Predator and Prey
I'll push you to the edge...
Sakura swallowed to lessen the shaky intakes of air, but it was difficult enough with the presence of nerves, making her body restless and her mind run with a million thoughts. The nervous feeling mimicked the way she felt when she had to stand in front of a class and present a project or assignment. Even with the presence of other group members standing by her side, people who most likely had ignored her existence or made her do all the work, she was still petrified in having to speak in front of other students. They would simply stare in curiosity or disbelief. And most often, they would also giggle and comment at her nerdish appearance.
It was a phobia of hers that had developed years ago.
That was what she felt as she waited on the school's rooftop. She felt intense nerves that made her feel sick, including the fact that she had not set foot here since that incident. She simply did not know what to expect from the dark-haired student and knowing him by now, meeting at the rooftop, out of all places, was not a good idea at all. It made her extremely uneasy to think that another embarrassing and frightening occurrence was well on its way the more she waited here. Still, her subconscious reminded her of what the consequences were if she disobeyed and that added onto the nerves.
It was not the sound of the door opening or the approaching snakelike footfalls, but a growing presence that prickled her skin, alerting her to turn around. As suspected, it was him walking ever so effortlessly and unperturbed, as if he were simply meeting a friend for lunch. Her eyebrows creased in confusion, yet her legs took root of the ground, not only preparing her to expect the unexpected, but to keep herself from losing balance.
Why was he acting this way? After what had happened…?
That notion disappeared when his aura darkened and the memorable smirk came out of hiding. Truth be told, she was not surprised when he demonstrated this revelation, but did tense when he stopped nearby. He stood still as ebony eyes landed on her twitchy body, which evidently showed her discomfort in the situation of being stared at.
Deciding to play with her a bit, he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a carton along with a match in order to get her attention. After striking the match and lighting his cigarette, he flicked the burnt match, sending it in her direction. She flinched, and although her body recoiled, she remained in the same spot. It was only when he blew out the cloud of smoke that she awkwardly stepped back with a lowered head.
It's still fresh in her mind…He thought as he began to observe the ugly girl. Judging from the occurrence at his house, there was certainly more to the pink-head than meets the eye. He supposed it was natural considering she was just another nerd in this school that tended to hide from the rest and never showed her true colors. And when no one bothered to scratch away the ugly façade in order to find out what was really lurking inside, she stayed as the unknown, typical nerd.
Another puff of smoke went up in the air. "I suppose you are ready."
In response, she barely nodded with a vacillating look behind those purple frames. He smirked since he knew she could not help but to think about the rooftop incident. He noticed how her arms were folded at her chest, acting like a protective barrier. Quite candidly, if that was on her mind, it disappointed him. Surely had she learned that he did not like to repeat things? It absolutely bored him. But now, he had new things in mind, and was ready to execute them on the pathetic weakling.
In a way, she was right to be so concerned at this moment. It was almost a pity that she was not fully aware of his plans…at least, not yet.
"Hn, be here tomorrow at lunch."
He walked away; a cloud of smoke occupied his vacant spot, leaving her confused. Even after he disappeared completely through the door, she stayed where she was. She was led to believe the first day of his tutoring would start today, and here of all places, but he leaves…?
It's not like you actually wanted to tutor him, do you?
Of course not! It's just that he…he…surprises you?
Surprises were always unexpected, regardless of whether it was good or not since that was the whole point. Although when it concerned him, it was equivalent to a catastrophe.
Concerned, pale viridian eyes that controlled the lightly faded pink eyebrows into creasing looked at the girl sitting limply on the couch. It was the third time she caught her daughter snap out of her thoughts, rub her forehead tiredly, and attempt to read the history book in her hands. The woman that stopped knitting wondered what was going through Sakura's mind and hoped the recent troubles were not affecting her daughter so greatly.
Initially, she had second thoughts about telling her daughter about the sudden financial problems and the troubles at work. However, she had based her decision on the fact that she never kept anything a secret from her daughter. After all, it was only the two of them in this small house in such a changing and enormous world. The bond of a mother and daughter should be strong and unbreakable or else they would have nothing else to fall back on.
Yet if only her daughter were not so fragile to everything that happened around her, perhaps this ever present feeling of concern would lessen. Sometimes she blamed herself for placing her daughter under such an overprotective wing, but Sakura was her only child…her only baby.
With that, the woman assured herself before calling out to the young girl. "Sakura, dear?"
The schoolgirl blinked and turned her head towards her mother, "Yes, mommy?"
Sakura had always been attached to me, the woman thought upon examining her daughter, from the moment she was born. She would not leave my side like she was attached to my leg. "Is everything all right at school? How are your classes?"
