Chapter Sixteen: Aren’t Trips For Getting Away From Our Problems?
Itachi scrolled through his news app and sighed. Izumi was going to be running late to pick him up. He hated driving into the more urban area of Konoha and usually stuck to the more suburban parts of his neighborhood and of the center known as J-Town, but unfortunately the hospital and the doctors offices he visited were all located in the urban district.
He and his family had a preference for Konoha Hospital Center which happened to be the affiliated hospital for Hashirama Senju University. His father use to mumble his distaste for it. The Uchiha family were known to dislike the other founding family of Konoha despite the fact that there really was no Senju left, with the exception of Doctor Tsunade Senju, a Professor of Medicine and Division Director for Hematology and Oncology.
If she had taken her late husband’s surname of Kato, Itachi was sure his father wouldn’t even have acknowledged that she was a Senju.
“Waiting for a ride?”
Itachi looked up from his phone and saw his friend, Shin Kondo, smiling down at him with a cup of coffee from the hospital’s coffee stand. Itachi smiled up at him and scooted down the bench to make room for him.
“Girlfriend or boyfriend this time?”
“The girlfriend. She got held up in a session about blunt bangs apparently. She’s been itching to practice that on a real person and I’m sure she’ll convince my mother soon.”
“Those are the kind that go straight across, right?” Shin held up a hand to his forehead and waved a cut across the top of his eyebrows. Itachi nodded and Shin chuckled. “I’ve seen a lot of girls with that type lately. I wonder if Sai’s girlfriend will get them. She’s got this long, covering one eye, kind of thing going on right now. She’s got a helluva lot of hair that girl.”
“How’s the fibro?” Itachi put his phone away to give Shin all of his attention. He rarely got to hang out with him outside of sitting around the hospital as they waited for their appointments.
“Killing me. But the Lyrica is actually helping.” Shin rifled through his messenger bag and pulled out a pill case and a bottle of water. “Speaking of, it’s time for me to take it.”
“Are you still going to the group therapy sessions?”
“Oh, yeah. I feel awful sometimes because it actually helps knowing there are people worse off than I am.”
Itachi had first met Shin Kondo when he attended support meetings for people with chronic illnesses. They were some of the youngest members of their group and eventually would acknowledge each other’s presence with slight head nods and waves. It wasn’t until a little later on that Itachi realized that Shin looked vaguely familiar.
One day when he was in the waiting room for his rheumatology doctor, Shin greeted him excitedly and clasped a hand roughly on his shoulder. It turned out that the two of them had a few of the same doctors and that was why Itachi could remember seeing him elsewhere outside of meetings.
They began to talk and as they became friends they found out that they had younger brothers in the same grade and school. Through talking with Shin, Itachi found out that Sasuke had made friends with Sai.
“Why don’t you go anymore?”
“I don’t think group therapy is for me.”
Itachi didn’t feel as if he fit with his group or any other of the support groups. His family was rich and he had the privilege to have access to great medical care and to afford it all. It made him feel slight guilt to try and share any of his issues when there were people that were worse off than he was. Sure, he was very sick, sometimes more sick than the people that couldn’t afford medication, but he had a better chance while it was likely they would just get worse without the medication they needed.
“Your hair is getting awfully long. Last time I saw you it was only skimming your shoulders. Maybe you should get Izumi to cut it for you.”
“I like it long,” Itachi laughed. “How about you? I noticed you gave up hiding the gray hairs and just dyed it all gray.”
“Yeah I got tired of how streaky it looked. Sai keeps making fun of me. He keeps calling me Old Man.” Itachi chuckled as Shin pouted.
“Do you two have any plans for Spring Break?”
“Nope. He’s ditched me!” Shin slapped at his knee in playful frustration. “He’s going on a camping trip with his friends. I’m actually glad. He use to worry me all of the time that he wouldn’t make any friends.”
“I use to think the same with Sasuke. He gives piano lessons and works in music store now. So it seems like he’s doing better.”
They sat in companionable silence for a moment. Shin reminded Itachi of Naruto most of the time but unlike his younger brother’s best friend, Shin was much more mature and knew when his companion needed quiet.
“How’s everything with the loves? It’s been, what, like five years now with the three of you?”
“Yes. And everything’s great. It’s so natural now that I can’t believe how awkward it was in the beginning.”
“Who was the brave soul that made it possible again?”
“Shisui,” Itachi laughed. “And Izumi was the most hesitant. I was mostly confused. I almost ruined our relationships with each other.”
“Heavy.” Shin sighed and slumped lower onto the bench. He became instantly alert at the sound of a car approaching. “Oh, look it’s the girlfriend.”
“I’ll see you later.”
Itachi and Shin stood up from the bench. Itachi frowned in confusion and Shin laughed.
“I drove here. I was just waiting with you. Tell the loves I say hi.”
Itachi chuckled once more and shook his head. It was always easy to talk with Shin. A sort of twisted sense of camaraderie because of their similar situations with being chronically ill and having a younger brother.
“Was that Shin? Nice dye job.” Izumi asked when he slid into the passenger seat. Itachi let out a small sigh. The cushioning of the car’s seat was like heaven after sitting on the hard bench. “You should have waited inside and sat in one of the armchairs.”
“It’s nice out.” It was a cloudy and dry day. The sky was gray and there was a gentle breeze. It was a beautiful day for early April considering it was the rainiest month of the year. It was the kind of day Itachi could be outside and enjoy without risking overexposure to the sun. “Shin says hello to you and Shisui.”
“Oh? And how’s Shin?”
Out of the two, Izumi was more fond of Shin than Shisui was. He liked reigning the title of both significant other and best friend and sometimes got grumpy when Shin was mentioned. Shisui could be supportive but he couldn’t relate to Itachi the way Shin could.
“He’s good. I think his brother might be on that camping trip Sasuke left to this morning.”
“Oh, you mean the one that he almost wasn’t able to go on when your father saw Sakura climbing into his Jeep.”
“Yep. That one,” Itachi grumbled. Luckily his mother got involved and rushed the kids away before his father could say anything. Mikoto had put on a cold demeanor and told Fugaku that there was nothing he could do to stop it since Sasuke was paying for his trip on his own and she had already given him permission as his mother to go and have fun.
Itachi didn’t miss the flustered look on Sasuke’s face when his mother had told Sasuke to have fun but to be safe and careful in all of his activities. Emphasis on the word all. He would have passed it off as her normal teasing if it weren’t for the way she smiled slyly at Sakura who was loading her bags into the back of the Jeep.
The back of Sasuke’s neck had turned bright red and his eye twitched when Mikoto skipped over to Sakura and handed her a carton of washed strawberries with the tops cut off. A road trip snack just for her considering Sasuke didn’t like sweet things. Itachi had to hide on the other side of the Jeep for a moment to compose himself. It seemed as if the Uchiha matriarch had discovered Sasuke’s little secret.
At least it was one that seemed to make her happy.
“He brought up our beginning today.”
“Yeah. The beginning of us. Of how we all got together.”
“Ugh. Don’t bring it up to Shisui,” Izumi muttered. Her pretty brows furrowed in annoyance. “He’ll get all smug about being right that it would work out and it’s annoying. He’s better off when he’s his dorky self.”
“I thought you liked when he was smug,” Itachi teased. Izumi’s cheeks burned hot pink.
“That’s in bed. And so do you!”
Now it was Itachi’s turn to have heat build up on his face. Izumi and Itachi were the sweet and gentle type─although Izumi had her moments, her gift to the two of them, or more to herself, on Valentine’s Day was a good example of that─while Shisui was more assertive. It was at odds with his usual happy-go-lucky, puppy like demeanor but it worked for him.
“I’m still surprised that it doesn’t bother you that he was with other people before us.”
Izumi glanced out of the driver’s side window. They were stopped at a red light and she couldn’t distract herself with the road but Itachi knew there would be a slight mist to her eyes. It was a small insecurity that Itachi never faulted her for. It was something neither of them ever voiced out loud in front of Shisui since their first initial fight that had started their polyamorous relationship.
“But he’s ours now. Remember, he took a big risk confessing to the both of us.”
“You mean to you,” Izumi mumbled. Itachi sighed and grasped her chin between his thumb and index finger and turned her face towards him.
“And then you. Just because it came after doesn’t make it less important. It’s not like you had shown interest in him to begin with.”
“Because he was a flirt, Itachi. How was I supposed to take any of it seriously? I mean yeah, it’s fine now but it was off putting then. I thought he was joking and just making fun of me.”
When Itachi and Izumi had started to date instead of fumbling around each other it had left Shisui out or playing third wheel. Before Itachi and Izumi could put any label on their relationship Shisui had come out and confessed his feelings for Itachi who was already feeling confused as it was with how it would work out for him being in a relationship with someone that was allosexual.
It didn’t help that along with his romantic feelings for Izumi growing throughout the years that there was a weird sort of fuzzy feeling in his chest for Shisui that had nothing to do with being friends or him taking on the “older brother” role he had tried to take when they were younger.
Izumi had caught them kissing and was hurt. Itachi felt guilty for being indecisive but then Shisui had caught them all off guard.
“I love you too!” Shisui had shouted at a heartbroken Izumi before she could run off. In her shock she just stood there, mouth gaping open. “I love you too but you only ever see Itachi.”
And then Itachi was the one left there in shock as the two people he loved had to come to terms with the fact that one of them was in love with the other and the other wasn’t willing to believe it. In the end, Shisui was somehow able to convince Izumi that they could all try to be together.
It was a struggle but after a few months the three of them were able to get into the comfortable and loving relationship they now had. A lot of the work mainly had to do with Shisui wooing Izumi and getting him to make her trust him that he loved her just the same as Itachi and not as some baggage that he came with.
It had turned out that Izumi did have a slight crush on Shisui beforehand. It was just nothing she herself took seriously considering her feelings for Itachi and how she felt they mattered more because they were stronger than the small crush on Shisui.
“But you love him anyway.” Itachi relaxed into his seat and closed his eyes. He was tired from his visit to the city and the doctor.
“Yeah, I do. I really do,” Izumi agreed. “And I love you.”
She reached over and stroked Itachi’s hair. The last thing Itachi remembered before succumbing to sleep was the feel of her fingers running along his scalp and the gentle rolling of the car.
Ino frowned as she looked down at the couch’s occupant snoring gently away. With her hands on her hips she got ready to shout at Shikamaru but was stopped by Sai who brought her a cup of vanilla pudding from one of their coolers.
“He did drive all of the way here.”
“Only because Chouji wouldn’t let me drive his family’s van.” Ino sighed and went to sit down at the other end of the couch. Shikamaru curled up into a ball as if he sensed her approaching in his sleep. “So have we decided who’s getting the rooms?”
When Sai had told Ino about the camping trip that Naruto had planned she immediately argued that the girls should go as well. Kushina Uzumaki had been on her side because she wanted Karin and Naruto to hang out more. She then went ahead and invited Shikamaru and Chouji and convinced their fathers to let them use the lake cabin that their families shared.
