"You're kidding me," Sakura gasped, green eyes wide. "You've got to be kidding me! Tell me you're joking, Ino!"The longhaired blonde grinned knowingly at her best friend. "You've been calling him your husband since you were ten," Ino said, her blue eyes sparkling. "I figure it's time for you to meet him." She shook her head and tsk'd. "Poor guy, unknowingly married to you, Billboard Brow."Sakura snatched the tickets from Ino's hands, growling at her. "Like you haven't been crushing on the drummer!" she scoffed."His name is Shikamaru and he's wonderful!" Ino shouted, sounding every bit the spoiled thirteen-year-old she was. She had long blonde hair with big, glittering blue eyes and a body to bring men three times their ages to their knees, if they didn't know how old she was. She was dressed in a pair of light blue skinnies and a tight purple top."He's four years older than you and it's not like we'll ever get to meet them more than this once," Sakura said, forever the voice of reason. She was thirteen, so sure she had her fantasies about famous singers, but she knew better than to think any of them would come true. That, however, didn't mean she didn't want to meet the man with the wonderful voice.Sakura herself looked older than her thirteen years, having gone through hell earlier on. Note to the wise: Life hates children. Her mother died during childbirth and her father was an abusive bastard. When she lived with him, she'd missed a total of two months of school healing up whatever bruises he'd given her each year. She's lived with him for six years and she started school early, simply to get away from him. At seven, child services had come to get her away; at ten, she'd gone through six foster homes and six states. At thirteen, she's gotten pissed, ran away, and they've still to find her—which was stupid because she was literally right across the street from her new foster parents' house, living at Ino's.Her body had had to mature quickly to keep up with her mind and circumstances.And because of that, she looked readily fifteen at the least. Some kind of genetic mutation that happened before she was born gave her hair as pink as bubblegum, which she kept just below her shoulders in a spiky fashion. She wore a black headband over her head to keep her bangs in place. Normally, she wore a thin jacket, but at home in Ino's comfortable basement, she wore a white low-cut tank-top and a pair of short jeans.Sakura inspected the tickets, and squealed like a little girl. "Backstage passes!" she yelled, cheeks flushing in glee. "Piggy, I think I might have to marry you. Seriously."Ino made a face. "No, thanks, I'm good."Sakura laughed. "This is for tomorrow, right?" Tomorrow was the first show of the Brides' weeklong stay; they had three straight showings for six days."Only the best for my orphaned friend, Billboard!" Ino shouted, seeming incredibly pleased with herself. Usually, Sakura would have ripped the blonde a fresh one for that orphan comment, but it was pretty unusual that her friend had gotten her a backstage pass to the Black Veil Bride concert. So she let it slide, a smile on her face.
"Ugh!" the frustrated voice of an increasingly annoying blonde growled. "I have nothingto wear!" she complained, throwing down a dark purple shirt on her enormous bed."You have nothing to wear?" Sakura asked incredulously. "You have more clothes than the Queen of England!" She herself had opted for a fluffed black skirt, Madonna-style, and a bright blood-red no-sleeve shirt. It probably should've been white to go along with the band's colors, but she liked the red and how it looked against her skin. Besides, it would be cold and she had her one freshly cleaned white jacket. She wore converse shoes; there was no need for her toes to turn into icicles if her legs were already going to be ice picks. She didn't look half-bad, if she had to say herself."Yeah," Ino complained, suddenly looking her thirteen years. And like the rich spoiled blonde she was. "But it's all…colorful! I don't look as good in black as you do! And god knows I can't pull off white if it were the last color on earth."Sakura's vert eyes examined all the things her friend had thrown onto the bed. A pink cashmere sweater, a pair of green skinnies, a bright yellow tank, and countless purple shirts and pants made a pile. Before her, Ino stood in her dad's basketball shorts and her purple lace bra.Sakura snapped her fingers, the worldwide "Aha!" look on her face. She grabbed one of the purple skinnies and threw it at Ino's face. The jeans were trimmed in black, but it had been deemed too little. "Put those on," she ordered. "I've got a black sweater you might like." She stood off the king-size bed and ran away, popping back up with a pale black sweater. She threw it at Ino and said, "Now get dressed and stop your complaining! My husband is awaiting!"Ino did as told, rolling her sapphire eyes. As the final accessory, she threw her backstage pass around her neck.
