Chapter Ten: Security Blanket
Lazy mornings were the best. The world was quiet and Sakura didn’t have to worry about what was on her agenda for the day. Sasuke’s sheets felt crisper and the mattress softer. His voice was low and raspy, in the best way, right next to her ear as he slowly rocked against her.
“Mmmh…” Sakura moaned softly as Sasuke lifted her hips up higher for a better angle. One hand slipped in between her thighs to play with her clit and she let out a whimper. She called out his name with a sleepy sigh as he continued to tease her fleshy little knob with lazy circles.
This was her favorite way to make love, slow and deep unhurried thrusts with Sasuke pressed flush against her back, his panting and grunts right at her ear. Sakura snuggled deeper into the pillows, gripping tight on their cases as her chest and stomach lay flat against them.
“You’re allowed to be louder you know,” Sasuke teased as he kissed and sucked and nipped on her shoulder.
“Habit,” Sakura panted back. “We’re rarely alone in your house.”
Sasuke’s family went away to the mountains for winter break. With Fugaku four hours away and distracted with keeping Mikoto happy for the next few days, Sakura was free to come and go as she pleased from the Uchiha’s house as long as they were careful not to travel in and out when Sasuke’s cousin Obito was circling the block. Mikoto trusted Sasuke to stay home alone as long as he checked in with her twice a day and ate dinner at Naruto’s house, she just asked that he remembered to water all of her house plants, but Fugaku didn’t.
Sasuke told Sakura that his father had expressed concerns that he would be throwing parties and bringing girls over while they were gone. Mikoto snorted and told him that she would welcome any “normal” behavior from their son. She complained that he was too quiet and that she wished he would act like kids his age which had Fugaku scoffing.
Sakura mewled, enjoying her climax even in her sleepy haze. When she came down, Sasuke pulled back to turn her over. It always amused Sakura that Sasuke seem to have a preference for looking at her directly when he reached his own release.
“You get in the mood at the most random times,” Sakura teased as she wrapped her arms around Sasuke’s neck. Any sign of sleepiness was gone from his face and it would be easier to talk to him. They had just been sleeping when Sakura felt hot kisses on her neck and back. Usually she was the one up first and Sasuke unwilling to open his eyes in the morning but she wasn’t going to complain. It had been a nice surprise.
“Your fault.” Sasuke’s breathing came out shallow and harsh as he picked up a quicker pace. “You’re the one that gets horny at two in the morning. We have a fucked up schedule.”
Sakura giggled but then was cut off when a thrust hit her particularly well and she let out soft whine. She pouted when Sasuke smirked down at her. It had been a long time since anything could actually make her embarrassed but she still got flustered whenever Sasuke looked a little too proud of the fact that he knew her body so well.
Sasuke came with his forehead pressed to hers and his eyes on her eyes. Whenever he did that it always felt more intimate than the act they were just engaged in. Sasuke swallowed Sakura’s whimper when he pulled out of her with a kiss and then flopped onto his back. Sakura crawled on top of him and pressed her cheek to his chest, straddling his waist with her knees on the bed, thighs trapping him underneath her. She snuggled closer when she felt his arm wrap around her waist.
“This is nice,” Sakura murmured.
“Yeah, too bad my parents don’t go on trips more often.” Sasuke sighed and stretched out his arms. All of his movements caused Sakura to shift but she maintained her hold on him. “I hope Itachi’s having fun.”
Sasuke was still struggling with opening up so sometimes he would make vague statements that Sakura would have to draw her own conclusions for. She assumed he was worried that Itachi wouldn’t be able to enjoy himself up in the mountains where almost all of the entertainment involved outdoor activities. Sakura had looked up the resort that the Uchihas were staying in and there was a spa so it was likely that Itachi could spend the week relaxing.
“I’m sure he’s fine. It was nice of you to give up the trip so he could take his best friend with him.”
There was an odd pause. For a moment Sakura thought Sasuke had fallen back to sleep but when she looked up at him he was just staring into space.
Sasuke always got this way when it came to talking about Itachi. Even if he was making an effort it still felt as if he were holding back. It was an odd change from when they were in primary school, when Sasuke use to talk about his older brother all of the time and bragging about how great Itachi was. It had slowed down when they entered secondary school because Sasuke became slightly embarrassed of showing how much he loved his older brother especially since Itachi had become even busier with school and training at the police academy. Although he wouldn’t be able to actually be a police officer until he was twenty-one, training was made available for him. A perk of being the police chief’s son.
Sakura remembered how the usually stoic Itachi became bashful when his mother took pictures of him on his twenty-first birthday with his new uniform and his first haircut. The rules were pretty lenient but Itachi wanted to be by the book when he first started and had gotten rid of his long locks, looking more like Fugaku than he already did. It was the first time Sakura could remember seeing Fugaku smiling so fondly at any of his children.
Itachi was only an active officer for that first year. The following summer he had been hospitalized. That was when Sasuke─and Sakura and Naruto─found out about Itachi’s illness. He and his parents had kept it secret for two years while it seemed manageable.
That was when Sasuke became even more withdrawn.
Sasuke was already becoming more sullen and closed off as it was. He never liked to talk about his school life and although he played on Oto’s basketball team he never wanted Naruto or Sakura to go to his games, whether they were home or away. Because of an incident involving Sakura being ganged up on when they had visited once during his first year in Oto Prep, where the least damaging part of the attack was having her hair cut off, the two of them never really argued the fact. The administration at Oto refused to believe any of their students were involved in the assault of a Konoha Secondary student because “their students were above such barbaric actions.”
Sasuke was saved from being expelled because of his reputation as an honor student after their self defense plea fell on deaf ears. Naruto─with help from his father─was let off easy, just being banned from entering the school grounds ever again. Sakura was banned as well, not that she ever wanted to go anywhere near Oto again.
“He deserved a vacation and so did my mother. Hopefully with both Shisui and Izumi around she won’t fret over him so much and actually have fun.”
“What are you doing today? Besides basketball practice that is?”
“Nothing. You want to hang out later?”
“I was asking because I was curious. I’m hanging out with Karin and Ino.” Sakura rolled off of him and stood up stretching. She ignored the feeling of being observed and grabbed her clothing from the floor. “Do you want to hang out later?”
