Birthdays Past

Chapter 12: Letting Go

By: Vampire Toy

Rating: PG-13 (just in case)

Disclaimer: Me no own… ;;

"Talking"
(Inner Sakura)

: Sound Effect :

XXX

My screams echoed around the cavern, but were cut short by my uncontrollable sobs. I threw myself over the figure of my mother and cried harder.

Her eyes were still open, wide with terror. Dried blood covered one side of her face, leading my eyes to one of her many wounds.

Itachi had only pulled the bag down to her shoulders, but I could see she wasn't wearing any clothes. The fabric he'd used to wrap my dress in was from the blouse my mother had been wearing when she'd left the day before my birthday. I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed it before.

I could only assume my father was in the other bag, in the same condition. But I didn't want to see, didn't want to confirm it.

"Mommy," I sobbed, choking and gasping for air as my body began to feel heavy and nausea suddenly hit me. My hand shakily reached up, and closed her eyes.

Itachi had let go of my hair and was standing beside me, waiting for me to calm down, but how could I? Didn't he understand the monstrosity of what he'd done?

"I… hate… you…" I hissed, lifting my head.

"Don't you want to open the other one?"

"I HATE YOU!" I screeched, stumbling up and diving at him angrily.

He grabbed my wrists and easily held me back.

"I hate you…" I whimpered, my body going still with shock. I felt like a rag doll as Itachi simply continued to hold my arms up so my knees couldn't reach the floor.

"Be good for me," he murmured, before lowering me to the floor, where I began to grieve again. My forehead touched the cold stone ground as I held myself, my body shaking with silent sobs.

"You can take your gifts with you. I'll bring you back to the entrance of the Sand, but that is as far as I go. I a lot of work I need to do…"

I didn't respond; I didn't want to talk to him or see him or even hear his voice. I wanted him to just shut up and leave.

"…But don't think I won't be watching…" My head flew up and I glared at him.

"This isn't fair…" I seethed through clenched teeth, "…this isn't… you're… you're sick! You bastard! I hope you burn in Hell!"

"It seems I already am."

(He's condemning himself)

I was surprised by his comment, but any remorse I could've felt only fueled my anger. How dare he pity himself when he'd just shown me my dead parents! He had no right to feel sorry for himself! He was his own downfall. It was his own fault his life was what it was.

(I hope your life becomes even more miserable…)

He grabbed me, almost tenderly. I turned away from him, refusing to meet his eyes. Who knew what he was planning?

"You're normally a very good girl, so I'll let you speak with my foolish brother once. You cannot tell him anything that involves me. Take this opportunity to tell him to leave you alone."

I closed my eyes and continued to avoid eye contact.

He pulled my face towards him, my eyes opening against my will. A swift kiss planted on my lips and he was gone; only a puff of smoke remaining.

Surprised by the sudden light in my eyes, I looked around and saw I was back outside in the early morning glow. I recognized the entrance to the Sand, and the two body bags beside me.

I wiped my mouth angrily in attempt to erase his kiss, but the familiar burn on my lips lingered, growing stronger as I rubbed harder.

Dropping down, I gave a heavy sigh. So much had happened in so little time. I felt completely overwhelmed with everything and strained to keep from crying again; but I broke.

(I can't believe he was so serious to have done this.)

Wiping my eyes turned out to be in vain as more tears continued to fall.

(Monster!)

My emotions fluctuated from rage to grief every other minute and I began to shake the more I cried.

(My parents…My parents! How'd he get them? How'd he find them!)

I grit my teeth, fervently trying to keep my hair out of my face but losing pitifully to that as well.

Suddenly a strange impulse took over my mind; I yanked my father's bag open and fell back, throwing up at the sight of his mauled face; I couldn't even recognize him, it might as well have been a completely different person. Yet I knew it was him, I knew because Itachi didn't make mistakes, I knew because neither of my parents would ever leave the other behind.

I sat back, taking in deep breaths to calm myself enough to go back into the village. I needed to compose myself…I needed sleep, I had to be clear headed when I thought over my next move…over my parents…

(Can I really go into the village with body bags?)

They're my parents…

Griping the ends of both bags, I stumbled while trying to drag the two. Walking into the Sand, I could feel the awkward stares from the early risers. Somewhere in my mind I was thankful that it was still so early. But not really. My eyes were wide and my arms hurt as I tightened my grip with every step.

