It was noon when Sasuke pulled his car around front of Sakura's apartment. That morning he had woken up at dawn, just as the sunlight slipped through his windows, and something had felt off. He had sat up, stiff as a board, and as he slowly stretched his neck around it hit him – he had gotten married. The rest of the morning went by in a trance as he shuffled around his apartment.
He had never seen the point of buying a large home when he was all by himself. He was living it New York, a city that had no lack of people. There were people everywhere, noise everywhere, smells everywhere, and what brought him here: business. And as much as it wounded his pride to admit it, stranded in this city filled to the brim with life and unnecessary noise to keep his thoughts occupied, he was lonely. Sure, it had been his choice to leave his old life behind in hopes for something better, but he still missed some aspects of it. He missed his family.
And now he was creating something new with a woman he had barely met, gambling the rest of his life away on what had seemed like the best option, the only option. As Sasuke got out of his car and went to Sakura's door, he wondered if his gamble would pay off in the long run or put him into a debt he could never repay. But it didn't matter anymore; he was already in this arrangement all the way, what had happened was done, and it was up to them to make the best of it. He closed his eyes. He rang the doorbell.
It took a minute, but the door finally opened. However, Sasuke was surprised to find it was not Sakura he met, but Ino. She glared at him briefly before leaving the door open and walked back inside the house. He took that as his go ahead to enter.
Standing awkwardly in the main room, he waited for what seemed an eternity. Growing up he remembered his mother taking an enormous amount of time to get ready, and although he loved his mother dearly, he hoped Sakura wasn't the same way. Such little routines and regiments were unnecessary, at least to his male eyes. Finally, Sakura came out, dressed casually but nice, her hair slightly damp.
"Sorry! I forgot the time and was still in the shower." She apologized, frowning slightly. He shrugged and went back to the door.
"Ready?" He asked, to which she nodded.
"Yeah, just let me grab my purse then I'll be all set to go."
"Go where, Forehead?" Ino came into the room from the kitchen.
"Oh, we're just going house hunting. I told you that last night, didn't I?"
Ino nodded, and then waved them out the door. "Well you might as well get going, then. Have fun!"
Sakura smiled, grabbed her purse, and followed him out of her house. Once she had turned away though, the smile on Ino's face vanished and she glared hard at Sasuke. If she thought she was intimidating, she was only fooling herself. He had known her for less than 24 hours, and she already got on his nerves. However, he also knew she was Sakura's – his wife's – best friend, and he would be seeing a lot of her. It was somewhat irking, but unless he wanted to instigate their first fight as a couple, he needed to at least pretend that he didn't mind her, for Sakura's sake.
… Or maybe it was mostly for his sake.
They were sitting in the car when it started – a sound that caught him off guard more than he ever thought a nose could. Sakura had started humming.
She wasn't facing him, but instead had her elbow propped on the window with her fist under her chin, staring out at the chilly landscape. Her hum was almost silent, but every now and again he would hear the little melody escape her lips, most likely caused by some song that had caught in her head. He wasn't sure if he enjoyed it, but he didn't dislike it either.
But the humming caused Sasuke to realize a fact that scared him immensely – humming was, essentially, one of the hundreds of things he didn't know about the woman he married.
"So, where to first?" Sakura's voice interrupted his thoughts and he quickly pushed his panic aside. He had to get a hold of himself; if he could jump out of his body, he'd do so and give himself a good smack, if only to get his head on straight again. Freaking out the first day they were married simply wouldn't do. It was unacceptable.
Sasuke started the car.
Their first stop had been to a large apartment downtown. Sasuke disliked the noise and Sakura had thought it was too far from the hospital she worked at, so it was a no go. They checked out several more, all of which were also tossed aside because they didn't meet their needs. Things might have gone much smoother if they had hired a real estate agent, but both decided against it for the off chance that someone would leak that the heirs to two major, feuding businesses were looking for a house together. There was always that risk, and they couldn't hide it from everybody, but the less people that knew about their situation the better.
They were on their way to a less busy area when Sakura's phone rang.
"Hello?" Sakura answered, though Sasuke noticed her eyes became saucers and her light skin paled. "Hi mom… yes … actually now's not such a great time… " She suddenly raised her eyebrows and became even more uneasy. "…I'll check and call you back later, okay? Bye."
