Author: Leanne Ash PM
OneShot. SasuSaku NaruSaku. Conflicted at a crossroad: a love long sought after, or one hidden in the sidelines. For Sakura, Naruto and Sasuke, getting what you want most doesn't ever come easy.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Drama - Sakura H. - Words: 4,971 - Reviews: 66 - Favs: 87 - Follows: 24 - Published: 04-21-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4210291
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's note: a quick random one-shot to get my creative juices flowing after nearly a year of writer's block. The story is called "Reverse" because each character (while still IN character to the best of my ability) has taken on a role/situation that isn't typically their own. This takes place when the characters are older... well into the "when Sasuke comes back" scenario. Warning: it's a one-shot so the story moves very fast. Also, it has not been beta read
by Leanne Ashley
"Hey," Uchiha Sasuke offered hesitantly, unsure as to whether or not the girl noticed he was there.
Her head perked up so abruptly with surprise she had to brush away the loose strands of pink hair that fell in her face.
"Hi," Haruno Sakura replied awkwardly. She had been sitting on the outside steps of her apartment, staring absently into nothing, her chin resting against her hands. Even though as a child she had trained herself to detect Sasuke's presence, he had slipped under her radar. He wasn't even trying; Sakura had been lost deep in her thoughts ever since his sudden return to the village just days ago.
"You're up late," he observed.
"Yes, well..." she breathed, pulling her shiny pink hair to the side, "I don't need a lot of sleep. What are you doing walking around this late?"
"I wanted to speak to you."
Her bright green eyes regarded him skeptically, but the distracting dilemma in her head served to cushion the blow of surprise. "About what?"
His expression darkened. "Let me make this clear first; I'm not here to apologize or to reword the past. I'm not here to justify myself to you, the dobe, or to anyone else in this village."
Sakura stared blankly at him. There, the legendary Uchiha genius stood just a few feet from her. Even though his eyes were the same shade as midnight, they held a presence all their own against a background of darkness. Having defeated his master, his brother, and countless others, there stood a man of unfathomable power. Uchiha Sasuke had returned. Something she had wished for and prayed for during the struggles of her childhood and adolescence was standing before her. And yet, something didn't feel...right.
"Why are you here, Sasuke-kun?"
His stern expression didn't change as a cool breeze swept through the ebony hair strands surrounding his face. "I'm here because you are."
3 Weeks Earlier
"What were you thinking out there? WERE YOU CRAZY?"
Uzumaki Naruto chuckled under the onslaught of Sakura's yelling, painfully aware that doing so put a strain on his injuries. "Hey, better me than you, right?"
Her green eyes widened with rage at his casual reply as she angrily tightened her hold on the hospital bed. "NO!" she snarled. "If I was the one injured at least you could've gone ahead on the mission while I healed myself! Why don't you ever think before doing these idiotic things!"
"Sakura-chan," Naruto began smugly, unfazed by the alarming volume of Sakura's voice, "What kind of Hokage would I be if let my teammates fend for themselves when I have the opportunity to protect them?"
Sakura crossed her arms with frustration. "Well," she sighed in defeat, "you wouldn't be in the hospital this much that's for sure." She sat back down on the chair beside Naruto's bed and absently began cutting an apple that was left on his lunch tray. She reflected on what had happened just the day before while Naruto chatted mindlessly about how cool his new battle scars were going to look.
The two of them had been on a simple mission to retrieve an important scroll which was stolen from Konoha. Protected by a large field of chakra, the scroll was being kept ransom for a petty sum of money. With Sakura's careful chakra control, she was able to create a safe opening for Naruto to steal the scroll back with almost no effort at all. They would then proceed to capture the thieves and drag them back to their village for a slap on the wrist. No fuss, no muss... it was just another boring mission for the two of them to complete during their lunch break.
However, Sakura's presence was detected due to the powerful chakra wave that was being emitted from her efforts. The thieves spotted her soon after and were prepared to unleash a small, yet deadly number of razer-sharp arrows in her direction. As Naruto approached their meeting spot, he could immediately tell something was wrong. It was the soft humming of objects penetrating the air at an amazing speed. Alarmed, he flew faster to where Sakura was located. She was too lost in concentration to notice as several arrows came flying through the trees and in her direction. She only remembered being pushed to the ground as Naruto collided with her just in time to accept the full onslaught of arrows into his back and arms.
