Flower 05: Buttercup
There's always a Once Upon a Time.
And theirs started with a picture.
Haruno Sakura's picture to be exact. Pink hair. Emerald eyes. Peach lips. Short legs. Small nose. Bad temper. Student council president. Top notch grades. That Haruno Sakura. She was captured while eating a melon-flavored Popsicle. She was facing the camera, eyes locked on with a soft expression and her mouth was slightly agape in anticipation for the cold goodness she was holding. The picture was pretty normal—a high school student having fun with friends, eating on the way home. There was nothing to fuss over.
But apparently, her classmates thought otherwise.
"Look!" the blonde newcomer nudged his seatmate who was writing. When the transfer student got the attention he wanted, he showed him a picture which reflected of pink and peach. "Doesn't she look like she's (censored) my (censored)!?" The blonde-haired man furrowed his eyebrows and tried to smile. "Doesn't she!?"
The seatmate mischievously laughed. "You have now entered puberty, Naruto! Welcome to the wonderful road towards manhood!" he snatched the picture from him and stood up. "Listen up!" he shouted at his audience inside the classroom, half of which are chatting with each other the other half eating their lunch. He raised the picture for everyone to see. "Naruto's having pornographic thoughts about our beloved Sakura-chan!"
There were snickers, laughter and blushing teenagers. "Hentai!" the girls shrieked.
"Kibaaaa!" Naruto reached for the accused photo but his reach was just a few inches short, after all, he was the smallest in height. "Give it back!" he faced the class. "It's not true! Sakura-chan!" he turned to her stare, her food half forgotten by the sudden commotion. "I swear! It wasn't like that!" he pleaded.
Boys. Sakura thought and continued with her lunch. It was nothing to be worried over she decided. No harm done. They were indeed at that certain age of bursting curiosity and exploration.
A few seconds later half of the class was singing. Naruto and Sakura were sitting on a tree—the song went. Naruto was red as a tomato and Sakura was even a little amused at the new student. He had been boisterous and loud onset of their first meeting, seeing him shy and meek was a refreshing feeling.
The class' taunting and fun was cut short when a sudden creak was heard. It was from Uchiha Sasuke's desk. He pushed it hard and dropped the book he was reading. His black tresses swayed as he walked towards Kiba and swiftly took the picture, tearing it in half.
"Annoying." He muttered and abruptly left.
Everyone became silent until Naruto wailed over the torn picture. "My Sakura-chan! What've they done to you!?" He sobbed. Kiba wrapped his arm on his neck and sheepishly grinned.
"He must be gay." He reassured him.
Naruto's blue eyes looked dumbfounded. "Who?"
The Uchiha boy was known for being broody, weird and complicated. And yes, he was known for being drop-dead handsome as well. Students from every grade even from the faculty department tried to flirt at the boy every chance they could get. He was also known to be a huge anti-social boy. Did he just save her from the teasing or was he plainly irritated with their loud noise? Sakura wondered.
She spent the rest of the day staring at his back—that wonderful God-given sexy back—and scribbling his name on his notebook in perfect cursive writing. Her eyes glimmered under the window light.
It had a nice ring to it.
Afterwards was the funny feeling.
Her hopeful green eyes twinkled in delight as she watched droplets of sweat run along his beautiful smooth skin. It was nearing summer and the air was becoming unbearably hot. She wondered how he managed to keep his face blemish-free because it could par with model's skin or actors. She turned to his long bridged nose. She stopped to think who he got it from. She had seen both his parents a couple of times of never actually stared at all of them together like a family portrait. Maybe she could stare a little better next time, she thought. She winced a little at his lips—thin and never dry—as he gave a sigh. Soon enough she found herself mysterious black orbs staring back at her.
"Find anything you like?" he asked sarcastically. He grew irritated at the fact that she stopped writing for a while now just to ogle at his face. The two of them started staying late to finish a project together assigned by their English teacher. They were told to write an original short story to be presented at a national contest their school was participating in. Their tandem was meant to inspire the boys and girls of Konohagakure High.
Sakura thought of it as a blessing in disguise. She got to spend time with the Uchiha Sasuke alone. "Actually, I do." She replied and licked her lips. She smoothened her notebook and started scribbling again. "But I can wait."
It wasn't the response he anticipated. Most women cower the moment words started flowing out of his pretty mouth. Some were too shocked to respond and some wept. Most of them wept. But this one—Haruno Sakura, she was called—was a tad bit different. She has wit. She was a worthy opponent on the intellectual battlefield. There might not be anything spectacular with her face but her hair told a different story. That naturally pink hair was a consistent head turner. He couldn't explain that hair color. She might be genetically impaired or mutated, he sometimes felt.
"Wait for what?"