I remembered other vague thoughts entered my mind, but none stayed long enough for me to completely register them; so I kept repeating the only thing I could grasp in my head.

(Everybody should be there now; at Gaara's place, Gaara will be there, Ino will be there…)

My trek through the suddenly muggy village was beginning to feel like an illusion, and I was afraid the ground might swallow me up… Or rather I hoped it would.

(Kiba, Gaara, Kakashi... I already said Gaara… Ino… I said her too… there aren't many people there…)

Slowly as I listed the names of my friends a second time, I saw them appear in front of me. Or, at least Gaara and Kakashi did.

"Sakura?" Kakashi rushed over, Gaara beating him easily to my side with the help of his sand.

"You're hurt." Gaara said examining both me and my dress closely, but never touching me.

"Sakura… what… are those?" Kakashi asked looking down at the bags. I couldn't pull out words and only stood silently and unblinking in fear of more tears. I felt Kakashi's hands over mine and only then realized I had been gripping the hems so hard that I'd torn through them enough to dig into my own skin with my nails. I dropped the bags and immediately fell to retrieve them but Gaara pulled me back and took one of my bloody hands.

"You're bleeding." He stated bluntly.

(Always one for the obvious…)

"Sakura?" Kakashi said bending over a bag and lifting the flap.

"NO!" I screeched kicking at him.

"Whoa! Calm down! Ok, I won't open it….Sakura... who… who's in here? Where did you get that dress?"

"Sakura! We've been looking everywhere for you!" Ino cried, running towards us from where Kakashi and Gaara had come; it seems we were only two houses from Gaara's home.

"Sakura…." Ino immediately shot a questioning look in my direction after a glance at the Uchiha symbol adorned on my attire. I only stared at her with my eyes still wide, I couldn't say anything but I wanted to, I wanted more than anything to tell someone…I needed to get my anger and sadness out and I needed it to be justified. At the moment, however, they must have thought I was going insane with the way I looked.

"Sakura," Kakashi put a hand on my shoulder; I jumped and fell into Gaara who held onto me when he caught me.

"Sakura!" Sasuke's voice rang. A jolt of anger twisted my face in rage. I wasn't sure if I was actually angry with Sasuke, but I wanted to be angry with someone, and regardless of whether I was angry at him, I needed him to see that I wanted nothing more to do with him.

"Sakura…that…" Sasuke mumbled, referring to my dress.

I took in two deep breaths as his face contorted in confusion while Gaara still held me from behind, his hands resting on my shoulders. I shrugged him off and took a jagged step towards the youngest Uchiha.

"I hate you." My voice sounded strangled and raspy at first, my uncertainty showing clearly through my raw throat.

"I hate you." I repeated a little louder when I wasn't sure he'd heard me. Sasuke looked around unsure if I was talking to him.

"Sakura?"

"I HATE YOU!" I shrieked staggering at first when I tried to hit him, but I managed to straighten out my feet when Sasuke dodged me.

"I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!" I cried over and over again, tears once again burning my face like acid. I could feel my heart and my empty stomach lurch as I threw a punch at him; surprisingly I hit him, slamming him hard in the side of his face. It had only been because I'd caught him off guard though, and he jumped back when he realized I was serious. I ran after him, the rage in me building; the only thing I could see was Itachi's emotionless face and how much Sasuke was really like his brother. He was becoming more like Itachi than he or I had realized.

"IT'S YOUR FAULT!" I yelled.

(It's my fault)

"What! Sakura! What are you talking about! What's the matter with you!" he stumbled back; still not completely convinced that I would actually scream and attack him like this.

"Sakura calm down!" Kakashi yelled from behind me, but I dove for Sasuke ignoring him.

"You're a selfish bastard! You don't think about anyone except yourself!" I shrieked again, almost falling over when he dove out of my way, refusing to hit me back.

"Sakura!" Kakashi's voice was stern now and Ino was standing awkwardly in shock as the others came out at the sound of yelling.

"Stay away from me! Don't ever come near me again!" I yelled, my shouts dying down slightly as I became woozy from the lack of sleep and the constant running around.

(It's my fault for being so attached to you, isn't it?)

