"It wasn't me."
"It wasn't me."
"It wasn't me."
"It wasn't me."
"It wasn't me!"
"It wasn't me!"
"It wasn't me!"
Sasuke murmured repeatedly in front of the dead woman's blood-covered body as he flung the bloody knife away.
He had used his bare hands to do it… the fool.
He'd been summoned to her house, to their trap. He had been in the wrong place in the most wrong of times he could ever be.
The woman – he couldn't even remember her name – was on the floor, her brown eyes were facing at his direction – but not at him. Her usual Chinese double buns styled brown hair now were down – it would've probably reached her mid-waist if Sasuke had ever seen her like that.
He never did.
Not for a single minute, not for a single time had he given a second glance toward her whenever she came to the shop and now, he was paying for it.
Most importantly… Why him again?
Sasuke had obviously been arrested and now he was sitting in the backseat of a police car, accompanied by two other police officers, one sitting by his right side and the other one at the driver's seat. His hands were already bound by the handcuffs, and around them was a small and fluffy towel to keep the blood loss in control. They'd been wounded during his time in custody. Yes, he had already been past that stage.
They were bringing him to prison this time. They would put him in a cell, behind the cold iron shutters and right into the wolves' den where he would be eaten. He would be killed…
And she would die too.
He had one job to do and he was going to fail miserably. Sasuke swallowed deeply, painfully being reminded of the scar that was visible across his throat. Someone had attempted against him during his time in custody too. His scar was enough of a proof that he had been so close to being choked to death.
Sasuke had been quick to turn the tables in his favor, but the other guy had been quick to play the victim too, causing Sasuke to end up being deemed as crazy. Crazy enough to commit suicide.
As if he had that luxury. As if he had the guts.
He turned to look at his left, thankful that it did not raise a reaction out of the other two officers and saw a car speeding over the orange traffic lights.
It was just a split second, but the driver – the woman – glanced at his direction with tear-filled eyes, before looking to the front again and kicking the steering wheel frustratingly.
Sasuke had a second job to do. He shouldn't, in any circumstances, gain any big wounds on his body.
But probably, he did.
The car made a quick half-turn and collided with an upcoming truck that caused it to spin to the side. The only thing that Sasuke saw with his blurred black eyes was his head resting on his unconscious companion's shoulder.
*Three days earlier*
A Crashing Past!
Sasuke wiggled his unlit cigarette between his lips as he was waiting for a phone call while being sat on the bench close to Akatsuki Club looking at the sunset. He might've been waiting for it, but actually, he would be happier if he just decided not to receive it. He really was not looking forward to be a pretty face for yet another rich woman. And yet, he had to make a living somehow.
Working in the shop with the other guys couldn't possibly be enough.
It would be enough for him if he had been living on its own, but it'd been years since that had changed. He and his pal Yahiko – and sometimes his girlfriend Konan – occupied a small flat that was anything but clean and organized.
It did not help the fact that Sasuke had lost a lot of money at the game yesterday either. Sasuke sighed and dropped the cigarette on the ground, taking a mint gum in his mouth instead.
He grunted when he heard his cell vibrating on his pocket. The moment he took it out the name Jugo was displayed on its screen, glaring up at him. Sasuke glared right back. He knew what the guy on the other end was going to say to him even before he answered the call. The Mitarashi woman was at the club again. Damn it!
He got up off the bench and walked with his hands in his pockets. Once inside the prestigious place, his ears got assaulted by the Papa Americano song that Sasuke heard each and every day, so much so that he hated it with every ounce of his being. His nostrils were attacked by the different types of beverages as well when he saw the waiters serving the costumers before spotting him and greeting him with a bow of their heads.
"Welcome, sir." Jugo greeted him with a light bow of his own. Sasuke only nodded, chewing in his piece of gum. "She is looking for you again."
"Jugo," Sasuke began with a smirk on his lips but that ended the moment his next words got out from his mouth and his hand rested on the other man's broad shoulder. "Do I look like a host to you?" he asked him with a soft voice before kicking the orange-haired man close to his private area, almost making him double over.
