Sand Trails Ch 19: It’s Official

Clouds were good and fine. But rain was troublesome. Grumbling under his breath, Shikamaru slumped against the wall nearest the window and watched the water trail silver tracks down the glass. At this point though, he thought, getting soaked was nearly preferable to listening to Ino work herself into a righteous rage.

Fifth period had started with a screeching blonde girl hauling him and the others down the hall and into the cafeteria. The few students sitting at this corner table had run from her glare and Ino had been ranting for nearly a quarter of an hour.

Sasuke finally got fed up with it. “INO,” he said, voice much louder than any of them were used to from the normally quiet-voiced Uchiha. “We get it. It’s all horrible for you and every single one of my brother’s fangirls in the school. Now chill out, okay?”

Sai nudged the blonde beside him, smiling widely. “I could distract you,” he offered, hand reaching for paper.

The resulting yelp and the sound of paper being crinkled and tossed away had Shika rolling his eyes. In doing so, he caught sight of Sasuke’s expression. A little pale, maybe even green. Shika snorted. Well, who would want to hear about their brother’s sexual activity?

“Well, I’m getting food,” he announced standing up from the bench. Beside him Choji looked up hopefully. The laconic kid smirked. “You coming, Choji?”

The two of them left the table as Sai picked up the paper ball. Shika glanced down and saw sketches of—he shut his eyes. Not looking. Not looking.

Sasuke sighed, letting his head thunk softly against the table. “I think my crazy brother’s stolen one of my best friends,” he muttered, more to himself than any of them.

Ino snorted. “Right, ‘stolen’. Seems to me like she held up a red flag crying her location to him and just waiting for him to sneak off with her.”

Shikamaru’s feet seemed to speed up on their own. As he left the table behind, Shika heard Choji chortling as he half ran for the hot-food stand.

Tunnel vision had never been one of his faults, but the arm shooting out from under the table as he was passing, Shika really should have seen coming. With a yelp that took most of his air, the poor kid was dragged down between the seated students who were uneasily pretending to be oblivious.

Looking into the beady eyes of Kisame, Shikamaru could understand why.

“What do you want?” he gasped as Choji hurried over.

The blue teenager ignored the pineapple head for a moment and waved the Akimichi over. “Stay down!” he hissed. Over his shoulder, Hidan grinned at the two boys.

“Hey, what happened?!” Choji cried, leaning down with only some difficulty to peer under the table.

Hidan bared his teeth in a smile that spoke of a cat scenting a weakened elk. “Hiya! We were wondering if we could get any damn service around here…” His eyes flashed gleefully.

Spluttering only made the damn loon grin wider. Shikamaru immediately decided not to do that again. Ever. He looked over to Kisame and saw the exact same expression. Fuck.

“Troublesome,” he muttered. “We’re not your waiters.” Well that sounded confident. Shika mentally kicked himself.

Shark-boy grinned wider. “But you’re here! And oh so helpful.” he nodded mockingly. “I want the roast chicken.”

Shoulders rounding, Shika glanced over to Choji who shrugged. “We could just get it. They’ve gotta pay for it, though,” he said, meeting Hidan’s eyes. Very few people could scare Choji, and even then, he was the type of person that was calm enough not to show it (unless you call him fat).

“Thatta boy!” Hidan crowed. “Good fucking answer.” He looked pleased though, and started pawing through his pockets. He scowled. “Oi! You filched my fucking wallet again, didn’t you, bastard?” he demanded of Kisame, scowling more at the Sharky’s innocent expression (which could be akin to a shark trying to smile brightly, only to bare its teeth in a scary display of doom).

Shika snorted and looked around in disgust. “You’re going to eat down here?” He hadn’t noticed before, but they had to hunch down uncomfortably to avoid both the gum under the table and the muck on the floor. Mud got everywhere.

Pulling forward a dark denim wallet, Kisame pulled out a twenty and handed it to Choji. “Course not,” he retorted. “We’ll be in that hidey-hole.”

He elbowed Hidan. “Order up. We gotta go.”

Choji blinked. “Hidey hole?” He looked confused for a moment before realizing. “Oh! Right. We can bring it there,” he said nodding. “We’ll meet you up there.”

“Great!” Hidan said, snatching his wallet from Kisame as the other moved to put it back in his pocket. He grinned and flapped a hand at them dismissively. “We’ll be up in the damn hideout place or whatever the fuck you wanna call it.”

Rolling his eyes, Shika sighed. “You want chicken too?”

“Eh? Oh, yeah, sure,” Hidan said, already distracted with making sure the coast was clear.

