DEDICATION: THIS CHAPTER IS DEDICATED ShadowDarknessCherryBlossom FOR BEING MY 1,200th REVIEWER!
Special thanks to Naruto-fan-Okami-chan for being an awesome beta! I'd be lost without her.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Chapter Fourteen: Poking
SASUKE'S P.O.V. (Sunday: Morning)
I blinked groggily and groaned when I heard a familiar ring tone. Slowly, I sat up from my make-shift bed on the floor, casting a glance to check if Sakura was still sleeping. She was.
My back was sore from sleeping on the hard floor. I stretched to ease the ache, but it didn't help much.
My hand reached out and grabbed my cell phone beside my pillow. I scowled when I caught sight of the name on the caller ID.
'Why is Neji calling me at ten in the morning?'
I pressed the answer button and made my way out onto the balcony, careful to not wake the sleeping pink head.
"What do you want?" I bit out, annoyed out of my mind. My back hurt like crazy and I didn't get enough sleep. I shut my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose.
"Good morning to you too, Uchiha," Neji scoffed over the phone, "I'm just calling to inform you that everyone has left the beach house already. You're alone with Sakura."
My eyes shot open once his words registered.
"Hyuuga, stop messing with me. Where are you guys?"
"I'm not lying. The rest of us woke up early and decided to leave. Ino dropped Naruto and Hinata off at my house so Naruto could meet my uncle. The idiot was so nervous he almost pissed in his pants. Then, Ino dropped Tenten and I off at Tenten's house so we could..." Neji paused for a while, "work on our physics project. I don't know where Shikamaru and Ino headed off to. Shikamaru left his keys on the counter so you can drive his car back home."
"Why did you leave?! I thought we decided to stay here for another night since we don't have school on Monday!" I hissed. Then something clicked in my mind, "You guys planned this, didn't you?" The silence on the other side of the line confirmed my suspicions. "Hyuuga, when I get my hands on you..." I let the threat hang in the air.
"Calm down. We did you a favor. You'll see. And I know you're a seventeen-year-old boy with hormones, but try to control your urges."
With that said, he hung up. The overwhelming temptation to throw my phone over the balcony washed through me, but I decided against it. I returned to the bedroom, muttering curses under my breath.
Then, my cell went off once again. It was a text message.
'By the way, the people from last night are coming to the beach house later to pick up their cars. Sakura and you will have to wait a while so you can give them their keys. -Neji'
I glared at the cell phone. That guy was seriously going to die once I got my hands on him. Sighing, I plunked down onto the end of the bed and buried my head in my hands.
Why me? Don't they know that if they leave me alone with Sakura for who knows how long, some things are bound to happen?
My head snapped upwards when I heard the sheets shuffle. I turned my body to stare at Sakura as she slowly opened her green eyes. The source of my misery sat up and groaned as she held her aching head in her small, delicate hands.
"Hung over?" I asked. She was such a light weight.
She responded by groaning in pain again. She turned and looked me straight in the eye. My heart jumped to my throat and an uncomfortable feeling gripped my stomach.
"What happened last night? And why does my mouth hurt and my lips feel bruised?" Sakura groaned, placing a nursing hand over her swollen lips.
'Maybe it's because I had my tongue shoved halfway down your throat?'
I flinched at the thought. No way was I ever going to tell her about last night.
Then it hit me. If she didn't know why her mouth hurt, then she didn't remember the previous night. The long apology I had planned out in my head all night was all for nothing.
'I'll tell her what really happened… one day.'
"You tripped last night and banged your mouth against the stairs' banister," I lied. "We should get ready."
I made my way to the bathroom and shut the door, trying to escape Sakura's piercing green eyes.
I placed two bowls of food on the marble counter as I sat down on a stool. Right on cue, the very hung over Sakura descended from the stairs and took a seat across from me. As soon as she was seated, we began to dig into our breakfast.
"Feeling better?" I queried, worried she had alcohol poisoning or was dehydrated.