"Sakura…! Stop! What are you saying? What's wrong!" Sasuke asked catching my fist this time. I threw my other one at him and he caught it as well. I began wriggling and squirming trying to get out of his grip but I felt strong arms grab me from behind.

"LET ME GO!"

(But it's your fault too Sasuke! You stupid bastard…)

"Sakura! What's gotten into you? What happened to the people in those bags? You have to calm down! You seem tired, you should sleep and we'll talk-"

"NO! NO! NO! NO!" I struggled viciously, my anger still a burning drive inside me despite my body's yearn to shut down.

My temper flared when I realized Itachi was probably watching me with glee.

"Don't ever talk to me again! Never! Not ever! Don't even look at me!"

(I'm sorry Sasuke-kun)

I could barely see through my tears now and I was tempted to just hang in Kakashi's arms, but my body thrashed almost as an instinct. Kakashi suddenly let go, but it wasn't long after he did that I was wrapped in sand. My body shivered once before giving up, I hung my head as my sobs continued, everyone around me was silent and the merchants and passerby's who'd seen the strange scene began to whisper. My heart pounded loudly in my ears and my throat felt drier and more torn than it had been before.

Part of me was relieved that I was being restrained but the other part of me wanted to run away from it all. How would my friends look at me now? Showing up like this? I couldn't tell them who killed my parents, so would they really think that I did it?

(You should know better)

I sighed and closed my eyes; it must have seemed that I just snapped for no reason. My eyes forced themselves open and I thought I made out Sasuke's fuzzy figure leaving.

(God, he hates me now)

That was the point.

"Sakura….I'll take you inside." Gaara mumbled. In a whirl of sand his statement was confirmed. Soon I was neatly placed on the bed in the room that I'd become so accustom to.

"Your dress." Gaara sat next to me and I looked down at my feet, rubbing my eyes shamefully.

"The bags…" I murmured remembering my parents.

"They will be brought inside…."

I gave a light nod as I sniffled lightly, trying to rid myself of the last tears.

"He killed your parents?" Gaara asked, though it was more of a statement put into a polite format.

My mouth wouldn't open to answer him and he gave a soft grunt to show he understood. Another wave of silence filled the room and left my mind blank and exhausted. I meekly looked up at Gaara to see him gazing out the window; his expression seemed to twitch with an unclear emotion.

"Your dress." He said bluntly. My throat felt raw and I frowned at him angrily.

(I'm in mourning and he brings the stupid dress up again?)

I didn't answer and fitfully held my tongue to keep from saying anything that would show my annoyance. The last thing I needed was to argue with the Kazekage over crap that even I didn't understand. Gaara, on the other hand, had other plans and shot me a sharp look that sent a cold shiver down my back.

"Your dress….he gave it to you? Why?"

I bit my lip, finally able to break our gaze by looking down at the black dress. I almost jumped when a strong hand gripped my wrist and I flinched slightly at Gaara's painful grasp.

"Don't touch me."

"Explain it to me."

"No."

"Don't be a child."

"I'm tired! Leave me alone!" I tried feebly to pull out of his grip but it was to no avail and he only squeezed my wrist tighter. I tried to remind myself that Gaara was simply the type of person who was blunt and to the point but I was fatigued and confused.

"You should tell me."

"Why is that?" I cooed sarcastically as a woozy sensation came over me.

"Because he will not kill you if you tell me. If he will, he would have when I questioned you the first time."

"I don't care if he kills me! Do you think I care?" I stopped myself abruptly and took in a shaky breath while Gaara watched me patiently, "I want to die."

I thought I heard him snort and shot him an enraged glare. He simply gave me a psychotic smirk in return, making my anger falter.

"You want to die." He repeated.

"Yes…"

"You want to die."

(He's mocking me!)

"Shut up, leave me alone!" I hissed; his smile was beginning to scare me and I didn't know if I wanted to hear his reason for being so amused at my suicidal plot.

"You whine too much."

"You talk too much."

"Do I?" he asked in an amused tone. I made a slight pout at his growing sarcasm.

"Yes." I replied as confidently as I could.

"You're selfish."

"What!" my sleepy eyes shot wide open into a shocked bloodshot stare.

(He has no feelings! Can't he see what I'm going through?)

I grit my teeth and began to shake.

"You're selfish." He repeated.