Shikamaru wasn’t interested at first and neither was Chouji but neither one of them were good at saying no to Ino. They could try, but she wasn’t going to take no for answer.
“I’m getting my own bed.” Karin crossed her arms and glared at everyone who was still bringing their belongings from their vehicles.
“Yeah, yeah princess,” Suigetsu mocked her, bringing in the fishing gear that Jugo had supplied for the trip.
“Well, we could split up by gender. There are four rooms, three of which have queen sized beds and the last one has three twins.” Chouji had planted himself on the floor in front of the couch Shikamaru and Ino were sitting on. “The girls can take the Ino-Shika-Cho room and the rest of us can split up and share our parents’ rooms. And this couch is also a pull out.”
“I am not sharing a room with this loser,” Sasuke scowled at Naruto.
Sakura had texted Ino so she knew that the ride had not been a pleasant one. Naruto kept insisting on playing Killer B the entire ride and Sasuke had almost thrown Naruto’s phone out of the window. Sakura had called her later to inform her that they had to pull over because Karin was threatening to strangle Naruto because he kept childishly getting into her personal space.
“We could have the couples take the rooms with the single beds,” Suigetsu suggested. “That adds up pretty well and I guess if the big guy doesn’t mind he can take the pull out.”
“There’s only two couples,” Karin said at the same time as Chouji and Jugo looked at each other and asked, “which big guy?”
“Right.” Suigetsu scowled and headed into the kitchen, presumably for a glass of water. Ino thought it odd that he drank so much water when she first met him, thinking maybe he was possibly diabetic and needed to be checked by a doctor, but it turned out that he used adderall for his ADHD and that left him dry mouthed and dehydrated.
“I actually kind of want to sleep out in a tent tonight,” Sakura chirped up. Ino smiled fondly at her and her excitement. It was Sakura’s first time camping. The closest experience she had confessed to having was when she, Naruto, and Sasuke had camped out in Sasuke’s backyard when they eleven.
Ino was about to offer to set up a tent so that the two of them could camp out by the lake when Sasuke nodded and left the cabin. Sakura beamed and followed. Ino blinked in disbelief. She hadn’t expected Sasuke to just go with whatever Sakura had just said. Or for them to have the quickest and most silent discussion she had ever witnessed.
“We’re going with Suigetsu’s idea.” Everyone to look at Shikamaru who still hadn’t opened his eyes. “You can stop pretending you and Suigetsu aren’t a thing, Karin.”
“I don’t like you,” Karin sneered at him.
“Good thing I don’t care.” Shikamaru sat up and stretched with a groan. “The quicker we split the rooms, the quicker I can go to sleep. Leave one of the rooms for Uchiha and Sakura. It might rain or something. And I can take the pull out if you would rather not Jugo. But I do warn you that it might be the better option because of how tall you are.”
“I don’t mind taking the pull out.” Jugo moved his pack to the side where it would be out of everyone’s way.
Ino had stopped listening to the planning and watched as Naruto disappeared up the stairs to the upper floor where three of the rooms were located. Grabbing her duffel bag she followed him up. She found him unpacking his stuff in the room she shared with Shikamaru and Chouji whenever their families came up to the lake.
Ino knocked on the doorframe to get his attention. Naruto looked up from the nightstand he was stuffing his things into and nodded at her. Taking it as an invitation to come in she sat down at the end of the bed he had chosen.
“Funny how you picked out my bed. Good thing too. Chouji would rather stick to his own bed.”
“Why are you up here talking to me?” Naruto frowned at her. Ino’s pale brows furrowed together.
“What’s wrong with me talking to you?”
“You only really talk to me to scold me or because Sakura is around. With the exception of that time in the library. Which I still count as a scolding.”
Ino sighed and ran a hand through her hair. She patted the spot next to her on the bed and Naruto reluctantly sat down next to her.
“You’re in a mood. It was noticeable from the start of the room discussion. Don’t try to deny it.”
Ino waited patiently for Naruto to finally open up. By the time he was ready to talk Sai had already come for Ino’s bag and left to find out what everyone else was doing.
“It’s just awkward. Knowing that they’re going to use this as a chance to do it. I don’t care if they want to lose their virginity to each other on this trip but I don’t want to hear it.”
Ino had been sure that Naruto was still in his funk about Sasuke and Sakura. He had been doing so well and getting along well with them and she heard from Sai and Sakura that things were going well with his girlfriend. But he was in such a weird mood ever since they started talking about splitting up the rooms.
She hadn’t expected for him to still be in the dark about how far his best friends had gone in their relationship. Ino had to applaud Sasuke for not kissing and telling.
“What’s that face for?” Naruto’s frown deepened. Ino snapped back to focus and noticed him looking at her.
“It’s not my place to say anything. And it shouldn’t bother you what they do.”
“It’s not that they bother me in particular. I don’t wanna hear you either.” Naruto’s face twisted in disgust. “And I don’t want to hear whatever the fuck is going on with Karin and Suigetsu either.”
“Oh.” Ino nodded her head thoughtfully. Maybe Naruto was taking all of this better than she thought. She was just being presumptuous about him needing support. It was completely understandable that he wouldn’t want to hear anyone having sex. Hell, she didn’t like hearing other people have sex. “Wait. What makes you think those two are still virgins?”
Curiosity had gotten the best of her. Ino wanted to know what made the person that should have been closest to Sakura and Sasuke so sure they hadn’t become sexually intimate when that wasn’t the case.
Naruto’s face turned a brilliant shade of red and he coughed.
“Well, there’s no way Sakura would have ever done it with anyone that wasn’t Sasuke.”
Ino nodded her head in agreement. She propped her elbow on her crossed knees and rest her chin on her fist, leaning forward.
“And Sasuke is…Sasuke.” Naruto scratched the top of his head and his face twisted in thought. “He’s never been into girls or interested in porn. Even seeing him kissing her was weird. Like watching a dog walk on his hind legs.”
“God you’re a moron.” Ino patted his knee and stood up. “Well, I have to go and make sure Sai hasn’t started moving furniture around or something.”
“Yeah, you do that. I’m going to rest for a moment.” Naruto lied back on the bed.
“Oh and Naruto.” Naruto opened one eye to look at her. “There should be a pack of earplugs in the bottom drawer. I don’t know about the others but I make no guarantees about Sai and me.”
“I hate you.”
“Love you too!” Ino waved at him and flounced out of the room.
Sakura was cheerfully whistling in the kitchen, pulling out the graham crackers, Hershey bars, and marshmallows they had packed for s’mores when a pair of arms wrapped around her middle and squeezed her tight.
“Whatcha doing, Forehead?” Sakura giggled as Ino slurred her words. Ino dropped her head onto Sakura’s shoulder, already too drunk to stand up properly.
“Sasuke just finished making the fire so I came in for some stuff to make s’mores.”
“S’mores!” Ino chirped happily, mumbling against the crook of Sakura’s neck. Sakura patted Ino’s head gently, amused at her behavior. “I would love suma, suma…suma mores. S’mores. Yeah s’mores.”
“I don’t think you should be near any fires right now.”
“I’ll be careful I promise. And you could always feed me.” Ino nuzzled her face against Sakura’s. She became quiet and Sakura though she had settled down or fell asleep standing until Ino let out a squeal. “Shiny!”
Ino yanked clumsily at the thin leather cord around Sakura’s neck until Sakura took pity on her and held the pendant hanging off of it up to her. Ino stared in awe at the thin, inch long silver rectangular prism hanging from the cord.
“Pretty! But kind of masculine at the same time.” Ino squinted at the katakana characters on the prism and started mouthing something to herself. “Fuck I’m drunk. Just had to have this written in Japanese instead of English, huh. I swear that says ‘Sa’ but when I read the whole thing it says Sasuke. Sa-Su-Ke. Sasuke.”
“What about me?”
Sakura carefully shuffled in place until she and Ino were both facing Sasuke who was standing with his arms crossed in front of his chest looking quizzically at the girls.
Ino gaped openly at him, eyes unblinking. Sasuke frowned and raised an eyebrow. When Ino still didn’t blink he waved his hand in front of her face. As soon as he made the movement Ino shot forward, hands going for his neck.
“What the fuck!? Yamanaka, get off.” Sasuke gripped her shoulders hoping to fend her off but she had already pushed forward and grabbed at the thin leather cord around his neck.
“Ino!” Sakura wrapped her arms around her waist and tried to pull her away.
“Stop! Stop, stop, stop.” Sasuke removed his hands from Ino’s shoulders and Sakura quickly dropped her hold on Ino. “Here. You’re just going to strangle me or break it.”
Sasuke pulled the cord over his head and handed it to Ino. Ino snatched it from him and held up an identical pendant to the one Sakura had dangling from her chain. She mouthed to herself and then nodded.
“Here.” Ino attempted to give the necklace to Sakura. Sakura laughed and Ino frowned, thrusting it in her face. “It says Sakura. See. Sa-Ku-Ra. Obviously this one is yours. So switch them back.”
“They’re couple necklaces, Beautiful. They’re meant to have the other person’s name instead of their own.”
They all turned to look at Sai who was sipping nonchalantly from a red cup on the other side of the kitchen.
“You were here the whole time and you didn’t help out?” Sasuke asked, exasperated. He shook his head and took back his necklace from Ino whose brows were furrowed in confusion.
“You two seemed to have a handle on it.” Sai shrugged. Sakura glared at him and he smiled widely at her.
“You should have just written Sa-Su-Sa-Ku on both. Sasusaku. Makes more sense to me.”
“We’re not one of those celebrity couples that mash our names together, Ino.” Sakura helped Ino adjust her clothes after they had gotten twisted up in the scuffle. “They were a birthday gift.”
“Uh, but it makes sense. Think about it. Sasusaku.”
“Awww!” Ino wrapped her arms around Sakura’s shoulders and squished her cheek against hers. “She called me ‘Hon’. What does she call you Sasuke?”
“I’m going to go grab the idiot and tell him we’re making s’mores.” Sasuke grabbed all of the food Sakura had pulled together and left the kitchen.
“Was it really a birthday gift?” Sai had finally decided to help with Ino and got her a glass of water. Ino downed the glass and then leaned against Sai for support. Because of the camping trip she wasn’t wearing her usual heels and her head was able to rest snugly in the crook of his neck.
“Yep.” Sakura’s cheeks warmed up and she toyed with her pendant bashfully.
“Good idea, bad execution. I would have gone for something less ugly.”
“Shut up, Sai!” Ino snapped out of her sleepy daze and pinched Sai’s cheek. “It’s adorable.”
Sakura rolled her eyes and grabbed a six pack of strawberry ale she had chilling in the fridge. It was the least gross of any of the beers that the group had brought with them. Once she had everything she needed she headed outside to the lakeshore where she and Sasuke had set up a tent and started the fire.
She didn’t take what Sai said about her necklace to heart. He was always saying mean things to rattle her and she knew it wasn’t ugly. Sure, she would rather put the pendant on a delicate silver chain but she wanted it to match Sasuke’s necklace perfectly.