"Stop yelling!" she whined, immediately dropping her chopsticks to cover her ears. She was experiencing her first hangover and it seemed that she had a massive headache. I smirked at her.
"You enjoy my misfortune, don't you?" Sakura pouted and my traitorous eyes settled on her lips. Suddenly, memories of last night flashed through my mind. I gulped and quickly looked away, my stomach clenching. My body felt hot whenever I remembered how her lips felt against mine.
I barely slept last night. Thoughts of what happened between me and Sakura plagued my mind and my body reacted very... painfully. Let's just say that a certain male appendage was quite unhappy with my decision to stop. At least I knew I did the right thing.
'But if she wasn't drunk and kept moving her hips like that...'
I resisted the urge to connect my head to the marble counter. Things were easier when my hormones weren't out of control and I could think straight.
My eyes drifted to her once again. Guilt instantly consumed me. I had taken advantage of her. If she knew what happened, she'd be disgusted with me.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled, poking at my food.
"Huh?" Sakura shot me a questioning look.
"Just know that... I'm sorry." I lowered my head and resumed eating my breakfast. The pink haired teen remained silent and just stared at me for a while. She shook her head in confusion and continued eating.
My cell phone began to ring and I excused myself to answer it. I assumed it was Neji and I didn't want Sakura to hear me cursing him out. Once I was in the living room, I took my cell out of my pocket and checked the caller ID. I nearly choked when I saw who the caller was.
It was Itachi.
INO'S P.O.V. (Sunday)
"It's so pretty here," I whispered, afraid my voice would break the tranquility. The teenage boy on my right side just shrugged.
Shikamaru and I were seated on top of a large hill in the Nara Dear Reservation. A large oak tree provided us shade. The sun peeked from behind the slightly gray clouds that littered the heavens.
Our parents, including Chouji's parents, were having lunch together at the Nara residence. The six of them had been best friends since they met in college. They met weekly to catch up and talk.
Chouji wasn't able to attend the lunch because he had a date with his girlfriend. While we were eating, our parents asked if Shikamaru and I could leave the table because they had something important to discuss. My lazy friend suggested we visit the reservation. It had been a while since I'd seen the place, so I agreed.
"Do you like him?"
My eyes widened. A shocked expression covered my face and I turned my body to face Shikamaru.
"Who?" The question was said out of the blue and confused me greatly.
"Sai," Shikamaru scoffed, picking at the grass in front of him. The lazy boy's usually relaxed posture was stiff. The intensity of his stare made my cheeks burn.
"He's a good friend," I answered honestly, slightly frowning.
"So... You only think of him as a friend?" His voice sounded oddly hopefully, but I didn't read too much into his tone.
"Why do you need to know?" I spat out, feeling defensive. I didn't like Sai. Sure, he's hot and everything, but my heart already belonged to the lazy, oblivious genius.
"Because he's not good enough for you. I know how Sai treats girls and I forbid you to associate with him."
I gawked at the deadly serious Shikamaru. Who did he think he was to forbid me from talking to Sai? I was about to retort when Shikamaru suddenly lifted his large hand and brushed away my bangs, tucking them behind my ear. His fingertips trailed down my cheek, leaving goose bumps in their wake.
"I just... I don't want to see you get hurt," Shikamaru whispered, his voice was uncharacteristically soft. My eyes widened and my heart raced in my chest. Our eyes locked and time came to a halt.
Suddenly, Shikamaru retracted his hand as if he had been burned.
"We should get going. It looks like it's about to rain," he grumbled. The Nara teen stood up and began to walk away.
I stared at his retreating form, too stunned to move.
SAKURA'S P.O.V. (Sunday: Midday)
"Ready?" Sasuke asked as I dumped my duffle bag in the back seat of the truck.
"Yup!" I chirped. The long nap and aspirin I had made me feel a lot better. My head was no longer hurting and I didn't feel nauseous.
We took our seats and Sasuke pulled out of the drive way. I carefully wiped the rain drops off of my glasses. My wet bangs clung to my skin. It had begun to rain and we had gotten mildly wet while making our way into the car.