To say the concert was crowded would be an understatement. Big time. Sakura was a small girl, petite, but there was hardly any room for her to stand, let alone move. It was a sea of people, shouting along to the Black Veil Brides' "The Legacy." People who weren't fans would say that the band hardly did any singing, mostly just shouted. Comparing the angelic voices to the crowd's unintelligible screams, anyone would know who was better, and the guys with guitars were it.The crowd thinned by the time Sakura and Ino got backstage; not many people could spring the extra cash to meet the band. Ino was not one such person and neither was her family. The backstage was enclosed under a tent-like structure. It had been an outdoor concert and all the better for it; at the end, white and red fireworks had exploded, showing off the band's insignia: two B's facing opposite directions, angled in such a way that the space between them looked like a V."Oh my god!" Ino's demanding voice dragged Sakura from her thoughts. She turned to see her friend. Ino was pointing at the band—they were close enough to actually see them from their spot in the Meet & Greet line—gasping and shrieking like the true fangirl she was. It actually made Sakura's face turn red. "They're even prettier in person!"They were. The lead singer's navy hair looked the color of the midnight sky outside. The lead guitarist's blonde hair—yes, it was surprisingly blonde for a musician in this genre—was the color of sunrise and his eyes were a piercing sky blue. The drummer looked even lazier, in that cool way that managed to drive girls like Ino insane. The other singer, though Sakura refrained from calling him "backup" because I didn't look like the man would appreciate that, had eyes as white as fresh milk, terrifyingly all-knowing, and his hair was glossy. Glossy in a girly way. But he somehow managed to make it look manly. Because he was in the best band of all-time. Duh. There was even a brown-haired girl there, her hair in spiked twin tails, standing next to the second singer as if daring anyone to so much as try to touch either of them.Sakura slapped Ino's pointing hand. "What the hell else did you expect?" she hissed, green eyes in a sharp glare. "That's why we have backstage passes, Ino-pig. Now shut it, you're embarrassing me."Ino made a kissy face. "What, don't want to give a bad impression to the man you married?" she teased, making sloppy kissing noises.The glare in Sakura's eyes turned into emerald daggers. "No, I just don't want to look like the ditzy barely-teen everyone expects us to be," she growled under her breath, on the off chance that anyone could hear her. "Now, if you'd be so kind, shut it."Ino made a cat sound, curling her fingers like claws and swiping them, but otherwise staying quiet. Sakura rolled her eyes, anticipation growing until their turn came up.And when it did, she practically glowed. It wasn't every day someone like Sakura got to meet her favorite band. It wasn't every day she got to meet her favorite anything, actually. But Sakura didn't smile as much as she should, so her glowing came off as a subdued smile.The blonde, stereotypically, was the happy one; he greeted both Ino and Sakura with a huge grin unfitting the songs he played guitar for. "Hi! I'm Naruto!" he said. His blue eyes sparkled. He motioned the lead singer. "That grumpy teme is Sasuke! The other grump is Neji, and his other limb is TenTen! Then we've got lazy over there, and I think he might just be dozing…off…" Naruto snapped his fingers in front of the ponytailed teen. The man opened his eyes, annoyance clearly written on them. "Dude!" the blonde complained, scowling. Sakura decided that scowls didn't fit this happy-go-lucky ray of a summer day. "As I was saying, lazy's Shikamaru. What're your names?"Sakura had overheard this speech while waiting in line; she knew it was nothing special. But she smiled anyway, keeping her mouth shut until Ino, expectedly, shouted back her bit."Oh. My. God," she said, almost breathlessly. "You're Naruto!" There was a hiding squeal behind her breathlessness. "And you're Sasuke! And you're Neji! And you're TenTen! And—oh my god—you're Shikamaru!" There were probably more exclamation points in that last sentence than anyone would care to see.Ino raced over to the drummer. Out of the poor boy's back pocket peeked his drumsticks. He himself wore a pair of off-white skinnies, and a white shirt—and he didn't look happy about it. In fact, he looked like he'd rather be wearing anything—anything—else. Or beanywhere else. And with Ino suddenly deciding to become his new bracelet? He looked murderously…bored. How did someone managed to look both so murderous and so utterly bored? It was, to say the least, fascinating.But then, to a girl meeting her dream band, everything was fascinating.Sakura laughed, nervousness tinting her giggle. She opened her mouth, but before she could say anything, was swept in a hug by the blonde. Then she was passed around to get a handshake from everyone else and a good-mannered hug from TenTen."So what's your name?" Naruto asked again.Sakura was still blushing; being in the arms of your heroes was embarrassing work. Sakura wasn't all that comfortable being enclosed in anyone's arms. "Um… My