“I’ll hang out with Naruto this afternoon.” Sasuke sat up, resting his forearms on his legs. “God knows I haven’t been hanging out enough with that moron.”
Sakura smiled to herself as she slipped her top over her head. Sasuke always grumbled about spending time with Naruto but she knew how much he actually enjoyed hanging out with their goofball.
Sasuke would never admit it but one of the best parts of his day was when he got to go over and hang out with Naruto at his house or go somewhere, anywhere, away from Forest Grove Court. Anywhere with his best friend away from the big empty house.
“I’m gonna get Karin to cut my hair today.”
“Don’t let her shave the side of your head.” Sasuke narrowed his eyes at her, face completely serious.
“Just a trim.” Sakura held up a long strand and pinched a two inch section to wave at him. “And a layered look possibly. Or maybe I should get a pixie and an undercut. Just a buzzcut on the back of my head near my nape.”
“As long as you’re not shaving the side of your head like Karin, I don’t care. And as long as you don’t try to dye your hair again. That was a disaster. Pink suits you fine.”
“Uh-huh.” Sakura rolled her eyes and kissed him on top of his head. “I’m going to go home and shower now. Want me to come over again tonight?”
“If you want.” Sasuke swung his legs over the side of his bed and stood with a stretch and reached for his sweatpants on the floor. For a moment Sakura just stared at him, dazed, until she felt like she was being stared at. Sakura averted her gaze after Sasuke raised an eyebrow at her. “You’re a real pervert, you know that?”
“Says the one that keeps sticking it in me,” Sakura muttered, marching out of the room. She could hear Sasuke let out a snort as he followed her to the back porch door. She wasn’t scaling the building anymore but she still took precautions. So far Obito didn’t use the key left to him to come in but he was still prone to sitting out front and watching the front door.
“I’ll come by later tonight. I’ll text you if I can’t.”
“Like I said, only come if you want.”
Sasuke never asked her to come over. He would only ask her if she was or answer like he just did if Sakura asked him if he wanted her to come over. On the rare occasion he would just say that she was coming over, as if there wasn’t any question that she would.
Except for when she was giving him the silent treatment, she always came over. Ever since Itachi was hospitalized a few years back it never felt right to leave him alone.
“I want to. I’m coming over.”
Sakura smiled softly at him, pretending not to see the relief in his eyes. If he wanted to act strong than she’d let him.
“Next time,” Ino fumed, “I drive.”
She rubbed the space between her breasts through her sweater and scowled at Karin. Karin just stared ahead refusing to acknowledge her complaints.
“Oh, crap.” Ino grimaced and brushed Sakura’s bangs out of her face. “You have a bump on your forehead. Kind of makes your forehead look even bigger. I didn’t think it could.”
“Haha real funny, Pig.” Sakura pushed her hand away not liking how sensitive the bruise she had was,
“That’s why you wear your seatbelt even when you’re in the backseat,” Karin scolded.
Karin had slammed hard on her breaks, having not noticed that the light had turned red. Ino’s seatbelt tightened on her, bruising her chest and Sakura had been thrown forward, hitting the back of Ino’s seat.
“Uh, is that cop staring at us?” Ino narrowed her eyes at a man standing a few stores away. He looked like an overly obvious undercover cop but the insignia on his sleeve completely gave him away. Sakura rolled her eyes. Uchiha.
“Not us. Just me,” Sakura grumbled. She carried on with her business. She was there to shop with her friends and eat mall food. Sakura didn’t care about Uchiha officers following Fugaku Uchiha’s orders.
“They watch you even when you’re not with Sasuke?” Ino’s jaw dropped in disbelief. She shook her head and pulled on Sakura’s elbow, dragging her into the nearest clothing store.
“Worst Parent Award definitely goes to Sasuke’s dad. And mine left as soon as my mom got too sick to take care of me so…yeah.” Karin sneered at a rack of clothing. “It’s winter. Why the fuck are they selling crop tops?”
Ino opened her mouth to say something but one look from Sakura had her closing it. Karin had a habit of dropping uncomfortable statements nonchalantly about subjects she hadn’t discussed with them yet. Sakura realized it was how she opened up to them, just talk about things casually like they already knew what she was talking about and let them piece together what they could. There would be no sitting around with a tub of ice cream and having big talks that led to hugging and crying with Karin Uzumaki.
“Here. This is your shade of purple.” Karin tossed a crop top at Ino. “And just your length of top too.”
“I just want to know what’s his fucking problem,” Ino growled, tossing a similar top in a lighter purple shade at Karin who tugged at the hem trying to see how far she could stretch it out closer to her belly button. She glared at the sleeves and put it back on the rack. “What’s the big issue?”
“I don’t think there’s a specific problem.” Sakura held up a sheer long sleeved top to Karin who shook her head furiously. “Everything was fine until I started to develop these.” Sakura put her hands to her breasts and lifted them up and dropped them.
“Oh. He’s one of those.” Ino frowned. “Like that Shino kid’s mom.”
“Shino? Shino Aburame?” Sakura questioned. He was a student that had been in all of her Science classes for all of high school. He hung out with Naruto’s friend Kiba and was really quiet.
“We had to do a project for English once in tenth grade and his mom wouldn’t let us go into his room alone where his computer was. We had to wait for his dad to come home and let him use his work laptop so that we could sit in the dining room where his mother could keep an eye on us from the kitchen. It was weird because it’s not like Shino cares about talking to any girl except Fu in the Entomology Club. And that’s not even of the romantic nature. I think he just gave up on girls since his mom is so traditional and strict. Doesn’t believe in people of the opposite sex being friends.”
“Well that’s backwards.” Karin held up a sleeveless turtleneck black dress. Sakura thought she was going to put it back but it was apparently cute enough to ignore the lack of sleeves. “And keeping kids separated from the opposite gender never works. It either screws them up socially or they go at it like a pair of baby monkeys anyway, you know, like Sakura and Sasuke.”
“We do not go at it like a pair of baby monkeys,” Sakura said hotly, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “I’ll have you know today was the first time we had sex in almost a month, thank you. We have self control.”
Karin and Ino stared at her for a moment in silence before the pair of them burst out laughing. Sakura glared at them and waited for them to finish.
