Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
Chapter One: Drama, thy name is Haruno.
A pair of emerald eyes peered into the dimly lit hallway, before the owner's feet began to softly trek down the wooden floor, stopping in front of the door that was on the right hand side and two away from her own room. Lightly grasping the brass handle, the girl delicately turned the knob, oh so carefully opening the door, the hinge not making a sound. She poked her head about halfway into the room, a lock of coral hair escaping her messy bun and falling into her face, yet the movement of hair did little to skew her vision of the utter darkness in the room.
Thick curtains that were closed as they almost always were, forbidding the soft light of dawn from gracing the room. She listened hard for the sound of breathing and inhaled lightly for the sickly sweet scent of alcohol. There was nothing but silence and a clean linen scent. Quietly closing the door, the girl spun on her heel and headed toward the door across the hall, but then realized something. Her parents hadn't slept in the same room for three years.
So I take it Dad didn't come home last night.
The conclusion gave the girl pause. When she came up with that last notion, she realized it was done with apathy. She was no longer phased by such actions of her father's. Normally one would be saddened by this, she supposed, but ever since the accident that turned her family's lives upside down, her father was no longer the same, having taken to drinking and having sporadic fits of rage. The father she once knew and loved was so far gone, she wasn't quite sure how to pull him back.
Heaving a sigh, the girl continued her trek down the hall and into the kitchen. She got to work, pulling out a frying pan and heating up the stove. She dropped two eggs onto the hot pan as she simultaneously slipped two slices of bread into the toaster. Catching her reflection on the silver surface, she stared into the tired eyes of one seventeen year old, Sakura Haruno. Sakura noted the shadows under eyes due to a mixture of all nighters and the difficulty to be lulled into the world of Morpheus. There was little to no doubt that those light purple crescents bruising her fair complexion would be a prelude to an argument with one of her best friends over the usage of concealer.
Smiling slightly at the thought of the girl who was part of the close-knit circle of friends that she had, Sakura grabbed a plate and slipped the eggs onto it, quickly replacing them with bacon, her slight smile becoming a grin as she listened to the meat sizzle and pop. Unable to resist, she twirled toward the toaster, removing the now crispy bread and added it along with the bacon to the plate. As she exited the kitchen and entered the dining room, Sakura performed an arabesque, sliding the plate onto the table. She straightened, evenly distributing her weight onto both legs, hands on her hips with a satisfactory grin creeping onto her face.
"Flawless form as usual."
Sakura turned to see her mother, Hana Haruno, thirty-eight years old and wheelchair bound enter the dining room and slide her wheelchair into her customary spot, closest to the exit. She smiled at her daughter and nodded toward the breakfast. "Food smells good too."
Sakura returned the grin. "Thanks, Mom."
Reaching for the glass of orange juice that Sakura had set down, Hana looked up and asked, "Are you going to have breakfast too? You know it's a must."
Sakura chanced a glance at the antique grandfather clock her mother had rescued from a foreclosing "mom and pop" type of thrift store and noted that it was close to seven, the train that she usually took to school arrived at quarter to eight with a twenty minute walk at the very least to the station. She looked back at her mother. "Nah, I think I'm going to do the usual to-go thing."
"Alright," Hana consented. "But at least brush your hair before you bolt."
Sakura tilted her head, not replying as she studied her mother. Hana Haruno had once been a world renowned dancer, her fame beginning when she was thirteen. She had traveled the globe and performed for various audiences, royals and commoners alike. She had married young, to up and coming lawyer Kentaro, having fallen fast and hard for the handsome, successful youth, giving birth to Sakura at age twenty one.
Yet motherhood did not keep Hana out of the dancing world for long. She returned to the stage shortly after Sakura turned five, her body hardly affected by the pregnancy and birth. She had practiced, practiced, practiced and always in her baby's presence which eventually would attribute to Sakura's learning to dance. Singing, another talent that her daughter possessed, was something of her own, merely for want of emulating the singers of her favorite songs.
