Only In Books
With a loud thump, Sakura dropped the last of her boxes in her crowded living room. Dust flew in every direction, clouding the heavy humid summer air. The sun beamed outside. Her new large glass window only served to make her house an oversized oven, bringing the heat up to unimaginable heights. Even leaving the doors open and the fans running only moved the thick hot air around in endless circles. It was the kind of weather where, literally where she stood, sweat would be pouring down her back and down her face.
After taking a good look at her mess, she made her way to the small kitchen and poured herself a glass of ice cold water from the fridge. She would've preferred something with some flavour like lemonade or iced tea, but considering she only had some left over take out and an egg carton with two eggs, she would have to just suck it up and take the water. At least it was cold, she thought.
Taking her glass over to the window that looked out from over the sink into the front yard, she took in the serenity of the neighbourhood she decided to plop herself into. The street was sheltered by rows of tall trees, clean lawns and sidewalks, along which a few kids playing hockey in the streets topped off the calm relaxation she knew she'd feel the first time she laid eyes on the place. The house itself wasn't so bad either. It was a tiny thing that she thought suited her lifestyle very well.
Just when a red, sweaty-faced boy swiftly shot the puck past an unsuspecting goalie into the guarded net, a big brown delivery van chugged its way to the space right by her drive way. Out came a large round man with a dark blue sweat-stained t-shirt and a cap with the company logo stitched onto the front. He went around to the back of the vehicle to pull out a plastic dog cage.
"Hmm?" Sakura mumbled with confusion. Considering the immense heat, the door was wide open. She heard a high pitched raid of barking which she immediately concluded came from the cage. She placed her cup down into the sink and walked toward the front door.
"Hello, are you Ms. Haruno?" He was carrying a clipboard in one hand and set the cage down with the other. The barking continued. It sounded like a very small dog.
"Yes, I am Mr.—"
"Choji!" By the way he jumped, she bet he was just as startled as she was by his sudden outburst. He cleared his throat noisily before he spoke again. "I mean just call me Choji." Nervous laughter filled the air. "Um, just sign your name here and here." He pointed with a greasy finger.
"Can I ask who this is coming from?" The dog had not ceased to yap away in his confinement.
"I think a Mr. and Mrs. Haruno sent it to you. Here," he reached into his back pocket to reveal a warm and slightly wrinkled yellow envelope signed to her. "Don't worry, I kept that safe." He gloated as he handed it to her, leaving small and almost unnoticeable finger prints.
"Thank you." Sakura ignored the griminess of the letter and opened it on the spot.
I know you told us not to get you anything as a going-away present but we couldn't help ourselves. We saw him and thought he was perfect for you. Well your father thought he'd grow up to be a fine guard dog but I found him just plain adorable. His collar said his name was Damien. We'll miss you, dear. Call us! And please come visit, please do. We're missing you already.
Sakura couldn't help but giggle. Her parents could be so sweet at times; they had their moments.
Suddenly, her smile broadened as she knelt down to open the cage. Out came a storming ball of fur running in small circles chasing its stubby tail. He was the cutest thing she'd ever seen. Her mom wasn't kidding. Merely a pub, Damien had dark dirty brown fur with shades of black around his muzzle and down his back to the tip of his tail. Sensing her presence, he abruptly stopped and looked up at her with huge innocent eyes. He tilted his head to the side ever so slightly as if questioning who she was.
"Hi, little guy." She cooed. "Nice to meet you." She held out her hand and with a bit of hesitation, Damien stepped forward and licked her palm. "Awe, you're a sweetie, aren't you, Damien?" With a bark of approval, Sakura chuckled and looked up at Choji the delivery man.
"I'm gonna be heading out." He said with a tip of his hat. "If you need anything else delivered, you know the guy to call!"
"Thanks." And as he set off with a salute, he toddled back to his truck. His noisy exit left the kids on the streets staring as he drove off.
"Hey, you coming tonight, Uchiha? Drinks on me!" A joyful man with red triangles painted on his face yelled from across the parking lot. It was late in the evening and the sun was getting ready to set.
"You know I can't, Kiba! You and the guys go on. I've got something to do tonight." Sasuke was getting his keys out as he approached his car. He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the first two on his shirt to relieve his neck.
"Not even this once? You never come out with us, man. You're twenty-five for chrissake! Live a little! " Opening his door, Sasuke looked back on last time and waved a final good-bye to his workmates. Before his door shut, he could hear load groans.
As he made his way onto the road, he pulled out his cell phone and punched in a few numbers before he heard the droning rings.
"Hey!" Said a voice on the other end.
"Finally, you pick—"
"Ha! Psyche! Not here, leave a message."
