever since I was twelve. I read everything I could find and read hundreds of fics in the span of two months. Some of the fics were completed and others were dropped. There were only a few that were ongoing that caught my interest.

And then there was the fic. A fic that was written currently and was updated once a week. A fic that had an author with a Tumblr account that was still their current URL.

It was a simple message using the direct messaging system but it started a correspondence that lasted months. We discussed headcanons and points in her fanfic and I recommended my favorite fics from the collection I had accumulated in the two months I had been reading. It got to the point where she wondered why I didn’t write any fanfic.

It was time for me to confess that my only experience in writing was my original work that I used to scribble away into random notebooks and only shared with two other people before. She was interested in reading my original work and fifty chapters of that later she brought up fanfiction again.

So I tried it out and wrote a fanfic called The Planning of a Matriarch. And boy did that change my life.

I never expected to become a popular fanfic writer in the SasuSaku fandom. I still don’t consider myself as one despite what my friends say but I do have enough of a following to have people talk to me about my fics.

And that has really helped me these past two years.
Becoming a fanfic writer has sparked the most interaction I’ve had online ever. And it helped me make new friends. I don’t get to see them unless we video chat and voice chatting isn’t an every day thing but we message every day and I’ve become really close with other members of the fandom.

Writing fanfiction has in a way saved me. I was a lonely, lonely person that was just waiting for the day when everything would be over. But with every comment I get, with every new friend I make with my writing, there’s something to look forward to about the next day.

So now at twenty-five, turning twenty-six next month, I am continuing my passion for writing here. Some of it will be fanfic but now I have the opportunity to start writing original work again and share it with more people.

And I hope you all enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.