Sakura pushed her soft tresses back and noticed they weren't even done with their opening scene for the story. "Stop believing all little girls want the same thing—an overwhelmingly huge castle in a faraway god-knows-where kingdom no one has ever heard of, side characters who like to be all vague about your impending future who also only prove their worth at the dramatic scenes, and a prince charming who is unbelievably gorgeous-looking while galloping aimlessly throughout the woods on a pretty white horse looking for distressed ladies wanting to be kissed. No, Sasuke-kun," she called his name softly and sweetly. "Not all women want happily-ever-afters." She bore her eyes onto his as if relaying a message. "I don't."
Unconventional, he could give her that. "What do you want then?" he found himself actually wanting to know the answer.
Sakura furrowed her eyebrows and leaned her back on her chair. She put the end of her pen under her chin. "I want," their locked eyes intensified. "the poisoned apple." He seemed to like the little enigma she put on. "Not just a bite. I want the whole damn thing." She raised her hand as if holding the fruit and she animatedly started eating it. "Rawr." She purred.
Bewildered, Sasuke couldn't decide if the scene in front of him was either stupid of erotic.
But he did start feeling amused.
Mid-way, it felt natural.
"This sucks." She huffed and puffed at irritation. She made a scary face to the toddlers who ran along them. The poor creatures almost cried for their mommies. "Life sucks."
Sasuke picked up her brown satchel bag on the floor together with its contents. "You frightened the little ones." He eyed the little shadows fading from a distance and dusted her things. He glanced from her books and notes to her bag. How did it all fit in there?
She kicked the nearest garbage can she found. "To hell with those little brats!" she groaned. "They grow like mushrooms! Everywhere you turn, a child here, a child there! They keep sprouting everywhere! And then they start flocking together! The next thing you know, they're ganging up on a poor little helpless dog by the alleyway!" she looked up above the clouds. "God help us all."
He shrugged and sighed. He ushered her to the bench to sit and calm her nerves. She was a bitter nagger when she got mad, that much he knew. And it was best to keep her where she couldn't find new reasons to be angry about. He stood close by, still figuring out how to make her things fit inside her bag.
"Life is a big irony." She started, little gentler this time. "And God is toying with me."
His mouth ran dry. It was almost six. Dinner tonight was his favorite. Best he got home sooner, he told himself. He gave a 'tsk' sound in frustration as he still couldn't figure out how the stupid bag worked. Sakura laughed at his irritation. He raised an eyebrow at the woman who flung the accused bag on the ground with frustration. "Feeling better now?"
She smiled and reached out a hand. "Give that here." She quickly and effortlessly packed her bag. It looked so easy yet to difficult in Sasuke's eyes. "Thank you." she slapped her cheeks and grinned. "Thank you." She repeated.
He nodded. Calculating the time in his head, he patted her head in his way of comfort. "I'll take you home." He believed he'd still make it in time for dinner.
She blushed and happily stood up. "Life is good." She said as she chirped by his side. She even snaked her arm around his. She earned a mutter of 'hypocrite' from him. "Who would've thought that—that lazy assed Shikamaru would win that stupid contest?" her voice showed traces of bitterness. They worked for their story for a whole good three months. "They even said he's smarter than us! IQ 200+? Genius of the geniuses, Kakashi-sensei told me. Would you believe that shit!?"
Sasuke tried to pry his arm from hers but to no avail. "Anything is possible." He glanced at their surroundings. They were close to her stop.
"I hate losing." Sakura pouted.
There was a silence before he answered, "Me too."
They stopped in front of her gate. The Haruno dog started barking. The streetlamp started flickering on. Sakura slowly let his arm go. She looked at her shoes and started drawing circles on the ground. Aside from losing, she hated goodbyes. Especially goodbyes to her Sasuke-kun. "Thank you." She muttered, her eyes watering. It was a pretty shitty day for her. Her first loss aside from Sasuke's rank 1 spot. His unusual company brought her a refreshing feeling of content. At least they were together on the same boat for hating Shikamaru. "Thank you."
Sasuke raised her face with his pinky under her chin and flicked a finger on her forehead. She ghastly touched the red spot he just made. With a look of satisfaction, he smirked at her. He ruffled her pink head—a habit he had started growing fond of. He found her height conveniently just a hand's reach away. "I heard you the first time." He turned around and started walking to his direction. Dinner filled his mind.
"Sasuke-kun!" she yelled. He saw her holding her finger like a gun. Her left eye was closed while the other was squinted for target accuracy. "Bang!" she exclaimed. She lowered her hand to her side. She gave him the brightest smile he ever saw her make. "I'm sure I'll hit it bull's-eye next time!" she assured him before waving goodbye and entering her humble abode.
'Bang!' her voice echoed in his head.
He clenched his chest. He was sure he felt a pang there.
And then they became anticlimactic.
Sakura stared at the paper in front of her. Only one sentence was written:
Preferred University/College Course
She felt the paper was mocking her indecisive personality. She have thought about the future—what she wanted to be when she grew up, what her house would look like, what places she would visit. She have thought about it. The problem was, her answers changed every season that went with every year. When she was nine, she wanted to be a teacher, nurturing young minds. When she was in middle-school, she wanted to be a librarian, left in the endless pit of wonder and knowledge. Last year she wanted to be in a bank, holding and counting money.
