Kingdom For Two Chapter 26

Chapter 26: And So Life Goes On

On Mondays she had three classes. Always early to rise, Sakura did the ill advised thing and chose morning classes. She went to her lectures, met up with Ino and Naruto who would just be arriving on campus and ate lunch with them while Naruto scrambled to finish up whatever assignment he had due that afternoon. She would see them off to their classes and then headed to work.

On Tuesdays she had two more classes and a lab and then headed to the library, sneaking Karin in occasionally so they could study together and so Karin could feel like she wasn’t alone during the week when she was going to the community college.

Wednesdays were the day that she had her Monday classes again and then also had to go to UNIV in the afternoon. On those days she didn’t have work but she, Ino, and Naruto met up with Sai and they laughed at Naruto who was in the middle of Rush week.

Thursdays were a repeat of Tuesdays except it was study group day so they met up at Suigetsu’s apartment for study group time which then turned into movie nights.

On Fridays Sakura had one morning class before she went to work for a few hours and then spent the rest of the day on all of the work she needed to get done before the weekend was up.

Even with doing her work throughout the week the only way she could have her weekends free was if she sacrificed the time she spent with her friends. She would do it. Sakura would spend less time with them if it meant she had free weekends to drive to visit Sasuke.

But he wouldn’t agree to that.

Sasuke had told her that she would make herself miserable if she didn’t see her friends. She would start to feel even lonelier than she already did with him two hours away instead of right next door.

So she went to school, met up with their friends, picked up some shifts at work, and studied. She studied and studied and studied until she couldn’t close her eyes without seeing formulas floating behind her eyelids when she closed her eyes.

Everyday she woke up and went through her same routine. The day didn’t stop, her schedule was never interrupted. School, study, work, friends, repeat. School, study, work, friends, repeat.

And every second of every day she missed him. The ache for him was set deep in her bones. But no matter how much she missed Sasuke, time didn’t stand still in his absence. The Earth kept spinning on its axis, the sun kept rising and falling.

Sakura thought the hard part about being apart would be missing him, wanting to see him and touch him. She hadn’t predicted that the part that would hurt the most was realizing that life would carry on without him as if he weren’t a missing piece in her world.


Ignoring her mother’s call, Sakura continued marching up the stairs and locked herself in her room.

“Sakura Haruno, you need to eat!”

“I’m not hungry!” Sakura shouted back, pulling her sweater over her head. She ran her fingers through her hair to tame any flyaways. She was already late as it was. She settled at her desk and smoothed down her camisole and adjusted her bra.

Sending a quick text to Sasuke she made sure her laptop was set up and ready for their video call.

“I know, I’m late,” Sakura greeted him as soon as his face popped up on her monitor. “Stupid Naruto needed help with his research paper and I swear it’s easier to give a cat a bath than it is to get him to open a book. His professor is insisting on at least two resources that aren’t online ones.”

“How did Naruto get into college again?” Sasuke drawled. He shifted his body so that he was lying down on his side.

“That may or may not have only been possible because of the help of a couple of friends of his,” Sakura teased. “You did help tutor him.”

“I’m surprised he hasn’t had a break down yet.”

“Haha..right…” Sakura averted her gaze and bit her lower lip. The truth was that Naruto did have a break down. She and Ino hadn’t realized how stressed he had been for a few weeks because he was always so upbeat and energetic whenever they met up with him.

They had all agreed not to bring it up to Sasuke because he already had enough on his plate; he didn’t need to worry about Naruto when he was all alone and Naruto was surrounded by his friends.

“So how’s your week been?”

“Please don’t word it like that,” Sasuke groaned on his end. “Dr. Yamanaka does that and it’s getting irritating as fuck.”


“Sorry. It’s been shit. My roommate happens to be the only person in the world that hates music and he’s obsessed with the Hurricanes.”

“No,” Sakura gasped, appalled. The Hurricanes were the rival team to her favorite hockey team. “How does someone not like music?”

