My only reasonable excuse for the lateness of this chapter is a combination of writer's block and school. Sophomore year was a bit of an unpleasant surprise, not just because of the workload, but both my parents are working this year and things have been a little…hectic.
I would love to say it won't happen again, but it might. However, the writer's block is gone and I swear that the next chapter, while it probably won't be speedy, won't take nearly so long.
Second Order of Business: Rules.
"We need to have a list of rules for both of us to stick to, to keep me from sounding like a loony, and for you to behave." Out of habit, I tried to tap his nose with my pencil. It just went through him. Other than a slight shudder, he gave no sign that he was affected. His legs were crossed and he was floating a few inches above my bed.
"Why would I need rules?" Sasuke managed to look very affronted, despite the silly-looking hovering.
"I don't trust you to control yourself. I do remember those little stunts you pulled with Naruto, you know." He looked a little smug as I said that.
"How can I pull those kinds of tricks when I'm dead?" He inquiring, still smirking.
"You said it yourself, you're more of a poltergeist, and poltergeists can move objects and touch people. You could probably create complete pandemonium if you could. Therefore, I'm not going to let you." I smirked at the irritated expression on his face.
"Exactly how are you going to do that?" He demanded.
"Same as whatever you did to me—a contract." I smirked even wider at the throbbing vein in Sasuke's temple; he wasn't happy.
"I didn't make you sign away your soul or anything; you do know that?"
"Yeah," I smiled sweetly at him.
"Then why do I need one?"
"Well, there's that tiny little thing about me having no idea what that contract will make me do, considering I didn't understand half of it, so just think of this as balancing the scales."
"Hn." Ah, the standard answer. I had missed hearing that.
"Don't peek on any of the girls' locker rooms, showers, or any other place they might be undressing. That's voyeurism."
"Did you not hear me when I told you I wasn't Jiraiya?" One of his eyebrows was twitching. I studied it with interest.
"I heard you. And it doesn't matter." There is no way I'm about to trust any teenage boy who knows that no one can see him and walks through walls to not take advantage of the fact.
"…Fine." He grumbled, crossing his arms and pouting. I almost laughed—he looked so cute—but kept myself in check.
"Good. Second rule: don't prank anyone just to freak them out or you're bored or whatever—don't do it."
He snorted. "Tch. The only person worth messing with is the dobe—"
"Naruto's already crazy enough, Sasuke-kun. He doesn't need you messing with his head to make things worse." I pulled a piece of paper out of my binder and began to write down my 'rules' on it. Despite the ghostliness, I could feel him glowering at me.
"I'll take that as a yes. Third…" I pursued my lips. "Well, I can't think of one, but when I do, you'll have to abide by it."
He rolled his eyes. "Of course." I gave him a frosty smile.
"Good, so sign right here." I pointed to the bottom of the paper, were a penciled-in signature line awaited signing.
"You can pick up a pen, can't you?"
"No buts. Sign it."
"What's all this extra space for?"
"For the other rules I'll think up."
"Now that's just cheating—"
"How's it cheating?"
"At least you knew what you were signing—"
"You didn't give me enough time to read the whole thing!"
"You didn't try to read any of it. Don't blame me for your forgetfulness."
"Look, it's not like I'm going to add an extra thousand in tiny print or anything like that…"
"Then set a number."
"I dunno…about fifteen total?"
"Five. What do you need fifteen for?"
"It's you. Ten."
"Touché. Good enough, I'm not even going to bother you to ask. Number it."
"Write down the numbers so that you can't squeeze anymore in. A contract with a ghost is a serious matter."
"More serious than one with a human? How do I know I didn't sell my soul?"
"It's a serious question!"
"No, it's stupid!"
"IT IS NOT—"
"Shit, Ino!" I turned to Sasuke. "Hide, now!"
"She can't see me. No."