Sasuke had informed me that our friends were busy so they had to leave earlier than planned. I was pissed off because I assumed it was a ploy created by Ino to get Sasuke and I alone. The two of us were leaving the beach house at noon since we had to wait for some of the students who left their cars at the beach house so we could give them their keys.
We were on our way to the Uchiha mansion for our tutoring session. We had originally agreed to hold it at my house, but Sasuke said his brother had made a surprise visit and was waiting for him.
Sasuke introduced Itachi to me when we were in elementary. His older brother had come to our school to pick up his little brother. Itachi was five years older than us and had strange lines etched on his face. He always wore his hair in a low ponytail and constantly had girls chasing after him. The older Uchiha started to attend boarding school when he entered sixth grade, leaving Sasuke—who was in first grade at the time—behind. The last time I had seen Itachi was at one of Sasuke's birthday parties many years ago.
"So now that Itachi has graduated from college, what is he doing for a living?" I questioned.
"He's working for the ANBU Black Ops," Sasuke answered.
"Oh, that's so cool!" I gushed. I couldn't believe Itachi worked for the government's secret service!
Sasuke smirked at my reaction, taking one of his hands off of the steering wheel to lightly poke my forehead with his two fingers. Swatting his hand away, I laughed. A couple moments of comfortable silence passed before I inquired about something I've always wondered about.
"Why do you always do that?"
"Do what?" Sasuke questioned.
"Poke my forehead. You've always done that since we were little," I pointed out.
Sasuke frowned and seemed genuinely confused about my question. He simply responded by shrugging his broad shoulders. I decided to drop the topic.
"The storm looks pretty harsh," I observed as the rain splattered even harder against the glass of the passenger window.
"Aa," he agreed. He didn't seem too worried though.
The sound of thunder caught me off guard. I gasped, clutching tightly onto the seat belt strap. It was suddenly hard to breathe.
Sasuke looked concerned as he took his eyes off the road to check if I was alright.
He was one of the few people who knew about my fear of thunder. There was a thunderstorm the day my grandfather died. We had a very close relationship and his death had really affected me. Whenever I heard the sound of thunder, I felt as if something bad was waiting right around the corner.
That was one of the rare times my former close friend was there for me. He stood silently by my side at the funeral.
The thunder died down and the only sound was the pitter patter of the rain. My breathing steadied and I was finally able to relax.
"I'm okay," I said, embarrassed about having a panic attack in front of my crush.
We arrived at the Uchiha estate after the two hour drive. The two of us grabbed our bags and proceeded into the mansion. When Niro greeted us and took our bags, Sasuke ordered him to have some of his workers return the truck to Shikamaru.
"Otouto!" called a deep, baritone voice. Sasuke and I spun around to find Itachi approaching us. I eyed him critically as he came closer. The former troublemaking Uchiha had gotten a lot taller and more mature since the last time I saw him.
"Hello, aniki," Sasuke greeted. They did that weird handshake-hug combo that guys usually do.
The two brothers began conversing as I stood awkwardly behind Sasuke. I felt like I had intruded on a private moment. Feeling out of place, I began to bite my nails.
"Sakura?" Itachi asked in disbelief, pulling me out of my musings, "is that you?" He appeared to be astonished at the sight of me. Smiling, I nodded shyly.
"Wow, you've grown so much! It's been years since I've last seen you."
"It's nice to see you again, Itachi-san!" I bowed respectfully.
"Now, now. There's no need to be formal with your brother-in-law." Itachi winked.
At his brother's words, Sasuke's jaw tensed and a muscle jerked. A blush crept up my neck and my eyes nearly fell out of their sockets. I waved my hands wildly as I stuttered, "U-Uhh... S-Sasuke and I... W-We're n—"
"Sakura and I are not in a relationship," Sasuke interrupted, glaring daggers at his older brother. If looks could kill, Itachi would be lying in a pool of his own blood.
