Nanowrimo 2016 : Fire Chapter 11

Author's Note : Since this was written in November on a whim, the stories structure are haphazard when it should be rotating between Sasuke + Naruko point of view and then Genos + Sonic point of view. So in the next few chapters, the story will tell of Sasuke + Naruko's side of story before moving back to Genos + Sonic.


Chapter 11
Sakura went home feeling crushed at the thought of losing Sasuke to some random girl. As she closed the door to her apartment she mumbled to herself angrily.

"What does he think he's doing jumping me with this stupid campaign? Does he seriously think he could find someone who can work with him in a few weeks and then get them to be your wife?"

Sakura's tears started to fall as she kicked her heels aside. She rushed to her sofa, reached for her slug plushie and lay down.

As someone who had been there with Sasuke all through school and now at work, she knew his likes and dislikes. She realized that she might the be the only other female friend he had apart from Hinata who was a family friend. When they became co-workers, Sakura had been particularly attentive when she noticed that Sasuke had turned into a secluded person, though he was a good worker. His smiles were mostly reserved for their clients and he often spend lunches at the office with Itachi. If Itachi was away, he’d be at the employee's reading area alone. Thought they only talked about work never reminiscing about the past, Sakura then braved enough to start inviting Sasuke to lunches with Shikamaru and any of their old school friends. After a few rejected invitation he did went along, maybe because Itachi was busy at times and eating take away was boring. Sakura made sure that she would only invite if Shikamaru came along, Sasuke would usually excuse himself early if Shikamaru was not there. Sakura had been very attentive, maybe too attentive.

Sakura had known Mikoto Uchiha, as their mothers were school mates and presently as her employer. Sakura wondered if approaching Mikoto and telling her about her son's idiotic campaign would change anything. Probably not she thought. Even Itachi went along with Sasuke’s stubbornness, his mother would just tolerate him along the way. Mikoto preferred Sasuke to lead his own life rather than order him around.

"Of all the men in your life, you still reach out for the one you can't have Sakura. You are such an idiot!" Sakura was seriously angry with herself as she wiped her tears away, some  of the tears into her Lady Katsuyu plush, a slug shaped plushie she had since aeons ago.

Her mind was swamped with all kinds of emotions regarding Sasuke Uchiha. She moved from lying to sitting down massaging her throbbing temple. Then Sakura stared at the whites of her ceiling, the fan above not spinning around because she couldn’t care about other things apart from her Sasuke dilemma right now.

"What do I do? What do I do?" she sighed out loud.

Then she heard the rustles of keys and her apartment door being opened. Sakura looked at the door's direction and remembered that she lived with Ino and she was coming home today. Ino was her best friend and roommate. One of those people whom Sakura had no problem about showing her true self, so she got back to staring at the ceiling with Lady Katsuya in her grip.

"Why so gloom?" Ino asked as she took off her high heels and slipped into home slippers.
"Idiot me and idiot Sasuke."
"Ah babe, tell me."

Sakura moved aside to give space so Ino could sit beside her. She was glad that Ino was here tonight. The blondie roommate was often away now, since she was engaged a year ago to their senpai named Sai. Now Ino split her time between their shared apartment and her boyfriend's house. They had not decided to move in together since Sai’s apartment was full of his arts stuff and Ino still wanted to maintain her own personal space until they find a dream house later.

Ino was here and she was ready to listen to Sakura’s problem. The blonde girl hugged Sakura shoulders and they stayed like that for a moment. Feeling better Sakura sighed again, Ino took it as a sign to ask more.

"What did he do this time? Didn't you have anything better to do than be gloomy about someone who doesn't care at all about you?" Ino asked.

She then held her tongue, if Ino wanted, she could have launched an entire tirade about why Sakura should find someone else. There was only pain in waiting for someone as clueless as Sasuke. But Ino knew that Sakura was still in denial. Maybe this was the push Sakura needed to forget about her negative potential of having any kind of romantic relationship with Sasuke. There were tonnes less than perfect guys out there, less perfect but better at reciprocating a girl's feelings. Ino thought maybe, Sakura should start having hobbies instead of spending her time hoping for hopeless Sasuke or any other man. Desperation was ugly.

Sakura wiped her tearing eyes again and blinked a few times. She knew she would have to let it all out.