"Ow, damn you," Jugo began. "Mitarashi ordered a 30-year-old whiskey… and is looking for you. What was I supposed to do?" he complained.
Sasuke sighed and extended his hand close to the guy's face. "Pay me."
"But, she's going to pay you later when –"
"Did I stutter?"
"… Fine. Tch…" he dug into his pocket to find his wallet and the moment he got that out, Sasuke reached for it and snatched it away from him, taking his chance to take all the money inside when the man did nothing but gape at him.
"Here!" Sasuke tossed the empty wallet to its owner.
"Wha – what did you just do?"
"Took what belongs to me dude."
"Those were my money." Jugo retorted.
"You will make plenty tonight." Sasuke said.
"At least make her order another whiskey." Jugo pleaded.
"Like she's not going to black out after just one bottle."
Sasuke winked at him and walked past the man and right to his table, where a slightly older lady with dark violet hair sat –– mind you, she always dressed up as if she was in her twenties. Who was she wanting to impress was beyond Sasuke to comprehend but he shrugged it off.
"Hey, you came." he fainted interest.
"Yeah, I did," began the busty woman. "Why are you so late?" she asked with make-up induced blush on her cheeks.
"I was busy!" Sasuke explained shortly, taking the bottle of whiskey and serving the both of them. "Why did you come alone tonight? Last time your friends were accompanying you." And keeping you off my neck!
"Don't make it like you don't know 'suke." Sasuke's right eye twitched at the pet name. "You know that I only come here to see you."
Sasuke chuckled. "Do I live in this club? Why do you keep doing that?" a.k.a. Go die!
"Because I have something to give you but you never call me and I don't have your number."
Sasuke resisted the urge to roll his dark eyes at that. As if he'd do that mistake. He wouldn't have a single minute of peace if he did.
"Here," Anko said as she showed him a bag. "What's this?" Sasuke asked her, peeking inside with raised eyebrows.
Anko put her elbow on the table and rested her cheek in her palm, looking at him warmly.
"Wow, this is…" Sasuke glanced at the woman who proceeded to chuckle at him. "It's Gio Bernini." she said.
Sasuke gave her a chuckle of his own as he pulled the suit out of its case. "And how did you know my favorite color?"
"Black being your favorite color is the easiest thing to guess about you dear. The hardest thing was your size." They both burst out laughing giving off a gleeful 'Cheers' for the occasion.
One sip, one glass, one bottle…
By the time they got out of the club, Sasuke was nothing short of wasted and needed the woman's help to even walk. Forget about telling her where he lived, he couldn't even form coherent words at all, but apparently that was amusing enough to the woman who was helping him.
He did not want her help.
He did not want to be near her.
He did not want to be such a waste.
He definitely did not want to collide himself with an upcoming car.
Those creepy yellow eyes glared at him from the backseat, when the collision interrupted his session with the hot brunet. Sasuke knew that the man had always adored the lady's soft and cute features. Though he would never know why did that woman always try to hide her face whenever he came to the club. After some time Sasuke had given up on trying to know her. But he couldn't shake the idea that she seemed familiar.
"You stupid rascal," the Four Eyes' voice crooked near his ears as he was yanked by the shirt.
"O–oh, hey Kabuto, whatcha doin'?" Sasuke asked half-consciously.
"Idiot, you want to die that badly that –"
"Oh, forgive us, Mr. Yakushi. It wasn't our intention to disturb you all." Anko chimed in, helping Sasuke on his feet.
Kabuto snorted and opened his mouth to retort but was stopped when the yellow-eyed man opened the window of his car and called out to him. Kabuto simply tsked and got inside the driver's seat, leaving the couple alone in the dark streets.
"Oh, pretty boy" Anko joked, "I don't know where you live so you'll have to be my guest tonight." she informed. "I'll take the bag for you as well." She reached for the fallen bag and took it, almost letting Sasuke fall in the process and proceeded to walk to the direction of her car, with Sasuke on her tow.
Sasuke talked in gibberish during the whole drive to Anko's apartment. Incoherent words and sentences slipped from his tongue, heck Anko could see even a tear or two rolling down his cheeks.