“I don’t know but he bitches whenever he hears our neighbors playing it and I would much rather listen to loud music playing than fucking. And they’re always fucking.”

“Oh gross.”

“We’re in the mountains so there’s not much to do unless you can get into the bars so guess what most of the assholes here are doing if they’re not studying?”

“I don’t wanna think about it. I’m just picturing one big nerd orgy.”

“I’m just glad my roommate doesn’t bring anyone over.”

“Speaking of your roommate,” Sakura twirled a strand of hair with her finger. “When does he get back? Do you think—“

A loud knock on her bedroom door interrupted her and she jumped.

“Young lady, you need to eat,” Mebuki called out between knocks. She flinched at the glare Sasuke sent her way.

“I was going to have dinner later,” she said hastily.

“For someone that’s always lecturing me about my eating habits you’ve really been slipping if your mother is home to make sure you’re eating meals.” Sakura dropped her head on her desk and groaned. She covered her head with her arms. “I don’t wanna hear about you passing out when I’m two hours away and can’t do anything about it.”

“Naruto told you, huh?” She peeked up from under an arm.

“Ino actually. She’s convinced that you’ll listen to me.” Sasuke sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “Just go get your food and we can video chat while you eat.”

Opening her bedroom door, Sakura found her mother standing outside of it with a tray in hand.

“He’s not the world,” her mother whispered. “One night of not talking to each other won’t kill you but continuing to miss meals will.”

“He’s not the reason I forget to eat,” Sakura muttered. And it was the truth.

Between work and studying and classes, Sakura was constantly on the move and too distracted with everything to remember to eat. She would be deep into writing a paper and not even notice the grumbling of her stomach.

It should have been more obvious of a problem when her jeans stopped fitting around her hips and were slipping off. It shouldn’t have taken her collapsing and stumbling in the middle of the library before she realized she had a problem.

“So when are you coming to visit again?”

“This weekend. I have an appointment with Dr. Yamanaka and I’m staying the night ‘cause my mom wants to send me back with a bunch of food.”

“Would you have time to hang out?” She picked at her noodles. “Naruto has been planning a surprise visit to you.”

“Should you have told me about the surprise?” Sasuke flipped through a textbook, the corners of his mouth slightly upturned as he listened to her talk. “I’m still technically in trouble for running off on everyone.”

“That was like a month ago and you’re at university, how can you be grounded?”

Sasuke shrugged and continued flipping pages. This is why Sakura preferred to video chat. Sasuke could be on the line for a long time but he had periods were he didn’t have the energy to talk.

“Well, I can always sneak out anyway.” Sakura set aside her half finished plate. “So, again, when is your roommate supposed to get back?”

“Are you really that horny?”

“Yes,” Sakura groaned, dropping her head onto her desk. “It’s been a month. You should have waited for me to be done with work before ”

“Just wait a few more days. That’s what I’m doing.”

“Oh, so you thought I would just have sex with you as soon as you came home, huh?”

Sasuke gave her an unimpressed look. “Oh? And why do you keep asking where my roommate is?”

“Shut up.”

They stayed on the line talking until Sasuke noticed her nodding off and decided that it was time for her to go to bed. It was one of the reasons why he preferred when she used her laptop instead of her phone when they video called each other. Sakura would always try to stay up late and then go to class with only an hour or two of sleep and it was easier for her to get away with doing that if she was using her phone.

“Goodnight, Love,” Sakura murmured and waited for Sasuke to settle into bed.


The last thing she saw was Sasuke pulling a pillow to his chest and curl up under his covers before hanging up.

The week was taking too long.

Sometimes the days blurred together and it felt like there wasn’t enough hours in the day but then there were times that they dragged and didn’t seem to end.

This was one of those weeks.