name, right." Sakura's face turned as red as a tomato. "My name is Sakura," she said, offering a small smile, trying not to look as starstruck as she actually was. She suddenly felt self-conscious of her bubblegum pink hair, something she hadn't felt since she was seven.She grabbed a shoulder-length strand and started playing with it, both to hide it and because of her nervousness.The blonde, naïve looking Naruto smiled the widest grin Sakura had ever seen—the widest grin anyone anywhere had ever seen—and shouted, "Sasuke-teme loves that name! When he was little, he used to say his wife was gonna be named that, Sakura-chan!"Sakura felt her cheeks flare up brighter than the tomato she'd been compared to. She gave a nervous laugh, sneaking a peak at Sasuke.The lead singer was looking everywhere but at her, though there was hardly a tint on his cheeks. It made Sakura's flare up even more—if such a thing was possible."Well…," Sakura said, uncomfortably shifting her weight to the other foot."Got anything for us Brides to sign?"Naruto's casual reference to himself as a "bride" made Sakura laugh. It also made Ino laugh, which was surprising because she was still drooling over poor Shikamaru. "Speaking of brides," Sakura said, "did you know that the term 'black veil bride' referred to a nun?" Random trivia made her feel more comfortable.Naruto's answering smile was expected. "Yup!" he shouted. Then he leaned down to Sakura's height and, covering his mouth on the wrong side with his hand, pretended to whisper next to her ear, "But between you and me, the only one that fits the description of a nun is Sasuke-teme over there.""Naruto," Saukra heard TenTen sigh, "whispering only works if you actually whisper. And if you cover the side of your mouth we can actually see."Sakura laughed, both at TenTen's comment and Naruto's "between you and me" failed whisper."But Sasuke's the prettiest!" Sakura complained, smiling teasingly. It earned her a look, as if he'd expected that comment from someone like her, from the party in question. "He can't possibly be celibate!"TenTen snorted, pressing a hand to Neji's unsurprisingly muscled arm. "I beg to differ!"Sakura giggled."He's a pretty boy," Naruto admitted, saying pretty boyas if it were one word. "But he's also gay," he tried whispering again.Sakura crossed her arms. Thinking one of her heroes was gay wasn't that big a blow, even if it was her "husband." Her verdigris eyes scanned up and down Sasuke's body. He had strong, square shoulders, a pointed chin and square jaw, lean muscles, navy hair let down so it just barely brushed his shoulders, and deep onyx eyes."Even if he were gay, he'd have gotten laid by now," Sakura said, after assessing the man in question for a bit—and enjoying every bit of it, of course. She was a growing teenage girl, it was expected of her to check out the older guys every now and then.Naruto made a face and shook his head. "Nah, he's got a pole shoved up his ass. He doesn't want a dick there too."Sakura's face lit up like a Christmas tree at Naruto's casual use of words that, in any one of her foster homes, would've gotten her a week's worth of chores. She couldn't help laughing anyway."Well, Sakura-chan…" Naruto trailed off, wincing slightly at Ino. Sakura could have sworn there was drool on the poor drummer's clothes. He eyed Sakura again and, in one of his fail-whispers, asked, "What's her name?"Sakura smiled, her own wince copying the blonde's. How poor Shikamaru hadn't lost it by now was forever going to be a mystery. "Ino-pig," she said.Naruto offered a huge grin of his own. "Well, Sakura-chan, Ino-pig," he started again, "it was nice meeting you."Naruto's Ino-pig comment had dragged Ino from Shikamaru's fawned-over arm. "Excuseme, Mr. Man, but no onecalls me a pig!" she shouted, threading her fingers over Shikamaru's muscle. "I don't care how famous you are! I'm gonna beat the life out of you!" Her blue eyes were murderous.A pair of security guards in flamboyant yellow jackets and darkly tinted shades took a step forward. Naruto ignored them. Ino followed his lead. "Hey! No one can hand Uzumaki Naruto his ass! Believe it!" he shouted."Oh, you want a bet, blondie?" Ino shouted back. She seemed completely oblivious to the fact that her own hair was just as blonde, if not more so. "Bring it, asshole!"Sakura sighed. "Go back to your drummer, Ino," she said, her voice obviously used to face-offs such as this one."But he—""Drum. Mer."Ino visibly deflated."Okay, so maybe it wasn't so nice to meet Ino-pig," Naruto muttered. Sakura walked over to Shikamaru and Ino, grabbing the blonde's arm and offering Shikamaru an apologetic smile."But you want us gone," Sakura finished teasingly. "It was wonderful meeting you all—Naruto, Shikamaru, TenTen, Neji…Sasuke." She'd unintentionally put extra meaning to the singer's name. When she noticed, her cheeks flared for the nth time this night.She tugged on Ino, who had full-heartedly thrown herself into gushing over Shikamaru again. "Bye!" She smacked Ino, bringing her back to attention. "Come on, baka," she hissed, and started dragging her away, peeking back every now and then.The last time she looked back, she swore she saw a smirk on Sasuke's face.This was undoubtedly be the best night of her life.