She heard a name as well and wondered just whom did it belong that Sasuke would call it out so desperately? Whom did it belong that it was powerful enough to make him cry?...
Sasuke woke up when the smell of female-scented covers hit his nostrils and made him realize that the comfort he had received didn't belong to his house. He opened his eyes and white curtains glared at him, a swift wind noise buzzing from the outside.
He was only on his briefs and shirt, he realized when getting off the huge bed that was clearly fit for two people… two lovers… and Sasuke silently thanked every Deity that the woman had not taken any kind of advantages of his stupid state.
Making his way toward the bathroom and shower, Sasuke glanced at the mirror, took the shirt off of his sweat-dripping body and stared at his back. A white, straight knife-carved scar stared back. It'd been there for seventeen years and it had no plans of ever fading out. It was permanent, like a tattoo. A tattoo that reminded him of everything he could've had… but he'd been too much of a coward to receive.
Whiskey had always been his biggest enemy, he realized for the thousandth time. Add a little dose of a depressing past in the mix and you get the perfect hangover. Sasuke sighed.
The fluffy white towel that rested on the holder across from the shower curtains helped him dry every single drop of water in his body, before the man tossed it somewhere to his right.
He dressed up as quietly as he could, even though he wasn't aware just where the woman actually was. Maybe in another room? Or maybe out of the place? He shrugged it off and made his way out, but not before taking the Gio Bernini with him. Not because he cared about it, but Anko would probably pester him over and over in order to take it.
The only thing that Sasuke wanted was a few weeks of peace.
Walking down the streets in the morning, just after a shower, without a coffee and with a hangover was definitely the worst idea he'd ever had in years but desperate situations called for desperate measures, he thought. Folding his hands inside his pockets his fingers caressed some paper-type of things. taking them out, Sasuke was almost flabbergasted to see money, a lot of money. Had something transpired between them last night? Sasuke searched inside his memory, but couldn't remember anything beside his meeting with the Four Eyes…
His life really sucked big time.
After walking for a few more minutes, his small apartment did finally appear in sight and Sasuke found himself hurrying his steps. He entered inside and found Yahiko sitting alone at the small round table, serving himself some soup. Sasuke tossed the case to his bed and walked over at the table as well, but not before washing his hands obviously.
"Oh, you're the best pal." He greeted him as he crossed his legs while sitting.
"Yeah, yeah. I don't understand just why don't you eat breakfast with your women?"
"Because I want literally nothing to do with them?" Sasuke suggested.
"How do you sleep with women you don't even love?"
Sasuke chuckled bitterly. Truth be told, it was all about punishment… but Yahiko did not need to know that. "That's why I never do them twice."
"You make me curious bro." Yahiko began. "What is your true identity? Huh?" he smirked playfully. "Are you a gangster or a good-for-nothing bastard?"
Sasuke chuckled again. "I'm a good-for-nothing gangster." He said and raised his water glass in a cheer-like motion.
"But seriously though, do you really want to keep living on like this?"
Sasuke halted for some seconds, as if considering the question. "You know I have some loose screws, and people call that a defect. That's why."
"I know a man with loose screws whom is crazy about new clothes though."
"What can I say," Sasuke glanced at him from the corner of his eye, swallowing his food. "Nobody knows who they're going to meet or when they're going to meet them."
"As if there is anyone who wants to meet you."
Sasuke lost his appetite. Being told the truth so bluntly had always been a bitter pill to swallow. He rose off the small crimson table and went to wash his hands. Making his way toward the mat he made sure to take the remote with him so he could relax himself watching TV.
He got bored within minutes… just where the hell were the good ol' anime when you needed them?
It was time for him to head to the shop anyways.
"Are you seriously going to wear your new suit at work?" Yahiko looked at him flabbergasted gaining a snort out of the dark haired man.
"Dude, that's just a few blocks away."
Sasuke shrugged and Yahiko shook his head. "You really are hopeless pal."
"Is Konan coming over?" Sasuke asked.
