Sakura sighed as she brushed out her now short hair. Her mother had gotten upset when her daughter came home and had hair that was shoulder length. Grounded for two days, except for missions, of course.
"Haruno Sakura, I would very much like your help! It's your team, not mine!" Sakura's mother called down the hall. Her voice was harsh and unforgiving. Let's not get this wrong—Sakura's mother was very caring… when she didn't have to cook for shinobi. Her family had something against ninja. No one ever dared to ask why.
Team Seven was coming over today. It's not very much like they had a choice; the boys of the team were under Kakashi-sensai's care. Sensei was making them come. Making Sasuke come, anyways, because Naruto had no objections. It was March, Naruto wouldn't dare make an objection do to that fact, and the fact that it was the 28th. Kakashi-sensei was nice, he treated Sakura like his very own daughter—there was no way he was missing her birthday—but he treated the boys better, just like most of Japan. But, you know, whatever.
Sakura nodded to her reflection and ran down the hall and into the kitchen. That was when someone knocked on the door. "No worries! I'll get it!"
"You most certainly will not! You will stay with me and help me set the table if you want your team to eat. Come on, the horse will get cold," her mother hissed, passing her the plates. "Your father will get it, ne?"
"Hai," the blacksmith answered. He pushed himself off the door arc and fell to the living room to open the door.
"You made tomato soup?" Sakura asked, laying the last plate in its place. She looked at her mother as she played with the doily-like tablecloth. Her mother had the brown hair of a chef who has been working for years over a burning stove. She had blue eyes like the early morning sky and the tanned skin of an Indian, but her features were so obviously Japanese. Mother and daughter looked nothing alike. The chef nodded. "Rice?" Again, the mother nodded. "Ramen?" Another nod.
"Nice to meet you, Hatake, Uzumaki, Uchiha," Sakura's father's voice drifted in from the living room. Her father's voice was strong as the steel he bent for a living. He was blonde and freckled with skin as fair as his daughter's. He had eyes as brown as her mother's skin.
"Sensei!" Sakura yelled as she saw the silver haired man step into the dinning room. She had a smile so wide it reached her ears. "You're not late? What happened—did you 'find your way on the path of life'?"
Kakashi's eye creased in a smile that was hidden under his facemask. "It is almost impossible to get lost when Naruto is always remembering the way," he joked with her.
"Why, thank you, Naruto," Sakura smiled, directing her words to the blonde.
"No problem, Sakura-chan!" Sakura giggled at the thirteen-year-old.
"Um… Kakashi-sensei, this is my father"—she motioned to the big man in the white shirt—"Haruno Katake, Kohona's blacksmith." She turns to the navy headed Uchiha, speaking to him for the very first time. "You know that huge, sharp kantana you love, Sasuke? He made that."
Sasuke's eyes creased for a moment, wondering why the suffix from his name was gone. It was the first time he'd ever heard his name from her mouth with out it. He didn't know what to think of it. "Hn…"
"Haruno Yoshi is in the kitchen. She's the chef and the baker of the village. She made ramen, rice, and tomato soup—your favorites."
"Arigato, Sakura-chan," Kakashi and Naruto said, one beat off from saying it together. Sasuke stayed expressionless, his hands deep in his kaki shorts. Kakashi slapped his back, making the Uchiha lose his balance for a moment.
"Arigato," Sasuke murmured reluctantly.
"Come, come! Sit!"
A frown was edged deep into her features. "Sakura-chan," Naruto, who was the closet to her other than her parents, asked, "are you okay?"
Sakura didn't look up at him. "Ha—hai. I'm—I'm fine, Naruto-kun. Just… just thinking."
Kakashi heard, as did Yoshi and Katake, but they paid it no heed. It was how Sakura was, going beyond the restrictions of girlish thoughts and actually thinking like a grown man, not like the little girl she was. Her thoughts usually were usually along the lines of wars and how to stop them, medicine and what it could do for humans, things like that.
