Warning: Rated 'M' for a reason!
Who Said Anything About Love?
By: Rise of the Blossom
Chapter 1 – I Have My Reasons
"Okaerinasai," a deep voice replied.
Sighing, Sakura unbuttoned her jacket, slipping it from her arms and hanging it up on the hook that belonged to her. There were four in total. Two for her and then one each for her roommates. They only had the one jacket each, saying it was unnecessary and pointless to have any more. In other words, they couldn't be bothered wasting any money they earned on things they didn't really need. If she didn't have anybody buying those things for her, or have her savings, Sakura probably would have been the same.
She had been living with them for just under a year now and every day was like a new adventure. Literally. Some mornings, Sakura would be lucky to make it to school on time with her friend driving like a psychopath and almost killing the pair of them. Whereas other mornings, she would find herself falling into a pile of dirty, stinking laundry trying to wake said friend up. Their guardian was no better, but Sakura supposed she couldn't complain. They were lucky to have been taken in, especially her.
After removing her shoes, Sakura made her way through the apartment. It was only small, but thankfully had three bedrooms. She got lucky with being given the bedroom with a balcony. Neither of her roommates particularly minded having the smaller rooms, shrugging and saying they didn't spend much time in them anyway. It was true. One was always out with friends and doing who–knows–what whilst the other… Actually, Sakura had no idea what went on with that person.
"Something smells good," she commented the moment she entered the kitchen.
"Ah. That would be take out," the voice of her guardian replied cheerfully.
"Again!" her friend yelled from the living room, making her shake her head with a chuckle.
Living with two guys was not easy, especially considering how both could be quite the perverts. They never took advantage of having her around though. Sure there was the odd comment about her appearance, but other than that, they were almost like real gentlemen! Kind of.
"You know, Kakashi, both you and Naruto are going to get fat one day." She eyed him for a moment before adding, "Or incredibly ill."
There wasn't a chance in hell that either of them would become obese. Sick, yes. Fat? No. Naruto was unable to sit still for longer than an hour or two (unless asleep because then, he was dead to the world), whereas Kakashi was always training. He was a police officer, so had to keep fit. It wasn't really a requirement for the job, as Sakura had seen many overweight police officers around, but it was usually preferred that the officers were healthy and in shape. It made chasing after the bad guys easier, she supposed.
That was how she met Kakashi. Through bad guys. But he saved her from all of that and took her in without making too much of a fuss about it. Other than him and Naruto, she had no family. Of course, Sakura had friends, but they weren't family like these two were. Other than two of her friends and the two living with her, nobody ever saw her on one of her bad days. Not even her boyfriend of three months.
"So, how did it go?"
Sakura gave Kakashi a blank look, fixing herself some of the leftover take out.
"Your date. I am supposed to ask about these kind of things as your guardian, right?"
"I suppose you are," she mumbled, grabbing a drink from the refrigerator. She had always preferred fizzy, cold cans. Other drinks were just boring and too plain for her. "And it went fine. Thanks for asking."
Kakashi nodded once, deeming her answer as acceptable. That was the thing about Kakashi. When it truly mattered, he was there within a heartbeat. Other times… Well, it was safe to say that he was distant. But Sakura was fine with that. She liked him for him and didn't want Kakashi to pretend to be somebody else.
"Naruto will be glad to hear. He still doesn't approve, you know. In fact, he's been pacing up and down the apartment most of the night until downstairs came up and complained."
No, Naruto had never approved of the guy she was dating. She didn't really blame him for his disliking, either. Hidan was a bad boy and had quite the reputation. They were a couple nobody expected to see together – not even herself. Just, when he asked her out, Sakura couldn't think of a reason to say no. So she accepted. Three months later and here she was. She wouldn't exactly say that she was stuck, because Sakura was more than certain that if she wanted to end the relationship, Hidan would accept it. He wasn't the kind of guy to be with somebody who didn't want to be with him. No, he wouldn't accept it easily, because he had a few anger issues, but he would eventually accept it.
Another reason why Naruto didn't approve was because Hidan was older than her. She was seventeen, he was twenty–four. Was it really that bad, though? In some countries, girls as young as thirteen were being forced into arranged marriages with men well over twice their age. Naruto wasn't the only person who didn't approve. Her other best friend, Uchiha Sasuke, didn't either. He was less vocal in his disapproval, though. Instead settling on glaring and scowling. Oh! And brooding. Can't forget the brooding.
