|Like the Twilight
Author: hello heartbreak PM
They receive news of his death on her birthday. — Team 7, KakaSaku if you squint.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Hurt/Comfort - Sakura H. & Kakashi H. - Words: 2,999 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 10 - Published: 03-15-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4133040
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Don't own.
- weeping willow © the hush sound
She is nineteen when she receives confirmation from the Hokage – she'd refrained from believing the rumors beforehand, because stories tend to get distorted in their gossip-friendly neighborhood. Like the time they whispered about her having a threesome with her former teacher and her team-mate, or the time they said the results of the jounin test were rigged because a pink-haired medic should just stick to small, insignificant things.
Both times, she'd kept her fists clenched, nails digging into her palms. Not too hard, though. It's not good to bleed unnecessarily – shinobi already lose buckets of blood during missions, so why shed extra?
Both times, she'd scowled at the people who pretended not to stare at her when she walked past – who did they think she was? A ninja has eyes everywhere. They should've gotten their facts straight. But regardless of the rumor mill that runs twenty-four-seven, she can't bring herself to hate the village. She's spent her entire life in this place, after all.
No wait, scratch that.
This time, she sends ground-shattering blows at men three times her size when they snigger at Naruto and murmur about how a demon-child will murder anyone who stands in his way, even if that person is supposedly his best friend. This time, she bites out at the haggling housewives who shake their heads in pretentious pity about the Uchiha boy who gave in to the pressure and finally took his own life.
This time, she defends her team-mates with every ounce of strength in her body.
This time, she doesn't hold back tears in the shower; she transforms them into anger instead. Ino-Pig can understand where she's coming from, since she'd probably do the same for Shikamaru and Chouji if the need arises, but she tells her sometimes-best friend to get a grip. You can't stop everyone's tongues from waggling, even if you're the Hokage.
She replies a little curtly that she knows where Ino-Pig is coming from, because tongues have waggled a lot about the blonde girl's various romps with strangers every time she gets drunk and ends up puking all over Shikamaru's floor at three in the morning.
A hard slap that she could've blocked, and their friendship is in the "shambles-stage" yet again. Not such a serious matter, since their relationship is like a sin curve – it has its ups and downs.
Thing is, this "down" lasts for a pretty damned long time.
Naruto is nowhere to be found. He left a note, though. About how he's going to look for their missing team-mate because he won't believe Sasuke's dead until he sees the actual body. The scrap-paper which he scribbled on in his almost indecipherable handwriting is rather crushed, as though he wrote it in an extreme rush and crumpled it up, then decided it was better than the rest, and spread it out again.
She finds it stuck on her refrigerator the day after she turns nineteen. There's not much of a reaction from her, because she expected it when Tsunade informed them just a few hours before. Just the usual, habitual line of stupid Naruto and she lets it go before leaving the note suspended by the magnet and opening her fridge to get a glass of milk.
In a way, it's probably good that the impulsive boy – still a boy, never a man – isn't in town because he won't respond too well to the ridiculous tittle-tattle. Probably beat up a few unlucky boys till they're all black and blue. (You see, she can get away with it because she's just a girl. With pink hair. Nobody can ever take her seriously.)
Jounin, much less ANBU, are not let off easily for getting into brawls without proper reason – emotional rationales don't count. She's never understood why Naruto chose to enter the ANBU because he's just way too loud to be one. Can't keep a secret properly, too. Like the time she told him that she thought Kakashi-sensei had pretty eyelashes when she was in a drunken stupor and he wasn't – come to think of it, the rumors about the threesome might have stemmed from that single careless comment.
Still, she supposes he's quite good at his job because they haven't kicked him out just yet. Well, she wouldn't know, anyway. Because she's not really into the secret-spy-yay-let's-wear-masks thing. … just as long as she's assured that Naruto can take care of himself, she's pretty satisfied.
Ino-Pig still isn't talking to her. She thinks that maybe she should apologize for her sharp tongue, but her pride gets the better of her and she turns her gaze away when the more voluptuous shinobi struts down the street with a bouquet of flowers in her arm.