Sasuke did too, and he wondered why Sakura didn't add the –kun where it rightfully belonged—to his name, not Naruto's. He also wondered why it bothered him.
Kakashi, trying to drive her off from her thoughts, as they were usually more depressing than Sasuke's, smiled at her. It was noted through the fold in his non-Sharingan eye. "Sakura-chan," he called to her. Sakura nodded at him, but didn't make any movement to look at her sensei. "Why do you not look like your parents?"
Sakura kept her head low, but lifted her emerald green eyes to look at her teacher. "I—" she stuttered. "I do."
"No you don't, Sakura. And stop hiding. We all know you're about to cry," Sasuke said, his tone a degree softer than is per usual. His dark eyes had been studying her. He had noticed something was wrong before Naruto. He had noticed by the way her shoulders hunched, the way she shivered ever so slightly, the way her eyes were a shade dimmer.
"Yeah, Sakura-chan, c'mon. Don't cry; turn that frown upside down and tell us," Naruto insisted.
Sakura looked up, tears swelling in her eyes. "I look like my parents, not like Yoshi or Katake. My parents died on a mission; my aunt and uncle took me in." Her eyes were welling with tears, and she refused to let them fall. Not in front of the Team, not again. "My mother had my eyes and my skin, and my father had my hair and my charka control. They were the perfect ninja." She laced her voice thickly with a venom that would make even Orochimaru run for the hills.
"Yes, well," Yoshi muttered grabbing Sakura's hand with her own and patting it, "let's not talk about such matters. Are you enjoying your meal?"
The boys gave a united hai, keeping their eyes on Sakura's wet eyes.
"Sakura, oh, you'll love this!" Katake exclaimed, a smile on his big face. Sakura looked at him, tears once again in their rightful place—behind her eyes. There was a sense of foreboding in those same jade eyes. "I met up with the Huugas' leader. Poor old boy—he's worried about his nephew. The man said something like, He's quite; no woman'll want to marry him. I'm afraid the Huugas' future rest about his shoulders. I told him you were up to it. What do you think? What do you think about the boy?"
"I've told you a million times to call me father."
Sakura looked him in the eye. "I refuse. Now, let me answer your question. Katake, Neji's pretty awesome, but… he's more of a brother to me. It'd be like insect or something. And, I know this for a fact; a friend of mine has her eye on him. Furthermore—" she gagged. "The dude's like Naruto, like an older brother."
"You know the Huuga?" Sasuke's voice rang out.
Sakura smiled at him. She was happy to have something to surprise him. "I have a life outside of you and the team," she told him smugly.
"Really?" Naruto yelled out, a frown on his face. "What do you do? Do you hang out with Neji and Hinata a lot? Is Ino friends with you again? Do you talk about us? Do you train with them?"
Sakura smiled, "Yes, no, no, and no."
Yoshi ignored them, smiling at Kakashi and Sasuke. It was a forced smile, but a smile nonetheless. "Is our dearest Sakura a pain on the grounds as she is in the kitchen?"
"Sakura's a pain in the kitchen? She's a great cook on the missions," Kakashi said through spoonfuls of rice. "I remember the time we had to escort some great pain in the a—butt. Sasuke and Naruto went hunting. They found nothing more than a deer and some berries. Let me tell you—best meal I've ever had."
"I remember that!" Naruto said, joining the conversation. "It was no ramen, but the berry sauce was amazing! I saw a rabbit there, but Sasuke wouldn't let me shoot it!"
"I told you, it wasn't healthy. If we ate it, it would've killed us," Sasuke hissed, defending himself.
"Yes, yes. Now," Katake muttered, "who was the person?"
"A prince. A big, fat pain in my butt," Sakura answered, her voice no louder than a whisper.
"Yeah! Sasuke and I wanted to kill him!" Sakura gave a small smile at Naruto's exclamation. " 'Sakura, my flower, become my princess.' 'Sakura, my love, such a pretty girl should be in the kitchen, not on ninja teams.' Polite prince my a —"
"Naruto," Sakura warned.