"I'm selfish? I'M selfish?" his face was becoming blurry as I tried to use my anger to keep my eyes from shutting, "YOU are just a spoiled brat!"

I thought I saw him frown, though through my hazy vision he might as well have blended in with the background. I felt him let go of my wrist but I grabbed his arm before he could get up.

(I'm not done with you!)

"A spoiled brat! You think you're always right and you get pissed when you don't get what you want! You're the selfish one!" I was yelling now and tried to pry out every fault that the red head might have had to defend myself before I passed out.

"Even your own siblings are afraid of you!" He yanked his arm away from me and I began breathing heavily, trying to keep myself from falling back and racking my mind for more insults, "Everyone is afraid of you, people are nice to you so you won't hurt them!" my voice was lower now and I could feel my body giving into sleep.

"You need to learn to shut your mouth." Gaara's voice growled, "You're nothing but a useless nuisance. You were never a threat to anyone, and now that you are you're only in the way."

I twisted my face angrily with some effort and closed my eyes, lying back when my head felt too heavy to keep up.

"You are a monster!" I growled.

I wasn't sure if he'd heard me and if he had he either made no move to show it or I was too far gone to notice. My body began aching all over as I gave into my body's call for sleep.

XXX

I woke up in darkness so I assumed I hadn't been asleep very long, which didn't surprise me because I still felt tired and I'd only had nightmares while I was asleep. I took in a shaky breath to confirm that I really was awake and not 'waking' into another nightmare. I pushed myself into a sitting position and scanned the dimness, then finally decided I was still in the room at Gaara's home and reached over wearily to turn on the light.

I don't know why, but I was surprised when I didn't see Gaara lurking somewhere in my room; I'd become used to him being around when I least expected.

(But I guess when I expect him he's NOT here right?)

I bit my lip as I remembered the verbal fight we'd had a while ago.

(Hmm, maybe I was too harsh?)

He was harsh too!

(But he's mentally unstable right? So…he didn't really know what he was saying…)

I doubt it; he's insane, not stupid.

I let out a frustrated sigh and leaned back on the wall and turned to look at the clock on my counter.

(7:30, I must have slept all day)

My stomach rumbled loudly and I sighed again.

(Well Gaara's not going to come help me out if he's ticked at me)

Erg, it doesn't matter, I doubt he would've brought the food to me anyway; he'd push me out of bed and make me go get it.

(So it's no different than any other time)

I plopped my feet onto the cold floor, forcing myself to stand and trudge to the door. I rested my hand on the doorknob for a moment, contemplating exactly how hungry I was and if I really wanted to face everyone at this moment. Suddenly the door creaked open from the other side and I looked up in surprise.

"Kakashi-sensei?"

"Sakura your up." my former teacher gave a weary smile from under his mask.

"I slept all day, sorry."

"…You slept for three days."

"WHAT!"

"Calm down." He pushed me back into the room and I saw a tray of food in his free hand.

"You must be hungry." He told me when he saw me eyeing the tray.

My stomach gave him a clear answer and I blushed. Kakashi chuckled and sat down on my bed next to me, placing the food on my lap.

"Thank you." I munched hungrily and only noticed Kakashi watching me in silence after I was halfway done.

"Your still here? I'm fine now, really."

"Sakura….I don't mean to bring this up when you just woke up, but…your parents…"

I felt a lump form in my throat and any hunger I had was replaced by nausea.

"I…want to bury them…" I said slowly, "A nice funeral." I mumbled setting the tray on my nightstand.

"Their bodies are being preserved right now, but the treatment used will only last another few weeks….do you want to send their bodies back to Konoha?"

I bit my lip; if they were going to be buried, I wanted to make sure they had a proper funeral and I wanted to be there to say goodbye.

"Don't think about that now….the real question I meant to ask was…how they died." Kakashi mumbled slowly. My heart pained and my anger flared but I kept silent, trying to sort out my words before blaring them out.

"Did the medical nins do an autopsy?"

"Yes..."

"Then you should already know how they died." I replied coldly. I wasn't angry at Kakashi but I didn't feel the need to pour out my soul to someone who knew about as much as my parents did about my life. Not that I could anyway; I was afraid of what Itachi might do because of it.

"I do…but….who killed them?" he asked patiently.

"I didn't kill them."

"I know. I want to know who did…if you know…"

"I don't want to talk about it."