Both of them did originally come together on a chain but she split them so that she and Sasuke could match. He tucked his under his shirt all of the time and she had to reluctantly do the same on occasion but the made Sakura very happy.
“Sakura!” Sakura looked up from poking at the fire to find Naruto and Sasuke heading toward her. Naruto was carrying a portable campfire grill.
“What’s that for?”
“Like Sasuke is going to eat a s’more,” Naruto snorted. “I brought some tomatoes to grill for him.”
“Hn.” Sasuke sat down next to Sakura and she had to guess whether the red of his ears was out of bashfulness or just the glow reflecting from the fire.
“This is fun.” Sakura took one of the prongs and jammed a marshmallow at the end to toast.
Sakura had never gone camping before. She had camped out in Sasuke’s backyard when she was younger but her parents had never been available to actually go camping and as much as Kizashi would have liked to have let her go with the Uchihas and Naruto’s family, Mebuki refused to let her small child have an overnight trip somewhere far away. The farthest she was able to go away from home was to have a sleepover at Ino’s house which when she lived in her single story home and then the flat she was always a ten minute drive from Sakura’s house.
Naruto burped loudly and then collapsed on the blanket they had laid out, his head against Sakura’s shins. Sakura was curled up with her head in Sasuke’s lap. She reached over and slapped the top of Naruto’s head for being gross.
“When are we supposed to get our acceptance letters for HSU again?” Naruto whined through his slurring. He was always the fastest to get drunk but he was also the quickest to recover. It didn’t help that he had been busy playing drinking games earlier.
“Well Mr. Legacy, if you get accepted, your letter should come at the end of the month.” Sakura sighed. She had applied to HSU as well and that was her first choice. She already received her acceptance letter for Suna University which was her second choice. Sakura was also accepted into Iwa State, which was so far it might as well have been clear across the other side of the country, but she refused to go there, so it was a good thing she was already accepted into Suna.
She really wanted to go to HSU but Suna was still a pretty good school and at least she would know Temari and her brothers if she attended. Shikamaru had also been accepted to SU so at least she wouldn’t be lonely four hours away from home.
Sakura still felt as though there was a high probability that she would end up going to KCC, Konoha Community College, if she didn’t get into HSU and then just transfer after she got her Associates Degree.
Two of the scholarships she applied for only worked if she were accepted into Hashirama Senju University. She really wanted to get into the Senju School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
“Did you apply to HSU, Sasuke?” Naruto tried to pull him into the conversation. Sasuke had gotten even quieter than usual when Naruto brought up college letters.
“My father expects me to go to IOC.” Sasuke ran a hand through his hair. “But yeah, I did.”
Indra Ōtsutsuki College. It was the college that all of the men in Sasuke’s family went to if they went to college, which was a majority of them. It was an hour away from Konoha, closer to where the currently were in the valley.
“You’ve been accepted already.” It wasn’t a question. Sakura saw the defeat in Sasuke’s eyes and knew that Ōtsutsuki had already sent their acceptance letter to Sasuke.
“I hid the packet in my nightstand drawer. I haven’t told anyone yet.”
Meaning he hadn’t told his father yet. Which wouldn’t have mattered. It was likely that Fugaku Uchiha already knew.
“Looks like Naruto fell asleep. Help me move him into the tent.”
“God, he’s heavy,” Sasuke commented although he lifted Naruto with ease. Sakura helped Sasuke tuck Naruto into a sleeping bag. If she let him do it on his own Naruto would probably have been dumped on his head.
“Ready for bed?” Sakura set up the second sleeping bag. Sasuke shook his head and ducked under the flap and left the tent. Sakura followed and tugged on his hoodie’s sleeve. “Hey. Want to go for a short walk?”
“Stay with Naruto. He’ll freak out if he wakes up alone.” Sakura rolled her eyes and held tight to his sleeve.
“He’s going to be knocked out until morning. And then he’ll be the luckiest of all the morons that got shitfaced tonight because he’ll just wake up all hyper and without a hangover like he always does.”
Sakura slid her hand into Sasuke’s and interlocked their fingers. She squeezed his hand and nodded her head towards the lake’s edge. Sasuke rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand and rolled his neck, stretching it. He looked down at Sakura who was smiling up at him encouragingly.
“Just a short walk. Then you gotta go to sleep.”
“We’ll walk until you get sleepy.”
The sun came up before they crawled back into their tent and curled up next to Naruto who was snoring away, unaware that they had been missing.
All Sasuke wanted to do when he got home was crawl into bed and sleep for the rest of Spring Break.
He couldn’t find a moment of peace unless he went on a hike by himself so he was irritated most of the trip. It was a weird camping trip. Most of the time he felt like he was far away from everything whenever they tried to do group activities. Like he wasn’t really there.
Karin and Naruto had gotten into a fight sometime while he was on a hike. He wasn’t sure what it was about but it made them silent the entire trip back. It apparently wasn’t Karin’s week because she was avoiding Suigetsu the entire trip as well. In their case it was weird for Sasuke that those two weren’t fighting.
“What the fuck?” Sasuke rattled his doorknob again, confused as to why his bedroom door was locked.
“Oh. You’re home.” Sasuke looked over toward Itachi’s room. Itachi was standing in the doorway. “Wait a second.”
Sasuke slumped against the wall and waited for his brother to walk into his own room and use the deck they both had access to from their rooms to enter his bedroom and unlock it.
“Why was my room locked?” Sasuke pushed past Itachi as soon as his door opened. He headed straight to his nightstand and pulled open his drawer. His large white envelope from IOC was left untouched.
“I locked it while you were away so that Father couldn’t enter and snoop around again.”
“Again?” Sasuke’s eyes widened and his brother’s mouth drew into a tight line.
“He came in to look for something a while back. He hasn’t in a while but I wanted to be safe.” Itachi closed Sasuke’s door and then took the white envelope from Sasuke. He opened it up and read the first few lines of the acceptance letter before tucking it back inside the envelope. “Why haven’t you said anything about getting into IOC? Congratulations.”
“I don’t want to go there.”
“Really?” Itachi’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “It’s a great school.”
“So is Senju University.”
“That’s where you want to go?” Itachi’s voice was soft but Sasuke could hear the concern in his voice.
“They have an amazing Criminal Justice program. I want to be accepted into the Tobirama College of Arts and Sciences and join their program. Is there anything wrong with that?”
Itachi gave him a gentle smile and handed Sasuke his Ōtsutsuki package back. He ruffled Sasuke’s hair and then gripped his shoulder.
“No. There’s nothing wrong with that. As long as it’s what you want to do.” Itachi yawned and rubbed his eye with the heel of his hand. “I’m tired and I’m sure you are too. I’m going to take a nap.”
As soon as Itachi left Sasuke plopped down on his bed and he stared at the white envelope. He shoved it under his bed, not wanting to see it anymore.
What I want to do, huh?
Sasuke collapsed onto his bed, arms spread wide.
What do I want to do?
Chapter Seventeen: I Guess This Is Growing Up
The e-mail had come in while she was in her Topics class. She had flailed her arms around and gripped onto Ino’s arm to ground herself to reality. Sakura clapped a hand over her mouth to contain her squeal of excitement.
“You’re going to break my arm!” Ino hissed, tugging her arm free of Sakura’s hold. She rubbed her arm, red blooming on her milky skin. “I’m sure you bruised me Forehead.”
“Check your e-mail!” Sakura nudged her arm. Glaring at her, Ino whipped out her phone and opened up her e-mail. After a few seconds of scrolling she found the e-mail from HSU. Ino opened it up and let out a scream.
“Miss Yamanaka!” Their teacher, Ms. Adair, shot up from her desk, her half moon glasses dangerously close to falling off of her face and blonde curls bouncing around her head from the suddenness of the action.
“I got in!” Ino ignored her and continued to squeal. “I got into Senju University!”
“Congratulations, now may we please have silence.” It was a demand, not a request, and Ino rolled her eyes. Ino closed her binder, no longer interested in reading her articles.
Sakura made a tutting noise at her but she too could no longer act as if she were interested in creating her flash cards for their class’s debate coming up. Now that she had her e-mail from Hashirama Senju University all she had to do was wait for her acceptance packet that would be arriving in the mail in the next few days.
Ino and Sakura were the first ones out of their trailer classroom as soon as the teacher dismissed them after the bell. Ino wanted to go tell Sai and Sakura was looking for Sasuke and Naruto so they split up when they entered the building.
Sakura spotted Naruto at his locker stuffing his textbooks into the top shelf. Sakura ran up to him and jumped onto his back.
“I got in! I got in!”
Naruto had to grip tightly to her thighs to keep from falling over as he tried to keep balance. He ended up slamming a hand on the lockers in front of him to hold steady.
“Do I even want to know what you guys are up to in the middle of the hallway?”
Sakura and Naruto looked up to see Sasuke attempting to get into his locker. He only tilted his head slightly in their direction and raised an eyebrow. He was always the outwardly calmer of the three. Sakura was seen as the “mom” friend of the group because of her constant nagging and fussing but it was really Sasuke that was the one that watched over the two of them and made sure they kept in line even if it was only to make sure they didn’t embarrass him anymore than they already did sometimes.
“Did you guys check your e-mail?” Sakura hopped off of Naruto’s back and she reached for Sasuke’s phone in his front left side pocket. Sasuke swatted at her hand and gave her a look before pulling his phone out himself. Sakura rolled her eyes and carefully took his phone from him, unlocking it to open his e-mail application.
“E-mail for what?” Naruto scratched the top of his head and then frowned at the judgemental looks from his best friends. “What?”
“The one for Hashirama Senju moron.” Sasuke sighed and hung his messenger bag on the hook in his locker. “Did I get one?”
“Would it really be a surprise that you got in?” Sakura held up his phone so he could see his e-mail announcing the arrival of his acceptance package in the next few days.
“I told Hina I wouldn’t open any college stuff without her. She wanted to share in the excitement considering her father had her apply to Trinity and she’s not looking forward to that letter.”
“You didn’t tell us she was Catholic.” Sakura racked her brain for anything that may have hinted to it. She couldn’t remember a single thing but Naruto did say during their Winter Break that she had spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with her family so it was possible.
“She’s not. Trinity is one of the few colleges for women left in the country though. I think guys are only accepted into their School of Education.”
“Ouch.” Sasuke gave Naruto a look full of pity and shook his head. “So you guys aren’t going to go to the same college then.”
“Yeah, but it’s better than her being sent to Japan for school.”
The three of them headed down the hall toward the gymnasium and locker rooms. The boys had to head to the weight training room and Sakura was meandering before she headed off to her Human Anatomy elective. It was that time of the year where even she couldn’t focus on school. All she wanted to do was hang out with her friends and enjoy the weather.
“Senioritis,” Naruto said seriously when Sakura voiced her complaints about going to class.
“That’s not a real thing Naruto.” Sakura playfully pushed his shoulder. “You go through this every year at any moment.”
“It is too a real thing!” Naruto protested causing Sasuke to snort. “Shut up jerk! Watch, even you will start daydreaming and stuff.”
“It wouldn’t be daydreaming. It will be some form of dissociation for me.”