"Why you—just do it!" I waved him away, and grudgingly, he sank to the floor below us. Once I had made sure to hide the papers I had been scribbling on (Ino already thought I was crazy, no need to confirm it with peculiar writings), I crossed the room and opened the door.
"What do you want, Ino-pig?" I asked, attempting to sound bored and casual, the way I usually do when she interrupts me.
She acted like she didn't hear me, scanning my room with a slight frown.
"Sakura, were you talking to someone?" She brushed past me and looked around, even looking out my window.
"No…no one was in here." I crossed my fingers, somewhat grateful that Sasuke is a very fastidious gjen—whatever. "I was probably thinking aloud again or something."
Ino doesn't believe me, I can tell by the way one of her eyebrows is raised just slightly higher than the other, asking me: oh really?
Then she just shrugs her shoulders. "Suit yourself. Do you have your math book with you? I left mine in the classroom; it's locked."
"Not my fault talking to Shikamaru is more interesting than making sure I have a homework source with me! Speaking of which, what is the homework? I wasn't paying attention."
"Don't 'Ino' me! You know hot guys are distracting, look what happened with Sasuke last year—" I flinched and she stopped abruptly. "Sorry." She said, looking a little ashamed.
"It's all right." I was honestly more concerned about whether or not Sasuke had heard than remembering his death. But I still felt a little twang in my chest.
"You sure?" she looked at me, clearly worried that she may have crossed a line. "Because really, that just sorta, slipped out—"
"I'm fine." I smiled at her, only forcing it slightly. "We do pages fifty and fifty-six, problems one to twenty on each one." I handed her the book that had been resting on my desk.
"Joy," she muttered, eying my textbook as though it was causing her a terrible mortal offence. "Well, I'll be off; maybe Shikamaru will be charitable and teach it to me."
"Don't count on it." I said, smiling.
"Leave the door unlocked."
"Bye." She left, looking relieved that I wasn't angry at her slip-up.
The second the door closed after her I sagged with relief, flopping down onto the floor. Ino was going to be a problem; I knew so yesterday
"Is the Yamanaka gone?" Sasuke's head popped out of the floor, right in front of me. I was very proud of myself; I didn't even flinch.
"She'll be back."
"Wonderful." He rolled his eyes and the rest of him appeared.
"Shut up, Sasuke-kun." Even I was surprised at my bad temper. Sasuke simply raised his eyebrows at me.
"Suit yourself." He turned to the contract, scowling. "Does it really matter if I sign it?"
"It'll make things official." I stared at the expression on his face curiously. It was similar to the one he wore that one time Tsunade-shishou had to give him a shot with a two-inch long needle. Not. Happy. "It's a piece of paper, what can it do to you?"
"You'll see." Still grimacing, he picked up a pen—
(Maybe he's part-poltergeist, as well as part gjen—whatever)
--and signed his name. I waited. Nothing happened.
But as he drew his hand away from the paper, a silvery impression remained. It hung in the air for a moment, before sinking into the inked lines Sasuke's impossibly neat signature.
"What was that?" I asked, flabbergasted, staring from the paper to Sasuke and back again.
Was it just me or was he paler?
Which is kind of stupid, considering he's a ghost.
"That would be the reason that 'selling your soul' isn't just an expression." He looked particularly grumpy.
"That was your soul?" Now I was curious.
"A small piece, I'll get it back eventually." He shrugged, as if losing a piece of soul was something so normal it wasn't even worth commenting on.
"It'll return to me once I—we," he corrected himself, "finish this little task."
"Then…what's the point of putting it in there?"
Sasuke scowled at me. "It's to ensure that I won't violate any of the rules you put down, so even if you write down something that you have no intention of having me follow through, I have to do it; no matter what."
"What does it do if you don't follow through?"
"And what the fuck is that exactly?"
"I can't explain it and would rather not demonstrate it."
"Maybe I should just forget about it then…" I said, snatching the paper up gingerly.
"But won't it be painful?"
"Then shouldn't I—"
"I signed the stupid thing, just forget about it."
