The sting of the frigid night air was surprisingly mild on my numbed skin. The cold was expected; on clear evenings like these, all the warmth in the atmosphere leaked out until only a thick winter coat saved people from getting the flu. It was the kind of night that ended in a blanket of soft, white snow, and unfortunately for me I had yet to see a single snowflake.
I pulled my scarf more tightly around me as I walked briskly through the city streets, fighting to keep my teeth from chattering. My grandmother always said that if my teeth chattered long enough, they would break into pieces, and that always brought up a rather horrible mental image. Blocking the picture from again entering my mind, I continued my trek against the wind, past the warm but dirty bars, past the dingy little restaurants that were all closed at this hour. I yanked my sleeve back to check my watch--1:02. Apparently that was AM. I would never find a decent cup of coffee now.
I gave a start as I realized that I had no idea what I was doing here. Oh, sure, I knew where I was. After all, the urban part of downtown Konoha was not a place easily confused with anywhere else. What bothered me was the fact that I was clueless as to why I was here. In my experience, I knew that this part of Konoha was not the safest location to be, and it was all the more dangerous at night. All of my surroundings were a bit blurry, actually. Was I drunk? Don't be stupid, I reprimanded myself. At only seventeen, alcohol is rather hard to come by when one has no social life to speak of. Not that I wanted it. The alcohol, that is. The only thing worse than being in this side of Konoha past midnight was being intoxicated in this side of Konoha past midnight. Not a pretty thought.
Two hazy shadows appeared about twenty feet in front of me, laughing loudly as they staggered out of a nearby bar and onto the sidewalk. It did not take a genius to see that they were inebriated. Their outlines grew sharper as they drew closer, and I realized that they were badly dressed, with mismatched outfits consisting of stained T-shirts and frayed pants, and they were most likely middle-aged. When they caught sight of me I nearly snarled at them. The way they were looking at me as though I were seductively obscene was repulsive. It was yet another reminder that I really needed to figure out why I was here, in the dead of night, and worst of all by myself.
One of them was speaking in a drunken slur, and though I heard his wobbly English the words were fuzzy, quite like the rest of my surroundings. He was gesturing toward me and grinning, an unsurprising hiccup escaping from his chapped lips. I glanced down at my outfit. Plain black turtleneck, brown scarf, the black slacks I wore to work--nothing even remotely provocative. Wait, I wore this to work? I didn't have a job. Nothing was making sense now.
The man on the right suddenly lunged at me, bulky but entirely uncoordinated. I rushed backwards, my poor reflexes acting just in time to avoid his grasp. He grunted and sprang forward again, undeterred. I had no fighting skills to speak of, and despite this man's drunken clumsiness he clearly had the brawn to make up for it.
Before I could shut my eyes in a head-in-the-sand defense, a hand shot out from just behind me. The palm of it connected with the man's forehead, and amazingly he went down. The other man in the background was apparently a coward, as he ambled off immediately, too shocked to even throw a dirty look at his challenger. My attacker moaned from the ground and scrambled to right himself, nearly slipping in the process.
Behind me, another hand closed over my arm in an icy grip. The idiot in front of me amazingly collapsed after I heard a soft whooshing sound past my ear, and I winced as he emitted a low groan as though he had been kicked. The smell of alcohol lingered faintly in the air as he dropped his head, unconscious.
I stood there in shocked silence, unsure of what to do. Would the other one come back? If he did, would the person behind me save me again? Would the person be able to handle another attack?
A rush of air escaped my lungs as I let out a breath I wasn't aware I had been holding. I was sure the danger had passed. I was finally safe from those disgusting, vodka-soaked men. Turning slowly even though the person's grasp on my arm didn't slacken, I looked up to thank my rescuer, and froze.
The first thing I noticed about him was his mop of dark hair that almost blended with the night sky behind him as it fell over his eyes. His eyes…they were terrifying and beautiful at the same time. Deep red irises glowed from beneath his bangs, and three comma-shaped symbols swirled around and around within them. Pale moonlit skin peeked from beneath a navy blue shirt, unblemished and smooth. He was the kind of person who could stop a heartbeat or destroy an ego with simply a glance.
