Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Sakura awoke to the sound of pans and cutlery being moved about. She groaned yet rose from her place on the sofa. She had not meant to spend the entire night there. However, now that she thought back to her confrontation with Ino last night, Sakura reckoned not going back to her best friend's room was the wiser choice.
Sakura's nostrils flared as she heard Ino's voice from the kitchen. The jovial and energetic tone of it dampened Sakura's mood further. It seems she was the only one who was worried about their encounter last night. At times like these Sakura wondered if Ino truly could forget her fights with people this easily. Perhaps, she simply piled the negative emotions towards such events somewhere in the deep recesses of her heart and mind until one day she exploded and cut a person out of her life completely.
Sakura's hands trembled slightly as she thought of losing Ino as a friend. Would she be able to handle it?
The pink-haired girl shook her head to rid it of such thoughts. Her inner turmoil was getting the better of her and she was starting to worry over every single interaction she had with people. This would do her no good. She needed to try and calm down and pick her battles wisely and rationally.
The most important decision she had to make soon was whether she should talk to her father or not. She knew she would have to face him sooner or later. After all, Sakura did not even know whether he would stay in Konoha for much longer. She imagined his other woman would be expecting him to come back and be with her. At the end of the day, he had chosen to be with her and not with them.
Sakura's mind supplied an important correction that she was still reluctant to accept - her father had been shattered when Sakura voiced her desire to remain in Konoha with her mother and Sakura's complete refusal to even hear him out appeared to have crushed him. Given how badly he wanted to explain himself and hopefully try to reason with Sakura and show her that he loved her still, did he deserve a second chance so early?
"He does not necessarily deserve a second chance. However, he does have the right to be heard. He is my dad after all." Sakura mumbled as she went to the bathroom to relieve herself.
She finished brushing her teeth and looked at herself in the mirror. Her skin was far too pale and the dark circles under her eyes appeared to be even more pronounced under the ghastly yellow artificial lighting. She sighed knowing she would be unable to put on any make-up which would cover it up successfully. Moreover, she did not even wish to put in the effort to do this.
Sakura walked back to the living room and picked up her phone, unlocking it and typing out a message:
Sakura: Are you still in Konoha?
The question seemed like a good start and she was surprised by how quickly it chimed back.
Sakura: Are you free to meet in an hour at our favourite coffee shop?
The affirmative text arrived immediately. Sakura chewed on her bottom lip. Perhaps, her father had been itching to talk to her and he immediately jumped at the opportunity she had presented him with. Her brows furrowed wondering whether he had been hoping and praying for her to talk to him as he had stared at his mobile device for hours. She shook her head. The fact that he had committed adultery was still at the forefront of her mind. She needed to understand why he had done it to try and forgive him.
Sakura sighed as she joined the Yamanakas for breakfast. Her mind was a whirlwind of tumultuous thoughts over what had transpired in the past several hours. She needed answers yet she did not want to worry Ino or her parents any further. Therefore, she did not disclose where she would be going but simply mentioned that she would visit Sasuke and Naruto and spend the day with them. Sakura was surprised at how easy it was to fool them all. Had she become better at lying or had this ability always been part of her arsenal yet she had simply not dared to use it on her closest people?
Sakura ate her pancakes in silence and watched the Yamanaka family members and how easy and open they were in their conversations with each other. She thought back to how cordial and civil her parents had been with each other in the past couple of years. Sakura bit her lip. They had always been more closed off and reserved and had only ever shown their affection towards each other openly in the comfort of their home yet the happiness had dissipated completely from their household recently and Sakura wondered for just how long her parents had been pretending to tolerate each other for her sake. She also questioned whether they could have done things differently and if they had even tried salvaging their marriage.
"Earth to Forehead." Ino snapped her fingers in front of Sakura who stumbled back and fell from her chair. Ino gasped and went to help her but Sakura pushed her hands away. She rubbed her sore behind and mumbled a quick answer that she was fine. Sakura ignored the hurt look Ino tossed her and went to get dressed. She needed to meet her father and ask him a few things as well as hear him out. The sooner she did it, the better.