"Hey, Naruto. I'm just calling to say I'll be there in ten. Make sure he's ready when I get there. I've gotta get to the bookstore before it closes. Thanks." With a knowing growl, Sasuke ended the call. He knew his best friend wouldn't pick up. It's not like it hasn't happened before, but every time he doesn't pick up, he feels a slight tremor in his gut. Naruto sometimes made it hard for him to keep his solid steel trust in him for more than five minutes at a time.
Before sliding his phone shut, a picture of a cute black haired boy with a brilliant smile appeared on the screen. His electrifyingly blue eyes were the only parts of the boy that set him apart from Sasuke. And although his hair wasn't as wild and messy, the thick darkness of it was unmistakeably from his father. Not to mention the prize winning smile. He was only four and he could already win the hearts of any girls, young and old. Like father, like son, he thought with a grin.
Naruto set his controller down and lowered the volume on his TV. Down on the carpet lying sprawled across the floor was Koji or "little man" as he would call him. The boy was completely out. With the care of a long time caregiver to this four-year-old boy, Naruto picked him up gently and placed him on the couch.
"Wow, that was one hell of a day today. I don't know how your dad takes care of you, ya little hurricane." He whispered as he draped the ever-present blanket over the small figure.
The first time his friend came to him asking for help with a little bundle in his arms, he never knew he'd be where he was, taking care of him and loving him like his own. Of course the fact that Koji called him Uncle Naruto always boosted his spirits. But his admiration for Sasuke was unquestionable.
Turning off the TV and cleaning up the video games, Naruto made his way to the kitchen to fix himself up something to eat. Just then, he caught a glimpse of his phone as it blinked. "Whoops, missed a call again." Checking quickly, he read the name 'Uchiha Sasuke' on the screen.
Just then, his doorbell rang.
"Hey!" the enthusiastic greeting only put a scowl on Sasuke's face. Naruto had an urge to just shut his mouth and cower before his best friend.
"You know," Sasuke began as he walked into the house, "one of these days you're gonna have to answer your phone. Every time you don't, you know what it does to me. We've been through this before."
"Well, what was I supposed to do this time? I couldn't hear it. We were playing some intense video games. When we play, man, our minds just get sucked in there."
"Terrific. When he grows up, he's going to be mindless and he's gonna be ignorant of his father's phone calls because somebody can't do something as simple as flipping open a small piece of technology."
"Ouch." Naruto place his hand over his chest as if he'd been shot, feigning hurt. "You really know how to hit a guy."
Without another word, Sasuke ventured over into the living room where his son lay sleeping on the black leather couch. Naruto watched as his friend crouched down to wake up the boy.
"Hey, bud. Wake up, it's daddy." The little puff of flesh groaned and shifted his position. "Come on, we were gonna go somewhere special today, weren't we?" He gently shook the boy's stomach, which was just about bigger than his own hand.
"Daddy?" His tiny hoarse voice carried out throughout the room. "Bookstore today?" He rubbed his blinking eyes with his small hands and sat up. Now the father and son were eye level with each other.
"Yup, I promised you I'd take you today. But if we don't get going it's gonna close on us and we'll have to wait until tomorrow to go again."
"Awe, let's go now, let's go now." No matter how eager he was, he couldn't shake the sleepiness from his system.
"Okay, bud. Here we go." As Sasuke stood, he carried up his son into his arms, where the child laid his head on his father's very comfortable shoulder, immediately falling back to sleep. "Thanks, Naruto. I'll get him back to you on Monday." He whispered as they bid each other farewell.
At his car, Sasuke cautiously placed Koji in the back, being careful not to wake him. Once the belt was secured and Koji was given a pillow to lean on, he closed the door gently and waved a last goodbye to a smiling Naruto standing on the porch.
Just as she parked the car, Sakura grabbed her bag from the back seat and literally lept out and looked right up to the huge sign above her head. "Libellus" it read. She knew it was Latin for "little book" and thought that it was the perfect name for the cozy small town bookstore.
She'd left Damien at home because she figured an hour and a bit by himself wouldn't kill him. Besides, she fed him and cleaned him before she left.
Excitedly, she ran for the entrance, jumping with glee. As soon as she entered, her world changed. It was absolutely beautiful. The warm colours and mouth-watering smell of freshly brewed coffee filled her senses. There were shelves and shelves of books all around. Some for the young and some for the old. There were nooks where comfortable chairs were set for those who wanted to delve into a good read and an antique staircase that lead to yet another level filled with more and more. It was far better than what she'd imagined.
Trapped in the moment, Sakura failed to notice a beautiful blonde cross her arms and stare at her. Stopping mid stride on her way to check out the coffee shop, Sakura stared back, mouth gaping.
Then she squealed with joy.
She ran to the blonde and dove in for a bone crushing hug. Laughter overflowed and both girls were bright and bouncing as they broke apart for a better look at each other.
