Sasuke does not know what exactly he had been expecting.

He thinks, to an extent, that a person is made of those around them, and that the characteristics and traits of an individual came from habits picked up from their surrounding.

He knows that Itachi had picked up his delicate way of speaking from their mother while he had gotten his unreadable mask from his father. Sasuke himself had picked up things like running a hand through his hair from Naruto and the way he cared from his weapons from his brother.

If so, where Sakura had gotten characteristics from? If a girl lost her mother at birth and her father soon after was left with her brother who was barely a year older than her in a clan that seemed to despise them, who built her?

When someone storms into Ichiraku, Sasuke first pays them no mind, because he is inwardly berating himself for almost allowing Naruto to goad him into a competition the blond will no doubt win.

A race to see who could finish ten bowls of ramen was unfair and they both knew it.

Then Sakura stiffens and there is someone looming over her from behind.

"What do we have here, hm?"

The boy is undoubtedly a Hyuuga and looks a few years older than her. He wears his headband proudly over his forehead and Sasuke notes that he is probably a Chunin.

"I guess trash like to hang out where you feel at home." Naruto bristles at the insult but the Hyuuga does not seem to notice. "The compound finally refuse to feed you?"

"Tetsuya-san." Sakura says, as though the boy hadn't just insulted her. "No, I am here with my teammates. They were kind enough to lend me an invitation."

The boy frowns and glances over at her companions. He turns his white eyes towards Sasuke and sneers. "As much as I dislike the Uchiha, I pity you." He says. "I wonder what the Hokage was thinking when he put you on a team with his own son and the second heir to the Uchiha clan."

Sakura scoffs. "Probably the same thing Hiashi-sama was thinking when he voted against your Chunin promotion four times in a row."

The boy's eyes flash and Sasuke finds himself reaching out to grasp the fist lashing out towards his teammate, but Sakura is much much faster, and she turns and grabs the boy's wrist in one smooth movement. Her fingers jam into what is probably a pressure point and the boy yanks back his limb, a brief scream of pain leaving his mouth before he manages to quench it. "You wrench!"

Sakura's palm flashes out and catches the older boy in the chest. The force of the contact is enough to send the boy sprawling onto the floor. Sakura stands over the older Hyuuga, eyes cold and mocking. "There is one main reason Hiashi-sama does not toss out Nii-sama and I, and that is because we are so much better than any of you. You will never reach where we stand." She leans over and smiles. "If I were a wrench, I wonder what that makes those beneath me, such as you." She then spins and stalks back towards her seat, adamant on finishing her meal.

Naruto glances over at him and Sasuke shrugs then drags his friend back into the ramen stand without giving the Hyuuga boy a second glance.

If one grew by taking in from those around them, Sasuke found he could understand Sakura's anger, if only just a little. Sakura's reaction to the elder Hyuuga's mocking showed that she was used to dealing with such comments.

If bitterness could rot things and spread like a disease, Sakura was probably rotten to the core, and if he knew anything about the way splits and grudges within one clan was carried through by generations, it probably wasn't even her fault.

The Hyuuga boy scrambles to his feet and storms back into the stall, hand once again reached out. This time, Sasuke's hand flashes towards his weapon pouch and he plants himself between Sakura and her clanmate. Sakura stiffens when he wraps a hand around her arm to root her in place. The boy, Tetsuya, falters a little. "What?"

"In case you're blind despite what your dojutsu supposedly can do, we're eating, and I'm sure your parents taught you that causing a disruption during a meal is not a polite thing to do."

"This is Hyuuga business." The boy snaps. "Uchihas should stay out of it." He tries to lean around him but Naruto is there too, a comforting hand on Sakura's shoulder, almost hiding her smaller frame between the two of them.

Sasuke uses this chance to poke a little. "If the Hyuuga clan's full of barbarians like you, it's no wonder the Uchiha are superior."

That catches the Hyuuga boy's attention and momentarily, his anger shifts to Sasuke. "What did you say?" He snarls.

"Nothing but the truth." Sasuke replies, arms crossed. "Sakura is hard to deal with, but if everyone else is like you, I'm glad she's my teammate." He nudges Sakura back towards her seat. "Now, as I previously said, we were eating."

"I think you should leave." Naruto adds, voice a little louder than usual. "People are staring at you, you know?"

Sasuke notices the crowd that had gathered, civilians who no doubt wanted to listen in on a little shinobi business, especially because it involved two of the major clans within Konoha as well as the Hokage's son.

Not to mention, it clearly looked like the older Chunin teen was picking on a younger girl, while her teammates tried to defend her.

Tetsuya's eyes flash white and the veins around his eyes bulge out. Sakura turns, her own green eyes bleeding white.

"You cannot beat me." Sakura says calmly. "The villagers want a show. Would you like to give them one of you being knocked onto the floor by a pink haired girl?" Tetsuya opens his mouth but Sakura beats him to it. "It is obvious you initiated this conflict. The villagers here are the witnesses. Hiashi-sama cannot take your story over mine, because he has to appear fair. Opposing it will lead to him calling the Hokage's son and the Uchiha's second heir a liar, in front of their fathers. Not even he will be willing to do that."

Tetsuya's final glare is filled with hatred as he spins and vanishes over the roof.

The moment the Hyuuga leaves, Sakura turns to her teammates. "Tetsuya-san is a cousin of mine, three years older. He is a Chunin, but in reality, is actually a foolish brat." She glances down. "He is no threat to me and he probably knows it. But-" She adds, when Sasuke's eyes narrow and Naruto frowns a little. "I appreciate your help." She grips at one hand with the other. "Thank you for defending me. No one's ever done that."

"Your brother seems to be doing a pretty good job." Sasuke does not like Neji, but even he can admit that the Hyuuga is a good older sibling. Of course, not as good as Itachi, but he was probably a sibling one could trust with their weaknesses.

"Nii-sama loves me." Sakura says simply. "And with that comes an obligation and a commitment." She smiles softly.

"So do friends and teammates." Naruto says. "But we chose to help you. There was nothing forcing us."

Sakura turns to the blond and blinks, like she doesn't quite trust him. "Thank you." She repeats.


Hypericum patulum:

Fading Sorrow/Sparkle/Healing/Secret

So, a little/very late chapter twenty eight.

Darque: Look at Team Seven, slowly bonding, hm?
Raven: Hmmm, yeah.

Darque: Summer will end soon, I'm so sad.

Raven: I still have until end of August.

Darque: I need to go finish my drawing.

Raven:...Why are all your lines no connected to the previous?

Darque: Imma go eat more sugar.


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