Sakura swallowed as she attempted to lift her lips into a smile. "My…classes are fine."
"That's good…" there was a small silence before the older woman spoke, "Something is on your mind, dear. Do you want to talk about it?"
She watched her daughter shift in her seat uncomfortably before adjusting the heavy textbook in her lap. "Hatake-san, the school's counselor…" she began.
Her mother nodded her head remembering the kind man she had spoken to before. "Did you thank him for everything, honey?"
Sakura nodded, "I did. Well, he had asked…asked me to tutor a…student."
"Is that what is troubling you, dear? You know very well that you can bring a friend over to the house. I always encouraged you to do so," replied the woman with a sad smile since Sakura never did bring a friend home to play with.
Sakura looked away and whispered, "It's a boy."
"Oh! That what's making you so shy?" asked her mother. When Sakura didn't answer, she continued teasingly, "Well, does this mean he's cute?"
Sakura could not help but to stutter her reply, "I-I don't…um…h-he…"
Her mother's laughter saved her from the uncomfortable moment. "I'm just joking with you, Sakura. Don't think about it too much when he comes over. After all, he's a just a boy who needs to be tutored."
When Sakura was left alone on the couch, really wanting to say that she had no interest in letting him come inside her home, but failed, she thought about what her mother had said. Yes, he was just some boy among the hundreds of other boys at school, except this one made her want to break into a million different pieces.
"The concepts of math are not that difficult," said Asuma desperately as he passed out the disappointing exams back to the students. Zaku was one of several who scoffed at Asuma's statement while others laughed at each other's failing grades.
Asuma's face was grave as he returned each test to its proper owner. By far, these results were the most unsatisfactory since the start of the school year. That fact made him wish he could smoke a cigarette right now because of the endless hours he spent explaining it to his students with no avail, but he would have to wait until the break between classes, which at this point seemed to be an eternity. Before he could question himself on why he chose teaching as a profession, he recognized a familiar smell.
It was the smell he was used to since he was a teenager and the same smell that often made him sleep on the couch due to the complaints of his disapproving, pregnant wife who complained it was unhealthy for the baby. Quickly, he tracked down where that certain smell was coming from and looked at the silent dark-haired student with a raised eyebrow.
When onyx noticed the knowing look Asuma gave, hostility began to grow in those depths; however, it stopped when Asuma's hand extended out, "Good job, Uchiha."
Zaku heard the compliment and leaned a bit to look at the Uchiha's exam resting on the desk. Disbelief came to his eyes and he voiced out, "Why the fuck do you need a tutor?"
Many heads turned in their direction while the Uchiha ignored him. Almost immediately there was a buzz about him and his "need" for tutoring, most of the conversation was about how Uchiha Sasuke was too perfect to need a tutor, followed by girls swooning when they looked at him.
This did not stop Zaku from talking, "You're an Uchiha and a fucking genius." When Sasuke still did not turn to acknowledge him, Zaku leaned even forward to ask, "Are you fucked up on drugs? If that's the case, do you have some on you now?" Zaku smirked. "How much for—"
"That's enough!" ordered Asuma. When class resumed, Asuma observed the unfazed Uchiha and made a mental note to speak to Kakashi.
The silver-haired man's lips had touched the rim of the Styrofoam cup, but he was unable to drink the much desired caffeine when Asuma briskly entered the room. Kakashi lowered his mug, took one look at the clock, and addressed Asuma, "You know that I'm strongly against it, but shouldn't you be out smoking a cigarette at this time?"
"And judging by the coffee, you just came in your office. Not only that, but it's almost lunch hour. Didn't my father say not to be late again or you'll be dismissed from this school?" retorted Asuma with a raised eyebrow.
"Nonsense. These kids are great suppliers of headaches and stress so I just needed something to ease the tension a bit. Surely your father would understand since he's the principal with the immense task of overlooking all the students' futures. And even yourself know what stress can do to a person," smiled Kakashi as he took a sip of the fresh brewed coffee.
"Yeah, I sure do," said Asuma as he took a seat, "Sometimes I question if these kids have a future or not."
Kakashi glanced at the tired stricken Asuma sitting in front of him. "Are you here for some guidance? Perhaps you also lost your way in this complicated life while trying to help these dependent students receive a better education?"
"Your humor is priceless," replied Asuma sarcastically, "No. I'm here for something else."
Asuma was not the type to stall about important matters, especially when the minutes were ticking by and he really needed that smoke. "It's about the Uchiha. I heard a student ask him if he was on drugs, and then ask to buy some from him."
Kakashi took another sip of coffee before answering curtly, "He's not on drugs."
"Are you certain Kakashi? I smelled cigarettes on him."
