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it's my fault, isn't it

Chapter Text

Sakura could list the things she loved on two hands, and while her hands weren’t very big and didn’t accurately represent the full amount of love she felt for these things, they would have to do for now.

She loved anmitsu and mitarashi dango.

She loved learning how to be a shinobi from Iruka-sensei.

She loved her friends, Naruto, Sasuke, Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji.

She loved reading.

She loved her okaa-san.

Sakura didn’t know how many fingers she would need to count the things she hated. Maybe she would know, but her okaa-san had always said that ladies shouldn’t hate anything. Ladies should always be polite and ready to help their husbands or other men in their lives. Ladies shouldn’t be angry, shouldn’t louder than a soft whisper, and they definitely should not become shinobi.

‘“Shinobi?” Her okaa-san scoffed one afternoon as she washed dishes. “You want to become a shinobi? Ladies shouldn’t want to become trained assassins. Wherever did that absolutely preposterous idea get into your head?:

Sakura lowered her hands from where they had been clasped together hopefully by her chest. “I dunno.” Looking down at her feet scuffing around on the floor was easier now then looking into her okaa-san’s reproachful gaze. “All my friends are gonna become shinobi, and I thought-”

A light smacking sound echoed through the kitchen. A four-year-old Sakura reeled back, her hands now covering her smarting forehead. Her okaa-san still had her hand raised when she sighed. “It’s those friends of yours, always putting foolish thoughts into your head, making you want to become something you’re clearly not cut out for.” She went back to washing the dishes, not paying any mind to her daughter who was in tears at her side, hands still over her forehead. “If they’re going to make you think those things, then I forbid you from being around them-”

“Okaa-san!”

“Don’t argue with me, young lady.” There was a dangerous look in her eyes, but Sakura wasn’t able to comprehend that as thoughts began to bombard her brain.

“But I’m supposed to bring snacks for tomorrow’s meeting and I-”

“Sakura.” Her okaa-san tried to interrupt, but Sakura was clearly in distress and wouldn’t stop rambling, her breathing becoming heavy.

“Ino is gonna braid my hair later an’ she’s gonna show me how to do it-”

“Sakura.”

“An’, an’, I just met this boy on the swings two days ago, an’ he said his name was Naruto-” Sakura’s breaths were rushing in now at such a speed that she couldn’t feel the air coming in anymore.

“Sakura.” Sakura’s okaa-san’s voice made Sakura suck in air and suddenly stop. The voice was back.

“Clearly these,” a huff of air was expelled as if saying the word was the most awful thing in the world, “shinobi children are corrupting you. You will not see them again. And if you see that demon boy around, don’t interact with him. He is the reason your father is dead.” The grip around her arm and the steely look in her okaa-san’s eyes were staring straight into Sakura’s soul.

“Sorry.”

“You had better be.”

Sakura loved her okaa-san because she was supposed to. She listened to her okaa-san because she was supposed to. She hid her forehead because her okaa-san said it made her look ugly. She never told anyone what she was actually feeling because ladies don’t tell anyone what they’re feeling. No one would care about what she’s feeling. She just needed to do what her okaa-san said and everything would be fine.

Everything would be fine.




Chapter Text

When Sakura first met Uchiha Sasuke, she didn’t understand what everyone was so excited about. Sure, he had this cloud of angst and mystery swirling around him that could only be broken by his older brother Itachi, but that didn’t make him swoon-worthy material. Yeah, he came from a prestigious family and he was the top of the class, but to Sakura that wasn’t a good enough reason to devote every second of your life fawning after him. Apparently, her okaa-san didn’t think the same thing.

“That Uchiha boy, the one in your class would be a good husband.” Sakura’s head shot up quickly from her homework about chakra control when her okaa-san spoke out of nowhere. Sakura was six, and even though she was young, she understood the concept that six-year-olds generally don’t think about marriage.

“Okaa-san? I… I don’t understand.”

A deep sigh that seemed to arrive on schedule exited her okaa-san’s mouth as she turned in her chair to stare her only daughter down. “How do you not understand? I still don’t know how you convinced me to let you join that wretched shinobi school, but if you have to be fraternizing with those killers, I might as well get something out of it.”

Sakura turned back to her homework in hopes of getting away from her okaa-san’s gaze. After a brief pause of her pencil tapping on her paper, focus lost, a small phrase was uttered from Sakura’s lips. “I understand.”

Scoffing overtook the silence. “Are you sure? Because sometimes I think you understand what I’ve done for you, and then you go and hang around that devil child. Some would think I didn’t teach you correctly.” With those words out in the air, she leaned in close. Sakura stopped moving her pencil and slowed her breathing. Maybe if she didn’t move, her okaa-san would leave. A childish thought, really.

“You are grateful aren’t you, Sakura?” Her okaa-san’s voice was in a deep rasp, her breath so close Sakura could feel it on her ear. “After your father died, I gave up everything to make sure that you wouldn’t end up like me. Potential lost because of getting married to someone who couldn’t support me.” Her arm wrapped tightly around Sakura’s shoulder, pulling her close into her side. “I was stupid back then, getting married to someone who I thought I loved.” Her words were interrupted by a dry laugh. “I’m not going to let you make the same mistakes.”

Sakura scrunched her eyes closed, pulling her homework closer to her chest, knowing what was coming next wouldn’t be pleasant.

“So for your own good, you need to get that Uchiha boy to notice you. A boy from a clan like that would be able to keep you healthy through all of your days. You would have status and respect in the village.”

“I don’t-” Sakura didn’t know what drove her to speak out of turn, but as soon as she did, she regretted it. The arm around her shoulders clenched tighter, and Sakura knew it would leave a bruise. But that was fine, she had spoken out of turn, she deserved it.

“What? I don’t think I heard that. You don’t what, Sakura?”

“...Nothing, Okaa-san.”

“No, you had something to say. Since it was clearly important enough to speak out of turn, why don’t you finish that sentence.”

“I just,” Sakura mumbled, “I don’t really like Sasuke like that.”

Sakura’s fear only mounted when her okaa-san burst into laughter, tears pricking the corners of her eyes. During this fit of supposed hilarity, Sakura was shoved away from her okaa-san's side and collided roughly with the ground. Trembling on the ground, she kept her head down, bright pink locks covering her tears from view.

“Like? You think I care if you like the Uchiha boy like that?” The laughter continued. “Do you think anyone in the world cared when young girls are sent into arranged marriages for their own good?” Her voice suddenly lowered and all previous laughter from the air dissipated.

Bright green eyes were staring into her own as Sakura was pulled up from the ground by an iron grip on her arms. “Be grateful for once in your life, girl! I’ve provided everything you’ve ever eaten, anything you’ve ever worn, and I even let you go to that school.” Her voice began to get progressively louder. “Don’t you know I can take those things away as soon as you do anything out of line?”

Sakura whipped her head up and down wildly, her breath coming in quicker. She just wanted her to let go.

“Speak your words, Sakura.”

After a few rushed breaths, Sakura whispered, “I understand.”

Saura flinched when her okaa-san’s voice raised once again. “What? I couldn’t hear you!”

Every blood vessel in Sakura’s body felt like it was on fire. ‘I understand, I understand, I understand, I understand. Please, let me go.’ The words were rushing through her head, but she wasn’t able to force them past her lips.

“Well?”

“I- I under-understand.”

