Tell Me Why
It was the last day before school let out for Christmas break, and Sakura couldn't have been happier.
Even with her acceptance to her first-choice college all sewn up, senior year was proving to be incredibly stressful. If she didn't maintain her grades, not only would she miss out on valedictorian, something she'd striven for ever since kindergarten, she risked losing her pending scholarships. She knew a lot of that stress was unnecessary, knew that her study habits were proven and she was hardly about to trip at the finish line, but one of the things that came along with being a Type-A personality was a near-desperation to ensure that everything remained perfect.
"You're off work today?" Sakura asked her parents as she jogged down to the kitchen for some coffee.
"It's a tradition," Kakashi explained, dropping a quick kiss to his daughter's head when she passed him. "Every year, right around this time, your father and I head on over to the mall, braving snow and sleet and thousands of last-minute holiday shoppers, intent on buying anything and everything our fantastic young daughter might dream of."
"In other words," Sakura giggled, "you put it off till the last minute and since there's only three days left till Christmas, you had no choice but to call off work and get my presents for me today?"
"You miss nothing," Kakashi replied with a good-natured laugh.
"Any requests, honey?" Iruka asked, from where he stood at the counter, thumb flicking through his phone, presumably checking his credit card limits online. "We have all your sizes, but is there anything you'd like, maybe for college? If we get started on your dorm furnishings now, we won't have to fight the rush come summer…"
Sakura thought for a minute, then answered, "I don't really need anything in particular. Kind of hard to hate my life right now so…I don't know. Whatever you guys think I'd like. You've never gotten it wrong before."
"So agreeable," Kakashi remarked to Iruka dryly. "Must get it from your side of the family. Oh and speaking of family, what are you getting for Sasuke?"
Sakura flushed; Daddy remained the number one supporter in the fight for Sasuke-and-Sakura-Uchiha. "I'm still thinking," she admitted. "He's impossible to shop for. I had to practically wrestle him into buying a Christmas tree."
"Oh so he's too good for Christmas now?" Iruka sniffed. "Is he going to bother buying his girlfriend a present this year, or is that beneath him as well?"
"Dad," Sakura whined, at the same time Kakashi whined, "Dear."
Iruka sighed, continuously ganged up on by his family in this argument, and slipped his phone into the pocket of his khakis.
"All right, all right. Sakura, you'll be late if you don't get going. Is the boy picking you up today?"
"No, Sasuke is not. He does early morning workouts with the basketball team. I'm driving."
"I've got a better idea," Kakashi said. "Why don't we drop you off this morning, get our shopping done, and we'll pick you up after school for a late lunch? We never get to see you during the week."
"Sounds great!" Sakura said happily.
Kakashi watched her slide on a pair of wool fingerless gloves, and called to Iruka, "Make sure we add 'gloves with actual fingers' to Sakura's Christmas list. Oh, and if she doesn't wear them, then 'flu shot.'"
Sakura giggled and shook her head.
There wasn't really much point to coming in the day before a holiday. Teachers were as eager for break to start as students, so nobody bothered issuing any homework the night before, and there were no exams scheduled for that day. But Sakura figured that skipping an easy day of school wasn't necessary.
She'd save that for February and March, the hardest months of the year to be a student.
Figuring she should dress up in her holiday best, even if Christmas red clashed horribly with pink, she showed up to school in a red sweater dress with black tights and boots. She wasn't alone; there was red and green everywhere she looked in the hallways on her way to her locker. The corridors were hung with decorations and the senior Christmas Tree looked tacky and gorgeous by the chemistry labs. It was impossible to have a bad day today, she told herself, making for her locker.
There was some kind of crowd gathered at the opposite end of the hall, near the history classroom, but Sakura wasn't really paying attention. Most likely the teacher had brought in pictures of his cats in holiday sweaters again, and she was more focused on what she had to get for Sasuke for Christmas.
This would be so easy if he was a normal boyfriend, she thought pensively, gathering her textbooks. But he is literally impossible to predict. Like do I get him a sweater? Or is that something a grandmother would get him? Or a watch? Does he even wear one? Or jewelry…or…God, this is so frustrating!