"The cigarettes are a different matter that I'm currently talking about with him, other than that, I'm quite sure."
Asuma took Kakashi's word for it because of the fact that he certainly knew the Uchiha better than anyone, although he scratched at his beard in thought. "Why is there a need for a tutor then? He did very well on his math exam and had a better score than all of my classes combined."
"Did he really?" asked Kakashi casually before continuing, "I've noticed throughout the years that he does excellently in his studies as it is expected from him. But there are periods of time when he would lose interest for whatever reason."
"Drugs do that to you," Asuma joked lightly.
"It happens to nearly every student. Sometimes with pressure from parents or other students, even with things like raging hormones, they simply lose interest. Now if it was drug use, although it's a low possibility I must say, his interest would return and he would do significantly well in a short amount of time," said Kakashi as he set down his cup.
"And you have proof of this?"
Kakashi's head cocked sideways, "I am the school counselor after all. I do my job. I check in with students, make sure they are on the right track. But…let's just say that there are a few things that would bring an Uchiha prodigy down."
"You're praising him too much, Kakashi, it's making me sick. I hope you also give my nephew special treatment when he enters high school in a few years."
Kakashi simply gave a halfway shrug. "I don't give special treatment to students. Special treatment would be letting them borrow my favorite book collection." That earned a wince from Asuma. "Don't give me that look. It's what you deserve from interrupting me from my daily coffee and Icha."
Puzzled, Asuma asked, "How is it you haven't been caught with that in a school full of horny teenagers yet?"
"Years of practice."
Asuma sighed and shook his head at the silver-haired man. "We went off subject. You still haven't explained the need for a tutor."
Kakashi's gaze landed on the student file opened beside his arm. "This is his last year before applying to universities. He can't afford to screw up."
"…be here tomorrow at lunch."
The girl known for being a nerd walked up the steps to the roof of the school. She carried a few textbooks in her arms that were not able to fit inside her school bag. There was the fact that he did not give her much instruction other than to meet him here at this particular time. So she was left to decide whether she should bring all the materials necessary or just a few. Aware that they shared the same classes, albeit at different times, it made it easier to determine which books to bring. Also in her possession was a bag of sliced apples to munch on. Her stomach would not be able to handle much solid food because if she did, it was possible she might puke in his presence and she was not going to provoke another embarrassment or an angry Uchiha.
They were going to spend a lot of time together and alone…she just wished their meeting destination could have been at the library or someplace with people around. Then again, she did not want anyone to see them together or else they would know that she has been assigned to be his tutor. Although Sakura preferred to be in her own world, away from the other students, she was still aware of what happened around her. She knew many girls would not be happy to know she was the tutor of Uchiha Sasuke.
Gently closing the metal door, she walked to the side of it in order to set the books down. Walking up three flights of stairs had been tiresome so she rubbed her shoulder where the strap of her bag dug into her shoulder due to the heavy weight. As she massaged, she could not help but to remember another hand that previously had applied pressure to tense muscles. With that thought, her hand automatically dropped from massaging her shoulder, and shook that memory away. Her stomach was still threatening to cough up some vomit despite the fact that it was empty. Sakura had skipped breakfast that morning and it was not a good idea to do so.
Opening her bag, she fished out the sliced apples and took a bite, hoping it would calm her tornado like stomach. The sweet taste of the apple swished around her mouth before it was swallowed and sent to her unsettled stomach. A small piece of the apple's skin got stuck in her lower teeth under her braces so she tried forcing it out with her tongue before she used a finger. When her tongue proved unsuccessful, she lifted her hand to do so, but at that moment, the door behind her opened.
Apple and everything else forgotten, she tensed when the door shut. Lowering her head, she turned to confirm of the unknown person's identity from her peripheral vision.
The surprise was not that it was him, rather, that he had arrived empty handed. She supposed he did not care about his studies enough and that was why he was here. Emerald eyes behind lens dashed to the object dangling from his mouth, although, this time it was not lit. Sasuke only gave her one look before giving his attention to all the books she brought with her. Interestedly, he wondered what she had in mind in terms of his supposed tutoring, more so in how she would go about it.
She could not find herself to speak, now that he was here. She had gone through various scenarios of how she would communicate with him, and now she could not think of a single one of how to start. Instead she began by kneeling on the hard ground a few feet from the wall, set the bag of apples to the side, picked a random textbook, which turned out to be history, and opened it to the assigned reading. Almost immediately, she knew it was going to be a hassle sitting on the roof because of the wind that picked up, blowing the pages. Not to mention the everyday sounds of birds above and students outside.
At least it was not dead silence because he would be able to hear her upset stomach and shaky breaths.