"Yet," Itachi joked, smirking at his younger brother. Said brother decided to throw some very colorful words his way in response.
"Excuse me?" I choked out, thinking I heard him wrong.
"Oh, nothing." Itachi waved his hand in a dismissive manner. He smoothly changed the topic of discussion and ushered us into the living room. The two boys sat down on the plush sofa, but my need to empty my bladder stopped me from joining them.
"I need to use the bathroom. Sasuke, where can I find it?"
"Go down that hallway. It's the third door to your right," Sasuke instructed, gesturing to where I should go.
I nodded, disappearing down the long hallway.
ITACHI'S P.O.V. (Sunday)
"You're in love with her?"
"So... you hate her?"
"Ah-ha! So you do like her!"
"No! Now stop that! Just shut up, nii-san!"
I laughed when a tint of red appeared on Sasuke's pale cheeks. My little brother was so obvious sometimes. This was way too easy.
"What are you two doing together if she isn't your girlfriend?"
"She's tutoring me in calculus," Sasuke stated, shifting uncomfortably. I leaned back on the couch as my younger sibling began his tale of how our parents asked for a tutor because his grades were slipping.
"That is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard. Math is your best subject! I don't see why your grade would go down... Unless..." my eyes widened in realization, "You dropped your grade on purpose, didn't you?"
He merely glared, confirming my suspicions. This was hilarious.
"So what kind of problems are you two going over in your little tutoring sessions? You plus her, subtract the clothes, divide the legs, and multi—"
"Shut up!" shouted a flustered Sasuke. "You just love to provoke me, don't you?" he hissed.
"You just love to be provoked, don't you?" I shot back.
He muttered some very un-brotherly words and I couldn't help but laugh.
"You're in denial, Sasuke-kun. You should just admit that you like her and get it over with."
"I do not like her." Sasuke stood up out of irritation and began pacing.
"Oh really? Then why did you always let Sakura borrow your video games and not let any of your other friends do so?" I teased, "And why were our parents called into the principal's office when you were younger? Oh yeah…"
He halted, instantly stiffening. Gotcha.
"It was because you punched your classmate in the face for hugging Sakura," I said, feeling triumphant. I had him cornered.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Sasuke huffed, crossing his arms over his chest defensively. He refused to look at me.
"Sure, you don't," I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm, "Why must you continue to deny your feelings for her? I know for a fact that you've liked her ever since you were little."
"How many times must I repeat myself? I don't like her. Stop being annoying."
"Are you sure?" I inquired skeptically, standing up from my seat.
Taking a couple steps forward, I placed myself directly in front of him.
"I bet I could find proof that you like Sakura by the end of the day," I challenged.
Sasuke hesitated, but eventually caved in because of his desire to prove me wrong.
"Deal," Sasuke said as we shook on it.
The pink haired teen walked quietly back into the living room after she had used the restroom. Itachi and Sasuke were conversing, the latter standing a couple feet away from the sofa. The open seats were on the other side of the long-haired man.
"Excuse me," Sasuke's tutor said before trying to pass in front of Itachi. Suddenly, the older Uchiha had a bright idea. He slightly stuck his foot out and Sakura—being the clumsy person she is—tripped over it.
Sakura yelped as she felt herself falling forward. She closed her eyes, waiting for the pain of the impact, but it never came.
Instead, she found herself in the arms of the only boy she's ever loved.
It took quite a while for her mind to register that her face was buried in Sasuke's chest while his arms engulfed her petite form. Sakura's face heated up and her heart slammed in her chest.
The younger Uchiha mentally cursed his brother to the deepest pits of hell. He instantly released her once she had regained her footing and turned away. After last night, his senses were hypersensitive whenever he was in close proximity of Sakura. He tried to conceal his overwhelmed emotions and senses from their close proximity.
"I'm so sorry, Sakura. I didn't mean to trip you," Itachi apologized, silently laughing at his little brother's reaction from catching his crush.
"It's okay," Sakura assured, sounding slightly breathless. She straightened her glasses, feeling a bit lightheaded.
