A/N: Sorry for the long wait, but here's the next chapter. We've been getting many pm's asking for us to update, update, update. But we've been extremely busy. Anyway, we're going to try to update the next chapter as soon as we can. :D

Previously on Teaching Me-

I can't be here any longer. I have to leave. I finally uncovered Sasuke's skeleton and I wish I could just bury the truth again because I'd rather be ignorant and blissful than knowing this. This hurts too much.

I need to go.

"What are you doing here?" a voice said behind me.

No. No. No. This isn't suppose to be happening, but it's way too late to hide now. I've got to face this.

Chapter Nine

I've been raised to be nice and cordial to people. And I like to think that I'm a good person by nature. Only utter surprise can explain why I said that to the woman standing only a few feet away from me.

"Y-You're old!" I exclaimed, pointing a finger at her. All those lines and wrinkles were clearly visible on her face, yet there was no denying that she was a grand beauty.

The woman just looked at me, confused and appalled. "Pardon?" she said. Then when she noticed I still had her credit card in my hand she got angry. "Were you expecting to rob from a younger person you thief?"

Crap. How the hell do I get out of this one? "Um, I know how this looks like, but…" But what? I'm in love with your husband and I sneaked into his house? How crazy does that sound?

"I'm calling the police. I told Sasuke he should've bought a house alarm but that boy never listens to me," the woman said, grabbing the phone.

"Wait, no! Please don't do that. I'm not a thief, I'm a friend of Sasuke's," I said, the lie forming in my head. "He needed his computer fixed and I offered to do it for him. He left a key under the doormat and that's how I got in. I'm so sorry for looking inside your purse…I just saw it and got curious. I just wanted to know who it belonged to." The last part was half-true anyway and the woman seemed to believe me.

I put her credit card back in her purse and handed it to her. "I didn't take anything else, I swear," I said.

"Are you just a friend of Sasuke's? He seems to have a lot of trust in you if he left you the keys to his house," she said, a slight edge to her voice. Oh no, she's probably jealous. "He never mentioned you to me. What's your name, dear?"

Oh god, she sounds so…so maternal. Gah! What does Sasuke see in her? Then is clicked to me. She and Sasuke bear a strong resemblance, and they have the same last name….I'm so stupid! This woman is not his wife, it's his mother. I let my jealousy get the best of me. I'm such a fool.

"I'm Sakura Haruno," I replied, bowing my head down in respect. After all, she gave birth to Sasuke.

"Sakura, what a pretty name," the woman, Mikoto, said.

"What's taking so lon- Sakura!" Sasuke said, entering the living room and spotting me. He froze, his eyes darting between his mother and I. Luckily, Mikoto broke the uncomfortable silence.

"Sasuke, I was just getting to know your wonderful friend here," she said, smiling at me. I smiled back politely. Sasuke didn't smile. "She told me that she fixes computers and was going to fix yours." Uh-oh, I feel a lecture coming on.

"Now, Sakura said that you left a key under the doormat?!" Mikoto said, incredulous. "Sasuke! I can't believe you do that. Do you know how dangerous that is? Anyone could come into your house," she said, lecturing him. But Sasuke wasn't listening. He was staring intently at me. I looked down at the floor, ashamed.

"You're right mom," Sasuke said, knowing that's what she wanted to hear. Smart son. "If you don't mind waiting for a bit, I'll take Sakura to my room so she can fix my computer. It won't take long," he said. I just stood there, not wanting to face Sasuke's wrath because his silent glare said it all. He was beyond mad.

"Sure. It'll give me a chance to clean up around here. I noticed some dirty dishes in the sink," she said.

Sasuke took hold of my arm and we headed towards his room. I stayed silent, not daring to speak. His touch, though, sent a hot, electrical impulse throughout my body. When was the last time he even held me?

His room was neat, but cluttered with too many books. His bed was on the far left next to his bookcase. Across from that was his small desk with a computer, and then his closet was to the right of his TV and mini-fridge. Sasuke had let go of my arm to close the door behind him. Now his whole attention was focused on me.

"Your mother seems nice," I said in a pathetic attempt of small talk. Only, I was looking at his carpet. It hurt too much to look him in the eye. I don't want to see his anger.

"Sakura, what are you really doing here in my house?" he asked, no tenderness in his voice. He sounded so cold.

"I…I wanted to see you," I said lamely. I felt his hand cup my chin as he forced me to look up at him.

"Well, now you've seen me," he said. "Are you satisfied?" No. I wanted him to hold me and kiss me. "How'd you even know I live here? I'm sure the school didn't give you my address."

"I followed you in my dad's car," I said quietly.

Sasuke ran a hand through his hair, obviously trying to control his anger. He told me once that he could have a mean temper. "You've been following me?" he asked skeptically. I nodded my head. "Sakura, what did you expect to gain from that?" he said through clenched teeth. "I ended it between us in hopes that you'd move on and forget about me. I'm your teacher, not your lover anymore."

He might as well have slapped me across the face; it would've been less painful. "That hurts Sasuke," I said, my eyes welling up with tears. "Is it really that hard for you to try to love me back? Because I haven't forgotten the special moments we've shared. And don't use that teacher bullshit with me. I don't care about that. To me, you're just Sasuke- the man that I love."

"No. I'm not someone you should be in love with. You can do so much better than me, Sakura, you don't even realize it," he said.

"There is no one better. It's you Sasuke, you're the only one I want," I said, desperately trying to make him understand. "I feel so happy being with you, I don't know, it's like you bring out the good in me. Did I not have a single impact on you?"

