Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

"Text like this" means characters are talking.
'Text like this' means characters are thinking.

Summary: A story about Lilacs and relationships.

This was not the one of the best days for Haruno Sakura. In fact it was worst in her opinion. First she woke up to find the hot water shower was not working, and then it turned out to be one of those unusual days when her mother enters what she calls the "extra happy" mode.

She had lost her father when she was six. Though she does not have many memories, she knew that her parents loved each other very much. After her fathers death her mom just stopped laughing or being happy. Of course she would put up a happy face or bring out a happy tone when she was dealing with Sakura, but Sakura, at Nineteen years of age, was no fool. She could feel the pain of loneliness in her mom.

She remembered that her mom's favorite flower were Lilacs. Why she does not know, maybe her Father used to give those to mom? After the loss she never saw her mom buying lilacs again, until recently. It was those "extra happy-mode" days when Sakura sees her mother with lilacs. She would be humming some tune with a faint smile on her lips and a lone lilac in her hairs. She would show way more affection to her than is needed for a 19 year old woman.

That confuses Sakura greatly. Being the (supposedly) smartest kunoichi, she did not like to be confused. Really, why would anyone put a lone lilac in their hairs, on top of that a slightly wilted one? That was definitely from yesterday. Then why mom did not wear it yesterday? Most importantly, why she started to buy lilacs in the first place, anyway?

Just as she thought the day could not get worse, it did. She was supposed to meet with Naruto and Kakashi here; or rather they were supposed to come here. Kakshi-sensei was late as usual; even the idiot Naruto was late by one and a half hours. On top of that it rained and now she is standing there, alone, drenched and furious. She even wore her "special" leather boots that Naruto seemed to like. But that damned baka was late!

'When that idiot gets here, he is getting it.'

Haruno Ayeka was humming a song while pacing through her house with doing minor works. A slightly wilted lilac graced her hair along with a faint smile. She was a strong woman, a retired chunin. Being a single mother was tough especially when your daughter is someone like Haruno Sakura. When she lost her husband she almost broke down. It was only her daughter that kept her going. She could not laugh, be happy, even after all these years. She restrained herself in a cell, until he came to her life.

He was a complete stranger when they first saw each other. She did not hate him, neither had she liked him. He was just another of those young men, one of her daughter's many acquaintances. Later she would find out that he was contagious, how he grew into her she would never understand, but his personality started to rub on her. Somehow he was there for her when see needed some shoulder to cry on.

It was one of those dreadful nights when her husband's memories haunt her. She could not save him. She was too weak to save him and he died in her arms. She berates herself, if only she was stronger, by a little bit. She was broken. Her daughter never saw this side of her, the lonely and broken side. She had no one to share the pain that continued to eat her soul. Then there was him, accidentally came to her home looking for Sakura for something and found her.

She did cling to him that night. She knew it was taboo and that she should not do this, but she did. There was no love, she wanted a release and he accepted. The whole time they did not utter a single word other than moans. In the morning he was gone before she woke up. She felt very dirty, ashamed. She wanted to wash everything form last night. When she emerged from her bathroom she vowed that she would forget everything. It was then she saw the bunch of lilacs lying on her bedroom table, slightly wilted, a bit dirty.

The vow did not last.

She did not know why she put a lilac in her hair, albeit a wilted one, but she did. Her daughter gave her a slightly surprised look, but she ignored it. That was the start. Next time he visited for a lunch invitation. He did not look at her face the whole time. After he was gone, another bunch of lilacs were found on top of her bedroom table. How he managed that was still a mystery.

She tried to resist him. She never smiled to him, never showed any form of affection towards him when he came for a casual visit or lunch invitation. Even now she tries her best to remain utterly non-interested when she is around him.

The more she tried to resist him the more she drowned in him.

Ayeka is no fool. She knew this was nothing but lust and loneliness playing with their lives. She would never love him. What she does not understand is why still she allows him to see her, why still she keeps the lilacs to wear in her hair next day. She never acknowledged him for giving her lilacs, always placed them away in a vase nonchalantly. Once he wanted her to wear one in her hairs and show him.

She refused.

She would never wear them in front of him. She will never let him know if she wears them at all. In some of those lonely nights, she stares of at the moon. She ponders on the thought,

'How would it feel to actually love him?'

He led a very simple life, never wanting any complication. Wake up, eat, train, eat and slip. Well maybe read some "Icha Icha Paradise" sometime. That was his daily routine. He is a established Jounin doing regular duties for the village he dearly loves. He was happy with what he had before, until Ayeka came to his life.

Now he was happier.

He could not understand how he ended up in a bed with Haruno Ayeka on that night. He had found her broken and crying. He wanted to comfort her. But somehow his own loneliness has affected him. Her face was so similar to Sakura; same green eyes streaked with tears, pink hair matted to her face, thin lips quivering with silent screams. He saw Sakura in her; the same Sakura that pleaded him to bring her love back; that Sakura who looked defeated, broken after that bastard had left her alone. He felt the same feeling that he felt all those years ago. He wanted to make her forget all her pain. But this time there was more.

He wanted to forget his pains too.

They ended up "making love" with each other. In the morning he had regretted it. He tried to forget it but he could not. Her face was in the mind all day and he had admitted that she was beautiful even if she is in her late thirties. Also, seeing Sakura did not help at all. She constantly reminded of her mother; only difference was that Ayeka is even more beautiful than her own daughter. Next time he had told her exactly that. She had stared at him for a moment with those emotionless, cold eyes before walking away. But she did not tell him to leave. He knew this relationship was unhealthy, a taboo to the society.