"Dunno. My cell is charging now and I still haven't chat her up."
"Dude, she's gonna incinerate you." Sasuke snickered.
"I'll give her a present." Yahiko chuckled as he fist-bumped with him before Sasuke took his exit and headed toward the shop. If he was being honest, Sasuke wasn't really looking forward to meeting those annoying assholes Sakon and Kidomaru at all but… work was work.
The Chinese woman was there as well; was the first thing Sasuke realized when he opened the door. He looked at her double buns from the corner of his eye. She was a woman who had – more or less – the same age as him, and yet her hairstyle was so weird and… childish?
"She's here to pawn her necklace and was waiting for you." Came Kidomaru's voice as he made himself visible from the backdoor. The woman nodded.
Sasuke sat at his usual rolling chair and extended his hand out through the little space. It reminded him of hospitals but, oh well, the shop needed it to be in that way.
"Hey, cool guy, I thought you didn't smoke," the woman joked.
"Not around you." Sasuke said without glancing up. "Give the necklace to me." he extended his right hand, still not looking.
"Did you buy a new suit?" she asked him.
Sasuke heaved a sigh. "Just take the money and go."
"I'm married you know, in case you're thinking that I'm hitting on you, idiot."
Sasuke finally looked up. "Well, I hope you're happy. Bye."
"You're so cold man." Kidomaru joked after the woman left, and Sasuke rolled his eyes, folding today's newspaper instead of gracing him with an answer. He looked at the headlines first. They were all filled with only two names. Businessman Orochimaru Sannin, and Politician Mei Terumi. Sasuke flipped through the other pages trying to find something sweet for the eye when Sakon slammed the backdoor of the shop and barged in on where they were.
"Kido," Sakon began, his voice not matching his look. "I'm going to fucking castrate you, you fucking idiot."
Sasuke raised both eyebrows. It was not a common thing for Sakon to use such a… colorful vocabulary. Kidomaru cleared his throat, before shifting on his seat.
"Sakon," he began, "If this is for the fake gold I told you I will pay the money back as soon as I can."
"And didn't I tell you I'm not a philanthropist who takes care of people who have nowhere to go?"
"Anything else to say?" Sasuke interrupted unexpectedly, already feeling unsure of why did he do it in the first place.
"Look pretty boy. If you're not going to be giving those money to me then stay out of other people's business."
"Yeah, right. I'll give you guys money… in your dreams."
"We don't worry that much about it." Sakon said. "Who wants the type of money you gain –"
A punch was the only thing he would ever gain out of Sasuke.
"Finish that, you drag bitch I dare you." Sasuke hissed.
"You'll pay for this pretty boy." Sakon hissed back, holding his chin with his palm.
"We'll see about that." Sasuke went to take back his seat but there was a woman looking at him from the frames. She had the eyes that once had observed him whole, the hair that once had been the only scent he'd wanted to ever be bathed in with, the skin that he had longed to touch… for seventeen years…
He followed after her to the Café nearby, sitting awkwardly across from her, wanting to look at her, but not having any courage to. He felt uncomfortable and fake drinking from his – already – empty cup of Expresso was not making him feel any better.
He knew that she was not looking at him either, hence his decision to finally break the silence was made from inside of him… he hoped the decision had been wise.
"How did you…" he couldn't even finish.
"I came to ask you a favor." She said, still averting her gaze. Sasuke thanked her for it. That gaze had the ability to burn him.
"A favor?" Sasuke questioned. "From me?"
She clenched her chin several times before finally looking up. "Take a blood test." She said, while sliding a card that read Konoha Hospital in the front, with a leaf-like symbol printed faintly along its surface.
"A blood test?" Sasuke repeated, taking the card with his left hand. He used his other one to scratch on his neck, thankful that his hair were not standing up like a duck's ass today. "That's… I'm sorry but…" he glanced at her, "I don't really know what you're talking about."
"I have a child. A girl, and she has acute leukemia."
So she'd continued on with her life… and had created a family even… Somewhere deep down Sasuke felt both jealous and happy for her. "Leukemia?" he questioned.