What now? She asked herself. It felt like the turning point of her life.
She wheezed and nudged his seatmate. "Sasuke-kun!" his were red and puffy. He did mention lacking sleep yesterday because of a newfound friend in a blonde dope classmate called Naruto. He went to the Uchiha manor and insisted they play video games all night. And all night game playing they did. "What do you want to do when you grow up?" she asked while holding the piece of paper in front of his eyes.
His family owned the world-renowned Uchiha Group of Industries. They had it all—construction, hotel chains, water supply, clothing and even a technology department. Name it, they have it. Since Sasuke was a second born son, the young heir was given a chance to be whoever he wanted to be. "I'll conquer the world." He grudgingly answered. "Everyone will bow down for me." and then he went back to sleep.
Sakura let out a small laugh and thought about a very hunk Uchiha Sasuke in a soldier's uniform. She liked it. Maybe she could make him wear one for her birthday, she thought. "Too late, Sasuke-kun. The age of exploration had been long past us all." She smiled. It wasn't the time to be thinking about how he could start another world war for his bloated Uchiha ego. She needed to focus on herself.
She looked over at Naruto who was causing a commotion in front of the classroom. The blonde buffoon was holding a white guitar full of famous band stickers while he was standing atop the teacher's table, singing and strumming in a rock star way while his audience laughed and sang along with him. She realized the Uzumaki child could move people.
She envisioned him on the stage with thousands of people adorning him and respecting him. He could be in a band. Or an athlete. Could even be an artist. Anywhere he could be in the center. In the eyes of everyone. Because the spotlight loved him and he reciprocated that love tenfold.
Even Naruto had a brighter future than hers, she felt. The same Naruto who forgot to write his name on test papers. The same Naruto who kept pranking Kakashi-sensei with the blackboard eraser prank. The same Naruto who flipped the girl's skirts—even hers once. That Naruto.
She moved her stare from the blonde head to the deep black ones in front of her. She ogled at Sasuke's sleeping face. Ogling him never seemed to lose its charm on her. She gave a deep sigh. Her future, her brain reminded. She decided she would be the best wife of the world's self-proclaimed leader. The fleeting moment ended before it even began. All the thinking about her future suddenly earned her a nauseous feeling. Her vision started moving in circles.
And the next thing she worried over was how many children she wanted.
Of course, there was the kiss.
She blinked plenty of times before believing what she saw in front of her. Weak from her high temperature, she moved her head to get a better view of him. There he was, the high and mighty Sasuke, all clad in his proud Uchiha ego and that look of enigma on his face. He looked just fine and dandy beside her life-sized teddy bear. He pushed the toy to face on the ground and he sat on her pink frilly floral bed. She wondered how he managed to get past her daddy.
"Here." He reached out his hand to her face.
Sakura's eyes widened. She slowly sat up straight, careful not to trigger her head dizzy. "What's that?" she stared at the accused bright red in front of her. Her hand tingled, wanting to touch it.
Sasuke raised a fine brow. Had her fever clouded and weakened her mind and comprehension. Surely, she was not going blind the last time he checked. "It's your stupid apple." His arm started to grow tired. "It's symbolic, you annoying woman." He feigned a look of disappointment. "Or have you forgotten?"
She looked a little hurt. "I did not." How could she forget? It was her first attempt and failure at flirting with him. "But your timing could've been better." She started. "I am nursing a high fever—my throat is itchy, my eyes are all watery, my nose is clogged and I sound like a dying cow—and here you are, all handsome and smelling good, offering me an apple." She almost shrieked. Clearly this was not how she envisioned how it would go.
"Take it or leave it." He coolly shrugged and dropped his arm to rest on the soft comfort of her bed. "I am no prince charming." He went uttered the childish word a little meekly. Uchihas don't do Prince Charming.
"No. Good God, no." she shook her head. "You're more like my evil witch."
He felt irritated. "Warlock." He corrected her. "Or wizard. Witch is a term for the female species." He leaned a little closer. He placed a hand on his forehead. Her temperature was still pretty high.
She could've hit him on his head if she didn't feel so weak. "Shut up, you big know-it-all!" she resorted on sticking her tongue out at him. "You finally found my presence worth the whole universe once you realized I wasn't there beside you, didn't you?" she glanced at her calendar. She had started staying bed with her fever three days ago. "And you now know that you can't go on living without me!"
Even in poor health and in that hoarse voice, she blabbered her thoughts liberally. "You could be the ugly frog." Sasuke suggested.
Sakura closed her eyes and laid her back on the bed. "Fine." She smiled and tugged the hem of his shirt for attention. "I'll claim my damn apple." She smiled. She pushed her lips together. "Now kiss me!"
And he did.
And they lived happily ever after.
"I said kiss. Not grope."
"Well, don't stop now!"