Silence filled the car. Sakura broke it. "My parents want me to go to dinner with them." Sasuke waited, not sure of what to say. Sure enough, she continued. "I haven't talked to them since they told me they had arranged for me to get married. I don't know what…" she trailed off, closing her eyes as if she had a headache. She probably did.
"I should go, shouldn't I? I should just tell them and get it over with."
Sasuke nodded in agreement, his eyes searching for the street he had to turn at. "Do you want me to come?"
"I… I'm not sure. I think maybe I should tell them myself." Sasuke said nothing, and after a minute Sakura spoke up again. "Actually, maybe you should come, if you don't mind terribly."
Sakura giggled. "So I'm assuming that's a yes?"
He smirked, and gave a quick nod. He pulled the car into the driveway of a nice looking house and got out. They were shown in to find that it was freshly painted, roomy enough for the both of them and then some, and was located in more residential and secluded area of the city. The house wasn't a big and imposing mansion like either of their parents owned, but not shabby in the least bit. It was not that far from the hospital nor did it create a long commute to the office, and the best part about it in Sasuke's eyes was that it was just enough to the edge of things that it was quiet.
The house was perfect, and they bought it.
After their day of house hunting, Sasuke had taken Sakura back to his place. It felt strange at first, when he had led her up and unlocked his door only to earn a surprised look from his neighbor and everyone else on the way that had recognized him. When he had retrieved his mail earlier, the doorman froze momentarily at the sight of the pink haired beauty he had with him. Sasuke rarely had company, and when he did it was never a girl. Never.
And they didn't even know that the woman they saw with him was his wife.
Stepping onto the threshold of his rooms, he stepped aside to let Sakura in and closed the door behind him. He slipped off his shoes, setting them aside as she did the same.
"The bathroom…" Her voice was hesitant.
"First door to the left," He pointed towards the hallway, and Sakura thanked him, scurrying along as he leaned against the wall and sifted through his mail. Underneath a few bills he found a magazine that he hadn't subscribed to, and scoffed. Hadn't he asked his assistant to take care of this? He searched the front page for any contact information, trying to ignore the colorful blurbs that promised more information about celebrity scandals he didn't wish to know about. Then he noticed, in fine print partially hidden under the mailing sticker, a name and a face he recognized: Sakura Haruno.
Curious, he set the rest of the mail down and sat on a kitchen barstool, quickly flipping to the specified page. There were two pictures, one of Sakura, the other of a man at least twice her age that he didn't recognize, both under the heading "Haruno: Digging for Gold or Loving the Old?". Sasuke narrowed his eyes; it struck a nerve.
"What's got you so angry?" Sakura asked merrily from the other end of the room. She must have just come back.
"Who knew about your parents' arranged marriage for you?"
Sakura paused. "You, Naruto, Ino, my parents, and the man himself. Why?"
"It should be… Why? What is it?"
Sasuke held up the magazine, showing her the page. Sakura frowned and took it from him, sitting down beside him and started reading. Her face was concentrated and calculating, an expression more severe than usual. He itched to know what was said but kept quiet, knowing he would find out shortly.
"I don't understand; this was supposed to be kept secret." Sakura shook her head and set the magazine on the bar, looking to him with her brow furrowed.
"There's not a chance that –,"
"I know it wasn't Naruto or Ino. They both knew that it was to be kept secret; they wouldn't tell anyone." She closed her eyes before continuing.
"I guess he could have let the information leak, but I don't see any reason for him to do so; he wouldn't want to upset my parents and be in danger of breaking their 'deal'. Then that leaves…" Sakura opened her eyes and scrunched her nose in disgust, as if she had bitten into an apple only to find it was rotten. Sasuke watched patiently as she whipped out her cell and dialed a number, and he reached out and pulled the corner of the magazine across the granite countertop towards him.
"Hello? Dad, it's Sakura… no, I don't know about dinner yet, I have a question for you though. See, there's this magazine article…"
Sasuke skimmed the article. There was nothing in it he didn't already know, albeit the information had major gaps. What was displayed was contorted, skewed to show Sakura as that money-loving girl who'd do anything for an even fatter wallet. They couldn't be more wrong. Disgusting.
