Sakura, after work, went directly home. She was tired and her mind was in turmoil. Would he be home that night? Would he be there for her, at least this once?
She knew it was foolish of her to expect it. But she couldn't help being a bit emotional about it, and she knew why.
When she got home, the apartment was dark and quiet, as usual, even when she returned late in the evening. Sakura put her jacket on a chair and her bags on the table. There was no one there.
She stored the groceries in the fridge and made sure everything was in its right place. She had already eaten on her way there. She then took her purse and went towards the bedroom.
It was empty and, even if the radiator was on, it still felt cold and alone. Only then did Sakura allow herself to break down.
She let her purse fall on the bed while she collapsed on the floor. The tears which she had been holding for months now flew freely, unrestrained. She cried quietly because the man she loved wasn't there with her. Again.
But Sakura only cried for a few minutes. Then she got up, grabbed her purse, put it on her bedside table and took the phone which was on it. She dialled her best friend's number and waited.
When the Yamanaka girl answered, Sakura said, with a very unsteady voice, "Ino, I know you asked me to call you to let you know how things were going. Well, things aren't going. He isn't here, Ino, and this is the umpteenth time this happened. I don't know what to do anymore…" and a small sob interrupted her sentence.
She listened to her friend's answer. "No, he isn't here. I'm alone yet again." But then she smiled sadly. "No, Ino, don't say that. I'm probably being too harsh towards him. Itachi works really hard and, since he's the one in charge at the Police Headquarters, he has to take the longest hours. I'm probably just overreacting. But, oh Ino,… I wish he were here with me. I feel so lonely. We barely see each other now, and sometimes he doesn't even come home for the night because he has to work…"
Sakura sobbed again, this time more loudly, and she sat down on the bed. "I miss him so much, Ino. Things have changed a lot. I don't know why, but it's so different from when we started dating. We often saw each other and got to spend time together. Now we hardly see each other once a week. True, we never had evenings together because either he or I had to work, but we were together, we talked. Now I don't know, now I don't see him anymore…"
Sakura listened to the words of comfort Ino was saying to her, and then added, "Oh, Ino, last time I saw him was ten days ago, and it was at midnight. He just came to our bed, took me into his arms and fell asleep. He looked so tired that I didn't dare say a word. It took me a lot of time to fall asleep as well, and when I woke up – and it was just six hours later – he was already gone…"
Sakura was now sobbing more. "What can I do? How is it possible to even live like this?" She then made a strangled noise. "No, Ino, of course I haven't told him about that. I haven't even seen him, and how could I tell him on the phone? Oh, and I'm so afraid about his reaction. I have no idea of what he could say to this. What if he leaves me? Though maybe," and a hiccup blocked her words, "it would be for the best, considering we barely see each other as it is…"
The pink-haired medic cried harder. "Why does life have to be like this, Ino? Why did things have to go this way? And why me?"
The young woman sobbed a little more quietly for a while. "Yeah, Ino, I know, I'm exaggerating, and you know why I'm so emotional. I just wish things were different. I… I'm feeling really bad these days, and not having Itachi with me…" Sakura's hand clutched over her heart, "…well, to put it plainly, hurts. Terribly. And the worst thing is I shouldn't have the right to complain about his absence, since we never really talked about our relationship."
The young medic smiled, a heart-breaking smile, if only Ino could have seen her. "He never even said that he loves me, Ino. So he probably doesn't. Not even when our relationship got to the next level did he ever tell me anything about his feelings. This means…" fresh tears flew down her cheeks, "that he doesn't have any feelings for me. And I'm so stupid, Ino, because I do have feelings for him!" Sakura cried harder. "Yes, Ino, it's the worst thing that could happen, right? Being in a relationship with a man whom I love more than anything else but who doesn't return my feelings, and also having important things to tell him but without any possible occasion to do so!"
The green-eyed woman sniffled. "You heard me, Ino-pig. I said I love him and I mean it. I would give my life for him if necessary, and that's why I can't be angry with him if he doesn't come to me when I need him. I also have to consider that I didn't tell him about my feelings either. And I never told him how much I need his presence in my life… So it is probably my own fault if we are slowly falling apart and if I'm now experiencing heartache for the first time."
Sakura's expression was so painfully sad right then that even stones would have started to cry. "Thank you, Ino. I know you care about me and are always there when I need you."
Suddenly her expression changed. It was uncertain. "Do you really think it's a good idea? Maybe he's busy…" She smiled sadly. "I know I can't avoid this forever, and I know that this situation is affecting my health. Yeah, you're right. Tomorrow… Ah, no, tomorrow I have that appointment. Well, the first day I have an hour free I'll go to the Police Headquarters and try to speak with him. Yeah, I know. It's true, I will tell him." But her expression was worried and serious. "I'm so afraid about his reaction, Ino. He is a police officer, after all, and he carries a gun…" A little laugh escaped her when she heard Ino's replay. "Fine. I'm exaggerating again. But please, Ino, will you come with me when I go to him?"
Her voice quivered, and then cracked. "Thank you, Ino. I'm scared to death. My life is just awful right now, and I can't help feeling helpless. Maybe if I hadn't fallen in love this wouldn't have happened. I really, really wish I had never met Uchiha Itachi and fallen completely, utterly, helplessly in love with him."
After thanking Ino for her support and saying goodbye to her, Sakura ended the call. She had talked about all her problems – well, almost all of them – with her best friend on the phone, but she didn't really feel better. No, she felt even worse. The terrible mess her life was in was now displayed before her and she broke down in heart-wrenching sobs once again, pulling her legs on the bed and her knees under her chin.
She was miserable. Everything had lost its meaning. Why couldn't she be a normal person? Why couldn't she have a normal life? No, she had to fall in love with the Police Chief of Konoha, who probably just used her as a sex partner.
That was another sore subject for Sakura. She had been a virgin before Itachi, and since she truly loved and cared about him, she had given all of herself in their relationship. And he seemed to reciprocate her. He had always treated her with respect and deep affection, or so she had thought. They had begun to share their lives together in every possible way. They had chosen an apartment and moved in. Together. He always listened when she rambled about various things, and she always gently forced him to tell her more about himself, and he had seemed to like it, opening up more to her.
But then, for some reason, he had begun to work more. It was winter, so it was normal, and she had had more work at the hospital too, so at first she hadn't noticed. However, now it was even too clear. He was obviously tired of her, it seemed.
Sakura, with one last sob, stopped crying. She dried her tears with a tissue and sighed. And sighed again. She then spoke softly to herself, "That I should get to the point to feel sorry for myself… I was probably just a sex toy for him and," her eyes were filling with tears once again, "even if it hurts like hell, it's only my fault. I was foolish enough to believe there was actually something more…"
The young woman held back the tears and stared at the bed, the big bed which was now only hers. So she didn't notice the black form which had been hiding behind the bathroom door that entire time and hadn't missed a word. She didn't even notice how that dark shadow came towards the bed. She only noticed when she felt an arm sneak around her waist.
Sakura screamed, slapped the arm and backed away in fear. She turned around, scared to death, only to meet the obsidian eyes of Uchiha Itachi.
She relaxed for a moment and was about to lean back into his arms, but then abruptly stopped. She had already raised her own arms to embrace him, but she let them fall again, wary.
"Itachi," she said, her voice breaking, and her eyes filling with tears again. She didn't notice how intense his eyes were and how they never left her face. "Did you just get home?"
Itachi observed her quietly for a moment. Then he said, "No, Sakura, I've been here for over an hour."
Sakura gasped. But then…
"Yes," he nodded, "I heard everything."...