It's getting quite lonely, she admits to herself in the diary she'd started keeping on her seventeenth birthday, when Hinata gave her a nice thick little pink notebook. (The poor girl is distraught over Naruto's disappearance, but her cousin is keeping her sane to the best of his capabilities. No, she's not jealous. Really.)
Nobody wants to talk to her anymore, because they're too afraid that she'll rip their heads off whenever someone accidentally mentions Team 7, or what it used to be. (They will always be Team 7, in her mind.) The only one brave enough to venture in her territory is Sai, because he knows that she knows that he sucks too much at social skills to say something nice anyway. He tells her with that blank face of his that Uchiha Sasuke is most probably really dead, but it doesn't matter anyway. And that she's being a bitch for lashing out at the common-folk because they don't ever understand anything.
She just glares at him and tells him to get the fuck out because she has work to do and stabbing him with her pencil and some chakra will be added to that list of things-to-do if he doesn't stop bothering her right this second. Even if Sai can't read human emotions (you'd think the boy would've actually learnt something in the past four to five years, but it's difficult for a leopard to change its spots, after all), he can understand words and he knows very well that his former team-mate can and will carry out her threat, so he exits the room after flashing a dazzlingly fake smile at her.
The pencil that she throws in his general direction misses and embeds itself in her door, sending splinters to the ground. A sigh escapes her lips as she gets up to retrieve the pencil that's now a pencil-stuck-in-the-door.
Maybe, maybe she should talk to someone twice her age.
… he's the only one available, apparently. Too many deaths, too much jaw-locking every time a new name appears on the mural. The older ones are all leaving, one by one. Like Sasuke, except he wasn't really old.
Oh dear, she's started thinking of him in past tense. Whatever will Naruto say? He'll probably ignore her for a grand total of five minutes before attempting to thrash it out with her without the use of fists on his part.
It isn't hard to find the one she's looking for, because she found out a long time ago why he was always so late for everything. The mural is a place where you can return to the past just by touching a carved name and in return, you lose track of time.
She doesn't quite understand the feeling, but she thinks she will, if they ever decide to forgive the traitor and put his name on the mural because after all, he belonged to the Uchiha.
"Sensei," she says with a certain sense of finality. He doesn't turn around, doesn't open his eyes. Expression as unreadable as always under that damned mask. She wonders why it doesn't stink, but then again he probably has a thousand others in that apartment of his.
"I'm not liking myself very much now," she continues, because she knows that he's listening. He always is.
The silence is pretty comfortable. Beats the whispering behind her back.
"Sai told me I was a bitch, today." Her tone is surprisingly unwavering – she's determined to get his out of her system.
"I can't help it – they just keep slandering his name. Naruto's too."
It's been so long, but she still can't say his name out loud. Sasuke Sasuke Sasuke. See, she can say it to herself. Just not out loud to anyone else, because she doesn't trust her voice not to crack at the third syllable.
"They don't understand what the two of them have gone through."
A pause as she thinks of what she wants to tell her former teacher, next. The pause is pretty long, because she finds herself at a loss for words.
Kakashi gets the message, and finally turns to face her. Not that it makes much of difference, because all she can see is one eye, anyway. Seeing his face in its entirety isn't a main objective in her life anymore, because she's seen it once when she walked in on him showering. Don't ask.
"Do you really care?" he asks her. His tone isn't forceful, isn't kind. She doesn't quite know where to place it. It's just a very Kakashi-ish tone.
"I don't know, it just infuriates me to no end, because these people don't know what they're talking about!" she finds herself exclaiming, with the whole hands-waving in the air thing that she always sees on TV.
"Well then, what's your take on Sasuke's death?"
The question stuns her into silence for quite a long time, because she realizes that she's never really thought about it. Right on the spot as usual, Kakashi-sensei.
"I don't know," she admits truthfully. Funny, how she seems to be using that phrase a lot today. He waits for her to continue, because she seems to have a lot of jumbled up sentences scrambling over each other to get out of her throat.
"I guess – I guess I'm sad that he's gone. Without having come back to his hometown, to the place where he was part of Team 7. Of course, it's the place where his entire family was massacred but – " Damn those sentences and their tendency to jump all over each other.