Naruto’s mouth quirked to the side and he tried to exchange a worried look with Sakura who was frowning at Sasuke.
“I’ll see you after school?” Sakura asked, pulling on Sasuke’s cardigan sleeve.
“I have an appointment.”
Sakura pouted but she chose to let it go. She would give him his space especially considering the fact that he was going to need all of his energy to deal with Naruto. There was no doubt that he would use their elective class to complain about how unfair Hinata’s father was. That was sure to drive Sasuke mad and then Naruto would call her later to complain about how unfair Hinata’s father was and how mean Sasuke was to him.
“I’ll see you guys later,” Sakura sighed out and turned to head back down the main hall to head to the science hall.
Sakura watched as Karin took another cigarette and stuck it between her lips. With trembling hands she tried to light it up and when the lighter wouldn’t ignite she threw it into the lake. Sakura sighed and pulled out her own lighter and lit Karin’s cigarette for her.
Although Sakura didn’t smoke she always carried a lighter with her. It was one of those things her father told her she should always carry around in case of emergencies.
“Fuck!” Karin choked out. She sucked in a deep inhale of air and belted out another curse.
After class Sakura had run out in search of Karin. She hadn’t answered any of her texts asking if she had received any e-mails from HSU. Sakura eventually found her storming towards her car, a red faced Suigetsu shouting insults after her.
“I just want to go to sleep,” Karin finally said after breathing out a long trail of smoke. “I want to go to sleep and wake up and find out this day never fucking happened.”
“You got into other schools.” Sakura placed a hand on Karin’s shoulder attempting to comfort her. “And they’re great schools. And being waitlisted isn’t that bad. You could still get in.”
“Sakura. Don’t try to be optimistic. Leave that shit to Naruto. It’s weird when you’re not your usual realist self.”
Sakura’s hand slipped off of Karin’s shoulder. Sakura stretched her arms over her head and let her body fall backward onto the grassy hill overlooking Lake Izuna.
“It’s just so un-fucking-fair. Ino got fucking in and she’s not sure if she’s actually going to go into psychiatry like her father or if she’s going to study floriculture.”
“I think you should leave Ino out of it. And Naruto.” Sakura added the last part when Karin opened her mouth. It was an awful position to be in considering in reality Karin should have been a strong candidate, much stronger than Naruto even if he was a legacy.
“Maybe I should have done more extracurriculars. Or more volunteer work or something, anything, to beef up my chances.” Karin covered her face with her hands and fell back to lie next to Sakura, letting out a long wail of a groan on her way down. “But I was working so much. I needed to work so much.”
Sakura stayed silent, letting Karin gripe. Anything she said would just set Karin off and cause her to get mad at her. She knew Karin worked so many hours because she refused any help from Naruto’s parents. If she had her way, Karin would be paying rent to the Uzumaki-Namikaze household.
“I can’t even afford to go to IOC. It’s a private college and I don’t even know why I applied to go there. I’m just going to have to go to KCC.”
As far as community colleges went, Konoha Community College was an amazing one. Getting an associates degree from there increased the chances of acceptance to any of the state colleges and credits were so easily transferrable. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if Karin had to go to KCC and then she could always transfer to HSU.
“But stupid Hozuki is going to KCC to take up welding.” Karin let out another frustrated groan and scrambled for her pack of cigarettes. Sakura had had enough of her chain smoking and snatched it away from her.
“No. What’s going on with you and Suigetsu?”
Karin glared at her. Had it been Naruto or Suigetsu she would have wrestled them for her pack, not holding back at all. Considering Karin had seen what Sakura could do to defend herself she wasn’t willing to take the risk. She kind of liked looking the way she did.
“Nothing’s going on.”
“No, really, nothing is going on.” Karin ran a hand through her hair and then turned to look at Sakura with a small frown on her face. “I had to cut things off. I like fucking Sui, I’m not going to lie about that, but I don’t like him like that. I thought we had an understanding that our relationship was just physical but it should have been obvious that he couldn’t separate sex and feelings. Does that make me a bad person? That I don’t like Suigetsu but I like to have sex with him.”
Sakura took a moment to think about that. It was odd for her to contemplate because she had to push aside her own experience and relationship with sex. She couldn’t picture herself ever being intimate with anyone the way she was with Sasuke. It wasn’t just a physical thing but something she felt all the way down to her bone marrow.
When she came together with Sasuke it wasn’t just a chase for release but a conversation between just them. A somewhat desperate conversation with pleas that their feelings were coming across to each other with every brush of fingertips and lips on each other’s flesh.
But Karin wasn’t Sakura. She was her own person with her own feelings and beliefs. And none of those were hurting Sakura in anyway. Yes she felt bad for Suigetsu but considering how blunt her friend was, she was sure he was made aware of what their relationship was. He had expectations and they were ones that Karin had repeatedly told him that they weren’t going to be met.
“No. That’s just you. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have sex without love. Is that why you’ve been avoiding him since our trip to the valley?”
“Sui doesn’t like me like that either. I think we’ve just been sleeping with each other for too long and he hasn’t slept with anyone else while we’ve been fooling around. And even if he did like me I wouldn’t date him. He’s the only guy I’ve been with and I can’t say it’s because of romantic feelings. I…I’m sure it’s just because I don’t care about what he thinks about my scars, whether they gross him out or if he accepts them. He’s the only guy I can be naked around but it has nothing to do with comfort or trust unfortunately.”
Karin rolled over and brought her knees up to her chest. She tucked herself into a small ball. She was loud and standoffish and harsh like the angles and edges that made up her petite body but in this moment on the grassy knoll with Sakura there was a vulnerability to her that she never showed. There was an exhaustion rolling off of her small frame that made her seem so much older.
“I don’t care about romantic love. Why do people make such a big deal about it?” Karin muttered into her knees. “I love my family and I love my friends. I have a passion for chemistry and I’m a hardworker. Fuck romance. I’m more than that. I’m bigger than that.”
Sakura nodded and patted Karin’s head, stroking her hair. Hair that was always surprisingly soft. Soft like how Karin actually was inside, despite the tough exterior she showed the world.
“Your boyfriend is an asshole, Sak!” Naruto slurped his boba tea angrily and Ino scrunched up her nose in disgust at the sounds he was making.
“Keep it down you moron!” Sakura smacked him with her rag before turning around to wipe down a table. The shop was currently clear of customers but her parents were still there. “And stop calling me that.”
Naruto and Ino were hanging out at her parent’s café while they both waited for Sai and Hinata. He somehow had dragged Ino and Sai into a double date. Sakura was surprised at how willing Ino was to share her precious time with Sai considering he was his busiest since his art showcase was just around the corner.
“Well, he is. He ignored me all throughout weight training the other day and has been ignoring my texts and I really wanted him to hear me out even if he would have been completely useless and have no advice.”
“Advice for what?” Sakura turned around, hands on her hips and raised an eyebrow at him.
“Uh…” Naruto’s cheeks burned red and he leaned across the table and whispered to Ino. Sakura had to lean down in order to hear as well. “When do you think it’s appropriate to, uh, try and make a move? Like that kind of move?”
Ino burst out into a fit of giggles and Sakura gave her an exasperated look. Naruto pouted, his face burning even redder.
“Don’t be mean, you guys. See this is why I wanted to talk to Sasuke. Yeah he would have been a jerk but at least as a guy he probably understands that problem.”
“Did he Sakura? Like have a problem with finding the right moment?” Ino asked, a mischievous smirk on her face. Sakura’s cheeks puffed out in a frustrated pout. It was so typical of Ino to take the opportunity to tease her.
“Wait? Sasuke’s not a virgin!?” Naruto stood up fast, knocking his chair over with a loud clang.
“Naruto Uzumaki!” Mebuki called out from behind the front counter. “Behave yourself in my shop!”
“Sorry Auntie Mebuki,” Naruto grumbled, picking up the chair and straightening it. He groaned in frustration and buried his face into his arms which were crossed on the table. “How the hell did he lose his virginity before me?”
Sakura was going to go back to cleaning up the rest of the tables but was stopped when Naruto peeked up at her from his arms and glared at her.
“I blame you.”
“What?” Sakura’s eyes went wide in confusion. Ino clapped her hand over her mouth to stifle another burst of giggles from coming out.
“You heard me. I bet it was your idea.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sakura narrowed her eyes at him and Naruto sat up, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
“Oh please, Sasuke is the pure one in your relationship. I should have known you would seduce him as soon as possible.”
“Again, what is that supposed to mean!?”
“I should have known you would be a dirty woman the moment I saw that weird comic with two guys in your backpack that one time.”
Ino quickly got up and hooked her arms under Sakura’s armpits to hold her back. As amusing as everything was, she didn’t want to be a witness to her best friend murdering their blond idiot.
“So how did it all go down?”
“Like I’m telling you!” Sakura hissed, kicking and squirming in Ino’s hold.
“Ino.” Naruto turned his attention to Ino, determination in his eyes. “I can get you tickets to that art show that Sai wants to go to. My dad was invited to it and he can ask for as many as he wants.”
“Relax I’m not going to tell him anything.” Ino released Sakura and patted the top of her head. “But I can help him with seducing his girlfriend. I help you get laid and you help me make Sai a very happy guy.”
“Deal.” Naruto went back to calmly drinking his boba tea but after a moment he gripped his hair and groaned in frustration. “Great. I lost my bet to Sai.”
“I was so sure that Sasuke would be a forty year old virgin and Sai said it was likely that he would have sex before I did.”
“Is that really the kind of stuff you talk to my boyfriend about?” Ino frowned at him before daintily taking another bite of the fruit tart she had ordered. “I hope you’re not teaching him weird things again.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Oh really? Then what about─” Ino was interrupted by her phone ringing. “It’s Sai. He must be ready to be picked up from the studio.”
“It’s over in River Place right?”
“Yep. So we gotta get going.”
Ino and Naruto started to clean up their things and pack up their stuff when Kizashi came over and gave them each a baggie of cookies.
“Congratulations you two.”
“Aww, sweet!” Naruto pulled out one of them and munched on it. Ino grimaced at his loud chewing and examined the icing on the sugar cookie. A few of them had the Senju crest, the university’s insignia.
“Thank you uncle.” Ino pulled on Naruto’s arm and dragged him out of the shop. They were already running late to pick up their dates.
“Time to clock out, blossom.” Kizashi handed a baggie to Sakura. “For that other friend of yours.”
“But Karin didn’t─” Sakura bit her tongue to stop talking when her father chuckled. “Oh. Right. Thanks, Papa.”
“Now go clock out. You’ve been here all day. I know you’ve been wanting to watch the mail box.”
“The mail truck doesn’t come around until four.”
“What!?” Sakura headed to the kitchen, untying her apron as she walked. “I’ve gotta go.”
“Is she finally leaving?” Mebuki teased, poking her head through the serving hatch. “I thought we would be stuck with her all day.”
“Ha!” Sakura stuck her tongue out at her mother and dashed out of the shop, the bell on the door ringing furiously after slamming closed.