Kakashi let out a sigh and nod lightly.

"I'm sorry this happened to you Sakura." He said softly.

"Shut up." I grit angrily. He turned to me with surprise and slight irritation. I paused, refusing to look at him and mockingly added, "Kakashi-sensei."

"Sakura, I don't know everything that happened to you three days ago and if you don't tell me then it's really hard for me to understand or accept the way your acting." My teacher said, this time more sternly.

"As if you ever understood me to begin with." I muttered, inwardly slapping myself.

(Why are you being so pissy? He brought you food!)

He's asking too many questions.

(So everyone has to hate you or the world will end?)

Yeah, pretty much.

(Stop being an idiot! He's trying to help! You have to twist Itachi's words; he didn't say you couldn't tell Kakashi-sensei! Itachi can twist things so you can too! He took things way too far; you have to find loopholes in his words!)

"Sakura, I can understand you being angry at me, but the way you blew up at Sasuke, that's…not like you, I'm worried!"

My thoughts turned back to Kakashi and I let out a small sigh.

"I just…don't like him; I realized that he never gave me attention." I said slowly.

"I suppose that's a good thing, but then you blow up at everyone else too?" Kakashi asked, "I don't think you really hate him that much."

I pout and looked away from my teacher back at the tray, "What do you know? I could have hated everyone, Sasuke, Gaara, and you!"

"Gaara?" Kakashi asked curiously.

(Oops, he didn't know about that?)

"Uh…no, I meant to say…Ino…yeah..."

"You didn't fight with Ino."

"Yes I did!"

"No…"

"I don't want to talk." I muttered.

"Sakura," his voice went stern again, like I imagined a stressed father's voice to be, "Everyone is really worried, regardless of whether you hurt their feelings or not."

(Don't show weakness!)

I took in a deep breath and scratched my head lightly with a yawn.

"I didn't kill my parents." I said again.

"I know." Kakashi said softly.

There was a period of silence and Kakashi sighed lightly and I heard him fiddle around with something in his coat.

"Sakura, I have something for you."

I turned to him curiously, trying to keep a straight face when he pulled out a colorfully wrapped package.

"Happy belated birthday." He gave me a small smile underneath his mask and handed the pink and red bundle. I looked down at it for a moment and contemplated throwing it back at him but my curiosity got the best of me and I slowly began opening it.

"You're late." I quickly stated as I opened the gift.

"I'm sorry."

I gave no reply this time and stared down at the gift my teacher had given me. I blinked once before looking up at him in shock. Kakashi chuckled and gave me teasing smile; "Do you like it?"

I turned bright red and smacked him over the head.

"Kakashi-sensei!" I shrieked looking back down at the lacy underwear he'd bought me.

He laughed and grabbed my arm as I tried to hit him again; "I'm just kidding, Sakura." He pulled out a smaller package and tossed it on top of the underwear. I hurriedly opened it to make sure it wasn't porn and let out a sigh of relief when it ended up being jewelry.

"A ring?" I asked looking it over, "It looks expensive." I bit my lip.

"It doesn't matter how much it cost….I know you've been getting a lot of jewelry lately but I thought you might like this one." Kakashi said taking the ring from me.

"Why is that?" I asked with a smile. Kakashi looked down at the ring and meekly smiled back.

"I mean, I'm not sure if it was really the best time to give it to you…"

I grabbed the ring form him and examined it to see what he was looking at; the ring was silver and had flowers engraved on it, but as I turned it over in my hands the engravings turned into words.

"I hope you feel better Sakura, if you feel like talking I'll be here alright?"

"Wha-?" I felt his lips press lightly to my forehead but before I could look up he was gone.

"Kakashi!" I whined.

(Damn I could've seen his face!)

I guess he was just embarrassed…

(So he cares after all...)

I smirked and ran my finger over the words: To my blossoming flower.

I laughed and blushed, shaking my head with a smile.

(He must have thought it would be offending after my parents just died)

My smile faded and I sighed; I wasn't offended, I was happy, I spent more time with Kakashi than my own father, I was glad that he saw that.

I put the ring onto my middle finger and flopped back on the bed.

(Thanks Kakashi-sensei)

I sighed and sat up, cracking my neck to the side and deciding the food had given me back enough energy (along with my three-day nap) to go take a shower.