Sasuke looked up from his tea. It was bitter, like he liked it. "Hn…. I was about to tear his eyes out."
"Yeah, his eyes wouldn't get out of the gutter! And by gutter, I mean Sakura's behind! Some stupid jonin ninja attacked and it was Sakura's job to keep the stinker company. She went to protect him and he stood there, looking at her butt. Sasuke was over there in less than a second; ready to carve his eyes out and put them on his wall as a trophy. 'Course, he made it look like he was protecting her. Stupid man has a knack for that."
Sasuke gave a smug smirk. "Just doing my job—protecting the weak."
"Oh, isn't she? She's only in that Academy so she can become a suitable wife and make healthy babies," Yoshi smiled, happy to have someone who agrees with her.
Sasuke's smirk vanished, replaced by a scowl. He couldn't imagine Sakura as a housewife. Her charka control was far to grate for that. It was better than his control, and he was a year older than she. She could become a medic or something. And Sakura wasn't the type to like to stay home much—it was either the rode, or the forest, or the rooftops with her.
"Yes, Yoshi," Sakura sighed. She knew that if she didn't have her guardian's consent, she'd not be able to train.
"I think not!" Kakashi hissed at the adults. "She's doing very well with us, if you don't mind."
"Oh, yes." Katake hissed back.
"What if she should get a scar or break something? No, no, no, that wouldn't do. Her body is her glory, and, I must say, for a twelve year old, she has a very good one. If her body is marred, she will be damaged merchandise. What man would want injured goods?" Yoshi tut-ed.
"I don't very much like you talking about Sakura that way," Kakashi told them, his voice louder. "She's like my daughter, I don't like you speaking about her like that."
"Legally, she is my daughter! I'll talk about her anyway I please! She's an annoyance to be sold," Katake yelled back, grabbing Sakura's wrist angrily. Sakura gasped as she was pulled up from her seat on the floor. Tears pricked at her eyes—her arm was pulled from its socket.
"She spends more time with us, and now I see why! You're hurting her, you brute!" the silver haired sensei growled, his visible black eye showing his growing irritation.
"She's a 'ninja,' no? She can deal with it!"
Sasuke jumped up, ready and at attention; Naruto had already stood and was now next to Sakura, prying the silversmith's thick fingers off Sakura's wrist.
"Let her go!" Kakashi growled again, losing the lazy attitude once and for all.
Sakura's jade orbs watered as she tried to help Naruto help her. "Katake, please," she whined. She was responded by the fist tightening. "Ah! Dad—Daddy, please!" Again, it tightened.
"Let her go," it was Sasuke's voice this time, coming from right behind the blonde and the pinkette. His eyes were red with the sharingan. Fearful, the man did as told. Sakura ran out into her room. "Stay out," he told the brunette and the blonde. To his sensei and best friend, he nodded at the door.
The wind was spinning her hair around her like a windmill. Her eyes watered. Sticky tears dripped from her chin and onto her long legs. They followed the tinny curves the newly turned twelve year old and fell to the roof shingles.
"Sasu—Sasuke-kun," Sakura muttered, her voice stuck in her throat.
"Why'd you let them do that?" Sasuke asked. His footsteps resounded on the singles. He sat down next to the crying girl.
"What choice do I have, Sasuke-kun? Its stay with them, or die on the street. I'm not ready to die." Her voice was bittersweet, not the sugar sweet it usually was. Her tears stained her voice. Sasuke found himself missing its honey undertone, even though he rather hated sweet stuff.
"Sakura," he said, putting an arm around her shoulders, "breathe." Sakura did as told, because it was Sasuke telling her to do so. She was so absorbed she didn't notice that he had his arm around her.
"Sasuke-kun," she hiccupped, "do me a favor?"
"Pop my shoulder in? Don't break it." She was teasing him, in a way, because of his curse mark and the way he broke some dude's arms for her. Sasuke gave a soft chuckle and did as asked.
"Sakura-chan, you have a choice." It was Kakashi.
"No, I don't."
