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Inner Universe

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Sakura smiled at the man across the table from her in the French restaurant. She hoped it hid the murderous urge she felt welling inside her chest.

That suit and tie are a disaster together. He isn’t even trying.

He ate his meal before yours was received. His manners are atrocious.

“I just wanted to say thank you for taking such good care of my son while he was in hospital,” continued the man, his tired eyes shining at Sakura in gratitude. “We’d been to so many villages looking for a cure.”

“Just happy to help,” said Sakura. “Though really, this is too much. I’m more than happy with just a drink.”

Don’t you dare let him skimp on the food.

He should have asked what food you prefer before assuming anything about you.

“Since my wife passed away, it’s been so hard,” said the man. “But Yahiko really bonded with you. I was so relieved to see him take a shine to someone so talented, and young, and I admit, beautiful. It feels like some days, I can barely get our house clean, or take care of Yahiko. We could use a feminine touch in our lives.”

Points for effort, but not once has he complimented you on your eyebrows.

He is a fool who uses his ill son to gain your favour. Ignore his ploys, you are too valuable to become a surrogate for a peasant.

“I am very fortunate to have studied under such a master healer as Tsunade-shishou,” said Sakura. “I am very career-focused, to make the most of her teachings.”

I think you should just outright tell him you’re too good and too busy for him. You’re completely out of his league. Frankly, even being seen with him lowers your social standing.

She is correct.

“I know we haven’t known each other long,” continued the man.

Here it comes….

He is human garbage.

“But would you consider dating an older man?”

She can do so much better.

Wait, this is a very important question.

“That is very flattering,” said Sakura, blushing prettily.

No it isn’t! He wants a maid to clean up after him, a mother to look after him, a babe to fuck at night, and an adult who’ll bring in enough money to pay the bills! Drop his lame ass!

She hasn’t said yes or no. Shush.

“With my career keeping me so busy, though, I have to decline. Thank you for your kind consideration.”

You aren’t customer service, Sakura. Kill off his interest or he’ll think you’re just being polite out of social courtesy, thus making him think you’re playing hard to get! Destroy him.

… she didn’t say ‘no’…

“Well, I really enjoyed my drink,” said Sakura, leaving some money on the table to cover it. “Thank you for the invitation, and I’m glad Yahiko has such a loving father. He’ll be ready to go in no time.”

The man half-rose in his seat as Sakura stood. “Wait, you haven’t even ordered yet—”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I really do need to go. I have an early morning,” lied Sakura. “Thank you again, have a good evening!”

… Well, that was disappointing. A relief, but disappointing.

And such an important question unanswered.

Wait, what?

“Spying on me? Really, Ino?” growled Sakura under her breath as she left the restaurant.

It was meant as back-up support!

The other voice was strangely silent.

“When did you slip into my head?”

Oh, around lunchtime, when you were… uh… you know what, never mind.


He was an inferior man who treated you barely above his own station. He was a waste of your valuable time and would have been intimidated by your talent, qualities and skill rather than impressed by them. You are far more suited to someone who would understand the depth of your efforts and dedication, and who would challenge you to become a better version of yourself.

“Ino, why are there two of you in my head?”

“Good evening, Sakura,” said Madara, appearing before Sakura in casual clan attire.

“Good evening, Madara. You… your voice, it sounds very familiar tonight,” said Sakura. Her brows furrowed.

“Ah-ha, well, we did speak earlier this afternoon, by the hospital,” said Madara, joining Sakura’s side as she walked away from the restaurant. “Perhaps I’m just memorable.”

“Uh huh,” said Sakura, watching him.

She came to a stop outside another restaurant. Madara slowed to a stop with her.

“Are you hungry?” he asked.


“Would you like to share a meal?”

Sakura looked Madara over, appraising his casual appearance, neatly tied-back ponytail, and relaxed manner.

“We can argue as much as you like,” said Madara, making Sakura grin.

“Well, with an offer like that, I can’t refuse,” laughed Sakura.

Hey, wait a second. This is not what we agreed to.

“Would you give me one minute?” asked Sakura as they turned to the restaurant.



I swear, I can explain—


“Is everything all right?” asked Madara.

As things finally quieted in her mind, Sakura’s smile turned serene.

“Just peachy,” said Sakura.