"I…I don't love you, Sakura. So, please, give up," Sasuke said. "You're still young enough. Your feelings for me will go away and you'll meet someone else who'll make you happy. And you two will deserve each other."

"And we don't?" I gasped out. "We don't deserve to be happy together?"

"You deserve every happiness in this world. I don't," Sasuke said.

"Why?" I asked. It just didn't make any sense.

Sasuke sighed. "It doesn't matter. We should go back, my mom's waited long enough." He opened the door, gesturing at me to follow him. I didn't move. "Sakura, please, don't be difficult."

"Fine. But we need to talk and finish this conversation."

"There is nothing left to discuss," he said. "It's over."

I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry. Okay, maybe a tear or two.

"Why are you being so cruel?" I said before leaving his room and heading towards the front door. I wiped away any tears that I leaked, careful that Sasuke couldn't see. But he was right behind me. "Good bye Mrs. Uchiha. It was nice meeting you," I said to her.

"Oh, you're leaving?" she said, looking disappointed.

"Yes, Sakura is very busy," Sasuke said.

"You can't be that busy not to join us for lunch at least," she said.

"But Mrs. Uchiha-"

"No, no, don't try to weasel your way out of this. I'm not going to take no for an answer. And call me Mikoto, dear," she said with another of her warm smiles (the kind that made me miss my own mother).

"Okay, sure," I said, not finding a way to refuse. Besides, this was an excuse to spend extra time with Sasuke.

"Great. I'll just get my purse and then we'll be off," Mikoto said.

I looked at Sasuke for his approval, but he just shook his head at me. "Sakura, you could've said no," he whispered.

"But your mother kept insisting. I didn't want to be rude," I whispered back.

"Okay, I have my purse. Let's go," Mikoto said.


The restaurant was a café/diner with tables inside and outside. It was out of town, thank god, so Sasuke and I didn't have to worry about being seen. Still, Sasuke insisted that we get a table inside, but it was such a nice day so we sat outside. Mikoto looked pleased at herself when she made Sasuke and I sit next to each other. Her strategy was this: Sasuke had already sat down on one side, so Mikoto sat across from him. I was going to sit next to her, but a family nearby needed an extra chair so Mikoto gave them my chair. I had no choice but so sit next to Sasuke, much to his displeasure.

"Well, now that we have the seating arrangements all settled, what should we get?" Mikoto said, looking at her menu. As Sasuke grabbed his menu, his arm briefly brushed my elbow. I knew he felt that wonderful tingling sensations I also have when we touch.

"Sorry," he muttered to me, trying to create some distance between us so we weren't as close.

"I feel like having…oooh, grilled shrimp! That sounds delicious, doesn't it?" Mikoto said, oblivious to the exchange that had happened between us. "Sakura, what are you getting?"

"Umm…I…," I said. I hadn't really looked at the menu yet.

"I suggest a turkey sandwich with fries. It's one of your favorites," Sasuke said. He would know.

"Yeah. I'll just get that," I said, smiling at him. He didn't return the smile.

The waitress came and we gave her our orders and drinks. A few minutes later she returned with myDr. Pepper, Sasuke's coke, and Mikoto's raspberry iced tea. "Your food will be ready in about five more minutes, okay," she said, then left.

"So, Sakura, I assume that you're majoring as a computer technician," Mikoto said, sipping on her drink. "Or have you already graduated?"

"She wants to become a doctor," Sasuke answered for me.

"Sasuke, let the girl answer for herself," she said. "Is he always like this with you?"

"Not really," I said. "He usually lets me speak my mind. That's what I like most about him." I glanced at Sasuke over the corner of my eye. He was fidgeting with the salt shaker. "But enough about me. How's your son Itachi?" I asked, changing subject.

Mikoto's face brightened up. "He's getting married in the summer," she said ecstatically.

"Congratulations," I said. "Sasuke, you didn't tell me this." Then I remembered. Duh. We haven't spoken in weeks. I wonder what else is going on in his life that I don't know about. I shouldn't be nosy, but I feel so left out. Sasuke used to open up easily towards me. Now he just won't let me near him like that again.

"…involved in everything. His fiancé, Sora, is such a sweet girl, you should meet her. I think you'd like her. But she has a bland taste when it comes to fashion. I told her I'd accompany her to the bridal store and help her pick out a dress," Mikoto said.

"But wait, Sasuke, didn't you say that Sora was an aspiring model?" I asked. Shouldn't she have a great sense of style or something?

"Aspiring being the keyword," Sasuke said. Mikoto rolled her eyes. I tried not to laugh.

"Trust me, he's just as excited for his new sister-in-law as he is for his brother. Right, dear?" she asked.

"Yeah, we're all excited for the wedding. It's been long overdue," Sasuke said. "Itachi has his whole future planned with Sora. They'll be a very happy couple."

"Now, Sasuke, what about you, son? Will I ever hear any wedding bells for you?" Mikoto said.

"No, never," he replied. My eyes widened. I looked at him, but he was being totally serious. Why does he never want to get married?

"Oh stop that. You're handsome and smart- any girl would want to be your wife," Mikoto said, winking at me. I tried to hide my blush.

"I think you know my reason, mother," Sasuke said. Mikoto sighed wearily. Just then the waitress came back with our food and we started to eat. To be honest, I was ravenous. I hadn't eaten anything since this morning.

