“It’s high time you settled down! We’ve allowed you to do as you please with that ninja nonsense but enough is enough!”
Sakura, already flushed with anger and embarrassment because – goddamnit – her team was right there, tried to calm down long enough to shoo her shocked teammates out the door.
She hadn't meant to invite them over. Hell, if she had had her way, Team Seven would never have clapped eyes on her family and vice versa for the rest of all their lives, but unfortunately, someone up there was out to get her and they just had to give Naruto an injection of curiosity equivalent to that of ten cats.
It had started with a relatively normal – as normal as Team Seven ever got – talk about families, specifically the still-AWOL Sasuke’s family and why all of them had had to be such stick-up-their-ass stiffs. Then they had moved on to discuss why Sasuke was even worse than his brother in terms of overall personality – at least Itachi wasn't a dick to everyone, even if the man wasn't the best conversationalist, and at least he had nice hair, as opposed to Sasuke’s chicken-ass hairstyle.
Yeah, they had all been a little drunk.
And then, somehow or other, Team Seven’s families had been brought up, or rather, the lack thereof.
Kakashi had blandly told them that his family was all gone, as the team had more or less already known – he was the last one left and, seeing that he wasn't going to become a father anytime in the foreseeable future, the Hatake line would die out with him. Only the alcohol had tided them over the awkward silence that had followed that cheerful revelation.
And then Naruto, Sai, and Yamato had said their bit – all orphans, no siblings, and no real memories of their families.
Sakura had felt just a bit guilty when they had all turned to her expectantly. In comparison, she had the best family situation out of all of them, simply because she at least had one. So she had told them vaguely that she had a normal civilian mother with red hair, a normal civilian father with brown hair, and a normal extended civilian family with normal civilian lives, all with perfectly normal not-pink hair. Boring.
Except, the next day, much to her dismay, Naruto had brought it up again. Apparently, he hadn't thought Sakura’s family was boring at all.
The blond had bounced around and nagged at Sakura to let the team come over for dinner.
(“They’re your family, Sakura! Your family’s our family!” – And wasn’t that just the biggest piece of bullshit Sakura had ever heard in her life?)
But then Sai had expressed an interest in meeting her parents as well, somehow managing to insult her at the same time, and Yamato had said he wouldn't mind while Kakashi had eye-smiled at her in that no-pressure sort of way that pressured Sakura anyway.
So, in the end, just to shut an incessantly begging Naruto up, Sakura had promised she would ask her parents. She had fully expected them to say no.
They hadn't. In fact, they had decided it was a good idea to meet the men in her life. This had been said with a disdainful sniff from her mother.
And now, here they were, dinner half-finished on the table as the evening dissolved into yet another shouting match. Kakashi was watching with an unreadable – even more than usual – expression in his lone eye, Naruto was staring with a wide, stunned blue gaze, Yamato was frowning heavily, and even Sai’s fake smile was nowhere in sight, while Sakura was, once again, having yet another faceoff with her parents right in front of them.
“It’s not ninja nonsense, Kaa-san,” Sakura forced out through gritted teeth. “I’m protecting the village, saving lives. It’s my job and I’m not giving it up just to get married to someone I don’t even know.”
“Now Sakura,” Her father looked sternly at her as if she was still five and had been caught stealing cookies or something. “We’ve allowed you to play ninja for ten years now, but you’re seventeen years old! It’s time for you to find a fiancé at the very least. If you insist on continuing your career, then I’m sure whoever you marry will let you work a few shifts at the hospital, but you really do need an engagement you can be proud of.”
There was an oddly loud ringing in Sakura’s ears, so much that she missed the quiet snarl coming from behind her.
“‘Allowed’?” Her voice was shaking. “‘Play ninja’? I admit – I was an airheaded annoying chit of a fangirl when I was twelve but I’d like to think that I’ve long since grown out of it. I’m a medic-nin now, I’ve surpassed even Shizune, and I’m second only to Tsunade. Every single one of the senior medics currently working in Suna right now was hand-picked and trained by me, and they are damn good at their job, so much that the Kazekage keeps requesting Shishou to send me back over there to train the next batch! And if you ever bothered picking up a bingo book, you’d know I’m one hell of a kunoichi as well!”