“Have you told Sasuke about the cops stalking you?” Karin asked being the one to compose herself first. Ino kept giggling in little hiccups.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is something you should talk to him about,” Ino instantly became serious. “My dad works sometimes with the police force when they need a psychologist. He could talk to Fugaku if you want. I’m sure he wouldn’t wanna hear about the police force keeping track of a kid just because Fugaku didn’t want his son interacting with them. It’s not like you’re a fuck up. You’re an Honor Roll student that volunteers at the hospital. Hell, my parents would be bragging if you were my girlfriend.”
“They wouldn’t care about the girl part?” Karin raised an eyebrow at Ino.
“My parents thought Sai was a girl at first to be honest. He’s too pretty.”
“The height didn’t give him away?”
“He’s tall but he’s not too tall. He’s only like five foot eight. There’s plenty of girls taller than him.”
“Well, anyway,” Sakura steered the conversation away from Ino’s boyfriend. “No. No one’s talking to anyone. I don’t want to cause Sasuke any trouble. And if I tell him anything it won’t end well. It was pretty bad after their fight when he first wanted to transfer from Oto in ninth grade. It will probably be worse this time. So I can’t bother him with my problems.”
“Oh my precious Saint Sakura,” Ino exclaimed dramatically as she threw her arms around her shoulders and patted her head. “Too good, too pure for this world.”
“Precious cinnamon roll?” Karin offered with a shrug.
“Yes!” Ino excitedly pointed at Karin in agreement.
“You guys aren’t funny,” Sakura mumbled trying to escape Ino’s headlock.
“Oh you love us.” Ino hooked her arm with Sakura’s and the other with Karin and walked them deeper into the store.
Sakura sighed, powering off Sasuke’s flat screen. She had come over with tomato bisque from her parent’s shop knowing that Sasuke was used to having meals prepared for him by his mother or Itachi and would either starve or try to order take out anyway.
They were hanging out in his family’s media room, just across from his bedroom and had curled up together. Sometime during the third movie Sasuke had sprawled out on top of her with his head on her chest. Sakura had cradled it, massaging her fingers through his hair. He fell asleep almost instantly after she began doing that.
“We need to come up with something better,” Sakura mumbled, shifting her body carefully underneath Sasuke so that she could sleep comfortably.
Sasuke’s lack of sleep worried Sakura. He did better during basketball season because practices were later in the day for varsity and he would run until he was exhausted and had to go to sleep but he wouldn’t stay asleep. She was already struggling to get him to eat properly. Karin was reporting to her how he wouldn’t touch any food at school.
“Sakura,” Sasuke mumbled out her name, adjusting his arms around her and taking a deep inhale. Sakura smiled softly knowing how calming he found her apple scent. It was one of the reasons she never tried other shower products.
“Come on, love. Off to bed.”
“Are you going to stay tonight? You can stay if you want.”
“I want to.” Sakura nudged him gently until he sat up. “But I think you’re bed is better for sleep than this couch.”
Sakura stood up and held out her hand for Sasuke. He took it and let her lead him to his bedroom. The same way she did the first night Sasuke was alone in the big Uchiha house two years ago.
Chapter Eleven: All Storms Start With Just a Few Raindrops
Rain. Itachi had a love-hate relationship with rain. He used to look forward to nice rainy days so he could curl up in his rocking chair and read one of the books from the small library that doubled as his father’s study across from his room. It relaxed him to hear the pattering of rain against his window and its drumming on the deck outside of his and Sasuke’s room.
Nowadays he could feel the rain before he knew it was going to rain. His joints would ache and there would be a soreness all over his body. And he had an odd craving for soup. Rainy days, no matter what the season and temperature outside, became soup days.
It was likely that his mother was going to make hot tofu soup for dinner. She was starting to pick up on his habits and quirks very well lately. That was new for him considering when he and Sasuke were younger his mother wasn’t as aware of him. She focused more of her attention on Sasuke and was always making his favorites, especially on days he came back with test scores or some award from school. Sasuke was her favorite. Mikoto would never make it obvious but Itachi could tell that Sasuke was her favorite. And he didn’t mind. Sasuke was his favorite too.
Which is how he knew that even though he was going to get the soup that he craved, that the hot tofu soup was going to be at a degree of spiciness that he didn’t eat before. Funny thing about growing up and one’s body changing due to illness and medications that no one had explained to Itachi before was the change in his taste buds. Someone in a support group he attended had told him that it was taste perversion and that it happened to some people.
He still loved sweets but he now preferred his savory foods to lean more to the spicy side. It had a lot to do with “medicine mouth” and the horrible metallic and bitter after taste of pills. Sadly, sugar didn’t help the taste in his mouth so he had to cut back on sweets or be left with the horrible taste in his mouth all day.
“I don’t think I’m reading this right.” Itachi pulled his book at arm’s length, as if a different angle would give him a better understanding. Sighing, Itachi rose from his chair with a groan and headed to the library hoping to find the Japanese to English dictionary.
Although Konoha was also known as J-Town due to a majority of the population being of Japanese descent and all of the Japanese shops, Itachi still had some trouble with the language. He could speak fluently─his grandparents on both sides refused to speak English─but reading and writing still came with some issues.
“Where the…Sasuke.” Itachi shook his head and headed over to Sasuke’s room. Although Sasuke wasn’t one to read Japanese literature for fun the way Itachi did, he still used the dictionary quite often. When Itachi asked why, Sasuke had muttered something about translating song lyrics.
Itachi knocked on the door and waited for an answer. He was about to knock again, harder, when he realized that Sasuke wasn’t home because he still had basketball practice during winter break and not in his room. Itachi huffed in frustration, not happy that he had another brain fog moment. It happened often due to being fatigued most of the time.
Feeling guilty for the invasion of privacy, Itachi muttered a small apology and entered Sasuke’s room. Itachi usually didn’t enter and it always amazed him how different their two rooms were.
Itachi liked the minimalist look and barely had furniture in his room or personal effects. If he were to add anything to his room, perhaps a bookcase which would be pointless considering his books were kept in the library and his DVD collection in the media room.