Ino quickly followed after Sakura and closed the door behind her. Sakura gaped at Ino who simply smirked at her blushing friend and murmured, "Do you want me to go outside? It's not like you have anything I haven't seen before."
Sakura huffed as she turned around so that her back was towards her best friend. She clutched her shirt tightly in front of her chest and replied, "Pig, not everyone can be as confident as you are."
"Says the brightest girl in our class."
"Brains have nothing to do with beauty." Sakura fired back as she pulled the shirt over her head and softened out the few wrinkles that had formed as best as she could. The 14-year-old then moved on to combing her hair before she tied it in a bun.
"Don't you think you'll be drowning in your sweat with that shirt?" Ino suddenly questioned making Sakura sigh.
"I can wear whatever I want. Plus, it is not going to be that hot until much later in the day."
Ino raised a brow before she asked, "Is everything alright between us?"
Sakura froze before her tired green eyes rested on guilty and worried blue ones. The pink-haired girl's gaze softened as she walked the few steps toward her friend and embraced her suddenly. Ino recovered from her surprise quickly and hugged her best friend back.
"It is better than alright," Sakura murmured against the girl's shoulder and then pulled away a bit so that she could lock eyes with Ino.
"I am just worried about what I am about to do," Sakura clarified.
Ino eyed her suspiciously before she asked, "Does this have anything to do with Naruto and Sasuke?"
Sakura mentally debated whether she should keep quiet about the fact that she would be meeting her father or not. Eventually, she settled on keeping her lips sealed and merely nodded giving a shaky exhale. Ino frowned and cupped Sakura's chin when the girl turned her head to the left and said softly, "Hey, it is going to be OK."
Sakura's eyes glistened before she shook her head, silently making Ino ease off of her and take a few steps back. Sakura grabbed a tissue and dried her eyes.
"Is there something you're not telling me, Sakura?" Ino asked suddenly, making the pink-haired girl freeze yet again.
Sakura quickly recovered from her stupor and requested clarification from her childhood friend. Ino scoffed and crossed her arms as she sent an accusatory glance at her friend.
"Have things changed between you, Naruto and Sasuke?"
Sakura sighed and then chewed on her bottom lip and after much inner debate settled on an ambiguous answer, "Yes and no."
Ino rolled her eyes and replied sharply, "If you do not want to tell me, fine. I would appreciate it if you didn't lie to me."
Sakura's head shot up and confused green orbs met fiery and hurt blue ones, "Whatever do you mean?"
Ino scoffed yet again and went to pick up the tissue that Sakura had used to rub her eyes and threw it in the trashcan with much more force than was necessary. The blonde then turned her back to her friend and responded coldly, "Nothing."
Ino then exited her room. Sakura did not have the strength within her to follow after her friend. The girl shook her head and tried to calm down. She wanted to cry yet she could not allow her father to see her in this much distress. She would only worry him which may even lead to him requesting an earlier move to Suna. Sakura took deep breaths and counted to ten and then back to one. She repeated the motions a few times before deducing that her state was much calmer.
"Some friend I am," Sakura muttered as she rubbed her temples.
She did not know who was in the wrong in the situation - had Ino overreacted or had Sakura made a mistake by distrusting her friend? Were you obligated to tell your best friend everything or did you retain your right to privacy? After all, the meeting with her father was going to occur sooner or later. Sakura was not certain whether she was jumping the gun by requesting that they meet so soon yet she was certain about one thing - she needed to decide what to do once her parents eventually separated. The only way to do this would be by hearing both of them out. Ideally, she would be able to persuade them to reach an agreement and not go to court regarding their guardianship over her. In a semi-perfect world, they would not fight each other but agree to split custody over her.