"...So that means I totally lost that bet with the old man. Who knew I actually did end up in a hospital once a month? I mean if--"
"Naruto," Sakura interrupted softly.
Surprised at the sudden change in her voice, he instantly quieted down. "Yeah?"
"You could've just pushed us both behind a tree or something... Why didn't you?"
He smiled. "Nah, that was too risky. While I'm pushing you over there there's nothing covering you. You might have gotten hurt."
A small smile escaped her lips as she shook her head wearily at him. "Idiot," she scolded softly. "Why would you do something like that?"
Naruto chuckled, as if she had just asked the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. "C'mon, Sakura-chan! Don't be weird. You know me, I'd..." he laughed softly again as his blue eyes met with hers.
"...I'd do anything for you," Naruto shrugged simply.
"Can I sit?" Sasuke asked.
Again, Sakura was taken by surprise at the Uchiha's confrontational behaviour. She scolded herself for being so rude and inhospitable due to her strenuous thought processing. It should've been the most spectacular moment of her life but she couldn't stop thinking about...
She bit her lip. Getting up, Sakura shook her head apologetically. "Actually, I was just about to go for a walk, so..."
"Fine," Sasuke shrugged, his tonality implying he would escort her whether she liked it or not.
She could only nod, giving him a small appreciative smile before looking away. As they walked in silence, Sakura hugged her arms tensely, trying her hardest to give Sasuke the attention he sought but it wasn't happening effortlessly.
"Am I making you uneasy?" he asked finally.
"What? No, no!" she insisted. "I'm sorry, I'm being... There's just a lot going on at once right now, and um... it's all... I'm sorry."
He smirked. "Good to know you're handling it well."
Rolling her eyes, Sakura nudged his shoulder playfully. "Thanks," she smiled. It was the first genuine smile since Sasuke's return. She casually looked him over. "You look really different, Sasuke-kun."
"Yeah," he replied coolly, glancing briefly at her. "You too."
"I guess five years does a lot," Sakura mused thoughtfully. As he walked ahead, she paused briefly to admire how the moon and its surrounding stars lit up an empty grass field in the distance. The grass shimmered in a fluid ripple under the pale light as another breeze swept quietly through the landscape. Her eyes fell and she turned away.
2 Weeks Earlier
"Don't tell me you slept out here..." the pink-haired kunoichi sighed.
Naruto stared up at Sakura from an upside down perspective, lying in the grass with his arms folded behind his head. She would never admit it, but for some reason it had become increasingly more noticeable that his blue cat-like eyes were steadily becoming his most attractive feature.
"You haven't?" he teased. "I could stay out here forever..."
"You'll catch a cold one of these days."
He snorted incredulously. "Nah, who cares? Nothing beats the show that happens here every night."
Sakura sat herself down on the dewy grass. "Show? What show?"
"Sakura-chan," he nagged playfully, "it's the stars. Every night they're out and I feel like it's just for me."
"Okay," she agreed with a laugh. "But what about now? It's daylight and you're still at it."
Naruto's smile fell briefly before locking his eyes distantly into the vast cerulean. "Then I just think when it's like this."
"Sasuke, Akatsuki, becoming Hokage..." his eyes narrowed slightly, "...a lot of things come to mind."
Sympathetic, yet more than willing to listen, Sakura stretched her legs out and lay in a similar position alongside her friend. It was rare to see him this way; reflective, nostalgic... Naruto was usually Naruto: loud, annoyingly in-your-face and proudly immature in all aspects, but today she had somehow caught him off guard.
Naruto glanced appreciatively in her direction for joining him before resuming his thoughtfulness. "I'm not an idiot, you know..." he began seriously. "I get that Sasuke's gone on his own accord. I know he might not come back because he chooses not to. I know that at this point, we're not exactly saving him from anything..."
