Author: Annie Sparklecakes PM
No one ever expected their story to be perfect, because they were Sasuke and Sakura, and things could never be easy for them. But still Sakura hoped, Naruto lied, and Sasuke was sorry. [SasuSaku]Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Sakura H. & Sasuke U. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 13,286 - Reviews: 296 - Favs: 421 - Follows: 57 - Updated: 05-27-07 - Published: 03-26-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3460399
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Okay, I'll admit it. This is a birthday present for me. I'm a sucker for birthdays.
I have a problem; I know it, I accept it. But no matter what I do, I can't quite manage to cure it.
Every shinobi knows to keep their emotions under lock and key, but I can't seem to manage it, no matter what I do. I can train under the Hokage to keep a cool mind in a tense situation; can work in the hospital and cure a patient on the brink of death; can slice an enemy's throat with a kunai and not bat an eye…
But it always ends up with me sitting alone in my room, thinking about the life lost, the pain suffered.
A ninja kills without remorse, it's true. But I've been trained to save lives, too. I'm half a killer, half a healer. And oftentimes, those two sides clash.
Especially when it comes to my teammates. Particularly Uchiha Sasuke.
Since I was younger, I had been devoted to him. He was the most gorgeous boy I had ever seen. His popularity and skill was an added bonus, and at first, his frosty attitude only made him cooler in my eyes.
Eventually, his words cut through my crushed haze, and they hurt. A lot. But what could I do? He was my weakness; I could never say a word against him, even if I wanted to. Instead, I took out my frustrations on Naruto, the boy who would become my best friend, and who I knew would love me unconditionally.
Soon, I began to respect Naruto, but that didn't mean I stood up to Sasuke. I tried harder to impress him, but always managed to fall short. I was never good enough. I wasn't strong enough. I wasn't as pretty as other girls, and he didn't seem to care for my niceness. I had nothing to offer him.
Nothing but my love. My love that he threw in my face, sneering at me, and leaving me behind in his pursuit of power.
It was the one time I had truly hated Sasuke. But it didn't last; it couldn't last. If Naruto, his best friend, could forgive the boy for trying to kill him, of course I could forgive him for merely knocking me unconscious.
Even when he was leaving me, even when he was rejecting me, even when he was turning his back on the whole village, he was gentle with me. That in itself spoke volumes.
And my feelings only deepened.
At first, no one dared mention him around me, as if fearing I was too frail to hear his name; as if I could collapse at any moment.
But Sasuke had always been the one to think I was weak. With him out of the picture, I could truly work up to my potential. I had no one to impress with my appearance anymore, but I had a boy I would one day meet again, and I had to start working towards that day.
Once I started training with the Hokage, I guess everyone thought I was stable enough to speak to.
"Why are you still bothering with him?" they'd ask me. "Why don't you move on?"
It was the same reason as Naruto: I was incomplete without him.
I loved him. I was always being asked why; he hadn't done anything for me, after all.
I never responded to these comments, merely smiling and going on my way.
If a kunai was heading my way, he'd step in front of me without a thought. If he knew I was tired, he'd keep Naruto from bothering me. If I was hungry, he'd suggest lunch. If I was sad, frustrated, or sick, he'd know, and in his own, Sasuke way, he'd take care of it.
He was the only one who could tell. He was the only one that saw past my mask. He had done it with Naruto, he could do it with Kakashi, and he did it to me. He saw me, he knew me.
And I know, that in some small way, he loved me.
I threw open the door to Naruto's apartment, and, as expected, saw Naruto and Sasuke lying on the couch. Sasuke instantly bolted upright, snapping his gaze to the door, but Naruto was much slower, opening his eyes blearily and stretching. When they saw me, Naruto flopped back on his couch, but Sasuke remained alert, eyes narrowed.
"Sakura?" he asked drowsily. He had dropped the '-chan' suffix sometime after Sasuke and I had become 'official'.
"Have you forgotten? Today's Ino's party!"
My spoiled, female best friend had finally become Jounin, and was naturally having an extravagant bash to celebrate. Really, Ino enjoyed throwing parties every now and then; passing the exam was really just an excuse. I would bet that she had passed it only to have the party in the first place.