There was a sharp pain in her forehead as she was dropped back to the ground.

Her okaa-san’s footsteps were the only broken by the sound of her next words. “Next time, be able to say that to me while looking me in the eyes.”

Sakura didn’t know how long she sat on the ground after that. Unlike before when she could feel every cell in her body being lit on fire, now all she could feel was a still nothingness. But it’s okay. Everything is going to be okay. If she did what her okaa-san said, it would be okay.
With shaking hands, Sakura reached for her homework, trying in vain to straighten out the paper where it had been crumpled earlier. Almost methodically, she walked up the stairs to her room, her hand gripping tightly to the wall beside her.

Only when she sat herself down on the floor with the door closed did she let the tear rolled down from their prison. She wouldn’t let her okaa-san see her tears. She needed to show her okaa-san she could be strong.

She wore a long sleeved-shirt the next day to school.

Chapter Text

Sakura did a lot of things in her life because her okaa-san wanted her to. She tried to get Sasuke to notice her. She failed, but Sakura was pretty okay with that. She learned as much as she could, and as fast as she could so that she wouldn’t fall behind in class. She was one of the only civilian born kids at the Academy and all the other students would get help from their parents. Sakura couldn’t ask her okaa-san, or even mention the word shinobi in her presence. But despite all of the things going against her, she’s graduating, just like the rest of her class. Well except maybe for Naruto, but he’s the kind of person who always figures something out in the end.

Sakura snorted quietly at the thought of Naruto crashing through the window, his brand new hitai-ate gleaming on his forehead. That would be a very Naruto thing to do. Ino glanced over at her, a questioning look in her blue eyes, but Sakura only shook her head, a small smile on her face. The blonde-haired girl smiled back, still confused, but turned back around to berate Shikamaru about falling asleep and missing their meeting the day before. Again, Sakura smiled and went back into her thoughts as the Nara heir half-heartedly fended of Ino and her quest to be difficult.

When Ino had told Sakura about her crush on Sasuke, she had been secretly relieved that she now had an excuse to not be around him. Ino had really liked him for a time but began to get over him after the novelty wore off. But it wouldn’t have mattered to Sakura if Ino was in love with Sasuke forever, got married to him, and had twenty babies. Okay maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but Sakura didn’t care if Ino liked someone her okaa-san wanted her to marry. Having a friend was more important than marrying some pretty boy with a superiority complex.

‘But is it really?’ Sakura flinched at the raspy voice that begins to whisper in her ear almost as if summoned. ‘Is it really okay that you don’t want to do what your okaa-san says? I mean she’s your okaa-san, isn’t she? She’s only doing what’s best for you, and you know that.'

Sakura’s hand reached up and began twisting her long, pink locks between her fingers.

‘You should be grateful for everything she’s done. Why don’t you appreciate her more?’

Her grip on her hair become more intense, but Sakura was blinded to the pain that began to appear on her scalp.

‘When she tells you your forehead is why you’re ugly, she says it only because it's true. And when she tells you to go on diet because you’re getting too heavy, she only says it because she knows what’s best for you. And when she says you’ll never succeed as a shinobi, it’s because you’re weak and cowardly-’

“Sakura!” The voice was cut off abruptly when Ino yelled her name and simultaneously threw a piece of paper at her.

Sakura flinched, letting go of her hair, breathing deeply to calm herself down. Everything was fine, she was good at pretending everything was fine.

She turned around leisurely knowing Ino would start ranting even if she wasn’t ready to listen yet.

“Tell Shikamaru that a lot of important things got discussed yesterday and if everything wasn’t just a pain for him, then he would actually do well in school!”

Ah, the neverending argument.

As soon as Sakura finished turning her head, she was greeted with an intense stare. For a moment though, Ino’s eyes weren’t blue, they were green, as green as if Sakura was looking in a mirror. For a brief second, Sakura thought through everything she had done that day and wondered if it had been up to standards. Then she blinked, and Ino’s eyes returned to their normal color and the only intensity left in her eyes was friendly. That’s right, everything was fine.

When she looked past Ino, who was wildly waving her arms to match her flamboyant words, she shared a small shrug with Choji who was sitting behind her, a bag of chips in his hands. Next to Choji with a look of everlasting boredom was Shikamaru, who wasn’t even pretending to pay attention to Ino. Ino, of course, was too preoccupied scolding him to notice that he wasn’t actually listening to her.

“And another thing-” Ino was cut off by the door swinging open and the massive shout that came from the now open space.

“UZUMAKI NARUTO IS HERE!” Sakura rolled her eyes fondly when she saw Naruto grinning widely, his orange jumpsuit as bright as his smile.

“Baka-Naruto!” Ino spun around from attacking Shikamaru to screech at the dead last of the class. Well, he apparently wasn’t doing as badly as everyone thought, because that was definitely a hitai-ate resting underneath his unnaturally bright yellow hair. But in all honesty, Sakura had no room to talk.

Sakura snorted in her brain as she brushed her pink hair behind her shoulder, and as Ino continued to interrogate Naruto on how he had possibly passed. Her gaze continued to follow Naruto as he simply shrugged with a sly grin on his face, and marched up to Sasuke with his hands behind his head. Sasuke simply raised an eyebrow at the blond as he began to crow about how he got his hitai-ate was a village secret.

Chuckling, Sakura turned away from them to glance at her hands. She winced when she noticed the small crescent shaped scars that were undoubtedly hidden under her fingerless gloves.

Shaking her head, she moved on to think about what everyone in this room was probably thinking about. Who was going to be on her genin team? That’s right. Sakura was a genin now. Her hand unconsciously reached up to rub her new headband that was in the form of a brand new hitai-ate.

Sakura scanned the room. Well, all the people Sakura was already comfortable with wouldn’t even be a possibility if the council didn’t want to anger three major clans in Konoha. Ino, Choji, and Shikamaru were bound to make up the next generation of Ino-Shika-Cho, which left Sakura out.

The next person her eyes landed on was Hyuuga Hinata. Sakura supposed she wouldn’t be too bad, but she didn’t think that there had ever been a team with two girls on it. There was conveniently just the right amount of girls in her class to have each of the teams be one girl and two boys.

Next was Inuzuka Kiba, and right away Sakura knew she would be bulldozed by his never-ending energy. Akamaru was pretty cute though. Currently, the new genin and his nin-dog were chatting together, which pretty much meant Kiba was explaining a new taijutsu move to his dog and Akamaru was sleeping in his hood.

Sakura didn’t have to look behind her to know that Aburame Shino was sitting behind her. He never talked and always had his hood pulled up and his jacket covering his mouth. Shino was a very difficult person to read, which would probably mean that Sakura would need to get to know him better if they were put on a team together.

Now Sasuke… He was the one person Sakura hoped she wouldn’t be put on a team with. Yeah, Sasuke was nice enough and would definitely make her want to better her skills as a shinobi, but there was the problem of her okaa-san wanting Sakura to marry him one day. And Sakura was trying to avoid that as much as possible. There was also that problem that he was so consumed with being better than his older brother Itachi that he sometimes forgot to be considerate.

There was only one person left in the room that Sakura knew and at the moment he was being pushed by someone from behind into a kiss with none other than Uchiha Sasuke. Sakura almost released a loud snort but held it in when all of her okaa-san’s teachings came back to her.