"Sakura," Sasuke said from next to me. I turned my head to look at him. I could see my face reflected in his eyes. "Have you done any new paintings?" he asked me.

"You're a painter?" Mikoto said. "Is there anything you can't do?"

"Actually, yeah, I've been working on several new paintings," I told Sasuke, glad that he was striking a conversation with me. I was starting to think I had made a mistake by joining them for lunch.

"I've been finding my inspiration in the weirdest things lately. My father says I shouldn't stay up so late to finish them, but it's a compulsion I have. I'm afraid that if I don't finish it then, all the magic will be gone," I said.

"Don't overwork yourself," Sasuke said. "Dark circles aren't very becoming on you.' I laughed.

"Well, I don't think dark circles are becoming on anyone," I said, biting into one of my French fries. "Which is a good thing that I work in a café."

"Hey that reminds me, you never gave me a special teacher's discount for my coffee," Sasuke said.

"What!" I blurted out. "I didn't know tha-"

I was interrupted by Sasuke's soft chuckling. "It's alright. I was only kidding," he said.

"That was a very bad joke," I said, grabbing a piece of chicken off his plate and eating it.

"Hey!" he said, trying to sound angry with me. But his expression was just too amused.

"You owe me," I said. "By the way, it needs more barbeque sauce," I told him.

"No it doesn't. Unlike you, I actually like to taste the chicken," Sasuke said. I smiled. This felt like the old times when we were comfortable being so free with each other. This is the Sasuke I know and love. This is the Sasuke that makes me laugh and makes me feel beautiful.

I noticed that Mrs. Uchiha was staring quietly at us, enjoying our easy banter. Feeling like she was being ignored, I asked how long she'd be visiting here.

"Oh, remembered I'm still here, eh?" she said with a smile. "Well, to answer your question, Sakura, I'm only staying until tomorrow then I'll leave the next day. My husband hates it when I'm gone any longer than that."

"Then why didn't he come with you?" I asked.

"Because my father's a workaholic," Sasuke said.

"Sasuke, you know that' not true. Your father worked very hard to maintain our lifestyle and give you boys a good college education," Mikoto said. "You should be appreciative and grateful of all the things we were able to give you."

"It's not that I don't appreciate it, because I do. But dad's been too obsessed with work. It wouldn't kill him to come visit me too, would it?"

"He misses you, Sasuke, and if he could, he would visit you, but…," Mikoto said, trailing off. Even she knew it was a lost cause.

I had been looking at the cars and people passing by, trying not to get involved in a mother/son conversation about good ol' dad. I knew because Sasuke told me himself that him and his father didn't have the best relationship. But now it seems like his father is avoiding him. Well, I know how that feels like.

I looked at Sasuke and gave him a smile to cheer him up. He stared at me for a second, the corners of his mouth lifting up, before popping a cherry tomato into his mouth. I smiled even bigger as one of his cheeks had a significant bump. He looked too cute. I resisted my urge to kiss him then.

"Well, you two, I almost forgot- how did you meet?" Mikoto asked us. Sasuke and I exchanged glances.

"Uh…you see…," I said.

"Yes…umm…," Sasuke said. Mikoto kept staring at us curiously. "It was so long ago…I forget, really," he said. But since I knew I was the better liar, I had to do it.

"Funny story, actually. Sasuke and I met in the library," I started off. "I was there trying to look for a poetry book and I must've been careless because I accidentally bumped into Sasuke, who was carrying a large stack of books. As you can imagine, all his books fell to the ground with a loud thud. Everyone turned to look at us. I was so embarrassed, I just kept apologizing to him." I found myself genuinely smiling as I came up with the made up story.

"Oh my," Mikoto said. Laughing. Sasuke looked bemused. I continued on.

"So after that embarrassing fiasco, Sasuke and I sat down and started talking. We found out we had a lot in common and since then we've been friends," I said. Where do I come up with these lies? Well, half-lies, since they always hold some truth.

"Well, I'm glad that Sasuke has a nice, pretty friend like you around," Mikoto said.

"Thank you m'am," I replied, taking a long sip from my drink.

We finished the rest of our lunch and Mikoto insisted that she pay for me since I was a "guest." Thankfully, all I had ordered was a turkey sandwich, so it wasn't expensive. Still, I felt bad knowing that I had more than enough money to pay for the check and leave a generous tip.

As we left the diner, it hit me that this was probably the last chance I had to finish my earlier conversation with Sasuke. I had to something if I wanted to settle things with him. We can't just leave it like this when there's still an obvious spark between us; that incredible sensation of knowing we belong together.

I started to panic. What if this is really it? Could I live with myself? Could he? I know regret would clutch at my heart if we let this amazing opportunity slip through our fingers. But I'll grasp at this with all my strength…because I really do honestly love him.

"Sakura," Mikoto said, interrupting my thoughts. "I would love it if you could accompany me on my shopping trip tomorrow. Sasuke doesn't want to come and I don't want to go alone…would it be an inconvenience for you?"

"No, not at all. It'll be my pleasure," I said.

"Great. I can pick you-"

"No! Umm…how about I just pick you up? It'll be much easier since I already know where you're staying," I said.

"Okay, then. I'll be ready by eleven," she said. I nodded my head and said goodbye to Sasuke and her. Tomorrow. I'll talk to him and fix things between us.

I walked back to my car, a small smile on my lips. Things were finally looking up and the sun seemed to shine brighter. When I got home, I went to my room and checked my cell phone for any messages. I had eight missed calls and two voicemails. All from Hinata. I listened to the first one.

