the wolf at the door

Her cell phone rang, receiving a text from an unknown number. Although, she deduced, the clear cut message contained only knowledge one Uchiha Sasuke would know and tried not to dwell on how perfectly creepy it was that he now had her cell phone number.

Sakura answered it in the same concise matter she usually used with Sai and left her phone on her bookcase beside her bed. Picking up her manga again, Sakura tried to drown herself in Alice's world but her cell phone would ring a minute after she would reply to Sasuke's message.

She tried not to seem too absorbed in their conversations but she couldn't help herself. This Uchiha Sasuke obviously missed home since all their texts were in English. Sakura knew he was one of the few students who possessed an iPhone on their rural area campus, a gift, she learned, from his parents for his twentieth birthday.

Sakura also had an iPhone but everyone expected her to have one since she was from the city originally. What they didn't know was that her phone was like Sasuke's—a pricey, factory unlocked device from the States.

What do you usually do during the summers?

She regarded the highly personal question with a bit of caution. Should she tell him? Only Ino and Sai knew about her summer routines; Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro didn't question why she never spent summer time with them.

Besides, what harm was there in being honest with Sasuke? In a way, it was refreshing to not have to guard her thoughts or words constantly. She had been with Ino and Sai for so long, there was almost no point in asking for their opinions about anything because she knew exactly what they would say.

Depends. I go home to Tokyo but I also travel with my parents to the States. We have a condo in San Francisco my mother sometimes stays at when she there for business.

After she hit send, Sakura briefly wondered if she made the right decision in giving so much of herself away to a near stranger.

No, not a stranger. A friend.

do you relish

these awkward moments,

hidden glances at

the corner of your eye?

I know you watch

my every movement,

read every response

so as to act in turn.

Sasuke read her last text message with whatever emotion was closest to glee he would allow himself to feel.

San Francisco, huh? His hometown. He should have known—the Japanese Embassy was located there, New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. Sakura's English didn't have the elongated a's common to the North nor did she have the Southern drawl one might find in D.C.

He started writing a reply, but stopped just short of finishing it. Was it really a good idea? His parents would start assuming things, Itachi would never let him hear the end of it, and the idea was so ludicrously intimate he knew Sakura would be able to read the message hidden in his words.

Unlike most people, Sakura was good at things like that, reading in between the lines and hearing all the things people wanted to say but couldn't.

Oh, to hell with it. He finished his text and sent it, flopping on his bed. Sasuke could imagine the shocked expression on her face, the way her green-gold eyes would widen in shock and her lips would part to breathe out a small giggle.

Call him obsessed, but the moments they spent in practice together for the variety show taught him a lot about the woman who commanded his every thought and action.

His phone rang and he seized it from its resting place on his desk. The breath he didn't know he was holding filled his lungs with relief.

I'm up for it. I have a different number in the States... remind me to give it to you before summer starts. At least, I'll have something to do other than read books all day.

He could hear the sarcasm in her voice, see the way she would humorously roll her eyes at her last statement.

Usually, Sasuke dreaded returning home to the States for the summer. He wasn't of age to take advantage of San Francisco's diverse nightlife and was forced to sneak into bars and clubs using Itachi's old ID, the only kind thing his brother ever did for him since they started school in Japan. All the friends he had were the same ones from elementary school and they were a rowdy, party-going bunch.

He wondered how they would react to meeting Sakura. After all, she was the only one with the money to visit him and Sasuke knew they would be all over the pretty Japanese girl.

Groaning at the prospect, Sasuke gave her his US cell number.

these mediated responses

bore me. how long will we

dance around each

other, too scared

to voice the thoughts

obviously on our minds?

She felt like hitting her head repeatedly against the wall until common sense was knocked into her. Why did she say that? It was obvious what Sasuke meant by his direct statement: you should kill time with me. Why on earth did she agree to hang out with him?

Usually, Sakura relished her summers. It was a time away from the secrecy; being in the States cut her off from her friends at home except through facebook and twitter. She never had to worry about keeping her secret because the only people she saw during the summers was family, her parents' staff members, and the occasional dinner guest.