Muttering under his breath, Shika left Choji out from under the table. Unexpectedly, Kisame’s blue hand reached out and tapped him on the ankle. Leaning back down, Shika met silver eyes. “What?”

“Keep the tip,” Sharky flashed him a grin and then turned to haul a protesting Hidan out from the other side of the table. The two teens sprinted out of the cafeteria and out the doors.

Ten minutes later, the two climbed through the trap door into the small cranny where they’d set up the bean bags and pillows. Naruto was grinning and eagerly explaining something to Kisame in a corner, and the occasional half-giggle, half-cackle filtered through their invisible bubble. Hidan, slouched on a blue beanbag, just looked annoyed.

“Oi! Food, dammit,” Hidan yelled at Kisame.

Kisame’s head popped up and he grinned. “Fantastic. Leave it over there.” And then he was lost again in whatever happy ridiculous world Naruto’s pranks were creating.

Shambling over to the central area, Shika and Choji let down the various paper bags and slumped into bean bags themselves.

Hidan snatched up one of the lunches and wolfed half of it down in the two minutes it took for Kisame to finally drag himself over. Naruto grabbed the only orange beanbag in the room and sprawled out over it on his stomach as the other boy got his own lunch. “So, you guys skipping again?” the blond asked cheerfully.

It was woefully apparent that he hadn’t heard the latest rumor, and Choji was loath to let him in on it.

Lounging half on a black bean bag, Kisame let out a short bark of a laugh. “Would you stand around watching Gai and Lee go at it in a wrestling match? For half an hour?” He grimaced and put his roast chicken sandwich down for a moment. “In those bright green spandex?”

Naruto’s nose wrinkled. “Unfortunately, I have PE before you. Fortunately, I’m good enough that Gai-sensei didn’t know I was even in his class until the second six weeks of the first semester.” The blond’s smile was cocky.

“Bitch,” Hidan retorted, a sulky tone to his voice.

“Cunt.” Kisame’s tone was markedly less sulky and more admiration. He picked up the sandwich again. “So you’ve been working on that for the whole day then?” A blue hand gestured to the pile of loose leaf papers.

Naruto nodded. “Gotta get the bastard. He’s new around town, and it’s only courteous for me to give him some of my undivided attention.” He grinned, teeth almost sharp.

Choji found it amazing how many of his regular acquaintances had animal-like countenances.

“New guy?” Shikamaru slitted open an eye. “Who’s left?”

There were several new students in the past two weeks and Naruto had been giving out ‘presents’ like a delighted demented Santa Claus.

“Suigetsu,” Naruto said, preening. “He’s going to have a really good gift in his locker this afternoon.”

“Like tentacles?” Hidan asked with an innocent grin in Shikamaru’s direction.

A dark eyebrow twitched, but the boy didn’t rise to the bait. Instead, he continued to laze away eyes closed, head tilted back. A lone hand, accompanied with a lone finger did salute Hidan though.

Kisame snickered.

Hidan grinned. “I’m not into fucking guys, either, so tough luck.” He paused a beat to let it sink in, then added thoughtfully, “Man, you just really can’t get any of your freaky fucking fetishes these days, can you, Nara?”

Naruto tried not to laugh, and largely failed.

The boy in question groaned and pulled a pillow over his face. A muffled ‘shut up’ came through the stuffing. Choji reached over and patted Shika’s shoulder.

Across the room, Kisame and Naruto both hooted with laughter.

“I hear we’re having calamari next week,” Hidan continued, on a roll. “Maybe you can fuck that.”

Naruto looked red, as he’d been holding his breath to try to calm down. Choji just shook his head.

Sighing, Shika lowered the pillow and looked at Hidan. “I wouldn’t be able to fit through that, but maybe you could.”

Naruto hooted, and laughed. “Oooh, that’s harsh!”

Hidan just grinned, eyes alight with sadistic glee. “You got no fucking idea how big my dick is,” he said, leering. “I certainly trump a tiny guy like you.”

Shika snorted. “Then Sai would love to talk to you. I’ll let him know there’s a prize specimen in our school.”

Hidan leered. “I’ll kick that guy’s ass. He’s a fucking freak.”

“Literally,” Naruto said, and grinned at the raised brows.

At that, Shika stood up. “Leaving,” he said decisively and all but tumbled out the trap door. Gossip-mongers. If it wasn’t Ino, it was Naruto. With Choji following, he left for the next class.

Naruto snickered. “I should get going, though. I’ll see you guys later,” he said snatching up his old beat up backpack and slinging it over one shoulder.

Hidan grunted. “Whatever,” he said.

