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.
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?”
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?”
“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.