Sasuke cleared his throat and said, "We should start the tutoring session. Excuse us." He and Sakura grabbed their bags and made their way to Sasuke's room. Itachi smirked and shook his head.
"Foolish, little, love-sick brother..."
SAKURA'S P.O.V. (Sunday: Night)
"So what time should I meet you tomorrow?" I asked, adjusting my glasses on the bridge of my nose.
"I'll pick you up after lunch." Sasuke leaned against his front door, his hands shoved in his pockets.
The onyx-eyed boy was about to turn the door knob when Itachi's voice interrupted.
"Where do you two think you're going?" his older brother questioned, staring at us like we were crazy.
"I'm going to drop off Sakura," Sasuke answered, waving his keys.
"Doesn't Sakura live on the other side of the Juizo Bridge?"
Sasuke and I nodded in confirmation.
"Due to the storm, the Juizo River is flooded and they won't let anyone cross the bridge. It's too dangerous because the water has completely covered the bridge."
"WHAT?" I screeched. Itachi beckoned us to follow him into the living room. Sure enough, the weather reporter on the television was announcing that the only road that led to my home from the Uchiha mansion was blocked until the storm passes.
"Well, it looks like Sakura will have to stay for the night," Itachi said, sounding oddly pleased. He poked Sasuke on the forehead with two fingers. My eyes widened at the gesture.
"Go tell the maids to prepare one of the guestrooms for Sakura," Itachi commanded. Sasuke was obviously displeased with being given orders from his brother, but complied none the less.
"What does it mean?" I asked Itachi as soon as Sasuke was out of sight.
"What does what mean?"
"Poking Sasuke on his forehead. What is the meaning of that gesture?"
Itachi contemplated silently before answering, "I've always done it since we were younger. I sometimes do that to my girlfriend or other relatives. It's a sign of affection. I told Sasuke that it's how I show that I love them."
My heart stopped.
SASUKE'S P.O.V. (Sunday: Midnight)
I sighed as I stared up at my white ceiling. Sleep evaded me and it was really starting to annoy me. Frowning, I remembered Itachi trying to get me to confess that I liked Sakura. I wasn't lying when I told him I didn't like her.
'I think I'm in love with her...'
Sitting up, I looked out the windows to see the storm still raged outside. Thunder boomed and lightning flashed. I could hear the sound of a tree falling in the distance.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
"Come in," I called.
"S-Sasuke?" Sakura came to stand in front of me, looking frightened.
"What's wrong?" I gently pulled on her arm to make her sit on my bed.
"I-I know this sounds weird, but is it okay if I sleep with y-you tonight? The th-the thunder..."
"Aa," I answered, throwing the covers back. I had hoped she had already fallen asleep and wouldn't hear the thunder.
She looked teary-eyed and absolutely terrified. My 'I-must-protect-Sakura' mode made its way to the surface. Before I realized what I was doing, I pulled on her arm again and guided her body towards mine. My back leaned against the headboard that was cushioned by my pillows. I settled her shaking body between my legs and let her lay her head on my bare chest. My hand gently rubbed her back as she sniffled quietly.
"I'm sorry for bothering y-you. I can just sleep on the flo—"
"Stop being annoying and just go to sleep."
She smiled tiredly. "T-Thank you, Sasuke," Sakura yawned and snuggled closer, too tired and scared to care about her actions. She closed her eyes and automatically fell into a deep slumber.
I brushed away the annoying bangs that constantly covered her eyes and studied her face. There was no urge to maul her or anything of the inappropriate nature. The only thing I felt was a need to protect the small girl in my arms.
Hesitantly, I pressed my mouth against her temple. A feeling of contentment and peace spread throughout my body. It felt so… right.
A flash unexpectedly went off in my room. My head snapped towards my door so fast I nearly got whiplash. Itachi stood in the doorway, holding a camera in his right hand and fanning a Polaroid picture in his left.
My eyes widened.
"I knew it! You looooooove her!"
End of fourteenth chapter
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