Naruto ducked out of the trap door, closed it and hid it, then left for the cafeteria to catch the last ten minutes of lunch, and a few stolen moments with his best friend and co. When he got there, to his surprise, Ino and Sasuke were arguing.

Off to the side, Sai was sketching out the scene. On closer inspection, both models were in their underwear. Catching Naruto’s eye, Sai grinned and casually shaded in Sasuke’s groin.

Naruto shook his head, glad he wasn’t the subject of small dick jokes again, and plopped down beside his best friend. “So what’s up?”

Sasuke turned his head away from the female and sighed at Naruto. “Nothing,” he lied.

Unfortunately, Sai was not of the same mind. “Itachi and Sakura are—” Ino’s hand shot out and clamped over his mouth.

“What about them?” Naruto’s eyes narrowed.

“Oh, you know, the usual!” she said, voice too high to be taken seriously.

Sasuke scowled and debated stabbing Sai with a plastic spork, but refrained. That was something his brother would do, not him. “They’re officially dating,” he said indifferently. There was no point hiding it now, as Naruto would only pester them until they spilled the beans.

The blond kid snorted. “Big whoop.” A shriek yanked Naruto’s attention across the table, while Sasuke just sighed and closed his eyes.

Sai turned to face the boys as Ino let go of his face to scrabble at his wrists. Which were half way up her shirt.

Quite placidly, the pale kid said, “Oh it is a big whoop! I imagine that Sakura is probably rather loud.”

“SAI!” Ino screamed, struggling to move his arms. However, as he had proven on more than one occasion, he was a lot stronger than he looked, and trying to budge him was like leaning against a brick wall to topple it over. His fingers remained where they were, and his arms didn’t move an inch. She looked about ready to murder him.

“Idiot,” Sasuke growled.

“Loud?” Naruto asked blankly, then went pale. “What the FUCK do you mean by LOUD?!”

Ino was momentarily distracted from Sai’s attempts at groping by the other blond’s shouting. “Aahh… Naruto, calm down, huh?” she suggested tentatively, then yelped when Sai ruthlessly took the advantage her distraction had given him.

Sasuke glowered at his red-faced best friend. “It’s just what you think, dobe.”

Blood rushed up into Naruto’s face and turned it dark cherry red—but then also drained back out just as fast. “Fuck.” He dropped his face into his crossed arms and yelled into the table. “FUCK!”

Sai beamed at him over forgotten food. “That’s it exactly, Dickless!”

Ino harshly elbowed him in the side and then winced. The guy was built like a rock! Sometimes she hated boys.

Sasuke sighed, shifting uncomfortably. “It… well…” And he trailed off awkwardly, not knowing what to say in this situation. ‘I’m sorry’ would sound too rehearsed or over used, ‘it’ll be okay’ would be too harsh, and ‘I’m here for you’ wasn’t something Sasuke said to anyone (even if he would be there for them, like with Naruto).

Growling, Naruto shoved himself straight and stepped away from the table. “Getting food,” he said shortly and marched away.

“He took that rather well,” Sai said mildly. Turning to Ino, he frowned at her. “What did you do? Your breasts have shrunk!” The last was said in faint horror.

Her fist met the underside of his jaw, knocking him clean out of his seat and onto the floor. “I’LL SHOW YOU SHRINKAGE!” she yelled, lifting a foot.

“Ino-chan, noooooo!!” a girly voice cried in horror off to the side (it may have been Tobi).

Ino stomped down, only to be met with the resistance of Sai’s leg. Cup-wearer he might be, but he wasn’t one to tempt fate. She stomped again and her leg was caught, and she screamed when he jerked her down on top of him.

Sai grabbed one wrist, trapped the other arm between his shoulder and his jaw, tangling their legs together at the same time. The one free hand he used to palm her breast in a series of quick precise presses.

The confused expression cleared, and Sai grinned. “It’s a different bra!” he said delighted. “Unpadded,” he added approvingly.

Her face was turning an alarming shade of red, and Sasuke wondered—as the school bell rang, declaring the end of B lunch and fifth period—if she was about to blow up. “SSAAAIIIIII!!!!” she yelled, and head butted him in a way that was vaguely reminiscent of Naruto.

“Ouch” was all Sai said as he let go of the furious girl. When Ino rose from the mud of the cafeteria floor (of which she was curiously clean) and kicked at him, the prone boy blocked her heels almost absently. “That hurt.” He rubbed the red spot forming on his forehead.

“Good!” she said angrily, and spun away to stomp off.

Sasuke sighed and held his hand out to the artist. “You know, she’s going to kill you one of these days,” he commented.