“Why aren’t you shocked that Naruto Uzumaki just implied that your daughter has been sleeping with the Uchiha boy?”
Kizashi looked down at his tiny wife and chuckled nervously at the frown on her face.
“Cookie?” He held up a plate of his flawed HSU sugar cookies.
“Kizashi.” Kizashi sighed and placed the plate on the counter.
“Does it really matter?”
“You know what that man thinks of us.” Mebuki ran a hand through her short blond locks. Her frown caused the wrinkles on her wide forehead to deepen and she looked older than she actually was. “I don’t want you encouraging their relationship. Our families are too different.”
“That’s kind of hypocritical don’t you think? Considering our relationship.”
Mebuki threw a rag at him and made a huffing sound.
“You know what I mean. We’ve watched that boy grow up. His family is tight knit and traditional and his father is always calling us hippies. I don’t want my child to be hurt when he eventually chooses his family over her.”
“That won’t happen.”
“I haven’t spoken to my parents in years. Almost twenty-eight years. I don’t see any Uchiha doing that. You know how they are with their filial piety.”
“I still don’t see why they can’t be friends.”
“You know damn well that what they have going on isn’t friendship,” Mebuki snapped at him. She sighed and smoothed the front of her apron to calm down. “This is what we get for working all of the time. I should have stayed home and taken care of Sakura all of these years and─”
“And what? And be miserable as a housewife? Just constantly worrying about our finances and how I’m doing here in the shop?” Kizashi reached over and tweaked his wife’s nose through the serving hatch. “And you staying home wouldn’t have changed the fact that the boy lives next door.”
“No but maybe she wouldn’t have been at his house all of these years. We practically gift wrapped our child and handed her right to him.”
“Right, because she isn’t almost exactly like her mother.” Kizashi grinned broadly. “Like Naruto said, Sasuke Uchiha is such a nice pure boy. It’s most likely that our daughter was the instigator.”
Mebuki’s face flushed pink and she threw her note pad through the serving hatch at him.
Sasuke knew he wasn’t going to make it home when the mail truck visited his neighborhood. His shift at Music & Arts didn’t end until six-thirty and the mail truck would have gone by at four because it was a Saturday.
He had asked Itachi to check the mail and pull out anything addressed to his name but it was most likely that his mother would get to it first.
I am not ready for this conversation, Sasuke groaned inwardly as he kicked off his sneakers into the foyer closet. He still hadn’t brought it up to his parents that he had applied to schools other than IOC.
Sasuke stared at his shoes and then reluctantly straightened them. He might as well try not to get on his mother’s bad side. As he fixed them on the rack he noticed a pair of light blue rain boots with yellow ducks on them.
What the fuck?
“Mom?” Sasuke called out, shuffling across the marble tile toward the great room. “Is Sakura Haruno here?”
“She and Itachi went over to Izumi’s house to visit her mother.” Sakura was in the kitchen turning off the stove. “Your mom asked me to watch over her pot and make sure you ate.”
“Why are you here in the first place?”
“Itachi caught me going through your mail and invited me in for tea. I ended up hanging out with him until they left.”
“You went through my mail?”
“I didn’t realize that Itachi was on the look out for your HSU package as well,” Sakura laughed nervously and started opening cabinets to look for a bowl. Sasuke loomed over her and opened the right one and pulled down two bowls.
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“I know. Don’t be all irritated. Itachi already lectured me about how illegal that was.” Sakura poured the mushroom soup into both of the bowls and placed them on the bar top of the kitchen island. “Now come eat. Your mom insists you have soup today with how the weather is.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“And I wasn’t asking.”
Sasuke glared down at her but Sakura stood her ground and pointed to the barstools.
“I will spoonfeed you.”
“I’d like to see you try.”
Sakura gave him an icy smile and reached for his bowl.
“Sakura. I was joking.”
“I thought so. But you really should eat.” Sakura hopped onto a barstool and pulled the bowl she served for herself closer. “Your mother made this yummy soup just for you.”
Sasuke snorted but slid onto the barstool next to her. Because of how tall he was he just needed to pull it under him unlike Sakura who had to literally hop onto hers.
“I’m sure she made it with you in mind as well. Remember she made it that one stormy day when she had to take Itachi to the a follow up appointment? She said she needed to fatten you up because you’re so skinny.”
“I’m not that skinny,” Sakura grumbled.
Sasuke just smiled to himself and took a gulp of soup. He was sure the choice of soup had more to do with Sakura than him. Ever since Sakura had turned vegetarian his mother cooked with vegetable broth and tried to make vegetarian safe dishes. His mother hadn’t needed to prepare food for her in a while but she kept up the habit of preparing a vegetarian option, just in case.
He wondered if it was because she hoped he would bring her around more often now that she knew their secret.
When they finished eating Sakura took their used dishes and washed them.
“My family won’t be back until late I suppose. Want to hang out upstairs for a while?”
Sakura tilted her head up to look at him as he towered over her, trapping her between him and the sink. She bit her lip and averted her gaze.
“I told your mom I would leave after you ate…”
Sasuke sighed and laid his chin on top of her head. Her hair smelled more like rain than her shampoo.
“You can wait until the rain clears up.”
“I live next door, Sasuke…” Sakura shifted so that she could look up at him. Her cheeks and nose were a warm pink. Sasuke was sure if he reached over and touched her nose that it would be cold as ice. “But maybe…I should just stay and warm up a bit…?”
Sasuke grabbed her hand and pulled her along, leading her to the stairs. He paused at the bottom of the stairs and took her rain boots of the closet in the foyer. He took them with him as they continued up to his room.
When they reached his room, Sasuke dropped her hand. He opened up his walk-in closet to hide her boots. Closing the door to both his closet and room he watched as Sakura made her way across his room to the door to the deck that both he and Itachi had access to from their rooms.
While she was busy watching the rain fall, Sasuke logged into his Mac desktop and opened iTunes. It was a habit he was unlikely to ever break. If he was in his room, music had to be playing. Sasuke looked up from his desk and turned to Sakura. She was tracing the droplets of rain running down the window panes of the door.
It was such a nostalgic sight. It had been a long time since Sakura had been in his room on a rainy day.
“Naruto called me a dirty woman today.”
“He wanted advice on how to bring up sex to Hinata I think. Ino’s helping him. I don’t think they talk about it but he wants to sleep with her. Guess things are going well between them.”
“Can we not talk about the idiot’s sex life? Or lack of one in this case?”
Sasuke placed a hand on Sakura’s hip, sliding it under her shirt and stroking her stomach. With his other hand he covered the one she had on the door. He placed a slow and soft kiss on the crook of her neck and shoulder.
“He blamed me for you having sex before he did.” Sakura pouted at him as he slid his hand lower, unbuttoning her jeans. Her breath hitched as his hand slid lower, underneath her boyshorts. “It was…it was something about me supposedly seducing you and─ahn!─I’m trying to have a conversation here Sasuke!”
“You can keep talking.”
Sasuke slid his fingers even lower, teasingly stroking her entrance and then sliding back up slightly to play with her clit. He alternated between touching her bundle of nerves and stroking the velvet softness of her nether lips.
“That makes it kind of hard to talk,” Sakura whined. She stood up on her toes and backed up so she was against Sasuke’s crotch and started to grind her rear end, trying to match his pace.
“He’s right though. You are to blame.”
“What!?” Sakura whipped her head up in a tilt to glare at him. Sasuke was smirking down at her, obviously only teasing. He sank his fingers inside her and she let out a high pitched mewl. Sasuke pumped his fingers at a moderate pace, spreading them every so often to stretch her out.
Sakura had to use both of her hands on the door to keep steady. Her legs buckled from his touch, causing a small rumble in Sasuke’s chest, a barely concealed chuckle.
“Maybe we should get in your bed?” Sakura panted as Sasuke picked up the pace in his thrusting. “It would be warmer under the blankets.”
“Yeah…” Sasuke muttered into the crook of her neck. The situation at hand was starting to feel familiar.
“It’s kind of cold,” Sakura murmured, visibly shivering.
“Then stay away from the door.” Sasuke dropped his book on his face. It was difficult to concentrate on his reading assignment when Itachi was out of the house for his doctor visits. If he went to KSS instead of Oto Prep he wouldn’t have had to have started school a whole month earlier than his friends and his mother wouldn’t have told him to stay home to work on his homework instead of joining her as she took Itachi away from the house.
“You guys leave the air conditioning on too high.”
There was a dip in his mattress and he shifted the book off of his face, watching as Sakura curled up under his blankets. He watched her settle in, amused at how at home she was in his bed.
“Don’t go to sleep.”
“I’m just trying to get warm.” Sakura wiggled her body until she was as close to Sasuke as possible. “You’re warm. You should warm me up.”
“I know it wasn’t the first time we had sex but you were the one that asked me to warm you up the following chance we ended up sleeping together.” Sasuke pulled his shirt over his head. He could feel his necklace falling back onto his chest with with a small thud. He only noticed it because he was hyper aware of it at all moments.
“I didn’t mean it that way and you know it.” Sakura glared at him as she shimmied out of her skinny jeans. Sasuke reached over and helped pull them off of her calves. “I was thinking that we could cuddle or something.”
“Do you want to just cuddle or something now?”
“Don’t ask that as you’re pulling down my underwear,” Sakura snapped at him, her skin flushing red all over. It was always such a wonder how she colored so easily.
Sakura was so pale with a light dusting of freckles across her visage, her shoulders, and even her chest. Sasuke reached behind her and unhooked her bra to reveal his favorite freckle, right underneath the bottom swell of her right breast and sucked on it.
“It’s always that one first,” Sakura giggled, pulling Sasuke up by his shoulders so that she could kiss him on the mouth. She moved her mouth languidly over his as he nestled himself between her thighs.
Sasuke could feel her fingers ghosting over his skin, the tips of her nails scraping lightly as she made her way down his chest finally letting the pads of her fingers touch him as she reached his abdomen. When Sakura allowed him to pull away he watched as she ran her fingers up and down his torso, only taking small pauses whenever she reached a birthmark.
“Can you not tease me today?” Sakura peered up at him through rosy lashes. She bit her lip and turned her head to the side. “I just want to feel you today.”
“It’s not teasing,” Sasuke huffed. He slid a hand up and down her side before gripping her thigh. He let go of his hold just to slide his hand further inward and resume stroking her the way he did when they were standing. He lowered his head to her chest and placed kisses up and down her sternum and then flattening his tongue to give her a strong lick between her breasts.
“Fine,” Sakura hummed her approval. “But let me touch you too.”
Sakura pushed against his shoulders to get him off of her and directed him to lie on his back. She straddled his waist and placed kisses along his jaw, working her way down his body. When she reached his right hip she gave him a gentle suck right on a prominent birthmark of his. It was something Sasuke knew she would do right before she took him into her mouth.
Sakura ran her tongue on the underside of his cock before closing her mouth on the head. She pumped him with a small hand as she worked her tongue so that circled tip of his dick before flattening on top of the slit. She let out a giggle when she felt Sasuke’s fingers sink into her hair, massaging her scalp as she bobbed her head up and down trying to get as much of him in her mouth as she could.