Her girl best friend, Yamanaka Ino, practically lived through them. Vicariously, of course. She was always asking for the latest details, wanting to know how far they went and if he was spoiling her. Things like that. She could be just as protective, however. If anybody even dared to screw around with Sakura, Ino was there in a flash, literally knocking them down to the ground where they belonged. She liked that about the blonde. While defending her, Ino forced Sakura to become her own person, too. Independent and confident, yet not too cocky.
Kakashi was more laid-back about her relationship. He was quite-laid back about everything, really. As long as she didn't let her grades slip and didn't get into trouble with the law, Sakura could pretty much do whatever the hell she wanted. But that was only because he knew her. Kakashi knew that Sakura enjoyed the feeling of being free, yet safe at the same time. If she needed a shoulder to cry on, he was there. However, if she needed some time and space to think alone, Kakashi made sure that she got that time and space.
Sitting down opposite him and digging into the leftovers, she sighed when Naruto entered the room, dumping his dirty dishes into the sink before hopping onto the counter. His hands fell on each side of his thighs as he leaned forward, using them to keep his balance.
"He didn't touch you, did he?"
"Naruto! Do you really have to say that while I'm trying to eat?"
Kakashi glanced up from behind his book. Icha Icha. It was like the bible to him. One time he tried to get Naruto into them, saying they were amazing and could teach him a few things, but had been utterly mortified when Naruto tossed the book carelessly to him not even a half hour later, claiming it was too boring. What had he expected, though? Naruto wasn't one for sitting still, let alone reading a book! Even now, he was rocking backwards and forth, almost as though he was swinging on his arms.
"I thought Hidan-san took you out for dinner?"
She had to hold back her grimace. "Change of plans. We went to the cinema instead."
"I see." He didn't sound as though he believed her, but instead settled on reading his book. After all, Sakura was seventeen. He understood that she was not a little girl. However, considering her past, Kakashi and Naruto felt quite protective over her, although the latter definitely showed it more than the former. "And what movie did you watch?"
"Are you seriously questioning me?" she asked the pair of them, glaring as she paused in shoving another bite of food into her mouth. "What, do you want to check to see if my virginity is still intact, too?"
Knowing that she was only joking, Kakashi smirked and shrugged as though he hadn't a care in the world. "Well, if you're offering…"
"She's not!" Naruto exclaimed as he jumped down from his seat on the counter and threw himself into the chair beside her. "Sakura-chan, we're just looking out for you."
"And I'm thankful for that," Sakura told them both. "Incredibly thankful. But I wish you would both act a little more like Sasuke-kun when you're being protective."
Naruto deadpanned. "He beat the crap out of your last boyfriend and only got away with it because of his last name."
Sakura shifted in her seat.
"And the guy who knocked you into your locker," Kakashi added.
Her eyes fell to her food, awkwardly taking another bite of it.
The blond looked over to Kakashi questioningly. "Didn't he once try to take you on because he thought you were being inappropriate or whatever?"
He grinned. "Indeed he did."
"What about that time when he shoved some guy into the river for–"
"Okay, okay!" Sakura groaned. "I get it. Sasuke-kun can be just as protective, but that's because we've known each other for years now. If it was anybody else, he probably wouldn't have lifted a finger until things got violent."
It was true. While Uchiha Sasuke was indifferent and seemingly uncaring, if he saw some defenceless person being targeted and picked on, he would get involved. One time, back when they were younger, he stopped Naruto from being knocked into next week. If it looked like a fair fight, then Sasuke would shrug and stay out of it. But the moment things start to go too far, he would stop it. No hesitation, no second thought. He would simply step in and shove them away from each other like it was nothing.
That was because of the way he had been brought up. Sasuke was an Uchiha – one of the most powerful families in the world. They pretty much ran the police force, with his father as the chief. So he had grown up knowing what was right and what was wrong. He knew what battles to fight and which ones to simply let go. The guys at school knew not to mess with him, as he was taught martial arts from a young age, and the girls drooled over him and did anything to get his attention.
