Hey everyone! Sorry for the delay in updated this story. Reasons why are in my profile if you need to see them. The last chapter sucked... it was short and kind of dull. Hopefully this one is better. Well... enjoy and please review afterwards!
"Wha... what?" Sakura looked towards her mother her face filled with confusion and anger.
"I know it's a surprise. It was for me too, but he's promised to try harder this time." Her mom looked at her hopefully trying to sense some sort of approval coming from her daughter.
"He was the one who walked out on us, and after all he has done you're just going to let him walk back in?!" Sakura barely managed to keep from yelling. She gritted her teeth together her eyes were fixed in a glare.
"Maybe she should hear it from me." The man standing next to her mother took a step foward. "As your mother said I promise that things will be different this time. I've stopped gambling, and I've stopped drinking. I've come to learn from my mistakes, and I never want to be away from you two again."
"Yeah right. Give me one good reason I should trust you?" Sakura spoke through gritted teeth as she saw through the man's fake smile.
"I'm your dad" He said drawing out the words as if making it seem that the reason was obvious.
"You may be my stepfather, but you will never be my dad!" Sakura whirled around and raced up the stairs before the tears could make their way down her flushed face. She barely heard her mom's sobs and her stepfather trying to comfort her.
"Don't worry she'll come around. I know she will." He said assuringly saying the last part with great ease.
Sakura slammed the door behind her and collapsed onto her bed with her arms spread out.
'I can't believe the nerve of him coming back here. How dare he.' Sakura closed her eyes trying to force the tears away. 'This isn't what I need. I don't have time to deal or worry about him. I have to train and work on becoming a better ninja. At the rate it is now I'll never catch up to Naruto or Sasuke. I really don't want him here. What will I do? He hasn't changed; he never will.'
Sakura went and took a quick shower to wash away the grime from training. She wasn't surprised that her mother never called her down to dinner. Not that she minded; she would have came up with some lame excuse to keep from having to eat at the same table with him anyway. Sakura sighed, and with nothing else to do she climbed into her bed and fell asleep early. She would have to get up early anyway for training.
Sakura streched as she sat up. 'Why did I set my alarm clock so early?'She though yawning to herself. It was 5:20. Normally she didn't get up until 6-6:30. Sakura then slumped foward in realization. She had set it early so she could avoid being at the house when he woke up. She quickly got dressed and then proceeded to pack an overnight bag. She didn't want to waste time packing it later this evening.
Sakura's eyes grew round in surprise when she walked into the kitchen. Her stepfather was already awake and making a pot of coffee.
"Good morning Sakura honey." He said looking her up and down. "Heading off for training?" He shook his head at Sakura's nod. "I don't see why you bother. Being a ninja is such hard dangerous work especially for my delicate flower. I don't want to see you get hurt. Your mother briefly mentioned your teammates. That Usumaki boy is a danger; even if you don't know why you should at least trust me when I say so. That Uchiha boy is probably strong, and could probably protect you. But, who's to say that he doesn't turn rogue like his brother. You should be careful around them"
Sakura gave him a hard glare as he peered over his coffee mug at her. "I'm leaving." Sakura said as she whirled around towards the front door.
"Wait I'll walk with you! I have to try and talk to the Hokage anyway. I need to see if they will still allow me to go on missions as a shinobi. It's been a while since I've been in the village. I'm worried that they may not trust me enough to allow me on missions, and that's the best way I can think of making money."
They walked on in silence for the most part. Her stepfather, Riku, attempted small talk, but for the most part either received a nod or shake of the head or was ignored all together. He was starting to get irritated.
Sakura focused ahead. Thinking clearly was difficult when her heart was beating so loudly. They were rounding a small corner when Sakura silently wished that no one would see her. She didn't want to have to introduce her father to anyone. She could tell her wish wouldn't come true when she saw Ino walking towards them. 'Please dont say anything.'Sakura thought frantically. Ino gave her a look of surprise, but she didn't stop.
