Chapter 4

Sakura didn't tell.

She spent the week walking around in a daze, watching Ino go about her normal life. At lunch she abandoned Ino and her friends, opting for the solitude of the corner of the lunch room and a book to occupy her thoughts, rather then hearing about Ino's wonderful plan to spend the night of her life with the one who'd been dubbed the sexiest boy in school. A sick feeling settled in the pit of her stomach and threatened to stay there, constantly bugging her to tell and not letting her think about much else.

On one hand she wanted to tell, and she would have in a second. She could have easily fooled herself and told her own mind it was for Ino's own safety, that girls their age weren't supposed to be found alone at boy's houses, no matter who it was. She could have fooled herself into thinking that she was only doing what was right, but the consequences of telling were too severe. She didn't doubt that Ino would go through with that threat of hers. And there would be nothing more horrible then not being able to talk to one's own sister.

Classes and time at home passed in fuzzed motions and before Sakura even realized what was going on, it was Friday, the night Ino wasn't going to come home. She found herself sitting at home, her school work laid out over the bed as usual, but she couldn't concentrate on a thing. Instead her eyes were on the clock, watching the minutes slowly tick by.

The house was quiet. Their mother and father were out, at some fancy dinner or something for Ino's father's job. They were gone and they didn't know.

Ino was at Sasuke's.

Sakura closed her book and wandered over, glancing at the phone. Her mind tried to come up with some excuse to tell them, some reason to call Ino, some thing… anything…

But nothing was coming.

She dropped back to sit on Ino's bed, bringing her knees to her chest as her mind played with images of Sasuke and Ino kissing and more. She couldn't think of anything else. She was jealous, she knew that. At the moment, though, she was so distracted she didn't care. All she could think about was what Ino could be doing over at Sasuke's house.

She'd tried rationalizing it out to not trusting Sasuke with her sister, her mind attempting in earnest to make him out to be some insensitive jerk who would eventually take away Ino's heart and rip it to shreds as he moved on to the next girl in the line that had formed after him. She tried to imagine him with a sinister grin or a leering look, anything to make the protective illusion more believable, but it never looked right. She'd never seen Sasuke with any expression but one of disinterest or boredom. She couldn't picture him hurting Ino. Instead, she was really just worried about one thing. The fact that Ino was with Sasuke, and not with her.

Jealousy was an emotion that started small, and soon grew to eat a person from the inside out, and Sakura now knew that feeling very well.

Her mind swirled around the jealous thoughts, making them more potent and harder to ignore, like shaking up a bottle of soda and just waiting for it to burst. She couldn't pay attention to her textbooks, couldn't even quiet her mind enough to watch television. Nothing else entered her mind, she couldn't concentrate. She barely even heard the doorbell ring from downstairs.


Sakura glanced up as the doorbell rang again, finally gaining a passage way into her mind to be acknowledged, and she stood up to go down the stairs. Half of her welcomed the distraction from her thoughts, but the other half repeated in her mind, wishing quite loudly that it would be Ino at the door.

Instead, when she opened the door, she found the one to be standing in front of her was Lee.

Sakura blinked. "Lee?"

"Wow, you are out of it. When you open a door you're supposed to at least say hi, or smile, or something. You're looking at me like I'm a ghost." His voice held a mocking tone, but he was flashing one of those confident and infecting smiles. Sakura only had to look at him for a moment, before the smile infected her as well, and she gave a small one of her own.

Relaxing a bit, she tucked back her short hair. "I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all. Did you want to come in?"

"Sure! It would be a shame to come all this way and not talk for a moment at least."

Sakura nodded and stepped back so he could come in, then closed the door behind him. When she turned back around, she jumped back a bit as she found Lee standing very close to her, blocking her from going to any hallway or stair, and she was too close to open the door again.

"Umm… L-Lee…"

The boy crossed his arms and looked intently at her. "All right, that's it. Spill."

Sakura blinked. Spill? "Spill what?"

"Spill what's been bugging you. You've barely even said hello to me all week. We're friends, I dare say even best friends, perhaps the best in the school, but you've been walking around and moping all week! You won't even talk to me about it, you just go sit by yourself at lunch and eat your sandwich and read your book. Everyone's probably noticed. I can't even imagine what they are thinking since you look so sad! They're probably blaming me!"