"…You know, if you didn't want to sign it in the first place, couldn't you just have explained it to me?"
"Ellipses. Joy. So either you didn't think about it, or you have some terribly convoluted reason for doing it. Which one? Actually, you know what, I don't want an answer."
"Hn." Sasuke just glared at me.
There was one problem I didn't quite anticipate.
On Monday morning I woke up to my alarm, as usual. Sasuke was floating over my desk, apparently in some kind of stupor, opening his eyes the second I sat up.
"G'morning," I mumbled, swinging my feet to the ground, yawning. He didn't say anything, just nodded. I shivered a little (January, it's always freezing) and went to grab my uniform. Dutifully, Sasuke disappeared while I dressed, not wanting to violate his side of the deal.
"I'll be back…sometime," I told him as I gathered up my things after visiting the bathroom. "So stay in here, sneak around looking for Kakashi's special collection to read or something, but—"
"I'm coming with you."
"I want to see everyone."
"I just told you."
I scowled; honestly, did I come off as that dense? "Sasuke," I began, choosing to use a different approach, "What would be the point? I mean, if you don't have to listen to Kakashi, why would you want to? He's still reading his stuff in class and everything. Nothing's changed. And you've seen Naruto already, haven't you? I heard him screaming. Just stay here."
Sasuke ignored me and simply walked out the wall.
"Suit yourself." I said, even though he probably couldn't hear me. Just as well. I had to go haul Ino out of bed anyway. And after forty Kakashi homework problems, it'd be even more trouble than usual.
The classroom was, as usual, pretty crowded by the time Ino and I arrived. Everyone was hanging around, just talking or playing jokes on each other. Ino dumped her backpack by her desk and headed straight for Chouji and Shikamaru, the latter of whom was fast asleep and blissfully unaware. I wasn't hungry for chips or really in the mood to watch Shikamaru's torment, so I didn't follow.
Instead, I went over to Hinata's desk. She was reading, but looked up as I approached her and smiled at me.
"Good morning, Sakura-chan," she greeted me, putting her book away. Hinata's really pretty, with long black hair, pale skin and her eyes are this pale purple color. Her cousin Neji has it too; apparently it runs in the family. But Hinata's makes her look sweet, Neji just looks freaky.
"Yeah, but it's kind of cold." I replied. Hinata chuckled a little, but didn't say anything. Hinata and I haven't really been friends all that long. I only got to know her because she and Naruto started dating halfway through sophomore year.
Speaking of Naruto, where is that idiot? Usually he can't leave Hinata alone for two seconds.
"He's over by the window." Somehow, she knew what I was thinking. Hinata leaned closer to me. "He's been acting a little strange, today. Didn't even say good morning to anyone."
I frowned. That wasn't the Naruto I knew. "I'll remind him of his manners." I assured her, before taking my palms off the desk and heading straight for that dumbass.
I was surprised that I hadn't noticed him before. But then again, Naruto's almost never quiet, so I never really had to develop a radar for him the way I did for Sasuke, especially after I accidently sat on him that one time.
Note to self: do not bring up that incident under any circumstances. Purge it out of the mind.
"Hey moron!" I smacked him across the back of his head. "What, are you that stupid that you forget your friends?"
Naruto whipped around, one hand automatically going to rub his head, and the other held up defensively.
"Jeez, calm down Sakura-chan!" He laughed weakly. "No need to go ninja on me."
"What's wrong?" I asked, concern overriding irritation. Naruto didn't look that great. His skin was a little paler than usual and there were circles under his eyes.
"Nothing, Naruto just didn't sleep very well."
"Huh? Since when do you talk in third person?"
"I'm not." He smirked at me.
Combined with what he said…
"I told you not to mess with him!" I hissed at Sasuke-in-Naruto's-Head.
"Hn. I'm not. He has no idea what's going on." He smirked. Again.
Anyway, reviews are appreciated doubly, for those of you who have stuck with this story.