With a grimace, I threw back the sheets from my face and took a deep breath of fresh air.
Every time I saw her manicured fingers grip Naruto’s forearm, or come to rest on any part of his anatomy, I felt a vein bulge in my forehead. Her tinkle of laughter sent tremors down my spine. Her voice curdled my blood. It was almost embarrassing how much I disliked the woman. Well, in all honesty, dislike is too kind a word.
There was one thing yesterday, however, that annoyed me the most. For something so apparently simple, it had sure triggered a response that had been beyond imagination for me. I’m still reeling from it.
I closed my eyes, and nibbled absently on my lower lip.
Fai believes herself to be a master at telling jokes. If there was a way to inform her that her jokes fell flat without seeming rude, I would have been happy to point out her failings. But, alas, there had never been an opening. Yesterday’s joke had been just as awful as the ones before it, but for some reason at the end, Naruto had smiled. But it hadn’t been the smile he typically gave Fai after her jokes, the one he presented with his head cocked to side, his lips curved, eyes tinged with a little bemusement. It hadn’t even been the smile he carried on his lips for all occasions – polite and open. It had been the one he only presented to me. The one where his eyes deepened to a slightly deeper hue of blue and bespoke of a secret amusement, and where his lips curved slightly to side, not too shallow, not too deep. I had felt like he might as well have punched me in the gut when the expression crossed his face, and Fai had preened so proudly of herself in response.
I hated knowing that someone else, especially her, was privy to something that had always been exclusively mine, even if it only was something so simple as a smile.
I could feel my turbulent emotions swirling in my chest, making it harder to breathe, harder to think, harder to move. And I just knew that it would be terribly hard to face him when under the grasp of such tangled thoughts. As tangled as they were, I knew that this was deeper than anything I’d felt before. I hated to put a name to it and make it real and touchable. But, who was I trying to fool? Certainty not myself. I’d never be able to go back to being oblivious or ignorant.
Would he be able to see through me? My heart skittered nervously in my chest, and I heaved a heavy breath. It was beyond frightening to deal with emotions that I had been peacefully oblivious of until now. It seemed almost unnatural for them to spill out uncontrollably all at one time and leave me dizzy in the aftermath. It would have been better, more comforting, if there had been something gradual about it – some sort of slow realization that was heart-warming and tender and contented.
As a little girl, I had admired the fastest, the most skilled, the best looking boy there had been. As a teenager, I had become infatuated with said boy to the point I had naively believed myself in love. As a woman, I had come to realize that the feelings I had always felt for Sasuke weren’t as deep, as pure as I had once hoped. I did, and still do love him. But, not in the way I had always thought. I wasn’t in love with him. No. Somehow I’d fallen straight, head-first into love with the blond squirt who had always seemed so annoying and childish. I’m not quite sure how he had laid siege to my heart without me even realizing, and I’m extremely befuddled on how he managed to take over without warning, but the emotions lodged in my chest are very real, very permanent, and very, very annoying.
I suddenly felt the overwhelming need to punch Naruto. Hard.
I sat up in bed, snatched my flattened pillow and had been about to take my frustration out on it when I heard a soft knock at the door of my apartment, followed by a tentative “Sakura?” from my mother. I rolled my eyes heavenward, tumbled unceremoniously out of bed and stalked grumpily out of the bedroom. By the time I reached the front door, my mother’s knock had gotten louder, as had her voice.
When she set eyes on my tousled hair, dark-rimmed eyes, and the thin set of my mouth, she said, “I knew something was wrong. You didn’t sound sick on the phone.” She raised an eyebrow and stared at me for a moment as if waiting for me to contradict her, and reaffirm the lame lie I told her over the phone a few hours ago about food poisoning of some sort. When I remained mute, she continued, “Do you want to talk?”
“Nope,” I replied decisively. I was quite aware of the problem, and though I knew my mother could give me some very good advice at a time like this, I wasn’t willing to share feelings with her that were still so new and foreign.
Rather than be offended by my curt answer, she sighed melodramatically. “Are you sure?”
I leaned against the doorjamb and offered a tight smile that I knew would pacify her for the time being. “Very sure.”
She stood still for a moment, frowned, and cocked her head to the side. “Call me if you change you mind, Sakura.”
“You know I will, Mom.”
I watched as she turned and walked briskly down the hall. I closed the door when she rounded the corner, and I couldn’t see her anymore. It was as I was walking back to my bedroom when my stomach let out a loud, angry growl, and I realized exactly how hungry I was. I tucked an errant strand of hair behind my ear as my course changed to the kitchen, and I decided that cereal might shed a brighter light on my current dilemma.