"But I also know it's not in vain, and that it's not a loss cause. He has to know he's not alone out there, and if we accomplish that then at least we were able to save Sasuke from himself."
"Right," Sakura agreed encouragingly. "He will come back to us someday. We'll get him back. He'll return and everything can go back to the way it was. We just have to believe that it will happen."
He nodded, his face tilting slightly to look at her. "You must miss him a lot, huh Sakura-chan?"
"I do," she sighed sadly. "It's been years... all I want to do is see him again. But I know I just have to believe and be patient."
Naruto turned his face towards the sky and chuckled softly to himself.
"What?" she asked, slightly annoyed.
"You know what else I wonder?" the blonde asked. "If I had started out as strong and heroic as Sasuke in the beginning, would you have liked me too?"
Sakura was broken from her thoughts as Sasuke's arm swiftly shot out in front of her torso.
"Watch your step," he muttered disdainfully.
Confused, she looked down and noticed she had been a step away from walking blindly into the start of a descending pathway. She knew she would've regained balance soon enough, but she was too amazed by Sasuke's unusual gesture to be offended. Honestly, Sakura thought it would've been more in his nature to let her stumble and 'learn for herself.'
"Thanks..." she said with uncertainty. "Sorry, I... I was just thinking about something."
Again, Sakura was caught off guard by Sasuke's attention to... well, her existence in general to put it bluntly. He never was one for continuing conversation during their previous years together.
"Just, um..." she shook her head and smiled at him, "how glad I am that you're back, I guess."
He stared intently at her. Uchiha Sasuke never ceased to look breathtaking in his typically cold, yet handsome demeanour. Black eyes burned into glistening emerald as he frowned in all seriousness at the pink-haired woman before him.
"What you said that night..." he began hesitantly, "I'm assuming you meant it?"
Sakura was no doubt shocked that Sasuke would mention such a thing. Her confession appeared to have been dismissed from his thoughts a second after she had unleashed it, having no effect whatsoever on his choice to leave the village those many years ago.
She blinked, staring at the rogue ninja with a look of puzzlement on her face. "Of course I did," she said softly.
His dark expression didn't change as he turned to continue walking down the pathway. "Good." was all he said over his shoulder. Sakura stared meaningfully into Sasuke's back, absently scratching her nails against the inside of her fist. Her stomach felt tense. What exactly was he trying to tell her?
Once they had reached a clearing, Sasuke stopped and looked her over. "I think you need rest," he stated, referring to her oddly distant behaviour. "I'll walk you back."
Having only caught the last couple words the Uchiha had spoken, Sakura had a delayed response. She quickly turned her head and blinked at him in confusion. "...Sorry, what?"
He exhaled with irritation, clamping a hand around her wrist before trudging back towards her apartment. She almost tripped trying to keep up with his pace. "Sasuke-kun!" she protested, trying to shake his grip to no avail. "I'm fine, I don't need to rest!"
"Now you're listening..." Sasuke snapped. "I don't know what's up with you, but we'll talk again later."
"Talk to me about what? What are you trying to tell me, Sasuke-kun?"
"Figure it out..." he hissed.
Frustrated, Sakura pressed on. "What is it?" she repeated, but only the sound of their hurried footsteps filled the void.
As they neared her home, Sasuke stopped rather abruptly and she almost collided with him. With his dark eyes transfixed on hers, an almost unappeasable smirk appeared on his face. "What do you think?" he scoffed, as if the conversation had never reached a halt. "I don't... hate you, Sakura. Yeah, you're annoying, but I never hated you. That's all I've wanted to say to you since then."
She chewed her bottom lip slightly at the painful memory: 'You've always hated me, huh?' It was something she had asked Sasuke the night he left. He hadn't said a word, neither proving nor disproving her observation, but it could only have meant that it was true.
"Okay..." she replied softly, too overwhelmed by the sudden confession to piece together an intelligent sentence.
He nodded, knowing he would have to be satisfied with her answer for now. He let go of Sakura's wrist, giving her one last meaningful stare before turning to leave. "It's not just your friendship I'm trying to keep, Sakura."