As Sakura began her walk toward her father she mulled over the chances of potentially getting to finish her schooling in Konoha and potentially spending the majority of her summer break in Suna. She knew it would be unfair to ask her father to let her be here 9-10 months in total out of the entire year yet she knew that she could not leave her friends. She did not want to move schools this early on. Perhaps, she would be able to make her dad see reason. Moreover, wouldn't it be beneficial for him and his new...partner to be left alone as they are getting used to each other? Wouldn't she only get in the way?
A shock came over her as she wondered how on Earth she would be able to get along with this mystery woman? Why was she even entertaining the idea of accepting her into her life? Was she going mental or had she simply matured in the past couple of days and was trying to salvage whatever was left of her relationship with her father by making compromises and hypothetically partially accepting the new person he had chosen?
"Be careful." A male voice stated as he grabbed Sakura's hand and stopped her from crossing the street. A second later a speeding car rounded the corner, its tires screeching before it went on its way.
Sakura gasped as she watched the retreating SUV before her eyes landed on her rescuer.
"Itachi," She stated before he smirked and looked her over concluding that she had not got hurt in any way. Finally, he let go of her arm.
Sakura gaped at him a bit longer before she blushed heavily and ducked her head slightly to the left, using her bangs to hide the redness on her face.
"Thank you for saving me." She mumbled.
Itachi replied, "Anytime."
He then frowned as his eyes noticed the dark circles under her eyes and asked, "How have you been holding up?"
Sakura's shocked eyes met his and she opened her mouth to sarcastically retort that it was obvious how she was feeling but stopped herself. She cursed herself for her foolishness. The only reason he was asking this was since looked as though she had seen death. But hadn't she in a way? After all, her entire life had crumbled before her and now she was trying to pick up the pieces and erect something new. What exactly this new life would have in store for her, however, she had no idea. Moreover, she was not even certain who would remain in it.
"Sakura?" Itachi questioned and reached out a hand and placed it on her shoulder. He used his other one to grab her chin and turn her face towards himself so that he could inspect it.
Her blush intensified under his scrutiny.
"I am f-fine." She stuttered out and took a sharp step to the side. She heard the honking of a car and noticed that she had stepped on the sidewalk which prompted the car to stop abruptly. Sakura took this as her cue to run and run she did.
Itachi watched after the quickly retreating girl with concern and confusion in his eyes. He then sighed and turned right, going in the direction of the nearby park.
Sakura carefully rounded the corner and proceeded to walk towards the all too familiar cafe. She took deep breaths and tried to relax her mind. She was not even certain what questions to ask.
Her thought process came to an abrupt halt when she noticed the 40-year-old man who was sitting at a table in a corner. He was looking around nervously, obviously looking for someone. Sakura noted that his face was also pale and there were dark circles under his eyes. Her eyes glistened. Most likely, this entire situation had taken its toll on all 3 of them. The 14-year-old raised her hand and waved when she caught her father's eyes. His face blossomed into a shaky smile as he waved back. He motioned for her to come over and sit next to him which Sakura did.
"I was afraid you wouldn't come." Her father, Kizashi Haruno, confessed.
Sakura rolled her eyes and opened her mouth to retort that unlike him she still kept her word but stopped herself. She needed to control her anger and try to be less confrontational. Since her silence stretched on, Kizashi hurried to apologise but Sakura waved him off.
"I am not sure why I called you here." Sakura professed.
"Oh.." Kizashi uneasily replied before trying to tempt fate, "Do you want to hear why your mother and I decided to divorce each other? The whole story?"
Sakura chewed on her lip before she nodded and clarified, "I retain the right to stop you at any time and leave."
Kizashi nodded solemnly and smiled sadly as he ventured down memory lane.
"Your mother and I were happy when we were younger. Everything was idyllic until 6 years ago. "
Sakura's eyes shot up as she asked, "Are you telling me that everything went downhill after aunt Lena passed away?"
Kizashi nodded and went on to explain, "We told you that she died in a car accident, but that was not the entire story. Your mother found a note." He took in a shaky breath before he clarified, "The note stated that she was sorry but she could not live with the pain of losing her husband anymore."