‘A lady shouldn’t do anything unladylike if she wants to get married someday. And you need to get married, Sakura to have a good life.’

Sakura closed her eyes for a brief second amid all the horrified screeching of Sasuke’s fangirls.

‘That’s right, Sakura. Okaa-san knows best.’

Okaa-san knows best.

Whenever Sakura had a thought that even went slightly against her okaa-san’s, the voice in her head was always ready to jump in and right the wrong.

Shaking her head, Sakura moved back to her people watching. Naruto was now being chased by a large crowd of girls and Sasuke was still sitting at his desk with his hand folded, but his eyes now seemed to be filled with trauma. Some girls sat by him, pressed up against his side. They were whining loudly about how awful Naruto was for stealing a kiss from their beloved Sasuke-kun. Whining about how Naruto had the right to even get that close to Sasuke-kun.

Sakura wasn’t really sure why so many people hated Naruto, and by many people, she meant pretty much the entirety of Konoha. Her okaa-san didn't even call him by his name, only devil boy, or devil child, or husband murderer. Sure Naruto was annoying sometimes, but Sakura didn’t see how that made him the reason her father was dead. He would have been just a baby like the rest of her class when her father died when the Kyuubi attacked. Sakura knew her okaa-san wanted her to hate Naruto, but she couldn’t find it in herself to say no to him. She saw how so many people treated him, and she knew what it felt like to have people hate you for just being yourself --

‘WHAT?! WHAT DID YOU SAY?’ Sakura’s smile crept off her face, instantly regretting her own thoughts. Of course, the voice would come back. The voice always comes back when she thinks anything that’s wrong about her okaa-san.

‘Your okaa-san only does what she does because she wants what’s best for you. HOW DARE YOU THINK THAT YOU KNOW BETTER THAN HER! SHE HAS SACRIFICED SO MUCH JUST TO GIVE YOU A BETTER LIFE.’

Sakura felt her mind begin to curl in on itself. ‘I know, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again, I’m sorry.’ She said pleadingly to the voice.

A deep laughter echo through her head. ‘Sorry doesn’t cut it Sa-ku-ra-chan. Think before you speak and maybe your okaa-san won't have to do so much to take care of you.’ The voice scoffed. ‘Worthless. Annoying. Coward.’

“Hey, Sakura?” A hand on her shoulder halted the voice’s words.

Whose hand is that on her shoulder? Why would anyone want to touch her? Her, someone so worthless, and cowardly, and annoying, and ungrateful. Sakura felt the world around her going by as a blur. There was a dull pain in her arm, but who was she kidding. She probably deserved it.

“Sakura? Are you okay? It’s me, Ino.” There was worry permeating the air now, and whispers encircled her head. Now Sakura could feel everything going on around her. The pressure on her shoulder, the pain in her arm from her nails digging into her skin, Choji asking Shikamaru what was wrong, and Ino repeating her question again.

“Sakura? Are you okay?” Everything was fine. Sakura was fine. They didn’t need to worry. This was normal. Stop worrying.

Sakura blinked a few times, the desk in front of her coming into focus. She turned her head slightly to the left to see Ino staring at her, concern bright in her gaze. Shikamaru glanced at her from above, questions brimming in his eyes and Choji had paused eating his chips. A tight smile was forced onto her face.

“I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?” Ino questioned, her hand tentatively leaving Sakura’s shoulder when she noticed her pink haired friend tensing.

“Yeah.” Sakura brushed her hair out of her eyes and tried to make her smile more genuine. “I was just worried about what team I’m going to be placed in.” Not a single one of her friends seemed convinced that she was telling the truth, but they seemed to understand that Sakura wasn’t going to say anything else. What could she say? That she had a second voice in her head that corrected her whenever she crossed a line and that she was scared to go home and face her okaa-san.

‘Scared of your own okaa-san, wow, you really are pathetic. Why would you be frightened of her? She never hits you.’

Sakura’s thought rushed to all the times she had gone up to her room with her forehead smarting.

‘Your okaa-san does that to knock some sense back into you. Kami knows you need some of that if you ever want to succeed in life.’

‘I sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’

‘Simply words.’ There was a brief pause in the voice’s words and in that time, Sakura smiled again at Ino who was trying to figure out what was going on with only her eyes. She was definitely a Yamanaka, Sakura thought.

‘Remember, Okaa-san is always right. Remember that, Sa-ku-ra-chan.’ With that, the voice left and Sakura could finally breathe properly again. She turned to face Ino and was about to give some more excuses about her behavior when the door opened again and all the students were greeted with a cheerful, “Good morning, students!”

Iruka-sensei had a soft smile on his face as he glanced proudly at the new genin in front of him. Then he let out a small chuckle and said, “Well, I guess I shouldn’t call you that anymore because as of today, none of you are my students.” A sad look crossed his face when he rested his gaze on Naruto who was simultaneously pouting and looking very proud of himself at the front. Iruka-sensei always seemed to have an extra special bond with Naruto and they could often be seen together at Ichiraku’s. The fact that Naruto at least had one person who cared about him was what comforted Sakura when the voice made her leave Naruto by himself. Sometimes she was able to fight it enough to let Naruto sit by her or to be in the same group as him. But more often than not, the voice won, and Sakura left Naruto alone on the swings wistfully looking at families being reunited after school.

The voice growled at her to get her head out of the clouds and pay attention, so Sakura shook her head a bit and focused on what Iruka-sensei was saying. “Alright, and now the time I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for, the genin team assignments.” Whispers erupted all around, but Sakura remained silent and stared straight ahead at Iruka-sensei’s paper that he was holding. That paper was the thing that would determine Sakura’s future as a shinobi, and she wasn’t sure if she was ready for what the future held.

And so she kept her breath in as Iruka-sensei began to read out names.

A few teams had gone by when he uttered the words, “Team 7. Uzumaki Naruto, Haruno Sakura.” Time seemed to pause as Sakura’s eyes widened and released her breath as Naruto lept up with glee from the row in front of her. He glanced back at her adoringly, and Sakura wondered why Naruto even liked her.

But that wasn’t important because the last person on her team was about to be announced.

Everything would be fine if it was anyone but Sasuke. Everything would be fine if it was anyone but Sasuke. Everything would be fine if it was anyone but Sasu--

“And Uchiha Sasuke.”

Everything was not going to be fine.

Chapter Text

The next three hours were some of the worst hours in Sakura’s life. After Ino’s sensei had come, the blond had rested a comforting hand on Sakura’s shoulder and walked out the door with Choji and Shikamaru. As the Nara stepped out of the room, he shot a glance at Sakura over his shoulder, but turned back around quickly. Hinata’s sensei had come not two minutes after that, and the Hyuuga had followed the black haired jounin with Shino walking behind her silently and Kiba practically prancing with Akamaru in his arms. Then it was just Sakura left alone in the classroom with Naruto and Sasuke. Iruka-sensei had stayed in the room with them for the first thirty minutes of waiting, claiming every so often that their new sensei should be there soon. But as time passed, every time he said it now sounded like he needed to convince himself of this fact also. And when Iruka-sensei left, saying that he had other matters to attend to, Naruto slammed his head into the desk in front of him, letting out the largest exasperated groan Sakura had ever heard. Then he lifted his head up again, looked at the door despairingly, and plunged his head back down again. Each time his head collided with the desk, Sakura flinched back, wishing that their sensei would just come so Naruto would stop. Then she wished that her sensei would never show up so that she would be obligated to stay in the classroom to wait for them, which would then prevent her from going home. If she didn’t go home then okaa-san wouldn’t tell her everything she already knew, that she was ugly, that no one would love her, that she would never make it as a shinobi, that-

Naruto’s head crashing especially loud into the desk forced her from those thoughts. Sakura was partially glad because if her thoughts had continued down that trail for much longer the voice would have come back to knock her in place. So instead she blinked a few times and turned to watch Naruto raise his head once more.