"You said you'd visit me every year you liar!" Yamanaka Ino was Sakura's best friend since who knows when. They'd known each other for longer than they could remember. They went to separate schools after graduating but that didn't stop them from contacting each other. Even if they were half way across the world from each other, they would remain linked together with the psychic powers of identical twins.
"I did! Remember last year? I came for Christmas!" Sakura reminded her. Ino was the reason she even moved into the town in the first place. Libellus was founded and owned by none other than Ms. Yamanaka herself. She offered Sakura a job and who could turn down a little extra money?
"That was last year. You never came the year before. You left me hanging after my first real break up. Some best friend you are." Sakura personally knew that her first boyfriend was a joke. And she knew Ino didn't have much of a hard time when that break up happened. She was, after all, the one who broke his heart. Sakura had even gotten the impression that she was happy that the relationship was over.
"You are such a drama queen."
"Oh, shut up. Come on, we've gotta get you trained, my dear newbie." They giggled and set off towards the back.
"Koji," Sauke said lightly shaking his son's foot. He didn't want to wake him, but as peaceful as he looked with the large pillow lodged between him and the car door, he knew that if he woke up and realized that they didn't go to the bookstore like he promised, he would have one hell of a fit. Besides, a promise is a promise. With no success with the shaking and calling, Sasuke turned off the car and went around it to take Koji out.
"Psst, Koji. We're here, we're at the bookstore. Come on, if we don't hurry, we're gonna have to come back tomorrow." Sasuke pulled him out, careful not to bump his head on anything, and made his way inside. With every step, the boy slowly came to and his vivid blue eyes widened with realization. At the first glimpse of shelves and his favourite bean chair in the children's corner, he grinned eagerly at his father.
"Daddy! Daddy! Look, the bookstore!" His tiny arm wrapped around Sasuke's neck with a vice-like grip while the other pointed to every which corner in the store. Soon, his anxiety and excitement had him wiggling to get free. He wanted to run around and use his legs. Sometimes, he found that his dad was too slow and couldn't keep up with him. And he could feel that this was one of those time.
"Okay, okay. I'll put you down. But remember, bud," Sasuke set Koji down onto his feet and crouched to talk to him. "One book, just one. You can't pick five or six. We can only get one today, got it?" There was a slight look of disappointment in the boy's face but he nodded.
"Any one? I can pick what I want?" Sasuke could still hear that the hope was still there.
"Only in the kid's corner. I don't want you picking out weird things that'll make your daddy freak out, okay?" Again, he nodded, but this time with a fierce determination to find the right book.
"Yup!" Before he could bolt off, Sasuke held onto him.
"Wait, wait. Give me a hug first." Koji quickly wrapped his arms around Sasuke as much as he could. "And a kiss." With a quick peck on the cheek, he was gone.
The tired father stood back up and sighed. "Time to get some coffee."
For Sakura's first hour of work, all she did was grab a bunch of books to restock. It was near closing time anyway so Ino said if she wanted to be helpful, she might as well take a load of books and get started. There weren't many people around but Ino promised that it would get busier and busier the longer she decided to stay. Summer had just begun and people loved to read when they had too much time on their hands – or so Ino said.
While humming to herself, she placed books all around the store. Just when the place was about to close, she found herself in the children's section putting away the last of the books in her rack. She'd passed empty isle by empty isle when suddenly, she saw a frustrated little boy standing near a bean chair, staring at two books, one in each hand, with a vicious glare.
"Hi." She greeted. "What cha got there?"
"Um, I got two books and they both look really cool, but I don't know which one to take." He looked completely serious and Sakura thought it was very cute.
"Can I take a look at them?" she asked politely. After looking at them one more time, he handed her both but kept the small grumpy look on his face. "Wow, these are really good books. Look, see this one is about…" The two huddled together as Koji listened intensely, his whole body practically vibrating with excitement.
"Oh! And ninjas right? Look, look. There's a ninja there," he pointed with his finger, "and this one's using his sword!"
"You really like ninjas, huh? Well, why don't you just take that one, I'll put this other one away for you."
"But wait! There's dragons and stuff in there. I like those too." The boy looked so torn between the two books.
"Okay, here, you can take both of them, since you like both."
"Nuh-huh. I can't. Daddy said I can only take one today." This fact clearly upset him, Sakura noticed.
"Koji?" A male voice had both of the two look down the end of the isle where Sasuke came walking towards them, one of his hands dug into his navy jacket pocket while the other nursed a cup of steaming coffee. Right away, the boy's face lit up. The boy looked back at the books in Sakura's hand as if asking permission to take them back, which of course he did after Sakura nodded and stood.
"Daddy! Look I found two! Can we take both, please?" he said as he ran to his father, waving the books in his face.
"Whoa, okay slow down. No, we can't take two, bud." By this time, Sasuke was once again crouching to talk to the boy. "You already have a dragon book, Koji. Why don't we just take this other one? It looks pretty cool too."