"Sakura. I-I…I don't even know what to say…why don't you pick up your phone? This is huge! I'm freakin' out…What's going on with you and Mr. Uchiha?! I saw you sitting together outside this restaurant and…Sakura, the way you two were…just call me back, k? We need to talk."

Oh my god.

I listened to the other voice mail, my head reeling with so many thoughts. Did Hinata tell anyone else what she saw? Damn, did anyone else see us too? Why did we eat outside in the open? Is Hinata mad at me? Will she understand when I try to tell her? And (this part scares me the most) is Sasuke going to be in serious trouble?

"Sak, I'm coming over to your house right now. We have to talk about this. All I'm asking from you is that you'll be completely honest with me…I know there's something going on and it's not right…it just isn't right. I want to help you. I'll see you in a few minutes."

After hearing that, I collapsed on my bed. She knows. It's not a secret anymore. I'm so scared now. Is this why Sasuke ended it between us? Was he scared of people finding out and judging him? He'd be put straight to jail for having a relationship with a student, even though we haven't done anything sexual with each other besides kissing. And he's never touched me in an inappropriate spot before. Our relationship was always a chaste one. That's what made is so pure and romantic. As if the forbidden aspect of it wasn't complicated enough, sex definitely would've complicated it more.

How do I explain all this to Hinata without making it seem bad or worrying her? How do I tell her that I love him? How?

I heard the doorbell ring, followed by three loud knocks. "Sakura, I know you're in there! Your dad's car is parked outside," Hinata said. "Open up!"

I stood up from my bed and hesitated for a moment. There's no point in prolonging this any further. Hinata, who's always been my best friend since childhood, deserves to know the truth. I climbed down the stairs and walked to the front door. Breathing deeply, I opened the door.

Hinata just stared at me for a moment, as if I had suddenly grown another eye on my face or something. Then she shook her head and stepped inside. I closed the door behind her.

"We…we should go to my room to talk," I suggested.

"Okay," she said quietly and followed me. It was so awkward. Why isn't she yelling at me like she did a few minutes ago?

"Hinata?" I said, once we were both seated on my bed. "Are you mad at me?"

"No, I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at him. He has no right to just seduce you like that. He should know better, he's a teacher!" Hinata said, truly outraged and…was that disgust in her voice?

"Hinata, you don't understand. You've got it all wrong," I tried to explain.

"No, Sakura, don't try to make up excuses for him. He's got you all corrupted, but don't worry, I'll help you. Together, we can fix everything," Hinata said, grabbing both my hands in hers. There were tears in her eyes; she looked so fierce. I pulled my hands away.

"Sasuke hasn't corrupted me," I said. Hinata flinched when I said his first name. I didn't think it'd bother her. "He's a nice, smart mad who's never tried to force anything on me. I became attracted to him and it was me who sought him out. Can you try to comprehend that, Hinata? Everything I've done, I did it for myself," I said.

"So, Mr. Uchiha, knowing you had feelings for him, just thought it'd be okay to start a relationship with you? Does he even like you, or is he just using you?" Hinata said. She could only see Sasuke as the bad guy and me as the innocent victim. But she's wrong. Isn't she listening?

"It's not like that!" I exclaimed, totally offended.

"Sakura, he's a grown man, for Christ sake! And you're just a pretty high school girl. What else would a man want from someone like you besides sex, eh?" Hinata said.

"No! What Sasuke and I have is real," I said. "He listens to what I have to say, like it's the most important thing in the world. He can make me laugh and never bore me with conversation. He getsme. But you don't want to understand that, Hinata. Sasuke makes me feel good and…I love him."

Hinata covered her mouth and gasped. "S-Sakura, you don't know what you're saying. These feelings you have…they're not real. They can't be."

"Yes they are!"

"Oh Sakura, what has he done to you? This isn't you," she said.

"You wanted the truth, right? Well, this is it," I said. "I love Sasuke, and although he's been pushing me away, I know there's a good reason for that."

"He doesn't love you, does he?" she asked.

"He does. I saw it in his eyes today, for just a fleeting moment when he dropped his guard. It's what gives me hope that everything will right itself in the end," I said with a small smile.

"So you and Mr. Uch- sorry, Sasuke, you two haven't…you know…," Hinata said, blushing madly.

"No," I said immediately, blushing as well. Hinata sighed in relief. "I did promise I'd tell you of my first time, right?"

"Right. It's just…I had to know. You've been keeping a lot of things secret from me lately," Hinata said. "Okay then, tell me everything. Start from the beginning. I'm really interested to know when you first began to really like him as more than just a teacher."

"So you believe me?" I asked.

"I believe that you love him, yes. But I'm not sure about his feelings for you. You mentioned before that he's been pushing you away lately. Did something happen with you two? Did you have a fight?"

"More like a break," I said sadly. Hinata patted my shoulder.

"Who was the other woman? The one sitting next to you?" she asked.

"That was his mother. She's a nice lady. I like her," I said.

"But wh-"

"I'll explain later. But first I have to start from the beginning, remember? Otherwise it won't make much sense," I said.

I told Hinata of the first time I saw Sasuke, when he entered the classroom that day and I thought he was the most handsomest man in the world. But I wasn't too conceited that I based my "crush" on his looks alone. No, it was his deep internal struggle that I found intriguing. He was such a mystery; all the other teachers were easy to read and plain boring. I was never bored watching Sasuke.

