Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Aren't you glad?
Author's Notes: For Incarus'Song
Etc: My first Sakura/Sasuke…tell me what you think. Be honest!
By: Hana J.
The first time she saw him was in the grocery store. She had been pulling on her Mother's sleeve - the cotton twisted in her fingers - as she pointed out her favorite fruit. The strawberries were ripe that year, plump, red and speckled with black dots. She could easily imagine eating them, juice spilling over the corners of her mouth and her fingers sticky with the residue while her Mother scolded her for dripping on her shirt.
She reached for them, the tips of her finger brushing the slim green basket before her Mother picked up the strawberry container and set it out of her reach. Another hand, almost the same size as her own, reached up and grabbed the parcel of strawberries, setting it in a grocery cart. She drew back, suddenly shy, watching as her Mother greeted the boy pleasantly. She frowned when the little boy, she assumed he was her age, looked at her Mother and said a soft hello but left without another word, pushing the large grocery cart in front of him.
"How come he can get groceries by himself and I can't?" Sakura exclaimed. She wanted to do grownup things too. Her Mother's hands were coarse as they touched her forehead before sweeping down to her chin.
"Why don't you get me the bread, Sakura?" Her Mother said. Sakura happily complied, only to realize, when her fingers touched the flimsy plastic wrap covering the loaf of bread, that her Mother never answered her question.
The next day at class she noticed him again. He was sitting in the middle of the classroom, towards the window. His dark eyes were focused on the blackboard and Iruka-sensei but he looked bored, like he already knew everything being explained. Later, Iruka-sensei called on him to answer a question and she learned his name. Sasuke-kun.
She saw him again during recess. They were allowed forty minutes to eat lunch and play in the training grounds. She noticed that none of the other kids played with him. He sat underneath a tree, shaded from the sun, eating his lunch quietly. She wondered if he had any friends. She thought then, that he might be like her. Many of the other kids made fun of her for her big forehead, even though her Mother reassured her that it wasn't big. Whenever Sakura looked into the mirror though, her forehead seemed to cover more than half her face. She stared at him from behind a bento box, hunching down on the park table. His appearance didn't look disagreeable to her; she wondered why no one sat with him.
Later, she convinced her Mother to let her go to the bookstore. Her Mother, though busy, agreed. She had to walk side by side, her Mother's pale, slender fingers resting on her shoulder as they strolled through the dusty streets of Konoha.
The bookstore was sandwiched between two restaurants and the smell of freshly baked food made her hungry. She ignored her pinched stomach for the words contained in the pages of books. The bookstore was a used bookstore but to Sakura, the books were as good as new. She loved tracing her fingers over the worn edges and busted bindings. She enjoyed picking books off the shelf that were dusty and made her sneeze when she closed it with a sharp bang, the dust wafting up like a cloud of smoke under her nose. A bookstore was her second favorite place to be. Her first was at home in the kitchen, helping her Mother cook.
Her Mother, with sharp words and a tight grip on her arm, told her that she had to stay in the bookstore and could not wander off while she went to the market. Sakura promised her that she wouldn't leave, there was no reason too. Not when she had countless books to entertain her and musty shelves to explore. Her Mother left, her sandals sounding like the muffled shuffle of an aged horse as the bell jingled her exit.
Sakura immediately headed towards the back of the bookstore, where the lights were dimmer and the books shabbier. Her hand brushed dog-eared pages and tattered spines as she passed shelf after shelf until she reached the back. She knew for a fact that the old man who owned the store kept a rickety wooden stool in the back for the more devoted customers to sit on and page through books. She loved sitting on it, her knees pulled up to her chin while her toes touched the cement floor. She would rock back and forth, the legs of the stool making a scratching noise as her arms cradled a book in front of her, the spine's corner resting between her shins. She rounded the corner, smiling and humming, and stopped abruptly. Someone was sitting in her chair.
"Oh," she said, stumbling to a stop at the unexpected person.
The person, a boy a few inches taller than herself, was crouched in the chair, his back resting against the bookshelf and his fingers curling around the pages of a huge tome. He looked up, his long bangs flopping in his face and hiding his eyes. She recognized him, knew she had seen him somewhere before and that the frown on his face looked—
"Sasuke-kun!" She exclaimed suddenly, only to blush at her forward nature. Here she was, talking to a boy she didn't know!
He didn't seem surprised that she knew his name, even though she knew for a fact that she had never introduced herself. Odd.
"Sorry. I didn't know anyone else came here. I normally sit there." She stepped closer to him in an effort to stop babbling. Mother always told her that she talked too much when she got nervous. Either that or she clammed right up. Mother said she did that too, when she was younger, though Sakura couldn't imagine her Mother as young.
She looked at the book he was holding, tilting her head to get a better angle. "Genjutsu: A Guide to Illusion Techniques," she read off quietly. He shut the book with a sharp snap, getting up off the stool. He looked annoyed.
"You don't have to get up!" Sakura said, feeling slightly ashamed for being so rude. Mother would have scolded her, if she had been there.
He barely glanced at her as he put the book away. "I can't read with distractions."
Sakura blushed. "Sorry! I um…well, I didn't mean too. I just didn't know you were here." She was babbling again. "My name's Haruno Sakura. What's yours?"
His eyes were a deep, inky black under his fringe and Sakura thought they were beautiful, like sooty coals from the mine her Father worked at when he was younger. Father once gave her coal for Christmas, it was suppose to be a gag gift but she had loved it. No one else had black rocks that could fuel fire. Secretly, she liked fire. The way it was so warm and smelled like smoke and pine in the winter time.
"You already know my name, you said it." He spoke, a soft voice that commanded attention. It wasn't said unkindly, Sakura thought, just as a matter of fact.
She nodded. "I know, but that is only because I heard Iruka-sensei say it in class today."
His eyes widened for a second. Then, a hesitant smile curved on his lips. She wondered why he seemed happy that she didn't know who he was. Maybe people really didn't like him.
"It's nice to meet you, Uchiha Sasuke." She said, mostly adding on his name in jest. He smirked in response.
"Bye." He said, giving her one last barely noticeable smile before he left. She thought that if he smiled more, he would make a good boyfriend. Mother said good taste was essential in picking a guy, Sakura thought that she had good taste.
She sat down at the stool he vacated, picking the book he had been reading from the shelf. Ew. It was full of guides on different techniques. How boring. She picked another book from the shelf, this one a fantasy. She opened the book up, propping it on her knees as she began to read about a woman who met a warrior and fell in love.