But before he could lower it, a scoff was heard from by the window. “If you keep doing that, you lose the few brain cells you started with, dobe.”

Naruto’s head stopped inches from his desk as he let out an enraged shout of, “TEME!” He then proceeded to vault over his desk.

Sakura smiled with no humor as she watched the boys get into a shouting match with each other, the most common words being teme and dobe. Yeah, this genin team wasn’t shaping up to be all that great. An extremely late sensei, a callous prodigy, an overexcitable spitfire, and a useless coward.

“Hmmm, guess you should have just listened to your okaa-san, Sa-ku-ra-chan.”

It’s fine, Sakura. You don’t have to listen to the voice, the voice doesn’t control you.

“Did you actually think that you could become a shinobi?”

Iruka-sensei wouldn’t have passed her if he didn’t think she could do it.

“He just couldn’t think of a reason to fail you. Sure, your grades are fine but have you seen yourself during the practicals. It’d be surprising if you could hit the center of the target from two feet away.”

Sakura could get better at that. Genin was just the first step.

“Do you think you could actually get better? Do you think your sensei will actually pay attention to you? Look at your teammates.”

Sakura grimaced as she did what the voice said, no longer able to hold it at bay. She focused on her two teammates who had stopped yelling at each other but had instead decided to glare at each other from opposite corners of the room.

“Well lookie what we’ve got here. The Uchiha prodigy that’s going to be Konoha’s pride and joy soon. Sure his personality has some work to do, but no one can doubt his skills. Sensei is really going to love him.”

Sakura began to feel her fingernails begin to dig into her forearms.

“And hey, Naruto might not be that bright, but he sure knows how to keep fighting. That’s a good trait in a shinobi, isn’t that right? Too bad you never have the courage to even start something.”

That’s not true. Sakura convinced her mom to let her become a shinobi in the first place--

“She only let you into the academy so you could get this stupid out of your head. She only let you in because she wanted you to realize that you would never have what it takes to become a good shinobi. And let’s face it.” The voice suddenly dropped an octave. “You’ll never be a good shinobi.”

Shivers ran up Sakura’s spine. She could faintly feel liquid running down her arm, but the voice wouldn’t let her focus on anything except itself.

“I bet if you walk out this door right now no one will care. Naruto and Sasuke will be better off without you.”

Maybe the voice was right.

Sakura turned to look at her teammates again. Sasuke was staring out the window with his arms crossed while Naruto was throwing a kunai up and down, quietly counting whenever he caught it. They wouldn’t notice. Naruto acted like he liked her, but how much of that was actually true. Ino had been her friends since she was four when they bumped into each other when Sakura was lost one day and she had met Shikamaru and Choji not long after. But they were only friends because of coincidence. Would they really still want to be her friends?

“No one would notice if you just left--”

“Hey, Sakura-chan? Whatcha looking at?” Sakura blinked her head a few times and she was met with Naruto looking at her curiously while balancing kunai on both of his index fingers.

“Oh, um.” The voice’s presence disappeared as if Naruto had chased it away with just a word. Sometimes when people started talking to her, the voice just continued on its rant, but now that Sakura thought about it, it never did that with Naruto. Sure it said awful things about Naruto, but it never spoke when he was. Almost… as if it was scared of him.

Now fully aware of what was going on, Sakura frantically hid her arm from sight, covering the crescent shaped cuts on her arm.

“I was just looking if I could see our sensei coming.” Sakura laughed sheepishly.

Naruto grinned at her as if her answering his question was one of the best things she could do.

Then he made a little growl and jutted his lip out in a pretty adorable pout. “Our sensei sucks! Why are they so late?” Naruto flung his arms up. “I betcha they fell asleep and forgot to get us. Or, or, or they were on a top secret mission and they couldn’t get back in time for us.”

“I’m sure they’ll get here soon.”

Naruto continued to pout. “That’s what Iruka-sensei said two hours ago! And then he left! He’d better repay me with ramen later.” Naruto proceeded to scowl the door as if that would make their sensei appear from thin air. Then a mischevious smirk crept onto his face that made Sakura immediately nervous about he was about to do. Naruto was notorious for his pranks and an expression like that could only mean trouble. But then he began cackling and Sakura was convinced he was about to get her murdered. Even Sasuke looked up from his brooding, and the only sign that he was even the slightest bit concerned was the fact that his left eyebrow was raised slightly. The Uchiha glanced over at Sakura and for one second it seemed like they understood each other. They were both in the same boat of about to be murdered by their teammate before they even had their first mission.

Sakura shrugged when she saw the question in Sasuke’s eyes and they turned to look at Naruto snickering on top of a chair, placing an eraser between the sliding door.

Okay for all that build up, the end result was a bit of a letdown. The least he could do was rig some elaborate wire trap that would at least do maybe a little bit. But then again their sensei was an elite jounin, so Sakura doubted any prank Naruto pulled would actually work on them.

Sasuke put on his patented smirk. “Hn, as if that would work, dead-last. If our sensei couldn’t evade a simple eraser trap, then Konoha’s standards for jounin have really gone down.”

Sakura sighed as she sensed an upcoming fight, dropping her face into her hands. She was definitely going to be the mediator of this team. Somehow feeling that this day wasn’t going to get any better after this point, Sakura moved to sit back in a seat near the front, her hands resting loosely on the desk with her chin between them. Honestly, their sensei had better have a good reason for being this late. Whenever Sakura was late for doing something for her okaa-san, the end result was never good. After the first time Sakura was late getting back from a meeting with the youngest generation of Ino-Shika-Cho, she learned it was just better to come back at least five minutes early. Sakura shivered just from the memory.

A loud gasp echoed from across the room, and Sakura shot her head up to see what was going on. Was their sensei finally here? After she figured out what made Naruto gasp, Sakura really wished that had been the case.

“Sakura-chan, what happened to your arm?!” Naruto was now crouching on the desk in front of her, a look of concern in his expressive eyes. He reached out to grab her bloodied arm, something she had totally forgotten about as she watched Naruto’s antics. She flinched on instinct, pulling her arm against her body, and pushing her chair back from the blond-haired prankster.

Sakura had always been so careful. People hadn’t asked about these sorts of things before. She always wore her fingerless gloves to hide the marks on her hands. She wore long sleeved shirts and full length pants when necessary, but that didn’t happen often. How could being around Naruto make her comfortable enough that she forgot?

“Sakura-chan?” Naruto kept leaning in closer and Sakura kept leaning back. For a moment Naruto was just a shapeless figure looming over her, and it was like Sakura’s breath was sucked out of her lungs.

“Are you okay, Sakura-chan?” Sakura felt a tentative hand on her shoulder and she was shaken out of her reverie. She took a second to regain her bearings, focusing first on the chair under her and the hand on her shoulder.

Everything was fine. She wasn’t at her house. She wasn’t with her okaa-san.