Sakura smiled up at the barista. "Double mocha frappe, no whipped cream, caramel drizzle, please," she said, though she could have just as easily said that she wanted the usual. She was here so much that all the baristas knew her by name. If her foster parents were even looking for her, they could've found her here. Or at the hospital. She wasn't old enough to be a candy-stripper, but she knew the chief of medicine there—Tsunade—and stayed there often to learn. She'd seen surgeries performed. It was an amazing sight, if a bit gruesome.But all of that was just another reason why she knew her foster parents weren't looking for her. Her foster parents hadn't even taken the time to get to know her enough to get her likes and dislikes. They probably hadn't even reported her missing, and were in it just for the government money.But all of that was unimportant. What mattered right now was that she got her double mocha frappe with no whipped cream and caramel drizzle. A thirteen-year-old drinking coffee wasn't something often seen outside this coffee shop; however a thirteen-year-old with a college-level medical journal was an even rarer sight. She'd gotten the book from Tsunade and had dove into it with an enthusiasm not often seen. She'd been reading it since last week, and, because it was summer break, the only thing she's left it to do was go to the concert four days ago. And sleep, but barely."No problem, Sakura," the barista answered with a smile.Sakura turned the page in the journal to read a very descriptive page on testicular cancer.Her frappe came just as she started to grab for it, forgetting that it hadn't been delivered. She didn't notice when it was put in front of her on the table, but she did notice when the barista started talking to someone just two seats away from her. "What would you like?""Black coffee and a biscuit."It was a familiar voice. Sakura, however, was too enthralled in her journal to look up. She did notice the person was a male, by his voice. "Ignore that," she said. "Give him last week's special, no sugar, no milk."The guy again said, "Black coffee."From the corner of her eye, she saw the barista shrug. "Girl knows her coffee," he told the man. "Don't worry. You don't like it, she pays. Always does.""I don't like repeating myself," the familiar man said, his voice low and harsh."Yeah, I know: Black coffee and a biscuit."Sakura didn't see, but knew the man nodded. The barista left, and when he came back, he didn't have a mug of hot black coffee. He had what Sakura had ordered for the man. But the man wouldn't know that, and Sakura looked up to see the guy's reaction.Sakura blinked in surprise when she saw the guy was the one and only lead Black Veil Bride. The face of the Brides. She refrained from saying anything until she saw him drink the special, got the satisfaction of seeing his dark onyx eyes widen slightly in appreciation. It was a fraction of an inch, the most she expected to get from him, but it was enough. "Told you," she gloated.Sasuke glared at her, but she just smiled, holding her starstruck reaction for later. She was really good at suppressing reactions."I'm sure you don't remember me, but I'm Sakura, from your first concert in here," she said coolly, offering her hand for a handshake.Sasuke glared at it until it fell away."Friendly, aren't we, chicken-butt," Sakura muttered. Today, Sasuke's hair wasn't styled the same way it was during his concerts. It looked like a chicken's ass.Sasuke gave Sakura another soul-freezing glare. "You're annoying," he deadpanned icily.The word struck a nerve. Her foster parents—all of them—called her that. "Fuck you.""That's not how you talk to a famous person," Sasuke corrected. His onyx eyes had a twinkle of amusement. It was barely there, though, and Sakura didn't see it.This time it was Sakura's turn to glare. "Sing and I'll treat you like one," she answered, just as coolly as Sasuke had. "But in this coffee shop, you're just another cruel brat, like this world has so many of."This time Sasuke did show some emotion; he was impressed. Sakura took a swing of her frappe, licking off what stuck to her upper lip, and looked back down to her journal. "I hope you get testicular cancer," she muttered, looking down at a particularly gruesome-looking illustration.That made Sasuke steal a peek at the journal. Sakura was short, and Sasuke, quite frankly, wasn't, so it wasn't too hard to do. His default frown crossed his face. So the girl was studying to be a doctor. She couldn't have been in college though. Maybe just advanced classes. This city was well-known for its medicine.Curiosity dragged at his eyes, gluing them to the girl's journal and the way she read it. At the concert, she'd caught his eye. She'd caught everyone's eyes, with her bright bubblegum pink hair and smooth, long legs. The thing that'd caught his eye weren't the legs or the shirt. He'd seen plenty of those in his short life span of sixteen years. Her hair, bright and pink and lively, had caught his eye. He could easily picture her with a cheerleader's outfit, happy and peppy; but he could also just as easily picture her hiding in a corner of her room, cutting alongside her wrists. Her hair made the first vision possible, her eyes the second. There was something in her eyes…something sad, cold.A loud voice pulled Sasuke out of his thoughts. Sasuke inwardly groaned at it. "Hey, Sasuke-teme!" the voice shouted. The voice's owner ran through the little coffee shop. "This place has the best ramen—like, ever! You've got to try it!"Sasuke pinched the bridge of his nose. "Why would I—""Sakura-chan!" Naruto shouted, making the girl look up from her book. She smiled at the sight of him, closing her book instantly. "It is you, right, Sakura-chan?" She nodded. "You wanna come watch us rehearse? We're at the Konoha Hotel just up Seventh Street. You should come! I'll make sure the teme sings something really special for you."Sakura laughed, her green eyes twinkling. "I'd love to!" she said, excitement at being able to hear them in private bubbling inside her. Their lead singer may be a jerk, but he had a nice voice."Cool!" Naruto shouted, smiling. "You can come with us to the ramen shop, too then. We're heading back after that."Sakura put her book away in her beach bag. It looked like it'd seen more than its fair share of abuse. She pulled out a tiny wallet to pay, but Naruto smacked it back into the bag. "Don't worry about it!" he said smilingly. "Teme'll pay."Before the Uchiha could complain, Naruto had dragged Sakura out. Sasuke begrudgingly paid.