Sasuke didn't care for his popularity. In fact, he told them one time that he hated it. He hated having girls draping themselves all over him. Sasuke was traditional. It was also as though he didn't see girls – which was kind of strange nowadays, since everything always dripped with sex. No, he wasn't gay, either. He just wasn't interested in anyone right now. Instead, Sasuke focused hard on his grades because he had to be the best, had to get the highest scores. He pushed himself to the point of passing out in martial arts. He didn't have time for romantic relationships. He barely had time for his friends.
All in all, Uchiha Sasuke was a great friend to have by your side if you needed protecting. No, he was not the best at listening or giving advice, but he made her feel safe.
"I suppose you're right," Naruto muttered reluctantly as he sat back, his knee bouncing up and down. "So… You didn't answer the question." At her raised brow, he continued, "What movie did Hidan take you to see?"
"Some horror… thing."
For some reason, her boyfriend, Hidan, enjoyed horror movies a little too much. He laughed at the gore and the blood and the violence. It was actually quite embarrassing going to the cinema with him because of that. Many looked back at them, giving her odd looks as though it was her who was laughing. The movie they had seen tonight had been particularly bloody, enough so that others had left the cinema looking rather pale, as though they were about to throw up.
Exchanging a look with Kakashi, Naruto leaned forward, placing his elbow on the table and his head in his hand. "Oi, Sakura-chan?"
"Don't you think you could… I don't know. Do better, maybe? It's not like you have a lot in common. And he's… weird."
This conversation always came up after a date with Hidan, or if she had been simply spending time with him.
"You don't look very happy for somebody who just went on a date," Kakashi commented.
Finishing the last of her food, Sakura stood up and turned her back to the two of them. There was no use in giving them her reasons for being with Hidan. They either wouldn't understand or would be annoyed with her. Pushing her sleeves up her arms, she got to doing the washing up, knowing for a fact that Naruto would not do it and Kakashi had the tendency of procrastinating. Waking up with nothing to eat her breakfast on was annoying.
Once done and the dishes were on the draining board to dry, Sakura dried her hands on the kitchen towel, finally turning to face them and raising an eyebrow at them. "Can't you just be happy for me? If not, can't you just accept that I'm with Hidan? I'm tired of these questions every time I come home! I'm exhausted and want to go to sleep."
Naruto pouted childishly. "I just wanted to know if I have to beat the crap out of him."
Rolling her eyes, she made her way out of the kitchen, only pausing for a moment to grab her drink. "Like you'd be able to! You would probably need Sasuke-kun there to back you up."
A smirk graced her lips on her way to her bedroom at the pause and, after counting down from five, her smirk widened at the predictable response.
"Oi! I don't need that bastard's help. I can take him any day, you know!"
Yes, they were annoying, but Kakashi and Naruto were her family and Sakura would be lying if she said she didn't love them both.
As well as school, Sakura had a part time job working in the flower shop Ino's parents owned. It was a beautiful little place, somewhere she enjoyed being. The sight of so many stunningly coloured flowers always lifted her spirits and if it didn't, then just the smell of them all did. Sometimes it could be a little overpowering, considering the fact that there were so many of them, but she was used to the smell by now.
Usually, she worked when Ino worked – more or less every day. Some days, they took over for her mother and stayed way after closing time, either gossiping or finishing orders, whereas others, she allowed them to finish earlier though still paid them for a full shift. Sakura hadn't been able to believe her luck when she realised that Ino's mother would be paying her more than minimum wage. Her previous job at a clothing store paid her less than what she got paid now and it was a big place that was raking in more and more money every single day.
Working at the flower shop meant Sakura met all kinds of people. Nice old ladies who were looking to brighten their homes or old men wishing to treat their wives. There was also the occasional man who came in for flowers for his date, or to apologise for something he'd done. They did all sorts of flower arrangements. Oh! One time, Sakura had served an adorable little kid who wanted to buy flowers for his mother. He didn't have enough money, but she let him off and allowed it to come out of her wages.
It had been a week since her date with Hidan and during that time, he had text her a few times and come by to see her.
"You've got to be kidding me!" Ino groaned, dropping her head onto her arm.
Right now, they were working a shift together at the flower shop. Her mother had needed to be somewhere, so Sakura had offered to work her shift. On Friday nights, she was usually at home or getting ready to go out. Before working at the shop, Ino would have been going out, too, but Sakura believed this was her mother's way of controlling the blonde. If she was working, then she obviously wouldn't be going out and drinking and doing who knows what.