“Yeah.” Her voice was weaker than she wanted it to be, so Sakura cleared her throat and looked up to meet Naruto’s eyes. “I’m fine, Naruto. Don’t worry about it.”

But Naruto wasn’t as dumb as everyone thought he was. The look of uncertainty was still clear in his eyes, and out of Sakura’s peripheral vision, Sakura could see Sasuke watching the whole exchange. Wow, really great start for the team. Sakura moved her hand to cover the marks and flashed a quick smile. “Yeah, it’s totally fine! I just ran into a cat on the way here and it wasn’t all that happy to see me.”

“Those didn’t really look like cat scratches, and believe me-”

“Naruto.”

“I know what cat scratches look like cause cats frickin hate me, ya know. They just attack me wherever I go-” Naruto rambled on, waving his arms, and keeping pretty good balance as he continued to crouch on the desk.

“Naruto, really-”

“And another thing-”

“Dobe, if you don’t stop talking-” Like a switch was flipped, Naruto immediately rounded on the Uchiha with his fists raised.

“Ehhh? Say that again, teme!” Sasuke smirked from his position leaning against the war farthest from the other two members of Team 7. For one split second though, he glanced at Sakura and then her arm with questions in his eyes, but then it was gone and he was facing off with Naruto again. Sakura didn’t want to read too much into his look, but for whatever reason, Sakura was glad he got Naruto’s attention off of her.

Sakura wasn’t too worried about the boys, but their fight became louder at an exponential rate, and Naruto finished each of his sentences by jumping the desk over until he was right in Sasuke’s face. Sakura grinned despite herself, thinking to a few hours earlier when they had been in that exact same position, but then Naruto had been pushed into a kiss. Wouldn’t it be funny if history repeated itself?

Sakura shook her head, but the grin seemed to be stuck on her face. But that grin was soon wiped off when the boys didn’t end their yelling two minutes later. Sakura could deal with a lot. She could deal with being insulted, yelled at herself, and being smacked on the forehead every so often, but if there was one thing that Sakura couldn’t stand, it was prepubescent boys fighting like actual two-year-olds.

Before Sakura knew what her body was doing, she was marching over to the confrontation, shoving herself between Sasuke and Naruto and planting a hand on both of their chests and pushing back.

“Boys! Are you seriously fighting right now?” Sakura whipped her head around ferociously and didn’t even register the shocked looks in both of their eyes. “I get it, our sensei is late, but that doesn’t give us the reason to act like children. Now if we want to be a good team, you two can’t be fighting each other every time one of you says something the other doesn’t like!”

“Wow, wow, wow. Look at little Blossom-chan, taking charge and everything.”  Sakura almost jumped at the drastically different voice in her head than usual. The voice was back, but something was different this time. Instead of being deep and raspy, the voice was high pitched and mocking. “Didn’t know the little delicate blossom had it in her. Wonder why you can’t stand up to your okaa-san like this.”

Wait, what? Since when did the voice ever say anything about standing up against her okaa-san?

“Hmm, I don’t know either Blossom-chan. Don’t really feel like sucking up to mother dearest right now, you know.”

Sakura didn’t have any time to ponder on this new development when she heard a thunking sound and a thoughtful noise coming from the doorway. Almost as if on command, Sakura, Naruto, and Sasuke all turned their heads towards the door in perfect sync.

“Maa, maa, maa. Hmm, you guys are interesting.” There in front of them stood a tall jounin in standard jounin dress, the flak jacket zipped up over a blue long-sleeved shirt. Loose blue pants were secured at the thigh and standard toeless shinobi shoes adorned the person’s feet. A skin-tight mask covered the person’s face up to their nose, and their hitai-ate covered their left eye. But even with all of the other features on this person, Sakura found what really drew her attention was the gravity-defying silver hair with chalk dust as a decoration.

Sakura felt her mouth dropping open, her hands still positioned on Naruto’s and Sasuke’s chests.

You’re our sensei?!” Naruto practically stole Sakura’s words from her mouth and she could hear the voice inside of her head cracking up, just not as cynically as usual. Sasuke pushed Sakura’s hand off him, and Sakura suddenly remembered her position and her previous boldness, and her arms shot back towards her chest. She had never done anything like that before, what had possibly come over her? She looked warily at her new sensei, hoping he wouldn’t be too displeased about her audacious actions, but he still seemed to be sizing them up with his one visible eye. Then the part of his mask where is mouth should be situated lifted up in what Sakura assumed was a sarcastic smirk.

“Meet me on the roof in two minutes.” With that her new sensei disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Sasuke and Naruto shared a quick look before they dashed off out the door at the same moment, both clearly intending what their sensei said to be a race. Sakura followed behind them more slowly, pondering her previous actions. She pondered as she left the room, and as she climbed up the stairs. She pondered as the echoing of footsteps in the stairwell reached her ears and she pondered as she heard the shouts that came when there wasn’t a clear winner in the unofficial race the boys had just run. She was pondering when her hand turned the doorknob to the roof, but she suddenly stopped pondering when she was greeted with three gazes.

At that moment all of the boldness in her body escaped her, and she shrunk in on herself. Sakura walked slowly to the stairs where Naruto and Sasuke were sitting and positioned herself a decent ways away from both of them. She felt their curious glances and felt her sensei’s analyzing stare pierce her soul from where he was leaning against the railing.

“Maa, I guess introductions are the first thing to do, huh.” Sakura thought it sounded rather like their new sensei was talking to himself instead of to them.

“Introductions? We don’t even know who you are, super-late-sensei!” Naruto lept up from his spot on the stairs to point accusingly at their sensei. “And you even fell for my eraser prank! How good of a shinobi could you possibly be?”

Sasuke sighed and Sakura face-palmed internally.

“Hn, shut up, usuratonkachi,” Sasuke deadpanned.

“Hm, this team is going just swimmingly, huh, Sa-ku-ra-chan? Maybe this is just the universe giving you a sign. Uncooperative teammates, a late sensei, and this fear clenching around your insides.”

The voice was back to its usual bass tone with the underlying rasp and Sakura could almost hear the smile when it continued to speak. “I wonder what okaa-san is going to say when you tell her you’re on a team with Uchiha Sasuke and the devil child?”

Sakura froze and she could almost feel the cold breath on her ear as the whisper trailed of by saying its last piece.

“Won’t she just be thrilled...”

Chapter Text

For once in his life, Hatake Kakashi wished something could be simple. But then again, most shinobi don’t get simple lives, especially when they just so happen to be child prodigies as well. One day, just one day , he wanted to be able to wake up in the morning, be perpetually late for all of his obligations, read some Icha Icha, stand in front of the Memorial for hours on end, and ultimately go home to sleep at night. BUT NO! He just had to be saddled with yet another team, even after he tried so hard to fail all the other ones. He thought that maybe the Sandaime would see that Kakashi really didn’t want students, and then would just stop giving them to him. But the Hokage seemed pretty keen on Kakashi being a sensei, especially the sensei to the new Team 7. This new Team 7 that was comprised of the younger Uchiha heir, the son of Kakashi’s late sensei aka the Kyuubi jinchuriki, and some obscure pink-haired paper kunoichi.