When he did not make any gesture to move down where she was, she stayed inert while staring at the open textbook. The wind kept blowing the pages so she focused on keeping the pages still. His stare directed at her before he moved from where he was standing. He decided to sit across from her with his back against the wall near the door.
Sakura swallowed and her hand pushed up her frames awkwardly before adjusting the pages again. Murahama-san told them to read the whole section about Japan's feudal era and to answer the questions she provided them. Remembering that fact, she pulled out a red folder from her bag in order to get the paper where the questions were listed. Without giving him a glance, she placed the paper on the ground near his reach, and focused on the textbook in front of her. She highly doubted he began reading the long chapter, since she did not get far into the reading herself, so she thought it would be best to start at the beginning.
It was easier said than done.
He definitely looked uninterested when the first words of the sentence came messily from her mouth. Her eyes had quickly darted to him as if he was the teacher who would reprimand her on the errors she made. Soon enough, it was very clear that he did not even bother to care when his hand removed the cigarette from his mouth, in order for his fingers to play with it in a boring manner. His thumb would occasionally flick the end as if it were lit due mostly to the habit he developed. Once she made it clear in her mind that he did not care, she continued on, pretending that she was alone.
When he was sure she was too focused on reading the content of the book aloud, which was more mumbles out of anything, he put his gaze on her. He noticed she had gotten sick. From time to time, she would wipe her nose with a tissue she kept in her pocket. She used the hand that had the bandage wrapping. The cut was not that deep so he did not see why she would still have it on.
The girl must have sensed his attention on her because it produced more stuttering as she read. At last, he decided to play with her a bit by commenting, "I can't hear you."
Her voice faltered before it got louder, though it increased her nervousness, it did not stop the stuttering whatsoever. He sighed, "I still can't hear you. Move over here."
There was a noise made, unable to properly leave her mouth as she secretly wanted to express protest. Quietly, she rose to her feet with the book in her hands, and positioned herself against the wall. Even though she placed distance between them, it did not prohibit the profoundness of his recognizable scent from entering through her nostrils as if it were smoke. It seeped into her mouth when her jaw lowered to begin reading, alerting her senses to never forget this particular scent for it was vital to her survival.
One of the key things is to know your hunter's scent, how else would you escape when you don't know he's coming?
That strategy became her focus, allowing the peppermint and cigarette to embed in her system for future use, and she realized no one else she knew carried the same scent, at least not in this manner. When he flicked the unlit cigarette away, making her glad that she did not have to breathe in the foul stench, it was her cue to proceed with the assignment and stop thinking about trivial things. Awkwardly, she reached for the questionnaire and handed it to him without so much looking in his direction. Of course, she had to move closer to him so that he actually took it in his hand and not ignore the piece of paper.
Sakura cleared her throat. "…During the K-Kamakura period, which took place between the years 1185 to 1333, Zen Buddhism was introduced from China and it—"
In midst of the reading, something was becoming a hassle inside her sweater; usually she wore layers so perhaps another tank top was riding up when she had moved from her spot. Her hand automatically tried to smooth it out while she focused on the words so she would not stutter. "—um, it became popular among the emerging ruling class of samurai."
However, she felt the same movement again, and this time it was higher inside her sweater. Confused, she stopped reading and stared down. When she realized there was actually something moving inside her sweater, panic began to alert her heart, increasing its beats.
What is going on?
Terrified and puzzled, her instincts were telling her to stand up and shake off the foreign movement from inside her clothes. Then automatically, her head jerked in his direction, looking for some kind of assurance that she was not suddenly imaging things. He did not glance back because his eyes were on the piece of paper he received from her, only his dark eyes were not moving, unbeknownst to her. In his peripheral vision, he observed the unfolding scene, interested in how she reacted, which at this point was nothing different from what someone would usually react to something unknown moving under their clothing.
Sasuke waited for the discovery she was about to make and it came quickly in the form of an outcry minimized from a scream into a frightened whimper. He had implanted a small snake when she was not aware of her surroundings by nearing his hand towards the back of her sweater. From there, the snake sought out body heat, and slithered inside. Her inability to detect the slightest movement was a flaw that certainly will bring her early demise if she did not learn the basics of protecting herself.
The terrified expression on her face did not move him in the least as he looked at her impassively, even when he voiced, "Do you want me to help you?"
She faced him with coruscating eyes, which if not for the fear expressed in them or the thick lens that was a nuisance, would be considered ethereally beautiful as emerald rippled with tears threatened to trickle down her face. Sending a silent plead to his ink like orbs, it was received without any rush to help her in the slightest bit, even though he understood perfectly. "I seem to remember that my touch bothers you."