Sasuke was the opposite. Itachi smiled to himself loving the feel of Sasuke’s room. It looked exactly like what he thought a teenage boy’s room was supposed to look like. Band and movie posters all over the walls. A tapestry of a snake and hawk fighting on one wall. Around his headboard were a bunch of photos of different places and his friends. A majority of them were blurry selfies of Naruto and focused shots of what was going on behind him, usually Sakura looking angry because Naruto was sneaking a photo of her. Itachi shook his head when he saw the carved Uchiha family crest on the lower corner of the headboard. Probably done in a fit of boredom.
Unlike Itachi, Sasuke did have a bookcase in his room. It was a wide set up, two narrow bookcases flanking the sides of one wider bookcase that had the top three shelves knocked out and a mirror installed. Sasuke not only had books on the shelves but stacks upon stacks of CDs and ninja and creature figurines gifted to him mostly from Naruto who went to conventions often. Sitting next to his old dinosaur stuffed toy was a fox plushie that looked just like the mascot costume Naruto wore during the winter sports season. Sasuke had griped about the gift when Naruto had given it to him when Sasuke transferred to Konoha Secondary but there it was, sitting on the shelf.
Itachi gently ran a finger on the body of Sasuke’s acoustic guitar, hanging on a hook on the wall. When Sasuke showed a talent for music when he was younger, Itachi had been proud. He started with the flute and then piano and made his way to teaching himself how to play guitar. Itachi had never been good at playing any instruments and it made him warm inside to know there was something Sasuke could do, and do really well, that he could never touch.
Not that Sasuke played often anymore. After Sasuke had transferred, their father had become stricter about his grades. Sasuke would casually strum sometimes but he no longer wasted away afternoons learning songs he loved or try to write his own.
“I’m here for a dictionary,” Itachi reminded himself. The amount of time he was spending in his brother’s room when Sasuke wasn’t there was bordering on inappropriate. He got caught up in looking at all of Sasuke’s stuff, all of the things that proved that Sasuke was just a normal high school aged boy and not a robot that churned out high test scores and followed every order of their father’s.
Sasuke’s computer desk was much like his own when it came to neatness. The only difference being that Sasuke’s was made out of metal and covered in stickers, reminding Itachi of a bar that Sasuke had asked him to take him to when he was fifteen for a rock concert. It wasn’t the kind of thing Itachi liked, not a big music fan even though he enjoyed listening to music, but it was something Sasuke wanted to go to that their father would have never approved of which was partially why Itachi had agreed to taking him in the first place.
“Where could he possibly have left it?” Itachi tapped a finger to his lip and then smacked his forehead. He pulled open the drawer of Sasuke’s night stand and found a silver lighter gifted from their grandfather, some more photos of Sasuke with Sakura and Naruto, pens, guitar picks and strings, sheet music, and the dictionary he was looking for. Itachi raised an eyebrow at the scented candles grouped on top of the nightstand and muttered a small prayer, hoping that they were suppose to be therapeutic and not for setting up a mood for Sakura.
“Why does he need a record player and all of this vinyl if he has like a million CDs? And he has an iPod. This boy I swear…” Itachi was surprised at how clean and orderly Sasuke’s room was considering all of the stuff that he had. Itachi shrugged and rolled his eyes. He preferred his bare room with only the essentials.
The door swung open and Itachi almost jumped. The last thing he wanted was Sasuke to be angry with him for entering his room without permission.
Itachi tilted his slightly in confusion and raised his eyebrow. It was pretty early for his father to be home and even odder for him to be in Sasuke’s room.
“What are you doing in here?”
“I needed to grab the dictionary.” Itachi waved the book so his father’s eyes would be drawn to the reason he had entered his little brother’s room. “What are you doing in here?”
“Don’t use that tone with me,” Fugaku snapped. He glared at Itachi who crossed his arms in front of his chest. “You may be an adult but I’m still your father, Itachi. Show some respect.”
Fugaku crossed the room and pulled open the drawer to Sasuke’s nightstand before Itachi could block him. His father rifled through the drawer and then closed it. Itachi watched as he went to Sasuke’s personal restroom and looked under the sink in the cabinet and slid open the mirror to look at the medicine cabinet.
“You didn’t move anything while you were in here did you?” Fugaku narrowed his eyes at Itachi.
“Just the dictionary.” Itachi glared back, realization dawning on him. “That’s really fucked up. And a total invasion of privacy.”
“Language, Itachi. It’s within my rights to makes sure my son isn’t doing anything he isn’t supposed to be doing.”
“And what exactly are you looking for?” Itachi felt nauseous. Luckily there was no chance of Fugaku finding a baggie full of ritalin or condoms. Itachi was sure Sasuke was too smart to leave anything lying around that he didn’t want found.
“It’s none of your concern.” And with that Fugaku left the room.
And not for the first time, Itachi felt defeated, knowing with how his body was that he couldn’t move out and take Sasuke far, far away.
“Hand me a rubber band.” Itachi held out his hand in front of Izumi so that she could drop a tiny rubber band into his palm. “I’m almost done.”
“You did a good job,” Shisui mumbled through the popcorn in his mouth.
The two of them had come over to have dinner and they were all waiting for Sasuke to come home. While they waited they watched TV in the media room and Itachi french braided Izumi’s hair.
“He’s getting better at it isn’t he?” Izumi admired her braids using her cell phone’s front facing camera. “You’re completely spoiling your appetite, Shi.”
“I’m a grown man. Stop treating me like a child.” Shisui tossed a scoop of popcorn at her and Izumi smacked him in the face with a pillow.
“You’re cleaning that Sui-Sui.” Itachi huffed, stretching his back. He had sat still for too long. “Zu-Zu?”
“Lie down and I’ll go get the cream, okay?” Izumi kissed his forehead and left the room to go get his pain relieving creams from his bathroom cabinet.
“My dad is searching Sasuke’s room whenever Sasuke isn’t home,” Itachi told Shisui when Izumi left.
“I caught Taiko stalking Itty Bitty.” Shisui gave Itachi a grim look.
“What did you do?”
“I kicked his ass of course. Told him I thought he was a suspicious character because he was following a schoolgirl around. Told him if I found out he was doing it again that I would report him. Inabi and Tekka wouldn’t like hearing about it. That’s something I expected of Yakumi considering how loyal he is to Fugaku.”
“No. Taiko is young and stupid enough to do something like that. Yakumi would have considered it grunt work and below him. Plus he’s middle aged and that would have looked creepier.”