Kakashi woke up the morning he was supposed to go and “meet” his team, even though he had already been spying on them for the past two days. He didn’t really see anything of interest other than the fact that Naruto ate too much ramen, Sasuke had some intense need to prove himself, and Sakura was the unknown fourth corner in the newest Ino-Shika-Cho. Okay, so maybe that last one was surprising for Kakashi to find out, but after watching the girl for a little bit longer, he didn’t really see out of the box talents like both of her teammates.

Kakashi had followed Naruto as he set up one of his pranks and if anything, Kakashi was impressed that he could be so stealthy in the bright orange jumpsuit he never seemed to take off.  Kakashi saw a side of Sasuke that many people probably didn’t see as he was almost having a breakdown while trying to perfect a complicated jutsu. Kakashi was sure that if he passed this team, it certainly wouldn’t be boring.

From his time observing them before the official creation of the team, he noticed that his three new students didn’t really seem to be close to each other. Naruto would exuberantly greet Sakura, but she was never enthusiastic with responding. She would give a small smile to him but then turn back to the security of the blond-haired Yamanaka. Sakura seemed to especially avoid Sasuke, never really meeting his eyes but never showing outright animosity.

But speaking of outright animosity, the two boys of the team have no trouble letting each other know how much they despise each other. Part of Kakashi knew that some of it was just because they were rivals and they always wanted to one-up each other, but there was also just the factor of their very similar personalities. Both Naruto and Sasuke wanted to be noticed by people, the village or their family respectively, which led to a lot of conflicts.

Hmm, nope, getting too deep. Better go read some Icha Icha.

But even if he was ultimately going to fail them, Kakashi was dreading the time he had to spend with his next group of gremlins.

‘Why does the Sandaime hate me?’ Kakashi wondered as he stood outside the classroom door. Even as he walked up the hallway he could hear two voices yelling, and Kakashi was guessing since every other word was either teme, usuratonkachi, dobe, dead-last, or bastard that Naruto and Sasuke were having another one of their friendly chats.

Kakashi stood just outside the doorway, calculating if he had time to read a new chapter of Icha Icha while he waited for his cute students to descend into madness. He was about to pull it out when he heard new footsteps aside from the other ones already scuffing around together. He almost fell forward when he heard what he had observed to be a shy girl directly put her teammates in place.

Oh this, Kakashi had to see.

Of course, Kakashi had noticed the eraser prank that Naruto had most definitely set up, but Kakashi always liked surprising people after they underestimated him. Their faces of absolute shock when he kicked their butts were some of the only things that gave his life real meaning. Another thing that was giving his life meaning just so happened to be his cute little genin in a position he never expected to see them in.

Sakura had pushed herself between the two boys, her hands on their chests keeping them from charging again.

“Maa, maa, maa. Hmm, you guys are interesting.”

All three of them were in similar states of shock, but each was showing it differently. Naruto immediately began to loudly profess his disbelief, Sasuke looked ready to faceplant into the ground, and Sakura was beginning to shrink in on herself. She looked like she expected Kakashi to yell at her or something.

Interesting. Maybe there was more to the pink-haired kunoichi than he thought.

Kakashi smirked. Alright, time to get this show on the road.

So, of course, the first thing he decided to do was screw with them.

“Meet me on the roof in two minutes.” As Kakashi disappeared he heard the cry of outrage coming from Naruto and the two pairs of feet beginning to run up the stairs. The last pair of feet followed at a more sedate pace, hesitation clear in each step.

There is definitely something up with his only girl student, Kakashi thought as he perched on the railing of the roof, just waiting for the imminent yelling that he soon would be able to hear coming from the stairwell.

“STOP PUSHING ME, TEME!”

“Stop making excuses, usuratonkachi! You just don’t like that I’m winning!”

“I’M THE ONE WHO’S GOING TO WIN!”

The door burst open with Sasuke and Naruto falling on top of each other after trying to squish past each other in the one-person doorway.

The following argument was one of the most entertaining, yet exasperating things Kakashi had ever witnessed, aside from Gai. Lots of shouting, insulting, and tackling ensued and Kakashi was glad that he hadn’t been like that as a kid. Or maybe he was, being around Obito had made him extremely immature sometimes.

“I get it, extreme rivalry and all that crap, but can you save that energy for actual spars?”

Both of the boys whipped their heads at him, Sasuke in the middle of having Naruto in an undignified headlock and Naruto with his hands trying to rip out Sasuke’s hair.

Wow, they really get serious over nothing. It was like watching those soap operas that Genma recommended to him.

“You still haven’t even told us your name, baka-sensei,” Naruto proclaimed, not moving an inch. “Why should we listen to you?”

Sasuke nodded as well as he could with Naruto holding onto his hair.

These guys really have no respect for authority. Eh, better to ingrain some fear in them now.

Kakashi smiled. “Because I’m the one who will determine if you can compete in the Chunin Exams.”

Sasuke’s eyes widened, and he reluctantly let Naruto go.

“Ehhhh, Chunin Exams? What are those?” Naruto narrowed his eyes suspiciously, having yet to release the Uchiha’s black locks.

“How did you even graduate from the academy? Did you ever actually listen in class?” Sasuke wrestled himself away from the excitable Uzumaki, smacking his hands a few times for good measure.

Naruto whined at him, rubbed his neck a few times, but then looked expectantly at Kakashi.

Kakashi sighed. “We’ll talk about the Chunin exams if you three get that far.”

Naruto looked like he was about to jump into some more fast-paced questions, but at that moment, Sakura walked onto the roof. There was a look in her eyes that Kakashi knew all too well, and it was at that moment that he knew for sure that there was something else about Sakura that nobody else knew. Kakashi figured he would have to add some more sleuthing onto his agenda.

As soon as the kunoichi sat down, Kakashi said, “Maa, I guess introductions are the first thing to do, huh.”

Naruto, being the predictable kid that he was immediately felt the need to yell something at him, and Sasuke, also predictable was quick to insult his intelligence. Sakura didn’t say anything, but a look of fear was slowly growing in her eyes as she studied her teammates.

“Your names, likes, dislikes, hobbies, dreams for the future. Stuff like that.” Kakashi lazily pointed at Naruto. “You start, blondie.”

The Uzumaki opened his mouth, then closed it in a scrunch faced pout. “Why don’t you go first, Baka-sensei. Give us an example, ya know.”

Wow, turning this stuff on your own sensei that you just met five minutes ago. How noble of you Naruto.

“Well alright then. My name is Hatake Kakashi-”

“HA! We know your name now, Baka-sensei!” Naruto crowed. “Baka-sensei…” A thoughtful expression was adopted on the Uzumaki’s face and then a devious grin almost threatened to split his face apart. “Bakakashi-sensei!”

Kakashi froze. When was the last time he had heard someone call him that? That nickname was reserved for only one person in his life and that person had been dead for a long time. But as Kakashi looked at Naruto grinning in front of him, it was almost like he was seeing Obito again, professing that he was going to become Hokage.

Kakashi cleared his throat. “And I like a lot of things, dislike a lot of things too, and my dreams for the future are of no consequence to you three.”

Naruto’s grin dropped as he tilted his head, confused. “So all we learned was your name?”

Sasuke snorted, crossing his arms. “Did you expect to get anything interesting, usuratonkachi?”

Naruto was about to rear forward in retort, but before he had the time, Kakashi was right behind him, gave him a light smack on the head and was back to his place before they even noticed he had moved.

