Life as I Know It by miyazawa kano.

I finally got off my butt and wrote a brand new chapter. Now that I'm on holiday (booyeah!), I've got a lot more free time. This one turned out pretty good, I think, except it gets a little "blah" near the end. So far the story has been very clichéd, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to turn it around a little. Until the next chapter, enjoy!

'…' = What's going on inside Sakura's head.
"…" = Your basic, normal, everyday chatter.
[ … ] = The mildly insane ramblings of the lovable Inner Sakura.
(…) = Random notes left by the authoress.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Honest.

Chapter IV:
Hidden Emotions

The cold water rained down on Sakura, plastering her thick hair to her bare body. She relished the feeling; cold showers always helped to clear her mind. It was almost like some oddly unorthodox form of meditation. Unorthodox, but soothing nonetheless. Sakura let her eyes shut lazily as she began to concentrate on the cool water trickling in rivulets down her face.

'I wonder if Ino and Sasuke-kun are going to walk to the library together…'

Sakura let out an exasperated sigh as she shook her head, defeated. No matter how hard she tried, the image of Sasuke and Ino alone together remained etched into her every thought. She knew it was innocent enough; they were just meeting to work on a class project, after all.

"So then why the hell do I feel so goddamn jealous?!" Sakura huffed sulkily, a vein or two becoming clearly visible.

She leaned over and twisted the shower knobs, allowing the flow of cool water to be abruptly cut off. Her cold shower meditation had proven itself ineffective for the very first time, Sakura realized wearily. After pulling open the shower curtain, she delicately stepped out onto the towel she'd lain out on the floor prior to getting in. After gently pulling at her hair with her towel, she stood over the bathroom sink and wrung the last few droplets of water out of her long hair.



"Okaasan!" Sakura shouted, hoping her mother would be able to hear her from behind the bathroom door. "Telephone!"


"Okaasan!" she shouted again.

No answer. The phone continued to ring, almost as if it were purposely taunting her.

Sakura draped a towel around herself irritably, mumbling something or other about "always having to do all the work around here." She unceremoniously yanked open the bathroom door and proceeded to stomp down the hallway until she reached the telephone, determined to put an end to its incessant ringing.

"Yes?" Sakura grunted into the receiver, unable to mask the tone of aggravation in her voice.

"Hey! I wanna speak to Sakura-chan, pleeeease!"

"This is she…" Sakura mumbled reluctantly. There was no mistaking that excitable, pre-pubescent voice.

"Oh, hi, Sakura! I didn't even know it was you. Did you know that you sound really different on the phone?"

Twitch. "… Okay…"

"Oi, oi! Do you know who this is? Guess, guess!"

"I have absolutely no idea," Sakura replied flatly, deliberately feigning her inability to place him.

"Aww, it's Naruto. Your Science partner, remember?"

"Oh, right. That. So, um… do you need something?"

"I know that you'd said you'd call me later this week, but… I think it would be a good idea to get a head start on our project, don't you?"

"Uh, yeah, sure… but why?"

"Well, the truth is… erm… Asuma-sensei is failing me right now, and if I don't get a good grade on this project, I… Jeez, I might have to retake his class next year, so… C'mon, Sakura, pleeease? Help a guy out! PLEASE?"

"… Really? … Well, okay. I guess it couldn't hurt," she responded haltingly, after much contemplation.

"Yeah! Ahh, Sakura, you're the best! We're gonna have a really great time working together, I can tell!"

She could practically hear him dancing in the background.

"So how about we start today? I know! I'll meet you at that little sweetshop near your place, okay? How's 1 o'clock sound to you? And then we can work out all the details," Naruto piped gleefully.

"Err, today? Like… right now? Actually, I…" Sakura paused. "Hey, wait a minute. How did you know that there was a sweetshop near my house? … And how the heck did you get my phone number?! I distinctly remember NOT giving you my number!"

"… OkayIreallyhavetogonowbye!"

"Why you–"

Sakura was answered with a resounding click, signalling to her that the line was now dead. She angrily clenched her teeth as she slammed the phone back onto its hook. By now a small puddle of water had begun to pool around her still-wet form. Sakura mentally noted to make sure that it was mopped up as soon as she'd finished towelling herself dry, grumbling loudly as she headed back towards the bathroom.

'I can't believe that he actually hung up on me.'

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"Wow, you and Sasuke-kun are starting on your project already?" she asked, her chest tightening.

"Mm, yeah. Both of us wanted to get it over with since we've got other stuff to do."

"Oh, makes sense…"

There was a discernible pause in the conversation. "Sakura, are you sure you're okay with this?"

"Hehe, yeah, didn't I say that I was? It's not like you two are going out on a date or anything," Sakura insisted, not wanting make Ino feel guilty.

"…Yeah, exactly. We're just going to the library to do a little research is all."

She went over her phone call with Ino for what must have been the thirtieth time. After cleaning up the little puddle she'd made and blow-drying her hair, Sakura had immediately retired to her bedroom to take a quick nap before she had to meet up with that little bakemono ("monster").

But instead she found herself curled up in her overstuffed armchair, her head resting on her knees, inwardly chanting that she would not let her feelings for Sasuke morph into something as ugly as jealousy. Especially if it were over something so trivial.

Sakura glanced at the face of the digital clock sitting on top of her nightstand. It was 11:42; about an hour and fifteen minutes until she had to meet Naruto at the sweetshop. What to do? She lolled her head, thinking. What was there to do until then?

And then it hit her. The library wasn't very far from her house. And around now was the time that Ino had said she and Sasuke would be working together. She could walk to the library first, just to pop in a say hi and maybe hang around for a bit, and then she could backtrack to the sweetshop and wait for Naruto to show up. It was a plan. Not a very good plan, but at least it would give her something to do… among other things.

Sakura jumped up and started looking for something to wear.

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She was dressed to kill.

Sakura double-checked her outfit as she neared the library. Sasuke had never seen her in casual clothing before, and she was determined to make a good impression. She had on a pair of faded, tight-fitting jeans, along with a fashionable black halter-top. And as a finishing touch, she had donned a vintage, sienna-coloured leather jacket.

She didn't really want to distract Ino and Sasuke from their research, but she just had to satisfy her curiosity. Ino wouldn't mind; she was always so understanding when it came to these things. Even though Sakura had markedly told her that she was perfectly comfortable knowing that Sasuke and her were partners, deep down she knew that Ino hadn't been convinced. She just couldn't hide anything from her best friend.

'Well, it's too late to turn back now,' she thought pointedly as she crossed the street directly in front of the library Ino had mentioned before.

Sakura bounded down the steps leading to the building's large, automatic main doors. The closer she came, the more excited she began to feel. She just couldn't wait to see Sasuke. They'd never met outside of school before, so she couldn't help but wonder how he would react. Sakura waited impatiently as the doors slid open, granting her entrance.

"So what was it that you had to tell me?"

Sakura stopped dead in her tracks. She knew that voice.


She turned on her heel and began to gently tiptoe away from the library's doors and towards where she thought she'd heard his voice emanate from, just behind the corner of the building.

"Well?" she heard Sasuke say.

Sakura peered out from her vantage point, carefully making sure that she wouldn't be spotted by the two figures standing just around the corner.

Her eyes widened as she began to comprehend the scene taking place before her.

"The truth is…" Ino murmured quietly as she stared hard at the ground. "The truth is that I've always liked you, Sasuke-kun."

End of Chapter IV; to be continued.

Thanks for reading, and please R&R!