“Who do you think would be more pissed if they found out? Sasuke or Izumi?”
Izumi had always had a soft spot for Sakura Haruno. She loved to play with her hair when she was a toddler and would always play with her and help her swim when the kids hung out in the Uchiha’s backyard. Itachi thought it was cute considering Sasuke would never let Izumi play with him but would then get jealous when Izumi took Sakura away. Izumi was an only child like Sakura, so she sort of adopted her as her younger sister when they were children.
“Are you kidding me? My mother would be the most pissed off. We need to find a way to stop it before she finds out. She’s already pissed off because my father tried to find out what goes on during Sasuke’s therapy sessions. She hasn’t spoken to him directly in the past two days.”
“Things have been getting bad ever since the Oto incident haven’t they?” Shisui took Itachi’s hand in his and rubbed the top of it.
“Are you guys flirting without me?” Izumi came bounding in with the creams and a tiny paper cup and some water. “I just noticed that it’s time for you medication.”
“Just noticed or did the alarm on your phone go off?” Shisui teased her. Izumi ignored him and began massaging Itachi’s back with the cream. Shisui grabbed the bottle and examined it. “This is new. Did they change your lotion at the Pain Management Clinic?”
“Just slightly. And this one warms up when you apply it.”
“You know what you need? Weed.”
“Shisui, you’re a cop!” Izumi scolded him. Itachi was starting to feel sleepy from the massage she was giving him. Shisui started snickering when Itachi hummed contently.
“That good? Maybe Izumi should give me a massage too.” Shisui waggled his eyebrows at her and she pushed him hard on his shoulder.
“My friend works as a masseuse at the chiropractor’s office and he’s been giving me some lessons.”
“He? Should Itachi and I be worried?” Shisui raised an eyebrow and put his hands on his hip, smiling as he gave her a playful glare.
“Oh, shut up.”
“Kids! Time for dinner!” Mikoto’s voice rang up the stairs.
“Did she just call us kids?” Shisui gave his partners an incredulous look.
“We’re kids to her.” Izumi rolled her eyes and pulled Itachi’s shirt back down. “I’m going to go wash my hands and put everything away. Shisui you need to clean this mess up before Mamakoto sees it.”
“I’ll just blame the brat.”
“No you won’t,” Sasuke called out as he entered his room.
“He didn’t even make any noise as he came up the stairs.” Shisui gave an exaggerated shiver. “Your brother gets creepier every day.”
“He needs a haircut. You think he’ll let me practice on him?” Izumi asked Itachi who shook his head. “Figures. I haven’t found anyone to practice on outside of class.”
“I’m sure my mother wouldn’t mind helping you. She adores you.”
“She loves everyone,” Izumi laughed.
“That’s about to not be true anymore,” Shisui muttered under his breath as they waited for Izumi and then followed her down the stairs. Itachi elbowed him in the ribs and shook his head.
Itachi almost ran into Izumi on their way into the kitchen. She had stopped at the doorway and started to edge backward.
“What are you doing?” Shisui grumbled.
“Just go the other way around,” Izumi hissed, pushing him against his back. Shisui get griping all of the way to the breakfast room.
Itachi peeked into the kitchen and saw his mother giggling, feeding his bashful father gyoza. There was a pang in his chest and his eyes turned downcast as he shuffled through the great room to the breakfast room.
Seeing his mother happy and his father shy over affection was something he rarely saw anymore. Not since he was hospitalized.
Sasuke sighed, trying to relax. The cinnamon vanilla candle smelled like Sakura’s body wash and lotions but it wasn’t as comforting as her shampoo and conditioner apple smell. Sakura had bought the candles from the same shop she bought her bath products from but she disliked the one that mimicked her shampoo because she personally thought it smelled gross as a candle
“Try to relax before bed. Take a nice hot bath, sleep on freshly laundered sheets, listen to some music, and light a candle. I kind of like the mango cilantro one best.”
Sakura’s advice helped ease his body to a level of comfort that resembled how he felt in the morning before he had to force himself to move. But he was still finding it slightly hard to fall asleep.
“Over thinking things before bed can make it harder to sleep,” Dr. Yamanaka had informed him once. Sasuke had just deadpanned at the time wondering why his mother was paying for sessions if that was what he was going to be getting out of them.
The quarter is ending soon. If I get at least a ninety-three on my next Physics test I can finish off with an A minus and my first semester grade should round up to an A.
Sasuke groaned and wiped his hands down his face. School was probably not the best thing to think about when he was trying to fall asleep. Now all he could think about was trying to calculate what grades he should have for all of his classes when the first semester ended.
Sasuke focused on the rain drops against his window and closed his eyes. In his head flowed a scrolling music staff and the notes to Prelude Op. 28, No. 15 showed up. He shook his head, not wanting to think about something so cliché.
Sasuke settled for focusing on the song playing gently from his speakers and inhaled deeply, taking in the cinnamon vanilla smell.
There’s twenty-four parts in a day that divides me…from you…
Sasuke snorted. It would be typical that this song would play, especially on a rainy day. The similar smell of Sakura’s lotion wasn’t helping. Sasuke breathed in and let out a slow exhale. If he were going to think about anything, the feel of brushing his nose against Sakura’s inner thigh was way better than his Physics class. He brushed his fingers lightly over his lower stomach, summoning the sound of Sakura’s whimpers as he nipped at her soft, fleshy thighs in his mind.
First we were water…
Sasuke inhaled a sharp intake of air as Itachi’s voice came through muffled from his bedroom door. There was a light knock and Sasuke turned on his side, slightly panicked.
What the fuck was I about to do!?
“Come in!” He groaned inwardly at how his voice came out in an awkward squeak.
Itachi came in, closing the door behind him. He sat on the edge of the bed and Sasuke scooted back, worried that his brother would discover his growing problem.
“I like this song,” Itachi commented with a slight nod of his head. “It’s relaxing.”
“It’s called Creation Lake,” Sasuke said after clearing his throat. Yeah, real relaxing.
“I wanted to check on you. You were really quiet at dinner.” Itachi patted Sasuke’s head, stroking his hair. It was an oddly nostalgic gesture, something Itachi stopped doing after Sasuke shot past him in height.
“I’m always quiet at dinner.”