Undaunted and grinning, the pale boy grasped the proffered hand. “Oh, she’ll try,” he agreed amicably, “and each time she does, I have another chance to cup those wonderful jugs of hers.”

Sasuke smiled slightly, pulling Sai to his feet with ease. “I look forward to your funeral,” he said, musing on how fond Sai seemed to be of Ino’s breasts. He wouldn’t touch Sakura’s (then again, the one and only time he tried, she broke his arm), or Hinata (Naruto broke his arm), or Konan (Konan broke his leg), or anyone else. Just Ino.

xXx

Sasuke and Naruto were surprised to find Sakura waiting in the once-usual spot after school. She turned when Hinata beside her waved and started to walk away. “Naruto, Sasuke-kun,” she said, smiling slightly. “Hi.”

“Why are you here?” Sasuke asked curiously. “Weren’t you and niisan going to study tonight?”

She nodded. “We are. But I have something to tell you two. It’s sort of important, and couldn’t wait, so I’ll be joining him later.”

“Sakura-chan?” Naruto said softly, holding a hand out to her. Her eyes were a shade too bright, skin pale, and her lips were a thin tense line.

She smiled.

Sasuke frowned. “Sakura. Tell us?”

Her teeth sank into her bottom lip and she took Naruto’s offered hand, letting him tug her into a three-person hug. “We’re moving,” she mumbled against the blond’s chest.

Time seemed to stand still for Naruto. Hell, the sunlight seemed to freeze. After-school noises and the birds seems to fade into a dull roar that flooded up from his chest and thundered into his ears. Sakura was MOVING?!

It took a moment to realize that he was shaking. Another, to realize that there was a pale hand clamped securely over his  mouth. Was that muffled yelling coming from him?

MOVING?!

Sakura wasn’t stupid. She knew the two were having a (mostly) silent war over the blond’s immediate, over the top reaction. She chose to ignore it and keep her head tucked against Naruto’s chest. It was amazing, that she’d ever forgotten how easy it was for someone to let their guard down around this boy. Even her. She just had to close her eyes and ignore everything to pretend all was right.

And it felt like it.

“Where are you moving to?” Sasuke asked quietly after a moment. “We’ll come visit.”

She nodded and finally stepped back. Or tried to. Naruto’s arm around her waist didn’t budge, so she didn’t get more than half an inch before she could go no further. She sighed. “Suna,” she admitted.

“Mmmm-MMmmmfffffhhhh???” Naruto half yelled into Sasuke’s palm. Forget the dull roar—it was thundering now. HIS Sakura was moving to SUNA? FUCK THAT! “Mfmff, mh mo mm o mmm mfff!!!”

She was leaving them! Visit? What was Sasuke thinking?! Visit? Visiting was maybe seeing her once a week. Maybe twice. VISITING was not seeing Saukra in the morning of every day. Not seeing her in the hallways every day. Not seeing her after school. Not seeing her… NO!

The damn bastard was still not moving his hand. Well, that was easily fixed. Naruto opened his mouth and prepared to give the asshole a chomping of a lifetime.

Sasuke moved his hand in a quick move and pulled down on Naruto’s earlobe, then got him in the stomach and covered his mouth again. The blond was forced to let go of Sakura, who quickly took several steps back. “Sorry, Sakura, ignore this,” Sasuke grunted, struggling with Naruto in one of their frequent wrestling matches.

She sighed. “Would you guys stop? Naruto, I know you’re pissed, so am I, and so is—Well, there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Held down in a half-kneeling position, Naruto tilted his face up to look at his Sakura-chan. His vision blurred from whatever it was in his eyes (probably from the dust while wrestling), his jaw was trembling (He was angry! ANGRY!), and the thundering had died into a cold, hard, unfeeling silence.

“S-sakura-chan?” Damnit his voice was NOT wobbly! Sasuke had a knee in his chest that’s why it was hard to breathe. Even if the bastard was on his back and not his front and the world was not going grey around the edges and what happened to the sunlight? “WHY?”

It was almost audible the way the frozen sunlight seemed to shatter and fall at the sound of Naruto’s plea.

Her breath caught at the heartbroken look on his face, and the tears about to fall from his eyes. “I’m sorry, Naruto,” she mumbled, looking away before she herself started to cry. She was not going to cry about this. It was just a… a… a little… she was just… moving. That was it. It wasn’t something to cry over, and the boys would still visit, and Itachi would still visit and he’d even promised to bring Dei and the others over occasionally (he’d outright refused the ‘once a week’ thing she’d tried to bargain, saying that he didn’t want to make Naiyuri uncomfortable). Hell, she could even come for a visit to Konoha.