"What is it?"
Ino looked up with such a helpless expression that Sakura had to hold back her snicker. "According to this thing, we're going to be working late a lot in the next few months!"
Sakura frowned and stepped around the counter, glancing down at the book there. It was true. They'd be working late, but that meant they would have more money, so she couldn't see why Ino was complaining. Whenever they worked overtime or double shifts, Ino's mother paid them double what she usually would for it. The reason Ino was complaining was because a lot of those shifts landed on Fridays and even some Saturdays, too. A little off-putting, Sakura would admit that, but again, they'd be earning more money.
It wasn't like they could complete an order early either, because then the flowers would be dead by the time they were handed over. That wasn't exactly good for business.
"How am I supposed to socialise with a rota like this?" Ino continued to complain, flipping through the book. "Before we know it, I'll be as lame as… as…"
"Oh God," she groaned again. "I'm going to be as lame as Karin!"
Karin was Ino's rival. They absolutely hated each other, though it always made for the most entertaining fights. At first it had started out kind of like Sakura and Ino's rivalry – over Uchiha Sasuke. Everybody knew Karin was in love with him, but they also knew that Ino was, too. And even though the blonde was now over him and moving on, realising that she was wasting her time, she still fought with Karin. Nobody could blame Ino, though. The bitch was fucking annoying and they weren't even Sakura's words. They were Hidan's! He'd had the misfortune of meeting Karin one time after school, when he had been meeting Sakura.
There had been some concern for her over the age difference, over the fact she was not eighteen while he was twenty-four, but that was a little silly in her books. They had nothing to worry about! Yes, Hidan was loud and crass and had anger issues, but he also knew the difference between wrong and downright disgusting. Like she had said a week ago: Hidan was a bad boy.
Also, even though Karin and Naruto shared a last name, they weren't related. Well, they were probably distantly related but they were never close. In fact, Naruto could barely stand her either. She was always trying to drag Sasuke away and always shoving him so she could get closer to Sasuke. Oh, Sakura hated it when she was pushy towards Naruto. She hated it when Karin would shove him out of the way or yell at him. What right did it give her to do such a thing? Yes, Sakura would admit that she could be more violent than that, but… Well, Naruto was like her brother. An annoying brother.
Ino suddenly stood up and sighed, making her way over to the dust pan and brush to clean up the knocked over soil on the ground. Earlier that day, somebody had knocked over a plant pot, though they had kept putting off cleaning up. Actually, they hadn't even been putting it off. They were quite busy nowadays.
The bell above the door sounded, telling them they had yet another customer. Ino waved dismissively at Sakura, silently telling her to serve them. Sakura smirked. If she had noticed who exactly had entered the shop, she wouldn't have done that.
Ino's head snapped up, realising her mistake and the look of utter horror on her features was amazing.
He nodded once, vaguely remembering that the pink haired girl happened to be a friend of his younger brother. "Haruno-san."
Sakura gave a dismissive wave and smiled shyly. "Just call me Sakura, Itachi-san! When did you get back? Sasuke-kun never mentioned anything."
"Today, actually," Itachi told her. "I wished to stop off and purchase some flowers for my mother before returning."
She couldn't blame her, really. Not only was Itachi incredibly attractive, smart and well spoken, but he was also a caring family-man. No, he was a caring person full stop. It was where Sasuke got it from. As former Sasuke fan-girls, Sakura and Ino knew all about Uchiha Itachi. He was Sasuke's even hotter older brother, though he was a hell of a lot more distant and unapproachable than Sasuke. Say Sakura had met Itachi in the street today, she wouldn't have been able to just go up to him and say "Oh, you're back!" for fear of sounding like an idiot or somehow offending him.
"We got some of your mother's favourites the other day!" Sakura told him cheerfully, stepping around the counter and going over to said flowers. Itachi followed her silently. "Sasuke-kun came by asking about them, saying they were her favourites, anyway…" She sounded distracted, looking through the many flowers carefully before smiling and picking up a certain bouquet. "These ones, right?"
It would be a lie if Itachi said he was not somewhat impressed that Sakura would remember such a thing. No, he was amazed that Sasuke would remember such a thing because whilst he was definitely a mother's boy, Sasuke certainly wasn't the type to buy somebody flowers. "Yes. Those are her favourites."