Sasuke was sure that the weekend only felt like it was taking forever to be reached because he was actually excited. Usually the only good thing about the weekends were that he was promised an entire morning to sleep before he had to drag himself to the library to work on an assignment or to meet his project group.

His parents weren’t too happy with how little he visited. The last time they saw him he was only staying for a bit before he had to go to his appointment with his therapist and then he had to head back to college to work on a project.

If he had purposefully left his flash drive back in his dorm, who would know it?

Trying to spend as little time as possible at home was greatly affecting his ability to spend time with his friends. It had been weeks but Sasuke was still feeling off about being around his own family. It was awkward having to relearn how to navigate through his relationships with every member.

When his mother called to check up on him she always insisted that some of the questions had come from his father. Sasuke didn’t believe her, but he didn’t say anything about it. It wasn’t the way his father was.

Sighing to himself, Sasuke hopped off of his bed and pulled out a long case from the storage space under his bed. He unlatched it and pulled out the keyboard from inside.

Sasuke was starting to realize that sometimes people used words to express what they feel━people like Naruto who forced the world to hear their every opinion and thought. There were people like his mother and Sakura who used soothing touches and gentle, honest words.

Itachi was the kind that hid things to protect you, that was his kind of love. Kizashi Haruno expressed his love through laughter and food. Mebuki with harsh reprimands full of concern.

But that wasn’t Fugaku Uchiha.

Sasuke sat at his desk chair and let his fingers dance carelessly across the keys of his new electronic keyboard. He played a senseless melody before settling into a familiar tune.

Love wasn’t just one universal language. Everyone spoke a dialect of their own and sometimes it was translated into phone calls or video chats. Sometimes it came in care packages of muffins.

And sometimes it came in obnoxiously large and heavy deliveries waiting in the dorm lobby to be picked up.

Mirepoix Chapter 5

Chapter Five: Rice Porridge

With a small whimper, Hinata wrapped her fingers around her mug and took a delicate sip of tea Sakura had prepared for her. From her seat at Sasuke’s kitchen island, she observed the way Sakura easily moved around his kitchen.

Has she been here before? She thought, taking the aspirin Sakura offered her. Sakura slid a bowl of congee her way and Hinata sighed, warming her hands on the hot bowl.

“Marry me,” She murmured, grateful for the warm food. “Wait. Do you know how to make red bean soup?” Sakura nodded, the corners of her lips twitching upwards. “Okay, yes. Please marry me.”

“You’re very easy, Hina,” Sakura teased.

“And yet I’m still having issues with Naruto,” Hinata couldn’t help but grumble as she stirred the contents of her porridge, breaking her yolk and stirring it into the rice. “Okay, this is probably the best congee I’ve ever had. I didn’t know you could cook.”

“I think you’re just hungry and hungover.” Sakura laughed nervously, eyes shifting from Hinata to down the hall where the shower was running. “If he asks, you cooked. Okay?”

Hinata giggled lightly into her mug. “Yeah. As amazing a pastry chef I am, I can’t cook savory food to save my life. At least nothing up to Chef Uchiha’s standards and this would definitely pass. You should have made French Toast if you wanted to pass the food off as mine.”

Sakura groaned and turned to clean up the kitchen. She knew as soon as Sasuke found out that she could cook that she would never hear the end of it.

When Sakura was younger she wanted to be a figure skater and she was good at it. She took to the ice like she was meant to dance on it, blades a perfect extension of her body. Unfortunately for her, the fees were too much for her parents. They owned a small Chinese restaurant and any extra money they had went back to the restaurant or to Sakura’s college fund.

Sakura grew up in that kitchen. As a middle school student she helped her mother run the front of house and as she got older, she helped them out in the kitchen. Originally her parents wanted her to inherit the shop, but Sakura’s desires were elsewhere.

It wasn’t that she hated cooking, but it reminded her so much of that little shop and being bullied for the food she brought to school for lunch and the smell that clung to her clothes and hair. To her it smelled of home. To other kids…

It was easier just to avoid it all.