Sasuke leaned his head back on his pillow and let out a hiss as Sakura sucked harder. He tried hard not to thrust his hips upward too much, not wanting to hurt her as she sucked him off.
“I don’t want to come like that,” he groaned, reaching to grab Sakura’s upper arm. He tugged gently to coax her into ceasing her actions. Sakura scrambled up so that she was straddling his waist again. He helped Sakura guide him in, pushing the head of his cock to her entrance and then letting her slowly take him in.
“Fuck.” Sakura clapped a hand over her mouth to stifle a guttural sound that threatened to escape. She took hold of his hand with her free one and interlocked their fingers. As she lifted herself up and down, Sasuke thrust his hips, matching her rhythm.
Soon enough, Sakura was on her back, Sasuke sat on his knees and pulled her onto his lap spreading her legs over his thighs. He gripped her hips tightly as he thrust into her, using a harsh pace. Sasuke watched as Sakura squeezed her eyes shut, letting out a hiss when she clawed at his forearms.
Sakura’s cries came out in staccato, punctuating into higher octaves the deeper and harder Sasuke pushed into her. Eventually her head flew back and she let out a strangled cry as she hit her release. Sasuke followed soon after, slowing down to a few last pumps. He pulled out, gasping, and collapsed next to Sakura’s body. He lied there watching her chest rise and fall as she tried to catch her breath.
When Sakura finally caught her breath she turned into his side and snuggled against him, throwing his arm over her waist.
“I’m still kind of cold.”
Sasuke sighed and pulled her into his arms. Sakura settled against his body, throwing a leg over his hip. They laid there listening to soft hums of each other’s breathing.
“Don’t fall asleep. We need to shower and possibly light a candle.” Sasuke murmured, his voice muffled by the way his mouth was pressed against the top of Sakura’s head.
“I know. It smells like sex in here.”
“I wonder why,” Sasuke said dryly. Sakura giggled and rubbed his back, moving her hands in soothing circles.
“I love you.”
The words were pressed against his chest but Sakura’s voice was still clear and steady the way it always was when she told him. He answered her by placing a kiss to her forehead, brushing her hair away from her face.
“It will be fine when you go to Otsutsuki College.”
Sasuke’s body tensed up at her words. He hadn’t expected for her to bring up their college decisions. He should have known that she would know what he had already decided before he told her.
“I can always visit you. My parents are getting me a car so I can drive back and forth to school. I can use it to visit you when you move to Shumatsu Valley. Even drag Naruto with me. You know he’ll want to visit you too.” Sakura pressed a kiss to his chest, right over his heart. “And we can video chat any time you want as long as I’m not in class. I can even get more lingerie. Make those video calls more interesting.”
Sasuke snorted, pulling her tighter against him.
“You don’t have to bring Naruto.”
Sakura slapped his arm playfully. She tilted her head up so that she could look him in the eye.
“I mean it. Whether it’s twenty feet or sixty-two point thirty-four miles away, I’m going to come see you.”
“You looked up how far away it was didn’t you?”
“You’re ridiculous.” Sasuke played with the pendant hanging off of Sakura’s necklace, tracing the engraving of his name with his thumb. “But thank you.”
Itachi grumbled as his mother stroked his hair. He felt gross and didn’t want anyone touching him.
“You completely ruined your appetite with those cookies you ate before we left, huh?” Mikoto chided him and handed him a bottle of water. “You shouldn’t have forced yourself to eat. Poor Hazuki didn’t know what to do when you rushed out of the room to throw up. I can’t believe it was her first time seeing you get sick.”
“I try not to visit when I’m flaring up.” Itachi took a long gulp of the water and then took a moment to breathe slowly. “Trust me I was just as surprised as she was that I vomited. It was completely unexpected.”
“At least Izumi was there. It was sweet of her to hold your hair and rub your back.”
Itachi sighed and looked out the window of his mother’s car. Yes it was sweet but he couldn’t help but feel disgusted with himself. He hated when anyone watched him throw up.
“Remember to take the anti-nausea pills when we get home.”
And today was going so well…
“Oh and don’t forget, the physical therapist is coming tomorrow.”
Great. I hope he doesn’t bring his smut novels with him this time.
Chapter Eighteen: I Lo-Lo-Love The Way You Bend It
Sometimes it felt like a stab of needles. Other times like something, some ghost, was grabbing onto a particular spot and decided to just twist sharply. Either way, Itachi was left gasping and crying out in pain.
“What’s wrong?” Shisui murmured sleepily just having been woken up by the way Itachi suddenly jolted.
Whenever he slept over he was suppose to use the guest room but he always ended up sneaking into Itachi’s room to lie next to him. They would FaceTime with Izumi until she fell asleep. She was the type that found it easy to fall asleep and then was early to rise. A heavy sleeper in between.
Shisui reached over to soothe Itachi but Itachi just flinched and tried to create more space between them.
“Don’t touch me!” Itachi hissed. One wrong move and his whole body would feel the shocks of pain again. At the moment he was just riding out the aftermath of the initial jolt. Shisui looked on, concerned but with some hurt in his eyes. He knew that it wasn’t a rejection but it still felt like it was.
Shisui took one more look at Itachi and then rose from bed. He stretched his arms and shuffled over to the desk and found Itachi’s heating pad and plugged it in, carefully sliding it underneath Itachi’s calf and wrapping it around his leg.
After Shisui was done with that, he turned back to the desk and pulled out Itachi’s journal. He flipped to the next blank page and wrote the date and time.
“Where does it hurt? And what kind of pain?”
“Predominantly in my right leg,” Itachi answered through gritted teeth. “Almost like a cramp but more like needles underneath my muscle? I don’t know, it just fucking hurts!”
“On a scale from one to ten?”
“Four? And you practically screamed?”
“My four is like your seven.” Itachi took a deep breath and held it. He let it out in a slow hiss and repeated the action. “You know I don’t have a normal pain scale.”
Dealing with pain almost every moment of his life made it impossible for Itachi to be able to describe the magnitude on a scale like an average person. He walked around with pain and was numb to it, growing accustomed to dealing with it and functioning so that it was just a small irritation.
“Is the heating pad working?”
“You need to tell Kakashi this. Also maybe you should stretch more? Like you’re suppose to?”
Due to fatigue and pain and swelling in his joints, Itachi was no longer as active as he once was. His doctor had suggested a physical therapist to help him with his joints and muscle conditioning, especially for his legs.
Itachi’s cousin Obito had a friend named Kakashi Hatake who happened to be a physical therapist. He made visits to Itachi’s home for their sessions. Itachi scheduled his appointments on days he didn’t have anything to do considering he and his mother were never sure when he would actually show up.
Itachi mostly found it amusing because he knew Kakashi only did it to mess with Obito who was constantly late whenever they met up. Mikoto would scold Kakashi but would never actually let Obito know of his friend’s behavior because he was the only physical therapist Itachi seemed to like.
“I’m just saying that you should attempt to exercise even when he doesn’t visit,” Shisui muttered. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and pouted. At the half smirk on Itachi’s face he opened his mouth to say something else but instead his eyes widened in shock.
“Do you hear that?” Shisui moved from the desk and sat on Itachi’s bed, scooting closer to the wall and pressed his ear to it. “Is your brother watching porn at like three in the morning?”
Itachi sighed and sat up to massage his calf. The heating pad had helped a great deal but there was still some soreness.
“Nope! Not porn.” Shisui moved away from the wall. “The headboard just smacked against the wall.”
“They’ve been going at it like rabbits ever since they’ve made their college decisions.” Itachi fell back onto his pillow and bundled himself up in his blankets. “I have no idea how they’re going to deal with going to different colleges if this is how they react to knowing they’ll be away from each other.”
“Teen love is a strange thing,” Shisui grumbled and slid under the blankets. “So this happens a lot doesn’t it? You weren’t surprised at all.”
Itachi nodded and turned onto his side so that he was facing Shisui. He didn’t come closer but he did grab his hand and held onto it, a small apology for being short with him earlier.
“I should tell your parents that I need to crash at your place more often.” Shisui gave Itachi’s hand a squeeze, accepting his apology. “Just so you don’t have to deal with that on your own.”
“I barely notice them now to be honest. Also, my father will think you’re just trying to get my mother to spoil you as long as possible. He’ll tell you to book a room in a hotel.”
“He’s not that much of a hardass.”
“No, he’s not,” Itachi agreed.
Fugaku was strict but he wasn’t cruel. Considering his treatment of Sasuke and how hard he was on him some would misunderstand. Did Itachi think it was fair? No he did not. But he knew everything his father did was because he cared no matter how misguided Itachi thought he was.
“Izumi said you ran into Taiko the other day.” Shisui stretched out, splaying his body out like a starfish. He always took up the most space. Cuddling with him was fine but once he fell asleep he was likely to push someone out of bed. It was one of the reasons Izumi preferred sleeping in between them.
“It wasn’t a run in. It was more like we had dinner at his dad’s and he was there.”
“Oh. Was it awkward?”
“Of course it was.”
Taiko was a year Itachi’s junior and was unfortunate enough to be constantly compared to him due to the fact that their fathers were close. It didn’t matter if it was academics or tae kwon do, Taiko fell short of his father’s expectations when Itachi was the bar.
It only got worse when he started getting compared to Sasuke, someone who was four years younger than him. It was one of those things Itachi pushed to the deep recesses of his mind and didn’t care to think on. He was too preoccupied with how Sasuke was compared to himself growing up. Taiko was his father’s cousin’s son and no concern of his.
But now Itachi couldn’t help but feel as if he should have said something or done something when they were teenagers. Just anything to prevent the feelings that caused Taiko to hold such a grudge on him and Sasuke.
“He said something to Sasuke,” Itachi said softly. Shisui’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. He hummed, coaxing Itachi to continue. “I mean, he had to have. I caught them in the hallway when I was coming from the restroom and there was…tension.”
“Tension? That doesn’t sound like the full story. I mean tension could mean anything when you’re talking about Sasuke.”
“Sasuke had him pinned to the wall. His arm was pressed against Taiko’s throat.”
“That sounds more like Sasuke.” Itachi rolled his eyes as Shisui smirked at him. Itachi lightly smacked his chest, too weak from his fatigue to do anything but make Shisui snicker. “Do you think it had anything to do with Itty Bitty?”
“Most likely.” Itachi let out a yawn and Shisui’s eyes crinkled around the edges as his lips pulled into a soft smile. “At least I think it had to be.”
“Uh-huh.” Shisui tucked a strand of Itachi’s hair behind his ear. “Your hair is really soft, what the hell.”
“Izumi did a glaze. I think she’s enjoying the fact that I grew my hair back.”
“It’s almost as nice as her’s now.”
“I will ignore the subtle insult thrown in there.”
“Don’t be dramatic.” Shisui laughed out loud. He sighed happily and drummed his fingers on his stomach. “Listen. I think they stopped.”
“You weren’t listening in the entire time were you?”