“Yeah, but not like today. Did you have a rough day at practice?”
“Sort of.” His shooting was completely off. Sasuke was in a low mood ever since his family came back from their trip.
“Don’t let it get to you. You’re probably just overworked.” Itachi ruffled his hair and stood up. “Don’t leave this candle on all night. Good night.”
As soon as Itachi left Sasuke flipped onto his back, throwing an arm over his face. That had been the most uncomfortable few seconds in his brother’s presence that he had ever been in and now he was thinking about his sucky day at practice.
He repeated what he did before his brother had come into his room and inhaled deeply, focusing on the new song that was playing. Now his mind conjured an image of Sakura with her hair all fanned out on his pillow, giggling softly as she sang along.
“All I wanted was you…”
Chapter Twelve: Act 5, Scene 1
When Sakura was younger, one of her favorite things was tracing the ink cherry blossoms on her father’s arms. She marveled at the way the branches of the cherry blossom trees wrapped around his arms and the way the flower petals danced across his skin. He carried spring with him all year round.
“I thought your father was walking art. Everyone was always trying to make a statement back then. I thought there was a deeper meaning to all of those tattoos considering he used so much of his body for them,” Mebuki had once told a giggling Sakura as she tucked her into bed. “Turns out that he was just a goof that really liked soft things like flowers.”
Kizashi Haruno was the softest punk Sakura ever met or saw. He was a big man, tall and burly, yet very gentle and liked to bake cakes and give free coffee and scones to stressed out looking students. He made awful dad jokes that according to her mother he had been making since he was nineteen when she met him.
“He use to follow me around trying to get me to go out with him and he scared all of my friends. He was already so tall and he wore his hair in those spikes.” Mebuki used her hands to create a point at the top of her head.
“Papa’s not scary.” Six year old Sakura frowned. “He’s silly.”
“Yes, he’s very silly. But he’s all mine. And yours too.”
Kizashi was all Sakura’s and except for the rough patch when she was a pre-teen, she loved every part of him. And no one was going to mess with him.
“Let go of me!” The man Sakura had in a headlock grunted.
“Hand over all of the bread you pocketed and I’ll let you go.” Sakura tightened her hold.
In the bakery part of the café, the Haruno’s had baskets of different packaged treats like cookies and brownies and scones. Some of their more popular packaged goods were different small breads filled with things like red bean paste or coffee cream. The sort of thing no one would actually try to steal normally, especially since Kizashi offered a Soup Of The Day which was a free cup of soup for anyone that asked, you just had to deal with the fact that it was a vegetarian dish.
It was something mostly latchkey kids that didn’t want to go home yet took advantage of and Kizashi usually included pieces of baguettes or rolls. Regular patrons usually left money in the tip jar at the register to help cover the cost of the free meals.
Which made the act of thieving even more reprehensible.
“Jesus Christ, lady.” Sakura was a petite woman but very strong. Izumi Uchiha had even taken it upon herself to teach Sakura self-defense when she was younger.
“You’re super cute and you need to be able to protect yourself from creeps. Naruto and Sasuke aren’t always going to be there.”
“Sakura, let him go. It’s only bread.” Kizashi’s voice was soft and gentle instead of it’s usual loud and jolly tone. He placed a hand on her shoulder and Sakura’s eyes narrowed in frustration. Her father was too nice for his own good.
“Hand over the bread and don’t come back. Ever. We will call the authorities next time,” Mebuki said sternly and extended her hands to receive the sweet breads. The young man dropped all of the breads he pocketed in her hands. As soon as Sakura released him he ran out the door, the chime tinkling aggressively from the force it was opened with.
“Papa!” Sakura followed her father into the kitchen. Marco, the boy in his early twenties that helped out in the kitchen, quickly headed into the walk-in freezer and hid inside.
“Weren’t you supposed to be done with your shift already, blossom?” Kizashi carried on with food prep casually, as if nothing had happened. “Don’t you want to go home and get ready for that party you’re going to tonight?”
“Papa.” Sakura frowned at her father. He chuckled and tweaked her nose.
“You look like your mother when you do that.”
“Papa.” Sakura gave him a stern look and pulled away the kale he was chopping up for a salad. Kizashi tried to scold her for putting her hand so close to a knife in use but she cut him off. “You shouldn’t be so easy on people like that. That’s how you get taken advantage of.”
“It’s the holidays, Sakura. And you don’t know if maybe he really needed it.”
Sakura shook her head, the frustration giving her a headache. Sometimes Sakura wished her father was one of those in-your-face-take-no-shit type of punks. No, her father was a pleasant and friendly vegetarian that needed to be the father of the community. Sakura wondered sometimes if maybe Kizashi would have been mayor if he had the ambition for it instead of Minato Namikaze. He was a smart man and well liked by the people of the town but he didn’t care for politics. Or authority figures.
Which explained why he and Fugaku Uchiha couldn’t seem to get along. That and how they disagreed on how children should be raised.
“Come on. Get going.” Kizashi took his bundle of kale back. “It’s New Year’s Eve and you already agreed to go and have fun with your friends. Don’t make me get your mother.”
Kizashi gave Sakura a mock glare and waved a finger in front of her face. Sakura sighed and untied her apron and hung it on it’s hook. She headed behind the counter to say goodbye to her mother.
“That was uncouth, Sakura.” Mebuki didn’t even bother to look up as she prepared the coffee maker.
“He deserved it.”
“Well, yes, of course he did,” Mebuki rolled her eyes and then sighed in defeat. “Aren’t you going to go and have fun? Remember, I would rather you not drink at all but if you or your friends do drink I would rather have a phone call from my inebriated child needing a ride home at whatever hour of the night than a call from a cop with bad news.”
“Yes, Mama.” Sakura kissed her mother on the cheek. “I know better.”
“Be safe,” Mebuki said sternly. She tried to keep a serious expression on her face but she broke out into a gentle smile. “And have fun. Please?”
“Yes, Mama. I’m going now.”
Sakura tried really hard not to snort out her hot chocolate but Ino was making it really difficult. Every time a guy tried to give any of them a flirty look and call them over Ino would pantomime throwing up or make a disgusted face.
“You don’t hold back at all do you?” Karin smirked, blowing out a long train of smoke. Sakura had given up on getting her to stop smoking after Karin attempted to bite her.