His intellect and wit were a breath of fresh air for me. I didn't feel insecure about being a "smarty-pants" around him because we were both equals in that way. We were on the same level. That, I believe, is what drew us nearer towards each other. We shared a common ground, and learned we had a few of the same interests.

I noticed that Sasuke always seemed alone somehow. In the café, at school, he was always by himself. Except when he was with me. He seemed to try to make me feel better about myself. He made me feel not invisible, not meaningless, as if I were special. Sasuke encouraged me to not be afraid of being myself, because I was a unique individual who deserved to set herself free. And I felt so free when I was around him.

I related all this to Hinata and more. I told her about my first kiss with Sasuke, the tulip field we'd meet up at to just spend time together, the wonderful talks we'd have, the art museum we went to, the picnics, the roses he sent me while I was in Sicily, everything.

"I had to lie, of course, and tell my dad the roses were from you," I said. "I feel so bad, though, lying to him."

"But it was necessary," Hinata said quietly. She'd never lie to her dad about anything this big. She would fall apart from the stress of it all. Me, I've been living in a web of lies for so long and as much as I hate it (as much as I want to come clean) I know nothing good will come out of it.

"Sakura…I can't believe I didn't figure it out. All those times at lunch when you were quiet and not eating…I assumed you were sick half the time, but then you'd get this faraway look in your eye and I knewyou were thinking about someone special. I just never knew it was Mr. Uchiha. Wow," she said.

"Yeah, wow," I agreed. "But there's more. Jeez, I really hate this next part I have to tell you. I'm so pathetic."

"No you're not," Hinata said.

"Yes, I am. Sasuke and I were in his classroom after school one day, kissing, and I told him I love him. Only he didn't say it back. He said he couldn't love me but the biggest contradiction was in his eyes."

"What happened?" she asked.

"We had an argument and basically broke up, I guess. But my feelings for him are still here. So I've been spying on him for the past week," I said.

"You WHAT?!" Hinata exclaimed, surprised.

"I told you I was pathetic," I said. Then I explained to her what happened today at Sasuke's house and at the restaurant. I let out a huge sigh by the time I was finished.

"There's something he's not telling me," I concluded. "Something that happened in his past that he absolutely hates. But I can't fathom what it is. That's why I want to talk to him tomorrow."

Hinata remained silent beside me. I knew all this information was overload, but she had to know. "Shouldn't you just give up?" she said after a while.

"What? No! I can't. I love him," I said. "I love him too much to give up on him. Would you give up on Naruto?"

"No," Hinata said. "Think about it, though. What kind of future, if any, would you two have? People talk, Sakura. Even if you two waited a few years, people will still see it as some sort of scandal or something. And your father, what will he think? He won't approve, that's for sure."

"Sasuke and I would move somewhere else. I don't know, but we'd make it work," I said. "And my dad will just have to accept us."

Hinata sighed. "You make is sound so easy…so charming, even."

"I just want my happy ending, Hinata. Like everyone else," I said. She smiled at me.

"Yes, I hope you do get your happy ending, whatever it may be. So…you really think Mr. Uchiha is the one?" Hinata asked, excitement in her voice. I nodded my head at her. "It's so weird. It's hard to picture the both of you together in that way. But you explained it so beautifully. It's kinda romantic."

"Promise me you won't tell anyone, not even Naruto," I said.

"I promise," Hinata said. "I just wish you could've told me instead of keeping it a secret from me."

"I didn't know how you'd take the news. I was scared to say anything about it," I said.

"No more secrets, okay?" Hinata said, offering me her pinky.

"Okay," I said, hooking my pinky with hers.


The next day I got up and showered before heading down for a quick breakfast. My father was drinking a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper. "Are you going somewhere?" he asked, noticing my attire. I was wearing a purple baby-doll shirt under a black leather mini-jacket, skinny jeans, and black flats.

"Yeah," I said, pouring milk on my bowl of cereal. "I'm going shopping today with Hinata and we might do something else later on."

"You girls are inseparable. Wasn't Hinata here just yesterday?" dad asked. I nodded. After our talk, Hinata stayed over for dinner and we watched a movie on TV.

"Dad, do you need me to bring you back anything? A shirt, perhaps?" I suggested. Mikoto might be one of those wives who buy clothes for their husband and if we're going to be in the men's department, I might as well get my father something.

"Well, a new tie would be nice, I suppose," he said. "Don't stress yourself out when picking a design or something. Any tie will be fine with me."

I smiled. "I'll be sure to pick out the best tie in the store," I said. I finished my breakfast and went to my room to grab my purse. If things go my way, I'll forever be grateful to you God. Just please hear me out. You've taken away my mother; what else do you want to take from me? Let me keep Sasuke, please.



I waited patiently outside the door. I could hear noised coming from the house, then I saw Mikoto's lovely face as she opened the door. We greeted each other with a hug and a smile. Mikoto smelled like cinnamon and some other warm spice.

"Sakura, let me take a look at you, dear. You look so pretty!" Mikoto said, inspecting me. Then in a quieter, conspiring voice she said," Between you and me, you dress much better than Sora." I laughed along with her and enjoyed our closeness.

"Should we get going then?" I said, trying to look past her into the house. No sign of Sasuke.

"Yes. Goodbye Sasuke!" she yelled in the direction of the living room.

"Bye mom," he said back, his voice sounding near but I still couldn't see him. Oh, well. Maybe later.

