When she was four years old, they came to take her away.
She remembered the man with the short curly hair smiling down at her as he carried her to a big white van. It had a car seat, ready and waiting for her. She didn't know it then, but that would be the last time she saw the dirty floors and stained walls of her apartment room.
She was too tired when they carried her away to feel frightened, though she did remember wanting to go back and check to see if mommy was following her out.
That day, mostly spent in slumber, was the end and beginning of what she would come to call her life. An existence that consisted of nothing more than struggling to be nourished couldn't really be counted as a life. An existence maybe, but not a life. Thus, a part of her died that day, letting another rise from the ashes of her short lived past.
"Don't worry, she can't hurt you anymore."
2 years advance...
"Sakura, this is your new family. Do you remember when Mr. Momochi came to visit you?" The small six year old girl slowly shook her head, not being able to distinguish this man out of the many adults that had visited her in the past year and a half. Most left, annoyed by her silence, the majority believing her to be mute.
"Hello, Sakura. I'm here to take you home with me. I'm the man with the four sons. Do you remember?" Once again Sakura shook her head, her pale rose locks falling from behind her ears to hide her face during the action. She made no move to brush them away.
The social services agent frowned at her timid behavior, but Mr. Zabuza Momochi merely nodded in understanding. "I apologize about her anti social behavior. Her foster parents said it was a problem only to a certain point. She's a good kid if you can get past that, Mr. Momochi."
"I understand," Zabuza answered. He held out his hand, offering it to the muted child, who did nothing more than stare at it. Realizing she would not accept his gesture of kindness, he chuckled and withdrew his hand. "Maybe it's a bit too soon for that. Why don't we get you into the car so I can drive you home."
Sakura looked up at the young man with tousled chromatic hair and eyes the color of old, dried wood. Home? His home? He was a foolish man to bother so much over her. Just like her foster parents he would give up on her after the silence drove him mad. Her presence was like that of a ghost's, haunting and unnerving. She wouldn't even try, but she would end up frightening anyone who spent too much time with her.
'It's like living with a walking corpse, I can't take it anymore. I don't care if her mom's dead, send her back! She's driving me insane...'
Wordlessly, Sakura climbed into the black of the small back and white striped car, buckling herself in before either of the two men could offer to do it for her. With a shrug towards the other man, Mr. Momochi climbed in the driver's side and started the engine, turning the radio on to an upbeat happy sounding station. Sakura didn't like the song, but made no comment to betray her disinterest.
"I think you'll like it where I live. It's a bit far from the city, closer to the bay. The house is big and there's plenty of places to play outside." He was the first to break the silence, to no surprise. "I don't expect you to like it at first, honestly, I expect you to hate it, but it'll grow on you once you get used to it. Being thrust into a new environment so soon after leaving your foster parents is rough, I would imagine."
Sakura kept her lips together, her eyes fixed on the rapidly changing scenery as her driver sped down the winding road. She imagined he was driving at something far above the speed limit, based on how the automobile roared with life, seeming to eat up the road set down before it. A quick glance to the speedometer confirmed her theory as she watched the orange dial waver between 75 and 80.
Moving her jade colored eyes back to the window, she watched the city dissolve, melting into the country side. Soon they would be closer to Cape Cod's coast. Already she could smell the brine through the cracks in the windows. The smell of the sea. It was a new feeling for her, and she liked it.
"I work in the shipping industry, so I have a house near the ocean with a private beach. It's a five minute walk from door to shore. It's really nice early in the morning after the tide has gone out. The boys love looking for lost treasure out there. They do it all the time. That's probably where we'll find them with Uncle Kisame. He's part of our family too, a bit annoying, but he grows on you."
Before she knew it, they were pulling off the road, turning down a long driveway paved with broken sea shells, most of them a bright white. Sakura was expecting some of the sharper shells to put a hole in one of the tires, but Zabuza drove on, knowing better. Sakura kept her mouth shut, deciding to let the sound of crunching shells continue, though it did a number on her nerves. She felt bad for the pretty shells.
'Sometimes pretty things get hurt because they're pretty. Don't worry, mommy will get better...'
Coming to a stop in front of the two story beach house, Zabuza cut the engine and stepped out, opening her door for her before she could finish unbuckling her seatbelt. She seemed a bit embarrassed that it took her so long to press down the release button with her small hands, something he couldn't help but snicker at.
