“Just set them on the counter top, I will sort them and put them away so you can get started on your homework,” Mikoto instructed as she handed Itachi two grocery bags before loading her own arms with the rest of the shopping and closing the trunk of the white SUV.
“Ah,” Itachi replied in the minimal Uchiha fashion.
With a brown paper bag cradled in each of his, just beginning to get muscular, teenage boy arms, Itachi proceeded to follow his mother's instructions. Taking the side door that led directly into the kitchen from the three car parking garage, Itachi twisted the knob then nudged the door open with his foot as he stepped into the kitchen.
From infancy, Itachi had always been hyper sensitive to his surroundings. Nothing ever startled him, nor was he often surprised, having been exposed to many unthinkable things that made up the dark secrets of his family. However, when he lifted his charcoal orbs from the package of sweet dango that he had been eyeballing since his mother first handed him the bag, Itachi came to an abrupt stop when he took in the sight before him.
For the first time in his life, Itachi was at a loss as to what to do. For sitting at the counter he was instructed to set the bags, was a fairy nymph.
Bright, ethereally colored rosy hair, contrasted vividly against the pristine white marble tabletop and matching white backwash that themed the kitchen. She crouched, more than sat on one of the tall stools in order to be high enough to reach the small pile of snack cakes before her. At the moment her eyes were closed, a happy smile adorning her lips, as she chewed the mouthful of half eaten swiss roll in her hand. He watched as she paused mid chew and was taken aback when another vivid color was suddenly added to the scene before him.
Lush green eyes, brilliant and as lively as the spring growth they mimicked, snapped open and stared at him. Her happy chewing came to an abrupt stop as she froze like a deer caught in headlights. For the entire minute in which they stared back at each other, the girl did not so much as bat a single eyelash.
It was then that his analytical mind somehow managed enough function, to gently remind him that such things did not exist. Reprocessing what he was seeing, Itachi realized that his mind was right, it was not a fairy, just a girl that looked like a fairy. However this did not cure his stricken stance as now he was trying to figure out why exactly there was a strange little girl sitting at his family's kitchen table.
“Itachi, what are you just standing there for, move asiー”
His mother's voice was cut off when she managed to push him to the side slightly as she herself attempted to make her way to the counter top. It was then and only then, that the little girl moved. Her green irises made the smallest of shifts as her attention switched from Itachi to the woman that now stood beside him. For several prolonged seconds, her large eyes moved back and forth between the two Uchihas as she continued to sit stock still.
“Oh,” Mikoto exclaimed with surprise. She blinked back at the pink haired goldilocks sitting in her kitchen. “Hello there, who are you?”
The girl's green eyes moved from Itachi who watched her closely, back to Mikoto. For a long moment, Itachi thought the girl would not answer her, most likely too petrified to move. But then she surprised him by answering.
It was offered in a quiet tone and muffled from the mouthful of swiss roll the girl had still yet to swallow. Slowly, without taking her eyes from them, Sakura set the half eaten swissroll in her hand onto the table and pushed it away. With slow caution, she sank low into the chair until only half her face was visible as she peeked out at them over the smooth counter. Her small fingers gripped the counter tightly on either side of her face as she did her best to seemingly hide herself from the incriminating wrappers that littered the counters surface.
At the sight of the obviously terrified pixie girl, Mikoto’s motherly instincts that had always been her dominant trait, kicked in. Setting her bag of groceries on the counter next to the stove, she took a couple cautious steps towards the girl, stopping when she noticed the girl's eyes widened fractionally.
She surveyed the tiny figure that peeked out at her.
Judging by her size, Mikoto put the girl at around her youngest son's age. Her fluorescent locks, held back by a red ribbon and wide green apple eyes were, in no better words, adorable. It took everything within the woman not to squeal with delight and pick up the little girl in the same manor she would a cute little puppy or tiny kitten. Instead, she offered her the warmest smile she could give.
“It is nice to meet you Sakura, my name is Mikoto and this is my son Itachi,” she said pointing to herself then her son who took a curious step closer as well. “This is our home, may I ask what you are doing here?”