Hana Haruno was lovely, with thick auburn tresses and big green eyes that was another part of her that Sakura had inherited. Not only was she a beauty in the physical sense, her mesmerizing presence radiated when she danced on stage. She was an artistic storyteller, her movements fluid and captivating, her audiences' attention hardly ever wavering from her dancing form. Yet about a week or so after her thirty-fifth birthday, tragedy struck.
Hana had been involved in a horrific car accident, her body sustaining terrible injuries that it took a ten hour surgery just to keep the beloved woman alive. Though Hana survived the wreck, it wasn't without consequence. She was rendered a paraplegic, absolutely no feeling was felt from her waist down. Her perpetual spotlight in the grand stage of dancing had been snapped off. Permanently.
It took months, not just weeks of rehabilitation, for the whole family, emotionally speaking. Hana could no longer dance, let alone move her legs. For the first six months she would be the utmost difficult patient, vehemently refusing to get into the wheelchair for it meant that she was expected to be stagnant, something that she couldn't do before the accident, so why should she do it now? Her world had ended, she was useless now. Eventually she would burst into frustrated, angry tears and shut herself in her room for hours at a time, ignoring the pleas of both her husband and her daughter.
To Sakura, it felt like she had lost her mother altogether. The woman she had idolized had suddenly come crashing down from the pedestal the whole world had placed her on. For so long, her eyes did not hold that sparkle that Sakura was so used to seeing. She had become less patient with her daughter, snapping at the young girl every so often.
Of course, every night that followed a day filled with screaming and tears, Hana would knock softly on Sakura's door before wheeling herself in, apologizing for her short temper in a soft voice as she smoothed out the blankets covering Sakura's lithe form, gently moving stray wisps of hair from her face, silently noting to trim her bangs in the morning. However it would seem like ages before Sakura would stop being skittish around her mother.
Though he wasn't the one who had been in the near fatal accident, there were some days when both mother and daughter were convinced that Kentaro was the one most affected. First there was the blame and self loathing that he couldn't have somehow protected his wife even though he had been miles away at the time and now she was on an operating table fighting for her life while their child sobbed uncontrollably in his arms.
Then there was the helplessness when it came to arguing with his stubborn wife about trying to live again and that not dancing wasn't the end of the world. This is what led to the drinking, a way of creating a haze as he lost himself in a fantasy world of perfection, one where his wife was still able to dance and Sakura could smile with ease.
However things were far from perfect as Kentaro became easily enraged, while both sober and drunk, blaming both women in his life for such menial things while he was at home, spending most hours out of the twenty four day away from the spacious apartment suddenly becoming the norm. Of course he never physically lashed out at either one of them, rather taking a dark satisfaction at driving them away.
"Sakura? Earth to Sakura Haruno, come in. This is your mother, over."
Sakura snapped out of her reverie, thanks to her mother's joking around. "It's five after seven," her mother gently informed her.
Jerking her head toward the grandfather clock, Sakura saw that her mother was correct. Letting out a soft curse, Sakura all but flew to the bathroom as Hana idly commented while picking up a piece of bacon, "language, Sakura." Bobbing her head in quick apology, Sakura slipped into the bathroom while thanking her lucky stars that she had made a habit of showering and dressing before making breakfast.
She picked up her brush, quickly ripping through the knots and snarls in her hair once it had been freed from the hasty bun she had put it in. While continuing to loosen her hair, Sakura returned to her thoughts of her mother, of how she had acted this morning, so carefree and at ease, not at all stressed by the fact that her husband did not come home the previous night. It was almost as if Hana acted like she was no longer married to Kentaro. Sakura frowned as she began to wonder, would divorce papers soon find their way into her home?
Masking her worry, Sakura made a beeline for the kitchen once more, popping the top off the blender and quickly adding ice cubes to the container along with yogurt, berries and a hastily sliced apple and banana. Jabbing a finger onto the button, she tapped her foot as she listened to the appliance whir with a slight mechanical whine. After about a minute, she removed the large glass cup and poured the smoothie into two travel mugs and snapped the tops onto both.
