Chapter Ten: “Exercise”
“And the asshole actually pointed it out!”
Sakura bit on the rim of her paper coffee cup to hold back her laughter. Karin had finally got back to their dorm and the three of them were taking a break from helping her unpack to grab some coffee and doughnuts.
“I know I gained weight during the holidays. Sai didn’t have to bring it up. It really killed the mood.”
“Why are you complaining? It mostly went straight to your tits and ass,” Karin snickered.
“Okay but I would gladly trade with you if it meant I wouldn’t gain weight.”
“I wish I gained weight,” Karin muttered biting down on the straw of her frappe. “But then again, I’m also glad that I don’t actually need to wear a bra.”
“Yeah on second thought, I’m glad I’m not as flat as a board.”
Ino side stepped around Sakura to avoid Karin clawing at her. She used her longer legs to take long strides away from her. Karin gave up and sidled up next to Sakura, hooking her arm with hers.
“I’m surprised you aren’t bitching about weight gain.” Karin nudged Sakura. “You’re usually off on a run twice a day because of some imaginary pudge on your thighs and butt.”
“Yeah!” Ino strolled back, closing the distance she had created. She took hold of Sakura’s face between her thumb and fingers and squeezed her cheeks. “And your face is usually all rounded out after eating too many sweets ‘cause you went back home. But you’re actually kind of….glowing?”
“I just exercised a lot.”
Ino and Karin burst out in laughter earning them both a glare from Sakura.
“You never exercise during the holidays.” Ino wiped at her eye with the heel of her palm. “You turn into slug mode and then end up with chipmunk cheeks after they’re over.”
“Well, I was good this year.” Sakura tossed her hair over her shoulder and kept her chin up.
“That or naughty,” Karin snickered. Her laughter died out when she realized that Sakura hadn’t vocally reacted to what she had said. Usually she would be protesting and tell her to get her mind out of the gutter.
“Hold this for a sec.” Sakura held out her paper cup toward Ino.
“Uh, sure?” Ino took the cup and as soon as she had a proper hold of it, Sakura took off running across the campus courtyard.
“What the hell!?” Karin shrieked. She wasn’t going to attempt to chase Sakura. Despite her shorter legs, Sakura was faster than even Ino.
“Forehead get back here!”
Sakura leapt over a short hedge and continued until she went around the corner of a building and was out of sight.
“Oh wow, she really didn’t want to have this conversation.” Karin tapped her chin with a finger. “Suspicious.”
“What the fuck am I supposed to do with her latte? I hate soy milk.” Ino took a sip of Sakura’s latte and gagged.
“Give me. It’s free caffeine.”
“You’ve got a serious problem.” Ino grimaced as Karin downed Sakura’s leftover latte in one gulp.
“I do actually. I wanted to talk to you guys about my date coming up but the little ho just took off running.”
“Oh. Right. That bartender you said you’ve been texting a lot.” Ino stuffed her hands into her peacoat pockets. “The one that doesn’t know how old you actually are.”
“I think she’s smart enough to have figured out my age when she walked me to the dorm but, like, I don’t want her to back off because I’m not even legal to drink yet.”
Karin sighed, tucking her face into the collar of her bubble coat. She knew it was a chance that Tenten would be turned off due to the fact she hadn’t cleared up that one little fact.
Why do I always have to be into older people? Karin grumbled inwardly.
When she was younger she had a crush on Sasuke that had lasted the fifteen minutes it took Itachi to come home from hanging out with his friends. Karin had followed Sasuke around the whole summer in the hopes of getting some of his older brother’s attention but any kindness he shared was due to her being a family friend.
The summer before she graduated from high school she had gotten a job as a lifeguard and developed a crush on her manager who was twice her age. Almost all of the employees knew she had a crush on the older woman but the age gap was too large for anyone to take Karin’s infatuation seriously.
“So, what? You’re just going to keep using your fake for the entirety of your relationship?”
“Nah. We’ll just see if tomorrow is my first and last date.” Karin shrugged. “And then if I tank the date, I’ll make Suigetsu take me out for drinks and hook up with whatever girl he had his eye on all night. It would be hilarious and make me feel a bit better.”