The question was phrased so softly that it held no accusation. At her words, green eyes flicked to the right of Mikoto. As if on cue, there was a rustle, followed by the sound of packaging being torn open, then the patter of footsteps coming from the pantry area. Mikoto turned around just in time to see Sasuke walking out with his arm wrapped around a box of fruit snacks as the other hand fished around for a packet.
He stopped abruptly when he spotted his mother giving him a look that demanded answers. His dark eyes flickered to Sakura for a moment before he looked back to his mother and Itachi.
“Sasuke,” Mikoto said in a gentle but warning tone. It was not that she disliked her son having friends over, in fact she celebrated that he had a friend over. But she did not like unannounced play dates with strange children that she had no idea to whom they belonged to. “Who brought Sakura over and when did she arrive?” she questioned, casting a quick, warm smile to the small girl before twisting back around to give Sasuke a penetrating stare.
Sasuke was quiet for a long moment. “No one,” he answered as he walked past her and began to clamber up onto the chair next to Sakura.
“What do you mean no one?” she asked. “Then how did she get here?”
Sasuke took his time to open a packet of fruit snacks and dump them out onto the table. “I brought her,” he answered, not taking his eyes off of the table as he separated the snacks by color.
“And where, may I ask, if it is not too bothersome, did you bring her from?”
Passing on the green and yellow fruit snacks to Sakura, as he kept the blue and red for himself, Sasuke pulled his attention away from Sakura, who was watching all of them in turn. He spared his mother a single look, an annoyance about his face as if his mother's inquisition was indeed, too bothersome.
“Park,” Sasuke answered before turning away from her.
Mikoto’s brow twitched at the single worded answer. When Itachi adopted her husband's habit of grunts, hums, and single syllable answers, she thought it was cute. But the novelty of it had worn off quickly to annoyance when she realized her second son was quickly picking up the habit as well.
She put her hands on her hips and gave him a hard stare. She cleared her throat, causing him to look back to her, irritation written all over his face. “What do you mean the park?” She demanded as her impatience began to manifest in her voice.
“Found her,” he answered with a shrug but after a dark look that took over his mother's usually sweet face, he swallowed and expanded his answer. “I liked her so I brought her home.”
Mikoto found herself nodding automatically but then froze when her son’s words registered.
It really should not have surprised her all that much. Sasuke was very much like a magpie when it came to bringing home a shiny or colorful trinket that he had found while playing at the park. They varied from soda caps to lost earrings, torn papers to untwined strings. It always seemed so innocent and harmless...until now.
“Sasuke,” she began slowly as a sickening feeling filled her stomach. “Does her mother know that she is here?”
Without a thought Sasuke shrugged his shoulders. The reality of his gesture delayed a reaction from Mikoto, and then her eyes widened at her son for a moment, just before she erupted.
“Sasuke Uchiha! Did you kidnap this girl?!?”
She held the small girl in her arms as she carried her across the street. It was sweet but slightly worrisome just how easily Sakura had allowed Mikoto to pick her up, her small arms wrapping around her as easily as if she were her real mother. It was no wonder Sasuke had gotten her to follow him home. Did the girl just go along with anything?
She looked down at the girl to find her already gazing up at her. Mikoto could not help but smile as the girl gave her a toothy smile. She then adjusted herself in her arms to peak back behind Mikoto. Mikoto turned her head to the side to take in the sulking Sasuke who trudged behind them.
His face was pulled into the usual sour expression that made him look like his father as he walked with his hands stuffed into his pockets. He shot a glare up to his mother which softened when he noticed Sakura peeking over her shoulder at him. Sakura released her hold on Mikoto’s arm and waved her tiny hand. Mikoto could not help but let out a small chuckle as Sasuke quickly dipped his head as the tips of his ears turned pink.
As they finally crossed the street and arrived at the edge of the park, Mikoto’s amusement was lost when she spotted two police officers speaking with a frantic woman with blonde hair. Her motherly intuition told her that this could only be Sakura’s mother, given the near desperate hand gestures and worried expression.
This assumption was confirmed the moment the woman’s panicked eyes were directed at her. They were the same color as Sakura’s. She let out a cry of happy relief as she abandoned her reporting to the officers and ran over to her.
