Her name is Maria. She loves her dad, likes animals more than humans, subsists on caffeine and sarcasm, works too many hours, and doesn’t care for labels or social norms.
(Maria dies, and Sakura is born. It should have been simple. It isn’t.)
A depressed toddler makes for a strange creature. Barely a year old and already deep in mourning for all the things she lost. Maybe she’s gone insane; maybe she’s still dying. Others might have called it a gift. She calls it a curse and can’t decide whether to laugh or cry, so she does both.
Her new parents are alarmed by this un-toddler-like behavior, but she can’t bring herself to care. Not yet. It feels too raw, too soon, too fucking something.
(She doesn’t even try. She doesn’t know if she ever will.)
Time passes; she’s still mourning, but learns to hide it better. Her new parents don’t deserve whatever-the-hell this is. Dealing with a new baby is one thing; having to deal with her weird shit is another thing entirely. She tells herself to stop being such a selfish bitch and move the fuck on—somehow, she does.
Slowly, she goes through all five stages of grief, only to one day find herself back at the beginning.
It happens suddenly. One moment, she’s half-dozing, half-gazing at these giant-ass face-carvings over her mother’s shoulder as Mebuki grills the grocer on the freshness of his overpriced peaches, then the next moment everything adds up and sends her mind reeling.
Haruno. Konoha. Shinobi. Hokage. No fucking way, she thinks, with a detached sense of horror, then buries her face in Mebuki’s neck and goes back to sleep.
(That’s all she does for the next three years. Denial is a wonderful, beautiful thing.)
Maria never wanted kids, but was somewhat good with them whenever her coworkers roped her into babysitting, mostly because she was the adult in this equation and the little brats knew it.
Sakura, the adult trapped in a child’s body, doesn’t have the patience for their bullshit.
“Go ‘way, forehead freak! We dun wanna play with ya, ugly!” little Ami cries and throws a handful of dirt in Sakura’s face.
She’s just a kid, Sakura reminds herself as she wipes her face with the back of her sleeve. Instead of blowing up at the insensitive brat, she sends Mebuki a look that manages to convey I told you so and I tried, then retreats under the shade of the trees to nap in peace while Mebuki goes to have a long talk with Ami’s parents.
It’s not the first time Mebuki’s dragged her to the park in hopes of ‘socializing’ her, of getting her more active and less of…well, in Kizashi’s words, ‘a budding bum’. She’s even heard him joke about Mebuki cheating on him with a Nara once, which…yeah, let’s just say poor dad’s lucky the couch is so ridiculously comfy. Sakura’s going to marry that couch one day and they’ll have super soft cushion babies and be happy together forever and ever. Couch Quality Time™ has practically become a Haruno family tradition these days, much to Mebuki’s despair.
It’s the first time, though, that she comes face-to-face with what she’s been desperately trying to avoid and would’ve been totally happy continuing to deny for the rest of her (second) life.
“My, aren’t you a pretty one?” Uchiha fucking Mikoto coos at her, her sons standing behind her and examining Sakura with curious, unblinking black eyes, as if she’s some sort of endangered species one rarely sees outside its natural habitat and how is this her life?
Sakura squints up at her, then at her sons, then promptly decides she doesn’t have the patience for Uchiha bullshit either, turns her back on them and goes back to sleep. She can feel Mebuki’s disapproving glare burning against the back of her neck and can almost hear the why-are-you-like-this-oh-kami-where-have-I-gone-wrong-with-this-child lecture that’s coming after they get home. Oh, mother, if only you knew…
Thank the gods, Mikoto takes the hint and leads her little ducklings away, probably to go bother some other poor, unfortunate soul that has no idea of Uchiha drama. With Sakura’s shitty luck, that person ends up being Mebuki. The gods have forsaken her, truly. A grimace spreads across her face that Sakura hurries to cover up with an overexaggerated yawn to escape Itachi’s scrutiny—he’s still dissecting her with his too-pretty eyes of fucked-up torture, goddammit!—when someone else sneaks up on her, laughing and poking her cheek.
“That was kinda rude, chibi.”
Sakura cracks one eye open to meet another pair of too-pretty eyes and, right there and then, realizes she’s doomed. What the hell is up with these Uchiha and staring and their fucking perfect genes and and and—
“You’re rude,” she huffs, batting his hand away, fed up with all the poking and prodding and interrupting her precious nap time and shattering her wonderful, beautiful denial.
His lips tilt up in amusement, and wow, that smile is so unfair, seriously—is today like, National Uchiha Appreciation Day or something?—so Sakura can be excused for closing her eyes and copying Gaara’s forced sleep shtick like nobody’s business. It’s tricky to fall asleep on command, but something she’s practiced so religiously that by now, it’s become second nature. The last thing she hears is the Uchiha’s laughter and Mebuki’s shout of, “Sakura, don’t you dare—!”
After the obligatory lecture, Mebuki spends an hour glorifying the ways of shinobi and the Will of Fire and how great it’d be if Sakura joined the Academy like those nice Uchiha boys. Apparently, Mikoto had been very convincing, especially when she spoke the magic words: oh, don’t worry, Mebuki-san, she’ll surely make friends there.
Sakura is so done.
(She says no, of course. Mebuki says yes. Sakura stays awake for thirty-seven hours in silent protest until Kizashi kicks her off her beloved couch-husband because you can’t hog Kuma-chan, young lady! Again, how is this her life?)