Sakura's body froze as she took in this new piece of information. Icily, she stated, "You mean to tell me you've been lying to me for years?"
Kizashi blanched as he tried to explain, "We only did it to protect you."
Sakura glared at him as she asked, "How is lying to me for years protecting me? The only thing this achieved was to make me lose faith in both of my parents... who are supposed to be my pillars of stability. Do you have any idea what this past week has been for me?"
"I am truly sorry, my blossom." Her father brokenly uttered as Sakura shot up from her chair.
"Sakura!" He called out after her but Sakura was too busy running away. She was becoming frighteningly good at it.
Sakura did not know how long she had been running nor how much time had passed as she continued mindlessly walking throughout the city. She had been crying for a good portion of it and carelessly side-stepped whenever a concerned adult tried to stop her and ask her if everything was alright or if she needed help.
Sakura's mind was a whirlwind of accusations, anger, betrayal, and further bewilderment. She had just found out that her mother's only sister had committed suicide. Such an event could trigger her mother and cause her to turn to alcohol for some sort of reprieve or a way to escape from the pain. The 14-year-old sighed as she started to grasp what may have been. The catalyst of her mother's addiction and the consequent estrangement of her parents. Given how much time had passed, there was most likely more to the story. Perhaps, her parents had tried to save their marriage. They had simply been unsuccessful. However, this had yet to be confirmed.
Sakura was not certain if she had the strength to continue talking with her father today. She had calmed down but needed some more time to digest the fact that this was yet another lie that had been unveiled in a short time.
The ringing of her phone pulled her out of her reverie. Sakura fished it out of her pocket and looked at the caller ID. She was surprised to see it was Sasuke who was calling her.
"Hello," Sakura answered.
A relieved sigh followed before a question came out which made her freeze, "Where the hell have you been all day?"
Sakura looked at the sky and gasped as she saw that it was nearing dusk.
"I...I've been walking around.." Sakura answered, deciding not to lie anymore. Lies are what destroyed her relationship with her parents and what led to the downfall of their marriage. She would be damned if she allowed the same thing to happen to the friendship she had spent years forging and strengthening.
"Walking around?! Sakura, you were supposed to be at my house hours ago. Naruto and I've been worried sick. The idiot event went out running around town, looking for you. He ended up calling Ino and her parents who also searched for you for a good portion of the day. Even Itachi took part in it, joining the dead last a couple of hours ago." Sasuke explained, making Sakura feel guiltier with each uttered word.
"I am sorry." She gasped before bursting into tears.
Sasuke had never been extremely adept at dealing with her breakdowns, but he did his best to calm her down and tried to make her disclose her location, but Sakura refuted each attempt. She assured him she was fine and promised to call everyone to inform them that she was fine.
"I'll come by tomorrow at your house. Speaking of which...how's your ankle?" Sakura asked as she sniffled.
Sasuke scoffed, "Now is not the time to be worrying about my damn ankle."
"Sasuke..." Sakura warned him silently not to piss her off.
The boy sighed before answering, "It's not as swollen anymore and it's not as painful. It'll take several days for it to fully heal though."
Sakura nodded and then remembered that Sasuke could not hear her. A thought struck her suddenly before she growled, "Have you been taking advantage of Naruto's guilt?"
Sasuke scoffed before he confessed, "A little bit."
Sakura laughed, knowing Naruto was probably driving Sasuke crazy, but the dark-haired boy was most likely grateful for the blond loudmouth's constant attention and presence.
"At least Naruto can cure boredom," Sakura mentioned.
"True," Sasuke agreed before they bid each other goodbye.
Sakura mentally prepared herself for the lecture she would most likely be getting from the Yamanakas. She tried calling their house number, but no one picked up. She then chanced to ring Ino's mother who berated her endlessly for being so careless after the woman had assessed Sakura's current state and made sure the girl was fine.