"Yes, she needs a bone-marrow transplant. But there's no donor."
"Oh," Sasuke felt like he was sweating. "I understand what you mean… but there's something I don't get… Are you asking everyone you know to take a blood test? I mean… you have continued with your life and stuff."
"She is… seventeen."
"Seventeen?" he asked slowly.
Sakura chuckled at his expression. "She thinks her father is dead. Better that then to think that he thought of her as a burden, right?"
Sasuke couldn't breathe. It was a sin for him to breathe. To live.
She glared at him from across the table, putting her elbows above it so to make her point even stronger. "Just to make sure, don't even think about seeing her. You know full well that you don't need to nor deserve to see her."
"You… you had the baby ba… back then?" Sasuke asked in a low voice, his eyes feeling teary.
"Just because you're her biological father doesn't mean you can be her donor." She informed him instead.
"I asked you if you had the baby!" he repeated again.
"It's none of your business, Sasuke." She said furiously. "Sarada already has someone that she treats like a father. Sarada already has someone with whom she dreams of spending her whole life with, if that life is not short that is."
Sarada. Sarada! Sarada…
"So all you have to do is to take a damn blood test. Are you going to do it or not?"
"Have you been raising her alone?"
"Forget it! I shouldn't have come to see you." She got up and walked out with Sasuke immediately on her tow.
"Why did you have it?" he demanded loudly the moment he exited the place. The question made the pink haired woman stop, her hands itching to find something to hit hard. If it was the face of the man that had hurt her the most, it would've been even better. Instead, she contained herself. His questions were not over yet it seemed.
"Why did you have the baby?" Sasuke asked her again. "Did I tell you to do that?"
She turned to face him. "I already told you that you don't have any fatherhood duties toward her. Even though she's dying I didn't look for you up until now. I wanted her not to know that you're alive. You should've remained the same."
Sasuke watched her leave, heading toward the hospital that she was working, probably. He cursed himself for forgetting to ask her about when would be the perfect time to go and take the test.
She didn't have the strength to fight. She knew she was too far down to be saved.
"Let me go," she croaked. "You can't pull me up." His face was white with effort. She could see in his eyes that he knew it was hopeless. "Never," he said…
…He tightened his grip on her wrist. His face was gaunt, scraped and bloody, his hair dusted with cobwebs, but when he locked eyes with her, she thought he had never looked more handsome. "We're staying together," he promised. "You're not getting away from me. Never again."
Only then did she understand what would happen. A one-way trip. A very hard fall. "As long as we're together," she said.
She heard the others still screaming for help. She saw the sunlight far, far above — maybe the last sunlight she would ever see. Then Percy let go of his tiny ledge, and together, holding hands, he and Annabeth fell into the endless darkness.
Sarada had only one more chapter and she would finish reading her favorite book for an uncountable time, when she heard Boruto opening the door to her hospital room. Sarada's mouth and stomach had desperately wanted to eat grapes, and her ever so sweet boyfriend, had agreed to go and buy some for her – not that he needed much convincing.
"Damn kid, why would anyone ride a bike without even knowing how to walk?" he moaned painfully, making his way to sit to the bedside, limping. Sarada frowned in question. "What happened?" she asked out-loud putting the book down but not moving from her crossed-legged sitting position she had on the bed.
"Some kid wasn't looking and collided with me when I exited the store." Boruto said, massaging the place just above his knee slowly after he put the plate full of grapes of different colors in the middle. Sarada hummed in understanding, even though she knew it very well that it'd probably been Boruto's fault for spacing out over their situation.
Not that she was going to mope about it.
"Yes, it was my fault. Satisfied?" Boruto pouted and Sarada chuckled, reaching out to kiss his cheek. Since her diagnosis, kissing each other's cheeks was the only thing they'd been doing… there was no hair to kiss anymore.
Sarada shook her head mentally, not wanting to depress herself over those thoughts. Yes, her long black hair were now gone… she'd gone completely bald… and her head was covered with a red shawl that reached her mid-waist. It had been a gift from him to her for her sixteenth birthday and Sarada cherished it with all her heart.