"We can go in my car," I suggested as we walked to the driveway. Before arriving here, I went to the auto shop and got my car back.

"This is a different car from yesterday," Mikoto said, sitting down on the passenger seat. She was admiring the leather interior of my Lexus.

"Yeah," I replied, heading out of the driveway. "The Mercedes is my dad's. He let me use it while my car was getting fixed. So, is there a particular store you want to go to or is the mall okay with you?"

"The mall is just fine," Mikoto said. "I don't want to seem nosy, but do you still live with your parents?"

"Just with my dad," I said, going for the honest approach. "My mother died eight years ago from skin cancer," I told her. I don't know why. I just feel like Mikoto's trustworthy; like I can tell her anything.

"I'm sorry sweetie," she said, patting my shoulder. "I know that must've been tough on you and your father. But at least you know she's no longer in pain anymore. I bet you she's smiling right now in heaven, happy to see that you've grown into such a wonderful young lady."

"Thank you," I said, appreciating her kindness. I tried my best not to cry. "That means a lot to me, Mikoto. If my mother were still alive, she would've liked you." And that was the truth.

"Here," Mikoto said when I stopped at a red light, offering me a tissue. I took it and wiped away any tears that accidentally leaked.

Fifteen minutes later we arrived at the Grand Mall. We entered several women's clothing stores, walking together with out arms interlinked. Mikoto kept the mood light with her easy conversation and she continued to ask me questions about myself. I told her that she shouldn't bother since I'm not interesting, to which she laughed and shoved me in a fitting room to try on a dress she picked out for me.

"Mikoto, I thought we were shopping for you. I don't really need to buy a dress. I'm not going anywhere festive," I said from inside the fitting room. Yet I tried on the dress anyway. It was exquisite. The bright sunflower yellow of the fabric brought out my features and clung flawlessly to my every curve. It was soft like silk with a modest v-neckline and a flowing hem that ended five inches above my knee. My favorite detail was the open cut in the back that stretched from my shoulders to a precise point in my lower back. I pushed my long, waist-length hair to the front so I could get a better look at it in the mirror.

"Does it fit right? I think you can adjust the straps and the bow can be tied tighter," Mikoto said from outside the door. I took her advice and retied the bow that was on the front so it cinched in more at my bust. Other than that, the dress fit perfect.

"What do you think?" I asked, opening the door and twirling around for Mikoto. She smiled gleefully and clapped her hands.

"Yes! I knew it would look beautiful on you when I saw it on the rack," Mikoto said, "And it's on sale, too. You should buy it, Sakura. I'm sure there will come a time when you'll find a reason to wear that dress," she said.

I smiled, thinking of Sasuke. Maybe in the near future if we ever went out on a real date, I'd wear this dress. I looked down at the price tag and told Mikoto I'd buy it.

We went to a few other stores, then decided to go to a shoe store where I could buy matching shoes for my dress (Mikoto's idea, not mine. But the woman can be persuasive…and stubborn). Afterwards, we went to a jewelry store where Mikoto bought herself a new watch because her old one was broken. Then (just like I predicted) we went to the men's clothing department where Mikoto bought her husband an oxford shirt and I got my dad a zebra print tie.

"You want to get a bite to eat?" I asked as I put all our bags in the trunk of my car.

"If you don't mind, I'd rather go home. I'm starting to get a terrible migraine," Mikoto said, touching her head soothingly.

"Sure," I said, closing the trunk and regarding her with a bit of concern.

Twenty minutes later we arrived to Sasuke's house. Mikoto's head was throbbing, so she ran inside to take some medicine for the pain while I took care of her bags.

"Here, let me help you with those," Sasuke said, standing by my side. He took all the bags from my hand, leaving me with nothing.

"Thanks," I said, following him inside the house. "Where's your mother?"

"She's lying down in the guest bedroom," he said, setting the bags down on the kitchen counter. "I'm going to make her tea for the headache," he said, filling a small kettle with water. He set it atop the stove, then turned to look at me. "Are you hungry or anything? I can make you a quick sandwich, if you want."

"No, thank you, I'm trying to avoid getting food poisoning," I said with a smile. "Although I'm sure your cooking isn't all that bad."

"I'll let you know that I can make a mean macaroni and cheese," Sasuke said, trying to sound offended. He smirked and tossed me an orange. "Eat something, please. For my sake, at least."

I started to peel the skin off my orange. "Sasuke, would now be a good time to talk?" I asked him. He stiffened. "There are some questions I want answered and you know it's not fair to keep me in the dark."

"Let's go to the living room, then," he said reluctantly. He sat down on the couch, his arms resting on his legs. I sat down a few feet away from him, but even that wasn't enough to not feel the warmth radiating from his body. "Ask away."

I gulped and licked my lips. "Something happened to you in your past, I'm sure of it. And that is what's keeping you from wanting to express your love for me, because it's so painfully obvious that you do. It hurts that you keep denying it over and over again, to you, and to me," I said.

"Sakura…I never meant to hurt you. That was never my attention. And if you are hurt because of me, I'm so sorry," he said, placing a hand on top of mine. I almost stopped breathing; it felt good to be touched by Sasuke once again.

"J-Just, please, tell me what happened. I need to know," I begged of him, intertwining our fingers together.

"You'll forever hate me, Sakura. I don't think I could live knowing that you'd hate me so much. I'm too selfish for that," Sasuke said.

"No, no, you're not. You just want to protect me from the truth, Sasuke. And I could never hate you, I love you too much to do that," I said. "I think I'm the selfish one, but I don't really care."