“It’s really cold out here. Can we please go inside?” Sakura was shivering and no matter how close she got to the bonfire she couldn’t warm up.
“No,” Karin said firmly.
“You’re going to have to face him sooner or later.” Ino wrapped her arms around Sakura and tried to share her body warmth. Sakura curled into her, trying her hardest not to rest her head on Ino’s chest so much.
“How about never?”
“He’s playing beer pong with Naruto and is extremely distracted. I’m sure Sui won’t even notice us.”
“Don’t call him that,” Karin snapped at Sakura. “It will only encourage him to be even flirtier.”
“Well, we’re tired of freezing our asses out here. Come on, Sakura. Let’s go find Sai. Hopefully he’s not drunk painting again. Kiba was not happy with what he drew on his wall last party.”
Ino took Sakura by the hand and led her into the crowded kitchen from the back door, making sure to hold on tight so she wouldn’t lose her.
“You’re not being a good Party Mom, Ino. We shouldn’t leave her alone.”
“Pfft! She’ll be fine. This is their foreplay. They get in a fight at the start of every party and then the girl ditches me to go fuck him in whatever room is available. You would know these things if you came to more parties.”
“You know, you could leave me to my own devices and hang out with Sai. He’s probably face down somewhere right now. He gets so weird when drunk.”
“He’ll be fine. I have Shika and Chouji watching him.” Ino tugged hard, steering Sakura into another room and used her other hand to slap at a random guy that tried to reach for Sakura’s arm. “Besides, I’m more worried about what your boyfriend would do if he found out I left you alone all night. Too bad he couldn’t come.”
“Yeah, too bad.”
Sasuke didn’t really go to parties anymore and even if he did let himself be dragged to one he wouldn’t have been able to go to the one tonight. His family always had a party on New Year’s Eve. Sakura and Naruto use to go to them every year to keep him company but that was when the Harunos use to be invited to the Uchiha party and Naruto was dragged along with his parents.
Sakura found it strange to call it a party. It was more like a dinner party and everyone had to dress up for them. Sakura and Sasuke usually spent the night keeping Naruto in order and in his formal clothes so that he wouldn’t get in trouble with Kushina.
Sakura tried to have fun and dance with Ino. It was working considering Ino was a huge goofball and kept twirling her around and making funny faces. She had been right about Karin. They found her later sneaking up the stairs with Suigetsu. Sakura was confused as to how their relationship was so secret if they were so open at public events.
“I want to head home now,” Sakura giggled. Ino had started ruffling her hair as they swayed their bodies to the music.
“You don’t want to stay for the count down? It’s in like forty-five minutes.” Ino checked her phone for the time. “Forty. Close enough.”
“There’s somewhere I wanna be at midnight.”
“With Sasuke?” Sakura looked up and saw a tipsy Naruto making his way over. He frowned at her and rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t think anyone here is sober enough to drive. You should just stay here.”
“Not true!” Ino chirped. She wheeled Sakura away from Naruto and toward the door. “Shika’s sober. You know he doesn’t drink. He thinks drinking is troublesome and not as fun as we all make it out to be.”
“What are you dragging me into now, woman?” Shikamaru sighed as he rose from the couch closest to the exit. Even though he made a face as if he were annoyed he grabbed his coat and checked his pockets for his car keys.
“You need to go home, squirt?” Temari, Shikamaru’s girlfriend who was visiting during the holidays, joined them as they walked out to the street looking for his car. “Aren’t you too old for a curfew?”
“I’m just tired. And I have someone waiting for me at home.”
“Ah. Alright. We’ll drop you off and then come back for Ino and Company,” Temari offered without consulting Shikamaru. He just kept his mouth shut like he was use to it.
“I knew I loved you.” Ino wrapped her arms around Temari’s shoulders and squeezed. “Shika would usually just go straight home and leave me and Chouji to fend for ourselves or get Sai’s brother Shin to pick us up.”
“Yeah, I know. He can be an ass like that.”
“The ass can hear you, you know,” Shikamaru called out. He had walked ahead of them when he found his car.
“Thank you Shikamaru,” Ino and Sakura chorused. “We love you Shikamaru.”
“She better get home safe, Shika,” Ino warned him, pulling Sakura into a hug. “See you next year.”
“See you next year, you goof,” Sakura giggled.
Sakura carefully made her way through her backyard, lifting her knees high to avoid the bags of leaves that had been raked earlier. She smiled knowing that Mikoto had probably asked Sasuke to help out. She was always doing stuff like that, trying to help out when she noticed that Sakura’s parents were really busy. Mikoto would probably have come over to help with the annual intense cleaning if she could. Sakura already took over the task for the past few days, cleaning up the Haruno home all alone because her parents wouldn’t take off until after tonight and then go back to work on the third.
Sakura didn’t want to waste her parents days off by spending them cleaning.
Sakura reached the iron wrought fence that separated her yard from the Uchiha’s and grabbed one of the bars. It was icy to the touch but a warm hand covered hers and then lifted it off the bar so that it could interlock their fingers.
“Did anyone notice you leave?” Sakura asked Sasuke. He shook his head and tightened his grip on her hand. “It’s almost time for the countdown.”
“I’m practically invisible at these things, especially when Naruto doesn’t come.” There was an odd slur to his words. Sakura sniffed and there was a smell of alcohol.
“Have you been drinking?”
“Yeah. Shisui got me some rum. He’s awesome.”
“Rum? Great. My boyfriend’s a pirate.” Sakura gave him a cheeky grin. “And you are drunk.”
“No I’m not.”
“You just said that Shisui’s awesome.”
“Shit. I am drunk.”
Sakura giggled and reached her hand through the fence to pull at Sasuke’s tie. He wore a red and black plaid patterned button down dress shirt with a skinny black tie under a black cable knit cardigan. He had a gray and white marbled thick wool scarf wrapped around his neck.
“You look dapper.”
“You look cold.”
Sakura had left her coat open to reveal her thin, shimmery red v-neck sweater dress and her stockings. It wasn’t the warmest outfit but it was pretty and she wanted to look nice when she met Sasuke. It wasn’t often that she dressed up and Ino had dolled her up for the party.
“Yeah, but I look cute.” Sakura winked at him and Sasuke rolled his eyes. He pulled his scarf off and wrapped it around her as best as he could through the fence.