Sakura took a deep breath and drew herself up to her full height.
“There is no way I could have achieved all of that by ‘playing ninja’,” She finished coldly. “And I am already damn proud of what I’ve become.”
Silence roared between them as her parents stared at her, upset and scandalized.
“You don’t mean that, Sakura,” Her mother reprimanded severely. “Stop this teenage rebelling this instant – you are much too old for it. Now, you will concentrate on finding a proper fiancé-”
“I will not,” Sakura cut in flatly. Her anger had drained. She just felt tired now.
“Young lady,” Her father glared at her. “You will obey us so long as you live under our roof.”
Sakura opened her mouth to retort, to tell them that she had just as much right to choose for herself even while she lived here, only to close it again when a thought struck her.
Why exactly was she still living here? She was seventeen, for God’s sakes! She had a steady income from her missions and her hospital shifts, she was a decent cook – no five-star chef but definitely better than her entire team combined – when she had the patience for it, she had been doing her own laundry for years now, and she was the one responsible for keeping Naruto’s apartment clean after discovering how much of a pig sty it was.
She was perfectly capable of providing for herself now. She was a medic-nin, soon to be Konoha’s Head Medic if Tsunade and Shizune’s not-too-subtle hints were to be believed, and she could kick ass just as well as the rest of her teammates.
She was no longer that weak little girl who cried at the first sign of danger and needed Naruto and Sasuke to protect her from everything.
She could stand on her own now.
It was an exhilarating epiphany, one that, really, she should’ve had earlier. She supposed that the only reason she had had it now was because all the past arguments had built up to tonight and this was the end result.
“There,” Her mother said briskly. “That’s better – no more temper tantrums, dear. Now, I’m sure these... teammates of yours all have places to be. It’s not proper for a woman to be in the company of so many men all the time. We’ll start looking into a good marriage for you tomorrow-”
“Fine,” Sakura said, not hearing a single word her mother had said. She felt almost lightheaded at the moment.
“Sakura-chan!” Naruto leapt to his feet, sounding panicked and horrified. “You can’t mean that!”
Sakura glanced back at him, still a bit dazed. “What? What are you talking about? I mean fine, I won’t live under this roof anymore.”
“Sakura!” His father blustered.
Sakura turned sharply back to her parents. “I should’ve moved out years ago. God knows why I haven’t. I can provide for myself just fine. Give me ten minutes – I’ll pack my things and leave.”
More than one person looked floored by her abrupt declaration. Sakura just shrugged and headed for the stairs.
“Take one more step and we will disown you!” Her mother shrilled.
Sakura paused, one hand on the banister. She glanced back. “Okay. Disown me.”
And with that said, she marched up the stairs, head high.
True to her word, Sakura was finished packing her bags ten minutes later. She didn't have much that she wanted to bring – clothes, toiletries, scrolls, weapons, books, and money – and only managed to fill three duffel bags.
When she returned, her eyebrows shot up when she found her parents sitting silently on their living room couch. Naruto was glowering darkly at them, and Sai and Yamato were lounging beside the front door, but it was Kakashi who caught her attention.
Because it was her porn-reading, chronically late, laidback sensei that both her mother and father were staring at with no small amount of wariness.
Not to mention that Sakura hadn't heard any yelling so she was fairly certain Naruto hadn't been the one to stick it to her parents. Sai had probably not known how to go about it and Yamato was just too polite. Which left Kakashi.
The man in question only eye-smiled at her when he caught her studying him suspiciously though. “Ready to go?”
Sakura nodded firmly, stopping only when her parents both looked like they were going to start shouting again.
“Thank you for taking care of me all these years,” She interjected stiffly before they could get a word in edgewise. “But I'm going to live my own life, and that doesn't include playing house for a husband.”
Sakura didn't wait for a reply as she disappeared out the door with her team at her heels. She continued walking until she reached the end of the street. And then she stopped dead in her tracks.
“Sakura-chan?” Naruto sounded tentative at best.