Naruto walked up next to Sasuke and Sakura. "Of course you do, Sakura!" he said brightly as he sat down next to them. He placed an arm around Sakura's shoulders, making the limb cross over Sasuke's. Neither of them made the effort to move away—they knew Sakura was in pain. That was enough to stop the boys bickering and help. Even Sasuke, who know the girl to be an annoying fan-girl, was worried.
Kakashi gave a sad smile under his facemask. He sat down behind the three. "You can always come with us. Of course," he said lazily, pulling up a hand to ruffle Sakura's short hair, "you'll have to make us some of that deer."
Sakura smiled. "Arigato, Kakashi-sensei. You mean that, right?"
"Always and forever, Sakura-chan!" Naruto shouted to the rooftops. "Believe it!"
"Quite, dobe. Those bakas in there could hear us," Sasuke hissed; pulling Sakura closer, ready to jump off the rooftop with her in tow in case anything happened.
"Whatever. Let them. They're not ninja! We are! If we take to the rooftops, they won't ever catch us," Naruto reasoned.
"Will you be coming with us?" Kakashi asked, a yawn layering his voice now that everyone was okay. He was like a lion with his cubs—once they were safe, it was naptime.
Sakura looked up into the moon for the longest time. Her pink locks fell to the back of her neck and her pale skin shinned with the silver light. That was when her natural beauty was brought out. Even at age twelve, her green eyes shine like the stars themselves. Her legs were possibly the longest any little girl could have. Her cheekbones were high, adorning her eyes in the best of ways. "Yeah," she whispered. "Yeah, why not?" Her voice was stronger. She looked down from the moon unto Kakashi. "Can I please bring George?"
The man's visible eye crinkled in a smile. "Go ahead."
"Sakura-chan, who is George?" Naruto wondered aloud.
"Curious George, dobe," Sasuke answered, pulling his own arm back from Sakura and standing. Sakura nodded.
"I love that monkey," she croaked, her voice raw. "Pretty sure that if it was a contest between Sasuke-kun and George, George would win." She smiled, standing herself, and walked into her room by the window.
"Thanks, that doesn't make me feel worthless at all," Sasuke muttered sarcastically.
"At least you know you can always get me off you by throwing George someplace far," Sakura said good-naturedly. She jumped back on the roof, looking at Kakashi. "Here, I don't feel like taking all clothes and making Sasuke-kun, you and Naruto carry them," she smiled as she handed the silver headed man 100,000 dollars worth of ryō.
"Where'd you get this?" Kakashi asked, black eye wide with surprise.
"I've been saving. By the time I turned sixteen, I would have around 80,000,000 ryō. Grandmother gives me 2,000 a year. Happy birthday to me," Sakura whispered. "She's loaded, she generous, and she's ruthless." Kakashi nodded, pocketed the ryō, and tried not to look surprised.
"Beat you?" Sakura asked the boys timedly.
Sakura smirked. It looked like Sasuke's signature smirk. "Thank you." With that just jumped to the boys, giving them a big hug. Not even Sasuke dared to object, he just placed a hand on her waist and hugged her back.
"Don't mention it," the Uchiha smirked, kissing the short girl's forehead.
Don't kill me. I had to write this one. It was inspired by a really good fan-fic, I just can't recall its name. I guess it's a little SasuSaku, but all of this was based on family. You see, I was going through the Naruto Wiki, and something popped into my head. I've called Team Seven "The Family That Once Was," ever since. So, based on that, I made a family fan-fiction.
I accept flames, no matter how much they hurt. I know Sakura isn't like herself in this one. But there's a reason for that—Sakura was trying to hide the fact that the one she loved was the Uchiha, so she barely talked to him. I also know that George was pretty random. But… inspiration, what you gonna do? I had to have something that Sakura loved more than Sasuke, otherwise it would be pointless. I don't know why, but it would be pointless. Okay? Okay.
Make me happy? I'll give you a chocolate flavored cell phone if you do. R&R, please? PLEASE! Thanks. The button's right… about…