“Of course not!” Shisui frowned, looking insulted that Itachi would even think that. “I just realized that it’s really quiet now.”
“Go to sleep Shisui.”
“You go to sleep.”
Itachi sighed and rolled over to his other side. The pain his back was bothering him and he was having difficulty finding a comfortable position. He felt guilty knowing that Shisui, who was a light sleeper, was going to be kept up by his tossing and turning.
“Do you want a muscle relaxer?”
“I took one at eleven. I can’t have another for two more hours.”
Shisui just sighed and scratched Itachi’s scalp lightly. Itachi hummed contently and leaned into his touch. It was his favorite thing and he loved when Izumi or Shisui did it to help him fall asleep or soothe him.
“Can you just keep doing that?”
“Of course.” Shisui leaned over and kissed Itachi on the back of his neck. He leaned back, lying on his side for better access and scratched circles into Itachi’s scalp. It was such a small thing but it made Itachi happy.
Focusing on her poetry assignment wasn’t easy. Sakura tried her hardest to ignore the feeling of being stared at. She had to suppress the usual tingle and shiver running down her spine when Sasuke was watching her.
I should have just gone home to do my homework on my own.
Sakura took out her highlighter and underlined a line she wanted to focus on in her analysis. She flinched when a hand found it’s way under her black mesh and cotton striped t-shirt dress, stroking her lower back. She frowned at the messy line she drew when she jumped and capped her highlighter. Sakura pulled out her pencil and began writing an annotation.
Sakura broke the lead of her pencil when the hand on her lower back slid downward cupping her ass and then giving it a squeeze. The back of her neck started to feel hot but she decided to let Sasuke figure it out on his own that she wasn’t going to acknowledge what he was doing.
Okay. Let’s do another read through. Some say the world─
“Did you seriously just spank me?” Sakura turned her head to look at Sasuke who was sitting on the floor, his head lolled to the side as his eyes trailed down Sakura’s back and then back to her face. Sakura swallowed the lump in her throat, the heated look Sasuke sent her had heat pooling in her lower stomach.
Sakura turned back to her English notebook, forcing herself to keep her head down and focused on the words on the page. She chewed on her lower lip when she felt the couch cushion sink as Sasuke crawled on top of her. Sasuke pulled her notebook away and set it on the ground.
“I was working on that.”
“Take a break,” Sasuke murmured. Sakura buried her face into the couch cushion when he kissed her between her shoulder blades and down her back. He lifted her hips up, rubbing himself on her bottom.
“I didn’t realize Robert Frost made you hot,” Sakura mumbled against the polyester upholstery. “Maybe I should start reciting some of his poems next time I want to get you in the mood.”
“Sakura,” Sasuke breathed out, voice husky. “Stop talking and turn over.”
“So demanding,” Sakura said with a teasing lilt in her voice but complied and settled onto her back. Sasuke braced himself on his forearms and settled between her thighs.
Sakura cupped the back of Sasuke’s neck in her hands, keeping him close as he slanted his lips over hers, dipping his tongue into her mouth, pulling soft moans from her. Sasuke rolled his hips against hers causing Sakura to let out a soft cry.
Sasuke’s eyebrows furrowed together as he received Sakura’s hungry kisses. The harder he rocked into her the more Sakura whimpered into his mouth. Sasuke was so distracted with cupping and massaging her breasts that he almost didn’t notice Sakura removing his belt.
“It jingles a lot when you move,” Sakura answered his unspoken question as she unbuckled and unzipped his jeans.
“What are you doing?”
“Finishing what you started.” Sakura tugged his jeans lower on his hips and pulled out his cock. She gave him two sure pumps before Sasuke removed her hand. He bunched up her dress around her waist and slid her shorties down until she was bare and exposed in only her dress and thigh highs.
“You’re─” Sasuke nipped at her thigh and pressed an open mouth kiss close to her folds without touching them, “─pretty wet─” he gave her a harsh and long lick and gave her clit a little flick, “─already…”
Sasuke groaned against Sakura’s folds and pressed an open mouth kiss to them, refusing to break eye contact with her.
Sakura let out a gasp when Sasuke began to work her heat with his tongue, circling the area around her little nub before dipping down lower. When Sakura began to rock against him he laughed, the rumble making a wonderful vibration. Sakura stuffed the collar of her dress into her mouth to stifle her noises and then her hands found purchase in Sasuke’s hair.
Sakura’s head fell back so that she had an upside down view of the open door of the Uchiha media room. A groan got stuck in her throat when she felt Sasuke curl his fingers inside her.
It wasn’t the first time the two of them had fooled around on the couch in the media room. The first time they had sex in the media room Sasuke had just come home from Oto and hadn’t even bothered fully removing his uniform. Three days later his parents pulled him out of school and started the transfer process so he could attend KSS when classes started after Labor Day.
He wanted to burn his uniform but refrained from doing so when Sakura dropped a hint about wanting to keep it. She had really liked pulling Sasuke down to her with his tie and the way he looked with his uniform shirt unbuttoned and his chest bare.
Although slightly perturbed by the fact, it somewhat excited Sakura when it seemed like they were risking being caught. The smell of food cooking assured her that Sasuke’s mother was too busy in the kitchen to catch them in the act.
Sasuke wouldn’t let up on his control of the situation. Although they had moved so Sakura was straddling his lap, he held her hips down possessively, refusing to let her do any work as he thrust hard and deeply upwards into her. Sakura gripped the back of the couch, her knuckles turning white from how tightly she held on.
“Sa-ah!-suke I’m─” Sakura panted, cut off by her own cry as she hit her second release as Sasuke spilled into her, groaning against her collarbone. As he was coming down from his high he pressed feather light kisses to her neck.
Sakura knocked her forehead against his, letting it rest there as her breathing slowed down. She cupped Sasuke’s face in her hands and stroked his high cheekbones with her thumbs before pressing a loving kiss against his lips. He looked up at her, dark eyes filled with warmth and she kissed him again, more deeply, before climbing off of his lap.
“I’m going to go clean up.” Sakura picked up her shorties from where Sasuke had tossed them onto the ground and balled them into her fist. She looked back at him with his hair all messy and tousled from their love making and cupped his chin in her hand, giving him another kiss.
Sakura made her way to his restroom. She caught sight of her reflection in Sasuke’s mirror before she entered and grimaced. It was a good thing that Mikoto was naive enough to think telling them to keep the door open was all she needed to do and didn’t check up on them. Sakura’s low side ponytail was in disarray, hair falling out of her hair tie, and her lips were red and swollen.
Sakura fingered her clavicle gingerly. A red mark had bloomed on her pale skin. Lifting up her dress and bunching it around her armpits she found more marks. She just sighed and adjusted her clothing. Taking Sasuke’s brush she fixed her hair into the hairstyle she entered the house with and patted her ponytail so that it covered the noticeable hickey.
And now I’m sore. Sakura winced a little as she cleaned up between her thighs. She slid her shorties back on and huffed at her reflection. She was as presentable as she was going to get.
“I’m going home.” Sakura started packing her things into her backpack when she came back from cleaning up.
Sasuke frowned, not moving his head from where it was resting against the back of the couch. He was almost exactly the way she left him, only he had pulled his pants back higher up his hips and zipped them.
“Because I think I’ve distracted you enough.”
Sakura didn’t want to admit it but Fugaku Uchiha had a point. Lately, Sasuke wasn’t doing any of his homework or even his classwork if Sakura was around. He had become more lax after he made his decision to go to IOC and it worried Sakura. She liked that he didn’t seem as stressed as he did before but she also didn’t want him to get on his father’s bad side.
“I would have had a hard time focusing anyway.”
Sasuke ruffled his hair and let out a sigh. Sakura dropped her bag with a loud thud and took a seat by him on the couch. She curled up against his side and rest her head against his shoulder. Sasuke adjusted his body so that he could rest his head on top of hers.
“Have you talked to your therapist about that? Do you talk about anything?”
Sasuke’s body tensed up and he pulled away. Sakura placed her hand gently on his shoulder and coaxed him to settle back on the couch with pleading eyes. Sasuke relaxed and took a breath in, exhaling it slowly.
“We don’t have to talk about it.”
“Sorry,” Sasuke muttered. “I’m just tired of being asked about therapy.”
“I’m curious about one thing though,” Sakura said carefully, waiting for Sasuke to give her a look that said it was okay to continue. “What’s going to happen to your sessions when you go to IOC?”
“Video calls. With occasional office visits on weekends.”
“You know my mom isn’t going to let you go home until you have dinner right?”
“She wouldn’t trap me here.”
Sasuke just stared blankly at her and she groaned, running her hands down her face. He was right. Mikoto looked way too happy when she showed up with Sasuke to work on their poetry projects.
“I’ll sneak out.”
Sakura glared at him and picked up her bag. She stuck her tongue out at him and then exited the room with a huff. Sakura crept down the stairs, Sasuke following behind her to watch her attempt to sneak out the front door.
Sakura cringed when the closet door rattled. At home she never put her shoes in the closet, just left them lying at the entrance, but it was Mikoto Uchiha’s pet peeve so she had stuck them in the foyer closet. She hadn’t counted on the closet door being noisy. It was only when you needed to be quiet that everything sound loud.
“And where do you think you’re going?”
Sakura turned to see Mikoto standing in front of the front door. Sakura looked at Sasuke who didn’t show his surprise except for the barely noticeable rise of his eyebrows. Neither one of them had heard or noticed Mikoto approach them.
“I’m heading home before it gets too late.”
“I called your mother and told her you’ll be having dinner with us tonight. She said to make sure you got a second helping.”
Sakura held back the urge to roll her eyes. It was typical of her mother to embarrass her like that. After Sakura got over her dieting phase back in her early teen years she ate generous portions but whenever she was over at someone else’s house she tended to be more reserved and felt awkward about eating even when she was at the Yamanaka residence.
“Come on you two. Go set the table.”
Mikoto gently pushed against Sakura’s back leading her into the kitchen. Sakura could hear Sasuke following behind them.
He’s laughing at me right now isn’t he? She turned back to look at him once Mikoto let her go when they reached the kitchen. He had a smirk on his face. Yeah, he’s laughing at me.
“You grab the glasses,” Sasuke muttered to her before grabbing all of the utensils they were going to need.
Sakura opened up the cabinet she assumed the glasses were in using her memory of where things once were. She smiled to herself when she got it right and pulled out the matching set of glass goblets to the plates Mikoto had on the counter. Two glasses that sat on the shelf above them caught her eye.
Pulling them down, Sakura examined the cherry blossom pattern on one and the frogs on the other.
“I can’t believe they’re still here,” Sakura giggled. Mikoto came up behind her and took the glasses in her hands and smiled softly at them.
“Of course we still have them.”
Mikoto had found the glasses in a gallery store in Riverside when the kids were in fourth grade. She bought them for Naruto and Sakura because they were always either at her house or at the Namikaze-Uzumaki residence.
Sakura looked down at the glasses and felt slightly guilty. They were dust free and looked shiny and bright, as if someone made sure they were constantly ready to be used. She set the frog patterned glass back on the shelf but held onto the cherry blossom one to use herself.