“You’re cuter when you’re warm.” Sasuke’s voice became lower and huskier. “But yeah, super cute. Really. Cute. Always cute.” Sakura flushed pink. Sasuke was always more likely to flirt with her when he was drunk. Being inebriated had him dropping his guard.
“This kind of reminds me of a Shakespeare play.” Sakura grabbed onto a bar and shook it.
“Please don’t say it reminds you of Romeo and Juliet. They died in that one.”
“No, no.” Sakura waved her other hand in front of her face in protest. “The comedy with the play within the play. Midsummer Night’s Dream. The wall scene.”
“Ah. That one.”
“O Wall, full often hast thou heard my moans, for parting my fair Pyramus and me!” Sakura whispered dramatically. “My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones, thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.”
Sasuke’s eyes squinted and he looked up at the sky, trying to remember the next line in his inebriated state.
“I see a voice? I think that’s how it goes. Now will I to the chink, to spy and I can hear my Thisbe’s face. Why the fuck is it hear her face? Thisbe?”
“Very good,” Sakura laughed. “My love thou art, my love, I think.”
“Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grace? That’s it right? And like Lim-something am I trusty still.”
“The next line is awful. Helen of Troy is the most famous adulterer. I guess that’s supposed to be funny through irony or something.”
“Yeah and I’m sure Lim-whatever didn’t love her anyway. Blah, blah, blah. Oh, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.”
“I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all,” Sakura whispered back, eyes downcast. She wanted him to come over but it was likely that someone would wonder where he was soon.
“Hey.” Sasuke tipped her chin up and through the space in the fencing kissed her. The icy bars stung her cheeks and his tongue was coated in rum but his mouth was warm and soft. Sasuke’s hand snuck through the bar and he held onto her hip. “Fuck this fence.”
“I can’t wait until we’re back in school and I can see you all I want without this stupid fence in the way.” Sakura pressed her forehead against the bars and pouted when Sasuke mimicked the action. She felt more of the cold metal than Sasuke’s skin. “Do you think it’s gonna snow a lot this year?”
“I hope not. We can’t walk on our roofs when it starts to get icy out.”
The two of them stood there quietly, holding hands through the fence. The only sound was of the people inside counting off until the new year. There was a loud applause and cheers signaling midnight. Sakura pressed her face against the bars again and kissed Sasuke chastely on the lips.
“Happy New Year, love.”
“Happy New Year, Sakura.” Sasuke kissed her once more and then a second time before pulling away. “I should go. Itachi wanted to visit the shrine as soon as it was the new year instead of waiting until daylight. Hatsumōde and all.”
“I probably won’t go this year. Too many people came to take photos of the oh so exotic Japanese people last year. It pissed Ino off and she’s not going.”
“Why don’t you come with us? There’s room in Shisui’s car for one more. And I’m sure Izumi would love to see you.” Sasuke added the last part with a hint of distaste that made Sakura giggle.
“You guys go to Naka Shrine, right? Isn’t that like a strictly Uchiha shrine.”
“Nah. Izumi wanted to go somewhere else this year.” Sasuke looked down at her thoughtfully for a moment. “Wait here for a moment.”
Sakura watched Sasuke enter his home from the back porch. She stood by the fence, patiently waiting. A moment later Sasuke came back out, his mother following behind him.
“You’re alone tonight, Sakura?” Mikoto gave her a worried look and then her eyes shifted to the house. The lights were still off because Sakura went straight to her backyard when she came home. “Your parents are still at the café?”
“They stay open later on New Year’s Eve. Gives people a place to go that’s not a bar.”
“That’s not good. You should’ve come over then. Shame on you Sasuke for not telling me until now.” Mikoto lightly slapped Sasuke on the arm. Sakura giggled, loving how stern the petite woman was with her tall son. “The young people are heading off for the first shrine visit. You should go with them. No arguments.”
Mikoto put a finger up to silence Sakura who had opened her mouth to protest. Sasuke gave her a lopsided grin from over his mother’s head. If he had been sober Sakura was sure he would have smirked instead.
“They’re getting ready to go. Go grab a hat and some gloves. That’s a nice scarf. I think Sasuke has one like it.”
Sasuke snorted and turned to leave. Mikoto shooed Sakura toward her house and followed her son back into the house. Sakura rolled her eyes and went to go do as she was told.
When Sakura met Sasuke and his brother in front of their house her jaw dropped when she saw the older Uchihas. The three of them were wearing full kimonos and Izumi even had a faux fur shawl around her shoulders.
“You guys really go all out.” Sakura whistled. Shisui started posing for her which earned him a slap to the back of his head from Sasuke.
“This is for you Little One.” Itachi handed Sakura a small envelope with a cherry blossom design. Sakura’s eyes went wide and she tried to give it back but Itachi pulled his hands up away from her. “Nope. Take it. It’s your otoshidama. Don’t worry. I gave one to Sasuke and I have one for Naruto too.”
“I forget how much of an old man he is sometimes,” Izumi joked. “Just take the money. We should get going. I bet it’s going to be crowded.”
Izumi took a hold of Sakura’s hand and led her to the car. Sasuke followed behind them grumbling. Sakura snickered, remembering how bad Sasuke was at sharing, especially with Izumi and Shisui.
Izumi was right to assume it would be crowded. The day crowd would be worse especially with the increase in culture tourists that would be taking in the sights.
“I’m going to get some charms.” Izumi informed them all. “Especially for the students here. Come on you guys.”
Izumi linked arms with Shisui and Itachi and dragged them away. Sasuke tried to follow them but lost them in the crowd.
“Be careful with him!” He cried out. Sakura put a hand on his arm and rubbed gently to calm him down. It was likely that he was going to shout at Izumi for dragging his brother away in a crowded place.
“He’ll be fine. Let’s get in line and hold their place.”
“They better bring us some hot sake,” Sasuke grumbled. He took Sakura’s hand in his hand which made her eyes go wide. “Just making sure you don’t get lost.”
“Okay.” Sakura nodded slowly. She didn’t say a thing when Sasuke pulled her hand into his pocket. She just leaned closer into his body and closed her eyes as she laid her head against his arm.
They held hands, hidden in a crowd of hundreds.