Sasuke frowned deeply. I knew how little he wanted to go. It took a lot to convince him.
"Oh… right," Naruto said sheepishly.
I strolled around his apartment, picking up random cups of instant ramen littering the floor. "You forgot, didn't you?" I rolled my eyes. "Nevermind. Just get dressed, both of you."
Sasuke stood up, making his way to the window, and sliding it open with only a bit of effort. "I'll see you guys here in ten minutes," he told me, Naruto having already disappeared into his room to change.
I stepped forward. "Can I come? I don't have anything to do here."
He stopped, crouching on the sill. He didn't turn around. "You'll have nothing to do there, either, Sakura," he pointed out quietly.
I bit my lip, but tried again. "Come on, Sasuke, I just—"
"I'll be quick," he said, cutting me off. "Just ten minutes." And before I could say another word, he had leapt out, leaving the curtains ruffling in his wake.
I stared at the window, half-hoping, but definitely not expecting, that he would reappear, apologize, and take me with him. I had gotten used to his behavior. I had known him since we were twelve, been friends with him since sixteen, and been his girlfriend for almost a year, after all. I was the future Mrs. Uchiha, the only girl Sasuke really knew, and definitely the only one to have occupied his bed. I knew how he worked. I knew not to get my hopes up.
But that didn't make it any easier to shut the window, the cold breeze hitting me full force.
I knew that merely getting Sasuke to ask me out, if you could call it that, was an accomplishment. He had made it clear nearly the minute he came back to Konoha and knew for sure that he wouldn't be executed, that he would be asking me to marry him someday.
Obviously, he knew I wouldn't refuse, but I couldn't help wonder what he would've done if I did.
No one was very happy about it, as I expected. Oh, sure, our friends grew to accept our relationship after a while, but Sasuke couldn't quite manage to win over a large chunk of the village.
My parents included.
Sasuke decided that if he was going to do this, he would do it the right way. We'd be in a relationship for at least a year before getting engaged, then wait another six months before the marriage. Sasuke didn't seem too happy about the wait—he wanted to begin repopulating his clan as soon as possible—but I also knew Sasuke wouldn't force me into the marriage. He was a jerk, yes, but he wasn't cruel.
My parents never agreed to the marriage, or to my relationship. They threw me out of the house.
I never told Sasuke. He would never know, but I was paying him back for the time when we were genin. He protected my body, I was protecting his emotions.
I knew he was fragile, more so than he would let on, and it was my duty to support him.
It's what lovers do.
I was staring out the window when Naruto came out of his room, freshly dressed and brushing through his hair with one hand, brushing his teeth with the other.
I smiled at him, holding up the instant ramen I had made. "Hungry?" I asked him, knowing what the answer would be. He brightened, hurried to finish brushing his teeth, and settled down n the couch, taking the noodles from me.
I didn't like Naruto eating so much of this stuff; it wasn't healthy for him. But who didn't have weaknesses for the people they loved? I glanced at the clock. I knew that better than anybody.
I thought back to what I had seen from the window, a little girl playing with what looked like her older sisters. She was tagging along behind them, though they were ignoring her. Even as I watched, the girl fell to the ground, pouting. Her sisters laughed and turned back to her, pulling her up. Only minutes later, she was trailing behind them again.
Cycles continue, history repeats. You can steel yourself against something you know will happen, consider every possible outcome, and work to prevent the ones you don't want, but fate's tricky that way. Nothing ever goes the way you want.
I was snapped out my musings at the thunk of Naruto's empty bowl on the table. He had finished in three minutes what took me thirty. "Full?" I asked him sarcastically.
"Nah, not really. When can we leave?"
"When Sasuke gets here."
As if on cue, Sasuke appeared at the window then, beckoning to us impatiently. Beside me, Naruto rolled his eyes and gave him a well-known finger gesture.
I knew what he was thinking: Sasuke was so impatient, always expecting everyone to bend over backwards for him.
I stood up immediately, and Naruto followed after a moment's hesitation. "Why can't he use the door like a normal person?" he muttered, as we both headed towards him.