He chuckled softly, his lips barely turning upward in a ghostly smile. His hand still bound my arm in a steely hold, and though it sent shivers down my back it did not scare me as I thought it would. He looked exactly the image of something to be feared, the last person I would want to meet in a dark alley. And yet I felt only security.
"Don't look so relieved," my savior murmured, his voice barely above a whisper. The commas in his eyes spun dangerously, almost a warning for me to run; and yet I stayed rooted to the spot. His lips parted, drawing my attention to his mouth, and I saw the glitter of too-long incisors, sharp teeth the likes of which were only found in supernatural stories. Fangs.
Even when he lightly brushed my hair away from my shoulder, I didn't move. My rational side was screaming for me to run, but for some reason his subtle intimidation had no effect on me. I wasn't afraid of death in that moment, though I had every reason you could think of to live. He was going to kill me; why didn't I move?
He pressed his lips against my neck in a swift and strangely erotic movement, and suddenly I forgot to breathe. I felt his unearthly teeth sink into my flesh, and as they pierced my skin I bit back a pained scream. This was really happening. He was draining the blood from my body as if I were nothing more than a pink-haired milkshake.
In some unknown impulse, I lifted my hand behind his head and settled my trembling fingers in his black hair. He jerked a little, surprised as much as I was by the action, and it sent a new spasm of pain through my body. My hand slid across his hair, which was curiously soft despite the jagged spikes it formed.
Flirting with disaster; that's what I was doing, clichéd or not. My fingers weaved in and out of his hair, and somehow I could not bring myself to stop, even when he sucked harder at my neck. His hand was still clamped on my arm like a vice, bit the way his grip tightened seemed to convey the boy's confusion at my reaction. He must have thought I was insane. Maybe I was.
The pain lessened as my vision became blurry. I was past the point of saving--no blood transfusion would do me any good now. It was odd, how completely calm I felt. I feel a little sorry for him, I thought I ironically as he continued to drain me of every last drop of blood. He must have been really thirsty.
The last thought that entered my consciousness before my eyes slid out of focus was definitely not what I expected.
Would he have chased after me if I had run away?
I heard an agonized sentence spill from his perfect lips, sounding truly pained, and suddenly I was very still.
"Why didn't you run?"
Like he didn't want to kill me.
Sakura's eyes flew open. The sunlight streaming through the curtains fell directly onto her face, hurting her sensitive eyes. She raised a hand weakly to shield herself against the offending sunlight, and yawned.
Pulling the covers closer around her chest, she mulled over the memory of the dream in her mind. The images that were so vivid a moment ago were rapidly fading, and Sakura clung to the memory as she replayed what she remembered twice in her head in an effort to cement it there. To make absolutely sure she wouldn't forget, she fumbled blindly against the glaring light for a small black notepad she kept on her nightstand. She let a triumphant grin spread across her face as her roaming fingers located the leathery texture of the notepad. It took her all of about five minutes to jot down the fragments of what she remembered. Damn my short-term memory, she thought angrily. She couldn't even remember what the vampire-like boy looked like, aside from those red eyes. Maybe he had black hair…but that was all she knew.
She made the mistake of glancing carelessly over at the wall calendar, and groaned. It was the first day of twelfth grade, and though some might be tremendously overexcited about returning to school, Sakura could not think of anything more depressing. She always was a bit pessimistic. Didn't anyone know that September signaled the end of summer? No more lazy Sundays by the lake, no more ice creams with the bratty little kids she babysat, who were beginning to grow on her. Back to hard work and responsibility. Great. As if she needed another reason to crawl back under the covers and stay there forever.
"It's a goof thing you're an early riser, Sakura," her mother commented as Sakura zombie-walked into the kitchen. She mumbled something imperceptible that came out as more of an "mmmph" than an actual sentence. Resolutions for the new school year? Be more of a morning person. Okay--another personal goal to set aside and allow to collect dust. Right next to "find a boyfriend" and "miraculously learn to fly." Why not? Each was as unlikely as the next.