By this instant, she felt like squirming when its tail brushed against the unprotected skin near her hip area. The snake's skin was cold. She did not want to touch it, in fear that it would lunge at her or bite, especially when hissing emerged. Instead, she tried to get up, but all she could manage was to drag her body to the side as she supported her upper body with her arms. Sakura could not breathe or think. The only worry running through her mind was the likely chance that it would bite her. Never in her life has she been this close to a snake before so she did not know what to expect, only knowing that they were infamous for poisonous bites that killed people if not treated immediately.
With the strong intakes of breath, she could feel a panic attack on its way. Her nose was running, the slimy mucus starting to drip onto her lips, even though she did not feel it.
"Please," she whispered as she felt the snake across her stomach.
He simply smirked while more hissing sounded to their ears. The snake was now traveling up her body and she was faintly aware of his closeness as he, with one move, leaned over her shaking form. The glasses protected eyes darted in all directions, purposely shirking the movement inside her sweater and his amused onyx when his own hand snaked underneath her sweater as well.
Sakura held her breath, not sure which one was colder to the touch or more dangerous. With an immense urge to flee, she tolerated the feel of his hand, probing her body in his search for the small snake. When she felt his hand slowly pull the snake away, he stopped, leading her to focus on the almost impenetrable color of night in his eyes. It was as if he did that so she would ask herself whether she actually trusted him or not.
It was redundant in the way that he was the only one here with her, so trust was absent considering the fact that she could not even trust herself to get rid of the reptile. Plodding seconds and hurried breaths later, both the snake and his hand slid out from her sweater after he stared at the face with scattered pimples long enough. Her eyes locked onto the small snake that constricted around his hand before poking his head between his fingers and letting his tongue slither in her direction.
"It's not poisonous," he stated as he sat back, rubbing its small head with his thumb.
Your touch is.
She realized he had done it deliberately when he did not show the least bit of concern holding the snake. At that point, it clicked that it was just another excuse to invade her personal space and have enjoyment by scaring her. In his gaze, he knew that she was thinking the same thing he was. Although it already had been established between the two, he will be the one to have control in any future situation that should arise.
She had sat frozen, tutoring forgotten, watching him and the snake for the rest of lunch hour without another word spoken. Occasionally, the snake would coil itself around his arm back to his hand, generally staying in his grasp in a tranquil mode. When the first bell rang, it jolted her from the stupor of watching him with the snake. She had about five minutes to get to her locker and deposit the textbooks she would not need in her next two classes. Closing the history book, she slowed in her movements. The next feeling she felt was like a child needing permission from an adult to leave the table at dinner. Did she need his permission to leave?
Of course you don't!
But he has a snake in his grasp.
He clearly said it wasn't poisonous. Don't you see all he wanted was to spook you?
With her inner's statement, she moved back to where her things were, and packed up before heading for the exit silently. Half expecting him to stop her, she opened the metal door with some difficulty since she carried a heavy bag and books. Sakura attempted to keep the door from slamming shut with one arm, but it started to retaliate, causing the books in her arms to slip. Instead of the door pushing her away, it was stopped in its tracks. She looked behind her to find him holding the door open.
Astonished at what this looked like, there was the unstoppable thought when she wondered if he was helping her out with the door, except it ended quickly when he moved forward to leave, pushing her away and dropping some books in the process. As the door shut, there was a feeling of disappointment and stupidity mixed in one for allowing herself to even think that he would ever do something nice for a change when he just pulled a nasty prank minutes before.
"We will be starting a new project today," announced Murahama-san while she stressed out the following words, "I will assign partners at random. Complain and you'll surely get detention."
The class that was bored a minute ago suddenly jerked alive and looked at their teacher attentively as she pulled out a list. No one liked the projects Murahama-san assigned because they required pages and pages of research in order to write complex papers that many students could not possibly complete on time, especially if they had procrastinated during the several weeks. However, she had always given them the option of choosing their own partners or groups unlike today.
Murahama-san took the red pen that was resting on her ear and marked something on her list before declaring, "Yamanaka, Akimichi."
She continued to read on as students resisted the urge to groan as each pair was called. When she announced, "Uchiha..." several girls and a few males who were not paired yet looked hopeful as they sneaked looks at the Uchiha himself, but were immediately crushed when the next word accompanied the first name, "Haruno."
A pink-head snapped up in bewilderment while others looked around in confusion. Once they saw Murahama-san give a look at the girl in the first row did they then realize who was chosen. Many started to open their mouths but they remembered the punishment, so they gawked in silence…that is until one could not hold in her protest and interrupted the teacher, "Wait, but it's a crime to have someone so fucking ugly like her to be in the presence of Sasuke-kun."