After Sasuke had confessed his love for her in the weirdest, most romantic way possible, the bar had been set ridiculously high for her to meet that same sentimental standard. She owed it to him to pull something stellar off for him, and her brilliant mind was coming up short. Failing her on this most important errand.
What's the sense in having an IQ like mine, she thought grumpily, if I can't apply it to important things ilke this?!
Her musings were interrupted by the arrival of Ino, who called out her name and rushed towards her locker, looking festively gorgeous in a gold sweater and tight black jeans.
"Hey, Pig," Sakura said with a smile. "Okay, before you start, I know red is my most awful color, but it's the holidays, and…"
"Sakura," Ino interrupted, and using her real name, too. For the first time, Sakura noticed the worry on her best friend's face, and paused. "There's…did you see what…"
"What's wrong, Ino?" Sakura asked, confused.
"Looking good, Sakura!" called a boy from the end of the hall, where everybody was gathered. She frowned a little when he and his friends all laughed. She knew she didn't look her best today, what was that all about?
Ino's worry morphed into full-on panic, and she grabbed Sakura's wrist.
"Let's leave school today," she said firmly.
"What? Why? Ino what's going on, why are you being so weird?"
"I just don't feel like being here today," she insisted loudly, tugging on Sakura's arm. "Come on, let's go shopping or something, we'll take your car."
"I…I can't, my dads dropped me off today, and…"
"Then we'll take the bus!" Ino was almost yelling at this point. "Let's just leave here, we can't be here today!"
"Ino, what the hell is your problem?!"
Sakura reasoned that whatever was upsetting Ino had to have something to do with that crowd by the history classroom. Anxiety filled her as she ripped her wrist away from her best friend's desperate grip and headed down the hall to see what was going on.
"There she is!" she heard someone whisper, and everyone's heads whipped around to her automatically. There were a few whistles and a couple suggestive remarks, but Sakura ignored that and pushed her way through the middle of the group. She became distantly aware of the flash of people's camera phones capturing the scene, and figured that whatever they were looking at had to be a lot more compelling than Mr. Ebisu's sweater cats.
There were dozens of papers taped to the front of the classroom door. It took her a split second to realize what she was looking at, and when she did, her blood ran ice cold.
Dozens of copies of a topless Sakura, her fingers hooked into the sides of her panties, her hair barely covering her exposed breasts. Her hands flew to her mouth in horror as she recalled taking this picture – a gift, a private gift, for Kiba from a year ago. It had been such a naughty, un-Sakura thing to do, but she'd felt a thrill when she pressed Send on her phone.
What was peculiar about the picture, she realized dazedly, was that she was wearing a Santa hat. She didn't remember putting that on when she'd taken the picture, since it was in January or February and well after Christmas, but that was hardly her biggest concern right now. As quickly as she thought of the discrepancy in the picture, she put it out of her mind.
You idiot, she thought, hating herself as she stared at the sultry, seminude Sakura plastered all over the history classroom door. You fucking idiot, you stupid, senseless IDIOT!
As always, it was Ino to the rescue. Sakura was numb with horror and embarrassment, frozen in place and with absolutely no idea what to do. Ino stomped her way through the group and began screaming her head off.
"Get the hell out of here, you fucking creeps! Get to class, you assholes! Nothing to see here!"
She ripped the pictures off the door, stuffing them wildly into her handbag, attempting to preserve what remained of her best friend's modesty, but the damage had been done. Sakura realized that half the senior class must have taken pictures of this on their phones. It would be all over the school by lunch.
She was ruined.
"Hinata get her out of here!" Ino shouted, when she spotted her in the crowd. "We're leaving!"
Sakura distantly realized that Hinata was at her side, trying to coax her with kind, compassionate words out of the hallway, but she was immobilized, a statue in holiday red with tears in her eyes. Hinata might have been trying to move a mountain for all her success.
What would she tell her teachers? What would she tell her fathers? The idea of having them pick her up from school, and being forced to tell them what had happened…they would be so ashamed. Her stomach turned at the very thought. And…and Sasuke…would he even let her explain?
The pictures were ripped down and the crowd began to disperse, especially when teachers finally popped out into the hallway to investigate. Ino hastily shoved as many as she could find into her bag, but one had slipped away from her, floating almost gracefully through the air and landing innocently at the feet of…
Sakura wanted to disappear.