I rifled through the hangers in front of me, looking for a good suit for Sasuke. Ino's party had a more western theme, and the two boys I held dearest had no idea what to wear, which was where I came in. I had to pick out my own dress, anyways, so I figured we could do it together.
I heard Naruto calling to me and sighed, picking out a dark blue suit that caught my eye and heading to the back, where the changerooms were located.
Naruto stood in front of the full-length mirror, scrutinizing himself with a frown. Sasuke stood nearby, leaning against the wall. I handed him the outfit I had chosen and walked up to Naruto, reaching up to fix his collar.
"Twenty-one and still can't figure out a shirt," I grumbled.
He grinned down at me. "Why bother when I have you, Sakura?"
I didn't answer, continuing to fiddle with his shirt. I could feel Sasuke's gaze on us.
Naruto was right. With me around, what did they need to worry about? I would do everything for them; I was doing everything for them.
With Naruto done, I only had to take care of Sasuke, and then we would go to get my dress. I felt the thrill of anticipation. I loved a good party, and dressing up even more. I wasn't as vain as I was when I was twelve, but I still liked to look good from time to time. I couldn't wait to see Sasuke's reaction.
I shook myself mentally, waiting for my raven-haired sweetheart to come out. He wouldn't be impressed; I'd be lucky if he noticed. Still, though…
Sasuke came out, face blank as usual. He came to look at himself in the full-length mirror, as Naruto had, but it was probably an absent-minded gesture. He didn't care for the party or his appearance, and knew I was there to decide if the suit was good or not.
I walked up to him, fixing his shirt as I had done for Naruto. I said nothing, only smiling at him and telling him he looked good as I stepped away. Sasuke would undoubtedly get uncomfortable if I lingered.
Sasuke disappeared into the changeroom, and I looked up to see Naruto's gaze boring into me. He didn't say anything; he was used to Sasuke's interactions with me. Or, rather, lack thereof.
He only smiled, and so I did, too, catching sight of my reflection. The smile I gave Naruto was warm and friendly, but nothing like the one I gave Sasuke. That smile could be fake, and maybe not always as bright, but it was special, loving, and just for him.
Everything I had was for him. My body, my heart, my life. All his.
Sasuke came out of the changeroom, not even glancing my way. My bright grin slipped a few notches.
I had only gotten close to him once. When Naruto made Anbu, he dragged us to a bar, and he and Sasuke began to compete wordlessly to see who had the higher alcohol tolerance. The winner was, surprisingly, Naruto.
Training under Tsunade had rubbed off on me in more ways than one, and I too ended up drinking myself into a stupor.
Sasuke volunteered to take me home, as we were already together, after all, and lived close to each other. Naruto, meanwhile, lived a few streets the opposite way and disappeared with Kakashi.
At his door, Sasuke had fumbled with his keys, and for some inexplicable reason, I followed him inside.
One thing led to another, and we ended up waking up, tangled in his sheets, suffering from hangovers, and not managing to recall any part of the night before.
Needless to say, it wasn't what I expected, but nothing was these days. Sasuke seemed regretful. He had wanted to wait until we were married, and refused to risk a repeat performance of that night. He never touched alcohol again.
The one thing I could remember of that night was the intensity, the desire. It hadn't only been me. Sasuke had felt the same.
Thinking of that night, I looked through the selection of dresses in the store. It was stupid of me, but I wanted to make Sasuke feel for me how he had that night. It was the one time my feelings were reciprocated, and I wanted to relive that experience.
I pulled out a black dress with a slit up the thigh and an impossibly low back, and hurriedly put it back, making a face. I wanted to look appealing, not like a hooker.
I found another dress that caught my eye. It was a shimmering, champagne-colored halter, and very much to my taste. I found one in my size, called to Naruto and Sasuke to tell them I would be back, and disappeared into the changeroom.
I wriggled into the dress and smoothed it out. The silk felt smooth against my fingers, and I walked out, intent on seeing how I looked.
Naruto whistled when he saw me, and I laughed, hurrying to the mirror, where I froze.