“So back to your regular weekend plans?”
Karin stopped walking and stared at her feet. The way Ino said it made it seem…sad. She had never had a problem before with hooking up. It was fun and she enjoyed having a healthy sex life.
Sure she would prefer to have a date during daylight hours. And hold someone’s hand. And worry about the best gift to give at holidays. Maybe even introduce them to her friends or her mother.
It would be a nice change.
“I don’t even know what a real date is supposed to be like,” Karin mumbled.
But it was terrifying to think about it.
“You forgot you had to come back here didn’t you?”
Ino had her arms crossed in front of her chest and was tapping her foot when Sakura entered their dorm room.
“Have you really been standing there the whole time, just waiting for me to come back?”
“She asked the same question to the wrong roommates twice before you showed up.” Karin was lying on the couch with a sheet mask on her face.
Ignoring them, Sakura slipped out of her boots and into her red, fuzzy house slippers. When they first brought a cubby for their shoes Karin’s roommate had argued that it was wasting space. Luckily the other roommates liked the idea because it kept them from tracking dirt from outside all over the linoleum floor which meant they had to sweep less often.
The girl didn’t like losing and ever since then Karin’s roommate was always on her case and turning on the lights at night when Karin was trying to sleep.
Sakura had half expected to find their shoe cubbies missing when they came back from winter break considering they left it behind despite being warned to pack up all of their items and take them back home by their resident advisor.
“We’re sorry by the way,” Karin apologized, sitting up to make room for her on the couch. “You usually don’t mind when we tease you like that. It wasn’t even as bad as it usually is.”
“You were acting weird during break too.” Ino sprawled on both of their laps wrapping her arms around Sakura’s neck.
“It’s not exactly something I wanna talk about.”
Ino opened her mouth to say something but Karin pinched her thigh. Shaking her head, Karin soothed the spot with a gentle rub.
“Well then let’s talk about me.” Karin stretched her arms in front of her, interlocking her fingers. “The world doesn’t revolve around you, y’know.”
“Alrighty then,” Sakura rolled her eyes, “what does Princess Karin want to talk about?”
Karin sighed dramatically, shifting her body so she could drape herself against Sakura’s shoulder.
“I was all alone in Kusa while you guys were having fun hanging out every day. And no one thought about poor, little Karin…”
“Shut up!” Ino used a throw pillow to smack her in the face. “You couldn’t have been that lonely considering you have a date tomorrow night and you just got back.”
“It was still lonely!” Karin smacked her back with another one of the throw pillows. “It was just texting. Not like she drove all the way to Kusa to visit.”
“What are you guys doing?” Sakura, not wanting to be a casualty in their pillow fight, grabbed Ino’s pillow mid swing and stuffed it behind her. “Hopefully not going to a bar, right?”
Karin bit her bottom lip and gave her a sheepish grin and a shrug. Sakura groaned and pinched the bridge of her nose.
“Eww! Don’t do that.” Karin gagged and pulled Sakura’s hand away from her nose. “That’s Sasuke’s thing. Disgusting. We don’t condone Sasuke-ish actions in this house.”
“You’re such a drama queen.”
“They’re going bowling,” Ino giggled, “which is hilarious considering Karin is really competitive for someone with no hand-eye coordination.”
“Shut up!” Karin pushed Ino off of her lap so that she rolled onto the floor. Turning to Sakura, she worried her lip and wrung her hands into the hem of her sweater. “Did I fuck up by letting her pick what we’re doing?”
“Wow, you’re really hung up on this aren’t you?”
“Is no one going to ask me if I’m okay?” Ino grumbled, rolling onto her side.
“No,” Karin and Sakura answered in sync.
“I just want this to go right for once,” Karin explained, nudging Ino with her foot. “So, I don’t know, I guess I’ll take this slow for a change.”
Slow? Sakura bit the inside of her cheek. Why did it seem like everyone around her had a much better handle on their love life than she did? Well, everyone except Naruto who she had heard made a fool of himself his first week back at school by chasing after Gaara. It was something about Gaara’s birthday but Sakura didn’t get all of the details.
