Differential Chapter 2

Chapter Two: Frustrating

The Harunos were a small family. Mebuki was a foster child and Kizashi was the only child and his parents had passed away when Sakura was younger so holidays had once been a small affair.

That had all changed when they met Mikoto Uchiha.

Mikoto had insisted on inviting them to every holiday event and Sakura’s parents couldn’t say no to her. Sakura didn’t think anyone could say no to her when she smiled so sweetly at them. After a while it became tradition that the Harunos and Uchihas celebrated together. The Uzumaki-Namikaze family would usually join them if Minato Namikaze didn’t have some sort of function his family needed to attend.

Which was why Sakura was currently standing in the middle of the Uchiha’s family room dressed in a semi-formal sweater dress cradling a mug that wasn’t filled with tea.

“You’re not fooling anyone,” Sasuke scoffed, standing next to her by the fireplace with his arms crossed. Sakura snuck a glance at his forearms, cursing his habit of rolling up his sleeves to his elbows.

No one is supposed to look that good in a sweater vest.

Sakura just rolled her eyes and offered her mug which he accepted and took a swig of it’s contents. The two of them had been sneaking drinks at family functions since they were sixteen. The only person that knew of it was Shisui who had offered them their first taste of alcohol. The only other person their age and a minor at these events was Naruto but he couldn’t handle his liquor and would have ended up face down in his dinner if they let him have any so they had to keep it a secret from him as well or he would out all three of them.

“Alright everyone,” Mikoto sang out cheerfully. “Time for dinner.”

She and Izumi and Mebuki were carrying out the last of the dishes to the table while everyone else filed into their seats. Sakura took her seat between Sasuke and Shisui, the seat she always had since they joined the adult table at Thanksgiving.

“So how does it feel to be back at school?” Fugaku directed his question to both of the teens who had just come back home after starting their third semester, second year at KU.

“It’s great. My studies keep me so busy but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It will all be worth it when I stay on the Dean’s List,” Sakura replied with a polite smile. She continued to beam at everyone as she stomped on Sasuke’s foot after he made a derisive sound under his breath.

Her answer was genuine despite whatever Sasuke thought. He was always accusing her of being a suck up and trying to please everybody, especially the adults in their families. Yes, she liked making them happy and proud of her but she wasn’t going to lie to them to get the results she wanted.

She was a horrible liar anyway according to her best friend Ino. Although what Ino usually accused her of lying about wasn’t about her study habits.

Sakura tightened her hold on her arms so that they were drawn closer to her body. With so many people sitting around the table it was hard to keep herself from brushing her arm against Sasuke’s arm. Hard to keep herself from feeling the heat that radiated off of his body and the firmness of his muscles.

It was unfair. She was suppose to be above being affected by physical appearances. She was suppose to be above crushing on her next door neighbor.

Sasuke Uchiha frustrated her. It was such an odd relationship. The two were always trying to one up each other. Sure Naruto was his rival when it came to sports and growing up they had━mostly one sided on Naruto’s part━stupid competitions but the only one their families acknowledged as his rival was Sakura even though it wasn’t intentional.

It was mainly due to the fact that Sasuke cared about academics more than extracurriculars.

Still…you don’t get guns like those from sitting behind and staring at a computer screen.

Sakura took a gulp of water, sneaking a glance downward, her pale lashes hiding the way her eyes turned downcast to take in the contours of Sasuke’s hands as he gripped his fork and glass. He always had such nice hands. Large and strong with a delicate touch that he used to build computers and a range of other things she couldn’t wrap her head around.

Sakura’s focus was moved up to his face as Sasuke used the hand she was watching to push his black, rectangular framed glasses up the bridge of his nose. Sasuke noticed her gaze on him and raised an eyebrow. Sakura glared at him and then turned away, attempting to be swayed away by whatever it was that Shisui was explaining to her father.

Yes, Sasuke Uchiha frustrated her.

“Oh Mebuki, I must show you the mirror that Sasuke made me. It’s so fascinating. I can get ready for my day and it displays the time, weather reports, and even the news for me. This morning it told me ‘Good Morning Mikoto’ as soon as I approached it and leaves blew across the surface to show it was windy outside! It was so cute.”

“So that’s what the nerd brought home,” Shisui laughed, reaching around Sakura to playfully punch Sasuke in the arm.

And suddenly the conversation was about Sasuke. He didn’t contribute, just continued eating and acting completely unaffected by the praise from everyone at the table as they discussed how he had made the Smart Mirror for his mother. He only bothered to answer questions from his father when Fugaku forgot a step that Sasuke had previously explained.