Kakashi huffed a bit, then gestured at the put off Uzumaki. “Like I was saying, it’s your turn, blondie.”

Naruto scowled but launched into his introduction anyways. “My name is Uzumaki Naruto, don’t forget it! I like cup ramen, and I especially like Ichiraku’s ramen when Iruka-sensei treats me!” He seemed like he was thinking unnecessarily hard about what he was going to say next. “I dislike the three minutes that it takes for cup ramen to finish cooking.” Again a mischevious smirk crept on his face and he pointedly turned to Sasuke who was pretending not to listen to what Naruto was saying.

“I also don’t like Sasuke.” He stuck his tongue out at Sasuke as the Uchiha prepared to send himself barreling at the Uchiha but was held back by a single look from Kakashi.

Why did simple introductions have to take so long?

“I also like pranking,” Naruto continued. “And my dream for the future is to become Hokage so that the whole village will recognize me!” There was a short second when there was sadness in Naruto’s bright blue eyes, but it was gone as quick as it came.

Kakashi tipped his head at the person next in the line of genin. “Alright, broody. Your turn.”

Sasuke scowled and crossed his arms more aggressively. “My name is Uchiha Sasuke. I don’t like a lot of things, I dislike Naruto, I like training, and my dream for the future is to surpass my brother.”

Well, that was predictable. Kakashi was almost surprised he said as many words as he did.

Kakashi finally rested on the last person. Sakura hadn’t looked like she was actually paying attention to what the others were saying and was simply looking at her hands.

“Pinkie.” When Kakashi uttered those words, her head shot up. “Your turn.”

She began to twist some of her long hair between her fingers. “Umm, I’m Haruno Sakura. I like anmitsu, dango, and my friends. I dislike.” At this she paused. But then after a moment, she took a deep breath and continued. “I don’t dislike a lot of things and I like to read. I…” Again she stopped and clenched her fingers together. “I don’t really know what my dream for the future is.” With that, she looked up and met Kakashi’s eyes for a second then looked away as if she had done something wrong.

“Alrighty then! Now that we’ve got that over with.” Kakashi clapped definitively. “I’ll have to break some bad news to you guys.” He stopped for a few seconds to let the suspense grow. Dramatic pause and all that show-biz stuff. “You guys aren’t genin yet.”

Naruto lept up, already yelling protests and questions. Even Sasuke and Sakura looked up in surprise, both of them with genuine confusion and some fear mixed in there as well.

“You guys took the test that’s used for screening who has the potential to become genin, and so you have another test that you need to pass before you can become full-fledged genin.”

Oh, this was Kakashi’s favorite part. He leaned in and dropped his voice to his intimidation tone. “And of course there is only a 33% percent pass rate.” With that, he turned around on the railing, only looking behind him to say, “Meet me at Training Ground Three, tomorrow morning at 0700 hours.” Then he jumped off the roof, leaving confused yelling behind him.

This was going to be fun.

Chapter Text

The moment Kakashi-sensei jumped off the roof Sakura felt all the dread that had been building up for the past five minutes drop straight in her shoulders. It was hard to breathe for a second, and she just sat, frozen, on the stairs. She could feel Naruto’s confusion and Sasuke’s annoyance without even understanding what they were saying. She could hear the beginnings of a mock spar erupting not too far away from her position, but she didn’t care too much until she felt a sharp pain on her right cheek. Immediately, Sakura sprang back, almost tripping on the now bloody kunai that landed behind her. Clasping her hand to her cheek, she winced when her fingers brushed the new cut that was bound to leave a scar if it wasn’t healed quick enough.

“Sakura-chan!” Naruto yelled, anger clear in his voice. Sakura looked up slowly just in time to see the concern in his blue eyes, but he spun around to glare at Sasuke. The Uchiha’s normally emotionless face was twisted into an expression she had never seen on someone’s face after they had hurt her. Guilt . His arm was still extended in picture perfect throwing form, but he quickly shrunk into himself.

Sakura brought her hand into her line of vision watching almost entranced as red liquid dripped to the ground from between her fingers. Even when her okaa-san was angry, she never drew blood like this.

She quickly closed her fist in order to keep her fingers from trembling and stole a quick glance back up at her teammates. Naruto was berating Sasuke, complete with aggressive hand movements but Sasuke seemed to be unaware of everything that was happening. He was just staring at his hand not unlike what Sakura had just been doing moments before. Backing up a few steps, Sakura wrapped her arms around herself. Everything was going to be fine.

Will it really though? Okaa-san definitely won’t think it is. What do you think she’ll do this time, huh?

Sakura shook her head as if doing that could dislodge the voice from her ears.

Hmmm, maybe no food for a week again. That one was well deserved last time, wasn’t it? Or, or, or, maybe she won’t let you see those Yamanaka, Nara, and Akimichi brats for a month. Or maybe…

The voice paused as if thinking. Violently shaking, Sakura stumbled a few steps back until her back hit the railing of the roof.

Maybe she won’t let you become a genin.

Sakura’s hands flew up to grasp her hitai-ate. No… she wouldn’t.

Maybe she’ll force you to give up being a shinobi and make you stay with her instead until you get married.

She couldn’t.

She’ll make you get married to Uchiha Sasuke, or maybe even someone you’ve never met before. Won’t that be lovely? Because Okaa-san knows best.

Those words seemed to be the final push as Sakura let out a choked sound and jumped off the roof just like she had seen Kakashi-sensei do a few minutes earlier. The wind whipped past her face as the ground got closer. As she fell, Sakura could only wonder what had come over her. She didn’t even know how to do these sorts of things safely and yet she had just jumped off the roof.

A whooping sound echoed in her ear. FINALLY, BLOSSOM-CHAN DOES SOMETHING IMPULSIVE! With that, Sakura landed stunned on the ground of the alley, the shock making her knees quiver with pain.

SHE TOOK MY ADVICE THIS TIME! GET WRECKED OTHER VOICE INSIDE BLOSSOM-CHAN’S HEAD! The high-pitched voice continued to rant about how she was superior in every way to the ‘filthy okaa-san supporter’ but Sakura couldn’t even comprehend what it was saying. She could hear the Naruto’s shouts continuing from the roof as she slid down the wall of the building she had just jumped off of. The joints in her leg were alight with pain, but Sakura paid them no attention as she tried to comprehend the squabbling going on in her brain.

‘Who… who are you?’

Hmm, oh me? Well thanks for asking, I just so happen to be your sense of adventure and all your outspokenness that should have been cultivated if it weren’t for that other voice in your head that took my spot. The voice almost seemed like it was… pouting.

Basically, I’m everything fun about you, Blossom-chan.

For some reason, Sakura felt indignant about its answer. ‘Fun? I’m plenty of fun!’

The voice snorted. Yeah sure, you funky little angst baby. You would be a whole lot more fun if you let me help you out a bit more. Then you wouldn’t let Okaa-san push you around as much.

‘Okaa-san… she doesn’t push me around. Whatever she does, I deserve. She only wants what’s best for me.’ Sakura recited as if the deep voice has taken over her mouth.

The voice paused as if it didn’t know how to respond. Sakura looked down at the blood on her hands in the silence. This new voice couldn’t possibly know what it was talking about. Everything her okaa-san did was because she loved Sakura.

Well, that’s a bunch of BULLSHIT.

Sakura reared back, her head banging into the wall behind her. ‘What?’