She gets a few chokes out of her system before eyeing her ex-sensei. "He's done with his revenge. He could've come back to see us one last time." This last sentence comes out in a hoarse whisper, as though she's been yelling for the past hour or so.
"You blame him for his death." Kakashi is pretty indifferent about this. What he doesn't tell her, is that he feels the same about Obito. About Rin. Thatit should've been him who died, and he should've known they'd be sly enough to push all the responsibility to him by leaving their physical bodies and attaching their souls to his back. That he shouldn't be fucking thinking this way because they sacrificed their lives for him. For pathetic little him who had nightmares about his father and cried in his sleep every night.
At least she doesn't have to live with the guilt that her team-mate died in her stead, because it's obvious that Sasuke chose to leave them in a lurch to achieve his own goals. One for one is much easier than one for all.
But, she reminds him of him when Rin died on a mission with him, died on his back as he dashed into the hospital. It's not good to be like him, because his life is pretty much one of the worst around. (Aside from the porn, of course. They alleviate the pain a lot. Of course.)
Maybe this time things will turn out differently. Naruto will return with a strong hand on Sasuke's collar and a triumphant grin and dirt streaks across his whiskered cheeks. Sasuke will be barely breathing, but breathing nonetheless. They'll send him to the emergency unit where she'll tend to his wounds with her amazing chakra abilities and then give him more injuries by slamming her fist into his beautiful face because she's mostly angry with his betrayal and partly jealous of his flawless features. Come on, which girl doesn't want to look like Sasuke?
Or maybe Naruto will return in six months with dirt streaks across his whiskered cheeks and a hardened expression – the one he has behind his animal mask when they go on secret assassination missions in the moonlight. He'll have Sasuke's body in his arms, and he'll look vulnerable, despite the stoic face. He'll have tear streaks running down in the opposite direction of the dirt streaks and Sasuke will not be barely breathing. Sasuke will not be breathing.
Uchiha Sasuke will be dead, as the rumors say.
"Sensei." He blinks once and looks at his former student. She hasn't grown much, and her hair is still the same length from when she hacked it off with a kunai when she was twelve. (She likes it short.) He fingers his own hair – she learnt from the best, after all. Unlike the other girls, her body didn't fill out much. She's as lean as before, pretty much as flat as before. Sort of retains the childish air of innocence that's accentuated by the bubblegum pink hair.
There's a slight pleading note in her voice – something that she tries so hard to mask but fails. At least, fails to keep it from Kakashi, because he's the master of looking underneath the underneath. No one can keep anything from this former member of the ANBU, former teacher of Team 7 (he, too, will not think of any other team as Team 7 because they're the only one that passed his test, after all).
Her green eyes tell him that she wants him to tell her what to do. It's not right, because he shouldn't be the one dictating her life, not anymore. Their relationship is a strange one, because they're not lovers or friends or teacher-and-student. She doesn't know what they are. He doesn't, either. And they leave it at that.
So yes, he's torn between telling her to just do whatever her heart tells her to do because it's easier than living with a conscience that tells you constantly about what you could've done, and telling her to find a solution herself.
Then he looks at her green eyes again (they're not really that green – there are flecks of silver in them, amazingly) and he sees her breaking into pieces because of the sheer pressure of life itself and he sees her as Haruno Sakura, not just another shinobi who's gone through as much shit as himself. He sees a girl who's just turned nineteen, who's just lost a friend (maybe, maybe not), who's angry with herself more than anyone else.
And he tells her, "It's okay to cry sometimes, Sakura."
Ever the most obedient and quite possibly the best student he's ever had since he's only had around – yeah you got it – three students in his entire thirty years of life (yes, he's still thirty), her face crinkles up and she starts to cry in loud, unattractive sobs.
When she reaches out for something to grasp, he holds her to his chest because he feels that's what he should do in such circumstances, and decides that he'll live longer than this student of his because she's lost too much in her nineteen years of living.
(Maybe it'll lessen his guilt and lessen her loneliness too, in time.)