“There’s nothing I can do,” she added after a long silence.

Sasuke slowly got off the blond, judging that now he’d calmed down from the immediate rage, he wouldn’t be a danger to anyone (or school property). Not that he’d ever hurt Sakura, but there were a few people eavesdropping not so subtly (Sakura didn’t seem to notice and he wasn’t about to tell her).

Sniffling loudly, Naruto struggled to his feet. Gah! Stupid dust. He scrubbed his sleeves over wet eyes and shook his head. A deep breath in. Think. THINK! There had to be a way to fix this. There had to be right?

“Not,” Ack, gunk in throat. Naruto coughed and tried again. “Not asking you what you can do, Sakura-chan.” The blond took another deep breath and lifted his head. “Asking, why move?”

If he knew why. If there was a reason for it (and there had to be a reason!). Between him and bastard, there had to be something they could think of to stop the move! Unless… Naruto shook his head. Idiot! Sakura-chan was still his friend. He couldn’t doubt that.

She swallowed. “Kaasan… she lost her job, and a friend helped her get a new job, but it’s in Suna. It pays a little more, and it’s a good job, in an okay environment… And tosan doesn’t want to take me, so I have to move with her…” She shook her head, swallowing again. “Even if tosan took me, I’d still move to Kirigakure…”

Sasuke sighed. “It’s okay, Sakura. Don’t worry about it. Do what you feel you need to do; we’ll still be here, and we’re only a phone call away.” He scowled at Naruto warningly.

Naruto, however, seemed to have had an epiphany. “You can stay in my house!” Sakura-chan EVERY DAY! It would be perfect! Except… “Or maybe bastard’s. Cuz. Jiraya… No wait. Itachi. Aaauuggh! AAAAAHH! No, no. My house. Definitely my house. But… Pervert.” His face scrunched and his hand came up to scrub through his hair. “Neh, Bastard? What is worse? Pervert or Itachi?”

Sasuke pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, already seeing the coming storm. He didn’t even get a word in before Sakura decked Naruto so hard his feet flipped over his head before he landed on his stomach with a whoosh of lost breath. “WHO’S THE PERVERT, YOU PERVERT!?!” Sakura screamed, stomping toward the blond. “AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH MY BOYFRIEND!!”

Sasuke stepped out of her way, deciding it was wise just to let her go to town on the idiot.

“Aaauuuggghhh,” Naruto wheezed. Sakura-chan had a good right-hook. Slowly rolling over, he looked up into furious green eyes. “Pervert? My dad?” Naruto offered weakly. Seeing no change in Sakura’s expression, the prone boy shrugged and looked over to Sasuke. “So… Sakura-chan can stay at your house!”

Her foot landed in the middle of his back hard enough that his spine popped (not broke). “NO! I’m moving, you… idiot. Just accept it,” she said, voice cracking.

Sasuke’s eyes snapped open and he stepped over to her. “Sakura?” He held out an arm. “Let’s go somewhere private?”

She looked up and sniffed, seeing quite a few people around them, eavesdropping. She nodded. “Sure.”

Oh pain. Sharp, sparking pain. It hurt to think. Needless to say, it hurt a lot when Naruto’s brain jumped up and yelled, ‘I’m not gonna get left!’ Naruto groaned, “Can someone help me up?”

Sasuke sighed and helped the blond stand, annoyed. “Let’s get to the roof,” he said.

Sakura nodded and looked around. The only face she even vaguely knew was Haku, but he seemed to be waiting for someone and was out of earshot. The rest of the people were finally dispersing, so she felt that it was safe enough. She hugged Naruto. “Sorry,” she mumbled.

“Eh,” Naruto squeezed her tightly. “What are friends for?” This was Sakura-chan. She was one of his precious people and had never given him a reason to doubt her. Not even now. No distance, no time, no boyfriend, could ever lessen her in his eyes. And definitely no measly move! Even if it was to another city. For who knows how long. To a school that he and bastard weren’t in. Where they couldn’t protect her.

Oh damnit. That dust was back again.

She sniffled. “Thanks, Naruto,” she mumbled as they walked through the doors and headed for the stairs. “I dunno… what I’d have ever done without you…”

Sasuke grimaced, hoping they didn’t expect him to cry next. He was upset about this, sure, but he wasn’t going to show such a weak emotion. He was stronger.

“Oy, bastard,” Naruto was peering over Sakura’s pink hair. “That dust got to you too, huh?”

“Shut up,” Sasuke growled, and pinched him.

xXx

Chapter 18 | Table of Contents | Chapter 20

A/N: Yes folks. It’s official. She’s moving.

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