Then again, he did not care about the society in the first place, did he?

She made it clear on there second "meeting" that there are no emotions such as, love or affection, involved in their relation and never will be. Live with it. He does not care. It was long time back that he realized that he won't get any love from anyone, especially the one he loves. So what he is getting is some of bonus for him and by his limited knowledge, bonus are good!

Or at least, that's how he tries to comfort himself.

A family was always him dream. He wanted someone who would look for him, wait for him when he returns, someone that he can go to when he feels alone. When Ayeka came he thought he has got that someone, though it was not who he expected or not how he wanted, but still she was there. But it still hurts when she says she has absolutely no feelings for him.

He was not an inanimate object, he hated being inanimate to others eyes.

She never smiled at him. They never laughed together. Before they make love, they are just like two strangers, without any feelings. All that changes when they are in the bed. How she can change from a cold woman to the most loving woman he would never understand. She caresses him, adores him, hugs him, whispers to him, kisses him, does everything he wanted from someone else for a long time; but she does those only in the bed. Once she gets out, she changes to her cold self again. He knows that he is living in euphoria, and she is using him. Once she gets bored, she will throw him away, just like a piece of trash; just like her daughter does. Sometimes he sees Sakura in her, wondering if Sakura got her attitude from her. He wants to get out, to live a normal life. The more he wants out, the more she draws him in.

Yes, Uzumaki Naruto is addicted to her, like a firefly to its death.

In those lonely nights, he argues with himself that she is not telling the truth. If she does not have any feelings then why does she accepts the lilacs? Sure she refused to wear them even if he pleaded, buy why does she keep them in vase half filled with water? Why does she always kiss on his forehead when she thinks he is asleep? Most importantly, why does she give him more fishcakes than Sakura on those lunch invitations, when fishcakes are Sakura's favorite dish in the first place?

Giving more food to someone like him has to indicate some sort of affection, right?

He imagines how would it feel if he married (by some sheer chance or by intervention of the Gods up there) Ayeka. He would have a family. Someone will be waiting for him when he returned from a mission, someone to share his loneliness, his pain, his joy, his love, his heart. He will have a place that he could call home.

He will have Haruno Sakura as his step-daughter.

He shudders. The thought of having a daughter whose age is same as yours and whose name is Sakura, is… plain creepy.

'Should not think about scary thoughts.'

But right now he had to hurry if he does not want to be beaten to a pulp by his own, so called, "step-daughter". After all, he was one and a half hour late.

Sakura was feeling slightly better now. There was a Naruto-sized hole in the ground and the said blond was nursing the cuts and bruises he got from the recent beat-up. Kakashi just announced that they can have the day off for whatever reasons they do not care, and poofed away. She looks at the blond fondly.

Naruto has grown into a fine man as well as a fine shinobi. He has matured over time. He did not chase her anymore. And Sakura missed it, very much. She knew there was something there, still after everything she did to him. The way he looks at her sometimes was a proof of that. But somehow she feels there is a distance forming between them.

"That hurt, Sakura-chan", she hears Naruto's complaint. Now that she thinks about it, she went a bit overboard with the punch. After all these years, some habits are die-hard. She feels a bit guilty. She smiles and offers him her healing hand.

"Let's go to my place, Naruto. It's closer than yours. We can have lunch together."

"Does your mom know about this? I mean, I can't just pop up out of nowhere and …"

"That's OK. Maybe she will be a bit surprised. Also mom is making fishcakes again," Sakura offers. Naruto accepts uncertainly. Salura rolls her eyes and drags Naruto towards her residence. Sakura thinks that maybe the day is getting better.

Sakura was confused again. Why does everyone keep acting so strange? Naruto was complaining the whole way back about her inhuman strength and how she should keep that in check. That was OK, seeing that it was Naruto after all. Then she remembered that her mom was in "extra happy-mode". Now she started to regret about the invitation. What if Naruto makes some stupid comments about those lilacs? He, after all, is known for his straight forwardness. Her mom will not take that casually.

However, whatever she expected from either Naruto or her mom, it was not this. When she announced that she had brought Naruto with her for lunch, her mom was startled, moving her hand to reach her hairs. But before she could do that, Naruto was already in front of her. They saw each other and for a very brief moment they froze. Ayeka was standing there and Naruto's eyes were on the lilac in her hair. Sakura expected a stupid comment, but

Naruto smiled. It was one of those rare warm smiles that Sakura misses these days.

After changing their clothes, they sat on the table while Ayeka prepared their plates. Sakura could not understand why her mom was fumbling with things more than usual and why Naruto suddenly forgot about all the complaints he was having earlier. Sakura ponders about the thought without getting any satisfactory answers. She sees Naruto smiling again, a genuine smile and heard him complimenting in a very soft tone,

"Nice lilac, Ayeka-san".

Leave it to Naruto to compliment on a wilted flower. She gave up trying to figure out what was happening, she does not want to know what Naruto or her mom see in that flower, she does not want to know why Naruto smiled seeing that wilted lilac let alone complimenting, and she certainly does not want to how Naruto managed to get more fishcakes in his plate than hers. After all, it was her favorite dish.

Sakura heard her mom saying a soft "Thanks" to Naruto's compliment without looking up, a hint of smile gracing her mom's lips. She also noticed that the small smile was returned by Naruto. She looks at the lilac again, and then at Naruto,

'Maybe, on some days, I should wear lilacs too.'

The end