Sakura huffed, resting her chin on her fist, as Sasuke made something she would never have been able to figure out sound like it was as easy as learning to tie one’s laces. They both came home with almost perfect scores on their recent tests and papers, but Sasuke also showed up with a fancy mirror that he programmed for his mother. Typical.

Sakura was curled up on her couch with her laptop going over lecture notes when her mother started calling her name.
“Yes?” Sakura shouted back from her spot without looking away from her laptop screen. Her mother remained quiet, refusing to respond. Sakura groaned and set her laptop aside. Her mother wasn’t going to tell her what she wanted until she joined her in the kitchen.

“Yes?” Sakura questioned but as soon as she entered the kitchen her mother thrust a wooden crate filled with ingredients into her hands.

“Mikoto really liked the pumpkin cream cheese roulade we took over the other day and wanted to make it for her in-laws. I have to go help your father in the shop today so I need you to go and help her make it.”

“But I━”

“No buts.” Mebuki raised a finger up and narrowed her eyes at Sakura. “All you’ve done is look through your notes and books. It’s supposed to be a break, now get out of the house.”

Sakura slipped on her fur lined boots and marched across the shared yard over to the Uchihas. She set the crate down and rang the doorbell.

After a moment of waiting the door swung open but instead of the pretty older woman, Sakura was at eye level with a minimalist circuit board tattoo on a defined left pectoral.

Really? I know he’s home but does he have to be shirtless?

“Are you going to say something?” Sasuke crossed his arms in front of his chest which caused his muscles to become more pronounced. Sakura narrowed her eyes at him. There was no way he wasn’t doing that on purpose.

“I’m here to bake with your mother.”

“Of course you are.” Sasuke bent down and lifted the crate Sakura had brought over. Without another word to her he turned to walk back into his house, leaving Sakura a good view of the defined muscles on his back. He was just so frustrating.

Differential Chapter 1

Chapter One: Stuck

Sasuke’s memories of home were filled with swirls of colors. Hues of pink and spring green would become mottled amongst the comforting earthy tones his mother favored.

Annoyingly bright green and soft pink.

One of the things Sasuke had looked forward to about college was the reprieve he would get from seeing that particular pink and that particular green. He believed he was going to be able to avoid her all he wanted.

But alas the universe didn’t align in his favor. It seemed there was no escaping Sakura Haruno.

Chocolate chip cookies. His least favorite. Sasuke hated anything sweet and preferred ginger snap which had more spice than sugar in it’s flavoring, especially the way his mother made them just for him.

But these cookies weren’t for him. They were for the new neighbors and Mikoto Uchiha needed a “neutral” cookie. Something that would assure friendly relations with the only neighbors that shared a fence with the Uchihas.

“Oh, Sasuke,” Mikoto groaned. She licked her thumb and bent down to wipe her six year old’s face. “We can’t go see the neighbors with dirty faces.”

Sasuke wrinkled his nose and tried to squirm out of his mother’s grasp. He didn’t even want to go see the new neighbors and now he was covered in mom spit.

“Okay, one last check.” Mikoto patted her hair and twirled in front of the mirror in the foyer. Sasuke had no idea why his mother was so worried. She was always pretty. “Itachi!”

“He went out with Shisui and Izumi while you were getting changed,” Sasuke explained. His brows furrowed as he pouted. He had wanted to go play with his older brother but he had refused to take him and Shisui had called him ”Squirt” again.

“I wish that child would ask me before he left the house,” Mikoto grumbled. Sasuke’s mouth twitched as he held back from giggling. His mother was always complaining about how it was “too early for Itachi’s rebellious phase.” She sighed and took hold of Sasuke’s hand. “Come on. Let’s go meet the Harunos. I hear they have a child that’s your age.”

At that Sasuke straightened up, now alert and eager to meet the new family. There weren’t any kids around his age in the neighborhood and the only kid he ever met outside of school was Naruto, his mother’s best friend’s son, and he irritated Sasuke to no end.

If there was a kid living next door then Sasuke wouldn’t have to wait around for Itachi to come home to play. Maybe he could even have a close friend like how Itachi was with Shisui and Izumi. Except not with a girl. Girls didn’t play the same games. And they giggled a lot. At least Izumi giggled a lot.

Mikoto took a deep breath and knocked on the door frame. The door was open wide as the neighbors were currently moving in the last of their boxes. They had started moving all of their furniture in at the crack of dawn according to Fugaku which horrified Sasuke. Who woke up that early?