The Konoha Hotel was the only hotel worth anything in Konoha. Five stars, great chefs, amazing room service, a pool with a slide—the whole enchilada. It was pretty snazzy. Or so Sakura had been told. She'd never needed its accommodations, or had the money to afford it. And to say the least, Sakura was surprised when she saw it. Konoha was a place that got a lot of traffic, it was the capital of all businesses; the traffic it got couldn't light a candle next to Tokyo's traffic, though, so it was amazement that Konoha had Japan's biggest hotel within its boundaries.Inside the hotel, everything was rich and nice. The carpet was a plush baby blue and the walls were a milky white with little silver designs. Sakura had never seen such finery. It was amazing. People were sitting randomly on the side-chairs, reading their newspapers. Most had stopped to watch Naruto and Sasuke out of the corner of their eyes, but none jumped up to scream, "Oh my god! It's the Black Veil Brides!" Most likely, they were all used to such people walking through. After all, if you had the money to stay at Konoha Hotel, then you probably had as much money as these two.Naruto ran ahead, punching the up button on the elevator to beacon it. "You'll love our room! My girlfriend, Hinata, tours with us, so you'll have someone to talk to if you get tired of hearing the teme's voice," he explained excitedly. His blue eyes shimmered; they were so clear Sakura could see herself in them.She smiled. "Oh, I don't think so. Sasuke may be just about the biggest jerk—""Jackass," Naruto corrected.Sakura laughed. "Right," she agreed. "Sasuke may just about be the biggest…jackass here," she continued, hesitating slightly before cussing, "but he's got one awesome voice."The elevator door opened; Naruto ushered Sasuke and Sakura inside and pushed the button to the fourth floor. "That's something this teme could've lived without hearing," he groaned. "This guy's got an ego about as big as this hotel."Sakura laughed at the comparison. She placed a hand on Sasuke's shoulder, hesitant as only a girl touching a famous person would. Sasuke eased out of it just in time for Sakura to sarcastically say, "This guy? No! Never!"Naruto laughed. "You know, this is our last stop." When Sakura looked at his as if he were insane, he elaborated. "Our last concert stop.""Oh!" Sakura said. "Cool. You guys get to relax a bit, right?""Yup!"The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Naruto raced to a door marked 413. He stood there, bouncing on his heels, until Sasuke felt like getting to the door and unlocking it. The hotel hadn't trusted Naruto with keys of any sort.Sasuke didn't wait for them, just went in.Naruto, like any good host, let Sakura in first. Second. Whatever. The place was huge. There was a living room area and four different doors. A mini-fridge was set next to the TV and it was open, its contents overflowing onto the floor, where TenTen greedily grabbed a bag of Cheetos. The TV was the size of Sakura's bed at Ino's house. A PS3 was on the floor next to it, its remotes in TenTen and Neji's hands. Sakura had never pictured the singed behind a video game controller, but here he was, giving a small smile as he both whipped ass and got his handed to him.Shikamaru was sitting in the little breakfast nook in the corner, staring intently at a shōgi board. The girl Sakura took as Hinata sat on a couch, watching and laughing as the band's love-birds killed each other. As soon as she saw Naruto though, her face lit up red and she smiled, her navy blue hair looking dim in the light of her smile.Naruto walked over and kissed her—it was a kiss anyone under fourteen should /not/ see. That included Sakura. It made Hinata blush, Sakura look away, and Neji punch Naruto's leg, somehow still managing to pay attention to his game."Hinata, guys, you remember Sakura?" Naruto said, jumping into his place next to his girlfriend. He slung his arm around her and smiled up at the pink-haired girl."You brought a fan?" TenTen asked, pausing the game. Neji looked up at the blonde as if he were stupid.Shikamaru muttered, "Troublesome bandmates.""Yeah," Naruto answered, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. "She's cool."Sakura wasn't paying attention to the famous Black Veil Brides. "Is that Tekken Six?" she asked. Just because she wanted to be a doctor didn't mean she couldn't enjoy a good video game every now and then. She hated the shooting games they came up with nowadays, but a good martial arts game never failed to entertain her.TenTen's glare turned away from Naruto to look at Sakura. "Yeah. Wanna