Panting, I laid my head on the grass, my knees drawn up to my chest, one arms on those sore knees, the other over my face, covering the sun from my eyes. Training was excruciating today, maybe it was because the day after it was Thanksgiving. Maybe Kakashi was pissed about something, anyways, I didn't mind, I never minded.
Over the years, I'd grown. Physically and mentally. My hair was longer, and I grew into that large forehead of mine. I grew to be a few inches over five feet, and grew subtle curves. Somehow, I, apparently, still kept 'my adorable innocence' everyone loved. But my mind was sharper, I never whined, basically, I was easier to live with than my twelve year old self. But, why wouldn't there be changes? It had been seven years. Sasuke was back, but I never doubted he wouldn't, the real surprise was, Itachi was back, too.
That shocked me more than anything. He explained that the Akatsuki was no more, and he was the only one who survived. Apparently, an extraction had gone terribly wrong, and he was lucky he was far away enough to be injured, instead of dying like all of the others. Tsunade was suspicious, but after an investigation, he seemed to be telling the truth, except that they found two survivors, Kisame and Deidara, who were both willing to come and stay with Itachi at Konoha.
They really weren't that bad, though almost all the civilians were afraid of them. I befriended them all. Kisame seemed to enjoy my company, he found me quite amusing, actually. He treated me a lot like a little sister, but when he got drunk, he was just plain weird.
"Where's my stuffed animal!?" Kisame screamed, his words slurred.
Sakura came out from the bathroom, "Hm? I don't know, Kisame-kun, what does it look like?"
He never gave her an answer, he just flashed in front of her, and then, she was more than two feet off the ground. Kisame squeezed her in a deathly hug, "Itachi! Itachi! I found my teddy bear!"
"Kisame-kun!" she choked out, "I'm not your stuffed animal!"
Just then, Itachi decided to come out, and the both of them turned toward him. It might have looked humorous, Sakura smooshed against Kisame, the side of her cheek hurting like crazy and not able to breathe, but no one would have expected Itachi's reaction.
Itachi Uchiha laughed.
But, as much as I'd like to deny it, I like his laugh; it was smooth and husky, like his voice. It showed that he had emotions, but who wouldn't? Even though everyone would like to say he was completely emotionless, I didn't think so at all. If he was the least bit human, he had emotions.
Not just, anger and ruthlessness, he could love too, but no one could ever see that, no one ever tried to love him.
Deidara was my friend too. He was such a sweetheart, even when they first met, though; he had a frown-pout set on his face for a few months.
Itachi was just…Itachi. But he was less ruthless than anyone expected him to be, he tried at least. The three of them stayed with Sasuke at the Uchiha compound, which he wasn't thrilled with.
I was now head of all medical research in Konoha, Naruto was Hokage, and Sasuke was the head of the ANBU forces.
Naruto's voice shook me out of my unexpected reverie and I sat up looking around wildly where the source of his voice came from. Not caring enough to look, I stood, brushing the grass off my beige skirt and was briskly knocked right back down into the grass, a large weight on me, "Naruto, get off," I said breathlessly.
"I'm sorry Sakura-chan," he whined, helping me up with courtesy he'd gained over the years.
I smiled at him, warmly, "Its okay, I spaced…didn't see you there…"
"You seem to be doing that a lot Sakura-chan," he said, more observant than he would have been when he was twelve.
I nodded, "Did you ask me something?"
"Yeah, do you want to go to Sasuke's for Thanksgiving tomorrow?"
"Sure, did you invite Kakashi-sensei?" I asked as they walked toward town.
"Yeah, he's coming too," Naruto said, gripping my hand in his as we walked. Naruto and I were like brother and sister, both of us didn't have any other siblings so it was great that we had each other. He had realized that I would never return his feelings, and eventually moved on and now he was happily engaged with Hinata, both 20 years old. "And Itachi, Fishy, and Older Me will be there."
Fishy was just a nickname that I came up with for Kisame, anyways, he did look like a fish doesn't he? And 'Older Me' is Deidara's nickname, because he and Naruto were just so similar!
"That seems fun," I mused, "I think I'm gonna go home and sleep, I'll see you tomorrow?"
"You know it!" he exclaimed, leaning down to kiss my cheek, since he was more that a head taller than me, which…was saying something…
I grinned and shut the door.
I was having those rare alone days where I could never think of what to do because I wasn't used to the freedom. So I just lay on my bed like I told Naruto I would do. My arms, legs, calves, shoulders, everything in my body ached. But the feeling was almost mutual.
Tomorrow was Thanksgiving, it had come so fast. It really was nothing special to me, but maybe it'd be good for me to go. Spend more of that 'family time' Naruto always talked about. But, for right now, I just wanted to sleep.