"I guess I have always thought that we could end up together one day, like how my Mom and Dad, or you and Sai. Like all the forces of nature would push us together,” Sakura said.

Ino then decided to entertain her friend with positive thoughts instead of directly bashing Sasuke, or her denial. “Oh like when we were in school, Sasuke was elected President of Student Body and then Temari was Vice President. But Temari transferred schools so everyone thought it was a good idea that you became the VP."

Sakura smiled as she remembered that very well. Ino was one of the people who had nominated for Sakura despite facing opposition from other students who wanted Hinata as VP. They all thought that the Sasuke and Hinata looked good together and much more perfect ending up as President and VP at the pinnacle of their high school career. But Sakura won and she became VP.

"Then there was college. When all the Hyuga, Uchiha and Sarutobis had traditionally furthered their studies overseas, I had thought that summer was the last I would be see of Sasuke, but instead he entered Konoha Innovative College and I thought it wouldn't hurt to think about him as more than friends."

Ino nodded. She was classmates with Sasuke at their college for a psychology class. She did find Sasuke sexy for being very well read and knowledgeable and also very good looking on the surface. Thought he did have days where he looked paler than usual and sporting eye bags but still better looking than the most guys.

Ino squeezed Sakura's shoulders and only said, "It wasn't a crime to admire someone secretly. I did spend a few years crushing on Shikamaru until Temari moved away, and then he decided to chase after her instead."

"Poor you, but then you met Sai," Sakura reasoned. At least someone had her happy ending Sakura thought. What about me? Sakura wailed inside.

Sakura then looked away and frowned. Ino let her best friend wander into her thoughts some more.

"I never realized that I would be this crushed, it feels like I failed high school or something."
Sakura said.

"You should be glad that it happened now, I was crushed too when Shikamaru who I had known all my life told me that he did not see me that way. He saw me only as a sister." Ino replied. “Hahaha, I was so stupid in expecting him to have the same feelings as mine. Maybe I was too consumed by the gossips running around school that kept thinking of us as a couple even when Chouji was there all along. Thankfully Shikamaru never let act weird and though it was awkward at first, but we managed to stick through thick and thin."

Sakura stared at Ino, a thought boiling inside her, "Should I confess?"

Ino was taken aback by Sakura's question, but she had half expected that Sakura would be that desperate.

"Tell me what seems to be the problem here, before I go on cheering you to confess your heart to him," Ino said. She took back her words about letting Sakura needing to think on her own. The frown currently occupying Sakura's face told Ino further that this girl was really serious when it came to Sasuke.

"This morning Sasuke hired me to launch a campaign to find someone he can work with, someone who understands him, and also someone he must at least like for the first few weeks."
Ino sighed, "and?”

“He wants to make that person his wife. Can you believe that?” Sakura said. Her eyes teared again.

Ino sighed, so this was indeed very crushing. The blonde let go of her friend and frowned,“He really is as blind as you said Sakura-chan. So what are you going to do about this?"

"I called Itachi afterwards since I have two more campaigns to handle. But he told me that I could pass my present accounts over to him so he could delegate them to the other campaigners."

"Hmmm, so Itachi knew what's going on. Don't you want to ask him about this, wait he's your boss, that would be out of bounds."

Sakura sighed for the umpteenth time, "I thought about leaving Uchiha Works over this, but I love working there and I am not ready to change jobs yet."

Ino pondered, in this economy leaving a full time well paid job without any safety net was risky. She knew Sakura had thought about working for Shikamaru but Sakura didn't entertain the thought further because she wasn’t that close to Temari, who was Shikamaru’s fiancee.

"Maybe I am in charge of this campaign for a reason, who knows Sasuke might see me in a different light. I get to meet him constantly compared to now." Sakura said in a meek voice.

Ino's alarms were raised, she couldn’t believe her ears. Was Sakura duping herself into thinking that she might actually have another chance here?

Ino warned her friend, "Don't you think you are setting yourself for stiff competition instead babe? I could imagine the kind of girls who will be lining up to audition in whatever this campaign would take form."

"Yeah, I realize that. But if Sasuke is as blind as he is, maybe there would be light at the end of the tunnel. There's a possibility that if he sees me often enough he would see me in a different light. I'll think of this as my final resort to get his attention before I confess to him."