"Yes, it was terrible, they… wait. You what?" Sasuke glanced up from the magazine to see Sakura, a look of shock and horror on her face that quickly turned to rage. In that moment, he decided two things: one, Sakura's parents must have royally screwed up again, and two, he should never, ever do anything to get himself on his wife's bad side.
Sakura's voice was becoming steadily louder. "You had no right to…I'm not marrying him. That's final… No, I don't think you understand…I'm already married!"
That took him by surprise. Sakura's breath came in short puffs and her chest heaved, and it was a moment before she spoke again. This time her voice was low, self-assured and a thousand times more dangerous. "No; I've made my own decision, and I married Sasuke Uchiha." Then she hung up.
There was a moment where she stood in the middle of his apartment, stunned and out of breath, as if a tornado had blown through and sucked the air out of her lungs. Everything was still, and the fringe around her face lay limp. The green eyes that were usually filled with a peaceful amusement glistened with wetness like they shouldn't. Then she broke. A couple dry heaves gave way to tears, which picked up speed quickly like a river does when it approaches a fall.
And he sat there, uncomfortable and not knowing what to do like an idiot. Finally, he had the mind to move her somewhere else, but finding the courage to get up was more of a feat than he knew it would be. He hesitantly, almost afraid to touch her, put his hands on her shoulders and led her to the couch. He sat her down, but she had turned around and latched onto his shoulder, and awkwardly he came down with her. They sat for a moment, and after a while Sakura calmed down enough to stop crying.
"Sorry about that." She sniffed as she unattached herself from him. Fresh air hit it and he suddenly felt cold. He didn't say anything, but let her go on.
"My parents, they thought if the public knew about the arrangement, I might be persuaded into accepting it."
His tongue felt bitter. "How -,"
"They didn't tell the magazine, but instead let some of the information drop at a party. Rumors started to spread around, and I guess one of the reporters caught wind."
"They're that careless?" From what he had been told, or as he understood, Sakura's parents loved her, but didn't always go about things the right way. Her arranged marriage was a prime example of that. What he didn't understand, though, was how someone who had been in business as long as the Harunos had would not be cautious about the press. He didn't understand how, his family's biggest competitors, could be so foolish.
"I don't know why they chose to handle it that way. It's not like them, but that's what happened." Sakura weakly explained. If that wasn't enough, she added. "They've been stressed lately."
Sasuke shook his head, not really buying it. Oh, he believed the Harunos were stressed lately, but what he didn't believe was that it was enough for them to act like… like an… what was the word?
Oh, yes: imbecile.
He decided to keep that little thought to himself and moved on to better, more important topics.
"Your parents know that we're married." He said, bluntly.
"Yeah… oh crap." Sakura widened her eyes before hiding her face behind her hands. "I didn't mean to tell them like that. I didn't want to tell them like that." she mumbled.
Apparently, Harunos didn't act well under emotional pressure, and Sasuke started to put more faith into Sakura's defense that her parents had been stressed lately.
"Well, I suppose you'll have to meet them now – and as quickly as possible so we might have some damage control." Sakura was now sitting up again, head cleared and ready for action. "It's going to suck if they leak this to the press too… I guess I'll call them soon and make sure we have dinner before the end of next week." She sighed.
Sasuke nodded, agreeing with her.
"And, Sasuke? It might be wise… to tell your parents as soon as possible, too." She meekly added.
He nodded, got up and went to the kitchen where he had set his phone. She seemed surprised, as if she hadn't expected him to react right away. He smirked at that – silly Sakura. Then he surprised her even more.
"Want to order food in, tonight?" He understood the severity of the situation, he truly did, but they had been hounded by it enough for the past few days. It was dinner time, and he knew Sakura was just as hungry as he was. He was not afraid to face her parents on the issue, he was not afraid of the hell that would break loose once their marriage was made public, and he knew that with time, everything would work out. He wasn't fazed by those things.
But Sasuke was terrified of facing the person in his life that he looked up to, wanted approval from, and knew he was about to make very angry: his father.
Sorry, long update. Bad update. Not the best, and usually by the time I post a chapter I have already started a little on the next, but I haven't. I'll try to have it up in less time than this one though.
… On the bright side, I've been putting all of my writing time into another little SasuSaku fanfic, one that actually has decent length chapters and isn't AU. Sort of. I need to edit it, and then I might post the first chapter soon. We'll see. :)