If that sorry excuse for a woman actually loved you, you wouldn’t walk home every day scared of what she was going to say to you!

‘But-’

If she cared about you at all, she wouldn’t say things to you just to make you feel bad about yourself.

‘She cares about me, I know she does-’

IF SHE GAVE A DAMN ABOUT YOU, YOU WOULD KNOW WHAT LOVE SHOULD FEEL LIKE.

With that, Sakura felt her teeth clench together and there was a familiar tingling in her eyes.

The voice calmed down, but none of the passion was gone from its tone. You deserve so much better than a woman who tells you that you are ugly and worthless. You deserve to go home to someone who will tell you how freakin’ amazing you are every single day. You deserve the right to have your own dreams. The voice quieted down to almost a whisper as the first tears left Sakura’s eyes.

Blossom-chan, I know it’s hard to hear, but she doesn’t love you, at least in the way an okaa-san should. She only uses you for her own gains. She only sees you as an object to project her own failed wishes upon. Her life didn’t go the way she wanted, so now you have to live her life for her.

‘That--that can’t be true. I mean--she’s my okaa-san. She loves me… she has to.’

Blossom-chan you need to wake up.

‘No, no you’re wrong! She isn’t like that!’ Sakura’s hands went up to her hair and clenched tightly.

No, you have to listen to me. You need to get away from her as fast as possible.

‘She’s my okaa-san! She loves me! Maybe a bit differently than others, but she has her reasons!’

If you stay with her much longer, there won’t be any Sakura left. You have to understand that what she’s doing isn’t right!

‘I’m not listening to you!’ With that, Sakura shot up and ran out of the alleyway, and straight into a flak jacket. She jumped back and looked up to find a jonin with his hitai-ate in the form of a bandana and a senbon sticking out of his mouth.

“Whoa, kid! You good?”  His left eyebrow was raised slightly, and unconsciously, Sakura found it impressive that the senbon didn’t fall out of his mouth as he talked.

“I apologize jonin-san.” She bowed shallowly, not meeting his eyes, and then dashed away from him.

What’ll we do with you, Sa-ku-ra-chan? The bass was back, it’s familiar rasp almost making Sakura freeze, but she kept on running.

Losing faith in your okaa-san like that. Tch.

She had to get home. She had to prove the other voice wrong. Her okaa-san did love her!

That’s right, Sa-ku-ra-chan. Your mother loves you just as much as any okaa-san.

She knew it. She just knew it.

The town was rushing past her in unrecognizable flashes of color, and the only sound Sakura could hear was her feet pounding against the pavement and the voice crooning in her ear. It got increasingly more excited the closer Sakura got to her house, showing more emotion than it ever had.

Just you wait. Just you wait. It kept chanting, but Sakura tuned it out. Everything was going to be fine.

As soon as her house came into view, Sakura slowed her steps down abruptly. Okaa-san didn’t like it when she rushed in the house all out of breath. It wasn’t ladylike. So Sakura caught her breath as she straightened her hair and clothes out. She cleaned the blood off her hands under a nearby water faucet and tried to get it out of her hair as well. Once she felt she was sufficiently clean, clean enough that her mother wouldn’t be mad, Sakura took a deep breath and walked up to the door.

Opening the sliding door and shutting it softly behind her, Sakura called out quietly into her house, “Tadaima.” When there was no answer, Sakura slipped off her shoes and put them neatly next to her okaa-san’s.

She lightly stepped around the corner was greeted with the sight of her okaa-san sitting at the kitchen table, a teacup in her hand and her gaze directed at Sakura.

Sakura’s breath seemed to get stuck in her throat as she dipped her head. “Okaa-san.”

“Sakura. How did the team assignments go?” Her okaa-san uttered with no emotion in her voice.

Suddenly all of the fear Sakura had felt on the roof came back to her and it was like she was paralyzed.

“I- I was, um-”

“Speak up, girl. You know I hate it when you mumble.” Her okaa-san’s gaze never left her own.

Sakura swallowed. “I was placed on Team 7 with Hatake Kakashi as my sensei.”

Her okaa-san scoffed as she took a sip of tea. “That disgrace? Even I know that his father was a dishonorable man and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was too.”

Kakashi-sensei’s father? Had he done something wrong?

“Girl!” Sakura was jolted out of her ponderings. “Who are the other members of your team?”

Sakura’s flicked from her okaa-san’s face to the floor, to the walls beside her. Everything would be fine, everything would be fine. Her okaa-san loved her. Everything was fi-

A hand roughly grasped her forearm, and Sakura gasped in shock and looked up to see steely green eyes staring into her own.

“I asked you a question, girl. When I ask you a question, you answer it promptly and without all the shifty eyes.”

“I...I’m on a team with, uh.” Sakura couldn’t focus as the fear was slowly overtaking her system. The grip on her arm tightened, but Sakura couldn’t find the strength to struggle.

“Out with it.”

Under her breath, Sakura whispered the two names that she knew would change her life. For better or for worse, who knew, but at this moment in time, things certainly weren’t going well for her.

“Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke.”

The wind was knocked out of her as she felt her back crash against the wall behind her. Sakura tasted blood in her mouth as she bit her tongue as she slid to the ground. Her back was burning as she was pulled up from her seated position by her hair.

What was going on? Her okaa-san had never been like this before. She… she loved her, didn’t she?

Sakura barely recognized what was happening as she was shoved into a chair. Her head tipped forward as if its strings had been cut, shock rushing through her body. But she was snapped back into the present when she felt pain in her forehead and her hands instinctively went up to clasp it. When she did, she was greeted with one of the darkest stares she had ever seen her okaa-san make.

“What… what did you say?”

Sakura tried to mover her eyes away, but a hand held her chin in place.

“Girl.”

“I’m on a team with… Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke,” Sakura forced out.

Her face was let go abruptly as her okaa-san spun around sharply. She stood there in silence and Sakura raised her hand to her forehead, surprised to feel warm liquid dripping from her hairline. She kept her hand at her forehead, unsure of what her okaa-san wanted from her.

Her voice came out in a deadly whisper. “You will try your best to get close to Uchiha Sasuke.” At this, she turned around, her fists clenched. “You will stay away from that, that devil child .” Her steps towards Sakura came slowly but they were heavy and each time her okaa-san moved closer, Sakura felt even her heart begin to tremble.

When she reached the area right in front of Sakura, her okaa-san leaned over her, hand on the back of the chair Sakura occupied. Again Sakura was caught in her gaze that could freeze over the whole world. “You understand?”

Sakura didn’t answer. She couldn’t answer. What was happening? What was her okaa-san doing?

What you deserve.

“Do you understand, girl?”

You deserve this.

“I asked if you understood?”

You deserve this, you worthless, cowardly child.

“I- I understand, okaa-san.”

The chair behind her was released and a deep sigh echoed through the kitchen. “Good.” Her okaa-san was walking away when she next spoke. “After everything I’ve done for you. After all I’ve done to make sure you don’t screw up your life, you get put on the one team that can mess everything up! Hatake is a poor excuse for a sensei, being on a team with the Uchiha will make him realize how weak you are, and- that devil child can rot for all I care.”

There was a pause in both her steps and her words as Sakura slipped out of the chair and onto the ground. The impact jarred her knees and made her head throb with pain.

Everything was fine. If everything was fine, why was she in pain?

Because you deserve it.