I peeled off my stick sweaty clothes and threw them into the bathroom, crawling under the covers in just my undergarments. Days like these, cloudy and hazy, just made me lazy, and it truly was too early to sleep, about six thirty, but there was nothing to do…
My mind was just so clouded and full as well, and it took all I could do just to stay awake and think about it. In the end, I just gave up and almost instantaneously, I fell asleep.
I woke up the next day to the sound of children playing in the streets outside my apartment, it was nice to hear there carefree laughter. Swinging my legs out from under my blanket, I opened the curtains to see what they were doing, and cringed, it was raining.
I've always hated the rain. Whenever it rained, something in my life would go terribly wrong. The day after I was born, it was raining and my father was killed. Last year, my mother died, and there was a storm. My nose wriggled and I walked into my bathroom to take a shower, Naruto would be over for some reason in a little bit.
The bell rang and I wrapped a towel around myself, a little angry at Naruto for coming up so early. I opened the door, my jaw set, angrily, "Wait in the living room, don't touch a thing, if you see my wolf, don't attack him, and don't touch anything?"
"O…okay," Naruto muttered, his cheeks a little red. But, I didn't let him finish because I was in my bedroom before he could start his sentence again.
Looking through my closet, I reached in and grabbed the first thing I touched. It was a pair of faded black jeans, a white tank top that hugged her curves comfortably, a gray tank top over the first, and a white sweater.
I pulled on a bra and began wrapping all of my upper body, a habit, and pulled on underwear before putting on all the other clothes I picked out randomly. Before pulling on standard ninja sandals, I brushed my waist long pink hair.
"Naruto, I'm done," I called, walking out of my small bedroom. I glanced around the apartment to find that stupid blonde idiot.
"Hi Sakura-chan!" Naruto exclaimed, his weight on my body before I could even turn around.
"Ugh," I groaned, pushing at his chest, surely he would grow out of his habit in the next couple of years; I hated to think of what his children would be like.
He chuckled and stood up, "Come on Sakura-chan, there's a festival today! I'm going to take Hinata! You should come along, too, Sakura-chan!"
"Oh, Naruto, I think maybe I'll just hang out at the park or something," I lied, I didn't go to these events anymore, every since mother died.
"You should go! I know you're lying!" Naruto frowned.
"I'm not going," I said, in a voice that was meant to end the conversation.
"I'm going to make you," Naruto said, in the same tone.
We stared at each other in a hard expression.
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I screamed, loud and high.
Naruto really wasn't kidding about making me; he wanted me to have fun, such a sweetheart. But this was completely unexpected. Even if he brought me there, he'd just leave me there, walk with Hinata, he really shouldn't be wasting his time with me… As I thought that, I felt tears pelt his shoulder.
He skidded to a stop, bringing me down to face him, worriedly, "Sakura-chan, are you alright? Why are you crying silly? I want you to have fun. I want you to be happy."
I wiped my eyes feeling stupid, "Nothing's wrong."
"Then why are you crying?"
"You should be having fun with Hinata, stop worrying about me, you know?" I said, hoping I sounded as sincere as I hoped.
His eyes softened in understanding, "Sakura-chan, you're so worth it, you don't even see yourself! You're so selfless, beautiful, so full of innocence, and you think you're not worth it. You think that people shouldn't spend time with you because they lead a life that doesn't include you? Almost everyone in this town led that life because of you, and I won't stop…"
"…when did you get so perspective?" I asked, eying him suspiciously.
He just laughed at my suspicion and hugged me gently, then began to steer me to where the festival was being held. When we arrived, Hinata came up to us, smiling, "Sakura-chan, you're here, too?"
"Naruto dragged me here," I said as he laughed sheepishly, he looked at Hinata and then at me, pleadingly, "Go ahead Naruto; I'll catch up with you later."
"Thanks Sakura-chan, I'll see you later!" he exclaimed, kissing my cheek and dragging Hinata away.
I sighed, and started wandering around, looking at the games and prizes, and in about twenty minutes, I found myself on a bench, licking an ice cream cone.
"Sakura," a voice said behind me, startling me.
"Oh, Itachi-kun, you scared me," I breathed.
He chuckled and gave me the ice cream cone I didn't know I had dropped. I took it, and smiled in appreciation. I took a bite out of the cone as he sat down next to me watching me with amusement. I glanced at him, eyebrow raised.
"What?" I asked. He shrugged and I continued to eat, I didn't see what was so funny. Then I felt a finger on the corner of my lips and I stared at him, incredulous. He pulled back and pulled his slender ice cream covered finger into his mouth, a smirk still plastered on his face.
"You're a messy eater," he said to me simply.