Summer was the time Sakura had all to herself. This summer, she resolved to teach herself violin and Italian. It was odd, because if she stayed in Japan, she was always expected to behave with utmost propriety and be the perfect daughter in front of the constant stream of visitors to the house.

Not in the States. There, Sakura stayed in the condo, hardly ever venturing out unless it was to buy something or go for her morning run in the park. In the States, she was just an ordinary girl on the streets, unless she was at a state function.

How on earth was Uchiha Sasuke going to fit in her cloistered summer routine?

Suddenly, her summer was a source of anxiety. What would happen in his company? Would her parents question her constantly, smother her with all the worry they never felt because she usually stayed at home?

Sakura refused to acknowledge the small part of herself that always eagerly anticipated the company of the gorgeous Uchiha Sasuke.

you told me "audeamus"

yet you cannot take the plunge.

I thought you were above

the plebian fear of

commitment and loyalty. This

disappointment hurts more

that it should.

He learned to initiate conversation with her.

They hardly ever spoke on the phone, despite her preference for it. Every time Sasuke saw her with her cell phone, she was usually chatting away on it. She enjoyed ignoring text messages, especially on the weekends.

Ino told him and Naruto there was only a select group of people Sakura always answered the phone for: herself, Sai, and her cousin Shizune.

After that revelation, Naruto sulked off to the kitchen to get a drink but Sasuke checked his cell phone. It was Saturday night and he spent the better part of the day texting the Haruno girl.

It was foolish to read into her somewhat prompt responses. Sasuke constantly asked her questions, told her stories, and prodded for advice. Perhaps Sakura deemed it ill-mannered to leave him with his curiosity unfulfilled.

Whatever her reasons, Sasuke felt comfortable with her. He didn't know what it was, but something about the quiet way she sat and listened prompted him to talk. He never worried if she was going to use the knowledge she gained in their lengthy conversations because it just wasn't in her character.


Ino frowned at him before dragging him aside.

"Sasuke-kun, do you want a girlfriend?"

He scoffed. "What guy doesn't want a girlfriend, Yamanaka?"

She narrowed her eyes at him. "You know what I mean."

"Yes. Satisfied?"

"No. Do you want a serious relationship?"

He scowled. Serious relationships were a sore point with him. Every girl he dated in the past were only after him because of his international student status, his money, or his looks. As such, it made keeping a tolerable girlfriend longer than two weeks difficult.

He was a flirt because all the women he attracted were not even worth considering spending the rest of his life tied down to.

"I don't know if I can do a serious relationship, Yamanaka." He settled on a vaguely honest response. "Where are you going with this?"

Ino seemed to grasp something that even Sasuke didn't know from his answer but she was silent for a minute or two before she answered his own question.

"Do you like Sakura-chan? As her best friend, I can't help but notice how you hang onto her every word and how you constantly remain at her side. I know it can't just be that variety show at the end of the term that's making you be with her all the time."

Yamanaka Ino, for all her reputation as the campus's biggest source of gossip, was a good friend if she bothered questioning him about his feelings towards her best friend. For some reason, Sasuke knew she would keep this conversation between them a secret.

"I think I do," he answered slowly. "But I can't be the person she deserves."

Surprised, Ino looked at him and felt her heart go out to him. She knew from being Sakura's friend for so long that the girl was so easy to fall in love with for all her goodness but difficult to love because of her eccentricities. People held her up to a standard because she always seemed so infallible.

"Sakura-chan isn't the kind of girl who will settle for a sexual relationship. She knows her self-worth and refuses to let herself be insulted as a source of sexual fulfillment to be tossed away."

For some reason, Ino's words reminded him of their first conversation.

I'm not your type.

"She won't take anything less than a serious relationship so if you're unsure as to whether or not you can commit yourself entirely to her, I wouldn't even waste your time chasing after her."

Sasuke looked away. "I know that."

"Do you? I'll never forgive you if you break her heart."

He met Ino's calculating gaze.

"Trust me, Ino, I know."

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