Once the above phone call ended, Sakura took a deep breath and called Ino separately who picked up immediately.
"I was told by your mom you two had split up to look for me," Sakura began, but Ino cut her off.
"Where the hell have you been, Forehead? Are you OK?" Ino asked, slightly out of breath.
Sakura's heart clenched guiltily yet again.
"I'm near the library," Sakura confessed, sitting down on a nearby bench.
"I'm close. I'll be there in 15 minutes. Do not move," Ino ordered before ending the call abruptly.
Sakura sighed before she dialed her father's number. He picked up immediately.
"Are you alright?" Kizashi asked.
"Yes," Sakura meekly answered before sighing and adding, "I am sorry for running away, I just... I was not thinking after hearing about aunt Lena's suicide."
"I should've eased you into it more," Her father supplied before asking, "Is there any chance you would like us to meet and talk in person tomorrow?"
Sakura mulled it over before she agreed.
"I need to ask you a few things myself," Sakura stated before agreeing to meet her dad at the same place and same time tomorrow. They bid each other goodbye.
"Sakura!" A familiar voice screeched out before she was engulfed in a hug.
"N-naruto... can't breathe..." Sakura gasped out before the blond was forcefully pried away from her.
Itachi was looking at Naruto icily, silently berating the blond for apparently not following certain instructions yet again. Naruto sheepishly apologised before Itachi let go of his arm. The elder Uchiha brother looked at her from head to toe before he asked, "What happened?"
Naruto opened his mouth as well to voice his concerns and questions, but Ino stopped him by enveloping Sakura in a hug and then letting her go and punching her on the shoulder, making Sakura wince.
"Don't ever make me worry like that again, Forehead."
Naruto protested, but Sakura cut him off.
"I am fine, Naruto. No need to defend me."
Naruto frowned before he nodded and asked, "Sasuke's parents had to go on a sudden business trip and they'll be gone for 2 days. You can sleep over tonight and tell us what's been going on."
Sakura frowned, silently cursing Sasuke for making Naruto order her around like that.
"I already spoke with the Yamanakas and assured them that I'll be watching over you three."
Sakura raised a brow at that before replying, "You mean you'll be helping me babysit those two?"
Itachi chuckled as Naruto vehemently defended his and Sasuke's maturity levels and the fact that they could look after themselves perfectly fine.
"What do you say, Forehead? A sleepover at the Uchiha's sounds like fun." Ino uttered, inviting herself in the process.
Sakura sighed and asked, "Is it OK if Ino comes as well?"
Itachi nodded, making the rosette smile.
Itachi drove them all to the Uchiha household and excused himself to his room, leaving the 3 teens in Sasuke's room.
"Glad you're OK." Sasuke said before asking, "Are you finally ready to tell Naruto and me what happened?"
Sakura took a deep breath and answered, "My parents are getting a divorce."
Sasuke's eyes widened whilst Naruto's mouth fell open in shock. Naruto moved to hug Sakura who smiled at him. The blond returned the smile and let Sakura sit next to him on the floor and rest her head on his shoulder. Ino took a seat at the chair which was in front of Sasuke's desk.
"How long have you known?" Sasuke asked.
"A few days. I needed some time to process it all, plus...I still don't know everything that happened and caused my parents to reach this decision." Sakura replied.
"Why didn't you tell us right away, Sakura-chan? We could've been there for you." Naruto questioned, silently feeling guilty for spending so much time with Sasuke these past couple of weeks and having ignored his female best friend.
"I.." Sakura began before she got up and started pacing a little, "I don't know. I think I needed some time to accept it before I started talking about it with everyone. Moreover, I need answers. I don't know what's going to happen to me."
Sasuke's eyes narrowed as Naruto asked, "What do you mean?"
Sakura stopped pacing and looked at the ceiling. She closed her eyes and whispered, "My dad is moving to Suna."
She turned to all 3 of her friends and said, "I may have to go there with him at least for summer break."