“I,” She found herself announcing, voice mercifully even. “No longer have a house to live in. So, until I find an apartment, you're gonna have to put up with me, Naruto.”
She didn't mean for her voice to crack on the last syllable and she thanked every god she could think of that at least no tears came to her eyes.
She glanced down, startled, when someone tugged on her bags, and found Naruto smiling lopsidedly at her as he grabbed the two duffel bags in her left hand. A second later, Sai had taken her other bag from her right, shouldering it without a word.
“Sure, Sakura-chan,” Naruto agreed, and there was no pity in his face, no judgement in his eyes, just a sort of soft understanding that made the ache in Sakura’s chest ease.
None of them talked about the disastrous dinner any further as they started walking again in a companionable silence, Sakura between Naruto and Sai with Kakashi and Yamato behind them.
“So,” Naruto, true to his nature, couldn't stay quiet for long. “Back there, you were just saying it for effect, right? The bit about Gaara wanting you transferred over to Suna?”
Sakura blinked in surprise. “Effect? Of course not. You should’ve seen Shishou’s desk last month. Five requests came through- Naruto?”
Naruto’s face had turned red. Sakura eyed him with alarm before glancing at the others. Sai was smiling Fake Smile Number Four, which meant he was displeased. Yamato was frowning again, which meant he was displeased. Kakashi had lowered his book, which meant that even he was displeased as well.
“That panda bastard!” Naruto bellowed into the night, slamming a fist into a palm. “Where does he get off trying to steal our medic for his own village?! And he didn't even have the decency to tell me!”
Sakura twitched. “Why would he need to? Last time I checked, Tsunade’s still the one in office. She’s actually been considering it recently, if only to get rid of some of the clutter on her desk. Fewer requests mean less paperwork.”
Naruto stopped and stared at her for all of two seconds, jaw flapping, and then he took off in the direction of the Hokage Tower, hollering, “YOU DAMN HAG!!! YOU CALL YOURSELF A HOKAGE?! YOU CAN’T EVEN HANDLE YOUR OWN WORK! AND NOW YOU'RE JUST GONNA HAND SAKURA-CHAN OVER?!”
Sakura watched him go in absolute bewilderment. “He does know the transfer’s not permanent, right? I’d be back in four months, six tops.”
Yamato chuckled but Sakura caught the way the remaining three shinobi relaxed minutely once more. “I’m sure Tsunade-sama will clear it up with him.”
Sakura rolled her eyes. “Idiot. He still has my bags too.”
They wandered on without the blond this time, footsteps light as only a ninja’s could be.
They walked her all the way to Naruto’s apartment, and when she reached his door, Sai passed her bag back with an idle remark of, “Don’t let Dickless get you to do all the housework, Ugly.”
Sakura snorted as she unlocked the door with her own key. “I’m overwhelmed by your evident concern, Sai.”
She stopped just inside the doorway, fiddling with the strap of her duffel bag. “...I’m sorry you had to see that, but it’s- it was a long time coming, to be honest. And you didn't even get to finish dinner and then you had to see-”
A hand dropped on her head and Sakura shut up in favour of peering up at Kakashi.
“We’re ‘damn proud’ of you too, you know,” Kakashi said mildly.
Sakura’s face flushed red and she swatted her sensei’s hand away. “Yeah, yeah, I know. Thanks, sensei.”
“I’m not your sensei anymore,” The man reminded her per usual.
Sakura just grinned and waved them all goodnight before closing the door after them. And then she just took a moment to breathe.
She had walked out of her home of seventeen years within the span of one night. She was as good as disowned. She would have to go apartment-hunting in the morning. And, while she loved the man like a brother, Naruto was bound to drive her up the wall before she found her own place.
But she was okay. Sure, her parents probably wouldn't want to see her for at least a good long while. Sure, Sakura’s pride would never allow her to go back to that house, not to mention her teammates probably wouldn't let her anyway.
But, she was okay. If not at the moment – because the entire situation still had yet to sink in; it wasn't everyday that she was disowned – then she would be eventually.
All in all, things could’ve been a lot worse.