Sasuke bent to pick up the paper, wondering why his classmates were all gathering in the hallway and why Ino was screaming. He lifted it up and examined the picture on the opposite side.
To his complete shock, he saw Sakura gazing at him in a sultry, come-hither way, wearing only a pair of skimpy lace panties and her hair over her breasts. It took him a moment to realize what exactly he was seeing here. Sakura, in a self-taken sexy picture, and judging from the crumpled up papers sticking out of Ino's handbag, taped up in the hallway for everyone to see.
His eyes sought her out immediately in the crowd. She was the only one standing completely still, all the color drained from her face, tears in her eyes and her hands over her mouth in open horror.
For a moment, he felt all the pity in the world for her. She was humiliated. She looked so small and fragile in a dress that clashed with her hair, her shoulders trembling, her friends trying to help.
Then, he glimpsed the words scribbled across the bottom of the photocopy in his hands.
His sympathy morphed immediately into unadulerated rage.
Merry Christmas, Kiba! 2013.
He wanted to throw up and punch somebody at the same time. All of his doubt, all of his suspicions, all of it was true. Everything Sakura had ever tried to deny to him about retaining feelings for Kiba, all of it raced back to the forefront of his mind.
She had lied.
She'd sent this picture, this sexy, scantily-clad picture of herself in panties and a Santa hat, to Kiba. To her ex-fucking-boyfriend. While she was dating him.
He knew he would feel indescribable hurt later, after the anger had worn off. For right now, he was more than happy to drown in his fury, to let it consume him the way it did when he was younger, to let it insulate him against the pain that was sure to follow when he fully accepted the extent of this betrayal.
His eyes turned cold where he looked at her.
"What's going on, dude?" Naruto asked at his shoulder, frowning at the dispersing crowd. "Something happen? Oi, Ino, whatsamatter with Sakura?"
"Get her out of here, Naruto," Ino ordered. "Someone…someone set her up. I have to, I don't know. I have to take care of this. Find out who did this. Get her out of here."
A picture says a thousand words, a spiteful voice was hissing in Sasuke's ear. He became vaguely aware that his hands on the paper were shaking. This picture said everything he needed to know.
It was a mark of Naruto's trust in Ino that he did what she said without question. Without a single idea as to what was happening, having not seen the incriminating photo himself, Naruto hurried up to Sakura and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. She didn't move, still looking with broken distress at Sasuke, who could barely see her at this point, his eyes narrowed into tiny slits that blurred her cheerful Christmas image into pink and red clouds.
"Sasuke," she whispered faintly, "I swear, it's not…I mean…"
Whatever she was about to say was interrupted. Two people were arguing further down the hallway. Sasuke could hardly care, but it was impossible to tune them out.
"What do you mean, I'm fucking cheating on you? Ami, you're crazy!"
"Crazy, Kiba?" a grating, shrill voice screamed back. "Crazy?! What the hell does this mean, then? Why's that fucking whore sending you pictures like this when you and I are together?!"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Kiba demanded, and Sasuke watched Sakura's reaction to the conversation. Watched her flinch at the word 'whore' and finally turn her head around to see what was going on.
It was that girl, the third one on the Homecoming Court, the one whose name Sasuke couldn't remember. She was storming down the hallway clutching two fistfuls of Sakura's racy picture; she reached Sakura and threw them at her feet, then pulled her hand back and slapped her as hard as she could across the face.
The loud SMACK made Sasuke bristle – if that had been a guy hitting Sakura like that, he would have fucking killed them, no matter if he hated her right now or not – and Sakura clutched her cheek, looking terribly, terribly confused.
"If you ever do something like this with my boyfriend again," the girl – Ami – screamed at Sakura, "I'll kick your little ass!"
"I didn't," Sakura choked. "That's…I never…"
"You're gonna deny this?" Ami sneered, with a humorless laugh that made Sakura recoil. "You're gonna seriously stand there and pretend like this isn't you? It's got a date on it, you stupid bitch!"
"She said it wasn't her!" Ino shouted, shoving Ami away from her best friend. "Back off, bitch, someone doctored this shit!"
"Oh, yeah right! She's a fucking whore. She's screwing Sasuke Uchiha and now Kiba on top of it, well fuck that! This picture proves it!"