"Sakura-chan, you're so brave and idiotic. This might be an idiotic thing to do and there's still the chance that he might reject you but… what if he rejects you? Don't tell me you will move away or hide in embarrassment"

Sakura pouted and frowned even more, Ino took Sakura's hands in hers and said, "Promise you won't disappear on me if he rejects you? I don't know what to say to your parents if you do that."
Ino's throat was parched from stressing over her friend, she let go of Sakura's hands and went to the fridge for some drinks. She poured chilled orange juice in two glasses and handed one to Sakura. Sakura took it gratefully, finishing it in a few gulps.

"I know that you are not emotionally fragile, but then again I never saw you being rejected before. All I wanted was you to be happy."

"Me too," Sakura quickly agreed. She got up and stretched her hands out from tightness she had felt at the end of a working day. "I want him to appreciate me, but then again who am I to force something like this on him."

"You deserved someone else, I am not sure who, but I know it's not Sasuke," Ino said finishing her drink.

"Now you finally tell me what you think na, Ino-chan. I have thought about that too, but you know me. I am too fond of Sasuke to suddenly not like him anymore. He’s all I ever wanted."

Ino sighed and nodded, she knew it was useless to keep talking about an unrecruited love. However Sakura was right, there might a slight chance that Sasuke might like Sakura in any way if she tries this. Ino felt like facepalming herself for thinking so positively like this.

"I could only tell you good luck and to hold your head high no matter what happen."

Sakura moved to the kitchen to place her glass into the sink and went back to the living room. She then realized that she was needed to freshen up and think things over on her own. So she moved towards Ino and placed a hand on Ino's shoulder.

"Thanks for the talk, I'll keep you up to date about idiot me and idiot Sasuke."

Ino nodded and replied, "Don't look down upon yourself, it's human to love and be loved."
"Such wise words, stupid wise words." Sakura said as she tapped Ino's shoulder a few times and headed to her room.

Being left alone in the living room Into recounted her own experience. She was much younger in age when Shikamaru rejected her but the rejection had healed over time. So Ino knew that Sakura would come out of it surely hurt but stronger and more affront about her feelings.
Ten years ago when Sakura had told her that she liked Sasuke, Ino was furious because she had liked the same boy too. Sasuke was liked by almost everyone at school so it was a no brainer. When Sakura became VP of their student body, Sakura was beaming like the solar eclipse and Ino still thought that it was a schoolgirl crush.

Later when they met at a summer party in their local park Ino had thought that Sakura would move on from admiring Sasuke as they said their goodbyes. Ino met a hair mate in Konoha Innovative College named Deidara and they became best buds. Along with Deidara there were Tobi and Sasori and both had showed interest in Sakura but she only saw them as friends. Then during their first year entering the second semester, Sasuke came back to Konoha and enrolled in their college. In a few weeks Sakura was back to liking Sasuke from afar. Then he continued his degrees overseas before returning to Konoha for work.

Ino had seen Sakura being stagnant and being comforted by Sasuke's present along the years. There were several times Sakura had been scouted by Mayor Tsunade to apply to study for a Masters Degree, but working at Uchiha Works was enough for Sakura. Mayor Tsunade was fond of Sakura and it helped that Sakura had graduated with great grades from Leaf Uni.
Ino knew she was thinking selfish thoughts when it came to Sakura's future, but she can't help feeling like a mother hen. Sasuke and Shikamaru were same different. Both were apathetic of their surroundings but Shikamaru was observant and had treated Ino with respect. She hoped Sasuke would treat Sakura with respect when the time came too. But rejection was something Sakura never faced upfront therefore there was a possibility that she would react differently when facing the real thing.

Ino walked to the sink to place her own glass in there and began washing hers and Sakura's glass. She would have to see how this mad campaign of Sasuke going to be played out. She placed the glasses back on its rack and headed to her room next to Sakura's.

Naruko looked at the sky, so warm and bright. Shion would say that the sky and sun were much like Naruko, yellow hair and blue eyes. Shion once joked that maybe Naruko would one day meet someone who would be the complete opposite of her, dark eyes and dark haired, like the moon and the midnight sky.

Naruko just rolled her eyes at that, it was ridiculous to make an assumption like that based on physical attributes alone. She wanted someone whose heart spoke to her. Looks won’t last but what’s in the heart would.