As she rinsed out the blender and snatched the mugs off of the counter, the doorbell rang. Knowing fully well who was on the other side of the door, Sakura walked over to her mother and gave her a hug, mindful of the smoothies she carried. Leaning back, she looked at her mother and asked, "Tsunade-sama will be here soon, right?"
"Within a half hour," Hana confirmed with a nod. "Shouldn't you get going? You might miss your train."
"Your health is more important to me over my punctuality," Sakura retorted as she slung on her messenger bag. She turned toward the door as someone from the other side knocked. "I should be home around five. Bye, Mom!"
Opening the door to reveal a spiky haired blonde boy, Sakura plopped one of the travel mugs into his hand by way of greeting before turning around to shut the door. When she faced him, he took one look into her eyes and seeing the distraught light that she hadn't quite managed to hide, pulled her into a tight hug. Sakura smiled lightly against his shoulder.
The boy was Naruto Uzumaki, seventeen years old, just a few months younger than Sakura herself and one of her best friends. He was also one of two who knew that her family was slowly beginning to fall apart at the seams. Though he spent most of his time, making sure he left a mark in the lives of everyone he met, by being boisterous, overconfident and an abundance of energy, Naruto did know how to slow down, even, stop once in a while if his friends needed him to and just offer his strength in a quiet manner while listening to whatever needed to be said.
Shifting their embrace so it was now one arm around Sakura's shoulders, Naruto began to lead them toward the elevators. "So, what's got you looking like you're about to have an emotional breakdown?"
Rolling her eyes at her friend's conversational tone, Sakura sighed before replying, "I think I'm just being paranoid."
"What makes you say that?"
Sakura took a swig of her smoothie, some of it still in her mouth as she answered, "Dad didn't come home last night and Mom didn't seem too worried so here I am thinking that divorce papers are on their way."
Naruto bit his lip. Advice wasn't exactly his forte. Specifically good, wise advice. Though he had spent many a day over at Sakura's place and knew her mother just as well as he knew his own oba-chan, he couldn't quite put himself in the woman's shoes. Still, he knew that Sakura needed to hear something.
"Think about who your mom is," he began. Sakura looked at him, raising an eyebrow in question. "She was a ballerina, right?" A nod. "And in a way, she was like an actress, right?"
"So maybe your mom was doing what she does best. Acting. Making it seem like everything's okay so you won't be overwhelmed." Naruto shrugged. "It's what any parent would do in a family crisis."
"It's not exactly a crisis," Sakura clarified with a sigh. "More like a family soap opera." She shot him a slight grin. "One that you unwittingly dragged yourself into."
"By the way," Sakura began as they crossed the street with one block left between them and the subway station. "When did you get so philosophical?" At his deadpan look, she swatted his arm playfully. "I'm serious, Naruto! That seemed pretty deep and we both know such a thing isn't your forte."
"Haven't you heard of words coming from the heart?" Naruto challenged, raising the travel thermos to his lips, a feisty light playing in his electric blue orbs.
"Any words coming from your heart usually revolve around ramen," Sakura retorted with a smug smirk, bursting into giggles as she watched Naruto stagger to the side, pretending to be heartbroken by her "callous" words.
"Sakura," Naruto whined. "Don't start talking like the Teme. I know I haven't ever introduced you. Are you sure you two haven't met otherwise?"
She rolled her eyes, "No, Naruto, I haven't met the Teme. Though your reasoning of trying to protect me from his emo bastard-ness is touching," here, she made sure sarcasm was flooding her voice. "It's kind of ridiculous, considering you both live under the same roof and have been doing so for fourteen of your seventeen years."
The Teme, yes, capitalization was necessary, well according to Naruto anyway, was known to everyone else as Sasuke Uchiha. Sasuke was Naruto's male best friend and the son of Mikoto Uchiha, Naruto's non-biological oba-chan. When Naruto was about three years old, his parents had died in a horrific car crash, a drunk driver having slammed into them and sent them careening off the road.
Mikoto had been watching Naruto that night.