Sasuke never thought in his life that he would agree with anything this crazy girl was saying. But for as much as he wanted to give Sakura a chance to explain herself – surely, there had to be some reasonable explanation for this, surely – he couldn't refute hard evidence. This wasn't a nasty rumor; this was a picture, with a caption, for a guy that wasn't him.
He glanced at Kiba, standing a bit away from the commotion, and saw his former friend's face crumple with guilt. There. There. Why should he feel guilty, if there wasn't any truth to Ami's claim?
Sakura had cheated on him. Sakura had looked into his eyes, denied that she would ever do anything like that, told him she loved him, made him believe it. Made him think that after so many years and back-and-forth, of loving each other at the wrong times, of drama and friendship and fighting and making up again, made him think that they'd finally made it.
You fucking idiot, he thought to himself, furious that he'd ever let himself trust.
He was done. Done with her. Sakura could fuck herself for all he cared. But before he broke up with her, before he said the words that would doom their relationship, before he broke her heart the way she'd broken his, he decided to do something he should've done months ago, when all this bullshit started.
He crossed the hallway in three impressive strides, jerked his fist back, and punched Kiba right in the face.
It took Naruto, Shikamaru, Chouji, and three teachers to pull Sasuke and Kiba off each other. He hadn't escaped the fight unscathed; Kiba, for all his guilt, hadn't thought twice about defending himself when it came to Sasuke's righteous rage. Sasuke, panting and pumped with adrenaline and still desperate to fight some more, was nursing a bruised jaw and what felt like a broken rib.
Kiba, he saw to his satisfaction, was much worse off; he'd blacked his eye, split his lip, and broken his nose, to say nothing of the barrage of punches he'd delivered to his stomach.
Sasuke was distantly aware that everyone was wrestling him away from the scene. Naruto was yelling something, the teachers were scolding him, rattling off punishments for brawling in school, but his eyes sought Sakura. To his anger, he saw that she'd disappeared, along with Ino and Hinata.
She couldn't even stay and watch him beat the shit out of her ex-boyfriend? Or was it current? She couldn't even stay and let him break the fuck up with her cheating, slutty ass the way she deserved?
"…home today!" he heard Mr. Ebisu shout. "…suspended…fighting…take your ass home!"
"I got him!" Naruto called, pulling Sasuke away from the scene. "Come on, man, Jesus, stop fightin' me…come on, we gotta figure this out!"
"Figure what out?" Sasuke demanded, wrenching himself out of Naruto's grasp. "Tell her I'm fucking done. Tell that fucking slut that I'm…"
"Don't call her that!" Naruto yelled, predictably. "Sakura's not a slut, she didn't do anything wrong, somebody set her up!"
Sasuke couldn't believe this. Naruto had seen the picture himself by now, hadn't he? He'd seen Sakura, Sasuke's girlfriend, posing in nothing but a pair of fucking panties and a Santa hat, sending a steamy, suggestive gaze to Kiba Inuzuka! On what planet was this anything but solid, concrete evidence of his girlfriend's guilt?
"Maybe…maybe somebody photoshopped it!" Naruto suggested, when they were outside, heading towards the parking lot. "You know? Maybe one of the kids in Computer Science…"
"Who would do that?" Sasuke demanded furiously, wanting to hit Naruto, too, for his stupid loyalty to Sakura. "Who the fuck would do something like that? And why?"
"Maybe someone who wanted to break you guys up! Like…like someone in your fan club, remember? Or maybe some dweeby guy who likes Sakura and needs you to break up with her so they have a chance, or…"
Sasuke had heard enough. This was ridiculous. This was insane. Everyone had such faith in Sakura, such blind, misguided faith…they were willing to pretend like they didn't see or understand hard, physical evidence of her betrayal, so ready to invent new, implausible explanations as to what they had seen, instead of taking it at face value.
The very last person in the world he wanted to see right now was calling for him from the other end of the parking lot.
"Get her away from me," Sasuke hissed to Naruto.
"No, you have to listen to her!" Naruto snapped back, as Sakura caught up with them.
She was shivering when she reached them, and Sasuke was disgusted at himself, because his first instinct was to tell her to put on a coat. Still. Still. His primary reaction was to look out for Sakura, even after all she'd done.