play?""Do I want to play?" Sakura snorted. Neji stood up to give her the remote and Sakura walked towards him, taking it. "I'm going to whip your ass, TenTen!"TenTen brought up Character Select and Sakura chose the German cyborg Alissa. She had pink hair, just like Sakura. She also did this really cool thing where she took off her head and used it as a grenade.Sakura beat TenTen the first round; the second was a close call, but she won again.Naruto whistled. "You lost your touch, Ten!""Come over here and let me whip yourass, blondie!" she shouted good-naturedly.Naruto laughed. "Mine's too pretty," he said. "But I'm sure Neji's into the whole BDSM thing." He winked. "You have fun."TenTen laughed, turning off the PS3. "Oh, trust me," she giggled. "I will." Then she sighed. "Who wants to get Grumpy?"Everyone suddenly looked busy. Naruto looked up from his broom. It was a funny sight, Naruto trying to sweep. "Sakura should do it."Sakura's green eyes widened. "I should what? No thank you!"But TenTen ignored that. Instead she pushed Sakura towards one of the four doors. "You came to hang out with the band, right?" she asked. "Well, Sasuke's a part of the band. Have fun!" The brunette gave Sakura another shove, pushing her lightly into the door, and ran to hide behind Neji.Sakura swallowed her need to laugh. She knocked on the door and, when no one answered, she bursted in. After all, anything he had she'd seen in Tsunade's medical journals. "Hey, Sasuke," she said. The man in question was lying on his huge hotel bed, earbuds in his ears, iPod in his hands."Go away," he growled.Sakura ignored him. She took a step in, habitually closing the door behind her. "What're you listening to?" she asked, wondering what kind of music the lead singer of Black Veil Brides could possibly like. Curiosity killed the cat."A band," he said monotonously, "called go away."The rosette rolled her brilliant jade eyes. Sasuke looked up in time to see them, and he felt his chest tighten a bit. Such bright eyes, he thought, and they were riddled with such obvious sadness. Normally, he wouldn't give two shits either way, but…there was something about her. Something…song-worthy. Something so song-worthy it was cheesy."Your eyes," he said, as if those two words were a question.Sakura blinked. "What about them?""They're always…sad." It was a statement, as deadpan as all his words, but Sakura swore she heard something like…concern. It could just be the songwriter in him coming out.Sakura grimaced. "Yeah, well."Sasuke waited. His silence was almost a question in and of itself; he didn't look down at his iPod or close his eyes. Just looked at Sakura, waiting.The weight of his stare made Sakura sigh. "Alright, fine. You wanna know?" she groaned, walking over to the singer's bed. She sat on the edge, looking at him with those forever-sad eyes. "My dad was an abusive asshole," she started. "My mom died before I could even see her face. I started school early just to get away from him. Child services came when I was seven and took me to foster care. But because life is about as much of a bastard as my father was, I got the pick of the litter." Sakura snorted bitterly. She suddenly looked young, really young. A girl beaten by life and forced to grow before her time. "Every single pair of foster parents I've gotten are only in it for the money. They never give two shits about me." Another bitter sigh escaped her and she got up off the bed, the place she sat in a rumpled dent. "Now, come on. You've got practice."Sasuke looked at her. He'd figured out the song-worthy thing about her: Her utter sadness, her bitterness at life, and her ability to smile despite it all. Sasuke was the first to say his childhood was anything but easy, but… He felt for the girl, really he did. He turned off his music and got out of bed, mood mellowed slightly. "What was your father?" he asked silently. He didn't sound hesitant, just like he wasn't used to talking."A bastard," Sakura answered, not feeling uncomfortable about using the word. When it came to her father, no cuss word was too bad.Sasuke graced her with a chuckle. "What did he work as?""I…don't remember," Sakura admitted. She hesitated for a moment, shifting her weight. "I think…he was a mortician. Might explain why he was such an ass to living people." She looked over him. Sitting there, looking at her with a strange, dull little spark in his eyes, he didn't look like such an ass. He looked…kind of…interesting, cute. Like the guy she pictured meeting the first day. Like who she pictured her "husband" to be. She smiled. "Come on, they need their lead singer."