Sakura showered, dressed and performed the rest of her daily routine in a daze, the unattractive bags under her eyes not quite faded yet. Even as she said goodbye to her mother and headed out the door, she was groggy. Even when her mother ran after her, slipped her a piece of gum and reminded her that she forgot to brush her teeth, she could barely summon the energy to scowl. It would be an amazing feat just to keep her forehead from touching her desk when she fell asleep at school.
Nervousness hazily resurfaced in the back of her mind as she thought of the day ahead of her. She hadn't really bothered to keep in contact with her friends over summer break, ignoring their calls and choosing not to reply to their messages. For a moment she wondered whether she had any friends to come back to. She was no popular girl; if her friends really had abandoned her, she wouldn't be able to magically make new ones. Oh, right--being more of a "people person" was another one of her resolutions. That one already had a thin layer of dust coating it. Some things would never change, and being a so-called socialite was one of them.
Thankfully, the world showed mercy and placed her school only two blocks away from her house. She didn't know whether she would be able to handle taking the bus this early in the morning; her caffeine-deprived state probably wouldn't go over well with the other students in the old, rusty, incredibly ugly-looking vehicles. Her mood was bad enough without having to ride in one of those death traps.
Forcing herself to be a little more cheerful, Sakura attempted optimism. Today wouldn't be so bad. She would find some of her old friends, they would catch up, she would get her schedule, and go through class introductions. No big deal. She could handle this. She was Sakura Haruno--there was nothing she couldn't handle.
First period was a disaster. There was only one person she recognized in Math, and that one person was now an ex-friend apparently, as she refused to talk to Sakura at all. The next class period went without incident, as no one she recognized had it with her. This was both a welcome blessing and a mood-dampener, as this way she didn't have to avoid anyone, but she would have to start completely from scratch when it came to getting to know her classmates.
She came to her third period classroom about five minutes early, as she was not among the hordes of people socializing in the hall. It was excruciating, trying to make her way through the swarm of preppy clothing and expensive perfume. After she reclaimed her dignity and strode through the door, she saw the wide array of seats to choose from. Did no one get to class early these days? Oh, well, no need to complain, Sakura reasoned. At least this way she could sit wherever she wanted.
Sakura scanned the desks, and the few people already in them. Some nerd who had the same Biology class fidgeted nervously in one of the front desks. That loner girl who had elbowed her out of the way in the lunch line sat in the far corner. A smaller boy she didn't recognize took a seat somewhere in the middle. None of these people looked worth talking to, in her opinion. Yes, it was mean to think so, but then none of them had seen the crappy day she had gone through. At this point, she would be happiest just fading into the background, allowing people to ignore her existence.
She trudged over to the back row of seats, and plunked her bag down next to one before collapsing in what was now her desk. She sighed loudly, not bothering to be quiet. Screw politeness. That could wait until tomorrow.
Resting her tired head on her arms, she blocked out the light over head as much as she could. One little rest wouldn't hurt. After all, when she raised her head she would feel better and ready to pay attention. There was nothing wrong with that, was there? As long as she didn't actually fall asleep.
She fell asleep.
Sakura woke abruptly as something sharp collided with her pale rose hair. Someone had just thrown something at her! So much for the nap improving her mood. Scowling, she whipped her head around, trying to locate the unlucky offender. That person was going to pay.
"Yes?" Sakura asked as her eyes met her expectant teacher's. Uh-oh. She had been seen sleeping, hadn't she?
"What is the second part of the most well-known phrase in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?" Mr. Iruka repeated impatiently. Sakura held back a sigh of relief. Maybe she hadn't been discovered.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I must have misheard the first time," Sakura lied smoothly. "The second part of the line is, 'Wherefore art thou, Romeo?'" Mr. Iruka turned away, appeased, before calling on another unsuspecting student. Sakura half-smiled, and then glanced down at her desk.
