Their kitchen was pretty big, and she had enough room to move freely while making breakfast. It was almost five in the morning, but yesterday's events had worn everyone out. She doubted that Sasuke would be up early, and he usually was up by 5:30. That just meant that she had plenty of time to make breakfast and be alone with her thoughts.
The seal in her arm hurt more than usual, but somehow it was surprisingly easy to ignore. In her opinion, sealing her like that had been a bit too much of a punishment for refusing to share Clan secrets she couldn´t even remember.
She had never thought it possible for someone to make pancakes angrily, but that was exactly what she was doing. Sakura usually enjoyed cooking, especially if it was something sweet. But today was not one of those days. She was sure that the pancake mix did not deserve her anger, but the pinkette figured that it was best that she got it out on that than on any of the other eleven ninjas she now lived with.
The kitchen had started to smell of that sweet aroma one related with chocolate-chip pancakes and she got started on the orange juice and chamomile tea, –and some coffee for herself-.
Someone cleared his throat behind her, and Sakura almost jumped into the air. Instead, she just turned around to glare at whoever had startled her and found it to be Sasuke. He was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed and wearing his stupid smirk.
"I don't know what happened, but I doubt that the pancake mix is to blame." Sakura snorted when her teammate voiced her thoughts.
"Oh shut up Sasuke. If you want to be useful, help me make the orange juice." Her dark-haired friend chuckled quietly but made his way towards her and finished the juice while she set the table.
The pinkette shook her head fondly and made her way upstairs and began knocking on the doors, telling her fellow genin that breakfast was ready. While everyone groggily went downstairs, Sasuke appeared from inside the kitchen with two huge plates full of pancakes on his arms and set them on the table.
Sakura herself went back to the kitchen and made some scrambled eggs for people like Sasuke and maybe Neji that disliked sweet things. She knew the exact moment Naruto came down because of his shout of 'Pancakes! You're the best Sakura-chan, 'ttebayo!' She quickly served the eggs and went to sit down with the rest of the teams.
The atmosphere was kind of awkward, and all the teams were seated together. If it hadn't been for Naruto, Kiba, Lee and Chouji it would've been really quiet. But when they started eating, everyone complimented her cooking skills and Chouji even offered to cook sometime that week if she helped him.
Halfway through their meal, someone knocked on the door. Seeing that Tenten was the closest to the door, it was her that had to open. There was a Chunin outside, and he wordlessly handed Tenten a letter before leaving. Sakura snorted at the girl's 'wow, talk about a talkative guy' after she closed the door.
Then, the weapon's mistress sat down again and opened the envelope. After reading, she informed everyone that the Hokage had given them the week off so that they could settle in. That meant no missions and no official training for the twelve of them.
Surprisingly, no one complained seeing that they had a lot to do to make the huge house feel like people lived in it. After all, that was their new home.
Kimimaro has been having weird dreams. Memories of his past with Sakura and Haku. Some of them had their parents and the Clan Elders, but usually it was only the three of them. He missed his little sister, and he was sure that his best friend missed her too. Somehow, he knew that his sister was alive. He just had to find her.
Problem was that he was absolutely sure that Sakura wasn't in Kiri. When Zabuza had taken both of them as apprentices, Kimimaro and Haku had looked for the pink-haired girl. They searched every town they went to, spread out their senses while in the forest. Nothing.
However, they had found an underground base not so long ago, it was empty, but there was a lingering smell of blood and grime that had made Haku want to go back to their camp. Kimimaro had to admit that it had been an appealing idea at the time, but they had both decided to investigate.
Inside, numerous empty cells greeted them, and it reminded him of the cages the Elders would lock him and Sakura in for days. Naturally, they found worse things inside. Dried blood, vials of poison, several rusty blades- the list could go on and on, but for the two of them it could only mean one thing: torture. It was clear that the people leading this place had wanted one thing and one thing only, and it was information.
On what? It didn't matter. The both of them could see in their mind's eye chained people hanging from the wall, begging for mercy or crying for help.
But they happily noted that there were no bodies or bones, and there were clear signs of a fight. That could only mean that the prisoners had managed to escape, and that someone –or a number of someones- had helped them do it.
There were various pieces of cloths inside the cells, ripped and bloody, but they all told the story of the person that had been wearing them. And when they were looking through one of the last cells, Kimimaro realized that he knew one of those pieces of clothing. It was a white piece of silk that once had been a dress. A dress that had belonged to his little sister.