1 Week Earlier
The blonde ninja stopped in his tracks, keeping his back to Sakura as she in return kept a fair distance. Normally he would've kept walking, but the desperation in her voice was not something he was used to ignoring. It has been ingrained in Naruto since they were childhood friends: always be there for Sakura. Even if he was angry, even if he didn't care... there was no walking away from that voice.
He slowly turned to face her, suddenly wishing he had an umbrella as the heavy rain that surrounded them would surely make Sakura ill. She didn't seem to care as she fixed her vibrant green eyes on him, her heavy breathing visible in the cold night air.
"...It's you I'm worried about!" she shouted, surprised by the amount of despair in her voice. "Why won't you talk to anyone? Why won't you talk to me?"
"Sakura-chan..." Naruto began seriously.
"And don't tell me it has nothing to do with me," she snapped. "I'm sick of hearing that from the people I care about."
He locked eyes with her, digesting her words carefully before speaking. "You know all about who I am, don't you?"
Sakura frowned inwardly, unable to understand why Naruto would continue to speak of his true self like it was something that tainted him. "Of course I do," she sighed. "I've known all this time, so what?"
"I... I can't be acknowledged for having the Kyuubi inside me, Sakura-chan. I'm sorry, but it's not something I let myself talk about. I know it's there, but it's not a part of me," he stated firmly, more to himself than to Sakura. "As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't exist."
"Yes it does!" she shouted. He was instantly taken aback by her response.
"Like it or not, Kyuubi is a part of you! You can't pretend it doesn't exist! You can't ignore something that's a piece of who you are!" She shook her head sadly. "Get over it, Naruto. If you can't accept your circumstances... there's no moving forward."
He chuckled in defeat, admiring the way Sakura's efficient method of being sincere was to scold. "So, are you saying you accept that part of me?"
"Idiot," Sakura laughed softly, pushing the rain-soaked bangs out of her face. "You're one of my best friends, Naruto. I accept you... and that includes everything unfortunately. I thought you could've figured that out by now."
The smile fell from Naruto's face briefly as his eyes snapped away from hers. She raised an eyebrow, wondering if she had said something to offend him... more so than usual. With his hands in his pockets, he walked over to her and stopped just a foot away. He opened his mouth to speak but faltered, as if the words he was searching for lost him completely.
"Sakura-chan..." Naruto began hesitantly.
Confused, Sakura furrowed her eyebrows but smile encouragingly at him. "What's up?"
All at once her breathing stopped and her heart raced as a silent Naruto stepped closer. Placing a hand at the side of her neck, he tilted her face upward and pressed his lips to hers in one fluid motion. Sakura's arms froze in midair as her natural reaction to push him off came to a sudden halt. For what seemed like an eternity, she could only stare blankly into Naruto's tensely shut eyes.
Sakura watched as Sasuke disappeared into the shadows, an odd feeling beginning to dwell in her chest. She walked slowly up her stairs, noting the empty echo of her footsteps that seemed to reflect the strange hollowness in her stomach.
Her hand barely grazed the door handle to her apartment before she suddenly jerked it back. Without hesitation, she spun on her heels and ran as fast as she could. She knew exactly where she was going and a war of sides began to take place in her mind; instinct told her to run, common sense told her to stay back. The battle was futile as she flew forward, passing the sleeping houses and closed up shops of a typical evening street. She jumped high over the rooftops, her presence but a whisper as she gracefully muted her footsteps and scaled her way to one particular balcony.
She finally came to a stop and placed a hand on the door she pursued. Frowning at the dormant energy within, Sakura took her hand back and didn't bother to knock.
"Hey," came a familiar voice from behind.
Surprised, Sakura spun around to find Naruto standing a short distance away. He looked tired, and was in the middle of removing his headband in an attempt to avoid eye contact.
"H-Hi," she replied awkwardly.
"What are you doing here?"
"I-I'm sorry it's late. I just, um... I..." Smiling lightly with embarrassment, she shrugged. "...I don't know actually."
Naruto's expression softened. "It's okay," he chuckled, his voice barely audible. "I just thought you'd be with Sasuke that's all."
Her green eyes fell as she gestured towards the door. "Can we talk?"