I could feel the blood rush to my face and I snorted, looking away, finishing my ice cream cone. He raised an eyebrow at my behaviors and stood, holding his hand out, and I rose my brow, too.
"Come on, Naruto is right, you need to have some fun," Itachi said simply.
I sniffed at the thought that Naruto was right, and placed my small hand into his larger one. He pulled me up and led me to a stand of games, and spotting Kisame, I pulled Itachi along with me, running toward my towering friend who was arm wrestling a burly looking young man.
"Kisame! Fishy-kun! I didn't think you'd be here!" I exclaimed, reaching the table he sat at.
"Hey, Pinky," he grunted, slamming the man's arm down, breaking the table. The prize woman behind him handed him a small gray shark and he shook his head, "I want the blue one behind you."
He took the stuffed shark and turned to me, "Here you go Pinky, a little something, something to remind you of me!" Kisame pulled my free hand out and closed my fingers over the soft blue shark he'd won.
"Thanks Kisame," I said sincerely, maybe Naruto was right, maybe some people actually cared about me. "Hey, lean down, you're too tall."
Puzzled, he did as told, leaning down until his face was level with mine, I kissed his cheek and grinned widely when his beady black eyes widened and he did a double take, falling backwards. I laughed, and Itachi snorted, in annoyance, pulling me away.
"That was so sweet of him, ne Itachi?" I said, pulling my hand out of his to examine the shark closer. It was about a foot long, a silly grin on its face, like Kisame's, the light blue matched his skin perfectly, and it was soft beyond words. No wonder he chose this, it really did remind me of Kisame.
"Yeah, sure, it looks like him," Itachi said sourly.
I stared at him, what crawled up his butt today? I shrugged it off and smiled at him, warmly. He seemed to cool down a little at that, and pulled me to a game that he effortlessly won and the prize man, an elderly one at that gave him a small wolf that was black and white, "Arigato," Itachi said, he pushed it into my hand, "for you."
"Thank you," I whispered, unable to say anything else through my surprise. Was this why he was so crabby? Because Kisame gave me a stuffed shark? That…was…surprisingly sweet, but by the end of the day; I could say that it was a surprise anymore.
I ended up with a ton of stuffed animals that made fan girls envious. A stuffed shark from Kisame, a wolf from Itachi, a monkey from Deidara, a fox from Naruto, a raven from Sasuke, a dove from Neji, a teddy bear from Shikamaru, and so much more…
"I have so many," I mused out loud.
Itachi snorted, gesturing to all the stuffed animals he held for me. I giggled, as I looked at what I was holding. The shark, the wolf, the fox, the monkey, and the raven. They were all fairly small, Itachi held all of the larger ones, because…I was too lazy, and anyways, he was the gentleman, I thought with another fit of giggles.
"Do you want to go back to the compound? I'm sure the food is ready and everyone's there, it's getting dark," I said.
Itachi nodded in agreement, shifting the stuffed animals, still managing to hold my hand. I hummed happily, skipping awkwardly with his hand clasped around mine.
"I'm sooo hungry! Oh, this will be so fun, won't it Itachi?" I asked, brightly.
"Sure," he said uncertainly as he unlocked the door to the main compound and let me in. He dropped the stuffed animals on the bed in his room in the compound next to the main.
I walked into the kitchen and saw the food laid out on the counter, then bit back a laugh when I saw Sasuke stirring the mash potatoes, irritation clear on his face. I walked up behind him, quietly, and wrapped my arms around his waist, smiling, "Hi Sasuke, having trouble?"
"No," he said stubbornly, "they're done anyways…"
I walked around and inspected the potatoes. I put my finger into it and licked it clean, "Yeah, I think its okay."
"Good, cause I'm not making it again," Sasuke said, walking out of the kitchen, "Naruto!"
I laughed scooping the mashed potatoes out into a bowl and setting it on the table. "So, when do we start dinner?"
"When Kakashi gets here," Naruto said, tasting the potatoes. I slapped his hands away.
"Wash your hands," I ordered, "That goes for all of you."
The guys grumbled as they ran to bathrooms around the house, I used the one in the kitchen, and if they were smart enough they would've too.
"Hi Sensei, you're actually not late," I teased, closing the door as Kakashi came in.
"Hn," he grunted, uncomfortable.
"Um, we were just getting ready to eat, and put that pervy book away!" I said, taking it from him and stuffing it away in my pocket.
He glared at me, "You're going to give it back right?"
"Maybe," I taunted.
He grunted again and ruffled my hair with a crinkly eyed smile. "You sure are grown up now, Sakura-chan, not that tall though…"
"Thanks," I said, maybe over doing it with the sarcasm. "Okay, guys! Dinner!"