Absently minded, the white-haired boy fingered the piece of clothing that now resided in his pocket. He could remember the feeling of dread that had settled on his stomach when he saw Haku pick up the cloth; some tears fell on the silk that had once been white as the brunette held it close to his chest.
Kimimaro had just stood there, his mind going into panic mode because his little sister had been held here and he could only imagine what these people had done to her and what if she wasn't alive, what if she hadn't made it out and thiscouldn'tbehappening. But he heard the sound of cloth ripping and saw Haku handing him a piece of his sister's dress while the younger pocketed the other one. He had grabbed it shakily and done the same.
Logically, he now knew that Sakura was safe who-knows-where, but it had become a habit for Haku and him to finger the piece of cloth they had taken that day. It was the only physical thing that they had of Sakura, and it made them feel close to her.
Of course Zabuza-sama thought it was stupid of them to depend so much on a piece of "mangled dress" as he had called it, but he had only mentioned it once. They had explained the cloth's meaning to him and he had left them alone. Even though he was a scary guy and a rogue ninja, Zabuza was actually a very caring and kind person that understood their need to find his pink-haired sister.
After breakfast, Sakura quickly told Naruto that she would go shopping for some things to "lighten up her room" and then left the house. She had laughed at his confused expression and proceeded to explain that since Hokage-sama told them they were going to live there for a long time, she didn't want her room to feel like a hotel room instead of the sanctuary it was supposed to be.
The first thing on her list was some paint; she thought that a light green or white would look fine and finally settled on both. Then, she went hunting for popsicle sticks and glue. Her last stop had been the Yamanaka Flower Shop, she wanted to buy some cactus and flowers. She had always liked plants and thought that it was the perfect way to make her room more lively and homey. It would take time, and she was spending almost everything she had earned with the little D-ranked missions they had done.
But it was worth it.
She went back to the house armed with lots of bags and had to knock with her head. It was Shikamaru who opened the door and stared at her until she asked for help with her shopping. Muttering a "troublesome", Shikamaru took the paint and went inside, while she followed-only briefly stopping to take off her sandals.
The lazy ninja had waited for her outside her room, so she went to open the door and invited him in.
"Now I get why you bought all this stuff. It's so bare it's troublesome." Sakura laughed at the brunet's comment while taking out her things from the plastic bags, being really careful with the plants.
"Yeah, I'm planning on decorating this place until it feels more like a room. It's going to be tiring, but I won't have much time after this week."
Shikamaru chuckled and ran a hand through his ponytail before sitting down on her window seat. She made a mental reminder to buy some throw pillows after her next mission.
"What's with the popsicle sticks?" he asked, quite interested.
Instead of answering, Sakura grabbed a bunch of sticks and formed a pentagon, and then proceeded to pile them until the both of them were staring at a little shelve.
"I'm going to make tons of these and hang them on the wall, potted plants fit perfectly and it looks cute. You'll see it tomorrow."
Shikamaru had opened his mouth to say something else but Ino's voice interrupted him, calling everyone down to have lunch. He shrugged and followed Sakura downstairs.
It was almost dinner time and Sakura's room had a distinct smell of paint. Her room was now a light green everywhere but the ceiling, and the pinkette was kneeling, paintbrush in hand while she painted near the door frame. She was humming an old song she and Haku used to sing when they were kids. She couldn't remember the lyrics, but it was comforting and helped her concentrate on her task until she was done.
Exhausted, but feeling rather accomplished, she went to lean against her bed and looked around. She had done a pretty good job, and she could only imagine how it would look when she got started on her popsicle stick shelves. Maybe she could make some paper cranes and hang them from the ceiling. She had time now, and she should make the most of it.
But now, she had time to think.
Sakura found her mind going back to the man with the orange mask and to her time captive. Surprisingly, she was glad that Inner had chosen to let her remember that part of her life. She felt more complete, more like Sakura. She knew that there were some things that were still missing, but trusted Inner to tell her when the time was right. If she got too much information all at once, it wouldn't do her any good. She could wait-she had waited for years after all.
She was saved from her own mind when someone knocked at her door. It was Chouji telling everyone that dinner was ready. Sakura sighed and shook her head to clear her mind, before going down with everyone else. She didn't care about her clothes –just some shorts and a tank top- that were stained everywhere with paint. Some of it had even fallen onto her thighs and her arms. But she was too lazy to take a shower and just washed her hands, then went to help set the table.
Before she could sit down though, someone knocked at their door for the second time that day. She heard Ino stand up and open the wooden entrance. She heard a female's voice ask for her, and it sounded oddly familiar.
Sakura knew that voice.