Almost immediately, a domino effect occurred because those who opposed the assigned pair ignored the warning and agreed with the declaration. When everyone focused on Sakura, she felt uncomfortable and wished the ground could eat her whole. How was it that she was the center of attention in a single instant?
"What did I say about complaining?!" Murahama-san averted her glare from the students staring at the back of Haruno's head onto the Uchiha who was expressionless. Murahama-san did not even wait for the continuing small protests to stop as she continued reading the last of the assigned pairs. She would know who to punish when students came to ask her again who they were paired up with for not listening.
Silence took over the room quickly when it was clear that Murahama-san was not going to change the pairing. The details of the project went over Sakura's head unlike the menacing stares from the other students. It was impossible to concentrate with such a hostile aura. Sakura was sure that they would have been glaring at anyone who was chosen to be partnered with the Uchiha anyway, so she tried to not take it so personally when everyone had their attention on her. This allowed her to think over the possibilities of being picked to be with him. There were close to forty people in this class…why him? Was it not enough she had to see him because of the tutoring?
At the end of class, she feared she would not be able to leave the classroom without someone having to say something nasty in her presence. Usually, all she had to do was look at the teacher's face and they would understand that she needed a bit of protection. However, Murahama-san was not one of those teachers that would back up a student, much less someone like herself.
Sakura was left to fend for herself when these students finally remembered her after they stomached the requirements of this project and began to complain that they did not like their choice of partner. Passing by where she was sitting, a couple of them rolled their eyes and made some snide remarks. Not all did so as she expected. While there were students that always held a grudge, there were others who were the type to blow off class material the moment they stepped out of the classroom and into the hallways where their friends were waiting with the current juicy gossip. It seemed Ami was one of those students as she left with her posse.
It was not the case for a particular tall and peppermint scented student who walked by her desk. Without looking down, he commented amusingly, "It's such an unusual coincidence. It seems that you can't be free of me."
She does not say a word, hoping that he would move long without anyone seeing him speak to her. Getting the subtle hint, he complied with her wishes, just this once, and headed out with a small smirk on his countenance.
After school, she walked with a clouded mind, battling her desire to ask Murahama-san to reconsider her choice. That was the thing though; they were picked randomly, so surely Murahama-san was not going to agree after saying it herself, and especially when many students were not happy with their new partners. What kind of excuse could she come up with to convince her anyway? At times, Sakura could not help but to want to avoid any sort of problems. It was not in her nature to confront or find a solution to the issue because she did not trust in herself to do the right thing.
The last time she thought she did the right thing by speaking to an authority, all she received in return was the unwanted attention from someone she never thought would bother looking at her twice. Wait, what if Hatake-san had spoken with Murahama-san about the tutoring? Maybe he requested that they be in a project together because of that reason? It was a logical explanation. She just wished Hatake-san would have asked her about this first.
It was certain then, there was no way she could avoid this. She supposed her "partner" wanted her to do all the work. The project was not due for months, but it involved extended research as in any of Murahama's projects—
"Well, look who it is. It's a bitch."
Another girl spoke after scoffing. "I see nothing but a cockroach."
The unexpected voices pulled her from her thoughts as Sakura was suddenly surrounded by a group of girls. In a brief moment, Sakura knew what they wanted and what was going to happen. Her only form of defense was to drop the books and raise her arms to protect her head when two girls beat her to it. They took off her backpack before taking her arms and held her back while one pulled her pink braids. Since her hair was being pulled back, she was not able to move her face away when Ami neared with her hands on her hips.
"I thought you learned your lesson, but it seems you're more stupid than I thought. Don't you know that those who get in my way…have to pay a price?" When Ami stated that, the group of girls agreed in chorus. "You have no idea how pissed off I am that you are partnered with Sasuke-kun. You have no right to even breathe the same air as him. I mean, it is the rule of popularity after all when it comes to nobodies like you. You're even lucky that I'm talking to you right now."
It was then when Sakura noticed that Ino was not in sight. It brought relief because not only did she not want to be seen in this situation, but since Ino was not among them, it meant she was not like the mean girls currently yelling obscenities at her. Sakura was forced to look at Ami's face that had hatred engraved in every squint of her eyes to the firm line of her lips. Sakura knew that there was no use in pointing out that the partners had been chosen in random. If it was up to her, she would have never agreed to have the Uchiha as a partner.
"You must be really pleased, aren't you?" hissed Ami suddenly. "Come on, admit it. You're just bursting with such joy. Well, let me tell you something. Sasuke-kun likes beautiful girls, what man doesn't? You, if you haven't looked in a mirror lately, are the ugliest fucking thing I've ever seen."