“Bakers,” was his father’s curt response. There was an amused glint in his eyes when he looked at Mikoto who shared Itachi’s love of sweets. Sasuke’s mother had blushed and smiled knowingly at her husband. Sasuke gagged at the weirdness of his flirty parents. No one but he and Itachi would recognize the small amount of teasing as such but it was still a lot for him to handle

A kind faced blonde woman, slightly taller than his mother, came to the door and greeted them. As Mikoto offered the cookies and spoke to the woman Sasuke tried to peek inside the house in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the woman’s son.

“Say hello to Ms. Haruno, Sasuke.” Mikoto gently pushed Sasuke toward Ms. Haruno.

“Hello Ms. Haruno.”

“You can call me Mebuki.” Mebuki smiled at him softly as she ruffled his feathery hair. “Would you like to come in for some tea? You can meet━”

“Mama? Have you seen my doll? I can’t find her.”

A small child with the strangest pale pink hair and the biggest green eyes he had ever seen approached the front door. She spotted Sasuke and his mother and hid behind Mebuki’s leg. She peered around her mother’s body and smiled shyly at their guests.

“And who is this cutie?” Mikoto gushed, bending down to the child’s eye level. “Hello, sweetie. My name is Mikoto and you are?”

The girl giggled and pushed her face into the back of her mother’s thigh.

“This is Sakura.” Mebuki patted her daughter’s head. She maneuvered her leg and pushed Sakura forward. “Come on Kura, say hello. I’m sorry. She’s really shy with strangers.”

“Oh, what a fitting name! I think she’s sweet.”

“She’s a girl,” Sasuke said flatly. He wasn’t as excited as his mother was and it was obvious from the way his brows pulled forward and a scowl settled on his face. As soon as he saw the soft, pink hair and the big green eyes he was filled with disappointment. The feeling settled even stronger when she giggled. Why were girls always giggling?

“Yes, Sasuke. And such a cute girl.” Mikoto tried to cover up for her son’s attitude but the damage had been done. Sakura’s smile deflated and her eyes glazed over.

“I’m going to go look for my doll.” Sakura rushed back inside her house. Not stopping as her mother called after her.

“I’m sorry,” Mebuki apologized, shifting from one foot to the other nervously. “We’ve been having issues with her getting along with other kids and making friends. She was excited to meet someone new. I might have set her hopes too high…”

“Poor thing…” Mikoto mumbled. After a beat she brightened up and cheerfully suggested, “Why don’t we set up a playdate? I know that Sasuke is disappointed right now but I’m sure after hanging out a few times they will enjoy each other’s company.”

What? Sasuke looked up at his mother, horrified. How could she sacrifice her own son like that? Sasuke didn’t want to play with some sugary, pink haired girl.

Mikoto narrowed her eyes at Sasuke and he pouted, turning his eyes downcast to his feet.

Sasuke already knew he wasn’t going to like this Sakura girl. She was being forced on him by his own mother. Turning his mother against him was her first offense. He could tell that she was just going to keep being a problem.

Sasuke let out a sigh and glared at the stop light. He had been driving for what seemed like forever and he just wanted to crawl into his comfy bed. After spending weeks using the small dorm bed he just wanted to lie down and spread his body out as much as possible.

A soft sigh from the passenger seat had him turning his head to his sleeping passenger.

Somehow in her sleep, Sakura had slid her hand under her sweater and lifted the top up enough to reveal her flat, pale stomach. The jewel on her belly ring sparkled and drew his gaze to the dip of her bellybutton and down to the waistline of her jeans. The jewel flashed at him as her stomach rose and fell with her breathing.

Sasuke caught himself staring too much and grabbed his hoodie from the backseat and tossed it over her. Scowling, he crossed his arms over the steering wheel of his car and leaned against it, careful not to add so much pressure that the horn would go off.

He would have preferred to have taken the trip from their university alone but his mother was so insistent that Sasuke bring Sakura home with him whenever he visited. Sakura and his parents had become really close friends over the years and were always spending holidays together and helping each other out.

Sakura didn’t have her own car and Fugaku had offered to have Sasuke drive her to and from college since they both attended Konoha University, located two hours away in the capital of their state. Considering they were both going home the same week for Fall Break, it made no sense for Sakura to take the bus back to their hometown.

It was thirteen years later and Sasuke Uchiha couldn’t escape Sakura Haruno no matter how much he tried. It seemed the universe and his parents were always tying them together in some way.

Putting it simply, he was stuck with her.