Mikoto easily surrendered Sakura as the woman gripped her from her arms and hugged her in relief. “Sakura,” she exclaimed, “where on earth have you been?”
“I am so sorry,” Mikoto began, bringing the other mothers attention to her. “She has been over at my house. I arrived home with my other son to find her in our kitchen. His cousin is supposed to be watching him but he must have snuck out to come to the park. I fear my son, while well intentioned, kidnapped your daughter.” As she said this, she turned to the side and pushed a scowling Sasuke forward. “Sasuke,” she prompted.
Sasuke only looked up at her with a frown. And only when Mikoto raised a warning brow did he mutter out a bitter ‘sorry’.
Mikoto rolled her eyes and offered another, more sincere apology. With her daughter now safely in her arms, and the scare of absence now subsided. Mebuki gave out a small amused laugh as she set Sakura down on the ground, though keeping a tight hold on her hand.
She waved her hand in a breezy gesture. “It’s quite alright, it was not your fault. Really it’s mine, I should have been paying more attention and Sakura really should know better. We have talked about it but she is unfortunately a little too trusting.” She looked down at her daughter and tugged on her arm to grab her attention. “Sakura what on earth were you thinking? We don’t got to strangers' houses.” She cast a glance at Sasuke. “No matter how old or young they are.”
Sakura brought her lips up into a frown. “But he said he had snacks. They had chocolate cakes, and gummies!”
Mebuki gave her an exasperated look. “Well I hope you enjoyed them because you won’t be getting any sweets for a month.”
The distressed, followed by the dejected look that washed over Sakura’s face made both women laugh at the silent lament of such a thing. As their laughter died down, Mikoto offered a hand to the blonde woman. “I am Mikoto,” she greeted, “and this is Sasuke,” she added, grabbing a hold of her son as she positioned him in front of her.
Mebuki shook her hand and gave a friendly wave to Sasuke who ignored her.
“Sasuke,” Mikoto gritted but she too was ignored as Sasuke wandered over next to Sakura and grabbed her free hand. Mikoto shook her head. “Sorry it’s not you, he is like this with everyone. I am hoping it is just a phase. Although he seems quite taken with your daughter.”
Mebuki waved her off. “It’s quite alright. I am Mebuki by the way and of course you know Sakura already. We just moved her along with my husband. We live in the neighborhood down the block.”
Mikoto’s eyes brightened at the news. “Oh that is wonderful,” she exclaimed. “You know Sasuke’s birthday is coming up at the end of the month. We would certainly love to have Sakura. Since you are new to the area it would give her a chance to meet some friends and you could meet some of the other mothers.”
Mebuki was more than happy to accept. Exchanging numbers the two mothers broke into casual conversation. All the while, Sasuke dragged Sakura off to play on the playground, tugging her along as they went down the slide and shoving any other child away when they tried to help her get up the climbing wall.
When it came time for them to depart, Mikoto called for Sakura and she obediently ran over to her mother. As she took her mother’s hand, she gave a happy wave first to Mikoto, then to her newest friend.
Sasuke, however, was not as compliant.
Wordlessly he walked to Sakura and grabbed her hand as he began to make for his own home. When told that Sakura was to go home to her house, Sasuke gave both mothers a hard look before seeming to prepare himself to walk with Sakura and her mother to go to their house. This only caused Mikoto to pick him up at the waist and carry him off. While he threw a silent tantrum, she began to walk home with him tucked under her arm, his legs and arms dangling in the air as he watched Sakura walking away in the opposite direction.
“Don’t worry Sasuke,” Mikoto assured him as she continued to carry his defeated form across the street. “I am sure you will see Sakura soon. She’s the same age and will be starting school with you in the fall. Won’t that be nice? You will be able to introduce her to all your friends and see her nearly every day.”
As Sasuke registered this in his child mind, he was torn. Yes, his mother was right, it would be good to see Sakura almost everyday at school. However, his mother was wrong about one thing. He would most certainly not be introducing Sakura to any of his friends. Sakura was his, and like the selfish boy he was, he did not share.