Sakura moved to settle into a bar stool to eat her own breakfast when the door to the bathroom opened up. Sasuke came out, towel wrapped around his hips, and he was ruffling a towel through his hair. She watched as the muscles of his back, especially his shoulders, moved under his skin causing the ink on his skin to shift.

A small cough had her whipping her head back around, away from the hallway. Hinata innocently sipped at her tea.

“Sorry, by the way.” Hinata drummed her fingers against her mug. “Like, if I crashed in on anything last night. You guys really are cute, that wasn’t just drunk rambling.”

Sakura sputtered, spitting out her tea and burning her tongue. “Sasuke and I aren’t like that! You didn’t interrupt anything, trust me.”

Hinata pursed her lips and frowned at her. Hinata might have been drunk the night before, but she wasn’t blind nor was she deaf. The two of them had been flirting━flirting! And yeah sure, Chef Uchiha was the most attractive human being she had ever seen but he was terrifying and cold. Flirting with him would be as easy as trying to have a playdate between a mongoose and a cobra. But there was Sakura, having proper conversations with him that weren’t work related and he was personally cooking for her.

“You do know that no one else calls Chef Uchiha by his first name, right?” Hinata rubbed her temple. Her headache was only getting worse with how in denial Sakura was. “Not even Neji calls him just Sasuke, even though I’m sure that’s more of a professionalism thing.”

“Naruto definitely has called him Sasuke.”

“That’s because Naruto is rude as heck. I love him, but you already know he doesn’t have the best track record with manners. He calls Ms. Tsunade Old Lady, for goodness sakes.”

“This is probably the firmest and most informal I’ve ever heard you speak to anyone.”

“Well I’m hungover and I’m annoyed.” Hinata’s head thumped against the marble of the counter top. She mumbled against the cold material, “I’m jealous. I can’t even get Naruto to take me on a proper date and you’re flirting with our boss in his condo and he’s cooking for you and giving you his clothes to wear. Which you’re still wearing by the way.”

Sakura laughed nervously and tugged at the hem of the shirt she had borrowed. The shirt completely dwarfed her and the v-neck collar would have hung low on her chest if it weren’t pulled in a way that left a shoulder bare. Hinata rolled her eyes. The girl looked like she had just spent the night in Chef Uchiha’s bed instead of on his couch.

“‘Morning.” Sasuke chose that moment to walk into the kitchen wearing almost the exact shirt that Sakura was and a pair of basketball shorts. He noticed the spare bowl of congee on the counter left for him and his brows furrowed. “Hinata didn’t cook this, did she?”

“That’s just insulting,” Hinata mumbled against her mug, averting her gaze. She didn’t like drawing attention to herself when it came to Chef Uchiha but there was nowhere to hide in his apartment. If she was lucky Sakura would provide enough of a distraction.

Sasuke barely acknowledged her and poured himself some tea. “I’m going for a run by the fish market. Do you need a lift home?”

“No, I’m good.”

“Sakura it’s fine. I can always drop you off after. I just have to go see what the catch is.”

“I can take the train. No worries.

 Sakura waved off his attempts to make sure she got home safely. Hinata rolled her eyes and blew her bangs out of her face. It was like she wasn’t even there.

“I called for a towncar,” she interrupted them, setting her mug down on the counter. “I can get Sakura back to her apartment.”

Hinata was going to be dead on her feet when she had to get to the restaurant in a few hours to start baking the bread for the day. She really needed to lay of the alcohol.

She eyed her boss and then Sakura and how they were barely looking at each other. Something was up with the two of them. It wasn’t really her business what they got into when they were alone but their behavior was suspicious, especially Chef Uchiha’s, and it was almost amusing to watch.

Almost. It was also kind of pathetic. She was glad they at least decided not to get into anything while she was down the hall with an already queasy stomach. Because—yet again—as beautiful as her boss and Sakura were, it wasn’t something she would want to hear and then be forced to picture.