"These ones are nice and fresh," she said with another smile, walking back to the counter and ignoring Ino pouting as she continued to clean up. "So, is this a surprise return?"
He gave her a small smile. "I suppose you could call it that. My family were not expecting me to return for another six months."
That was so cute! He was surprising them all. When she was younger, when Sakura had met Itachi, it was safe to say that she had had a crush on him – but who hadn't? Ino was still crushing on him and would become flustered at just the sight of him.
"Well, I know for a fact that your mom and Sasuke-kun are going to be happy you're home. I don't really see your dad around much, though. He's always busy at the station." Itachi smiled softly. "Seriously, I think you're all workaholics and should take a break, but the crime rate has gone straight down since your dad took over." She gave him a smirk. "Nobody wants to upset Uchiha Fugaku or his sons."
Well, Itachi was definitely hearing that for the first time. "His sons?"
Sakura rolled her eyes. "Sasuke-kun is like the police at school and he's always saying that it was you who taught him right from wrong. Those at school simply got it into their heads that if Sasuke-kun learned all of what he knows from you, then you'd be much tougher than him."
Oh, he definitely had to find a way to tease his younger brother about becoming the unofficial 'police of school'. "Sasuke has always shown an interest in the law," Itachi stated with a small shrug. "Though I never would have thought that he would act like the law whilst at school."
She smiled. "It's nothing too extreme. He just steps in and stops fights."
"Saves innocent students from bullies, too!" Ino added, though smiled sheepishly when they glanced over at her. She was still on her hands and knees and was now covered in dirt.
Sakura shook her head, but her smile widened. "Yeah, he does that too. Nobody dares to get on the wrong side of him! You should see it, Itachi–san." She smirked again. "If you thought his fan club was bad before, you should see it now."
That was a terrifying thought. Fan-girls were simply terrifyingly unpredictable and he did not like them at all. "Perhaps I will some time," he replied smoothly and accepted the flowers as they were handed to him once Sakura was finished. In return, he offered her the money for them. "Thank you."
With that, he left.
It had definitely been a while since anybody saw Itachi in Konoha, Sakura thought as she stared after him, her head tilting to the side. He'd been away for a while but nobody knew why. Many believed he had joined the military. Perhaps he had? Then again, he hadn't been wearing anything too special. Just plain jeans and a shirt. But just because he was wearing casual clothes and not in uniform, it didn't mean that he wasn't in the military.
"I want Itachi."
Sakura glanced over at Ino, who had also been staring after Itachi. "Go for it."
"But you saw me!" she snapped, gesturing to her body and the dirt. "I made a total fool of myself and that was before I started to sound like a Sasuke fan-girl!" There was a pause before Ino stood up and marched over to the door, flipping over the 'be back in five' sign and making her way towards the back. "Come on, Sakura. We need to let off some steam."
By letting off some steam, Ino meant they should throw water balloons off of the roof at innocent passer-byers. They didn't aim for them purposely, but it was always hilarious when the person looked around, seeming utterly stunned and angry. It always managed to cheer them up.
A/N - So this is the story that won with a total of twenty-one votes! Saviour will be the next to be posted as it came in second place with nineteen votes and Discoveries will be after that with seven votes!
I left this note in other stories but just in case some of you haven't seen it yet and just in case I don't update soon, here it is:
I've had a few complaints (mostly guest accounts) about my slow updates. Usually, I update once a week but I've been taking a break in between updates. There's a few reasons for that and I feel like I owe you all an explanation, even though other writers on here don't update for months at a time, or sometimes even years.
The first is that last month, I was diagnosed with severe depression and I've been sleeping most of the day and unable to get out of bed, which basically means I haven't been writing as much, so I've had nothing to update with. I like to think the antidepressants are working, but meh. I'm still exhausted most of the time and nearly always restless and irritable.
The next reason is that my nephew, who is only two months and eight days old, stayed with us recently. I don't think I need to explain why I haven't gotten much done with him around, right?
My final reason is that a close family friend died the other week. I'm not going to go into full detail, but he was an ex of my older sister's and even when they broke up, he was still there for our family and still looked out for us all. If we ever needed anything, anything at all, then he was always there. And he was there for a lot of bad things, always supporting us and taking our side.
I don't know when I'll next be updating, but I'll try my best to keep up with the weekly updates.