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Prayers

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“Hey, Sakura-Chan,” Inquires Naruto one day after practice. “What is Kunoichi culture?”

“Where did you learn about that?” Asks Sakura mystified by her teammate’s randomness even when she knows she shouldn’t. After all, Naruto has a knack for surprising everyone.

“I hear stuff. You know?” he comments holding the back of his head in both palms in a nonchalant gesture. “TenTen-San was talking about it with Neji and Lee…” He finally confesses “So why don’t you talk with us about it?” he’s not accusing her of anything but Naruto still looks pointedly at Sasuke as if wanting for his support.

Sasuke only grunts but he glares at her, waiting for her to give up and share this piece of information apparently only she is privy to hold in their team.

“Shall we go to Sasuke-kun’s house then?” She smiles uncertain.

Sasuke’s bare apartment is their sanctuary, their safe heaven for when they desire to be alone and safe, away from prying eyes. His house is always empty, not like Sakura’s that more often than not, has one or two of her parents waiting to strike up a conversation.

His apartment is also clean; a characteristic Naruto can never brag about when it comes to his own living space.

Sasuke offers them tea and biscuits like his parents always did when they were still alive and had guests over the compound. 

Naruto throws himself on his couch and demands ramen, Sakura herself sits on the settee style pastel pink chair he once bought in a thrift sale just for her, after a series of arguments about who sits by who at movie nights in his old couch. 

The chair crashes horribly with the minimalist’s colours of his apartment and he knows he would’ve never buy something like that if it wasn’t for her.

But Sakura’s dainty form looks pretty in it. Sakura looks cute in the chair, when she sits with her back straight against it, when she rests her hands in the arms of the chair and smiles content and comfortable.

“Do you want me to make the tea?” She asks.

“No.” He denies curtly to the both of them.

He ends up serving them plum tea, even when he hates it, and salted cookies just because Sakura and Naruto ate all of the sweet biscuits the last time they came over.

“Did you know Kunoichi pray before every mission?” She starts.

“Why? Are you all really religious?” Asks Naruto confused “Are you part of a cult, Sakura-Chan?”

“We pray for death if we fail” She clarifies. “Because for the Kunoichi, there’s a possibility worse than death or torture if we get captured.” Explains Sakura sadly.

“All Shinobi expect death if we fail” Recites Sasuke, “So we don’t disclose the secrets of our village to the enemy.”

“But I don’t have any secrets in my body, Sasuke-kun.” She sips her cup of tea, talking with a cold tone of voice. “So which secrets do you think that I would want to hide so much I pray for death?” Sasuke doesn’t have an answer and Sakura assumes his silence as ignorance “There’s a danger for us women, that men are not subjected to, or at least not as much as us.”

“I don’t understand, Sakura-chan” complains Naruto squinting his eyes in confusion.

“Rape, Naruto. I’m talking about rape.” She states bluntly. Her voice hoarse, her eyes steeled and fixed on both of her teammates. “Kunoichi pray to die before being raped if we fall in the enemy’s hands. There are somethings we fear that Shinobis simply don’t even think about, sometimes. So we form our bonds as sisters and live by the rituals that comfort us.”

Both Sasuke and Naruto can’t speak after that. They don’t even know what to say, they teach them about death, about pain and about lost in the academy. But they never taught them about rape.

Maybe they should have.

“Did you know we’re forced to lose our virginity at fifteen? Some girls like Ino and Hinata-chan are safe from that because they’re the ladies of their clan. But civil Kunoichi are not as lucky.” She sighs. “We keep tight information of good men who will treat us well before the elders decide for us, we take care of each other afterwards and we maintain the love of our bodies as sacred beyond the horrors of Ninja culture. Kunoichi culture is a safe net in a world that sees our bodies as weapons and tools and I didn’t talk with you about it because you shouldn’t have to open your eyes more and see an uglier world than you already have.”

Naruto stares at the floor and tightens his fists so hard, Sakura is sure he’s bleeding. He’s not even holding the fat, ugly tears running down his face. “When I become Hokage,” he sobs soundly “When I become Hokage, I’ll change things around Sakura-chan! I promise you that.” He cries openly.

Even if by then it would be too late for her, Sakura falls off her chair in order to run at his side in the couch, she whimpers, moved by his conviction and holds Naruto’s hand “I know you will, Naruto. I trust you.”

Sasuke who hasn’t said anything until then, suddenly raises his voice “I will assimilate you into the Uchiha clan.” He states. “I have the right as clan head.”

“But…” She stutters in confusion “I don’t understand Sasuke-kun.”

“It’s freedom, Sakura. My clan is dead.” The reality is harsh but just for this time, convenient “You won’t even have to marry me because as the only woman in my clan, you would automatically be named as lady Uchiha, and you would be safe.”

“But that is your family name, Sasuke-kun. Your legacy.” She breaks out crying, thankful but saddened.

“You are my family now” he admits, not only to her but to himself “and I won’t leave you alone to be hurt in any way. Not if I can help it.”  

Naruto has the immediate answer of hugging both of his teammates against Sasuke’s protests and encouraged by Sakura’s open cries of happiness and anguish. 

“But don’t think about hogging Sakura-chan! You, bastard!” He exclaims. “I will be marrying her someday, you’ll see!”

Sakura hits him on the head and Sasuke elbows him in the ribs. 

The three of them fall tired on the couch but they remain there, holding each other close.