"Sasuke please listen to me," she gasped, trembling and eyes streaming with tears. "That…that picture…I sent it to Kiba. Last year. When he and I were still together. Before I was dating you. I swear. I swear to God."
"Last year, huh," Sasuke asked coolly. "Last year. Christmas 2013. In a Santa hat."
"Sasuke you have to believe me! I don't know how that picture got out, Kiba should have deleted it months ago. But I never…I would never do something like that to you!"
"See?" Naruto asked, as though Sakura's word, as though her ridiculous lie, was law, just because she said it.
Sasuke stared at Sakura as though he'd never seen her before. Her cheek glowed red with Ami's smoldering handprint, and her eyes were glassy and swimming with tears. It was like looking at a stranger; everything he'd ever known about her, everything he'd ever trusted about her, all of it vanished like smoke. She was a liar. She was a cheater.
And he was done.
"…you don't trust me," Sakura said suddenly, and through her embarrassment and distress, Sasuke saw something he did not expect, something she did not deserve to feel. Anger.
"You're damn fucking right I don't trust you," he said, voice quiet and dark. "I'm done. I want your shit out of my apartment."
"Sasuke!" Naruto gasped, stunned, and Ino, who had finally caught up to them, looked horrified by what she just heard.
But he meant it. How could they be looking at him like he was the villain in this? He was the one who'd had his heart broken today. He was the idiot who'd trusted someone, who'd loved someone completely, only to be betrayed in the coldest way possible. He was the one who'd been hurt here.
So how dare she shed those crocodile tears as if she was the victim in all of this? How dare she look at him with mounting anger, as though he was some terrible person to revoke his trust in her?
"Get out of my fucking sight," he told her. "Take those fake ass tears and get the hell away from me. I'm done, you lying fucking slut."
And there, in a snowy school parking lot just days before Christmas, that was how Sasuke and Sakura broke and fell apart.
News of the school's most popular couple's dramatic breakup spread like wildfire, and Ami, examining her reflection in the bathroom mirror, couldn't have been happier.
Her impressive retouching skills in computer class had paid off. It had taken her a few hours, but she managed to Photoshop a Santa hat onto a seminude Sakura's head so convincingly, nobody could tell that it wasn't in the original picture. Adding the incriminating caption was a final stroke of genius.
Sakura could deny the evidence all she wanted, Ami knew, but who would believe her? This was high school. People lived and thrived on this kind of scandal. No matter if it was true or not. The doubt had been cast on her relationship with Sasuke, and doubt in and of itself was enough to break them apart.
It wasn't just their relationship she'd been after either. It was Sakura herself. Pretty, popular Sakura, who'd made Ami's life miserable ever since middle school just by existing.
Now, everyone's golden girl, the Homecoming Queen, the valedictorian, the head cheerleader, had been reduced to nothing more than a steamy picture she'd been stupid enough to send in the first place. Now, she was the butt of the joke, the center of the scandal, and all her previous accomplishments would pale next to this.
It was the ultimate revenge, and it had been so thorough, it couldn't be traced back to her.
The slap might have been a bit much, she thought, smirking at her reflection and remembering the way it had felt to hit her worst enemy. How she'd been too stunned to fight back. But I had to make it convincing.
If Ami hadn't reacted so violently to the situation, it would immediately have been suspicious. She had to act as though she'd been hurt by Kiba and Sakura's illicit affair as well; and she thought she pulled it off spectacularly. Getting to finally hit Sakura was just the cherry on top.
Kiba was a loose end, however. Surely he would have recognized that picture, having kept it all this time, and he would have known that Sakura hadn't sent it to him recently, and certainly not with a steamy caption like that. But after Sasuke had soundly kicked his ass, Ami doubted that Kiba would be looking to do him any favors.
She, in turn, would play the part of a scorned but forgiving girlfriend, and maybe Kiba would finally wise up and pay her the attention she deserved.
She whipped out her cell phone and scrolled to the stolen picture, smirking down at a scantily-clad Sakura with all the triumph in the world. You lost, bitch. This time, I win. Merry Christmas indeed.
note.. hey y'all. gone for a minute on this one, i know i know. hope you liked it :)
xoxo daisy :)