Within hours of learning of her friends' deaths, she hardly batted an eyelash as she made the decision to keep the boy with her. Since then, Naruto had grown up under the loving and protective care of Mikoto and as the best friend slash brother figure of Sasuke. As for Sasuke's biological brother Itachi and their father Fugaku, while they did not care for Naruto as much as the other two Uchiha, they still acknowledged him as part of their family and treated him as such, more so the former over the latter .
Naruto rolled his eyes and snorted. "It's not ridiculous, Sakura-chan. Trust me, one day I'll introduce you to the Teme and you'll be thanking me once you realize how much of a bastard is."
"And yet you still call him your best friend," the rosette Haruno retorted.
"Of course he is," Naruto confirmed with a nod. "He's my brother in every meaning of the word 'cept for by blood. Doesn't mean that he's not a bastard."
"Just by your standards."
"My standards…" he shrugged. "…Itachi's standards."
"Itachi is Sasuke's older brother, right?" Sakura asked.
"Yeah," Naruto's spiky blond hair bobbed as he nodded again.
Sakura smirked. "And is he as every bit of a bastard as you make Sasuke out to be?"
"He's a cold bastard, Sakura-chan." She had to bite down hard on her lip for Naruto had said this with such a solemn, sagely air that it was downright hysterical. "I'm just smart enough not to say so to his face."
Arms crossed themselves over a lithe form. "So why does Sasuke get the special bastard treatment?"
"He's my best friend, 'nough said."
Sakura was going to continue to badger Naruto about his friendship with this bastard, but otherwise mysterious Sasuke when she noted a blond girl whose long locks were pulled back into a high ponytail trudging her way over. Sakura waved to her. "Morning, Ino-chan!"
"Morning," Ino mumbled, slumping wearily against Sakura. Ino Yamanaka, the female best friend and Sakura and the only other one who knew of the Haruno family drama. Her cerulean eyes lit up as the spotted the thermos clutched in Sakura's ivory hand. "Ooh, is that coffee?"
Sakura shook her head as she took a sip. Ino frowned, "water?"
Ino's hand shot out, inches away from the cup. "Share the love." Wordlessly, Sakura handed it to her. "Mmm…" she groaned. "Raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, my favorite."
Sakura rolled her eyes. "You mean my favorite. It's your favorite because you neither had to make nor pay for it."
The rosette was about to engage in more conversation when the sound of Naruto's laughter garnered her attention. There was something about it, a certain hard edge and she wasn't sure if it was caustic or just plain challenging. Turning toward him, she realized he was staring at something across the tracks.
"Oi, Teme! Didn't think I'd see you for another few hours!"
Following Naruto's gaze, Sakura frowned as she laid eyes on the crowded platform on the other side of the railroad tracks. Naruto had said "Teme" so naturally he was talking about Sasuke, but there were many boys within that crowd, how was she supposed to pick out the blonde's lifelong friend?
Emerald eyes roving, Sakura caught the gaze of a boy most likely the same age as her and Naruto, with ivory skin that seemed fairer than her own. Hair, the color of spilled ink that was naturally mussed and unruly, a few locks sticking up every which way in the back. An amused, slightly mocking smirk curled his lips, an air of arrogance felt even from the distance between them. His eyes were a shade lighter than his hair, looking more like soot over ink and they seemed to hold hints of the same world weariness that Sakura knew her own eyes held.
Sakura bit her lip, an action she often took up while either intrigued or perplexed. Current emotion? As perplexed as a kitten who can't figure out why it was a big no-no to try to go sushi diving.
Oh okay, so there was an underlying hint of intrigue too.
Continuing to stare at the admittedly handsome boy, she silently asked:
Are you Sasuke Uchiha?
*Arabesque, a ballet move where the ballerina leans nearly all of his/her weight onto their standing leg while the other is in the air behind them, completely straight.
Yep, it's one of those high school dramas. Hopefully I have a bit of an original plot. Please let me know? Comments, critiques, whatever, I'll take it! Flames won't be taken happily though.