Sasuke chuckled quietly to himself. "And to think I thought you capable of hating. You're the gentlest person I know," he said. Then his expression turned somber and he let go of my hand.

"Are you finally going to tell me or am I going to have to wait until dramatic music plays in the background?" I asked, hiding my nerves with sarcasm. I was ready to hear it, but I wasn't in any way prepared.

FLASHBACK: (In Sasuke's P.O.V.)

My friend Suigetsu and I were leaving a party and we had been drinking the whole night. We were sixteen at the time and behaving like total idiots. Our judgment was impaired from the alcohol and when Suigetsu offered to drive, I let him. That, I think, was my biggest mistake.

"I still can't believe your parents got you a car," Suigetsu said, changing the radio station. He ignored the STOP sign and continued driving. "You are one lucky bastard, Sasuke."

"I doubt I'm that lucky. I still have that stupid curfew my parents gave me," I said.

"How much time you got left?" Suigetsu asked.

"None. My curfew passed a half hour ago," I said, already dreading the lecture I was going to receive about tardiness and irresponsibility. If my parents thought I was so irresponsible, then why the hell did they buy me a car? Not that I was complaining.

"Don't worry, bro, I'll make sure you get home soon enough," Suigetsu said, stepping on the gas pedal. My body lurched back from the sudden increase in speed. "Ey, watch this," he said, swerving left and right on the empty street.

I pulled out a cigarette from my jacket and lit it up. I inhaled. "You want a smoke? Oh, I forgot, you quit," I said to Suigetsu.

"Yeah, and I thought you did too. Y'know my uncle Lao? He died from lung cancer a few weeks ago," he said.

"I'm not going to die," I said, but all the same, I snuffed out my cigarette and threw it out the window. I noticed Suigetsu passed another sign without stopping. Probably distracted by my smoking, he somehow ended up in the wrong lane. I didn't bother to tell him to change lanes; the street was empty anyway.

"Tonight was good," Suigetsu commented with a smile on his face. "I got to spend time with my girl and there was free beer."

"Cheap beer," I added.

"Whatever. There was enough alcohol in the beer to make me forget how bad it really tasted," Suigetsu said. I laughed.

I saw the oncoming headlights before I heard the honk, but I couldn't stop the inevitable. Suigetsu, in a crazy desperation, swerved the car to the right to avoid a fatal impact. The other car, unfortunately, wasn't so lucky. It hit the nearest telephone pole. Sparks of electricity flew everywhere.

My stomach cringed. The pole crashed down…on top of the car.


Sasuke's hand twitched. His brows furrowed together as he struggled to continue.

"But…they lived, didn't they?" I asked. "You called the ambulance and everything turned out okay, right?" I was reassuring myself with lies, but I felt tears escape my eyes.

"I'd be lying if I said yes," he said solemnly. "No. There were two passengers in the car- a father and his son. They were both instantly killed."

I shook my head, not wanting to believe it. "N-No. Please tell me that's not true. Please, Sasuke, tell me you weren't responsible for those people's deaths."

Sasuke looked up at me and I saw the wetness of tears glistening his cheek. His expression destroyed me.


"Shit! Shit! They're dead! Oh, Jesus Christ, they're fucking dead!" Suigetsu yelled hysterically.

"J-Just calm down! We've got to help them," I said, opening the door and stepping out. I felt sick to my stomach and my head was bleeding from where I smacked it on the side window.

"Didn't you hear me? They're dead, Sasuke. We've got to get out of here," Suigetsu said, turning on the engine.

"No. We can't just leave them here," I said, walking towards the wrecked car. I saw a small hand jutting out through the passenger window. It was covered in blood. "Oh, god, Suigetsu, it's a little boy. We killed him! Dammit! We…it's not fair…he's just a little boy."

"C'mon Sasuke," Suigetsu said, desperation blazing in eyes. His voice was full of it, too. "I think…I hear sirens."

"Dead," I whispered, a million miles away. "This is all our fault."


Now we have to pay the consequences.

"Hey! What the hell is going on here? You two, what have you done?"

"Aaahhh!" Horror. Shock. People coming out of their houses to cruel reality.

"Someone, call the ambulance!"

"Call the police!"

"They've already been called. Look, they're here!"




Suigetsu and I got six months at a reform school, then a year and a half at a juvenile facility. We were sentenced 500 hours of community service and our licenses were revoked. Throughout that time, nothing changed between us. Suigetsu and I remained friends.

The death of those two people gripped me for so long. Sleep lost its comfort. I couldn't escape from my father's stare of disappointment and my own emptiness that resided in me beneath the guilt. I coped. But the dark shadows of my past lingered.




"…until I met you," Sasuke said, looking up at me. "Sakura, you changed me into a being that could feel truly happy again. But it felt to wrong, in so many ways. I don't deserve happiness. After taking away two lives, I don't even deserve mine either. I'm a murderer."

I remained silent, staring at nothing in particular. Then I turned to face Sasuke. But I didn't see a murderous monster. He looked deeply remorseful over what happened and I suddenly understood the emptiness in his eyes. Death can change a person. It turned Sasuke into a man who limits himself from experiencing true happiness. Now he silently grieves because that boy…that little boy died too young to fully experience a happy life.

"You're punishing yourself, aren't you?" I asked. "The blame lies on you, but you don't have to suffer forever. Guilt is an ugly thing, but it doesn't have to ruin your life."