Sasuke leaned against the bed frame, tapping a pen against the notepad. The Black Veil Brides' last concert in Konoha had been two days ago; they'd decided to rest here instead of traveling back home, because jet-lag was a bitch. Naruto and Hinata had quickly befriended the pink-haired girl and now she came over most of every other day.Right now, the whole of the band had gone out to do something—and maybe get hounded by photographers, though they were few and far between here. That's part of the reason Sasuke had chosen Konoha as a stop. Right now, he was alone in his room, tapping his pen—because pencils were stupid—on his song-writing notepad, with the TV as a companion. Writer's block was about as much of a bitch as jet-lag.There was a knock on his door and he ignored it; usually his silence was a "go away" signal. Unless the person knocking was the pink-haired, ever-so-sad Sakura. And if it was then she barged in if she got ignored. There was another rapt knock, and then the door opened. Sasuke held back a groan."I'm bored, and you're the only one in here," she said, walking in. She'd gotten that habit after she'd gotten used to him and the band, like a thirteen-year-old without manners. "So sing to me?""No."Sakura sighed, frowning. Then she turned her eyes to the TV, hoping that would entertain her. Her frown turned into an angry scowl. "You believe in the lies these people spew?"Sasuke looked from Sakura to the television, noticing he'd been watching a 700 Club episode or whatever they were called. He didn't answer her, instead opting to wonder, "Do you?"Sakura turned around to grab the remote from the bedside table. "I'm an atheist," she responded logically."Why?" Sasuke questioned, looking for a distraction from the growing frustration that was this unbuilt song. All he had as a lyric was, We are young and we are strong.It was pitiful.Sakura found a satisfying show, Mystery Diagnosis. "Because," she said, "a good god wouldn't have let a man like my father exist. A good, all-loving god—like the one in 700 Club—wouldn't send you to hell for, say, cutting your hair or eating pork, like that Bible says. 'Oh, if you believe in me, I'll save you from the hell I created for you if you didn't believe in me,'" she continued, imitating a deep male voice, "'but I only made it because I love you.'" She crossed her arms, slumping into an oversized armchair. "Yeah, right. And besides, I've never seen any evidence pointing to a higher being. I've seen evidence pointing to evolution and the Big Bang." She was on a rampage. "'When an adult as an imaginary friend, they call him delusional. When the multitude have the same imaginary friend, they call it religion.'" She sighed, eyeing the TV. "People who believe in a god believe in him because they need more strength than their own. But I think that through strength in self we become something more than they can be."Sasuke rose a single eyebrow, writing down what Sakura just said. It was a pretty deep lyric. "You've got a problem with religion?""I have a problem with the lies it spreads," Sakura answered quickly. She leaned back in the hotel armchair. "You know what I saw walking here? A 'prayer cures cancer' billboard. I've seen cancer; I did a report on it for Tsunade, the Chief of Medicine. Prayer won't cure those self-districting cells." Sakura looked over at Sasuke, her cheeks red as apples in anger. "The people who believe that billboard will die painfully, because they didn't get medical attention. When I tell people, they get mad that I won't believe this lie, but I know there's something more inside, something much more scientific than a shiny man in the sky."Sasuke jotted down, "that I won't believe this lie, but I know there's something more inside." He nodded at Sakura. He kept her talking, saying things here and there, as a song came together lyric by lyric. Soon, he had a song: "Sweet Blasphemy."And that's how Sakura became his muse.
The band had taken its short vacation after the tour; it was in the process of packing up. Sakura stood in the corner of the huge hotel room, looking dismally at all of them. The Black Veil Brides had stayed for over a month. Naruto had managed to chase Sakura down every other day, whether she was in the coffee shop, the hospital as she seemed to usually be, or wherever. Every other day, Sakura was locked in the hotel, the key lost or stolen by Naruto. And she'd gotten used to that over the past five weeks. The idea of them leaving had her falling in on herself, anger and sadness evident only in her eyes. She knew they couldn't stay forever—the fact that they'd even taken the time to learn her name should've been enough—but… She'd miss them. She'd miss Naruto acting like a dunce, TenTen playing with her on the PlayStation, Neji going on and on about "destiny." She'd miss playing shōgi with Shikamaru, teasing Hinata over Naruto.Most of all, she'd miss talking to Sasuke. He never did very much talking, but he listened. Asked questions every now and then. Smirked at her when he agreed. At first he'd always have a pen in his hand, a notepad in the other, and she knew he was just using her for songs. But he'd stopped holding the notebook so tightly after the first three days. After the first ten, he stopped paying such attention to his notes. And after the first fourteen, he'd forgotten his notepad altogether.The man really wasn't as much a jackass as she'd first thought."D-d-don't look so do-own, S-Sakura-chan."Sakura looked up from her crossed arms. Hinata looked at her with milky white eyes the same