"Sure," he said quickly, fumbling to put his headband away. Reaching past her, Naruto opened his front door with a simple twist of the knob, obviously not being one to keep his apartment locked up.
"You alright, Sakura-chan?" he asked as she walked past him to enter his home.
Sakura sat down on Naruto's bed, her hands fisted nervously against her lap. "No..." she whispered. "No, I'm really, really not alright."
Naruto could only watch her carefully from across the room; afraid to sit next to her, afraid to get too close... "What happened?" he asked.
"That's just it," she mused, her expression strangely distant, "With Sasuke, I just... I don't know. I don't know what happened."
He sighed, bringing together as much courage as he could to cross the room and sit next to her on the bed. He unconsciously hunched forward, unable to look Sakura in the eye as he rested his arms on his legs and clasped his hands uncomfortably.
"It's my fault..."
She turned to look at him with surprise.
"...You're suppose to be with Sasuke," Naruto continued, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have tried to interfere, Sakura-chan."
"No, Naruto that's--"
"But he's back now, right?" he added, his voice straining to be optimistic. "You guys are perfect for each other. I mean, I've always thought so... Everything'll be okay, Sakura-chan, so you don't have to waste time worrying about me."
Sakura nodded slowly and took a deep breath. "I guess... but--"
Naruto stood from the bed quickly and was already walking towards the front door. He paused briefly and spoke over his shoulder. "I wasn't going to sleep tonight. It's kinda late, so just stay here for the night, okay Sakura-chan? I'm going out."
That being said, Naruto was gone before she even had a chance to call him back.
Sakura drove her sword into the dirt with a frustrated groan. Not only was she not a big fan of using secondary weapons, but her mind was far too distracted to even manage a decent swing. She eyed the katana wearily; her sensei had left her to sharpen her sword handling skills for the next little while. Though Sakura's primary weapon of choice was her fists, it was imperative to know at least the basics of different combat weapons. She considered herself a fine shuriken user, but big clunky things like swords were not Sakura's forte.
Sighing, she removed the katana from the ground and tapped the handle impatiently. Her green eyes scaled the wooden post just a few feet away as she tried to push the nonsensical thoughts from her mind. Her efforts would not prevail. Again, an image of Naruto suddenly crept into her mind. She absently wondered where he was in that very moment... what he was doing, what he was thinking...
Closing her eyes in frustration, Sakura lifted the sword above her head and prepared herself for splitting that godforsaken post in half.
A hand reached up and captured her wrist.
"Want some help?" questioned a familiarly dark voice.
She turned to look over her shoulder at the person behind her. "Are you offering, Sasuke-kun?"
"Hn." Holding Sakura's grip, the Uchiha lowered her arms. "You're holding it too high. You can't aim properly in that position."
"I think I know what I'm doing," Sakura pouted defensively. "It's not my first time using a katana, you know."
"Fine," he smirked. Releasing her wrists, Sasuke moved around to face her, his hands placed smugly in his pockets. "Prove it then."
Welcoming the invitation to prove her worth, she smiled and didn't hesitate flipping the katana over to a single hand and charging the arrogant male in front of her.
They sparred for almost half an hour with Sakura showing off her limited, yet undeniably impressive sword handling capabilities, and Sasuke dodging her attacks without any weapon to retaliate. He knew he had misjudged her for in the first second he thought he could defend himself by moving an inch at a time, he was jumping hurdles to avoid being split in half.
But enough fooling around. The kunoichi proved she had some skill, now it was time he fought back.
Sasuke began to analyze his opponent carefully, measuring her speed and agility through quick calculations in his mind. It seemed Sakura's recoil of the weapon was her weakness, possibly because she exerted more energy into the initial thrust than needed or because the sword itself was too heavy--he wasn't sure. Either way...
Sakura gasped as Sasuke clamped a hand onto her wrist effortlessly after dodging her swing. She winced as his grip tightened, causing her to drop the sword with a loud clangour. A whimper of discomfort expelled from her throat but she refused to show anymore signs of weakness to the smug looking Uchiha.
"Give up..." Sasuke sneered.