A couple of girls laughed and leered at the pink head. "So don't even think for a second that this is your chance to even flirt with him. Trust me, I know with just looking at you, he'll want to throw up his breakfast." Ami then looked at her friends, "Not that Sasuke would actually throw up since he's so perfect of course."
"Yes, he's so perfect!"
"He's such a sexy badass!"
"And those abs—"
Ami's head jerk towards that comment. "What did you say?"
The girl gave a confused look. "His abs…are amazing?" That caused Ami to walk up to the girl like a raging bull, and demanded to know, "Are you telling me that you've seen Sasuke-kun's abs?"
As Ami began her short interrogation, Sakura prayed that they would lose interest and let her go like they usually did. If Ami was not even nice to her own friends, it only meant worse for Sakura. There was a few seconds of silence, which meant that Ami won that argument. The win provided fuel to the purple-haired girl and she turned to the captive girl with a greedy smile. "So, admit it. You are pleased with yourself."
Pleased with what…?
She's talking about being partnered with the Uchiha. What else is on this girl's mind besides money, sex, and 'her' Sasuke-kun?
An urge of submission became powerful other than the comfortable need to stay silent. Watanabe Ami, like a certain someone, did not like being unanswered; therefore, Sakura succumbed as she said lowly, but honestly, "No…I'm not."
Ami had a look of disbelief on her face as well as the other girls. Her eyebrows furrowed before she placed a hand on her hip and scoffed. "Don't you try to lie to me! Stupid Pinky bitch!"
There were many factors that played into what motivated Ami to act the way she did, the most focal one being that she simply hated this ugly nerd, the hatred growing when the pink head had the audacity to deny that she was pleased having Uchiha Sasuke as a partner, and so she neared with a slap to Sakura's face.
Ami's posse started cheering once the blow connected to the nerd's face. To Sakura, there was shock written on her face, and that lessened the feel of the next blow to her stomach, this time a closed fist inflicted the damage.
"Back off," Ami ordered to the girls holding Sakura.
The first thing that crossed Sakura's mind was to pull away from the girls holding her and flee as fast as she could. Her viridian orbs behind her thick glasses, which surprisingly did not fall off, took note that most of these girls were wearing high heels. And to her knowledge, these same girls always had some sort of excuses in P.E. classes so they did not have to run on the track.
You know that you can outrun them. All you have to do is find a way to get free to do so.
Perhaps Sakura had a readable face or Ami foresaw Sakura's possible actions because Ami lunged again with her body. This time, unable to keep her footing because of Ami's weight, Sakura fell onto the ground, especially when the girls holding her from behind released her so they could be at a safe distance.
My glasses! They can't break again. I just had them fixed.
Quickly, she removed her frames and kept it safe in her hand with the intention of putting it close to her chest as she planned to move in a fetal position. However, there was an unexpected kick to her ribs, making the air leave her lungs and she struggled to breathe. Someone crouched down to hit her face, and immediately a throb burned on her cheek; she was certain it was a cut that created the hurtful sting.
Meanwhile Ami was somewhat sitting on top of Sakura, her purple painted nails dug onto her shoulders, preventing her from sitting up as she ordered the nearest girl to pull the pink braids as hard as she could. Sakura bit down hard, endangering the thin skin to break on her lips, as she muffled whimpers and screams. Ami lifted one arm from pushing down a shoulder to hit her repeatedly on the side of her face.
The physical endurance of Ami did not last very long. Soon, when Ami stopped, the others followed suit by lowering their encouraging yells into snickering as they looked at the finished result of the battered girl. Ami ran a hand through her hair and spoke, "Let's go."
And Sakura was left on the cold ground, staring at the books with her blurred vision; the only witnesses to the beating.
There really was no one in sight to witness what had happened just now. These girls made quite a few noises, nonetheless, no one bothered to poke their head out and see for themselves what was going on. Without any hurry, he walked with a target in sight. When he reached where she was sprawled on the concrete ground, he looked down and examined the damage. There was nothing really on his mind since he did not pity the victim.
At least a pack of hyenas disabled his prey, giving him the advantage of doing whatever he pleased with the leftovers. Kneeling down, he lifted her up onto his arms, paying no heed to her bag or those heavy textbooks and walked back to where he left his motorcycle.
Groaning, she was aware that someone picked her up, and for once with the shock of the beatings, she did not feel the slightest alarm when she breathed in a leather jacket, slightly coated with the stench of cigarettes, and of course, the peppermint. It hurt too much to move, and when the sun's rays hit her naked eyes, they closed shut as she ignored the warning signs from remembering the dangerous scent of her new captor.