color as her cousin's. There was something motherly in her gaze, reminding Sakura that she was at least three years younger than all of them. She didn't think they knew that; it wasn't like she was trying to hide it, just that they'd never asked and she didn't see the need to mention it.Sakura smiled reassuringly up at Hinata, a smile that said she was okay. And she was. When they left, she wasn't going to start cutting herself or thinking about death, she was just going to be really sad. She had a lot of abandonment issues. "I'm going to really miss you guys," she said softly.Hinata smiled. "W-we'll miss-miss you too," she stuttered. She had a speech impediment that Sakura found endearing. "B-but at least y-y-you'll have time to st-st-study while we're gone. N-N-Naruto-k-kin won't bo-bother you anymore." Sakura had a feeling that if Hinata had been a different girl, she'd be jealous of how Naruto always grabbed Sakura and dragged her away from whatever she was doing. But Hinata saw Naruto's interest for what it was—a sense of a kindred spirit, of brotherhood. In fact, Naruto was the first to open up and tell her everything about himself. Naruto came from a similar background as Sakura, only his father had died in the military and his mother in a car accident. The others were viewing her not as a fan, but as a friend, however that didn't mean they wanted to share their live's stories. "M-m-maybe when we come b-back, you'll be a d-doctor."Sakura's heart fell. It showed on her face. "You'll be gone for that long?" she asked, depression showing on her face.Hinata's perfect pretty little eyebrows furrowed. "What do you mean? You can't be very far from graduating, and I'm sure any college will take you in fresh from high school."The age. Hinata thought she was older."How old do you think I am, Hinata-chan?" Sakura wondered, looking up at the girl with wide green eyes."Fifteen, s-sixteen," she answered flawlessly."I'm thirteen, Hinata-chan," Sakura corrected.Hinata's eyes darted to Sasuke, packing the PS3, to Sakura, as if she knew something Sakura didn't. "Th-that's impossible."Sakura crossed her arms again, suddenly looking very much thirteen. "Believe it," she muttered, stealing Naruto's catch-phrase. She stole a glance up at Hinata, frowning. She didn't think her age would make them stop being her friend."And wh-what about that boo-book, the med-medical journal one?"The hobby she kept had helped them into believing she was older. Sakura snorted. "I'm friends with the Chief of Medicine," she explained. "She let me borrow it."Hinata's mouth made a little "o." She smiled that motherly smile down at Sakura. "We'll be b-b-back bef-fore you go t-to college, o-okay."Sakura smiled."Sakura."The girl's pink head snapped in direction of the voice. Sasuke was opening the door to his room, half inside already. Sakura smiled at Hinata and walked in after Sasuke, obedient like a puppy.Sasuke was waiting for her, sitting on his bed, onyx eyes expressing emotion—emotion. It was indecipherable, but something new shone in his dark, colorless eyes. He nodded for Sakura to sit next to her.Pink brows knit together, she sat, more out of curiosity than obedience. She crossed her legs, the blackish-blue denim shorts riding up and her white shirt loose on her body. "I don't want you to leave," she said, before Sasuke could say anything. "I'll miss you." She barely kept her voice from cracking; Sasuke didn't know she had abandonment issues and she didn't want him to. That would just be one more thing to add to the endless list named What is Wrong With Sakura.No doubt it was chock full."You'll see me again," he said. His voice wasn't masked. He sounded sad.Sakura laughed sadly. "Not if you see me first.""Especially if I see you first," Sasuke corrected. His eyes weren't looking at the sorrow in Sakura's bright, childish green eyes. His eyes were fixated on the soft pink of her glossy lips.Sakura snorted. "I'm just another fan that Naruto got along with," she sighed. "But that's okay, I guess. I got to be your friend, I guess." She looked shyly through her thick pink eyelashes up at the dark haired singer. "We are friends…right?"Sasuke extended a hand to hold Sakura's chin. His thumb traced the underside of her bottom lip. He almost smiled when Sakura's face lit up as red as a Christmas tree. Before he could think about it, he kissed her, soft and sweet and wanting. Her lips tasted…enchanting. Her kissing was clumsy, as if this were her first kiss, and it brought a chuckle from him. She was so innocent! He tilted her chin, teaching her to kiss by way of example.It lasted forever, until they were both out of breath, and when he pulled away, her blah was tomato red and her smile a mile wide. Guilt was clear in her eyes too. Sasuke didn't see that. He just smirked, smugness and a hurried happiness in his eyes. That happiness soon turned to sadness. He quickly pecked her lips again and stood, just as quickly, he was packing his things. "You'll see me again," he said, putting away his deodorant.Sakura left the room, her fingertips brushing her lips, a guilty smile on her face, and said goodbye.
Black Veil Brides is a real band; every song mentioned or that will be mentioned in the course of this one-shot series belongs to them (or Andy Sixx or Biersack). Sixx, like Itachi, is my idol. My hoe. My husband. But don't tell him that. Anyway, a review would really influence whether or not I write a sequel.
This was written on my iPod; if you notice any forward slashes that I forget to change to italics, please inform me.