She glared at him before driving her free hand towards punching him in the face. Unfortunately, he effectively caught her fist in midair as well.
A small cry of pain finally escaped Sakura's lips as Sasuke's grip on both her wrist and her hand tightened. He raised an eyebrow at the pitiful sound before finally releasing her, placing his own hands nonchalantly into his pockets.
Sakura continued to glare, only now directing her anger towards the ground. As she clutched her injuries to her chest, she could only feel embarrassed at having lost a simple battle with Sasuke to the point where she felt exhausted and he hadn't even broken a sweat.
"You didn't have to let go," Sakura seethed stubbornly. "I wasn't finished."
"Yes, you were," Sasuke replied. "A fraction longer and I would've broken your hands... and it didn't look like you could've stopped me."
"I would've... done...!" She pouted much to Sasuke's amusement.
Leaving her to sulk, the unfazed Uchiha bent down and picked up the katana Sakura had dropped earlier. She was alert to notice that he was returning it back to the equipment wall for her. Still recovering from a damaged ego, Sakura ran to catch up to him, grabbing the sword away in the progress.
"Thanks, but I can put it away..." she muttered.
She entered the small wooden structure that held weapons available for training, not bothering to turn around to see if Sasuke had decided to follow her. She placed the sword carefully into its holder, closing the case before Sasuke gripped her forearm and had her pressed against the wall in a fraction of a second.
Startled, Sakura's eyes widened at the sudden closeness between them. "S-Sasuke-kun...!"
"Shut up," he breathed before crushing his lips against hers. The kiss was almost bruising as his hands interlaced her fingers, holding her arms up against the wall in a passionate grip. His lips pressed on vigorously, forcing Sakura to comply to his wishes as she began to lose herself under Sasuke's heated touch.
She had dreamt of this moment throughout her entire childhood and here it was unfolding itself into reality.
He finally released her hands, encircling her waist so he could hold her body closer.
Kissing him in return, Sakura held her hands up to his chest, feeling herself blush at the sheer hardness of Sasuke's muscles.
A loud knock at the side of the wall quickly interrupted the moment.
"Sorry," a voice grunted. From the other side of the wall, Naruto casually came into view, manifesting a strange sense of panic within Sakura. Without realizing it, she less than politely struggled from Sasuke's grip as the familiar sick feeling returned to her stomach.
"...I didn't meant to interrupt," Naruto muttered as he suddenly began glaring daggers at Sasuke. "I just need to grab some weapons."
Sasuke glanced at Sakura questionably before returning Naruto's less than friendly disposition. He couldn't quite pinpoint what the dobe was so hostile about.
Once Naruto began busying himself with the equipment, Sasuke snickered and turned to leave. He nodded slightly at the disturbed-looking kunoichi who looked more than just uncomfortable standing in the same room with the two of them. "Sakura," he grunted. "Let's go."
Sasuke continued walking, leaving Sakura alone with Naruto in the small wooden structure. The blonde pretended not to notice she was there as he continued shifting through the metal cases of shuriken.
She took a step towards him before his voice cut the air.
"Just go with him, Sakura-chan."
She froze, watching Naruto's back as he carried on normally. Her hand, shaking involuntarily, reached out tentatively before she found herself backing away.
"Sakura!" Sasuke's impatient voice called out.
Startled, she followed after the Uchiha as he stood planted in the centre of the training field. With his arms folded, Sasuke looked past Sakura to where Naruto remained situated. He frowned, glancing at Sakura questionably as she approached.
She stopped halfway, dazed, unrelenting from her position between where Naruto attempted to busy himself and where Sasuke drummed his nails impatiently. Both men an equal distance away from where Sakura stood parallelized.
"What are you doing?" Sasuke asked.
The question sparked Naruto's attention as he looked over his shoulder, confused as he caught Sakura's shiny green eyes suddenly staring back at him. She deterred her gaze and looked back at Sasuke before she turned away from both of them, eyes fixated to the ground.
With both boys staring intently at her, Sakura took a deep breath...
...and started walking.
Author's note: which way...? haha I really don't know. I'm waiting to figure that out myself.