Tilted vertically from a horizontal position, she was placed on his motorcycle with both her legs dangling from one side. This increased the massive discomfort all over her body and was weighing her down. He did not immediately remove himself from her reach because she was sure to fall backwards and break her skull. Though, he began to feel the annoyance when she took so long in taking the hint that he also needed to get on the motorcycle. Therefore, he put his hand on her right inner thigh, forcing it apart and pulling it closer to him in order to turn her around so she sat facing forward.
She was starting to fall forward, but was intercepted when he got on in front of her. The engine roared to life as she sat there motionless and that was when she realized her bag was still on the sidewalk.
"If you don't hold onto me, you'll be experiencing more pain than what you are in right now," he advised, knowing that she was thinking about her belongings.
At least without the extra weight of her backpack, it was easier maintaining her balance on the motorcycle as she sat behind him. Her arms closed around his waist carefully as her forehead supported itself in between his shoulder blades. He saw that her hideous glasses were in her grasp, unscathed, unlike the owner. At times, she seemed to care more about materialistic things like her books, than her own well-being.
Not a moment later, he sped off. All she concentrated on was feeling as little pain as possible at that moment.
The pain became bearable when she lay down on the couch. Now if only she was able to breathe as less as possible, then she would not feel a thing. Shaking, she tried to put her glasses on, but was stopped, causing her to be startled when an ice bag was placed on the right side of her face. She wanted to pull it off, her hand automatically moved to do so, but he pressed it down, making her whimper so she gave in. It benumbed her cheek, making areas that were not injured uncomfortable.
Certain she would not remove the ice bag, he, without a word, moved her legs out of the way so he could sit down. Her limbs were immobile, allowing him to near and casually lift the ends of her sweater. It did not surprise him to find that there were two more layers underneath it and it did not halt his hands from going up her clothes. In a swift motion, he ran them up, effectively pushing up, what he supposed were tank tops, up to her bra so he could inspect the damage.
His not so subtle actions almost made her want to jump out of her skin, if it were not for the pain she was feeling at the moment that prohibited her body from flinching like she would have. Resorting into low puling, she stayed still and let him touch her, which was reminiscent of some previous dreams, even though she did not remember the details, involving him. He never really went as far as he is now in comparison to the massage and snake situations, excluding the shameful groping a short time ago.
But now, this could not be actually classified as humiliating and sexual. From the way he was touching her, she gathered he was checking the harm she suffered. Her grip tightened on her glasses while she tried to focus on something else, not sure to trust that he knew what he was doing, however, nothing pleasant came into mind.
Her skin was pale, and perhaps a shade lighter than her face and arms, indicating that she was never out of these 'modest' clothes, despite the redness across her stomach. She was rather thin and bony underneath all those clothes, especially when he felt her ribcage and flat stomach. His touch lingered, intent on making her feel as uncomfortable as possible and he succeeded when she sniveled on a more frequent basis.
"Your ribs aren't broken. They aren't even bruised. Stop crying," he said in a careless manner as he withdrew his hands, only to apply pressure to the ice bag on her right cheek. His thumb brushed against a cut, most likely caused by a ring, and it made her wince. She really did not stand a chance against all those girls, not when she was not even able to handle just one. He still wondered just as to whose handprint it belonged to when he found it on the nerd's face, and from today's event, he had a clue to who was responsible.
It was beyond her comprehension as to why he was helping her. Most people would have left her there, well, at least her peers at school, or anyone within the same age group as her. Squinting with her good eye, it was surreal seeing him like this, without a smirk of malice. She thought he enjoyed seeing her in any kind of pain so it was perplexing to only find an annoyed expression.
Truthfully, she believed he was incapable of doing anything nice for her, especially after all those bullying incidents. It was like the occurrence in which she cut her palm. The deed simply came out of nowhere, and although, he did not use polite words, only reprimanding her often, here he was…at least he was not licking the cut on her cheek—
"Where do you feel more pain?" he said annoyed when she would not stop crying.
The pressure on her cheek disappeared, her warm hand coaxed it, after she pulled down her sweater to stop feeling so naked, as he left the room and came back with something in his grasp. Assuming it was a first aid kit like before, she let him take her arm to roll up the sleeve and start to tie something around her arm. She had no clue to what he was doing. Her left eye was starting to swell, and it was difficult trying to keep it open.
Something rubber like tightened around her arm, and all of a sudden, she felt a prick that hurt. Wincing, the eye that was not injured located the source, and it widened once she made out the sight of a syringe injecting a clear substance into one of her veins.
What is he doing…? No…stop…
The substance seeped into her system, lulling the pain and panic, and brought her into an exhausted state before blacking out.
a/n: So apparently, that whole updating once a month didn't work.
I hope you all forgive me?