I was about to get some fresh clothes when I saw myself in the mirror. I frowned angrily at my reflection and at the dress I was wearing. I grit my teeth and turned to go shower when I remembered the bite mark and spun my head back to see if it was really that bad.

"AH!" I leaned forward and stared in horror at the large red splotch on my neck.

(Damn you Itachi!)

My inner self fumed and I inwardly stabbed at the cloaked figure of Sasuke's older brother.

(Sasuke)

My attention went away from the mark and the dress for a moment as I slowly recalled all the nasty things I'd said to people a few days ago. I looked over at the door timidly. There was no way I could go out with the chance of running into them; I would either break down or say more things to regret later.

I bit my lip and looked back in the mirror; I really needed a shower.

I huffed silently and tiptoed out the door and down the hall to Temari's room. I peeked inside, seeing it open and empty I dove inside to take advantage of the bathroom while I still could.

The shower did nothing for my stamina except lessen it. The longer I stood under the hot water the more I thought about what I had said to everyone, about my parents, and especially Gaara.

(Not that he's special in any way, he thinks he is but he's not……)

I bit my lip and turned off the water, wrapping a towel around myself and stepping out of the shower slowly.

(So why is he my main concern? I was just as mean to Sasuke…)

I grabbed the dress and plodded back into the hall towards my room. The longer I could be without the dress on, the better. My wet hair slapped my face and finally I let out an annoyed grunt and flung my hair back. I blinked when I saw something red in the corner of my eye and stopped to see Gaara walk past me. He didn't even acknowledge me when he passed and walked briskly down the hall. My heart was beating faster and louder than I'd ever thought it could; I wasn't sure if it was out of immense fear or shock but I stood completely still until I couldn't see him anymore.

I took in a deep breath, feeling entirely flustered and dazed.

(I should probably eat more; the lack of food is making me sickly)

I let out a sigh and gathered the will to move again. I had another feeling come over me but this time I was sure it was out of fear; I didn't bother to wait for whoever it was and ran down the hall into my room locking the door behind me.

(I'm becoming paranoid)

I need to find a way to end this!

(I need Itachi to take me back to that cave; I bet that's where he's keeping Naruto and the others!)

I hope they're ok

(I can't do it alone this time though….)

But you have no one to help you….

I shook my head and sighed, reluctantly changing into the dress again. I flopped onto the bed and lay on my side looking out my window at the moon.

(Doesn't Gaara always look at the moon?)

I sat up and debated silently whether or not I should try the roof for his presence.

(It couldn't hurt)

I opened my window quietly and crawled onto the windowsill, climbing up to the roof as silently as I could. I knew that if he heard me that he would leave.

My eyes peeked over the edge of the roof and I frowned; to my dismay he was not there after all. I let out a heavy groan and pulled myself up onto the roof anyway. I sat back and wriggled uncomfortably; it seemed almost as if sitting on the roof with Gaara made the hard tile softer. I leaned back and looked up at the sky wearily.

(I don't really want to die)

I frowned and laid my hands on my stomach, pausing and lifting the hand where

Kakashi's ring was and smiled.

(I have people who care about me and people who are now counting on me….everything will be ok, I just need to think of a plan)

My eyes closed lightly as I put my hand back down.

(But I still wish Gaara wouldn't be so angry at me)

I grumbled, slightly annoyed at my happy thoughts going back to the grudge-holding Sand-nin.

"Gaara you're so difficult."

XXX

A/N: An Update! Hooray! XD haha it was funny to read the reviews of the last chapter, so many people got angry at me ; haha sorry for the cliffhanger, I didn't think it would be such a big thing. Well anyway, here's yet another chapter! Full of angst and hormonal rantings, because I know that girls do that a lot even if they don't mean to X3 sorry for Kakashi's weird mushiness, I had an impulse to make him fatherly. Sorry its so short, I've been grounded lately and my comp. Has been taken away from me ;-; I only got it back because my grades were getting slightly better and I've been begging (woot). I'll be updating this story rather slowly but I'll work very hard on it so don't attack me for my slowness; I'm working on about 5 stories at a time XD, yeah I really should end some of them! Anyway, thanks for reading guys! I hope you enjoyed the little I had and I promise a better chapter next time! R & R please, flames welcome.