I’m too hungover for this. Hinata spooned the last bit of rice porridge into her mouth. Really, if Sakura could make her some red bean soup she might just give up on Naruto all together and fight—although not literally—Chef Uchiha for the honors.

Hinata hopped off the bar stool and took the empty bowls to the sink. “Thank you for the congee again, Sakura. It was delicious, I hope you to try more of your cooking another time.”

Turning back around she was met with Sakura’s horrified expression and an amusingly shocked look on Sasuke’s face.


Ino usually preferred not to hear any shouting or yelling. It was always so peaceful right before real work actually began. She kind of missed the days when Sasuke actually had a day off. If it was quiet and he was at work the kitchen was typically the worst place to be in the world.

But this was a weird quiet. And it was freaking her out.

“Boss?” Ino waved her hand in front of his face. She needed to know what was on the menu for the day and how the kitchen was going to function.

Sasuke looked away from his desk and blinked at her. Ino was just about to grab Tsunade when he finally spoke up.

“How long have you known Haruno?”

“Sakura?” Ino wasn’t proud of how high her voice went up but it didn’t stop the maniacal smile from spreading across her face. That wasn’t what she expected for him to say but hey, she was curious as to why the two of them were being so weird the last two weeks.

“Never mind. Forget it,” Sasuke spat.

“Oh, no!” Ino shut his office door and blocked it. He wasn’t running away from this. “Why are you asking? Sakura? I’ve known her since we were like in diapers. Our parents were shop neighbors. Why are you asking? Why are you asking? Why?”

“Jesus, Ino.” Sasuke’s eyes went wide. “Breathe.” He ran a hand through his hair. “So you’ve known her a long time.”

“Yep! She’s the reason I realized I wanted to be a chef.”

Sasuke blinked at her in confusion but he was no longer attempting to escape his office. “Explain.”

“Sakura had some difficulty with food. Refused to eat, was always dieting.” Ino shrugged. “I didn’t want my best friend to waste away so I started making some stuff…I liked the way it felt when she finished her meal.”

“Oh. I thought maybe she taught you how to cook.”

“Sakura can’t make western food,” the words rushed out before Ino could reign them in. She realized her mistake too late and tried to turn and flee. Her attempt was cut off when a large hand slammed the door closed.


“So how was Valentine’s Day?” Sakura asked Sai as she picked up her drink order.

“Thanks again for the pudding,” was all Sai gave up about his evening. He gave her one of his unnerving smiles he flashed her way when he wanted to end a conversation and with that Sakura turned to take care of her tables.

The dinner shift was relatively peaceful. As peaceful as they could ever be considering they were a Michelin star restaurant with a heavily award nominated chef. At least it wasn’t a holiday.

There was just one thing that bothered Sakura the whole night.

When Hinata dropped the ball earlier that morning, Sakura had panicked. She was expecting a bunch of questions or judgement of her food. So she left.

She barely got dressed—threw on her jeans and grabbed her boots and coat—and hightailed it out of there without waiting for Hinata and her towncar.

It wasn’t until she was in the train and five stops away already that she realized that she was wearing his shirt still. She had stuffed her shirt and bra into her backpack and fled the apartment.

The night was almost over and Sasuke hadn’t mentioned anything about what had happened in his apartment. It seemed she would be in the clear as long as she headed home with the rest of the staff.

That was her exact plan. She was going to grab her stuff—not bother to change out of her uniform—and just march out. Sakura doubted Sasuke would be interested in making her anything ever again, especially now that he probably thought she was simply lazy.

“I’m too tired to take the bus today,” Ino griped. She pulled her bandana off and tossed it into her locker. “Wanna splurge for a taxi with me and Sai?”

Sakura was just about to agree when her name was called. Even Ino stopped in her tracks, eyes wide and mouth hanging open.