“Does hooking up first lower the chance of a relationship forming?” She muttered just loud enough for her friends to hear.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Ino treaded carefully. “Sai and I were supposed to just be a one time thing but that ended up as something.”
“And then there’s me who usually runs in the opposite direction if I see an old hookup somewhere,” Karin offered with a shrug. “It’s different for everyone.”
“Why do you ask?” Ino narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
“I was just curious.” Sakura looked past Ino’s shoulder, no daring to look her in the eye. “Because of Karin’s predicament.”
“Okay…?” Ino pursed her lips. It was likely she was going to bring up the conversation again.
I fucked up, Sakura groaned inwardly. No way is she going to just drop it.
It’s cold as balls!
Sakura cupped her hands in front of her face and breathed on them for warmth. She hadn’t planned on going for a run but she had insisted she needed the exercise when Ino picked up a call from Sai.
“No, go ahead invite him over,” she argued, pulling on a pair of leggings. “I’m probably going to stop by the gym too so take your time.”
She was trying to be considerate but mostly she wanted any excuse to escape the dorm room where Ino could corner her into having a conversation she really didn’t want to have.
Using the excuse of much needed exercise, Sakura had changed into her work out gear and headed out. Exercising was more of an old habit than an attempt at staying slim. She was used to being active and staying still for too long made her feel restless.
During her ballet days if she weren’t at the studio or using the open space of the Uchiha family’s den she would be out running or at the gym to stay trim. She needed to stay in shape and stay conscious of her weight. There was a time she was obsessed with staying thin.
It didn’t help that she wanted to look good for a certain someone. A certain someone that started to randomly ignore her halfway through high school.
Sakura shook her head and turned a corner, not wanting her thoughts to stray anywhere near that period of her life.
Of course she would end up in front of Sasuke’s much nicer dorm building. It wasn’t as if she had planned on it but somehow her feet still carried her there.
And of course as soon as she realized where she was Sasuke would be exiting his dorm, pulling his hood over his head.
“Oh.” Sasuke stood before her. If he was surprised to see her no one would have ever known with how still his features were.
“I’m just out running.”
Oh? Really. Oh? Is that all I’m gonna get?
Sakura shifted her weight on the balls of her feet. Leave it to Sasuke to make her feel like her skin was too tight with just a single word.
“Ino has Sai over so I thought maybe I should get some exercise in to give them some privacy.”
Sasuke crossed his arms in front of his chest and nodded, more to let her know that he was listening than anything else.
“But I could skip the workout,” Sakura offered nonchalantly. Her insides were squirming with his lack of response. “Or not.”
She attempted to side step around him when a hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. She stared at him quizzically before his fingers slid down and intertwined with her own. Without saying a word he led her inside the lobby of his dorm.
Sasuke grabbed the clipboard from the front desk and filled out a line.
“ID card?” The clerk asked Sakura.
Sakura took out her student identification card and handed it over. The clerk had barely stuffed it into the binder for guests when Sasuke was leading her down the hall to the elevator.
Not like she needed the run anyway.
3 thoughts on “Differential Chapter 10”
Dear author, “Exercise”?!?! This chapter, as all of the others, was BRILLIANT. I feel like a broken record with your writing, but I can’t help it. There is so much going on underneath the underneath with Sakura and her insecurities about this boy, it all comes together from your earlier chapters – because now we know why sasuke suddenly began ignoring her in high school… and we know now that sakura picked up on this and was really affected by it. And KARIN – such great character development with Karin here! To me, your Karin seems like the perfect modern AU counterpart to who she was in canon… I understand Sakura at the end of this chapter. I think we’ve all been there – those instances where your feet sort of just take you somewhere you swear you didn’t mean to go… I can’t wait for these two to finally come clean to each other about how they feel. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to write and create for us!
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So good, makes me excited for what’s next. You’re amazing!
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i feel something’s gonna happen in the next chapter, like theyre gonna talk about their status. i also think that hand holding signals the change in their relationship. Yknow, that time during the new years party… 🤔
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