She wasn't aware that she'd been clutching on her red-and-white fan shaped necklace up until she felt his hand move to hers and squeeze it gently. Sarada smiled and took a berry between her fingers, slowly and seductively putting it into his waiting mouth. She felt the need to swallow when his lips touched her fingers but she resisted it.
"You've been reading that book again?" Boruto felt the need to change the subject or he would probably lose control.
"What can I say?" his girlfriend began. "It's my favorite."
Boruto snorted cheekily. "You've read it countless times already."
"It's my favorite." She repeated again. "It has everything I need to feel joy. It has action, cool fights, friendships, quests," she nodded her head toward him. "romance too… it also has a reunion and a separation too." She said with a lower voice. "Overall it's emotional, sweet and bitter at the same time." She finished.
"Sweet and bitter at the same time? How?" Boruto asked.
She tsked. "If you had agreed to read it like I told you, you wouldn't have been asking those questions to me now."
"Hmm, but I'm a guy. We guys are more the spectator type, not the reader type." He said and Sarada rolled her eyes. "Sweet and bitter!" she murmured. "Himawari had always said that our first meeting is sweet and bitter." She said, reaching for another berry.
"I thought we'd agreed that it's only bitter." Boruto chuckled. "Though the collision was definitely the only one I'll never forget."
Sarada chuckled too. "We'd have other collisions later."
He shook his head. "The other ones were just fate trying desperately to glue us together."
"Ew, cheesy!" she commented.
But Boruto was right. Their dynamic over the years they'd known each other had been hectic… it still was. It had happened in that first morning after her birthday. She'd woken up in a warm room, a girl with blue hair and blue eyes had greeted her, had talked to her, not even leaving her enough room to breathe. They'd found a similar interest – Art – and the girl had wanted to show Sarada her tiny studio.
The girl – no, Himawari – took her hand and dragged her out of her new room and toward the stairs. Sarada couldn't help but chuckle as she accepted the challenge of racing her all the way to her studio… even though she technically didn't know where that was.
She was going to lose anyway. As she was making the last turn while climbing up the stairs, she collided with someone. A boy.
"Ow!" the boy exclaimed.
"Boruto," Himawari called. His name was Boruto…
"Are you okay Sarada?" Himawari asked her to which Sarada nodded. "Boruto, you should slow down." The blue-haired girl told him.
"I'm the one who should slow down?" Boruto glared at the both of them. "What about her?"
"That her has a name." Sarada retorted. "An apology would've been enough." she clicked her tongue. "Oh wait, you're a boy. Boys and apologies don't mix right?"
"I don't mix with strangers in my house." Boruto said. "You're making traffic."
"Oh?" Sarada raised an eyebrow. "I'm sorry but I didn't see any signs that read 'Beware of animals'. One would think that with your dad being a police officer there would be better warnings."
Silence befell them for a few precious seconds before Himawari burst out laughing. "You guys are so cute." She commented.
"No we're not." Both of them exclaimed loudly.
"And in synch too!" The girl said amusedly, a singing tone in her voice could be heard.
Boruto and Sarada glared at each other.
"I know that you just thought about how we first met and don't even try to deny it." he said bluntly, making Sarada blush.
"I did." She admitted nonetheless. "Say, Boruto," she began. "Let's go out a bit. I'm really bored."
Boruto looked at her and nodded his head. "Okay, but only for a few." He rose up and helped her as well. Sarada slid her left hand to his own waiting arm before sliding her feet into her slippers and walking out together.
"Oh, I forgot my coat." Sarada said, looking at the direction of the door. "I'll get it for you. Don't walk too far." Boruto told her, gaining a nod from her.
Sarada walked with slow steps, making sure that Boruto would meet her shortly. Even if it was just the corridor it still was a new view, new people.
A new man.
A man that had hair the same color she'd had.
A man that had the eyes the same color she did.
A man whose picture she held on her necklace every day.
Their eyes locked and understanding flashed through them both.
This man was not a stranger.
He had given her life.
"Father!" Sarada breathed out.