“Sakura,” Sasuke called again.

“Um? Sas—Ino! What are you doing?” Sakura hissed under her breath as Ino nudged her from behind.

“I’ll see you later,” Ino replied and rushed out of the kitchen.

That little—! She’s so going to get it later, Sakura inwardly fumed. She looked around for help and spotted Naruto who looked back and forth between her and Sasuke. She was just about to thank a higher power for his nosiness when Hinata of all people had grabbed his arm and dragged him away.


“Walk me home, Naruto.”

Naruto didn’t need to second guess his decision, especially not when Hinata was clearly giving him an out for the great offense he wasn’t even aware he had committed.

What the fuck is going on today!? Sakura gaped at the retreating couple. She looked around and realized they were the only two left.

Alone. In the locker room. The same locker room she had flashed him in.

I’m going to fucking choke. Sakura grimaced, bracing herself for whatever it was that Sasuke wanted. She couldn’t believe her friends and coworkers had just abandoned her. “Yes, Chef Uchiha?”

Sasuke opened his mouth and closed it. It should have been simple, just thank her for breakfast and move on. It should have been simple, but then Ino had to make a big production out of the whole thing by leaving without her.

He was still trying to process what she had told him earlier as well. Sakura━nurse in training Sakura━came from a culinary background. The same Sakura that would eat cans of corn or freshly baked bread for the bread baskets and call it a day.

She walked into work eating cups of easy mac ‘n cheese like it was the best thing ever for fucks sake.

“Breakfast,” he grunted. Sakura raised an eyebrow warily at him. “It was okay.”

Sakura frowned, lips twisting. “It was okay?”

What did she expect him to say? Sasuke sighed and rubbed his temples with his thumb and ring finger. It was simple, plain boring congee but it was the first time in forever that someone had made him a warm breakfast that he didn’t sit down and pay for━even if he was only an afterthought to Hyuga and her hangover.

And it was good. And warm. And like home.

Shaking that last thought from his mind, he tried to get back to the conversation. “Yamanaka says your parents own a restaurant.”

“Ino shouldn’t have said shit,” Sakura snapped. Sasuke was taken aback by the forcefulness of her words but one quick scan of her face and he could see the trembling of her lower lip and realized her words were defensive.

“Just…thanks. For breakfast.” Sasuke didn’t want to get into whatever it was that had her upset about her parents’ shop. From what Ino had told him there was only happy, warm memories of doing homework in a corner of the shop and stuffing their faces with homemade food. But that was from Ino, of course. It wasn’t Sakura’s feelings about the place. “I thought you didn’t know how to cook.”

“I never said I didn’t know how to cook.” Sakura shifted on the balls of her feet, adjusting her backpack’s strap on her shoulder. “I just don’t cook.”

“Hmm.” Sasuke crossed his arms in front of his chest. He leaned back against the door frame and looked down at her lazily. “Then again it was only rice porridge. Not that difficult to make now is it?”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “What are you getting at?”


He could see her visibly bristle at the implication he was making. It was amusing how rattled she got about an insult to her cooking skills when she refused to cook in the first place. Ino had mentioned that Sakura had a bad habit of sticking to instant food or things that required the most minimal amount of prep.

But if he was right━and Sasuke was confident he was━then Sakura was a cook. And with being a cook, especially a good one, there was an arrogance that was hard to escape. Even if all one made was the simplest, easy to eat meal.

Much to Sasuke’s amusement, Sakura was pretty easy to bait. He could read her thoughts easily, her eyes didn’t hide anything.

“Just because it’s not your fancy,” Sakura used air quotes to emphasize her words, “French cuisine, it doesn’t mean what I can make isn’t excellent.”

Ah. And there it is. “Prove it.”

Sakura glared at him, green eyes blazing. It really shouldn’t be so easy. A normal person wouldn’t rise to it but━

“Fine,” Sakura spat. “I’ll show you.”