"Okay. Here, take this back to the lady and say 'thank you'." Sasuke whispered. And his son obediently walked back with the dragon book in hand.
"Thank you. I'm just gonna take the ninja book. Daddy says I already have a dragon book at home." Koji curtly smiled his brilliant smile and dashed back to his father.
Just then, the two adults caught their first real glimpses at each other.
He's the father? She thought with obvious surprise. For one, he was very young, and Sakura found her body stiffen and crackle at the sight of him. He was all…male. He had a very boyish but handsome face and she could just tell that he had some definition under those clothes just by the way his clothes draped over his body. He stood straight and proud but held an air of ease about him. It was something most men lacked. The mess of black hair only served to make all the more handsome in her eyes.
However, she hadn't the slightest clue that Sasuke was doing some analysis of his own.
"Hi, I'm Uchiha Sasuke." He said, walking up and offering a hand. His smile radiated charm just like his son's. Sakura couldn't help but notice how beautiful this man really was. She was damn near speechless.
"Haruno Sakura." She said finally, shaking his hand in return. The surprising tingle she felt only served to lessen her ability to speak. "It's a pleasure to meet you." She managed.
"Pleasure's all mine." He answered politely. "I haven't seen you around here before, if you don't mind me saying."
"Oh, yeah. No, I'm new in town. I just got in. My best friend owns this place and she was nice enough to give me spot." Gaining a bit more confidence under his intelligent gaze, she gestured towards the front till. "Um, why don't we get your books paid for at the front? It's getting late and I'm sure Koji here has a bedtime to stick to." Sakura walked on ahead, leaving the two boys a few feet behind, just far enough so Sasuke could whisper undetected.
"Hey, bud, how is it that you are like a magnet for women?" It was a stupid question that he knew his son wouldn't understand but he had to voice it to somebody.
Just as she made her way around to the till, he caught her gaze again and he momentarily paused. The way she moved and the subtle curves of her body had him mentally gawking. It was unreal how she made him feel. It had been a very, very long time since he had ever felt the way he did then. Not to mention her natural beauty. It struck him as soon as he laid eyes on her. She seemed to him like a very confident woman but there was no sense of arrogance. She was like a whole new species of female that he never knew existed. It was like finding a dodo bird, for chrissake.
"Huh? Hmm? Sorry, oh yeah here." He was snapped out of his daze, whipping his head towards the very person who, even now, distracted his mind. He paid his amount in cash and took the bag with the book, handing it to Koji, whom was extremely excited.
"Well, thanks for helping him out. It was great—" Right then, Ino came through one of the doors and found them talking. "Ino." He greeted with a nod of his head.
"Sasuke." She smiled and playfully saluted him. "How goes it? And hello Koji." He waved at her and went back to looking at his new book.
"We're doing well. I just promised him I'd come to the shop today to let him pick out a book. Figured I'd come get my shot at caffeine today too. You guys always make the best."
"Why thank you, handsome. Hope you guys come back real soon. Take care Koji." The boy smiled up at them and said a warm "thank you!" to both.
"Thanks again. See you around." He ushered his son away, "Ino." He waved, "Sakura." He flashed his trademark smile one last time and headed out the door.
"Wow." Sakura breathed, leaning back against the wall, watching his car drive away. All the while, Ino had a knowing smirk plastered onto her face.
"I know, hun. He's quite a good-looking man, if I do say so myself."
"You had that man in this very town, roaming the streets and talking to people all these years and you never told me?" Sakura could still see his smile and the careful tenderness with which he treated his child. "Some best friend you are."
"He's single." Ino nudged.
"What? Ino, no. Not gonna happen. You saw him. He was practically a god walking the earth. And he has a son."
"So? It's not like you hate kids. Besides, you seemed to hit it off."
"We just talked and I sold him a book. That's not special."
"I meant you and the kid." Ino's mischievous grin played across her face as Sakura's face filled with a shade of pink.
"What is this? I came here to work, not to have you play matchmaker! Geez!" Sakura found the nearest piece of paper, crumpled it, and threw it at Ino, hitting her square in the back. She stared out into the darkness for a little while further, listening to Ino's torturous laughter before she heaved a long sigh.
Preview Chapter 2:
"Hey, Sakura." Before she could leave, Sasuke gently grabbed the crook of her arm. She whipped her head around and found they were closer than ever. Her face flushed bright pink as she felt the warmth of his hand on her arm.
"Mhmm?" was all she could utter.
"Um, sorry." He said quickly and the warmth left her skin but he didn't move. "Would you like to uh," he used the same hand to scratch the back of his neck. "You know, head over to the bay and have lunch with me? Us I mean?" he added hastily, gesturing to both him and his son.
A/N: There's the first chapter in my first fanfic. I love this couple and I wanted to see what it would be like with Sasuke as a father. I find it kinda cute x3. Reviews! Thanks!