"Come along. I would like to introduce you to your new brothers. They're down by the beach," he explained, leaving her suitcase and small travel bag in the trunk for later. "They're a bit rowdy, but good kids deep down." Sakura's head jerked up at the word rowdy, causing him to grin. "Don't worry about that, they won't be like that around you."
Sakura looked away, fixing her eyes on the sandy path that led down to the beach. He went forward first, knowing she would be following quietly behind. Before long the thin path melted into beach, the sand a white color that shifted easily underfoot. Somehow it seemed like it took less than five minutes to get here.
"Papa, papa, you're home!" someone with a light voice called out in obvious joy. Sakura shifted, hiding the rest of her tiny body behind Zabuza's long legs just as a young boy with long brown hair and eyes of the same color, came running up, a bag of shells cradled in his thin arms. He looked more like a girl than a boy, but Sakura remembered that Zabza had only sons.
"Ah, I see you've been gathering shells again, Haku. You've collected a sizable amount this time," Zabuza answered in a serious tone as two more boys of the same age came running up. A third, taller than the boy by half a foot, was trailing behind with a tall, robust adult at his side.
The first two boys both had light blond hair that appeared more white than anything else. It reminded Sakura of the snow she used to see outside her apartment building in Montana.
She liked the snow.
The one with shorter hair had light blue eyes and a mischievous grin that gave Sakura an unsettling feeling in the depth of her stomach. He appeared to be the younger of the two, since he was three to four inches shorter. The other stood calmly with light green eyes displaying his happiness in place of his words. Part of his longer hair pulled into a red tie that fell over his shoulder.
The one with blue eyes spoke first, his voice high and loud as he complained to his father. "The only reason Haku has the most is because he took mine when I wasn't looking.
"Suigetsu," the calm one replied with slight annoyance, "Just because he took shells from the cove doesn't mean he took from you. That part of the beach doesn't belong to you alone." Haku looked grateful.
"Were you boys fighting over who owns the beach again?" A guilty look from Suigetsu confirmed Zabuza's suspicions. With a sigh, he pinched the bridge of his nose, adapting a harder tone as he addressed his children. This must have happened a lot before. "Kimimaro, didn't Kisame say anything when he found out?"
"He told Haku to steal the shells like a ninja." Sakura heard her legal guardian grunt in frustration, earning a worried expression from his only biological son. Haku seemed to be the most eager to please the man that shared his blood. Though, he could very well be the kind of person that is eager to please anyone.
As if following the motions of a well plotted play, the culprit sauntered onto the scene with the last son at his side. He flashed the other adult a toothy smile, his grin like that of a shark's ready to feed. "Just teaching them to be like their father. No need to thank me, I'll just help myself to your cellar."
"Hold on, Kisame." Zabuza's tone harder than before. "I know I've told you I don't want the boys to grow up like me, so you won't be getting your hands on anything to drink down there. However, that is not the most pressing matter at hand. You do remember why I went into town this morning, don't you?"
Kisame sobered up, finally noticing the timid figure that hid herself against the other adult's legs, still hidden from the young boys. "Oh." The tall boy at his side shifted, feeling the loss of playfulness.
Sakura scrunched up her little body, trying to hide from the new adult and the child at his side. This boy, like the others, had bright white hair as well. What set him apart was his tall, well muscled frame that made him appear older that what Sakura knew him to be. If she was right, and he was Jugo, he was only a year and a half older than her. Unlike the rest of his brothers, he remained quiet, seemingly content to be present. Maybe he was quiet like her too.
Before Sakura had the chance to think anything more, the tall legs that served as her shield moved away, exposing her to the eyes of four boys and one adult. Five shocked expressions to take in at once as she was left exposed, without the aid of the protective wall to keep her hidden. He wasn't her friend, but she couldn't help but feel a little bit betrayed by Zabuza.
"Who's she?" Suigetsu asked, pointing to her, manners forgotten once again.
"This is Sakura, from now on she's going to be your sister, a part of this family. I want you guys to take care of her for me. This is her first time being with brothers, so go easy on her, okay?"
"Where did she come from?" Kimimaro asked, referring to her as if she were an object from WalMart.
"She came to us the same way you, Jugo, and Suigetsu did."