Shion had always wanted Naruko to want someone, to have someone. When Shion first saw Kiba at her office, sending a package of cake his mother had made for her, she naturally thought it was some secret boyfriend Naruko had from long ago.

“He is my best friend, we got close in school and I never thought of him like that. Besides he had the longest schoolboy crush on a fellow schoolmate named Hinata.” Naruko had to explain after her friend’s excited squeal following Kiba’s departure.

“You mean one of those rich Hyuga?” Shion asked.

“Yeah.” Naruko had said.

Shion had seen Hinata in some business magazine her mother had bought. Hinata was very young when she had appeared in it, sitting on her father’s lap. The article was about the family life of the businessman of the month or something like it.


“So still no one anywhere?” Shion’s mother had asked Shion one day. Naruko had overheard the two talking quietly in the kitchen. Naruko had gone to the toilet and they had talked behind her.

“What about Sora,” her mother had asked Shion.

“That’s someone she rejected right away, Sora was just too … how do say it, not really her type?” Shion whispered.

Naruko decided to interrupt them, “He’s too full of himself. He likes to talk about himself all along never asked me what I wanted or what I didn’t like. I don’t want someone like him. He’s too narcissistic. I mean I have longer hair than him, but his beauty products shopping list is a mile long, and his hair is shorter than mine.”

Shion’s mother and Shion was astounded, they didn’t realize that Naruko heard them.

“So? No second date.”

“Definitely no. I wouldn't even call that a date. It’s more like him showing off his money. I don’t need someone like that. I don’t like bean sprouts but he ordered me a food salad with those vege sitting happily around it. Never asked me whether I wanted fish, meat or chicken and ordered some duck meat for me.”
Shion sighed. Naruko sat down on her chair and continued with her chore, they were cataloguing the types of cake Shion’s mother was selling into a list and then choosing the pictures to turn into a catalogue. It would ease their face to face marketing efforts.
Sora was the owner of a bakery which Shion’s mother had placed her products for sale. He had appeared to be single and had agreed to meet Naruko for a date. Just a friendly night out, the older woman had said. Naruko had gone along because she thought Sora sounded ok.

“Maybe he just wanted to impress you,” Shion said.

“Maybe, but I don’t want to meet him anymore.”

In actuality Naruko didn’t want to spill the bean that after all the awkward meal and such Sora had apologized to her. He was sorry that he was being all over the top until he noticed that she was uncomfortable with him.

“I am sorry. I just didn’t want you to like me. I actually like you very much, but as a friend. I already have someone I would like to date, but Shion’s mother was pushing me to meet you. I didn’t know how to say no.”
Sora stood outside Shion’s home looking at Naruko guiltily. Instead of getting angry Naruko instead smiled and said.

“Don’t worry, I am no longer angry listening to your explanation. Don’t hide like this anymore. Who is this girl anyway?” Naruko asked.

“She’s older than me but I liked her alot.”

“If you like, we can meet again and we could talk about her.” Naruko said. She didn’t know how that would help but she was sure that Sora was actually nice beneath the over the top nervous man she had met earlier.

“That’s nice of you.”

“I know, so are we friends?”


In a way, Naruko had lied about Sora. But she needed to do that or Shion and her mother would continue to push Sora at her again and again.

Naruko then looked at the new paper Shion had placed on the table. Underneath the main news an advertisement promising great benefits and salary for a position at Uchiha Works. It’s only for a few weeks and on a very flexible working arrangement.

“Hey Shion, have you seen this?” she asked her friend.

“Yeah, I thought it was so sudden. Since when do Uchiha Works do call outs for girls only audition? They usually do a talent contest but they already did early this year.”
Naruko looked at the contact number and the email. “I am thinking of dropping my resume here.” She said pointing to the ad.

“You go on, I am thinking of setting up other vendor option for mom. After doing this I wonder why I never help mom do her business before this. This is easier than anything else I have done.”

Naruko nodded at her friend. She then continued to read the Uchiha Works ad and wondered what the call out was searching for. Beneath the very large and pretty looking font were the criteria.

Ladies only, 20-30 years of age, have work experience, minimum college educated, able to work in a team, could tolerate all kinds of people, motivated and ready for a transfer.

It sounded interesting. Naruko was sure of trying for this no matter what they have said about Uchiha Works.


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