A small folded note sat there, innocent as if it had been there the whole time. Looking around, she unfolded the note and read its contents.
He would have caught you asleep, you know.
The words sounded almost mocking. Would have caught…? Sakura thought, puzzled. Then it clicked. Hastily scribbling a note back, she put it on the corner of her desk, and waited for whoever it was to grab it.
It was a few seconds before anything happened. Then, the boy next to her turned his head in her direction and smirked when he saw the note. He reached over to take it, and she got a glimpse of him.
A mess of dark hair fell over his deep black eyes, and perfect lips tilted sideways in a crooked smile. As he leaned back, hand closed around the note, he stole a glance at her, and she was hit with a huge wave of déjà vu.
The boy in her dream. That vampire with the glowing red eyes that had assaulted her neck. The one that had saved her from those drunks, that she wasn't even remotely afraid of, and not even she knew why.
She mentally shook herself as she reassessed him. This boy was not as tall or as intimidating. He had coal black eyes instead of the entrancing red ones, and the way he dressed was nowhere near the style of the vampire's. This boy wore loose-fitting black jeans and a deep crimson shirt, the style not nearly as formal as the blue shirt and black slacks the vampire had worn. They were really nothing alike. The image of the boy in her dream was just too fresh in her mind, that was all.
Cautiously opening the note, the boy's smirk grew more pronounced at her message.
It was you that threw that pen!
Sakura found the note tossed back in her lap before her indignant look could wear off.
Yeah. What of it? I saved you.
Saved me…Sakura's breath caught in her throat. The boy with fangs had saved her. But that had nothing to do with this! She glared at him as she wrote back.
You couldn't have thought of a better way to wake me up?
She watched his face carefully as he read this one. His eyebrows disappeared into his hair, and infuriatingly his lips twitched in amusement.
You sure are grateful. I'll remember that next time it happens.
Sakura swore that her frown would someday freeze in place.
There won't be a next time. And anyways, why did you even bother with the sharp projectile object?
The boy's shoulders shook with silent laughter at her reply.
'Sharp projectile object'? I had no idea a pen could pose such a danger to you.
Sakura snatched the note in midair this time as he threw it. He shot her a mildly impressed look out of the corner of his eye.
I'm sure many people have suffered head injuries from pens just like yours. Think before you throw next time.
"Hn," he said out loud as his recovered pen scratched across the paper. She just waited impatiently for his retort.
You said there wouldn't be a next time.
She gaped at the writing. He wasn't serious. That was his comeback? She was disappointed.
I had expected a rather smarter comeback from you, Einstein.
There. Let's see what he makes of that.
Einstein? That's not the greatest nickname I've ever heard, Juliet.
Juliet? Oh, right, the Shakespeare question. Sakura smiled involuntarily. Juliet wasn't so bad. She could live with being called that.
Fine then. Tell me your real name.
What? But…she had asked him first! He wasn't being fair! Sakura scrawled her name down anyway, and handed the note back.
He glanced at her for a brief moment before answering.
The bell chose that exact moment to ring, and students began pouring out of the classroom. Sakura studied the name on the paper, trying to commit it to memory. Annoying or not, he was certainly interesting. Sasuke. She heard a shuffle of movement beside her, and when she looked up she saw him slinging his backpack over his shoulder.
"See you, Juliet," he said in a deep voice, startling her with the mature tone it had. Without looking back, he headed out of the room.
For some reason, Sakura wished she could remember what the vampire boy in her dream sounded like, just so she could compare their voices. Even if the boy in her dream wasn't real.
Wait, he learned my name and then uses some nickname anyway? she realized angrily. Stupid Sosuki. Retrieving the note, she reread his last sentence. Oh. Right. Sasuke. Whatever.
AN: Wow, for some reason it started out so easy, and then got harder to use this writing style as I went along. Well, anyways, I hope you enjoyed it so far! Love it or hate it, please review with your thoughts!