"Why here?" Suigetsu asked, blunt and uncaring as ever. Sakura could feel her eyes start to water from embarrassment and fear. She wished the sand would fall away under her feet and swallow her whole.
Sensing her distress, Zabuza quickly answered in a calmer tone, placing a hand on the top of her head. "Because there are four young boys who I know can take care of her and protect her better than anyone else."
"What...what happened to your old family?" Haku asked, being the first to address her as a human being. Fearfully she looked up at her legal guardian and silently pleaded with him to make the questions stop before they started. She still refused to speak out, even with others her own age. She didn't want to verbalize.
"Maybe you had better not talk about that, Haku," Zabuza offered, saving her this one time. "Sakura doesn't talk a lot so I want you to take care of her and not ask too many questions. Can you guys do that for me?" All four of them nodded, Haku being the quickest to respond. The rest were sluggish in their gestures.
"This is her first time here isn't it guys? Why don't you show her around the beach and make her feel at home. We still have a few hours before your dad calls you in for dinner," Kisame offered, patting Jugo's head. There was an unseen command between the two adults before Kisame left with Zabuza, his stride longer than Sakura originally thought possible.
Now alone, Sakura flickered her gaze from face to face, trying to figure out who would tease her the most and who would tolerate her the longest. Who would be the least likely to hit her... Her right hand was wrapped around her left wrist, squeezing it tighter and tighter as she found it harder and harder to breath.
"I'm Kimimaro, that's Haku and Jugo and this guy is Suigetsu. It's nice to meet you. Would you like to play with us by the cove or by the tide line? We were collecting seashells, to see who could get the most. Haku usually wins, but it's fun to see what you can find in the sand."
Loosing the grip on her wrist, she numbly nodded, deciding it best to go along with whatever they wanted to do. Saying no would make it awkward, and Suigetsu might get angry. He seemed irritated by her presence as it was. She had no wish to further his dislike for her.
Haku smiled as his brothers ran off ahead of him, choosing to hang back with his new sibling. He seemed determined to follow the commands of his father wholeheartedly. "You don't have to be scared of them. Suigetsu wouldn't do anything bad. He may seem mean but he can be really nice sometimes." He looked down at the bundle of shells in his hands and smiled. "Would you like one of my shells? I have lots in the garage and hidden in the boat. I think girls like shells, so if you want one you can take it."
Sakura saw a long gray shell with a rugged top stand out among the rest. Curiosity getting the best of her, she gently grasped the object with her small hands and brought it closer for inspection. Her green orbs widened in surprise at the glimmering surface that was hidden on the inside.
Haku chuckled at her reaction, his tone sounding much like his dad's. "It's pretty isn't it. It's really ugly on the outside but the inside is shiny making it beautiful. My mom used to have a locket made out of it. My dad wears it all the time though. She said this shell hides beauty that only good people who look past the ugly surface are able to see. She said that's kind of like how humans are."
'I'm grateful you're not beautiful. That way, only someone that truly cares for you will be able to appreciate you.'
Her grip around the shell tightened unconsciously. "Ahhh."
"Haku, you're too slow,! Hurry up or else we're going to take all your shells!" Suigetsu called, somewhere off in the distance. Gasping in surprise and slight fear, the brown eyed boy ran off, fearful for his treasures, leaving Sakura to study the details of her shell by herself.
She was thankful to be left alone after being smothered by so many different presences this particular day. She felt like someone was choking her slowly, waiting until she popped like a balloon under the pressure. That's how everyone was, a choking presence.
"Sakura, are you coming? There are really pretty shells over here if you want." Sakura looked up at the sound of Haku's voice. He was standing next to Kimimaro, both boys staring down at her, waiting for her to join them. She doubted they were aware of the choking effect their presences had on her.
Knowing they would come after her if she refused to join their sides, she approached the pair with downcast eyes, tightly clutching her gray shell. The older boy named Jugo was now closest to Sakura as she took care to avoid Suigetsu, who was now hanging off Haku's shoulder. Suigetsu appeared to be badgering him about something found in the sand. Jugo looked at her shyly and opened his mouth to say something, but only a muted grunt made it past his lips before he turned away and left her in what appeared to be embarrassment. It was as if he couldn't bring himself to say whatever it was he wanted to say.