The sound of the front door opening caught her attention. Itachi called out that they he was home and then the door to the foyer closet rattled.
“Something smells good,” came his pleasant voice as he entered the kitchen. Sakura turned around to greet him only to see his father standing behind him.
Oh, fuck me.
Itachi hadn’t expected to find Sakura Haruno in his family’s kitchen. She was standing there, green eyes really wide like a deer caught in headlights when he walked in with his father.
Now she was sitting on his right, across from Sasuke and his mother, looking down at her plate.
“Itachi, what are you doing?” Mikoto frowned as he reached for the bottle of wine she brought out to have with dinner. “You’re not supposed to drink alcohol.”
“Correction Mother: I’m not allowed to drink in excess. But I am allowed a glass of wine.” He poured the wine into his goblet up to the brim. He muttered under his breath, “I’m going to need it.”
“Mikoto?” Fugaku grunted, his eyebrows furrowed at the stuffed mushroom on his plate. He poked lightly at it with his fork.
“Stuffed mushrooms and risotto, dear.”
“Still a vegetarian I see.” Itachi offered Sakura a grin which she returned, eyes warm with gratitude. “But there’s cheese?”
“I don’t exclude dairy or eggs from my diet. My dad usually gets his stuff from a local farm for his shop and that’s what we have at home too. Everything is free-range. A good compromise since my mom isn’t vegetarian.”
“Ah.” Itachi nodded his head in interest. “I’ve been contemplating switching to a vegetarian diet. I think a semi-vegetarian one would work for me.”
“You like meat.” Fugaku frowned at him. “Is this really enough for you two?”
“Mushrooms are loaded with protein, Father.”
“It has tomatoes,” Sasuke muttered, taking a decent bite of one of the stuffed caps on his plate. Itachi almost snorted into his goblet at his brother’s response.
Itachi watched as his father sighed and turned to his plate. He found it amusing how his father was poking at the lack of meat on his plate considering the fact that usually he loved anything his wife cooked.
He just wants to be difficult. Itachi recalled how his father had eyed Sakura’s outfit earlier as well. Fugaku just had to find something to pick at all of the time.
“So Sakura,” Mikoto cheerfully turned her attention to her, “I was talking to your mother the other day. She says you got accepted to Senju.”
“Yes,” Sakura replied after she dabbed her mouth with a napkin. “I’ll be going there in the fall.”
“Pre-Med, right?” Itachi asked. A sideways glance at his father informed him that his father had silently scoffed when Senju was mentioned. He turned to Sakura who nodded enthusiastically, eyes bright. Itachi smiled back, mostly because another sideways glance granted him the sight of Sasuke’s small, yet soft smile.
The dinner went on with Itachi asking Sakura questions about her future goals and praising her. Sakura was flustered by all of the attention but Itachi wouldn’t let up. His mother joined in, more than happy to learn more about Sakura than just what she heard from Mebuki and Kushina in passing. Itachi used the distraction to fill up another goblet of wine which made him loosen up even more.
“By the way Sakura,” Itachi smiled widely, “I’ve been meaning to ask you if you would help me out. I’m interested in yoga but I don’t want to go to a class. It’s just a little embarrassing considering my condition.”
It was true. Itachi did feel uncomfortable being in groups and it made it worse with his chronic illness. He found a studio that had specialized classes for people with chronic illnesses but he still didn’t feel comfortable attending them.
“Would you consider helping me out with some poses? I would really like to work on my flexibility and it would be good for my muscles.”
“Oh, I think I can do that!” Sakura had become more comfortable as the dinner progressed and spoke more brightly and confidently. “Just let me know when you’re free.”
“You should think about it too, Sasuke.” Itachi took a sip of his wine. “Maybe give yourself different exercise options. Much calmer, quieter exercise to do when you can’t sleep at night.”
Sasuke’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion at his brother’s wink. The only person that seemed to have an understanding of what he was implying was Sakura who Itachi could see out of the corner of his eye was slowly sinking into her seat in embarrassment. Sasuke’s eyes widened when he glanced over at Sakura and he started to cough, choking on his risotto.
“Oh, honey.” Mikoto rubbed soothing circles on Sasuke’s back and handed him his goblet of water. “Slow down when you eat.”
“Yeah he has a real problem with that,” Itachi muttered. Sakura fell out of her seat in her attempt to slide out of sight.
“Sakura!” Mikoto cried out in concern.
Shin was so wrong about meds affecting our tolerance. I feel fine.
Sasuke snatched the guitar out of Suigetsu’s hands and hung it back up. His friends had found out where he worked and had decided to drop by for a visit. They were being a nuisance with the exception of Jūgo who was the only one that refrained from touching any of the instruments.
“Don’t you guys have something better to do?”
“No, not really.” Naruto wrapped an arm around Sasuke’s neck and took a selfie. Sasuke shoved him off and Naruto stuck his tongue out at him.
“Well you gotta go before the vocal coach gets here. He tends to be an ass and I don’t want him to complain to my boss.”
“I should get a ukulele.” Naruto sprinted to where one was hanging on the wall and lifted it up. “You’ve got one, Sasuke. You could teach me how to play!”
“No.” Sasuke hadn’t even picked up his own instruments in months, he wasn’t going to teach anyone. He only made an exception with the piano for work.
“Why do you even want to learn?” Suigetsu snorted.
“Just think about how cute I would be strumming it. Girls would love it.”
“You already have a girlfriend, dumbass.” Sasuke snatched the ukulele away from him.
“Yeah and she would love it.”
“She would love it when you learn how to move your fingers right,” Suigetsu joked. Sasuke pinched the bridge of his nose and Naruto turned bright red and spluttered an unintelligible response.
“You’re disgusting.” Sasuke pointed at the front door. “Out. All of you.”
The rest of his shift went uninterrupted but it was also dull. It wasn’t a day he had any lessons to teach so he just manned the counter. He almost ran out of the store at the end of his shift.
When he got home, Sasuke couldn’t park in the driveway. He hadn’t expected to see Izumi’s VW Bug or Shisui’s Dodge Charger alongside Kakashi’s van. The van seemed like an odd choice at first but then Sasuke found out how many dogs the man owned.
“Everyone’s outside,” his mother informed him when he walked into the kitchen for water. She was shuffling back and forth from her room to the laundry room.
Curious he headed out to the backyard, wondering what Kakashi had planned for his brother and why Izumi and Shisui were visiting.
What the fuck?
Out on the grass by the pool, Sakura was guiding his brother and his girlfriend and boyfriend through a series of poses. She was currently helping Shisui with his posture. Sasuke found Kakashi lounging on a lawn chair, reading.
“Aren’t you supposed to be working?” Sasuke approached him, crossing his arms in front of his chest. Kakashi flipped a page and then adjusted his medical mask. He always had an excuse for why he needed to wear one. It was either allergies, a cold, or so that he wasn’t breathing on his patients with autoimmune disorders.
“It’s a pool day for Itachi and when I got here he was already stretching with the tiny pink kid. I’m just waiting for him to be done.”
“Don’t act like you don’t know her name is Sakura.”
“I’ll stop when it stops being entertaining how much it bothers you when I do that.”
Kakashi was a close friend of his cousin Obito. He use to come to a lot of family events with their other friend Rin when they were high schoolers. They still hung out but things got awkward when Obito tried to ask Rin out and found out she was interested in Kakashi. Unfortunately for Rin, Kakashi wasn’t interested in dating or hooking up. He was content with his books and dogs.
The two of them still came to a few family events as Obito’s guests but it wasn’t as often anymore. It was a shame because Sasuke kind of liked Kakashi.
Sasuke watched as Sakura stood with her legs wide apart and her arms outstretched. She was wearing her lycra shorts and a tank top as opposed to just a sports bra he was use to seeing her wear when she exercised in her backyard. His eyes were drawn to her waist and hips as her top rode up when she stretched her arms over her head.
Sakura began explaining something to three of them but Sasuke didn’t catch any of it as he watched her gesture around her hips and slide her hands over her stomach and on her ribs right underneath her breasts. Sakura moved her hands back to her hip bones and then slowly bent forward, her bottom sticking out. She straightened up again and then slowly bent down again.
His eyes followed as she swayed her hips from side to side, telling them something about softening the hold of their knees so that they didn’t lock up their legs.
“It’s rude to stare you know.”
Kakashi gave him a knowing look and then looked over to the group that was now attempting to stand completely bent forward with their heads touching the ground. Sakura was the only one in the complete pose with her hands clasped together and pulled back and straight up. Izumi and Itachi propped themselves up with their hands flat on the ground. Shisui had given up while they were bending and just fell back on his mat.
A moment later, Itachi collapsed as well. Sasuke was about to run over to him when his brother started laughing. He was fine, just a little tired.
“This is a lot harder than I thought it would be,” Shisui grumbled. “You’re doing great though Izumi.”
“I knew I would,” Izumi replied smugly. “We should totally do yoga together more often Sakura.”
How about no?
Sasuke’s eyes narrowed at her. He was suddenly reminded of all of the times Izumi took Sakura away to play when they were younger. His eyes widened in shock when after the girls cooled down out of the pose Izumi reached over and cupped Sakura’s bottom with her hand.
“I want this. What more can I do to get this, huh?”
“Your butt’s fine Izumi,” Shisui laughed. He spotted Sasuke standing by Kakashi and grinned widely. “Oh. Look. It’s the Little Uchiha.”
Sasuke scoffed at that. He had grown to be taller than both him and Itachi and Shisui’s comments no longer made sense. He watched as the adults headed inside for a break and walked over to Sakura who was busy rolling up her mat.
“So you’re really helping him learn yoga?”
“Yeah. It’s actually kind of fun.” Sakura bit her lip but then smiled brightly at him. “Besides my sun salutations I haven’t been making time for it so this was a good way to start sneaking it back into my routine.”
“What are you doing later?”
“Ino invited Karin and I to spend the night.” Sakura poked him in the chest. “Which is good because you have been wearing me out. I’m always so sore after─don’t look so proud about that!”
“Are you complaining?”
“Of course not.” Sakura’s face flushed pink. “But we should probably cut back. For both my body’s sake and to avoid any more comments from your brother. That was really awkward the other night.”
“It’s a good thing my parents didn’t catch on at all. My mom knows about us but I’m still not sure how much exactly.”
“Hopefully less than Itachi,” Sakura muttered. Sasuke shuddered, grossed out by the idea of his mother knowing about his sex life. “I’ll talk to you later.”
After Sakura left Sasuke went up to his room, not willing to spend anymore time with Itachi and his lovers or Kakashi.
He opened up his closet and started to rummage through it, pulling out a small case. He unzipped the case and examined the ukulele. Sasuke had bought it after his guitar, intrigued by the different sound it made.
Letting out a sigh, he pulled out his cell phone and looked in his contacts for The Moron. He paused, thumb over the phone icon and thought for a moment. Sakura had looked happy about getting back into one of her favorite hobbies. He pressed the icon and listened to the dialing tone.