"Are you still friends with that Ino girl?" Riku asked glaring at her from the corner of his eyes. He gave a small sigh of relief when he saw Sakura shake her head. "Well that's good. She was a bad influence on you anyways."
Sakura felt moisture behind her eyes, and had to bite back a retort. Ino was the one who had brought her out of her shell when she was younger. If it hadn't been for her who knows where Sakura would be right now.
"Alright this is where we part." Her stepfather said as he turned on his heel and went on a different path. "Oh and remember what I said about those teammates of yours."
"Hey Ino! Come on quit slacking!" Normally she was the one yelling at him for dragging his feet. Shikamaru glanced over his shoulder and noticed Ino staring back at the village. "Ino were leaving on a mission; now is not the time to be worried over other matters. What's wrong?"
"Nothing." Ino said hesitantly. "Come on, lets go we're falling behind!" Ino then sped up to catch up with the others.
"Tch. Troublesome woman!"
"Hey, it's too bad we're going to be missing out on that surprise party they're throwing for Sakura. Think of all the food they'll have!"
"Chouji, is that all you ever think about?!" Ino screeched causing Shikamaru to roll his eyes.
Training was going horribly. Sakura was having trouble concentrating; her thoughts kept drifting back to her stupid stepfather! And, to make matters worse, no one had seemed to remember it was her birthday! 'I mean it's not as if I was expecting gifts or anything, but a simple 'Happy Birthday' would have been nice.'Sakura was even having trouble sensing Naruto's chakra, and she was even having trouble managing to cloak her own.
"Sakura, are you feeling alright?" Kakashi appeared out of no where behind Sakura causing her to jump.
"Sorry Sensei. I'm just having trouble concentrating today." Sakura sighed and slouched foward slightly.
"Well, I was going to have sparring matches between the three of you, but I suppose now would be a fine time to call it a day."
"No Sensei, I wouldn't want you to stop training just because of me."
Kakashi rose one hand in the air and waved it back and forth. "Ahh... it wouldn't just be because of you. I have a mission I need to prepare for anyway."
"What! And you're not taking us on this mission!!"
Sakura flinched. 'Shit! Naruto was that close to me this whole time and I still hadn't managed to sense his chakra!'
"You three aren't ready for this type of mission yet, and besides it's a solo mission."
"Aww man!" Naruto whined crossing his arms.
"Naruto, Sasuke you two can leave. Sakura I would like to talk to you a little bit more." Kakashi said.
"Yes Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura asked as she turned around to face him again. She was silently hoping that he wouldn't bring up how awful she was in training again.
Kakashi rubbed the back of his neck akwardly with one hand. "Well... Happy Birthday." He said holding out a small wrapped package.
Sakura grinned and rushed foward to hug him taking him by surprise as he had to catch his balance to keep from falling. Kakashi patted her on the back and gave a small chuckle.
"I thought everyone forgot." Sakura admitted as she took a step back and took the small package that Kakashi held out to her again. She was about to open it when he held up his hand to stop her. Sakura looked up in confusion.
"I'd rather you wait and open it with your other presents."
"Well you're bound to get a few more before the day is over." Kakashi as he gave a small wave before disappearing with a poof.
Sakura gave a small smile as she bounded back towards her house.
"Oh? Sakura? Where are you going?" Riku asked in surprise when he saw Sakura head towards the door with her overnight bag.
"I'm staying over at a friend's house for the night." Sakura said stopping right before the door.
"I don't know if that's such a good idea. I was hoping when your mom got home we could go out for a birthday dinner for you."
"Mom already said I could go." Sakura said through gritted teeth.
"And I really think that you should stay." Riku said his eyes narrowing. Before he could say another word Sakura ran out of house slammed the door behind her. She didn't stop running until she was just near the Huuyga place.
Sakura caught her breath and walked over towards the door. Her eyes narrowed when she noticed that it was open a crack. "That's odd." Sakura muttered to herself. She cautiously opened the door. Her eyes widened as the lights flew on and rings of "Surprise!" rang out. Sakura took a few steps backwards and allowed her breath to even out as she looked around the room.