"Jugo has a speech impediment." Sakura quickly turned, her arms coming up to her chest protectively at the unexpected sound of Kimimaro's calm voice. Was he a ninja or something? She didn't even hear him come up from behind. "He can't speak properly, so he chooses to remain silent most of the time. He's probably embarrassed about letting you hear his voice. It took over a week for him to feel comfortable enough to talk in front of the rest of us, so don't feel bad about it."
Not knowing how else to reply, Sakura nodded slowly and edged herself away from the green eyed boy who made an effort to speak to her. Maybe he didn't feel the haunting atmosphere she gave off in the same way Mrs. Yamanaka felt it. Or maybe he was just hiding his discomfort from her. That had to be it. He was like the social service agents, masking their discomfort and frustration. That was fine, he could act however he wanted. It was a free country wasn't it?
Feeling exceptionally bitter towards her so called family,the slender girl made her way over to the lapping waters to search for a shell of her own. Possibly one like the one she had from Haku, that way she could return his. For all she knew, he could have given it to her as bribery. Maybe it was to get her to like them, similar to the pretty red shoes Mr. Yamanaka gave her when he first met her in an attempt of graft.
Large white birds that squawked, circled over head in the sky, waiting for tourists to drop french fries and pretzel bits for them to feed off of. Sakura remembered Mr. Momochi calling the seagulls. Their cries were different from the chirping and hacking of crows and blue jays she was used to hearing outside her window. The sound of the seagulls seemed to fit the beach, completing it.
Bending low, Sakura rummaged through the retreating waters to pick up a broken shell that was stuck in the sand. Like the others in the driveway, it was a bright white, jagged and broken on one side. Putting her gray shell in the pocket of her red dress, she shifted the broken shell into her other hand,only to drop it quickly as if burned. During the transition the broken side had cut into her palm, drawing blood. Frightened at the sight of red, she dropped the shell and plunged her hand into the water, only to pull back with a hiss of pain. "Don't do that, the salt from the ocean will only agitate the wound. You need this," someone stated, pouring clean water over her cut, cleaning it out. It was Suigetsu. Why would he be helping her?
"Put this on it to keep the sand out. We don't want this getting infected," Kimimaro murmured softly, producing a bandage to wrap around her hand as Jugo and Haku came running up, both worried looking.
"Sakura, did you hurt yourself on one of the shells?" Haku asked with concern, seeing the bandage on her hand, red seeping out from underneath. Not waiting for her to nod in reply, he grabbed her uninjured hand and began to drag her towards the house. "We have to tell papa before you die of blood loss!"
Sakura knew she wouldn't die of blood loss over something like this, but the others, being only children themselves, seemed convinced she would die if not transported properly. Kimimaro was probably the only one who knew she was fine, though he said nothing as he quietly trailed behind his brothers. But Haku had Jugo and Suigetsu convinced she was going to die in the next twelve minutes if she didn't get to the house.
Lost in her thoughts, she didn't notice how she was failing to keep up with the active sons and their rapid pace. Fearful for her safety, Jugo picked her up and swung her light body onto his back to carry her home. He really did look like he cared about her. But he didn't know anything about her, so why?
Her voice cracked, struggling to make it past her throat. "Why?"
None seemed surprised to hear her speak."You're our younger sister, and papa told us to protect you."
Suigetsu and Kimimaro merely nodded as they trudged up the hill on either side of her. They seemed to agree just as strongly as Haku. Jugo stuttered, trying to form words that she could understand. "We...family."
Maybe this time would be different, she thought, hugging her brother tighter as they raced up the hill towards the house.
AU/ This is something I wrote for a fan fiction contest at the library this month. There were a lot of good entries so I don't know if mine will get picked or not, but I had fun writing this, especially since Sakura's with my favorite characters. Something about this Mizu boys just gets to me.
This was originally meant to be a one-shot, but each brother will have his own little drabble like chapter after this. I might add one for Zabuza and Kisame in at the end and then finish it off with one for Sakura, but then again, I might not. There's a lot I'd like explain about these boys and how they came under Zabuza's care. And then there's Sakura and her mother. I don't know if it was obvious enough, but I think you can get the picture of what was going on with her. Also, I wanted to explain a bit more about what Zabuza does in the shipping industry. coughpiratecough. So expect more from these guys as little Sakura grows up into a woman. Beware the overprotectiveness.