The dress was beautiful, but it was all wrong. It was a bit loose (I had gotten a cold a week ago; apparently it had lost me some weight), and the color didn't go too well with my complexion. It hugged my curves just right, but aside from that, I couldn't find one good thing about my appearance.
I turned to change back into my regular clothes so I could look for a new dress, when I caught sight of Sasuke. He looked impatient and annoyed, and when he saw me, he immediately approached me.
"Are you finished? We need to go train."
I fidgeted with my dress, not looking at him. "I was actually going to get another dress. This one's—"
"Why?" he demanded, cutting me off. His gaze roamed over my figure. "You look fine."
I flushed at the comment. Sasuke never complimented me on my appearance. Naruto had told me Sasuke once admitted he found me attractive, but he would never tell me that.
And so I ended up wandering into the changeroom and changing, heading to the counter, and paying for the dress I didn't want, all for the boy I did.
When Sasuke entered my apartment that night, I couldn't help myself. I hugged him, told him he looked amazing, and then rose up on my toes to kiss him. He was unwilling, I could tell, but he allowed me to pull his face down to meet his lips. For a few seconds, he responded, but then he gently unlatched my arms from around his neck and pulled away.
When I was younger, I often dreamt about our first kiss. It would be in the rain, in front of a crowd of jealous fangirls, after he saved my life, after he told me he loved me, in a meadow, beneath a sakura tree with petals raining down on us.
He always initiated the kiss. It was warm and loving and tender and everything a kiss between two people who loved each other should be.
Sasuke ushered me out the door, and I brought my fingers to my lips. They were cold.
I rolled my eyes. "Would you give it a rest? That insult is so old, pig."
Ino laughed at me, pulling me inside. She offered Naruto and Sasuke her wide hostess's smile, calling over Shikamaru and telling them to enjoy themselves, not even frowning when Naruto asked her where the food was.
When they left, Ino stepped back to look me over. Her long blonde hair was left loose for once, and I could tell she had gone out to get it done. She had the perfect curls of someone who had paid a lot of money and spent a lot of time. Her dress was a bright blue one, with spaghetti straps, a flaring skirt, and elaborate, sequined designs. Her make-up was done to perfection, and her accessories matched so well, she must have spent ages looking for them.
Standing in front of her, I felt a bit like the stepsister facing Cinderella, and my face tightened in a pained look. Ino seemed to notice, and shook her head, clucking her tongue.
"C'mon to the back. I've got something for you."
I followed her curiously as she turned on her heel and strolled through the hall to the cloakroom and restrooms.
We were in the most extravagant, most expensive place in Konoha. Only the best for my best friend, I thought, as I noticed Shikamaru passing us and brushing Ino's fingers. He nodded at me, and I smiled back.
I spotted Sasuke sitting at a nearby table, arms crossed and glaring at anyone who dared approach him. He met my gaze blankly, and I quickly averted my eyes.
Ino led me around a corner and through a door into a small room with a mirror, a dressing table, and a bench. Spotting the dress hanging on the mirror, I gasped in surprise, turning to Ino. She was smiling sadly at me.
"Let's just say I know how Sasuke is," she said before I could speak.
I squeezed my eyes shut and felt her arms slide around me, patting my back comfortingly. I let myself sob into her shoulder, letting it all out.
I loved Sasuke, and would never want to hurt him. I stayed with him because I had to, and I wanted to.
He was a fairly sweet guy, in his own way; he knew me well; he cared for me; and half the things he did, he did for my well-being.
But I wanted something else. I wanted kisses and sweet nothings whispered in my ears. I wanted warmth, I wanted presents, I wanted smiles, and I wanted love.
I could feel Ino shaking slightly, and knew she was crying with me. We had our differences, but she had still been my friend longest, and we were impossibly close. Ino knew better than anyone what was going on with Sasuke and me, and she often let me know how she felt about it.
I wanted Sasuke to feel the way I did. I wanted him to smile when I saved a life; I wanted him to hold me when I came home from an assassination mission. I wanted him to wonder why I moved out only a month after he came home. I wanted him to feel something other than tolerance for me and impatience for everything else.
Ino pulled back, handing me the dress. "Get dressed," she ordered. "Let's see if we can't get even that Uchiha to fall at your feet."