"Sakura, please don't try to justify the things I've done," Sasuke said. "This is something I have to live with. I can't just forget that it happened."

"And yet you can forget about us? Sasuke, just because you did a horrible thing, it doesn't make you a horrible person. You have a good heart, one that I adore very much," I said, grabbing his hand and placing it on my lap. He quickly removed his hand. "In distancing yourself from me, do you realize that you're taking away my happiness?" I asked.

It was quiet between us. We were both scared to say something we'd regret. After a while, I stood up to leave; the silence was just too tormenting for me to handle.

"Don't go…please," Sasuke said, pleading with his eyes. I sat back down, itching to touch him again. "I know I've been cruel to you. All you've ever done is love me and I pushed you away. I hoped you'd be angry with me and would want to stay away. That would've made things easier. But you're here, with me, just as in love as before…and hurting. I'm sorry Sakura, for all the pain I have caused you," he said, taking my hand and kissing every finger.

I felt a sob building up inside me. His kisses healed the broken bit in me. It was enough for me to feel whole again.

"I have a special secret only for you," Sasuke murmured.

"Wh-What is it?" I breathed out, my heart fluttering with life again.

"I love you Sakura," he whispered into my ear. And that's when I really did cry, too full of emotion. I didn't care if my eyes were red and swollen, or if my nose was running; I was filled with indescribable joy in that moment.

"Thank you Sasuke," I said. "What I wanted was to hear those words from you."

"I love you," he said again, kissing my forehead. "I love you." He kissed my cheek. "I love you." He kissed my jaw. "I love you." He kissed the tip of my nose. I was laughing and crying at the same time.

"I love you too," I said, "but you already knew that." Then we stared at each other and slowly inclined our heads together, our eyes closing. Sasuke cupped my chin and I curled my hand around his neck as we kissed profoundly. It was a kiss that stole my breath away then returned it to me, filled with more life. It tasted like love; it was so sweet and painful (but in a good way).

The tea kettle whistled from the kitchen and brought our kiss to a shattering end. I kept my eyes closed, relishing the moment, as Sasuke jumped to his feet and hurried to the kitchen. I followed him a few seconds later.

"What does this mean for us?" I asked, handing Sasuke the sugar bowl. He mixed two spoonfuls into Mikoto's tea.

"It means," he said, stirring the tea, "that I'm not going to hurt the only girl who's truly loved me anymore." He paused and looked at me. "I don't want to be that man who lets the greatest miracle in his life slip away…because that's what you are to me. I never thought I could ever be this happy again, after what happened, I was drowning in guilt. But you changed that."

I smiled. To hear those words, it felt good to make a difference in someone's life. Especially someone you love.

"You awoke all these feelings within me…I forgot how it was to be happy and not be so lonely. It's so easy being with you, Sakura," he said. "I want us to be together."

"But?" I said. "Wait, there's no but?"

"I've already put myself through hell. Any consequences that might occur, well, I'll be ready to face them. Jail can't be that much worse," Sasuke said.

"Sasuke, don't, please," I said.

"I'm being realistic," he said.

"I know, it's just…I'd rather not think about the consequences when this doesn't even feel wrong. I mean, you're not taking advantage of me and I'm a willing participant-"

"You're still underage and a student of mine. Willingness doesn't change any of that," Sasuke said.

"I'll be turning 18 in a couple of months," I said to him. "Legally I'll be an adult and responsible for my actions. Just like you."

"For now, no matter how adult you may already be, you're not. So, until then, we'll just take things slow, alright?" Sasuke said.

"How slow?" I asked, wrapping my arms around his waist from behind and resting my chin on his left shoulder. I could smell his aftershave.

"Very slow," he said, giving me a peck on the cheek and releasing himself from me. He grabbed the cup of tea and headed towards the guest bedroom.

"You're a roguish fiend, Mr. Uchiha," I said, smiling. "Do you tempt all the other girls like this, then torture them sweetly?"

"Are you trying to seduce me, Miss Haruno?" Sasuke said, a smile playing on his lips. "That's awfully wicked of you, but I can assure you it's not going-"

"Sakura, the seductress. You know, that has a nice ring to it. I might just find another victim to lay my trap on," I said. "But I don't know, I adore dark-haired men with a funny fetish for tomatoes. It's my only weakness."

We reached the room where Mikoto was and stopped our conversation. "Oh, Sasuke, dear, there you are. Is that tea?" she asked.

"Yes. How are you feeling mom?" he asked, handing her the cup of hot tea. She blew on it before taking a sip.

"Better. I think I'll just take a nap after I finish drinking this," Mikoto said, then she noticed me. "Sakura, you're still here? I thought you might've left by now." She was glancing between me and Sasuke, a curiosity in her dark gaze.

"I wanted to know how you were doing. But I'm glad to hear you're better," I replied. "I should be leaving now, though." Then I remembered she was leaving tomorrow on Monday. I walked to the bed, bent down, and gave her a hug. "I'm going to miss you," I whispered.

"Oh, sweetie, so will I. So will I," she said, rubbing my back. "Next time I visit, I'll make sure to plan a special day for just the two of us, okay?"

"It's a promise," I said.

-----------End of Chapter Nine-----------

A/N: Please review!!

P.S. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an awesome movie!! We're just disappointed that it totally skipped the fighting scene in Hogwarts and Dumbledore's funeral. I mean, c'mon, those were like the best parts of the book. Hopefully the last two movies do the book justice!