"You should have seen your face Sakura!" Naruto exclaimed as he walked over towards her. "See, see! We hadn't forgotten your birthday! And... this was all my idea!" Sakura gave a weak smile; her heart was still hammering in her chest.
"S-sorry there there would ha-have been more people, b-but Ino and the rest were on mi-missions." Hinata said walking foward with a small smile.
"Yeah! Oh, and Hinata here organized everything! Without her this probably wouldn't have worked!" Naruto exclaimed as he threw an arm over Hinata and shook her gently which caused her to turn beat red. Hinata stepped away and fumbled with her hands.
Sakura gave a small giggle. "Thanks everyone."
The party consisted of games, talking about recent training or more or less Naruto going on about how much better he was than everyone which caused him to be hit over the head a few times. Hinata had even baked a cake with strawberry icing. Naruto and Kiba got into frequent spats over little things, but overall the party was great. Sakura couldn't remember when she had last laughed so much in her life. There were presents, but Sakura had decided to wait and open them later; for some reason she found it embarrassing to open gifts in front of people. Sakura thought it was incredibly sweet of everyone to put so much effort into the party especially since Hinata, Kiba, and Shino didn't know her all that well. She was even slightly surprised that Sasuke had shown up. The party ended with them all watching an action movie; it was about a three man squad going on a suicide mission in order to protect their village. They had completed their mission, but in the end gave their lives to do so.
Hinata had fallen asleep before the others left, and Sakura with nothing to do, other than sleep, decided to go out and get some fresh air. She walked along the covered pathway that wrapped around the house and gave a small yawn. She then leaned against one of the pillars and let her eyes close for a few seconds as she became deep in thought. 'There is no way that he will remain like his is now. He is bound to do something, and I have to be ready when he does. It doesn't help that he used to be a powerful ninja either.'
"And you are?" The voice behind her caused her to nearly to jump out of her skin. Sakura whirled around and came face to face with whitish-grey eyes just like Hinatas.
'He must live here.'Sakura thought eyeing the long haired boy. "Haruno Sakura. I was invited over by Hinata." The boy gave a nod so small that Sakura barely recognized it; he then turned around and began walking away. "Wait!" The boy stopped waiting for her to go on. "Who are you?"
"Huuya Neji." He started walking off again, but stopped when he heard Sakura speak again.
"Why are you just now getting home?" Sakura was speaking before she could stop herself. She really should just go back inside, but sometimes her mind seemed to have a mind of her own. If that made any sense.
"What's it to you?" Neji responded becoming increasingly irritated.
"J-just curious." Sakura said a bit taken back. Her confidence was fading.
"You must be strong." Sakura mused to herself.
"What are you getting at?" Irritated was an understatement right now.
"I'm looking for someone to train me."
"Don't you already have a sensei?" He saw her nod out of the corner of his eye and started walking again. "I don't have time for this."
"Wait! Please, I can't explain why, but I need your help! I wont complain; I'll do whatever kind of training you ask of me! I just need to improve in my ninja skills!"
Neji sighed stopping again. "And, why me?"
Sakura hesitated wondering why herself. "Because, even though I haven't seen you fight or train, you seem strong. You seem realistic, and you look like you can keep a secret."
Neji sighed as he closed his eyes. He really didn't want to, but for some reason he spoke before he could shut his mouth. "Fine." He turned around and saw a look of relief and a smile light up across his face. She said a small thank you before racing back into the direction of Hinata's room. Neji shook his head wondering why he hadn't said no.
That has to be the longest chapter I have ever written! (I'm trying to make all my chapters longer though.) Hopefully it flowed well. There are bound to be some mistakes I didn't catch in this long chapter; if there are any big ones feel free to let me know! I hope you all enjoyed the chapter. I will update sooner than last time. Please review and let me know what you thought!