"Oh." Sakura glanced down, not exactly sure what to say to that. She barely even remembered Lee talking to her for most of the week. Apparently she'd been too wrapped up in her own thoughts to notice him.

Shyly Sakura looked back up at him, wondering exactly what to say. She wasn't sure what excuses to give, none of them really sounded good enough or believable to her ears. Everything her mind came up with sounded hallow or used, cliché even. Nothing he would ever believe. And he seemed to be able to tell that from her expression.

"The truth, Sakura. I can't do anything if I don't know what's really going on."

Sakura sighed. Well… Ino never said she couldn't tell Lee. "She's out… with him. F-for the night." She tried to make her voice steady, but somehow the answer ended up stuttering itself as soon as she opened her mouth. Leaning back against the door, she turned her head, avoiding his eyes again. She didn't need to tell Lee who 'she' was, because he'd already figured it out. Lee didn't blame her for it, in fact most of the time he seemed happy for her. Still, that didn't change that she couldn't wrap her mind around loving her sister.

"Ino's at Sasuke's."

Sakura nodded.

"For the whole night?"

Sakura nodded again.

"And your… parents don't know."

Sakura cringed a bit against the door before giving a third nod, really feeling like she wanted to sink away now. Was that disapproval she heard in his voice? Disappointment? There was a soft bite to his words, just hidden in the back, something below his usual bright smile and cheerful stance. Sakura didn't know what that tone meant, it just struck her as cold and scolding almost.

Lee took a step toward her and suddenly Sakura found herself wrapped in his arms and a gentle hug. Maybe she'd heard that wrong, because now the tone struck her as concern. She realized she was so paranoid about her sister finding out that she hadn't even wanted to tell Lee anything, and she was projecting Ino's promised reaction onto Lee. The last thing she expected was for him to hug her. And at the same time, it was the thing she needed most.

Sakura leaned into his arms and closed her eyes, finding it incredibly easy to relax like that, especially after a week of being completely high strung over the secret she knew. She barely even noticed him leading her over to the couch and she dropped to sit next to him, not letting him go the entire time.

The stress seemed to completely drop her away and she suddenly felt heavy, exhausted. She didn't realize how much of a toll this was all taking on her. In Lee's arms, along with the ability to feel relaxed, came the undeniable need to relax, and she couldn't hold out any longer. Sakura didn't even have time to feel guilty as her eyes slid shut and her consciousness shut down, dropping her into the most restful sleep she'd had all week.

It was the sound of the phone that finally woke her. Sakura stirred, swimming back up to consciousness, to find herself still in Lee's arms, still being held protectively as she rested. She didn't know what time it was, but she could see the sun had set and he'd stayed where he was because the lights were all out now and she could barely see the room from where she lay against him.

The phone rang again and Sakura groaned, sitting up and shaking her head to wake up. It was probably her parents, calling to say they were going on some moonlit walk around the lake or something equally as sappy. Something she didn't want to hear.

Something that would remind her of where Ino was right now.

Sakura sighed and picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"… Sakura?"

For a moment she didn't recognize the voice. For a moment the unfamiliar soft tone sounded completely alien and Sakura opened her mouth to ask who was on the other side… then it hit her.


It was so unlike her. In all the years they'd lived together – which had always seemed like an eternity- she'd never heard Ino sound so unsure. Ino was never unsure. Ino was never scared. She was always calm and confident and cool. Ino was just Ino. Sakura was the one who was supposed to be scared and shy all the time… right?

"Sakura… I'm sorry."

Another first. She couldn't remember that word ever sounding sincere from Ino. "W-what do you mean?"

"I want to come home. Now… please." Her voice was actually shaking and Sakura wasn't imagining things, she was sure she heard tears on the other end of the phone. What in the world had happened? Had she been hurt? Had something gone wrong? Had Sasuke hurt her?

"Where are you?" Sakura was already on her feet, the cordless phone clutched between her cheek and shoulder as she moved to the coat closet. She grabbed her coat in spite of the warm weather that was bound to be outside. The coat wasn't for her… she'd known Ino didn't take one to school that day. And as odd as it might sound, it seemed like Ino might need one, even if it were a hundred degrees outside.

"At… Sasuke's…"

"I'll be right there." Sakura hug up the phone and raced out the door, completely forgetting about Lee. At the moment, nothing was more important then her sister.