Ino's eyes widened before she screeched, "What made you think this is necessary at all? You know you can stay with us, right?"
Ino got up and stood in front of Sakura, placing both of her hands on the rosette's shoulders, and added, "Please tell me you did not reach this decision because of our fight last night. I am sorry, Sakura. I was just mad at your parents for making you feel this way. I did not mean to make you feel even more alienated and hurt than you already are."
Sakura smiled and shook her head. Ino let go of her shoulders as Sakura took a few steps back. The rosette sat on the bed next to Sasuke and looked at his ankle. After she made sure the dark-haired boy had been telling the truth she smiled and stated, "I am only doing what I believe is best for me."
"And being away from your friends is the best for you?" Naruto asked angrily as he stood up.
Sakura's eyes widened as she looked at him, "No, that is not what I am referring to at all."
Sasuke's eyes narrowed as he glared at his male best friend, "Idiot, don't jump to conclusions and let her explain herself."
Sakura smiled gratefully at Sasuke as Naruto sat at the end of the bed. Ino excused herself to go grab a bite to eat.
Sakura looked at both boys and confessed, "I love you both."
Naruto's eyes widened as he blushed as Sasuke looked down, trying to hide the pink in his cheeks. Sakura smiled and laughed at her reddened face.
"I'll probably never live this down, but I wanted to let you both know. Moving to another city..continent even is not going to change that nor put an end to our friendship."
She then pulled both of them in an awkward hug, given their current position. Sasuke protested but returned it immediately. They stood like that for a while before a clearing of a throat interrupted them. The three disentangled themselves from each other and looked at Itachi who was standing at the doorway.
"I ordered pizza." He said, making Naruto yell in gratitude and leap into the kitchen to devour his share. Sasuke tried to stop him, but his words fell on deaf ears.
Itachi chuckled and said, "I'll make sure to save your shares. Sakura, you can get yours and bring Sasuke's when you're ready."
Sakura eyed him curiously as Itachi closed the door. She then turned her questioning gaze to Sasuke who looked slightly guilty.
"I knew something was bothering you." The teen started and then added, "I asked Itachi to look after you."
Sakura's eyes widened as her heart shattered. She swallowed the lump in her throat as she realised that Itachi had not been paying extra attention to her because he cared about her. He was doing it because he had made a promise to his little brother. Her downcast eyes prevented Sasuke from seeing the pain in them.
"I see." Sakura said as she got her bearings and looked at him and smiled slightly, "Thanks for telling me. You can ask him to stop doing it."
Sasuke frowned as he grabbed her wrist, stopping her from getting up and out of the room.
"He cares about you, too. He simply has a weird way of showing it." Sasuke supplied feebly as Sakura pried her wrist free and went to grab his plate. She brought it to him and left, choosing to eat in the kitchen alone. Naruto joined Sasuke as he would be sharing the youngest Uchiha's room whilst Ino and Sakura were going to be sharing the guest room.
Ino was currently taking a shower giving Sakura the chance to be alone with her thoughts or so she believed. As she was munching on her last slice of pizza, a voice surprised her by asking, "How are you feeling?"
Sakura yelped which made her drop her slice back on her plate. She sighed in relief as she glared at the chuckling Uchiha who sat by her side.
"You shouldn't sneak up on people like that, Itachi-san."
He merely smirked and looked at her pointedly. Sakura looked at her slice of pizza pushing the plate away. Remembering what Sasuke had told her made her lose her appetite.
"I'm not hungry anymore. Thanks for the food and for letting us stay here," Sakura said as she moved to the guest room.
Itachi sighed before he replied, "No problem."
He could feel the coldness wafting from every pore in Sakura's rigid form.
Sasuke had disclosed what he had asked Itachi to do which had upset Sakura even further causing her to distance herself from the elder Uchiha brother.
Mentally Itachi cursed his little brother for foiling his plans yet again. However, the elder Uchiha would find a way to get back into Sakura's good graces in no time. He smirked. After all, his plans rarely (if ever) failed.